245 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

Pre-Cruise After being in the air for what seemed like an entire day, DH and I arrived in Seattle late Wednesday evening to begin our pre-cruise activities.  What a lovely city.  We stayed at the Marriott Waterfront which is directly ... Read More
Pre-Cruise After being in the air for what seemed like an entire day, DH and I arrived in Seattle late Wednesday evening to begin our pre-cruise activities.  What a lovely city.  We stayed at the Marriott Waterfront which is directly across the street from the pier.  This is a great hotel with a nice view of the pier, sailboats, and ferry runs.  The weather was great, the Market incredible, but Rainier did not show its majesty.  Bummer!  Visited the Space Needle and took the duck tour which was nice, entertaining, and relaxing.  We also enjoyed a private wine tour of Washington wineries and had some VERY good wine.  Who knew?  Also rode the Bainbridge Island ferry which was an amazing experience.  Seattle is very hilly so be prepared.  We visited a number of restaurants and bars but the most memorable was the HIGHLY recommended Crab Pot.  A blast!  The most fun we've had playing with our food.  Another favorite was a place right on the pier but I forget the name.  Let me say for the record that I am scatterbrained, so I will not remember a lot of names.  lol   Saturday - June 20th - Cruise Day!  DH is tuckered out from countless hours of walking the streets of Seattle.  He's ready for some relaxing days on the ship or so he thinks.  I woke up early to catch the Star as she sailed in and I was not disappointed.  The Captain seemed to parade her around the harbor before docking.  OK, now I am bubbling over with excitement but it's too early for embarkation so I roused DH for my daily early morning Market fix.  DH is glad we're about to board the ship because his pockets can't take much more of me and The Market.  I LOVED that place.  Around noon we checked out of the hotel and had our bags transported across the street to the terminal.  Easy-peasy!  Every NCL employee was friendly, welcoming, and accommodating.  Embarkation went so fast that we didn't even know we had completed it.  After reading so many horror stories about long lines, special lines, etc., we were expecting the worse.  I brought bottles of my favorite wine as well as a collapsible cooler full of water and sodas.  After reading so many posts about the booze police I expected to be embarrassed, heckled, and shaken down.  After my bags were scanned and I stepped away to pick them up, I waited to be tackled by security...nothing...DH and I wondered if we were in the right place and waited yet again for someone to approach us.  Finally, a nice young man came over and asked me to step to a table where he explained that my "personal items" would need to be tagged so that they could be "consumed and enjoyed at my leisure".  Hello?!  Is this the same booze police I read so much about?  DH says he didn't think they had any intention of tagging my wine and the only reason they did was because I just stood there waiting on them.  I think he may have been right.  Embarkation from start to finish was approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  WOW!  How easy was that?  Time for the bubbly!   After many glasses of champagne and smiles from NCL staff, we were directed to the much criticized Marked Cafe.  We tried to go to Aqua since we had heard that it would be open for lunch.  NOT!  Doors locked and barricaded.  Oh well!  No problem.  Off to Market Cafe.  Oh, look at all the people!  Never mind...look at all the food!  DH and I struggled to put together a decent and edible lunch in this dreaded place...NOT!  I fell in love with the Market Cafe the minute I stepped inside.  We had a delicious lunch, did a little people watching, and made some new friends.  This became my favorite place to eat, believe it or not.    After lunch we wandered around until the cabin was ready.  The atrium was beautiful and spotless, but not as immaculate as one I remember from another ship.  Everything was clean and prepped.  Hard to believe people had just disembarked.  These people work FAST!  DH mastered the ship's layout right away so we quickly learned our way around and went in search of all the places we'd read about on Cruise Critic.  I had read that some of the specialty restaurants placed food samples out early on and it was true.  We had some pretty tasty treats and MORE champagne as we toured the ship waiting for our cabin.  We finally got the call and entered our aft balcony.  It seemed small at first and was relatively clean, but because I'm an anti-dust freak I knew exactly where to look for confirmation that it actually was clean.  I was right.  The cabin had not been dusted in some time.  No calls to housekeeping.  Didn't take back my auto-tip or pitch a high strung fit.  I dusted it myself then opened the balcony door to clear the air.  The coffeemaker was dusty but that's not a problem for me since I never use in room coffeemakers.  The bathroom was nice and clean, but DH complained about the size of the toilet area.  He thought it looked like a closet but after a few uses, it grew on him.  We spotted some chilled champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries nearby.  What a welcome!  Sail away was very nice.  We danced on the balcony until Seattle was far in the distance.  After about 3 hours of staring at the wake, dancing, talking, drinking, and munching strawberries we decided to see more of the ship.   The evening was nice.  After joining a ship tour that was being given by a staff member, we went to The Blue Lagoon for an evening meal.  DH loved this place because there were NO CROWDS.  I had to try the fish and chips and was not disappointed.  They were just as great as I had read here.  DH loved the salad and chicken fingers.  Blue Lagoon is a nice place.  We turned in early and decided to leave the balcony door open to hear the wake and feel the breeze.  We had just drifted off to sleep when BAM!  The door slams shut.  Oops!  Sorry neighbors.  After a couple more failed attempts at keeping it open (thanks to Captain Lars' swift turns), we figured we'd better leave it shut or risk getting put off the ship.  DH finally figured out that the door locks in place.  We're so dumb (lol).  Back off to sleep then I start to feel turns and curves like we were riding in a dune buggy on 2 wheels.  Slow down, Captain Lars! (lol).  The next morning I rolled over and caught a glimpse of the most beautiful mountains I'd ever seen.  Honey, Quick!  Get the video recorder, camera, and binoculars and meet me on the balcony.  DUH!  What time is it?  Where's the clock?  And why does my body hurt?  Yes, the mattress was too hard.  No calls to housekeeping.  Didn't pitch a fit or take back the auto gratuity.  Simply asked our cabin steward for help and he immediately brought a gadget that relieved all our aches and pains.    We spent nearly the entire day on the balcony enjoying mind blowing scenery. Then, it happened.  My stomach thought it was on a rollercoaster.  What's going on?  Yes, seasickness sets in.  Never thought it could happen to me.  We get out of the cabin to clear my head and end up in the The Spinnaker Lounge where I almost lose it.  Would someone PULEEZE stop the rocking of the ship!?  DH carts me off and as we passed thru Blue Lagoon a very knowledgeable and friendly staff member offers me warm ginger ale and encourages me to eat some crackers.  It helped, but we ended up getting Bonine from the front desk.  Caution!!  Don't take this stuff unless you want to sleep thru your cruise. It helps but it also makes you a walking zombie.   Ports of Call Arrive in Ketchikan - Quaint.  No rain which Captain Lars said was a miracle (lol).  DH loved the lumberjack show but I nodded thru the whole event.  DOH!!! To wake me up, he picked up a map and we walked and walked and walked.  This was a great idea and I have to thank everyone on CC for the recommendation!  What a way to enjoy yourself AWAY from the madding crowd!  DH went into a supermarket to stock up on ginger ale and Gatorade so I wouldn't get dehydrated and we met a young girl who provided us with a wealth of information on the best places to spot whales and other wildlife.  Her tips paid off.  Thanks Charlotte wherever you are!!  We visited a saloon in Ketchikan where we had a grand old time.  Back to the ship.  Seasickness subsiding.  Sail away seemed smoother and easier.  Forget where we ate this night and which show we saw as I was in Bonine mode.  What's in this stuff?     Let me first say that all the ports were nice and the scenery alone is well worth every stop; HOWEVER, I wish the cruise lines would leave all their diamond owned stores and gift shops ON THE SHIP and let the people enjoy the natural beauty along with the locals.    Juneau...waay overcrowded!  3 ships in port.  Don't know if I was just coming out of a Bonine induced coma or what, but everyone (and everything) seemed to be crammed into the Juneau port.  Feeling much better.  Hungry.  French toast calling my name.  Market Cafe was just what the doctor ordered.  After the tram ride up Mt. Roberts and more walking, we high tailed it out of town and had the most amazing time AWAY from the ruckus.  My advice for anyone is rent a car, hike, or hail a cab and hit the outskirts.  Mendenhall Glacier and the waterfalls were sights to behold.  We met some really nice people.  We simply did NOT have enough time in this port.  Returned to the ship in the nick of time.    Skagway...I expected Marshall Dillon to appear at any time, although Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday would have SERIOUSLY been a delicious treat!  This place really reminds me of a Clint Eastwood western.  And here we go...Diamonds International!  Wow!  Can't believe how ridiculously commercial and insane the cruise lines are.  One glorious thing about Skagway was the train ride.  DO THIS without thinking twice!  I suggest the long ride but even the shorter excursion is worth the time and money.  Another MUST SEE is the museum in the middle of town.  DH and I were captivated by the history and milled around a little longer than we should have.  Some really AMAZING stuff.   Prince Rupert...tours were cancelled for some reason.  Never did find out why.  Maybe someone will read this and shed some light on it.  That said, aside from the eagles roaming free like crows and a nice little bed & breakfast on the pier, there was nothing else to do except venture off which is what we did.  It was nice to get off the ship and walk around too.  All the walking definitely paid off.  We finally came to the REAL section of the city where people were walking, appeared to be waiting for a bus, and 2 gentlemen sleeping on the sidewalk.  We were definitely off the beaten path but it was nice to be out and about.  One WELCOMED omission to Price Rupert...no diamond or ruby storefronts!  Hallelujah!    Restaurants / Food    DH fell in love with Blue Lagoon.  Why?  No crowds! I, on the other hand, could have eaten in the Market Cafe every day and not found anything to complain about.  So what if there's a line?  I'm on vacation.  Why should I be in a hurry?  I loved everything about the Market Cafe and you will too.  I especially loved the windows.  Market Cafe faves:  oatmeal cookies!, sub sandwiches, french toast EVERY morning, pickled herring (who knew), bacon like home, fresh fruit, smoked salmon and capers, FIGS (I haven't had figs since I was little), bread (DH loved the pretzel bread) and, surprise, GRITS!...although the cooks need to master the true consistency of grits and oatmeal (lol).  Blue Lagoon faves: fish & chips (WOW...the vinegar is a must), fries, salad and, of course, cheesecake.  Escargot and rack of lamb at LeBistro...heaven!  We loved the quaintness of Aqua and the dEcor of Versailles.  The food was awesome each night and the cooking light menu was a plus for me.  Being the simple, easy to please, low maintenance person that I am, let me say that I could have gone the entire week without EVER setting foot in a specialty restaurant.  The Market Cafe is the ONLY place to find a VARIETY of good food, and Aqua and Versailles (main dining rooms) are not to be missed.  Cagney's is a must for meat lovers.  I enjoy steak every now and then but DH would have it every night if he could.   Staff Service We had the best service everywhere we went.  Our wait times in restaurants were not more than 15 minutes each time.  Even in the Market Cafe, there was always somewhere to help you if you had questions.  Our cabin stewards were absolutely on the spot each and every time we needed something.  There is absolutely NOTHING negative we could say about the Star's staff.  We were spoiled.    Shows / Activities I didn't mind bingo at all, and I rather enjoyed Sanam the Bingo Boy!  DH and I had met him one evening on deck before we knew he was part of the Staff.  He was a hoot.  Don't Miss Second City.  If you're a disco fiend like me, don't miss Band On The Run.  It had me bopping along the entire time.  The Magician (don't remember his name) was very entertaining.  I must have gone to see him post Bonine because I snoozed my head off during his performance (no reflection on him, believe me).  The juggler (don't remember his name) was funny and entertaining as well as hot with a great body! (maybe DH won't read this).  Didn't get to see Cirque Pacific.  We were probably in the Carousel Bar listening to Mr. Motown.  This guy is good.  OR, maybe we were in the casino where we managed to take home over $600 playing a 25 cent slot machine.  CHA CHING!!  The pull tab cards favored us as well.    This was the best vacation I think I've ever had.  I didn't sleep much for fear I'd miss something (lol).  I saw whales galore from our balcony and also from the windows of the Market Cafe.  You have to really perch and be patient because they are so quick.  I am seriously thinking of The Pearl next Spring, but will definitely see a doc for sea sickness patch this time.  I hope your Alaskan cruise is as great as ours was.    Happy Sailing.    Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Okay.  So my wife and I are in our mid-50s and have NEVER been on a cruise before.  We are still "old school" thinkers and pictured the cruise crowd as the "geezer" generation playing shuffleboard on deck and ... Read More
Okay.  So my wife and I are in our mid-50s and have NEVER been on a cruise before.  We are still "old school" thinkers and pictured the cruise crowd as the "geezer" generation playing shuffleboard on deck and complaining about the kids these days.Well, we had a couple friends of ours younger than us come back from a cruise and they were just raving about all the fun they had.  After obtaining a little money from an inheritance, we figured "why not?"We contacted a travel agent and found that the cost was not nearly what we'd expected it would be.  Cyndi told us that there were several Alaska itineraries with an abundance of cruise lines.  We looked at all the literature and, after talking to a few friends, decided to try "Freestyle Cruising" with Norwegian Cruise Lines.  Now the task was upon us...which NCL ship and when.Wanting to make this trip as much fun as possible, we decided to get together with my wife's brothers and sister and what the heck take her parents with us.  We all pitched in and bought her 81-year old dad and 74-year old mom a stateroom to accompany us and we made it a Christmas present to them.  Then, another couple from our Elks Lodge decided to accompany us as their daughter was our travel agent and they'd heard about our plans.  Now we were shaping up to have friends and family with us and things were looking like a lot more fun in the works!We stayed at Sutton Inn and Suites on Friday night prior to our Saturday departure.  They provide a "Park and Cruise" package and that was a real benefit.  Don't expect a whole bunch from Sutton but, the folks running the place are very nice and the room is just that a room.  An older hotel that is showing its age, the continental breakfast and facilities are no great shakes but it's all you need.Boarding in Seattle at dock 66 is a breeze.  I have to say, NCL has this business down to a real art.  I NEVER in my life thought that getting on board a ship would be so easy and smooth.  You are greeted with smiles everywhere you look and the courtesy extended to you is beyond compare.  The reception on board is great...mimosas and champagne and a whole festive atmosphere for all.Once on board and having completed the safety drill (a requirement), we settled in and began cruising for real.  On board staff treat you like kings and queens.  The training NCL provides must be very thorough as every staffer from housekeeping to wait staff to reception greets you courteously, with a smile and lo and behold they even remember your names!!!  Activities abound and we did a couple of Martini Tastings ($15 well spent!) that were a big kick and provided us the opportunity to meet other guests and have a great time.  Even "mom and dad" enjoyed it and were all smiles.The Second City TV comedy show in the Spinnaker Lounge was, well, forgettable.  The Cirque de Pacific was, however, truly amazing and enjoyable.  The consensus was that we'd love to see it again.Due to the cost (they aren't cheap), we only did one shore excursion.  In Prince Rupert, Canada, we had the time of our lives on the Sea Life Discovery Excursion and Crab Tasting.  If you take a cruise on the Star, do take this excursion!  you WON'T be disappointed!  If you want to eat some delicious crab, see bald eagles up close and, hey, even learn something about sea life, this is your excursion.  We had so much fun we didn't want the excursion to end and the folks on this trip are friendly, fun and courteous.Have I not said much about the Star yet???  This is easy.  It is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!  It is everything I dreamed of in a ship and more.  The balcony stateroom is small but, it's all you need and was comfortable when all was said and done.  We did get a couple of cute towel animals (you can watch a video in the theatre and learn how they're made) and turn down service as well as room service are incredible.  The lounges and casinos are beautiful and you constantly see employees touching up things here and there to keep the ship as beautiful as brand new.Negatives:  Well, there are a few...very few.  The push to buy jewelry and stones is a bit over the top.  I understand NCL has to make money where it can but, for goodness sake, you are bombarded with deceptive offers of "free pendants" and talks about how to enjoy shopping at your port of call that rival the worst "infomercials" ever.  Also, it would have been nice to be advised about the $12 per day per person charge for "service fees" in advance.  I know you don't take a cruise and expect to do it "on the cheap" but this was a little annoying.My only other complaint would be that the cruise ended!!!!!I can't conceive of doing another cruise any way but "freestyle."  The freedom to eat where we wanted, when we wanted was wonderful and contributed to the fun we had to schedule our days to our liking.NCL gets a "thumbs up" from our cruise group and the Norwegian Star was, indeed, the Star of our vacation! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
My spouse and I cruised with the Star May 9 to May 16 from Seattle visiting Ketchikan, Juneu, Skagway, and Prince Rupert.  This is our 4th cruise, but the first with Norwegian.  All of our three previous cruises were with Carnival which ... Read More
My spouse and I cruised with the Star May 9 to May 16 from Seattle visiting Ketchikan, Juneu, Skagway, and Prince Rupert.  This is our 4th cruise, but the first with Norwegian.  All of our three previous cruises were with Carnival which we thoroughly enjoyed.  The reason why we chose a different cruise line this time around is solely to try a new experience and to compare.  I find that cruising so often with the same cruise line takes out the variety fbecause Carnival tends to repeat it's shows (even though I cruised on three different ships), activities, and even menus.Sadly, my experience with the Norwegian Star was very disappointing.  They did not meet my standards and I felt that they do not have the need to impress their cruisers.  Oh, the ship is beautiful inside and out, but unfortunately that is not the only reason why I go on a cruise.My first clue that this cruise would be substandard was upon embarkation.  The lady helping us did not know what she was doing!!!  A 10 minute process took 45 minutes.  I will give her credit though because she kept that sweet smile on her face the whole time along with a continuous verbalization of apologies because she was new.  Note to NCL's management:  Train your staff well before leaving them alone on the counter with customers.  This is the first impression your cruisers will have of you, make it shine.Upon entry to the ship, I was impressed.  The ship as I said was beautiful!!!Until I hit the buffet.  Cafeteria style seating.  Does not reak of class (so unlike Carnival).  Reminds me of a hospital cafeteria with an ocean view.  Then I saw the food and I almost wanted to weap.  I'll be honest, my main focus on the buffet is the carving station and the dessert.  What is on the carving statiion?  Chicken!!!   The dessert?  Cookies!!!  These are items I could pick up at my local grocery store for six bucks.  So I thought to myself, well it's the first day, maybe it will get better.  Sadly to say it never did.  They had chicken on that carving board every single day of the week.  All different flavors though..., lemon pepper, barbeque, jerked and so on and so forth.  If Ralph's Market has a cruiseline, this would be it.  Oh, the desert??  Sometimes they would bring out their chocolate fountain and you can dip your marshmallow, melons, and I highly recommend dipping the banana to hide that it's all beaten up.  Let me just tell you what you would get at Carnival ok?  At the carving station would be roast beef, pork loins, high end steaks, lamb, turkey, prime rib, other wise known as "not your everyday supermarket meats".  I never once saw chicken on the carving board on any of my three cruises with them.  Carnival's dessert would be all different kinds of tasty pies, chocolate mousse, cakes, some cookies, my personal favorite napoleons, all different kinds of pastries you would not even see at a specialty bakery.  To be bombarded with chicken and chocolate chip cookies on this cruise is almost disgusting.  Let me add on this portion one particular thing you will not see on Carnival...,the Star's staff would be on the buffet line with you.  The line is already long and you see that you are following a staff.  Because this is how special you are with Norwegian.  Well, that's just the buffet though.  Ofcourse they have their freestyle dining.  If you don't want to pay a surcharge go to the Versaille or Aqua main dining room.  These two always has the same menu.  They have their staples like sirloin steak etc. and they have their specialties which differs everyday.  I never met a carbonara I did not like until I tried Norwegian's take on it.  I also think that their food is either too salty or too bland depending on your choice of cooking light or regular meals. Let's move on.  Activities.  Oh, Bingo, Bingo, and more Bingo.  I hope you like Bingo!!!  They also have that scratcher they sell for $5.00 each.  Each night from the beginning to the end of the cruise 5 guys would go to the front of the theater trying to sell them to you with the promotion of "only for tonight, you would get one ticket free"  Each night they have that promotion.  I don't know how idiotic they think their cruisers are not to get that their promo price is actually the normal price.  They have their variety shows, comedy, magic, song and dance.  Pretty good.  Yeah, except that girl balancing herself on that guy.  By the fifth show you just want to shout, "enough already!!!"Another complaint.  I booked my cruise with Priceline (which by the way I would like to post a shout out to readers to beware of), and I had a small problem with not being able to claim their special promotion of in-room credit.  I showed my receipt to the Star's finance representative and he declined to give it to me saying that this matter is between me and Priceline.  So I asked if I could use their phone so I could call Priceline and settle the matter.  He allowed me to but every two minutes he would look at me with a questioning glance of "how much longer?'  Note to NCL's manaagement:  Stop making your staff pay for the customer's phone bill.  This is the only explanation I can come up with of his behavior.  I certainly did not see a line behind me.At this time, I still have not settled that small matter of being able to claim my $100.00 in room credit Priceline promised.  Wish me luck on that one huh???Regarding Priceline.  Beware on booking your trip through this company.  As soon as you are booked with them, you are on your own.  You will be placed on hold for the longest time when you call with a problem, and if you try the e-mail route, you will have a better chance of having your letter to Santa answered.Alaska is a wonderful destination.  Beautiful.  Great experience.I have so much more to say but is running out of space.  Let me summarize.  If you are a first time cruiser and does not have a standard to live up to, go for this cruise because your next cruises could only get better from this one.  If you are on a diet, do this cruise.  The only way positive thing I could say about the food is that it is edible. 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Sail Date May 2009
This was the first cruise for me, my wife, and our 11 month old son.  Before I begin the review, I would like to mention what I saw on board as well as on other posted reviews.  The complaints I have seen are incredibly petty.  They ... Read More
This was the first cruise for me, my wife, and our 11 month old son.  Before I begin the review, I would like to mention what I saw on board as well as on other posted reviews.  The complaints I have seen are incredibly petty.  They range from only receiving 2 or 3 towel animals or, my favorite, the food in the buffet is not that good.  We had a a solution for both of these.  Tip your room stewards, and don't eat at the buffet.Embarkation: We arrived at Pier 66 at 12:30 and were on board by 1:15.  I felt that the security was great and was better than the airport in many ways.Public Rooms: Travelling with an infant meant that we did not spend time in the bars, but we did make it to a couple of shows and they were tremendous.  I would rank them below Vegas quality, but they were very entertaining and seemed to be the perfect length (Just over an hour).  Our favorite public room was the Under 2 Zoo, which is located on the starboard side of ship just behind the Spinnaker Lounge.  We received a flier that there were 11 kids under 2 on our trip and that we could use this room to let them roam around.  It wound up being our personal living room for the entire trip and offered floor to ceiling windows just like the Spinnaker.Restaurants: The best deal on the ship is Le Bistro.  The cover is only $15, and the environment lets you forget that you're on a ship for awhile.  We ate there twice, and the food and service were great.  The live lobster at the Soho was good, and the steak at Cagney's was also good.  I highly recommend the Jazz brunch at Soho as it was quiet and the music was fantastic.  The Endless Summer food was ok but probably not worth the $10 cover.  We ate at the buffet a couple of times for breakfast, but the Versailles offered better food and environment for breakfast and lunch.  Our only dinner experience at a free restaurant was at Aqua.  The salmon was good and the rest of the choices looked good as well.Cabin: We had a mini-suite on the 11th floor that adjoined to my parents next door.  We were surprised by how big the bed was, and the curtains allowed our little guy to nap while we were reading or sitting on the balcony.  Our Stewards were quick to make up or turn down the room once we changed the message wheel, and they never intruded when the do not disturb was posted.  This was critical to keeping our son on a regular nap schedule.Fitness - Spa: My wife took 3 yoga classes and had a spa treatment that she really enjoyed.  I used the gym a couple of times and found them to be very modern and convenient.Casino: The blackjack rules are not very favorable to the player, but you don't have a choice.  It was pretty smokey in there - perhaps more ventilation or eliminating the smoking is in order.Service: I was very impressed with the level of service on the ship.  When you consider that the majority of the crew works 10 hour days without a day off for 10 months, it is a miracle that they can function let alone perform their jobs with a smile. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Two of us had a port balcony on this cruise.  This was our thrid cruise on NCL, and the best so far.  The May weather was beautiful cool and sunny, but not cold.  Our balcony had a great view and the port side gets less wind than ... Read More
Two of us had a port balcony on this cruise.  This was our thrid cruise on NCL, and the best so far.  The May weather was beautiful cool and sunny, but not cold.  Our balcony had a great view and the port side gets less wind than starboard.  Our stewards, Maria and Ronald were efficient, and the service was adequate and friendly.  The cabin was very convenient: 10th deck right next to the midship elevators.The Star is showing her age.  Since it is scheduled for refurbishment in October, they are doing minimal to maintain it. Our thermostat, for instance, was stuck on maximum cold.  After complaining and freezing for several days, we finally asked for extra towels to stuff in the vent.  The shower worked poorly and the volume and temperature was impossible to adjust and maintain.We ate in the buffet and main dining rooms most meals.  We ate dinner once each in Endless Summer and Trotteria, but both were dissappointing.  We ate in Cagneys and Soho on other cruises, but these were not worth the money.  The pay dining venues seemed mostly empty on this cruise.  Stick to the buffet for fast multichoice dining and the dining rooms for sit-down service.  My main complaint about the food was that much of it was oversalted.The entertainment was about the average cruise-ship fare.  The best was Murry, the ventriloquist, which kept us laughing out of our chairs.  The lectures on Alaska were boring and poorly presented.One of the things we enjoy about cruising is dancing, and this was lacking on this cruise.  The dance band was fair and only played early in the evening.  After 10:30 the lounge was filled with loud disco music and a few of the younger crowd. NCL is really turning up the sell, sell, sell.  We ignored most of that and came out with a bill of only $281.00 at the end.The only tour we took was to Mendenhall Glacier (fascinating!).  The other towns we just walked the town.  We didn't even get off in Port Rupert.  The stop was 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.To me, the best thing about cruising is, well, cruising.  That I enjoyed immensely and it was a wonderful, relaxing vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We selected the NCL for the relaxed atmosphere. The cruise experience and seeing the sights in Alaska was our focus since neither of us is interested in the pool, gym, sports facilities or late night entertainment. Due to the general state ... Read More
We selected the NCL for the relaxed atmosphere. The cruise experience and seeing the sights in Alaska was our focus since neither of us is interested in the pool, gym, sports facilities or late night entertainment. Due to the general state of the economy, I was not in a hurry to book a room in Seattle for the night prior to departure even though it was a holiday weekend. I kept checking the AARP travel site and found The Fairmont Olympic at $148 plus tax which was less than many three star hotels. It was fabulous. We had an early flight and arrived before the room was ready. We were upgraded to a suite! Over all we enjoyed the NCL cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Star. I chose a cabin midship since my husband was concerned about getting seasick. I wanted to be near an elevator since I am claustrophobic. My husband took Bomine and I did not find the halls or rooms confining.. We were in Cabin 9652 which is on the port side. We had great entertainment from our balcony watching the passengers who almost missed the ship from the stopovers ports and we were on a good level to see the towns as we left the ports.  Across the hall from our cabin there is secret door which leads to the internet cafe. A secret because it is not well marked and was quite the surprise when someone popped thru it.  At the cafe there are comfortable chairs and open spaces for reading or quiet conversation and a view to the deck below. We went directly to the top deck after getting checked in. The view of Seattle was great and NO PEOPLE! Everyone headed directly to the buffet which was packed. By waiting just a half hour, we went to the Versailles for our first wonderful served lunch. It was surprising how we could always find a quiet spot and enjoy the cruise without tons of people milling about. All balcony passengers have access to the Aqua Room for breakfast. We first saw the sign PRIVATE PARTY BALCONY RESERVED and questioned itwhere is the balcony off of this dining room? A day later we realized since we were in a balcony cabin, we were the private guest and had breakfast there every morning. I hear from friends that it is unusual to have your own coffee pot in the cabin. Next cruise I will pack instant coffee since I did not care for the brand of drip they supplied.. Next time I will be at the gift shop when it opens and purchase a coffee mug. I like a hot mug of coffee and the coffee in the little tea cups or plastic mugs gets cold too quickly. A fellow passenger said she most missed her thermo cup of cola.. Carrying the mug around is the draw back on getting the soda program. The staff is really wonderful. We did not experience any short tempered or bad service anywhere on the ship. We did not realize until mid week that we could carry food and drink anywhere. We got food at the Blue Lagoon several times and ate it on the deck or at the small tables in the Atrium. The Blue Lagoon is not a comfortable place with small stools, benches and lots of traffic. But it is good for people watching and has good diner food. We went to some of the restaurants with a surcharge. We signed up for the Soho Jazz brunch. It was so popular that they hosted another near the end of the cruise. While it was very pleasant, the eggs Benedict was actually better at the Aqua. There was a very large variety at the Jazz brunch but how much can one person eat?! We really enjoyed Tony Cruz at the piano in the main Atrium. We were there for drinks several evenings before dining in the Versailles Room. The Wine Cellar, with tables, is adjacent to the Atrium. We had already dined at LeBistro before we realized those were tables were part of that restaurant. Next time, I will ask for a table in the Wine Cellar and enjoy piano music for dinner. The food was excellent in Le Bistro and worth the surcharge. I suggest that you save dining at The Endless Summer for the day you cruise Sawyer Glacier. When the ship started down the fiord, we went to the Spinnaker Lounge to listen to a speaker about the area.. A couple of small bears were spotted. Since the actual glacier is in a National Park, as we got closer, no loudspeakers are allowed . When we got into the park, we went to the Endless Summer. It has the best windowsa level where the water is fairly close to see the icebergs and great viewing both port and starboard sides. Our table on the port side was perfect. I have read reviews that the food was not good but we found it tasty and the view alone worth the small surcharge. I can not drink Tequila so got virgin margaritas and ordered a shot of rum to add to the free drink. The staff must have been impressed with my ingenuity because they gave me a more than generous shot! The food and service was excellent in the Versailles room. I have a slight handicap so when they saw me doing to the stairs one step at a time, the hostess suggested that I use the elevator that went to the service floor. We never waited in line. I felt a bit guilty by being seated immediately but my suggestion of waiting our turn was rebuffed. In hind site, the food was so good that next time we may not pay the service charge to dine in the other restaurants. The menu has new items daily so monotony is not an issue. I am not a connoisseur of bread but it was excellent in all the restaurants. We used the e-bag check to check our luggage all the way from the ship to Sky Harbor. Since we had a half day in Seattle, it was well worth it. The last morning, my husband got four of those excellent rolls and some cheese slices from the buffet. I had an extra baggie so made sandwiches to eat on the plane. It really hit the spot and beat out any airport food. The hills in Seattle are a real problem for anyone who has trouble walking. We had taken the Greyhound Airporter from SeaTac so needed to find a place to pick it up for the return. I printed off the list and map of stops so I did not need to return to the Fairmont Hotel. We found the elevator to take us from the street/wharf level to the Pikes Market. There is a cross walk at Pike and Alaskan Way. Look for signs about a parking garage. If you go north a couple of streets from the Market there is only one killer block to hike up. We went to the Westlake Center at 4th and Pike for a cup of coffee then to 6th and Pine to a very nice shopping center, Pacific Place, for chowder at Pike Place Chowder. This is fast food at it's very, very best!  A hotel was close by to pick up the Airporter. So many thanks all you cruisers. We needed more entertainment during the days of just cruising but overall it was a great vacation. Near the end of the trip I asked my partner if he was relaxed. He said his greatest fear was that he might run out of books to read. My greatest fear was that the spoon was too big to get to the bottom of the ice cream dish. Not a bad thing! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Went on this cruise with my sister, mother, two friends and one of their mothers, six of us in all.  I had been on one other cruise previous on Carnival.  The others had all been on many other cruises.  I felt overall the Carnival ... Read More
Went on this cruise with my sister, mother, two friends and one of their mothers, six of us in all.  I had been on one other cruise previous on Carnival.  The others had all been on many other cruises.  I felt overall the Carnival cruise was superior in every way.First off, I thought the ship was beautiful although there was some evidence of wear and tear.  Our cabin was on deck ten and was a balcony.  These cabins are very small, when the couch was made into a bed I literally had to crawl over my sister to get out of bed or if we wanted to get to the balcony.  After a few nights of this we asked our cabin steward to make it out only 2/3 of the way so we could get around.  The beds are very uncomfortable (not at all like Carnivals Dream beds).  The couch made into a bed was like laying on concrete.  Also, we had to remind them almost every day that there were three of us and we needed extra towels.  Very annoying!  WARNING: The soap in the shower is highly perfumed and gave my mother a horrible rash.  It took two calls to reception and three requests to our room stewards before we could get a bar of soap she could use.  If you have delicate skin - bring your own soap.  The children/teen area's were hidden away so well on this vessel that I had to go looking for them.  They were very nice with teens having a large video arcade, dance floor, computers, etc.  and smaller childrens had a whole room that was a jungle gym - they were having a great time.  The food was average overall.  The best thing in the dining rooms was the salmon, prime rib, soufflet's and pineapple cake.  My friend tried the steak and it was too tough for her to chew.  We did not try any of the specialty restaurants and thought it seemed like a lot of wasted space as they were usually less than 1/4 full.  One thing they do not advertise is that if you are in a balcony cabin you can eat in the Aqua Restaurant for breakfast.  Much better than the buffet.  Very few people seemed to know about this so you have a lot of waiters with nothing to do.  One morning we had four waiters taking care of the six of us.  Overall, none of us liked freestyle dining as you never got to know your waiters or if you found one you like you never saw them again.  Also, when we went ashore there was little for our elderly mothers to do other than watch a movie or go to the library.  There were no craft classes or anything to help entertain.  Even the behind the scenes tours cost extra.  The bingo was much too pricey costing $30-40 a shot!  The evening shows were good and varied but nothing spectacular (again this also was much better on Carninval).  Also, it got very annoying that they were constantly hawking pull tabs or bingo or whatever before every show.  Everything seemed to cost extra on this cruise.  The best part of the entire cruise was the ports and cruising up Tracy Arm to Sawyer Glacier.  Absolutely breathtaking.  There was a naturalist on board explaining what we were seeing along the way whom you could listen to over the public address system or in your stateroom on the television.  Best excursion was the train out of Skagway.  Don't do this if you are afraid of heights.  Ketchikan is easy to do the walking tour.  Just pick up a map at the visitor center right on the dock.  You are in Prince Rupert in the evening so if you want to see the museum go there first as they close at 7pm.  Best decision was getting a rental car in Juneau as with the limited time in that port we saw a lot more than most of the other passengers.  We rented from Rent a Wreck and they picked us up at the cruise ship, gave us a layout of the land on the way to their office and took us back to our ship.  I've heard they're the only one's who will do this without an additional drop-off charge.  The cost was very reasonable, about $52 for the six passenger van.  Will I go on an Alaskan cruise again?  YES.  Will I go on NCL again?  Absolutely not!Hope this was helpful, if you have any questions just ask.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We just got back from our very first NCL cruise on Saturday. Alaska was beautiful and EVERYONE should cruise it at least once. We had perfect weather (yes in May!!) with absolutely NO rain, except when leaving Vancouver. We were in a ... Read More
We just got back from our very first NCL cruise on Saturday. Alaska was beautiful and EVERYONE should cruise it at least once. We had perfect weather (yes in May!!) with absolutely NO rain, except when leaving Vancouver. We were in a mini-suite, and had high expectations from NCL about being considered "VIP" or "special". If you are book a mini-suite to avoid lines, waiting, delays, or just want something special...DON'T. Our room was really torn and passed the point of simple "wear and tear". We arrived at the original port thinking we would be taken through VIP boarding, but ending up waiting in lines with hundreds of other people to get on the ship. On our Carnival cruise, it was so fast, we must have been on within 30 minutes! However, with this cruise it took us an 1 1/2 hours! We left late waiting for people to get on too.NCL is only my second cruise and our first was with Carnival. For some reason, I expected to by wowed by NCL, and in return was pretty disappointed. If you think Carnival is "cheap" then NCL is will be shocker, it's even cheaper! They try and sell you everything and anything. They have "themed" parties, but you have to buy the t-shirts for 15.00. Then they do activities like yoga and towel animal creation classes, but they all cost 15.00 too. All the interesting things on the ship (beside shows) cost something extra. We had cigarette holes in our sofas, nasty scratches all over the furniture, and the fridge tended to not close most of the time. If you are looking forward to nice, new, comfortable bedding (like Carnivals), give it up now. We had to ask our stewardess to change our sheets 3 times, because they had all been washed soo many times, they had tons of darns in them. Then there are the showers. They do not stay a consistent temperature! The water only went from really hot to really cold, so forget shaving. Then theres the food. Really not good. The restaurants are pretty decent, but they all cost extra money. The free ones are disgusting. If you want to eat for free on the ship, the best places to go are the Blue Lagoon or room service. Cagney's is just as amazing as everyone talks about, but it cost us 90.00 for two people. If you want the lobster are crab legs, you not only pay the cover of 25.00 but then have to add ANOTHER 10.00. They charge for absolutely everything. Even Carnival gives you a free pen, no such luck on NCL.Surprisingly enough, we aren't complainers. We mentioned our troubles lightly a couple times and even stood in the tremendous line for customer service in the lobby of the ship, to get someone to help us. All they could do is ask what department we needed.....all of them??? While I know they probably couldn't have given us a new room, and tried once to fix the shower, I simply would have liked to see an effort to make things better. At this point, I can say that I will not recommend NCL to anyone I know. I'm only in my early twenties and LOVE cruising, which means I have years and years left of it do, there lose. What a disappointing ship. On a positive note, Alaska was soooo amazing, and we tried to live on the balcony basically, so it couldn't damper my trip!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
This was trip 26 to Alaska with over 20 of them, cruises.  Overall, cruise #61, so the ship is barely more than lodging transportation and meals for my priorities.  :)  Most of what I cruise for is outside the ship.  This was the ... Read More
This was trip 26 to Alaska with over 20 of them, cruises.  Overall, cruise #61, so the ship is barely more than lodging transportation and meals for my priorities.  :)  Most of what I cruise for is outside the ship.  This was the "best" cruise I have been on in terms of Alaska weather.  No rain and 6 sunny, warm days!!!!  Last sea day was cooler, foggy and overcast. I arrived in Seattle the Monday prior, and spent 3 days on Vancouver Island, in Victoria. The priority was the southern resident orca pods. Fortunately, I have a good relationship with a vendor I use and the pods were not in range.  Good point being, I was told this and didn't take any costly boat tours.  They all went out as scheduled with no orca sightings. I spent the time with some sightseeing drives, and garden visits.   Also did the usual Boeing Factory visit, in Washington, with 2 Dreamliners in view and dumping a good sum in the gift shop. :)Had a cheap independent car rental from the airport. Took the city bus to port.  On board with little wait, about 1:30pm. I choose this sailing for the cheap rates, hopeful Tracy Arm access and freestyle.  I am a platinum member, which offered some perks,  free backstage tour- $110 value for 2, which was excellent,  Le Bistro - $30/free wine bottle for 2,  and free laundry $50 value, which was used twice.  The outside deck viewing from this particular ship is excellent and way superior to the Pearl.  Windscreens are lower and plenty of open deck space.  Very important for me, since I get the cheap inside cabins. There was a meet and greet, which I choose not to participate in,  but I did step in to hear the cpt. greeting and was delighted to find out, that the ship would be sailing inside Vancouver Island, which is essentially unheard of on round trip Seattle sailings.  Could not get a definative answer on a Tracy Arm transit, then or the next evening at a private cocktail party with the cpt..  Ended up the cpt, did not transit Tracy Arm and instead did Endicott Arm, which for me, was a slight disappointment,  as I prefer Tracy Arm.  My biggest gripe was, according to the Allen Marine boat cpt,  he didn't get the final route until just before we left, and way too late to cancel the add on boat tour, which was costly.  It was good,  but having a lot of sailing experience here,  I would not have purchased this had I known the route ahead of time.  Dining was OK,  nothing is 5 star anymore, on any line.  Ate in LeBistro, Cagney's, Endless Summer,  Blue Lagoon,  Aqua, and the buffet.  Could perhaps, improve their salad dressings in the buffet- a little on the weak side.   Sevice was very good,  room always clean,  hard working staff.  I am intolerant of demanding passengers.  It's a mass market cruiseline, not a private boat. :)Wildlife  sightings were excellent with numerous humpback views in predictable areas.  Saw transient orcas twice, along with dalls porpoises,  harbor seals, sea lions, bears, eagles. In Ketchikan, again flew Misty Fiords, with Southeast Aviation,  with a bright sunny beautiful day, along with a Walmart stop.   In Juneau flew with Coastal Helicopters to Herbert Glacier.  Fight time seemed shorter than previous trips (6),  direct to Herbert and back.  But extended time on the glacier.    In Skagway, rented a car from Avis and drove to Emerald Lake in the Yukon.  Took plenty of time for the extremely scenic drive.  Have also done this several times,  but had 3 first timer's with me.  They enjoyed  a stop at Caribou Crossing and the the sled dogs.  Saw 2 brown bears along the road.   Met Dyea Dave and Larry from Chilkoot Charters. :)    Snow at the summit, on the mountain tops in BC, deep green at Emerald Lake!!!   My priority was staying ahead of the tour buses, which were plenty along the way.  Prince Rupert, went to museums, and a pub.  I was first off the ship about 7:20am and to the airport by 7:45am, via cab.  Didn't make an early stand by flight, but did get out on stand by at 11:15am and home that night.  This was a great trip, especially enhanced by the superb weather.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
This was our first cruise and boy did it dissapoint us.NCL talks about freestyle cruising then neglects to state most of the restaurants onboard have a surcharge.The main dining room is open for breakfast if you are awake and ready to eat ... Read More
This was our first cruise and boy did it dissapoint us.NCL talks about freestyle cruising then neglects to state most of the restaurants onboard have a surcharge.The main dining room is open for breakfast if you are awake and ready to eat before 8:30 am, otherwise you are limited to the lukewarm buffet offerings ,which close down at 11:30 am on one side to get lunch out. The variety of the buffet is great until you realize it's the same offerings every single day of the cruise.Still people fall all over each other loading up plates and the crew will wisk away your plate ,even if you are not finished, if you so much as get up to get a refill of coffee.Watch your plates for cleanliness.I found lipstick still on a coffee cup in the "clean " dishes rack.Another time while eatting we got a floor show with a supervisor dressing down a crew member.They nickle and dime you to death for any sort of "extra" entertainment  such as bingo for $40 minimum and the free stuff is old movies and a limited selection in the library.Of course if you like to sleep in forget it.Every morning around 8-9 am there is either the Capt of the ship or some sales guy on the PA system broadcasting what they are selling that day  and you get to lay in bed and listen to it ! And if you are lucky, as I was , one of the crew members will re-set your "do not disturb" message to "welcome" and come in your room not once but twice while you are in bed! Or they will leave you a nice note saying your cabin was double locked and they could not get in it to clean ....How do you double lock a door when you are NOT in your cabin?The room  needed a good dusting so I have to think it needed a good cleaning as well.Towels must be limited onboard as we had to call for wash cloths  and an extra towel for my hair  as you get 2 bath towels per cabin standard .The sink plug did not work so I had to use a wash cloth to plug it when I put in my contact lenses. I wish they had signs in the passage ways to remind other passengers to be quiet as  there was  a party down the hall every day outside in the passage way.Entertainment was so so .The music "the melodics" in one bar were terrible, we thought it was karaoke we were hearing as we approached the entry to that bar. The 2nd city troupe were so so .I saw 2nd city in Vancouver , this group must have been interns as they thought charades was entertaining.When they did a workshop one passenger thought as we did that we the audience would be in on it.The heavy guy in the troupe loudly and rudely told him it was "only for those on the floor" .We left then as many others did .We went to a party one night where white was the theme and they were selling white t shirts in the entry area ..we waited for the "party " to begin and it consisted of blaring alternative music.We left and a photographer stuck his camera in our faces even after we both said "no" I could go on but you get the jist. We did love the scenery ,we did have some fantasic waiters. and a couple of nights the meals in the Aqua restaurant were outstanding. The cruise dragged on the  worse the food selections got in the restaurants.Also only one restaurant was open for lunch unless once again  you wanted to pay a surcharge to eat anthing  but fast food.Daytime entertainment was a joke while at sea.Never again !The excursions were way overpriced .tip .book the city and glacier tour once you get off the ship .we paid $27 each for   what NCL was charging $54 each! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
My husband and I took the repositioning cruise on the Star.  We previously took the NCL Dawn and I've been on over 10 cruises.  This was my second cruise to Alaska and third time to Alaska.  We had a great time on the cruise.We ... Read More
My husband and I took the repositioning cruise on the Star.  We previously took the NCL Dawn and I've been on over 10 cruises.  This was my second cruise to Alaska and third time to Alaska.  We had a great time on the cruise.We booked this particular cruise because it came with a large shipboard credit and the prices were reasonable enough that we could splurge and get a "Romance Suite."  A few weeks before we left, I ordered the Honeymoon/Anniversary package from NCL for $75. This includes a bottle of champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries (that were so ripe and delicious!), canapes delivered one night, a honeymoon/anniversary "cake and champagne" party with a free 5x7 photo, and cover charge for dinner for two at Le Bistro restaurant with a bottle of wine.GETTING THERE & EMBARKATIONWe took the Blue Van from LAX to the pier, which I reserved independently.  This worked quite well and was about $15 pp one way.Embarkation was so easy.  Our reservation said to get to the pier two hours before sailing, and we arrived just then.  There was a very long line still waiting to get checked in.  Thankfully we were in a suite and had a separate check-in area.  There was no one in the line.  The concierge, Belkys, met us.  She was very friendly.  We were escorted onto the ship and given champagne after we posed for the obligatory picture.THE SHIPThe ship is like its sister, the Dawn.  Although somewhat older it doesn't show.  It's still very nice, clean, and well-maintained.  The ship had come from Mexico right as the swine flu issue arose, but we were confident that it was OK.  There was antibac everywhere.  THE ROOMWe loved our room.  It was honestly not as large as I thought it would be, but it was very nice.  There was plenty of storage space, a desk, sofa and small table, chair and ottoman, and table and chairs.  The bed was sooooo comfortable!  It had a pillow top.  The linens were nice, as were the pillows.  The curtains were not blackout curtains, so we did get a lot of light in the room.  We had a flatscreen TV and access to a large DVD library.  There was also a vanity area.  The bathroom had a tub/shower on one side, the sink area in the middle, and the toilet on the other side.  While people have been praising this "ingenious" design, it is still not private enough in my opinion for multiple people to use it at once.  The partitions between the sections is a thin plastic that you can still see through. Towels were fluffy and in abundance.  The baths have Elemis toiletries.  There was a dispenser with shampoo, body wash, and hand soap.  There were also bottles with the aforementioned and lotion, conditioner, soap, a loofah, and a shower cap.  We had larger-sized bottles.  I also saw people with smaller bottles.  Toiletries were not replaced.  There was a large balcony with two nice lounge chairs and a table.  We loved having champagne and canapes on the balcony.  We also had a mini-fridge, glassware, and a Lavazza single-serve espresso pod machine that made the most delicious espresso.ALASKAAll in all, I did not feel that our ports (Juneau and Ketchikan) portrayed an accurate representation of Alaska.  This was the biggest disappointment.  My husband was underwhelmed.  On past trips I remember seeing tons of animals and glaciers.  We didn't see much of either.  I think that the regular itinerary for this ship should be better and that ours was poor because it was a repositioning cruise.We went fishing in Ketchikan (great trip!) and took a bus to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.  RESTAURANTSAll in all, we felt that the quality of NCL's food had improved over our last cruise.  Food generally was as good as or better than food that we get at home.  It's not the quality of a celebrity chef or 5-star restaurant but I would say that it's better than anything below that (which in my opinion is very good).  There was always plenty of fresh fruit.  Alcoholic drinks were reasonably priced, we thought.Reservations - We had no problems with reservations, which was unlike our prior NCL cruise where it was hard to get reservations.  I made a reservation for Le Bistro one night in advance.  The concierge made a reservation for Cagney's one night in advance.  We made reservations for Ginza and Endless Summer the same day.  We did not have a reservation for La Trattoria and had no wait. Ginza - Ginza is the Asian fusion restaurant.  I think the cover charge is $15 pp.  We felt this was worth it.  This was sort of like PF Chang's lettuce wraps, etc.  The meal starts off with edamame.  Food and service were good.  Dessert was the stand-out, with a trio of Asian-flavored creme brulee. La Trattoria - Half of Market Cafe buffet gets transformed into this restaurant at night.  (We were thoroughly confused one night when we went to eat here and it was missing because it's also the location of the chocolate buffet.)  It had a $10 cover charge.  There were so many yummy things on the menu, it was hard to choose.  Breadsticks, bread, bruschetta, and olives started the meal off.  There's an antipasta tray, soup, calamari, etc.  I had a delicious chevre pizza.    Endless Summer - Endless Summer is Tex-Mex and comes with a free margarita.   The meal starts off with chips and salsa, pico de gallo, and freshly made guacamole.  Entrees were traditional fare such as tortilla soup and fajitas.  My husband had the lobster tacos and said they were good.  Cover is $10 pp. Le Bistro - Le Bistro was my favorite.  I think the cover is $15 pp.  The wait staff was excellent.  They even gave us a "happy anniversary" cake.  The menu is traditional French, and they make crepes suzette at the table.  The quality rivals a good French restaurant on land.  This restaurant's decor itself was not as nice as Le Bistro on the NCL Dawn, which had fine art and Versace plates.  Cagney's - The cover is $20 pp.  We enjoyed our meal a lot.  It is supposed to be like Morton's, e.g., iceberg wedge, side items, quality beef.  It's not quite as good but still a nice experience with good food.  Versailles - Versailles is the main dining room.  We did not have a wait for a table for 2.  The food was good but, in contrast to the other restaurants, it was apparent that they are preparing so much more food at the same time.  This restaurant has Eating Well selections.  No cover charge.   Market Cafe - This is the buffet, and I'm not a big fan.  There were some stand-outs, such as the soft-serve ice cream and chocolate fountain.  There is an Indian station, pasta station, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, etc., in addition to different entrees and side items.  The quality isn't that great.  I preferred to sit down for breakfast and lunch and grab a snack at Market Cafe.  Aqua - Aqua is the other dining room without a cover charge.  We had a good meal and I loved the souffle.  Our waiter was great. EXCURSION DESKThere are so many tours in Alaska.  I went to the excursion desk to inquire about some of them.  Most of the staff was friendly and polite, but I did speak to one man who was rather rude.  There are brochures, etc. at the desk.SHOPSThe ship has two shops but also sets up an area in the atrium daily.  The shops sell duty-free liquor and cigarettes, perfume and cosmetics.  There is a Diamonds International.  There are also T-shirts, toiletries, Bijoux Terner items ($10 items such as ties, jewelry, evening bags, pashminas), souvenirs, etc.  Amber jewelry is pushed because of the "proximity" to Russia.SPA/INDOOR POOL/GYMThe ship has an indoor spa area, which includes an indoor pool, comfortable lounge chairs with a view, a hydrotherapy pool, and hot tub.  The men's and women's locker rooms have a sauna and steam room.  The men's locker room has hot and cold plunge pools.  There is tea, water, and juice by the pool.  For $20 a day, you can buy a day pass to use these facilities.  You can buy a cruise-long pass for $99 or a couples' pass for $140.  We bought the couple's pass, as we knew that we wanted to use these facilities daily.  They say they only sell 40 couple's passes for the entire cruise, but they don't limit the number of day passes or single's passes, as far as I can tell.  So it can get crowded.  You also get to use a spa robe.  Although the price of this has gone up, we still felt like it was worth it.  However, on an Alaska cruise when it's too cold to sit out by the outdoor pool, the indoor area was busier.  Sometimes we couldn't get a chair, and people would reserve the chairs with a towel and then never return.  One of the women at the front desk always acted annoyed to see me, but the woman who replenished the towels was very nice.The gym was nice and tended to be busy during the mornings.  It had treadmills, ellipticals, etc. with TVs.  There is also a classroom.  I did the aerobics in the mornings, which was a good workout. I did the spa tour when we got on the ship.  This is a Steiner spa.  They pitched the regular ionithermie treatment and GoSmile tooth whitening, etc.  (My mom did the ionithermie once and it did not work.)  The first cruise deal was 20% off signature treatments for the first morning of the cruise.  The regular prices are slightly higher than land spa prices.  I did note that they ran specials throughout the duration of the cruise, whereas on other cruises I've been on, this would just be on certain days.  They ran the 20-20-20 promotion for the entire cruise, where you can get 3 mini-treatments of 20 minutes each for $99.  They also had a similar promotion with up to 5 treatments.  I got a 1 1/2 hour treatment for $149 that included a mini-facial; back, neck and shoulder massage; foot massage or scalp massage; and full-body exfoliation.  The flyer said that it also included a body wrap, which I did not get.  The technician was nice but not overly friendly.  At the end, she tried to sell me over $1000 worth of products.  $175 in muscle soak might relax my muscles, but I'm sure it would give my husband a heart attack. LATITUDESWe got pins that said "NCL Star."  There was a Latitudes cocktail party with hors d'oeuvres and drinks.  The band played and a few bottles of champagne and other gifts were given away in a raffle.  The end of the party turned into a sales pitch to make a deposit for a new cruise.  Members also get a gift shop discount off some items. CASINOThe casino was on the smaller side but fine.  Everyone got free coupon books where you could get $30 in slot play for $20, chip coupons, etc.  ART AUCTION/PARK WESTWe were invited to a "special" wine and cheese event with an exhibition of some of the artwork on the ship through Park West.  There was no pressure to buy, and this was not an auction.  Supposedly, prices were deeply discounted.  The host gave us a brief overview of the selected artists.  There were, of course, numerous auctions throughout the cruise.  This was a nice, small event, but I'm still not a Park West fan. PHOTO SHOPThis was a disaster.  Photos must be purchased in packages, e.g. a 5x7, 3x5, 2 wallets and a magnet (that has nothing to do with NCL or the trip) for $15, or 2 5x7s and a frame for $20.  This is bad if you just want one photo.  There are no exceptions to this, and the man in the photo lab was rather rude.    PORT TALKI attended the port talk on Juneau, which was an hour-long sales pitch by Ian, the shopping consultant.  He gave out some prizes (people were horribly grabby over a free Frisbee!).  All attending got a coupon for a free "diamond" charm bracelet at Diamonds International.  I should know by now that this is always a rip off, yet I can't seem to learn.  I redeemed by coupon in Juneau and got a plastic-like gold bracelet with a charm that says "DI."  The "I" supposedly had a diamond chip in it.  The talk just emphasizes the stores that have paid NCL to promote them.  Most other events with free giveaways were a similar waste of time.  Better to spend the time enjoying the scenery or in the hot tub.SUITE PERKSFrom what I can discern, people in categories A1-AE get special perks as described on nclsuitesandvillas.com.  We were in a category AD.  Our perks included assistance from a concierge, Belkys, who was very nice.  We did not use her much, but she was available via phone and also had a spot in the Star Bar where you could visit her.  She would check in on us at breakfast and see if we needed anything.  She made dinner reservations for us one night.  We also had a butler, Theodore.  I only saw him once, as we did not want room service.  He will get you anything that you want, however.  He brought us canapes daily and also replenished our coffee.  We could have breakfast and lunch in Cagney's.  This was the best.  No waiting for a table and great service.  I became addicted to the Challah French Toast with Tahitian Vanilla Mascarpone and Macerated Berries.  YUM!  In addition to the menu, there was a small buffet with strawberries and fresh whipped cream.  There is French press coffee, which is much better than the buffet coffee.  We were invited to a "VIP" cocktail party with the captain.  This was our only real opportunity to meet the captain...other cruises had opened this up to all guests.  The priority embarkation was great.  We did not use the disembarkation.  There were canapes and a bottle of champagne in the room when we arrived, as well as a beautiful floral arrangement and fruit basket that was replenished.  This really spoiled us, and it will be hard to ever have a regular cabin again! 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Sail Date April 2009
I just got back from spending 7 days on the NCL Star's repositioning cruise from San Pedro, California to Vancouver, Washington via Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska.Juneau: Beautiful sunny weatherBest cruise tour:  Mendenhall Glacier.  ... Read More
I just got back from spending 7 days on the NCL Star's repositioning cruise from San Pedro, California to Vancouver, Washington via Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska.Juneau: Beautiful sunny weatherBest cruise tour:  Mendenhall Glacier.  Interesting.  Learned something new.  Took great pics.Worst cruise tour:  Gold Creek Salmon Bake.   Cooks were unwilling to give more than 1 piece of salmon at a time.  Sauce is sickeningly sweet.  Try pouring sugar on your salmon?  My partner loved it, but then she does not like the taste of salmon.  I, on the other hand, thinks salmon tastes great by itself.Tram Ride:  Loved it.  Great views, especially on a sunny day.  Great pics.Ketchikan: Beautiful sunny dayBest cruise tour:  Tklingit Village.  Hosts were gracious.  They did not mind your taking pictures of them, in fact encouraged it.  They encouraged folks to dance with them.  I did.  Totem poles were beautiful.Not bad, but not great tour:  Lumberjack.  I've been to a real Lumberjack show out in the woods of Snohomish County, Maine.  There is, of course, no comparison.  Here, they use a swimming pool.  They try their best, but the show is sorely lacking in giving serious credit to those who have been lumberjacks and have risked getting limbscut off, etc., while building this great country.  Good show, but corny.  Vancouver CloudyOne tour only:  City TourThis was lousy.  Save your money.  You can get to the airport without doing this.  What really galled me is that the bus driver told us where to buy food.  So, trusting that he is not going to want us to get ripped off, we saunter into this shopping area, like lambs to the slaughter.  The ice cream cones alone were $5.00 a piece.  Trust me, this guy has to be getting a cut of the action.  Do not take this tour.  If you are going to be spending the night in Vancouver, go on the trolley ride.  I've been to Vancouver before and the city trolley ride is great...costing far less and letting you spend far more time at different places along the way.  Vancouver is a beautiful city and it is sad to spend the day doing this tour.Best restaurant on board ship:  Soho.  Go to the Jazz Brunch.  It is great!  Yummy...The other restaurants on ship leave a lot to be desired.  The worst was Ginza, although the staff there was wonderful...but I don't go to eat to see the staff, I go to eat.  The food here is terrible!Versailles is ok...at least it is free.  The waiters however, on the last night of the cruise were rude.  Food is not that great...variation?  What's that?The Norwegian Star is a beautiful ship...but what is this about, this Free Style.  Yes, you can get ok food at any time of the day, but the dining halls do not open until 5:30p.m...so how is that free style?Also, the shows are sub-standard.  Boring!  The only shows I truly enjoyed were the shows put on by staff and passengers.  If I saw this one girl balance herself on this guy one more time, I was going get sick.  Yes, it is a good thing to see ONCE...not every show!  NCL is money grabbing too.  They actually took my payment for the whole tour, and then also had the nerve to hold another $721.00 in captivity.  Best thing about this trip...meeting 3 wonderful people at the daily Bill W. meeting.Well, folks, I'm back to Royal Caribbean or off to Princess.  You can keep NCL.  It's just not for me! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
US:  We are a family of six:  2 Thirty-somethings, 1 teenage girl, and 3 preteen boys.  DH and I have gone on a one day cruise on NCL, and a one day cruise on Holland America.  Other than that, we have always cruised on Carnival.  ... Read More
US:  We are a family of six:  2 Thirty-somethings, 1 teenage girl, and 3 preteen boys.  DH and I have gone on a one day cruise on NCL, and a one day cruise on Holland America.  Other than that, we have always cruised on Carnival.  Other times that we cruised with the kids, we had two inside cabins for the family.  We got a cheap upsell to the Garden Villa for this cruise, and are now spoiled for all future cruises. EMBARKATION:   We had originally planned to do a last few hours at Disneyland that morning, but instead decided on a leisurely breakfast.  It was an uneventful drive from our Anaheim motel, and then we dropped off our bags with a helpful porter.  After security and the norovirus questionnaire, a discrete entrance to the VIP line was not to be.   I had to be rather direct to the lady ushering people to the check in desk.  "Stop, we're in the Garden Villa so I don't think we need that number.  We'll follow this sign, alright?"  Oh, okay. After that, embarkation was smooth as ice:  Check in, meet the concierge, drinks and snacks while waiting for clearance to board, Butler (not ours) escorted us to the villa, and let the photo taking commence.  CONCIERGE/BUTLER/CABIN STEWARD:  The concierge, Belkys, was perfect for us.  She was unobtrusive, but came to check on us every day.  Tap, tap, tap and wait to see if we poked our head out of one of the bedroom doors or out of the living room; that was Belkys. Sound of the villa door opening, and a "hellooooo;" that was our butler, Dilip.  He was good.  He got us mostly everything we asked for, (soda, juice, pina colada mix, limes, lemons, blender, skim milk, yogurt, DVDs, etc.) and brought dinner to the villa two or three times.  I swear there had to be a hidden microphone in the living room.  I mentioned that I just needed a little snack, and it was not two minutes later when *poof* Dilip was bringing in a plate of canapEs.   DH said that he needed a little something sweet when *poof* there was Dilip with a plate of chocolate truffles.  One of the boys whined, "I'm bored, there's nothing to do." when *poof* Dilip was there with two of the DVDs they had requested earlier.  I'm sure that there isn't actually a microphone, but it sure was eerie.  We got six bottles of liquor included with the villa, and Dilip let me substitute triple sec even though it wasn't on the list.  I can't make my lemon drops without some type of orange liquor.  If you're into math, take note that it was a seven day cruise with two people of drinking age and six bottles of liquor...  We tried our best, but only made a dent. Our cabin steward, Cecilio, was fabulous.  Poor guy, it was no use trying to figure out our schedule.  Let's just say that the "freestyle cruising" concept was designed for our family.  I don't think we went to dinner the same time twice.  When are we planning on going to dinner tonight?  Umm, when we get hungry.  When we did manage to put on long pants and pull ourselves out of the villa, he would be waiting for us.  He played a game of "which elevator will come first" with the kids, and asked where we were headed.  I'm serious here that I think he then called down to whichever restaurant we indicated to tell them we were coming.  Our table always seemed to be waiting for us as soon as we got down, once even though there seemed to be other people waiting.  Towel animals abounded.  One was a monkey hanging from the tree in the living room. We got to talking to him one day, and as it turns out, he was the cabin steward for our minisuite on the one day cruise we took last September.  Small world! FOOD/DRINKS:  The Garden Cafe:  The buffet was really crowded with several large groups of very rude and overbearing people with a limited sense of personal space.  Many in these groups seemed to feel that standing really close, pushing others out of the way, and jumping in front of others was entirely appropriate.  A language barrier with those in these groups prevented me from being able to explain things such as: "Excuse me, you are still stepping on my foot." or "Please don't pick up the buffet tongs from the floor and put them back into that dish of food."  It was just two floors up to the villa from the buffet, so we would take our food up.  There was only one time we were there that it would have been possible to find a seat there.  We love love love Indian food, so we actually went several times even if it was just a little snack of chana masala.  YUM!  One morning, I had three plates of food to take up to the kids and asked one of the waiters there to help me carry it.  She didn't understand where we were going.  "Are you eating out on deck?  It's so cold and windy!"  We got to the villa and it was, "Wow!" Cagney's:  We went several times for breakfast and lunch.  It was lovely, and no problem with taking an order of pancakes to go for the sleepy-heads in the family.  We ate dinner once, compliments of our concierge.  This was our favorite dinner.  We should have come back more often.  The food and service were excellent.  One of the boys only liked it after he found out he could order a plain cheeseburger even though it wasn't on the menu.  It was only one floor down from the villa, so it was terribly convenient. Aqua:  We ate here rather than Versailles as one in our group dressed up only so far a jeans and a collared shirt.  The food was good to very good.  Service was well done, although, I'm pretty sure we got some priority service that we may not have gotten had we been in a different cabin category.  I love the starry ceiling.  DH thought it was a big loud dining room (which it was) and preferred Cagney's.  The problem with Aqua is that the entrance is right in the middle of the elevator banks.  This is the only bank of elevators with access to the villa.  So, unless we wanted to walk up seven flights of stairs (sometimes we did), we were stuck with these ones.  The area in and around these elevators were often crowded with large groups of very rude and overbearing people with a limited sense of personal space.  Many in these groups seemed to feel that standing really close, pushing others out of the way, and jumping in front of others was entirely appropriate.  A language barrier with those in these groups prevented me from being able to explain things such as: "That sound means that there are too many people in the elevator now, some of you in the front will have to get off." or "Wait, my child is in that elevator out of which you just pushed me." Ginza:  My teenager ordered dinner from this restaurant one night and thought the food was delicious.  She ate it in her room and let the boys eat their pizza in the living room. Blue Lagoon:  The boys loved it.  They loved the food.  DH hated it.  He didn't like the food, and hated the layout of how it's in a busy corridor and the puff seats.  I just took the boys myself when Blue Lagoon was on the docket after the first time.  I do have to say that we never any problems with crowding here.  There were always seats available when we went. Le Bistro:  We went once.  It was good, but not our favorite.  I think they were afraid that we didn't like the food, but we were just not overly hungry at that time, and the portions were too large.    The food was good, and the service was excellent.  Room Service:  It was delivered by our butler.  It was mostly good, but once the sandwiches were less than fresh.  Biergarten:  Biergarten was open from "10:00am to whenever" each day.  On the cold windy days, "whenever" was about 11:00am.  By the time we were ready to head over, they were closing up.  We did make it over there once for a couple of drinks when the weather allowed them to be open a bit later. The canapEs and sweets delivered daily by our butler were good.  One of my two regrets on the cruise was that the afternoon we got a plate of cheeses and bread I was not hungry enough to eat it.  The rest of the family is not that into cheese.  I have only ever met one cheese that I didn't like, and there were some beautiful cheeses on that plate. ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES:  My other regret of the cruise was that the martini tasting was held on the day that the seas were rough.  Since the timing was when I hadn't eaten anything and was just a touch nauseous, we opted to skip it.  I was really looking forward to it too. The Stardust Theater:  It was really nice having the VIP section in the balcony.  We arrived for shows about 5 minutes before the start time, and sat right down.  We went to the welcome show, the magician, the Second City's scripted show, the crew show, and the final show which included the Jean Ann Ryan group and the Chinese Acrobats.  They were all good to great. The Spinnaker Lounge:  We went to both unscripted shows of the Second City group.  The drink service was good here.  The shows were great.  We wanted to see the Chinese Acrobat show, but there was only one showing.  There was bingo or something we weren't interested in sitting through before the show, and we figured it would be crowded, so we called the concierge to ask if there was perhaps a VIP section here.  The answer was no, but that every seat was a good one, and if we came about 20 minutes early, she would help us find a seat if necessary.  She called us back before the show to tell us that the lounge was completely full.   She said that considering the mix of passengers on board, the Chinese Acrobats were turning out to be quite popular, and that many people were actually being quite rude and pushing looking for seats.  Pool:  My youngest loved it even in the cold weather.  He said the water was warm.  He thought the water on the slides was too cold though, so didn't try that.  He went under water the first time before he remembered that it was salt water.  Then he came to get his goggles before he went back in.  One day, we watched from the villa while a parent had one child take the gate off the bottom of the slide, mimicking how to unlatch it, and encouraging him carry it off the slide while her other child went up to open up the top part of the slide before someone on the crew came to stop them.  They spent several minutes yelling at the crew member who was trying to keep them safe.  Not long after that, a different crew member noticed they had glass dishes in the hot tub, and boy did they seem to go off on him when he confronted them. Hot tubs:  They seemed to be well used, but not overly crowded.  We used the private hot tub in the garden area quite a bit though.  It didn't get as hot as some might like, but I thought it was fine.  The boys liked to "swim" in it.  It was just big enough for the three of them to splash around.  They kept the pool towels stocked in the sauna room at the back of the garden. Fitness Center:  I highlighted yoga every time it was on the schedule, but never actually made it there.  I guess it was zen enough in the villa. Cinema:  My teenager watched a movie there.  It was during something else we had planned, so we didn't join her. Card Room:  It was well used whenever we went by.  It looked like they were having fun. The Library:  My teenager checked it out, loved the quiet space to read, and checked out a few books. Teen Club:  My teenager attempted to go to one event; nobody else showed up, so she gave up on the teens and went to the adult events.  To be fair, I think there were only about 20 teens on the ship total. Planet Kids:  My boys signed up, but never ended up going.  If we had been in a smaller cabin they probably would have gone some. Trivia:  My teenager went as often as she could, and loved it.  She came back with stories every time and said how much better it was than Carnival.  MEET AND GREET:  I was taking photos from the private sundeck, when I realized that it was time for the meet and greet.  Then in our haste, we went aft instead of forward when we got to the right deck.  We missed the officers, but met several nice people and set up the cabin crawl for the next day.  I was the pain in the butt who insisted that the cabin crawl start with the inside and end with the garden villa.  I underestimated the number of people, and should have had two plates of cookies instead of one and another bottle of champagne.  I really enjoyed seeing the different cabin categories.  And everyone was super nice.  I feel really bad that a couple of them got separated on the way to the garden villa.  We met up with them the next day, or the day after, and took them up to see it then. EXCURSIONS:  Oh my goodness, what beautiful weather we had in port.  I had packed snow pants, winter jackets, hats, scarves, gloves, the whole bit.  I was out in Juneau in a T-shirt, and Ketchikan in a sweatshirt! Juneau:  We went up the Mt Roberts Tram on the first tram, and came back down on the third one.  Beautiful views!   The price for booking with NCL was within 50 cents of buying a ticket there, so we let NCL have their cut and booked with them.  We booked a private whale watching tour with "Harv and Marv."  It was fabulous!  Marv's brother picked us up after we got off the tram and drove us to Auke Bay and pointed everything out along the way, including the governor's mansion  (go Sarah!).  We went out on the boat with Marv and saw bald eagles, harbor porpoises, sea lions, whales, glaciers, and a lighthouse.  The weather was amazing.  He said it was one of the top ten days in his six years of doing tours.  He is also a professional photographer, so he was always moving the boat to get good backgrounds and lighting for my photos, and he gave me a few tips with my camera.  On the ride back, we stopped at Mendenhall Glacier for about 10 minutes.  We could have stayed longer if we had wanted to, but the kids were getting hungry.  We pretty much walked right on the ship, but as soon as we got up, the lines started to form.  We had lunch in the garden area of the villa as we watched the lines snake back and forth through the parking lot. Ketchikan:  We booked a private tour to the Misty Fjords through Ketchikan Outdoors.  We had Belkys escort us off the ship around the lines when it was clear to get off because it was going to long tour.  We went up the gangway, met out captain, and went down the next gangway to his boat.  Our captain was Madison.  He was great.  It was his brand new boat that he'd only had for a couple of months, and he was pretty proud of it.  It was a little bit cramped inside, but still fine.  We got to see a whale on the way there, and he circled around so I could get some good photos.  He was looking for bears at each of the creeks the whole way there, but didn't see any.  It was a bit choppy for a while, but clear once we got there.  Boy, the Misty Fjords were beautiful!  It was another beautiful day for weather.  We had sandwiches and snacks on the tour.  It was just a touch long for some of the kids, but still fabulous. CABIN:  Garden Villa:  I don't even know where to begin.  I think that's got to be a whole different post.  Let's just say that after our one motel room with two beds and a pullout at Disneyland, this was NICE! I will share a couple of tidbits: Okay, one morning I got up around 5am, and went up to the sundeck to take photos of the sun coming up.  I left my keycard in the bedroom, so when I was done, I couldn't go take a shower.  Nobody would wake up, so I wondered whether I should call the front desk or pad on down in my pajamas.  I decided to call since I didn't want to be locked off the floor in pajamas.  The front desk receptionist said Oh, you're in the villa.  Oh, we don't have access to the villa.  Oh, it's too early to call the butler.  Yeah, that was my train of thought too.  He didn't know what to do and said it had never happened to him before.  He could call the villa, but that would wake everyone up.  Oh!  Good idea!  Let's do that!  That should wake up my husband so that he could let me in to take a shower.  If I had been thinking straight, I could have called since the portable phone has a different number from the living room, but I was not quite awake.  So he called and I think he was a little afraid of doing it, because he let it ring twice then hung up.  It was enough to wake up DH though, and I go in for my shower and saved the public the spectacle of my PJ's. One afternoon, I went out the back of the garden to the sports court to take photos.  Mind you, nobody was in sight when I came out the door.  By the time I had had crossed the sports court, a guy was opening the door to go in.  "Excuse me sir.  That's not okay!  Please get out of my statesroom."  He did at least look embarrassed about getting caught.  Later, DH was coming back down from the sundeck when he saw a guy climbing over the back wall.  It took him a minute to figure out that it wasn't actually someone climbing over the wall, but an employee replacing the bulb in a light on the sports court. DEBARKATION (or why it's a bad idea to take too many pairs of shoes):  After messing up on where to leave our luggage.  (Call me an ignoramus, but Cecilio fixed it for us)  And, after making sure the kids were ready for breakfast.  And after making sure everything was out of their bedrooms so that Cecilio could start prepping them for my good Cruise Critic friend AdoptAtty whose family was in the villa for the next cruise.  (It was a surprise for her family that they were in the Garden Villa, and she sent me a "Happy birthday! Surprise" banner that Belkys was going to hang up before they arrived.)  Anyway, after all that:  Where are my shoes.  Living room? Bedroom? Closet? Bathroom?  Seriously!  WHERE ARE MY SHOES??  "Those brown ones that you haven't worn all cruise?  You had so many pairs to pack that I thought you missed those ones and packed them in my bag."   (Okay, now call him an ignoramus!)  So, I went down to breakfast in his 4 sizes too big shoes, and he's damn lucky that he found one of the boys had thrown their flip flops in the electronics bag! We sat and read in the garden and watched TV until Belkys escorted us off around 10 o'clock.  We got to skip much of the customs line but did have about 10-15 minute wait at the end.  Someone met us on the other side and called our limo.  The limo took us to my in-laws motel where we loaded the luggage into the Suburban and drove back to Seattle.  It was only about 30-45 minutes to cross the border.     Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Allow me to begin by saying that I read nearly every review out there. I was a little nervous after reading them however it was not nearly what as many of the reviews made it out to be. This was only our second cruise and this by far ... Read More
Allow me to begin by saying that I read nearly every review out there. I was a little nervous after reading them however it was not nearly what as many of the reviews made it out to be. This was only our second cruise and this by far beat out the past cruise. We arrived in Seattle the day before and did a little sight seeing. We had wonderful weather while we were there and fell in love with the city! Come Saturday morning we were ready to get our vacation started. We arrived at the port early to avoid any major lines. The staff was very nice and knew exactly what was going on. From the time we checked in until we were on the ship it took less then 10 minutes. Well organized! Once we got on the ship we decided to do a little exploring to get familiar with the surroundings. We quickly found our stateroom and to our surprise it was ready, early at that. We had an inside room and although it's not spacious it was just fine. We didn't go on this trip to stay in our room anyway! The room had everything we needed and met our needs nicely. After checking out our room we went back out to find other areas we would be enjoying for the week ahead. Everyone always talks about the food on the ships and trust me there were plenty of choices! We ate at the Blue Lagoon a few times, wonderful cheeseburgers! We also ate at Aqua for lunch several times. Service was slow one day but the other times it was just fine. It gave us an opportunity to meet some new people. We were on vacation so we had no reason to rush. The food choices were great. We ate at Versailles every night but one. The staff were very nice and rather quick. We did eat at one speciality restaurant. We decided to try Cagney's and were so delighted we did. The food was excellent, well worth the additional charge. I wish we would have ate there one additional time but we will save it for our next trip. Upon leaving Seattle there was a huge buffet out on the pool deck. Although we did not try any food at that time it all looked wonderful! The second to the last night there was a chocolate buffet. Believe me, you will want to try this out. My only advice, wait about 30 minutes. They have a ton of choices so they will not run out. It started at 11pm and nearly everyone went at this time. Give it a few minutes for the overly eager people to get in and out then go. We waited until about 30 minutes after it began and the lines moved smoothly and not nearly as many people were there. I recommend trying a little over everything. The entertainment on the ship was outstanding!! The shows each night kept us wanting to come back every other night. The shows were only about an hour long but worth every minute. One suggestion...get there early for a good seat they fill up quickly. The ports we stopped at were great. Although it was the end of the season as we were the last cruise for the Star this season we never felt like it. The excursions we booked were good. Our favorite were the Yukon Horseback riding and Canoeing in Skagway and the Whale Watching and Lighthouses in Prince Rupert. They were awesome and would do them all over again! Despite the fact that it rained every day, we had a fantastic time! The staff onboard the Star were so nice and helpful. Everyone from the Reception Desk to our Room attendants to the Photo Gallery employees everyone was always smiling and greeting us each and everytime we saw them. The ship was beautiful and very clean. One last thing, I read in a few of the past reviews about the announcements everyday. Yes they do announce things but they are always short and just want to give our friendly reminders or the captain is telling you about the current conditions. They aren't played inside your cabins until it's time to leave at the end of your trip. It's not that bad! This trip to us was one in a million. We can't wait for our next trip with NCL and are already starting to plan it!! Trust me, you will not be disappointed! We had a "smashing" time!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Norwegian Star - Sept. 13 - 20, 2008 ALASKA!!! Background - We have a total of 9 people gong on this trip. Ages between 47 and 77. Four had only been on 1 cruise prior to this and 2 who had never cruises. This is my 5th cruise. ... Read More
Norwegian Star - Sept. 13 - 20, 2008 ALASKA!!! Background - We have a total of 9 people gong on this trip. Ages between 47 and 77. Four had only been on 1 cruise prior to this and 2 who had never cruises. This is my 5th cruise. My 2nd with NCL, but my previous NCL was in 1981, so things are a little different. My last cruise 3 years ago was on the Carnival Valor, which was a wonderful vacation, but I think they are a totally different class of cruise. Day 1, Sept 12 - We had the horrible time of 615am leaving from the Columbus Ohio airport on Friday. Our flight was on time and smooth. We arrived in Seattle at 10:45am, due to a miscommunication on our part, our transfer was late. We stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites not to far from the space needle. The hotel was clean and the staff was wonderful, the rooms were extremely small - preparing us for the ship! We walked and explored the Space Needle area and went up to the observation deck. Seattle's weather was beautiful and we had a wonderful view. Day 2, Sept 13 - Seattle / Departure The hotel had a Continental breakfast which we enjoyed. After breakfast we killed a little of time before our transport arrived at 1045am to take us to Pier 66!! Upon arrival at the pier we saw the fabulous Norwegian Star and she is a beautiful lady. Our bags were checked to the porter never to be seen until we are in our stateroom. The check in time was probably about ½ hour and a whole lot more pleasant than the last check in for the Valor in Miami. When we stepped onto the ship we had Champagne waiting for us, very nice touch. We walked around and ended up at the Versailles for lunch, but still had ½ hour before they opened at 12:30 pm, so more wondering around the ship. I had to keep the heard in line to stay away from the buffet! The group members kept saying, "We can eat here!" The ship has so many of the sanitation stations; we didn't have them 3 years ago on Carnival. At 12:30 it was back to the Versailles and I must say the wait was well worth it. The food that we ate was wonderful! The service was great, everyone we encountered was ready, willing, and able to assist in any way that they could. Somehow we missed the Kick off of the 2PM ship tour, but we found a lady from the Spa in the Carousel Bar and she took us to find the ship tour. We caught up with the tour and went around the ship. My bff and I signed up for the Spa package and can't wait until we get in there to enjoy the facilities. The muster drill was exciting and we didn't even have time to get our life jackets back to the room before we took off. From Seattle! We went out on deck to see but didn't have the BBQ. We walked the ship and explored the views, signed up for the Casino Card and went to see if we won anything from the spa drawing. 5 of us took advantage of the Buy one Get One Coupon for the first night and we ate at La Tortilla. The food and service was wonderful. All 5 of us enjoyed our meals. Went to the Casino and played slots, no luck for me! Day 3, Sept. 14 - At Sea I am sitting on the balcony of my mini suite 11138 writing about Day 2. The view is beautiful with the mountains off in the not to far distance. It is very cold on my balcony, but I knew it would be when I booked it! So many activities! So much to do!! We met with the Cruise Critic Group and spent some time getting to know the others. It was nice so that when we would see them while walking around the ship. 4 of us signed up for the Murder Mystery Theater. We went to Bingo, since it was so expensive we purchased one package and split the cards / computer. Of course we did not win! Dinner and the Monte Carlo Night! My BFF and I went to the Spa and enjoyed the facilities! This was wonderful!!! Day 4, Sept. 15 - Ketchikan Dad and I did the Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer, this was a wonderful trip! The Catamaran is tied up right across form the Star, so we got off the Star and right on the tour. We saw Eagles, Dolphins, and Sea Lions. The beauty of the Misty Fjords was spectacular! I was in awe the whole trip, I took a lot of photos and we truly enjoyed this trip. The only thing that I did not like was that by the time we arrived back into Ketchikan we did not have a lot of time to visit the town. We ran over to a couple of shops prior to getting back on the Star to depart. More time in town would have been great! During sail away we went to the Family Feud game show. That was so much fun, Paul the Cruise Director is so funny and gets people to do some of the funniest things. The Murder Mystery was fun, our group was challenged by having 2 people who did not read English and some of the story was lost in translation. We were lucky, our "murderer" was having difficulty reading since he forgot his glasses, but it did not matter since he was able to lie! We went to the show at the Stardust to see Magical Showtime: Murray, I did not enjoy this show. We also went to the Spinnaker and saw China Stars Acrobat Company, THIS SHOW IS NOT TO BE MISSED!!! Definitely a show to remember. Day 5, Sept. 16 - Juneau / Endicott Arm Dad and I decided that since we did not have time to see Ketchikan, we would just walk around Juneau and not do a tour. Of course the rain was falling and it was cold, but we walked the entire town. We took the Mt Roberts Tramway and the sights from the top were great. The fog rolled in and I did not think that we would be able to see anything, but than, the fog lifted and the view was great. We were the only 2 in our group that went to the top and I think that the others missed some wonderful sights. Of course, just like every other cruise this year we did not get to go to the glacier that we were scheduled for, but went to Endicott Arm. The trouble started when the sun sets at 705pm and you must be out of the Arm by sundown, so we did not have much time. Than when we started into the Arm, the fog came with us, so we had to travel slowly. We never made it to see the actual glacier before we had to turn around. We had the group, 9 people, over to our cabin since we had a balcony. Quarters were tight on the balcony, but it was great being able to go in and warm up if need be. The view was great and I enjoyed the trip, but I would have liked to see the glacier and had a "smashing time!" Day 6, Sept. 17 - Skagway For Skagway we had people all over the map, 3 took the train round trip, 1 took the train up and road a bike back, but 5, including me rented a Avis car and did Murrays Guide. We had a great time! Murrays Guide tells so much detail about what you will be seeing and what to expect. By having the car we were able to stop whenever we wanted and get out taking pictures. We drove to Fraser, Canada before turning around and returning to Skagway. Again the views were so inspiring; this is what Alaska is all about, at least the Inside Passage! When we returned to Skagway we spent time touring the town before we needed to return to the Star to again go out to sea. Day 7, Sept. 18 - Prince Rupert This was my Spa day! I had a 8 AM appointment and did not get out of the Spa until almost 11AM! My treatment included the Ionithermie Sea-Algae Detox Wrap, Full Body Massage, and Mini Facial! Oh, my this was WONDERFUL! While I was wrapped in Seaweed she did reflexology on my feet, than after washing off she did a full body Massage, than on to the facial. I could hardly move afterwards! Talk about a total pampering experience, I highly recommend this treatment. At the last minute Dad and I decided to do the Whales, Wildlife and Historic Lighthouses tour. So we rushed off the ship to schedule the tour on the dock, luckily they had room for the 2 of us. Off to the tour we went. Actually we had 7 of us on this tour. The other 2 did the Whale & Marine Life Encounter by Zodiac, don't tell them but that really looked like fun and I would have loved to have done that one! Our tour was on a huge catamaran and we started out by searching for whales. We found the Whales! They were so awesome! I totally enjoyed this experience!! We stayed with the whales for about 1 hour and they were pretty much surrounding us. Hearing them blow and call to each other was so cool, the tour was well worth the cost. We did not have any time to visit the town. By the time our catamaran returned to dock it was time to get back on the Star! So I cannot say anything about this port at all. Tonight we went to Cirque Pacific at the Stardust and this was a great show. We also went to the Chocoholic Buffet, it is amazing what they can do with the chocolate! Day 8, Sept. 19 - At Sea Our final full day on the ship. Time to relax and enjoy the ship. We went to Bingo again and split the cost. Again we did not win! We went to the debarkation talk and enjoyed that. It is amazing that we have to get all our stuff back in the suitcase. Day 9, Sept. 20 - Seattle to Dayton This was the easiest debarkation I have ever experienced. We participated in the Bags Program so we did not need to touch our bags. We were off the ship and at the airport by 9:30am for a 12n flight. It is a sad day that became even worse upon arrival home; we did not have electric and did not have it from Sept 14 - Sept 24. What a major change in life! Tours - The trips that we did were wonderful. Ports - Our ports were beautiful, but I think that we needed more time in port. Food - the food was great, although I did not enjoy the Market Buffet, but I do not like Buffets at all. Spa - The Spa was great, but, with so much to do on the ship, I do not think the Spa pass was worth it. I think I would have been better with purchasing on a as needed basis. We only had time to go 2 times during the week and the 2nd time we forced yourself to make time. Activities - all the activities we participated in were great and a lot of fun. Bingo / Casino - Bingo was way too expensive. The Casino was very tight. Ship - The Star was bright! This ship was wonderful! It had been years since I had been on NCL and was concerned that it would not live up to my memories and expectations. My fears were not warranted! This trip was everything that I expected and I will defiantly go on NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
I have cruised on Carnival, Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean. This was our first NCL. We were with some family and some friends (who were first time cruisers). We had a mini suite while our friends had a romance suite. I have ... Read More
I have cruised on Carnival, Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean. This was our first NCL. We were with some family and some friends (who were first time cruisers). We had a mini suite while our friends had a romance suite. I have stayed in interior, balcony and concierge class suites on other boats and the mini-suite is really not any form of a suite. It is equivalent to a balcony room on most ships but with the worst storage ever. There were 2 drawers in the hall just before the bathroom but the only shelves were on the side of the closet, barely accessible. The bathroom with a separate toilet with sliding door was also a joke. It is a small bathroom (as they are on ships!). I don't know who would try to share that kind of a space!! Especially since hotel room bathrooms and cruise ship bathrooms have no fans or ventilation!! Our friends romance suite was beautiful and spacious with plenty of storage, a small couch and large chair and a table for 4. It was even equipped with an espresso machine. They received a whole different level of service. No visiting the chaotic buffet!! They had large lounge chairs on their large aft balcony. Nice vantage point for the glacier tour (which we didn't get to see due to late season ice in the water). We are used to the room steward coming to meet everyone and telling us their names and how to reach them. We never saw ours until day 5 of the cruise. They certainly kept the room cleaned and ice in the fridge but we are used to knowing how to call them if we need something. The location of the phone was comical. It was hung under the large cabinet that housed the tv and safe. You had to bend down to try to dial and could not read the display unless you had a flashlight. The one thing that was unique on this ship was the room service. They call first and let you know they are on the way. Such a bonus since there are no clocks in the room. Nice touch. The ship: The public bathrooms were awful. I often found stalls with doors that would not close and lock properly and no toilet paper. NCL should take a lesson from Carnival and have a showroom with bench seating and cocktail tables. The theater (showroom) had cinema style seating with no cup holders and thus no cocktail service if your row was full. Just dumb. The entertainment was lackluster. Some ok, some not so ok. Activities: There was trivia daily, but the cruise staff/trivia nazis had some really dumb questions and sometimes made it not so fun. The daily star (daily schedule) was just not as functional or informative as on other cruise lines. They need to revamp their format and content. We are usually big casino players but the casino on this boat was a dud. I have been on 10+ cruises and this was the worst casino. There were no $5 blackjack tables during the entire cruise. Normally, they run promotions (like $1 or $3 for a 2 - 3 hour block on certain days) to entice people into the casino. There was nothing going on here!! They had a nice coupon book for the players who signed up for the Casinos at Seas card but they really missed the boat at promoting the casino. They only had one blackjack tournament and did not run it like they do on other ships. Bizarre. I don't know if there execs know what they do on other ships but they are missing out on casino revenue. I could design their casino promotions and set table limits to produce more revenue and for guests to have more fun!! There was very little in the daily star about casino activities. I would rate this the worst casino at sea. I have never seen so many empty tables. It was not even very busy on Monte Carlo night. Excursions: This is my 2nd trip to Alaska and it is still as beautiful as the first time. We discovered a photo mat store on Franklin St. in Juneau. The website is picturethisphotomats.com and if you are into framing pics from your travels or unique gifts, you must check out his store or website. We purchased 8 or 9 mats and frames and he shipped them to our house while we finished our trip!! We went to the Gold Creek salmon bake in Juneau which was really cool. We had never been before and would highly recommend this. We started to walk around a little bit but ran into a momma bear who was looking for food in a building on the Gold Creek property. A little scary!! Prince Rupert is a dud for walking around. Must do an excursion there. We went whale watching which ran 30 minutes over since we were chasing a pod of 7 humpbacks. Breathtaking!! Visited the shops in Skagway as well as the Skagway brewery. Had red king crab at the Skagway fish house which is near the train station. 2nd trip there for crab. Delish!! Saw the lumberjack show in Ketchikan for the 2nd time. Still fun!! Lots of walking around shopping which is just what you do in these little towns. Dining: Avoid the buffet. The market cafe is often chaotic and bizarre as it is full of long tables for 8 people. The breakfast items are not very good. The chef's omelette was there everyday but was just folded over eggs (no cheese, no meat, no veggies). I don't know who calls that an omelette......The main dining rooms are the Versailles and Aqua. We went to Versailles once for lunch, once for breakfast but never for dinner. We went to Cagney's steakhouse on embarkation day for dinner. It was $20 surcharge but really worth it. The appetizers were fantastic (crab cakes, colossal shrimp cocktail, portabella stuffed with crab and cheese, etc.) the entrees were delicious with great sides but I can't recall what I had for dessert. Our friends were able to have breakfast at Cagney's since they were in a suite. The menu choices were fantastic (eggs benedict with crab and havarti, etc.) We dined at La Trattoria ($10 charge) one night. Also worth it. Good Italian food, extensive menu and large portions. We ate at Ginza (chinese) on our last night for $15. Also worth the money. We did the Jazz brunch on the last sea day at the Soho restaurant. Good menu choices, nice music. Also $15. We lived at the Blue Lagoon which is a fast service, small area on deck 7 just before the galleria shops and around the corner from the Red Lion pub. Their wings were really good (get them hot w/extra sauce and they will be vinegar perfection)and had basic selections with cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, salads, a panini, etc. Their seating area is too small and weird. There are benches on 1 side and small little stools on the other. I felt like a little kid sitting on the stools but it was a small price to pay for lightning fast service with hot, fresh, simple food. The Red Lion pub was our favorite gathering place. Most trivia was there and was their only place for sports on tv. We liked the servers there the best, too. They knew our names after day 1 and were always treated well. We played cards there often as well. Alcohol prices were also really high. The daily specials were between $7.95 and $9.95. The best deal is the Foster's Oil Can for $6.50 which is equivalent to 2 beers. I brought 4 bottles of wine onboard and paid the $15/bottle fee which I think was worth it. I felt like there was more upselling going on here than usual. It was a good trip as Alaska is just so beautiful. NCL really disappointed us as we thought they would have a higher standard. The room was a big disappointment as well. We should have stuck with Princess. My next cruise will be back on a Carnival or a Princess. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
We got a call from NCL the day we were driving up to Seattle offering us an upsell to AC from AF, we took the deal so some of our experiences are colored by the additional perks for suite living, but most experiences are common to all ... Read More
We got a call from NCL the day we were driving up to Seattle offering us an upsell to AC from AF, we took the deal so some of our experiences are colored by the additional perks for suite living, but most experiences are common to all fellow cruisers. First off the Star is a beautiful ship, well kept, clean, easy to get around, (unless you are directionally challenged like my DW), and for the most part comfortable. (more on that later). Embarkation: The process most colored by our upsell. VIP embarkation is a dream. After checking in we were given an escort who took us directly to the VIP area where there was ample refreshments available, and we we greeted by the biggest asset on the ship, In MHO, Simone our concierge who always seemed to be at the right place at the right time during the cruise. I could use up plenty of space writing about Simone. My in-laws were also booked on this cruise but in a mini-suite so as we were being escorted away my Father-In-Law shouted hey that's my daughter, so like any good daughter my DW asked if they could embark with us. As soon as my DW asked they sent a VIP rep out to escort my in-laws to the VIP lounge and they enjoyed a number of the perks with us. We were briefed on the perks that come with the room and then our Butler Timothy escorted our in-laws and my DW and myself to our suite. We arrived at the terminal at 11am and we were in our suite at 1210. A side note is that we entered the ship at the mid elevator and took it up to the 9th floor, our suite was 9002 which is at the front of the ship OMG one look down the hall toward our room and I swear we had a mile to go. We never got used to that view so we would almost always took the front elevator, at least we could see that far on other decks. A small victory for a mental lightweight. Cabins: Our suite was great, I had arrange for it to be decorated for our 30th anniversary and for a dozen roses to be in the room, all was ready when we arrived which caught me by surprise. I just knew there was going to be a screw up because of the room change. BTW the people in our original room which adjoined my in-laws, asked my in-laws if they knew a Teri. My father in law told them he had a daughter named Teri and about the cabin change, after which they told my father-in-law to wish Teri a happy anniversary. It turns out their suite was also decorated complete with cake, and the card which never made it to our room. I hope that they were discrete enough not to share its contents with anyone. A bottle of champagne was on ice we we got to the room which is one of the perks. We had a large closet where we were able to hang ALL our clothes, plenty of drawers, make up table with chair and mirror, an adequate bathroom, (same size as mini-suite), a wet bar, desk, small dining table with 4 chairs sitting area with a "couch" and small sofa chair, two safes, lots of storage space and room under the bed for two suitcases. We had a deck to die for. 150sf with two lounge chairs and as far as Im concerned the best views on the ship except for the villas. Being in Alaska it was a bit cold but we had a couple of nice weather days, and when we traveled the Endicott arm the views were incredible. We saw whales, bears, seals, and eagles for our front deck while enjoying wine and strawberries. Now a word about comfort, we ended up using the dining chairs, as the couch and sofa chair felt as if they were made from rock. I am convinced that this is to encourage you to get out of the cabin so that they can help you lessen the burden of a fat bank account. The bed was comfortable and I slept like a baby, rocked to sleep every night after enjoying an adult beverage or two. Food: NOTE: The chilled fruit soups are great and must be tried at least once. This is another area which is colored by the perks. We were able to have breakfast and lunch in Cagney's every day if we wished and were allowed to bring my in-laws as our guests. We took advantage of this perks most days. The food at Cagney's was excellent for both lunch and dinner. Cagney's breakfast were offered both with menu or buffet or both. My wife says that the french toast should be illegal. I enjoyed whatever I had in the morning. We did eat at Cagney's for dinner one night and it was worth every penny.. I know that some have criticized Cagney's but we hit them on a good night. The service was attentive, quick, and pleasant, the food was served promptly, cooked as ordered and great tasting. The highlight was the Alaskan king crab legs my mother-in-law had. We also ate at one other fee restaurant, the Endless Summer. As stated in other reviews the tortilla chips were stale and we did bring this up, we we thanked and told that it was one of the areas that they were discussing with their vendor. My DW and I both had the Lobster Tacos, what a treat. The lobster was cooked just right and the amount was such that we skipped desert as we could eat no more. With dinner came free Margaritas in the large glasses with no additional charge for the first one for each person. We had one dinner and one lunch at the Versailles. While others reviewers seemed to like the Versailles our experience was different. We found the service to be slow and the food to be unremarkable for the one dinner we had there. One dinner is not a fair trial but because there were other choices we chose not to back for another dinner. I had the Beef Wellington which was decent enough though nothing to write home about, but my DW and her mother had the fish and lobster and except for dinner at the market cafe this food was the poorest of the cruise. Lobster was small and overcooked and the fish had a bland taste. We did find the servers to be good at the Versailles but the service was slow and distracted due to the large number of people there in MHO. Lunch was much better there and we enjoyed our one meal there and we shared the table with two other charming couples who were strangers when we sat and friends when we left. The food was good and the service well paced for lunch but since we were spoiled by Cagney's for lunch it is hard to make a fair comparison. Unlike some others our favorite was Aqua. We enjoyed the smaller more casual setting, jeans are ok there. The service was great and every meal we ate there was terrific. We ate dinner 3 times at the Aqua and every one met our expectations. My favorite was a Mahi Mahi dish I had one night it was spicy but not too much and cooked just right as the fish was moist and tender. we had a great sever there twice an Indonesian girl named Jasminita and the Hostess, who also did lunch and breakfast at Cagney's, was one of our favorite members of the Star crew. The hostess name was Roann and she was from Trinidad Tobago. She was warm, witty, and took took the time to learn our names after our first encounter. The market cafe was at best mediocre at worst bad. The food was bland, uninspired, and presented poorly. To be fair my in-laws like the Cafe and ate there often. Also we found the tables to be clean and well policed, the food was just not to our liking. We only ate there once but I commented on the tables because we passed through cafe almost every day and we had read that the tables were dirty and were not policed well. The food at the Blue Lagoon was OK, but we liked the wings. The problem with the Blue Lagoon is the room, there is none. A note about Adult beverages. We brought 4 bottles of wine aboard and paid 60 dollars for that privilege. I knew this already and was willing to pay to enjoy wine that I knew to be good. My wife became addicted to "Dirty Bananas" and I have the charges to prove it. But this was our vacation and we both enjoyed it the way we wanted. Entertainment: Anyone who gets bored on this cruise ship is .... well.... never mind. We enjoyed team trivia, sushi making sake tasting, making new friends, exploring the ship, attending lectures, wildlife viewing and wild life viewing, excursions, shopping, shows, parties and reading, in fact our problem was finding time to be bored. We never got to the Spa, the Work out room, the Casino, the Cinema, or many other activities offered. We did not care so much for the Jean Ryan Singers, but we enjoyed Murray the Magician as much for his humor as for his magic, the ventriloquist was ok and second city had their moments. As you can probably tell we found the entertainment to be good but not great. But we had a great time enjoying what was presented. If you want Vegas go to Vegas. Excursion: I find this area difficult to comment on so I will keep it short. We loved the white pass train ride, my DW caught more salmon then I did, we had a great time fishing and if you want a reference ask I got a great one. My DW shopped with great gusto and I carried the packages as well as any old pack mule. Skip Prince Rupert and you will have missed nothing. One note here during the last 2 or so hours of approaching Prince Rupert we had many a whale encounter so keep a sharp eye here. Staff: I am truly perplexed at the negative comments I have read about the staff of the Star in some reviews. THE STAFF WAS GREAT. Except for one small issue about a over aggressive seller of beer. The staff was polite, professional, eager to please, smiled all the time, provided great advice, and well, many other positive words could be used here. We were constantly asked about our day, nights sleep, activities, likes and dislikes etc... And this was from the general staff. On top of that our concierge and butler contacted us often about anything we might need. I would be remiss not to mention our Butler TIMOTHY. What a fine young man he is and a first time father to be in 4 months or so. Congrats Tim. He spoiled us to the core along with Simone. I would like to add that during every meal, except when we ate at the Market Cafe, the maitre d asked about our food and service. Breakfast, lunch, dinner no matter where we ate except room service of course and then it was Tim who called to see if our food was to our liking. This review has already taken up to much space so I will close with a few remarks. NCL like other cruise lines are very good at offering you ways to leave your money with them. I can understand some people finding this to be a bit intrusive, but I did not. I did leave some money with them, (I should now own the rights to the "Dirty Banana"), but not an excessive amount. In fact I can in under budget. I made good use of my time and I set the pace for myself not depending on someone else. If you treat the crew with respect and kindness and take the time to talk to them, they will respond in kind, in fact we wish we could have filled out a style card for each one. Use the S.T.Y.L.E. cards to reward good service, it is a much desired commodity among the crew. The cruise was great and my mother-in-law who had to be dragged onto the boat now wants to cruise again. Make the most with the time you have, because time goes quickly. You get out of life what you put into it. One other thing, we took the time to introduce ourselves to other cruisers when possible, we made some good friends this way and it made the cruise that much more enjoyable. So God Bless and Happy Cruising Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Review ~ Norwegian Star ~ Sept 13-20, 2008 Inside Passage We decided to arrive in Seattle a day early so that we were not rushing around before our cruise. We arrived at the Sea/Tac airport around 10:30 am and left for our hotel ... Read More
Review ~ Norwegian Star ~ Sept 13-20, 2008 Inside Passage We decided to arrive in Seattle a day early so that we were not rushing around before our cruise. We arrived at the Sea/Tac airport around 10:30 am and left for our hotel (Seattle Sheraton). We took a taxi to the hotel, total cost approx. $35. We arrived at the hotel and no rooms were available, we left our bags and decided to explore the city. First, we ate some lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, lunch was delicious. Onward to do some sight seeing. We walked all around the City, it was quite beautiful. One thing that was amazing was all the Starbucks, one on every corner & middle of the block. We headed towards the famous Pike's Market. This is a busy spot. We watched the "fish throwing", very neat. The beautiful, gorgeous flowers at the market that you can purchase were very cheap (I wished I would have stopped on my way back home). This stop at the market was well worth it. There were tons of Okies in Seattle for the Sooner/Huskie game, so a sea of red all day. We headed back to the hotel to freshen up, our room was ready. We headed out a little bit later to go see the Space Needle. We walked a few blocks from the hotel to the Monorail for the ride directly to the Space Needle. Round trip ride on the monorail is $4 pp. The price for the Space Needle was $16, and well worth it. We spend quite awhile there. The weather in Seattle on this day was awesome, clear blue skies. I took some great pictures from the top, and you could see landmarks very easily. Mount Rainer was in the background, and is huge! After some time at the Space Needle we decided to go to dinner, we ate at PF Changs, once again delicious. We got ready for the cruise the next day, Saturday, Sept. 13th. The hotel check out was smooth and had a taxi within 10 minutes. September 13, 2008 ~ We arrived at Pier 66 at approx 10:15 am, checked our luggage, and were on our way through the ship screening, after this we were on our way to get our pictures taken and our ship cards, this was a very smooth process and took less than 10 minutes. After this we waited until they called for us to board the ship. One thing that did not happen was we were supposed to get a number ticket as this was the way they boarded people. I asked a terminal employee and she just advised us to go with the group that was already boarding. Fine by me! We walked onto the ship and were greeted with champagne. We did walk to the Market Cafe for some lunch. Lunch was ok food was not bad, as some of the previous post suggested. We then headed to the pool area, and got some drinks from Topsiders, and did some exploring some of the ship. We ended up on deck 13 at the Bier Garden, good view, but very windy. Walked around the ship some more, and looked at the shops, some items were cheap (booze) and some expensive (jewelry). Our room was ready about 2 pm. We were on deck 11 in a mini-suite. This was a very spacious room for the two of us. We decided to go walk around some more. We ended up at the Red Lion Pub to watch some sports, made our way to the Spinnaker Lounge, they were doing some karaoke, and it was a good time. After the karaoke a band played, they were ok, but at this point I was tired. We went to our room; I took some pictures & video from the balcony, and captured a very beautiful sunset and went to bed. September 14, 2008 ~ Day at Sea ~ Early morning we were passing Vancouver Island, a little chilly & hazy. Didn't rush around this day, toured more of the ship, ended up at the Red Lion Pub again, (my man likes football). We made reservations for Cagney's this night. This was the best restaurant on the ship! We'll worth the cover charge of $20 pp cover charge. We had a great view out the window & saw a beautiful sunset while we had dinner. After dinner we went to Spinnaker's and watched the "Not so Newlywed Game", very funny! Listened to a jazz band play, they were good. Wait staff in the Spinnaker was great, very attentive, and not pushy. September 15, 2008 ~ Ketchikan ~ Misty, hazy, and a little drizzling rain. We decided to do the Ketchikan Cultural Discovery excursion. Our Tour Guide Bill was great with his knowledge of Totem Poles. This was a tour through Totem Bight State Park. Walking through the park we had seen about 20 different totem poles and the meanings of them. We sat in a house made from cedar that would have been used by the Tongass Tribe. This house was put together with no nails, so it could be taken down at anytime. After this tour we went to the gift shop where you can purchase hand carved totem poles, very cool. Then we were headed off to the Deer Mtn Hatchery & Eagle Center. This is where we got to see 2 Eagles that are in an enclosed area, do to being injured. After this we went outside to the Hatchery, not really exciting, just showing how they hatch & release fish. We then headed back to the ship area, stopped and did some shopping. Later that evening headed to Spinnaker's for our usual nightly entertainment. September 16, 2008 ~ Juneau ~ We had not planned any excursions in Juneau, just for that fact that we wanted to do things at our leisure. When we got off the ship it was raining, and hazy. On a light pole off to the side of the ship was an eagle sitting on top. I did hear someone say that "he" knows when the ships are here. We loaded onto a bus that dropped us off in town, after being in the town for maybe 30 minutes the rain had stopped which made it perfect for shopping and touring the city. Since this was the last cruise in Alaska, a lot of the stores had things marked down 50-70% off, that is always a plus when you are buying gifts for people. We tried finding some place to eat, but the one place that was close was the Red Dog Pub, the line was out the door. So after some more walking we came across the ole trusty McDonald's, this is were we ate. We headed back to the bus since you are only in Juneau for a short time. Boarded the ship & sailed away. September 17, 2008 ~ Skagway ~ Windy & Cold. We decided to do the White Pass Scenic Railway excursion. This is a train ride on the White Pass & Yukon route railroad. We boarded the old fashioned parlor cars for the 40 mile round trip ride. This is a very beautiful ride with great views out both sides of the train; you can also go out on the outside platform to get even more awesome pictures. One thing, the seats on the train were not very comfortable. Once you reach White Pass Summit, which is the international boundary btwn the US & Canada you return back to Skagway. This is a cute little city, lots of different types of shops, and a few more restaurants. We headed back to the ship, as it was windy & still cold. We ate at the Blue Lagoon, and I must say they have the best Hot Wings! You must get the hot. The service here is great; you get your food quick and piping hot. **One thing I must mention is they take the anti-bacterial hand cleaner a little too serious. On & off the ship, in & out of the restaurants, at the elevators before going into the lounges or bars. I am all for being some what germ free, but I think this is what caused me to get sick, I had no germs on me** September 18, 2008 ~ Prince Rupert ~ Weather was beautiful. We did not arrive in port until 4 pm, so this was a day of sleeping in & enjoying our balcony. Upon arriving into P.R. the scenery was amazing. In this port we did have to show our passport & ID's to Customs. This was not a problem and the line moved quickly. Once off the ship, we just walked around the city so some sightseeing. I could not believe how vibrant the flower colors were. The maple trees were a very pretty color. We walked through a Chinese Flower Garden, again the flowers were pretty. Lots of great architect on houses & buildings. Headed back to this ship. We ate at Teppanyaki, this restaurant seats only 12 people and they cook the food right in front of you. It is a Benihana style place. The food was excellent and even better we were the only two in the restaurant. This is well worth the $25 pp cover charge. Hey you are on vacation, why not! September 19, 2008 ~ At Sea ~ This was a relaxing day at the end of the cruise. I did all my packing early, so we had the rest of the day to lounge around. We did go to the Casino, and didn't do very well; we didn't stay very long, because the 3-card poker table was full. We ended up at the Red Lion Pub, this is a great hang out & the staff is great, plus you get popcorn or pretzels..yum...We had reservations at Cagney's for our last night at sea. The food was just as excellent as it was the first time. The restaurant was very busy, but staff was on top of everything. Went back to the room early, and was ready for disembarkation. Made sure we had our color coded luggage tags on our bags & the bags put outside our room by midnight. September 20, 2008 ~ Disembarkation ~ Our time to get off the ship was 8:40 am. We waited for the call of our colored luggage tags before we left our room. Once it was called we left and headed for deck 7. After scanning our room key for the last time we headed into the terminal to find our luggage, which is color coded, this process was quick, handed our customs papers to the ladies standing as we walked out, got a taxi within 5 minutes and were on our way to the airport. This was a great awesome cruise. It was my 3rd cruise, but first to Alaska and first on NCL, and my guy's first cruise ever and he loved it too. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was a breeze. We dropped our bags off at one door, and walked down to the other. There was no crowding. Since there were several booths, we were able to walk right up to the counter and begin our embarkation ... Read More
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was a breeze. We dropped our bags off at one door, and walked down to the other. There was no crowding. Since there were several booths, we were able to walk right up to the counter and begin our embarkation process. Since we had all our documents ready, we were on our way to the ship within 5 mins. When we got on the ship, we were offered champagne or mimosas, but declined. We went to our room, which wasn't yet ready. However, our key worked, so we went in and put our bags down. We sat on the balcony for a few minutes and then let our room stewards know we left our bags there. It was fine with them. We went to the Blue Lagoon and had lunch until our room was ready. It was ready by the time we were done eating. ROOM: We stayed in a balcony room, cabin 10176. Our room was a little small for 3 adults. For two it would have been okay. However, 2 adult women and one man, was a bit tight, especially when the couch was made up for sleeping. Bathroom was good. More spacious than usual standards. Balcony was a good size for 2 or 3 people. We did notice the freestyle 2.0 upgrades. Beds and pillows were great. Fresh fruit was there for us everyday. Coffee maker cleaned and refilled for us everyday, which we used very, very often. All bathroom products were Elemis. Robes were waiting for us, and very comfy too. I used mine often. Room stewards were EXCELLENT. There is no other word to describe it. The ENTIRE CREW WAS WONDERFUL! I do not understand the complaints. I guess some people are never happy. We got one or two towel animals. Big deal. Do adults really get mad when they don't get these? Well if it makes anyone feel better, they did have a day at sea where they demonstrated how they made the towel animals. SHIP AND PUBLIC ROOMS: Nice ship. Not the nicest or newest I've been on, but very clean and well maintained. Atrium was basic. Not as grand as other cruise lines. We did indulge in gourmet coffee at java cafe (which is located in the atrium) a few times. It was quite good. Pool area was nice. The deck was mostly empty as it rained the whole time, but that didn't spoil our vacation. We love the rain! The public areas were very nice. Lots of "quiet" spaces for sitting and looking out the windows. Library was nice. Cinema was nice too, but we didn't watch any movies there. They often give talks in there. Internet cafe was okay. A little slow, but not slower than on other ships. Gym was very good. Lots of equipment and space. Juice bar right in the gym, didn't try it, but it's a nice touch for those who want something healthy to sip on. I did not try the spa, so I cannot comment on that. GIFT SHOPS: Gift shop was average. They had some very expensive jewelry. I was a little disappointed in the jewelry selection. Princess carries the expensive jewels but also has a selection of thing that are affordable for people who don't want to spend a lot. I didn't see anything affordable in NCL's selection. I bought Swarovsky jewelry from there and also felt it was more expensive than Princess's selection. They had "inch of gold" for sale also. Again, I don't remember spending that much on the stuff I bought on my Princess cruise, but it's been 2 years since I've cruised with Princess and it's possible their prices have also gone up. The perfume shop was good. A lot of variety. Normal prices. RESTAURANT DÉCOR AND ATMOSPHERE: The restaurants were all nicely decorated and Le Bistro especially, had a wonderful, intimate, European feel. The main dining room, Versailles was very nice. I liked the gaudy dEcor, because it really does resemble the real Versailles palace in France, with its bright colors and mirrors. The Aqua dining room, I didn't like so much...you felt you were underground. The windows were small and high above our heads. Endless summer was really nice as you can overlook the Atrium area and see the hustle and bustle of the ship. Soho was okay. It resembled an art gallery. La Trattoria was basically a part of the buffet area which is walled off with curtains at night. GETTING AROUND: The only thing I disliked about this ship is that it is VERY hard to navigate. There are lots of blocks and dead ends that leave you wandering all around trying to get to your destination. That was the one thing that really irritated me the whole cruise. FELLOW PASSENGERS: Fellow passengers were mostly families and large groups. There were many, many foreigners from India and Asia. For the most part the only things that bothered me were that certain groups of people could be very rude when in line or in a crowded area. They would bang into you without apologizing, 20 people in one family cutting a line being held by one person...and my biggest pet peeve, walking into the theater mid production and having 20 people file into the rows in front of you, trying to find seats, blocking our view. I observed were that our fellow passengers did not like to dress up. Children were splashing around in the pools and hot tubs and having a great time even though it was cold and rainy outside. We did not travel with children, but noticed that the children on board were very happy and made bonds very quickly. We were blessed that they were the most well behaved children we've ever dealt with on a cruise. They stuck to each other and never made any problems, noise, or disturbances. I personally do not like kids, but I was very impressed by this group's very good behavior. SERVICE: Service on this ship was excellent. The only thing that needs improvement is the debarkation at the ports. But that's a problem every single ship has, not just this one. Actually, I would say I encountered less crowds on this ship, when getting off at port, than any other I've been on. I do hope cruise lines can figure out a better way. Waiters and waitresses were very nice. They did look overworked and busy, but they got us everything we asked for and never messed up our order. They are very accommodating to try and find you something you like if you can't find anything on the menu. My mom was on a strict diet and sometimes they were bring her plain salads or fruits even though they didn't display them on the menu. She complained about their coffee and they did bring her cappuccino for free. Room service was always fast and delivered hot. We were very happy with it. The choices are not many, but it's just food. It's enough choice to get you by until your next meal. We used room service often, as we usually ate dinner very early and then stayed up late and wanted a late night snack. As mentioned before, the room stewards were wonderful. Even the ones not cleaning our room, but who worked our hallway always greeted us and asked about one of us when were weren't all together. I was very happy with the courtesy of this crew. Very happy with it. We had an incident where we missed an excursion due to a late return or another excursion. The shore excursion desk fixed it immediately and credited us without any problems. The reception desk, we only used once, when we were trying to figure our where to meet for our excursions. They were a little on the cold side, but I think they just didn't know the answer. However, they called around and found out and so I was not displeased with them either. The shore excursions themselves were a bit of a waste. The amount of money we spent was ridiculous. Normally I don't do ship excursions, but have heard about inclement weather making people late before…so I didn't want to take chances. However, I don't think I'll do it again. I will rate the excursions one by one later. FOOD: The most important thing for most people is food. It really shouldn't be, but it is. Room Service: Very good Offers: Chicken soup, Border salad (turkey, avocado, corn, tortillas, etc), Greek salad, and Fruit plate. Pizzas Sandwiches: BLT, Turkey, Tuna melt, Burgers, Hot Dogs serviced with chips, coleslaw, pickle. Eggs all day Desserts: NY cheesecake, Strawberry shortcake, and Chocolate Cake. For kids: hot dogs, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, P&J sandwich, served with applesauce and potato chips. Cookies, brownies, and ice cream. Le Bistro: Excellent. Do try the coet de beuf for an extra $10. It was amazing! My favorite meal was here. La Trattoria: Not so great. I had fried calamari, and shrimp risotto. Pizza was okay. I wouldn't recommend this one. Endless Summer: Excellent. Try the Popo for two. Very good food and desserts were wonderful! By the way, it's no longer free. Soho: For dinner, Excellent. The Jazz brunch however, was only okay. Maybe we got there late but we only had a short time of listening to jazz and it was over, but everyone kept eating. They didn't rush us out. Versailles/Aqua food: Very good. Buffet: For breakfast it was good, as they had A LOT of variety. Whoever said they didn't have pastries or cereals did not understand how to find them. There are several stations and you can find everything you could want. For lunch it was good only for cold foods like pastas, sandwiches and salads. However, there was little to no variety in the hot foods section. It was mostly the same curry and vegan dishes for the hot food selection. They did have hot pastas also. The grill was great and also an eating option for lunchtime. We never ate at the buffet for dinner, so I cannot comment on that. Blue Lagoon: Like any other fast food place in America. It's a hit and miss. Sometimes fries were fresh and good, sometimes they were a little stale. I ate fried fish everytime I ate there and liked it a lot. My brother kept ordering chicken strips everytime he ate there, so it must have been good too. It was a nice convenient place to eat when you didn't feel like battling for tables in the buffet. SHORE EXCURSIONS: Zipline adventure and expedition: Excellent Canoe and Rainforest Adventure: Excellent Tracy Arm Fjord: You've got to be kidding me. This tour almost ruined my whole vacation. You basically go in a small boat to Endicott Arm (not Tracy) and spend 6 hours sailing up to a small, ugly glacier that holds no awe whatsoever. Again, only so many trees and floating icebergs can you tolerate before you start to say "are we there yet?" And add insult to injury…spending almost $600 on this excursion for the 3 of us…and there's our ship, only a couple hundred meters behind us. This was SO NOT worth it! Lumberjack show: Horrible (unless you're into something like WWE) too much bad mouthing and not enough actual activity. Whale watch and salmon bake: Good Garden and city attractions: Excellent Ultimate Yukon and White Pass Rail: Fair to good. Very beautiful scenery. But after awhile you've seen enough trees and mountains. Could skip the whole carcross town. There is really nothing there to see. 8 hours made for a long day. However, the Yukon area is even nicer than the ports in Alaska. Rock climbing and rappelling: Excellent Bicycle and White Pass: Excellent Tsimshian Kayak: A joke…don't waste your money. You basically get in a kayak and go in a circle right near the ship. No culture of any kind. Then you sit at a stinking beach full of bugs and eat hotdogs. The two guys that headed the tour were youngsters that could care less. They were very sweet in their own way, but not someone you would justify paying $200 for. ENTERTAINMENT: The Jean Ryan company was horrible. Absolutely horrible…don't waste your time. Find something else to do. I went to all their productions, and kept giving them a chance. But they are terrible. It's the first cruise which I didn't like the entertainment. The Chinese acrobats were excellent. Absolutely amazing. The cover band Spectrum was also out of this world! Absolutely amazing! We didn't see the comedian or magician so we cannot comment. I took the freestyle daily newsletters and the spa menu with me. If anyone has any questions about those, you can find me in the roll call forums for NCL Jade on October 13, 2008. I'll be happy to answer any questions for you. PRICE AND EXTRA COSTS I really hate when people complain that everything cost them extra. You don't expect to pay the same for an inside room as you would a suite…so why does it bother people to pay extra for better food or faster service? NCL tells you up front what everything is going to cost. When you decide to purchase a vacation package, you owe it to yourself to do the research. If you think you will be able to pay the same price and get the extras for free, on a better cruise line, then do it! I would! NCL offers cheaper cruises and then you can add to your cruise as much or as little as you like. If you ended up spending much more than you expected, you have no one to blame but yourself. You can refuse to eat in the specialty restaurants and stick to Aqua, Versailles, Blue Lagoon, Buffet, or Grill. You can choose to do excursions on your own, for cheaper. You can refuse to pay the tipping fee. You can refuse to drink alcohol, etc etc etc… So save yourself the sticker shock and ask questions and start calculating what you plan to spend…and compare that with what other cruise lines offer for free. It's better to know in advance than spoiling your vacation that you looked forward to and worked hard for. Your holiday is what you make it. Overall, we had a good experience with NCL. Service was excellent, food was excellent. Entertainment was varied. I wouldn't call NCL my favorite cruise line yet (I still prefer Princess) but I would still use them in the future, and actually will be sailing with them again shortly. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
In 2008, a corporate website should be included in a review of any customer service experience. That being said, I should have known that I was going to have issues with NCL from the first time I logged into the NCL website. The servers ... Read More
In 2008, a corporate website should be included in a review of any customer service experience. That being said, I should have known that I was going to have issues with NCL from the first time I logged into the NCL website. The servers were not available, or slow, and many times would not log me on even though my login/password was entered correctly. We were not able to reserve shore excursions online. Shore excursions and dinner reservations could not be booked via the TV in our cabin either. We booked two rooms; a balcony and an interior. We expressed concern (at the time of booking) to the travel agent representative that the rooms were by the crew service areas but was assured it would not be an annoyance. At check-in, we realized it was a problem. The area around our rooms was crowded, and full of staff trying to be in one place or the other. When we entered our interior room expecting to see two upper and lower bunks for our 4 children, we were surprised with a set up for 3. We were not greeted by our stewards at check-in. Our balcony room beds were set up incorrectly. When we did not find our steward for awhile, we went to the purser desk to resolve the 4 bed situation. Unfortunately, they were not able to resolve the situation. We resolved to move the youngest child to our pull out sofa. We later found out a trundle bed was stored under one of the lower bunks which created a cabin floor with no walking space, and an upper bunk with no ladder access which I considered unsafe. I tried to laugh; I had three teenagers sleeping boy-girl and told my husband, I guess this was the only time in life I would ever give my daughter permission to sleep with two guys at the same time. I enjoyed the balcony restroom. The toilet is separated from the shower, so it was easier to be used by 2. I also enjoyed the bath robe and the spa toiletries in the shower. The dining experience was very disappointing to put it politely. The Market Cafe was awful on the day of departure. Tables are for 6, 8 or more people and most people acted like they were not happy to share. The tables were not kept cleaned, the ice machines never worked, and the food was not good. There were many choke points, and the layouts of the serving lines were a very tight cafeteria style. We did like the "Freestyle" dining and enjoyed a late dinner in the main dining room the first night since we are not early diners. We missed the same servers every night, though. The servers begin to know your likes and dislikes and are very attentive. The next day, we tried breakfast at the Market Cafe again. The main dining room stopped serving breakfast at 8:30 or 9, so we did not have much of a choice. We also thought it might be better after all the confusion of arriving travelers. We were wrong. It was the worst breakfast buffet on any ship I have ever been on, and worst than some hotels I have stayed in. There was no kid friendly cereals, no breakfast pastries; not even one doughnut for the kids who were supposed to be on vacation, too! The kids ate lunch at the Blue Lagoon. The seating arrangements there were strange as well. Most tables were little ottoman type stools and they were uncomfortable. The food was adequate. I ate there later in the week; the wings were overcooked, the fish was over-battered and the service was slow. Our family has cruised many times, so my son expected to dress up on formal night in exchange for a surf and turf dinner. It was barely surf; we were only served a half a tail or the smallest tail I have ever seen. We expected to spend some money eating on the ship but we did not realize almost every restaurant had an upcharge. After you multiply the service charge times 6 people, it gets very expensive. The Endless Summer restaurant was above average compared to the rest of NCL's fare but the quality and presentation that you would find on Carnival, Princess, and RC's main dining rooms. They did serve one free margarita or sangria with dinner per person which is a good exchange for the cost. The Soho Room dinner menu looked very good and I wish we had eaten there for dinner. We went to the Soho Room brunch since the Market Café was so bad and paid an upcharge for dining that is not an upcharge at the other lines mentioned above. The Aqua was very convenient and we enjoyed some dinners there. The lemon pepper flounder and tilapia were very good. The desserts were also very good. We saved the Cagney's Steakhouse dinner for our final night; our mistake. The service was extremely slow (2 and ½ hrs) which caused us to be late putting out suitcases. The food was good, and I would recommend it; just don't schedule it on a night when you have a schedule to follow. The worst part of dining was the night of our visit to Prince Rupert. The restaurant closing times were not adjusted to accommodate those that went ashore and were not due to be back on board until 9:30. The waiting list at Aqua was long by the time we arrived at 9:45, but the staff was very accommodating. They made sure that anyone who arrived before 10:30 would be served. A fellow cruiser went to Le Bistro before 10 and was turned away. Versailles was closed at 9. The entertainment was good but we thought the magician was somewhat cheesy. Spectrum, a Las Vegas Motown band, and Bud Anderson (comedian) were good. They combined some of the acts for more fun. The TV selections were above average with newly released movies included. We suggest the "smoothie package" if your kids like smoothies and you have more than one child. At $1.75 per smoothie, it is worth it. The drink package was disappointing since they did not provide a reusable drinking cup and the kids complained about obtaining refills. When we went to Ketchikan, I purchased a $3 reusable cup and the staff refused to refill it. I did not appreciate the $25 deposit on towels. Kids are absent minded and lose things daily, so we got lucky that our youngest didn't lose any. Speaking of the youngest, she did not appreciate not having towel animals every night. I am not sure if that is normal or just our steward. Our steward never cleaned the 10 year old fingerprints off the patio glass either. This is the first cruise I ever wanted to deduct the per person gratuities from a room steward. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Background Information A year ago, after completing our cruise on the Carnival Miracle, my little princess says "Daddy, can we go on an Alaska cruise next time"? Well, within a couple weeks, we had reservations for the NCL Star ... Read More
Background Information A year ago, after completing our cruise on the Carnival Miracle, my little princess says "Daddy, can we go on an Alaska cruise next time"? Well, within a couple weeks, we had reservations for the NCL Star and a year to look forward to it. I immediately began the Roll Call on September 7, and little by little completed our travel plans culminating in our cruise this past week. This would be our fifth cruise as a family (previously twice with Disney, once with Royal Caribbean, and once with Carnival). As experienced cruisers, we know that everything cannot be perfect and simply look for an enjoyable/memorable experience. We have yet to be on a cruise that we've been disappointed or unhappy with. Travel To Port of Embarkation Since we live in New Jersey, making travel arrangements to a cruise beginning in Seattle was a project in itself. We flew out a day early, flying AirTran from LaGuardia (via Atlanta). We also stayed at an airport hotel by LGA the night prior to take advantage of a stay/park/fly package and because our flight was at 6AM. At all NYC airports, daily parking rates are in the $15 to $20 per day range. Having the parking free with the hotel along with the included shuttle made things very convenient. Before traveling, I had made online reservations with Seattle Gray Line's Downtown Airporter so we wouldn't have to worry about getting from SeaTac to our hotel. The Airporter's boarding is just outside the baggage claim area and impossible to miss. It was running a bit late when we arrived, and since we were the last stop on the route, we did spend quite a while on the bus. However, booking online and having everything in place ahead of time is worth the convenience. Hotel Info We stayed at Hotel Andra adjacent to the Warwick Hotel in downtown Seattle and it was very conveniently located. Having made our reservations over 6 months in advance secured us an extremely good rate. The Andra is very modern/retro and we enjoyed it immensely. It was clean and the staff was extremely courteous and sociable. Saturday morning, as an avid runner preparing for a fall marathon, I needed to get some miles in. The person manning the desk at 6AM directed me on a route down to Alaskan Way along the shore where there is a jogging/biking path. From there, I was able to run as far as I needed and see the Star docking from the prior cruise. Ship Info In choosing our Alaska cruise, our choices were somewhat limited in that I wanted to sail from and return to Seattle. We are also in the mode of sampling different cruise lines; and Norwegian was one we hadn't tried yet. The Star is a medium-sized ship. It felt comparable to the Carnival Miracle that we sailed last year. As on the Miracle, one area of the ship that we totally avoided was Deck 6 midship in and around the Casino because of the incredible/awful stench of smoke. One day, we happen to be walking around and my wife says "hmmm, I don't remember this area". Within moments, the stench hit us, we held our breath, and raced through. VIP Treatment When deciding what category cabin to book, I originally chose the AF mini-suite. After thinking about it for a day or two and reading some of the NCL reviews on Cruise Critic I had it changed to the AB suite. Though the price was higher, I figured this might be the once in a lifetime cruise we take to Alaska and didn't want anything to stand in the way of that experience. From the moment we arrived at Pier 66 in Seattle we were given the VIP treatment. Upon walking in the direction a sign for suite guests pointed, we were given special treatment. We were guided to an express line through security and then whisked around all the check-in crowds to a special room where we checked-in within five minutes. It was all so fast we didn't have any time to enjoy the fresh fruit/snacks that were out. After doing the check-in, our concierge Simone introduced herself, provided us with our shore excursion tickets and told us a little about the ship/cruise and general information. She then introduced us to our butler Roy, who escorted us on-board, again jumping in front of all the crowds. Roy took us straight to our cabin to drop our carry-ons. He walked us through the suite, provided us info how to reach him at anytime, explained some of the benefits to us as suite guests, and left us to enjoy ourselves. A bottle of chilled champagne was waiting for us, compliments of NCL. During the trip, we made use of our ability to eat at Cagney's immediately once on-board, and also a number of days for breakfast and/or lunch. Though we didn't make use of the benefit, we could have made reservations at any of the specialty restaurants for any days of the cruise in advance of the 48-hour window that others must abide by. We attended drinks with the captain/officers the first/formal night at sea. Each day, we had a special afternoon snack delivered (by day 3 we just selected the chocolate-covered strawberries going forward). Each day Simone would leave a brief voice message just to say she was there for anything we needed. Roy would come by periodically to check in and see if there was anything he could do for us. The day of our glacier passage, Simone came to the cabin, explained the times during the afternoon everything would be happening, where the best viewing locations were, and was just very personable. The night prior to the last, we were provided with VIP luggage tags for disembarkation. Stateroom The Garnet Suite was magnificent. We have previously enjoyed an Owner's Suite on Voyager of the Seas with Royal Caribbean and last year had an aft suite with wraparound balcony on the Carnival Miracle, and they were both magnificent in their own way. The NCL AB suite made them pale in comparison. The suite was basically the size of three regular cabins and the use of the space was done extremely well. The size was comparable to the Owner's Suite on Royal Caribbean. However, where the owner's suite was one open area, the NCL suite was separate individual rooms. The suite actually had two room numbers - 11058 and 11060. Our suite included: - Master bedroom with queen bed and TV - Master bath with full tiled shower - Whirlpool tub and magnificent full window and LCD TV - Double sinks - Vanity/dressing area - Child's bedroom with sofa/queen-size sleeper pullout, pull-down upper bed with ladder, TV, full-sized bathroom - Main common area with TV, sofa, mini-bar area with Lavazza coffee machine and fridge, and 4 seat table - Balcony with wood/teak floor boards and rattan/cushion lounge chairs and table. Dining The Star offers two main dining rooms, a buffet, a small sit-down area with "comfort food", a daily poolside barbeque, and a number of specialty restaurants that require advance reservations and an additional charge. Though I am frugal when it comes to our finances, I don't consider myself cheap. However, one belief I do have is that if I'm paying thousands of dollars for a cruise and it includes the meals, I shouldn't be paying upwards of $25 per person for a meal on-board. Though the menus for the specialty restaurants looked interesting, we live in a very suburban area and have many local restaurants with comparable menu/atmosphere for the same price or less than what NCL was charging for the specialty restaurants. For some folks who do not have the opportunity to eat at similar establishments maybe these are nice options, but for us, for the prices, it wasn't a priority. Considering that whenever we walked by the restaurants, they appeared to be quite empty, and from other reviews many indicate extremely slow service, NCL might consider lowering the prices to something more reasonable. If you've already paid for your meals, the step up charge for the specialty restaurants shouldn't be the price of a full meal there to begin with. Just to be certain that the food in the main dining rooms would be good enough for us, I asked our butler Roy if he could possibly get us copies of the menus for the main dining rooms for the entire week. If any night in the main dining rooms didn't have something we'd all enjoy, then maybe we'd try one of the specialty restaurants. After reviewing the menus for the entire cruise, we decided that the main dining rooms would be fine. The first sea day was the formal night. Though it was a "formal" night, most people were far from formal in their attire. While at the captain's/officer's cocktail hour, I did have a chuckle at the person who was dressed in jeans. In the main dining rooms, lobster was served. The food in the main dining rooms was good/very good each night. However, on lobster night, we've grown a little accustomed to it being done better. Maybe it is a sign of economic times and some of the cutbacks taking place, or maybe that with NCL you do not have the same servers day to day, or that mandatory/auto tipping/gratuities are in place and they don't feel the need to do anything "special" for you. Regardless, we were somewhat disappointed in this meal. When we think of lobster night, we think back to our Royal Caribbean cruise, where we were each given entire lobsters. Our server later brought us each a second lobster. When we were done, just for good measure, he brought another. Granted, it was a few years ago, but clearly it left a lasting impression. On this cruise, I would consider it simply a "lobster dish", with half a lobster tail - sliced down the middle. Again, the meal itself was good, but if it left a lasting impression, it wasn't for the right reasons. Some of the great things about the meals were the unique fruit soup appetizers. Our first meal on-board after check-in, my wife and daughter had the chilled banana soup - it may as well have been dessert - simply fabulous. During the week, we tried others and most were excellent. Desserts were also very good and included a different soufflE/sauce each evening. Though they were all very good, none matched the warm chocolate melting cake I had almost every evening on Carnival last year. In general, the portion sizes of the appetizers and main course seemed smallish. Though not an issue for me (I'm happy grazing throughout the day), I could see how others might do a double take when seeing the amount of food at dinner. For breakfast/lunch we mostly ate at the buffet since there was always a good variety of food and we didn't have to wait for service. A few times, we took advantage of our ability to eat at Cagney's for breakfast/lunch and the food/service was very good. We did not visit either of the main dining rooms for sit-down breakfast/lunch. We enjoyed the poolside barbeque one day for lunch. Children's Clubs After reading various reviews and NCL literature, we had high hopes for the kids club on the Star, but unfortunately, similar to our past experience with Carnival, we were quite disappointed. The major problem on our cruise was the age group our daughter was in. Our daughter is 11 years old. It really does not make too much sense to have an age group being 6 to 12 years old. How many 10 to 12 year old kids do you know wanting to hang out and do activities that are interesting to 6 year olds? This 6 to 12 group should have been two groups of 6 to 8 or 9 and 8 or 9 to 12. As on our Carnival cruise, our daughter attended the first session to meet others and form her own group, and then they stayed away from the kids club and entertained themselves the remainder of the week. The Kid's Crew brochure for the 6 to 12 age group conflicts with the rules at the club. The brochure clearly highlights "Children under age 13 may NOT sign themselves out of the program and walk through the ship unattended." The brochure capitalized NOT. However, in the club, the registration forms indicate children 10 and up can sign themselves out after spending 2 hours there. I personally have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, considering the situation, this was a good outcome. However, on the other hand, though my daughter is mature for her age, she is still just 11 and my wife and I feel much more comfortable when she's in an adult-supervised situation, rather than on her own roaming the ship and potentially getting into trouble. The first day or two, because we saw attempts to push the boundaries we had to have a little discussion with her and set some guidelines. After that everything was fine, however, I feel as though NCL, like Carnival can do much better in this area. We believe both Royal Caribbean as well as Disney (obviously) excelled in this area. Activities There were an enormous number of activities on-board and enough to keep everyone in our family busy even on the sea days. Upon first boarding the ship, we were walking on Deck 13 and I was immediately overwhelmed with joy seeing the 1/4 mile jogging track. As previously mentioned, I need to get my daily runs, and having been on other cruiselines, I had prepared myself for the worst (which still goes to the Carnival Miracle for the 15 lap/mile loop). Even better, it was clearly marked as a jogging track and invariably, the walkers made way for the runners. I was also happy with the fitness center which had an array of treadmills, cycles, and stair climbers. Some of the specific organized activities we attended in included Team Trivia, Friendly Feud, free (essentially unlimited) smoothie tasting, a couple of the NCL-U information sessions, Samba Dancing (wife/daughter). We attended the backstage theater session/tour and that was interesting as well. Of course there was bingo throughout the cruise, but we're not into it. There was a Grey Goose "ambassador" on-board and sponsored a Martini tasting session. It was very good and well presented. It wasn't simply show up and get drunk for free. Clearly it was marketing/advertising for Grey Goose, but, the session itself was informative - about the history of the drink, how to make it, in addition to other interesting information. There was also the daily Art Auction that we would laugh about every time they'd get on the PA system making the announcements. Being experienced cruisers, and having recently read the Cruise Critic articles regarding on-board auctions and one specific company, we stayed away from them. On our last cruise, we went to a few of the auctions for the free champagne and for some giggles, but this time, there was enough activities throughout the day that we really didn't have the time or desire to go. For fun, my wife went to one of the information sessions and decided to ask the pointed questions they really don't want to have to answer. Not being a heckler, but getting the message across to the person leading the session, just to hear what they'd say. The ship also has a cinema, however I felt it was not made good use of. During the day, some films were shown, however, the ones they show are the same ones available on the TV and the DVD library. The on-board library is fairly well-stocked and my wife checked out a couple books at the beginning of the cruise. Service Service on-board was very good though at times there were lapses. I have to believe that some of this is in part due to the mandatory/auto gratuity (NCL calls it "service charge") system in place. For the most part, the incentive to do more/better really isn't there. Our room stewards were very good, though we almost never saw them. On the second afternoon, upon catching them, I asked that the mini bar be emptied (so we wouldn't get charged for anything possibly missing, and our 11 year old wouldn't be tempted to take any of the snacks/sodas). They said they'd take care of it. By the third night, when our butler Roy came by, I had to ask him to have it done. We ran into the other room stewards along our corridor continually, and each and every one of them said hello, good morning/afternoon/evening, and would strike up a conversation about our day. In the main dining rooms, the service was good, but again there were lapses. On two occasions we were brought incorrect orders. On the final night, my wife/daughter had the tempura vegetables that was supposed to come with a scallion-ginger dipping sauce. When we didn't receive any sauce and asked, we were brought a bottle of soy sauce. We really enjoyed Freestyle Dining, especially because we did not have to eat at a set time, at a set location and/or table, with a set group of people. However, I believe not having the connection with your servers is a drawback. Again, not having the self-tipping standard in place to reward those who provided excellent service seemed to take away from the incentive for servers to go beyond what was required in simply transporting the food from the kitchen to the table. Shore Excursions When we cruise, we normally don't go all out on excursions. We generally roam around the port area and may sign up for one excursion. However, this cruise, being the once in a lifetime adventure, we signed up for an excursion in each of the first three ports. Part of the difficulty in selecting excursions in Alaska with NCL is that there are so many to choose from. I had visions of doing one of the floatplane excursions out to a glacier, however, after some consideration, and knowing my wife and daughter; I thought it better to keep our feet solidly on the ground. Ketchikan - Wilderness Adventure Cruise and Rainforest Discovery. Since our bus was loaded early, our driver gave us a quick driving tour of the village. We then headed out to Knudson Cove, about a 30 minute ride from the port. Once there, we boarded a powerboat/raft and headed out to one of the islands where a naturalist took us on an hour-long walking tour through the rainforest. Upon returning to the beach, we snacked on fresh smoked salmon and hot chocolate. We had wonderful weather while in Ketchikan for this excursion. Though Ketchikan gets upward of 180 inches of rain a year, we only had a couple of short drizzles - barely what you would call showers. This made the boat ride and the walk through the rainforest quite enjoyable. We may have even seen the sun peek out a couple times. The temperatures were probably in the high 40's or low 50's. Mendenhall Glacier and Wildlife Quest While in Juneau, I decided we would go to the glacier and take a whale-watching excursion just in case we didn't have an opportunity to do these at any other part of the cruise for some reason. The morning started with the bus ride out to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, where we were given about an hour to roam the trails and get a good view of the glacier across Mendenhall Lake. One of the trails was closed due to bear activity. We saw salmon close up swimming upstream (rather, attempting to swim upstream). Again, we had excellent weather in the mid/upper-50's, and though cloudy and humid, no rain. Once back on the bus, we headed to Auke Bay for the whale-watching cruise. Out on the water, the next hour provided us with continual whale sightings. Around the middle of the cruise, within maybe 20 feet off the port side of the boat, totally out of nowhere a whale does a full-breach. Over the next few minutes, the same calf does two more. It was very spectacular - the ship's crew hadn't ever seen anything like that this time of year in this area. Skagway - Ultimate Yukon and White Pass Railway Everyone says how the White Pass Railway is the excursion to do in Skagway and NCL was also promoting it on-board. Having made all of our excursion plans online I had already chosen the full day Ultimate excursion. This included a morning bus sightseeing tour, lunch, and return to port on the railway. On the return bus trip to Fraser (to catch the railway), some guests were asking about the time to get back to the ship, because all-aboard was at 4:30PM. Our guide Jym indicated that the ship would not leave before we got back to port, that it was a NCL-purchased excursion, and things we already knew - which is why we chose to purchase all our excursions through NCL. When we arrived in Fraser, seeing the train had not arrived yet, more people were becoming concerned. After the train arrived, we waited for Canadian customs to clear those on-board (which seemed like an eternity), we finally boarded, and the train pulled out of Fraser at about 3:15PM. The train ride was excellent, and we saw many of the areas which we had seen from the bus while on the Klondike Highway from the other side. By the time we got off the train, and the quick bus ride back to the ship, it was 5:30PM - a full hour past all-aboard - and there was the Star waiting for us. This was exactly the reason we purchase our excursions through the cruiselines if we are not overnighting in a port. Sure the excursion was probably more expensive, however, what would it have cost us in time and money to get from Skagway to Prince Rupert had the ship left without us? That's not even considering the lost cruising and that we only had the clothes on our backs. Disembarkation Disembarkation was simple and straightforward for us. I had booked the Seattle City Tour excursion for when we returned to Seattle. My reasoning was that the excursion ends with drop off at SeaTac and since we had a late flight, it would kill a few hours for us. On the cruise, NCL was offering shuttle service at disembarkation back to SeaTac for $30 per person. This was basically the same price as the Seattle City Tour - so how could we go wrong? With our shore excursion tickets/info were black/tour luggage tags that would get us off early in the first group. Our concierge also provided us with gold/VIP luggage tags which would have also gotten us off early, but we just stuck with the black ones. We met our shore excursion group in the theater at 8:15AM and were off the ship between 8:45AM and 9:00AM. The Seattle City Tour was run by Gray Line, their driver/guide was very good and we saw 3 hours worth of Seattle. The only issue I had with this, and I had the feeling others did as well, was that this was essentially a 3 hour driving tour with just two photo stops. It would have been nice if there were a few more stops and maybe a little walking tour aspect to it. Regardless, it was a good way to be off the ship early (though we generally enjoy staying on-board till they kick us off) and be dropped off at SeaTac. Summary Overall, we were very happy with the entire cruise and would be happy to travel with NCL again. If after a cruise, I know the names of the concierge, the cruise director, and others, then you know it was a memorable experience. On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd give it a solid 4.5, compared with our prior cruises of 3.75 on Carnival, 4.5 on Disney, and 4.75 on Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This was the first cruise for myself and hubby. We traveled with my brothers family, who are dedicated cruisers. My niece who is 4 has been on 3 more cruises than we have. :-) Embarkation was OK, we were prepared for the worst based on ... Read More
This was the first cruise for myself and hubby. We traveled with my brothers family, who are dedicated cruisers. My niece who is 4 has been on 3 more cruises than we have. :-) Embarkation was OK, we were prepared for the worst based on the comments here on Cruise Critic. We arrived around 1pm, there was someone right there to take our baggage and lead us directly to the person who would check us in and tell us what line to wait in. On a side note, we had scheduled a van to take us from the hotel to Pier 66 but it got into an accident, so they sent a stretched limo that would fit all 7 of us. This may be the reason that the luggage people helped us right away. Because we had a suite, we were in a special line and taken to an area where they provided us with our room keys, champagne and snacks. Someone was assigned to us to escort us onto the ship and to our room. The "extras" that we received with this room I think made this cruise at least bearable. We were prepared with what restaurants we wanted to make reservations at and did so, soon after our arrival. Cagney's was awesome, service was very good. Soho was disappointing, our experience at Endless summer was very good. The tortilla soup was very good! The main dining room was disappointing to say the least, the one night we had dinner here it took over 25 minutes to have water served. The service was much better in the restaurants where you paid additional. The buffet was a joke, it is really true - the food is horrible. Hot food is cold, cold food is hot - we avoided it anytime we could. Ketchikan: We did the zipline excursion at this port. AWESOME!! The guides were friendly and wonderful. This is not a tour for anyone that is afraid of heights. I am not afraid of heights but I still got a little scared. There is one line that was over 750 feet long - it was worth every penny! Juneau: We did our own thing at this port, there is a tram that goes to the top of the mountain where we saw an eagle that had been rescued. We took a hike on the trails that offered some amazing views. Skagway: We did not prescheduled anything for this port either, when we got off the ship, we purchased train tickets which they charged back to our cabin. Keeping in mind that I am type A, I was totally bored with this excursion. The scenery was beautiful but after 1 hour of it, I was ready to be doing something else. I think that part of it was there was nothing too exciting about it, there were lots of trees, waterfalls, etc... many of the same things that we viewed from our balcony while sailing. Just a different tree and a different waterfall. Prince Rupert: We did the Sealife Discovery and Waterfront Cruise. The crew was awesome and friendly! The crab that they served was some of the best I have ever had and the serving was huge. I am not a seafood fan and do not like fishy things - this crab was not fishy at all! One area they stopped, they were able to get a couple of eagles to come down and feed. In another area, they did the same thing and there were like 5 eagles swooping down to get crab. It was amazing, I would highly recommend this tour. Overall: I felt like we were getting nickel and dimed at every turn. If you want decent food and good service, be prepared to pay the additional fees for the specialty restaurants. If you can afford to have a suite, the little extras - like being able to have breakfast and lunch in Cagney's, having a snack delivered every afternoon, our butler Rogin was very attentive and was able to help us with a lot of little details here and there. My brother said that Carnival and Princess were a better cruise in their opinion in regard to food, service, etc... We may try another cruise in a few years but for now we will stick to air/land vacations. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Review of NCL Star Alaska 8/2-8/9 2008 Saturday 8/2: We took an early flight (cheap seats back then) to Seattle, we arrived around 9am and took a Sedan to the pier (A&A limo - good service and nice driver). We got to the pier before ... Read More
Review of NCL Star Alaska 8/2-8/9 2008 Saturday 8/2: We took an early flight (cheap seats back then) to Seattle, we arrived around 9am and took a Sedan to the pier (A&A limo - good service and nice driver). We got to the pier before 10am and the chaos of the previous cruise was in full force. We found the concierge area for luggage storage after failing to find it the first few tries (it is door 6, near where the passengers are exiting on the north side). After dumping our luggage we headed to Pikes Market (the concierge gave us great directions). We goofed around there, walked around the shopping district and by 11:30 figured we were ready for the ship. When we got to the pier they were just starting to let people on board. The registration lines were non-existent but we were handed a number to wait in line to board. As gold Latitudes members we asked about early embarkation and not waiting for our number to be called. The lady we asked told us to inquire with the person taking the numbers at the boarding area, we walked up and asked her and she told us to hop on board (Gold has it's privileges!). As the market cafe was the only thing open (early flight equals early hunger) we ate a quick lunch there. We headed to our cabin (AF mini suite) and asked the room steward if we could just drop off our carry on luggage (the room was not made up yet) he was fine with that. The weather was perfect, the forecast of cloudy skies was wrong and the temperature was perfect. In addition, the Blue Angels were performing nearby and kept buzzing the ship (very cool). That night we ate in Endless Summer which is now $10pp, had their specialty, kind of a Brazilian style mix of steak, chicken and veggies which was very good. Very strange though that they served bagged chips (stale) and jarred salsa, for a now charging restaurant that seems very low end. I told the MaitreD about this and he said you can request fresh made chips (no salsa ideas though). Sunday 8/3: At sea, this cruise does not go up inside of Vancouver Island so you are really at sea today. We were hoping to have more of the inside passage as we had in the past, open seas sailing is boring. We got invited to the captain's party (probably mini-suite + gold) very nice and this started our round of parties which made our shipboard alcohol bill $0. Captain Lars is a very nice and outgoing captain, and we really enjoyed talking with him and listening to his daily updates. Cold day, but hit the water slides (we were the only "kids") - took a while to figure them out to keep from stopping but the attendant had some great advice (cannonball) which worked great. We ate a Teppanyaki which is now $25pp. Food was good, but service was terrible, it was not the staff's problem, but the fact that they had a bunch of Ginza tables as well. This is one that I think is now overpriced. You can do Benihana for $20pp, so I don't think this one is worth it. Monday 8/4: Ketchikan. The weather gods have smiled on us this cruise!! Captain Lars and everyone on shore are commenting on how bad the weather has been lately and how perfect it was today (sunny mid 60s). First stop buying binoculars so I can get off my wife's list of people who cannot pack correctly. We wondered the shops got a pair of Binoculars (Ace Hardware on wharf). We took the afternoon bike tour (Clover Pass). This was an interesting excursion as it was nothing like the description. The bike ride went through beautiful country but was on a busy road (think is was called quiet roads in the brochure), and lots of hills, some big (I think they used the word "meandering"). You end up at the end of the highway at a very pretty park, then you turn around and head back the same way you came. The "guides" were very loose and not really into organizing the tour (very few stops and 2 people missed a turn and got lost). Would I do this tour again, probably not. We got back to the ship as the last people were getting on board, again a perfect day from the weather gods. Had our latitudes party tonight, only about 50 people showed up (there were over 300 Latitudes members on board). Still did not win anything (never have) but the bar waiters were pretty board and giving me beer faster than I could drink it. We ate in Versailles tonight, service and food were fine and it is a pretty setting. Tuesday 8/5: Weather gods were with us (probably staying in the garden villas) once again. Perfect weather today again (sunny mid 60s). Again, everyone on shore was shocked as to how great it was. Took another bike tour around the Mendenhall Glacier. Great tour and an excellent tour company. We saw the Glacier from two sides and not just the tourist bus area. The ride is pretty easy with a couple of small hills but lots of stops. The Tour ends at the Alaska Brewery, for some beer drinking (and beer buying). In our group were 4 sisters/sister-in laws who decided that we were all entitled to take a 6 pack on board, so we all bought a 6 pack and took it on (with no problems at all - though it was during the last minute rush to get back on board). As I stated, this tour was excellent and I would easily do it again. We were a short day here as the Pearl comes in and kicks us out (the Pearl gets the best times and docks it seems). This was our glacier tour day and we did the Endicott arm as Sawyer had too much ice (the Captain had told us that he was hoping for this to happen as he think the Endicott is more spectacular than Sawyer. The cruise up the arm beautiful, lots of ice and great scenery. Of course it was a sunny day and the blue on many of the ice flows was amazing. We ended up at the base of the glacier where a shore tour boat with our passengers was met and the passengers transferred (have not seen that before). That night we tried the endless summer again, ordered the fresh chips which were old and greasy. Then the Nachos had nacho cheese sauces - not real cheese! - Yuk. Food was ok, but we decided that Endless Summer has a long way to go before they can justify $10pp. Oh well, we were still in the arm so the views were amazing. Wed 8/6 : Skagway. Weather Gods have not left us, partly cloudy in the morning, but sunny and warm in the afternoon. Been there done that for the train ride, so we decided to do a couple of hikes I found on the internet. The first was out to a set of falls (I believe the Reid falls) past the old cemetery. Since you have to walk through town it was a great town tour also (past the 6 blocks that most tourist see). From the ship we figure it is about 5 miles. The next was to smugglers cove which was about 2 miles on a really nice trail (some hills, lots of rocks). The cove is around the corner from the Star dock (left side of pier area) and you access the trail from the pedestrian bridge near the airport passenger terminal. Again, we left earlier than the other ships but we still had a good day there. We had our Latitudes gold/platinum party and another round of free alcohol. Of the 21 members only about 12 showed up (the captain was probably growing tired of talking to us). That night we ate at Aqua, service was good, but the restaurant does nothing for me, middle of the ship and very little glass. During dinner they had an emergency call, so we figured the night was going to be interesting. Walked out on the ship later that night and we were entering Auke Bay on the back side of Juneau, apparently the medical emergency had to be evacuated., bet we surprised a few residents to see a cruise ship in that area. They stopped in the bay and launched a tender to take the person to shore. Thursday 8/6: Prince Rupert. Due to the medical emergency we were about 45 minutes late, and that means that 2,000 people want to get off the ship at the same time. Prince Rupert is a very cute town, and we would have loved to explore it, but we were heading for the river float trip. You take an hour bus ride through some of the most gorgeous country around. Once there you hope in rafts and float (no paddling) down the Skeena river. Not a ton of wild life (some eagles and seal bobbing around) but it is fun and very pretty. Near dark we pulled out of the river (this tour recommends bug spray - we should have listened), and headed back. Got back to the ship around 10pm. Found that the ship stuck to the normal restaurant schedule and many people had a choice of the Blue Lagoon or room service for dinner. Never seen such a long line at the Blue Lagoon! Went to the ship's talent show, and that we very good, you must see the fountains number by the cruise director's staff, it is not to be missed. Oh, the weather gods were still in the Garden Villas and the foggy morning turned to a perfect day, at the river put in, it was about 80 degrees. Friday 8/7: Sea. Cold/Foggy. Weather gods checked out of the villa, but who cares we are basically done. Fog horn has been going off every 2 minutes all night and most of the day. Just because we can say we did it, we spent the morning in the Hot tub on the bow of Deck 13, not a bad way to spend your last day. Saturday 8/8: Took advantage of the suite early de-embarkation. Got off the ship by 8am and it took over an hour to get a car. Thrifty was understaffed and had late employees. I would definitely re-think using Thrifty again. We went to play in Seattle, had a blast at the locks watching idiot captains ram into the lock walls in 20mph winds (never listening to what the lock hands were telling them to do). Then on to the Air museum, which was also very good. Oh, the weather gods had left Seattle, cold and rainy. Odds-n-ends: Did the Jean Ann Ryan show for the 70's pretty good, the other show (music acts, magicians) did not excite us that much. NCL is pushing the $250 per cabin reservation with $10 back in credit for the current cruise, we signed up and they gave us another $50 credit if we went to the Galleria during the cruise -- that turned out to be a scam run by the Galleria vendor as no $50 credit appeared and neither Romeo (who gave out the certificate) or the reception desk could get any answers as to what the problem was. Unfortunately, high fuel prices must be taking its toll on maintenance, we noticed many areas that need work and our room needs loads of TLC including broken furniture, mold in the bathroom, and smelly carpet. I think the Star gets the worst of the routes as well with port times and the fact that we spend too much time in the open sea. Captain Lars is great, and really sets a tone that we again saw with the people of NCL, which is a major reason we continue to cruise with them. If anyone complains about the cruise staff, they probably got the attitude that they deserved. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
We planned this cruise for three years. We wanted to go on a cruise for our twenty-fifth anniversary. We had the date set and were counting the days. August 30, 2008 was the day. We drove about five hours to Seattle. We had prepaid to ... Read More
We planned this cruise for three years. We wanted to go on a cruise for our twenty-fifth anniversary. We had the date set and were counting the days. August 30, 2008 was the day. We drove about five hours to Seattle. We had prepaid to park the car in the parking structure that is for cruising with NCL. My travel agent told me that it was best to prepay and then you just drive in and they are there to help you with your bags. And thats how it happened. It costs $114 to park for the week. And it is in a secure parking structure. They told us that our luggage would be at our stateroom after 6pm. We walked across the skybridge and got in line to be begin the process to go onboard. It didn't take that long. After you are through that process they take your picture. (This is your Embarkation Picture that you can purchase later). We walked onboard and was very pleased with the way it looked. We walked on deck 7 and into the Grand Atrium. Lots of rich colors, glass elevators, brass and chrome and the music playing. It was beautiful. We walked around the different decks. There was a Embarkation BBQ on deck 12. Hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, fries, drinks. This is also the deck with the pool and four hot tubs. After awhile we went to our room to see what it was like. We had an inside cabin. Category II Cabin #11119. It was nice, plenty of room. We didn't feel like it was too small at all. The beds were comfortable, and the rooms are climate controlled. We had decided that we would be out of the cabin most of the time. We wanted to be as close to midship as possible and the higher the better. It was a great room. The only complaint we have is we were under the Market Cafe and at night they clean and you could hear the dishwashers running and moving things around. It didn't keep us up at night though. We had decided that we were going to eat at the places that did not have a cover charge except for three nights. The first night we wanted to celebrate so we ate at "LaTrattoria" (Italian Seafood & Meat Delicacies Pasta & Pizza) It was great. My husband had Pollo Parmigiana (Breaded Chicken Breast, Marinara Sauce, Mozzarella cheese, Vegetable Manicotti)and Insalata Caesar Salad. I had Fettuccini with Frutti di Mare and Insalata Caesar Salad. Both were very good. One of the best meals we had. We didn't have dessert because we were so full. For breakfast we ate at the buffet at Market Cafe. We had scrambled eggs, hash, sausage, bacon, fruit, milk, juice, hot chocolate, cereal, cinnamon rolls. It was all very good. As far as lunches we ate at Blue Lagoon, (Fish and Chips, comes with fries, coleslaw, tarter sauce). Was good and very large pieces of fish. We also had hamburger and a hot dog there also. They were all good. Blue Lagoon is open 24 hours. We went to Aqua and had grouper and Lobster with Asparagus, it was very good. We also ate at Versailles and had steak sandwich and Lobster & grouper, both very good. We at dinner at Versailles and had Pork Loin and Scallop & Calamarri with pasta. Didn't think much of the Pork Loin but the Scallop/Calamarri with pasta was good. And the last night we ate at Cagney's Steak House. It was the best. We both had Shrimp Cocktail and then clam chowder and then a 12 oz Rib Eye Steak with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. It was probably the best steaks we have ever had. For desert we had Kahlua Coffee Creme' Brulee' and Baked Apple Crisp with ice cream. Both were very good. Cagney's does have a cover charge of $20pp. Very well worth it. We also ate at Endless Summer, with a cover charge of $10pp. We had Nachos Grandes, we will pass on them next time, and II Popo ( Grilled Chicken, Grilled Skirt Steak, peppers, onions, tomatoes, pineapple, jalapeno pepper, served with mexican rice, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream. It was pretty good. The steak was a little tuff. The chicken was very good. The last day at sea there was a movie that we both wanted to watch so we ordered room service and watched a movie. We had a tuna melt on rye and a BLT. Very good. I found out after we were onboard that there was a group of people that were on the ship for a quilting class with the teacher that has written lots of books. I feel so terrible that I can't remember her name right now. I just wish that I could of been in that class. Next time I will check and see if there is a class like that again. It looked like they were having so much fun. There was a room that you could go into and watch for whales. It was very quite and only a couple of people there when we were there. We did see some. The service was very good. We were always ask if we needed anything. And our beds were made up and we had a different animal made out of towels everyday. We went to all of the shows. There was one show the first night. And then every night there was a show at 7pm and 9pm. There were set times every night that you could dress up and they would take professional portraits if you wanted. We had ours done and they really turned out nice. In the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 12 FWD they had games that they played with the passengers. They had a comedy show one night. A game show "The Liar's Club" In the Stardust Theater there was "Music of the Night" "Band on the Run" (very very good), Magician Murray, Tribute, Variety Showtime with Murray and Tribute (one show only), and the International Star Crew Show and a hilarious finale. As far as Shore Excursions there are alot to pick from. We decided that we would go on two excursions. In Ketchikan we wanted to walk around the town and see it. We went shopping and had lots of fun. In Juneau we went on the Mendenhall Glacier and Glacier Garden Excursion. It was GREAT. It cost $63 pp. We got on a greyhound type bus and they drove us to Mendenhall Glacier. On the way the driver that we had was very informative about the town and history and she was funny too. When we got there we had one hour and fifteen minutes to look around, take pictures then back on the bus. On the way out a black bear walked across the road in front of the bus. Too fast to get a picture. Then we went to Glacier Garden. What a wonderful place. If you like flowers, waterfalls, ponds, forest, this is the place to go. You learn alittle about the history also. And very funny guides here also. Very Good Excursion. Then we went back to town and walked alittle bit and back to the ship. Next stop, Skagway. We walked around the town here. A smaller then Ketchikan. All of the towns have about the same stores. Each town does have a few special shops. Then back to the ship. Then the ship went up to see the glacier. We were suppose to go to Sawyer Glacier. We couldn't go there so we went to Dawes Glacier. It was beautiful. We stayed on Deck 7 the whole time taking pictures and drinking hot chocolate. It was Great. And we have WONDERFUL PICTURES to remember it. Now we are heading for Prince Rupert. Here we went on the Whale and Marine Life Discovery Cruise. We got on a 70' boat. (part enclosed and heated), There were about 40 of us on this boat. There was the guide, the captain and a co-captain. They take you out about 50 miles into the ocean and you see whales. They come up next to the boat and the camera's start clicking. It was GREAT. I didn't want to go back into the ship it was so much fun. When we did go back into shore it was close to 9:30pm and I got some great pictures of the ship with all the lights on. The Disembarkment was very smooth. We were set to leave the ship at about 8;20am. We were off the ship and getting our ride to the parking lot, got our car and on the freeway by 9:15am. And we drove home. In Summary: This was our first cruise. It was our first Big Vacation. And we are already trying to figure out where we want to go next. We love cruising. The seas were good. I didn't know how I would do with the movement of the ship because I don't do well on a dock that moves. And I don't like heights. I did alot of things I didn't think I would do. I didn't get sea sick. One day the ship was rocking alot and I told my husband I didn't like it much, but when I saw that everyone was walking like I was and I realized that it was partly caused by the wind going across the ship. It didn't stop us from doing anything. I would tell everyone that if you are worried about going on a cruise you should go and have fun. It is our first but, it wont be our last. We can't wait for the next cruise. The Crew was great. The Director of Entertainment and Assistant Director of Entertainment were really great. We looked at the spa but didn't use any of their services. We didn't have any children with us, but it looked like the children that were on the ship were having fun. Does anyone have ideas on what would be a great second cruise? Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Trip was an anniversary trip for two couples. My husband & I & friends had Annv. 1 wk. apart. They took a cruise 5 yrs. ago & invited us to go along. We cruised Alaska with another couple last year & talked about going ... Read More
Trip was an anniversary trip for two couples. My husband & I & friends had Annv. 1 wk. apart. They took a cruise 5 yrs. ago & invited us to go along. We cruised Alaska with another couple last year & talked about going back...didn't think it would be this soon! AA out of DFW, nothing eventful. we went to find transport & as I had read here a Limo was the right way to go. My husband asked the shuttle co. for a price, it was $55 for 4 people. a Limo was $45!..no brainer!! We were driven to The Moore downtown. Checked our bags & began to walk the area. We went to Pike Market & Ivar's Fish Bar for chowder.We than went to the Seattle Aquarium & rode the free "Trolley" until it was time to check in. After some rest in the room we had dinner at the Crab Pot. A lot of fun & a lot of food! DAY 2. We has breakfast at Lowell's in the Market & than picked up a car for the day. We drove to Mt Rainer, which we dubbed "Mt. Rainy er" We drove around in the fog & rain , but still had a lot of fun.Returned the car by 7PM & went back to The Moore to rest. We walked 1 blk. to the Virginia Inn for dinner..very good. DAY 3. Breakfast at Lowell's again. Took the ferry to Banbridge Island. Walked around the island for a while & than had lunch at the Harbor Pub..again another great meal. Rode back to the mainland & to The Moore.We were tired and fell asleep without dinner (our friends walked to Ivar's for some more chowder). DAY 4. Lowell's again!! Packed our things back in our luggage. We walked to the dock..it was only 6 blks. & all down hill. We were on the ship by 12 noon. Had lunch in Versailles. The banana soup was very good (thanks CC posters) I had the beef salad ..not good. The room was ready & we went to wait for our bags one by one they appeared. We & our friends asked the steward to open the partition on the balcony. After asking 3-4 times he opened it. Our beds were already together but our friends had to ask several times for the steward to put theirs together. The beds need something in the center to join them better, we & our friends noted you slip into the crack by morning.We went to the sail away BBQ, that wasn't..a BBQ I mean. It was just cold burgers & hot dogs. We all went to the Market Cafe (buffet). Food was OK , the bread pudding is really good.We went back to our rooms and rested until the "welcome aboard" show. It was pretty good. We went to the Blue Lagoon for a snack. None of us liked it ...very greasy frozen, fried food. None of us went back to BL during the cruise. Note.. the stateroom (balcony was about the same size as the one we had on the Sun Princess last year, a little better arranged). DAY 5. We all went to the buffet for breakfast. My husband (Leo) signed up for the poker tournament. Leo & I went to Versailles for lunch. Not very good. Met our friends at Market Cafe, had a snack & back to the room to rest.Tonight is Lobster night, my friend can't wait! It was good but very small.To the comedy show & than bed. DAY 6. Ketchikan. Fishing day. We hired a guide & boat. Leo caught about 25 "trash" fish, which our guide killed & thew back. Between me & our friends we caught another 20 or so "trash" fish & 3 sharks. The guide took us back to town & we went shopping. Leo & I went to the murder mystery dinner..fun , fun!! Be prepared to act in character. DAY 7. Juneau. We had booked a heli tour..cancelled for weather. Walked around & found a float plane to take us up...they cancelled for weather. Rode the bus to Mendenhall. Very nice, but no heli tour.Left port at 1PM cruised up Endicott Arm,couldn't get very close ,but what we did see was beautiful. DAY 7. Skagway. Rode the train up & a bus back down. Both very interesting a fun.It was really cold at the stop in Canada. Went back to Juneau. A lady who owned a shop told us that this was the first summer she can remember using her heat in her shop in July.Had dinner ..of sorts in the buffet. It has become clear that they do not make very many changes in the buffet menu, mostly the same each day! Saw the Temptation cover group in the Stardust..it was pretty good. DAY 8. Prince Rupert. NCL needs to change this port from the schedule. There is NOTHING there. I had read on CC that the tours were pretty lame. Thank you..all that posted. We (Leo & I) had dinner at Aqua. Our friends slept. Our table mates (four ladies, 2 tours .really upset about the fact that they paid good money for not so good tours. The highlight of one of their tours was driving past a homeowners heated driveway.). DAY 9. Sea day. Laid around in bed. Leo played in a poker tournament again. He won 3rd place! We all decided we would not eat in either the dinning room or buffet..we had all had it! Well we weren't the only ones.We couldn't get res. anywhere. We went ahead & ate ate Aqua. It was OK. The 3rd time I had steak there, it was a safe bet. It was almost empty. The buffet was empty. We all thought the food was getting old for everyone.We than took in 2 shows. Can't remember the name of it, but it was the dance troupe w/ the chinese acrobats. It was pretty good. Then we saw the comic, this was his adult show. He was a lot funnier tonight , his show was only 30 min. & could have been longer.Off to bed & finish packing. we were doing express disembarkment. DAY 10. Off the ship. Had breakfast & waited for our group to be called. Stowed our bags with the concierge on the dock ($3 @ bag) Walked around the Market & than over to the monorail stop & rode it to the Seattle Center. We sat by the fountain & made some phone calls home. We walked over to the Sculpture Park at the waterfront. The views are breathtaking. Called our Limo driver from Wed., he had given us his card. Flight back home went really fast,we had TV this time. Final impressions: The trip was great, the company too. Weather could have been a little bit better, but we had already decided that we'd roll with the flow & make the best of everything no matter what the weather thew our way. Out steward was almost invisible. However, when our friends had trouble getting their beds put together, they tipped him & walah! It was done right than. After that he was all over them with service. They gave him a good tip when we left. And we would have too, but it seemed he thought the gold mine was with them. Too much bingo..bingo,bingo! They even close the curtain in the Spinnaker lounge when people are viewing the ocean to start the bingo game. We should have eaten at the pay rest. By the time we got sick of the food everyone else figured this out & we couldn't get in to one. The buffet needs some improvement, too much of the same food over & over again. The main dinning room is really average at best, not a lot of choices, we talked to several past NCL cruisers & they remarked that the quality had slipped with every NCL cruise they had taken. Two couple said they thought NCL brought the quality down so you would eat in the pay rest. And NCL .. Go back to Victoria or anywhere but Prince Rupert. We tried to be positive about it but there was no way. All the other cruisers were very disappointed by it.Didn't use the spa. Nor did take any NCL excursions, booked our own. Will we cruise NCL again.. most likely not. Mainly the service & the food. The entertainment was average. The food & service we experienced last year on the Sun Princess was far superior to this cruise. Will we cruise again?..yes. BTW , this was our 4th cruise,1st on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
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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