58 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

Background: I wanted to take another Alaska cruise as I had done an Alaska cruise 10 years ago on Princess in Sept of 1997. This was my first time on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Taking Alaska cruises in May and September allows for better ... Read More
Background: I wanted to take another Alaska cruise as I had done an Alaska cruise 10 years ago on Princess in Sept of 1997. This was my first time on Norwegian Cruise Lines. Taking Alaska cruises in May and September allows for better overall pricing of the cruise. Embarkation: This was the most smooth embarkation that I've ever had on a cruise. We stopped at the Seattle Aquarium for a tour prior to the cruise since it is right by the pier. If you have time for the Seattle Aquarium, I recommend a visit before you board the cruise ship. This was the first cruise of the season, but the Norwegian employees did a great job of getting us on board the Star with no problem. Activities: As on most cruises, there are activities all over the ship. Personally, I used the Barong Fitness center 3 or 4 times, and really liked the aerobic machines and the free weights. The view from the fitness center was beautiful. I utilized the outdoor basketball court a couple of times and shooting baskets on top of the ship was a lot of fun. I visited the Star Club Casino a few times, but the cigarette smoke made it difficult to stay much more than a half hour per visit. It appeared to be a well run casino and the other passengers seemed to be enjoying themselves. Our cruise got much further into the Sawyer Glacier than most others. I was probably outside looking at that glacier longer than anybody else. Remember to dress warm for your Alaska outdoor activities. Gloves are a real asset in May. Entertainment: The entertainment in the Stardust Theatre was the best that I have ever seen. The Broadway and Vegas type shows were second to none. In fact, I went to see the same show twice on two out of the three nights. The Stardust Theatre is great and there were seats available. Previous history on Princess had situations where I could not even locate a seat in the theatre, and therefore I missed the show. Dining: The dining was one of the areas that Norwegian Cruise line appears to be a bit weak. Most of my meals were in the Market Cafe, and the food selection did not offer much in the way of variety. I need to eat on somewhat of a schedule so I need to utilize the freestyle dining offered by Norwegian. I ate at Cagney's Steakhouse one evening and that was great. It provided me with a beautiful view of Sawyer Glacier and an excellent meal. I had room service bring me one meal(sandwich) which was not anything to brag about. However, I also had room service bring me milk and cookies on more than one occasion and that provided me an outstanding snack. I acknowledge that I should have tried to have a few meals in the Aqua or Versailles dining room, but that is too late now. Shore Excursions: The White Pass Railroad was the highlight of the shore excursions. It was especially beautiful since this was the first cruise out and snow was all along the route. Skagway is my favorite port in Alaska. In Juneau, I took the Mount Roberts Tramway up to the top of Mount Roberts. I got some great photos of the ship from up there and toured the visitor center. There are trails up there, but the disadvantage of going in May is that there was far too much snow to hike in. Therefore, next time I go on this cruise, I'll have to go in September so that I can hike the trails on Mount Roberts. In Ketchikan, we did a wildlife tour, but did not see any wildlife and Port Rupert did not really offer anything for me. I had signed up for a grizzly bear tour, but I was informed this was not available before we left. Stateroom: The Stateroom was an oceanview cabin. I spent a lot of time enjoying the view of the ocean from my room. It was too cold to have a balcony and I'm glad I did not select one in May. Part of the cruise experience is simply looking at the water. If you do not enjoy that, a cruise may not be your best selection of a vacation. Disembarkation: This went very smooth and I have no complaints on how this was handled. Summary: I enjoyed this cruise very much and will be cruising on NCL again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Our trip on the NCL Star was the 10th cruise for myself, the 5th for my DH. We are in our late 40's and are fairly easy to entertain. Tip for flying into Seattle... use the shuttle service at the airport. $14 each. Quick, efficient ... Read More
Our trip on the NCL Star was the 10th cruise for myself, the 5th for my DH. We are in our late 40's and are fairly easy to entertain. Tip for flying into Seattle... use the shuttle service at the airport. $14 each. Quick, efficient service to the pier. NCL did have folks there to greet us and even though we hadn't bought transfers from them, they allowed us to drop the baggage there. In hindsight, probably wouldn't do that again as it was late before they got to our room, even though we dropped them off there at about 10:30am! Embarkation was a breeze. Walked into the pier, followed all of the friendly greeters and we were ready to go within 5 minutes. We then waited about 30 minutes until they boarded us. Drinks were provided for our comfort. On ship before noon. The cabin: We had a guaranteed balcony. Adequate storage, although they could have had more. The beds were not high enough off the floor to store luggage. Odd, never had that happen before. The bed was comfortable after we got the steward to bring us more pillows and an egg crate. We were glad we got that tidbit off of the boards here. The bathroom was not good for us. Both of us are large folks. The shower was great with a door and hand held shower head. There was no storage except for under the sink on shelves and the toilet... EEEKS! It was in it's own little "room" that was closed off with a sliding door somewhat like the shower... except it wasn't as wide of a door and there was no room in that place. Getting in to do your business was a challenge, and the "after business" business was near impossible. We discovered that we could bend in ways I thought no longer possible. I would NOT advise you pick this ship if you are larger or taller. The television showed CNN, ESPN, 2 movie channels and the cartoon network. Would have been nice to have the major networks since there wasn't a lot in the area of entertainment. Refrigerator was nice, although it was filled with liquor and beer. The coffee maker was good for making decent tea. We brought along our own large glasses for iced tea! The Dining: So many choices. The buffet is laid out very strangely and was a sore spot all week. The tables are for six. There are four separate areas and finding a place to sit down is nearly impossible at noon. Go after 9:00am, 1:00pm. The rush is before those times! There are grills on either end, but the food gets cold quick in the weather we were dealing with. Must haves at the buffet at breakfast... waffles? Actually, nothing was outstanding. The omelets are prepared like crepes. Cook faster, but just not what I look for in an omelet. DH thought they were small, I thought they were tasteless. At lunch time, they will prepare cold cut sandwiches for you and there's a stir fry guy that became my best friend. The desserts were disappointing , but an ice cream cone did the trick at the back of the boat. Flavors changed daily. The main dining rooms were good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The service was good, the food was good and you were given options of sitting by yourself or joining others. The Versailles was beautifully appointed and always offered a spectacular view. The Aqua was more "intimate". We were always seated immediately. Blue Lagoon was okay if you had some time or wanted to do a "drive by" cookie, fruit or pound cake run! Getting food off the menu took 20-30 minutes and they served it piece meal. Fries, then sandwich, and you found yourself watching your tablemates eating as you waited for your order. Try the banana "cake", white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and fresh pears! We tried La Trattoria and Endless Summer, the two free restaurants. The Italian was okay, but not what we like. The location was actually part of the buffet divided off, table clothes and chair covers thrown on. The Tex Mex didn't thrill DH, but I enjoyed the fajitas and be sure to try the fresh berry and the chocolate cream puff dessert. We ate there twice. The first time with reservations, the second without. It was 7:20. The maitre de informed us it would be a 30 minute wait, that we really needed reservations. I asked if there was a 7:30 reservation available, which there was. I said, "we'll take that then." We were then seated. The guy acted like he was doing us a big favor. There were plenty of tables available. I think they actually staff the restaurants based on the reservations made. We only tried 2 of the pay restaurants. Cagney's and the Teppanyaki. Cagneys served a great steak. Everything there was tasty, so much so, we went 2 nights. $20 per person cover charge... but Happy Hour was between 8:30 and 9:30. 2 for 1 dinners, not including the specialty, higher priced entrees. Teppanyaki was more fun than anything. The food was good as well. Have the fruit dessert. $20 per person ...no happy hour there though. The other specialty restaurants didn't have anything on the menu that appealed enough to us to pay extra for it. The bars. Typical, high priced drinks. Although the smoothies at $3.50 wasn't as pricey as other cruise lines. The soda card was a HUGE RIPOFF! DH has always purchased the drink card and was able to get his money's worth. The staff did not like to get the sodas for him and never came back and offered refills, except for in the dining room. The service. Hit and miss. I don't like the "service charge" as opposed to coming out and saying it's the gratuities. We have never taken away gratuity, but often give more. We did tip extra in the restaurants but felt awkward in doing so in the dining rooms on a meal by meal basis. The ports. We loved them. The scenery was what we went for and we were richly rewarded. Each port was quaint, clean and full of gracious habitants! The first cruise we've been on where folks made actual honest conversation - without a hand out! Unfortunately the glaciers were "calving" and we were unable to get into the fjords like we had hoped. Disembarkation. The highly recommended "freestyle" was a mess. We did the old fashioned luggage tags, stayed in the cabin until the color before us was called, waited for the line to die down a bit with our color and then walked off the boat, found our bags and got a shuttle van to the airport in short order. All in all, we won't do NCL again anytime soon. Freestyle is not for us. Call us old fashioned, but there was something missing on this cruise. Seemed like we were nickel and dimed for everything and not a lot of activities for "out to sea" time. Luckily, the destinations made up for the cruise line's shortcomings and having a good time was up to us, and we did enjoy it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
We sailed on the NCL Star on July 30th, to Alaska, from Seattle. There were a total of five in our group, in two cabins. Myself 35, wife 37, son 12 & parents 73. My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the ship. My wife ... Read More
We sailed on the NCL Star on July 30th, to Alaska, from Seattle. There were a total of five in our group, in two cabins. Myself 35, wife 37, son 12 & parents 73. My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the ship. My wife is the only one in the group that had been on a cruise before. I wont get into super details, but I will hit the highlights. Embarkation: We flew in Saturday night, as not wanting to take a chance of having flight issues the day of, and missing the boat, because as you know, every flight is always on time. We had Shuttle Express pick us up at the hotel near the airport. If you need transportation Shuttle Express was on time, and very nice to deal with, I would use them again. We got to pier 66 at 11:15am. They began boarding at 11:30am. We where in our rooms at 12:05pm. This entire process went much faster and smoother than I thought possible. Ports: This is the only real complaint I have about the cruise. A short day in Juneau and a full day in Skagway? Why? Unless you do one of the extremely expensive excursions in Skagway, all you need is about two hours to walk around and see the town. I really felt we got robbed by only spending a short day in Juno. Anyway, I highly recommend that you do all of your souvenir shopping in either Juneau or Skagway at the Great Alaskan T-shirt Company. In both ports, they are one of the first buildings you come across. The prices and wide selection really surprised me. You can get anything you might want to bring home at very good prices here. Juno & Victoria are the nicest ports on the cruise. Skagway was nice, but you spend way too much time there. Ketchikan is pretty much a fishing village with a lot of jewelry stores in it. Other than in Victoria, the ship docks within very easy walking distance of the tourist traps in each port. Victoria is within walking distance, but it is a bit of a hike. We took a cab each direction for $10. Excursions: Our entire group only did one. It was in Juneau, at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. I dont eat Salmon, so I can only say what the others said. We all had a very good time, and the food was very good. When you get there, its not much to look at, but once inside the camp it is a pretty nice setting. I think it is in somewhat of an industrial park area. All the people in my group said the salmon was some of the best they have ever had, I had the chicken and ribs, which was very good also. The entire dinner is all you can eat. In Skagway, my parents did the Best of Skagway tour. They take you on what looks to be a school bus and show you all of the highlights of the city. It lasts two hours. My parents both said it was very nice and they enjoyed it. In Ketchikan, my parents did the lumberjack show. It is about a six-block walk from the ship to the show, and they do not have a shuttle. The show lasts about one hour. Again, they both aid they enjoyed it. Food: We where all very happy with the overall quality of the food on the ship. We ate at three of the specialty restaurants, Cagney's, Le Bistro and La Trattoria. Cagney's is worth the money, big time. Le Bistro was nice, but the menu is limited, and the portions small. La Trattoria was pretty good Italian, and best of all, you can wear jeans. We ate a lot at the Market Cafe, which is the buffet. Again, very happy with the quality of the food. We also ate at Versailles and Aqua. The chilled fruit soup they serve for lunch is very good. I do not recall one meal that we ate that anyone said they did not like what they had. Service: What can I say, it was top notch. There are so many employees that you literally cant spit without having someone ask you if you need anything. I have nothing but good things and praise all around for the entire crew. We had no bad experiences of any kind with anyone. The Ship: Overall, very nice. I was not thrilled with the way it is laid out though. Having to walk through a couple of the restaurants, while people are eating, to get where you need to go, is not a great idea. The pool deck is way to small. The day we sailed into Victoria it was pretty nice, and a lot of people went to the pool area. They have two really big slides that take up a lot of space. The pool itself is pretty small. I can only imagine how crowded it must get on the pool deck when the ship is in Mexico. The video arcade is a joke, they should take it out and expand the size of the kids club. It is very small and cramped, and doesnt have a very good or large selection of machines. Rooms: We had two balcony rooms, 8050 & 8052. They where about what I expected. The bathrooms where a little smaller than I would have liked. We had two adults and one child in our room, and once the turned down the room for the night, there was no room to move. If you only have two people, it is fine. If you have more, I highly recommend you move into a mini-suite. Kids program: My 12 year old son had a very good time. Every time we came to pick him up, he gave us that why are you here already look. I was pretty happy with the program and counselors. My only complaint is the size of the area that is dedicated for the kids, it is kind of small. Disembarkation: Again, very smooth process. We choose to be in the first color group called to leave. They called us at about 7:50am. We where off the ship, through customs, and at the airport by 8:45am. Again, we used Shuttle Express to get us from Pier 66 to the airport. Our entire group, plus 11 pieces of luggage was only $33. SeaTac was nowhere near as busy as I had been led to believe by other reviews. We where at the gate by 9:30am. Overall: We all had a very good time. We saw a lot of whales from our balcony. It was colder than I thought it might be, and it rained at least a little every day except in Victoria. After reading all of the bad reviews that people left this past winter when the ship had its propeller problems, I was very concerned about the choice we made by booking with NCL. My travel agent also warned me about booking a cruise on the Motel 6 of cruise industry. I have no real complaints. Everything went as I had hoped it would. Our next cruise is with Disney, but we will book again on NCL. I hope this helps. This ship will still be in Alaska in 2007, but it will be sailing on Saturdays and going to Prince Rupert instead of Victoria. The new ship, I think the Pearl, will be sailing this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
I travelled to Alaska with my 11yr. old daughter, my sister, my 16 yr. old niece, a friend, my brother, his wife, and my mom and dad. The five of us girls shared an inside cabin, as did my brother and his wife, and my parents had a balcony ... Read More
I travelled to Alaska with my 11yr. old daughter, my sister, my 16 yr. old niece, a friend, my brother, his wife, and my mom and dad. The five of us girls shared an inside cabin, as did my brother and his wife, and my parents had a balcony room. My expectations: I was expecting a very restful time reading books a enjoying the scenery from some lounge. This was my 7th cruise, 3rd one with NCL, second one on the Sun. I've also been with Holland America and Celebrity. Although the service is not as good on NCL, the price is always right. Doing research for this cruise was important. There was no way I could afford to do any of the extremely high priced excursions that involved flights....so I found the best excursions that I could afford for my daughter and I. We departed from Toronto on our independently booked Air Canada flight and arrived in Vancouver mid-morning. The 9 of us jumped into 2 taxi-limos (same price as 3 cabs). Our limo driver gave us a very informative tour on the way to the port, whereas my parents limo was like a silent drive to a funeral. We were dropped off at the underground curb in the port terminal and within a few minutes we were allowed into the waiting area. This is the first time we have arrived early enough to have to wait, but we wanted to make sure to fully enjoy our first day on the ship. We were checked in. Some used credit cards as deposits...I gave them a set amount of cash I had prebudgeted for, and we were allowed on the ship. We grabbed some of those free Alaska books with all the coupons, which I didn't use as they had no coupons for locally made products, but my family got lots of use out of them. On the way in, I encountered my first cruising pet peeve. Photographers! I tried to discreetly bypass the ever so sacred photographers line. The photographers acted like it was some sort of security checkpoint....and got really mad at me...but, I decided to stroll by the line anyway. I wasn't going to wait to pose for some stupid picture I wasn't going to purchase...and got heckled by those in line for not listening to the photographers (one lady in particular cut in line disembarking the ship one day...hmmm). I don't have a problem with ship photographers...what I do have a problem is them obstructing the pathway on and off ships, making EVERYONE wait to embark or disembark the ship. Okay, rant over. We made our way to our room, got to meet our cabin steward and requested extra pillows and hangers which we got right away. We grabbed some lunch at the buffet. Of course the first platefuls of our unlimited all inclusive food is always the most satisfying and convincing that our journey has begun.....After that, we changed into our bathing suits which we'd brought in our carry-ons and spent the afternoon hot tubbing and pretending it was sunny and warm as we huddled under our towels. One pleasant surprise is that the pools were heated! After a couple of hours we got changed. At this point most of our luggage had arrived. Being 5 girls, I thought storage might be an issue, but we all claimed a couple drawers and got the rest of our stuff really organized and it worked out great. We made good use of the extra powerbar and shoe holder that we brought. We stored all our suitcases under the beds. The Sun's inside cabins have great cabinet and storage space and their inside cabins feel roomy and comfortable. We went to visit our parent's room. This was a first time in all our many cruises that any of our group had a balcony. As soon as we walked into the room we smelled a funny smell...sewer....Apparently, some seal or something had dried up and it was stinky!! After two days the problem was fixed. I found the mini-suite very long and narrow. The bathroom felt very claustrophobic and far...Just not the type of room one would expect for a "mini-suite"...but still the balcony was an asset. (By the way, my mom did write NCL about the sewer smell and received a credit back for one of their passenger fares). We watched from the top of the ship as we departed Vancouver. Going past Stanley Park and going under the bridge was exciting..getting crapped on by a seagull was not, but it seemed amusing to everyone else. Although I don't remember anymore of that day, we must of ate and then we went to the welcome show, where I tried to stay awake. I'm not sure if it's because I've seen too many of these shows, or if I'm getting too old at the tender age of 32, but this was the first cruise I couldn't have cared less about the shows. In fact, I decided that, instead of falling asleep and chance finding myself on some "this is your cruise" video, nodding off with sleep spit coming out of my mouth, I would just go to bed. My sister also seemed to be suffering from the same disease so I wasn't alone. There we were.....90 year olds partying it up outside...and us...in bed by 9pm. The first day at sea was restful. The scenery was beautiful and we just watched, ate, swam, ate, hot tubbed, ate.....and again went to bed early. The next day, I was to find out that our alarm clock that we brought didn't work. Being in an inside cabin with 5 beds is a challenge for the first riser. I very quietly got my workout clothes on, figuring I had to maintain some semblance of fitness. I quietly grabbed my shoes and made my way through the hallways. It was very quiet. I asked a worker with "ghostbuster" type vacuum what time it was and he said 4am...Nice!!! I'm on vacation and I'm up at 4am...That's jetlag for you. I made my way to the empty gym and found nothing worked. So, I walked around the ship for the next few hours with all the other vampires. We watched as the ship pulled into Ketchikan. Then I worked out. Being in the cruise gym gives you a special feeling...kinda like an us vs. them, we still have some dignity left...Of course after the second day, I was never to return....I was on vacation.....who cares about dignity. That night we all got dressed up and went to formal dinner. Finding a table for 9 wasn't a problem as long as we showed up when the dining room opened. The lobster tails were small but good and our waiter had no problem bringing out more. As we departed a gentlemen pulled us aside and wanted to express how beautiful it was to see a whole family travelling together. He didn't know that this was just a small fraction of the huge family and friends group we usually travel with, but needless to say it was nice to make us appreciate our family and how much we love travelling together....cruising really allows us to do that. The next few days were port days: Ketchikan....rainy and cold. We met up with friends of friends..spent some time with them, and then did some shopping. Nothing outstanding here. Juneau... We all booked the Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching tour ($135 @ through NCL). I was a bit worried about booking this excursion through NCL, because I'd read the privately booked one were so much more superior. Short port time is what made me book the NCL one. The boat provided was spacious and satisfactory, the staff was great and very informative. The whale watching started out kinda boring. Then a few whales were spotted...and it was okay...I have to say that I wished I had brought my winter coat. I had on 3 sweaters and a fall jacket, mitts and one of those tube neck scarves thingy's which I wore on my head and I was still frozen. (Yes, the pictures look ridiculous) Thankfully the boat provided unlimited hot chocolate and gourmet teas for free. They also provided us with snacks. Then the sun came out for the first time in 40+ days, which took the edge of the cold. A group of whales were spotted off the coast of some island and the boat stayed with them as they provided us with the show of a lifetime. I can't even begin to explain what followed...but all of a sudden a group of whales bursted out of the waters, jaws wide open and gracefully retreated back to enjoy their prey. This is called Bubble Feeding. It was the most beautiful display of animal teamwork I'd ever seen. Then they graciously repeated their performance 2 more times. It stills gives me shivers and I feel privileged to have seen this rare public occurrence. Although I am a great proponent of private excursions as opposed to cruise ones...I think with this one it all has to do with where the whales are...not who's driving the boat. Then again the boat wasn't full. We also saw an island full of sea lions and seals. We reboarded our buses to the Mendenhall glacier. It was neat to see the glacier, but we spent way too much time there. I would suggest either go with enough time to spend time hiking or well...I guess the other option leaves you at the mercy of the tour operator. That afternoon we sailed through Tracey Arm. I wish I could still remember, but all I have now are pictures which do it no justice. It was the MOST beautiful place I'd seen. Each turn revealing even more beauty. It was even more awe inspiring that St. Lucia which was my favorite. The mountains, the misty clouds...just unbelievable. We all watched from my parents balcony, and took turns warming up. We could hear the narrator speaking on the loud speakers on deck and it felt like God was talking down to us...IN THE BEGINNING....The only disappointment is the waters were too filled with icebergs to make it to the glacier...so we had to settle for a glimpse...as the ship's photographers got on a little boat to take pictures for us...(thanks but not thanks...your generic postcards didn't fool me....oops sorry, didn't mean to rant). Skagway: The 5 of us girls independently booked Joni's horseback riding through SouthEast tours($150 @). We walked to their office, and a small bus met us. The bus was okay, but needed maintenance. Our driver was good. He was still fairly new to Alaska and was still somewhat of a tourist. The drive was long, but the ever charging scenery was interesting...some of it looking like moonscape and then beautiful meandering rivers.... Joni's horseback riding experience what great. Joni is a real cowgirl and you can tell she loves what she does. We were each matched with a horse. We had a group of about 12 with us, 2 or 3 which were Joni's helpers for the day. Our driver was very helpful in helping my very nervous daughter on the horse and helped the horse stay calm. She had never been and I hadn't been in over 15 years. We took off. We went through some really beautiful trails. Joni stayed at the front of the pack...kinda doing her own thing...very unconcerned with us, which was my only disappointment with her. I feel my daughter needed some extra help and encouragement, especially when the horses would trot, and Joni couldn't have cared less, which seemed uncharacteristic of all the good reviews I'd read. Needless to say the views were outstanding, the 90 minute ride was easy yet challenging in a way...slopes and trotting...but it felt like a true experience..not a follow the leader in a field type thing. My daughter really enjoyed it and it was awesome seeing her overcome her fears. On the drive back we made a few stops to take pics and stretch. The driver seemed a little unconcerned with getting another couple back to their ship on time..saying that ships are always late....eh....sorry buddy, but are you going to pay for my seaplane ticket? We were left with time to shop and I have to say that Skagway was the best for shopping. This little town had a lot of character...somewhat Disneyish, yet still quaint. It also had the most Made in Alaska merchandise which was hard to find. Wrangell: Wrangell will always hold a special place for me because of a personal triumph. First of all, we had beautiful sunny weather. It was warm enough to wear just a light sweater. 4 of us girls booked this excursion through NCL, which used a company called Alaska Vistas. ($110@) My daughter stayed with grandma. Their guides were young, energetic and fun. After an orientation we boarded our 2 person kayaks and took off in the water. It was pretty choppy, which made me appreciate my new muscles. We kayaked here and there for a couple of hours. Although we didn't get to see any of the wildlife as described in the shore excursion book, the view were amazing and the experience was surreal. To be kayaking in Alaska's waters with the mountain peaks in the background was a highlight of my life. Sadly, apparently NCL won't be visiting Wrangell anymore. Wrangell is a small untouched island and NCL was the only big cruise ship company that came into port there. The town economy had greatly benefited from this. However NCL has been unsuccessfully trying to buy up all the land around the port to turn it into a carbon copy of all the other ports offering jewelry and made in china souvenirs. The town has refused and has chosen to lose the money rather than it's identity. The last day at sea was spent relaxing, eating and reminiscing about the cruise. In general, the food was very good. The soups at supper were outstanding. The salmon was like butter. The waffle station for breakfast was great. The fresh cookies in the outside buffet line were addictive. The canollis at the italian buffet were to die for and surprisingly so was the bread pudding..Otherwise the desserts were just so-so....The lunch buffets were okay. The service on the ship was okay, nothing lacking, nothing outstanding. Our room was clean. The cruise director was horrible...and the shows were not worth the bother (yet nothing could be worse than the Norwegian Spirit shows) and they had no entertainment on the decks which was kind of weird. Having heated pools made up for that though. My other pet peeve about cruising is chair hogs...although finding a chair outside was no problem, chair hogs abounded inside and sad to say, but I was very disappointed in the elderly generation for their lack of manners in this regard...so we found ourselves having to swarm tables as a group with trays in hand and that person would either uncomfortably pick up their novel and move or we'd strike up great conversations.... So, that's about it for now. Alaska proved to be one of my favorite cruises. Funny thing is that I never even got to read my book. It was fun, active, busy and exhilarating and I think everyone should do it once in their lives...(except my husband who detests the cold). I look forward to going back with my son when he's a bit older and able to participate in the active stuff. Things I was glad I brought: Very little day clothing (You end up wearing the same jeans and sweaters everyday) night light shoe organizer, mitts powerbar alarm clock (to see at night..although it would have been good if it actually worked) Things I wished I had brought: Winter coat hat Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Just returned from a week cruising the inside passage onboard the Norwegian Star with our two kids ages 17 and 10. We've sailed with RCL and Princess in the past. We were very impressed with the embarkation process; it went very ... Read More
Just returned from a week cruising the inside passage onboard the Norwegian Star with our two kids ages 17 and 10. We've sailed with RCL and Princess in the past. We were very impressed with the embarkation process; it went very smoothly and we were onboard within 20 minutes. Compared to the 1-2 hour hassle we've had in the past with other lines we were very impressed. Once onboard we went straight to our inside cabin, which was a first for us as we typically go for an outside. We were nervous about being in an inside for an entire week but were pleased with the storage space and the bathroom - the larger showers with glass doors are a definite plus. One thing we didn't like about the cabin was that there was a pull-down berth for the third person but a trundle bed for the fourth person, which when opened took up all the space between the two beds. It was like one big mattress for the three of us to roll around on. This was fine for our kid, but probably a little too close for comfort if you're not related to your sleeping buddies (unless, of course, you like that sort of thing!). Our cabin steward never introduced himself or herself, so we weren't sure just who it was when we passed them in the halls. The ship, in general, isn't as "shiny and new" as though we've previously sailed on, but to be fair both of our previous cruises were on very new ships at the time (Radiance of the Seas and Sapphire Princess). The Grand Atrium is very nice and open with a coffee bar at the base of the elevators. If you're an espresso freak like me, though, don't hold your breath for something like Seattle's Best or Starbucks because it wasn't all that great. It was still a nice place to meet up and enjoy the live music and the comings and goings of other passengers. They do need to replace the terrible paper/silk flowers in the atrium - they look like they came from K mart or something. THe other elements, such as light fixtures and sculptures, were elegant and classy, which is why it made the fake flowers look so out of place. Memo to NCL: do it right or don't do it at all. Staff and crew were very friendly and always greeted you with a smile. The cruise director, Kieron, is from England and we really enjoyed him. Trust a bloke (that's slang for a British guy) to show us a good time! He wasn't snotty and stuck up on himself as we've seen in the past. The shows onboard were EXCELLENT. Don't miss a single one of them...from the production numbers to the magician and the "Chocolate Goddess", they were all outstanding and the best at sea we've seen so far. Nice job, NCL. They only thing we could complain about is that they need to amp up the mic on the great sax player as he was overshadowed by the (excellent, but too loud) brass players. On the second to last night they had a cross-section of the staff and crew come up on stage which was quite a sight to see and as corny as it sounds, a nice touch and one highlight of the trip. Our 17-year-old skipped the kids program as he felt it was cheesy to lump himself in with a group of 13-year-olds. Our 10-year-old did enjoy her program and went about half the time when she wasn't just hanging out with us. I wonder when a cruise line will come up with a great program just for older teens that would actually interest them, say 16- to 18-year olds. It's a tough crowd, to be sure, but just think of the future generations of cruisers you'll have if you engage them now. We're not big fans of the "freestyle" dining as we felt the cover charges on the specialty restaurants we a bit excessive considering the quality of the food. We did try out Cagney's, Le Bistro, SoHo, and Ginza. Cagney's wasn't anything to write home about and our waiter was aloof. We very much enjoyed Le Bistro and felt that it was money well spent. Do reserve for the specialty restaurants early on if you plan to go as they book up quickly. SoHo was nice as was Ginza, though honestly in retrospect I think I'd prefer to pay more up front and not have the cover charges. The Barong Spa was lovely. We had a "couple massage" and it was very relaxing with a view of the sea, though I'm a little baffled as to why they charged more than double just to have us in the same room at the same time. Next time we'll just reserve separate appointments and save $20. We could have done without the product pitch afterwards and just to shut her up we bought some juniper massage oil. It smells heavenly but I doubt it's really worth what we paid for it. The best thing about the spa area is that the pool and hot tubs are for 18 and over only, so it's more peaceful back there. There's also a great place to relax and lounge while overlooking aft at the wake of the ship. I almost hate telling folks about it lest it become too crowded back there, but do make a point to check it out. It's a great place to escape to to relax, read a book, or whatever. The Galleria mall in the aft of the ship was nice, but we felt the jewelry was overpriced considering the deals we could get in port. When I tried to dicker with them they didn't budge, so we ended up dropping our jewelry dollars in Skagway and Ketchikan. Guess they're really not all that interested in actually selling their pretty baubles. Bingo was fun, though we were surprised there was no "horse" racing. It sounds crazy but we really enjoyed that on other cruise lines, so CD Kieron if you're reading this, please consider adding it to your activities! A number of other passengers we talked to also missed it as well. We didn't spend much time in the casino as it was just too smoky...we'd love to see a ship have a non-smoking area for those of us who choke on it. We would have probably "donated" a lot more if it was more pleasant to be there! Also there was no tour of the galley or any other "behind the scenes" areas which we would have found fascinating. Overall, we would sail with NCL again and felt the value for the money was good. Don't miss a single show and get to the Stardust Theater early to snag good seats as the entertainment is probably the best aspect of this ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
First off, I am disabled and use a manual wheelchair. Getting through embarkment was a hassle. Way too long a process (no less than 2 hours) but whenever an employee saw me in my w/c they took me and my group to the front. My mom and I had ... Read More
First off, I am disabled and use a manual wheelchair. Getting through embarkment was a hassle. Way too long a process (no less than 2 hours) but whenever an employee saw me in my w/c they took me and my group to the front. My mom and I had decided on a w/c accessible balcony room, which was immaculate when we went in. The room was very roomy, which was a pleasant surprise, but the balcony situation was my first disappointment. I had asked someone at NCL (via e-mail) if the balcony had a lip because I wanted to go out onto it whenever I felt like it. I was told that it had no lip, which was a lie. It had a 5-6(?) inch rise. Luckily, my brother were able to lift me in the w/c onto the balcony at least once a day. The balcony itself, it was wonderful. We left Seattle on a sunny day, sailed all day Monday, and got to a partly cloudy Juneau on Tuesday. I was pleasantly surprised at how w/c accessible the city is! The bus driver to town was a crack-up and I was sad that it was such a short trip. I didn't make any excursions there because I have a relative there so he showed us around. I saw 2 bald eagles flying around on the way back to the ship. That was cool! The next day (Wed.), we sailed into rainy Skagway and took the White Pass Scenic Railway up the mountain. It was totally accessible and I had a good time. The tour guide was also a fun person. We were supposed to spend all day Thursday in Glacier Bay but the Captain announced that there was a "mechanical problem" with the ship so, "for environmental reasons", we couldn't go in. My whole REASON for taking an Alaskan cruise was to go to Glacier Bay! I don't travel easily and splurged for a balcony room for that very reason! They offered each cabin a $200 credit, which is ridiculous! It SHOULD have been $200 (or more) per PERSON. 1 of my brothers heard that there were 7 cruise ships in the area and a lottery was held to see who would get to go to G.B. Only 5 ships a day are allowed in. If that was the case, we lost. People were talking about lawsuits. At this point, we decided to NEVER book on NCL again! We sailed to a rainy Sitka instead and, sure enough, there was another ship already docked. They had to tender people onshore and they couldn't accommodate my w/c so going there was a complete waste to me. I was told by those who went ashore that I didn't miss anything. We sailed into a partly cloudy Ketchikan and I had to cancel an excursion because I didn't feel good. So, instead, I bought jewelry. :) Everyone there was VERY nice and it's a beautiful city. We wish we had skipped Sitka and stayed longer in Ketchikan. Our last port was Vancouver, B.C. We arrived at 6 pm but didn't disembark til 7:30 because Deck 4 was a madhouse. I had to push myself through people to stay in line. Then it took almost an hour to get to Butchart Gardens because the bus driver wasted our time. I didn't sign up for a 'city tour'. It was starting to get dark and my mom and I tooled around but only stayed an hour before we had to head back to the bus. We wondered why NCL had us go to a GARDEN at night? We were up early the next morning (back in Seattle) and left the ship at 9:15 am because our tag color was called. Personally, I wanted to relax for a nice breakfast but wasn't able to. We waited for over an hour onshore before a w/c accessible van arrived (even though we had a reservation) to take us to the airport. One pleasant thing was that every employee (except 1) was SO friendly and couldn't do enough for me. It's nice, when you're disabled, to have someone help while going through the buffet, etc. The only person that I thought was rude was the photographer. We had set up an appointment for my entire party of 30 to get a group picture. He took forever setting everyone up then, in the end, 'still' blocked 1 person in each of the 5 photos he took. Every time he clicked off a shot, he'd say, "Just a test." If he'd directed us all that "this is the real thing" we'd have paid more attention. Then my 10 y.o. cousin threw something across the floor so it wouldn't show in the pics and the photographer pocketed it. I don't know whether he was trying to be funny but after he walked away, we had an upset kid on our hands. As far as the food goes, in the buffet it was hit-and-miss but that's where we did most of our meals. Everyone loved freestyle dining! And there were plenty of workers to bus the tables before we could even ask them to! As for the speciality restaurants, The Versailles had excellent food but we weren't seated for over an hour (til 9 pm). There were 15 people in my party, but they should be prepared. Lots of people cruise with large parties. Endless Summer needs to be more honest on their menus. I ordered a chicken quesadilla and it came with onions and green peppers, which I didn't like. I didn't want to send it back because it took so long to get the food. The 'famous' Fish & Chips (can't remember the name of the restaurant) was very greasy and the place smelled of old grease every time we walked through, going somewhere else. I only went to 2 shows. The tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals was AWESOME! The entire show was perfection...and the voices! Wow! What are they doing on a cruise ship? :) The other show I went to was a tribute to Elton John. The guy could play a mean piano but sounded more like Rod Stewart than Elton John...but he was funny. I went to Karaoke (sp?) 2 nights because some in my party were going to sing. I don't usually enjoy it but knowing the people who sang 'did' make it enjoyable...and a laugh riot. That night some yelled that there were whales and by the time I got out on deck, there were at 'least' 3 dozen swimming by. Too bad they only surface for a few seconds at a time. It was a beautiful thing to see, no matter what. The cruise had it's moments but overall, it was a MAJOR disappointment. Pretty sad for being my 1st, and most likely, last. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
I'm sure what follows will be a long review, even before it's written. First let me tell you that my traveling group was comprised of myself and hubby (early 40's) and our two young teens, and my brother and sister-in-law ... Read More
I'm sure what follows will be a long review, even before it's written. First let me tell you that my traveling group was comprised of myself and hubby (early 40's) and our two young teens, and my brother and sister-in-law (mid 30's) and their just turned one-year-old son. We have cruised several times before, but never to Alaska and never on NCL. Left Pittsburgh on Friday morning and arrived in Seattle before noon with time change. Took a minivan taxi and one regular taxi to our hotel -- I think both cost about $20 with tip. I might be a couple of bucks high or low on that. We spent two nights at the Red Lion Hotel on Fifth Avenue. I booked the rooms on priceline quite a while ago for $80 bucks a night. Hotel was a clean, great location hotel in the heart of downtown. We're all walkers so we walked all over town from this location. Elephant & Castle Restaurant is located in the hotel, but service was pretty bad so I wouldn't recommend it. Hotel also has a terrace restaurant that was more efficient for breakfast. During our time in Seattle we visited Pike Market which was fun and provided lots of gawking opportunities, the space needle, some shopping areas, and the rest of the family visited the new Sci-Fi Museum on its second day open while I took my nephew to the Children's museum in the lower level of the food court at the space needle. They enjoyed the sci-fi but didn't feel it was worth the admission price of $12.95. Had beautiful clear days in Seattle with very warm (mid 80's) dry weather. Ate dinner one evening in the food court near the space needle (which would have been good if there wasn't a Shania Twain concert in town that night overwhelming the restaurants) and the other night we wanted a good crab dinner so we headed for a place called the Crab Pot on the waterfront. It had a long wait and few non-seafood choices so we tried a place called The Fisherman behind it. This meal was a disaster. The waiter brought our main course before our appetizer and salads - about 5 minutes after we had ordered. Upon being told we hadn't had our appetizers and salads yet, he didn't offer to return our meals but simply brought the other stuff later. Four of us had ordered Alaskan king crab for $31.95. No exaggeration, there were two legs and claws on our plates. The waiter said it was sold by weight. From now on, we'll have our Alaskan crab in Pittsburgh. It's cheaper and better. Monorail was down while we were there but we followed it from below and walked to the space needle in about fifteen minutes. We loved walking around Seattle! Sunday morning we took a cab and a town car to Pier 66. Both were about $15 with a tip. Got to the pier around 10:30 and easily dropped bags. For most people (including my brother) the process was very smooth and efficient I'm glad to report. For us, it was close to a nightmare. I had carefully read NCL's literature and interpreted it that since I am a parent to my children I could travel with them without further documentation. I still believe this is what their literature says. But... they have a different name than I do, and because they are also of a different race, adopted as toddlers and now early teens. We all handed our passport to the agent and she said, "Where are these children's parents?" I told her I was their parent, have full custody, etc., etc. Because of the name difference, she said that I must have a form signed by their adoptive father whose name they carry. Yikes. Moments of absolute panic. They kept our bags and took us upstairs to where you check in. We were taken to a back office and I was given a fax number and a form, where if I could get hold of my ex, convince him to go to a place where he could receive the fax and send it back, we would be good to go and could board. If not, we were sunk. I got hold of him, he was in a good humor luckily, he drove to a local Staples store and received the fax, signed it, and sent it back. Our delay was of about an hour but boy did I sweat. The whole thing still irritates me. The form gave ME permission to seek medical treatment for them in his absence. The irony is, I pay for all of their medical stuff and they are fully covered under my current husband's insurance policy. So the only person who has no involvement in their medical care had to give his signature authorizing treatment. So to all non-traditional families, be careful and don't read the NCL literature literally. (By the way, the agents blamed Canada for the strict policy. We never had this problem on another cruise since I have full custody so I'm not sure what the real issue was.) Even with this panic, we were on board and in our cabin by 12:30 pm. We had booked nearly a year ago in order to get the two BA cabins dead center on the aft on deck ten. We had one and my brother the other. My kids were in an inside just down the hall. (Was supposed to be my hubby and son but we did the switcheroo.) Stewards opened the door between the two aft balconies so that we could go back and forth between the cabins. Cabins were typical small balcony cabins, but the balconies on these center afts were almost twice the depth of other BA balconies and were great. Bathrooms were OK. Toilets were in a separate little closet like enclosure and we didn't care for that. Showers were comfortable and had sliding glass doors. The bathroom in the kids inside had a more open feeling and the toilet wasn't in a closet. A person of "significant width" would probably have a problem with the toilet in a closet. My 6'7 brother found the shower manageable. Ate lunch at the market buffet. Food was OK. Honestly I don't think their buffet was as of the same quality as RCCL or Carnival but that's just my opinion. Hubby and kids went to pool and hot tubs. I explored ship. Enjoyed sailaway from our balconies and had our first dinner in Endless Summer, the tex-mex place. Appetizers were good, but we had onion blossoms and fried mozzarella sticks. Tex-mex? Hubby and brother had enchiladas for dinner and neither enjoyed very much. They were very heavy on the red sauce and it was quite spicy. The rest of us had fajitas. They were OK. I don't know if the waiter made a mistake or not, but there were no accompaniments (lettuce, cheese) except for what came on the plate - meat, grilled onions, peppers. Flour tortillas were a little dry and hard. Don't remember desserts but they were OK. No surcharge for this place so I'll give it 2.5 stars out of 5. That night we got to visit a part of the ship most don't get to see, fortunately. Shortly after dinner our little one-year-old nephew who is just learning to walk fell and bumped his head on the sliding track for the balcony door. He hit just above the eyebrow and of course, bled profusely. His mom is a nurse and stayed calm but realized treatment was necessary so they took him downstairs to the medical center. Knowing my brother is prone to faint at the sight of blood, I tagged along, too, to pick him up off the floor if needed. The staff was wonderful. We were the only patients at the time, and I believe the Dr.'s name was Raymond. He was British. He put a couple of stitches in and was very assuring. Of course the baby screamed horribly but he quickly calmed down once it was all over. They had him return for a dressing change the next day, and on Friday of the cruise he had the stitches removed and it really looks wonderful. I'm sure the scar will be gone before long. New walkers in such tiny quarters really run the risk of this kind of injury I guess. Later that night I went to the welcome aboard show. It was OK. Kieran the cruise director was the most "human" and down to earth cruise director I have experienced. No slick G.Q. kind of guy, here. Comedian was moderately funny and clean. Learned that while there is no "midnight buffet" the buffet area is open with quite an assortment of food till after midnight. Nothing really special but some dinner like fare, desserts, cheese, rolls. Doesn't compare with midnight buffets from other lines. Monday was a sea day. Part of the day was spent on the inside passage, part going around Vancouver. Weather was great and the water was smooth. Hooray. Breakfast in buffet was the same every day and not great in our opinions. We had lunch in Blue Lagoon and it was pretty good --- fish and chips, hotdogs, burgers. Kids menu has chicken strips but adults can order them, too, and they're good. Hubby and I spent some time in the Casino. Won my round of the slot tournament but was outdone in future rounds. Machines seemed tight and they are expensive. For full play, most nickel machines require twenty lines at five per line. Quarter machines required three or five quarters for full play, as did the dollar machines. I would have liked some machines requiring a lower investment to play with a max bet. We mostly fed the machines a little here and there all week. Last day just before they closed it down I hit for a couple of hundred dollars on a couple of machines so it came out a wash for me. Hubby played blackjack. Minimum bids at tables were $5.00. Dealers were friendly. Casino was smoky. Oh, you can purchase chips or coins on your card for no penalty but you can't get cash bills which didn't make much sense to me. Monday evening we had reservations for Cagney's steakhouse at $20 per person surcharge. This was our best on ship meal but we found ourselves feeling like we shouldn't have had to pay that much extra for it. I had steak and lobster. Most had steaks which were large and well prepared. Desserts were very good here, too. Waiters here were very attentive. In hindsight, if you want to make sure you have a good meal, it was worth it. Skipped formal night tonight to the delight of our guys. By Monday night my kids were thoroughly acclimated in the teen club. I'm not sure that there was really much programming, but they met plenty of kids their age and enjoyed just "hanging out." They had foosball, some video games, computers (no internet) and a lounging room. I was surprised how many kids and teens were on this cruise. Tuesday we had breakfast in Versailles. Pear blintzes were very good. We were on the second tender off the boat at around 12:30 pm. Had arranged with Rent-a-Wreck to pick us up at the Red Dog and they did so. We rented a minivan for around $75 a day I think it was. The woman who picked us up drove us to their office to do paperwork. For an extra $10 we left it in the parking garage by the pier that evening. We drove to Mendenhall Glacier, explored the visitor center, took a walk and lots of photos. It was really hot!!! There were lots of local kids swimming in the very cold water that day. We visited the salmon hatchery and took the tour for a couple of bucks a person. We drove along Auke Bay to the Shrine of St. Therese which was beautiful. Then we drove back towards town and had dinner at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. Because we arrived on our own in a car we got the locals rate which I think was $21 a person. We really enjoyed this meal of freshly grilled salmon with a brown sugar kind of glaze. There were a number of side dishes and ribs and chicken, too. A guitarist was playing folk music and we took a nice stroll to the waterfall. Hubby and son then went back to area by hatchery and rented fishing equipment for about $15 a person and spent a couple of hours fishing. They didn't catch anything but others did. Did some shopping in town, dropped car in parking garage, and returned to ship. A terrific day for around $250 for the six adults and teens in our party and that included dinner. Wednesday was our Skagway stop. Another hot and beautiful day. We got off the ship around 8 am, rode the shuttle over to small boat dock and took the fast ferry over to Haines on our own. I had been to Haines as a teenager nearly 25 years ago and wanted to go back. It was a much less "touristy" place to spend the day. We were met at the dock by Steve from Absolutely Alaska Tours and he gave us a private 3-hour tour for $35 per person. He also booked the fast ferry for us which was $45 per person. He showed us the town highlights (there aren't too many!) and we drove out to the bay where we saw quite a few eagles. He tried to find a bear for us but we didn't see it. We stopped at a wonderful little bakery on the side of the road and had some great baked goods. He talked to us a lot about the local culture and it was a very personalized and interesting day. He took us to visit the Presbyterian Church where I had stayed all those years ago and we were greeted warmly. Haines seems to be struggling economically. A restaurant had been foreclosed just the day before we were there and there seemed to only be two restaurants remaining open. We ate lunch at the lighthouse by the water and while the food was good, service was very slow by the one very overwhelmed waitress. We paid $3 to visit a museum of sorts with all kinds of "stuffed" animals and birds. It was amazing and cool to see various types of bears up so close. We walked back to the pier and took the 2 pm fast ferry back to Skagway. There are bikes for rent by the pier. If I wanted a quieter day I wouldn't hesitate to take the fast ferry from Skagway and rent a bike, grab a map, and go sightseeing on my own. It would be a nice way to spend a day. Back in Skagway we did some shopping. Got good prices on souvenirs - but many were made in China. Got my $3 ulu knives (from China) to bring back to family and friends. I wasn't allowed to bring them on the ship and they were held for me until disembarking day. Think tonight was the Andrew Lloyd Weber show. It was pretty good. Found the entertainment on this ship to be of pretty high quality. Had dinner this evening in the Japanese restaurant. We enjoyed the meal. It was a little weird, but according to my brother who travels A LOT for work in Japan it was quite authentic. Dessert was good. I had a ginger crème brulee and enjoyed that. Thursday was spent cruising Glacier Bay. Beautiful! Beautiful! Spent some time up on the top deck but much of the time on our own balconies. Captain slowly turned ship so all got a view. Saw some fairly major calving and caught it on film. Too cool. Kids spent today in the pool. Photographer's shots from glacier bay were wild... some were in parkas and some were in bikinis! This was a relaxing day. Ate dinner in Versailles. Can't remember what the theme was. We found the food here to be sort of "weird." Nothing really jumped off the menu at us this night. The baby started fussing and my kids gladly offered to leave and go to the buffet with their aunt before we even ordered. My son was very disappointed in that on RCCL cruises he eats salmon almost every night because it's one of their alternatives but here we were in Alaska and it wasn't even offered most nights. Can't even remember what I had. I felt like in the regular restaurants NCL offers strange food choices that sound really extravagant but end up tasting just a step above cafeteria food. Just my opinion, but food wasn't the highlight of this cruise. This may have been the night for the magician. Whatever night he was, he was wonderful. Don't miss him. Friday was Ketchikan. It was a bit gray and cooler and some mist in the early morning. The day cleared as it went along. We had tickets for the 8:45 lumberjack show. This was a blast. My kids loved it. We all really enjoyed the friendly atmosphere. Fellow audience members added to the fun with their antics. The lumberjacks' skills were amazing. Although $29 for a show like this seems steep, in comparison with other activities we enjoyed it so much that I'd say it was worth it. We poked through some shops on Creek Street and walked to the Totem Heritage Center. Again, we found this town very walkable although hilly. Returned to the ship for a late lunch in Versailles. Again, a very weird menu. I remember their being "ox knuckles" on the menu. I had a grilled chicken salad which was OK. My kids aren't picky but they ended up leaving and hitting the Blue Lagoon. That night we ate in Aqua. Had to wait 45 minutes for a table since we went down at around 6:30 pm. I had read the menu for Versailles and knew that Filet with Bernaise was one of the menu choices but Aqua had chateaubriand with some kind of brandy sauce if I remember correctly. I asked if I could get the filet and the waiter got it for me. The two menus are similar but not exact... Aqua seems even a bit more "out there" with the menu than Versailles. (Again, in my very own opinion which isn't worth that much.) This night was to be the chocolate buffet. We went to the comedy show in the spinnaker lounge which was over around midnight I think. When we got downstairs, the lines for the buffet stretched the whole length of the ship. Sorry, I love chocolate, but it isn't worth standing in line for an hour for at midnight. We buzzed by Blue Lagoon and grabbed a pear and a piece of banana bread which were always available and good. Saturday we slept in and did a brunchy/lunch at the buffet. Weather wasn't as warm so the pool wasn't so busy. Spent some time in the Casino until it closed around 2 pm. Ate an early dinner in the buffet since we wanted to get off in Victoria as soon as we could. It was supposed to be Italian night in the buffet but there wasn't much thematic. I had a slice of carved beef I remember. There was a crush of humanity all trying to get off the ship when we got to Victoria. We hadn't booked an excursion since we didn't think the baby would tolerate a bus tour, etc., but I had found a carriage company on line and had brought their phone number. There was chaos when we got off the ship, unless you had an excursion booked. The line for the shuttle downtown was REALLY long and it only ran every twenty minutes. The cab line wasn't a line and after the first few cabs left with customers there was a lot of space between cabs. I called the carriage company and asked if they ever did pickups at the pier and they said they would. For $200 Canadian the six of us and the baby had a horse carriage ride from the pier, all around town, and back to the pier. It lasted almost two hours I think. Converted to American dollars we felt it was a good deal. Love Victoria. Would like to go back and get out of a carriage. Lots of shopping and restaurants. Wished we had a day to spend here. Beautiful city, but plan on a tour or something if you can. Back on the ship we went to the midnight poolside barbecue. Again, long lines and disorganized. They had you pick up your side dishes (rice, baked beans, corn, baked potatoes) and then wait in another long line for the barbecue, by which time your food was very cold. Desserts which were inside the buffet were the best part. We noticed a lot of weird configurations to food lines in the buffet, i.e. butter was at the very beginning of the line, with rolls on down the way. Rolled silverware didn't include a spoon and if you didn't pick one up on your way through the line you had to go looking. Back to the cabin to have bags out by 2 am. Arrived in Seattle on another beautiful day. Docked around 6:30 am I think. We ate breakfast in Versailles. No blintzes. Bummer. Returned to cabin. Deck ten was the third group to be called and I believe we were called around 9:15 am. Descended to the sea of bags, fairly easily found ours, porter led us to a large van which could accommodate all of our bags and people for $10 per person for the six of us (baby no charge.) Cost more than two cabs really but more convenient. We were to the airport by 10:30 am for our 2 pm flight. Had some lousy Chinese food at the airport. Avoid it. Overall observations: Ship was beautiful and we loved our cabins. Cabin stewards provided us with what we needed and were pleasant, but there were no towel animals (not that those are that important but for some people it's a cruise tradition.) We didn't like freestyle. We were unable to make reservations at some restaurants we wanted to try, even though they appeared only half full. Not having seating times led to lines and waits for the main restaurants and I have to do that too much at home. I missed getting to know our waitstaff. Kids had drink cards and those worked fine. While the crew was friendly and helpful, I felt that the pre-paid gratuities led to a "minimalist" service expectation. Then again, having someone kiss your butt all week just to get a tip isn't that pleasant either so I'm not sure how I feel. We chose NCL Star for the itinerary and that was great and what was most important. I've yet to have a cruise experience that doesn't beat work by a landslide!! To those of you who have read to the bitter end... congratulations and good night! Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
We were on an Alaskan cruise on the NCL Star on June 13 to June 20, 2004. Our experiences on the trip are somewhat colored by the embarkation process in Seattle and trying to get to our tour in Victoria. This was the fourth sailing with ... Read More
We were on an Alaskan cruise on the NCL Star on June 13 to June 20, 2004. Our experiences on the trip are somewhat colored by the embarkation process in Seattle and trying to get to our tour in Victoria. This was the fourth sailing with NCL and our sixth cruise overall. Boarding the ship in Seattle was totally a mess. NCL blames Immigration and Customs in causing the problem by interviewing each crew member off the ship causing a three hour delay. Of course in reading comments by other Cruise Critic members, they had the same problem the week before. It took us over an hour waiting in line on the streets before we even got to the building. The baggage handlers took baggage from the back of the line while those that were in line in the middle had to struggle with their bags. To get to the registration desk, you had to go up two flights of stairs. At the top, none of the lines were clearly marked off. We were fortunate that we were Latitude members and our line was shorter but it took another hour before we could even get to the registration desk. Our travelling companions had left the hotel an hour before we did, yet they were still stuck in the lineup for another hour or so. NCL could have informed the people in the streets as to the problems and do some PR that way. NCL could have gotten the lines within the building clearly defined instead of letting people making out their own line. Having the experience in the prior week, perhaps getting extra help would have alleviated the problem. The point is that NCL had the problem before and should have tried to rectify it. In other trips with NCL, the lack of any concept of crowd control and management seems to be the rule and this experience in Seattle was no exception. NCL doesn't seem to have this problem in Dover - or perhaps that was just luck! Once we were aboard the vessel, everything was fine with perhaps the exception of a couple of snippy people manning the restaurant reservation desk. I am not sure whether the 3 hour delay was the cause of it, or the ship is too big for the inland passage, but the ship did go outside of the passage into open ocean with the result of a lot of people getting seasick. The ship also seemed to have been rushing in the rough sea to make up the schedule which added to the discomfort felt by many. Dining rooms - The main dining rooms are the Versailles and Acqua. Both are fine, with Versailles with mirrors and electric candles, still life paintings of fruits, flowers and Louis XIV and Acqua with chrome and faux Miro paintings. Service in Acqua seemed a bit slower though. Noise level seemed to be the same. The food was nothing to write home about but was adequate and occasionally good. The buffets were mediocre at best but tolerable. Shows - excellent!!! The showroom was great and theatre seating without those annoying cocktail tables. Line of sight good except in the side of the balcony's top level. We had been in Alaska before on the NCL Sky. But on this trip, we had sun all the way with the result that most of our clothes stayed in the suitcases. Only a sweater was needed to roam the decks of the ship and that included Glacier Bay. I would guess that temperatures were somewhere in the low 70s with wind chill making it in the very high 60s. No gloves needed! One trip we do recommend in Skagway is the Bald Eagle Float raft trip. Oliver, our guide - make sure you ask for him. Great peaceful floating down the river with eagles galore. Life jackets and boots are supplied. Last complaint - again traffic control. One would think that NCL would try to get tour people out first so that they could go on their tours. Instead, they only had an exit out on the fourth deck. People on tour with people who just wanted to get out crowded the area. Those in the elevators couldn't get out of the elevators because of the crush of people in the hallway. As it was, all tours got off late. Result was that the tours came back around 10:40PM and the major dining facilities were closed at 11:00PM. While they had a barbecue on the pool deck, there were long lines waiting for food. As it was, the lines didn't dissipate until 11:40 or so. The ship is a good ship and pretty well maintained. And the journey was pleasant but the memories of embarkation and lack of crowd control will last longer in the mind's eye than the other experiences on being on the NCL Star. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
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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