The Star IS a good ship to see Alaska on: Norwegian Star Cruise Review by medford2

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The Star IS a good ship to see Alaska on

Sail Date: May 2010
Destination: Alaska
Embarkation: Seattle
We arrived in Seattle the day before our cruise, May 28th. I had gotten a room at the Sheraton Seattle downtown through Priceline for $80. We arrived in Seattle about 10:30am. I had done some research, and since we had plenty of time, we took the short walk to the Light Rail, and rode it to the Westlake Station for what should have been $5. When we got to the Light Rail station at the airport, we found the train just sitting there with nobody around. We just got on. About half-way through the trip I noticed some brochures on the wall about how to ride the local transit system. Just as I got to the part where it explains you buy your ticket at a vending machine at the station, a security guard came along checking tickets. He was very polite as he escorted us off the train at the China Town station and helped us get our tickets...just $3.50 from there. We caught the next train about 15 minutes later and finished our journey. As luck would have it, the Seattle Sheraton was only 2 blocks More away from the station, and we easily carried our luggage to the hotel. If you have the time, this is the way to get downtown. It takes about 30 minutes to make the trip. Even though we were real early, we were able to go straight to our room. The Sheraton is a very nice, and very large motel. About the only drawback was they did not offer a free continental breakfast. BTW...EVERYTHING in Seattle is least compared to rural Oklahoma. Before we'd left, I had made reservations with Tours Northwest for a tour of Seattle. These are really nice folks and give a pretty good tour for the money, even though they don't take you to the Space Needle, though it did seem they took us just about everywhere else. They do not collect any payment till the last stop before they return you either to your motel, or Pike Place Market or any other place as long as it's not too far out of their way (they won't run you to the airport). The cost for this tour for the both of us was $92 after I used a $3 per person coupon I got off of The $6 I saved I tacked on as a tip ($98). We ate lunch at the nearby Cheesecake factory, and a light supper at another place I don't recall. We got 2 small bowls of soup for about $12...the best deal we could find. Can't wait to get on the ship!

Saturday morning we took a cab to pier 66. The fare was $6.75. I just gave the cabbie a 10. We arrived about 10:45am, and went through booking in about 15 minutes. After about another 30 minute wait we were allowed to board. Somebody on this board stated NCL WAS giving Destination Alaska coupon books out, but I never saw them. I had ordered one through snail-mail for $5, and it was well worth it. We didn't have time to use it extensively, but easily saved at least 5 times what it cost us. Once on board, everybody headed for the Market Cafe. It was a little crowded, but not too bad. The food was decent buffet fare. About 2pm we were allowed in our rooms. Our bags weren't there yet, but came shortly afterward. We had an inside stateroom on the 8th deck. Yes, it was small, but it was big enough for the two of us. The bathroom was nice with a fairly roomy shower. Shampoo, shower gell, and handsoap were all in wall mounted pump containers that worked real well. They also supplied a bottle of Elemis body lotion. While we brought hair conditioner with us, my wife never used it. The hair dryer worked very well also. On our sea-day, Sunday, the Star had arranged for a Cruise Critic meet-and-greet. We met in LeBistro at 11:30 am. Jean Michelle (I hope I'm not butchering his name) the hotel captain, along with several other male and female officers including Candi, the cruise director, visited with us and answered questions. One of the female officers made the cookies for our meeting, and my wife said they were the best cookies she had on the cruise.

There are basically 4 free eating places on the Star, and several specialty (fee) eating places. We did not buy any of our food on board...Call me cheap. We ate most of our breakfasts at the Market Cafe. With both outside walls lined with floor-to-glass windows, enjoying my meal and a cup of coffee afterward while watching spectacular scenery slide by was one of the peak times of the day for me. Second would be having a snack of buffalo wings at the Blue Lagoon just before sunset in front of their floor-to-ceiling windows was another one. Which brings up another point. I've heard a lot of whining about the Spinnaker being moved to an enclosed room aft, and now there's no place to view the beautiful Alaskan scenery from inside the ship. There are PLENTY of places for viewing from inside the ship, including I don't know how many hall-way windows with comfortable cushion lined sills where one can sit and read a book and enjoy the scenery. There are also many places you can sit outside watching the scenery still completely out of the elements. We ate our dinners in the Versailles, and enjoyed it very much. The Aqua, the other dining area just never appealed to us. I think it was mainly because there were fewer windows. The Versailles is located at the very back end of the ship. The entire back wall is solid glass with ornate metal framing. There are also windows on the sides. We liked the free-style dining arrangement. Except for a couple evenings, we volunteered to share our table. If you get there when they first start serving, you'll find this is the best way to get a table right by the back glass. A bonus was the interesting people we met at those meals. To finish off the eating, the Market Cafe has an excellent variety of food at breakfast and lunch. We never ate dinner there. They also serve a late evening buffet which we tried once and liked (they have pizza). The poolside grill serves several varieties of hot dogs (bratwurst, sausage, etc), hamburgers, french fries and all the fixings, weather permitting. And the Blue Lagoon, the only 24 hour eatery. It has a limited menu of buffalo wings, fish and chips, burger and fries, chip and dip, and a few deserts. We'd always eat a snack here between shows about 9:30 or so, and enjoy a fabulous Alaskan sunset.

The shows were hit-and miss. The Frankie Vallie tribute was very good as well as Band on the Run. The Circque Pacific was ok, and the Second City show was a total waste of time. Candi Finklestein (?) was our excellent cruise director, and made sure our days at sea, and I guess in port was full of things to do.

I believe it was between Juneau and Skagway that we took a side trip up Endicott Arm to see the Dawes Glacier. We were supposed to go up Tracy Arm to see the Sawyer Glacier, but there was still too much ice. We got very close to the glacier and got some excellent pictures.

Just a few other odd and ends. Yes, they really hawk their jewelry for some reason, but I was never approached by anyone hawking jewelry. The water on the Star is excellent. I really see no reason for anybody to bring a case of water onboard. I even saw people filling their water bottles with ship water.

The last two days of our cruise we were sailing outside of the inside passage in rougher water. The ship rolled constantly. The wife and I put on motion-sickness patches just as a precaution, and did just fine. On our last sea day we broke tradition and ate breakfast at Versailles, and enjoyed it. We still like the Market Cafe better for breakfast. While we heard of whale-sightings from the ship, we never saw any, but saw a few dolphins that swam alongside us for awhile.

Disembarking Saturday morning was a breeze. We took our own bags off, and basically walked off when we were ready. We went out to get a taxi..WARNING.. If you want a taxi, walk straight to the taxis. There will be a group of men you pass that will try to get your attention and tell you they have a taxi. They DO NOT. They will take you in their personal vehicle, so it's pot-luck on what you get. We took a taxi back to the Westlake station for $10 including tip, and were at the airport by about 10am. The line for check-in was terrible, but that's another story.

FINAL THOUGHTS. We took the Star because of the price ($550 each) through vacations-to-go. I consider the Star a "meat-and-potatoes" style of cruise ship. It is a beautiful ship, and I thought it was clean and well-maintained. The crew were all very friendly, helpful, and cordial...BUT...if you consider the ship you want to take as a destination unto itself, the Star ain't it. There's a ping-pong table, shuffleboard on the deck, water tubes and pools for the kiddies, and jacuzzis for the adults and kids, but there's no climbing wall, or ice-skating rink. If you're a connoisseur with a refined palate, you may not be impressed with the food. The Star provided the best price for the Missus and I to see Alaska. They showed us Alaska, and kept us fed well and entertained along the way which is all we asked. While this is very long, I still left out a bunch, so I'll be glad to answer anybody's questions. Less

Published 06/12/10

Cabin review: IB8591 Mid-Ship Inside

We had an inside cabin on the 8th deck not far off the atrium which was on the 7th deck. The room was tiny, with two twin beds that we had to push together when we first got there, a writing desk/vanity with a good hair dryer, a small fridge so full of expensive liquor, sodas, and snacks we only had room to put a couple of sodas in, and a small safe. There was plenty of storage for our clothes. The room was still plenty large enough for the 2 of us. The bathroom had the commode on one side, sink and mirror in the middle and a good sized shower with sliding glass door on the other side. Hand soap, shampoo, and shower gel were all in wall-mounted pump containers and worked very well. While we brought conditioner, my wife never used it. We had a small tv set that got mostly ship entertainment and information channels, with a couple of external channels that came and went, and a web-cam channel over the bow of the ship that we left on most of the time. The stewards kept our room up nicely, but the little towel animals definitely was not the same quality as we were used to on Carnival. We got towel animals 3 days. One was a cute elephant with two eyes, the next was a cute elephant with one eye, and the last animal was a mystery.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Tuesday morning, June 1st, our 37th wedding anniversary, found us pulling in to Juneau. Had an early breakfast at the Market Cafe. Getting off the ship was relatively easy. At 8am a Harv and Marv van pulled up and about 6 of us were on our way for a morning of whale watching. It was cloudy, cool (low 50's) and a little drizzly. While it was fun, and we saw some sea lions and eagles, the whale watching was a little disappointing. We DID see several whales from a distance, just surfacing, and submerging, flipping their tail in the air, but never got closer than a quarter mile or so. Our guide...I believe his name was Steve...while he was very accommodating, my opinion...was not very aggressive in getting us close to the whales. Maybe I'm all wet, but I would think when a whale was spotted a half mile away, we would run-and-gun to get at least noticeably closer to where he may be surfacing again. Again, I may be all wet on this. Steve took us by Mendenhall Glacier for some pictures on the way back, and while we weren't there long, I really didn't have any urge to take the long hike (if we'd had the time) to get closer to it. We got some good pictures. We got back to our ship with no real time to see Juneau which was a good half mile away from the pier.

Read 1208 Juneau Reviews

We had tours scheduled for every port except Prince Rupert, and as I looked closer at our schedule, I realized the short amount of time we were in each port, that we had no time to shop, so I cancelled our crab feast tour in Ketchikan, and we made it our shopping port. We were still going to go to the Totem Bight park, but never made it there. We wandered around town a little, went down Creek Street, then just shopped which really wore us out. The Destination Alaska coupon book saved us a LOT of money AND time. You'll find prices in Ketchikan are actually very good. If you weren't able to stock up on Soda in Seattle, you can stock up for a good price at Tongass trading, right at the dock. The towns of Ketchikan and Prince Rupert are the closest to the dock, being just right there. Juneau and Skagway were just a little further away. Weather-wise we were very lucky for our whole cruise. Ketchikan which is famous for the enormous amount of rain it gets annually, was sunny and warm the day we were there

Read 1373 Ketchikan Reviews

We pulled in to Prince Rupert at 4pm on Thursday. We were scheduled to pull out at 10pm. It was a cloudy, cool, drizzly day, and started raining harder after we returned to the ship. Prince Rupert, BC, is a picturesque small town nestled into the mountains, right on the coast. From the number of boats I saw, I would say commercial fishing is the mainstay of their economy, along with our cruise ship. I don't know if any other ship besides ours stops here or not. We just got out and looked around a little. It was a stampede for everybody to get off the ship, even though we had a hamburger basket at the Blue Lagoon when disembarking started to give the crowd a little time to disperse. Don't forget your passport. All we basically found was a tidy little town with the customary tourist trap souvenir gift shops close to the dock. Then there was a stampede back on the ship when everybody realized there really wasn't anything here. Got my picture taken with a Mountie. Told him I was a cop too. He didn't seem impressed. In my opinion, if I had a choice of visiting Prince Rupert, or spending the time at sea, I'd pick Prince Rupert, but I'd much rather take Prince Rupert completely off the itinerary, and give us more time in the other three ports.

Wednesday morning it was back to the Market Cafe for an early breakfast, then we were off again for another adventure. Disembarking was relatively painless again, and we met our Chilcoot tour guide, Matt, right on the pier. We were taking a 7 1/2 hour tour with him. We were put on a passenger car on the White Pass and Yukon railway just a short distance from the pier. We got a seat on the left side that I had been advised to do, and it was good advice. Most of the trip the right side of the train only had a view of a rock wall. Saw a lot of beautiful scenery on the way up over White Pass, and the narration we got over the intercom was very informative. We got off the train at Frazer, B.C. (Your passports are checked here). Matt picked us up and we were off for the Yukon. What can I say? Snow-capped mountains and crystal clear lakes doesn't really do it much justice. We saw 2 black bears on the way feeding on dandelions along the roadside. Matt stopped and gave us plenty of time to take pictures of both bears. A few miles before we reached Emerald Lake we pulled into a small compound where we ate a good meal (included in the tour price) of BBQ chicken and the fixings. After we ate, we browsed through a gift store, and an EXCELLENT wildlife museum. My wife went to see the dogsled puppies while I went back and bought an Alaskan beer to suck down before we moved on, just to say I did. Then it was on to Emerald Lake.

I've heard a lot about this lake and wandered what the big deal was about it. Well, it's a two-tone lake. The main color of the lake water is an intense blue which is common of most of the lakes in this part of the country, but there are also wide streaks of turquoise colored water caused by run-off from a nearby glacier. It is a very pretty and unusual lake. We left the lake and re-traced our route back to the ship, making several stops along the way for pictures.

This was easily my favorite tour. We got back with just a little extra time to see Skagway which is a little closer to the pier than Juneau was, but we decided against it, which wound up being a good decision. The day had been beautiful short-sleeve weather most of the day. When we got back to the ship, we were faced with a long line of cruisers waiting to get back on. We'd barely got in line when clouds started rolling in, the temperature dropped a good 10 degrees, it started spitting rain a little, and the wind started HOWLING! I live in Oklahoma and am a pretty good judge of wind speed, and I'm sure we were getting peak gusts of over 50 mph. We managed to get on the ship, and went up to the 7th deck to see how everybody else was faring. I'll have to brag on the Star crew as I watched then dash out into the howling wind and driving mist to help elderly, disabled, and children back to the ship. I'm ashamed it never occurred to me to go out and help them.

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