Norwegian Star Review.
We have cruised with Princess, RC, Carnival, and Celebrity. This was our first cruise with NCL. We were very impressed with this cruise line. This cruise was from Dec 21, 2019 in San Antonio to Jan 4, 2020 in Buenos Aires.
The embarking and debarking process are very slow. You make line after line. The terminals are in cargo piers and have to take a shuttle bus from the terminal to the ship.
Food at the Buffet was well stocked and organized. Food did not stand for long and they were restocking as needed. The staff was always cleaning and checking the tables at the buffet. Be advised that in this particular itinerary, especially on sea days, many passengers choose to use the buffet as lounge, going for breakfast, staying over for Wi-Fi, reading, playing cards, and go on for lunch and dinner. This makes difficult finding a place to eat at the buffet. O ’Sheehan’s gets packed during the day, many guests lounge there after dining, you may want to go early for lunch. Soft Serve Ice Cream at the buffet may be better. It melts too fast! Service at the Main Dining Room was quick and good. Best times for the MDR are before 7:00 PM. The Oriental Restaurant fills up very fast and has a 45min-1 hour wait time. If you want to dine right away, be there at 5:30 PM sharp. After that, you make the waiting list. If you do not want to make lines for dinner, the Buffet prepared themed dinners nightly with very good menu choices.
This itinerary has a comfortable pace. It allows you to rest a day before the next port. Due to the ongoing engine trouble, the ship was traveling first at 19 knots, then at 13. Our cruise shortened some port times to leave early and arrive late. The glacier scenic cruising was outstanding. The best glacier views are in the north side. Strong winds and high waves made us miss circling Cape Horn. Engine trouble delayed leaving the Falkland Islands nine hours late. The call at Puerto Madryn was canceled and it became another sea day. We only got the port fees reimbursed.
Tendering is a pain. If you are not in a ship tour, or are Priority Tender, you have to run to the Bliss Lounge to get a ticket for an early tender wait in your cabin for your tender number to be called. Then walk a downstairs line to the tender. In some ports, the tender trip takes 30 minutes.
The Christmas worship service was very good. Crewmembers organized, performed, directed, and also attended alongside the guests. One crewmember led the songs and also preached the Word as good as an ordained minister. There were Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve celebrations in various ship venues. For safety reasons, they did not shoot fireworks. When we arrived, the ship was fully decorated for the holidays and everything was removed before we disembarked. There were special menus for both Christmas and New Year holidays.
The shows at the theater were very good. You have to get in early to get a good seat. Even though there is a no-seat-saving policy, many guests disregarded it and saved seats for their parties.
The San Antonio Port is two hours away from Santiago. The best way to get to and from San Antonio is to take a tour that takes you to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso in the way there.
We mostly used shore tours advertised with Trip Advisor. They were better priced, have smaller groups and offered more personalized service than the ship-sponsored tours. They stick to the ship’s schedule and ensure you’re back on time. The only two ship-sponsored tours we took were at Port Chacabuco and the Iguazu Falls tour upon debarking.
Even though is summertime in South America, please plan for layering. Santiago, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires have summer weather. Ushaia, Punta Arenas, and The Falklands have winter weather. The other ports have Fall to Winter weather. Many guests were buying coats and sweaters on ship to bear the cold temperatures outside.
Our experience with this NCL cruise was outstanding. We loved the “Freestyle Cruising” when you can wear anything anywhere, saving valuable suitcase space. We noticed passengers from all over the world, and from all age groups. Overall service by everyone was outstanding. We will certainly consider NCL as a future cruise option.
The balcony cabin layout is well designed. Even though there is slightly less room space, the partitioned bathroom area has the best layout seen. The closet layout is well organized and allow to store the suitcases inside. It does not have the cumbersome coffee table that is seldom used, allowing more space in the cabin. It offers one electrical outlet each for US/EU/UK. If you want to use all three, please bring one adapter for each outlet. The bed lamps have USB charging outlets next to the switch, and there are other USB connectors next to the AC outlets. The cabin is very comfortable for a couple. The soundproofing could be better. You can hear the adjoining cabins if they speak loudly or turn their TV volumes loud. Be mindful when using the TV or talking aloud. WiFi is slow. For laundry service in this cruise, there were three days when they offer to wash everything that can fit in the bag for $19.99. The Cabin Steward kept the cabin clean and they sanitized the door and hallway handles. If you want to get the best view from your balcony, please choose the side of the ship that will face inland, depending on the route.
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