First of all, the employees were awesome and the onboard entertainment was very good; otherwise, we were very disappointed. Our room was an inside room on the 10th floor. There were loud noises from the ship all night long. We never got ... Read More
First of all, the employees were awesome and the onboard entertainment was very good; otherwise, we were very disappointed. Our room was an inside room on the 10th floor. There were loud noises from the ship all night long. We never got a good nights sleep. The noises were NOT from other rooms, it was definitely from the ship. The food was also disappointing. We had 1 evening it was okay. Getting off the ship for excursions was a nightmare as they stopped running the elevators during that time. People were backed up for floors trying to get off. Getting back on was fine. They changed the time on one of our excursions without letting us know and would not work with us to be sure we were able to make it. We didn't and lost our money for it. Overall, we were very disappointed... I would not suggest this cruise!! Read Less
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was a spur of the moment decision due to the Super Bowl Ad offering all the freebies. Mistake, I usually do a ton of research, but not this time, My major take-aways: freebies aren’t ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. It was a spur of the moment decision due to the Super Bowl Ad offering all the freebies. Mistake, I usually do a ton of research, but not this time, My major take-aways: freebies aren’t worth it unless you drink a lot. Basically, the amount we paid in service charges would have paid for our drinks anyway. Free airfare meant a horrible itinerary, causing an overnight in a hotel that wasn’t free, baggage fees and seat selection costs. Excursion credits we only used twice because NCL excursions are so overpriced that even with the credit they were more expensive than a local guide. The specialty restaurant freebie was probably worthwhile, just to have some variety, though we would have been happy to just do three nights instead of five. And the WiFi package was a joke, since the WiFi didn’t work most of the time.
The good: I was afraid 4 days at sea was too many and that we’d be bored, but the games and activities kept us busy. The musical entertainment was very good. I did like the itinerary and the ports of call.
The not so good: 1. Seating comfort. Our mini suite cabin had a couch/convertible bed that was so hard it was uncomfortable to sit on. Plus, if you leaned back, it would start to slide forward to create a bed...basically making it impossible to use to watch tv or just relax. The seating in the theatre was horrendous. I stood during one show because I couldn’t take it anymore. The couches in the Spinnaker Lounge also were uncomfortable, canting forward so that you slide off of them. What is wrong NCL?
2. Communication. NCL did absolutely NOTHING in terms of education about the Panama Canal. Wasn’t that the purpose of the trip? The library had no display. There was no lecturer, no channel on tv with the history. Nothing. In fact, no announcement as to when exactly we were going through the canal and suggestions on when to get up or where to view. It was pathetic. Besides the canal, they did a very poor job about all the ports—the only maps we got were incomplete shopping maps. The excursion info was incomplete as well. There is no excuse for people to wonder about the timeline of the excursions, it should be up front. People on the Panama Canal ferry had no idea they would be taking a bus for an hour and a half each way. A bus with no restroom, by the way. There were plenty of people who didn’t know we were tendering at Roatan. NCL had two signs ( with conflicting info regarding timetable) in the entire ship. Why? Why don’t they use the elevator monitors for something useful rather than just listing the floor number? That might be a good place for daily announcements. And why make people run around to the dining rooms to see the menus? Just post them on the app, or on the monitors. Have more monitors around the ship...make them touch screen! It’s 2019 for crying out loud! All NCL seems to care about is selling you something.
3. I guess we drew the short straw with regards to our cabin steward, we never got an introduction to the room. The little sign with his name and extension showed up partway through the cruise. We had no room-service sheet. He always forgot a washcloth, or other towel, etc. we did complain and the towel animals started showing up, but unfortunately he grossed me out because he replaced the paper doily on the glassware, even though the glass was used. He did this 3 times. Made me wonder about the cleanliness and standards.
4. $19 for 4 ounces of robitussin. Lots of people developed coughs, and they take advantage of it. That’s just mean.
5. Food was generally ok. The beef and lamb were particularly good. I thought the Asian food was good. The bread was awful...no good crust, not good texture, the soft serve ice cream was not worth the calories. Our best meal was at La Cucina...excellent pasta, and ask for gelato. I felt much of the food was under salted, leaving it flavorless. The accompanying sauces were little dots on the plate. The mixed drinks were generally very good. The service in the dining room and bars was good.
6. I don’t know how embarkation is supposed to work, but it was hideous. The terminal did not have enough seats. The announcements were difficult to hear ( again, why not use monitors?) and it took way too long. Embarkation at Cartagena was a mess. Disembarkation was rather disorganized as well...lots of people crowding the stairwells with nary a crew member organizing it,
Overall, I’m glad we went, as we wanted to go through the Panama Canal, but NCL didn’t convince us to become regular cruisers. ( last time we cruised was 20 years ago with Princess to Alaska. That was wonderful.) Read Less
Choose thus iteniary to do Panama Canal in less than 2 weeks. Got off at every port, some were amazing, Panama canal is an engineering marvel, but took all day, be prepared. Costa Rica, amazing jungles, only issue on ship was planning of ... Read More
Choose thus iteniary to do Panama Canal in less than 2 weeks. Got off at every port, some were amazing, Panama canal is an engineering marvel, but took all day, be prepared. Costa Rica, amazing jungles, only issue on ship was planning of activities, they had painting events (that you paid for) in same lounge as balloon folding, painting had no microphones, but balloon instructor did. Dis embarkment waa chaotic beyond any other cruise.. Very disappointed. They let those that used a stair case not instructed too use, to exit endlessly. While those that follows directions were left piling up in tight hallway. Food was tasty, service was impeccable, iteniary was unique. Private island was beautiful, pool enormous, beach beautiful, but jelly fish warning. Cute little shops. On ship have to collect signatures for trivia, n other games, n at end of cruise trade in for gifts, missed the presentation, so never got to trade in progress report Read Less
This was our third trip to Panama via Norwegian. We traveled as a group of 5 couples. There was a coast guard inspection on the day of our embarkation which slowed the process down, but in general it went smoothly.
We feel that the ... Read More
This was our third trip to Panama via Norwegian. We traveled as a group of 5 couples. There was a coast guard inspection on the day of our embarkation which slowed the process down, but in general it went smoothly.
We feel that the cruise director is the heart of the ship, planning events and making the ship fun and entertaining. Unfortunately, our cruise director was not that good. The cruise was very low key and lacked a really happy vibe which Norwegian is known for and what we experienced on other cruises.
The food did not meet any of our expectations. The buffet offered the same food quite often and the desserts very rarely changed. Specialty dining we would consider as being the worst. The only one we all enjoyed was Cagney's We avoided the main dining room because it took a minimum of 2 hours to get out, and the food was sparse.
We all noticed it was difficult to understand many of the crew and vice versa.
The entertainment in the Magnum lounge was very good and the Elements show and Jeff the Juggler were great. The games shows with our cruise director were awful.
Leaving the ship was painless and we were out of the terminal in a timely manner.
In general, in spite of the few shortcomings, we all considered this to be a very good cruise. Read Less
We caught an 11am shuttle from our hotel to the port. By 12.10 we were upstairs and waiting to board. We didn’t realise when checking in we required our ESTA which was packed in our suitcase. Thankfully they let us board anyway. We were ... Read More
We caught an 11am shuttle from our hotel to the port. By 12.10 we were upstairs and waiting to board. We didn’t realise when checking in we required our ESTA which was packed in our suitcase. Thankfully they let us board anyway. We were on board by 1pm.
We met our cabin steward the day we embarked and we saw him at least once if not twice a day. Our cabin stewards service was great.
We only ate in O'Sheehan's once on Embarkation day. We didn't have trouble procurring a table. I was dissapointed O'Sheehan's don't serve the chicken tenders anymore. Our first day at sea we ate lunch in the Grand Pacific Restaurant after we attended the Meet & Greet. I wasn’t fussed by the lunch options and wouldn’t choose to eat lunch in the restaurant again. The remainder of our lunches we ate in the Garden Cafe and we always found enough options to eat.
We ate dinner in Alizars every night. We almost always arrived for dinner at 7pm and at least half the time we had a 20min wait for a table. Magnums was a great bar to spend the time whilst we waited for a table. The bar staff in Magnums were fabulous(very entertaining and prompt service). The food in Alizar was great and service was almost always outstanding.
The day we were traversing the Panama canal we were upstairs by 5am. We had planned to be outside on deck 13 but by the time we made it upstairs there were already too many people so we settled on a 2nd row seat on the port side in Spinnaker instead. A fortuitous decision we were very glad we made when it started to rain. We had pretty awesome views of the locks including an LPG tanker coming the other way. Before we completed the crossing I went down to Deck 7 to get an up close view of the mules (towing trains) and the walls of the lock.
We had two tender ports(Gatun Lake, Panama & Puerto Limon) but only one where we had to line up for tender tickets. I was in line for tickets by 8.10(for an 8.30 pickup) and I was about 50th in line. We just missed out on tickets for the first tender but were two of six who managed to get on the first tender at the gate. We booked two tours through NCL (Gatun Lake and Harvest Caye) the remainder we booked independently. My original tour of the Mayan ruins of Nim Li Punnit (8.30) was cancelled and I was moved to a later tour which meant I wasn't able to spend anytime checking out Harvest Caye.
I utilised the gym most days. A couple of times I used the pool and the spa. The temperature of the spa was perfect.
I wasn't impressed by the DJ who played in Spinnaker. The dance floor would be full and he would stop playing the song half way through. On our second night I came across Dave McHugh a guitarist from Newfoundland who was amazing. The venues where he played were always packed and standing room only.
We elected to be in one of the last groups to disembark, disembarkation was VERY slow. Read Less
Our primary purpose during this cruise was to travel through the Panama Canal and celebrate my sister and brother-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary.The food was outstanding with beautiful presentation and staff that were have to ... Read More
Our primary purpose during this cruise was to travel through the Panama Canal and celebrate my sister and brother-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary.The food was outstanding with beautiful presentation and staff that were have to supply our every need. The Jade only carries about 2500 passengers so there were no long lines for meals, shows, etc. With a longer cruise an added bonus is an older crowd and very few young children. Our cabin was smaller than we've become accustomed to but we settled in quite easily. Bathroom setup is really smart with sink in the center, shower to one side and toilet to the other side. Shower and toilet had glass doors for privacy so more that one person could use the bath at the same time.
The staff was outstanding with friendly smiles, good suggestions and a world-class friendliness that was remarkable.Ship excursions were pretty pricey but very worthwhile. Every bus we traveled on was immaculately clean. Guides spoke English very well too.
Excursion tips: tour the old city in Cartagena; don't miss the Aerial Tram and Exhibits in Gatun Lake, Panama; banana plantation, scenic drive & Shopping (if you consider a convenience store as shopping); dolphin encounter in Costa Maya is good with limited dolphin contact but pictures with dolphins start at $40 each. The best beach day was at Maya Key Private Island retreat. There is a huge winding beach, lots of shade or sun, no blaring music, a nice buffet was also included. There are guides to help beginners snorkel and see parts of the beautiful reef. Very comfortable and safe. Read Less
First let me say we had an AMAZING 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal. Everyone from the baggage handlers to the Captain were warm, inviting and went over and above to ensure our bucket-list cruise was all we imagined it would be and ... Read More
First let me say we had an AMAZING 14 day cruise through the Panama Canal. Everyone from the baggage handlers to the Captain were warm, inviting and went over and above to ensure our bucket-list cruise was all we imagined it would be and more. NCL corporate on the other hand were HORRIBLE and need additional training and a means to correct actions, which are truly of their making, which affect their employees.
I planned for close to a year to ensure my near 80 year old father’s bucket-list cruise through the Panama Canal was everything and more he could have imagined- and it was. I watched countless hours of YT videos on what to pack, what to expect and any precautions which would help us avoid any hiccups during our trip. I called and emailed our personal cruise consultant and Concierge MANY times before our cruise to ask questions and request any items due to my father’s health and to confirm all was done and nothing would missed off or forgotten to avoid any troubles later. I even went to far as to create a daily guide to help us remember what day it was and what the daily activities were to help us commeroate our time together and scoured over our paperwork before and to comply with all NCL required per our cruise documents to ensure our check-in process and our cruise went as smoothly as possible. My parents even paid for the extra travel insurance just to make sure if anything happened prior to or during our trip medically, we would have some peace of mind knowing we had options available to us for added peace of mind.
For our cruise we opted for the prepaid gratuities so we made certain EVERYONE who was due money was paid their dues as they are the hardest working people on the seas. You see them in the sunrise breakfasts and the midnight buffets- they must be vampires cause they never seem to sleep from the baggage handlers and dishwashers to the Captain. Lol. My husband and I traveled with my soon to be 80 year old parents to help with baggage and flew literally across the country from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angels in one day. Every step along with way we were there to help with bags from the vehicle to the airport, gate to gate, airport to hotel and hotel to ship. If we were not there this trip of a lifetime would not have been possible. Everyone we met along the way was awesome- a little hectic but what vacations don’t have great stories to tell from memories made after right??
We purchased a two bedroom- two bath suite for our extended cruise and truly had a great vacation. Everyone from the wait staff who waited on us daily, Susi our Concierge and JonJon our butler were exemplary in helping make sure this was the time of our lives and we cannot say enough great things about them- KUDOS to them all.
Our issue arose when representatives from each suite were called together to discuss how disembarkation would go and where to meet. It was at this meeting- during the last two sea days of our trip north of Cuba- that Susi let us know our butler was not covered under the gratuities paid which got an audible gasp in the room. Mind you, HOURS of research, emails & phone calls to NCL were made and videos were watched to avoid circumstances such as this from happening. During my research and even during their Shore Excurision presentation they mention at certain ports, “do NOT display obvious signs of wealth.” Which, to be honest, can apply to any street in any town in the US as well so no shade. Our issue is knowing we were told ALL our gratuities were prepaid under our cruise fare by NCL beforehand we all carried cash to tip our baggage handlers, tour guides, bus drivers and a little more if anyone went over and above and deserved a little more appreication than the standard allowed- not extra money which is truly rightly due those who were not covered as we were told by NCL ALL gratuities were already paid. We were absolutely aghast. We went to our room and quickly pooled all our remaining money we had left to give to him. We purposefully didn’t travel with a lot of extra cash as, who carries cash anymore let alone buckets full when everyone cautions you against doing so and being told they were already paid?
When we got into the port of Miami, (Saturday) I emailed our personal cruise consultant immediately about what had happened. I was able to speak with her on Monday as she was out of the country as well and she assured me that as we elected to prepay our gratuities our butler, along with everyone else, was covered but to contact Guest Services and let her know of what they said. I just got off the phone with GS, Anthony (i), I believe was his name and he said Butlers were NOT covered by the gratuities we paid and there was nothing that could be done to rectify the matter and it stated in the seven pages of cruise documents he wasn’t covered. I didn’t have the cruise documents in front of me at the time but when I got home later that evening i went straight to them and in fact the butler was NOT mentioned in my cruise documents as I was told it was.
This completely taints our entire wonderful vacation because we actually stiffed someone who absolutely positively deserved it the most and earned every last penny of the money during our cruise as we couldn’t be happier. We’re so upset and disappointed with NCL over this, we cannot even begin to properly express them. SHAME ON YOU NCL for doing this to us and well as to your employees. Shame. On. You. You have absolutely taken a wonderful trip of a lifetime and tainted it with a policy that even your own employees do not fully grasp and in turn cheating hard working employees out of hard their earned money without a means to rectify it?? SHAME ON YOU!!
We have been looking for our butler on social media to figure out a means to wire them money via PayPal, Venmo etc they are truly due without success. We are just sick over this whole debacle and pray a solution can be found as this has caused us all unnecessary stress as a result.
WONDERFUL cruise and staff - - HORRIBLE Corporate office policy!!! Read Less
Chose this for an extended family cruise (3 suites) for our 50th anniversary. Panama Canal on our bucket list. The cabin was nice, cabin steward attentive, and the restaurants were OK but not something to write home about. Entertainment ... Read More
Chose this for an extended family cruise (3 suites) for our 50th anniversary. Panama Canal on our bucket list. The cabin was nice, cabin steward attentive, and the restaurants were OK but not something to write home about. Entertainment meh. We did enjoy the talks about the Canal.
Customer service desk personnel were unacceptable and mostly just angered us by blaming ship problems on us (it was somehow our fault that the batteries in the cabin door locks failed twice). The Bistro restaurant was our first choice (we did 4 extra-cost dining experiences). The main dining rooms (Versailles and Aqua were OK, but the food was only OK. Strangely, the onion soup at the Bistro was excellent but really poor at both Versailles and Aqua). Tepanyaki restaurant gave a very good show; food was like Benihana.
There's a big current focus on using hand sanitizers--understandable given norovirus outbreaks. There was one "washy washy" girl (as they called themselves) in the Garden Cafe who made the most of this--super friendly and entertaining. Kudos to Hannah.
Promises that we would somehow be compensated for 2 days without toilets, 1 day without water, and having to lock our door fail twice proved to be empty promises, However, I did have a long talk with the head of hotel operations, and he seemed genuinely concerned about our experiences.
By the way, it wasn't just our room that had major plumbing problems. The 12th deck bathroom immediately above our room overflowed into the hallway and many other cabins suffered without toilets for some days (including one of our daughters' cabins).
The internet only worked sporadically and was basically down for most of 2 days in a row.
The average age of passengers was noticeably older than previous cruises we've been on. Read Less
Choose for the Panama Canal crossing. The entertainment was good overall. The meals were medium good but not noteworthy. We ate in buffet, both main dining rooms and 3 specialty restaurants. Only Cagney's was worth the money. ... Read More
Choose for the Panama Canal crossing. The entertainment was good overall. The meals were medium good but not noteworthy. We ate in buffet, both main dining rooms and 3 specialty restaurants. Only Cagney's was worth the money. Desserts with the exception of ice cream were uniformly disappointing.
The shops devoted too much space to high end jewelry and perfume (money makers?) and nothing to makeup or sundries or candy.
Liked the shore excursions we took and fond them very enjoyable.
Staff was very friendly. Enjoyed cruise director Dave and the Captain too.
the hypnotist/comedian was not anyone I would want to see again. Jennifer Fair was delightful once again. the production band and cast did a very good job.
Atrium music bounced up to the internet cafe and was deafening! acoustic issue.
Although recently refurbished, The Star seemed drab and and the decor old.
Overall we had a good time but are unlikely to choose another NCL cruise unless family or friends invite us to sail with them. Read Less
We are health conscious vegans and one of us has a gluten allergy. In January 2019 we sailed aboard the Princess Regal on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise. We went with relatives which didn’t give us much time for us to enjoy being on ... Read More
We are health conscious vegans and one of us has a gluten allergy. In January 2019 we sailed aboard the Princess Regal on a 7-day Eastern Caribbean cruise. We went with relatives which didn’t give us much time for us to enjoy being on the boat or for relaxing. We needed another cruise and fast! However, we had limited funds having just cruised. We choose a 14 day repositioning cruise on the Norwegian Star which departed Los Angeles and sailed through the Panama Canal with Miami being it’s destination. We went on “the cheap” getting an interior cabin which we do not mind because the darkness helps us sleep longer and better. To save money we used the "Let Us Choose" option where Norwegian selects a cabin for you. The ports of call ranged down the Western Mexican coast, with stops in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, passage through the Canal and last stop in Columbia before heading to Miami. We did not take any tours since we had seen Mexico on other cruises and enjoy having the ship to ourselves when others are ashore. The Star had a historian give several lectures on the Panama Canal history and someone narrated during our passage through the Canal. Both were very nice.
Traveling as vegans (avoid foods containing meat or products from animals), always poses a challenge. On the Princess Regal the Main Dining Room offered a vegan menu each night and gladly adjusted for gluten intolerance. The Princess had assigned seating and dinner times which worked well for us. Our waiter became familiar with our special needs and things flowed very smoothly. The Princess morning buffet had mixed greens as well as beans and several types of breakfast grains. They also had non-dairy options on the buffet. The labels above each buffet item had a “V” if it contained no animal products and /or a “GF“ if not made with wheat gluten.
On the Norwegian Star, the buffet selection was more limited and we frequently went to the main dining room if we wanted something “green” in the morning. No dish on the buffet had identification as to whether it was vegan or gluten free. Non-dairy and/or gluten free items were available upon request but often took a while to get from the buffet staff.
The Norwegian Star has a Free Style approach to dinner. We explained our special dietary needs to the restaurant manager and he introduced us to their special diet coordinator. He was great! At first, we would tell him what we desired for dinner but later just gave him the freedom to create meals with the chefs. The meals were very good and exciting to see what we would get that evening. However, with Free Style dining, you never knew how crowded the restaurant would be at any given time and most of the time we had a new waiter who was unfamiliar with us and our diet. English was not spoken well by some waiters so explaining each night that we had a special meal became tedious. Some nights meals took a very long time to prepare particularly if the restaurant was unexpectedly crowded. The Princess approach with an assigned waiter, assigned dinner time and vegan menu was much more efficient and pleasant for us.
The entertainment on the Norwegian Star in our opinion was not as good as some other ships we have been on, however, one show by the ship's production cast was outstanding and among the best I have seen. The Star’s exercise room and decks for walking were superior to many other ships. We enjoyed the Star’s indoor movie theaters rather than the Princess ship design which features an outdoor screen for that “drive-in theater” experience.
Overall we achieved our goal of being able to enjoy leisure time at sea and remain healthy. It was a good cruise but from our perspective it could have been better with a few simple changes by Norwegian. It was our first experience with Norwegian so we do not know if our experience is representative of other Norwegian ships or cruises. Read Less