245 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

We took our first NCL cruise Sept. 2010 from New York to Canada and New England found it to be excellent so this year booked for Alaska on the Star *what a let down* Entertainment. The theatre was not only poor it must have been ... Read More
We took our first NCL cruise Sept. 2010 from New York to Canada and New England found it to be excellent so this year booked for Alaska on the Star *what a let down* Entertainment. The theatre was not only poor it must have been embarrassing to have one night of acceptable entertainment the whole cruise (the last night) I am guessing they were so embarrassed that is why the theatre only had one show most nights rather than there normal two! Dinning. We celebrated our Ruby Anniversary, so we dined in there main restaurants. The service was slow and the food was not consistent, it was mostly lukewarm, yes you would complain and you would wait for another but you should receive it hot to begin with. Example; the morning of the Glazier three couples in the restaurant first thing so we could have our breakfast and return to see the Glazier. The starter arrived the first table had a problem so we waited and waited the first table finished their starter then we all received our main it was cold and I mean cold, again they would offer another but the point of going early was to see the Glazier and we were not going to miss out and just left. We had to change ships at Vancouver for our second cruise on the Pearl, some law in USA/Canada you have to spend 24 hours, at the time we thought it was a stupid law but not now thank you America. What a difference we actually received hot meals and some of the best entertainment we have had on a cruise. The Pearl on the whole is an all round for superior ship. I did not receive a survey for the Star and I requested one! I also wrote to NCL head office in Miami, I have no doubt you have guessed over one month latter no reply. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Most everything about our cruise went well starting with booking the cruise over the phone with NCL staff. The staff was very helpful and not at all pushy. They even provided some assistance concerning our making flight reservations. All ... Read More
Most everything about our cruise went well starting with booking the cruise over the phone with NCL staff. The staff was very helpful and not at all pushy. They even provided some assistance concerning our making flight reservations. All of this is important to me as I do not travel very often. We arranged for the NCL transport from airport to Seattle but didn't locate anyone from NCL to direct us where to go. We walked around searching and this probably cost us about a half an hour ( Not the end of the world but we had just flown over 7 hours ) Embarkation was OK. Lots of people to take care of. We were very lucky to have been offered an upgrade to a room with a balcony which we happily accepted. I think a balcony on this particular cruise is the way to go. So much scenery to take in. The weather was hot in Seattle. We found the cabin to be very clean and ample for the two of us. There were many choices for food. The Market Cafe was a little too noisy and busy for us. We planned on eating at one of the " cover charge" restaurants but thought the Versailles was fine at no added cost. They definitely had the best food, service and ambiance of any of the "free" restaurants. The entire staff was upbeat and helpful. Everyone has their own expectations and ideas of what is nice and what is not. I think the ship has a variety of things to offer all types of people. It is impossible to completely satisfy 2,400 different people for a week. We found what we liked and returned to those areas. We will go again. Thank you NCL for a wonderful, memorable 25th anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
NCL Star Alaska Cruise 9/17/-9/24 We had a wonderful time on our first Alaska cruise despite the rainy weather. This was our 29th cruise (5th on NCL) but our first one to Alaska. It was just my spouse and I - both 47 years old. We ... Read More
NCL Star Alaska Cruise 9/17/-9/24 We had a wonderful time on our first Alaska cruise despite the rainy weather. This was our 29th cruise (5th on NCL) but our first one to Alaska. It was just my spouse and I - both 47 years old. We flew from Atlanta to Seattle the night before the cruise and stayed at the Marriott Seattle Riverfront right across from the port. We had dinner at Elliott's Oyster Bar just a half mile walk and it was wonderful. On Saturday, the hotel bellman rolled our luggage across the street for us to the port at 11:00a.m. We had V.I.P. check-in since we were staying in a Penthouse Suite so we were able to check-in and embark quickly. We were on the 8th deck aft above the spinnaker lounge. DO NOT STAY HERE UNLESS YOU LIKE TO PARTY IN THE SPINNAKER LOUNGE UNTIL 2:00AM. I say this because I wish we would have known about it when we booked it. We could hear every song that was played and almost every word that was said and no one can sleep with the bass music that they were playing. Neighbors on both sides of us were also complaining. When we notified our concierge, he said there was only one other room available but it would be a downgrade from what we had. He finally offered to let us use the other room to sleep in and keep our room. We were also compensated. We are not complainers and tried to stand it as long as we could. We waited until the third day to complain and they said they get complaints every cruise and are going to be working on it when the Star goes to dry dock. Other than that, everything else on the Star was good. We ate at LeBistro, Endless Summer, LaCacina and Cagneys as far as specialty restaurants go. We only ate one meal in the MDR Venetian. All were good. We only saw one show - the hypnotist and really enjoyed it. Ports - Ketchikan - we flew a float plane (Misty Fjords Air) over the misty fjords. It was great. We ate at the Alaska Fish House - wonderful! Juneau - we ate crab legs at Tracy's King Crab Shack. We also went to The Gold Creek Salmon Bake - waste of money in our opinion. But we did happen to see a small black bear in the woods there. The salmon was good but all of the sides were not and they were out of Alaska beer. Skagway - We did the goldpanning, dogsled, and 40 degrees below excursion. We really enjoyed it. I had not heard anything about this excursion preivously and was curious about it but I am definitely glad we did it. We got to see and hold the sled dog puppies and see a team in action. Prince Rupert - We had made reservations for the Cow Bay Cafe for dinner and was very glad we had. They only have 8-10 tables and they were all reserved and were having to turn people away. It was the absolute best meal of the whole trip. If it had not been for this restaurant, we would not have stayed off the ship long as there was nothing else to do there and this was the rainiest day. It rained every day but we had rain jackets, boots, etc. so we were well prepared. This was also the most a ship has rocked in 29 cruises. The first day at sea was extremely rough and there were alot of sick people. We had brought our Sea Bands so were were okay but a little nauseous. There were also a couple of more nights that were rocky. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Our Background: Husband and Wife 40/31 married 10 years on our 5th cruise. 3-Carnival, 1-HAL, 1-NCL. We are open minded people that believe you create your own happiness wherever you travel. We love to cruise! And we are self ... Read More
Our Background: Husband and Wife 40/31 married 10 years on our 5th cruise. 3-Carnival, 1-HAL, 1-NCL. We are open minded people that believe you create your own happiness wherever you travel. We love to cruise! And we are self proclaimed foodies. We live in the Seattle area. EMBARK: Fairly smooth, good natured people guiding you through the process. We arrived about 10:30 am and found the lines short. Used "My Primetime Limo" for transport to the port, they did a nice job! Got on the ship before noon, used a tip from another cc writer, "eat in the MDR on the first day and avoid the zoo at the buffet" great tip I highly recommend doing it. The NCL staff will try to herd you to the buffet but you do have choices in this regard. THE CABIN: NCL gets you into the cabins fast before 1:00 pm (nice job)! We had a Deck 10 inside cabin (first time in an insider). The cabin has a nice layout, and the bathroom is above average in size and style. The beds were very comfy but could use a bridge between the twins, when pushed together. I did get swallowed alive one night. :) Other lines offer this option, and for a couple that likes to cuddle it's a must! Storage is average with other cruise lines we've experienced. Our Cabin Steward was below average in friendliness and up keep of the room. Our Cabin was clean but not super clean. Towel animals were lack luster (no biggie, my DW gets a kick out of them). FOOD: Ok please remember the DW and I are foodies. So about 50% of the reason we take a cruise is we really enjoy having others cook for us! We have varying levels of expectations, depending on the venue. For example the MDR= high quality and amazing flavor, The Buffet= good tasting food maybe lower quality ingredients, yet solid taste is a must. That being said... MDRs: Food average, service a bit slower than other lines. We did have a few bright spots here, Desserts were above average, the DW was delighted with the cheesecake. I had the coconut souffle and it was wonderful, the Dessert Chef on this ship is good, which would later puzzle me. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: Le Bistro, the food quality and service was excellent! ($20 per person). La Cucina, the food quality was below average, overcooked very thin rib-eye steak. Also under cooked bland pasta dish. Sent the steak back and received and slightly less cooked yet just as low of quality cut of beef. Had 3 cuts of beef on the Star, all were low quality. The service here was very good! ($10 per person). BUFFET: Low quality choices here, not much flavor with only a few bright spots. The Ice Cream was tasty and the cookies were good. The atmosphere here is terrible, reminiscent of an older high school lunch room (and I mean room), all stainless steel, I am sure very easy to clean yet not appetizing! Cramped seating here, not comfy! CHOC BUFFET: Wow! One cc writer put it best "just enough cocoa to turn it brown" ok NCL you have some great desserts and the talent to produce them on this ship. However you will not find them at the choc buffet! Its held in the "lunch room" and the flavor...well there is none! NCL please I cry out to you! Do this event right or just stop doing it all together! Please! We have a palate. JAVA CAFE: Lattes very good here! Free pastries with coffee purchase. Free drip coffee here as well. Prices fair. LOUNGES: Mixed reviews here. Some locations not ready for customers. Most bars were very good. Over-all service here was good! No happy hour, specials were so-so. Snacks provided (nice touch). Prices on par with other lines sailed. SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT: Over-all above average! Elements, Best we've ever seen on a cruise ship, Top Notch! Angels, Amazing show! Band on the Run, Average. Misc shows, Average. Family Comedy, enjoyable. Dancing with the Stars, Could have been good, Mr. Sugar (asst. cruise director) ruined it with his rude demeaning humor. Lounge Entertainment, average with bright spots, The piano player from NYC was great (Gatsby's)! Ruby was very good! African American female singer amazing! (spinnaker) PUBLIC AREAS: Over-all very clean! I noticed some secondary railings are down to the bare wood, this is a first for me!? On the ships we've sail thus far they have all been impeccably maintained. A little shocking to bare wood on 1000 ft cruise liner. (again no biggie) The ship was easy to navigate for us and it has a nice feel. As mention by other cc writers there was a lite smell of sewer in some ares, maybe due to rough seas? Not sure. Wasn't overwhelming. WRAP UP: Over-all for us the NCL Star was not as good as our other Cruises. The main reason I believe, the food program on NCL is of lower quality than Carnival and HAL. Carnival cabin fares are about the same as NCL, so for our money Carnival is a better value. Before cruising NCL again the food program would have to substantially improve! Thank for Reading! Kind Regards Michael and Jamie Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Embarkation was quick, easy and efficient. DH has had a stroke which left him with very poor balance. One look at his cane and staff rushed to his aid, took us quickly through the formalities and straight onto the ship. The cabin ... Read More
Embarkation was quick, easy and efficient. DH has had a stroke which left him with very poor balance. One look at his cane and staff rushed to his aid, took us quickly through the formalities and straight onto the ship. The cabin was small but well organised. I was surprised by the size of the window - perfect for watching the waves towering above us. Did I mention 100mph winds and considerable rocking and rolling on our sea days! The crew were wonderful, friendly, always helpful. At one time when it was rough it took two of them holding tight to DH to get him through the Buffet. Always service with a smile. We enjoyed dining, mostly in Aqua, once in Versailles. Good food in both. Service was timely, the food was very good so that we never felt the need to use the other dining rooms. We asked to share a table for four each evening which allowed us to meet some interesting people. The only disappointment was the Blue Lagoon where the service was slower and food very uninteresting. I enjoyed the Hypnotist. He was funny without making his subjects do anything embarrassing. Second City did rapid-fire skits and improv. - great fun. The best show of all was Elements, on the last night. Quite spectacular! Now for the negatives - only two: There should be a proper plan of the ship given to everyone as part of the welcome package. It needs to be big enough to read, not the grotty , unreadable little slip of newsprint that they give out at the reception desk. We were not the only ones looking lost several days into the cruise. Finally, the reason that in spite of all the good reviews above, we probably won't cruise with NCL again, was the excruciating NOISE level in all the public areas. They had great singers and musicians - why did they have to amp then up to pain level! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our 14th cruise and the second one on the STAR. We sailed on her inaugural cruise from Miami to the west coast in 2001. For this cruise we brought along 18 people about a fourth of them had never cruised before, the rest ... Read More
This was our 14th cruise and the second one on the STAR. We sailed on her inaugural cruise from Miami to the west coast in 2001. For this cruise we brought along 18 people about a fourth of them had never cruised before, the rest had a least one cruise. I am a firm believer that CC members are obliged to write of their experiences for the benefit of all, so even if your experience was different than ours, its important to share them for a balanced view. A lot of comments have been related to the food on board. Some have had less than a good experience, others feel the food is good to great. Our experience was all the above. The problem is - it is inconsistent. For example at Cagney's the steak was excellent, but the salmon was covered in a heavily salted crab concoction that spoiled it. In the MDR's you might get a very good dish, or a just passable one with over-cooking the usual culprit. The solution to this is to order another entree. Or as one person did, not knowing if a dish would be good or great, they would order two entrees in the certainty that one would be better than the other. The Market Place food was usually quite good with some standout selections. A custom made omelette is available on the pool deck just outside the Market Cafe. You can get a fresh made waffle there also as well as eggs cooked to your order. If you order the same things in either MDR it will ALWAYS arrive at your table luke warm. It has something to do with the distance traveled and when the meal hits the window. So we saved the MDR's for lunch and dinner, and the Market Cafe for nearly all breakfasts. As to the service in the various food venues, yes it is slow. Too many tables for too few waiters, even in Cagney's the one on one attentive service was strained by the lack of staff to handle a full complement of diners. We liked the Freestyle dining because slow service made for a very leisurely dining room experience, with absolutely no rush for you to leave your table. It forces conversation while you wait for the next thing, and in this age of texting that may challenge some people a bit! We had a mini suite with balcony (11088) which came with a very nice coffee maker, that produces 2 coffee mugs worth of coffee at a time, a safe that worked with digits and did not require a credit card to operate (yea!), and curtains to divide the room in half. The cabin is 25 feet long and 8.5 ft wide. The balcony is 8.5 ft wide and 6 feet deep. Standard electrical outlets are (1) in bathroom and (1) in cabin. The closet has a light in it that 99 percent of travelers don't know about. Look up on the back wall for it. Without it you need a flashlight to see the hidden shelves on the sides! Another question I asked the CC board was is the cabin number the same as the cabin phone. Nobody seemed to know. The answer is yes, just dial the cabin number. The way to set up a wake up call however is inexplicable. I never could do it and there are no instructions either. Dial 00 and have Guest Services do it for you. Then it will work for sure! They used to put a card in the stateroom with the name of your room steward and a small pamphlet on how to work things (like the phone) - not anymore. The shower has two handles. One regulates the amount of water, the other regulates the temperature. You can go from warm to scalding hot with a 1/32nd turn of the temperature handle! Yeow ! Fortunately the shower head swings easily and you can bat it toward the wall before your backside is cooked! After 10 years, we noticed some significant changes on board. Market Place had hot chocolate machines, now you get a packet of chocolate dust. Juices were always available, but now only at breakfast, after that they become a $pecial drink. Trays are gone from Market Place, you have to carry your plate. This eliminates getting a significant amount of food at one time and multiple trips are required to get your meal assembled on your table. Consequently you have a LOT of foot traffic trying to get all their stuff together at their table. Chocolate milk is not on the line any more, but you can find it at the kids station. Lots of adults were going there to get some! The Latitudes welcome party used to include hot hors d'oeuvres, served by staff in white tux and white gloves - not any more, - White or red wine only, any thing else is $pecial. MDR's used to have cream for coffee in silver containers - now they are the plastic single serve things you find at McDonalds. The Pizza "store" is gone where you could get a slice of pizza anytime. You will find a sort of pizza at the Market Place at lunch time - but it isn't much of a pizza. You can order a 15 inch pizza from room service for $5 plus tip. Staterooms used to have double sets of bath towels and pool towels were at the pool deck. Now you get 2 of each kind of towel and the pool towels are in your room, which you are responsible for insuring their safety or paying for them. Many of our guests were in staterooms on deck 5, which unfortunately a number of them were beneath the floor of the MDR galley. 3 of our guests had serious issues with noise from the galley activities, including one stateroom subjected to loud radio playing at 3am in the morning. That took a staff officer to come to the cabin at 3am to solve the problem. Another had noise from things being dropped on the floor, skidded across the floor and a mixing machine that thumped the floor at early hours in the morning. If you are a light sleeper avoid any deck 5 cabin near the MDR galley overhead. In each case our guests were given a compensation, but a good night's sleep is really what they yearned for. Note for CC members: We had one issue that became quite unpleasant at the Guest Services Desk. I have purchased a CC pin, which I wore most everywhere on board. Many people did not know what it was, but when I went to resolve this issue the next day and explained to another Guest Services staff member what we do, and that I would be writing a ship review, he got very serious about solving the problem. I told him that we are encourage all the time by NCL to solve any problem while on board, and not when we get home, and this would be his last chance to have that happen. So there is power in being a CC member and also asking respectfully for a full resolution to any problem! I won't comment here on the Alaska ports as the ship won't be back for another year, our cruise was the next to the last one, and perhaps the only one that had 3 days of sunshine and 73+ degree temperatures! The entertainment was very good. I don't relish screechy female singers so those two nights I skipped the Stardust Theater. As noted by other CC members, the Stardust cranks the sound level up to just under the place on the dial labeled "painful" so be sure to have ear plugs with you when attending. The "Angels" aerial act with the male and female artists was superb and amazing how he could support the lady in so many gymnastic positions while flying across the stage! The hypnotist was excellent and we had a lot of fun with the volunteers and of course the Elements Show, at the last night of the cruise is the highlight and topper for the whole 7 days. A tip of the hat to the cruise director Jamie and the many events she organized and participated in. And very special recognition to her at disembarkation, where she and other officers wished us a safe journey home. What a great touch and nice way to end the cruise!! My thanks also to CC member GrapevineTX for organizing the CC Meet & Greet from our roll call. It was his work that won us a (extremely rare) and highly appreciated bridge tour Yea!! A cruise is what you make of it and a positive attitude will make it even more fun. We found all the staff without exception to be eager to help, friendly, always smiling and cheerful despite their long work hours. Special thanks to Guest Services employee An Juan Ray for his dedication and excellence in customer service - he could give lessons to one of his associates! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Just returned last Saturday from an Alaskan cruise on the Star. Our party consisted of my husband, mother and father in law and husband's aunt in one cabin and my grandparents in an oceanview. I was a little apprehensive and ... Read More
Just returned last Saturday from an Alaskan cruise on the Star. Our party consisted of my husband, mother and father in law and husband's aunt in one cabin and my grandparents in an oceanview. I was a little apprehensive and didn't know what to expect as the Star gets some pretty inconsistent reviews. Let me tell you, don't listen to any of the bad ones! We had an amazing time and have absolutely nothing bad to say about NCL after spending a week with them. Let me address some of the previous concerns I have read. Not once, did we feel pressured to buy anything nor did we ever feel nickel and dimed. My husband and I got off the ship with an onboard account balance of $61 and still had a fabulous time. The ship is 10 years old, but does not show it. The cabins are nice and the common areas are as beautiful as I would imagine they were when the ship was first built. Crew: The crew was amazing. Everywhere we turned there was a smiling face and someone asking us how our day was. Our cabin steward was quiet and efficient and friendly. Every night on the pool deck from 5-9 there was a member of the kitchen staff making crepes and he was SOOOO friendly. He was our highlight. Food: I have read a lot of reviews about how the food was mediocre. We did not think so at all! We ate only in the main dining rooms for dinner and were very impressed. The food was always cooked perfectly and had great flavor. Shows: The entertainment was very good. Elements was great at the end of the cruise, but Angels on the third night was the best live show I have ever seen. Ports: The ports were underwhelming, but that has nothing to do with the cruise line. Prince Rupert was beautiful as was Juneau, but Skagway was small and dirty. All in all we had a fabulous time! Everything was great and I will definitely recommend and cruise with NCL again. Hopefully in the near future!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Last minute, budget, cruise to Alaska. First time on Norwegian. We were warned both online and off not to expect the service or experience we had with Princess or RCI or even Carnival. So, we came with low expectations. I thought I ... Read More
Last minute, budget, cruise to Alaska. First time on Norwegian. We were warned both online and off not to expect the service or experience we had with Princess or RCI or even Carnival. So, we came with low expectations. I thought I would post a few thoughts for others who are undecided if Norwegian is worth trying. It was as good as any other cruise in most ways, better than some in others. The staff on the STAR were without exception friendly, helpful, polite. This made the cruise for us. The food was unpredictable. In the main dining room portions were small but for the most part very good. In the buffet it was hit or miss be we always found something to enjoy (loved the breads). We only tried one fee place the food was excellent and if that is what cruising is about to you I would budget to pay for the better food options. Only once did we wait for seating at dinner, we were handed a pager that went off in less than 10 minutes. The music was very good, the shows mostly good and that is so subjective my fellow travelers found the shows very good. The "Elements" was quite a production. The Embarkation and Debarkation were the smoothest we have ever enjoyed as was every time they we were in port and people were getting on and off I was very impressed with their people handling. We did not do shore excursions this trip and still managed to enjoy our cruise very much. I would totally try Norwegian again and would compliment the STAR on their staff. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We thoroughly enjoyed the Star. I had been apprehensive about booking on NCL after reading many negative reviews here, but I was completely satisfied. Here are my impressions: EMBARKATION We got to the port around noon. There ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed the Star. I had been apprehensive about booking on NCL after reading many negative reviews here, but I was completely satisfied. Here are my impressions: EMBARKATION We got to the port around noon. There were alot of people already in line, but things moved quickly. We were done and on board the ship in around 30 minute. No complaints here. CABIN The cabins were not yet ready to enter when we arrived on board, but were within about a half hour. We had an oceanview with a large window. The cabin was the usual size for a cruise and very clean, with a small fridge and TV. The bathroom had a stall shower with a closing glass door,which was great, instead of the usual shower curtain where the water gets everywhere. The shower pressure was good also, with surpisingly hot water. A soap and shampoo dispenser was in the shower. Our cabin steward was sweet and the room was cleaned promptly each day. FOOD We really enjoyed the food. We ate breakfast in the Versailles dining room daily. I really enjoyed the made to order omelets and the french toast. Lunch was usually in the Market Cafe buffet. Although the offerings were usually similar daily, everything was fresh and there is a large selection. I never thought the items looked old,as did some reviewers. There was plenty of seating and we could always find a table. Free drinks were limited to water and iced tea. There is an ice cream bar near the gym, in the back of the cafe, and also soft serve. We usually ate in the Versailles dining room at night. I hadn't experienced free style dining before and was unsure what to expect, but we only had to wait for a table 1 night, about 10 minutes. Other than that, no wait, and we were always given a table for two. Some reviewers complained that the selection was the same every day. The menu varied daily on one side, and was the same on the other side. There are more than enough choices for a week. The food was very good, although the portions are on the small side. But after an appetizer and salad, they were more than enough. Service was excellent. The staff is very pleasant. The food arrived quickly and there was no real waiting time between courses. We didn't use the specialty restaurants as we thought the included meals were more than good. ENTERTAINMENT I really enjoyed it, although of course everyone's taste is different. There were a 60s and 70s stage review with the NCL singers and dancers. The hypnotist, Second City comdey group, and acrobats/aerialists were also very good. The French aerialists were a don't miss show. I actually thought the shows were a cut above most other lines. PORTS We were very lucky and had great weather for Alaska! Didn't see any bears or moose, though :( Although cruising on deck was cold and sometimes foggy, the weather in port was pretty good. We actually had no rain while in port. The weather was in the mid 50s, milder than I thought. Ketchikan: Cloudy. We did the duck tour and walked around the town for a couple hours. The rain held off until we were back on ship. Alot of tourist shops and jewelry; not really what I came to Alaska for. Juneau: Cloudy with peeks of sun. We went to Mendenhall Glacier. This was a must see. Don't take the tour from the ship. It's overpriced. Once off the ship, head towards the Shuttle to Town sign. A bus was waiting to take passengers to the Mt. Roberts tram station, a 5 minute drive. There, there are multiple kiosks where you can buy a $16 RT shuttle ticket directly to the glacier park. The parking lot for the shuttles is adjacent to the Mt. Roberts tram. Much cheaper than the $49 ticket the ship was charging. You can either take the light blue Glacier Express, or the white Juneau express. Both went to the same spot and were on the same half hour time frame. You will be dropped off in the parking lot adjacent to the glacier visitor center. The glacier is awesome. Walk around, go to the visitor center for $3, or hike up to a waterfall. A couple hours is what we spent. No problem getting back for the 1:30 ship departure. We took the 8 am shuttle from the Mt. Roberts tram. On the way back, the shuttle driver will drop you off in town if you wish for sightseeing, which is what we did. It's a 5 minute walk then back to the tram station, for the shuttle back to the ship. Juneau's central district is more stores, plus the crowded Red Dog Saloon. We were back on board by noon. Skagway: Clouds and a sunny afternoon with 60 temps! Like spring. We took the Yukon Scenic drive trip in a small van. Awesome mountain scenary all the way up to Carcross, YT. The driver stopped along the way for picture taking. There is an outhouse bathroom stop along the way, and also one in town before taking off. Don't forget your passport! The driver checked for passports before you could get on the van. Once in Carcross, we stopped for lunch at the Spirit Lake Lodge. We had a prepackaged sandwich, soup, excellent pie (take the blueberry) and a drink. We also saw the smallest desert in Carcross, and beautiful Emerald Lake. We had a quick stop at Carcross (nothing much there except an overpriced souvenir place). The tour lasted about 5 hours, so gave us some time for looking around Skagway's quaint downtown (more shopping)before we got back on board. Prince Rupert: Cloudy and windy. Small town with a small main tourist shopping area within a 10 minute walk of the ship. A few bars and restaurants, but not much to see unless you are doing a ship excursion, like whale watching. We walked around and were back on ship in a couple hours. Remember your passport. Last Day at Sea: Cloudy start, afternoon sunny and HOT! Everyone was out on the lounges or the pool. Beautiful day. DEBARKATION Quick and orderly. We were off the ship before 10. All in all, a great trip. Would love to go back to Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I have done 5 other NCL cruises and 16 cruises in total. I would think twice again, before I go on an older ship. It made the difference from a good cruise v a great cruise. I went with one of my friends, this cruise is not geared to ... Read More
I have done 5 other NCL cruises and 16 cruises in total. I would think twice again, before I go on an older ship. It made the difference from a good cruise v a great cruise. I went with one of my friends, this cruise is not geared to singles. It caters to an mature audience. I am over 50 but not quite at the retired stage. I enjoy more activity and nightlife. This ship does not really offer this. There were some younger folks but in general the vast majority were 70-80's. Go for the ports. The value of this ship is not very good as they charge a lot of money to sail and offer a tired ship, limited entertainment and fair quality food, the ship should be retired. IN GENERAL LIMITED QUALITY AND QUANTITY EMBARKATION: I must say the people who work at the port of Seattle were rude and abrupt. It was the worst embarkation I have experienced. The time to board took about 45 minutes. Not good not bad. As I am a previous guest on NCL we are supposed to receive priority boarding. Based on the time we waited in line It made no difference being a prior guest v 1st time traveler. Lesson get in the shortest line! LUGGAGE: we received our luggage in a reasonable and timely manner and I have no concerns or issues to report. SHIP: The Norwegian Star is an older ship. It was last refurbished in 2010 (according to NCL) While it is fairly new refurb do not let that fool you it is an older ship and in desperate need of maintenance. Toilets backed up all over the ship, the odor was awful. Window film peeled, pieces of cork flooring needed replacement and quite frankly needed another refurb. FOOD: Stick to the main dining rooms, Versailles being better than aqua, Food choices are limited, food quality while fresh, taste was good, appetizers were tastier than the main entrees. Menu offers limited change nightly. service was good but not great. BUFFETS: limited choices of food, limited quantities, food was generally overcooked and looked better than it tasted. quality was similar to a Golden Coral Buffet. Not as many choices. Deserts were small, they put less out at a time. Service was good in the buffets, they were generally quick to clean tables. Sometimes took food away before you could finish it. (kind of annoying) FOOD AND SERVICE OVERALL: Were generally good but never great. Of course likes and dislikes differ for us all I can only comment on my past cruises experiences. ROOM: I stayed in Mini Suite, based on other cruise lines and past cruises this particular mini suite was smaller than past mini suites I have stayed in. But the room Steward was fabulous. The room always clean. CREW: In general the crew was very cheerful and eager to do their jobs. They do a great job despite long hours and thankless cruisers. SHOWS: A couple of the shows were downright awful,the humor was tatselss and insulting and not necessary. A couple of the hsows were better and enjoyable. I am far from a prude but if you are going to have an adult show then list it as such in the program. The talent was fair ENTERTAINMENT/MUSIC: This cruise gets an older crowd. If you are looking for late nights I do not think it will be on this ship. There were numerous older people with walkers and canes. The music gears toward and older crowd shutting out people who want to hear top-40 and dance. Nothing much happended after 12 am and the casino closed early on a couple nights as no one came to gamble. TOURS : take any one you can afford Alaska is wonderful see anything you can and you will not lose. PORTS OF CALL: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert CA All of these ports were enjoyable. The scenery is incredible, the air is clean the water calm and glasslike and the mountains and scenery on the way knock your socks off. Saw Ididarod Dogs, Saw the mendehall glacier, incredible. What ever you chose I think is a good choice. did not here one bad word. DIS-EMBARKATION: Went very easy, I did a "walkoff". Worth dragging the luggage. You get off fast, do not have to find your luggage. Well worth the labor. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Booked 4 cabins of different categories from inside to mini suite; 3 of family and one of family friends. Ages from 56 (me) to a toddler of 16 months. We were almost unanimous in our opinion(s) of the ship and ports. Overwhelmingly ... Read More
Booked 4 cabins of different categories from inside to mini suite; 3 of family and one of family friends. Ages from 56 (me) to a toddler of 16 months. We were almost unanimous in our opinion(s) of the ship and ports. Overwhelmingly positive. The ship was clean and obviously well maintained. The crew were almost universally friendly and outgoing... pleasant and helpful but not fawning. Meals in the MDR were good to very good but none were particularly great. Service in MDR's was likewise very good. Prompt, efficient and courteous. Only complaint in MDR was a constant fight to get coffee refills. They refilled waters and other drinks regularly but had to be asked consistently for more coffee. Pet peeve of this coffee-holic. We NEVER waited to be seated regardless of our table size. Literally seated within 60 seconds regardless of dining time. Meals in the buffet areas were typical of any buffet; from mediocre to very good. Buffet fare was surprisingly American; very small areas of more "exotic" offerings. Dining at LeBistro was simply fabulous and worth every penny. Same thought about Cagney's Steakhouse... simply wonderful. We did note that Cagney's seemed to be at a faster pace than Bistro despite both restaurants relative level of occupancy; we liked the more leisurely Bistro We didn't try the other "for fee" restaurants. Shows ran the gamut from excellent to so-so; also probably depending on one's taste. My wife loved the hypnotist/magician while I was bored to tears etc. Ship public address announcements were remarkably few... a nice surprise. Our cabin attendant was superb, of course, but we have had good luck with that on all of our cruises Since all ports save one were American, it was a breeze to get on and off the ship without Custons' issues. All ports were docked... no tendering. Prices for drinks were typical of all ships; from 4 to 8 bucks depending on souvenir glasses etc. Some venues were always crowded (The Red Lion) and some virtually empty (The Star Room). The Biergarten on 14 was underutilized but that may be due to the insistent cold, damp weather. The Piano bar and the Atrium Trio were always well attended but easy to find a seat at. Never felt pressured to buy anything at any time. Even the massage lady was low key about upgrades. All in all, we loved the cruise. Everyone of our party of 13 was happy with everything but the weather... and even the baby seemed to like the whole thing. I would recommend Norwegian Star without reservation, and would sail here again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Getting on and off: The best and easiest we've experienced. Our 5th NCL cruise. 3rd time on Star. 5th time to Alaska. Cabin: Small but cozy and we spend alot of time there. We love our romantic balcony privacy. ... Read More
Getting on and off: The best and easiest we've experienced. Our 5th NCL cruise. 3rd time on Star. 5th time to Alaska. Cabin: Small but cozy and we spend alot of time there. We love our romantic balcony privacy. Meals: 6 out of 7 were specialty restaurants. Cruising for us is one long date. Yes, we are married, but we love out "out on the town" time. Le Bistro: Fabulous as always. La Cucina: New for NCL to have a specialty stand along Italian restaurant. We loved it. The food was wonderful. Cagney's: Steakhouse. Used to be our fave. Not this time. Not last time. Food is good, not great and too few choices. Ginza: Wow! We were both blown away. Food and service was amazing. Easily the best. Tempanyaki: We did it last time. No reason to go back. Entertainment is basic and the food is just okay. Main dining room: Versailles: Only one night, but really good. Small portions but quality was there. Entertainment: We didn't do shows. We did Mark Pellegrene in the Champagne Bar. Wow. What fun. I would go on the cruise again just to have that much fun. I'm not kidding. He is great. Singing old favorites with him sitting at the piano. I looked forward to every night just for that. Bars: We did the Star Bar, our old fave. Nice and quiet, with a good view. Great bartender. We also did the Champagne Bar because of Mark. The bartenders were very good there too. Alternative entertainment: They had the show band in the atrium. Those guys were fun and did well with easy jazz and dixieland. Stops: Usual Skagway, Juneau and Ketchican. We've been there before and did whale watching out of Skagway. Great views and the most dramatic whale watching that we've had. This cruise included Prince Rupert. Waste of time. Nothing there and we quickly were back on the ship. Service: I've read bad reviews of NCL. We can't figure it out. There are always great. We even see folks working there for years that we've seen before. And they always are nice, helpful and make the cruise even better. Almost forgot: Wine: Nice wine list and reasonable prices. The same wine list is available in all restaurants. We've been on Holland, RCCL and Princess and that wasn't the case. I tried more wines this trip than ever. They were also discounting all wines 20% this trip. Love it!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have just returned from a cruise to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Star. I was a little apprehensive as it is the first time we have used and American cruise line and read so many differing reports. However, I shouldn't have been ... Read More
We have just returned from a cruise to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Star. I was a little apprehensive as it is the first time we have used and American cruise line and read so many differing reports. However, I shouldn't have been concerned. Our cabin was a reasonable size and the balcony adequate, not that big but enough room to stretch out. The cabin and shower room spotless, very efficient staff. The shower room would be a little cramped if you were large as it was two small compartments, one for the toilet and the other for washbasin and shower. The soap and shampoo in dispensers on the wall. Our cabin staff added a little touch by making different towel animals every night when they turned down the bed. The dining rooms were great, so much choice. The food was served hot and well presented. There was no pushing or shoving in the cafeteria which we found on our MSC cruise. For such a large ship the Star ran very efficiently. I am also hooked on freedom dining. Most people changed for the evening dinner but if you didn't want to dress up you didn't have to. So good if you were back from a trip you could take your time to dine. Only once did we have to wait but were given a pager and went for a drink until called, about 15 minute wait. The waiting staff were all friendly and more than helpful. Plenty to do for days at sea, the main theatre shows were a bit disappointing, one evening they had comedy which did not appeal at all to the British audience. However, the last night was a spectacular show, I would say one of the best I have experienced at sea. There were also plenty of other singers and musicians dotted around the ship, who played different types of music from jazz to country and western, etc. Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly and we had no problem with either of these. Nothing is perfect and we were disappointed with the price of drinks which also added a tax every time you bought something. If you play bingo, which we don't, it will cost you 39 dollars for 4 games minimum. I did not like the hard sell of the Americans, the trips were very expensive , and i mentioned earlier our lovely towel animals. They even tried to see us a dvd showing us how to make these. They advertise an indoor pool but there is a charge to use this as it is attached to the spa. Some of the restaurants also carry an extra charge. Nevertheless I would go NCL again and would recommend them, food, cleanliness, comfort were as good if not better than other cruise lines we have travelled with. I am considering cruise next year with another American line, Celebrity Eclipse, and would appreciate any comments. Are they also hard sell? Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
So my party consisted of 3 friends in our early 30's who get together annually. I was a little worried after reading the reviews on here about the Star, but I must say I had a great time. A lot of it had to do with the fact that three ... Read More
So my party consisted of 3 friends in our early 30's who get together annually. I was a little worried after reading the reviews on here about the Star, but I must say I had a great time. A lot of it had to do with the fact that three days before the cruise we got a call to upgrade from a mid-ship mini suite to a penthouse and VIP status. It was more money, but 100% worth it. Awesome balcony, which was a plus on an Alaska cruise. We had priority boarding and embarkation, butler and concierge service and access to Cagneys steakhouse for breakfast and lunch. Cagneys was a huge plus. I've been on 7 cruises on other cruise lines and this was my first on NCL. The buffet area was not the greatest on the Star. The food did not look fresh and was nothing special. Needless to say, we took advantage of Cagneys. We did try Versailles the first night, and it wasn't bad. But we decided to try a specialty restaurant every night for the rest of the cruise. We loved La Cucina and Endless Summer ( Tex Mex), but all the others were great. We thought it was fun to try a different restaurant every night and didn't mind the service charge. I read a lot about the staff pressuring guests to book reservations and so on. While we did have people approach us, we just kindly declined when we wanted and it was fine. Being in Alaska, the age group was definitely higher, however we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. They had awesome martini tastings and a very cool pub crawl. Vacation is what you make of it. I went in with a positive attitude and chose to ignore the little things and enjoyed my time on the Star. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
* Background Information - first Alaska cruise, and I've heard so many rave reviews that I was expecting to be really wowed, but wasn't. * Hotel Info - Best Western Pioneer Square in Seattle was a pleasant surprise. While ... Read More
* Background Information - first Alaska cruise, and I've heard so many rave reviews that I was expecting to be really wowed, but wasn't. * Hotel Info - Best Western Pioneer Square in Seattle was a pleasant surprise. While warned about homeless and less desirable location, we were very happy with the neighborhood. Included breakfast was terrific. 1 block from ferry, 1 mile from pier 66, 3 blocks from Light rail service, route 99 free tourist bus stopped right outside. * Ship Info - they need to pay attention to the sound system - the volume in the Atrium, at the pool, and in the entertainment venues was so loud that it was actually painful. There is no Quiet Zone except outside - not ideal in cool damp weather. The small library was the only indoor seating that was supposed to be quiet. * Activities - pretty standard and what I expect on a cruise - no issues * Service - our room steward always said hello, but he tended to start at one end of the block of rooms and work to the other. The result was that just about every evening he came to turn down our room very late(for us). I realize that very few people get up at 5 or 6am, and return to the room early and go to bed at 9:30 or 10pm., After the second night, despite telling him we were not attending nightly functions, he came to turn down the room after we returned for the night. We asked him to come earlier but he consistently showed up around 9 or 930. We actually didn't receive evening services since he was later than we wanted. Dining room services were good. Our last night we had a fantastic waiter - wish we had met him first! * Port & Shore Excursions - this was the most disappointing part - while excursions were good, if you weren't doing an excursion there is nothing to do in most ports except walk through rows of jewelry stores and genuine souvenirs made in China, Honduras, Korea, Pakistan, etc. It is so hard to find anything made in America. Seattle - loved it. Very walkable city with great transportation options, and lots to do independently. Loved the views from the Bank of America Building (Columbia Building). Highest in Seattle and the great view includes the Space needle. Ketchikan - easy to get public bus ($2) to Totem Bight Park. After about an hour there we returned to town and walked around. Juneau - several buses take you from the port to Mendenhall for $16 round trip. Some nice trails to walk there. Saw eagles, bear, and lots of salmon. This port met my high expectations Skaguay - I loved the White Pass Railroad. I stood outside most of the trip and got some great photos of spectacular scenery. They tell you that both sides are good for scenery - you change sides at the top of the pass. However, the trip up is much slower so the left side of the train definitely has a better view. Unfortunately our train broke down and we sat on the track for about an hour - I booked through the cruise line for this one because the reservation I could get was cutting it close to cruise on board time. We were an hour late getting back. With several hundred missing passengers they waited for us. Unfortunately the morning spent in town was a bit boring - not much to do or see. Prince Rupert - the only thing I wanted to do there was hike the Butze Rapids trail, but in a steady rain I opted to stay on the ship at this port. The town has nothing much to offer. My friend did go in to look around but came back in an hour after walking the entire town. The only thing she commented on was the cow -printed trash cans in Cow Bay. * Summary - My expectations were probably unrealistic, but I had hopes of being able to explore more on foot and without taking an expensive tour. If I return I think I need to consider a different itinerary with Denali and Vancouver as starting and end points. * Stateroom - standard interior cabin - exactly what we expected * Dining - much better food than I expected. I love Celebrity's dining, but on my only other NCL cruise I didn't think food was too good. I thought both of the dining rooms (Versailles and Aqua), the Tex -Mex specialty restaurant, and the Market Place cafe were all very good with lots of variety and decent quality. The luncheon menu in the dining rooms was the same ever day, but other than that I was very pleased. * Entertainment - I'm not a fan of comedians, hypnotists or circus acts, and that was the vast majority of shows. I also hated the sound level, and the lighting director should be fired - the bright lights were rotated directly in the faces of the audience. I had a migraine from the strobe light effect. * Disembarkation - we got in to port and cleared an hour early. Painless and easy self-disembarking got us to the airport an hour earlier than expected. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Us: Husband (37), self (42), and 15-year old daughter. We live in northern CA; we drove and parked. This is our 3rd cruise, our 1st on NCL. Boarding: We arrived at the parking structure at 10:00, and they wouldn't let us park ... Read More
Us: Husband (37), self (42), and 15-year old daughter. We live in northern CA; we drove and parked. This is our 3rd cruise, our 1st on NCL. Boarding: We arrived at the parking structure at 10:00, and they wouldn't let us park in "cruise parking" until 10:30. They did give us the option to wait in some open spaces that faced the port and ship until they were ready for us. However, I'm glad we arrived early. We used Republic Parking and paid $140 for the week. https://www.rpnw.com/seattle/fuel/ There were cheaper options, but for those you have to wait for a shuttle and it only saves $20-40. This garage is right across the pier and has nice elevators, luggage service, and a Sky-Bridge that walks you across to the NCL cruise lobby. It was worth it. The check-in process was so fast that I found myself fumbling to fill out forms and pull out passports. They got us checked in and gave us a number to wait for our group to be called. We were "11," the first group was "10." When we boarded at 11:30 there was still no line for those going through check in. I would suggest you arrive as early as possible. Ship: Not as grand and beautiful as other ships I've seen... but very nice. The atrium and main pool deck were nice and I thought they provided nice seating and atmosphere. My daughter loved the water slides. I liked the staggered stair-type seating at the pool. I liked the varied art in the stairwells. I saw a few places that could have been dressed up better, but overall it was fine and in most places very nice. Cabin: Balcony, mid-ship, port, 10th floor. This room was PERFECT location. Great for elevators and easy access. Port side is great for this cruise, only one day without land view. Bathroom: Best of 3 cruises. (More room, nice tile, nice sink. Clean. If you're tall you'll find the toilet area to be short and may consider upgrade to mini-suite where bathrooms are deeper. Ship provided good shampoo, not-so-good liquid soap, and no conditioner. No tub but larger shower than last two ships I was on, and great shower head. Water system is great and water tastes great, no need for bottled. (I didn't believe it because I'm so picky about water, but it was true.) Furniture: Smart design = room under bed for our suitcases. Closet was smallish but had lots of shelves and options and met our needs for three. It was tight, but it worked. Angled cuts, mirrors, and a chair without a back (stool) made for more walking space. Only one plug, bring a power strip or splitter if you have more than one device. (Cameras, cell phones, etc.) Hair dryer was fine. Beds: Queen was a bit hard, but OK. Pillows were good, bedding was good. Fold-out bed for my daughter was HARD AS A ROCK. I'm not sure how she could stand it... it would have killed by back and neck. She is 15 and sleeps on the floor sometimes "just because"... she had no complaints. LOL. If I had to sleep on that I would have been miserable without a foam pad. Cleanliness: I'm picky about this. Bathroom was all tile, which makes it easier to clean, and it was very clean. Changing out rooms they missed a french fry under the bed and the slider had "finger writing" of hearts from the prior passenger. After we got the room it was cleaned very well each day. Our attendant said he was just back from time off so I have to guess he didn't prepare the room... without us asking windows were clean and fry was gone after the first cleaning. Room attendant: Outstanding! Friendly, great service. We did tip a couple of extra dollars each night... he left us robes and pool towels without us asking, and great towel animals. He knew our schedule and turned down our room early. A few times I left out cash on accident and it was never touched. He called us by first name, always smiled, and quickly met any requests we had. Balcony: A very small balcony, smaller than on most ships. But, large enough for 2 chairs and met our needs. BRING GOOD BINOCULARS. We brought some cheesy ones thinking we wouldn't need them. We were fighting over them and wished we had three good pair. TV: Horrible little 13" old tube. I don't care much about a TV on a cruise, but it did seem a bit ridiculous to have such an old and little TV. I do like to refer to the ship's channel that gives you information such as current location, time, miles sailed from and to next port, temperature of air and water, speed of vessel, sea condition and wave height. With volume up you can also hear ship's announcements. I know many people use the front bow camera for light. Even with window or balcony if you close the curtains for sleeps it's really dark. They had a few channels with movies and one with TV shows. We didn't care about watching TV but if you do you won't be happy with tiny screen or old TV. Tip: Bring a small digital clock. There's not one in the room. I knew this and thought I'd just use my cell but it was a hassle to climb over the bed and go pick it up every time I wanted to see the time. I thought I wouldn't care.. I mean, we're on vacation, who cares about time? But, if you want to go to dinner/shows/activities/ports of call... you will care. I wish I would have followed advice of others and brought a clock that you can see in the dark and across the room. Cruise Critic Reception/Meet N Greet: Great fun! You should sign up/arrange for this event. I wasn't sure what it would be and if we should go... but it was great to meet the other CC members. They set up a nice meet area at Le Bistro and provided coffee/tea and cookies. The captain came for a quick meet and we also got a personal intro to the senior offices including cruise director. They knew we would be a small group and they still rolled out the carpet for us. We were all invited to a bridge tour on Thursday. Service: Hit and miss. Officers on this ship were more available and friendlier then I've seen on other ships. Guest services was easy to understand and helpful. Most crew-members were smiling and helpful. Some looked bored and/or disinterested, I'll talk more about that when I review dining as this is where we ran into poor service at times. Shops On Board: Only three. Typical jewelry, t-shirts, mugs. A lot of "made in China/India" plastic crap. I had some ship credit and went there several times having a hard time finding anything I wanted to buy. Almost nothing made in Alaska. I did find a small, wooden, Alaska-carved totem pole. Also, I asked for 10% off on a non-sale item and they gave it to me. They will re-position in a few weeks so if you're going to Alaska in 2011 look for big sails on the last 2 sailings. I ended up happy with purchases of the totem pole, a sweat-shirt, some scrapbook stuff, a 50% off mug and corkscrew. I spent $90 for all of that. Selling: Let me say this is my BIGGEST pet-peeve on cruises and I'm a bit over-sensitive to it after a horrid experience on Princess. Maybe it was just good luck but I had almost NO sales offers other than TV channels and room fliers (which I don't mind.) There were photographers looming about to snap photos, but no pressure to go view or buy the photos. There were waiters that would ask if you wanted something from the bar and "ship lottery ticket" sellers at the shows, but they never blocked our walkways and they always accepted a polite "no thank you." One night a nervous young man at Aqua tried to up-sell a specialty restaurant while we were eating. That was intrusive. I gave him a sneer and told him we were not interested and he left us alone. There were a lot of "bingo" and "art auction" and "jewelry seminar" announcements over the ship's systems.., but you couldn't really hear them unless we had our TV to the ship's channel or we had our door open, or we were out and about. I was pleasantly surprised that the ship offered these things but didn't push them. I did avoid things like art auctions, jewelry seminars, bingo, and any such stuff where they will try to sell you something as I didn't want to be spend my money on these things and I learned from past cruises that these are ship opportunities to sell you things you don't really need. I can do all that stuff at home, that's not what I cruise for. Actives/Parties (not shows): We thought the selection was great. We tried to get in on the Newly-wed game as a "married for a long-time" couple, but we didn't quite make it. It was fun. I liked the game shows and pool parties and night-club parties. We always had things to do and for those who say they didn't I wonder if they really read their daily schedules. Because, one negative I had, was that they didn't announce all their great activities very well and we often just stumbled upon them. They had music in the atrium and movies that we didn't even know about until after the fact. We were never bored so it is a small complaint, but be aware that many very fun, and free, activities are poorly advertised - really study your daily room schedule. Teen Center: My daughter only went on the last day at sea, but she loved it. They kept it simple and there were lots of teens there and she wished she would have gone there sooner. They had loud music with videos, air-hockey, food, and other teens. What more do teens want? They did have scheduled activities (like bingo and scavenger hunt), but the teen counselors let the teens decide if they wanted to do them or not. This was good as on other ships my kids felt the teen center was more for pre-teens with "dumb" activities. Spa and fitness center: Never used. Dining: Afraid of what I might find with so many bad reviews, but we were happy with the food. We did not pay for specialty restaurants. Buffet: Almost never used as we don't care for them. Food was OK, some of it good, kind-of like a good hospital cafeteria. Seating was limited and too close. It was not 24-7 and for "freestyle dining" there were many times late at night, brunch-time, or late lunch to early diner time that everything was closed (or a fee), except for Blue Lagoon. Blue Lagoon: Went for lunch and dinner... Good wings, good won-ton soup. Very limited menu with burger, sandwiches, or salad. SLOW service. Wait persons seemed bored. Service was fair to poor, food was acceptable. Nothing to write home about. Aqua: Good menu and choices. Not a great atmosphere. I am not sure why, but the PASSENGERS at Aqua were generally acting awful each time we went. The decor, menu, and tables were somewhere between predictable and upscale, but our fellow passengers were acting like they were at a Wal-Mart MacDonald's. Well, really, I'd get mad at my kid for acting that way at MacDonald's. We had one family seated to our right, almost on their dessert. After we were seated that family discovered they had more family two tables to our left. They proceeded to take pictures through our table and yell comments to each other through our table. No sooner did they finally leave did we have another family sit next to us and loudly argue over bingo. The tables are only separated by about one person and it was obnoxious. The service was just OK, as I think the wait people were also worn out by the rude passengers. We went there again thinking it was just a bad night... and that time the family next to us had kids getting up and running about and knocking into us.. and the parents didn't care. I like kids.. but this was simply bad behavior going unchecked. Then some teens were seated who proceeded to talk about very inappropriate subjects, very loudly, and my teen spent dinner sneering at them. I'm not sure why Aqua drew a different crowd then the other free sit-down restaurant, but it did. Versailles: Lovely. Had our 1st meal here (lunch after boarding) and got great service from a man named Romeo. DEcor was outdated and a bit gaudy, but table spacing was nice and it felt more private then Aqua. By luck we were seated in Romeo's section for our third day's dinner. My husband gave him a tip and every night (and some lunches) after that we went there and asked to sit in his section. Excellent service by him and his assistant "Charleston." Food was good. I did notice that both "free" restaurants overcooked the meat... prime rib, steak, fish, pork chop. Several times we would ask for beef "medium rare" and get "well." Some of the veggies seemed fresh, crisp, and lovely.. some seemed canned and mushy. Overall we were happy with the food; it was seasoned well, served at the right temperature and served at the right pace. The hostess was irritated when we asked to be seated in Romeo's section and she didn't provide good service at all. Tip: Versailles opens at 5:00, Aqua at 5:30. There is ALWAYS a line and EVERY night they opened a few minutes late. If you want to get a good seat at the early show (7:15) you need to be at the theater by 6:45. Dinner is 3 courses and can take a while. Show up to restaurant 10 minutes early or plan to wait in a long, disorganized line with irritated passengers. Room Service: Summary = Disappointing. My favorite part of room service is breakfast, but it was awful. Like a motel continental. There was NO protein available. You can get drinks like milk, "orange drink", (I think also tomato or grapefruit juice), coffee/tea, cereal, muffins/pastry/bread, and fruit. There may have been a couple more things. But NO eggs, (not even hard-boiled.. I requested them as a write in and they ignored it), no meat of any kind, nothing like a protein smoothie or even nuts. It was all sugar and more sugar. Not a good way to start a long day. The regular menu (lunch/dinner items) was not bad, but very limited. Pizza has a $5 surcharge, anything between 12-5 am has a surcharge (and buffet is closed). Twice when we called they told us the wait would be over an hour so we said forget-it. Once they said 20 minutes and it took 40. Ports: I will do port reviews but I will say this here - the ship needs to greatly improve the way they handle passengers going on and off the ship. They have no roped off area for the lines and they have elevators opening into the lines. This caused people to cut and other people who had been waiting to get very angry. I felt so bad for one female crew-member who was trying to organize the lines on her own. NO WAY. She needed about 3 assistants and some ropes. All the stairways have a right and left side and it's obvious that the line should go up one side and leave the other clear for passengers who need to get to their rooms or go up the stairs. Passengers were so irritated about people cutting that they were blocking people who were trying to get up or down the stair for other legitimate reasons. Lines in general were a mess; Prince Rupert being the worst... we got to the line at 20 minutes till and were about 100 people back. Soon the line wrapped all the way to the end of the ship and back around towards the start of the line and I felt that pushing and anger caused it to be dangerous at some points. A child or disabled person could have easily been hurt... and a couple of times I thought some heated passengers might go to blows. Side note: This is the first ship I've been on where I've noticed such bad behavior from passengers in general. You can't blame the ship for that.. but I had to wonder if "freestyle" cruising didn't attract some "I don't want to follow any rules" patrons. Excursions: Ketchikan= Zip Lining. Juneau = 1) Musher's Camp 2) Tracy Arm Explorer. Skagway = Combo of White Pass Train and Gold Fields. Prince Rupert = Heritage Museum and First Nation People's Feast Ceremony. I'll review them individually below on Port Reviews. Were they worth the money? I'm not sure, they were pretty pricey.. but I do have priceless memories and overall they were good. I spent A LOT on excursions and more than I ever have before. Doing pre-research I found that Alaska is expensive! Over the course of 4 ports and 5 excursions we might have saved $300-$600 by booking independently. But the ship offered extras that were not offered elsewhere that would have cost money like snacks and transportation. Not to mention we were CRUNCHED for time. It didn't seem worth it to lose the guarantee of the ship waiting for you and to lose the convenience of ship transportation. Tip: The time on our tickets was NOT the same as what we were told online when we booked. In every instance we had to meet up earlier than we thought we would. Therefore, we had less time in town than we thought. Tracy Arm meets on the ship instead of on the dock so you lose even more time. Entertainment: First, I go to theater a lot, and coach cheer and dance, so I'm a bit critical. The shows had good, great, and then not-so-good parts. 1st night was just OK... but it was an introduction so we didn't expect much. We noticed on the first night that the male dancers were A LOT better than the female dancers and the voice performances were very weak. 2nd night: 60's review dance and song = weak. 3rd night = missed. I can't remember the order of the next nights but - Comedy Troup = pretty funny; Hypnotist: Weak... and one guy was so under that he fell off the stage and cut open his head. It was quite the show! This was about the 5th time I've seen a live hypnotist and his material just wasn't very funny or interesting; "Angels" (aerial acrobats) = EXCELLENT! Superior show, amazing. Must see. Final night was "Elements" = Pretty darn good. It got amazing reviews and I did enjoy it a lot. It is mostly themed costumes and dancing combined with aerial acrobatics, props, and choreographed magic tricks. I could have done without the magic tricks, other that that it was great. Really inventive costumes and great dance moves. Movie Theater: Oh wait.. there is none. Seriously? I thought all ships had them. The used the main theater to show a couple of movies at times when we couldn't see them. This was lacking. Bar entertainment: Sorry, we don't drink much so we were only @ Spinnaker once. But I heard the music at both was pretty good for bar-room entertainment. We did hit the "White Hot Party" on the last night and my daughter and I danced to modern music and it was great because we both felt very comfortable and it was fun. Cruise Director: Julie = very good. I think it must be a hard job to please everyone. She had an 'over-the-top' (personality type) gay assistant cruise director... and he was great too. Very animated. They were very different and made a great team. She wasn't the funniest or smoothest speaker I've seen... but if they were both over-the-top you wouldn't have got the great feeling of informed guidance and suggestions she provided. She was very nice and remembered my daughter's name and we saw her all over the ship.., always welcoming and smiling and asking how our meal/excursion/show went. Good job Julie! Disembarking: Good and bad. Good = We could just carry off our own luggage.. no tags or night-before packing needed. Simple, nice, good. We packed our luggage and off we went, they started on time. Bad = For some unknown reason they made us haul our luggage up into Spinnaker Lounge (it's an up-hill, ramp type, long entryway) and then back down out of Spinnaker Lounge. It looked like they predicted a long line, but there was not one. And, this was unnecessary as they could SEE there was not a line because Spinnaker entrance and exit are just down the same hallway. (You can see right to the other end.) OK for us and just slightly inconvenient, but not for the elderly man in front of us that was struggling to pull his luggage up into and across the lounge. Then, once off the ship, but still in the port lobby, it was a madhouse. They were directing us to take either the escalator or the elevator, we chose elevator since we had our luggage. Around the corner we saw the LONG line to ONE elevator so we went back to escalator... directed by an employee. Then right at the escalator a RUDE man snapped at us that we couldn't go down the escalator with our large luggage. We told him we were directed there and he just snapped "it's dangerous, use the stairs" What? It's dangerous to use an escalator but not stairs? The stairs were spaced narrowly and didn't look safe to me if you couldn't pick your luggage up high, (ours was on wheels and heavy and neither I, nor my daughter, could not have managed the stairs with the luggage.) While he was concerned about his ability to control our entry onto the escalator we saw others with luggage going easily and safely down the escalator and pointed it out.., he didn't care and was getting angry because he didn't want them on the escalator either and we were obviously irritating him, so we just went back to the elevator... where there were now 20 more people in front of us. Sigh. Also, we had taken the Sky-Bridge over from the parking structure (no stairs or escalators, just an easy breezeway over the street) and we were trying to get back that way, but it was "closed until around 11." Really? When the ship is DONE disembarking at 11? I will say (for the good) that the only longish wait time was at the elevator where we waited about 20 minutes to go down one flight of stairs. Summary: Value = $3,700 (after taxes and port fees) for 3 of us in standard balcony. This was more than I spent on my last two cruises but A LOT LESS then other ships were charging for Alaska for the same type room; mostly because NCL only charged $400 for my daughter as a "3rd person" in the cabin. We spent $2,300 in shore excursions. (Ouch) 5 excursions, so an average of $153 per person per excursion. We got room credit of $335 + a free bottle of wine. I used the room credit for tips and still had $83 left for on-board charges and since I don't gamble or drink I went to the gift store and spent it. (The excursions were pre-paid so I couldn't use the credit for them.) The bottle of wine was nice.. we brought it home and gave it as a gift with a corkscrew we bought at the gift shop. Overall I think the cruise and room value were good. The excursion value was good except for White Pass & Gold Fields, which I'll explain in Port Reviews. I think it was a good value for what we got. NCL Star provided an overall quality experience with good service, entertainment, and cabin. I would recommend a few improvements to the Star, but overall I thought they did I great job. I would sail with them again and I would recommend them to family and friends. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We have just returned from a round trip cruise to Alaska. I had booked a suite as a surprise for my mum (part of a bigger holiday) I told her that we would be in an ocean view cabin so she was completely gob smacked when we were escorted ... Read More
We have just returned from a round trip cruise to Alaska. I had booked a suite as a surprise for my mum (part of a bigger holiday) I told her that we would be in an ocean view cabin so she was completely gob smacked when we were escorted to the aft suite after being whisked through security and check in. I had undertaken a great deal of research before booking the cabin and, now, I am absolutely sure that I made the right choice! The room was lovely and the balcony, a perfect size to enjoy the beautiful vistas as well as being completely sheltered from the wind. We had a Romance Package included (I know - mother and daughter!!)so we received 2 bottles of sparkling wine, choc coated strawberries, a romantic dinner for two, with another bottle of wine as well as an invite to the honeymoon party (complete with honeymoon pic!) The cruise was heaven; we dined in Cagneys for breakfast and lunch each day and also Versailles, Aqua, Ginza, Le Bistro and La Cucina. The food and service were excellent, particularly in Cagneys and Le Bistro. Our butler, Andrew, brought us canapes daily, Arnold, our friendly steward, ensured our room was spotless, had plenty of bathroom amenities and created great towel animals and Patrick, our concierge, ensured we had a smooth embarkation and debarkation, had the correct excursions booked as well as providing us with excellent seats in the theatre, Stardust (he also checked several times a day to see if "everything was ok" which it always was!) All staff we encountered were friendly and polite. The excursions, although some very pricey, were out of this world. We watched bear fishing for salmon at a hatchery in Ketchican, went dog sledding in Juneau, took the catamaran up the Tracey Arm fjord where we watched a huge "shooter" rise up from under the glacier as well as thunderous ice calvings. We also travelled the White Pass railway to Yukon and tried our hand at ziplining which was such fun. As cruise critic members, we attended the "meet and greet" on the Sunday and secured a really interesting bridge tour on the next "sea day". We also met up with Keith and Kitty, who were great fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows at the theatre; the best being Angels and The Elements. We avoided the jewellery selling hype (I actually found it quite hilarious in the end - did you know I look at my diamond ring 50 times a day?!) I ahve no previous cruise to compare but this one was just superb, Ok we travelled in style (I still need a new kitchen) but I would unreservedly, recommend our holiday to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Just got back from Alaska cruise on Norwegian. We took our granddaughter on her first cruise, and did not have particularly high expectations, having read some unflattering reviews from other cruisers. We were pleasantly surprised. We ... Read More
Just got back from Alaska cruise on Norwegian. We took our granddaughter on her first cruise, and did not have particularly high expectations, having read some unflattering reviews from other cruisers. We were pleasantly surprised. We normally take Regent cruises and were uneasy about everybody on Norwegian hustling us to spend money, and the possibility of overcrowding and bad food, bad service. It's true that the employees on Norwegian try to sell you stuff, but they are very friendly and not really aggressive about it. They were uniformly polite and eager to please everywhere we went, and treated our granddaughter like a princess. We had booked a couple of shore excursions that had to be canceled because of bad weather, and they fell all over themselves to help us arrange alternative trips. (Btw, late August is pretty likely to be cold and rainy in Alaska -- we knew this, and took serious rain gear, and warm fleeces, hats, gloves, etc.) We decided to take this trip at the last minute, and the Picasso suite was the only balcony suite available; it turned out to be absolutely worth the money. Great bathroom (better than anything we've ever had on Regent), fabulous linens, somewhat silly decor, but who cares? We had access to Cagney's for breakfast and lunch every day, and our concierge, Patrick, steered us to the best seating for shows, most of which were quite fun. Andrew, the butler was always prompt, and Guillermo, the steward, was a gem, making funny towel animals to delight our granddaughter every night. Our granddaughter, at 9, turned up her nose at the kid's programs -- 9 year olds don't want to be in a program with 5 year olds-- but she loved the shows, the pool and slides and played bingo like a champ. All in all, a solid 4 star experience. I withhold a star only because the food was definitely mediocre, often not much better than your average college dorm. Don't go for the food. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My review of the Norweigan Star General impression of the Star is that it is nice but small. Our cabin was 8088, mid-ship. Going past cabins 8116 and 8118 had a smell of sewer gas all week. Our steward was fine, we had the towel ... Read More
My review of the Norweigan Star General impression of the Star is that it is nice but small. Our cabin was 8088, mid-ship. Going past cabins 8116 and 8118 had a smell of sewer gas all week. Our steward was fine, we had the towel animals, etc. One day I was waiting for my husband to come back and took a shower w/o locking cabin door. I heard noise and thought it was him. The next thing that happened was the steward opened the bathroom door! Not a great experience for either one of us. It was an honest mistake, but I don't know how he didn't hear me in the shower. He apologized every time we saw him, and it was embarrassing for both of us. We never used the pool, but my kids and spouse used the gym and seemed to think it was ok. Casino was ok, we got the $50 for $25 vouchers and had no trouble using them from http://slotplaycoupons.com. Entertainment was great. Cruise director funny, I loved listening to Mr. Motown and Dr. Scott Lewis the hypnotist was wonderful. The aerialist act was amazing, they got a standing ovation! The only one we didn't care for was the magic act, was kind of hokey. The Stardust Theater where the shows are offered is very small and sometimes there was only 1 show per night. If you didn't get there early you didn't get a seat. Dining rooms and food. We had only sailed with Carnival before this cruise. IMHO Carnival wins here, hands down. The included dining rooms are very small and we had to wait for a long time to get in. I feel they deliberately keep it this way to encourage you to go to the paying restaurants. We are retired and living on a fixed income and did not want to spend our money this way. The menu offer much less than I was accustomed to on Carnival. Was surprised to see that there was neither Crème Brulee nor Baked Alaska offered at all on this cruise! The servers were great and did their best to keep up. Some nights you would wait 25 minutes after your appetizer till you got your main meal, others it would come right away. We ate lunch and breakfast in the buffet restaurants. They had a great selection and were really careful to be sure that no germs could spread. Each time you walked into these restaurants they sprayed your hands with a disinfectant. Seats were hard to come by and I often felt like I was back in high school looking for a table to eat at. This necessitated us having one person to scope out the dining room and wait at a table until someone else came along. Didn't make for a peaceful, enjoyable mealtime together. We found the prices in Alaska for shopping were amazingly low. Prince Rupert had much higher prices. Here is a day by day synopsis: Embarkation on Saturday was a breeze. We got there early and dropped our things off and went to Pikes Market to look around. Sunday was a sea day and it rained and was real foggy for most of the day. Captain blew the fog horn many times. Monday we were in Ketchikan. We did the canoe and nature trail. We saw a bear on the way to the lake. Unfortunately it poured this day as well. It was a great excursion and had some beautiful scenery. Tuesday was Juneau and it rained a lot again! We went to the glacier and the glacier gardens and Salmon hatchery. Was another great excursion as we saw and learned a lot. Wednesday was Skagway. We did the White Pass Railway. Great scenery, but I felt that 3 ½ hours would be too long, that 2 ½ hours would be just great. Unfortunately, the train in front of us had engine problems and it ended up being 5 ½ hours. This didn't leave us too much time to shop or do other things. This also caused us to leave port late. We did cruise into the Tracy Arm Fjord that evening and it was beautiful to see the glacier there and surprising to see all the big ice chunks flowing around you. Thursday we were in Prince Rupert Sound. Did another nature walk and had a beautiful day. Guide said it was the best day of the whole summer and the only day there was no rain! Friday was a nice sea day and the weather was great. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This is a very welcoming ship with exceptional staff and a relaxed atmosphere. Traveling with our 10 year old daughter we were appreciative of their well run kids programs, the ability to be spontaneous with our dining, the attitude from ... Read More
This is a very welcoming ship with exceptional staff and a relaxed atmosphere. Traveling with our 10 year old daughter we were appreciative of their well run kids programs, the ability to be spontaneous with our dining, the attitude from the crew that our daughter was a valued guest on the ship - not a nuisance, and a lovely ship in general (although she is now getting older and showing it around the edges). We got to Pier 66 at noon to embark and the line up was huge. We quickly learned looks are deceiving as the line moved exceptionally quickly, and in a very organized manner. Countless staff were all over the place, directing folks and answering questions and being VERY patient with several cruisers who were impatient, unprepared (have passports, e-docs, etc organized and available), or simply uncertain of where to go or what to do. The whole process could not have gone more smoothly. A woman behind us was complaining that she had been in line for 15 minutes and I said in a good natured way that considering they were getting almost 2400 people and about 5000 pieces of their luggage through this line and onto the ship within roughly 5 hours I was pretty impressed with 15 minutes in a line up. She said she hadn't thought about it that way and seemed a bit more patient with the process after that. (A week later, disembarking was just as smooth, just as streamlined). Once on board, spank'n new key cards in hand, we snooped around a bit and learned staterooms were ready earlier than expected so checked ours out. Our luggage got delivered shortly afterwards, we hit the buffet (a mad house with folks jockeying for position in line and acting like the ship was going to run out of food within hours) and we lifted anchor so to speak. Our stateroom was compact, but we weren't surprised after checking out the various cabins on several websites - we never expected the space of a hotel room and the room was exact to pictures seen. There was plenty of space in the closet - it even had a light inside and side shelves, drawers and under the bed had plenty of room to store suitcases and purchases. Although things were compact the layout worked well. The room was very quiet, and we were not disturbed by noise above, below or beside us and with a room close to the middle of the ship we experienced little rock n'roll (although we never experienced it elsewhere on the ship when we were out and about either). The balcony gave extra space and a nice place to eat breakfast, thanks to room service. Especially on the Alaska cruise where scenery and wildlife are a key component of the cruise we LOVED our balcony - a private viewing area with comfortable loungers. It was nice to tuck our daughter in bed, slide the balcony door shut, and enjoy a relaxed conversation late at night. BRING BINOCULARS. All staff, from those at the reception desk to the cruise director to the stewards to waiters were welcoming and friendly. Certainly some were more outgoing and cheery than others, but truly, we never encountered a single staff that was not at least polite and had a smile ready as we passed in the corridor. Our stateroom steward was exceptional; good natured, thorough in his care to our cabin and he quickly charmed our daughter with whom he was very patient and kind. We always took a moment to chat with him and joke around a bit. Towel animals are traditions on many cruise ships. For some "chronic cruisers" the novelty may have worn off long ago regarding a facecloth shaped into a turtle or 2 bath towels turned into an elephant but to us it was fun and our 10 year old was fascinated. Our room steward knew this and made special effort to create the towel animals with her and put on quite a show of it. He made her feel special. The ships oozes crew all over the ship and if I ever had a question, needed something or couldn't figure out which elevator to take there was always someone in close proximity to ask and they willingly and cheerfully assisted in any way they could. Yes, stellar staff indeed. Prior to our trip, we spoke with many people who have cruised and googled many websites so knew that many cruise lines (not just Norwegian) put a heavy emphasis on selling everything from jewelry to art work to photographs. You were constantly encouraged to spend, spend, spend. There are even channels on the stateroom TV dedicated to helping you figure out the best places to spend your cashola, especially on jewelry. However, although displays were always up, flyers constantly distributed or photographers walking around, etc, we feel hounded or pushed to buy. A polite smile and "no thanks, I'm not interested" was met each and every time with a returned polite smile and "enjoy your afternoon madam" from the seller. And, you can always turn off the tv spending channel. Easy. The only time I could have screamed "Enough already, back off!" was during an afternoon close to the end of the cruise when photographers were positioned with huge set ups around main traffic areas (one was directly in front of the reception desk). Large screens, lights and equipment were sprawled out, meaning folks had to carefully maneuver around them, not only causing traffic jams but introducing potential for things to be knocked down or people tripping over items. Souvenirs and items in the gift shops were quite reasonably priced and many nice things were offered. Off ship and in port the push was far more aggressive in the stores and we quickly learned to avoid row after row of jewelry stores. 3 of the 4 ports visited were very nice (Ketchican, Juneau and Skagway) with loads of history, interesting sights around the towns and residents that have lived their lifetime there. Only one port, Prince Rupert was a thumbs down with little to do, gloomy/wet climate, and run down streets. A small pocket of pretty shops and sites close to the pier were nice but venture any further and the whole place looked tired and sad. I really don't see how it was ever determined that plunking down a few thousand cruisers here would be worthwhile, enriching or entertaining. Much of the typical tourist shopping (t-shirts, key chains, mugs, local souvenirs) was the same regardless of which port you were in. If you missed getting a Ketchican t-shirt, no worries, the same one was in Juneau - just with a different town name on it. Although you can book excursions well before your cruise dates, we waited until we were on board the ship and we're glad we did it this way. With fog, mist, and rain all risks on an Alaska cruise regardless of the time of year, we were able to wait until we knew the short term weather forecast to know if it was worth booking something where the weather may effect our enjoyment or the view. There were excursions for any budget, activity level and we appreciated the level of choice. The kids programming was very good. Registration was a snap and our daughter enjoyed the activities and program staff very much. Program leaders were high energy and experienced, they communicated well with us and fostered interaction between the children. The planned activities were fun. Five minutes of shyness the first day quickly morphed into excitement to go and play each day, and our daughter really enjoyed her time there and connected with many kids. She always seemed to know at least one or two of the kids to play with at the pool - where the water slides were a big bonus. It was wonderful for her to meet several children from so many different corners of the world. Shows in the Stardust Theatre were well done. Band on the Run was so much fun and Elements was the very best, but all were entertaining. This isn't Broadway, but certainly talent was witnessed. Shows are popular so arrive 25-30 minutes prior to the show's start to get a good seat, arriving 5 minutes before show time and finding slim pickings for good seating is your own fault. The Star's food ran the gammet from stellar (Cagney's) to very good (Aqua & Versailles) to mediocre at its best (the buffet). We quickly learned to head for dinner a bit ahead of behind the crunch time (ask crew when these times are) and never waited in line more than 10 minutes to eat in Aqua or Versailles. Restaurant staff didn't seem so pressured outside of the busiest pockets of time and food always arrived promptly. All meals were nicely prepared/presented and the children's menu had many choices that our daughter enjoyed very much. My husband and I treated ourselves to a date night dinner in Cagney's on the last night of the cruise, while our daughter gleefully attended the ships pajama party for the kids. WOW. A lovely restaurant, faboulous shrimp cocktails, steaks done to perfection and crisply prepared vegetables. Worth every penny with a waiter who was attentive and good natured. The buffet is at the other end of the spectrum. Very little changed from day to day as far as what was presented and food items were often runny, soggy, and exceptionally bland. OMG, so bland. A hospital cafeteria comes to mind. It did serve its purpose though as a dine and dash venue before an excursion or when you simply wanted a light snack. What floored me about the more relaxed Freestyle Cruising philosophy was passenger's attitude that this meant that it was appropriate to arrive to the buffet in an old stained sweatsuit or even your pj's and fill your plate to practice gluttony. There was absolutely no evidence of enforcement with the required casual (but presentable) attire in the buffet with folks walking right by ship crew in torn jeans and ragged t-shirts or as mentioned, even their pajamas. Awful. I've read many of the more recent reviews of the Star and am baffled by the overt, inflated negative ones. Really? I mean, really????? Was it so awful? This ship wasn't some tub and the crew most certainly did not circulate in sullen packs. To some of these folks I might suggest that if they want a waiter or steward to smile at them or demonstrate an "over and above" effort to their staterooms, they could think to smile first, demonstrate gratitude and a welcoming demeanor themselves. A 30 second chat or brief chuckle with a crew member goes a loooong way. With a staff that comes together from over 60 countries, this is a very multicultural crew and we were appalled by blatant prejudice and rude remarks by passengers behind their backs, even mimicking their accents and snickering. One passenger I chatted with was very critical of the cruise because it got chilly at night and windy on the deck. !!!!!!!! This is ALASKA, not California - research the weather and the cruise, bring a wind breaker and layer your clothes. Take responsibility - plan accordingly. Throughout this review I've used the word "research". Comb the Norwegian website, check out pictures on line of the cabins (again, through the Norwegian websites, or simply google them), watch YouTube videos posted by past passengers, and THOROUGHLY READ your E-Docs and other information forwarded to you prior to your cruise. Be prepared, be informed and be realistic. This is not a high end, luxury cruise on the Regent Seven Seas. It is a casual, family friendly, lovely older ship with a crew that is there for you - and more than willing to bend over backwards for you, especially when you demonstrate gratitude, respect, a pinch of humour and respect for all they do for its passengers. Role with the punches when a wrinkle presents itself, take in the scenery of a beautiful journey and RELAX. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was my fourth cruise and I have to say I was a little disappointed in the ship itself. As soon as we got settled on board, my family (husband and 1 teenage son and 2 teenage daughters) and I went to the buffet. We were terribly ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise and I have to say I was a little disappointed in the ship itself. As soon as we got settled on board, my family (husband and 1 teenage son and 2 teenage daughters) and I went to the buffet. We were terribly disappointed in the food at the Market Cafe. It was mediocre quality at best. We had 2 staterooms. The one my husband and I had was fine, but the kids' room reeked of cigarette smoke. The staff was friendly and accommodating, but some were difficult to understand because they were from other countries (which is fine, just had to pay attention closely when speaking to them.) For the most part, the food in the restaurants was good and we enjoyed the different cuisines. The entertainment was good. We enjoyed the shows and the lounge music. The Alaska ports-of-call were amazing! We enjoyed them very much and saw the wonders of Alaska. We avoided the shopping because we felt like it was Norwegian Cruise Lines trying to get more money out of us. It was all about jewelry and we aren't interested in jewelry. We enjoyed our excursions. We went salmon fishing in Ketchikan and were successful there! The fishing charter company cleaned and prepared our fish and shipped it home for us. In Juneau, we went whale watching and took a short hike to Mendenhall glacier. After our short stay in Juneau, the captain sailed the ship into the Tracy Arms fjord where we saw the Dawes glacier. This was a highlight of the trip for us. In Skagway, we took the White Pass and Yukon Railway tour. It was well worth it. Our last stop was Prince Rupert, BC, Canada. This was a waste of time. There is nothing there. I think it was just a refueling stop for the ship. Overall, it was a good time, but having cruised in the Caribbean with other cruise lines and NCL in the past, we expected more. Just to mention, they had a Chocoholics Buffet one night that was not up to my standards for a cruise like this at all. Very poorly done. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Cruised NCL on 8/6/11. The ship was very good. Shore excursions were overpriced. Took the local bus to Mendenhall glacier and saved $43 for 2. It was $8 both ways. Mile walk to glacier and the lake in front kept us from getting close ... Read More
Cruised NCL on 8/6/11. The ship was very good. Shore excursions were overpriced. Took the local bus to Mendenhall glacier and saved $43 for 2. It was $8 both ways. Mile walk to glacier and the lake in front kept us from getting close enough to touch. We went cheap and did not visit any of the pay extra restaurants. I heard great things about all of them from fellow cruisers. Regular dining was fine. It got old a few times waiting on our next course so saved a lot of time going to the Market buffet for breakfast and lunches. The grill on deck was also very good, especially the made to order omelets in the morning. Took the train and had breathtaking views all the way up the mountain in Skagway. Didn't feel it was worth 119 a person though. The best shopping deals for souvenirs was in the first port of Ketchikan. All the rest were repeats with higher prices(Juneau,Skagway,Prince Rupert) Prince Rupert was worthless to visit. Don't waste your time, there's more to see on the boat than here! We also sailed to Glacier Bay, but I was disappointed at the distance we were from the Glacier. You could barely see it so don't waste 3 hours waiting for the perfect shot on deck saving a space. The ship stops quite a distance from it and there is a good 15 minutes to take a picture because they also meet up with a shore excursion there. That excursion goes much closer(friends took it). The New York strip was fantastic, All fish was cooked perfectly. Disappointed with Rib-eye and prime rib thinness. These were in regular dining. Also the Chocolate was mostly bitter Dark Chocolate. I would have liked to see some Milk Chocolate. All Food was good, not spectacular, but adequate and I did gain 7 pounds so don't worry, you will like it! The captain had a great sense of humor and all staff was anxious to make you happy. Definitely a repeat with less shore time. Would have gotten a room with a balcony had we known we would see so many Whales without running up on deck all the time. Bring a clock for your cabin because they are not supplied. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I've heard that if you go to Alaska it will grab you and you will return. And so I did return. I was taking this cruise with 3 family members and my first problem was choosing a cabin. I worked with my NCL cruise consultant and looked ... Read More
I've heard that if you go to Alaska it will grab you and you will return. And so I did return. I was taking this cruise with 3 family members and my first problem was choosing a cabin. I worked with my NCL cruise consultant and looked at a range of possibilities. The only thing I requested was no trundle bed as I did not want wall to wall beds. The consultant recommended an inside room with two lower beds and two pullmans. We were placed on the 12 deck and assured this would be fine as we were on a new deck-the Star had been refurbished-and so would have a new cabin. Keep in mind I had told the consultant I would book up to a mini suite. The cabin was horrific. We are a close family and get along well, or thanks to the close quarters, we would have murdered each other. You could not get dressed or do anything if all four were in the cabin. We ended up using the library as a "living room" and as each got dressed, they left and met up in the library. In addition to being the smallest cabin I've ever had, it was ugly. Dull brown walls, no color. Let's get to other things than the cabin. As the Star had demolished its' Spinnaker with it's huge glass windows over the bow, I had done so much homework for the cruise, I took out Spa passes for my family and we spent wonderful hours sitting on lounges watching the incredible beauty of Alaska pass by. The Star itself was very well kept, very clean and I thought wonderful. We loved the main dining rooms and although NCL has changed their menus to mostly the same choices every night,they do have some new selections nightly. All the food was tasty and well presented. We ate in Le Bistro two nights as we are Platinum members and receive dinner for two free in this restaurant as part of the Latitudes member perks. The Blue Lagoon was also very good for breakfast and we enjoyed the quiet in the mornings. As far as activities, we did a couple of trivia competitions and saw most of the nightly shows. We loved Elements and Band on the Run. Also the hypnotist was so good, we also attended two additional sessions he held in the daytime. I like the entertainment on NCL and find their ensemble shows very good. I'll review the ports later, which is really the heart of why we did this cruise. I hate to add another negative but feel I have to as NCL needs to be more careful on which crew member to put in a supervisory position. We all went to the lifeboat practise. We were greeted by a crew member who wanted us to go down stairs in the Stardust lounge. I asked if my 77 year old handicapped friend could stay in an available chair near the entrance and not have to go down the stairs. Well, she didn't move fast enough and when I told him she had a hearing problem, he stated "She hears what she wants to hear". My friend was very embarrassed and upset. We did speak to an officer who said he would deal with the problem, but this was not a good way to start a cruise. To sum up, even with some problems, we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and each other. I will continue to prefer NCL as I love the free style dining and I must note, that NCL always responds to problems quickly and with a good attitude. I also must add, the care that NCL took with my 77 year old friend in embarking and disembarking was commendable. If anyone reading this is thinking about an Alaskan cruise, do it!! It is memorable and NCL does it well. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We boarded the Norwegian Star on August 6, 2011. My in-laws accompanied us. My father-in-law has always wanted to see Alaska and it was part of his "bucket list." Our first experience was with the buffet lunch, which is ... Read More
We boarded the Norwegian Star on August 6, 2011. My in-laws accompanied us. My father-in-law has always wanted to see Alaska and it was part of his "bucket list." Our first experience was with the buffet lunch, which is customary when you board. It was good. Then we went to see our cabins. They were smaller than what we had expected. They have some very old 13 inch TV's and 15 channels or so, half of which are cruise ship channels to promote the ports, sell you stuff, etc. The bathroom was okay and was a little bit bigger than what we had experienced previously. After checking our cabin, we went to tour the ship. We are used to amenities on board and this ship is older and does not really have much to do. There was no rock climbing wall, water park, outdoor big screen for movies, sporting events or anything. There were a couple of golf cages, a couple of pools, hot tubs, and there was a water slide which the kids enjoyed once or twice, but the Alaska weather doesn't really lend itself to that. In fact, I never had a bathing suit on during this cruise (and maybe that's a good thing!). So, let's talk about dining. We did like the ability to go to the dining rooms whenever we wanted. With NCL, you have freestyle cruising. The food was good. Kids loved the steaks. I had some really nice fish plates. The service though was lacking. The waiters seemed to have too many tables to care for and their assistant waiters were good at filling your water glass, but very slow to clear plates, etc. It was not the dining experience that we were used to. The food though was decent. We enjoyed breakfasts out on the back deck (level 12) where we could get fresh waffles and omelettes. Do wear a jacket when eating breakfast outside because it can be a bit chilly. We did not try any of the "specialty" restaurants. We paid $4,000 per cabin for 3 people ($8,000 for the six in our family) and figured that we should get our money's worth for what we had paid for. They did try to up sell the specialty restaurants quite often. As for our cabin steward and his assistant- they were very lacking. We have normally had really good attention on our other cruises (Carnival, Costa, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity), to the point that I've given extra gratuities to them. Not so here. In fact, the service was so lacking that we asked to have the gratuity lessened (NCL charges $12 pp/day). My wife was embarrassed to have to do this, but it was not up to par. I even asked the cabin steward how many rooms he was taking care of and he responded 18. This is probably too much. We did enjoy the ports and I'll comment on those below. We spent a fortune on excursions and purchased them through NCL. NCL probably takes a 40% cut for them, but we wanted to experience Alaska to the fullest. I tried to see if the excursions could be booked privately, like we've done in other places, but it just wasn't possible. Entertainment is one of the final things that I will comment on. We generally love the production shows, the cruise director and staff, etc. The first night on board was the worst show imaginable. This set the tone. The cruise director, Jaime, is very nice, but just not the larger than life personality that a cruise ship needs. Her assistant, Rob Sugar, should probably take her place. He's lively and pretty fun. Jaime is milk toast and I hate to berate her, but she needs to be there for the introduction of the shows to pump up the audiences and get them excited for the shows. She did not do this. I think this is a major flaw. So, the production shows were lame, except for the final show on Friday night- "Elements" which was very good. The other shows during the cruise that were NCL production shows lacked any star power at all- very few if any set changes, costume changes, etc. We are used to some really great shows on Carnival and RC. We did enjoy the French acrobat show and the hypnotist, Dr. Scott Lewis. Scott did three shows and should have done more. He was terrific. Truthfully, I would have liked for his shows to be a little more wild (especially the late night, adults only show). There was a comedy troupe on board that was okay. We do like more variety and talent stuff. NCL underperformed here big time. Let's see- final thoughts- The gym was okay. Make sure to bring headphones. The on-board shops were okay. You kind of get tired of them after a couple of rounds. If you want real ice cream, it's back by the gym and is open from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. The kids liked the kids club. I thought it was a bit wild at times- very noisy, but hey- kids like to play and have fun. They did a good job with it and our kids kept asking to go back, which gave my wife and I plenty of time to do what we wanted to do. Enjoy the ports, they are fun, but the NCL star was very lackluster in our estimation. Oh, I should also comment on the staff. We are used to people being much more friendly. The staff was performing a job, not really enjoying their jobs- the friendliness factor was greatly missing on this ship. We saw lots of loafing around and at one point even saw a couple of the staff making fun of fat people on the ship and moo'ing at them. It was very disrespectful and mean spirited. Also, we generally expect to have a bill to review the day before- they don't put it out till the morning of disembarkation. I wanted to review our charges for accuracy, so I went and got a bill on Friday night. There also was no comment card given out to rate the ship and give opinions. I found this odd. Maybe this is why our experience on NCL was mediocre at best. They need to up their game and if you have the choice between NCL or Carnival or Royal Caribbean, go with Carnival or RC. We have no desire to sign up with NCL in the future based on their current performance. Also, we thought that the value for the price that was charged was not very good. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I am new to cruising and wasn't quite sure what to expect. We wondered how the motion of the ocean would effect us. How fun would it be if we were sick all the time. First of all, if you get sea sick I highly recommend the ... Read More
I am new to cruising and wasn't quite sure what to expect. We wondered how the motion of the ocean would effect us. How fun would it be if we were sick all the time. First of all, if you get sea sick I highly recommend the inner passage cruise. The Inner passage is just that, a cruise along the coast of Canada and Alaska between a row of islands and the mainland. There are almost no waves. During our cruise there was just one day on the open ocean. We did experience a some sea sickness that day but we took Dramamine and we were back on our feet in no time. The inner passage is beautiful. From the point we entered it you see land on both sides of the ship with small fishing villages along the way. The land is primitive, rugged, green and covered with trees. The cloud ceiling is lower that the peaks of the hills giving the whole area a mystic feel. Definitely spring for a balcony room on this one. It was AWESOME sitting on our own balcony watching the scenery float by. NCL is a good cruise line and all the staff were very helpful and pleasant. The Norwegian Star is a freestyle cruise ship so you can eat when it best suits your plans. They also have a restaurant in the stern of the ship called the Versailles that is beautiful and has great views out the side and back of the ship. We found this restaurant to be our favorite and ate most meals there. It was also not a buffet which pleased my wife. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Norwegian Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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