Norwegian Star Cruise Review by my6kidsdad
- Sail Date: March 2018
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Balcony
We took time in LA beforehand to explore the Jewish Holocaust Museum (we should have spent hours there), took a Warner Bros. tour (made for "Friends" and "Ellen" fans, though the Batman and Harry Potter parts were good), the Los Angeles Mormon Temple (amazingly peaceful grounds) and sampled some Indian food. It was a great day. Next time we will spend more time at the Museum as well as doing other things. Driving in LA is still crazy on Saturdays.
Embarkation was smooth, but slower than other cruise lines. Disembarkation was not nearly as pleasant and took twice as long. They really need to figure this out. It was the longest and most confusing process of all our cruises. If I had to do it again, I would either be in line at 6:30AM or I would eat a leisurely breakfast and saunter off at 10AM.
After eating for a week, I don't ever see us going back to Carnival. Except for Guy Fieri's. Instead, I had Paella at the deck party, from a 36 inch wok-type pot; impressive sight and the Paella was excellent.
We had to go to Ginza twice, the food was so good. Breakfasts at Versailles are ok; better to choose from the wide variety at the buffet. Speaking of the buffet (we enjoyed it) there are too many passengers for the seating. We had to save a table with one member of the party while the others went to get their food. The omelet line was weird too. They had plates at both ends, so it was confusing where to line up.
Aqua was Versailles with a different decor and our party couldn't come together on Teppanyaki, which some of us really wanted to experience. That isn't exactly right, as it is in a room within the Ginza restaurant, so we could hear a lot of what was going on, which was what fired us up to try it. We had two meals at O'Sheehan's and came to characterize it as "Carnival food." Again, not bashing on Carnival, and you might love them, but we felt the food was significantly better. An example is hash browns, which were flat tater tots. Not exactly inspiring. The potatoes O'Brien at the buffet were excellent.
Cabin. It's a cabin. Unless you pop for a suite, the best part is sitting on the balcony enjoying the out of doors. Our 17 year old came along and he was right, the extra, fold-out bed was hard. Our excellent cabin steward arranged for some egg crate foam padding, which solved that.
Ports: I love Mexico now more than ever. Everyone we talked to was warm and friendly, welcoming. I could do another cruise just to spend more time with the people. I see in comments that some are put off by street vendors, hawking their wares. Smiling, with a gentle shake of my head, I simply put out my hand, palm down and they understood I wasn't interested.
Puerto Vallarta: We did the zipline adventure. Wow! It was great. There is about a quarter mile of climbing after the (hilarious) safety orientation to get to the first station and a few after that, but not bad. The restaurant served delicious food and the small zoo was great as well. We bought the video and photo package, which came out to about $75US. When we got home and put the DVD in, we had a blast watching. They put it to catchy music as well. It is a video of everyone that day, so it takes about 45 minutes for them to burn it.
Mazatlan: We took the bus out to see several rural towns. Our guide was VERY informative, humorous and kind. We saw how Mexico helps the poor by putting up schools, with content beamed in from Mexico City. We had the chance to see how many things were made: decorative tile, cedar doors, sun-shaped clay figures and delicious cinnamon bread. We saw several beautiful churches, a rock symbolizing Queztalcoatl and had a good lunch of fajitas, topped off with banana cream pie.
Cabo San Lucas. The glass in the “glass-bottom-boat” is more Plexiglass than glass, about 2 feet by 4 feet wide. I could see some fish, but it wasn’t like being in an aquarium. I didn’t expect how enjoyable motoring out to El Arco would be. We were also taken to the Pacific side to see all around it. We took a tour of the city (church, glass blowing factory-amazing) stores and a chance to look back on the city. It was enjoyable.
Other than the top deck in front, there is no way to see forward. On other ships, there is a lounge/room where you see where you are going, away from the weather.
The side seats in the theatre are only good if you are in front. Two of the shows we saw were fantastic and one was basically an audience-terrorizing, “I hate kids” show which did not end up as family friendly. I heard from another passenger, who saw the “adult” show that it was full of “F-words” and not funny. Hey, if that’s your gig, great. But to advertise things as family-friendly means that kids should be able to go without being bombarded with an advertisement for more salty stuff.
The intent is good, but mostly eye-candy. The charges don't match actual. The activities don't match and there is no map of the ship. It is marginally better than Carnival's, but that isn't saying much. I would put it 3-4 years behind what we expect apps to be.
We enjoyed it so much we put down deposits for future cruises. What made everything work was how nice the staff was. Every. Single. One. On some past cruises, everyone was nice, but in this case, it was universal. When I asked about working conditions, they said that they were treated well. It isn’t a piece of cake to be away from ones family for a long period of time, but they felt that the company did their best.
To top it all off, Mouse, the teenager keep-kids-happy person was great with our son. Once he caught on, we didn’t see him much after that. He had a blast.
Overall, impressed and Norwegian will be one of the cruise lines that we use.
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