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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
This was our 5th NCL cruise. We particularly enjoyed the Jade, the ship guys like Goldilocks, just RIGHT, large enough to offer variety but small enough to allow you to become familiar with layout in record time. Gerald, our steward was ... Read More
This was our 5th NCL cruise. We particularly enjoyed the Jade, the ship guys like Goldilocks, just RIGHT, large enough to offer variety but small enough to allow you to become familiar with layout in record time. Gerald, our steward was the best, providing quality service coupled with an outstanding personality. The itinerary was changed but worthwhile, even Jamaica which had a somewhat murky reputation, no hassles or high pressure sales tactics from locals. Falmouth was clean offering a variety of tours and shopping experiences. Bonaire was a pleasure, donkeys to dinning. Don't forget to check out the Salt Shop, speak to Mr. Salty who provides a fascinating lecture on salt production, the islands only export. Food on the ship was good, Cagneys as usual, beyond reproach. If you go to sleep hungry it is your own fault. Dont miss Blazing Boots! The show is action packed with top notch singing combined with gymnastic routines. Everwhere you go on the Jade you are greeted with smiles and a friendly word. There is no slide onboard which reduces the amount of small children. We had a mini suite on. Deck 11. 11548. We were not bothered by noise from deck 12 and left our balcony door open day and night. Definitely would book another cruise on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Chose this cruise for the Panama Canal and the price. It was several thousand dollars less than our usual choice of cruise ships. It started out as an embarkation nightmare. A half hour to check in followed by an hour waiting to board then ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the Panama Canal and the price. It was several thousand dollars less than our usual choice of cruise ships. It started out as an embarkation nightmare. A half hour to check in followed by an hour waiting to board then an overcrowded buffet with a long line. It reminded me that four years ago it was the same thing. NCL still has not figured out a smooth embarkation process. After embarkation we fully expected it would go down hill from there, but it didn't. Actually the cruise itself was quite nice. The quality and selection of food was slightly better than passable. The presentation was better than the food itself. No shrimp coocktails or escargots like on Celebrity. The french onion soup I have loved on Celebrity was watery, tasteless and cheeseless. We missed having breakfast on the fantail off the buffet. no such thing on this ship. fortunately, we learned that the breakfast experience was better in the Versailled MDR. The open dining approach worked well if you timed it right, but arrive at 7 pm and you could have a half-hour to hour wait for a table. After trying to eat at aropund 7 and catch the 9:30 show, we figured out it was best to east at 5:30 and catch the 7:30 show. Our cabin and balcony were smaller than on Celebrity. No room for lounge chairs. The bathroom was okay, especially the shower but the commode was tucked into a small area where you barely had room to sit. i pity some of those heavy folks you see filing their plates at the buffet. Absent a handicapped cabin, there is no way they could fit. I must say however that the wait staff and the cabin steward were wonderful. The other staff all around the ship were friendly and helpful. it was clear to us that they had been well trained in that regard. The ambience in the free dining venues was very nice. The Versailles MDR was lovely, but cold and noisy. We found our niche in the extension of the Aqua dining room where we dined almost every night (11 out of 14 nights). It was warm, cozy and intimate. Not a lot of space Best part of the cruise was the entertainment. it was top notch. The NCL house company was wonderful. The singing and dancing were as good as we have seen. The performers worked hard and it showed. The ports left something to be desired. Cartagena, Columbia was okay. The best part was the port istelf, stocked with flamingos and parrots. In puntarena, Costa Rica, all we did was walk off the ship and shop for a few hours in the stalls in port. large selection and good value. In Corinto, Nicaragua we took an excursion to Leon, which was horrible except for a lovely lunch in an old hacienda. In Acapulco, unless you took an excursion to see the cliff divers, the city is an absolute slum. Cabo San Lucas, on the other hand, is very touristy with nothing but shops, restaurants, bars and boats with plenty of choices for whale watching or other marine activites at reasonable prices. and it is very clean and safe - a pleasure to walk around town. Of course the Panama Canal itself was wonderful. A speaker joined the ship in the morning and left in the afternoon after providing a detailed history of the canal and how it works. That's what we came for and it was great. Bottom line, the difference between NCL and Celebrity was obvious, but we chose to save a total of $4,000 by sailing on NCL and we got what we paid for. But never again will we go through that embarkation process. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this cruise because of a specific excursion in Cartagena, Cumbia Dancing. We took private dance lessons, at a great expense, to prepare. One day before port the excursion was cancelled. We booked another excursion that went ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of a specific excursion in Cartagena, Cumbia Dancing. We took private dance lessons, at a great expense, to prepare. One day before port the excursion was cancelled. We booked another excursion that went fine but this was a major disappointment. While dis using excursions, almost all were top notch. The exception was in Acapulco. Cliff divers and shopping. The cliff divers were great. Flamingos Hotel was a lovely setting but a totally decrepit used up 1930's hotel and I doubt the guests much like tourists tromping through on them. The gold museum was closed so the naval museum was subsitiuted. Interesting history but a very hard walk and perhaps as many as 50% of the passengers could not do the walk and had to drop out. The excursion offerings were not very good in Acapulco. A big excursion surprise was Nicaragua. A very poor counrty but our guide was top notch. We can highly recommend Live the Tradition. We took the Zodiac Whale Watch in Cabo and it was the best whale watch tour ever and I was in the tour business in Kona for many years. Too many breaches to count and one with two whales beaching at the same time. Amazing! We had to make a collection through Chicago so we arrived in Miami 2 days early. Good time shopping and seeing Miami. Cheap and easy shuttle to the ship and smooth embarkation though a bit of a long wait. Explored the ship and and our stateroom was easy to find and clean, comfortable, well laid out with plenty of space and nice balcony. Our steward was very efficient though seemingly devoid of personality in dealing with guests. This opinion was shared withouthers on board. This ship needs a total do over. The theater seats are some of the most uncomfortable I have ever experienced. There were a great number of seniors on board who had difficulty walking the stairs in the theater. An aisle hand rail would have helped the people greatly. Aqua has great food and service but the room just seems strange from the twinkle lights in the ceiling, through the art on the wall down to floor. The shopping areas are tiny and could use much more variety in product to offer. There is more space in the photo shop that in the retail store. Watch, jewellery and perfume shop are acceptable. The atrium area could use a refresh and the coffee shop, a Starbucks type place, can be almost impossible to use because of people sitting around playing cards or just sitting and watching a band play. O'Sheehans needs a lot of work. Very poor management. The host station is on one side of the room and the other side of the room has no supervision. Waiters seem to not care and people just wander in and sit down to watch and listen to the music. Paying customers, there is liquor served, sometimes have no chance. Maybe the 5 o'clock Somewhere Bar would use more space. Buffet is good enough as is Top Side. Be aware that there are 5 separate buffet lines and the food offerings are not the same on each one. Versailles does a great job. Good food, good service but again, the room seems a bit worn. Great spa and gym. Try a hot stone massage if you feel pain. Wow! Gym equipment is top of the line and always a trainer is near by. I love the Thermal Spa but $59 per day is a bit high for me and the pass for the entire cruise tied up too much time with so much else to do. Plenty of activity and a good variety of things to do. Internet is really expensive. Finding a safe Wi-Fi location on shore has to be a much better alternative. Come on NCL, give townspeople what they want. Shows were pretty good. Great singers and dancers. Good, clean comedians, and productions. But a juggler? Didn't we leave that sort of thing behind when we bid farewell to Ed Sullivan? I would take this trip again but would prefer a different ship with a bit more of the modern nice extras. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
First time as Platinum so the perks such as priority embarkation and laundry were great! The ship is fairly nice with a beautiful atrium. Some layout challenges for accessing certain venues. Theatre needs a refresh (many seats broken) but ... Read More
First time as Platinum so the perks such as priority embarkation and laundry were great! The ship is fairly nice with a beautiful atrium. Some layout challenges for accessing certain venues. Theatre needs a refresh (many seats broken) but everything else was in relatively good shape. Staff was very pleasant and worked hard although not many were exceptional except a couple bartenders and one of the assistant cruise directors; a few should be looking for a job outside the hospitality industry:). Food was quite good although the breakfast buffet selections did not change much - but there was lots to choose from! First time at Cagney's and it was great - went twice! Teppenyaki was fun and very good food and really enjoyed Moderno's. Ginza was very good and La Cucina was ok. Evening entertainment was high calibre although the themes of a couple of the big shows were not really my style. Comedians were good but we do miss the dedicated comedy club/duelling piano bar of the larger NCL ships. It was nice not having to make reservations. Always able to get a seat but could be tight at the last minute for the late or most popular shows. The daytime activities were basic but with port days and pool time there was always lots to do. Overall seating and public areas was pretty good. You could usually find a deck chair overlooking the pool. Our balcony cabin was a tad disappointing: storage was minimal and awkward; the bathroom was cramped due to an unnecessary sliding door for the toilet area (a design feature on a number of this class of ship); fridge was way too tiny inside. (These issues of course were all manageable and did not impact the enjoyment of our trip.) The balcony was a decent size compared to some of the regular balconies on the newer ships. Room steward was quite good and heard that also from friends we made on board. Demographic skewed a bit older as expected for this length and itinerary. The Cruise Critic roll call was the best we've participated in to date! Had a number of activities and opportunities to meet a lot of new and friendly people. The ports were a mix depending what you are looking for. At a couple you needed to book something to see anything besides an industrial port. We like to see the sites whenever we go to new ports. Good thing as there were not many "beach day" or "adventure activity" options for most of the ports. Note that it is very easy to book quality and inexpensive shore excursions right on-site at pretty much every port. Cabo was beautiful - definitely would like to go back for a longer time. Antigua was worth the drive in Guatemala. Wish we had done a different port in Nicaragua but Leon was interesting to see. Cartagena had some charm. Acapulco is trying to rebuild after its heyday and the people are really welcoming and there are some great sites and views - especially the cliff divers. Costa Rica was our "nature" fix - people were very welcoming. All in all a good cruise as they all are but we realize we like the bigger ships. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I'll try to keep it short & sweet.... 9th cruise/ 8th on Norwegian/ 1st time on the Star. Stayed @ Embassy Suites near MIA. Nice, comfy, easy shuttle to pier ($10PP one-way), oh yeah, and the Manager's Reception! Around $185 ... Read More
I'll try to keep it short & sweet.... 9th cruise/ 8th on Norwegian/ 1st time on the Star. Stayed @ Embassy Suites near MIA. Nice, comfy, easy shuttle to pier ($10PP one-way), oh yeah, and the Manager's Reception! Around $185 hotel. Everything is subjective from here on out. This is just OUR review. Everyone's likes & dislikes, viewpoints, activity levels, and abilities are different. This is ONLY what WE thought.... The ship itself- We thought it was in real good shape all-around. All the public areas were in great shape and very clean, including restrooms, lobbies, pool area, hallways, restaurants, & bars/venues. My small nit-picky's were some touch-up paint outside "around", and some theater seats that wouldn't fold up (and they are VERY uncomfortable!). A positive- there is just SOMETHING about the "older" ships--- in that they have that wonderful, towering, "glass-elevators-and spiral-staircases" Main Atrium! It is the WOW! of walking on to a ship at the start of a cruise! The new "gigantor-ships" just don't have those--- in our opinion-- too bad.... Our cabin was a mid-ship balcony, #10590, and our Steward was Ferdinand. BEST STEWARD in all of our cruises. No question- best ever- great job! Dining- (very subjective!)-- We ate at all 5 of the Specialty restaurants (via dining package). FOUR were absolutely great in service/food/entire experience. Moderno was awful-- period. They sat us over in the Sugarcane bar area (lousy), and were pretty-much ignored. Great salad bar but the meats they brag about were mostly dry and tough. Entire Moderno experience-- terrible. NCL should take toss the whole Moderno restaurant idea (and its "tired" concept), and toss it overboard. O'Sheehan's was OK, the buffets were all good- but don't think I'd go as high as "great". Drinking-- We thought the bars were all run pretty well, maybe with te exception of the Bier Garden. There needs to be a "walk-up" line area for folks to get drinks without elbowing and reaching over prople actuallly sitting at the bar. If you know what I'm talking about--- then you know what I'm talking about! After a day or so, they were LOUDLY telling people to make a line. Trouble was-- it was right in the center of the bar- NOT off to the side. To top it off-- my wife and I were actually sitting at the bar-- and were told LOUDLY that we had to GET UP AND GET IN LINE to get a beverage-- and the line was right where we were sitting! Another funny-- the "Five O'clock Somewhere" bar was one of the "latest" to open for beverages (noon). Everday, almost all day-- and clear into late-late afternoon, the place was PACKED with people playing card & board games. Something just NOT RIGHT about the "5 O'clock Somewhere Bar" being more like a library. You get my drift...... We thought the entertainment was good overall, loved the comedian, Fred Bevill. Activities-- All just sort-of "blah" to us. Same old Deal or No Deal, EXPENSIVE Bingo, trivia, goofy game-show stuff, ship "parties" (white-hot, etc), jewelry "sales events' ,art auctions. I don't have any suggestions-- but this ENTIRE area needs to be just...plain...re-thought-out...... period. Same old twenty-year-old stuff--- again. On a cruise this long-- there needs to be more to DO........ Maybe use the bigger ships on these long cruises? The highlight of the trip for us was actually going thru the Panama canal locks! Fascinating/ amazing/ the sheer magitude of the project/ incredible! (Note-- the best picture-taking was at the BACK of the ship-- NOT the front!). Ports- (again- very subjective). We went on 3 excursions- all 3 were "NCL". Cartagena city tour, Acapulco cliff divers, Cabo land's end. All three were good! Stayed near the ship in Puerto Quetzal Guatemala- and it was really pretty good! Lots of shopping/ food/ very clean, and nice! The other two ports Costa Rica and Nicaragua--- well, we did NOT feel like riding in a bus for 3 to 4 hours just to see something and say we saw it. So we just copped-out, and stayed near the ship. I must ask (my opinion only, here)..... But-- I gotta ask......WHY are these two stops even considered? Wow, Norwegian, REALLY?? (read between the lines........) Truly sorry if I sound like a complainer in some parts of this review, because OVERALL, it was/is a GREAT cruise! A 'bucket-lister" for us! The small things mentioned did NOT affect the enjoyment of the entire vacation AT ALL. Not one bit. Next cruises for us- Escape in Sept, an Epic in Jan 2019.... and can't wait! Oh, yeah, I apologize for being "long-winded"........ Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
This was our 8th cruise on NCL; the 6th on the NCL Star. It was refurbished in 2015 and this was our first time on it since then. On the "old Star", we used to spend significant time in a small English pub (promenade/aft/port) ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise on NCL; the 6th on the NCL Star. It was refurbished in 2015 and this was our first time on it since then. On the "old Star", we used to spend significant time in a small English pub (promenade/aft/port) called the Red Lion. It had a warm, distinct personality and had comfortable seating. The refurbishment "killed" the Red Lion and replaced it with something called "5 O'clock Somewhere" which became a sanitized something or other (bar?) with very uncomfortable wooden seating. We only spent about a total of 15 minutes there for the whole 14-day cruise as opposed to usually spending a couple of hours a day at the former Red Lion. The Atrium on the 8th deck is now O'Sheehan's bar which is also the Star's 24-hour restaurant. Some of the food is pretty decent; some isn't. The french fries (which is your only choice for a side for most sandwiches) definitely fall into the latter group. I had a really good steak at Cagney's steakhouse; my dinner at the Italian restaurant "La Cucina" was...well lets say that I've had better from Chef Boyardee cans. The buffet was decent. If you are into craft beers (like I am), there are NONE to be had on the Star. And if you like to read (again, like I do), finding a semi-quiet nook was difficult. The service we received from all crew/staff we received on the Star was excellent. Our room steward was outstanding. Its really too bad the the NCL staff who planned the refurbishment did such an underwhelming job. Unfortunately, this will probably be my last on the Star. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We are the type of travelers who reside in very rural Washington state, so an inside cabin works great for us. Very dark, very quiet and cheaper. All a big plus. Our room stewart Rio was excellent. He knew us both by our first names by the ... Read More
We are the type of travelers who reside in very rural Washington state, so an inside cabin works great for us. Very dark, very quiet and cheaper. All a big plus. Our room stewart Rio was excellent. He knew us both by our first names by the second day. He always greeted us and asked how our day was going. Our room was cleaned in a timely manner and turn down service every night included the cute towel animals. When Rio noticed we had pool towels he placed clean ones in our room each night saving us the hassle of going to the pool area and grab our own. We choose Norwegian for the free style dining. Hubby will tolerate the sit down dinner restaurant once, so we primarily eat at the buffet. The buffet offered a large variety of food with items every night that I had to just try. I found the food flavorful and was surprised to find Dahl, which became my default dish. For someone like myself who vowed not to have desserts (I know a sin when you are on vacation) there was always fruit available. The cook staff was very accommodating. I asked for prunes one morning and was given a bowlful from the kitchen. The full service restaurants were not impressive. The one and only dinner In the main dining room we experienced very slow service despite getting there as soon as it opened and not worth the hour spent. For the Irish pub eatery one meal was great, so I went back to try another dish and it was marginal. Basically don't order fajitas in an Irish pub. The asian restaurant was my worst experience. Slow service, a choice of three items since I am allergic to sea food, and the food was either salty or tasteless. There was a nice variety of nightly entertainment in the theater, with new performers halfway through the cruise. If you couldn't find something to do on the ship during the day then you obviously didn't read their daily newsletter. I had to make myself remove some of the activities from my daily schedule and just enjoy being on the ocean. The ports would not necessarily be my first choice, but that is why we go on a cruise. We were there to go through the Panama canal which was fascinating. But a cruise is a great way to check out a country to determine if we would spend a week's vacation there. The only shore excursion I booked through the ship was in Colombia and it was by far the worst excursion out of the 4 we did. It was hot so we bought water (which was to be provided) and the locals were extremely aggressive in trying to sell you something. The entire tour bus of people was funneled into the tour guide's small chosen store for the 20 minute shopping time, ignoring the ship recommended ones that actually offered a cool refreshment. In comparison, the three excursions I booked privately had between 2 and 10 people attending. Each of these excursions offered more sight seeing or activities than the same one offered by through the ship at a significantly lower price. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
My wife and I always felt that our nine NCL 7 day cruises were just too short, and we wanted to see the Panama Canal - so we went for the 14 day experience. In several ways, it turned out to be a mistake. Having lived in the Los Angeles ... Read More
My wife and I always felt that our nine NCL 7 day cruises were just too short, and we wanted to see the Panama Canal - so we went for the 14 day experience. In several ways, it turned out to be a mistake. Having lived in the Los Angeles area we had no need to explore our embarkation city and found it mildly frustrating that NCL had no hotels available to include with our cruise. Unfortunately, our misrepresented hotel had no restaurant (as they had advertised) and, as we had no vehicle, we were forced to seek a fast food dinner within walking distance. Ugh, not a great way to start a vacation. At the dock, we found the people working embarkation to be rude, pushy and extremely overbearing. As Lattitude Gold (now Platinum) members, we were used to a little better treatment than waiting in long lines through luggage check-in, ID and passport check-in, security screening and, having finally finished our check-in and having received our room key cards, being told to sit and wait for our group number to be called before we could board the ship (something we have never experienced in any of our other cruises). We were not off to a great start! Once on board the Star we looked around for a short while waiting for our cabin to be readied. One of the brighter spots of the trip was our Mini-Suite. We always take a balcony cabin on our cruises as we love to have the door open and hear, smell and look out at the sea, but the additional size of the Mini-Suite made it all the more comfortable - and our Cabin Stewart, Emanuel was fantastic. Then came the mandatory drill - as poorly managed an endeavor as I've ever experienced. People were still pouring into the large theater (as if anyone would actually go to the large theater in an emergency) when they announced the drill was over. Obviously, no one was paying attention to who was or was not there for the drill. Following the drill we hoped our luggage would be there so we could unpack and change for dinner. Sadly, it was not - though it did arrive a little later and we managed to change and get to dinner a bit late for a window seat. The prime rib the first night out was delicious. From that point on the dining was relatively poor. My wife and I had the ultimate beverage package (the greatest thing NCL has) and the Specialty Dining package. Unfortunately, we were only able to get seating in a specialty restaurant once, as the restaurants we wanted to experience were always booked. Meanwhile the dining room dinners were served as extremely small portions and lacked the flavors and variety we had come to expect from Norwegian. As to entertainment, the magician was exceptional, and the contortionist and gymnist were really good. We would have loved to have laughed at the comedians - but they simply were not that funny. And speaking of entertainment, why does NCL not offer some variety to their TV offerings? It was bad enough that our cable kept cutting out and our remote reqired replacement, but having to watch the same TV episodes or movies 6 times in two weeks is a bit tiresome. And, while we didn't expect to come away winners, it would have been nice if the slot machines in the casino were a bit looser to allow for some extended play rather than loosing $100 in 30 minutes of play. My wife spent a great deal of time in the fitness center as she enjoys working out but the TV's in the fitness center were not functioning. She also experienced three sessions of acupuncture in the Spa for some pain in her shoulder and received complete relief. For this she is very grateful. Most of the ports were exceptional, save having to be tendered in to two of them. And the Panama Canal crossing was extremely fascinating to experience. However, we would not take this cruise again - and most certainly not on the Star. No matter the concern or question we had, we were mostly answered with no. And, having experienced how our luggage was delivered and having been through disembarkation before, we decided to carry our own luggage off of the ship to insure we made it to the airport in time for our flight home. Read Less
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