Norwegian Star Cruise Review by Alan Kassel
- Sail Date: March 2004
- Destination: Nowhere
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
First the cabin: We were in a "mini-suite" with a balcony. Although they call it a mini-suite, it is far from that. The outside cabin with balcony on Disney was slightly larger, so I would call this cabin a "deluxe" outside cabin w. balcony, rather than a "mini-suite". Although there are only 3 of us, this cabin was very tight. There are 2 twin beds pushed together and a sofa that opens up to a double bed at night. There is very walking around space in the cabin when the bed is open. Last year on Navigator, we had a Grand Suite (approx $1500.00 more than this cabin), but much, much more room. Also, the cabins on this ship creak so loudly when they is amy rolling of the ship, mainly because of the fact that there is so much teak wood in the mini-suite and suites.
The bathroom is a nice concept with sliding doors between each area (bathtub, wash area, and toilet), but with the doors closed made for tight spaces. Our friends had a penthouse suite which was incredible. It had 2 full bathrooms, 2 sleeping areas, 4 televisions (including a plasma over the whirlpool tub), and slept 5 with no problem. It includes concierge service (with Julie, the best concierge we have ever had the pleasure to meet), and many other special amenities. If you have the chance to stay in one of these, they are well worth the difference in price.
The food: The breakfast buffet was nowhere as nice as Royal Caribbean. They did not have the variety of foods like RCCL. There was an omelet person only every other day or so (and he was very slow). They give out the food (I guess for virus reasons), so if you wanted more or less of something, it was a pain in the neck to give it back or ask for more. They never had waffles as advertised, and not all the buffet areas were always open, so sometimes you had to walk around to 2 or 3 places to find what you wanted. For dinners, the food was excellent. We ate in most of the extra charge restaurants, and enjoyed every meal. It is well worth the difference for these places. You're on vacation, so splurge and spend a little extra. The best meal was in SOHO. Also, LeBistro had excellent filet mignon, with great desserts. The Japanese Tepanyaki was also very good, and worth the price.
Activities: Although the cruise director Clint Wells is very personable and seems like a great guy, there was not a lot to do on the ship. I know we and our children were spoiled by Navigator and it's size (with Mini-Golf, Rock climbing, in-line skating, etc). But they just didn't do any exciting activities. The only daytime pool party was a day we were getting into Maui at 1pm. What a waste. Part of this lack of activities was possibly because this cruise attracts a much older crowd, who would prefer to do arts & crafts, rather than have a party. There was bingo, but NCL really needs to examine the cost of this. The first day was $39 to play with the bingo "computers", but after that it went to $59 per computer (person). For the 3 of us, it was $177 just for 1 day! I figures that during the cruise that bingo took in roughly $60,000 and paid out approx $14,000. Not bad, NCL!! Don't get me wrong, I am all for making money, but at least pay out half the take, not just 22%. Our children all got bored. Now, they did not do organized activities (except for the 13 year old, who had a great time). But unfortunately for the 11 years olds, they did not want to hang out with 6 year old kids and dress up like pirates and parade around the ship. I think it NCL wants to get families, they need to do more fun activities for the families as a group.
Ports of call: The only real disappointment was Fanning Island. What a waste that was. The weather didn't help as it was overcast and drizzling. But there are no lounge chair to lay on, only small beach chairs that are very uncomfortable to sit on. There are dogs running around that some people were nervous around. We had no problem with them, they are just dirty. But this will all change in a few months when the US flagged ship no longer has to call on Fanning Island. I know this has helped these people, but they survived before NCL just fine.
Everyone was raving about the shows on NCL. The Jean Ryan dancers were so-so, but the shows were boring. The only show that was really good was Charles Bach, the magician, but his time ends this week. He was very good and enjoyable.
Overall, we had a good time. Cruising is a lot of fun, and I would highly recommend it to almost anyone. I am not saying we didn't have a great time. But we got very spoiled with Royal Caribbean and her Voyager class ships. There seems to be more to do and would recommend those to ships to families. NCL does have a great idea with freestyle cruising. That was the best part of the cruise. I never wore more than a shirt and pants (although some people wore tuxes). I wear a tie every day to work and did not miss it at all.
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