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Norwegian Star Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,612 Reviews

Mixed Review

Norwegian Star Cruise Review by hotwired

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jan 2012
  • Destination: the Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse with Balcony

We recently sailed the Norwegian Star from Tampa on January 13th, 2012. The itinerary consisted of a day at sea, followed by port calls at Roatan (Honduras), Belize City, Costa Maya, Cozumel, followed by a final day at sea.

The concierge and butler were out of this world. (Especially Gary the butler). The suite (12510) was great. Very secluded, mostly quiet, nice ample balcony, clean, etc. My wife is a light sleeper and complained of noise (most likely pressure washing) on the deck above her. If we had it to do over again, we'd ask for an 11th floor deck, so that we'd have another cabin, vs. the outside deck, above us. (Of course, we could get noisy people in that cabin, which could be worse!) Our shower was luke warm, though acceptable. The fact that the bathroom sink water was scalding added to the annoyance, but I'm sure with that many people on board, it's tough to get a shower as hot as home.

The piece de resistance was an in-room espresso maker. It used the little cups, and you could set it to make a syrupy shot, double shot, or full "Americano style" coffee. It was well used! The suite experience spoiled us and we will never go back. You get to embark and disembark first, get priority seating almost everywhere, and have a personal butler and concierge shared among just a few suites. You truly feel "important." And the room is somewhere between a large hotel room and a hotel suite in size and comfort.

Food in general

I expected that Norwegian was a "step up in class" from Carnival, which is the ONLY reason we strayed from Carnival in the first place. Surprisingly, I found Norwegian's food to be a level or two BELOW Carnival. (In fact, we found everything except the Suite and its accompanying luxuries to be a slightly watered down version of Carnival.) We ate at the "Aqua" restaurant, which was very clean and had very nice service. The foot was unmemorable, however. Very average. We also ate at Cagney's for lunch (very good, though the seafood bisque was a green paste with a few sea legs floating around in it. Otherwise, very good, especially the Ahi Tuna burger.) What we found challenging was eating healthy. We tend to eat mostly organic, fresh locally grown produce. I know that aboard a cruise ship, it's difficult because the food has to keep for an entire week, sometimes longer, so preservatives are practical, but we do leave feeling a need to detoxify, even though we stick mostly to salads and vegetables.

Freestyle Cruising

We did not appreciate the freestyle experience at all. We found it mostly inconvenient, because as parents of a young child, we like to eat between 530-7 pm, which is the ONLY time we could not make reservations at the Main restaurant (Aqua). Our concierge helped us out there, though, and so all was well. We found the premium cover charges exorbitant for the experiences that those cover charges "bought." The premium dining was equal to Carnival's regular dining experience. I do understand though that the freestyle experience is preferred by many, this is just my personal perspective.

Demographics

I feel there should be a way to discover the "demo graphics" of a given cruise. Our last Carnival was full of pushy, loud, overweight people with screaming, poorly behaved children. (hence our trying out Norwegian for size!) Norwegian's cruise was better, but frankly, there were about a dozen families our age, then the remaining 95% of the guests were 65 and above. It would just be nice to be afforded a "sneak peek" into the general demographic of a cruise to see if it's for us or not.

Children's Program

When we sailed Carnival a couple of years back, their children's program was bar-none. Young folks from many different countries served as "counselors." Many of them were using the experience as "interns" before going onto teaching or other child-education related jobs. There were creative activities, some even involving the parents. They learned about the culture in the countries where the counselors were from, and we received a very thorough newsletter each day detailing the activities du jour. This contrasted sharply with what we received at Norwegian. First, we found out shortly before boarding that there were no "port day" programs. You could pay an extra $6 per hour to have your children take part, but it was a "skeleton crew" type of affair. We found this unacceptable. Our child's most memorable experiences from our last cruise were the relationships forged with the counselors. There are some ports that are just .... Unrewarding for youngsters. Example: Grand Cayman. We're happy we didn't bring our daughter there, simply because there wasn't much to see or do without taking an expensive excursion. In general, we felt the kid's program was very "watered down."

UNNACCEPTABLE: One of the reasons we bought this cruise was the $300 onboard credit. We asked two different representatives if we could use it toward our daily gratuities. Both assured us that we could. On the LAST DAY OF OUR CRUISE, I approached the desk to get a sneak peek at our bill, so that any issues could be ironed out then, rather than in the morning upon disembarkation. I discovered that there had been a policy instituted Jan 1, 2012, that DISALLOWED the onboard (non refundable) credit to be used against service charges. I found this unacceptable and disgraceful. The end result was that our cruise cost us 7-8% more than we anticipated. Imagine buying a used car for $5,000, telling the salesman you'll pick it up in a couple of weeks, then when you come to pick it up a week later, you're told it's $5,350 due to a policy change where they charge extra for tires now?? Tell me you wouldn't want to punch the salesman in the face! That's how we felt. They broke a promise, and I don't care about any verbiage that says, "Policies subject to change without notice, etc. etc." That's just plain "sticking your middle finger up at your customers." Due to this ONE experience, (and the "average" quality overall) we would never consider sailing with Norwegian again. Our choices would've been completely different had we known we could only use that money toward on-ship items. We may have dined a little nicer, bought some pictures, etc. As it turned out, we had to "scramble around" our last day using it up.


hotwired's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Penthouse with Balcony
Cabin SG 12510

The concierge and butler were out of this world. (Especially Gary the butler). The suite (12510) was great. Very secluded, mostly quiet, nice ample balcony, clean, etc. My wife is a light sleeper and complained of noise (most likely pressure washing) on the deck above her. If we had it to do over again, we'd ask for an 11th floor deck, so that we'd have another cabin, vs. the outside deck, above us. (Of course, we could get noisy people in that cabin, which could be worse!) Our shower was luke warm, though acceptable. The fact that the bathroom sink water was scalding added to the annoyance, but I'm sure with that many people on board, it's tough to get a shower as hot as home.

The piece de resistance was an in-room espresso maker. It used the little cups, and you could set it to make a syrupy shot, double shot, or full "Americano style" coffee. It was well used! The suite experience spoiled us and we will never go back. You get to embark and disembark first, get priority seating almost everywhere, and have a personal butler and concierge shared among just a few suites. You truly feel "important." And the room is somewhere between a large hotel room and a hotel suite in size and comfort.


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