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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2015
9 of us ranging in age from 78- 4 years old on the 12-19 Christmas cruise- It was a very good cruise and given that we could just make a 3 hour drive to the Houston port and park it was the easiest embarkation/disembarkation ever. We have ... Read More
9 of us ranging in age from 78- 4 years old on the 12-19 Christmas cruise- It was a very good cruise and given that we could just make a 3 hour drive to the Houston port and park it was the easiest embarkation/disembarkation ever. We have been on 10+ cruises and this one being our second on NCL. Mostly sail from FLL or Miami to enjoy the newer boats and better weather but took a chance on the Jade because of the convenience and value. We were a little concerned by all the November and December negative reviews but it appears they have most of the earlier problems worked out. The bartenders were good and I discovered a new favorite drink- the Moscow Mule! Have it made with Tito's vodka! Ultimate Bev Package worked well although the selections are not as good as Celebrity's program. We dined at Grand Pacific each night and other than the first night (when they were rather overrun) we had no trouble with service. The food was okay but was not impressive. It seems the days of lobster, escargot, or a nice jumbo shrimp cocktail are over on NCL. Not sure if this is because of the emphasis on all of the specialty restaurants but overall a step back from previous cruises within the last few years. For instance one night I had Prawns in Alfredo sauce which was good- the "prawns" however were about the size of a nickel. C'mon, I wouldn't mind "shrimp" with Alfredo but don't get my hopes up... Didn't go to all the shows but the ones we did get to were great- The Elements show was probably the best I have seen at sea. The reggae band on the pool deck was great and I enjoyed listening to them very much- pool deck always had chairs available. 4 year old really enjoyed the kiddie pool and made friends there which helped with the drop off at the kids club the couple of times he went. The two early teens in the family made friends and had a great time while onboard. White Hot Party was fun but was better on the NCL Sun where they held the event outside and had more staff involved. The ship is a little old and showing some age in places but overall not bad. While we had a completely full sailing it did not seem crowded at most times. Everyone that I encountered both passenger and crew seemed in high spirits. The Hawaiian theme is weird and I missed the multistory atrium that is found on most ships of this size. The Christmas décor was mostly disappointing- they tried a little. Having Santa there on Christmas morning was really nice for our 4 y.o. and the carolers were fun. Arrived early back in Houston due to weather which was no problem and seeing the fog as we came up the ship channel Friday afternoon it was probably a good call by the captain. We took a cab to Paradise beach in Cozumel based on CC reviews and it was very nice. Lots of water toys to use on the beach, pool, showers- just what we were looking for this time. Its not an all inclusive so everything was al a carte and they ask you to spend $10 in food/bev...$15 for use of all the non motor water toys. Belize tender was no problem. Did cave tubing and zip line with cavetubing r us. Fantastic experience and the owner/operator David was very knowledgeable about his country/enjoys his job! More time in the river, better tubes, half the cost of the ship. Roatan tender was no problem- we didn't have as much time in port as I would have liked but we visited West Bay beach through bananarama. Awesome beach and snorkeling but very crowded with 5 ships visiting that day. Of all the cruises we've been on I can say that they all have been 5 stars+ and I have always appreciated the hard work the staff puts in to make sure everyone's experience is a great one but withholding a star this time because of the big food decline in the main dining rooms. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
We just returned from a week on the Norwegian Escape. There were 21 in our party. The oldest was 74 and there were 11 kids from 2 to 16. Everyone enjoyed themselves. I am going to try to be comprehensive and fair, while giving a ... Read More
We just returned from a week on the Norwegian Escape. There were 21 in our party. The oldest was 74 and there were 11 kids from 2 to 16. Everyone enjoyed themselves. I am going to try to be comprehensive and fair, while giving a balance of the good and the “needs improvement.” The best feature by far is the food. OH MY GOD! The food is phenomenal. Our whole party had the ultimate food packages. We ate at just about every specialty restaurant on the boat (There are about 10 of them). Some of the best food I have ever eaten. The Italian restaurant’s tiramisu was the best I have ever had. The Brazilian Steakhouse was amazing. The ribeye at the “regular” steakhouse was perfect. The food at the three “standard” restaurants was excellent too. We only went to the buffet for breakfast and lunch, but the food there was great too. Real whipped cream is rare in the Caribbean, but was plentiful for waffles at breakfast – Mmm. The only slightly subpar meal we had was at the French restaurant. It was not bad, but was not up to the standards of the other restaurants. The biggest problem with the cruise was the “structure” of the ship. It was a very full cruise – about 4500 guests. In the past we have often cruised Carnival. They have a large theater for shows, gatherings, games, etc. That is apparently not the Norwegian style. Everything on Norwegian is small and intimate. There is a theater, but it is arranged like a movie theater not a “gathering” room. The Atrium is where all of the events take place. They have Bingo, Deal or No Deal, Not so Newlywed Game, live music, WiiU dance for kids, and more amusing things. Lots of people, especially families, love these things. The problem…the Atrium seats about 50 people. They brought in folding chairs at times, but it was a madhouse. People were fighting over chairs. They need a much larger gathering space. Although they have a 5 slides, a small water park, a small kids pool, and a medium adults pool, the pool area felt small as well. To cram all the things in one place, they lost seating area. There were maybe 150 seats around the pools – not enough for a day at sea for 4500. There is nowhere for parents to sit around the kids area and watch their kids. The pools were not heated and were a little chilly – probably warmer or at least more refreshing if you don’t cruise in December. The slides themselves were fantastic and fun. Something for every age – even thrill seeking adults. The tube slide was the most popular. But even better than the waterslides was the ropes course. A two story ropes course with 2 zip lines. My teens spent hours on the ropes course. Plus there was a baby-safe mini-ropes course. My 2 year old LOVED that one. We also had the unlimited drinks package. I found the drinks to be excellent and maybe even a little too alcoholic! Many of the bars had their own specialty drinks as well, and they were mostly very tasty. The cabins were a solid good. They are bigger than Carnival cruise cabins, but they are still small – and we had balcony rooms. My stroller is a standard size (a city mini), but could not fit through the door. This made transferring a sleeping 2 year old into bed harder than it should have been. You have to keep your room card in a slot to keep the electricity on in your room. Therefore, you can’t charge your electronics while you are out – which was unfortunate. Then we discovered a piece of paper could be wedged into the slot instead of a card. But this means the cabin steward will think you are in (there is a light outside the cabin that turns on when the card is in the slot) and will not make up your cabin. A no win situation. Did I mention how great the food was? We found all of the people very nice. We prepaid our tips, and most people do, so they are not hustling for tips as much. Yet they still bent over backwards to be nice. There is a teens club that my kids loved. There are separate clubs for 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12 year olds. There is even babysitting for a fee (we never used it). The younger kids in our group didn’t love the kids club so much – it’s all indoors in one room per age group and got too crowded. No scavenger hunts like we’ve seen other places. It is VERY secure – kids are essentially on lock down. The teens area is completely separate, much larger, and kids come and go at will. It is a new ship, and my wife says she has never seen public bathrooms so clean. They are obsessive with germs. Multiple staff people stand at every entrance to the buffet with hand sanitizer. Plus there are fixed sanitizer stations EVERYWHERE. Plus the bathrooms have paper towel dispensers JUST TO USE TO OPEN THE DOORS. They have hand driers to wash hands and dry them, but towel dispensers only at the doors with instructions to use them on the door handles. The entertainment options were great. There were two comics with a total of three sets each. There was karaoke at least once a day. Multiple piano bars plus dueling pianos many nights. One hiccup – my fourteen year old is a huge sports fan. The only place to watch sports with sound is the adults only bar. He was not happy about that at all. Overall, we had a great time. Even with 20+ people in our party, we had trouble finding each other – probably a good thing. There was always something to see, do, or eat, and it was usually funny, fun, and delicious. I would certainly cruise Norwegian again. 4 ½ stars. They lose the half on the small Atrium. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014

Where do I begin. Our first experiance with the Sky was truely one to remember. We normaly sail in a Balcony (BA class mid ship) but on this cruise the cruising gods were smilling down on us and three days before we sailed we were ... Read More

Where do I begin. Our first experiance with the Sky was truely one to remember. We normaly sail in a Balcony (BA class mid ship) but on this cruise the cruising gods were smilling down on us and three days before we sailed we were bumped up to the Owners Suite! Thats right we went from the balcony cabin of 202 sqft. to 835 sqft. cabin, private balcony w/hot tub, free alcohol, treats from the staff every evening a butler & concierge service. SPOILED!! You could tell the ship was a little old and needed a little mait. here and there but the staff was friendly and attentive the entertainment was very good for a smaller ship and of course the food was as always with Norwiegian fantastic. We have taken four cruise's with Norwiegian in the past five years these guys know how its done! They have certainly won my buisness as a matter of fact we are already booked on the madian voyage of the new Norwegian Escape in November.....Cant wait!!

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Sail Date: December 2014

The Good:

1. Good itinerary

2. Big window in Balcony Stateroom

3. Good Entertainment ( Cruise Director was great)

The OK:

1. The food was bland and always the same. I was on a carnival Liberty ... Read More

The Good:

1. Good itinerary

2. Big window in Balcony Stateroom

3. Good Entertainment ( Cruise Director was great)

The OK:

1. The food was bland and always the same. I was on a carnival Liberty before this and couldn't help but compare. Carnival has a lot more free options and the food is 10 times better. Norwegian's food was bland and always the same. I did not try their restaurants that you had to pay extra for.

The Bad

1. There was a smell coming from the aft stairs

2. The bartender in Ramblas bar was rude, never smiled and always looked away. No wonder it was always empty

 

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Sail Date: December 2014

This was our 4th cruise, second with our children, who range from 13-21.while we had a nice time with family and friends, we were never really impressed by anyone on the shop. We did like the ventiloquist, Kenny Byrd, but he was truly a ... Read More

This was our 4th cruise, second with our children, who range from 13-21.while we had a nice time with family and friends, we were never really impressed by anyone on the shop. We did like the ventiloquist, Kenny Byrd, but he was truly a rare standout. The only other person that seemed to make a relationship with us, a large group of 19, was Emir in the sports bar. The ship is behind the times in terms of technology and shows some wear. Young children were allowed to run all over the ship at breakneck speed and no one ever seemed to interfere. All in all, the experience could have been better.

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Sail Date: December 2014

This was our first NCL cruise (16th overall with our favs being Celebrity, RCL and Princess)- we were pleasantly surprised! All 19 of our group had a great time, but I will only speak for my wife and I - the others can write their own ... Read More

This was our first NCL cruise (16th overall with our favs being Celebrity, RCL and Princess)- we were pleasantly surprised! All 19 of our group had a great time, but I will only speak for my wife and I - the others can write their own reviews.

I have to start out by saying that my wife and I go on a cruise to meet new people, and the freestyle dining is not the way to do this, so we would never go again on NCL unless it is with a group.

The highlight of our cruise had to be the crew - they were always attentive to your needs - always in a friendly and helpful mood. There was always something going on, and we never felt crowded. The cruise, Bobby, and Asst. CD, Tyler, were unbelievable.

As far as the accommodations - We had an obstructed, oceanview cabin on Deck 6 - very convenient location at the front of the ship - the room had more storage that we've ever had on a cruise...the shower was TERRIBLE - that had to be the worst part of the cruise - it was SO SMALL, you could hardly turn around or bend down.

The food in the buffet was average - sometimes the long was too long and it took forever to get through...the one at the back of the ship was never crowded, but it didn't have all of the buffet items like the ones inside. The dining room food was above average, but service was inconsistent - we even had our waiter leave midway through our meal to go to another shift somewhere else on the ship - we couldn't believe that!!!

We seemed to congregate in the Sports Bar every afternoon before dinner - the bar staff (Abin and Emir) were AWESOME. At 5:30, they also had a very good snack menu - things wings (AWESOME), burgers, fries, dips, etc.)

Overall, we would definitely recommend the Sun.

 

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Sail Date: December 2014

Our family has not been on a cruise in 28 years - that one was arranged by a family member.

Positives - staterooms were more spacious than I expected, we had 2 inside staterooms on the 8th floor. Staff very friendly, always said ... Read More

Our family has not been on a cruise in 28 years - that one was arranged by a family member.

Positives - staterooms were more spacious than I expected, we had 2 inside staterooms on the 8th floor. Staff very friendly, always said hello or acknowledged you on the ship.

Negatives - FOOD was the biggest disappointment.

Lack of variety overall - seemed like lunch items were re-hash of whatever was left over from the day before - just in a different sauce or form. Every single dessert served was inedible except the German chocolate cake which was only served the afternoon of departure. Desserts looked and tasted like styrofoam, airy, tasteless. Prime rib at Garden Cafe first and last night was reasonably good. A few of the salads were nice.Just huge lack of variety - never saw a shrimp, crab or lobster anything. Most of the on deck meals were cancelled due to wind - which was really not a strong wind. the two they did have were some of the better food served. Only saw grapefruit one day, otherwise cantaloupe, pineapple and honeydew cut fruit ever. yogurt in large dish looked so gloppy I did not even want to try it at breakfast.

Excursions we booked on our own and saved about 75% over NCL prices and from what we saw and heard we had much better excursions than those who booked through the ship. Two best were BZ Cave tubing - loved Melvin our guide, great day, lunch was enjoyable, but bring a snack because you only eat at the very end of the day. Other great day was at YaYa Beach Club - club was OK, but it was Carolyn from Undertoe SUP (stand up paddle boards) and Simmone from the Yoga studio who was helping Carolyn who made our day. These two women were amazing they made our day in Mahahual - Costa Maya port the best day of the cruise! Everything you would want - smart, funny, kind, gracious, helpful, friendly. We (especially my sons 24, 22 and 19) had a blast with their lesson and just hanging out with them during the day. No they are not young 20 somethings but have this appeal that crosses generations. Simonne did an impromptu yoga session with me that was a real WOW experience, not just poses, very emotional, healing and something I never experienced before.

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Sail Date: December 2014

Just finished up a 7 day Norwegian Star cruise to the Mexican Riviera... This is my 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Star, my 10th cruise altogether. Embarkation as a suite passenger was fast (less than 30 minutes) however it took 5 hours ... Read More

Just finished up a 7 day Norwegian Star cruise to the Mexican Riviera... This is my 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Star, my 10th cruise altogether. Embarkation as a suite passenger was fast (less than 30 minutes) however it took 5 hours for our bags to reach our room. In contrast: On a 4 day Carnival cruise (Inspiration out of Long Beach) taken just after this cruise, our bags arrived at our stateroom within an hour of boarding.

Being a foodie and having cruised on the Star in the past, we opted for the ultimate dining package so we could "go crazy" at the specialty restaurants. We didn't dine at the MDR for any dinners in hopes of making the most of our unlimited package. Here's a summary:

Cagney's steakhouse: We ate here 4x because of the high quality of food and service. This is "surf & turf" type fare in a romantic setting. The restaurant exudes "expensive" but isn't hoity-toity, the food was consistently very good.

Le Bistro: A little more romantic than Cagney's and a great excuse to get dressed up- if that's your thing. The french food is solid, not the best I've had, but still good. The service was excellent, the Coq au vin was a tasty choice.

Moderno: A fun dining option for carnivores. A semi-romantic setting overlooks the atrium. Pasadores (meat servers) bring freshly grilled skewered hunks o' meat to your table. There is also a yummy salad bar that includes olives, meats, soups, ceviche, and prepared salads. Hint: arrive early (6-7:30) when the restaurant is busiest to get the freshest cuts of meat.

The non-specialty (read: no fee) restaurants included:

The Buffet: The absolute worst on the high-seas, avoid at all costs, has high-school cafeteria type seating.

The Blue Lagoon: A 24 hour cafe with simple basic food. Great views.

Versailles: MDR serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dining room is handsome, a francophile's dream touting tall ceilings, lots of mirrors, paintings, gold filigree, and heavy drapes. The service was consistently good, the food was standard cruise-fare: fancier than Golden Corral, but most definitely not the Ritz.

Aqua: A more modern and glitzy dinner venue than Versailles but serves the exact same menu.

The ship: The ship itself is looking a little dated although it appears to have just received a fresh coat of paint. It is in good repair with the exception of:

-worn out chaise loungers

-broken/tacky looking fountains in the atrium

-a buffet that has less charm than most hospital cafeterias

I typically don't go to shows on cruise ships due to low production quality, so I have nothing to report in that regards. The only "planned activity" I participated in were Latin exercise/dance classes in the Spinnaker lounge, which were a mix of Zumba and aerobics, but nonetheless got my heart pumping. I walked the promenade daily for my 10k steps, played a little golf and ping pong with my husband.

There was a very good R & B band from Trinidad/Tobago that were very enjoyable, however I didn't much care for the Spanish folk-singers or the Asian 50's greaser band. However, my opinion is likely entirely due to my age (early 40's).

The common areas were all very clean, the staff was very friendly and helpful.

The ports:

Cabo San Lucas: Here we took a boat cruise of Lover's beach and El Arco. Mostly we just killed 2 hours, as the tour was not very interesting, the pre-recorded Jacques Cousteau presentation was b-b-b-boring. After the tour, we walked the pier into town and went to Los Barriles. There we had a fantastic lunch platter with lobster, filet mignon, prawns, sea bass, and crab. What a feast! Our server (Nestor) was fast, efficient, and friendly. The guacamole prepared tableside was simply delicious.

Mazatlan: We booked an excursion onboard that included a city tour which took us to watch some cliff divers, from there we went to a shopping district (Zona Dorada), then to a resort (Hotel Playa Mazatlan) for lunch, entertainment, and lounging on the beach. A ho-hum excursion until the resort, which would've been awesome if the weather had held up. The hawkers were very aggressive on the street and at the beach, however a simple "no gracias" always worked for me.

Puerto Vallarta: We took a Jeep Safari excursion which wasn't much of a safari at all, instead a drive through the countryside & through many poor villages. It was very educational to see how the "real Mexicans" live, however I didn't appreciate being pressured to buy stuff at the hat or tequila factory. $65 USD for a bottle of tequila is NOT a good deal! At the end of the excursion we were taken to a beach where we were only allowed 30 minutes before having to return to the ship.

Debarkation was the fastest ever. The concierge escorted the suite passengers to customs, we were off the ship in less than 30 minutes with bags in hand.

Overall: A very enjoyable cruise. Not the fanciest, not the prettiest nor most modern ship, but an organized and friendly vacation brimming with lots of great food and smiling faces.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2014

My wife and I cruised on the Norwegian Star over New Year's 2015. I read all of the reviews before the cruise. I have to say the Star is in excellent shape, it is a beautiful ship. This was our 8th cruise overall, the 3rd on NCL, we ... Read More

My wife and I cruised on the Norwegian Star over New Year's 2015. I read all of the reviews before the cruise. I have to say the Star is in excellent shape, it is a beautiful ship. This was our 8th cruise overall, the 3rd on NCL, we sailed on the Breakaway and the Epic before. The Star was just as good, if not better for many reasons. I have to assume that the negative comments some people posted had to have been related to some individual bad experiences, because I saw no stained carpets, no outdated things, etc that some people wrote about. Even though the cruise was full, you didn't get the sense of overcrowding on this ship like you do on some of the larger mega ships, it was perfect size for the amount of people aboard. As with all NCL cruises, I would recommend the Ultimate Dining Package, the food in those restaurants are EXCELLENT. If you don't get it, then you have to wait in lines for the main dining room or buffet, where the food also is kind of mediocure at times. But NCL's specialty restaurants definitely beat the food on Princess or other lines we have been on. The cruise director Ian on this ship is the best ever, he is everywhere, i don't know how he does it. Really good attitude and they put in some nice personal touches on this ship that i didn't see on other NCL cruises, such as a thank you performance by the crew at the end, which was a really nice touch. The entertainment in general was very good.

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Sail Date: December 2014

We went on the Christmas cruise 2014 with extended family. Embarkation was a nightmare. The worst experience being when we turned over our luggage to be organized and taken on the ship. The man scoffed at our $10 tip for our bags. He ... Read More

We went on the Christmas cruise 2014 with extended family. Embarkation was a nightmare. The worst experience being when we turned over our luggage to be organized and taken on the ship. The man scoffed at our $10 tip for our bags. He actually said that if we wanted our bags safely on board it wasn't much of a tip! We gave him more to make sure our bags got onboard... After proceeding through the chaos of the line of cattle we finally got to our rooms. The rooms were fine. The were clean, the room steward was great. Food was great. We chose to eat most of our meals in the garden cafe (the buffet). We did eat in the Venetian 3 nights, which turned out to be a 3 hour event. Not our cup of tea, but I'm sure some people love waiting for tiny servings. At least we did have another option. Entertainment. Wow. I felt like I was at our home town high school musicals. The second city comedy show was dumb, some people did seem to enjoy it though. And we were PACKED in a bar to watch this show, I'm sure some fire codes were broken there. Most of the other entertainment was not free, and it was to make NCL money, for example, bingo, raffles, casino, and the like. The booze is pushed from early morning on. Since this was a Christmas cruise, I fully expected beautiful decorations. Nope. A few cheesy cardboard wall cut outs, some gingerbread houses, one christmas tree. Not too festive

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