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The Panama Canal has been on my bucket list for a while, and I really loved every bit of our cruise on NCL Star. I shared a balcony cabin with my sister, also an experienced cruiser; however, this was our first longer cruise (over 7 days) for both of us. The Star is looking spiffy after her recent drydock… décor looks fresh, color schemes up to date, seating in public spaces is (mostly) comfortable. She’s one of the smaller ships in the NCL fleet, so, we weren’t expecting the bells & whistles of a megaship. We still found plenty to like. Our cabin was about what we expected, size-wise: a bit snug, but room enough for both of us to completely unpack & hang up what needed hanging. The beds were reasonably comfortable. We both liked the USB ports that have been added to the bedside reading lamps. The bathroom is tight quarters, as expected (particularly the toilet cubicle,) but the shower is big enough to turn around in. Dining was very good in every venue we tried. We didn’t eat at the buffet for meals (just an occasional afternoon snack… they always had some nice things set out to make up a tea tray or an ersatz charcuterie plate.) The main dining rooms had a nice variety of entrees on the menu, with enough variation that we didn’t get bored by the end of the second week. The alternate venues wowed us! Of the specialty dining (we tried them all) we particularly liked Le Bistro & Teppanyaki, but it was all quite good. We also loved Ginza, the complimentary Asian restaurant, and would return two more times during the cruise. The activities & entertainment offered were varied, and we enjoyed the live music in the several venues around the ship. I particularly liked the production shows offered in the Stardust Theater – four shows over the course of the cruise – the show band is awesome! They would also perform in the smaller venues on non-show nights, and were terrific there, too. We also had the good fortune of having a guest lecturer on board, who gave several interesting talks in the afternoons on topics related to our Central American itinerary. I indulged in the thermal spa pass, and spent many pleasant hours there. Smaller ship means smaller spa… the steam room & sauna are tiny, but barely used, so it didn’t matter much. There are only seven of the heated tile loungers, but I think I only had to wait once. The crew of the Star is what really elevated the whole experience for us. Every single person we encountered was pleasant, helpful, and ready to treat us like rock stars. It amazes me how everyone you encounter (room steward, bartender, dining room hostess) is greeting you by name after about the third day. NCL is clearly doing something right, because the whole crew seems to be happy & energized to have the best cruise possible. After such a review, I hate to mention downsides… but there’s always a couple… The seating in Stardust Theater is awful, to put it simply. I guess it didn’t get the refurb during drydock. Many of the fold-down seats seem to be sagging. I found the bench seats in the balcony to be much more tolerable. Also, the live music is sometimes much too loud in small venues, particularly Gatsby’s (the midship bar on deck 6.) It was our favorite bar in the evenings, but we’d find ourselves avoiding it if there was an over-miked musician performing when we walked by. Overall, these very small glitches did nothing to diminish our overall enjoyment of the cruise. We loved the Canal experience & we’re glad we got to enjoy it aboard the Star. She’s a fine ship with a fine crew, and I’d sail her again anytime.

Panama Canal on the Star

Norwegian Star Cruise Review by trivimp

Trip Details
The Panama Canal has been on my bucket list for a while, and I really loved every bit of our cruise on NCL Star. I shared a balcony cabin with my sister, also an experienced cruiser; however, this was our first longer cruise (over 7 days) for both of us.

The Star is looking spiffy after her recent drydock… décor looks fresh, color schemes up to date, seating in public spaces is (mostly) comfortable. She’s one of the smaller ships in the NCL fleet, so, we weren’t expecting the bells & whistles of a megaship. We still found plenty to like.

Our cabin was about what we expected, size-wise: a bit snug, but room enough for both of us to completely unpack & hang up what needed hanging. The beds were reasonably comfortable. We both liked the USB ports that have been added to the bedside reading lamps. The bathroom is tight quarters, as expected (particularly the toilet cubicle,) but the shower is big enough to turn around in.

Dining was very good in every venue we tried. We didn’t eat at the buffet for meals (just an occasional afternoon snack… they always had some nice things set out to make up a tea tray or an ersatz charcuterie plate.) The main dining rooms had a nice variety of entrees on the menu, with enough variation that we didn’t get bored by the end of the second week. The alternate venues wowed us! Of the specialty dining (we tried them all) we particularly liked Le Bistro & Teppanyaki, but it was all quite good. We also loved Ginza, the complimentary Asian restaurant, and would return two more times during the cruise.

The activities & entertainment offered were varied, and we enjoyed the live music in the several venues around the ship. I particularly liked the production shows offered in the Stardust Theater – four shows over the course of the cruise – the show band is awesome! They would also perform in the smaller venues on non-show nights, and were terrific there, too. We also had the good fortune of having a guest lecturer on board, who gave several interesting talks in the afternoons on topics related to our Central American itinerary.

I indulged in the thermal spa pass, and spent many pleasant hours there. Smaller ship means smaller spa… the steam room & sauna are tiny, but barely used, so it didn’t matter much. There are only seven of the heated tile loungers, but I think I only had to wait once.

The crew of the Star is what really elevated the whole experience for us. Every single person we encountered was pleasant, helpful, and ready to treat us like rock stars. It amazes me how everyone you encounter (room steward, bartender, dining room hostess) is greeting you by name after about the third day. NCL is clearly doing something right, because the whole crew seems to be happy & energized to have the best cruise possible.

After such a review, I hate to mention downsides… but there’s always a couple… The seating in Stardust Theater is awful, to put it simply. I guess it didn’t get the refurb during drydock. Many of the fold-down seats seem to be sagging. I found the bench seats in the balcony to be much more tolerable. Also, the live music is sometimes much too loud in small venues, particularly Gatsby’s (the midship bar on deck 6.) It was our favorite bar in the evenings, but we’d find ourselves avoiding it if there was an over-miked musician performing when we walked by.

Overall, these very small glitches did nothing to diminish our overall enjoyment of the cruise. We loved the Canal experience & we’re glad we got to enjoy it aboard the Star. She’s a fine ship with a fine crew, and I’d sail her again anytime.
trivimp’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BC 9538
Cabin looked fresh after the recent drydock; furnishings & fabrics were all up-to-date. Could have used more storage space in the bathroom. We liked the in-cabin coffeemaker & used it frequently. The balcony could have been better -- it looked dirty & the chairs wobbled -- but we still enjoyed it on Canal day.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins