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Our 7-day Mediterranean cruise was fantastic. We left from Venice after staying there overnight in August (HEAVY tourist season - glad we didn't stay longer). We checked in at like 11:30 (technically embarkation started at 12), gave them our bags, then walked back to Venice to get lunch and spend a little more time there. I didn't expect things to be happening on the ship before we departed - would have been nice to know but it probably wouldn't have changed anything. Embarkation a few hours later was super quick and painless and our luggage was just arriving at our room which was nice. Disembarkation was similarly easy and relaxed because we had a train to catch to Florence at 11am and we got to stay onboard to enjoy one last breakfast (in a free restaurant). We had the Ultimate Beverage Package - a wonderful and key addition, and the 3-meal specialty dining, where we went to the French, Italian, and hibachi restaurants. The French one (the "fancy" one) was easily the best and nicest, though the other two also had good food and experiences. The bars on the top decks got SO crowded during the afternoons when the outside crowd was at its peak so you had to wait several minutes for whatever drink you wanted, no matter how simple or complex. I think it'd be nice if they could somehow figure ways to have an expedited line for simple drinks (beer, wine, premade/two-ingredient cocktails, etc). Despite making TONS of cocktails everyday, I give so much credit to the bartenders who were all really great and consistently provided great service with a smile. Same goes for all the servers and everybody else onboard - service and cheerfulness was amazing! Drinks would be quite expensive a la carte without the beverage package - I feel like we got our money's worth with quantity and variety, but even so, it would be a significantly worse experience without the beverage package, even if it may have even ended up slightly cheaper. The entertainment crew and nightly shows were all amazing and so fun and well done. We loved seeing the entertainment crew everyday across the ship and interacting with them in different activities. We did trivia a lot and for some reason it was very geography-based (I.e. which country/sea/etc. is the biggest/smallest/etc.) but I suppose they wanted to be accessible to all crowds, even if it wasn't super diverse of a trivia experience 1-2 times a day throughout the cruise. And it was still fun playing, especially with the great hosts. Easily my biggest gripe with the on-board experience was that I paid so much for the all-inclusive cruise and it felt like I was being sold on extras all cruise long, whether that be photos or CruiseNext deposits or the duty-free store or even bingo. Why not even offer a single free bingo for fun??? (I guess because it's obvious a lot of people will in fact pay for it...?) Don't even get me started on the "free" health or well-being seminars... After curiously staying for a seminar immediately following a raffle (the main way they rope you in), I regretted being guilted into staying for a 15-20 minute strong sales pitch for an expensive product by the fitness guru onboard. My only other main gripe was dining, specifically the chaos that was the main buffet dining hall and the unimpressive/occasional lack of vegetarian options. The Garden Cafe buffet was very big, but somehow not big enough. I can't entirely blame NCL for it (unless it's a ruse to sell more dining packages...?), but we very quickly learned that if we continued going there instead of the restaurants (even if just the free ones), we would have had a worse overall experience - not at all relaxing to eat at the buffet, even with the good selection and variety. And speaking of which, I expected the inclusivity and variety of the cruise to at least have strong vegetarian options (and hopefully even some vegan ones), but the latter would have been very difficult to do consistently and even the former seemed to be occasionally lacking, not necessarily in the buffet but notably in the restaurants. The only other thing to write about was shore excursions and we did one everyday through NCL, which definitely made it easier and more convenient. In fact one port call had to get cancelled due to weather and we immediately got refunded for our paid excursion, no effort necessary. All the excursions ranged from very good to really great, and the local tour guides were all great. There was a good variety of options and even though the tours were larger size than ideal (20-30+) and some ports (I'm looking at you Santorini) were really crowded, they still all ended up being great experiences.

Fantastic first cruise

Norwegian Star Cruise Review by cdantonio

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2019
  • Destination: Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
Our 7-day Mediterranean cruise was fantastic. We left from Venice after staying there overnight in August (HEAVY tourist season - glad we didn't stay longer). We checked in at like 11:30 (technically embarkation started at 12), gave them our bags, then walked back to Venice to get lunch and spend a little more time there. I didn't expect things to be happening on the ship before we departed - would have been nice to know but it probably wouldn't have changed anything. Embarkation a few hours later was super quick and painless and our luggage was just arriving at our room which was nice. Disembarkation was similarly easy and relaxed because we had a train to catch to Florence at 11am and we got to stay onboard to enjoy one last breakfast (in a free restaurant).

We had the Ultimate Beverage Package - a wonderful and key addition, and the 3-meal specialty dining, where we went to the French, Italian, and hibachi restaurants. The French one (the "fancy" one) was easily the best and nicest, though the other two also had good food and experiences. The bars on the top decks got SO crowded during the afternoons when the outside crowd was at its peak so you had to wait several minutes for whatever drink you wanted, no matter how simple or complex. I think it'd be nice if they could somehow figure ways to have an expedited line for simple drinks (beer, wine, premade/two-ingredient cocktails, etc). Despite making TONS of cocktails everyday, I give so much credit to the bartenders who were all really great and consistently provided great service with a smile. Same goes for all the servers and everybody else onboard - service and cheerfulness was amazing! Drinks would be quite expensive a la carte without the beverage package - I feel like we got our money's worth with quantity and variety, but even so, it would be a significantly worse experience without the beverage package, even if it may have even ended up slightly cheaper.

The entertainment crew and nightly shows were all amazing and so fun and well done. We loved seeing the entertainment crew everyday across the ship and interacting with them in different activities. We did trivia a lot and for some reason it was very geography-based (I.e. which country/sea/etc. is the biggest/smallest/etc.) but I suppose they wanted to be accessible to all crowds, even if it wasn't super diverse of a trivia experience 1-2 times a day throughout the cruise. And it was still fun playing, especially with the great hosts.

Easily my biggest gripe with the on-board experience was that I paid so much for the all-inclusive cruise and it felt like I was being sold on extras all cruise long, whether that be photos or CruiseNext deposits or the duty-free store or even bingo. Why not even offer a single free bingo for fun??? (I guess because it's obvious a lot of people will in fact pay for it...?) Don't even get me started on the "free" health or well-being seminars... After curiously staying for a seminar immediately following a raffle (the main way they rope you in), I regretted being guilted into staying for a 15-20 minute strong sales pitch for an expensive product by the fitness guru onboard.

My only other main gripe was dining, specifically the chaos that was the main buffet dining hall and the unimpressive/occasional lack of vegetarian options. The Garden Cafe buffet was very big, but somehow not big enough. I can't entirely blame NCL for it (unless it's a ruse to sell more dining packages...?), but we very quickly learned that if we continued going there instead of the restaurants (even if just the free ones), we would have had a worse overall experience - not at all relaxing to eat at the buffet, even with the good selection and variety. And speaking of which, I expected the inclusivity and variety of the cruise to at least have strong vegetarian options (and hopefully even some vegan ones), but the latter would have been very difficult to do consistently and even the former seemed to be occasionally lacking, not necessarily in the buffet but notably in the restaurants.

The only other thing to write about was shore excursions and we did one everyday through NCL, which definitely made it easier and more convenient. In fact one port call had to get cancelled due to weather and we immediately got refunded for our paid excursion, no effort necessary. All the excursions ranged from very good to really great, and the local tour guides were all great. There was a good variety of options and even though the tours were larger size than ideal (20-30+) and some ports (I'm looking at you Santorini) were really crowded, they still all ended up being great experiences.
cdantonio’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony
Cabin BA 9650
Funny enough, the hotel we stayed immediately prior to the cruise was notably smaller than our balcony room so that probably biased me a little because I was very impressed by the size and amenities of it which were far more than satisfactory for a couple. (Would have started pushing comfort with 1 extra person and 2 extra would just have been too small.) We were right across from the Internet Cafe entrance and pretty close to the Grand Atrium so it wasn't super quiet during the day/evening (though not obnoxious either), but it was quiet at night when it mattered. Not sure why we kept getting nagged (albeit a friendly nag) to have our room cleaned by our maid when we started putting out our Do Not Disturb... that was annoying and unnecessary - we simply don't need our room accessed by a stranger just to make a bed and unnecessarily replace towels.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews