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Sail Date: January 2019
Panama Canal was on our Bucket list and with 19 days aboard the Gem, we couldn't resist. First a little information about us, I would consider us Newbies to cruising since we only sailed on NCL ( this was our 13th cruise ). NCL ... Read More
Panama Canal was on our Bucket list and with 19 days aboard the Gem, we couldn't resist. First a little information about us, I would consider us Newbies to cruising since we only sailed on NCL ( this was our 13th cruise ). NCL makes sense for us since they offer different ships/types and itineraries out of NYC. This was our 6th time aboard the Gem. Here are my random observations. We flew out to Vegas for a few days before the cruise, then an early Sunday morning flight into LAX. We took the NCL shuttle to the pier, had no issues in locating the reps. Short wait for the bus. Since it was Sunday morning the ride to the pier took about 30 mins. From the time we got off the bus to board the ship, it was less than 45 mins. Our cabin, 8604 ( type OA, ocean view ) was right down the hall from O'Sheehan's was available around 2 PM. We had issues with the shower drain backing up into the drain under the sink but it was finally corrected on the second day. Cabin Steward was excellent ( first cruise back from vacation ), and by the third day knew our routine. The ship was in great shape ( last dry dock 2015 ), all public areas were well kept. Maintenance and painting was observed daily. Only negative comment is for the railing on deck #13 near the basketball court. They used a 2x4 to replace the rail and it was a rough finish that could cause a splinter. We purchased a 6 meal plan and along with our 2 free meals ( Platinum perk ) we spent several nights at Cagney's. It was strange that on most nights it was almost empty. Our only complaint was that they changed the mac n cheese to Kraft, it was terrible. Food and service was top notch. We had two meals in LeBristo, service was exceptional but the food seemed to be off compared to our last cruise aboard the Breakaway. Taste was bland to me. We also had one meal in La Cucina, food was OK but I kept feeling like we are eating in the Buffet. Other nights were spent in Magenta, had no issues in getting a table if you arrived before 6pm. Had to laugh at the folks standing in line at the Grand Pacific, while there was none at Magenta. Can a guy get a hamburger? O'Sheehan's - burnt, every time. Topsiders - raw, most of the time. Before I forget, the crew, from the captain to washy washy girls, fantastic, one of the best if not the best. Bars - Great time, great bartenders ( Sherwin - Boom Boom at Spinnaker and Lennie \ crew at Shakers ). Never had to wait more than a few minutes before getting served. PAX, I was told the average age was 64 but some nights up in Spinnaker I thought it was a Holland America cruise. The entertainment at bar central ( Shakers ) was exceptional, from Leo to Vibe quartet to the Gem band. Only two main shows standout for me, the piano guy and that checkerboard guy. Everything else was average Cruise Director staff, have to say it, bad. Poor attendance / cancelled Bingo sessions. Announced that they had a $2000 dollar pull tab winner but kept selling out of the same box. Morning show was a joke, stopped watching by the third day. The cruise director was OK but the staff is a reflection of her. Ports of call. Mexico - Tender in on our first two stops, tender process was real slow on the first stop, Cabo. The second stop, Puerto Vallarta had a dock issue. Almost a two foot drop from the tender to the dock, those who had a mobility issues had problems. These two stops felt safe in both, just wander around. Manzanillo, stayed close to the ship. Puerto Quetzal - Guatemala and Corinto - Nicaragua as per the State Department warnings stayed real close to the ship. The visitor center ( new cruise terminal ? ) in Guatemala even had a guard tower, manned. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Walked around the town in the morning and took an NCL excursion in the afternoon. Panama Canal, Transit - Exceptional performance by NCL. Cartagena, Columbia - Great place to visit except for the hawkers. Made it almost impossible to enjoy the city. Very pushing and relentless. Santa Marta, Columbia - container port, they could have skipped this port too. ABC islands - always a great, safe place to visit. Finally, Thank you to the CC members who attended the meet and mingle, slot pull, pub crawl, to the members who arranged shore excursions and the cruise T shirt Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Very enjoyable experience. Cruise staff were excellent in all areas. Food in main dining rooms and buffet were not-so-good compared to previous cruises on NCL, some as recent as 8-months ago; bones in fish dishes; tough gristle in NY ... Read More
Very enjoyable experience. Cruise staff were excellent in all areas. Food in main dining rooms and buffet were not-so-good compared to previous cruises on NCL, some as recent as 8-months ago; bones in fish dishes; tough gristle in NY Steak. Prime Rib last night on cruise was best food during the cruise. We dined Grand Pacific and Magenta dining rooms and had four nights speacialty dining. Buffet stations were mostly repetitious delivery of same dishes. Moderno and Cagney's were excellent and served tastey food! Teppanaki was good food and entertaining! Entertainment by entertainers and production staff were excellent! Shore excursions were mostly very, very good; we had eight shore excursions and seven were outstanding; only Costa Rica tour (Discover Costa Rica) was poorly delivered by tour-company, in-part due to docking at port taking 70-minutes or so, the tour bus left late; the tour guide did not know answers to many basic questions asked; was alotted only 15 minutes at a large botanical garden and a planned stop was skipped. The ship looked very good but looking closely, the ship did show some signs of wear-and-tear. The lounges and Stardust theater seats were very comfortable. The passage thru the Panama Canal was narated and went smoothly; used the old canal locks, not new locks. Everything else about the cruise was excellent! We did not want to disembark in NY City; we really enjoyed the cruise. Thank you NCL!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
From embarkation, tenders, excursions, food, and debarkation, it was a fabulous trip on the Gem. Even when things went wrong, which they did, the staff was always there to help you, give you guidance, and in some instances a reimbursement ... Read More
From embarkation, tenders, excursions, food, and debarkation, it was a fabulous trip on the Gem. Even when things went wrong, which they did, the staff was always there to help you, give you guidance, and in some instances a reimbursement against expenses. The food overall was good, but I felt needed a little more variety. Their specialty buffet dinners days were not up to what I feel NCL is capable of, with very little selection of the “specialty day” foods. The regular buffet were excellent with great selections. The specialty diners, Cagney’s, Moderno, Le Bistro Café, La Cucina, were all fabulous dining experiences. We took at least eight excursions on the 11 ports and all were very well organized even when things went wrong. I loved the different activities especially the trivia. Aris, sexy Sue, K, along with Claire, the cruise director, were all fabulous ambassadors for NCL. Overall had a great time on the Gem, and looking forward to my next NCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Overall very pleased. Lovely ship, not too huge. Really enjoyed the entertainment, both the shows and the musicians in the atrium and elsewhere. Brad Stevens, the pianist, was fantastic and we listened to him almost every night. Dining ... Read More
Overall very pleased. Lovely ship, not too huge. Really enjoyed the entertainment, both the shows and the musicians in the atrium and elsewhere. Brad Stevens, the pianist, was fantastic and we listened to him almost every night. Dining was very nice, although a few things were absent that had been normal on prior cruiises. No smoked salmon in the breakfast buffet (the salmon mousse was a joke), and escargot never offered in the main dining room in the evening. Evident cost savings. But overall the dining was very good. Staff very friendly and helpful. Bar staff at the atrium bar were great. Enrichment speaker was not so hot. After almost three weeks we sere still enjoying the ship very much, never got cabin fever. Long chaotic lines at disembarcation in NYC. Not NCL's fault, but annoying nevertheless. They should have a Global Entry express lane like at the airports. There is nothing remotely "Norwegian" about NCL. Not the staff, the decor, the dining, etc. I am of Norwegian ancestry and think they should add a bit of the old country to the sailing experience. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We booked this cruise because we liked the itinerary and wanted to see the entire Panama Canal. My father was stationed there during WWII and I wanted to travel the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We usually book cruises that are ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we liked the itinerary and wanted to see the entire Panama Canal. My father was stationed there during WWII and I wanted to travel the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic. We usually book cruises that are at least 14 days. We cruised on the Gem seven years ago and we liked the renovations. NCL is our preferred cruise line. We like freestyle dining and like the casual dress code. NCL always has great entertainment and we were not disappointed. The Starlight Theater easily accommodates the number of passengers and there was never shortage of seats. Because NCL offered a great incentive for shore excursions, we booked one in 10 ports. We were happy with all of them with the exception of one. When I complained to the shore excursion manager, he looked into my concerns and took 20% off the cost and sent a bottle of wine to our cabin. It was nice to book through the cruise line because I never had to worry about getting back to the ship in time. My only complaint is the lack of variety of ship activities during the sea days. We like educational lectures about the area and the speaker they booked was disappointing. All in all it was an outstanding cruise. We are looking forward to cruising again in June on the NCL Spirit. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
There is practically nothing to do on that ship. One good show in 14 days, boring violin music (sometimes) most of the time no music at all. Decent music on pool deck but all chairs reserved so no place to sit. Most people on that ... Read More
There is practically nothing to do on that ship. One good show in 14 days, boring violin music (sometimes) most of the time no music at all. Decent music on pool deck but all chairs reserved so no place to sit. Most people on that cruise were playing cards or reading. Drinks are watered down so bad that you can't tell if they have alcohol in them or not. Food not terrible but nothing great either. Lounge chairs are reserved (some people leave the towel on them overnight so no one can use the chairs the next day and they don't show up until 2pm (I checked and towels are left overnight) staff should pick them up after an hour or so if no one shows up on chairs. Went through Panama canal but crew had blocked the view on deck 7 so everybody was on deck 12-13 so we couldn't see anything then they try to sell you the pictures that their photographs took. Service stinks, waiters are also bored and it shows, if you want a drink you have to go get it yourself because waiters will not come and see if you want something. Most of the time you're ignored. Drinks are watered down, there is a 20% gratuity automatically added to the bill and they want more... Bottom line: If you're under 85 years old, get on a different ship Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Started cruising with NCL in 2010 thru the Canal on the Star. Enjoyed it a lot. Glad we have those memories because the rehabbed NCL Star is not worth booking. Lazy crew or maybe a bad attitude. Also they removed the Spinnaker lounge ... Read More
Started cruising with NCL in 2010 thru the Canal on the Star. Enjoyed it a lot. Glad we have those memories because the rehabbed NCL Star is not worth booking. Lazy crew or maybe a bad attitude. Also they removed the Spinnaker lounge and replaced it with cabins, without increasing places to relax. Bliss Lounge is dark with uncomfortable seating. Game rooms are gone. Players use seats in the Cafe. Also gone were the mini-suite mid-room curtain, basically making it a large balcony cabin. Food is mediocre, meats are tough and gristly. Even at Cagney's. Would have like chopped fruits instead of whole fruit. I don't want an entire apple or orange. I'd like a little bowl of mixed fruit. And the noise. Don't get a mini suite under the pool area. Maybe bowling would be quieter - less chairs to slide alone. Not enough bars. And Gatsy's musicians were too noisy for conversation. Even though they were asked to tone it down. I can usually find something good to say, but I can't! Don't sail the Star; not worth the money. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
1. Orange juice tasted like powdered OJ with artificial sweeteners. 2. 24 hour Pub O'Sheehans not open 24hours. Breakfast starts at 6 AM but staff won't let you sit there before 6AM. 3. Coffee is free at O'Sheehans ... Read More
1. Orange juice tasted like powdered OJ with artificial sweeteners. 2. 24 hour Pub O'Sheehans not open 24hours. Breakfast starts at 6 AM but staff won't let you sit there before 6AM. 3. Coffee is free at O'Sheehans pub but they charge you for the same coffee at O'Sheehans bar. The pub will not deliver the coffee to the bar. 4. The"Cruise Norwegian" app shows the restaurants but doesn't show hours or menu. 5. The"Cruise Norwegian" app only shows activities 24 hours in advance. 6. Changes to activities not shown on app. 7. Golf driving range had 2 right hand 3 irons and 2 left hand pitching wedges at one cage and the opposite combination at the other cage. 8. No video of activities shown on TV available for purchase. It would have been nice to get videos of bow cam. 9. Medical care extremely costly. Over $900 to be seen by on board medical personnel for flu like symptoms. 10. Texas hold em tournament structure leaves a lot to be desired. 11. Toilets broke several times. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I did not personally choose this cruise, but was invited to go with people who did because I wanted to experience going through the Panama Canal. Service for the most part was good. The free Wi-Fi incentive was a joke. Getting online was ... Read More
I did not personally choose this cruise, but was invited to go with people who did because I wanted to experience going through the Panama Canal. Service for the most part was good. The free Wi-Fi incentive was a joke. Getting online was nearly impossible. Onboard entertainment was enjoyable, but seating in the large theater was quite uncomfortable. Food ranged from awful to very good. I was shocked to discover that the “orange juice” served was nothing more than Tang. The real thing cost extra! Really?!? I paid thousands of dollars for a mini suite that didn’t include orange juice. Ridiculous! I was not happy. Going through the Panama Canal was amazing. I recommend reading the book “The Path Between the Seas” beforehand. I went on 6 shore excursions. Two were excellent, two were good, one was fair, and one was poor. I seriously doubt I will choose Norwegian again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I have just returned from a great Panama Canal cruise. I do not have allegiance to any one cruise line, but choose the cruise according to their itinerary and dates available. First of all, a few comments about the cruise itself on ... Read More
I have just returned from a great Panama Canal cruise. I do not have allegiance to any one cruise line, but choose the cruise according to their itinerary and dates available. First of all, a few comments about the cruise itself on Norwegian Star. This itinerary was for a very hot climate - I would have appreciated more lounge chairs outdoors in shaded areas - these were always at a premium - at times, having to put up with cigarette smoke just to get out of the sun.The meals were not as great as I have become accustomed to while cruising - there wasn't anything wrong with them, but they lacked the variety and "pizzaz" I would have liked. Breakfasts in the buffet were the same every day for 2 weeks. They did offer a variety of foods, but my quest for that "something a little different" each morning went unanswered. FreeStyle Dining means that jeans, shorts and even HATS are allowed in the main dining rooms at dinner - this took away from MY experience of elegant dining while cruising. With this cruise being for 2 weeks in Jan, there were very few children on board. Now for the ports and excursions: We were very fortunate to be the only cruise ship in each of the ports that we attended. We booked all of our excursions through NCL for safety reasons. In Cartagena, Columbia we took the Exclusive Hop On Hop Off Bus - we quite enjoyed this tour but did not have time to hop off and back on again - the bus toured the city and then included a 1 hr walking tour of the Old City. The only negative was all of the people trying to sell you something in the Old City and they were very persistent - our guide seemed to have his favourites that he didn't mind recommending, and he stopped for certain street performers to ensure they received tips. Don't miss out on the "Nature Reserve" hidden in a corner of the pier - it's free and a great chance to see lots of birds and animals. The cruise of the Panama Canal was great - we took someone's advise and got up early to stake out our claim for a lounge chair in a shady spot and were very happy we did. We enjoyed the narration of what we were seeing as we passed through the different sets of locks. In Puntarenas, Costa Rica we enjoyed the Pacific Train, Bus and Boat Adventure. Although, not quite as nice as the train ride we had previously enjoyed in St Maartens, this train ride was enjoyable and gave one an opportunity to see the conditions under which some people actually live in this county. The boat ride was enjoyable and we were able to see a large variety of birds and small animals, but I yearned for more time to try and see that "big crocodile". Oscar was a great guide. After the tour, we strolled along the beach at the pier for awhile, amazed at how black our feet turned from the volcanic sand. Corinto, Nicaragua: we did not book an excursion here due to the long drive out and back to see the attractions, such as Antigua. I was a little anxious re even getting off the ship after reading some older reviews (2009) but was pleasantly surprised! The port was very industrial with trucks loading and unloading in the area where we disembarked from the ship, but there were guards managing this traffic. The locals were very friendly, asking us where we were from, if we spoke French (we're Canadian) , and even giving us directions to the "beach and restaurants". When the many vendors approached you, they quietly went on their way when you said "no, thanks". There were lovely costumed people dancing in the town square and a lovely park to rest in the shade. I got the impression that the people were trying very hard to impress us and bring more cruise ships and more money into their desolate town. I would love to return in a few years to see their progress. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala: Coffee Plantation - Wow - to watch smoke erupting from several live volcanoes as we drove towards the city - incredible! And then to see the site where one of these volcanoes erupted on June 3 of last year, killing many and closing the road we are driving on for 3 months - truly amazing! -work continues to be done on this road but it is very easy to see where the streams of ash rolled down the side of the mountain and the damage it caused. The tour of the coffee plantation was also lovely, getting to stroll through the coffee fields, learn about the processing and enjoy a great cup of coffee. Our guide was very informative, giving us inside information about the politics, health care and education system. Acapulco, Mexico: Again I wasn't too sure about safety here, considering the US Dept of State has issued a Travel Warning. We booked the Bay Cruise and Cliff Divers and enjoyed a wonderful tour of the bay, enjoying unlimited beer and margaritas as we cruised, with lots of space to enjoy the sun or shade. Viewing the La Quebrada cliff divers from the perspective of the bay was great with some of the divers swimming out and boarding our boat after their jumps - of course they were after tips, but they were very friendly, offering to have their pictures taken with many of us. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: unfortunately we docked here at 7 am and left by 2 pm - much to short a time to enjoy such as wonderful place. We enjoyed the Famous Arch, Sea Lions and Whales tour. We did see several sets of whales from our ship that morning before the tour, but were able to get much closer on our fast, inflatable boat, seeing one breach not far from us, as well as many tail splashes and even a fin flap! In the small inflatable boat we were able to get a good view of The Arch and Sea Lion colony. Our guide Beth came a great running commentary the entire 2 hours of our tour. After our tour, we stopped by the Dolphin Encounter and were able to sit and watch people swim with the dolphins (no admission charge to just watch). Our one disappointment was the Beachfronts and Beverly Hills ending at Airport in Los Angeles - the reviews weren't great but we needed something to do while we waited for our 11 pm flight out of LAX and didn't want to carry our luggage around with us all day. This was a 5 hour tour, but I would have enjoyed it so much more if it had taken about 8 hrs to complete. The scenic coastal drive to Beverly Hills was on the freeway with lots of traffic and I seemed to be on the wrong side of the bus to view everything that was pointed out. We did a walking tour of Rodeo Drive but had no time to shop as it was difficult keeping 30 people of varying athletic abilities together, getting through stop lights, etc and it was very difficult to hear our guide Allan due to the distance we were often away from him. Our next stop was the Santa Monica pier where we were given 1 hr - the problem was it took 15 min to walk to the pier, another 15 min to walk back and were expected to get ourselves some lunch during this time. Our last stop at Venice was even more rushed - only 15 min total, with it taking 5 min to walk to the beach boardwalk and another 5 min to walk back - that left 5 min to take a few quick pictures - no time for a lovely stroll along the boardwalk. Our guide, Allan, was very personable, but wasn't very helpful when he would state "if you look over there" you will see such-and-such without giving directions to those of us in the back as to where we should be looking. He chatted quite heartily with those in the front of the bus, but those of us in the back were not included in the conversations. All in all, a very enjoyable 2 week tour. Another trip off of my bucket list :) Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My husband and I are mid-60's early 70's. The cruise had only a handful of children and we were pleased. This trip through the Panama Canal was 14 days from Miami to Los Angeles. We were a little worried about the food on ... Read More
My husband and I are mid-60's early 70's. The cruise had only a handful of children and we were pleased. This trip through the Panama Canal was 14 days from Miami to Los Angeles. We were a little worried about the food on this ship after reading some of the previous reviews. However, we were on this ship for 14 days and did not have one disappointing meal. We ate at 3 of the speciality restaurants (Cagney's (twice), Teppenaki, and Le Bistro). Never had a problem getting drinks although a few of the bartenders weren't that friendly. The room was great and I didn't feel to crowded. Loved the toilet/shower area. You have a door that you can close while you're on the toilet leaving the sink & shower open for your roommate. I loved having the coffee maker in the room so I could have my tea first thing. We went on several excursions: -Magnificent Cartagena - Nice bus trip. -Beach Day at Monterrico (Guatemala) - Beautiful Resort - no food or drinks provided but we purchased some. Food was great and reasonably priced. -Scenic Costa Rica - OK bus trip. (Not sure it was worth the price) Did enjoy the local dancers. Did think the word "scenic" is misleading. -Up Close Whale Watching by Zodiac - Wonderful trip in Cabo San Lucas. We saw so many whales I can't count them all. There were a lot of trips offered when you go off board the ship that would have been 50% cheaper. I'd do that if I was coming back. - Nicaragra & Acapulco - These stops were not that great for us. We did walk the town of Acapulco and found it not that impressive. Wouldn't care to go back. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
In looking for a Panama Canal Cruise, we chose Norwegian because of the itinerary (1) beginning in Miami and ending in LA. (as we planned on spending the month of February in California anyway) and (2) being two weeks long. This was ... Read More
In looking for a Panama Canal Cruise, we chose Norwegian because of the itinerary (1) beginning in Miami and ending in LA. (as we planned on spending the month of February in California anyway) and (2) being two weeks long. This was the first time we had sailed on Norwegian, previously having sailed on Royal Caribbean several times. Overall, I would rate Royal Caribbean higher. On this cruise,we had some issues with not very accommodating customer service staff and not very good service in the main dining room a couple of nights; a balcony room with a lay out that made it seem rather tight and we actually cleaned our own balcony glass because it was so dirty. The activities by the pool and then in the evening were at sometimes just dumb and actually embarrassing. We’ve participated in games on RC before and had great laughs with them. The Norwegian activities group seemed to aim for humiliating guests to get laughs. The evening entertainment was very good. We went to the shows almost every night. They had a good variety of acts. The sommelier for the Chocolate and Wine tasting and the Blind Wine tasting was excellent. She had a very practical approach to enjoying wine. We also had fun at the martini and mojito tastings that were offered on the days at sea. We came home with new recipes to try. The speaker for the enrichment series was not an expert on most topics she spoke on. My husband and I had read the book, “The Path between the Seas” by McCullough. We knew more about the Panama Canal after having just read that one book and would have had more interesting information about it than the speaker. She also was inaccurate on a few points. Not sure why they hired her as their expert. I could have researched any of the topics she presented and put on a better presentation. There was a good variety of shore excursions from which to choose. I will review those we chose separately from this. Two tips: (1) definitely do the Bay Cruise and Cliff Divers excursion in Acapulco. We had a beautiful day to be out on the water and got a tour of the bay with all the beautiful homes. They served all you could drink margaritas and beer though it was a bit early for me when we first started out. Then, watching the cliff divers was amazing. A very good buffet lunch was served on the way back to the dock. (2) pacaya Volcano Hike in Guatemala. The highest number is a 3 on Nowegian’s scale of difficulty for excursions. They need to bump that up for this excursion. It is nothing like the Forest Sky Walk excursion we did in Costa Rica which was also rated a 3. Comparably, the volcano should have been at least a 5! This is straight up the volcano. Fortunately for people who couldn’t continue, young Guatemala boys followed with their horses and would offer a ride to the top for $5. Quite a few people ended up choosing this option. While we loved the excursions and seeing the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal we would probably choose a different cruise line in the future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Four senior couples enjoyed sailing from Miami through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles. We picked January for our trip in an attempt to get away from winter weather. However, we had no way of know temperatures in the States would ... Read More
Four senior couples enjoyed sailing from Miami through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles. We picked January for our trip in an attempt to get away from winter weather. However, we had no way of know temperatures in the States would drop to record lows in some places. We experienced sunny skies and ideal temperatures for the entire duration of our trip. Everyone felt pampered as we enjoyed breakfasts and dinners as a group in the formal dining rooms. It was agreed that the food was better than some of the other cruise lines we had experienced. Entertainment on the ship was very good. Between the various ports of calls and the nightly shows at sea our time passed quickly. From the ship's captain down everyone was well pleased with the professionalism and friendliness of the staff. The captain made himself available to anyone who wished to speak to him which is not always the case on cruises. Two of our group had to visit the female ship's doctor and both were effusive in their praise of her skills and her ability to assist them. Finding agreement among eight seniors is not easy, but everyone in our group concluded we would all travel on NCL again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
The selection of the itinerary for this cruise was well planned. The staff is fabulous. Everyone as so kind, friendly and polite and eager to please. We had nice cozy cabin, that was always kept clean by staff. Every evening my daughter ... Read More
The selection of the itinerary for this cruise was well planned. The staff is fabulous. Everyone as so kind, friendly and polite and eager to please. We had nice cozy cabin, that was always kept clean by staff. Every evening my daughter was ecstatic to see the new towel animal that Sherlito made for her. He even took time to teach her to make a few different ones. The restaurants all served good food. Versailles was our favorite one to dine in. From beginning o the end of the service Renalto was impeccable. He never missed anything in his attendance to our table. He's extremely professional and such friendly pleasant attitude. The entertainment on the ship was great! Vegas show style, and fully f excitement. Marabola was the acrobatic show so unique and full of awe. Far better than your usual Cirque de Solei. The shore excursions are definitely worth the expense, fun, educational about lifestyle, culture, history, food, and activities relative o each location. My daughter loved the Splash Academy, thanks o Minion and Ready Eddie for making each day fun day for her. Thank you Tracy M. from South Africa for giving my daughter her first experience in receiving a youth's body massage and for teaching her about her skin care. My full body massage by Tracy M. was incredible. I've had many professional massages in my life but none as good as hers. I felt so good after hers I literally cried. The experience was beautiful. We are definitely going cruising with Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I would have expected the quality of the food to be as good as Denny’s. It did not come close When you go to specialty restaurants 20%is automatically added to your check. Then the tip line is left blank. “ in case you want to ... Read More
I would have expected the quality of the food to be as good as Denny’s. It did not come close When you go to specialty restaurants 20%is automatically added to your check. Then the tip line is left blank. “ in case you want to add more!” Even the onboard internet to make on ship texts and calls was charged for I won’t be doing another Norwegian Cruise. All the other products n the same price range are MUCH better. Of course the service from all the onboard services were very nice and cordial. All the prices for the shore excursions were way out of line. The on board entertainment had singers out of tune, the speakers that they sang through were frequently distorted. I finally stopped going to the shows. There two singers that sang on key, the rest either could not hear the music, or were just told to sing loudly Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We choose this cruise to go through the Panama Canal. From day one, it started out bad. Our one son purchased the Ultimate Drinking package, but it didn't show up on his account. Even before leaving Los Angeles, we went to the front ... Read More
We choose this cruise to go through the Panama Canal. From day one, it started out bad. Our one son purchased the Ultimate Drinking package, but it didn't show up on his account. Even before leaving Los Angeles, we went to the front desk and said he had it on his account. We called the agency we had booked the trip and told her the issue, she contacted someone at NCL and he sent 4 emails to the ship, which they said they never received. He even showed them a snapshot on their website showing he had the drink package. It took 24 hours before they said he had it. The staff from the waiters to bartenders seemed like they didn't care if you were there or not. Entertainment was terrible, shore excursions were expensive, and if you get sick, prepare yourself for a hefty bill. My husband got sick with bronchitis and his medical bill for 2 days of treatment was over $5700. My one son went down to medical for a bad cold and his bill was over $1000 and charged him $150 for a box of Cold and Flu 24 gel tabs. GET MEDICAL TRAVEL INSURANCE before you leave. Because your gratuity is automatically added to account daily, the staff really doesn't care. We tipped the servers individually who gave great service. You can also go down to the front desk and ask for your gratuities to be taken off your bill. Quite a few passengers were doing this. It seems like NCL doesn't really care about your complaints, although when we sailed on the Epic, it was extremely good. I doubt we will ever sail on NCL again. We did meet fantastic fellow passengers and all of us agreed that this was one of the worst cruises they had taken. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We flew to LA a day prior to the cruise, took Super Shuttle to San Pedro and spent the night at the DoubleTree hotel. They provided a free shuttle to the ship.This was my 32nd cruise, 2nd on NCL. Embarkation went smoothly and wait time to ... Read More
We flew to LA a day prior to the cruise, took Super Shuttle to San Pedro and spent the night at the DoubleTree hotel. They provided a free shuttle to the ship.This was my 32nd cruise, 2nd on NCL. Embarkation went smoothly and wait time to get on the ship was not too long but waiting for the staterooms to be ready took way too long IMO. The ship was clean and well maintained except the glass panels on our balcony were dirty on our arrival and never cleaned. The muster drill was the shortest one I've ever had to attend. BTW : NCL no longer allows you to bring any water or beverages [except bottled/sealed wine] on board and confiscated our 2 store bought small water bottles when we went through security. My mini suite cabin 11176 was under the Garden Cafe [as are most 11th deck cabins] and the noise from chairs scrapping the floor was loud and annoying especially during sleep hours.The cabin was large with good lighting, had USB ports in the 2 lights over the headboard and 2 by the desk near the balcony.Storage was not great,only 2 drawers, only 1 bedside table and several shelves. The closet was small for a 14 day cruise, 2 people could not have hung all their clothes in there [my spouse used the shelves for most of his clothes]. The safe was in the closet and extremely hard to access. The bathroom was a good size with good pressure shower head in the bath tub which had sliding doors to contain spray.The lighting was not very bright.There was a magnifying mirror but it was permanently affixed about 4.5 feet high off the floor so I was not able to use it since I'm 5'8. The toiletries did not smell very good to me......seemed to be a stale odd scent which did not connote clean. Our cabin steward began making up cabins at about 0830, did not reach our cabin til about 1200 each day. He began turn down service about 5:30 pm and did not reach our cabin til about 8:30 pm. On the nights he turned down our cabin he left towel animals but used my fragile eyeglasses as an accessory on the animal which I thought was inappropriate. I don't think strangers should touch private belongings in a cabin. If my glasses had broken what would I do ? I can't read without 'em. The ship layout was good. One could actually walk all the way around the ship on the promenade deck ! We ate in the Garden Cafe often altho the food was not very good or ever very warm. We preferred eating in O'Sheehan's restaurant which had better food [also not ever really warm] altho the folks greeting you when you walked in were never ever friendly, always frowning.The waitstaff was very nice tho as were all ship staff we encountered on our 14 day cruise. The captain made a PA system chatty announcement every day. There were no guest lecturers on this cruise altho we had many sea days. There was a man providing canal information on the PA system the day of our canal transit which was very welcome and I learned a lot. The wifi was very slow and expensive. The shore excursions we took [only 2 this trip] were lame......way too much time on a bus with too little time at the destination. One excursion was advertised as taking us to a hacienda which in reality was not an estate or house but a large-ish open air tourist restaurant with the word Hacienda written on the siding.The tour guides were very good. The process of getting off the ship for excursions seemed inefficient and slow. There were ice cold damp washcloths available when returning to the ship each day, very refreshing ! Getting off the ship at the end of the cruise took a long long time. I imagine it was because of the government shutdown. There were only 3 customs officers available at passport control in Miami. It takes a lot of time for 3 men to process all those passengers. We took a free shuttle bus to the rental car center located at Miami airport to pick up our rental car. The shuttle was right outside the cruise port terminal and was very convenient. I'm not sure if we'll cruise NCL again. Our other NCL cruise was on Jade and the food was so much better on that ship I wonder why it seemed so poor on Star. Neither of us can be called a picky eater and food is not why we cruise but still..... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We sailed from Los Angeles and the transfer from the airport was ridiculously disorganized. It took forever to get the throngs of passengers onto motor coaches from the airport to the pier. We we not on the list, even though we were ... Read More
We sailed from Los Angeles and the transfer from the airport was ridiculously disorganized. It took forever to get the throngs of passengers onto motor coaches from the airport to the pier. We we not on the list, even though we were charged twice for the transfer. Once we got to the pier, things took a turn for the better and all went smoothly. The Star had been refurbished...all except the theatre. The entertainment was top notch, however ever third or fourth seat seem to be broken slanting forward. Not a great situation for anyone. Very little leg room if you are taller than 5’5”. Having said that, the cabin was great along with our steward. The overall service was okay, nothing exceptional. We are not overly fond of buffets and having sailed with Princess, I’d rank Princess higher than NCL. We had a dining package and really enjoyed Moderno. Teppanyaki was okay but LeBistro and La Cucina were sub-par. Had we paid extra, I would have been asking for a refund! We did shore excursions in Acupulco (Cliff Divers and Old Fort) which were okay. Two bay snorkel in Cabo San Lucas was fun. Antiqua on our own was a full day and okay. Beware of street vendors in your face at every turn! Old city Cartagena was amazing along with the Spanish fortress. Our tour guide was exceptional. The highlight of this cruise was passage through the Panama Canal. Informative narration and mind boggling engineering! Our captain and cruise director had personality plus. Always fun to hear what they had to tell us. “The voice from above” says the captain. Lol. I learned the hard way not to make ANY changes to the booking once you haves booked your cruise, the exception being adding dining and excursions. We were over charged on transfers and trying to get refunds is a very time consuming, slow process and it still was not done properly. Thank goodness credit card companies can dispute charges! Lesson learned. Disembarking and transfers to the airport went smoothly. We went with NCL because in-laws booked and invited us along. One and done for us with NCL. The itinerary was great, but I’d rather cruise with Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Always wanted to travel through the Panama Canal and the Star provided an excellent way. The ship and it’s crew did not disappoint. The service was excellent, the food and beverages did not disappoint. Most of the entertainment was ... Read More
Always wanted to travel through the Panama Canal and the Star provided an excellent way. The ship and it’s crew did not disappoint. The service was excellent, the food and beverages did not disappoint. Most of the entertainment was good. The shore excursions left something to be desired. The descriptions overly exaggerated the actual excursion. Things described were not seen. For example, in Cartagena our Walking Tour was 50% stop the bus so street vendors could solicit their wears to a point of major annoyance. Our time on the ship was a positive experience. We would recommend table sharing to shorten the wait for seating at dinner and this would also promote interaction amongst guests. The Gatsby Bar was five star for drinks and the bartenders but two stars for entertainment since the same person played there for at least twelve of our fourteen nights playing to a limited fan club. Our experience on a previous NCL cruise was that the entertainment changed more often. We would choose NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I went on this cruise with my parents because my dad had wanted to go through the Panama Canal. I enjoyed the Panama Canal and Costa Rica the best. We didn’t get off the ship in Nicaragua because it was very windy that day and we ... Read More
I went on this cruise with my parents because my dad had wanted to go through the Panama Canal. I enjoyed the Panama Canal and Costa Rica the best. We didn’t get off the ship in Nicaragua because it was very windy that day and we needed to use tenders to go go ashore, also there weren’t any excursions we were interested in. If it were up to me, 8 would rather have had 2 days in Costa Rica and skip Nicaragua all together. I was also not impressed with Acapulco - the Cliff divers were ok but not as spectacular as I expected. 14 days was the most we had ever been on a ship and it was about 3 days too long. I could also skip Colombia - it’s a big city with lots of hotels and shopping. Except I did really like the Eco Park right next to the ship dock - that was the highlight for me! The specialty restaurants are small and fill up quickly so make your reservations early. We had the dining package but only used 2 of the 4 dinners because we couldn’t get reservations. We ate at La Cucina and Moderno and both were good but our favorite restaurant ended up being Aqua. Great food, excellent service and nice atmosphere. We enjoyed the activities put on by the ship’s cruise director team were great! We liked Bingo, quiz shows, movie sketches, pool contests, really everything - they work really hard to keep you entertained and busy, especially on sea days and there are lots of sea days. The shows were also good - especially the production staff shows. On this trip we didn’t like the comedian, the magician or the hypnotist. While we would not do this cruise again, it’s a bit too long and once you’ve seen the Panama Canal you don’t really need to see it again. We do plan to sail with Norwegian again, we like the freestyle flexibility and the ships general approach works for us. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Chose the cruise to transit the Canal, which was the highlight. As expected from Norwegian, the ship experience was excellent. Food and beverage service excellent. Cabin staff were excellent. The nightly shows were professional and ... Read More
Chose the cruise to transit the Canal, which was the highlight. As expected from Norwegian, the ship experience was excellent. Food and beverage service excellent. Cabin staff were excellent. The nightly shows were professional and entertaining. Embarkcation and disembarkcation were a breeze. The only exception was the H2O Bar. I am not sure what the thinking was in setting up this bar up on prime ship real estate. The bar itself was fine. But the hot tubs and lounging beds??? Sorry, I did enjoy seeing people laying around in day beds. The excursion in Guatamala was okay. Although the destination was excellent, the trip through the slums was disappointing. The Nicaragua excursion was surprisingly excellent. The destination was beautiful, food was excellent and the people was extremely friendly. The bus, train, boat excursion in Costa Rica was horrible. I have been to Costa Rica previously and enjoyed the country and the poeple. But this excursion was a hugh let down. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
One of our friends mother works for Expedia and she set up the cruise for fourteen of us. It was decided on New Years Eve 2017 as we had done a similar thing with 10 people in 2016. The cruise was non stop fun. The entertainment was ... Read More
One of our friends mother works for Expedia and she set up the cruise for fourteen of us. It was decided on New Years Eve 2017 as we had done a similar thing with 10 people in 2016. The cruise was non stop fun. The entertainment was first class and the cruise director, “Roberto”, was very good. The food was OK, but should have been better. Other cruises I have taken not with NCL we’re far superior. Some of the stuff serve I would never given to guest in my house. Our stateroom was well maintained by housekeeping but our toilet never worked the entire vacation. We had the plumber come 5 different times to fix it but was unable to actually fix in permanently. It would stop working within a day. This forced us to use the public washrooms. This was very poor in retrospect. The bars spread around the boat were very good as well as the programs both on and off the boat. The exercise room was good, but still below expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
wanted to see the panama canal it was a awesome experince we had an inside cabin 5531 not large but adequate the ship is showing its age but the casino was run well open lots of hours service was on par did not overly plus the drinks but ... Read More
wanted to see the panama canal it was a awesome experince we had an inside cabin 5531 not large but adequate the ship is showing its age but the casino was run well open lots of hours service was on par did not overly plus the drinks but were there when needed heard lots of complaints about the smokeing on deck 12 and in the casino but you did not have to go thru if it bothered you getting on and off the ship went well entertainment was just ok could use more things to do the dineing in aqua the first day was not so good but the speacialty and versailles was very good dissappointed they dont do chefs table tendering was ok getting around was akward haveing to go up one level to get down one level at the resurant wasnt great also haveing to pay for a spa pass to use steam and sauna just isnt right Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I wanted a cruise going through the Panama Canal on my birthday, and found this one - I had previously been on the Norwegian Star, and knew and liked the ship. See cabin revview below for more details. I love the Freestyle cruising - ... Read More
I wanted a cruise going through the Panama Canal on my birthday, and found this one - I had previously been on the Norwegian Star, and knew and liked the ship. See cabin revview below for more details. I love the Freestyle cruising - we went to all the restaurants but the Italian one, and partularly enjoyed the Japanese restaurants, including sushi. There were few kids on this cruise - great for me, since I don't have kids and worry sometimes they will be in the way. Plenty of older people (surprising how many were in the gym before 8:00am!) but this also meant many of the late evening activities were dead. We purchased the gym package to do yoga, TRX, body sculpting, etc. Did not use as much as we would have liked to, but worth it, though much easier than OTF or other high-intensity workouts. The gym "seminars" were OK, though some geared toward selling you something, but definitively kept us from drinking too much outside the gym. Bars - plentiful! Sports Bar types will like the 5 O'clock Somewhere (or the Spice H2O), which continually show sports games (football playoff games this time of year, and also, strangely, cricket). My friends loved the Martini Bar, but there's also a Sake Bar and a Mojito Bar. Do note that as every bar specializes in something different, you cannot get your Bushwhacker or frozen margarita everywhere, and a margarita or Bahama Mam will taste different depending upon where you order it. They really should have a bar on Deck Seven, but instead, they have a specialty coffee café. A little weird. Restaurants - I loved them all, but service fluctuated. Our waiter in Le Bistro just could not get anything straight (medium well vs. medium rare, e.g.) but the food was awesome. We never had a problem getting in anywhere, because our suite concierge did all the work for us, and we never had to wait. The shrimp was particularly fantastic, everywhere, in any way on the Star. But the fish was sometimes fishy. The Topsider Grill would make me a veggie burger whenever I wanted one, 5 minute wait. We only ate at the Garden Buffet once - I think it was Cuban day/night, and the food was good (black beans, yucca, Cuban rice, plantains). Entertainment - not a big deal for me, but I did attend all the shows with the ship's performers and all but one were fantastic (Particularly Paradis, awesome, but the Burt Bacharach show was meh). There were way too many activities for me to take advantage of (just chilling by the pool while not on a shore excursion is fine for me) - though I did join my friends who actually won the progressive trivia. I have sailed this boat (Norwegian Star) twice and it's my favorite so far. I hope to do it again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We choose this cruise because of the destination - to make a full transit of the Panama Canal. Additionally, our travel agent was able to find us a pre-cruise option to go to the New Years Day 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, ... Read More
We choose this cruise because of the destination - to make a full transit of the Panama Canal. Additionally, our travel agent was able to find us a pre-cruise option to go to the New Years Day 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA prior to going on the cruise. The NCL Star was the perfect ship for us as we are very low - maintenance cruisers I guess. We did not want a big ship, we wanted to just relax and do what we wanted to do. So Free-Style Cursing on the NCL Star worked very well for us. Can't say enough good things on the just plain Excellent food, entertainment, accommodations we chose, or most importantly of all the service we received from the entire staff and crew. The shore excursions we choose were all very good and well worth the price we thought. However,we could see adding a port - of - call after the Panama Canal (we sailed west to east btw), and dropping one of the ports - of - call before going through the Canal. Having a stop in Panama itself would have been interesting. We did not travel with children, and were looking for a itinerary, ship and time of sailing that would not have a lot of kids on it. Yes, we would most certainly sail on Norwegian Cruise Lines again....and we will! Read Less
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