120 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

After reading many Alaska reviews from various cruise lines, we decided to sail on the NCL Star a couple of months back. I can tell you at the beginning of this review, we do not regret our decision. We arrived a day early in Seattle via ... Read More
After reading many Alaska reviews from various cruise lines, we decided to sail on the NCL Star a couple of months back. I can tell you at the beginning of this review, we do not regret our decision. We arrived a day early in Seattle via Alaskan Airlines from Denver, Friday 8/22/2008, and stayed at the Sheraton Convention Center Downtown. This hotel is very nice and the rate is very affordable. It is within walking distance to Pike's Market and the shopping zone. The hotel staff was very friendly. The hotel has two huge towers and was recently remodeled (the gym is still under construction, but they have a temporary gym in the Union Tower - no pool or sauna). We stayed in the new tower, called Union Tower, on the 23rd floor and the view of the city was very nice. Catching a cab to the cruise terminal was a breeze as many are waiting in the valet area. On Saturday, we arrived at the Pier 66 cruise terminal at 11:30am. There were no lines to enter the building. We were given a boarding number and proceeded directly to a huge counter with many employees checking-in guests. The check-in process took all of five minutes. We then waited in the lobby area (chairs, coffee and juice provided) of the cruise terminal for our boarding number to be called - No more than a 15 minute wait. Once onboard the ship, our pictures were taken for the sail and sign card. The staff was pleased to welcome us onboard with a glass of champagne. Nice touch! We were then escorted through the Grand Atrium where we immediately made our dinner reservations for the specialty restaurants for the first and second nights. Then off to the top decks for views of Seattle. Lunch was already being served in the Market Cafe buffet area and Topsiders Grill. One of the main dining rooms, Versailles, opened at Noon for those guests wanting to enjoy a waiter-served lunch. I used the extra time between boarding and when the staterooms were ready (which was promptly at 2pm) to explore the ship and take many pictures. The public rooms on this ship are very nice. We were very excited to get our cruise underway. When we were able to go to our stateroom, Deck 10 Balcony, we first thought the room was somewhat small. However, everything packed away nicely. The balcony and restrooms were a bit cramped, but we were not in a suite and it all worked out well. Our stateroom had been upgraded to Freestyle 2.0 standards. The bed linens were very nice and crisp. The bed was very firm, even by European standards. It appeared the carpet had been recently changed. The room was very clean. Absolutely no complaints. We dined twice in the main dining room, Versailles, and the food there was good. I have to admit that it was not nearly as good as the food in the Specialty restaurants, but it was acceptable and the service was as expected in a dining hall seating several hundred people. We ate at Cagney's (the steak house) twice while onboard. The service was exceptional, but the steaks were not prime cuts of beef and not up to the quality we enjoy at premium restaurants at home. That was somewhat of a disappointment. The Alaskan Crab Legs were huge and cooked perfectly. The Le Bistro French restaurant was our favorite with excellent service, nice ambiance and very tasty food (better than Cagney's in our opinion). The SoHo restaurant was good, but the lighting in the restaurant was a bit bright and the dEcor a little more garish than most fine dining establishments. The food was better than good, but not as good as Cagney's or Le Bistro and the service a little slower. Still, it was a very nice dining experience. Soho is the restaurant that has the Jazz Sea Day Brunch. The brunch is very nice and also very popular, so be prepared for a bit slower service - reservations required. The Ginza Asian restaurant has a Sushi area. If you eat at the Sushi bar, no reservations are required. The sushi was expertly prepared and very tasty. Like all restaurants on this ship, come with a big appetite as you will be served more food than anyone can possibly eat, then it is time for the dessert! The Market Cafe is just as the name implies. A cafeteria type experience. The food is the same you would get at any cafeteria type establishment. Not bad, but not what we would want everyday for lunch or anytime for dinner. We did not eat at Endless Summer (TexMex) or the Teppanyaki (Benihana style) restaurants. On Thursday night, the Chocolate buffet was a mad house. Very long lines. It started at 11pm and ended at midnight. I am not sure I would go through this process again for chocolate, but then again, I hate long lines. The ship has many activities and shows. The Freestyle Daily newsletter can help you keep track of what to see and what to do - there always seem to be music playing at one venue or another. We enjoyed a few shows and the casino. We visited several of the bars on the Star and decided our favorite locations were the Red Lion Pub on Deck 7 Aft, and the Star Bar on Deck 13 Mid. The bartenders and wait staff at these bars were outstanding. The Carousel Bar on Deck 7 forward was where the nightlife happened. I did not enjoy this bar as much. The Spinnaker Bar on Deck 12 Forward was a great place for viewing with its panoramic windows (this is where they have the White Hot Party). You can see out both sides of the ship and forward while seated at the bar. This bar also has many small intimate tables for groups to sit together. For our shore excursions, we took the Island Wings flight seeing tour from Ketchikan to the Misty Fjords. Very exciting float plane trip! In Juneau, we took the Coastal Helicopter Glacier Walking tour. An experience of a lifetime. We drank directly from a glacier river and the guide explained many attributes of the glacier during the tour. And, in Skagway, we took the 3 ½ hour White Pass round trip train ride. The White Pass trip was very crowded, but a nice tour. We did not do any tours in Prince Rupert, but the small town is very nice. Prince Rupert gets two cruise ships a week and they are very excited to see us coming! When we arrived back in Seattle, getting off the ship was a breeze. We carried our own luggage off the ship, so we could leave anytime we wanted after 8am (when the announcement that the ship had cleared US Customs). The Market Cafe is open for breakfast prior to getting off the ship. It is very crowded. The night before arrival back in Seattle, you complete your US Customs declaration form. When you are getting off the ship, the line continuously moves and US Citizens hand their declaration forms to a person as you exit the terminal building. Only, Non-US Citizens go through the regular entry process of visiting a Customs official prior to being allowed exit from the terminal building. It took us no more than 10 minutes from leaving ship to exiting terminal building. In summary, NCL does a great job in every aspect. The crew for the most part appeared happy and ready to help. The room stewards were invisible and did an excellent job. The overhead onboard shopping and bingo announcements were a bit more than needed, and Georgia (Asst. Cruise Director) announcements were actually annoying as she seemed to yell into the system. Considering everything on this cruise, the NCL Star gets high ratings and I cannot wait to get on my next NCL cruise to the Baltics next year! Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Reading some of the recent reviews and posts here on Cruise Critic, you might think that the Star is a dirty, rusty mobile jail run by irritable prison guards who are paid to make your life miserable and feed you gruel to boot. We just ... Read More
Reading some of the recent reviews and posts here on Cruise Critic, you might think that the Star is a dirty, rusty mobile jail run by irritable prison guards who are paid to make your life miserable and feed you gruel to boot. We just completed our cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Star (8/9)and, despite some abysmal weather, we had a wonderful time. I guess the old saying that "Opinions are like belly buttons (or substitute another part of the human anatomy) - everybody's got one" is true. So here's our take. Seattle - we flew from Chicago to SEA-TAC late in the evening two days before the start of the cruise. This was mostly due to the recent increase in air fare and because we wanted at least one full day in town to enjoy one of America's great cities. We stayed at the Sheraton only blocks away from the Pike Place Public Market, and a very short bus or cab ride from the pier. Very nice hotel, fine service and excellent amenities. Probably not the cheapest option available, but we paid with StarPoints (Starwood Preferred Guest rewards program)so that made it very nice. We enjoyed our time in town - do the market place, the aquarium and other sights. One word of warning, Seattle has a lot of homeless and it can be disturbing to younger kids. Embarkation - The morning of the cruise dawned a little foggy and cooler - shades of what was to come. We had a relaxing morning, packed our things and headed to the pier around 11am. This was a very efficient process and the NCL staff did a great job - very friendly, cheerful and welcoming. We handed over our cruise ticket, showed proof of citizenship, and dropped off our bags. Heading upstairs, we were welcomed, directed to the next available agent and we had our key-cards in hand inside of 10 minutes. A short wait later, they started boarding the ship (about 11:45). They board by number - we were group 9. We had a very short wait, we didn't have to wait in a huge line and were on the ship by noon. Cabin - We booked a category AF Mini Suite - deck 11, port side, AFT. We were four people, two adults and two kids (twin 11 year old girls) and we fit comfortably in a space half the size of our room at the Sheraton. I guess the key was space efficiency. The closet has a generous amount of space, over a dozen hangers and about 8 fairly deep shelves. This area also had two deep shelves above the closet for backpacks, coats and other bulky items. Between this area and some drawer space near the vanity, we were able to unpack all of our things and stay organized. We then stored all of our four large suit cases under the bed, leaving the rest of the area open. You'll be surprised. The bedding was comfortable and the kids said they had no problems on the pull our couch. We expected a typical fold out couch where they would sleep side by side. In fact the bed is wide enough that the stewards were able to set it up to have the kids sleep across the bed (feet pointing to the balcony). This made more room for them and we had no complaints about bumping into each other at night. The TV was small and programming limited, but we didn't go on the cruise to watch TV. There were lots of options for getting information about the ports and activities on the ship and that was useful. One challenge was there was one 110 outlet that we were able to find. The rest were 220. With two laptops, three Nintendo DS and four mobile phones, this presented a little bit of a challenge. One suggestion is to buy a converter or bring a power strip. The Ship - The ship itself is very large, clean, well maintained and organized - once you got the hang of it. There are three banks of elevators - forward, mid ship and aft. On each side of the elevator area there is a map of the ship showing your location, the deck layout and location of different amenities throughout the ship. I mentioned the ship is big - there will be situations where you will get turned around or run into a dead end you didn't expect, but generally speaking, you can find what you want in relatively good order. From our cabin, the market cafe and fitness facility was one flight of stairs up. A short walk from there took up to the Spinnaker lounge, game rooms, library, cinema and other deck 12 amenities. Right as you board the ship you will be handed a very nice pamphlet that folds out to show the ship layout. This is a handy way of finding things on the ship. Our experience was that there were plenty of places to go and things to do for a family of four with two young children. Our kids are still young enough to want to be with us so that put us in some venues more than others. There were some bars and restaurants we didn't get a chance to visit and at least two of the shows was rated PG 13 or adult. We did bingo, team trivia, swimming, hot tubbing and exploring. It was a a great time for a family that likes being together. Overall, we liked the Star very much. The Staff - Unlike some of the reviewers we didn't have any problems with the staff being unfriendly, unhelpful or not understandable. We approached it from the perspective of the staff being human beings who want to be treated with respect. It's been our experience that a confrontational attitude will generate an equally confrontational response. Since we never had the attitude, we never had a negative response. We're not push overs - we're experienced travelers. If we saw a problem with service we would have sought to resolve it - we just didn't experience a service issue on this cruise. With the freestyle dining options, it is much more difficult to form a relationship with your waitstaff as you can on other more traditional ships. We miss the opportunity to get to know them, learn their backgrounds and sometimes, get some inside scoop. Restaurants - We dined at three of the specialty restaurants - Cagney's, Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. Cagney's was interesting because it was quite a bit different from the Cagney's on Pride of America. POAM's Cagney's has a more western theme which I didn't enjoy as much as the Star's more elegant "American Steakhouse" feel. Overall the food in the three specialty restaurants was excellent and worth the price of the cover. Our kids enjoyed the experience and because they are under 12 we were charged half cover for them. I particularly recommend the Escargot in Le Bistro - as good as you will get anywhere in my opinion. Service in all three was excellent, the meal well paced and the atmosphere very nice. Adding wine (which we did) will increase the expense - but not by much more than you would pay in an upscale restaurant back home. I say go ahead and splurge - you're on vacation. That is not to say that I recommend avoiding the "included" restaurants. We did the Market Cafe, Versailles, Aqua and Blue Lagoon and all were very nice. Plan on going to main dining the evening of the first sea day for Lobster night. You will experience some of the longer waits on this night - especially before showtimes, but it was worth it and the views out of the Versailles windows was a nice bonus. There were a lot of complaints about the Market Cafe (buffet). We thought the choices for breakfast were fine. It would have been a nice plus to have made to order omelettes, but the lines moved well, the food was tasty and hot and there was variety - including a chocolate fountain for fruit, pound cake and other desserts. For the kids (and yet I admit me), the burgers, hot dogs, pizza, pasta and other kid friendly choices were great. The buffet at Bellagio it isn't, but it is good - in variety and quality. Itinerary - the Star went from Seattle, then Sea Day, then to Ketchikan, Juneau/Sawyer Glacier, Skagway, Prince Rupert, Sea Day then back to Seattle. We liked this itinerary with one exception - none of the port stays was anywhere near long enough. If you did an excursion, then there was almost no time left to shop. This was especially true in Juneau and Prince Rupert. Also, the itinerary is subject to frequent change relative to glacier viewing. We went up the Endicott Arm to view the Dawes Glacier rather than the Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier due to ice. It was beautiful, but so many people raved about taking the Tracy Arm excursion that I think we were try that if given the opportunity to go back in time. Overall it's a matter of taste. If you want to do excursions and have some time in port, you're going to have to make some tough choices. Excursions - we loved all the excursions we did - despite terrible, rainy weather. In Ketchikan we did the Saxman Native village and the Lumberjack show. We all really liked the combination. We learned about the native culture, experienced some traditional dance and song in the long house and then got to have lots of fun with the chopping, sawing, log rolling and climbing show. It really was lots of fun as long as you don't take yourself too seriously. In Juneau we did the Gold Panning and Salmon bake. We all got some gold dust right out of the creek and our guide Randy was very knowledgeable with a great sense of humor. The Salmon bake was also well done in a nice covered area. We even got a chance to roast marshmallows. But it was over too soon and we had to head back to the ship. In Skagway we took the ferry to Haines for a mountain trek on some Kawasaki mules. Our guide "Alaska Rod" was great and if you every need some homemade, high quality knives of every description - he's your guy. We took the mules up the trail climbing over 1000 before our first stop at a log cabin for freshly "roasted" cookies made on the grill. then on to the rest of the trail with stops at a mountain lake and at the top of the trail for views of the channel. Then we descended to the cabin for fresh cooked halibut, chicken and more. It rained the whole time and we loved every minute of it. In Prince Rupert we did the Whale watch and marine life discovery tour. Our ship was delayed about an hour and we didn't even begin the tour until after 5pm, but thankfully sunset wasn't until 9:30pm. We saw a rocky outcropping with hundreds of sea lions, and we had a close up encounter with a male humpback which we were able to trail for about 45 minutes. Great pictures and experience. Thankfully we booked through the cruise line so we were not worried that we got back to the pier slightly after the all aboard. The only complaint we had about the excursions was debarkation and re-boarding. We had some of the longest lines during this process. But we tried not to get frustrated. I don't think getting 2,000 people off and on a ship is an easy task - especially when you think about the identification immigration and security issues they have to deal with. debarkation on the Final Day - We used the NCL Bags program to have our bags check in at the airline so we would not have to deal with them. I would recommend this program to anyone with more than four hours between getting off the ship and their flight. Our flight wasn't leaving until 11:30pm so not having to deal with bags was worth the $20 per person price. With that out of the way, we enjoyed our breakfast and simply walked off the ship - no muss no fuss. Final comments - I would certainly recommend the Star and a trip to Alaska to anyone. There are certainly less expensive vacation options, but if you are making the choice to cruise, the Star is a very good example of what modern cruise ships and cruise lines have to offer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We went on the NCL Star to Alaska and this was our first cruise ever. Oh, what a wonderful time we had. I would go back in a heartbeat. Embarkation: Since we are from the Seattle area, we just drove at 11 am and were at Pier 66 in 30 ... Read More
We went on the NCL Star to Alaska and this was our first cruise ever. Oh, what a wonderful time we had. I would go back in a heartbeat. Embarkation: Since we are from the Seattle area, we just drove at 11 am and were at Pier 66 in 30 minutes. We were in a short Q for scanning the bags and then another Q to get to an NCL agent. Our pictures were taken and we got out ID cards. We were on the ship in 30 minutes. The process was efficient. Ship: Being first time cruiser we had no expectations and were blown away by the facilities. The Star has a beautiful theater (Stardust), cinema hall, library, card room, basket ball court, two golf cages, ping pong tables, numerous hot tubs, water splash area and a couple of pools. The Gym is excellent. Cabin: We had a Oceanview cabin. It felt a little small when we first entered but got used to it once all the stuff was tucked away into the closets. The TV was very small but we hardly ever watched it. The cabin had a bunk bed as well. Service: We found the service to be outstanding. Every morning we would be greeted by various members of the crew. We got to know many of the service members. A large number of the crew is from the Philippines and India. But they have crew from 60 different countries and you will encounter a steady mix. The crew members are on a 8 month contract and it is a tough life serving passengers for long hours. If you are friendly and start a conversation they will respond back with warmth. The only rudeness we encountered was from the photo gallery front desk. The photographers themselves are friendly but once you show some interest in buying them they charge an arm and a leg. The cruise director Paul is simply outstanding and made our trip so much fun. Alaska: We got decent weather although it was the beginning of September. It was raining in Ketchikan but that is to be expected I guess. It was cloudy in Juneau but did not rain. We got sunny weather in Skagway. Mendenhall and Sawyer Glaciers were simply breathtaking. We did the White pass railway and the views were amazing. It was not worth the round trip though since you see the same views all over again. Food: We never went to any of the paid restaurants since we never felt the need. We ate most of the time at the Versailles restaurant and the menu there was quite varied. The chilled soups and desserts were exceptional. The chocolate souffle and creme brulee were my favorites. The main dish ranged from decent to quite good. We did not encounter long lines and our longest wait was probably 10 minutes. We ate at Market Cafe only when we were in a hurry to catch a show. The food there during dinner time was edible but nothing to talk about. I never went for seconds. Breakfast at Market Cafe was much better. We ate at Blue Lagoon once and did not feel like going back. We ate at Aqua once but did not go back because the decor was ordinary. We stuck to Versailles and were never disappointed with either the food, ambiance or the service. Entertainment: We went to all the shows and the late night events within the Spinnaker lounge. We liked the dance shows and the Chinese acrobats. I did not care much for Murray the magician. He would try too hard to be funny and ended up doing neither magic nor comedy. All the game shows (newly wed, Quest, Liars club, Family Feud) were funny and entertaining. The stand up comic was quite good. We danced to the wee hours during the white hot party. Bingo: Never played it on the ship. I thought I would give it a shot but Georgina, the bingo lady and Asst.cruise director just ruined it with her over the top antics and irritating and screaming voice. Fellow Travelers: We met the friendliest folks on this trip. We shared tables a couple of times and had excellent conversations each time. We made a lot of friends on this trip. Not so good: If there is one thing that does not work for the NCL Star, it would be the Alaska itinerary. We all know that Prince Rupert is a wash out. To add to this, the Star just does not spend enough time in either Ketchikan or Juneau. We especially felt this in Juneau since there is so much to do and the Star leaves at 1:30 pm just as the Pearl is pulling into the port. Overall it was a fantastic vacation and I am totally sold on the cruise concept. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Just returned from our first cruise to Alaska on the NCL Star. Alaska was all we hoped she would be. We left Los Angeles Sat. morning via SW Airlines and arrived in Seattle, WA at about 10 am. We took a taxi to Pier 66 and boarded the ... Read More
Just returned from our first cruise to Alaska on the NCL Star. Alaska was all we hoped she would be. We left Los Angeles Sat. morning via SW Airlines and arrived in Seattle, WA at about 10 am. We took a taxi to Pier 66 and boarded the Star quickly and easily. No long lines, no hassles of any kind. When we boarded the Star we were given a glass of champagne and directed to the Market Cafe. We had a quick lunch and then took the DS (13) to the teen club and signed him in. We then went and purchased a soda card for me. The woman that signed our DS up in the teen club was very nice and informative. I never had a problem using the soda card (which is actually just a sticker that is put on your room key card) at any time. I used it all over the ship with ease. The servers were always courteous and never made me feel like they were going out of their way to get me my soda. Even though a tip was included when I paid for the soda sticker, I still chose to tip the people that served me. They were so nice, especially Juancho in the Market Cafe. We had sailed the Star last year at Spring Break to the Mexican Riviera and enjoyed her very much. I must say however, that I was a little disappointed this trip. Not much, but some. For one thing the Market Cafe served the same thing, ad nauseam, everyday. I really liked the pasta station, the desserts, and some breakfasts, however, after a day or two it got really, really boring for me. The DH and I both agreed that it was better on our previous trip aboard. The DS like the pizza, so he was fine with it. We were also mildly disappointed with the food in the main dining rooms. Both the DH and I had some good meals, but most of the time I found the food to "way out there" to be enjoyable. I would have loved to have had a little more American comfort food on the menu. Service was slow most of the time, but that was not a problem for us as it gave us time to hang with each other and talk, which in our hectic daily lives we don't often get to do. The servers themselves were for the most part very nice, some were indifferent, did what they had to do and left, others were very friendly and took the time to talk to us and share a few minutes as they worked. These last were the ones we tipped very well! For the first time ever we paid to eat at a specialty restaurant. We had the two-for-one coupon and used it the first night at Cagney's. What a wonderful time we had. The food is definitely better than what you get in the main dining rooms, but not as good as a really nice steakhouse in LA. However, our waiter made our dinner really enjoyable. The DS loved eating at Cagney's and we will definitely do this again on another cruise. We also paid to eat at the Trattoria. It was a nice change from the main dining room food, but not any better than say a "Two Guys From Italy" type place. The absolute worse place to eat is the Blue Lagoon, and I just don't get it. Last year they had a great menu and service. This cruise it was AWFUL. Cold french fries, stale pound cake. Horrendous service! I absolutely hated it!!! I had a hot dog that was so gross I had to spit it into my napkin. I never have done such a thing! It was GROSS! The Star's upgrades in the linens department were great. My bed was very comfortable. I especially loved the European sized pillow that you get in addition to your regular-sized pillow. The real downside to the Star this year was the entertainment. The only entertainment that we enjoyed were the comedian Bud Anderson's "Adults Only" show, and the quartet that played in the Atrium several times. Last year they had a great gentleman that played piano and sang beautifully. This year the two women that sang, played piano and fold guitar, were not very good at all. The entertainment this year was very disappointing. The good thing about the Star is that you still find staff that are very friendly and helpful and go the extra mile for you. Our cabin steward "Limbo" was wonderful. He was attentive to our every need. Our son was the first to recognize him aa our steward from last year. He is a really, really sweet guy. His assistant "Michel" was a really nice woman and also very friendly. Also, Juancho the "drink guy" at the mini bar in the Market Cafe was very nice. There were several people that served in the main dining rooms that were also fun to talk to. My fellow passengers were awesome! The DS made lots of nice friends as we did. We met an especially nice couple that we plan to stay in touch with. She was a tour guide and her DH was a delightful man. We shared a table one night with a lovely, large family from Colorado in Aqua. As this was our first time cruising to Alaska we did all our excursions through NCL. For the most part we were very happy with our choices. The fishing tour that the DH and DS took in Ketchikan was an exciting adventure that the DH and DS will not soon forget! They had a wonderful time. The people that ran that tour were wonderful to our DS (13). The fellow NCL passengers also made it a great time. All in all they, as a group, caught 18 Salmon. They all evenly divided it and had it shipped home. We just got it yesterday. We have enough to share with our family and friends with enough left over to feed us for the next couple of months! This was an A+ tour all the way for the DH and DS. In Juneau we "Shot the Mendenhall" on a rubber dingy that went over some small, but exciting rapids. It was so much fun! Seeing the Mendenhall Glacier was incredible. The Sun was shinning and we had a great time. Our guide Micheal was very informative and delightful. In Skagway we went rock climbing in the rain forest! Another A+ tour. The bunch of young people that run this tour were unbelievable kind to me. I was the only one in the bunch that didn't make it up the face of the solid, rock wall, but they made me feel great just because I tried it for the first time ever, and at least I did get 3/4 of the way up. These young people gave us great information on the van ride to the site, and I just can't say enough good things about them! The DH and especially the DS cannot stop talking about how exciting it was to climb and repel down that humongous rock wall. All three of us had a great experience. This was another adventure we will talk about for years to come. In Prince Rupert we did a whale watching trip (and I might add that I had really wanted to take the Zodiac tour, but it was sold out - a big disappointment to me). So, this was not as great a tour as the others. For one thing there were too many people, on a boat that I felt was too small and enclosed. There was only a small space to stand outside and the engine was so loud that I couldn't hang out there and neither could the DS. We had seen so many whales off the sides of our cruise ship that this was a little bit of a letdown. However, the young woman gave an informative talk as we rode out to the area where we finally saw whales. I wish they would add a couple more of the Zodiacs. Those passengers looked like they were having the time of their life. They got so close to the whales, they could almost reach out and touch them! All in all, even though I was disappointed with the food and entertainment as compared to last year, we still had a great cruise and will definitely cruise NCL in the future. Unfortunately, we won't cruise on the Star again if we can help it. She just doesn't do it for us anymore. Tips for future travelers: Take warm, knee high socks for tours that involve boats. Really warm gloves, not like the ones I took that are the cheapy one-size-fits-all type. Also, I did all my souvenir (sp?) at the Tongass Trading Company in Ketchikan. You can buy anything and everything you want and they will ship it back to the US for a flat rate of $10. I just got my package today and everything I bought was there. It was well packaged and nothing was damaged in any way. I shipped back hats, t-shirts, Ulu knife and chopping bowl, key chains, fridge magnets, a doll, postcards, and a few other items, all for $10. It can't be beat! I didn't have to lug all that stuff home. They have three stores all within walking distance of each other. All you do as you go from store to store is ask for "double copies" of your receipts. When you're done shopping you give the person at the register all your receipts and they will take everything from you, package it up, and send to you back in the US. They were very friendly and helpful at every store of theirs I went to. I would definitely do this again on my next trip. Alaska was awesome, incredible, beautiful, etc., etc., etc. It was everything I hoped it would be. We had a wonderful cruise and visit and I would do it all again in a millisecond! Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Embarkation was good considering you had about 2000+ people to get on board. Escorted to our cabin by 1pm. Of course we paid extra for the mini-suite but well worth it. A room 16x9 not including the bath & makeup table or balcony. My ... Read More
Embarkation was good considering you had about 2000+ people to get on board. Escorted to our cabin by 1pm. Of course we paid extra for the mini-suite but well worth it. A room 16x9 not including the bath & makeup table or balcony. My wife loved the bathtub. Also had coffee maker, safe and refrigerator. Room stewards(?)did great job almost to point of being annoying I thought. My wife thinks otherwise and enjoyed their animals they formed from towels and wash cloths.. Laundry service was so-so. We enjoyed the entertainment every night. The buffet was an average place with lots of kids and crowded depending upon when you went. If you watched the hours we could avoid most crowds. We didn't go any restaurant that wasn't free, because we enjoyed the Versailles so much. Beautiful restaurant, great service and good food. Even saw some whales go by while eating there. Don't know why another reviewer was so down on the free restaurants. We booked the tours through Norwegian. Guaranteed to get you back on the ship and on the whale tour if you didn't see a whale you got most of your money back. Ketchikan - Cultural tour was very interesting since my wife and I love history. Saw some eagles up close at the Fish hatchery & Eagle Sanctuary. Juneau - Whale tour was so long we didn't get to see the town, but got some good pictures of whales and sealions. My wife was thrilled with that. Skagway - Not too much to the town but it was interesting and quaint. If I had it to do over we would take the short train trip, not the bus and train combo. Loved the scenery, stories and shopping. Prince Rupert - Loved the town. Clean and neat looking homes and stores. Toured on a small two tiered boat to see eagles. We were not disappointed. Had about 12-14 flying around to get the food the guy on the boat threw out. Got some great pictures. They also offered a crab dinner if you wanted to buy it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
This was our first cruise and our first time to Alaska. We were traveling to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Even though we've been reading reviews and information on Cruise Critic we still weren't sure what to expect. In ... Read More
This was our first cruise and our first time to Alaska. We were traveling to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Even though we've been reading reviews and information on Cruise Critic we still weren't sure what to expect. In the end it was worth all the planning and waiting. Friday, June 13, 2008 - Seattle Arrive in Seattle around noon, picked up our bags at baggage claim and when to ground transportation to find Shuttle Express check in area. Within 10 minutes we were on our way to Hampton Inn - Downtown. The driver was great and gave us some restaurant recommendations. We tried to check in but our room was not ready but they offer to hold our bags so we could grab some lunch. DH and I were starving so we grabbed a quick bit at the Thai restaurant recommended by the hotel staff. It was a small house converted into a restaurant and the food was excellent and was not expensive. We went back to the hotel and our room was ready. We freshen up and was on our way to the Duck Tour, which was within walking distance (between 5 - 7 minutes). We bought tickets for the 2:30 pm Duck Tour (which is conveniently located across the Space Needle). This is a tour that we would highly recommend to anyone. It is fun, entertaining, and give a great overview. If you like more room sit in the last row because it becomes a long bench once the stairs are raised. It gave DH and I more room to move around. Also, it was a bit cold (50's - we're from Florida so this is cold to us), so dress for it. Once we were done with the Duck Tour we decide to walk to Pike Market (We didn't realize it was quite a walk but it was nice). Went to see the original Starbucks and the people throwing fish. Left Pike Market to watch down by the waterfront area. Ate dinner at Anthony's at Pier 66. Reservations are pretty much required but we were able to make it that afternoon for a 7:00pm. Service and food was excellent. Saturday, June 14, 2008 - Embarkation Day We got up early so that we could visit the Space Needle before boarding the Star. It was a little cloudy but still worth it. We were able to see the Star docked at the pier and took pictures. We arrived at the pier at around 11:00 am. The pier was very busy with tons of car, taxis and buses pulling up to the same area. Strongly recommended that you have your cruise tickets and passports handy so that it will make it easier to get through the baggage drop off area. It went quickly and we were up at the main passenger check in area within 5 minutes. Once you get in the passenger check in area, make sure you have a pen so that you can fill out the form that confirming that you haven't been sick while you're waiting in line to have your picture taken and key card issued. Within 10 minutes we had our key cards in our hands and we were waiting for our boarding group number (this was given to you when you entered) to be called. By 11:30 am we were on the ship! Since we had a balcony room, someone escorted us onto the ship but since the cabins were not ready so they only could walked us to the Atrium area. Champagne and mimosas were being offered as you walked into the area. We knew to make dinner reservations at the desk in the atrium (thanks to CC forum) in advance since we wanted to eat at Teppanyaki that night and we also made reservations for their Jazz Brunch at SOHO on the last sea day (this is suppose to be new and they allowed anyone to make reservations far in advance). We decided to do the ship tour since this was our first cruise. It was very informative and helped give us a general knowledge of where everything was. Would recommend this for anyone who has cruised before, they give lots of helpful hints that came in handy. Again thanks to CC forum, we knew to stay away from the buffet and headed to Versailles for lunch. Lunch was excellent. We had bbq ribs and some lemon fish dish (can't remember the exact name of these dishes). Announcements were made during lunch that the cabins were ready so after lunch we went to find our cabin 9618. Two of our four bags were already there and they were still in the process of distributing others. The cabin was more spacious than we expected and definitely had ample storage room. The toilet are was a little snug for DH (he's 6' 2") as was the shower but nothing that would have spoiled our cruise. The balcony was as large as expected and the two lounge chair fit comfortably in the area. We started unpacking until the announcement was made for the safety drill, so we grabbed our life vest and were on our way. (hint: your life vest has your cabin # and the location of where you need to meet your group for the drill labeled on it - so if you need directions just show that to the staff and they can tell you where to go). The drill went fast and we were back to our cabin. Our other 2 bags were there waiting for us when we returned so we continued unpacking untilDH noticed that the ship was moving. We stop unpacking and headed for the sail away party on deck (bbq). DH decided to eat again. =) We ate at Teppanyaki for dinner. The food was good but you really go there because it's fun and entertaining. If you've never eaten teppanyaki you should at least try it. The Welcome Aboard show that evening was excellent. This show highlights most of the entertainers and you meet the fun and wacky cruise director, Ricky Matthews. Sunday, June 15, 2008 - Sea Day We had breakfast at Versailles. The food was okay, not as good as we had expected. DH is a big breakfast person and said he was slightly disappointed. Went to the Diamond and Gemstone Seminar (had to drag DH but he ended thinking it was a good seminar). We ate lunch at Ginza - Sushi Bar. The sushi, sashimi and rolls was excellent but the service was somewhat slow at times. Really don't need a reservation for lunch as there weren't many people at the sushi bar. If you're a sashimi lover like we are it is well worth the $15 pp fee. Dress up if you want to night. We decided to dress up a little (no suit or formal gown - nice dress slack and long sleeve dress shirt (DH) and a nice dress for me). We took pictures in the Atrium and decided to go to dinner at 5:30 pm at Versailles (Lobster night). We were mentally prepared to wait in a line but the line was extremely disorganized and no one from the restaurant coordinating the lines (basically there were people forming lines from the left and right side of the ship, from both stair cases coming down from the 8th deck and more people coming from the elevators). After waiting about 20 minutes we were at the hostess stand only to be told that we were in the group line and had to get into the right line but after we explained that there was no indication that there were two separate types of line they seated us (there were many others behind us who were not in groups as well and got angry when they overheard what they told us). Also, there were people that were part of groups already seated but could not get into the restaurant because of the disorganization. On a positive note, the lobsters were excellent and the service was good. We decided to try and avoid the main dining room for dinner if we wanted to eat during peak dining time for the remainder of the cruise. (Ironically the chocolate buffet line was more organized then for this dinner seating). The Music of the Night show (music of Andrew Lloyd Webber) was excellent. It is presented by Jean Ann Ryan Productions. Tonight was Monte Carlo Night in the casino but we're not big gamblers and its a bit smoky there so we skipped it. We saw tons of pictures and some video clips later on and it looks like the people who went had a blast. Monday, June 16, 2008 - Ketchikan We did not book any excursion for our first port and decided to venture out ourselves. We ended up spending our time shopping, shopping and shopping. Probably should have done something other than that but we lost track of time and it flew by. We ate at Market Cafe Buffet for lunch. The food was good but could have been better if some of the hot items were not served cold. There was a huge selection of food. (hint: there is actually 3 sections of the buffet - unfortunately you have to get in line at each section on each side of the restaurant). So make sure you check out all the food options. There wasn't service offered here because it was buffet style but they did have staff serving the food onto your plate (keep the germs off of the serving utensils). We ate at Endless Summer for dinner . We had the Lobster Tacos and Popo (Grilled Skirt Steak, Chicken Breast and Veggies - loved the way it was brought to the table) were excellent and so was the service. (hint: get your reservations early because this is a free specialty restaurant and it gets booked fast - even with the ability to reserve 48 hours in advance we were not able to get another reservation when we wanted to go back another night) The China Star Acrobat Company show was excellent. It is amazing what they can do. We also went to the Adult Newlywed Not So Newly Wed Game Show. It was hosted by Ricky Matthews and it was hilarious. Tuesday, June 17, 2008 - Juneau We booked directly with Temsco Helicopter for our Mendenhall Glacier helicopter and dog sledding tour. Since the Star was docked far from town, we took the free shuttle into town to our tour pick up location by the Mount Roberts Tram. TheTemsco shuttle van was early and we on our way to the location that is about 15 minutes away. The helicopter and dog sledding was AMAZING. We were in awe and although it an extremely expensive excursion it was worth every penny. Our tour took up almost our entire time in port so theTemsco driver gave us the option of being dropped off in town or being dropped off at the ship. We opted to be dropped off at the ship. We ate at Market Cafe Buffet for lunch again. The food was good again but could have been better as previously mentioned. After lunch we headed back to our cabin to hang out on the balcony as the ship made it's way up to Tracy Arm (Sawyer Glacier). The view of Tracy Arm is beautiful and amazing. Unfortunately, we were iced out of Sawyer Glacier. We knew to expect this possibility from CC forum but was still slightly disappointed. We wished we had taken the advice of CC posters to take the Tracy Arm excursion but DH thought it would have made for a long day so we skipped it (why did I listen to him?). Many that took the tour said they were able to see Sawyer Glacier and even saw some seals. We ate dinner at Cagney's. We had made late reservation so that we would have been able to see Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier (hint: you don't want to be eating dinner while the ship is at the glacier so plan on eating a late dinner). We had crab cakes, oystersrockefeller and stuffed mushrooms for appetizers and surf n ' turf for our entrees (it was an additional $10 per person on top of the regular $20 per person fee). The filet was excellent, however, we both felt that the half lobster was extremely small (I think it was suppose to be 6 oz but it appeared much smaller) and not worth the extra $10 upgrade. Service was excellent. We skipped the shows tonight because we had an early excursion the next morning. Wednesday, June 18, 2008 - Skagway We booked directly with White Pass Train (one way up only) and Dyea Dave Tours (to pick us up from Fraser and bring us back down). Part off Dyea Dave's service included us being picked up at the dock and dropped off at the train station. Very convenient and we were able to avoid all the big crowds this way. Our train was only half full which gave us the opportunity to move around freely during the ride (the other trains that had the cruise ship tours were packed). The train ride was amazing and offered tons of great photos. The left side of the train on the way up was better, however, the right side provided views of some waterfalls along the way as well. Also, don't forget to get up and stand outside of your train for pictures as well - just don't do it if you're scared of the dark and the train is approaching the tunnel. Dyea Dave was waiting for us when we arrived in Fraser (Canada). Make sure you have your passports as they do check everyones. Dave drove us in a van with 9 other passengers down the Klondike Highway and made many stops for some amazing views and photos. He is extremely knowledgeable and gave a great personalized tour. None of us on the tour felt rushed and when we got back to town he offered to drop us off anywhere we wanted. It was raining (but we were prepared with our umbrella - again thank you cc forum). We grabbed a quick bite for lunch and walked around for our last chance to buy Alaskan souvenirs. We walked back to the ship which was about a 10 minute walk from town. We ate at Le Bistro for dinner. The escargots and steamed mussels appetizers are a must. We had the rack of lamb and Mediterranean fish soup for our entrees and chocolate fondue and crepes (it say it's prepared table side but it wasn't for some reason) for dessert. Service and food were excellent. We had a table by the piano and was able to enjoy the entertainment during our meal. The New York Vagabonds show was excellent. They're a vocal group that sang music from Jazz to Broadway. Then we went to the White Hot Party. Once again it was hosted the by the crazy Ricky Matthews and it was fun. Thursday, June 19, 2008 - Prince Rupert We had room service for breakfast. Our order was delivered with many items missing. When she came back she still didn't have everything so she ended up coming to our cabin 3 times before everything we ordered was there. We ordered the muffins/pastries, fruit, and orange juice from the breakfast menu and order the omelets from the regular room service menu. We ate at Ginza - Sushi Bar for lunch again. Everything was excellent and service was better than the first time. We did not book any excursion for this port and decided to venture on our own again. This is a small quaint town. We walked to the Sunken Garden, visited the totem poles, downtown and cow bay areas. There were a lot of eagles in the cow bay area. Besides that there was not much else to see. If you want to see more, probably an excursion would be best. *** We had probably the only really bad experience with NCL on this day. Since we arrived to port at 4:00 pm, it was the first time we experienced a horrible disembarkation. We had the option of disembarking from deck 4 or 5. We chose deck 5, however, only 1 staff was there directing traffic and we were all made to walk down the narrow cabin hallways and then turn back towards to gangway. The only problem was that there were other passengers coming from the other direction of the hallway and no one to stop them so before you could make the turn more and more people were getting in the line from the middle. There were room services trays still on the floor and many had broken glasses because people had stepped on them by accident and it felt like the a/c was not on at this point. At one point the entire hallway was full (one large line of people facing one way and right next to that another line of people facing the other way). It was stuffy, hot, cramped and people were losing their tempers. While we understand the difficulty of letting so many people off the ship at one time, we believe that there could have been moreNCL staff coordinating the lines and keeping the hallways cool would have helped keep the tempers down. (Ironically the chocolate buffet line was more organized then the disembarkation line for this port). We ate dinner at La Trattoria. We had the calamari fritti and carpaccio di manzo for appetizer (of the two the calamari was better). We had the osso buco gremolata (not so good) and lobster ravioli (good). The service was good but we both felt that overall it was not worth the surcharge. The Cirque Pacific show was excellent. It was presented by Jean Ann Ryan Company but also featured the China Star Acrobats. We attempted to go to the Chocoholic Buffet but there was a line from Versailles all the way past the atrium by the elevators. So we decided that we would pass. I have to say though that theNCL staff had the line formation organized and were only permitted people from forming one line and did not allow people to walk through the Red Lion Pub side. Friday, June 20, 2008 - Sea Day We went to the disembarkation briefing since this was our first cruise and had no idea what to expect. The briefing was presented by Ricky Matthews so it was funny and made it go quickly. The Cruise Director department also did a show after the briefing that was hilarious and not to be missed. We went to the Jazz Brunch at SOHO. It was interesting how they had it laid out. There was a self serve buffet section and an a la carte menu to order from as well. The food, service and music was excellent. After brunch we attended the Grand Finale Art Auction. There were some wonderful artwork and it was extremely informative. Then DH went for a nap and I went the the $500 jewelry raffle drawing, which I won! After that I gladly joined DH for nap time. We ate dinner at Ginza - Asian because my DH wanted sushi but I wanted to try out the Asian style menu. I ordered the lightly battered salt and pepper calamari and tse's chicken in soothing lettuce wraps for appetizers (portions were small) and Wok-charred Shrimp (beef was on menu but request shrimp instead). The food was okay butDH's sushi was excellent as usual. I did not feel that the Asian side of Ginza was worth the fee. We went to the Farewell Show featuring Murray the Magician and the New York Vagabonds. Murray was more a comedian than a magician, however, the New York Vagabonds were excellent again. After that it was off to the cabin to begin to packing process. Saturday, June 21, 2008 - Disembarkation Day We selected the 9:00 am disembarkation color and waited in our cabin for our color to be called. Once our color was called we proceed off the ship (hint: have your key card, custom form and passport ready) and into the baggage claim area within 10 minutes or so. Within 5 minutes DH had located our bags and we were outside to find Shuttle Express for our ride back to the airport. We were at the airport before 10:30 am. Security was a breeze and we had an early lunch at Anthony's. The food and service was excellent. We had the fried calamari and steamed mussels for appetizer and fishn' chips and fish tacos for entree. Summary The Not So Good/Could Use Improvement: We had to request our robes and fruit bowl order form at least 3 times (with both room steward and reception) and didn't receive them until Monday after turn down service. This was suppose to be part of the 2.0 but it appears it is only available upon request (many request). Also, the fruit bowl was not much of a presentation - it was a basic wood bowl and you only had the option of banana, apple, pear and orange. The restaurant reservations desk had a hard time understanding the concept of what booking 48 hours in advance was. On Sunday we tried to make reservations for Monday and Tuesday, were told by 2 people that we could only book for Monday. Finally after speaking to a 3rd person did they confirm we could reserve for Tuesday as well. This happened again later on the week. More staff on hand to organize the formation of lines for the main dining room area during peak dining times or have at least some type of rope of system to create some order. Signs to indicate group line vs non group line rather than try to turn people away for being in an unmarked line. Prince Rupert disembarkation (or any late arrivals at port) process can be improved by having more staff their to organize the formation of lines and maybe select a better location for the line to form in rather than in the narrow cabin hallways lined with room service trays. The Good: This was our first cruise and we loved it. Overall our experience with the Star and it's cruise staff was excellent and we would definitely sail with the Star or another NCL ship again. Majority of the food we ate was excellent. Even though we chose to eat at most of the specialty restaurants, we would have been fine eating at the main dining rooms as well. Our room stewards were good and did leave us 3 towel animals (they were so cute) during our cruise. We really enjoyed the freestyle and more casual environment. We would recommend NCL to our friend and family. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
This cruise was the brainchild of my parents who are celebrating their 50th anniversary and my mother's 70th birthday this year. There were to be eight of us travelling -- three adult couples and two kids aged 15 and 16. My brother ... Read More
This cruise was the brainchild of my parents who are celebrating their 50th anniversary and my mother's 70th birthday this year. There were to be eight of us travelling -- three adult couples and two kids aged 15 and 16. My brother and I (and our respective partners) were very resistant to the idea of cruising. We're outdoors and independent type people, and somehow a cruise always seemed "weird" to me -- too Disney to be the real experience of anything. But my mother was determined that we all go on an Alaskan cruise together, and she determined that NCL's "freestyle cruising" was the way for us to go. (When Mom is determined, she's going to get her way.) So we ended up on a week long cruise in Alaska on the Norwegian Star, leaving Seattle on June 28. Mom made a great choice. All of the skeptics amongst us had a much much better time than we ever hoped to have on the cruise. I should say at the outset that the weather could not have been more spectacular for the important days of the cruise. In fact, there was brilliant sunny weather for the first 5 days. This certainly helped us to enjoy ourselves and the absolutely jaw-dropping scenery along the route. Will I cruise again? I can easily see myself going back to Alaska on NCL, and that's a huge change of heart on cruising for me! Embarkation This was confusing to me, and could certainly be better set up. There was a series of lines and checkpoints and security checks that was never quite clear to me. The lines weren't terribly long - we checked in at around 2 pm and our longest line was about 10 minutes. But, the process was a bit disorienting and discombobulating. Bringing wine aboard Because we were celebrating special occasions, I wanted to have a special wine for each night of the cruise. Finding out in advance what NCL's policy proved to be almost impossible to me. Here is the way it worked for me: I was able to find out that the mark-up on the NCL wine list is high (but perhaps no higher than other lines) so I called ahead to a wine shop in Seattle and had them prepare a case of mixed whites (our preference). At one of the security points at check-in, the box of wine was noticed and I was pulled aside. There, a crew member affixed a small sticker to each bottle of wine where my room number would eventually be written each time I showed up at a restaurant with a bottle. After the stickers were affixed, I signed a chit of some sort indicating that I was paying a $15 corkage fee for each bottle brought aboard. (This was not a surprise.) I was then allowed to board with the box which I stored in our closet. This was convenient as we were able to chill the wines when we wanted and choose the ones we wanted to bring to dinner. At dinner, the wines were graciously served, and (as noted above) our room number was written on the sticker. What is not clear to me is what would happen if we opened and drank the wine ourselves on our balcony. Presumably, the corkage fee would still apply. I'm not sure. Stateroom We had a balcony room (Class BA). It surpassed my expectations. I have to say that I probably would not have enjoyed the cruise so much if I did not have a balcony room. Having that huge picture window and balcony in the room constantly allowed the majestic scenery into the room at all times. We never closed our curtain the entire time, and our door was open to allow the sea air almost all the time - day and night. There was ample storage place for two over-packed people. A nice feature was that our three LARGE suit cases all fit under the bed. Counter and surface space was adequate. One area was entirely consumed by a coffee maker set-up which I did not use. I asked out otherwise very helpful and eager to please steward to remove this set-up, but he seemed reluctant so I pushed it out of the way on a high shelf. I slept well, but for those who like to cuddle up at night with their honey, the beds could be improved. The king size beds are two twin mattresses that are put together, sort-of. We couldn't seem to figure out a way to spend a night with each other without having a big crack open down the middle of the bed. The pillows were incredible, and the bed surfaces (other than that frustrating, anti-social issue noted above) were comfortable. The bathrooms were pretty well laid out for a small bathroom, and I guess that's the norm on a cruise ship. One thing that I did NOT like in the bathroom was the body wash. Call me old fashioned, but I like a good old bar of soap. That minty unctuous concoction I was supposed to wash with was sort of a turn-off. The staterooms were kept clean and tidy by the steward who remembered our names the first day of the cruise! He was a very nice guy who would run down the hallway for me to open my room door when he saw me bringing two hands full of food for a breakfast in bed. All-in-all, a very nice cozy nest for a week. Bottom line: if I ever do cruise again, it will only be with a balcony room. Having that window and balcony allowed me to really feel that I was at sea. Food I ate a couple of breakfasts with family members at Versailles - the only main dining room that was open for breakfast. Service was good (although a bit slow on debarkation mornings if you admit that you don't have a ground excursion planned). The menu was the same every day - limited but perfectly adequate and tasty. The scenery couldn't be beat. A nice way to start the day. It was definitely far more quiet in Versailles than it was in the Market Cafe -- the main buffet room. On other mornings, I'd raid the buffet in the Market Cafe and bring bag a big plate full of lox, bagel, and fixings and a big plate full of fruit. We'd enjoy this breakfast in the quiet of our cabin and on our balcony. This was a special treat for my late-rising partner. For lunches, we would use the buffet at the Market Cafe but always bring our food elsewhere to dine. The atmosphere in the Cafe appealed to my 15 year old niece who says that it reminds her of camp, but I found it way too redolent of school cafeteria. We only ate inside of that place on days when the weather was too inclement to bring our food outside. By the way, the cafeteria is on both the port and starboard sides of the boat. The port side is a bit more quiet than the starboard side. Standouts at the lunch buffets were the roasted chicken, the Indian food, and the sushi. We ate at three specialty restaurants - Endless Summer (no up-charge), Le Bistro ($15 charge), and Ginza,Sushi ($15 charge). On the other nights we ate at one of the two free dining rooms - Versailles and Aqua. Endless Summer requires reservations but does not require an upcharge. Mexican food. It was OK. Actually, a little bit disappointing. The dining room itself is very very attractive and makes a dinner there well worthwhile, but the food was probably the weakest of my dinners. This restaurant has some of the nicest sea views of the restaurants. Le Bistro is, obviously, French. Very fussy food, but really tasty and really nicely prepared. Not a place to eat if you want to be checking out the scenery while you dine. Ginza/Sushi was my favorite. Half of our party ordered off the fusion menu and the other half had the unlimited sushi. All the food was delicious, and the dining room is attractive. We ate here on the last night of the cruise and many of the tables were occupied by the ship's officers and entertainers. The captain was dining there and stopped to give my Mom Birthday wishes - a very nice touch. Versailles and Aqua share a kitchen and the menus are identical. There is really nothing to complain about at either of these two restaurants. The food was surprisingly good at both. Aqua was a little too dark and "enclosed" for my taste and Versailles a little too Disney, but the service was pleasant, attentive, and the food was better than average almost all the time. In general, I was pleasantly surprised by the food. I try to eat "healthy" and with "moderation" and I found that it was easy for me to feel good about what I was eating and to enjoy at the same time. There were always healthy options available. If I were to be on this cruise again, I would probably splurge a little on a couple more nights of specialty restaurants -- definitely another dinner at Ginza. Coffee I like coffee and bought the $10 mug which gives you access to unlimited espresso drinks from the many bars and cafes around the ship. I recommend this option to coffee drinkers. The coffee at the Market Cafe - the only other location for a cup - is surprisingly bad. On the other hand, the ship's cappuccino makers are fueled with Lavazza coffee and the baristas make a mainly delicious - but pretty inconsistent - cappuccino. This is $10 well spent. Chocoholic buffet A fascinating and disturbing look into unabashed, unashamed, unfiltered human gluttony. The amounts of food that people had piled on their plates and the frenzy with which this was carried out was utterly disturbing. Public rooms There were some very nice rooms for hanging out. For our group of 8, we found that the Port Side Room (near the Spinnaker Lounge) or the lounge at the Endless Summer restaurant were very nice places for a spirited game of scrabble or pictionary. Not at all noisy, we didn't feel as if we were disturbing anyone with our antics, alot of space to stretch out, and more of that marvellous scenery. Turn-offs The constant announcements about pull-tabs and the casino are a big turn-off; an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise wonderful experience. Shore excursions Because of the unpredictability of the Alaska weather, nobody planned excursions in advance. Some of our party took the train in Skagway and others went on a flightseeing trip over Glacier National Park, also out of Skagway. These excursions were arranged on shore. I was very content to hike in the ports, and was disappointed that NCL does not do more to make hiking options known to cruisers. All-in-all All-in-all, a surprisingly great trip. Most surprising of all, I can see myself doing it again. But only with a balcony room, and only on a line like NCL that is not rigid about dining. (Caveat: this was a VERY family friendly cruise. If alot of kids are not your scene, you might have felt very differently about this cruise.) Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Our Alaskan adventure began with arriving in Seattle Wa. June 13th ,2008 into Sea/Tac airport. Luggage arrived within a reasonable amount of time to the carousel. With luggage at hand my wife and I began to gather info at the "visitor ... Read More
Our Alaskan adventure began with arriving in Seattle Wa. June 13th ,2008 into Sea/Tac airport. Luggage arrived within a reasonable amount of time to the carousel. With luggage at hand my wife and I began to gather info at the "visitor information booth" inside the airport for transportation options on what was best available for travel from the airport to the hotel.Taxi's $40.00 (one way), Limo $40.00 (one way), or Gray Line bus service $48.00 (Round trip with return tickets for when the cruise ended to get from hotel back to airport for both of us,NOT per person).We opted for the Bus line to get to our hotel.$24.00 each way for two, not bad. We stayed at a Hilton Family hotel. The name is "Hampton Inn & Suites-Seattle Downtown.The reservations were done online through their website. Rates were reasonable ($145.00 +tax). Most of the other downtown hotels were $190.00 / $250.00 per night. Hotel was close to space needle, the monorail to seattle center (for shopping) and less than a block away a 24 hour total convenience "QFC" grocery store.(more like a super center.)Hotel tel was clean quiet, and put on a nice breakfast buffet in the morning. Travel from hotel to ship $10.00 by Yellow Cab Taxi. Less than a 10 minute ride. Boarding from Pier 66 was somewhat of a slight inconvenience getting from the street to inside the terminal.There was a lengthy cue snaking around with everyone pulling their bags behind them. The process would have been a lot quicker if persons had their luggage tags with room no. affixed to their bags. Many did not have them on their bags and were having to fill the information out and place them on their luggage. My wife and I avoided alot of the "roadblocks and moved around the others as we were encouraged to do so to keep the process moving.From the street to the ship time wise took about 45 minutes including check in. Not too bad. Before we got to our stateroom we were met with champagne while entering the ship. The ship was immaculate and we really noticed how well maintained the room was. Very clean. Bathroom area was immaculate. I can't speak well enough how fresh looking the stateroom was.Service on ship is extraordinary.Everyone that we interfaced with was polite, attentive, courteous ,and gave us all the results we could have asked for in our questions.The entire ship was probably the cleanest vessel of the vessels that we have cruised and the crew maintained things that way the entire cruise. We were very impressed. Food was the best at all times and 24 hour room service was expedient and good tasting also.Entertainment was a constant ongoing happening with non stop music,shows,bingo,art auction, shore excursions etc. We never found time to have a dull moment on the ship.Time went by so very quick.When we would get in our stateroom at night after a busy day (looking out from our balcony room seeing eagles and whales and other wildlife,) the time would seem like 7 or 8 in the evening and looking at the clock it would be 11 p.m. or midnight with there still being daylight outside. The opposite happened the first morning also . It was daylight at 4 a.m. and I happened to believe that it was more like 6 a.m.the long days was a really neat experience to see. My wife told me to come back to bed. The excursions we took and would recommend as a suggestion , to each their own though they are ALL great excursions. We took : Mendenhall glacier & wildlife quest. Misty fiords and wilderness explorer. Ultimate yukon & white pass railway. Prince Rupert discovery tour. Disembarking back in Seattle ,we took our time leaving ship since we were staying at the same hotel we came to when we arrived in Seattle a week ago before the cruise. Things went a lot quicker leaving ship. A total of about 15 minutes including the customs stop departing the terminal.We caught another taxi ($10.00 fare)to our hotel and checked in about 12 noon. Went out for a nice lunch and when our room was available at 2p.m. the hotel called me and we went back to the hotel picked up our bags from the "luggage safe" in the hotel.Later on in the evening we had a terrific dinner in the space needle restaurant and watched a beautiful sunset revolving around from inside the "Sky City" restaurant. Sights from the observation deck of the city were awesome.Early the next morning we left to come home from a wonderful trip The front desk forgot to give us our wake up call but the alarm was set also as a back up. Either way we did not want to miss our flight home. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Thursday 19th June Left home in the Midlands and had a relatively painless (painless is a relative term) 2 and half hour drive to London Heathrow. As I had checked in online it was easy to check the bags in and pass through security. ... Read More
Thursday 19th June Left home in the Midlands and had a relatively painless (painless is a relative term) 2 and half hour drive to London Heathrow. As I had checked in online it was easy to check the bags in and pass through security. The flight was fine and we arrived in Seattle some 9 or so hours later. The wait for immigration was a pain but there were two guys there who did everything they could to get everyone through as quickly as they could. We collected the bags and then promptly lost them after the train journey from the satellite terminal - eventually we found someone from an airline who directed us to a carousel where we found them again. We walked to the parking garage and found the taxi rank. After about 5 minutes we were in a taxi heading for our hotel. The driver was competent and very pleasant and we soon arrived at the Crowne Plaza Downtown where our bags were whisked from the car onto a trolley and directed to the check-in desk. I booked on the internet several weeks earlier and we had our key cards and ready to go within 2 minutes. Fastest hotel check-in ever! The young fellow with the bags was waiting at the lifts and took us to our room and settled us in nicely. We had a suite with a nice separate lounge. Coffee pot on and then we decided on bed as neither of us were hungry just very tired - coming from the UK we were still in a time zone 8 hours ahead. Friday 20th June After a good sleep we were both up about 6 AM. As my feet had swollen on the flight I had developed a blister on my heel making my shoes uncomfortable - I never wore them again all trip - so I went down to the shop in reception and a very nice lady there showed me the band-aids. Suitably fixed up and in sports shoes we headed to Pikes Place for breakfast at Lowell's. This place is amazing. I saw it recommended on the board and knew to go straight upstairs to the seated area with menus. Tony had Eggs Benedict and I had the Farmers Breakfast. Both were excellent, highly recommended. We strolled around the market for a while and then down to the waterfront. It was shaping up to be a beautiful sunny day in Seattle. We walked for a bit and took some pictures then grabbed the Red bus tour. We went all the way round the loop to start with to get a feel for things then decided to get off at Pioneer Place where we did the underground tour. This was an interesting tour and we enjoyed it. We grabbed a drink in their restaurant and went outside to wait for the next bus to take us to the Space Needle. It was here that I think we made a mistake. We wanted to do the Duck Tour and the Space Needle. The queue for the Duck was long so we went into the Space Needle first. The views were amazing and after photographs we headed to the Duck. We got our tickets and then had to wait for nearly an hour. We should have got the Duck tickets and then gone to the Space Needle to use the time effectively. The Duck tour was hilarious, the driver was crazy he was shooting buses and pedestrians with a water pistol at one point and chatting to folks walking along the pavement when we were in slow traffic. This is a Seattle must! The buses had stopped running as we were so late so we took the monorail to Westlake and walked back to the hotel. It was a very hot, sunny day in Seattle and we were shattered from our experiences. We got a room service snack and hit the bed early again - still trying to adjust by 8 hours! Saturday 21st June Up early again and walked to Lowells for another of their wonderful breakfasts followed by a walk down to the waterfront for a look at Norwegian Star. I couldn't get over the size. It was crazy down there with people disembarking. The red bus came by and we ran to jump on. Fortunately the guide recognised us from the day before and waited for us to stagger breathlessly onboard. We got off at a stop about 5 minutes walk from our hotel and went and got ready to cruise! The bell boy got us a cab and we were on our way to Pier 66 at 11.00AM. When we got out of the cab a gentleman told us to go straight into the baggage hall as we were already tagged up. Soon waving goodbye to the bags we went to the other hall where things progressed very speedily. I would say that we were onboard within 20 minutes of leaving the taxi outside. Very impressive. I expected bigger lines but they never seemed to come. We walked around the ship for a while exploring then went right up top to the Bier Garten where we got drinks. It was another hot day in Seattle. We skipped lunch as our breakfast was still filling us up. Did I say how fantastic Lowell's is? About 20 minutes after the announcement that rooms were ready we went to find ours. We had a balcony cabin, forward Deck 9 port side. The cabin was bigger than I thought it might be and was well set out with lots of staorage. One bag arrived and was unpacked followed about 30 minutes later by the other bag. No sooner we unpacked that and were settling in it was time for the lifeboat drill. We went to the Stardust theatre which was quite closeby and it was all over fairly soon. Time for the sailaway. Went to the pool deck and enjoyed a drink or two and a snack watching Seattle recede. Some nice scenery went by and after a while we went back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. On our way around earlier I had booked Cagney's for Sunday night but tonight we ate in the Versailles restaurant. It seemed quite busy even at 8PM but we were rapidly seated at a table for 2 with menu's in hand. We took our time choosing and enjoyed what we had. Our server was friendly especially when I asked her where she was from and it was Bali. We holidayed there last year so we had quite a chat about the island. She brought another server to meet us as he was also from Bali and from the place where we had stayed. After the meal we were feeling tired - it was 9.30 - we decided to retire for the night. Sunday 22nd June We got up fairly early and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the Market Cafe buffet. I found everything I needed pretty easily and as it was still early was not too crowded. The bacon was very crispy and looked like what we call in the UK streaky so I gave that a miss and had Ham instead. The buffet had servers rather than help yourself as virus precautuions appeared to be in full force. Since it was a sea day we wandered around getting to know the ship layout and generally enjoyed ourselves. We ate lunch again at the buffet and found it far more crowded. Again I found things I liked easily. However, the servers all seemed a bit, well , off. I think that this may have been because they were having to serve and were not too happy about it. This continued until Thursday when things went self serve. Table clearing was a bit slow but not a big issue to me but from the way some reacted in my hearing it obviously was to some. I am certain this was caused by moving staff to service and those that were clearing were doing their best to climb a mountain. I just chilled during the afternoon with a book and Tony went to a beer tasting at the pub which he seemed to enjoy. We had booked Cagney's for that night as it was Tony's birthday. First we went to the Star Bar where I enjoyed a strange blue martini. Can't remember what it was called. We arrived at Cagney's and were seated at a table. We had a problem here. There was a very strong vibration which was causing cutlery to rattle. My husband said he thought he was being shaken up so we asked to be moved to another table. This one was not quite as bad but my husband still was not happy so we asked to be moved again. The head waiter made it clear that he did not like this. I don't see why it was a big deal. We booked for 8PM. The restaurant was half full when we got there but tables were emptying rapidly. It was a quiet night for them as it was Lobster night in the main dining rooms. By the time we were served our starter at about 8.30 there were only 2 other tables occupied. We were moved to the other side of the restaurant and everything was fine. Tony has Prime Rib and I had fillet mignon. Overall the food was quite good, not sure it was worth the $20 but taking into the account the staff attitude we did not really enjoy the evening at all. Neither of us wanted to do anything else so we went back to the cabin, had a coffee on the balcony and went to bed as it was an early start next day. Monday 23rs June We had two tours booked in Ketchikan. The first was the Duck tour and later a floatplane trip. I was so excited when I saw the floatplanes taking off right alongside the ship from out balcony. As it was a wet morning I was worried it might be cancelled because of low clouds or something. We went to the buffet for breakfast and it was crazy in there. Everyone wanted to eat so they could get off the ship to explore. We had some time before the first tour so we went for a walk around the town. We went in a shop near the dock and were amazed by the selection and prices. I love t shirts and they had many plus lots of other stuff. We walked to a couple of other stores and bought 2 new jackets and a t shirt at one of them for $55. Now we are from the UK and I can categorically state that each of those jackets would cost over $60 here and a t shirt usually runs at around $15 so we were very pleased. We then went back to the first store and got 3 more t shirts and a pullover type thing again for $55. It was nearly time for our tour so we took our stuff back to the ship and joined the tour. The weather still hadn't improved and it was raining steadily all the time. The duck tour was OK. The commentary was not too good but we did see an Eagle during the sea portion. I wouldn't rush to do this one again but maybe I was comparing it to the brilliant duck tour in Seattle? We were bussed to the floatplane dock and split into groups. We had some people with us from the HAL ship. When we got to the plane there was no-one to help us on and the gangway was lethally slippy. One of the HAL people was terrified but I allowed her to hang on to me and we both made it on board. The misty fjords flight was the highlight of the cruise for me and Tony. I cannot describe how good it was. It is expensive but worth every single penny, it would have been better in nicer weather but the weather was better up there than in Ketchikan. We landed at a lake and there was a bear! The pilot got us quite close and the bear was not at all bothered by the plane and just carried on doing his thing. Now I have seen a bear at the zoo in Dudley so I was awestruck by this. This was a real bear! The flight back was just as awesome and we had a good view of the ships as we made our landing approach at Ketchikan. This time there was a rubber mat and a guy to help everyone off the plane. The HAL lady thanked me profusely for getting her on board as she was amazed by the whole trip and would have missed it but for me. I thought that was a bit over the top as I am sure someone would have helped her surely.I would definately recommend this trip to anyone. We are hoping to do it again next time we visit Alaska. All in all I think we got Ketchikan wrong. Next time I will book either an early or a late floatplane and spend the rest of the time walking around the town and shopping. It is the best port for shopping I think. We ate luch at the buffet - OK and Dinner at Versailles - OK Tuesday 24 th June Today we docked at Juneau. After yesterday in the buffet for breakfast we decided to order room service. We were called a few minutes before it arrived and ate in our room looking out across a small inlet at a big green hill with a waterfall. The weather was better than Ketchikan but was threatening rain. We disembarked for our glacier and whale watching tour. This tour was also excellent. I maybe would have liked a little more time at the glacier as by the time we got to the exhibition centre after seeing the glacier there was not really enough time to enjoy the exhibits, films etc. The whale boat was good and I went outside as soon as it was allowed to take pictures. Hot drinks were served (free) and snacks and stuff were available (charge) they also served everyone a free salmon snack which was nice. We saw loads of humpback whales. I lost count of them there were so many. A very good tour I felt and Tony liked it a lot too. The downside was that we never got to see anything of Juneau except from the bus as it drove along. Next time we will make sure to see some of the port although we do not regret doing the tour at all. Lunch at the buffet again then we went up to the Bier Gaten to see the Tracy Arm. Once again the ship diverted to Endicott because of ice. I was expecting this to happen based on what I had read over here so I was not at all disppointed. The Endicott Arm was brilliant but at one point the wind and rain got a bit much so we retreated to our cabin. I set my vidoe camera on a tripod and recorded a whole 90 minutes of the journey. I think it needs aditing a touch, especially the coughing of our neighbour who could have won a medal if they had coughing at the olympics! We had a very late dinner at the buffet. The food was again OK but nothing special. Wednesday 25th June Skagway today and we again had room service breakfast. Up on the dock it was freezing as there was a vicious wind about. We joined our Ultimate Yukon experience tour. The driver/guide was a lovely fellow. He drove us around Skagway for a few minutes because he knew that this was all we would see of the town and talked about the building we were passing very slowly so we could see them. We made lots of stops for pictures and 3 stops for bears including one who was nonchalantly crossing the highway! Lunch was at Caribou Crossing. The food was fine but I thought the place was very contrived. We saw some dogs but they were not at all like the Huskies I have seen in the UK, they looked like a cross breed and had very short hair. British Huskies have very thick hair and a tail that curls over onto their back.We bought ice cream and I rescued a mans spectacles from the wishing well, dried them and gave him them back all before his wife got out of the ice cream parlour and found out what he did. He was very happy and she was oblivious to what had gone on. I was none the worse for my experience in the well so as we say in the UK a good result. The town nearby was nice but there were too many buses there all together so very congested. On our way back to Fraser we stopped at the Yukon sign for pictures all taken by the driver/guide. It was very crowded there in the morning so we had missed it out as the driver knew we would be the only ones there in the afternoon. We continued to the railway. As there were only about 28 of us on this tour the carriage was very uncrowded. I saw some carriages that were full to the brim and I doubt that was as comfortable. I went outside to take pictures for most of the trip. I really enjoyed this train ride. It was very scenic and always something different to see.We got back 15 minutes before the ship was due to leave so no time for the town. We were unsure what to do for dinner and as we passed Ginza we asked if they had a table. They did and we enjoyed a lovely meal, the best so far by a long way. Our table overlooked the bar below and there was a lovely singer, Jana Seale, to entertain us. She is very good indeed. Service here was the best we encountered on the ship. We ordered quite a few dishes and the maitre 'd came over and asked us if we were sharing. We explained that when we eat asian style food we normally order like this and then put bits of this and that on our plates. She was very happy with this arrangement and went off to the kitchen to advise them. She came back and we had a nice chat about our travels in Asia over the years. There was a large group sitting near us and they were Indian. It appeared that many of them were vegetarian and the chef came and talked to them about what dishes he could prepare for them since most of the menu involved meat or fish. A nice touch I thought. Thursday 26th June Today we visited Prince Rupert in Canada. The arrival was mid afternoon after a buffet snack for lunch. It was very difficult to get off the ship but we eventually made it and were a little late for our tour but they had waited. The interior of the Whales and Lighthouses tour boat was very cramped with everyone in there. The weather was not good either and the boat was pitching and rolling a lot. After about 20 minutes we were allowed out onto the deck and that was a relief. It was also a mistake. The boat was violently pitching and I did not feel safe, waves were crashing onto the deck and we all got thoroughly soaked until the guide fetched us all back in. I was terrified to move from where I was sitting and holding on tightly but made it back into the cabin feeling very miserable indeed. We went past a lighthouse and then the sea was calmer so we went back out from the overcrowded cabin to the deck. There were some killer whales but we didn't really get much of a view of them and after a while I went back inside. The skipper decided to miss out the other lighthouses as they were where the sea would be very rough and we all agreed that we were happy to miss this out. Instead he brought us back to the dock via the outside of the cannery where there were dozens of Bald Eagles to see and take pictures of. I liked that much more! On reflection we chose the wrong tour. Maybe one of the others would have been better or maybe we should have just wandered around the town. As I was still feeling miserable I went back to the ship to get showered, warm and changed. Wasn't hungry so we ate at the buffet which again was OK Friday 27th June Today was spent at sea. Non of the activities really appealed to me so I spent a lot of time editing my pictures on my laptop in the cabin or reading. We used the balcony a little and also went out onto the decks but it wasn't a great day weather wise with a lot of wind and rain. During the evening we saw an incredible sight. The most brightly colored rainbow I have ever seen coming right down to the water about 50 yards off our balcony. It was beautiful. We decided to eat at Ginza again and were warmly welcomed back, given the same table and entertained by Jana Seale below us. She is excellent. The food was excellent. A lovely evening again. Eventually we left and went back to our cabin to pack. Saturday 28th June We chose the final color for leaving the ship since we were in no rush, just a hire car to collect at 11AM prior to going to visit a friend in Enumclaw, Washington. We were hassled by the steward at 9AM to leave so that they could start preparing the cabin. We left about 9.30 and waited in the carousel lounge. We walked easily off the ship and the queue for people with foreign passports had no one in it so we went through quickly having had a nice chat with the official about our trip and where we were heading next. Baggage was easy to find and we were soon in the shuttle bus to collect the car. My overall impressions are extremely favorable. I loved the cabin, found it to be of ample size for two but wouldn't be sure of more. I think it was well worth having the balcony to be able to go outside and sit with a coffee and enjoy the scenery. I thought the ship was very nice and easy to get around once we had our bearings. Almost everyone of the staff we met were charming and helpful. The food was in my opinion very good and sometimes even better. I was never hungry and usually spoilt for choice. The only restaurant we couldn't get into was Endless Summer but that didn't matter to us at all. For first timers it was a good choice particularly we liked the choice of restaurants and the fact that we could eat when we wanted to and alone. This was a big draw for us to choose NCL over the other more formal lines. The lack of needing formal wear which we don't like anyway, was also important due to luggage restrictions with flying thesedays.We were very much taken with the freestyle concept and still are. The itinerary was good and the choice of excursions was vast. Only one thing annoyed me and that was the cruise director, sorry but he wasn't my cup of tea and I do not play bingo either so I tended to tune him out. We purchased soda cards but didn't really get our moneys worth from them but the coffee beakers were well worth the $10 or so. Unlimited coffee and hot chocolate and I think we got our soda card money back on those alone so no gripe there. As a smoker my choices were very restricted, now I don't think that is a bad thing nor do I think everywhere should be non-smoking either. There is room for both on the ship but I would have liked there to have been just one bar of the many inside that was a smoking place as Alaska was not conducive to being outside all of the time and it is nice to relax in a nice bar and have a drink during the evening. I did try the casino but was embarrassed since I was not gambling, just having a quick indoor smoke. We are going to return next year and sail on Norwegian Pearl and use our experiences as fist timers this time around to get even more from our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Just got off the Star this morning at around 10:00 am. What can I say??? This was our first cruise and..... The opinions expressed here are strictly my opinions and I stand by what I observed and witnessed :0) with that I will continue ... Read More
Just got off the Star this morning at around 10:00 am. What can I say??? This was our first cruise and..... The opinions expressed here are strictly my opinions and I stand by what I observed and witnessed :0) with that I will continue with my first review of my very first cruise. Background Information This was a celebration cruise planned at the last minute. My parents were celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary and my mom's retirement after 40 years as a school librarian, my husband arrived home safely after almost a year in Iraq and I finally graduated with my BA. My children were celebrating their birthdays. My daughter turned 9 and my son turned 12. Ship We chose the NCL Star because of the itinerary, price and the desire to try "Freestyle Cruising". I did a lot of research on Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor. I had less than a month to book, research and learn all I could. I had never booked a cruise before but I was really happy with my choice. Saturday 6/28 The embarkation was as easy as pie. We arrived a little after 10:30 a.m. We were a party of 6 people. 4 adults and two children. We drove down to Seattle as we only live about 80 miles away in Bellingham, WA. My friend was meeting us at Pier 66 so she was going to take my Suburban for the week so we did not have to pay for parking. We arrived with a ton of luggage which was quickly taken by a Porter that led us to where we needed to show our cruise ticket and passports. We were not to see our luggage again until later on in the afternoon. We were directed to the elevators since my son is in a wheelchair and went through security rather quickly. Once we were upstairs we took our pictures for our room keys and gave them our Credit Card for room charges. They let us on a little after 12:00 pm saying that our rooms would be ready around 2:30. As soon as we embarked we took our pictures and made our way up the gangway. The Star took my breath away! As we entered we were directed to the buffet, since I have spent countless hours on CC I knew to go directly to Versailles which we did. I also knew to make reservations at Cagney's ASAP as I had a buy one dinner get one free at any specialty restaurant for the first night. Versailles was still closed so I decided to go ahead and sign the kids up for kids club and we made our way to the Spa after that to get the couples special. It was 140.00 for the spa for two for the week. Very well worth it in my opinion as we were there every day twice on our 2 sea days. By the time we did all of that Versailles was open and off to lunch we went. I made sure to order their chilled fruit soup which was excellent. I also had a sandwich and dessert. (The first of many) After that our rooms were ready and we headed to them. When we arrived they had a bottle of bubbly waiting for us. We had preordered the anniversary package. This was our first cruise so I had booked an inside cabin and it was the wheelchair accessible one on the 10th floor. I was impressed with the size of it. My son was able to maneuver in and out of the room with ease. We decided to explore the ship the kids went to kids club. Everyone seemed so friendly, I was in awe of the way the ship all came together it was time for our sail away and it was held by the pool. We had fantastic sunny weather. We were out until about 6:00 pm when we arrived to our stateroom our luggage was waiting outside. Unfortunately one piece was missing, mine. I called downstairs and they told me to wait until 8:00pm. The only problem I had with that is that we had reservations at Cagney's and I wanted to change. It was compounded by the fact that my DH had said that he did not remember putting my luggage in our truck. About 7:45 I went back down to reception and sure enough the luggage tag had fallen off and it was sitting in the back waiting to be claimed. I would have not been so worried if my husband had remembered that he HAD loaded up my luggage. Disaster averted, we went to Cagney's and the food was wonderful. DH had the prime rib which was smooth as butter and the rest of us had fillet mingon. The only drawback that I saw was that the service takes forever; it took us about 2.5 hours to get from appetizer to dessert. We did miss out on the shows that evening. On a brighter note my TA sent me the wrong coupon book and they were not going to honor my 2 for one. The Maitre D saw my frustration and sent someone to the front desk and exchanged my booklet for the correct one. We then went down to the Casino for awhile then went back to our staterooms to get ready for our next day. Sunday Sea Day we woke up and decided to try the buffet. It was not my cup of tea but it wasn't bad. I tend to prefer a sit down restaurant but if you are in a hurry it is worth it. I went down to the Spa hung out there for a while and watched the world sail on by. We had dinner at Endless Summer nights and saw a whale from the window. Did not like the Maitre d was a total jerk. The hostess had seated us at a window table then he came over and said that it was reserved for someone else. Nowhere on the table did it say reserved so I did argue with him that we wanted the table that was originally offered to us in the end he relented and let us have the table. He just kept giving us nasty looks all through dinner. That was ok; I had my window seat and got to see a whale. We had a great time. The kids also had a blast; they were at the pool most of the day and got a nice tan. I on the other hand got sunburn. Who goes to Alaska to sunburn? We also attended a presentation on who to buy from we were at the different ports. It was informative but not necessary. I did win a keychain that was thrown into the audience. Monday Ketchikan We booked our excursions from NCL big mistake. We could have gotten them cheaper on the outside, but being this was our first cruise we decided to play it safe. In Ketchikan my DH and I did the Zip lines. All I can say is incredible. We saw two blk bears down below us and many eagles. I am so ready to do it again. My parents and kids went on the totem pole tour along with the Lumber Jack show that they really enjoyed. The only drawback was it started with the Lumber Jack show which they had to walk to. My son is in a chair so they felt a little rushed trying to get to a place where they had never been. Dh and I decided to escort them there and ease their worries. After their tour and our tour we did get to tour the city. It is rather small we ended up buy some knick knacks here and there. Unfortunately most of them are made in China. We went back on the ship and ended up having lunch at Versailles dinner at Aqua. Did the spa and went down to see I think it was Man on the run show which was alot of fun to watch. I also think it was Monte Carlo night. We went down to the casino awhile got our picture taken had a couple of drinks and went on our way. Tues Juneau Ordered room service for breakfast, disembarked the ship at 7:00 am. This was our shortest port. Had a wonderful sunny day! We had nothing planned so we did the city tour along with the Mendenhall glacier tour. Paid 28.00 per person for both tours. Had a wonderful tour guide Tony who was half Tinglit and from the Raven family. He was really informative and we learned alot from him. Mendenhall Glacier is not to be missed. Breathtaking! We also saw bear scat. LOL(we knew because it had a little sign next to it) We got back to the ship and lunched again in Versailles. We were suppose to go to Sawyers Glacier but it was too icy we were diverted to Endicott Arm and then to Dawes Glacier. We had dinner again at Endless Summer Nights. Then we went to the Spinnaker lounge. I want to say that this night was the not so newlywed game. Wed Skagway We had a private tour with Dave from Dyea Dave. He picked us up at the pier and we started our journey to Cacross and Emerald Lake. It was a beautiful drive with Dave as our guide. He really knows his stuff and I was in awe listening to him tell us how it really is. He showed us the real Skagway. We made many stops along the way. We saw a young black bear eating dandelions and we took tons of pictures. We did get to see Emerald Lake along with the real town of Cacross not the "Disney land for tourists that they have built" no offense to anyone that goes there. We just wanted to see something different on our tour. He told us he would take us there if we wanted but we saw too many tour buses and we did want to get back to Skagway. We did get our passports stamped, stopped at a local diner and had the best fry bread ever. Then we headed back. Went back to Versailles for lunch and we had reservations for Le Bistro for dinner. I went to the spa before dinner and the kids swam. Le Bistro was excellent! Dh had the escargot and lobster. I had the medallions of beef which were very tender. We went to the show at the Stardust. Thurs Prince Rupert BC Rain Rain GO AWAY! Ok, I really went into this with an open mind. I figured that I had read a couple of bad reviews but how bad could it be? Well folks, it is! NCL has a monopoly here. No other cruise ship comes through here. I had wanted a local excursion no such luck. NCL has them all contracted to them. We did bite and did the Soaring with the eagle's tour. It lasted about an hour and a half. We did go out on a little boat and they threw out some fat and out of nowhere we were surrounded by Eagles. It was amazing! After the tour we walked the town and realized there was nothing! We went back to the ship, ate at Aqua then headed for the Stardust. We saw Cirque of the Pacific it was enjoyable! Went down to the Chocoholic Buffet! Wow! (Now I have heard people complain how long the lines are and such) It took us about 20 minutes in line to get in. This was held in Versailles. I heard a lady say she wished they would turn on the lights! Yes the lights were dim but for a reason. I guess she wanted to eat chocolate mush along a stream of water. There were many ice sculptures and chocolate sculptures all over the place. Once you were in they did not hurry you up to get out. You had a choice to either eat there or take it to your room or any other place you chose. Even if you don't like chocolate you should go at least to see. Friday Last day at sea Happy 4th of July! Woke up late, ate at Blue Lagoon. My mother and I headed for the disembarkation presentation with Ricky the Cruise Director. Went to the spa and to trivia more about that later. Basically just really enjoyed our last day aboard. We went to the anniversary reception for cake and champagne. There were 14 couples signed up and only 3 showed up. Oh well more cake and champagne for us! We went to Versailles for dinner. Went to see Murray's last show then headed for the Spinnaker for Bud Anderson. It was a great show but too many people. It should have had it in the Stardust. Never ceases to amaze me the rudeness of some people. People were sitting in the aisles and people would just go and stand in front of them. Sat we had a late disembarkation, woke up late had breakfast and headed on out we had reservations for the Radisson. My husband had an early flight to Hawaii the next day. We also bumped into several people at the hotel that were also on our cruise. It is a great hotel fantastic price. It is right across from the airport. They have a 24 hour shuttle and the kids enjoyed the indoor pool. Comments Over all I would give this cruise 4.5 overall it totally met our expectations. We did have 3 towel animals left for us. Not that it mattered but I have seen people post about them. I was disappointed with passengers that did not follow the rules. We went to many shows at the Stardust that said no minors in the first two rows and they were many minors in these two rows. Also annoying were kids that were just running loose all over the ship. Had seen several kids on the glass elevators pressing all the buttons just cursing up and down. I have my two pretty much on a leash. I did talk to a rep about this not so much as a complaint but as a comment. She said this cruise was pretty tame as they only had about 700 kids. I went to Movie trivia at the Cinema it was overrun by teenagers. They were screaming the adults. I got called a liar by one of them because they did not hear me say the answer first. The people in front of me left. I looked back and saw some of them making out. I felt like telling them to get a room. If you go on the Star make sure to play, "The quest" our team won second place. All I can say is that my husband is a good sport. Comments overheard on the ship People upset about the automatic tipping (Hello read the website) People upset about paying at the specialty restaurants and having to make reservations (again website and read your daily) We did talk to Lucia the cruise consultant onboard and she would not give up any more details on the F3's We did buy our cruise rewards certificate We are definitely ready to cruise again! A BIG HUG AND THANK YOU! To all!!! I used all the info I got from this site to make this the best cruise possible! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Embarkment: There was 6 of us. We took the Express Shuttle from the airport to Pier 66 $91 round trip. A taxi would be about$35-$40 one way. Got to the Star about 1pm. Check in was pretty smooth. Got our mimosas & took our carry-ons to ... Read More
Embarkment: There was 6 of us. We took the Express Shuttle from the airport to Pier 66 $91 round trip. A taxi would be about$35-$40 one way. Got to the Star about 1pm. Check in was pretty smooth. Got our mimosas & took our carry-ons to our rooms. Went to Versailles for lunch. Service a little slow but food was good. Went to explore. Nice ship, I'm not going to compare it with other ships, no need. I really liked the Carousel Lounge because they had 4 real carousels! Did our boat drill & explored some more. A little warm, but as soon as we started moving it cooled right down. Ate at the Aqua, to casual for me and again service a little slow. Food was always good. CABIN: We had a port side balcony. Nice room. Bathroom: there was a divider for the toilet, the opening was only 17" a little small. Shower was good size. Shampoo & soap dispenser was not good, you had to push the button several times to get a little. Good closet, 4 shelves on the left and about 20 hangers. 3 drawers next to closet and 2 shelves above the fridge. Coffee maker on make up table w/1 electrical outlet. Standard hair dryer. Desk has 2 shelves, lower shelf has TV. Balcony is about 11X5 and has 2 chairs & 1 table. Public Areas: Main dinning rooms Aqua, nice but a little to causal for me - Versailles very lovely! Sign out front states "No Jeans Allowed" but they do not enforce it. 1st day at sea has lobster and then again on Thursday along with the Chocoholic Buffet. They don't let you go in early for just pictures. Get in line EARLY! Endless Summer very nice! Blue Lagoon Cafe' very small. Market Cafe' nicely laid out, but not enough seats/tables. They also have the menu's of all the restaurants in the morning. Check them out first thing, you may want a "Specialty Restaurant". Ice Cream Bar...not enough! The Grill-hardly open. Pools are very nice and the lay out of the pool area is really good. The Spinnaker Lounge is the best place to watch the whales. The gym has 14 treadmills, 6 elliptical machines, 6 bikes, and all the regular machines you find at a gym. The only windows are in front of 3 of the bikes and the yoga/free weight area. Every machine has a flat screen TV. I would rather watch the ocean. First Sea Day: Formal night, portraits start @ 5pm get in line early. Comedy by Bill Hildebrant-good MON-Ketchikan: Went fishing w/Northern Lights Charter, didn't catch much but he brought in Bald Eagles like they were his pets! We got back an hour before leaving and Market Cafe' was easy-1 hour later PACKED. Picture sale 20% off - Murray the magician was ok. Main dinning room menu was just ok, if you plan on doing a "Specialty Restaurant" this would be a good day. TUE-Juneau: Got there early 6:30 Did the Taku Lodge Flight & Feast=Awesome! Would do this again in a heart beat! Flight was great, got to lodge, walked around, ate & then a female black bear and her 2 cubs were in the rear of the lodge. Got great pictures! Flew back to the dock and walked to where you pick up the shuttle. The ship is docked about 1 mile away from town, if you don't walk back to the ship the line for the shuttle is long by noon. It does go quickly though. When you get to the ship, take the stairs if there is a lot of people! We left Juneau late, a passenger had passed away and they took the body off the ship. Very sad! Tried to go to Sawyer Glacier but to many ice chunks coming out of the Tracy Arm. We changed to the Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier. What a great change! Mountain goats all over the mountains-binoculars are a must!! We also saw a bear, seals, whales and of course the ever present Bald Eagles! The glacier was great. I would do Dawes over Sawyer any day! We were so caught up with the view we went to Market Cafe' for dinner because it was 8:30! WED-Skagway: Docked early again 6am could get off by 6:30 but nothing really open. Shopped a little, got a rental mini van from Avis, shipped 2 boxes of stuff (some dirty clothes) back home! Took the car to Emerald Lake (thanks Yukon) On the way we saw about 10-15 Dall Sheep, eagles, and a MOOSE! We stopped at Carabou Crossing for ice cream and they have fake sheep high on the hill! How bad is that?! Great trip. Great weather, unlike the train we stopped and took about 100 pictures! Went to Reid Falls behind the cemetery. Got back to the ship by 4pm and the wind came up, tough to walk back. THR-Prince Rupert: Pretty much a sea day. Got to Prince Rupert early about 3:15 and eagles galore! Go to the left of the boat dock towards little shops. They feed the eagles and you get sooooo close! This town doesn't have much yet, but I think it will be good. Lobster night again, and the chocolate buffet. The China Star Acrobats are GREAT! Disembarkation: We did the Express and had breakfast @ Versailles about 8am they close @ 8:30am Got our luggage from the room then got in line to leave about 9:15 was off the ship in 15 minutes. Line was long, but always moving. US Customs, fast! Went to the Express Shuttle podium to the right of the docks, waited 15 minutes and got onto a van. Very easy! One last note. This "Freestyle Cruising" is ok, but when they say "resort casual" I wonder if they think Motel 6 is a resort. If you have a sign that says "No Jeans" enforce it, people will go to the other 3 to 4 other restaurants! On the formal/not so formal night my husband thought we were at a NASCAR venue! I still love NCL, the food, service, & ship were wonderful and the price was right since we paid for our friends to come with us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Let me start out by saying I am sorry this review is so long. We just wanted to make sure we put as much information in it as possible for future cruisers. We are 36 and 44 and this was our sixth cruise. Three cruises with NCL, one with ... Read More
Let me start out by saying I am sorry this review is so long. We just wanted to make sure we put as much information in it as possible for future cruisers. We are 36 and 44 and this was our sixth cruise. Three cruises with NCL, one with Carnival, one with Royal Caribbean and one with Radisson. If you want the short of it, it was almost a perfect cruise and well worth any amount of money spent. I would highly recommend getting a room with a balcony for this cruise. You will never regret it. Pre-cruise. Seattle: Day one - We arrived in Seattle two days early. Flight from Dallas was uneventful and we were actually early (about 1 hour early) because they had changed our flight time. Since we had rented a car through Hotwire we were afraid that we would not be able to pick it up, but they had it waiting for us and did not charge us extra. With road construction at the airport, we had a little trouble getting out to where we needed to be, but finally found our way. We had also booked a room in the Seattle Sheraton through Hotwire. We wanted to drop our luggage off and then go for a drive across Whidbey Island which is located north of Seattle. We were concerned that the hotel would not let us have our room since we were so early, but they did. We took our luggage up to the room, freshened up and then headed to our first destination. We drove north to a town called Mukilteo and had lunch at Ivar's next to the ferry terminal. We had the Alaskan Halibut Fish and Chips ($14.00) and Prawn and Chips ($13.00). Both were delicious. We then boarded the ferry and went to Whidbey Island. How beautiful the drive is through Whidbey Island. We were able to stop at Ft. Casey, incredible. We saw several bunny rabbits and three deer. We went all the way around Whidbey Island and saw a few more deer. Crossed the Deception Pass Bridge and found our way back to I5 and headed south to Seattle again. Stopped at the Tulalip Casino and Resort on the way back, spent a little time in their casino, had fun, won some money, lost some money, and headed back to Seattle to the waterfront and dinner at The Fisherman's Restaurant and Bar (Pier 57). We arrived after 5PM and found a parking lot that had a flat fee to park from like 5PM to midnight or something like that. Parking was $10.00. We had a very nice dinner at The Fisherman. I HIGHLY recommend the Dungeness Crab Cocktail ($12.95). VERY good. My DP (Domestic Partner) had Blacked Stuffed Cod ($22.00) and I had the Blacked Mahi Mahi ($20.00). I guess living so close to New Orleans, we are spoiled to good blackened cooking, as The Fisherman's left a little bit to be desired. I still recommend this restaurant, just maybe try something else. Anyway, back to the hotel for a night of rest. After we got back to the hotel, we realized our air conditioner was not working. I will not go into all of the specifics, but will just tell you it took from 9PM our first night there to 9PM the next night to get it repaired. This was after two calls to the front desk and one trip to the front desk to express my concern at not having air conditioning. Day two - We were still on Dallas time so we woke up early. Got showered and dressed and were in the rental car and headed to Mt. Rainier. Stopped on the way in a town called Enumclaw and had breakfast at Charlie's Cafe. The food was wonderful. We ordered a Blueberry Pancake ($3.95) and both shared it. It was VERY good. We each then had a breakfast sandwich, one was ham, egg and cheese on toast and the other bacon, egg and cheese on toast ($6.95 each). It was delicious. Not all of the roads around Mt. Rainier were open at this time of the year, however we were able to drive all the way around the mountain. It was just beautiful and well worth the trip. We stopped on the other side of the mountain and had lunch in the Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company in Elbe. I had the lasagna and my DP had the chopped brisket on a bun. He liked his. Mine was just ok. Sorry I forgot to make note of the cost, but I would guess around $20.00 for the two of us. We then proceeded to the Sea-Tac airport to drop the rental car off and catch a cab back to the hotel. It was a painless process. Cab from the airport to our downtown hotel was $37.00 plus tip during rush hour. Once we got back to the hotel and freshened up, we caught a cab to the Seattle Waterfront ($11.60 plus tip). This night we ate at Anthony's (Pier 66). We both had the grilled King Salmon with Mashed Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas ($38.00 each). My DP liked his, however this was my first time to try fresh grilled Salmon and I have to say, not for me. We did start the dinner with Shrimp Gumbo ($4.95) and it was very good. Back to the hotel, air conditioner finally repaired, and a good night's sleep. In the morning we could see the Norwegian Star at the pier from our hotel window. We showered and got all of our stuff together and went down stairs to The Daily Grill. We had oatmeal and French toast and it was about $35.00 with tip. The food was good, but expensive. If you stay at the Seattle Sheraton and are going to eat breakfast anywhere near it, expect to pay about $30 to $40 for two for breakfast, unless you can find a McDonald's, etc. One lesson we learned from our pre-cruise. If we had to do it over again we would stay at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront (as it is directly across the street from Pier 66) or the Seattle Edgewater hotel (right next to Pier 66). We paid about $159.00 a night for our Seattle Sheraton and I believe the Marriott would have cost us about $250.00 a night. It would have been well worth it being so close to the places we wanted to have dinner. Cab fare and parking would have made up for the cost difference. We wouldn't have needed to take a cab anywhere except from the airport to the hotel. It is so close to Pier 66 that you could even walk your luggage right across the street to check in for the cruise. The Cruise Day one -We had been on the NCL Star last November to the Mexican Riviera and were excited to be sailing on her again. We were at Pier 66 by 10AM and passengers were still unloading from the previous cruise. Finally about 11ish we were able to check our luggage and then get in the line to get our keycard, etc. When you walk in the door there are two lines available. One is for passengers in suites and it is to the right. We got in that line (were the only ones in any line even though there were several people waiting outside) and were greeted by a NCL person who said they would escort us through security and then on to the waiting lounge upstairs. Once in the lounge, we were greeted by our Concierge Simone and then lead over to check in. Simone said when she saw our names on the VIP list earlier in the week she got excited to see returning guests, that it made her feel like it was family coming to visit. She is so sweet. We got our keycards and Simone then went over all of the options available to us as guest in a suite. We had a list of desired reservations ready for her for the specialty restaurants on board. We had some pastry, juice, coffee and then she introduced us to our butler Leo. We saw our butler from the Mexican Riviera cruise Roy, but he was now the butler for the Garden Villas. He came up to us and welcomed us back and explained to us that Leo was going to be our butler and that he was new. He kind of gave us a look and we knew we should not expect much from Leo. Our feelings were correct. Not a big deal for us really because we hardly use the services of the butler. Finally they announced boarding had been cleared and Leo took us on board and to our suite. We were in a AE cabin Aft section, 9232. Same cabin we had been in previously and it was exactly the same as before. As far as 2.0, no changes have been made yet for suites that we could see other than the daily snack and fruit selection. Cagney's was now available for breakfast and lunch for suite guests. I do not know if that is part of 2.0 or not, but it was not on the NCL Star last November when we were onboard. We filled out our daily snack and fruit selections, put the cards on the door and then headed to lunch at Cagney's. Normally we take this time to explore the ship, but we both remembered her well from the last cruise, so we just went and enjoyed our lunch. On the way to lunch we bumped into the room stewards, Dominador (goes by Ador) and Charlton. They had been our room stewards on the last cruise and made us feel right at home when they said they remembered us and were glad to have us back on board. Probably two of the best room stewards we have ever had and we were THRILLED to have them again on this cruise. Believe me, if you have them as your room stewards, you literally want for nothing as far as your cabin goes. Any request that they hear you wish for, they will do everything they can to get for you. Lunch at Cagney's was delicious. We both had Grilled New York Strip Steak and fries. At 3:30PM they had the Munster drill. It went very smoothly and quickly. We were back in our cabin before we knew it and our luggage was waiting for us. We spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and getting ready for dinner in Versailles. We both had two suitcases, yet we had at least half of the drawers and cubbies left untouched when we had unpacked every thing. There is plenty of storage/closet space in this suite. We finally got all settled in and there was a knock on the door and it was someone delivering "treats for our sail away"... a bottle of white wine, produced in Washington state and a tray of cheeses, crackers, fruit and nuts. There was also a bottle of sparkling wine chilling for us when we first got to the cabin. We opened the bottle of wine and poured a glass for each of us and toasted Seattle as we sailed away. We corked the wine and put it in the fridge to save for later. I do want to take a moment and talk about the suite we had. It was a Penthouse Suite, cat. AE. I think because of where it is located, you give up square footage of stateroom space for added balcony space. It has a wonderful wrap around balcony if you are in this suite, decks 8 and 9 aft. For some reason this suite deck 10 aft has part of the wrap around balcony blocked off. The stateroom itself though is rather small for a suite. It really did not matter to us as it was plenty of room for the two of us. I haven't researched it, but I would not be surprised if this isn't the smallest suite in the fleet. I honestly can not remember what we had for dinner, but every meal we had at Versailles was delicious. We had heard of the long waits for dinner at Versailles. Our experience was that if you go during "peak" dinning hours, say 5:30PM to 7:30PM you will have a wait. The longest wait we had was maybe 15 or 20 minutes long and it was during the peak hours and on the first lobster night. Time passed quickly while waiting though as we had nice conversations with people waiting around us. We were guest of C.A. S. (Casino at Sea's) so we went to the Star Club Casino at 6PM to pick up our players cards and see who was still on the staff that we knew from our last trip. The main casino host was there and I feel horrible that I have forgotten her name, but she is just lovely and we enjoy her very much. Very nice, very friendly and you can tell she really wants to make your casino experience a fun one. There was a huge line waiting to fill out the form to get their casino cards, so when I saw the casino host look up and see us and say hello to us and welcome us back, I asked her if we needed to fill out the form since we were guest of the casino. She said no and that she already had our cards ready. She handed them to us and we told her we would see her at 8PM when the casino opened and off we were to go back to the cabin and rest. Speaking of the casino, up until this trip, I never saw the casino on NCL or any cruise line for that matter give away free drinks unless you were a "VIP" or maybe if you had just hit a jackpot on a machine, etc. Now as long as you have a player's card and are actively playing on a slot machine or at the tables, etc, they will give you free drinks. This must be very new because when we would order a coke or bottled water or coffee, the serving staff wanted to see our player's card so they could make note of our name and the number on our card. When they would see our card they would say, "Oh, you don't have a purple card?". Never really knew what they meant by that, but oh well... as long as we got our soda, coffee or water, I didn't care. Free drinks did include alcoholic beverages, but we do not drink those when we are gambling, for obvious reasons, hehehehe. The Star Club Casino is rather small but it does have plenty of tables to play at and there is a wide variety of slot machines as far as type and denomination. They have $.01, $.05, $.10, $.25, $.50, $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, $25.00 and $100.00 as far as I could see. They had moved several of the slot machines around since the last time we were there, and made many of our favorite $0.25 slot machines into $1.00 machines. We usually play $0.25, $1.00 and $5.00 slots, but I was disappointed that most of our favorites were now $1.00 because that meant we would not be able to play them as much. We played in the casino for a few hours that night after the casino opened and had a good time. Day two: was a sea day and we used this day to rest up for the ports of call that were coming ahead. Doing so much sightseeing in Washington the few days before the cruise had worn me out so it was nice to be able to sit on the balcony and watch the beautiful scenery pass by as we sailed. Had breakfast and lunch in Cagney's but had dinner again in Versailles and it was as wonderful as the night before. Some people say that it is a problem with NCL that you have to pay to eat in a specialty restaurant in order to get good food. That is absolutely not correct. You pay to eat in the specialty restaurants to get a different atmosphere than eating in the main dinning room, etc. Or maybe even pay to get a different type of food, Steaks, Asian Infusion, Pacific Rim, French, etc. But the food is just as good in the included restaurants in my honest opinion. There were a lot of things for folks to do that day, but we pretty much stayed to ourselves and just enjoyed each others company and the beautiful ship. Speaking of the beautiful ship, I do think the ship is beautiful, however I also think it is getting to the point it might could use some updating... some refurbishment. But with that said, it is an EXTREMELY clean ship. Every where you go there is someone cleaning something. Day three: Port of call Ketchikan. We had booked the excursion Misty Fjord and Wilderness Explorer hosted by Allen Marine Tours ($159.00 PP). The boat used for this tour is actually built by Allen Marine and is a fantastic boat. It was very nice and very comfortable. Off we went on our tour of Misty Fjord. The beauty we saw on this excursion, words or pictures would never do justice. The mountains were so big and beautiful it made me feel small. I am NOT religious at all, but all I kept thinking the whole time we were in Misty Fjord was that this must be where God lives. It was well worth the money for this tour. While going through Misty Fjord we came upon this one area that had somewhat of a "grassy beach" area. There was an ENORMOUS Brown Bear feeding on the grass in this area. The captain guided the boat to this area and we watched the bear until it disappeared into the forest. Of the tours we took for this cruise, if I had to choose only one, it would be a toss up between this tour and the one we take next, Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer. By the time we got back, from our tour of Misty Fjord, it was past time for us to be back on board so we did not get to explore Ketchikan at all. Of course since we had booked the tour through NCL, the ship was waiting for us and had not left. One note - Excursions for Alaska do seem to be more expensive than on other cruises we have taken, but I guess that is because they only have a few months to make their living in Alaska, at least if their living is from tourism. Dinner tonight was in Cagney's ($20.00 PP) and we had a delicious meal. Again, the staff was extremely friendly and took care of our every need. After dinner we spent some time in the Star Club Casino and then went to bed to get some rest for our day in Juneau. Day Four: Docked early in Juneau. Here you get off the ship at the pier and they have buses that take you for no charge to the "downtown" area of Juneau. Where the bus lets you off is at the base of the Mount Roberts Tram. There were ten or so booths at the parking lot where you are let off that you can buy local independent tours. We bought a bus pass to Mendenhall Glacier for $14.00 per person. This was a 20 minute ride on a comfortable bus out to the Mendenhall Glacier. The tour buses let you off in a small parking lot that is a short walk to the Mendenhall Glacier and the Mendenhall Pavilion. You can walk directly across the street to get to either of those or you can take a scenic walk on a trail by a creek and it is a little bit longer. That is the way we decided to go and it was a nice pretty walk. The Mendenhall Glacier is beautiful. We stayed probably an hour and headed back to town on the next bus that was there to pick us up. I believe they run about every 20 to 30 minutes. The tour bus we were on also stops at the pier where Celebrity was docked. That is on the other side of downtown from where the NCL ships dock so we got off there and walked through town, stopping in several shops and buying a few souvenirs. We saw some very nice jewelry along the way. We had planned on taking the Mount Roberts Tram ($24.00 PP), however Juneau was very overcast the day we were there and we were afraid if we did that, we would get to the top of Mount Roberts and would not be able to see panoramic views, so we decided to sit and have a cup of coffee and enjoy Juneau one last moment before we boarded the ship again. ($4.95 for my small vanilla latte and I think $2.50 for the hot chocolate my DP had.) We took the shuttle back to the ship and went to our stateroom to rest a few minutes before we had to meet our group that was taking the Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer tour ($183.00 PP). This tour leaves about 30 minutes before the ship sails and then after the tour is over it meets up with the ship and transfers us back on board. This tour was also hosted by Allen Marine Tours and again was a very comfortable tour boat. Because of the ice that was still in Tracy Arm Fjord, we had to be diverted to Endicott Fjord and the Dawes Glacier. It was amazingly beautiful. On the way we encountered a Humpback Whale that was playing. Our boat came within probably 20 yards of her. From what the tour guide said they do not know why whales "play" like this, but she was rolling from side to side, splashing her big fins in the water, showing us her belly, and then she would turn back right side up and raise up and look at us and do it all over again. This was amazing to watch. Once we reached the Dawes Glacier they pulled the boat as close to the glacier as they could and we are guessing we were about 200 yards away. At times they would turn off the engines of the boat and we could hear the crackling of the glacier that you read about. Also, we saw a lot of calving. This is when big chunks of ice fall off the glacier and become icebergs. That was truly an amazing thing to see and hear. Every time a big chunk fell off of Dawes Glacier it sounded like a shot gun blast. There were also a bunch of pregnant Harbor Seals floating along on the ice in this part of the Fjord. They come to this spot because they know Orca's do not come to this part of the Fjord to feed so they and their babies are safe. After about an hour or so there with just our tour boat, we noticed the NCL Star had pulled up about a ½ to ¾ a mile away. We stayed at the glacier for about 15 minutes more, and then headed over to board the ship. Once back on board we freshened up in our stateroom and then went to La Trattoria for dinner. This was probably my favorite meal of the cruise because I could order one of my most favorite dishes, Spaghetti Carbonara. OH HOW I LOVE that dish and it was delicious. For this restaurant, they block off part of the buffet area with huge big thick curtains. I have heard people say that they felt like they were still in the buffet but I never felt that way at all.. In fact it wasn't until we were leaving dinner that night that my DP reminded me we were in the buffet area. They had nice table clothes on the tables. Had the tables arranged differently than in the buffet area. It just looked really nice. Surprise, surprise, after dinner we went to the Star Club Casino for some gambling time. After a few hours, we went back to the stateroom to rest up for Skagway. Day Five: Port of call was Skagway. Here we had booked the Ultimate Yukon and White Pass Railway tour ($179.00 PP). This is where you board a motor coach (bus) and drive up past the Canadian boarder to the Yukon Territory. We stopped at a neat place, Caribou Crossing, and they provided a barbeque chicken lunch. We were able to play with two puppies and watch the most adorable little tiny baby mountain goats play. They also offered dog sledding rides for an additional cost. Then we were taken to the town of Caribou Crossing. A cute little tiny town. All along the way from Skagway we stopped at several places to take photo's including the world's smallest desert and Emerald Lake. After Caribou Crossing we were taken to a train depot where we waited for the next White Pass Railway train to pick us up. Along the way up to Yukon Territory and on the way to the train depot we did see several bear. The train takes you back down to Skagway along a very scenic path. Once back in Skagway they have "motor coaches" waiting for you to take you back to the ship. On our tour we were 15 to 20 minutes late getting back to the ship. Again we weren't worried about that because we had purchased the tour through NCL. Honestly, I do not recommend this tour. The "motor coach" they used for us had the smallest seats. Like I have said, I'm a big guy. I certainly did not enjoy having to crawl over people while going down the isle to my seat and I am very sure they did not enjoy that either. If you just HAVE to go to the Yukon Territory I recommend renting a car in Skagway and driving it yourself. That way you can stop where you want for as long as you want. To rent a car in Skagway is about $100.00 plus any gas that you use. The rental cars are not new. Some are four or five years old. The rental car companies such as Avis and Hertz do not accept coupons or specials in Skagway. If you don't want to rent your own car, what I recommend you do is take the White Pass Railway round trip. It is a 20 mile trip each way. Next time we go to Skagway, this is probably what we will do, as that would have left us time to explore in the town of Skagway. Dinner tonight was in Teppanyaki Room, another favorite of mine. It was delicious and entertaining ($25.00 PP). After dinner we went to the Star Club Casino for some gambling action. I may be mistaken, but I believe this was their Monte Carlo night. It may have even been the night before. Whichever night that was we had a lot of fun in the casino. They have music playing as well as entertainment from members of the crew putting on shows native to their home countries. The casino also gives out "door prizes". I won $20.00 in free slot play. Even if you are not a gambler, go to the casino for Monte Carlo night. I think you will have fun. Day six: Port of call was Prince Rupert. About an hour before we arrived at Prince Rupert they had a special Bingo where the prize was $10,000.00 if you could Bingo within 46 numbers drawn and if past the first 46 numbers drawn, a smaller sized jackpot would be awarded. This was $60.00 for both of us to have the Bingo machines and it was fun. A lady did Bingo, but on the 48th number drawn. She won $900.00+. We arrive at Prince Rupert around 4:00PM. We went on the tour Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Viewing ($199.00 PP) hosted by Adventure Tours. With this tour they take you via boat to a Grizzly preserve. The boat is a very nice boat; however we found the staff to be EXTREMELY rude. There are actually so many examples I could give of their rudeness that it blows my mind. It is amazing to me I could have so many for just a 5 ½ hour tour. The worst to me was when we were actually at the preserve. There was a small Grizzly bear on the shore and the boat had pulled up to watch it. There were people up on the top deck, people down on the bottom deck and then about 20 of us in the main cabin of the boat watching the bear out of the windows. This one woman was so excited to see the bear that she said, "Oh look, it's a cub". You could hear the excitement in her voice. Well the main tour guide was in the cabin of the boat and started yelling at her saying things like "You are not the experts on the bears, we are, don't be giving people incorrect information. That is not a cub, it's a small female". When I say yelling, I don't mean he was screaming yelling at her, but he had his voice VERY raised. For five minutes he admonished her for giving people wrong information and why she was incorrect, etc. There were several times things like that happened not just with him, but with other staff members. We saw just as many bears on the other tours we were on and it took our entire time up while we were in Prince Rupert. In fact, this was another tour that had gone past the time we were supposed to be back on the ship. Especially for people who need to budget their excursion money and need to pick and choose, PLEASE stay away from this excursion. Your money could be spent SO much better on other excursions and they aren't as expensive. Needless to say we really saw nothing of Prince Rupert. Friends we met on the ship said they had a nice time just walking around Prince Rupert. Dinner this night was back to Cagney's and was as delicious as always and service was excellent. Day seven: Last day at sea. Nothing much to report about here other than we spent a lot of time in the Star Club Casino. Yes, as you have gathered we are casino people. That is usually the only extra thing I like to do on a cruise ship. Not really into the shows, etc. I will say we were constantly amazed by how much activities the ship provided for those who wanted something to do. We had breakfast and lunch in Cagney's and the quality was consistent with the previous meals there. Dinner we had in La Trattoria and of course I had my beloved Spaghetti Carbonara and LOVED it again. Service was terrific. After dinner we went back to the cabin and asked our butler to have a cheese tray delivered to the room as we were having guests after dinner to split the bottle of sparkling wine we still had not opened. We told him we were having them around 8PM. He showed up with the tray about 8:15PM, but that was ok because our guest had been held up at the show they were attending. Tom and Alyson we had a great time getting to know you guys and hope to see you again some time. After our guest left we packed up our suitcases, placed them out in the hall, watched a little TV and went to bed. Final day on board we arrived in Seattle around 7 or 7:30AM. We had a LONG day ahead of us because we had a late flight out of Sea-Tac airport. So our plans were to sleep in until about 8AM, get up have breakfast in Cagney's, then return to the stateroom and just wait as long as we could before getting off of the ship. About 10 minutes to 7AM the butler calls and said he must come in our room. We told him we were still in bed and not dressed. He said that he must come into the room now to prepare the dining table for the next guest because he had to leave the ship early for his vacation. He hung up the phone and a minute later the door bell rang. My DP got up and quickly put on his robe and sure enough it was Leo, our butler. He pushed past my DP and had a lady with him to help him. He cleared all of our stuff off the dinning table and placed two cards there (the cards where you request what fruit you want each day and what snacks each evening) and then turned to us and said he was going home today and needed to do that before he left. I do not mean to sound insensitive about him going home. I know they are onboard the ship for like 10 months at a time, etc. But this was the last day of our vacation aboard the NCL Star and we wanted to sleep in as much as we could. Honestly I just felt it was inexcusable. Our room stewards must have agreed because when we saw them in the hallway when we were going to breakfast they stopped us and apologized repeatedly saying they tried to stop him from doing that but they couldn't. I told them that they had been excellent all week and they had nothing to apologize for. It wasn't them that did that to us. When Leo was in our stateroom cleaning off the dinning table I seriously thought about not giving him his tip for the week. I can't believe I had that thought, but I did. I kept thinking how he really had done VERY little for us all week and how it wouldn't be fair to give him the money that really should have been split between the two cabin stewards, Ador and Charlton and our concierge Simone. All three of them had been beyond great and helped us have the most perfect cruise. I just felt it was unfair that Leo, the butler, got money that really should have gone to them. However, I felt bad for him so I told him there was a thank you card to him on the vanity with his name on it and to please get it before he left the room. The tip was inside the thank you card. In summary, it was as close to a perfect cruise that we have ever been on. I really have very little negatives to say about the cruise and really VERY little negative that NCL had their hand in. The beauty you see in Alaska to me makes any negatives seem trivial. I just get amazed when I read a review where someone is complaining about their cruise, especially this cruise that I was on and knew how great the service was. Negatives: Biggest was the tour Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Viewing. OH to be able to go back and NOT do that tour and have saved $400.00 Leo, the butler, not speaking English very well and not understanding English very well made it very difficult for the few times we did need something from him. Also the butler basically barging into our room at 7AM the final day of the cruise, still inexcusable to me. Market Cafe buffet. To me this left a lot to be desired. Not that the food was bad or anything, but the choices did not change much from day to day. I think we ate lunch there twice. I know being a cruise ship it might be hard to have a variation daily for the buffet, but it would be nice if possible. Positives: Staff of NCL was beyond belief in how friendly they were, how they always greeted you with a smile and a hello, enjoy your day, something... They were superb. Specifically I would like to mention Simone, our concierge, Ador and Charlton. Those three went out of their way to make sure this cruise was a memory that will last us a lifetime. We tipped them well, but to me, no tip would really express how grateful we were to them. Casino at Sea's - To my knowledge it is the only program like it for any cruise line. Not only were we guests of Casino at Sea's for this cruise but they converted our points to a $700.00 credit on our onboard account, which paid for about ½ of the cost of our excursions. That, along with the staff of the casino is a HUGE plus. Food, food service, and the dEcor of the dining areas, where always top notch. I have read some reviews where they bash the food served on NCL. I have even read reviews where the food served on the same ship this same cruise was ALL inedible. I don't know how these people could have eaten on the same ship that we were on and every meal be horrible when every meal we ate was terrific, specialty restaurant or not. Itinerary: We loved every port we were in and wish we had been given even more time in the ports so we could have explored the cities more. I honestly could write another ten pages about positives for this cruise. It is a memory we will have for the rest of our lives. What is it the Visa commercial says? Priceless. Thank you NCL for that wonderful memory. I have tried to make this review as fare and even as I can. If it seems like I was being too positive, it is because this truly was that great of a cruise. I have had people ask me if maybe that was because we were in a suite and we get treated differently. We do not walk around the ship with signs hanging from our necks saying "Suite people here". The service we received I saw every one else receiving as well. If you have already booked this cruise, your money has been WELL spent and I know you will love your experience. If you are looking at booking a cruise, you can't go wrong with this one. I don't care what cruise line you go with, I don't care what cruise you take, if you go on the cruise with a positive attitude and don't sweat the small stuff, you will have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was not our first cruise. My husband and I last sailed on HAL in a Deluxe Verandah Suite. We spent a lot of time comparing the two cruises and found that in most cases we liked NCL better. We were not expecting that, we thought Hal ... Read More
This was not our first cruise. My husband and I last sailed on HAL in a Deluxe Verandah Suite. We spent a lot of time comparing the two cruises and found that in most cases we liked NCL better. We were not expecting that, we thought Hal would be hard to beat. We are both 40 and have done quite a bit of travelling. We are from Central Florida and flew to Seattle a day early. We stayed at the Mayflower Park. We were very happy with the accommodations. The location is excellent. I would recommend a drink in the bar to anyone. It has two huge windows and the people watching is great. Locals actually hang out here. We were able to walk to all of the sights we wanted to see and do some shopping. Saturday morning we had breakfast at Lola. The food was delicious. We arrived at the pier at about 1215. There was a long line leading to the building. Everyone had to wait. The line led to a large room where passports and cruise documents were inspected and luggage was taken and x-rayed. At this point the line that had already split in two like at a theme park and then the two split into about six lines. The joke was that they all led to the single x-ray machine for luggage scanning. This was the single worst experience all week. After dropping off the luggage we preceded back outside to the next door and another line. Here is where having a PH Suite started to pay off. We got in a different line and were expedited through security and were then escorted to the VIP Lounge. Check in was quick and painless. We met briefly with Simone our Concierge and were escorted to our suite by Leo, our butler. As we stepped on the ship the announcement of all rooms are now ready was made. Our suite was on Deck 9, portside corner with a wraparound balcony. The wraparound was especially nice in the Tracy Arm. The room was a nice size with a large closet that opened on two sides-one side near the cabin door and the other in the vanity area. There was lots of storage space. It was well designed. We thought that even though it was nice, our suite on HAL was a little nicer. There are some signs of wear and tear on the walls and furniture. We loved having the refrigerator. We never found a price list for the mini bar items and Leo had no idea about the prices. We filled the extra space with diet coke we carried on. A split of sparkling wine was on ice waiting for us. The Seattle Maritime festival was going on and we got to watch the tugboat races off our balcony. It was like a private show for the Star. Other room amenities dribbled at different times. Flowers and strawberries came later. I was pretty sure we should have robes in the room, so we called Leo and they were promptly delivered. We went to sign up for the package for daily spa use and got the tour. We enjoyed the spa and the hydro pools.The large aft facing windows and teak lounge chairs were nice. HAL really does this better, though. HAL has a hydro pool with stronger jets and room with heated loungers can't be beaten. Lunch was a burger by the pool while finding our way around. Dinner was in Versailles. It is a lovely dining room. We had good service. We especially liked the Cooking Light menu items. The SF coconut cheesecake was especially good. That evening we went to the spa and skipped the shows. Day 2-at sea. The seas were a rough 7-12 feet. I woke up several times during the night and finally realized that the closet doors were opening and banging shut with the ship movement. That day I would guess that almost half of the pax stayed in their rooms. Many were very sick. We were very lucky and were feeling good. We had breakfast in the room. It was very nice-better than on HAL where they just drop off the food and leave. Leo set the whole table it was like a private dining room. The food was very good. We wandered the ship that day. We liked the Spinnaker lounge with the forward facing windows.Sometimes they have live music. Too bad they play so much bingo in there. We found the library and checked out some books. Lunch was fish and chips in the Blue Lagoon. It was very tasty. We went to the wine tasting. It was nice, 4 wines $15. This is designed for the beginner. That evening was the VIP reception. The officers were very nice. Captain Norberg is very personable. Dinner was in Le Bistro. We had the romance package. We had a wonderful waitress, Anna Maria. She actually remembered us from the wine tasting. After dinner we went to the show in the main theater. Day 3-Ketchikan No breakfast in room due to miscommunication with Leo. We had a nice breakfast in Versailles. Amazingly, our server, Anna Maria from LeBistro was our waitress again. She did a great job as did all of the others. We took the flightseeing tour to the Misty Fjords. It was breathtaking. Just flying in the small plane is an adventure. We did the lake landing. Not everyone on the plane climbed out, but I wouldn't have missed standing out there for anything. The weather got worse as we returned to town. We were lucky to get a tour. Later tours were cancelled due to weather. We walked around town and shopped. It was a nice day and the weather is part of the experience. Upon arrival to the room we found that one of our chaise lounges had been blown into the corner of the balcony and wedged there. The cushion was missing from the chair. The winds were blowing very strongly directly at the stern. We had to call and tell the butler that the cushion must have blown overboard. Leo was off so the guy filling in came and we did our best to communicate the story. He didn't know if there were any extras on board or if the upholsterer on board would have to make one. Within 36 hours Simone the Concierge heard about it from the staff. A new one was delivered in Prince Rupert. We had dinner in Cagney's. Another filet that you could cut with a butter knife. Excellent service and food. Day 4-Juneau After breakfast in the room we got off the ship to find an eagle sitting at the top of the light post checking us all out. We were scheduled for helicopter tour of the glaciers and dogsledding on the glacier. Our tour was cancelled, so we were placed on the same tour with another company. We were bussed to their headquarters on the other side of town. After getting there we were told that their dogsledding camp was also inaccessible due to weather. We were offered the 4 glacier tour with a landing on a glacier-the price was also adjusted as this is a much less expensive tour. It was the highlight of our trip. It was so beautiful! If I could have done only one tour on the trip this would have been it. As luck would have it, we had a beautiful tour but as we returned the weather was getting worse and I don't know how many others got to go. We returned to town with precious little time to shop. I made it to the one store I wanted to visit. Glacier Smoothie soap is a wonderful gift. I loved the cute shop and got to talk to the owner's Mom and Dad. They were the nicest people I have met in a long time. We even got pictures with them. We had to be quick to make the last bus to the ship. I don't know if it is normal, but the Star got the lousiest dock assignments in every port. I would have also liked more time in Juneau. Tracy Arm-the Star left Juneau on time. The sun actually came out at about the time we arrived at the arm. It was beautiful on the balcony. This is where the wrap around was nice. We ordered dinner in the room. Leo showed us all of the orders he had and made it abundantly clear that he was overworked and we would not get our food at a time close to what we requested. So we ate later than expected. We ordered from Endless Summer and it was good-not great. It was still nice to enjoy the views from the balcony. I enjoyed Tracy Arm more than I expected. It was beautiful. We went to enjoy the spa that evening. It was a great way to end the day. Day 5-Skagway We had breakfast in the room. We switched to cereal and fruit. At this point the big meals are way too much. We booked the White Padd Rail and Yukon with an outside company. They met us at the dock and took us to the train. The ride was beautiful. It was snowing upon our arrival in Fraser. We boarded our small but to continue the tour. The lakes are still partially frozen over, but we enjoyed the tour. I enjoyed playing with the dogsledding puppies at Caribou Crossing. The food was OK-simple and not too heavy. Chicken with a little BBQ sauce, baked potato, coleslaw, coffee, tea, and doughnuts for dessert. The museum is a little bizarre. I am not really fond of taxidermy, but I guess the owner hunts and stuffs all of the animals on display. On the way back over the pass we had lots of snow-enough to make the bus driver a little nervous. We got back to town to find sleet and some snow. We skipped shopping in the town-we would have only had about an hour before we either hiked back to the ship or grabbed a bus to avoid being late. Like before we had the worst dock assignment of all the ships. Later we found out that the people on the later trains had almost no view due to the heavy snowfall. We had been lucky again. We had dinner at Aqua. We sat with four others and had a nice dinner. Day6 Prince Rupert The Star doesn't arrive until 4 pm. Seas were rough again. Few ventured out of the cabins. We met some nice people in the Red Lion and spent the afternoon talking with them. We went ashore briefly in Price Rupert and did a little shopping. It was cool, and very misty and rainy. At one point we counted 20 eagles in the trees near the dock. They were beautiful. Day 7 At Sea The weather was much better. Seas were much calmer. We had a bridge tour with the vip's. It was fun. The captain came to say hello and chatted for a long time. We had our last dinner at LeBistro with Anna Maria-our favorite. Before I could even ask the hostess she knew who I was going to ask for. Apparently Anna Maria has the reputation for being the best server on board. Joy, the assistant Concierge even knew her by name. Return Here is where the suites really get the privilege. We used the BAGS program and met in Ginza at 0830 for VIP disembarkation. We were in the second of two groups to exit with Simone the Concierge. We had boarding passes in hand when we left the ship and actually arrived at the airport via taxi at 9:05 am. The line to get off the ship snaked through the entire 7th floor and we walked past all of it. We were very impressed with Simone our Concierge. She stopped the room or called to check on us daily if we did not contact her. She handled any questions or problems very quickly and professionally. She made our cruise a truly special experience. We also loved our steward, Benilda. She was so warm, caring and friendly. She also kept our room spotless. We found that the staff all over the ship were the best part of the trip. The all work very hard and are dedicated to customer service. I would absolutely sail on NCL again if I liked the itinerary. I didn't mention it, but we saw lots of eagles, various birds, sheep, porpoises,one porcupine and even a whale next to the ship on the last sea day. If you have a suite eat breakfast and lunch at Cagney's as often as possible. The service and food are great. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This is in regards to the May 31st -June 7th 2008 cruise. A short drive to the terminal since we live in the Seattle area and we drop off the vehicle to be parked (they also delivered our luggage to the ship so we only had to deal with our ... Read More
This is in regards to the May 31st -June 7th 2008 cruise. A short drive to the terminal since we live in the Seattle area and we drop off the vehicle to be parked (they also delivered our luggage to the ship so we only had to deal with our carry on, very nice!). The 4 of us (2 teens and 2 adults) had a very smooth embarkation. We walked into the building to have them process us at approximately 10:30. By approx. 11:00 am we were sitting down waiting to be boarded. They had refreshments in the waiting area so we had a glass of OJ. Around 11:30 they invited us to begin boarding. We were in group 6 and it only took about 10 minutes until they called our group. Once aboard they had us use the hand sanitizers. You didn't proceed until you did which I think is great! They swiped our cards and were entered the inside of the ship to be greeted and offered champagne or mimosas. Thanks to other reviews we knew just what to do: 1. Go make reservations for whatever restaurants you want to eat at that evening (if you have a balcony or higher room you can make reservations 48 hours in advance). 2. If you haven't booked your shore excursions yet, go do that because some of them sell out fast. 3. If you aren't starving, don't go to the Market Cafe like the recommend you do as you board the ship. At 12:30 they serve lunch in Versailles and it was wonderful. If you like bananas then I highly recommend the chilled banana soup! It sounded weird to me but I tried it anyways and my only regret is I didn't ask for a second bowl of it. Our room was ready by 1:30 and we had our luggage was delivered by 4:30 (it may have been sooner). We ate at Soho our first night and 2 of us had surf and turf and the other 2 had the whole lobster. Our server was very friendly and helped the girls with their lobster. I need to interject this as it bothers me when I read negative reviews. NCL very clearly states that their freestyle is casual. They mean it. If you want to dress up you are more than welcome to but if you would like to wear jeans to dinner you can to (except in Versailles). This is not a cruise for snobs or people that don't like to be around us "common folk". This cruise I very much felt was for normal people who wanted special treatment. The food was very good at all the restaurants we ate at. There is something for everyone. We tried a couple things we didn't care for but that doesn't mean it's not good. The staff at every restaurant were very friendly. Only a couple times did they see our yellow card (for mini suite) so I know it wasn't because we had a more expensive room than others. So if you cannot stand to be around casual regular people, this cruise may not be for you. If you want to relax, get great service and experience some foods you don't normally have (in our case anyways), you can take chances too because if you don't like it, let them know and get something else. give it a go. Back to the review, sorry for the rant. We actually didn't do a lot of things on the ship as we spent a lot of time on the balcony in our room. The view is so beautiful and the balcony is so peaceful it's hard to want to do anything else. You can make a pot of coffee and sit on the balcony watching the waves or looking at mountains. But there are tons of things to do on the ship. Since I am becoming long winded in this review I'm going to change formats mid review. Restaurants we ate at: 1. Versailles, we ate there several times and found it very very good. 2. Soho, had the steak and lobster enjoyed the food and service. 3. Aqua, had our last dinner there and enjoyed it. It's a little more intimate than Versailles but pretty much the same menu. 4. Teppanyaki, very entertaining and delicious food! 5. Trattoria, be very hungry or don't get the 6 course meal. Lots of great food. I personally didn't care for the lobster ravioli but I really liked the chicken parmigiana. 6. Endless Summer, good food but we eat at an amazing Mexican restaurant at home so it's tough to compare. Great service. 7. Market Cafe, buffet style. Something for just about anyone I think. We really enjoyed the sandwiches, hotdogs and turkey burgers at lunch. 8. Blue lagoon, we only ate there once and I wish we went back at least once more. I liked the fish and chips and the chicken strips weren't too bad. 9. Room service, brownies are great! Everything else we tried was ok to "I don't think we will get that again". But it's sent right to your room and it's inclusive so if you don't want to go out of your room it's hard to beat. Chocolate buffet was Thursday evening at 11 pm and wow that was a lot of chocolate. We took much but it's hard not to and then went back to our room to be pigs...lol. Our neighbors had done the same and we had a great time laughing at how amazing this stuff was i.e. a cupcake with a little bit of cake and some mouse or something and the cup wasn't paper...it was chocolate..yum! Ports of call: Ketchikan: We just walked around and shopped at this port. Very nice town. We walked all over the place, went back to the ship for lunch and went back out over by, I think it's called Dolly's, an old brothel by a bunch of other shops. Very neat area. Found a nice stained glass souvenir. Juneau: We went to the Mendenhall glacier and wow! Saved a bunch of money by paying $7 per person each way for a bus to take us right out to the glacier. There are a bunch of booths really close to the tram that offer this deal. Buses came by every 20 minutes so you could go back into town pretty much whenever you wanted. This was our first time seeing a glacier in person and it was impressive. There is a trail that will take you right up to this huge waterfall. We had taken the long east glacier trail and didn't have time to take that trail too. Got back into town to do a little shopping before we left for the Dahl glacier. We were supposed to cruise the Sawyer glacier but there was too much ice floating so we took the alternate to the Dahl glacier. We also saw the Sum Dum glacier on the way. We also saw a momma brown bear and her 2 cubs. The glacier was amazing. We just wish we could have seen a piece of it fall into the water as that would have been incredible. Saw lots of icebergs and a beautiful sunset. Skagway: This was our highlight port. The 3 girls went up to the Yukon territory for horseback riding and a canoe trip on Spirit lake. They saw cinnamon, black and grizzly bears on their journey. I went on the White Pass and Laughton glacier hike. It was a 15 mile train ride and then we are dropped off to hike in to the Laughton glacier. Total we had about a 7 mile hike and it was sooooo cool! Beautiful woods along the Skagway river up to a boulder field and then onto the glacier. We ate lunch on a glacier...it was absolutely amazing. The guides from Packer Expeditions were extremely nice and very very helpful. If you had a question about something you could just point to it and ask them what it was. Don't be intimidated by the distance of the hike. It's a really nice trail up to the boulder field. We saw mountain goats on our hike. It's an experience I really soaked in and I would love to do it again. We booked these excursions on the ship. I'm glad we did because the train that was bringing us back from our hike was running late. Since we booked through NCL they wouldn't leave us. Prince Rupert: We didn't read very many good things about this port so we didn't expect much. We actually really enjoyed this port. It's true there aren't a lot of shops there but it was a cute town. Lots of eagles! We found the shops by the waterfront more fun to go through than the shops by the mall. We got lots of pictures of eagles at this port. We missed the museum and kinda wished we had gone to it. It's really close to the ship too. I also wanted to touch briefly on something we really enjoyed about the ports in Alaska. We weren't barraged with people in the streets trying to sell you something. When we went to Mexico it seemed like everywhere you went someone was trying to sell you something that was "almost free". That got old. If you go into the jewelry stores in Alaska they were kind of aggressive but still not too bad. But if you just walked around town or into other shops you were left alone. Someone may ask if you have any questions but they didn't constantly try to get you to buy things. Much more relaxing :^) We went to a couple of shows and they were entertaining. The acrobats were great and the comedian was funny. If you get a room with a balcony hopefully you will get great neighbors like we had. We swapped some pics and had great conversation. A couple things we read on reviews that was of help: 1. Lots of storage for bags under the bed. We put 3 large and 2 medium suitcases under the bed after unpacking. 2. A lightswitch at the back of closet. It's in about the middle top of it. You need to feel around for it but once you find it, it comes in handy to see in the closet. 3. The t.p. wasn't the softest in the world so you may want to bring your own. 4. We prefer Coffeemate flavored creamer in our coffee so we brought our own since they just have the usual cream and sugar. We opted for the express disembarkation. Since we were able to drive to the port we packed way too much stuff so we definitely had our hands full. But wow, talk about express! The first group was supposed to leave the ship at 8 am. We got up early and had some breakfast then grabbed our bags. We were walking off the ship at 8:05 and we were not the first in line. We stood in line for literally a couple minutes and it was moving briskly. We were in the parking garage across the street picking up the van by 8:20 and on the road by 8:30! Very impressive to disembark and go through customs that quickly. I'm sure I missed some things on this review but I hope I have covered enough to help you make a more educated decision. If you are regular people who want special treatment but also don't expect them to bow down to you and kiss your feet, enjoy a variety of foods and don't have to eat the same place or time. If you aren't offended if someone is wearing jeans and a shirt at dinner then I think you will enjoy freestyle. This was our second cruise, first on NCL and also first with a balcony. At the end of our first cruise we didn't know if we would do another one. It wasn't a bad time but we didn't fall in love with it. I'm glad we tried it again and with a much more casual atmosphere. I would like to do another Alaska cruise and I would like to do it with NCL again. Also, if you are curious, the NCL Star has implemented Freestyle 2.0 Please visit NCL's website to find out what changes took place. It was a definite improvement. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
I cruised with my husband and this was our first cruise ever. Our cruise was from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert and back to Seattle. We flew into Seattle on Alaska Airlines, which is a great airline, terrific ... Read More
I cruised with my husband and this was our first cruise ever. Our cruise was from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert and back to Seattle. We flew into Seattle on Alaska Airlines, which is a great airline, terrific service. We took a taxi from the airport directly to Pier 66. The taxi was about $30 for the two of us with two bags and one larger carry-on size bag. We arrived at the pier around 10:00. I booked an early flight, because I wanted to have enough buffer room in case something went wrong with the flight. There was a small line at the pier, about 10-15 people. We stood and waited a lot, because the NCL people weren't set up yet. They were still setting up tables and trying to make sure everyone had luggage tags before we could check our bags. I had printed off the pre-cruise documents off the internet and tagged our luggage with the tags that came in the mail so we were all set. After checking our bags, we went through security, which was a non-event and then we were able to get our stateroom keys. Then it was time for more sitting around until they allowed us on the ship. We were allowed on at 11:30. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we walked around and explored the ship. They did have champagne and mimosas available on entering the boat, as well orange juice for the non-drinkers. After reading the tips here, I knew we should have lunch at Versailles instead of the buffet. Lunch was pretty good, not spectacular. Our rooms were ready after lunch. We bought a D category cabin. The room was nice and small for what we needed it to be. Two single beds, which after two nights, I realized could be pushed together to form a full sized bed. There was also a trundle bed underneath one bed and a murphy bed bolted to one wall. The bathroom is really tiny though. I'm not sure how a bigger person would be able to use the toilet. There's barely room to turn around. The only issue we had with the room was after 2 days, the toilet stopped filling with water, so it wouldn't flush. It was fixed after a day and a half. Not a big deal to us, we just had to fill the toilet with water whenever we had flush, until it was fixed. We had two stewards: Andre and Aldrick. I hardly saw them and we didn't want to bother for much of anything, but they did keep the room neat and we got two towel animals over the course of the trip. Entertainment: My husband and I prefer to lounge around rather than party it up. But there was always a party going on for the folks who did like to party. I went to a lecture on photography, which was ok. The woman giving the lecture wasn't a professional, just a woman who like to take pictures. I'm not sure why NCL would get a pro, especially for a cruise as scenic as Alaska. The China Stars Acrobats were very good and their half hour show was amazing. The Cirque Pacific show was interesting, mostly modern dance. My husband spent a lot of time in the gym, it was very nice and they did have classes available for a fee. Food: The buffet was good, as far as buffets go. Mostly hit or miss, but with so much to choose from there were more hits than misses. The sushi bar was excellent. We had it on the second night. We didn't need reservations and there was no wait. It was worth the $15/pp cover charge. Aqua for dinner the next night. It was ok. I found the Aqua dining room very stuffy and a little too cramped. We had a maybe 5-10 minute wait. I think smaller parties were seated faster than larger ones. We dined at Le Bistro two nights later. We didn't have a reservation, but we only had to wait half an hour. It was the best meal we had on the cruise. The tenderloin was so tender I hardly had use for my knife. NCL could definitely get away with charging more than the $15/pp for this restaurant. The Chocolate Midnight Buffet at Versailles was alright. I think we got to front of the line right before things were restocked so our pickings were slim. And the line was ridiculous. It extended all the though the Grand Atrium. It should last longer than one hour. We were completely unable to get reservations for Endless Summer, the Mexican restaurant. I tried calling early in the morning about a half hour after the desk opened and it was totally booked. It must have been good. Ginza, the Asian restaurant, was very very good. Although the sushi bar is located inside Ginza, you can only order either the Asian food or the sushi, not both. No reservation needed and no wait there either. I will say though, that my husband and I prefer to eat late so that may have factored into the short wait times for us. Ketchikan: I hadn't planned on any excursions, so we walked around town and took tons of pictures and did some shopping. Not a very exciting day. It is beautiful though. We lucked out and had wonderful weather at all our Alaskan ports. Sunny and warm. Juneau: I pre-bought tickets for the Mt Roberts Tram. Most of the trails at the top of the mountain were closed off due to heavy snow that was still on the ground. Most people just ignored the sign and climbed up the roped off trail anyways. The view was spectacular and well worth it. They did bring out an eagle who had been injured so badly that she was unable to be released back into the wild. She was kept in a cage, but we were able to get some pictures. We were booked for the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer excursion which to my knowledge is only available through NCL. The Tracy Arm was still too iced in, so we detoured to Endicott Arm instead. It was the best excursion I could have ever imagined. We saw Orcas and Humpbacks and sea lions and eagles. I know they only guarantee you the glacier but wow, was it amazing to see all that wildlife. The Dawes Glacier was awe-inspiring. It calved a lot and I'm having a hard time finding words to describe how amazing it is. This is a do not miss excursion. Skagway: I booked the White Pass and Yukon Railroad excursion through Chilckoot Charters, an independent company not affiliated with NCL. The axle broke about 45 minutes into the trip and pretty much cancelled our planned 7 hour excursion. Chilkoot did promise everyone on our car, about 25 people, a full refund. There's a tour company (M&M tours) set up right across from the train depot and we booked a last minute tour with them. Most of the tours were full by the time we made it over there; so many people off the train wanted to book something else. We booked a 2.75 hour, the Yukon Suspension Bridge tour which was supposed to leave at 1:00. We didn't didn't get picked up till 1:30. I was worried because with the length of the tour, we'd be cutting it a little close to the all aboard time of 4:30. The bridge was interesting. It's a tiny metal bridge that extends over a river. I did get some beautiful shots I don't think we needed the 45 minutes we spent there. Thirty minutes would have been ample time. We did see a mama black bear and her two cubs when we were driving down. We had to speed and we didn't get to stop very much along the way to and from the bridge. The tour probably would have been nicer if we hadn't been running 30 minutes late and if we had spent 30 minutes instead of 45 at the bridge, but then we probably wouldn't have seen the bears. I guess that's our trade-off. Prince Rupert: This was our only day of yucky weather. It was cold, drizzly and overcast. I didn't plan any excursions, so we just wandered around town. There are a lot of bald eagles in the area, so we got lots of shots of them. We only spent two hours in port and then we were back on the ship. We did the express check-out, which is a huge joke. We joined the line at 7:45 and we didn't leave the ship until 9:00. Next time we'll do the luggage tag/color calling thing. I did book us to stay in Seattle one day post-cruise. No excursions or tours planned. We'd just explore the city on our own. We left our bags with the concierge desk at Pier 66, $3/bag with a 3:30 pick-up. We went to Pike Place Market, which was having the Pike Place Market festival. It was cool, lots of locals. Then we went to the aquarium. It was a decent one. I love aquariums, so we spent most of the afternoon there. We had lunch on the water at Ivar's Fish bar, fried shrimp and clams with fries. We then picked up our bags and hiked over to our hotel, Mediterranean Inn. And it was a hike. Not as close as the free map made it look and mostly uphill. The hotel was nice. It had roof access and we could see the Space Needle. The next day we went to the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The Experience Music Project was lost on me, since I'm not a big music fan. But my husband enjoyed it. The Science Fiction Museum was interesting and kind of small. We spent about an hour and fifteen minutes to do both. Then it was time to end our wonderful vacation/honeymoon/anniversary trip. The hotel will call a towncar to take you to the airport for $38 cash/$41 credit card. It was nice way to end the trip. We flew out on Alaska Airlines and they are just great. I can't wait to fly with them again. I will definitely cruise NCL again. It was a great first experience and hopefully it won't be our last. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Background: We are mid 50's, celebrating 33 years of marriage. We have lived in Florida since 1996 and a year ago moved to the Atlanta area. This was our 13th cruise, but our first on NCL and first to Alaska. Travel/Hotel: We flew ... Read More
Background: We are mid 50's, celebrating 33 years of marriage. We have lived in Florida since 1996 and a year ago moved to the Atlanta area. This was our 13th cruise, but our first on NCL and first to Alaska. Travel/Hotel: We flew into Seattle the day before our cruise and we stayed at the Seattle Sheraton both pre-cruise and post-cruise. Booked with Priceline for $110 and $91 respectively. Very nice hotel, wonderful location. Walk to Pikes Market and many nice restaurants in the area. Ate at "Cutter's" pre cruise- very good seafood/sushi restaurant. They provide free transportation back to your hotel after dinner. Post cruise we ate at "The Brooklyn"- awesome array of oysters, yummy martinis and delicious food! The Pikes Market Brew Pub was also a fun place, with microbrews that were great. Ate Mother's day brunch in the Space Needle-great food and an unbelievable view-wonderful! Embarkation: This was the first cruise out of Seattle Pier 66 this year-and it was bedlam! A line that snaked around the building, no porters available, a man telling us to take our suitcases and find the end of the line. NOT! DH found a stevedore to take our luggage and we found a table with no line to the left of the Big long line. Not the most cordial bunch..but they checked us in and gave a number. Then I overheard them referring to another group as VIP's, and they swept by us. So I went back to the ladies and told them we were suite passengers, and lo and behold, we became VIP's too! We were brought in and loaded our carryon bags through the xray machine. Security asked to see the corkscrew that was in our bag with our wine and champagne. We showed him...looked for the corkage table (oops! no corkage table!) and we were then led into the vip lounge, where we met our Butler, Roy and our Concierge, Simone. They checked us in, gave us our room keys and we were on our way to have lunch in Versailles. (No one told us Cagney's was open) As we boarded the ship, we were offered a glass of champagne-2.0!? Had a few glitches with our lunch order but had the cold banana soup (thanks-SakesDad!)-delish! Then we decided to explore the ship while we waited for our room to be ready-1:30 they promised. Ship Info: The ship is beautiful and very well maintained. Someone was always cleaning painting and polishing! We found some nice young ladies taking dinner reservations up near Endless Summer, so we made reservations for Cagney's the first night (had a buy one/get one coupon) and we made reservations for Ginza for the next night. The cabins were ready at 1:30 as promised Stateroom: So along with this being our first NCL, first Alaska, we had our first suite! (have had a jr. suite on RCI) We had a penthouse suite on deck 8 on the stern! Very nice, wood paneled room, with a sitting area, a table with 4 chairs, bar area with coffee maker, mini fridge, ice bucket etc. Separate vanity table outside the nicely appointed bathroom. Had a tub with sliding glass doors (yah! no shower curtain to stick to my b**t).Plenty of closet space, storage space, two robes and two(?) safes. We left most of the jewels at home, so we didn't use the second safe. And the best part-the balcony on the stern! Two lounge chairs, a small table and a view to die for! Loved it! There was a small bottle of champagne chilling and a plate of choc. covered strawberries. At night we left the sliding doors to the balcony open, and were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the wake and the aroma of bread baking in the decks below- heaven! Dining:The first night was Cagney's. We had reservations for 7pm, but found ourselves there at 6:30. DH asked if they had any openings to see if we could sit early. The maitre d, was quite rude and told us absolutely not, and go wait in the Star bar and they would call us when our table was ready. Once, seated, our waitress, was cold and somewhat inattentive. Hmm? So when DH, gave a room key/seapass and they noticed we were suite guests- everything changes! The waitress was giddy with delight and invited us to please come and have breakfast and lunch with her every day...the maitre d actually came over and apologized to my hubby! Now, I may be wrong, but I don't think you should have to be "vips" to get good treatment. JMHO. Needless to say, they were extremely pleasant everytime we dined there and the maitre d made a point to come and talk to us every time we were there. Food was tasty and well prepared-the french fries are great-try them! $20pp Ginza: Asian fusion food. Wonderful food, wonderful service! I had lobster that was very lightly breaded, delish! The veggies were fresh and cooked perfectly. Well worth the $15 surcharge. Le Bistro: French cuisine. We ate at Le Bistro as part of the Honeymooners/anniversary romance package we purchased pre-cruise. Lovely service, wonderful food. Escargot were good, filet mignon-tender and perfectly cooked. Creme brulee-creamy and sweet! A cake was provided, but we chose to have it sent to the cabin. SoHO: So-so. California/Pacific Rim food was just ok, service was good however. $15 surcharge. Observed another couple order the surf and turf (lobster and steak $30) They didn't seem too pleased with it and actually left most of it on their plate. La Trattoria: Italian. Got off to a rough start..we were basically ignored. When we were about to get up and leave, someone came over and finally waited on us. The service did turn out to be good. The food was very tasty, large portions. We both got the tableside antipasti and it was delicious! $10 Aqua: We ate there when we participated in the Murder Mystery Dinner (some others ate in Versailles). Dinner was good-very good, but the dinning room is loud! The Murder Mystery was fun and we met some lovely new people. No charge for dinner or the Murder Mystery. We ate in the Market Cafe one day for lunch..I had asian noodles and hubby had fish and chips. Pretty good food, pretty horrendous service. We sat on little stools meant for children, but that was all that was available. All of us (adults) sitting on children stools, I guess looked pretty funny, but we all pretended it was just fine. Yikes! Service: Our Concierge, Simone was outstanding! She made the rest of our dinner reservations for the rest of the week. Made sure we were invited to the VIP party with the captain, got us into the chocolate buffet 15 minutes early (suite perks, I guess), and even helped us with our room keys when they ceased working (8 times) during the week. She looked after us in the most wonderful ways...she is worth her weight in gold! A real gem! Roy, our butler...well...he bought us breakfast our first port day, and delivered suites each night to our cabin (although we never saw him do this) We actually saw him twice during the entire week. Our room stewards did a fine job of keeping our cabin clean and tidy and made us towel animals twice. We never did meet them personally, but they did a nice job! Entertainment: The musical production numbers were good, ala cirque du soleil. The magician, Murry, very talented, very funny! Comedians and singer were great..very entertaining. Ricky the cruise director, was fun and enthusiastic. Everyone talks about Sean Burns in the Red Lion Pub-fun guy...what he lacks in singing talent he more than makes up for in fun, enthusiasm and charm...good times. We partook of Martini tasting, Margarita and guacamole tasting, and Sangria and tapas tasting...all great fun. $15pp surcharge. Excursions: Juneau: Whale quest and gold creek salmon bake. (Our original choice of Mendenhall glacier was cancelled) Great fun...saw whales, seals and bald eagles. Missed about an hour of our excursion because our bus driver got lost not once but twice on the way to both the boat and then the salmon bake. He was "very" new. Ketchikan: Misty Fjord and Wilderness Explorer. Beautiful scenery-waterfalls, fjords, mountains etc. Skagway: White Pass Railway. Terrific fun, unique experience. Once again beautiful scenery, bear sighting, eagles. We explored the town, shopped, ate lunch in the Red Onion Saloon(very cute), watched a film on the gold rush at the visitors center. Wished we could spend more time here and forget about Prince Rupert. After leaving Skagway, we sailed through the Tracy Arm! Spectacular! One of the most beautiful places we have ever seen! We stood on our balcony with some new friends, drank champagne and low and behold, Roy showed up with some canapes! So we just took in the magnificent beauty of Alaska from our balcony. Now THAT is what Alaska is all about! Disembarkation: We booked a Seattle City tour by bus and then would be dropped off at the airport. So we were allowed off the ship at 8:30. Chaos!!! We were trying to find our tour among the sea of busses at the port. Literally there were 10+ busses. We were being pushed out the door with all our luggage. Well guess who showed up? Simone! On her phone..finding out where we were to go...helping with our luggage..to just the right bus! Hugs for us both and good wishes for a safe trip and we were on our way..what an ANGEL!! Spectacular woman! And then we sat....and sat...and sat....the PA system on the bus was not working. So they tell us our luggage will go on to the airport and we will move to another bus and take our tour! Well we almost had mutiny on that bus! Finally we and our luggage were moved to a new bus and we were on our way to tour the city..minus about an hour of our tour. We were promised a 50% refund...I'm not holding my breath on that one! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We arrived in Seattle on Friday, 20 May 2008. Our hotel, the Hilton Bellevue, was a little out of the way, but was worth it! Great accommodations and service. We took a bus to downtown Seattle to see the Space Needle on Friday evening. ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle on Friday, 20 May 2008. Our hotel, the Hilton Bellevue, was a little out of the way, but was worth it! Great accommodations and service. We took a bus to downtown Seattle to see the Space Needle on Friday evening. Locals, to include bus drivers and people walking their dogs, were very courteous and willing to give us information on how to get to the Needle and back to our hotel. What a great evening we had. The morning of embarkation started with a little drizzle and cold weather. Being from the desert, I was prepared for cold weather as was the rest of my group coming in from the New Orleans area. We were a little early and were able to check our luggage at the Concierge at Pier 55 for $3.00 per bag and took off for a little sight seeing before boarding the ship. We walked to Pike Place Market and saw the Parade of Pigs and then walked around the market. What a bustling place! It started raining an little harder so we headed back to the ship to check in. Check in: My Mother, Great-Aunt and I were in a Penthouse so we were escorted to the VIP lounge, while the other three in our party were sent to the Lattitudes line to check in. Our check in went quickly and after presenting our credit cards, passports, etc., we went to the Concierge, Simone, and received our silver key cards. After getting our card we walked over to get some refreshments as they announced that boarding could begin. Our butler, Crisol, escorted us to our room where we sat down and he explained how to contact him, Simone, and housekeeping. We also met our room steward, Evi. Everyone was wonderful. Check in for the other is our party went quickly and they walked by our room as the butler was talking to us, so joined us in our room. Cabin: Our penthouse was absolutely wonderful. There were four TVs, five telephones, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and plenty of space for six people to walk around comfortably. This would also be a great room for a family with three children. The kids room had a couch that opened into a double bed and a Pullman, a TV, as well as a full bathroom. The only thing I could see that could be a problem would be storing luggage in the small room. The "Master" bedroom had a queen sized bed, two nightstands, and a TV. There were heavy drapes in front of the bedroom area if you wanted total darkness, but I liked having the sunlight come in in the mornings so we left them open a majority of the time. There was a clock and telephone next to the bed, along with two storage areas in the bedroom. A large closet with mirrored doors was in the dressing area. The bathroom had a separate water closet and shower with glass doors. The jacuzzi tub was wonderful with a great window view off the ship and on to the balcony. There was also a floor to ceiling window in the shower which also had extra shower heads which we called "the car wash" shower. (Thank goodness there are blinds if you want more privacy.) There were two sinks and a vanity which allowed plenty of space to put necessary items. There was also a scale in the room that came in handy for weighing our luggage before we left the ship. None of us weighed ourselves while on the cruise....we really didn't want to know!!! Our room Steward, Evi, was always available and kept the room nice during the entire cruise. Food: We found the food on the ship to be nothing less than wonderful, except for the buffet, which wasn't that bad, just buffet food. It was also very difficult to find seating during peak times. Some passengers do not want to share "their" table so it could take a while to find a place to sit. We were able to have breakfast and lunch at Cagney's since were were in a suite. This was, by far, the best suite perk!! We ate at Cagney's instead of the buffet or main dining room when we arrived on the ship and couldn't wait for breakfast to see what was on the menu. We ate breakfast and lunch at Cagney's most days. We also ate at Versailles, Aqua, Endless Summer (make your reservations early), Le Bistro, and Teppanyaki. Don't miss the Teppanyaki or Le Bistro. The filet mignon at the Teppanyaki melted in your mouth and the lobster in Le Bistro was the best! It was well worth the extra surcharge to eat in those restaurants. We also participated in the murder mystery dinner in the Versailles. We had a wonderful meal along with great entertainment! Everyone enjoyed themselves. We went to Aqua on lobster night and those of us who ate the lobster found it a little overcooked but had a good flavor. We heard this from other passengers, as well. We also were able to have a fruit bowl in the room and snacks brought into the room each night. The fruit bowl never went empty and the snacks were great. We had brownies, veggie trays, chocolate covered strawberries, and cookies the last night. This was another great suite perk. Entertainment: We saw two shows and the magician. We found ourselves going to the Carousel Bar to listen to the singer there who sang a lot of Ray Charles, and other soulful sounds. He had a great voice! I didn't care for the singers in the shows but the shows themselves were high energy and we would find ourselves moving to the beats of the music. We participated in the Adult Quest which was a fun, adult game held in Spinnakers. We met some very nice people during the game. We also went to the Monte Carlo night and White Hot Party, both of which were great fun. Don't miss the White Hot Party if you like to dance with, or without, a partner!! Spa and Salon: We got the spa pass and found ourselves in the spa every day. We loved the indoor pool, jacuzzi and bubbling spa. No one under 18 is allowed in the spa. We also had a pedicure and a facial on the last sea day. The service was good and they didn't pester you to purchase their products. I would recommend this for anyone who is wanting to de-stress on their cruise. Shore Excursions: We booked the Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan and a Whale Watching by Zodiac in Prince Rupert. Both excursions were enjoyed by all of us and were worth the money. Our other excursions were done through and outside agent and were great, as well. We walked off the ship in Ketchikan and found a Seaplane tour operator who was willing to give a group of six a great deal on a flight. It was also worth the price. We did find Skagway to be crowded due to five cruise ships being in port that day, so shopping was not fun. The crowds weren't too bad in other ports. Prince Rupert only had one ship in but there wasn't much to do other than walk around the little town and look at the eagles, if you didn't schedule an excursion. Disembarkation: We took advantage of the BAGS program. We were able to get our boarding passes and our luggage checked to our destination by Friday night. Once we put our luggage in the hall Friday night, we didn't see it until we got home. This allowed us to just walk off the ship which we did at last call for all passengers to debark. We didn't have to hunt for our luggage in the cruise terminal. Debarking took about 10 minutes. We virtually walked off the ship, handed our customs forms to a guard and walked out of the terminal. It was so easy. We recommend this to everyone going to Seattle. Summary: We had a wonderful time on the Star. She is a beautiful ship with a wonderful crew. I found the crew went above and beyond and made the effort to get to know the passengers who were sailing with them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Our cruise was from September 15 - September 22, 2007.This was our first cruise and we couldn't have had a better time! We're in our mid-twenties and from Philadelphia. We flew in the Thursday before the cruise. Our flight was a ... Read More
Our cruise was from September 15 - September 22, 2007.This was our first cruise and we couldn't have had a better time! We're in our mid-twenties and from Philadelphia. We flew in the Thursday before the cruise. Our flight was a disaster and we were very grateful that we didn't decide to fly in on Saturday. We had booked the Sheraton hotel and it was a great location to all the local downtown sights of Seattle. It was a really short walk to Pike Place Market and just a short ride on the monorail to the Space Needle, EMP, etc. It was also a great location to get to the pier on Sat morning. We arrived at 12:00 and check in was really easy. We though there would be more security, but the first time that they actually glanced at our passports/ID was when we received our room keys. We were a little out of sorts from traveling, so we decided to skip eating lunch, but we did see a lot of people out at the grill by the pool since it was an incredible day in Seattle. We explored the ship and thought it was really beautiful, excluding some of the rope hand railings that were there b/c the wood ones were probably being repaired. Those were about the only drab looking thing we saw all week. Since this was our first cruise, we booked a Category K inside cabin 4597, since I am prone to seasickness. The cabin was very adequate and we had no problems all week with the cleanliness, stewards, our it's location. Most of the gangplanks were lowered on our deck, so we never had to hurry in the morning. We ate most nights in Versailles, and the selection and food was great. We are from Philadelphia, where there are some great restaurants, but we thought the quality of the food and the vast selection of choices every night were great. We were incredibly glad that we used NCL b/c of the freestyle cruising. We were able to eat at whatever time we liked at night, always received a table for 2 usually by the window, and had great to excellent service. My boyfriend had purchased the soda card, and they do continue to make it very difficult to get drinks at dinner, but by the second course each night, he had finally gotten his Coke. We had the same two servers for at least 3 of the nights on the boat, so it was nice b/c they were very friendly. We are at the Blue Lagoon for snacks after returning from our excursions. The food was pretty good, but the wings weren't the greatest. We tried the Buffet once and found it way too hectic, crowded, and it would take forever to get through the line. We took advantage of the 2-for-1 dining in Cagney's on Sunday and Thursday night of our cruise. The food was great. Our steaks were always cooked just how we liked them and there was so much food that we couldn't even handle desert! The entertainment on the ship was a good variety. We managed to get to the magic show, but missed some of the others b/c by 8:30-9:00 on shore days, we were ready for bed. We didn't mind the announcements for bingo b/c none of them were made in the cabin. My one major complaint/observation was that it was unfortunate that they choose not to make many announcements on the cabin speakers, and if I wanted to hear the announcements, I would find myself having to stand in the hallway and listen. The captain didn't do the best job making the announcements, but the cruise director Ricky was always very enthusiastic sounding. Alaska was incredible. I thought we had great weather. Ketchikan we did the Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer. Though it was pouring down rain when we left, we had an incredible 4 hours trip to the Fjords and the weather was beautiful! We booked all excursions through the boat, and this one was offered by Allen Marine tours. We walked around the port a bit when we got back, but did not do any shopping or eating. In Juneau, b/c the Tracy Arm Fjord excursion was canceled, we booked on the Capture Juneau Photography tour. My boyfriend is a professional photography, and going on a hike and to Mendenhall Glacier was a great experience for both of us. As most of the ships this year, we made it up to Dawes Glacier, and we found it a great trip. The captain was very worried about us getting out before dark, so it was a quick trip. We saw some sea lions on the ice and lots of small glaciers as we sailed up to the Dawes. In Skagway we did the White Pass Scenic Railway and did some souvenir shopping. We bought some smoked salmon and reindeer at this great little shop off the beaten path. It was an incredibly windy day, but overall, the town was crowded and I thought a longer stop could have been used in Juneau and not Skagway. We hit some rough weather and we were late getting into Prince Rupert. There was a neat little local craft show happening, so that was the highlight of that stop. Overall, this was a great trip. We make jokes now about the "special coffee" that they kept trying to serve as we went up to the Glacier, and how our cruise was predominantly southerners, but we couldn't have asked for a better time. Though we were some of the youngest cruisers on the trip, we didn't feel out of place. We did feel that people sometimes dress too casual in the restaurant, especially Versailles, which was supposed to be the NO Jeans restaurant, but it never ruined our experience. WE are booked on the NCL Gem for next year, so we can't wait to try NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
NORWEGIAN STAR INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISE SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 - SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 Advice before booking: Get a starboard, aft balcony cabin. The balcony is so worth the extra views of the spectacular Alaskan scenery. We by chance had a ... Read More
NORWEGIAN STAR INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISE SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 - SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 Advice before booking: Get a starboard, aft balcony cabin. The balcony is so worth the extra views of the spectacular Alaskan scenery. We by chance had a handicapped accessible cabin (not needed by us, just what we were given.) It probably had some extra space in the cabin and especially the bathroom. Baggage transport through and from Seattle Airport went smoothly, despite the predictably large Saturday afternoon volume. Look for knowledgeable people with clipboards and signs for the appropriate cruise line. NCL staff do a good job. Embarkation was easy with the right paperwork in hand. If hungry while coming aboard, head for the Versailles Dining Room. The food is great and the views, rewarding. The views of downtown Seattle from all of the decks of Norwegian Star were wonderful.. Before leaving port we did a quick and non-dramatic lifeboat drill The only annoying part was the passengers who insisted upon chatting while instructions were still being given.. We followed two other gorgeous world class cruise ships --- the Diamond Princess and the Holland America Something-Dam ---out of port. That was just the beginning of seeing other ships around us as we traveled. One of my favorite memories is taking pictures of their beautiful, sleek lines as people on board the other ships photographed our beautiful, sleek lines, as witnessed by the small photo flashes happening up and down their decks. Throughout the cruise: Unless traveling with a large family group or kids, avoid the Market Buffet on Deck 12 It offers lots of food options, but in a plastic cafeteria setting with constant, hectic flow-through traffic. The Versailles Dining Room, also included with the cruise, is much more relaxed and elegant. Aqua, another free option but with reservations recommended, has the same menu as Versailles and is also quite pleasant. First day at sea: It was our 40th wedding anniversary and began with a perfect breakfast in the Versailles Dining Room. Their Eggs Benedict have poached eggs over a half inch tall. It was a perfect celebration day for us that made the phrase "the best is yet to come" totally true. It helped that it was Formal Night on the ship, with everyone dressed in their best. We were very happy with our cruise portraits, though I have to say the photographers are everywhere (aboard and onshore) and buying too many photos could be costly in the long run. However, for formal night, one has to go for it. We dined that night at Cagney's Steak House, which involves an extra charge per person of $25, plus drinks. My filet mignon with Bernaisse Sauce was over the top of perfect, and my date loved his rib eye as well. The service was impeccable throughout, and by telling them it was our special day we were treated to "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" by an international choir of sweet servers. Anniversary dessert was strawberries and cream cake for two. That same evening, while we were still in formal garb, the ship offered a wonderful, Broadway-quality revue of Andrew Lloyd Weber production pieces in the main theater. The performers were absolutely top flight, the staging was dramatic, and it was a PERFECT, romantic close to our anniversary evening. Second day at sea: Waking up in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, was exhilarating!!! Wow, we're in Alaska. We disembarked at sea by tender boat because some other shops had grabbed the port spots that day. It seemed like a large deal at first, but was not. After visiting a salmon hatchery and learning a lot of how baby salmon are born, we took the "Lighthouse, Eagles and Totems" boat tour and enjoyed it very much. We saw several eagles from a distance. Ketchikan is all about water and all about seaplanes --- embodying the spirit of Alaska. Waiting for the ship to leave port, we took many photos of seaplanes coming in and taking off. As landlocked midwesterners, that was so awesome!!! It was very predictably rainy in downtown Ketchikan, but we wondered in and out of gift shops. Favorite Alaskan Story: We had post cards to mail and asked a gift shop clerk where the post office could be found. She said, "Did you see "'Tall Tales Taxidermy'?" When we said we had seen such a place, she said, "Well, that's where the U. S. Post Office is. The taxidermist and the Post Office changed places, but never changed the signs." So we mailed our post cards at the taxidermy shop ... and well, we trapped nothing for Tall Tale Taxidermy. Is that not a "Northern Exposure" story? Third day at sea; Juneau is the capitol of Alaska. How interesting that they have a pretty standard federal building for the state capitol. Never changed it from when it was just The Federal Building. In Juneau we took the bus ride out to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was irrelevant that a fine rain was falling. The Glacier is so turquoise, so huge, so breathtaking. The Visitor Center is a terrific vantage point and there are a variety of ways to walk around the Glacier. Also there was significant BEAR activity in the area when we were there, but we avoided that path. Chickens! Our tour bus driver was brilliant at giving us precise instructions about what to see and when to be back on board. He let us off in downtown Juneau in time to do some browsing. We had a GREAT lunch at the Twisted Fish, right on the pier. It offered local beer, good wine and superb fish and chips. Go there if you have time!!! We shopped a bit and re-boarded the ship. Walking up a simple ramp was a happy change from the tender boat. Happy detour: Our Captain announced that weather conditions were not favorable to go see Sawyer Glacier in the end of Tracy Arm, the typical route of our cruise. However, he felt that we could have a good glacier experience by cruising Endicott Arm to the Dawes Glacier. The cruise into Endicott Arm was beautiful in itself, with mountainous terrain and waterfalls on both sides, and remarkable turquoise ice floes in the aqua-colored water. Cloud/mist lifted off the Dawes Glacier just as the captain artfully turned the great ship 'round, creating memorable moments for all of us on board. When a glacier shows its true colors, it's a truly breathtaking image. Sharing it with the one you love is even better. Evenings on board: It was always relaxing to watch the ship leave port, dine at Versailles or one of the excellent alternatives, and game a bit at the Star Casino. On the same level with the casino was Gatsby's Champagne Bar. We're not champagne drinkers, but all drinks were available. The stellar attraction of Gatsby's, and perhaps the best entertainer on board Norwegian Star, was Jana Seale. She sang nightly in Gatsby's, and attracted a regular following of people who enjoyed her mix of pop and folk music from the 60's to today. The space was just beautiful, with a Tiffany glass ceiling a few stories above and hanger-on fans listening over the stair rails, and we found ourselves drawn there night after night. Jana was responsive to requests from her "song book" and just an extraordinary person to meet. We are so glad to have brought home Jana's CD with us to recreate moments from those special times. Also the entertainers in the Atrium and at other venues around the ship were really fine. We stumbled into fun opportunities like a Margarita Tasting in Endless Summer that really enriched our experience. The Spinnaker Lounge was awesome. We had so many wonderful unexpected moments it's hard to remember them all. Fourth day at sea: We woke up in Skagway. Each of these exotic ports of call was very fun to internalize. Skagway had the amazing mix of four great big cruise boats in the backdrop behind an antique railway. Huh? Yep, new ships, old train, same frame. The White Pass and Yukon Railway trip was absolutely extraordinary. Don't be put off by a few clouds. If you only see half the scenery, it's worth it. Where else can you see a waterfall that drops five THOUSAND feet? There were a few delays coming and going, but the crowd was handled with remarkable grace. Patience pays here --- enjoy the trip!!! Skagway is tastefully, colorfully and graciously restored. Signage is picturesque and there's less commercialism than the other stops. We recommend the Sweet Tooth Cafe for a simple lunch with good homemade soup. While we were enjoying the Sweet Tooth a happy fifteen minutes of sun blessed us with photo ops around the town. It's hard to find a bad camera angle in Skagway. Check out the cool snow plow train engine in the little park near the dock! The entertainer in the Spinnaker Lounge at the end of the Skagway stop was the "Singing Conductor of Skagway," who did a stirring performance of "The History of Alaska in Story and Song." What a great wrap-up to all we had seen and learned! That night we dined at The Bistro French venue. The food, which involved an extra fee per person, was very fine and we were seated in a space where we could enjoy the music of our favorite performer, Jana Seale, from the nearby Gatsby's Champagne Bar. Fifth Day at Sea: We hit some choppy seas and rough winds. Honestly didn't feel too great for half a day, but by afternoon things stabilized. The stabilizers of Norwegian Star are well equipped for most waters. That was just a bad day. Sixth Day at Sea With due credit to the crew for making it all happen, overnight before our sixth day there was a severe medical crisis for a passenger who needed to be taken ashore at an unscheduled stop at Auck Bay. Totally understandably, all shore excursions at Prince Rupert were canceled due to our delayed evening arrival time. We were still able to disembark and briefly explore Prince Rupert in spite of rain. A nice local place for a beer and a wine was Smiley's near the port. It was even better to get back on board, enjoy a drink at Gatsby's, and listen to Jana's music Seventh Day at Sea Sunshine! Smooth sailing! Beautiful scenery! Spectacular sunset! Love that balcony!!!! We can't say enough about our attentive and alert cabin stewards. The whole crew kept an immaculate ship, from the person who turned back our comforter to the person who swabbed the deck in the rain. They were all TOP FLIGHT. It was hard when we were asked to recognize certain crew members who enriched our experience, because so many were exceptional. Packing for disembarkation! Argh! Disembarking: Self-selecting by color worked fine. We found our luggage off-board with no difficulty. NCL personnel were uniformly helpful and pleasant. Final thoughts: May we come back now, please? See our photos at webshots.com. Tags Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Inside Passage. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We sailed from Seattle on Saturday 1 Sept on the Alaska inter passage route. Check in was easy and fast since we were VIP's (Penthouse Suite). We then went to Versailles for lunch (a great tip that I picked up here). About 1:30 p.m. ... Read More
We sailed from Seattle on Saturday 1 Sept on the Alaska inter passage route. Check in was easy and fast since we were VIP's (Penthouse Suite). We then went to Versailles for lunch (a great tip that I picked up here). About 1:30 p.m. we went to find our suite on the aft of the ship deck 9. We were surprised as the room was much larger than we had expected based on photos from different websites. We were very, very happy with the Penthouse Suite on the aft of the ship, some of the reviews warned about movement of the shipment being more noticeable here, but we only noticed it one morning when the ship was in gale force winds and the seas were 8-9 feet. I get sea sick easy and even that day I had a full breakfast and coffee. If you are an amateur photographer you can't go wrong on these rooms - I shot a little over 1200 digital photos during our week at sea many from the balcony of our penthouse as we entered and left ports. Our room had a butler assigned, but she did not even bother to show up the first day, and was missing most of the rest of the week unless we ran her down - also never called us by name during the whole trip which was very odd as even staff that we had only met once or twice knew our names - my advice should you get this butler (you'll know after the first day) is to call the manager of hotels and insist that another person be provided - this was the worst service failure we experienced on an otherwise excellent cruise. During the week at sea we had our butler bring breakfast every morning to the suite so we could lounge around our patio desk afterwards with our coffee. We tried to eat at all the restaurants but didn't quite make it to all 13. Overall I'd say you would be best off sticking with the Versailles restaurant for dinner - the quality and selection of food was the most consistent during our 7 days at sea (also no cover charge here). Remember that you must we nice clothes after the first night if you want to eat here - no blue jeans, shorts or other beach bum clothing. One night we made reservations at Cagney's steak house (cover charge) and just like the reviews I read here - "it was not worth the money" - the prime rib was like an old shoe (two of us ordered) the others in our party were also no impressed with the poor quality of the meat. I also ran into to several others on the boat during the week who also had similar remarks - so save our money for the casino and avoid this place. One night we made reservations at La Trattoria Italian restaurant, it was just so-so, I've had better in Mexican restaurants in San Diego. One day for lunch the four of us went to Teppanyaki Japanese restaurant (cover charge) and it was ok, but also not worth the cover charge - service however was very good and the place was empty during lunch time when everyone had returned from shore tours and were flooding the other venues. Cigars - this ship has the Havana Club which was a haven for all the cigar smokers who were on the boat - make sure you bring your own as I never once saw them unlock the humidor on the boat, it was also painful to get a drink in this area. Anywhere else on the ship tried to sell you drinks, here you had to walk down the hall to the Casino bar and haul your drink back. This was also the only area on the ship that was in a constant state of full ash trays and trash. You had to run someone down and ask them to empty the ash trays and remove the empty bottles. Met lots of nice folks while having my afternoon cigar. Other tips - if you are going to make dinner reservations, check the ships TV for the time of sunset or arrival time at the inside passage, several times we had early dinner reservations and missed the most beautiful time of the day. The final night aboard you had to pack your suit case and set it outside your room my midnight unless you were going to personally remove your entire luggage in the morning during the express departure. We had VIP tags and put our bags out, the next morning we had a VIP - head of the line exit from the ship and our bags were right in front of the US Customs booths so it only took about 15 minutes from our room to the street. Port calls - we really stayed on the ship most of the time except for the White pass rail road tour - which lasted 3 ½ hours. I would easily recommend the Norwegian Star as generally the food was good and the staff was very nice, our cabin stewards make different animals out of towels and left on the foot of our bed each night when they did turn down service. The only real complaint I had was the automatic tips being placed on drinks and wine, most of the time you got hit was a 5-6 tip for nothing, I could not even get one waiter to but a nice bottle of German wine in an ice bucket, they want to keep pouring it so you;ll order more - nice to be charged $6.00 tip for hot wine. Beware the $10.00 per person per day auto tip this is added to your shipboard bill - I'd suggest you check your bill every few days to see if you agree with the tab and make sure you don't have a nasty surprise on the morning of your departure. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
First let me say Thank You to all Cruise Critic members for their useful advice and information. This was our very first cruise and we chose the NCL Star for their freestyle cruising. Booked our cruise to Alaska for August 11-18, 2007 to ... Read More
First let me say Thank You to all Cruise Critic members for their useful advice and information. This was our very first cruise and we chose the NCL Star for their freestyle cruising. Booked our cruise to Alaska for August 11-18, 2007 to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. We had a wonderful time and are planning our next cruise with NCL. Living in Washington and 1-½ hours from Seattle we decided to reserve a motel room the night before our cruise. I am glad we did because of the lane closures on I-5. The hotel we stayed at offered one night stay, car parking for duration of cruise and transportation to/from the pier. Total cost was around $145.00, not a bad price. For us this was the only way to go. Embarkment: total wait time after arriving at pier was 20 minutes, started boarding at 11:30 and on the ship by noon. Dh was hungry and didn't want to wait for Versailles to open so we ate in the Market Cafe. Not to bad for buffet style. Cabins were ready by 1:30 and luggage arrived shortly after that. Had everything unpacked and put away before muster drill (which is mandatory) at 3:30. At 4pm went to the Spinnaker Lounge for our cruise critic meet & greet. Meet 2 great ladies and their families. Very nice people and will try to keep in touch. The view was fantastic leaving Seattle. Ship: What an awesome ship. She is huge and beautiful. We found her to be very clean and lots of hand sanitizers everywhere. A person can get turned around easily on the Star. After a few days it gets easier and by the end of the cruise I knew where to go and how to get back. I really have to praise NCL on their help. Everyone was friendly, helpful and willing to go that extra mile. Cabin: Our stateroom was on deck 8 port side aft, cabin 8652 ocean view. Just the right size for 2 people. We decided to keep our beds separated to give us more room. Our luggage fit under the bed and had plenty of closet space. Had enough drawers to put things into. Liked having coffee in the room. The hair dryer was powerful enough. Glad I didn't pack mine. Loved the layout of the bathroom. It even had a clothesline in the shower if you needed it. Every evening our beds were turned down and we found either chocolates on our pillows or towel animals on the bed. Very nice touch and couldn't wait to see which was waiting for us at bedtime. Slept very well on the ship and the beds were comfortable. Dining: We ate breakfast and dinner twice in Versailles. Very nice and the staff was always friendly. Ate the rest of breakfasts in the Market Cafe. They had more choices than Versailles. Had dinner in Aqua once. Also very nice. Endless Summer had good food and staff was friendly also. A couple of times we had late lunches and skipped dinner. Most of our lunches were on the pool deck at the grill. Very, very good hamburgers. Ate the fish & chips at the Blue Lagoon twice. Very good. Did not buy the soda card-too expensive so we drank water or ice tea. Never had to wait to be seated in the restaurants. Overall the food was good. Entertainment: There is a lot to see and do on the ship. One should never be board. We listened to Mt. Motown several times. Really enjoyed his music. Played bingo once too expensive for us. Wasn't real thrilled with the casino. They didn't get a lot of our money. Spent a lot time on deck watching the view, being together and people watching. Ports: In all 3 Alaska ports we toured the towns on our own. Wanted to see the history. For us Skagway was the best. Longest time in port for one, and second it was more old town looking with lots of history. Recommend the NPS tour. It is free and our guide Erica was great. Sawyer Glacier was great even if we couldn't get real close. Was able to get a lot of good pictures. As we were leaving we heard what sounded like thunder and was told it was the glacier calving. Wish we could have seen it. Oh well, maybe another time. Other: Wish the Chocolate Buffet were an earlier time. We are not night owls. Suggestion for future cruisers, please check your accounts at least twice before you receive your final bill. I am glad we did because our obc wasn't on our account. At the last minute I decided to bring my final payment from NCL showing that we had one coming. They took a copy and by that afternoon it was on our account. Excellent response to this oversight. Disembarkment: We chose the express disembarkment, which is where you can leave anytime you, want to as long as it is before 9:40am. You take your bags with you. Very fast, smooth and easy. Final thoughts: Being first time cruisers we had a fantastic time and was sorry to see it end. However we signed up for a future cruise with their on board booking special. We want to thank everyone on the Star for a great cruise. We would recommend this cruise line and to ship to anyone. THANK YOU!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
We arrived a few days early in Seattle to tour around and visit with a friend that recently relocated there. Seattle is a wonderful place and has a wonderfully mild climate in August than where we are from (Texas). We decided to find the ... Read More
We arrived a few days early in Seattle to tour around and visit with a friend that recently relocated there. Seattle is a wonderful place and has a wonderfully mild climate in August than where we are from (Texas). We decided to find the pier a day early and scout it out. As we arrived we noticed a sign in one of the windows that said "Concierge". We went in and found out that we could drop our luggage off with them starting at 7:30a.m. and pick it up later in the day to be loaded on the ship. All it cost was $3.00 for each piece of luggage! On Embarkation day we dropped off our luggage and went to get breakfast and do some shopping. When we got back to the pier at about noon things were hopping so we decided to get our luggage and check it into the ship. The NCL employee at the porter's area said things were slow so we should go ahead and check in. When we got inside the line was extremely long and we feared it would take forever to get processed. However, we were extremely wrong. The check-in took no more than 15 minutes and we had our room cards. We still weren't ready to go on board so they said we could leave and enter through another security area. We checked out the markets and then at about 3p.m. decided to board the ship. Went through the alternate security check point and was on the ship in a matter of minutes. The Star is a beautiful ship and immaculately maintained. Though other post recommended eating lunch in the dining room we opted to go up on deck for the buffet and found it relatively uncrowded. Toured the ship and then proceeded to our room. Our mini-suite was extremely spacious and the bathroom had a tub/shower with sink area separated from the toilet. Some post complained about the liquid soap/shampoo dispensers but I found the quality of both relatively good. The shampoo had a wonderful rosemary scent to it. The soap was a little hard on my sensitive skin (I find this to be the case with any soap in a hotel or ship.) So those with dry/sensitive skins might want to bring an alternate along. I agree with everyone that the mattresses are HARD! I like it that way but those who like a medium to soft firmness you will definitely need to request the egg crate topper. We had requested a bar set-up and it was taken care of by the time we got to our cabin. It definitely saved money but unlike some posts I didn't see any difference in pricing than what I've experienced on other cruise lines (Princess, Carnival) for drinks. There is a 15% gratuity but that is been our experience on the above lines also. There are specials such as double shots in a special glass that gets you discounts on the remainder of the cruise and drink specials listed in the daily schedule so you should take advantage of those for better pricing. We found the food to be overall very good. I travel all of the U.S., France, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK and eat at some very fine restaurants so I should know what I'm talking about. The meals in the dining rooms do focus more on presentation than quantity but at 6'4" and 235lbs. I never left feeling hungry. The food in the Market Cafe was average but put it in the correct context there should be no complaints. I mean hey it's a buffet that has food sitting under heat lamps what do you expect? We ate the majority of our dinners in the dining rooms and only visited one specialty restaurant. That was Le Bistro which serves French cuisine. The food was excellent and the portions were definitely bigger than the dining rooms. The downside of the ship? Most definitely the entertainment. The shows were second rate and 90% of the singers in the lounges were awful and off key save for Jana Seale in the Gatsby bar area. She was sublime. The performers all seemed to be concentrating on their positions on stage or their dance steps rather than actually performing. They had a troupe from Second City but the were second rate (no pun intended). We eagerly anticipated the Chinese Acrobats but were disappointed by the combination of them and the ships performance troupe. Had it been just the acrobats it would have been fabulous. Disembarkation was a breeze. We choose to have NCL deliver our bags to our airline and they also printed our boarding passes. We got up and leisurely ate breakfast in the dining room and then got off the ship in about 10 minutes. Walked around Seattle some more and then caught a cab to the airport. Walked through security flew home and got our bags and went home with no problem. Ketchikan was our first port and it was beautiful. In fact we were blessed with great weather at every stop. Sunshine and mid 60's everytime. Walked and shopped around the historic area where the brothels used to be and then took a float plane tour of the Misty Fjords NM. This shore excursion through the ship was canceled so we did some research and opted to book on our own with Island Wings. It was wonderful. The plane was a beautifully restored Beaver and our guide was very knowledgeable and attentive. We had two-way radios and she encouraged us to ask all the questions we wanted. She is from Alaska and was very knowledgeable. We landed on a remote lake and were able to explore the area for quite awhile before returning. I would recommend Island Wings to anyone. Plus the price is definitely cheaper than what we had booked through NCL. Second stop was Juneau. Mostly a midsized city and not much to be seen. Beautifully located though. We booked a river float and had a great time. Not recommended for those looking for major rapids plus as we neared the end of our tour we were right in the middle of residential areas. Overall it was very fun and we saw many eagles which was a plus. After we left Juneau we headed to the Sawyer Glacier. There is some debate over whether this is better or worse than Glacier Bay but I thought it was beautiful beyond words. I was afraid we wouldn't be able to go very far up the Tracy Arm because of all the ice but everytime I thought we had reached our limit the Captain pressed onward. Ultimately we got within viewing distance of the glacier but the Park Service said it had calved several times that day and we could go no further. Still it was an awesome sight. The ship did an amazing 360 degree turn so everyone could get a good view and pictures of the glacier and then we headed back out. One thing to be aware of is that the travel time to the glacier is not short. The ship goes very slow and it took us about two hours to go up the Tracy Arm. Plus it was COLD. So if you plan to find a good spot on the deck definitely plan to bring a heavy coat and dress warm. We thought it might be good to view this from our balcony but the view all around the ship was so incredible we opted to stay on deck crowded as it was. Next stop was Skagway. It is a cute old mining town that is in a National Park. Every store is either a trinket shop, bar or restaurant and after a few blocks things finally get a little tiresome. We took a train up to the Denver Trailhead and hiked up into the rainforest. It was spectacular. One complaint is that it was a like a forced hike. The guides left little time to stop and take it all in or even to take pictures. Be prepared for a fairly difficult hike. The shore excursion book makes it seem easy but you will definitely get a workout. There trail is not groomed and you have to pick your steps very carefully (or risk slipping on a wet tree root and falling which I did twice.) Last stop was Prince Rupert. By reading some posts we had decided just to stay on the ship but opted to get off at the last minute. The town is quaint but nothing special. Just an average small village you would find anywhere with some beautiful mountains for a backdrop. By the time we arrived most of the stores and restaurants had shut down. We found a few unique gifts in one store and found a museum by the dock to be downright beautiful. We picked up some wonderful numbered prints in the gift shop. All in all we were off the ship for about two hours before we decided to go back on board and have some dinner. Overall the trip was wonderful. No matter what ship you do it on Alaska should be on ANYONES list of must do. The scenery is utterly beautiful and words fail to do it justice. This was our first trip on NCL and by some of the negative postings we were a little worried. However, the staff of the Star were beyond reproach. The food was better than we expected and the ship and our cabin were clean and well kept the entire cruise. We still consider Princess our favorite line but with the right itinerary we would definitely sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
We live close to Seattle so this cruise was driving to the Port of SEattle which made things a lot easier than flying into a port.  We got to Seattle early for boarding. I think we were on the curb at 12:45 and we were eating lunch on the ... Read More
We live close to Seattle so this cruise was driving to the Port of SEattle which made things a lot easier than flying into a port.  We got to Seattle early for boarding. I think we were on the curb at 12:45 and we were eating lunch on the ship by 1:30. Very fast getting onboard. We ate at the Versailles which became our favorite restaurant. Cabin: This was an Oceanview Cabin that had 90% obstructed view. And, that was the truth. There was a lifeboat right in front of us but we are in our cabin so little that we really didn't mind. I did find it interesting that there were 2 windows in the cabin. The cabin was well laid out. Lots of room for 2 people. Restaurants: We loved the Versailles and also ate at the Aqua which has the same menu but the Aqua has a more casual atmosphere. Le Bistro was wonderful. We always ate after nine so it's 2 for 1. A five-course superb French menu was delightful. We ate at Cagney's which has a very good Beef menu. I had a large cut Prime Rib and my husband had the 24 oz Porterhouse. Neither one of us could finish our meal. Again, this was after 9 pm and 2 for 1 prices. We also ate at the Ginza. We ordered off the Sushi menu and ended up with 48 different pieces of Sushi. Again, half price. I'd like to mention that we saw a lot of the officers and entertainers eating at this venue. Nice and quiet. Good windows. Ports of Call: We had not made shore excursion arrangements ahead of time. Ketchikan was mostly shopping. The ship tenders at this port. Juneau was interesting. We took the tram to the top of the hill for a spectacular view of the Juneau Bay. WE also took a bus to the Mendenhall which was easy and fun. Skagway was a cute little old-fashioned mining town. We opted to find the local brewery and local smoked salmon in lieu of shopping. Favorite: The ship stayed in Juneau until 1 pm and then proceeded up the Tracy arm to the Sawyer Glacier. This was the highlight of our trip. The weather cooperated and we stayed outside the entire time. The Sawyer Glacier is magnificent and we doubt we will see anything as breath-taking as this in our lifetime. We enjoyed the icebergs on the way and were in so utter awe of the Sawyer Glacier. The few hours to the glacier is packed with beautiful scenery at every turn. You must take your camera. Sit outside early as everyone wants to be by the rail. Freestyle Cruising: I can see why families like the freestyle approach because you can choose where, when, and with whom you eat. The choices of restaurants is more than you can possibly do in a week so it never could get tiring. Although, we could have eaten at the Versailles morning, noon and night and been thoroughly happy. The Market Cafe is a buffet that is open pretty much all the time. We found the choices were adequate and the food was fresh and hot. I also liked all the choices of fresh fruits and salads. The Ship: The ship was spotless and well laid out. It took us about 3 days to get to know our way around. There are ship layouts posted on all walls so no worries. I liked the hand-sanitation stations and used them often. Smokers were confined to their cabins, the casino and parts of the outside decks. The crew seemed happy to be working and liked to tell you about their families (most haven't seen their families in up to 6-9 months). Packing: Of course we overpacked. You will need a windbreaker-type jacket. A hat or earmuffs. I used gloves once. (up close to the glacier) Be sure and bring binoculars. I'd say bring a nice dressy outfit and wear it twice. (remember you aren't sitting with the same people at dinner). Then it's just casual (very) to resort casual. It is Alaska after all. Suggestions for Norwegian: Just one. Please turn the music off when you are sailing through the Tracey Arm. Especially when you get close to the glacier. I would have loved to hear the quiet. Advice: Bring your own wine on. Paying a $15/bottle corkage fee still saves you money. Order bar service ahead of time. We paid $40 for a litre of Absolute which was waiting when we got there. Overall, we saved another ton of money by having out cocktail in our room instead of paying per drink in the bars. (we did that, too). Bring lots of camera memory. Bring binoculars. Make reservations for the surcharge Restaurants early in the week. They are booked up by the end of the week. Would we do it again? YES!! Since this port is close to home, we had no flight considerations to make. This is a scenic and very relaxing cruise. If you want to party only, this is not the cruise you'd want to take. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
My hubby and I (50,48) arrived in Seattle at 9:00am, we live in So Ca so didn't worry about getting there the day before. It was 100+ degrees when we left and I had to find my long lost jacket to carry. Called for a Town Car at the ... Read More
My hubby and I (50,48) arrived in Seattle at 9:00am, we live in So Ca so didn't worry about getting there the day before. It was 100+ degrees when we left and I had to find my long lost jacket to carry. Called for a Town Car at the airport phone bank, it arrived within 5 minutes. Off to the cruise terminal, had heard about the freeway problems but we took I99 so we didn't experience any delays. When we arrived at the terminal I informed them I was a Latitude member and they put us front of the line for the next check in person. We checked in and sat down to wait for the ok to board. Within 1 hour were on board and ordered our 1st of many 6 for the price of 5 beers. We had eaten at the airport due to the early flight time and no breakfast on the plane and the lines at the buffet were so long so we didn't eat lunch. The Ship is beautiful, we had a balcony, LOVED the balcony. Loved the shower, the toilet had a door inside the bathroom which we thought was wasted space. We never met our room steward, I didn't like that, I wished he/she had introduced him or herself then they could have disappeared. The bed was hard as a rock, used a post-it to request a egg crate. It help a little but not much. Slept with the balcony door open every night, nearly froze hubby but it was wonderful for me. The ship hardly rocked, in fact when we got home I never had the rocking feeling you usually get on land after the cruise. Hubby and I both thought it was even smoother then the Caribbean. Ate at Teppanyaki the first night, good food, and good entertainment. Ate at Le Bistro the second night it wasn't as good. Not bad but nothing special. The rest of the time we ate breakfast in the buffet and Lunch at the Versailles and Dinner at Aqua. Before dinner each night we had a Espresso martini, which was delicious. Waiters were nice and service was good at both lunch and dinner. Couple of times I ate at the Sushi Bar which was good also. I joined the Texas Hold-em Tournament, got to the second round without any additional buy-ins, but have to have more experience and was out at 19 of 35. The rest of the casino, even though the tout Loose slots were NOT loose. Ports were wonderful, not enough time in Ketchikan, we took the Duck Tour which was good on land but not as good on the sea. Juneau was great, took the tram on our own, and took the bus to the Mendenhall Glacier, which was awesome. The bears were really active due to the salmon spawning so they had roped off some of the pathways. I had reserved a car for Skagway thru Avis and while I was in Ketchikan they called me and said they over booked 8 cars and had to cancel mine, I was very disappointed due to wanting to use Murray's guide, but we decided to take the White Pass Railroad and bought our ticket at the rail station and got a train car with only 15 other ppl in it so we had great views up and back AND saved money. The Sawyer Glacier was AWESOME! We viewed it from our balcony, took a zillion pictures. We didn't get off the ship in Prince Rupert, but watched ppl and the town from our balcony. Had a spa sale the last sea day called 5 ways to heaven, had a massage and facial then used the Sauna and Steam room, they tried to push their products but not to hard, just said no and that was that. We saw eagles, seals and one whale! No bears but that's ok. We didn't see any shows, we were on the ship to relax and that's what we did. We will be back to Alaska, it was so pretty and green. Lots of streams and trees. Disembarkation was the best ever, we picked our color, when it was called, we walked right off the ship, the customs man on the walk off the ship said "All American citizens, you can put your passport away now" then we found our luggage and walked out of the terminal after giving our declaration sheet to an employee and we were at the street looking for transportation in about 15 minutes. We were going to hail a taxi but a Town Car driver showed up and we took it back to the airport. Over all had a wonderful trip. This was my hubby's first trip on NCL he loved it, loved the freestyle dining. This was my second time with NCL and on the same ship both times. I loved it too, only down side was the short time in Ketchikan, and will choose my next cruise to Alaska based on the times in Port and not the ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
My husband and I had not been on a cruise in 17 years and we chose NCL because of the price, and the "freestyle" concept. We do not like to have to dress up on vacation and this was a perfect fit for us. We flew into Seattle a ... Read More
My husband and I had not been on a cruise in 17 years and we chose NCL because of the price, and the "freestyle" concept. We do not like to have to dress up on vacation and this was a perfect fit for us. We flew into Seattle a couple of days before our cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the city. This was our first trip to Alaska and one I will never forget. We left our hotel (Grand Hyatt Seattle) around 11:30 by taxi to the port and stopped at Pike Place Market for a beautiful bouquet of flowers for our cabin. The port was busy but everyone was very helpful and efficient. We were on the Star by 12:15. We were off to a great start. We had a great lunch in Versailles and checked out the ship. Our cabin was ready a little before 2pm. We were happy with our balcony cabin. We definitely used the balcony and I must say it is worth the additional expense for an Alaska cruise. We saw so much from right outside our balcony. It also made the cabin seem larger. We were happy with the size of our cabin and all of our 4 suitcases fit under the bed. We brought too many clothes for this trip, especially with the laundry special on Weds. you can have your clothes washed and pressed for the trip home. Next time I will definitely bring less clothes. Our cabin was kept clean and tidy, but we never met our room steward. We were extremely happy with the service and the food on this cruise. I can't imagine how someone could not be happy unless only eating in buffet. We only ate there if we were having a quick breakfast before an excursion. Versailles was preferred over Aqua in our opinion of the service. (food was the same) We ordered room service for breakfast several times and it was always on time and exactly as ordered. ( I wrote in pineapple juice and got it!) We ate at Cagneys one night and it was wonderful. The service was first class (server brought me an appetizer from another restaurant when I asked about it) and the steaks were excellent. We also ate at Le Bistro (ok), Ginza (excellent), and Endless Summer (excellent). There was always food available and it was good. We also liked the idea of eating by ourselves if we wanted to and not having to dress up for dinner. Khakis and shirt (no tie) were fine any night. The chocolate buffet was a treat and a little crowded but a lot of fun. The spa facilities were beautiful and the dailies provided lots of activities each day. My husband and I spent a lot of time in the casino, which had some of the friendliest dealers we had experienced. We travel to casinos frequently, and this casino was top notch. We also enjoyed the comedy group that performed. We were not crazy about the musical performances. We noticed lots of children at the pool area and playing on the elevators at times, but otherwise they were occupied elsewhere. We only did one shore excursion through the cruiseline. In Prince Rupert, we did the ancient Indian village and petroglyphs tour. They grilled fresh salmon which we thoroughly enjoyed, but that was the highlight of the 4 hour tour. In Ketchikan we booked a wilderness tour online and it was ok. We saw one bear cub and lots of bald eagles. Ketchikan had the best shopping so save time for that. In Juneau we did the glacier and city tour for $25 booked after we got off the ship and it was very informative. In Skagway we rented a car from Avis and drove the Klondike highway to Emerald Lake, stopping at Caribou Crossing for a summer dog sled ride. It was a lot of fun and a beautiful drive. We were back around 2pm. We just did not want to sit on a train for that long and not be able to get off and take pictures if we wanted. Disembarkation was a breeze, although neither of us made it to the disembarkation talk onboard. I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone. I can not imagine someone not having a good time. Alaska is absolutely breathtaking and the cruise overall was wonderful. We can't wait to go again. I hope this is helpful to others planning their cruise, because this website helped us tremendously. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
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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