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Norwegian Star Review

4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
2471 reviews
3 Awards

The ship was nice, but the shore excursion process was painful

Review for Norwegian Star to the Panama Canal & Central America
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10+ Cruises • Age 70s

Rating by category

Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Dec 2019
Cabin: Mid-Ship Balcony

We chose this cruise because we wanted to go through the Panama Canal and had been to most of the Mexican ports that would be covered by a cruise starting or ending in California. We were particularly interested in the Colombian ports, which were cancelled two weeks before our sailing date and NCL would refused to let us cancel and get our money refunded. Supposedly the ship had "mechanical issues" that required the change in itinerary, but as best we could tell, the ship was sailing at full speed. No one on the ship would tell us what was wrong until the last day when a "beverage manager" said they had engine issues.

Our previous voyage with NCL was to the Canary Islands in January 2019. We liked that cruise and booked the Miami to Santiago cruise shortly after our return home. Our experiences with the most recent cruise were so bad, we do not intend to sail with NCL again.

We booked our flights through NCL. Coming from California, we wanted to have one night in Miami prior to the cruise, but NCL insisted that we either stay 2 nights in the hotel they specified (which got poor reviews on Trip Advisor) or come in the day of the sailing on a red-eye flight. Our red-eye was scheduled to arrive at 7:00 AM, but got in at 6:30 AM. Our final cruise documents said the transfer desk would not open until 8:30 AM and the first transfer would be around 10:30 AM. We sat in a cafe and showed up at the transfer desk at 8:15 AM. There was a sign on the desk saying they opened at 8:30, but they had been open for some time and had filled all of the seats on the first two buses. There was no where to sit except on the baggage carousels, which at that point were not in operation. About a half hour later the baggage carousels started and we were left without seats. My husband uses a cane and cannot stand for extended periods of time, so it was a problem. We were told we had to stick around, because they didn't know when the buses would be loaded. We finally got on a bus around 10:30. When we got to the terminal, we were directed to the handicapped line, but we still ended up standing for about 40 minutes. Every so often a check-in staff person would rush by, look at the line and just say "Everyone fine?" and rush away before anyone could respond. The check-in process was terribly slow. We watched people being given the wrong ship card and then the come back to interrupt the line to get the correct one. This went on for a long time. When it was our turn, the check-in person walked away to get our cards and came back, looked at them, saw they were the wrong ones and immediately went back to get the right ones make the process take about an extra 5 minutes at least per person.

Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony

Our cabin was compact, but comfortable. There was only a bedside table on one side and we both use CPAP machines, so I put my on the side of the small couch. There were no electrical outlets on the side of the room with the head of the beds, so I ran an extension cord from the other wall and plugged both CPAP machines into it.

There was not a chair in the room, just a stool. Some people complained about the lack of chairs. The ship internet was extremely slow even at off peak times like the middle of the night. Messages that I was never able to download through the ship wifi downloaded instantly when I got on the wifi at the airport lounge.

NCL only asks about a limited range of competitors. They do not see small ships like Star Clippers or Windstar or river cruises or expedition ships or tours as competitors, but all of those are competitors for potential passengers time and money. We enjoyed our first 3 NCL cruises enough to come back, but this cruise indicated to us that NCL is moving downmarket and that it no longer provides what we want.

Port Reviews


Our NCL transfer to the ship was not handled well. Seating at the location for meeting the transfer was completely inadequate.

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