Went on this cruise as a last-minute alternative to ordinary overland trip to Norway. Exceptional value for my solo discount that is no longer avail in any future cruises.
Emission of the ship was a considerable issue. To be more specific, it was the visible pollutants that apparently were not removed inside the chimney. That smoke ruined the view of Geiranger on an otherwise perfectly clear day. The Costa (and many other) ships ' soot were not quite as visible.
The airy, daylight-filled grand atrium of the Star is stunning (becoming a rarity on NCL I reckon), but the top deck space desperately needs a redesign to improve layout - much of the original lounge space with great views has been converted to suites and extra rooms, leaving little public space overlooking the sea.
The only way to appreciate the remarkable fjords without catching a cold is to grab a table at buffet restaurant or sitting on one of those benches along hallways on lower decks. Or, put on the windbreaker and layer clothing to brace the chill - forward top deck and promenade can occasionally be bearable.
It might improve the experience to relocate children/teen area to expand the Lido restaurant into the aft top deck. While I did enjoy the aft promenade, integrating that part into Spinnaker Lounge could make more efficient use of the space. There might also be potential to add indoor space on aft deck 13.
A cruise passenger asked when the ship had a makeover at the last day's Q&A - she was probably shocked to learn the Star received drydock facelift just in 2015. Cabin furniture need update urgently, as with the Market Cafe out-fit. But I liked the Art Deco design in certain public space, adding class to an otherwise hectic, crowded ship.
Entertainment is generally good, exceptional attention to technical details for the flagship show towards end of cruise deserves high praise. But it was not for everyone's taste, esp for non-American audience. It's impossible to keep everyone happy for such a long, port-intensive cruise, however.
There was no enrichment to speak of. All lectures. albeit informative to varying degrees, were designed to boost revenues - worse than my MSC that offered language lessons. The same revenue-hungry mindset was noticeable all over the place. Could be the new industry norm, but not what most people enjoyed.
Game shows, bingo, dance class were most common during the day. Matinee shows were sparse on sea days. Art auctions were good for free champagne. The lizard work of Miro may still be there for a quick glimpse.
Food was way better than what I expected and to my surprise, the Star team did Asian dishes generally well! Asian options are always avail in breakfast and main dining room. Breakfast options did not rotate. Variety in bakery items could have gone a long way.
Service was attentive for most of the time. There was confusion over corkage fee but was sorted out after two days. Bring your own soda or sparkling water, while tea and water are free at buffet all day. Free juice in the morning is decent.
North Cape cruises are somewhat an once-in-a-year event for NCL and many other mainstream lines, but if you do take one, beware satellite reception is bad beyond Arctic circle for obvious reason. You may get more Internet with a SIM card with consistent signal off the Norwegian coast than the onboard WiFi. Surf with Opera Mini when signal drops to 2G.
In the end the cruise is worth solely for the itinerary. Hammerfast and Honningvag had little to offer, but the Lofoten was a gem that blended great view and seafood. Did not take any excursion except city transfers. Allow flexibility to do your own excursion esp for tender port.
Love the location - close to elevator and not far from the 24/7 pub/eatery on Deck 8. Furniture in need of update. Ample room for luggage for two, but not that plenty of open shelve or table to spread out a travel mess.
One of the sockets on makeup table was UK/Singapore/Hong Kong three-pin. The sole European continental two-pin socket outside toilet was behind TV. Bathroom is large. Bow TV camera and the navigation info channel were technologies from the 90s.
Weather was flawless for Mt. Dalsnibba! The view over fjord and snow-capped landscape was superb, value was outstanding, and do get off the bus on its way downhill to walk down the easy trail alongside the waterfalls. Book ahead, but only when the weather condition on that very day becomes somewhat certain.View All 75 Mount Dalsnibba Reviews
There is a number of great museums to see and a couple of palaces to visit. But it was the Louisana Museum of Modern Art that really impressed - use an one-day ticket (DKK130) to go there and carry on to Helsingor. City is easy to navigate on your own. A small shop at Ocean terminal offer currency exchange. Bus 25/27 takes you to two major city stations - wait for 25 to Norreport, where you can walk to most attractions. Prepare for congestion on disembarkation in summer weekends.
Took an expensive return bus to Åndalsnes but the scenery worth every penny - had a quick lunch with a view and did a 45-min hike in Åndalsnes before heading back. The bus journey is actually part of the "Nutshell" package. Spent another two hours in Alesund to appreciate the Art Nouveau buildings and habour, but had no time to visit any of the museum. But it's Norway - stay outdoors when weather is great!
Third largest town in Norway with a respected university and bustling tech scene. The Nidaros Cathedral and the two neighboring museums was almost inevitable for every visitor, as with the colorful wooden houses along Nidelva the river. The open-air folk museum looked promising but I did not have time. One may take a ferry for the former prison on Munkholmen, which I skipped too. Instead I crossed the Gamle Bybro and just stroll around, had an artisan coffee and relatively affordable lunch in a heavily gentrified wharf/warehouse area. The upbeat vibe typical for an university/tech startup boom town did come to full swing during lunch hour.
Do queue up at the makeshift tourism info kiosk for the travel ticket - credit card not accepted on buses! The Polar Museum/Tromso Museum combo was of excellent value - spare time ahead to travel to the latter. Also run by the Tromso University is a very well maintained botanical garden across from the cruise terminal. The early summer bloom was impressive even on a rainy day. Had reservation about the Polaria and Cathedral - the former seemed overpriced, while the latter was away from everything else. Excursions from Tromso are often expensive as operators apparently depend more on the winter aurora season.
There is simply too much to do at Bergen for one day. Do consider disembark early at Bergen for the infamous railway to Flam/Oslo if the second largest city of Norway falls in the end of cruise. Though the rail is often offered as an excursion, missing Bryggen and natural beauty around Bergen will leave a big regret.
Bergen Card is good for KODE, but not accepted for the funicular and Hanseatic Museum. Maritime museum was off the beaten path, but the 1pm guided tour may worth the time and they are updating the exhibits.
Shipping in Norway is closely associated with today's cruise industry - both NCL and RCCL were founded by Norwegians, with the latter still partly controlled by a Norwegian family. The legacy of Norwegian shipping certainly gives some insight into today's success of the USA-based cruise lines.
Another very relevant museum was the fisheries museum that was rather close to one of the smaller cruise docks - there you will find Norway's somewhat ambiguous, conflicting attitude over fishing/conservation. Definitely not a full story here, but those missing pages can be put together on Google.
Fish market in Bergen did look overpriced and touristic to me. Did the 3.5 hour cruise around Osteroy, primarily for the narrow passage of Mostraumen - mixed feeling about this one, as breathtaking scenery only accounted for about half-hour.
Buses are very frequent in Bergen with many lines running near cruise docks. Bergen Cards entitle you to limitless rides.