245 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

We were on the May 24 Seattle roundtrip for Alaska. Overall it was a great experience. We were on Deck F which is the lowest deck, with portholes only. Stateroom was small but fine. Being an ex Navy guy, I was used to the small and tight ... Read More
We were on the May 24 Seattle roundtrip for Alaska. Overall it was a great experience. We were on Deck F which is the lowest deck, with portholes only. Stateroom was small but fine. Being an ex Navy guy, I was used to the small and tight quarters. If you organize things neatly and can live without spreading your stuff all around, you will do fine in these small staterooms. Food was very good overall with a couple of exceptions. As a general rule, the best food was in the Aqua dining room, which is the smaller of the 2 main ones. The Versailles is very large and very noisy. Service was ok but slow at times. Breakfast was very slow. We ended up eating breakfast in the Market Cafe, which is buffet style, and very good. You can get whatever you might want there and no waiting since you serve yourself. The Endless Summer (tex mex) is impossible to get into even with reservations. So Ho Restaurant was good as was La Trattoria, the Italian place. The pricing scheme on the specialty restaurants is very confusing to say the least. The "cover charge" varies from about $15 per person to $25 or $30. Then you just order off the menu. There is one catch to that. Some of the items on the menu carry an additional charge ranging from about $15 to $25 per person. For the most part, we thought the Aqua main dining room was a better deal and there was no additional cost to eat there. Drinks are expensive and I was especially surprised to find out it was $2 for a soft drink. The entertainment overall was good except the magician was weak. He needs to hang onto his day job. The singing and dancing was very well done. All of the workers on the ship went out of their way to be helpful and responsive to us. The ship is very clean and modern. There is a continuous array of events going on to occupy you with. As mentioned on some other reviews, the hot tubs could have been a little warmer, but I guess they are afraid someone would get too hot in them. The biggest negative to us was the continual selling of money making activities for NCL, such as bingo cards, pull tabs, shore tours, etc. Before every theater event, they spent 30 minutes hounding you to buy bingo cards, pull tabs, etc. Make no doubt about it, NCL is in this deal to make lots of money and it gets old after a few days. Just be prepared. The shore visits were all good and the weather was great. Warm and sunny every day except the final stop at Prince Rupert, where it was cool and cloudy, and had rained earlier. Probably the best weather you could have asked for. The stop in Juneau was rather short due to the afternoon trip to see the glacier. We appreciated the Captain coming on the intercom and saying the scheduled Tracy Arm and glacier was iced in per the report of another ship that had tried to get to it the day before. So instead he took us up the Endicott arm and glacier, which was spectacular. As the fjord got increasingly narrow, we continued up the arm almost all the way to the glacier before turning around. The stop in Ketchikan was very nice. The Skagway stop was a slight disappointment due to 4 other large ships in port besides ours. The town only has 800 people, so when about 10,000 tourists are there it overwhelms the place, to say the least. The White Pass train ride is very good and we recommend it. At Prince Rupert, we took a small boat out to see the bald eagles. This was an excellent trip. We saw probably 200 bald eagles up close as the boat crew throws raw meat into the water and the birds swoop down and get it. Strongly recommend this tour. Our take on Prince Rupert is that it is a fishing and railroad village and not a tourist town, which was a welcome relief. Not much to see there, but we did walk all around the town. Very few shops and what is there are close to the dock and the ship. The disembarkation process was very confused and disorganized. It seems like nobody was in charge and no announcements were made, so everyone was milling around trying to figure out what was going on and when they could leave the ship. It was about 9:30 when we finally got ashore, and then only after we just got in the line and made our way off. Not sure how long it would have taken if we had followed the color code we had which was supposed to establish the priority of getting off the ship. Overall it was a great experience and we would do it again anytime. We really enjoyed the NCL Freestyle Cruising approach where you eat at any of a dozen places and whenever you want to, without having an assigned table and time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
My husband, two teenage children, my mother and myself have been planning this cruise for 4 or 5 months. My mom has been on numerous cruises, my husband and I have been on one other cruise. This was my children's( ages 13 and 17) ... Read More
My husband, two teenage children, my mother and myself have been planning this cruise for 4 or 5 months. My mom has been on numerous cruises, my husband and I have been on one other cruise. This was my children's( ages 13 and 17) first cruise. We flew from Phoenix, AZ to Seattle, WA on Southwest Airlines. We arrived on 5/30/08 and stayed at the Radisson right across the street from Sea/Tac Airport. The hotel was very nice and comfortable. The staff were very accommodating and I would highly recommend this hotel. We embarked the NCL Star on 5/31/08 around 1:00 pm. The line for embarkment was long and we had to go through many check points. The woman who checked my husband, son and myself in was new and did was not able to answer any of our questions. She also switched the picture of my husband and my son in the computer for their ship card. This proved to be a major inconvenience as we had to have their pictures retaken three more times and finally had to have new cards issued because the initial problem could not be corrected. Upon arriving on the ship, I went immediately to the customer service counter to place a cash deposit into my account as I did not want to provide NCL with my VISA card. Upon finding out that NCL would be taking $10.00 per day of my cash to cover the "daily service charges", I elected not to give them any cash. I decided, if I wanted to purchase something, I would give them cash as the need arose. The man who we dealt with at the customer service counter was very unpleasant and "snotty" to us. Suffice it to say, we were not impressed so far. We then decided to go eat at the Market Cafe. Let's just say it was not impressive. The food was not appealing and there was absolutely no where to sit. The glasses for getting drinks were maybe a six ounce size and the handle on the coffee cups were so small that my husband could not fit his finger through. Our stateroom was small as expected. The bathroom was very small. My husband, son and I shared one room nd my daughter and mother shared another room. We are all thin people and still the bathrooms were very cramped. I have no idea how anyone who is larger could possibly fit into those bathroom. Our stateroom was satisfactory in terms of the bedding and decor. There was very little room in terms of storage however. On the evening of our first night we went to the Aqua room for dinner. Read below for more info on the service and the food. Our first issues is with regard to the service aboard the Star. It was non existent. The crew were rude and basically ignored us. In the Aqua dining room, on the first night of the cruise, we waited for over 15 minutes before anyone filled our water glasses. We waited another 20 minutes before anyone brought us the iced teas we had ordered. The meal service was extremely slow as it took over two and a half hours for our complete meal to be served. The following evening we went to the Aqua and our experience was worse. We asked four times for iced teas. We only received our iced teas after asking the Maitre d to get it for us. The staff act as though we are bothering them. They would not make eye contact with us and they certainly were not friendly or accommodating. After the second night of having such bad service, my husband and I went to the front desk in the lobby and asked if we could please eat at the Versailles dining room even though we had only brought jeans and had absolutely no dress clothes. Monica called us later that day and informed us that she had spoken to the Maitre d in the Versailles and that he said we could have dinner in that dining room. When we went to the Versailles that evening we were quite surprised to find that most of the diners in Versailles for the diner service were wearing jeans. We ate primarily in Versailles for breakfast, lunch and dinner after the second night. The service in Versailles was better then in the Aqua and we actually had two servers, each at different times, that were actually friendly. But for the most part, the service was below average. Personally, I could not wait to get off the ship to eat. When we would eat at restaurants in the different port cities, the service we received there was what I would consider "normal" but in light of the service on the Star, the service in the port cities restaurants seemed extraordinary. Second, the food aboard the ship was unsatisfactory. By the time we would receive our meal, the hot food was cold and the cold food was warm. The first night at Aqua, I ordered a steak, which I could not cut. The steak was of the quality that one would get at Denny's. I sent the steak back and did not reorder another main dish. My daughter received chicken nuggets from Versailles at lunch one day and they were so hard she could not bite into them. We found hairs and pieces of shell in our food at various times. The lobster tail we ordered one evening was less then 3 inches and was so tough we could not eat it. The scallops were smaller then the size of a dime in diameter. The meal portions were also quite small. I ordered hash browns one morning and they were smaller then the size of a credit card. If you ordered something with shrimp, you would only get one or two in your dish. I'm quite sure that the "crab" served in certain dishes was not real crab. The food was not well seasoned and was bland. The bread that is served before the meal was stale and hard as a rock. Desserts were usually good, as were the soups. Room service was okay as long as you didn't order the tuna melt. The bread was so hard you could hardly bite into it. Room service generally took 45 minutes or longer to receive. The Market Cafe was disgusting. I had a salad one day and put "ranch" dressing on top. When I took my first bite, I started gagging and spit out the food into my napkin. The "ranch" dressing was like rotten mayonnaise. The iced machines in the Market Cafe rarely had ice in them. The food in the Market Cafe was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The Market Cafe makes the "HomeTown Buffet" look like a 5 star dining establishment and I am not kidding or exaggerating. We only got water and iced tea from the Blue Lagoon as the food there didn't look very appetizing. We were not willing to pay additional to eat in the cover charge restaurants, so we were only able to eat at Versailles, Aqua, the Market Cafe, the Blue Lagoon and room service. For a ship with over 2000 passengers, it seems quite odd to only have 4 places to eat that are no charge. As far as the children's activities, my kids mainly played ping pong and watched tv in the room. My 13 year old son said that the teen center was lame as did the friends that he met. The only purpose that the teen center served was as a meeting place for the kids to group together and then move onto a different area. My son did say that the woman who was in charge of the teen center was very nice and tried to get activities started for the teens. My 17 year old daughter found a friend and had nothing to do with the teen center. She spent most of her time playing ping pong, watching tv in the stateroom or in the warm jacuzzi. She quit eating aboard the ship by the fourth day and after being home for a day, she still has no appetite. The food on the ship made her nauseous and she is still repulsed by food two days after getting off the ship. As for the entertainment, the Chinese acrobats were good and everything else was mediocre at best. Many activities were cancelled due to the weather. I found it rather interesting that for all of the day s on the cruise, most of which were very cold, the pool was open. The final day, we had nicer, warmer weather and the pool was netted of and closed. We did not do any of the NCL shore excursions. We went into each of the towns and really enjoyed each of them. Alaska is absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately the best place was Juneau and that was the one port where we had the least amount of time to stay onshore. We had to be back by 12:30 pm that day. We choose to do the "Express Checkout" which means we take our own baggage off the ship from 8:00 to 8:30 am. We really had no problems with the disembarkment other then that we could not wait to get off of that ship. All five of us could not wait to get off of that ship for good. It was such a relief for the cruise to be over. Once we disembarked, we took a shuttle back to the Radisson, checked in and then went to tour Seattle with a friend who lived there. We went to Pike's Market which was fabulous and then ate lunch at the Crab Pot which was also fabulous. We toured Seattle for a few more hours then went back to the hotel for the night. We flew out of Sea/Tac around noon on Sunday 6/8/08. Seattle was hands down the best part of our vacation. There were so may issues that I cannot begin to express them all and quite frankly, having had to go through the experience "live and in person," I really don't want to have to rehash it all over again. Suffice it to say the experience we had was liken to shopping at the Dollar Store. The only difference being that when you buy something at the Dollar Store you know what you are getting. With NCL, you expect to receive something of value and in turn receive nothing more than junk. Even the people at the Dollar Store look at you, greet you and are friendly to you. It is abundantly obvious that NCL does not care. EVERYONE that we spoke to onboard that ship was unhappy with the cruise. Most were very happy with the ports and Alaska in general, but no one was pleased with the ship. The poor service was consistent and not a one or two time occurrence. Being treated with respect was rare and honestly only happened 5 or 6 time during the entire 7 day cruise. During the course of the cruise my mom, made an appointment to speak with someone from "higher up" as our previous complaints had fallen on deaf ears. On the evening of our 4th or 5th night, we had a meeting in the "Conference Room" with the Hotel Director and the Executive Housekeeper, both gave us their business cards. I'm not sure why Hal was at the meeting as none of our complaints had been about housekeeping. At a later point in the meeting, a gentleman came in, he was the Head of the Food and Beverage Service. That man did not give us his card as the other men had. We discussed the problems that we had encountered and even presented the Head of Food and Beverage with the chicken nuggets that had been served to my daughter earlier that afternoon. In general, the meeting was a waste of time. It did not seem like these men cared about our issues. They humored us, but ultimately sold us their companies "line." Later that night, each of our staterooms received a plate of chocolate covered strawberries (10 total) and the next evening we were "comped" a dinner at the Italian restaurant and given a bottle of wine at dinner. None of which could possibly make up for what had happened. The level of incompetency on the ship was incredible. You could ask 5 different crew members the same question and get 5 different answers. My son and husband had to redo their ship card id pictures three separate times because the staff kept mixing up their pictures in the computer. I did not give NCL my VISA card to use as the deposit because I didn't trust them and it turns out I was right. Two people we met aboard the ship had had over $500.00 charged to their cards and those charges were not from their personal purchases. As stated before, nobody that we spoke to was happy about the ship. Everyone that we personally spoke with, was extremely angry about the service and the food. Disappointment was the theme and the consensus for us and our fellow passengers. Most everyone thoroughly enjoyed Alaska and the beautiful scenery. My mom spoke with and received the business card of a husband and wife who are travel agents. They were very unhappy with the cruise as well. They said they had been on over thirty cruises and had never experienced such bad service and terrible food. They could not believe how bad things were aboard the Star. Suffice it to say, we will not be back to the Star or NCL for that matter. I would never recommend NCL to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Let me start out by saying I am sorry this review is so long. We just wanted to make sure we put as much information in it as possible for future cruisers. We are 36 and 44 and this was our sixth cruise. Three cruises with NCL, one with ... Read More
Let me start out by saying I am sorry this review is so long. We just wanted to make sure we put as much information in it as possible for future cruisers. We are 36 and 44 and this was our sixth cruise. Three cruises with NCL, one with Carnival, one with Royal Caribbean and one with Radisson. If you want the short of it, it was almost a perfect cruise and well worth any amount of money spent. I would highly recommend getting a room with a balcony for this cruise. You will never regret it. Pre-cruise. Seattle: Day one - We arrived in Seattle two days early. Flight from Dallas was uneventful and we were actually early (about 1 hour early) because they had changed our flight time. Since we had rented a car through Hotwire we were afraid that we would not be able to pick it up, but they had it waiting for us and did not charge us extra. With road construction at the airport, we had a little trouble getting out to where we needed to be, but finally found our way. We had also booked a room in the Seattle Sheraton through Hotwire. We wanted to drop our luggage off and then go for a drive across Whidbey Island which is located north of Seattle. We were concerned that the hotel would not let us have our room since we were so early, but they did. We took our luggage up to the room, freshened up and then headed to our first destination. We drove north to a town called Mukilteo and had lunch at Ivar's next to the ferry terminal. We had the Alaskan Halibut Fish and Chips ($14.00) and Prawn and Chips ($13.00). Both were delicious. We then boarded the ferry and went to Whidbey Island. How beautiful the drive is through Whidbey Island. We were able to stop at Ft. Casey, incredible. We saw several bunny rabbits and three deer. We went all the way around Whidbey Island and saw a few more deer. Crossed the Deception Pass Bridge and found our way back to I5 and headed south to Seattle again. Stopped at the Tulalip Casino and Resort on the way back, spent a little time in their casino, had fun, won some money, lost some money, and headed back to Seattle to the waterfront and dinner at The Fisherman's Restaurant and Bar (Pier 57). We arrived after 5PM and found a parking lot that had a flat fee to park from like 5PM to midnight or something like that. Parking was $10.00. We had a very nice dinner at The Fisherman. I HIGHLY recommend the Dungeness Crab Cocktail ($12.95). VERY good. My DP (Domestic Partner) had Blacked Stuffed Cod ($22.00) and I had the Blacked Mahi Mahi ($20.00). I guess living so close to New Orleans, we are spoiled to good blackened cooking, as The Fisherman's left a little bit to be desired. I still recommend this restaurant, just maybe try something else. Anyway, back to the hotel for a night of rest. After we got back to the hotel, we realized our air conditioner was not working. I will not go into all of the specifics, but will just tell you it took from 9PM our first night there to 9PM the next night to get it repaired. This was after two calls to the front desk and one trip to the front desk to express my concern at not having air conditioning. Day two - We were still on Dallas time so we woke up early. Got showered and dressed and were in the rental car and headed to Mt. Rainier. Stopped on the way in a town called Enumclaw and had breakfast at Charlie's Cafe. The food was wonderful. We ordered a Blueberry Pancake ($3.95) and both shared it. It was VERY good. We each then had a breakfast sandwich, one was ham, egg and cheese on toast and the other bacon, egg and cheese on toast ($6.95 each). It was delicious. Not all of the roads around Mt. Rainier were open at this time of the year, however we were able to drive all the way around the mountain. It was just beautiful and well worth the trip. We stopped on the other side of the mountain and had lunch in the Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Company in Elbe. I had the lasagna and my DP had the chopped brisket on a bun. He liked his. Mine was just ok. Sorry I forgot to make note of the cost, but I would guess around $20.00 for the two of us. We then proceeded to the Sea-Tac airport to drop the rental car off and catch a cab back to the hotel. It was a painless process. Cab from the airport to our downtown hotel was $37.00 plus tip during rush hour. Once we got back to the hotel and freshened up, we caught a cab to the Seattle Waterfront ($11.60 plus tip). This night we ate at Anthony's (Pier 66). We both had the grilled King Salmon with Mashed Potatoes and Sugar Snap Peas ($38.00 each). My DP liked his, however this was my first time to try fresh grilled Salmon and I have to say, not for me. We did start the dinner with Shrimp Gumbo ($4.95) and it was very good. Back to the hotel, air conditioner finally repaired, and a good night's sleep. In the morning we could see the Norwegian Star at the pier from our hotel window. We showered and got all of our stuff together and went down stairs to The Daily Grill. We had oatmeal and French toast and it was about $35.00 with tip. The food was good, but expensive. If you stay at the Seattle Sheraton and are going to eat breakfast anywhere near it, expect to pay about $30 to $40 for two for breakfast, unless you can find a McDonald's, etc. One lesson we learned from our pre-cruise. If we had to do it over again we would stay at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront (as it is directly across the street from Pier 66) or the Seattle Edgewater hotel (right next to Pier 66). We paid about $159.00 a night for our Seattle Sheraton and I believe the Marriott would have cost us about $250.00 a night. It would have been well worth it being so close to the places we wanted to have dinner. Cab fare and parking would have made up for the cost difference. We wouldn't have needed to take a cab anywhere except from the airport to the hotel. It is so close to Pier 66 that you could even walk your luggage right across the street to check in for the cruise. The Cruise Day one -We had been on the NCL Star last November to the Mexican Riviera and were excited to be sailing on her again. We were at Pier 66 by 10AM and passengers were still unloading from the previous cruise. Finally about 11ish we were able to check our luggage and then get in the line to get our keycard, etc. When you walk in the door there are two lines available. One is for passengers in suites and it is to the right. We got in that line (were the only ones in any line even though there were several people waiting outside) and were greeted by a NCL person who said they would escort us through security and then on to the waiting lounge upstairs. Once in the lounge, we were greeted by our Concierge Simone and then lead over to check in. Simone said when she saw our names on the VIP list earlier in the week she got excited to see returning guests, that it made her feel like it was family coming to visit. She is so sweet. We got our keycards and Simone then went over all of the options available to us as guest in a suite. We had a list of desired reservations ready for her for the specialty restaurants on board. We had some pastry, juice, coffee and then she introduced us to our butler Leo. We saw our butler from the Mexican Riviera cruise Roy, but he was now the butler for the Garden Villas. He came up to us and welcomed us back and explained to us that Leo was going to be our butler and that he was new. He kind of gave us a look and we knew we should not expect much from Leo. Our feelings were correct. Not a big deal for us really because we hardly use the services of the butler. Finally they announced boarding had been cleared and Leo took us on board and to our suite. We were in a AE cabin Aft section, 9232. Same cabin we had been in previously and it was exactly the same as before. As far as 2.0, no changes have been made yet for suites that we could see other than the daily snack and fruit selection. Cagney's was now available for breakfast and lunch for suite guests. I do not know if that is part of 2.0 or not, but it was not on the NCL Star last November when we were onboard. We filled out our daily snack and fruit selections, put the cards on the door and then headed to lunch at Cagney's. Normally we take this time to explore the ship, but we both remembered her well from the last cruise, so we just went and enjoyed our lunch. On the way to lunch we bumped into the room stewards, Dominador (goes by Ador) and Charlton. They had been our room stewards on the last cruise and made us feel right at home when they said they remembered us and were glad to have us back on board. Probably two of the best room stewards we have ever had and we were THRILLED to have them again on this cruise. Believe me, if you have them as your room stewards, you literally want for nothing as far as your cabin goes. Any request that they hear you wish for, they will do everything they can to get for you. Lunch at Cagney's was delicious. We both had Grilled New York Strip Steak and fries. At 3:30PM they had the Munster drill. It went very smoothly and quickly. We were back in our cabin before we knew it and our luggage was waiting for us. We spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and getting ready for dinner in Versailles. We both had two suitcases, yet we had at least half of the drawers and cubbies left untouched when we had unpacked every thing. There is plenty of storage/closet space in this suite. We finally got all settled in and there was a knock on the door and it was someone delivering "treats for our sail away"... a bottle of white wine, produced in Washington state and a tray of cheeses, crackers, fruit and nuts. There was also a bottle of sparkling wine chilling for us when we first got to the cabin. We opened the bottle of wine and poured a glass for each of us and toasted Seattle as we sailed away. We corked the wine and put it in the fridge to save for later. I do want to take a moment and talk about the suite we had. It was a Penthouse Suite, cat. AE. I think because of where it is located, you give up square footage of stateroom space for added balcony space. It has a wonderful wrap around balcony if you are in this suite, decks 8 and 9 aft. For some reason this suite deck 10 aft has part of the wrap around balcony blocked off. The stateroom itself though is rather small for a suite. It really did not matter to us as it was plenty of room for the two of us. I haven't researched it, but I would not be surprised if this isn't the smallest suite in the fleet. I honestly can not remember what we had for dinner, but every meal we had at Versailles was delicious. We had heard of the long waits for dinner at Versailles. Our experience was that if you go during "peak" dinning hours, say 5:30PM to 7:30PM you will have a wait. The longest wait we had was maybe 15 or 20 minutes long and it was during the peak hours and on the first lobster night. Time passed quickly while waiting though as we had nice conversations with people waiting around us. We were guest of C.A. S. (Casino at Sea's) so we went to the Star Club Casino at 6PM to pick up our players cards and see who was still on the staff that we knew from our last trip. The main casino host was there and I feel horrible that I have forgotten her name, but she is just lovely and we enjoy her very much. Very nice, very friendly and you can tell she really wants to make your casino experience a fun one. There was a huge line waiting to fill out the form to get their casino cards, so when I saw the casino host look up and see us and say hello to us and welcome us back, I asked her if we needed to fill out the form since we were guest of the casino. She said no and that she already had our cards ready. She handed them to us and we told her we would see her at 8PM when the casino opened and off we were to go back to the cabin and rest. Speaking of the casino, up until this trip, I never saw the casino on NCL or any cruise line for that matter give away free drinks unless you were a "VIP" or maybe if you had just hit a jackpot on a machine, etc. Now as long as you have a player's card and are actively playing on a slot machine or at the tables, etc, they will give you free drinks. This must be very new because when we would order a coke or bottled water or coffee, the serving staff wanted to see our player's card so they could make note of our name and the number on our card. When they would see our card they would say, "Oh, you don't have a purple card?". Never really knew what they meant by that, but oh well... as long as we got our soda, coffee or water, I didn't care. Free drinks did include alcoholic beverages, but we do not drink those when we are gambling, for obvious reasons, hehehehe. The Star Club Casino is rather small but it does have plenty of tables to play at and there is a wide variety of slot machines as far as type and denomination. They have $.01, $.05, $.10, $.25, $.50, $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, $25.00 and $100.00 as far as I could see. They had moved several of the slot machines around since the last time we were there, and made many of our favorite $0.25 slot machines into $1.00 machines. We usually play $0.25, $1.00 and $5.00 slots, but I was disappointed that most of our favorites were now $1.00 because that meant we would not be able to play them as much. We played in the casino for a few hours that night after the casino opened and had a good time. Day two: was a sea day and we used this day to rest up for the ports of call that were coming ahead. Doing so much sightseeing in Washington the few days before the cruise had worn me out so it was nice to be able to sit on the balcony and watch the beautiful scenery pass by as we sailed. Had breakfast and lunch in Cagney's but had dinner again in Versailles and it was as wonderful as the night before. Some people say that it is a problem with NCL that you have to pay to eat in a specialty restaurant in order to get good food. That is absolutely not correct. You pay to eat in the specialty restaurants to get a different atmosphere than eating in the main dinning room, etc. Or maybe even pay to get a different type of food, Steaks, Asian Infusion, Pacific Rim, French, etc. But the food is just as good in the included restaurants in my honest opinion. There were a lot of things for folks to do that day, but we pretty much stayed to ourselves and just enjoyed each others company and the beautiful ship. Speaking of the beautiful ship, I do think the ship is beautiful, however I also think it is getting to the point it might could use some updating... some refurbishment. But with that said, it is an EXTREMELY clean ship. Every where you go there is someone cleaning something. Day three: Port of call Ketchikan. We had booked the excursion Misty Fjord and Wilderness Explorer hosted by Allen Marine Tours ($159.00 PP). The boat used for this tour is actually built by Allen Marine and is a fantastic boat. It was very nice and very comfortable. Off we went on our tour of Misty Fjord. The beauty we saw on this excursion, words or pictures would never do justice. The mountains were so big and beautiful it made me feel small. I am NOT religious at all, but all I kept thinking the whole time we were in Misty Fjord was that this must be where God lives. It was well worth the money for this tour. While going through Misty Fjord we came upon this one area that had somewhat of a "grassy beach" area. There was an ENORMOUS Brown Bear feeding on the grass in this area. The captain guided the boat to this area and we watched the bear until it disappeared into the forest. Of the tours we took for this cruise, if I had to choose only one, it would be a toss up between this tour and the one we take next, Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer. By the time we got back, from our tour of Misty Fjord, it was past time for us to be back on board so we did not get to explore Ketchikan at all. Of course since we had booked the tour through NCL, the ship was waiting for us and had not left. One note - Excursions for Alaska do seem to be more expensive than on other cruises we have taken, but I guess that is because they only have a few months to make their living in Alaska, at least if their living is from tourism. Dinner tonight was in Cagney's ($20.00 PP) and we had a delicious meal. Again, the staff was extremely friendly and took care of our every need. After dinner we spent some time in the Star Club Casino and then went to bed to get some rest for our day in Juneau. Day Four: Docked early in Juneau. Here you get off the ship at the pier and they have buses that take you for no charge to the "downtown" area of Juneau. Where the bus lets you off is at the base of the Mount Roberts Tram. There were ten or so booths at the parking lot where you are let off that you can buy local independent tours. We bought a bus pass to Mendenhall Glacier for $14.00 per person. This was a 20 minute ride on a comfortable bus out to the Mendenhall Glacier. The tour buses let you off in a small parking lot that is a short walk to the Mendenhall Glacier and the Mendenhall Pavilion. You can walk directly across the street to get to either of those or you can take a scenic walk on a trail by a creek and it is a little bit longer. That is the way we decided to go and it was a nice pretty walk. The Mendenhall Glacier is beautiful. We stayed probably an hour and headed back to town on the next bus that was there to pick us up. I believe they run about every 20 to 30 minutes. The tour bus we were on also stops at the pier where Celebrity was docked. That is on the other side of downtown from where the NCL ships dock so we got off there and walked through town, stopping in several shops and buying a few souvenirs. We saw some very nice jewelry along the way. We had planned on taking the Mount Roberts Tram ($24.00 PP), however Juneau was very overcast the day we were there and we were afraid if we did that, we would get to the top of Mount Roberts and would not be able to see panoramic views, so we decided to sit and have a cup of coffee and enjoy Juneau one last moment before we boarded the ship again. ($4.95 for my small vanilla latte and I think $2.50 for the hot chocolate my DP had.) We took the shuttle back to the ship and went to our stateroom to rest a few minutes before we had to meet our group that was taking the Tracy Arm Fjord and Glacier Explorer tour ($183.00 PP). This tour leaves about 30 minutes before the ship sails and then after the tour is over it meets up with the ship and transfers us back on board. This tour was also hosted by Allen Marine Tours and again was a very comfortable tour boat. Because of the ice that was still in Tracy Arm Fjord, we had to be diverted to Endicott Fjord and the Dawes Glacier. It was amazingly beautiful. On the way we encountered a Humpback Whale that was playing. Our boat came within probably 20 yards of her. From what the tour guide said they do not know why whales "play" like this, but she was rolling from side to side, splashing her big fins in the water, showing us her belly, and then she would turn back right side up and raise up and look at us and do it all over again. This was amazing to watch. Once we reached the Dawes Glacier they pulled the boat as close to the glacier as they could and we are guessing we were about 200 yards away. At times they would turn off the engines of the boat and we could hear the crackling of the glacier that you read about. Also, we saw a lot of calving. This is when big chunks of ice fall off the glacier and become icebergs. That was truly an amazing thing to see and hear. Every time a big chunk fell off of Dawes Glacier it sounded like a shot gun blast. There were also a bunch of pregnant Harbor Seals floating along on the ice in this part of the Fjord. They come to this spot because they know Orca's do not come to this part of the Fjord to feed so they and their babies are safe. After about an hour or so there with just our tour boat, we noticed the NCL Star had pulled up about a ½ to ¾ a mile away. We stayed at the glacier for about 15 minutes more, and then headed over to board the ship. Once back on board we freshened up in our stateroom and then went to La Trattoria for dinner. This was probably my favorite meal of the cruise because I could order one of my most favorite dishes, Spaghetti Carbonara. OH HOW I LOVE that dish and it was delicious. For this restaurant, they block off part of the buffet area with huge big thick curtains. I have heard people say that they felt like they were still in the buffet but I never felt that way at all.. In fact it wasn't until we were leaving dinner that night that my DP reminded me we were in the buffet area. They had nice table clothes on the tables. Had the tables arranged differently than in the buffet area. It just looked really nice. Surprise, surprise, after dinner we went to the Star Club Casino for some gambling time. After a few hours, we went back to the stateroom to rest up for Skagway. Day Five: Port of call was Skagway. Here we had booked the Ultimate Yukon and White Pass Railway tour ($179.00 PP). This is where you board a motor coach (bus) and drive up past the Canadian boarder to the Yukon Territory. We stopped at a neat place, Caribou Crossing, and they provided a barbeque chicken lunch. We were able to play with two puppies and watch the most adorable little tiny baby mountain goats play. They also offered dog sledding rides for an additional cost. Then we were taken to the town of Caribou Crossing. A cute little tiny town. All along the way from Skagway we stopped at several places to take photo's including the world's smallest desert and Emerald Lake. After Caribou Crossing we were taken to a train depot where we waited for the next White Pass Railway train to pick us up. Along the way up to Yukon Territory and on the way to the train depot we did see several bear. The train takes you back down to Skagway along a very scenic path. Once back in Skagway they have "motor coaches" waiting for you to take you back to the ship. On our tour we were 15 to 20 minutes late getting back to the ship. Again we weren't worried about that because we had purchased the tour through NCL. Honestly, I do not recommend this tour. The "motor coach" they used for us had the smallest seats. Like I have said, I'm a big guy. I certainly did not enjoy having to crawl over people while going down the isle to my seat and I am very sure they did not enjoy that either. If you just HAVE to go to the Yukon Territory I recommend renting a car in Skagway and driving it yourself. That way you can stop where you want for as long as you want. To rent a car in Skagway is about $100.00 plus any gas that you use. The rental cars are not new. Some are four or five years old. The rental car companies such as Avis and Hertz do not accept coupons or specials in Skagway. If you don't want to rent your own car, what I recommend you do is take the White Pass Railway round trip. It is a 20 mile trip each way. Next time we go to Skagway, this is probably what we will do, as that would have left us time to explore in the town of Skagway. Dinner tonight was in Teppanyaki Room, another favorite of mine. It was delicious and entertaining ($25.00 PP). After dinner we went to the Star Club Casino for some gambling action. I may be mistaken, but I believe this was their Monte Carlo night. It may have even been the night before. Whichever night that was we had a lot of fun in the casino. They have music playing as well as entertainment from members of the crew putting on shows native to their home countries. The casino also gives out "door prizes". I won $20.00 in free slot play. Even if you are not a gambler, go to the casino for Monte Carlo night. I think you will have fun. Day six: Port of call was Prince Rupert. About an hour before we arrived at Prince Rupert they had a special Bingo where the prize was $10,000.00 if you could Bingo within 46 numbers drawn and if past the first 46 numbers drawn, a smaller sized jackpot would be awarded. This was $60.00 for both of us to have the Bingo machines and it was fun. A lady did Bingo, but on the 48th number drawn. She won $900.00+. We arrive at Prince Rupert around 4:00PM. We went on the tour Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Viewing ($199.00 PP) hosted by Adventure Tours. With this tour they take you via boat to a Grizzly preserve. The boat is a very nice boat; however we found the staff to be EXTREMELY rude. There are actually so many examples I could give of their rudeness that it blows my mind. It is amazing to me I could have so many for just a 5 ½ hour tour. The worst to me was when we were actually at the preserve. There was a small Grizzly bear on the shore and the boat had pulled up to watch it. There were people up on the top deck, people down on the bottom deck and then about 20 of us in the main cabin of the boat watching the bear out of the windows. This one woman was so excited to see the bear that she said, "Oh look, it's a cub". You could hear the excitement in her voice. Well the main tour guide was in the cabin of the boat and started yelling at her saying things like "You are not the experts on the bears, we are, don't be giving people incorrect information. That is not a cub, it's a small female". When I say yelling, I don't mean he was screaming yelling at her, but he had his voice VERY raised. For five minutes he admonished her for giving people wrong information and why she was incorrect, etc. There were several times things like that happened not just with him, but with other staff members. We saw just as many bears on the other tours we were on and it took our entire time up while we were in Prince Rupert. In fact, this was another tour that had gone past the time we were supposed to be back on the ship. Especially for people who need to budget their excursion money and need to pick and choose, PLEASE stay away from this excursion. Your money could be spent SO much better on other excursions and they aren't as expensive. Needless to say we really saw nothing of Prince Rupert. Friends we met on the ship said they had a nice time just walking around Prince Rupert. Dinner this night was back to Cagney's and was as delicious as always and service was excellent. Day seven: Last day at sea. Nothing much to report about here other than we spent a lot of time in the Star Club Casino. Yes, as you have gathered we are casino people. That is usually the only extra thing I like to do on a cruise ship. Not really into the shows, etc. I will say we were constantly amazed by how much activities the ship provided for those who wanted something to do. We had breakfast and lunch in Cagney's and the quality was consistent with the previous meals there. Dinner we had in La Trattoria and of course I had my beloved Spaghetti Carbonara and LOVED it again. Service was terrific. After dinner we went back to the cabin and asked our butler to have a cheese tray delivered to the room as we were having guests after dinner to split the bottle of sparkling wine we still had not opened. We told him we were having them around 8PM. He showed up with the tray about 8:15PM, but that was ok because our guest had been held up at the show they were attending. Tom and Alyson we had a great time getting to know you guys and hope to see you again some time. After our guest left we packed up our suitcases, placed them out in the hall, watched a little TV and went to bed. Final day on board we arrived in Seattle around 7 or 7:30AM. We had a LONG day ahead of us because we had a late flight out of Sea-Tac airport. So our plans were to sleep in until about 8AM, get up have breakfast in Cagney's, then return to the stateroom and just wait as long as we could before getting off of the ship. About 10 minutes to 7AM the butler calls and said he must come in our room. We told him we were still in bed and not dressed. He said that he must come into the room now to prepare the dining table for the next guest because he had to leave the ship early for his vacation. He hung up the phone and a minute later the door bell rang. My DP got up and quickly put on his robe and sure enough it was Leo, our butler. He pushed past my DP and had a lady with him to help him. He cleared all of our stuff off the dinning table and placed two cards there (the cards where you request what fruit you want each day and what snacks each evening) and then turned to us and said he was going home today and needed to do that before he left. I do not mean to sound insensitive about him going home. I know they are onboard the ship for like 10 months at a time, etc. But this was the last day of our vacation aboard the NCL Star and we wanted to sleep in as much as we could. Honestly I just felt it was inexcusable. Our room stewards must have agreed because when we saw them in the hallway when we were going to breakfast they stopped us and apologized repeatedly saying they tried to stop him from doing that but they couldn't. I told them that they had been excellent all week and they had nothing to apologize for. It wasn't them that did that to us. When Leo was in our stateroom cleaning off the dinning table I seriously thought about not giving him his tip for the week. I can't believe I had that thought, but I did. I kept thinking how he really had done VERY little for us all week and how it wouldn't be fair to give him the money that really should have been split between the two cabin stewards, Ador and Charlton and our concierge Simone. All three of them had been beyond great and helped us have the most perfect cruise. I just felt it was unfair that Leo, the butler, got money that really should have gone to them. However, I felt bad for him so I told him there was a thank you card to him on the vanity with his name on it and to please get it before he left the room. The tip was inside the thank you card. In summary, it was as close to a perfect cruise that we have ever been on. I really have very little negatives to say about the cruise and really VERY little negative that NCL had their hand in. The beauty you see in Alaska to me makes any negatives seem trivial. I just get amazed when I read a review where someone is complaining about their cruise, especially this cruise that I was on and knew how great the service was. Negatives: Biggest was the tour Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Viewing. OH to be able to go back and NOT do that tour and have saved $400.00 Leo, the butler, not speaking English very well and not understanding English very well made it very difficult for the few times we did need something from him. Also the butler basically barging into our room at 7AM the final day of the cruise, still inexcusable to me. Market Cafe buffet. To me this left a lot to be desired. Not that the food was bad or anything, but the choices did not change much from day to day. I think we ate lunch there twice. I know being a cruise ship it might be hard to have a variation daily for the buffet, but it would be nice if possible. Positives: Staff of NCL was beyond belief in how friendly they were, how they always greeted you with a smile and a hello, enjoy your day, something... They were superb. Specifically I would like to mention Simone, our concierge, Ador and Charlton. Those three went out of their way to make sure this cruise was a memory that will last us a lifetime. We tipped them well, but to me, no tip would really express how grateful we were to them. Casino at Sea's - To my knowledge it is the only program like it for any cruise line. Not only were we guests of Casino at Sea's for this cruise but they converted our points to a $700.00 credit on our onboard account, which paid for about ½ of the cost of our excursions. That, along with the staff of the casino is a HUGE plus. Food, food service, and the dEcor of the dining areas, where always top notch. I have read some reviews where they bash the food served on NCL. I have even read reviews where the food served on the same ship this same cruise was ALL inedible. I don't know how these people could have eaten on the same ship that we were on and every meal be horrible when every meal we ate was terrific, specialty restaurant or not. Itinerary: We loved every port we were in and wish we had been given even more time in the ports so we could have explored the cities more. I honestly could write another ten pages about positives for this cruise. It is a memory we will have for the rest of our lives. What is it the Visa commercial says? Priceless. Thank you NCL for that wonderful memory. I have tried to make this review as fare and even as I can. If it seems like I was being too positive, it is because this truly was that great of a cruise. I have had people ask me if maybe that was because we were in a suite and we get treated differently. We do not walk around the ship with signs hanging from our necks saying "Suite people here". The service we received I saw every one else receiving as well. If you have already booked this cruise, your money has been WELL spent and I know you will love your experience. If you are looking at booking a cruise, you can't go wrong with this one. I don't care what cruise line you go with, I don't care what cruise you take, if you go on the cruise with a positive attitude and don't sweat the small stuff, you will have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was not our first cruise. My husband and I last sailed on HAL in a Deluxe Verandah Suite. We spent a lot of time comparing the two cruises and found that in most cases we liked NCL better. We were not expecting that, we thought Hal ... Read More
This was not our first cruise. My husband and I last sailed on HAL in a Deluxe Verandah Suite. We spent a lot of time comparing the two cruises and found that in most cases we liked NCL better. We were not expecting that, we thought Hal would be hard to beat. We are both 40 and have done quite a bit of travelling. We are from Central Florida and flew to Seattle a day early. We stayed at the Mayflower Park. We were very happy with the accommodations. The location is excellent. I would recommend a drink in the bar to anyone. It has two huge windows and the people watching is great. Locals actually hang out here. We were able to walk to all of the sights we wanted to see and do some shopping. Saturday morning we had breakfast at Lola. The food was delicious. We arrived at the pier at about 1215. There was a long line leading to the building. Everyone had to wait. The line led to a large room where passports and cruise documents were inspected and luggage was taken and x-rayed. At this point the line that had already split in two like at a theme park and then the two split into about six lines. The joke was that they all led to the single x-ray machine for luggage scanning. This was the single worst experience all week. After dropping off the luggage we preceded back outside to the next door and another line. Here is where having a PH Suite started to pay off. We got in a different line and were expedited through security and were then escorted to the VIP Lounge. Check in was quick and painless. We met briefly with Simone our Concierge and were escorted to our suite by Leo, our butler. As we stepped on the ship the announcement of all rooms are now ready was made. Our suite was on Deck 9, portside corner with a wraparound balcony. The wraparound was especially nice in the Tracy Arm. The room was a nice size with a large closet that opened on two sides-one side near the cabin door and the other in the vanity area. There was lots of storage space. It was well designed. We thought that even though it was nice, our suite on HAL was a little nicer. There are some signs of wear and tear on the walls and furniture. We loved having the refrigerator. We never found a price list for the mini bar items and Leo had no idea about the prices. We filled the extra space with diet coke we carried on. A split of sparkling wine was on ice waiting for us. The Seattle Maritime festival was going on and we got to watch the tugboat races off our balcony. It was like a private show for the Star. Other room amenities dribbled at different times. Flowers and strawberries came later. I was pretty sure we should have robes in the room, so we called Leo and they were promptly delivered. We went to sign up for the package for daily spa use and got the tour. We enjoyed the spa and the hydro pools.The large aft facing windows and teak lounge chairs were nice. HAL really does this better, though. HAL has a hydro pool with stronger jets and room with heated loungers can't be beaten. Lunch was a burger by the pool while finding our way around. Dinner was in Versailles. It is a lovely dining room. We had good service. We especially liked the Cooking Light menu items. The SF coconut cheesecake was especially good. That evening we went to the spa and skipped the shows. Day 2-at sea. The seas were a rough 7-12 feet. I woke up several times during the night and finally realized that the closet doors were opening and banging shut with the ship movement. That day I would guess that almost half of the pax stayed in their rooms. Many were very sick. We were very lucky and were feeling good. We had breakfast in the room. It was very nice-better than on HAL where they just drop off the food and leave. Leo set the whole table it was like a private dining room. The food was very good. We wandered the ship that day. We liked the Spinnaker lounge with the forward facing windows.Sometimes they have live music. Too bad they play so much bingo in there. We found the library and checked out some books. Lunch was fish and chips in the Blue Lagoon. It was very tasty. We went to the wine tasting. It was nice, 4 wines $15. This is designed for the beginner. That evening was the VIP reception. The officers were very nice. Captain Norberg is very personable. Dinner was in Le Bistro. We had the romance package. We had a wonderful waitress, Anna Maria. She actually remembered us from the wine tasting. After dinner we went to the show in the main theater. Day 3-Ketchikan No breakfast in room due to miscommunication with Leo. We had a nice breakfast in Versailles. Amazingly, our server, Anna Maria from LeBistro was our waitress again. She did a great job as did all of the others. We took the flightseeing tour to the Misty Fjords. It was breathtaking. Just flying in the small plane is an adventure. We did the lake landing. Not everyone on the plane climbed out, but I wouldn't have missed standing out there for anything. The weather got worse as we returned to town. We were lucky to get a tour. Later tours were cancelled due to weather. We walked around town and shopped. It was a nice day and the weather is part of the experience. Upon arrival to the room we found that one of our chaise lounges had been blown into the corner of the balcony and wedged there. The cushion was missing from the chair. The winds were blowing very strongly directly at the stern. We had to call and tell the butler that the cushion must have blown overboard. Leo was off so the guy filling in came and we did our best to communicate the story. He didn't know if there were any extras on board or if the upholsterer on board would have to make one. Within 36 hours Simone the Concierge heard about it from the staff. A new one was delivered in Prince Rupert. We had dinner in Cagney's. Another filet that you could cut with a butter knife. Excellent service and food. Day 4-Juneau After breakfast in the room we got off the ship to find an eagle sitting at the top of the light post checking us all out. We were scheduled for helicopter tour of the glaciers and dogsledding on the glacier. Our tour was cancelled, so we were placed on the same tour with another company. We were bussed to their headquarters on the other side of town. After getting there we were told that their dogsledding camp was also inaccessible due to weather. We were offered the 4 glacier tour with a landing on a glacier-the price was also adjusted as this is a much less expensive tour. It was the highlight of our trip. It was so beautiful! If I could have done only one tour on the trip this would have been it. As luck would have it, we had a beautiful tour but as we returned the weather was getting worse and I don't know how many others got to go. We returned to town with precious little time to shop. I made it to the one store I wanted to visit. Glacier Smoothie soap is a wonderful gift. I loved the cute shop and got to talk to the owner's Mom and Dad. They were the nicest people I have met in a long time. We even got pictures with them. We had to be quick to make the last bus to the ship. I don't know if it is normal, but the Star got the lousiest dock assignments in every port. I would have also liked more time in Juneau. Tracy Arm-the Star left Juneau on time. The sun actually came out at about the time we arrived at the arm. It was beautiful on the balcony. This is where the wrap around was nice. We ordered dinner in the room. Leo showed us all of the orders he had and made it abundantly clear that he was overworked and we would not get our food at a time close to what we requested. So we ate later than expected. We ordered from Endless Summer and it was good-not great. It was still nice to enjoy the views from the balcony. I enjoyed Tracy Arm more than I expected. It was beautiful. We went to enjoy the spa that evening. It was a great way to end the day. Day 5-Skagway We had breakfast in the room. We switched to cereal and fruit. At this point the big meals are way too much. We booked the White Padd Rail and Yukon with an outside company. They met us at the dock and took us to the train. The ride was beautiful. It was snowing upon our arrival in Fraser. We boarded our small but to continue the tour. The lakes are still partially frozen over, but we enjoyed the tour. I enjoyed playing with the dogsledding puppies at Caribou Crossing. The food was OK-simple and not too heavy. Chicken with a little BBQ sauce, baked potato, coleslaw, coffee, tea, and doughnuts for dessert. The museum is a little bizarre. I am not really fond of taxidermy, but I guess the owner hunts and stuffs all of the animals on display. On the way back over the pass we had lots of snow-enough to make the bus driver a little nervous. We got back to town to find sleet and some snow. We skipped shopping in the town-we would have only had about an hour before we either hiked back to the ship or grabbed a bus to avoid being late. Like before we had the worst dock assignment of all the ships. Later we found out that the people on the later trains had almost no view due to the heavy snowfall. We had been lucky again. We had dinner at Aqua. We sat with four others and had a nice dinner. Day6 Prince Rupert The Star doesn't arrive until 4 pm. Seas were rough again. Few ventured out of the cabins. We met some nice people in the Red Lion and spent the afternoon talking with them. We went ashore briefly in Price Rupert and did a little shopping. It was cool, and very misty and rainy. At one point we counted 20 eagles in the trees near the dock. They were beautiful. Day 7 At Sea The weather was much better. Seas were much calmer. We had a bridge tour with the vip's. It was fun. The captain came to say hello and chatted for a long time. We had our last dinner at LeBistro with Anna Maria-our favorite. Before I could even ask the hostess she knew who I was going to ask for. Apparently Anna Maria has the reputation for being the best server on board. Joy, the assistant Concierge even knew her by name. Return Here is where the suites really get the privilege. We used the BAGS program and met in Ginza at 0830 for VIP disembarkation. We were in the second of two groups to exit with Simone the Concierge. We had boarding passes in hand when we left the ship and actually arrived at the airport via taxi at 9:05 am. The line to get off the ship snaked through the entire 7th floor and we walked past all of it. We were very impressed with Simone our Concierge. She stopped the room or called to check on us daily if we did not contact her. She handled any questions or problems very quickly and professionally. She made our cruise a truly special experience. We also loved our steward, Benilda. She was so warm, caring and friendly. She also kept our room spotless. We found that the staff all over the ship were the best part of the trip. The all work very hard and are dedicated to customer service. I would absolutely sail on NCL again if I liked the itinerary. I didn't mention it, but we saw lots of eagles, various birds, sheep, porpoises,one porcupine and even a whale next to the ship on the last sea day. If you have a suite eat breakfast and lunch at Cagney's as often as possible. The service and food are great. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Booked 9 months in advance and the anticipation building, I flew to Seattle, shuttled to the ship and climbed onboard. I met up with 6 other family members and we were so pumped up about our first Alaska adventure together. When I got to ... Read More
Booked 9 months in advance and the anticipation building, I flew to Seattle, shuttled to the ship and climbed onboard. I met up with 6 other family members and we were so pumped up about our first Alaska adventure together. When I got to my oceanview stateroom, I must admit it was nicer than I had had on Royal Caribbean, because it was larger and had more storage. There were three of us in the stateroom. Our room had a porthole. The cruise book that NCL had sent me didn't show any rooms with portholes, it was represented that my room would have a rather large window. Once I returned home I went on NCL online and looked again at the types of rooms offered on NCL Star, there were no rooms shown or offered with portholes. I guess they just like to surprise you when you are onboard. The family member who booked all of the rooms for us talked to the "front desk" on Friday evening and again on Saturday. They blamed it on the travel agent and the travel agent blamed the cruise line, when all along the cruise line clearly shows there are no portholes offered. Now this may seem trivial, but when you are in Alaskan waters, the views are so spectacular and the marine life that it would be nice to be able to see these sites without climbing up on the ledge to "peek" out of a porthole. Eventually on the 6th day of the cruise, the cruise line gave us a $25 credit to our onboard account. They only gave it to 2 of us, even though there were 3 of us in the room that paid for the room. Creative accounting in their favor. It was quite a shock on our first evening onboard to find out 5 out of the 11 restaurants had cover charges. What? Freestyle cruising, have your choice of where to eat, but pay for the privilege if you want something other than buffet or standard dining room. In most cases the food in the restaurants was good, and in the restaurants with the cover charges, (we ate at 2 of them) the food was outstanding, the service was the same. Generally the wait staff in all the restaurants was exemplary and really did contribute to an excellent dining experience. The rest of my family has cruised with Princess, and it remains their favorite, especially after this cruise on NCL. The onboard entertainment was generally superb, namely the Jean Ann Ryan singers and dancers, but the magician was a joke and I don't mean that in a funny sense. I was embarrassed for him and NCl for trying to pass him off as entertainment. Another very disappointing factor was the spa services. You had to pay $20 a day to use the hot tubs, lap pool or hydrotherapy pool in the spa. Princess cruises don't charge a thing for their use. Needless to say they weren't very busy in there the done day I paid to use it. The hot tubs/jacuzzi's in the pool area, (the temperature outside was below 50 degrees most of the time), were never hot, but warm. We complained and inquired about how to get the temperatures raised several times of several people and were told, "We're working on it".. Not in 7 days was there a difference made. Lastly, stopping at Prince Rupert, must only be because they have to stop in a foreign country. I walked the route to the downtown area, dirty, trash strewn street. Only about a half block of tourist stores by the dock. Beautiful mountains behind the city, but I wouldn't want to stop there again. Victoria would have been much nicer. What I did enjoy was the shore excursions and the trip into Sawyer Glacier. The scenery far exceeded my expectations and I can say I had a wonderful time. I just wouldn't do it again on NCL. I believe that they are getting away with false advertising and as long as no one calls them on it, there is no reason for them to change their marketing decisions. I am specifically talking about showing a window in your stateroom and giving you a porthole and then blaming you or your travel agent for it. Thanks for the opportunity to vent, God knows my family and friends at home have heard it several times. Happy Cruising Alaska fan Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This is in regards to the May 31st -June 7th 2008 cruise. A short drive to the terminal since we live in the Seattle area and we drop off the vehicle to be parked (they also delivered our luggage to the ship so we only had to deal with our ... Read More
This is in regards to the May 31st -June 7th 2008 cruise. A short drive to the terminal since we live in the Seattle area and we drop off the vehicle to be parked (they also delivered our luggage to the ship so we only had to deal with our carry on, very nice!). The 4 of us (2 teens and 2 adults) had a very smooth embarkation. We walked into the building to have them process us at approximately 10:30. By approx. 11:00 am we were sitting down waiting to be boarded. They had refreshments in the waiting area so we had a glass of OJ. Around 11:30 they invited us to begin boarding. We were in group 6 and it only took about 10 minutes until they called our group. Once aboard they had us use the hand sanitizers. You didn't proceed until you did which I think is great! They swiped our cards and were entered the inside of the ship to be greeted and offered champagne or mimosas. Thanks to other reviews we knew just what to do: 1. Go make reservations for whatever restaurants you want to eat at that evening (if you have a balcony or higher room you can make reservations 48 hours in advance). 2. If you haven't booked your shore excursions yet, go do that because some of them sell out fast. 3. If you aren't starving, don't go to the Market Cafe like the recommend you do as you board the ship. At 12:30 they serve lunch in Versailles and it was wonderful. If you like bananas then I highly recommend the chilled banana soup! It sounded weird to me but I tried it anyways and my only regret is I didn't ask for a second bowl of it. Our room was ready by 1:30 and we had our luggage was delivered by 4:30 (it may have been sooner). We ate at Soho our first night and 2 of us had surf and turf and the other 2 had the whole lobster. Our server was very friendly and helped the girls with their lobster. I need to interject this as it bothers me when I read negative reviews. NCL very clearly states that their freestyle is casual. They mean it. If you want to dress up you are more than welcome to but if you would like to wear jeans to dinner you can to (except in Versailles). This is not a cruise for snobs or people that don't like to be around us "common folk". This cruise I very much felt was for normal people who wanted special treatment. The food was very good at all the restaurants we ate at. There is something for everyone. We tried a couple things we didn't care for but that doesn't mean it's not good. The staff at every restaurant were very friendly. Only a couple times did they see our yellow card (for mini suite) so I know it wasn't because we had a more expensive room than others. So if you cannot stand to be around casual regular people, this cruise may not be for you. If you want to relax, get great service and experience some foods you don't normally have (in our case anyways), you can take chances too because if you don't like it, let them know and get something else. give it a go. Back to the review, sorry for the rant. We actually didn't do a lot of things on the ship as we spent a lot of time on the balcony in our room. The view is so beautiful and the balcony is so peaceful it's hard to want to do anything else. You can make a pot of coffee and sit on the balcony watching the waves or looking at mountains. But there are tons of things to do on the ship. Since I am becoming long winded in this review I'm going to change formats mid review. Restaurants we ate at: 1. Versailles, we ate there several times and found it very very good. 2. Soho, had the steak and lobster enjoyed the food and service. 3. Aqua, had our last dinner there and enjoyed it. It's a little more intimate than Versailles but pretty much the same menu. 4. Teppanyaki, very entertaining and delicious food! 5. Trattoria, be very hungry or don't get the 6 course meal. Lots of great food. I personally didn't care for the lobster ravioli but I really liked the chicken parmigiana. 6. Endless Summer, good food but we eat at an amazing Mexican restaurant at home so it's tough to compare. Great service. 7. Market Cafe, buffet style. Something for just about anyone I think. We really enjoyed the sandwiches, hotdogs and turkey burgers at lunch. 8. Blue lagoon, we only ate there once and I wish we went back at least once more. I liked the fish and chips and the chicken strips weren't too bad. 9. Room service, brownies are great! Everything else we tried was ok to "I don't think we will get that again". But it's sent right to your room and it's inclusive so if you don't want to go out of your room it's hard to beat. Chocolate buffet was Thursday evening at 11 pm and wow that was a lot of chocolate. We took much but it's hard not to and then went back to our room to be pigs...lol. Our neighbors had done the same and we had a great time laughing at how amazing this stuff was i.e. a cupcake with a little bit of cake and some mouse or something and the cup wasn't paper...it was chocolate..yum! Ports of call: Ketchikan: We just walked around and shopped at this port. Very nice town. We walked all over the place, went back to the ship for lunch and went back out over by, I think it's called Dolly's, an old brothel by a bunch of other shops. Very neat area. Found a nice stained glass souvenir. Juneau: We went to the Mendenhall glacier and wow! Saved a bunch of money by paying $7 per person each way for a bus to take us right out to the glacier. There are a bunch of booths really close to the tram that offer this deal. Buses came by every 20 minutes so you could go back into town pretty much whenever you wanted. This was our first time seeing a glacier in person and it was impressive. There is a trail that will take you right up to this huge waterfall. We had taken the long east glacier trail and didn't have time to take that trail too. Got back into town to do a little shopping before we left for the Dahl glacier. We were supposed to cruise the Sawyer glacier but there was too much ice floating so we took the alternate to the Dahl glacier. We also saw the Sum Dum glacier on the way. We also saw a momma brown bear and her 2 cubs. The glacier was amazing. We just wish we could have seen a piece of it fall into the water as that would have been incredible. Saw lots of icebergs and a beautiful sunset. Skagway: This was our highlight port. The 3 girls went up to the Yukon territory for horseback riding and a canoe trip on Spirit lake. They saw cinnamon, black and grizzly bears on their journey. I went on the White Pass and Laughton glacier hike. It was a 15 mile train ride and then we are dropped off to hike in to the Laughton glacier. Total we had about a 7 mile hike and it was sooooo cool! Beautiful woods along the Skagway river up to a boulder field and then onto the glacier. We ate lunch on a glacier...it was absolutely amazing. The guides from Packer Expeditions were extremely nice and very very helpful. If you had a question about something you could just point to it and ask them what it was. Don't be intimidated by the distance of the hike. It's a really nice trail up to the boulder field. We saw mountain goats on our hike. It's an experience I really soaked in and I would love to do it again. We booked these excursions on the ship. I'm glad we did because the train that was bringing us back from our hike was running late. Since we booked through NCL they wouldn't leave us. Prince Rupert: We didn't read very many good things about this port so we didn't expect much. We actually really enjoyed this port. It's true there aren't a lot of shops there but it was a cute town. Lots of eagles! We found the shops by the waterfront more fun to go through than the shops by the mall. We got lots of pictures of eagles at this port. We missed the museum and kinda wished we had gone to it. It's really close to the ship too. I also wanted to touch briefly on something we really enjoyed about the ports in Alaska. We weren't barraged with people in the streets trying to sell you something. When we went to Mexico it seemed like everywhere you went someone was trying to sell you something that was "almost free". That got old. If you go into the jewelry stores in Alaska they were kind of aggressive but still not too bad. But if you just walked around town or into other shops you were left alone. Someone may ask if you have any questions but they didn't constantly try to get you to buy things. Much more relaxing :^) We went to a couple of shows and they were entertaining. The acrobats were great and the comedian was funny. If you get a room with a balcony hopefully you will get great neighbors like we had. We swapped some pics and had great conversation. A couple things we read on reviews that was of help: 1. Lots of storage for bags under the bed. We put 3 large and 2 medium suitcases under the bed after unpacking. 2. A lightswitch at the back of closet. It's in about the middle top of it. You need to feel around for it but once you find it, it comes in handy to see in the closet. 3. The t.p. wasn't the softest in the world so you may want to bring your own. 4. We prefer Coffeemate flavored creamer in our coffee so we brought our own since they just have the usual cream and sugar. We opted for the express disembarkation. Since we were able to drive to the port we packed way too much stuff so we definitely had our hands full. But wow, talk about express! The first group was supposed to leave the ship at 8 am. We got up early and had some breakfast then grabbed our bags. We were walking off the ship at 8:05 and we were not the first in line. We stood in line for literally a couple minutes and it was moving briskly. We were in the parking garage across the street picking up the van by 8:20 and on the road by 8:30! Very impressive to disembark and go through customs that quickly. I'm sure I missed some things on this review but I hope I have covered enough to help you make a more educated decision. If you are regular people who want special treatment but also don't expect them to bow down to you and kiss your feet, enjoy a variety of foods and don't have to eat the same place or time. If you aren't offended if someone is wearing jeans and a shirt at dinner then I think you will enjoy freestyle. This was our second cruise, first on NCL and also first with a balcony. At the end of our first cruise we didn't know if we would do another one. It wasn't a bad time but we didn't fall in love with it. I'm glad we tried it again and with a much more casual atmosphere. I would like to do another Alaska cruise and I would like to do it with NCL again. Also, if you are curious, the NCL Star has implemented Freestyle 2.0 Please visit NCL's website to find out what changes took place. It was a definite improvement. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
I cruised with my husband and this was our first cruise ever. Our cruise was from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert and back to Seattle. We flew into Seattle on Alaska Airlines, which is a great airline, terrific ... Read More
I cruised with my husband and this was our first cruise ever. Our cruise was from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert and back to Seattle. We flew into Seattle on Alaska Airlines, which is a great airline, terrific service. We took a taxi from the airport directly to Pier 66. The taxi was about $30 for the two of us with two bags and one larger carry-on size bag. We arrived at the pier around 10:00. I booked an early flight, because I wanted to have enough buffer room in case something went wrong with the flight. There was a small line at the pier, about 10-15 people. We stood and waited a lot, because the NCL people weren't set up yet. They were still setting up tables and trying to make sure everyone had luggage tags before we could check our bags. I had printed off the pre-cruise documents off the internet and tagged our luggage with the tags that came in the mail so we were all set. After checking our bags, we went through security, which was a non-event and then we were able to get our stateroom keys. Then it was time for more sitting around until they allowed us on the ship. We were allowed on at 11:30. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we walked around and explored the ship. They did have champagne and mimosas available on entering the boat, as well orange juice for the non-drinkers. After reading the tips here, I knew we should have lunch at Versailles instead of the buffet. Lunch was pretty good, not spectacular. Our rooms were ready after lunch. We bought a D category cabin. The room was nice and small for what we needed it to be. Two single beds, which after two nights, I realized could be pushed together to form a full sized bed. There was also a trundle bed underneath one bed and a murphy bed bolted to one wall. The bathroom is really tiny though. I'm not sure how a bigger person would be able to use the toilet. There's barely room to turn around. The only issue we had with the room was after 2 days, the toilet stopped filling with water, so it wouldn't flush. It was fixed after a day and a half. Not a big deal to us, we just had to fill the toilet with water whenever we had flush, until it was fixed. We had two stewards: Andre and Aldrick. I hardly saw them and we didn't want to bother for much of anything, but they did keep the room neat and we got two towel animals over the course of the trip. Entertainment: My husband and I prefer to lounge around rather than party it up. But there was always a party going on for the folks who did like to party. I went to a lecture on photography, which was ok. The woman giving the lecture wasn't a professional, just a woman who like to take pictures. I'm not sure why NCL would get a pro, especially for a cruise as scenic as Alaska. The China Stars Acrobats were very good and their half hour show was amazing. The Cirque Pacific show was interesting, mostly modern dance. My husband spent a lot of time in the gym, it was very nice and they did have classes available for a fee. Food: The buffet was good, as far as buffets go. Mostly hit or miss, but with so much to choose from there were more hits than misses. The sushi bar was excellent. We had it on the second night. We didn't need reservations and there was no wait. It was worth the $15/pp cover charge. Aqua for dinner the next night. It was ok. I found the Aqua dining room very stuffy and a little too cramped. We had a maybe 5-10 minute wait. I think smaller parties were seated faster than larger ones. We dined at Le Bistro two nights later. We didn't have a reservation, but we only had to wait half an hour. It was the best meal we had on the cruise. The tenderloin was so tender I hardly had use for my knife. NCL could definitely get away with charging more than the $15/pp for this restaurant. The Chocolate Midnight Buffet at Versailles was alright. I think we got to front of the line right before things were restocked so our pickings were slim. And the line was ridiculous. It extended all the though the Grand Atrium. It should last longer than one hour. We were completely unable to get reservations for Endless Summer, the Mexican restaurant. I tried calling early in the morning about a half hour after the desk opened and it was totally booked. It must have been good. Ginza, the Asian restaurant, was very very good. Although the sushi bar is located inside Ginza, you can only order either the Asian food or the sushi, not both. No reservation needed and no wait there either. I will say though, that my husband and I prefer to eat late so that may have factored into the short wait times for us. Ketchikan: I hadn't planned on any excursions, so we walked around town and took tons of pictures and did some shopping. Not a very exciting day. It is beautiful though. We lucked out and had wonderful weather at all our Alaskan ports. Sunny and warm. Juneau: I pre-bought tickets for the Mt Roberts Tram. Most of the trails at the top of the mountain were closed off due to heavy snow that was still on the ground. Most people just ignored the sign and climbed up the roped off trail anyways. The view was spectacular and well worth it. They did bring out an eagle who had been injured so badly that she was unable to be released back into the wild. She was kept in a cage, but we were able to get some pictures. We were booked for the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer excursion which to my knowledge is only available through NCL. The Tracy Arm was still too iced in, so we detoured to Endicott Arm instead. It was the best excursion I could have ever imagined. We saw Orcas and Humpbacks and sea lions and eagles. I know they only guarantee you the glacier but wow, was it amazing to see all that wildlife. The Dawes Glacier was awe-inspiring. It calved a lot and I'm having a hard time finding words to describe how amazing it is. This is a do not miss excursion. Skagway: I booked the White Pass and Yukon Railroad excursion through Chilckoot Charters, an independent company not affiliated with NCL. The axle broke about 45 minutes into the trip and pretty much cancelled our planned 7 hour excursion. Chilkoot did promise everyone on our car, about 25 people, a full refund. There's a tour company (M&M tours) set up right across from the train depot and we booked a last minute tour with them. Most of the tours were full by the time we made it over there; so many people off the train wanted to book something else. We booked a 2.75 hour, the Yukon Suspension Bridge tour which was supposed to leave at 1:00. We didn't didn't get picked up till 1:30. I was worried because with the length of the tour, we'd be cutting it a little close to the all aboard time of 4:30. The bridge was interesting. It's a tiny metal bridge that extends over a river. I did get some beautiful shots I don't think we needed the 45 minutes we spent there. Thirty minutes would have been ample time. We did see a mama black bear and her two cubs when we were driving down. We had to speed and we didn't get to stop very much along the way to and from the bridge. The tour probably would have been nicer if we hadn't been running 30 minutes late and if we had spent 30 minutes instead of 45 at the bridge, but then we probably wouldn't have seen the bears. I guess that's our trade-off. Prince Rupert: This was our only day of yucky weather. It was cold, drizzly and overcast. I didn't plan any excursions, so we just wandered around town. There are a lot of bald eagles in the area, so we got lots of shots of them. We only spent two hours in port and then we were back on the ship. We did the express check-out, which is a huge joke. We joined the line at 7:45 and we didn't leave the ship until 9:00. Next time we'll do the luggage tag/color calling thing. I did book us to stay in Seattle one day post-cruise. No excursions or tours planned. We'd just explore the city on our own. We left our bags with the concierge desk at Pier 66, $3/bag with a 3:30 pick-up. We went to Pike Place Market, which was having the Pike Place Market festival. It was cool, lots of locals. Then we went to the aquarium. It was a decent one. I love aquariums, so we spent most of the afternoon there. We had lunch on the water at Ivar's Fish bar, fried shrimp and clams with fries. We then picked up our bags and hiked over to our hotel, Mediterranean Inn. And it was a hike. Not as close as the free map made it look and mostly uphill. The hotel was nice. It had roof access and we could see the Space Needle. The next day we went to the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The Experience Music Project was lost on me, since I'm not a big music fan. But my husband enjoyed it. The Science Fiction Museum was interesting and kind of small. We spent about an hour and fifteen minutes to do both. Then it was time to end our wonderful vacation/honeymoon/anniversary trip. The hotel will call a towncar to take you to the airport for $38 cash/$41 credit card. It was nice way to end the trip. We flew out on Alaska Airlines and they are just great. I can't wait to fly with them again. I will definitely cruise NCL again. It was a great first experience and hopefully it won't be our last. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Background: I give fair warning that this review is a novel! I took this cruise with my husband, we are in our 20's/30's. This was my 8th, and my husband's 6th cruise. It was our first trip to Alaska and first time on ... Read More
Background: I give fair warning that this review is a novel! I took this cruise with my husband, we are in our 20's/30's. This was my 8th, and my husband's 6th cruise. It was our first trip to Alaska and first time on Norwegian. We have previously sailed Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Celebrity. Seattle/Embarkation: We flew into Seattle 2 nights early since we had never been before and stayed at the SpringHill Suites Downtown on Yale Ave. A cab from the airport was about $30-35. The hotel seemed very new and the room was on the modern side and quite spacious. The hotel had a free shuttle to the Space Needle/Seattle Center, Westlake Center/Pike Market, and the Convention Center/downtown. We spent the day before the cruise exploring Seattle and going to the Space Needle, Sci-Fi Museum, Pike Place Market, and doing the Underground tour, which was recommended by someone on the CC message boards. It was a lot of fun and the tour guides were great. For $14/pp you can't beat it! The day of the cruise we took a shuttle from the hotel ($4.50/pp I believe) to pier 66 where the cruise left from and arrived at the pier around 11:30. They hadn't started boarding people yet so they were handing out boarding #'s to each passenger as they entered. We were in boarding group #27. We checked in (painless, no long lines, well-organized) and took a seat (there were plenty, along with refreshments for those who wanted something to drink) to wait for our boarding #. We were on board by 12:30. The boarding process was very quick and organized overall. Ship: Upon boarding we explored the ship (staterooms not ready til 1:30) and thought she was beautiful and well-maintained. The only place I thought looked outdated was in the public restrooms. They were always clean but lacked the dEcor/opulence of some I'd been in on other ships. All of the public rooms were tasteful and fun, we really loved the Red Lion Pub, and unlike sports bars on other ships, they actually showed sports most of the time! You could always find a baseball game or SportsCenter to watch. They even had a big projection screen at one end! We had a mini-suite on Deck 11 and we thought it was the nicest stateroom we've ever had (we've had insides, outsides, balconies, and mini-suites before). The bathroom especially was very well laid out with a sliding door on the side with the toilet and a sliding door to the shower so you could have more than one person getting ready while still having privacy! The room had a curtain that could be pulled across to separate the seating area and bed area if one person wanted to be up reading and the other asleep. The balcony was pretty typical with 2 chairs and table. Overall we were very pleased with the room and our room steward. He introduced himself the first day and always said hi if he saw us coming or going and did a good job keeping the room clean! Dining: Specialty: We tried Endless Summer, Ginza, the Teppanyaki Room, Cagneys, and the SoHo room on this trip. The meals and service were good at all restaurants. Service charges ranged from $15-25/pp. And reservations are pretty much required. You can make reservations one day in advance, either by phone or in the atrium there is a reservations table. Endless Summer has no service charge but you still need reservations. The Teppanyaki room (basically hibachi) and Cagney's were our favorites. The menu at the SoHo room was a little eclectic and I don't like seafood so my only option there was filet, which turned out to be good. The Kahlua Crème Brulee in Cagneys was excellent. Main: We tried Versailles for lunch one day and thought it was fine, nice servers and the food was good. We tried Aqua for dinner one night and were not impressed at all. The "baby shrimp cocktail" is a joke. It is on the "always available" menu, and yes, they are baby shrimp but they come in a thousand island like-sauce, which made them look pretty unappealing. Our waitress was nice but the restaurant itself was crowded, loud, and just not very pretty. If you want to avoid service charges I would eat in Versailles or Endless Summer every night rather than Aqua! Market Cafe: We had lunch here most days, it seemed pretty well organized and we always found a seat without too much trouble. The tables are all for like 8+ people so you end up sitting with people you don't know during the busiest times. When the weather is OK you can sit at the tables out by the pool but it was pretty cold most days! I always started off with a salad, the salad bar was excellent, with more exotic types of lettuce than the standard iceberg. Bread was good with the exception of the hot dog/hamburger rolls. Those were hard as a rock and seemed stale each time I tried them. I got a burger 2 days and a hot dog the first day and ended up just eating them with a knife and fork without a bun. The cookies for dessert (peanut butter; chocolate chip) were excellent, and the ice cream station was fun. Blue Lagoon: Tried this for breakfast one day and the service was not good at all. It took 10 mins for someone to give us menus and then the waitress mixed up our order. We could hear the chefs calling it out and they must have said it to each other 10 times before they got it straight so they could cook it. Despite this we tried it for dinner one night when our excursion in Prince Rupert got us back too late to go to Versailles and it was much better. The service and the food. It always seemed crowded so going during off hours would be the way to go. (Our "dinner" there was at about 9:30/10PM at night!) Entertainment: Here I was a little disappointed. Due to our preferred dining time of around 8PM, and trivia being at 7:00 PM most nights we missed most of the shows because they were at 7PM and 9PM. We made it to "Cirque Pacifique" which we thought was great, but that's the only show we saw in the theater (which was gorgeous by the way!). We walked out of a comedian (can't remember his name) in the Spinnaker lounge one night. I am an avid bingo fan but the new electronic machines have really ruined it if you ask me. You could play the old-fashioned way (which I prefer, much more fun!) and have 6 chances per game for $29. Which I would have done; until they explained how the new electronic machines worked. For $49 you got 24 chances per game on the machine. Basically it does everything for you and displays your best card of the 24 at all times after each call. Or wait...for $69 you could get 60 chances per game! Mathematically (forgive me I'm an accountant!) that gives little old me playing the old-fashioned way 6 cards per game no chance at all! Needless to say, the ship saw no bingo income from me on this trip! This was by far the best casino I've been in on any ship. I usually stick to slots, which they had plenty of and I did pretty well, able to stay about even 4-5 days in. But they also had more table games than you typically see on ship casinos. They had a "Let it Ride" table, which is my husband's favorite card game, and one of the new electronic speed roulette machines, with spots for about 8 people to play at a time. We spent so much time at that machine let me tell you! My husband even taught a bunch of people how to use it! NCL has the best Casino rewards program if you ask me. Free drinks for all players in the casino, and you earn "Sea bucks" for your playing time and on the last day you can exchange each one for a credit on your stateroom bill. (you need a minimum of 25 sea points to do this). We got about $32 off, which isn't a lot but it helped! We loved the art auctions and bought quite a few things at them, the auctioneer, Ansophie (I think that was her name!) from South Africa is very energetic and personable (and quite a good sales-person I might add!) We did both beer-tastings in the Red Lion Pub which were great. For $15/pp you got to try 5 beers (about 5-6oz of each) then got a coupon for a free bottle of your choice that you could use any time that day in the Red Lion. The host was very informative and energetic, there was even beer themed trivia during the event. My husband and I love trivia so we did that each day. There were usually 3 games per day, morning, afternoon, and progressive trivia at night. For progressive trivia your score gets added up each night and at the end the team with the highest score from all the games that week wins! We met some nice people and always had fun. We didn't win the progressive trivia but we won the other games during the day a couple times! I don't know if this is an NCL thing or just due to the nature of the trip (being the time of year and weather in Alaska, it was too cold for pool-side activities etc...) but we had a hard time keeping ourselves occupied during the day/early evening. There just didn't seem to be that much going on. I am happy to sit at the pool reading a book all day, but as I said, you couldn't really do that on this trip. Ports: Ketchikan: You'll probably think we are crazy (like all our friends did!) but we went snorkeling here on the Mountain Point Snorkeling tour through the ship. So much fun! The hardest part was getting in the wetsuit! It actually did keep you warm though! The water was about 45 degrees! And the tour guides were great! They didn't hesitate to answer questions or help you out if they thought you needed it. I highly recommend this tour. Juneau: Another ships tour, this time the Bike & Brewery! (notice a trend with the beer?) The biking part is about 9 miles with frequent (every 2 miles or so) stops to let everyone catch up, cross the road, or check out the scenery. There were 2 decent hills but it was mostly flat and easy riding. And what gorgeous scenery. At the end you have time to walk around the Mendenhall glacier viewing area. Then it's time for the brewery (Alaska Brewing Co) where upon entering you get a tasting glass and then get a little tour/history of the place. Again we had some great tour guides. I recommend the Summer Ale or Alaskan Amber at the brewery! Skagway: We went against the grain again and didn't do the White Pass Railway. Instead we took about a 2 hr bus ride (ships tour) through the White Pass and into Canada's Yukon Territory where we stopped for some horseback riding, lunch, and canoeing. More great tour guides here, we were really impressed. The scenery on this tour was absolutely amazing, you felt so desolate in all the mountains and wilderness! We spotted some black bears from the bus, which was exciting. Prince Rupert: This port didn't seem to have a lot going on so we did a kayak tour with the ship. I was nervous at first (had only done tandem kayaking once before) and this time I had a single but there was nothing to worry about, it was so much fun! The weather was foggy and rainy (standard for Prince Rupert from what I understand) so I was glad to have my rain jacket. The kayak part is about 2-3 hours and fairly strenuous on the arms when going against the current, so I wouldn't recommend this for someone's first kayak experience. As you may have noticed we were very impressed with all the tour guides and the ships tours. The tours are definitely more expensive than most Caribbean tours, but the experiences you have are worth it! Debarkation/Seattle: This is the speediest debarkation I've ever been through. We didn't even need to show anyone our passports! We just walked off the ship around 9:30 (we chose a later debarkation tag since we were staying in Seattle an extra day!) found our bags in the warehouse in about 5 mins and hopped in a cab! We were going to stay at the same hotel as before the cruise but they over-booked so they offered us 2 other hotels and they paid for our cab to them and for our night at the other hotel! What a deal! We stayed at the Silver Cloud near Qwest Field/Safeco Field and WOW! This hotel was amazing. Very new and modern with a gorgeous rooftop pool! We were still close enough to walk about anywhere so we did, but the hotel had a free shuttle too. The Mariners were in town so we caught them play the Padres (and win!) that night and had a blast. What can I say but what a great vacation! We would sail NCL again, but probably on a Caribbean/warm weather cruise where we know we could use the pool! If you made it through this novel of a review I commend you! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Background: We are mid 50's, celebrating 33 years of marriage. We have lived in Florida since 1996 and a year ago moved to the Atlanta area. This was our 13th cruise, but our first on NCL and first to Alaska. Travel/Hotel: We flew ... Read More
Background: We are mid 50's, celebrating 33 years of marriage. We have lived in Florida since 1996 and a year ago moved to the Atlanta area. This was our 13th cruise, but our first on NCL and first to Alaska. Travel/Hotel: We flew into Seattle the day before our cruise and we stayed at the Seattle Sheraton both pre-cruise and post-cruise. Booked with Priceline for $110 and $91 respectively. Very nice hotel, wonderful location. Walk to Pikes Market and many nice restaurants in the area. Ate at "Cutter's" pre cruise- very good seafood/sushi restaurant. They provide free transportation back to your hotel after dinner. Post cruise we ate at "The Brooklyn"- awesome array of oysters, yummy martinis and delicious food! The Pikes Market Brew Pub was also a fun place, with microbrews that were great. Ate Mother's day brunch in the Space Needle-great food and an unbelievable view-wonderful! Embarkation: This was the first cruise out of Seattle Pier 66 this year-and it was bedlam! A line that snaked around the building, no porters available, a man telling us to take our suitcases and find the end of the line. NOT! DH found a stevedore to take our luggage and we found a table with no line to the left of the Big long line. Not the most cordial bunch..but they checked us in and gave a number. Then I overheard them referring to another group as VIP's, and they swept by us. So I went back to the ladies and told them we were suite passengers, and lo and behold, we became VIP's too! We were brought in and loaded our carryon bags through the xray machine. Security asked to see the corkscrew that was in our bag with our wine and champagne. We showed him...looked for the corkage table (oops! no corkage table!) and we were then led into the vip lounge, where we met our Butler, Roy and our Concierge, Simone. They checked us in, gave us our room keys and we were on our way to have lunch in Versailles. (No one told us Cagney's was open) As we boarded the ship, we were offered a glass of champagne-2.0!? Had a few glitches with our lunch order but had the cold banana soup (thanks-SakesDad!)-delish! Then we decided to explore the ship while we waited for our room to be ready-1:30 they promised. Ship Info: The ship is beautiful and very well maintained. Someone was always cleaning painting and polishing! We found some nice young ladies taking dinner reservations up near Endless Summer, so we made reservations for Cagney's the first night (had a buy one/get one coupon) and we made reservations for Ginza for the next night. The cabins were ready at 1:30 as promised Stateroom: So along with this being our first NCL, first Alaska, we had our first suite! (have had a jr. suite on RCI) We had a penthouse suite on deck 8 on the stern! Very nice, wood paneled room, with a sitting area, a table with 4 chairs, bar area with coffee maker, mini fridge, ice bucket etc. Separate vanity table outside the nicely appointed bathroom. Had a tub with sliding glass doors (yah! no shower curtain to stick to my b**t).Plenty of closet space, storage space, two robes and two(?) safes. We left most of the jewels at home, so we didn't use the second safe. And the best part-the balcony on the stern! Two lounge chairs, a small table and a view to die for! Loved it! There was a small bottle of champagne chilling and a plate of choc. covered strawberries. At night we left the sliding doors to the balcony open, and were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the wake and the aroma of bread baking in the decks below- heaven! Dining:The first night was Cagney's. We had reservations for 7pm, but found ourselves there at 6:30. DH asked if they had any openings to see if we could sit early. The maitre d, was quite rude and told us absolutely not, and go wait in the Star bar and they would call us when our table was ready. Once, seated, our waitress, was cold and somewhat inattentive. Hmm? So when DH, gave a room key/seapass and they noticed we were suite guests- everything changes! The waitress was giddy with delight and invited us to please come and have breakfast and lunch with her every day...the maitre d actually came over and apologized to my hubby! Now, I may be wrong, but I don't think you should have to be "vips" to get good treatment. JMHO. Needless to say, they were extremely pleasant everytime we dined there and the maitre d made a point to come and talk to us every time we were there. Food was tasty and well prepared-the french fries are great-try them! $20pp Ginza: Asian fusion food. Wonderful food, wonderful service! I had lobster that was very lightly breaded, delish! The veggies were fresh and cooked perfectly. Well worth the $15 surcharge. Le Bistro: French cuisine. We ate at Le Bistro as part of the Honeymooners/anniversary romance package we purchased pre-cruise. Lovely service, wonderful food. Escargot were good, filet mignon-tender and perfectly cooked. Creme brulee-creamy and sweet! A cake was provided, but we chose to have it sent to the cabin. SoHO: So-so. California/Pacific Rim food was just ok, service was good however. $15 surcharge. Observed another couple order the surf and turf (lobster and steak $30) They didn't seem too pleased with it and actually left most of it on their plate. La Trattoria: Italian. Got off to a rough start..we were basically ignored. When we were about to get up and leave, someone came over and finally waited on us. The service did turn out to be good. The food was very tasty, large portions. We both got the tableside antipasti and it was delicious! $10 Aqua: We ate there when we participated in the Murder Mystery Dinner (some others ate in Versailles). Dinner was good-very good, but the dinning room is loud! The Murder Mystery was fun and we met some lovely new people. No charge for dinner or the Murder Mystery. We ate in the Market Cafe one day for lunch..I had asian noodles and hubby had fish and chips. Pretty good food, pretty horrendous service. We sat on little stools meant for children, but that was all that was available. All of us (adults) sitting on children stools, I guess looked pretty funny, but we all pretended it was just fine. Yikes! Service: Our Concierge, Simone was outstanding! She made the rest of our dinner reservations for the rest of the week. Made sure we were invited to the VIP party with the captain, got us into the chocolate buffet 15 minutes early (suite perks, I guess), and even helped us with our room keys when they ceased working (8 times) during the week. She looked after us in the most wonderful ways...she is worth her weight in gold! A real gem! Roy, our butler...well...he bought us breakfast our first port day, and delivered suites each night to our cabin (although we never saw him do this) We actually saw him twice during the entire week. Our room stewards did a fine job of keeping our cabin clean and tidy and made us towel animals twice. We never did meet them personally, but they did a nice job! Entertainment: The musical production numbers were good, ala cirque du soleil. The magician, Murry, very talented, very funny! Comedians and singer were great..very entertaining. Ricky the cruise director, was fun and enthusiastic. Everyone talks about Sean Burns in the Red Lion Pub-fun guy...what he lacks in singing talent he more than makes up for in fun, enthusiasm and charm...good times. We partook of Martini tasting, Margarita and guacamole tasting, and Sangria and tapas tasting...all great fun. $15pp surcharge. Excursions: Juneau: Whale quest and gold creek salmon bake. (Our original choice of Mendenhall glacier was cancelled) Great fun...saw whales, seals and bald eagles. Missed about an hour of our excursion because our bus driver got lost not once but twice on the way to both the boat and then the salmon bake. He was "very" new. Ketchikan: Misty Fjord and Wilderness Explorer. Beautiful scenery-waterfalls, fjords, mountains etc. Skagway: White Pass Railway. Terrific fun, unique experience. Once again beautiful scenery, bear sighting, eagles. We explored the town, shopped, ate lunch in the Red Onion Saloon(very cute), watched a film on the gold rush at the visitors center. Wished we could spend more time here and forget about Prince Rupert. After leaving Skagway, we sailed through the Tracy Arm! Spectacular! One of the most beautiful places we have ever seen! We stood on our balcony with some new friends, drank champagne and low and behold, Roy showed up with some canapes! So we just took in the magnificent beauty of Alaska from our balcony. Now THAT is what Alaska is all about! Disembarkation: We booked a Seattle City tour by bus and then would be dropped off at the airport. So we were allowed off the ship at 8:30. Chaos!!! We were trying to find our tour among the sea of busses at the port. Literally there were 10+ busses. We were being pushed out the door with all our luggage. Well guess who showed up? Simone! On her phone..finding out where we were to go...helping with our luggage..to just the right bus! Hugs for us both and good wishes for a safe trip and we were on our way..what an ANGEL!! Spectacular woman! And then we sat....and sat...and sat....the PA system on the bus was not working. So they tell us our luggage will go on to the airport and we will move to another bus and take our tour! Well we almost had mutiny on that bus! Finally we and our luggage were moved to a new bus and we were on our way to tour the city..minus about an hour of our tour. We were promised a 50% refund...I'm not holding my breath on that one! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We arrived in Seattle on Friday, 20 May 2008. Our hotel, the Hilton Bellevue, was a little out of the way, but was worth it! Great accommodations and service. We took a bus to downtown Seattle to see the Space Needle on Friday evening. ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle on Friday, 20 May 2008. Our hotel, the Hilton Bellevue, was a little out of the way, but was worth it! Great accommodations and service. We took a bus to downtown Seattle to see the Space Needle on Friday evening. Locals, to include bus drivers and people walking their dogs, were very courteous and willing to give us information on how to get to the Needle and back to our hotel. What a great evening we had. The morning of embarkation started with a little drizzle and cold weather. Being from the desert, I was prepared for cold weather as was the rest of my group coming in from the New Orleans area. We were a little early and were able to check our luggage at the Concierge at Pier 55 for $3.00 per bag and took off for a little sight seeing before boarding the ship. We walked to Pike Place Market and saw the Parade of Pigs and then walked around the market. What a bustling place! It started raining an little harder so we headed back to the ship to check in. Check in: My Mother, Great-Aunt and I were in a Penthouse so we were escorted to the VIP lounge, while the other three in our party were sent to the Lattitudes line to check in. Our check in went quickly and after presenting our credit cards, passports, etc., we went to the Concierge, Simone, and received our silver key cards. After getting our card we walked over to get some refreshments as they announced that boarding could begin. Our butler, Crisol, escorted us to our room where we sat down and he explained how to contact him, Simone, and housekeeping. We also met our room steward, Evi. Everyone was wonderful. Check in for the other is our party went quickly and they walked by our room as the butler was talking to us, so joined us in our room. Cabin: Our penthouse was absolutely wonderful. There were four TVs, five telephones, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and plenty of space for six people to walk around comfortably. This would also be a great room for a family with three children. The kids room had a couch that opened into a double bed and a Pullman, a TV, as well as a full bathroom. The only thing I could see that could be a problem would be storing luggage in the small room. The "Master" bedroom had a queen sized bed, two nightstands, and a TV. There were heavy drapes in front of the bedroom area if you wanted total darkness, but I liked having the sunlight come in in the mornings so we left them open a majority of the time. There was a clock and telephone next to the bed, along with two storage areas in the bedroom. A large closet with mirrored doors was in the dressing area. The bathroom had a separate water closet and shower with glass doors. The jacuzzi tub was wonderful with a great window view off the ship and on to the balcony. There was also a floor to ceiling window in the shower which also had extra shower heads which we called "the car wash" shower. (Thank goodness there are blinds if you want more privacy.) There were two sinks and a vanity which allowed plenty of space to put necessary items. There was also a scale in the room that came in handy for weighing our luggage before we left the ship. None of us weighed ourselves while on the cruise....we really didn't want to know!!! Our room Steward, Evi, was always available and kept the room nice during the entire cruise. Food: We found the food on the ship to be nothing less than wonderful, except for the buffet, which wasn't that bad, just buffet food. It was also very difficult to find seating during peak times. Some passengers do not want to share "their" table so it could take a while to find a place to sit. We were able to have breakfast and lunch at Cagney's since were were in a suite. This was, by far, the best suite perk!! We ate at Cagney's instead of the buffet or main dining room when we arrived on the ship and couldn't wait for breakfast to see what was on the menu. We ate breakfast and lunch at Cagney's most days. We also ate at Versailles, Aqua, Endless Summer (make your reservations early), Le Bistro, and Teppanyaki. Don't miss the Teppanyaki or Le Bistro. The filet mignon at the Teppanyaki melted in your mouth and the lobster in Le Bistro was the best! It was well worth the extra surcharge to eat in those restaurants. We also participated in the murder mystery dinner in the Versailles. We had a wonderful meal along with great entertainment! Everyone enjoyed themselves. We went to Aqua on lobster night and those of us who ate the lobster found it a little overcooked but had a good flavor. We heard this from other passengers, as well. We also were able to have a fruit bowl in the room and snacks brought into the room each night. The fruit bowl never went empty and the snacks were great. We had brownies, veggie trays, chocolate covered strawberries, and cookies the last night. This was another great suite perk. Entertainment: We saw two shows and the magician. We found ourselves going to the Carousel Bar to listen to the singer there who sang a lot of Ray Charles, and other soulful sounds. He had a great voice! I didn't care for the singers in the shows but the shows themselves were high energy and we would find ourselves moving to the beats of the music. We participated in the Adult Quest which was a fun, adult game held in Spinnakers. We met some very nice people during the game. We also went to the Monte Carlo night and White Hot Party, both of which were great fun. Don't miss the White Hot Party if you like to dance with, or without, a partner!! Spa and Salon: We got the spa pass and found ourselves in the spa every day. We loved the indoor pool, jacuzzi and bubbling spa. No one under 18 is allowed in the spa. We also had a pedicure and a facial on the last sea day. The service was good and they didn't pester you to purchase their products. I would recommend this for anyone who is wanting to de-stress on their cruise. Shore Excursions: We booked the Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan and a Whale Watching by Zodiac in Prince Rupert. Both excursions were enjoyed by all of us and were worth the money. Our other excursions were done through and outside agent and were great, as well. We walked off the ship in Ketchikan and found a Seaplane tour operator who was willing to give a group of six a great deal on a flight. It was also worth the price. We did find Skagway to be crowded due to five cruise ships being in port that day, so shopping was not fun. The crowds weren't too bad in other ports. Prince Rupert only had one ship in but there wasn't much to do other than walk around the little town and look at the eagles, if you didn't schedule an excursion. Disembarkation: We took advantage of the BAGS program. We were able to get our boarding passes and our luggage checked to our destination by Friday night. Once we put our luggage in the hall Friday night, we didn't see it until we got home. This allowed us to just walk off the ship which we did at last call for all passengers to debark. We didn't have to hunt for our luggage in the cruise terminal. Debarking took about 10 minutes. We virtually walked off the ship, handed our customs forms to a guard and walked out of the terminal. It was so easy. We recommend this to everyone going to Seattle. Summary: We had a wonderful time on the Star. She is a beautiful ship with a wonderful crew. I found the crew went above and beyond and made the effort to get to know the passengers who were sailing with them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Review - Norwegian Star April 27 - May 3, 2008 (Sawyer Glacier) April 27, 2008 - Embarkation Left the house at 10am, for a brief 1 hour drive to Vancouver. Left the car in North Vancouver and took the SeaBus from North Vancouver to ... Read More
Review - Norwegian Star April 27 - May 3, 2008 (Sawyer Glacier) April 27, 2008 - Embarkation Left the house at 10am, for a brief 1 hour drive to Vancouver. Left the car in North Vancouver and took the SeaBus from North Vancouver to Canada Place. Was at Canada Place about 11:45am. The lines were atrocious. Seems that the port agency decided that the Star was going to be a "training" day for most of the employees and it showed (I know this first hand because one of my co-workers was there and hadn't had any training prior). There were few porters and it took about an 45 mins just to check your baggage. Then, another hour for security. When we got to customs, there computers were down. A border agent blurted out "This place sucks" and we all chuckled. The line started to move, and we were then put into holding pens within the NCL area - time now is 2pm. Unacceptable by my terms. There was no Latitudes check in, and it wasn't clear about the VIP check in either. We were finally called to get into the check in line and were at the counter at 2:45pm. We were then escorted onto the ship (Freestyle 2.0?), and up to our Deluxe Balcony (what were previously mini-suites). Because we had been in line for more that 2.5 hours, we were hungry, so we headed up to the Market Cafe only to be told it was closed because of the life-boat drill. There were more than 700+ people still waiting to be checked in. Nevertheless, we went back to the room to enjoy our bar setup - not there! I think it had something to do with our rooms being changed a couple of days before sailing - however our kids (20-somethings) had theirs, so I knew the ship mixed this one up. The weather was crappy in Vancouver, so there was no sail-away party on the deck. The life boat drill was 20 minutes late, and we didn't leave Vancouver until 4:40pm - 40 minutes late! We decided to eat in the Versailles restaurant for dinner. It was (as usual) a treat. Back to our room for a night-cap - still no bar setup. So, I went down to the reception desk. I explained my plight, and they looked at me like a deer-in-a-headlamp. They didn't believe me, even though I have the amenities invoice and the kids got theirs. Anyway, not to bag on this forever, however it took me contacting the onboard ship coordinator and my PCC at NCL to get this straightened out, and voila - after breakfast on the 1st morning (Monday), the bottle was there. We wandered around the ship and didn't really notice much of Freestyle 2.0 on the Star yet, except that there's a Latitudes room now on deck 12 (next to the games room). Pool towels are now under lock and key. You get 2 towels per room, and if you loose them, you are charged $75. More evidence that a few rotten tomatoes ruin for everyone else. Drinks seemed to have gone up since our cruise on the Sun in September 2007. Decided to make some reservations for the specialty restaurants. They have a table set up in Endless Summer now so you can cruise through all the menus and make your choice. One caveat - you can only book one night in advance now. This was a change for us since September on the Sun. April 28, 2008 - At Sea As we were cruising the true "Inside Passage" out of Vancouver, the night was easy. A good sleep, however the room temperature was a bit warm, we couldn't get the temp below 22c in the room, even with both A/C units pegged at maximum. A call to the front desk a couple of times equated to nothing. So we endured. I noticed this morning, that the fruit bowl that we got in the room, was opened and one of the apples had teeth marks in them - yech! We asked for another and got it. Went for breakfast in Versailles. While waiting in line, there was an Asian fellow in front of us. He got to the front of the line and the lady asked "how many" and he said "14". My wife and I looked at each other and went "huh?" The hostess asked where the others were and he said "in the bathroom." The hostess asked him to step aside. Breakfast was good. At 1pm, we had the Latitudes party in Spinnaker's lounge. There weren't many Latitude members on the cruise. The prizes they give away were a little better than the Hawaii cruise on the Sun, however they were still a wee bit lame. Ricky, the cruise director (who is completely wired), was a dream on the ship - full of energy and always wanting to please. Today was also the day for the CC meet and greet - we opted out of this. Went to Le Bistro for dinner and as usual the food was great. April 29, 2008 - Ketchikan Arrived at 07:00 and it was foggy. However, after about 2 hours, it burned off and revealed a very beautiful day. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We left the ship at about 10am and encountered no issues. Top marks here. We didn't do much here - some shopping, wandered around Creek Street, and we were back on the ship by noon. Went for lunch at the Market Cafe and boy, what a chore that was. It seems that most of the ship also had the same plan. Decided to get off the ship again and just wander around the town - very nicely setup. Got back on the ship around 2pm and shortly thereafter we were on our way to Juneau. The sail up the Alaskan Inside Passage was a bit snowier than through the Northern BC portion. My only regret is that the ship did not follow the "true" inside passage. I grew up on the Coast of BC and the true Inside Passage is the same one used by the Alaska State Ferry and BC Ferry to and from Prince Rupert/Ketchikan/Juneau. Perhaps it has something to do with the size of the Star - dunno. Tonight we went to Teppanyaki for dinner - as usual the entertainment was good. The scallops were great, however the lobster was frozen and when tasted, it showed. Too bad. I generally enjoy this restaurant, however this time because of the frozen lobster I have to only give it a 4/5 rating. I didn't realize until the next day why they were using frozen. Saw Murray the magician tonight - funny and entertaining. Don't sit to the side up top in the balcony as it will ruin how his tricks are done (you can see how he does some from a certain angle). April 30, 2008 - Juneau Arrived in Juneau at 07:00. The weather was cool and cloudy. We booked the "Mendenhall Glacier Hike - Guide's Choice" for $89pp. I was a little disappointed in the hike, as I thought (according to the description) that we would have got a little closer to the glacier than we did. But I do understand that we were early in the season and the ground was a bit dicey to be walking on - so we got to the North side of the glacier and were about 900 feet up. The scenery to me wasn't that spectacular - keep in mind I live in Vancouver and grew up on the BC Coast so most of what was on the hike I have in my own backyard. We got back to the dock about noon. We had to be back on the ship by 1pm, so we did some frantic shopping and then headed back to the gangway. As the line was backing up, the security officer decided to open the gates and allow everyone on without a security check or baggage check (read: no metal detector or x-ray screen). So, that was kind of interesting. We promptly left Juneau at 2pm, and started towards Tracy Arm. The captain came on to note that we would attempt to make it up the arm as far as possible depending on the conditions and should be at the glacier about 6pm - drat we had dinner reservations at Cagney's for 6pm. So, we hung out on our balcony and watched the world (er, Arm) go by. It was spectacular. Eagles, whales (one), dolphins, a couple of seals, ice bergs. The arm is so narrow, it's amazing that they bring the ship up there. At about 6:30pm we made it as far as we could get - sort of in the middle of the North and South glaciers as the remainder of the arm was iced in. The view was spectacular. Cagney's was good - not great this time around. I can't put a finger on it, but something was missing. The cut of the T-Bone seemed a little thin for what I remember. There was no fresh lobster or crab either. It appears that the whole ship ran out on Tuesday. After dinner we went to the show. Some 70's thing put on by the Jean Ann Ryan company. Basically 45 minutes I will never get back. When I think of the 70s, I think of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Doobies, etc - what their idea of the 70s was everything that was wrong with 70s music - DISCO. Need I say more? May 1, 2008 Cruising from Juneau to Prince Rupert one would think NCL would chose the inside passage to get us there. But they chose open waters and let me tell you, it was rough. Even being on deck 11 midship, we could feel the odd slam when the ship would crash into a swell. Not very enjoyable. We got into Prince Rupert at 2pm. This little town is exactly what I remember from back in the early 70s - not much has changed. They are trying to make it a bit more appealing to the cruise industry; however they have some work to do. The Cow Bay area is nice and has been cleaned up quite a bit from the last time I was there (5 years ago on business). We elected to go to Smiles Restaurant. It's probably the best seafood restaurant around - 3 pieces of Pacific Halibut for $14.95 - you can't touch that in Vancouver. We were back on the ship by 6:30pm and decided to hang out in Spinnakers for the sail away from Prince Rupert. May 2, 2008 The sail from Prince Rupert down the West Coast of Vancouver Island, was well interesting. 20 foot swells, and Storm force (55mph+) winds made for a lot of green people. At night, I thought the ship was going to come apart we were crashing through waves so hard. It was a shame that we couldn't really do much this day. We typically opt out of Bingo because it's so expensive. So, we went to the Latitudes room to read. When we got there, there was and "incident" with some Asian passengers. It seems that they ran out of room in the games room to play Mahjong and decided to overflow into the Latitudes room. An officer and Matt (the cruise/port/latitudes rep) was there to ask them to leave. It was now 2pm and we decided to go back to our room. Funny, our room was still not made up. So we left again. This would make it the 3 time that we would come back to our room in the morning or afternoon only to not have the room made up or have the stewards in the room. This never happened to us before as our stewards usually get to know your routine. That night we ate at Aqua. Jeans are allowed in Aqua, and (personally) I think it takes away from the ambiance in the room. The roast beef and Yorkshire pudding was amazing. Best I have had in a long time. Went to the show again, and it was Murray and the Temptations Review - I guess they have done away with the farewell show on the cruises now, what a shame. We were back to our room at about 9:30pm - NO TOWEL ANIMAL. I was disappointed, as our friends on deck 10 got three during the cruise. May 2, 2008 - Seattle On time, we arrived in Seattle and disembarkation started at 08:30. I had to laugh at the number of people that decided to use the "Express" disembarkation. The line was from the Grand Atrium, through the Blue Lagoon, around the back and through the Red Lion and back to the Atrium. We had breakfast in Versailles and laughed at these people. Went back to our room at 09:30 and waited for our color to be called. At 09:45 Orange was called, and we were off the ship at 10:15 hopping into a cab to get our rental to drive back to Canada. The cruise was good - not great. NCL missed the boat on the demographics on this cruise. They should have known that there was going to be a large Asian community onboard and provisioned accordingly. The embarkation (as previously mentioned) was the worst I have experienced and truly a black mark for the Port of Vancouver. People will always remember how bad it was to get on the ship. Some pluses are that the food was good in all the restaurants. Some better than others. The serving staff in the Versailles was exceptional. The ship is in good condition, but she needs some reworking both inside and outside. The hot tubs were like lukewarm bath water. Despite saying they were 29c, they were more like 20c. So, you could not really enjoy them in the cooler weather. We have another cruise booked on the Star in September 2008, so let's see if things have changed. I won't divert from NCL. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
Our cruise was from September 15 - September 22, 2007.This was our first cruise and we couldn't have had a better time! We're in our mid-twenties and from Philadelphia. We flew in the Thursday before the cruise. Our flight was a ... Read More
Our cruise was from September 15 - September 22, 2007.This was our first cruise and we couldn't have had a better time! We're in our mid-twenties and from Philadelphia. We flew in the Thursday before the cruise. Our flight was a disaster and we were very grateful that we didn't decide to fly in on Saturday. We had booked the Sheraton hotel and it was a great location to all the local downtown sights of Seattle. It was a really short walk to Pike Place Market and just a short ride on the monorail to the Space Needle, EMP, etc. It was also a great location to get to the pier on Sat morning. We arrived at 12:00 and check in was really easy. We though there would be more security, but the first time that they actually glanced at our passports/ID was when we received our room keys. We were a little out of sorts from traveling, so we decided to skip eating lunch, but we did see a lot of people out at the grill by the pool since it was an incredible day in Seattle. We explored the ship and thought it was really beautiful, excluding some of the rope hand railings that were there b/c the wood ones were probably being repaired. Those were about the only drab looking thing we saw all week. Since this was our first cruise, we booked a Category K inside cabin 4597, since I am prone to seasickness. The cabin was very adequate and we had no problems all week with the cleanliness, stewards, our it's location. Most of the gangplanks were lowered on our deck, so we never had to hurry in the morning. We ate most nights in Versailles, and the selection and food was great. We are from Philadelphia, where there are some great restaurants, but we thought the quality of the food and the vast selection of choices every night were great. We were incredibly glad that we used NCL b/c of the freestyle cruising. We were able to eat at whatever time we liked at night, always received a table for 2 usually by the window, and had great to excellent service. My boyfriend had purchased the soda card, and they do continue to make it very difficult to get drinks at dinner, but by the second course each night, he had finally gotten his Coke. We had the same two servers for at least 3 of the nights on the boat, so it was nice b/c they were very friendly. We are at the Blue Lagoon for snacks after returning from our excursions. The food was pretty good, but the wings weren't the greatest. We tried the Buffet once and found it way too hectic, crowded, and it would take forever to get through the line. We took advantage of the 2-for-1 dining in Cagney's on Sunday and Thursday night of our cruise. The food was great. Our steaks were always cooked just how we liked them and there was so much food that we couldn't even handle desert! The entertainment on the ship was a good variety. We managed to get to the magic show, but missed some of the others b/c by 8:30-9:00 on shore days, we were ready for bed. We didn't mind the announcements for bingo b/c none of them were made in the cabin. My one major complaint/observation was that it was unfortunate that they choose not to make many announcements on the cabin speakers, and if I wanted to hear the announcements, I would find myself having to stand in the hallway and listen. The captain didn't do the best job making the announcements, but the cruise director Ricky was always very enthusiastic sounding. Alaska was incredible. I thought we had great weather. Ketchikan we did the Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer. Though it was pouring down rain when we left, we had an incredible 4 hours trip to the Fjords and the weather was beautiful! We booked all excursions through the boat, and this one was offered by Allen Marine tours. We walked around the port a bit when we got back, but did not do any shopping or eating. In Juneau, b/c the Tracy Arm Fjord excursion was canceled, we booked on the Capture Juneau Photography tour. My boyfriend is a professional photography, and going on a hike and to Mendenhall Glacier was a great experience for both of us. As most of the ships this year, we made it up to Dawes Glacier, and we found it a great trip. The captain was very worried about us getting out before dark, so it was a quick trip. We saw some sea lions on the ice and lots of small glaciers as we sailed up to the Dawes. In Skagway we did the White Pass Scenic Railway and did some souvenir shopping. We bought some smoked salmon and reindeer at this great little shop off the beaten path. It was an incredibly windy day, but overall, the town was crowded and I thought a longer stop could have been used in Juneau and not Skagway. We hit some rough weather and we were late getting into Prince Rupert. There was a neat little local craft show happening, so that was the highlight of that stop. Overall, this was a great trip. We make jokes now about the "special coffee" that they kept trying to serve as we went up to the Glacier, and how our cruise was predominantly southerners, but we couldn't have asked for a better time. Though we were some of the youngest cruisers on the trip, we didn't feel out of place. We did feel that people sometimes dress too casual in the restaurant, especially Versailles, which was supposed to be the NO Jeans restaurant, but it never ruined our experience. WE are booked on the NCL Gem for next year, so we can't wait to try NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
NORWEGIAN STAR INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISE SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 - SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 Advice before booking: Get a starboard, aft balcony cabin. The balcony is so worth the extra views of the spectacular Alaskan scenery. We by chance had a ... Read More
NORWEGIAN STAR INSIDE PASSAGE CRUISE SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 - SEPTEMBER 8, 2007 Advice before booking: Get a starboard, aft balcony cabin. The balcony is so worth the extra views of the spectacular Alaskan scenery. We by chance had a handicapped accessible cabin (not needed by us, just what we were given.) It probably had some extra space in the cabin and especially the bathroom. Baggage transport through and from Seattle Airport went smoothly, despite the predictably large Saturday afternoon volume. Look for knowledgeable people with clipboards and signs for the appropriate cruise line. NCL staff do a good job. Embarkation was easy with the right paperwork in hand. If hungry while coming aboard, head for the Versailles Dining Room. The food is great and the views, rewarding. The views of downtown Seattle from all of the decks of Norwegian Star were wonderful.. Before leaving port we did a quick and non-dramatic lifeboat drill The only annoying part was the passengers who insisted upon chatting while instructions were still being given.. We followed two other gorgeous world class cruise ships --- the Diamond Princess and the Holland America Something-Dam ---out of port. That was just the beginning of seeing other ships around us as we traveled. One of my favorite memories is taking pictures of their beautiful, sleek lines as people on board the other ships photographed our beautiful, sleek lines, as witnessed by the small photo flashes happening up and down their decks. Throughout the cruise: Unless traveling with a large family group or kids, avoid the Market Buffet on Deck 12 It offers lots of food options, but in a plastic cafeteria setting with constant, hectic flow-through traffic. The Versailles Dining Room, also included with the cruise, is much more relaxed and elegant. Aqua, another free option but with reservations recommended, has the same menu as Versailles and is also quite pleasant. First day at sea: It was our 40th wedding anniversary and began with a perfect breakfast in the Versailles Dining Room. Their Eggs Benedict have poached eggs over a half inch tall. It was a perfect celebration day for us that made the phrase "the best is yet to come" totally true. It helped that it was Formal Night on the ship, with everyone dressed in their best. We were very happy with our cruise portraits, though I have to say the photographers are everywhere (aboard and onshore) and buying too many photos could be costly in the long run. However, for formal night, one has to go for it. We dined that night at Cagney's Steak House, which involves an extra charge per person of $25, plus drinks. My filet mignon with Bernaisse Sauce was over the top of perfect, and my date loved his rib eye as well. The service was impeccable throughout, and by telling them it was our special day we were treated to "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" by an international choir of sweet servers. Anniversary dessert was strawberries and cream cake for two. That same evening, while we were still in formal garb, the ship offered a wonderful, Broadway-quality revue of Andrew Lloyd Weber production pieces in the main theater. The performers were absolutely top flight, the staging was dramatic, and it was a PERFECT, romantic close to our anniversary evening. Second day at sea: Waking up in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, was exhilarating!!! Wow, we're in Alaska. We disembarked at sea by tender boat because some other shops had grabbed the port spots that day. It seemed like a large deal at first, but was not. After visiting a salmon hatchery and learning a lot of how baby salmon are born, we took the "Lighthouse, Eagles and Totems" boat tour and enjoyed it very much. We saw several eagles from a distance. Ketchikan is all about water and all about seaplanes --- embodying the spirit of Alaska. Waiting for the ship to leave port, we took many photos of seaplanes coming in and taking off. As landlocked midwesterners, that was so awesome!!! It was very predictably rainy in downtown Ketchikan, but we wondered in and out of gift shops. Favorite Alaskan Story: We had post cards to mail and asked a gift shop clerk where the post office could be found. She said, "Did you see "'Tall Tales Taxidermy'?" When we said we had seen such a place, she said, "Well, that's where the U. S. Post Office is. The taxidermist and the Post Office changed places, but never changed the signs." So we mailed our post cards at the taxidermy shop ... and well, we trapped nothing for Tall Tale Taxidermy. Is that not a "Northern Exposure" story? Third day at sea; Juneau is the capitol of Alaska. How interesting that they have a pretty standard federal building for the state capitol. Never changed it from when it was just The Federal Building. In Juneau we took the bus ride out to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was irrelevant that a fine rain was falling. The Glacier is so turquoise, so huge, so breathtaking. The Visitor Center is a terrific vantage point and there are a variety of ways to walk around the Glacier. Also there was significant BEAR activity in the area when we were there, but we avoided that path. Chickens! Our tour bus driver was brilliant at giving us precise instructions about what to see and when to be back on board. He let us off in downtown Juneau in time to do some browsing. We had a GREAT lunch at the Twisted Fish, right on the pier. It offered local beer, good wine and superb fish and chips. Go there if you have time!!! We shopped a bit and re-boarded the ship. Walking up a simple ramp was a happy change from the tender boat. Happy detour: Our Captain announced that weather conditions were not favorable to go see Sawyer Glacier in the end of Tracy Arm, the typical route of our cruise. However, he felt that we could have a good glacier experience by cruising Endicott Arm to the Dawes Glacier. The cruise into Endicott Arm was beautiful in itself, with mountainous terrain and waterfalls on both sides, and remarkable turquoise ice floes in the aqua-colored water. Cloud/mist lifted off the Dawes Glacier just as the captain artfully turned the great ship 'round, creating memorable moments for all of us on board. When a glacier shows its true colors, it's a truly breathtaking image. Sharing it with the one you love is even better. Evenings on board: It was always relaxing to watch the ship leave port, dine at Versailles or one of the excellent alternatives, and game a bit at the Star Casino. On the same level with the casino was Gatsby's Champagne Bar. We're not champagne drinkers, but all drinks were available. The stellar attraction of Gatsby's, and perhaps the best entertainer on board Norwegian Star, was Jana Seale. She sang nightly in Gatsby's, and attracted a regular following of people who enjoyed her mix of pop and folk music from the 60's to today. The space was just beautiful, with a Tiffany glass ceiling a few stories above and hanger-on fans listening over the stair rails, and we found ourselves drawn there night after night. Jana was responsive to requests from her "song book" and just an extraordinary person to meet. We are so glad to have brought home Jana's CD with us to recreate moments from those special times. Also the entertainers in the Atrium and at other venues around the ship were really fine. We stumbled into fun opportunities like a Margarita Tasting in Endless Summer that really enriched our experience. The Spinnaker Lounge was awesome. We had so many wonderful unexpected moments it's hard to remember them all. Fourth day at sea: We woke up in Skagway. Each of these exotic ports of call was very fun to internalize. Skagway had the amazing mix of four great big cruise boats in the backdrop behind an antique railway. Huh? Yep, new ships, old train, same frame. The White Pass and Yukon Railway trip was absolutely extraordinary. Don't be put off by a few clouds. If you only see half the scenery, it's worth it. Where else can you see a waterfall that drops five THOUSAND feet? There were a few delays coming and going, but the crowd was handled with remarkable grace. Patience pays here --- enjoy the trip!!! Skagway is tastefully, colorfully and graciously restored. Signage is picturesque and there's less commercialism than the other stops. We recommend the Sweet Tooth Cafe for a simple lunch with good homemade soup. While we were enjoying the Sweet Tooth a happy fifteen minutes of sun blessed us with photo ops around the town. It's hard to find a bad camera angle in Skagway. Check out the cool snow plow train engine in the little park near the dock! The entertainer in the Spinnaker Lounge at the end of the Skagway stop was the "Singing Conductor of Skagway," who did a stirring performance of "The History of Alaska in Story and Song." What a great wrap-up to all we had seen and learned! That night we dined at The Bistro French venue. The food, which involved an extra fee per person, was very fine and we were seated in a space where we could enjoy the music of our favorite performer, Jana Seale, from the nearby Gatsby's Champagne Bar. Fifth Day at Sea: We hit some choppy seas and rough winds. Honestly didn't feel too great for half a day, but by afternoon things stabilized. The stabilizers of Norwegian Star are well equipped for most waters. That was just a bad day. Sixth Day at Sea With due credit to the crew for making it all happen, overnight before our sixth day there was a severe medical crisis for a passenger who needed to be taken ashore at an unscheduled stop at Auck Bay. Totally understandably, all shore excursions at Prince Rupert were canceled due to our delayed evening arrival time. We were still able to disembark and briefly explore Prince Rupert in spite of rain. A nice local place for a beer and a wine was Smiley's near the port. It was even better to get back on board, enjoy a drink at Gatsby's, and listen to Jana's music Seventh Day at Sea Sunshine! Smooth sailing! Beautiful scenery! Spectacular sunset! Love that balcony!!!! We can't say enough about our attentive and alert cabin stewards. The whole crew kept an immaculate ship, from the person who turned back our comforter to the person who swabbed the deck in the rain. They were all TOP FLIGHT. It was hard when we were asked to recognize certain crew members who enriched our experience, because so many were exceptional. Packing for disembarkation! Argh! Disembarking: Self-selecting by color worked fine. We found our luggage off-board with no difficulty. NCL personnel were uniformly helpful and pleasant. Final thoughts: May we come back now, please? See our photos at webshots.com. Tags Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Inside Passage. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We sailed from Seattle on Saturday 1 Sept on the Alaska inter passage route. Check in was easy and fast since we were VIP's (Penthouse Suite). We then went to Versailles for lunch (a great tip that I picked up here). About 1:30 p.m. ... Read More
We sailed from Seattle on Saturday 1 Sept on the Alaska inter passage route. Check in was easy and fast since we were VIP's (Penthouse Suite). We then went to Versailles for lunch (a great tip that I picked up here). About 1:30 p.m. we went to find our suite on the aft of the ship deck 9. We were surprised as the room was much larger than we had expected based on photos from different websites. We were very, very happy with the Penthouse Suite on the aft of the ship, some of the reviews warned about movement of the shipment being more noticeable here, but we only noticed it one morning when the ship was in gale force winds and the seas were 8-9 feet. I get sea sick easy and even that day I had a full breakfast and coffee. If you are an amateur photographer you can't go wrong on these rooms - I shot a little over 1200 digital photos during our week at sea many from the balcony of our penthouse as we entered and left ports. Our room had a butler assigned, but she did not even bother to show up the first day, and was missing most of the rest of the week unless we ran her down - also never called us by name during the whole trip which was very odd as even staff that we had only met once or twice knew our names - my advice should you get this butler (you'll know after the first day) is to call the manager of hotels and insist that another person be provided - this was the worst service failure we experienced on an otherwise excellent cruise. During the week at sea we had our butler bring breakfast every morning to the suite so we could lounge around our patio desk afterwards with our coffee. We tried to eat at all the restaurants but didn't quite make it to all 13. Overall I'd say you would be best off sticking with the Versailles restaurant for dinner - the quality and selection of food was the most consistent during our 7 days at sea (also no cover charge here). Remember that you must we nice clothes after the first night if you want to eat here - no blue jeans, shorts or other beach bum clothing. One night we made reservations at Cagney's steak house (cover charge) and just like the reviews I read here - "it was not worth the money" - the prime rib was like an old shoe (two of us ordered) the others in our party were also no impressed with the poor quality of the meat. I also ran into to several others on the boat during the week who also had similar remarks - so save our money for the casino and avoid this place. One night we made reservations at La Trattoria Italian restaurant, it was just so-so, I've had better in Mexican restaurants in San Diego. One day for lunch the four of us went to Teppanyaki Japanese restaurant (cover charge) and it was ok, but also not worth the cover charge - service however was very good and the place was empty during lunch time when everyone had returned from shore tours and were flooding the other venues. Cigars - this ship has the Havana Club which was a haven for all the cigar smokers who were on the boat - make sure you bring your own as I never once saw them unlock the humidor on the boat, it was also painful to get a drink in this area. Anywhere else on the ship tried to sell you drinks, here you had to walk down the hall to the Casino bar and haul your drink back. This was also the only area on the ship that was in a constant state of full ash trays and trash. You had to run someone down and ask them to empty the ash trays and remove the empty bottles. Met lots of nice folks while having my afternoon cigar. Other tips - if you are going to make dinner reservations, check the ships TV for the time of sunset or arrival time at the inside passage, several times we had early dinner reservations and missed the most beautiful time of the day. The final night aboard you had to pack your suit case and set it outside your room my midnight unless you were going to personally remove your entire luggage in the morning during the express departure. We had VIP tags and put our bags out, the next morning we had a VIP - head of the line exit from the ship and our bags were right in front of the US Customs booths so it only took about 15 minutes from our room to the street. Port calls - we really stayed on the ship most of the time except for the White pass rail road tour - which lasted 3 ½ hours. I would easily recommend the Norwegian Star as generally the food was good and the staff was very nice, our cabin stewards make different animals out of towels and left on the foot of our bed each night when they did turn down service. The only real complaint I had was the automatic tips being placed on drinks and wine, most of the time you got hit was a 5-6 tip for nothing, I could not even get one waiter to but a nice bottle of German wine in an ice bucket, they want to keep pouring it so you;ll order more - nice to be charged $6.00 tip for hot wine. Beware the $10.00 per person per day auto tip this is added to your shipboard bill - I'd suggest you check your bill every few days to see if you agree with the tab and make sure you don't have a nasty surprise on the morning of your departure. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
This was my first trip to Alaska and my second cruise with NCL. In 2004 I cruised on the Pride of Aloha. This Star cruise was my 8th cruise overall. Alaska was amazing, that being said the ship did not live up to the same description. I ... Read More
This was my first trip to Alaska and my second cruise with NCL. In 2004 I cruised on the Pride of Aloha. This Star cruise was my 8th cruise overall. Alaska was amazing, that being said the ship did not live up to the same description. I kept a journal while onboard and will go through it now and type up my highlights and lowlights from the NCL Star experience. * Embarkation: Easy as pie. We got a ride to the pier in Seattle and were on the ship within 15 minutes to meet us with our travel buddies. We were on board with a plate of food in front of us by 1pm and our luggage arrived at our cabins promptly. I think all 4 of my bags showed up before the muster drill. * Freestyle Dining: This is something I have found disappointing on both of the NCL trips I have been on but this ship it was really bad news. The first night the 4 of us ate at LeBistro. The meal was just so-so and it took over 2 hours to get through it even though the restaurant was nearly empty. My "cream of mushroom soup" was more of a pate'. After about 40 minutes my husband noticed that they had one song on a endless loop. We mentioned it to the waitress who just smiled and walked away obviously not understanding the issue. We listened to the same song, over and over for 2 hours in Le Bistro. For the second night we made a reservation for Ginza for the Teppanyaki meal. We got there for our appointed time to find out there was no reservation for us. *sigh* They did have seats for us in the regular seating and we had sushi which was pretty good. Careful with the sake ordering, we had no idea it was almost $10 per little bottle till we got the bill. We tried all week to make reservations for the no-fee restaurants, "Endless Summer" and "La Trattoria". We were never able to get in ad got different stories from different members of staff on how to make a reservation each time we tried. It was very frustrating. We noticed that La Trattoria is just a part of the buffet that was blocked off each night with a curtain. The main dining room was ok (Versailles). Best meal I had there was breakfast. The staff there seemed to be off on their own planet though and were not very responsive. Buffet was pretty boring and the food quality was not good. Most things were bland and not many choices. I tried to avoid it whenever possible but ended up eating there 4-5 times during the week. We did room service breakfast 4 days in a row and found that they were always early. One day they were 40 minutes early, most days they were at least 20 minutes early. They showed up before my wake up call twice. 2 out of the 4 times they did not bring a third of the food we ordered. You could always get a cocktail anywhere you were. People pretty much constantly trying to sell you one but if you had paid for the soda card it was hard to get any assistance. The soda card was like $70 per person and you really had to work to get a refill. I guess since those do not produce tips they are not as attentive. The water, ice and tea machines in the buffet were broken or empty 70% of the time. I actually drank a lot of tap water on this trip and tap water from the cabin is pretty nasty. Coffee was always available. * Cabin: We had a balcony cabin and it was well appointed. Was nice to have a coffee machine in the room which I have never had on a cruise ship before. Our steward kept the fridge stocked with real creamer for us. Bed was comfortable, towels were soft, everything was clean. Lots of storage under the bed and sofa for luggage and a decent size closet with hangars and shelves. A couple drawers as well. TV was old and had some issues but it worked ok. Bathroom was a interesting lay out. You walk in and the shower was on your left, sink in front of you and toilet on the right. It looked nice but would be difficult for a larger person to get around in. The shower and the toilet area each had a pocket door. Small space, 3 areas, 3 doors. * On Board: our first day at sea I decided to check out the bingo game. I had played a lot of bingo on my recent Carnival cruise and enjoyed it. On this ship they had a electronic bingo handset that was about $80 to play or you could play on one paper sheet for $29. The difference in odds was staggering and I only could afford the paper sheet. (Paid $20 on Carnival and actually won $100!). I only played once. Almost every activity on this ship was a money maker of some sort for NCL. It was like being on a floating infomercial. From teeth whitening and acupuncture lectures, they were trying to make more money. It got to me a running joke and I just did not go to any of the activities. The casino was pretty standard for a cruise ship and was open every day when we were out of port. I played the slots a little bit but they had tables as well. Went to the movie theater one night. Same movies played in the cabin at the same time but it was nice to sit in a theater and watch one on the big screen. I did not make it to the gym (my excursions kept me physically active and darn sore). One of our travel buddies did though and he said it was quite nice. Lots of machines and not very busy. 2 of our travel buddies also went to the spa and were happy with the services there. Spa deals were pretty good when the ship was in port. One day there was a 2 hour special for $89 for ladies. The pool was nice and kept at 78 degrees all week. The slides do not have enough water flowing to actually get a adult all the way to the bottom. Jacuzzis were also nice and usually were not full. Public restrooms on the ship were not in great shape. I found many broken stall doors that did not shut properly and automated soap or sinks that just did not work at all. Hand sanitizers were everywhere on the ship and about a third of them did not work either. We only saw portions of two shows. The night they did Andrew Lloyd Webber music we caught the last 15 minutes. It was very good. We went to the show that was supposed to be the Chinese Acrobats (which were awesome) but it was mostly interpretive dance and strangeness. Afterwards there was this big crew cheering sing along on stage that I would have avoided if I was not in the front row. It was very cheesy. The live music in the bars were always very good. Jana Seele was great every night and I hope to buy one of her cd's online. * Ports and Excursions: Now this was the highlight of the trip. While the ship itself was very basic and more of a floating hotel than a resort, Alaska made up for all of it's shortcomings. Ketchikan - Right off the pier there was plenty to see and walk around. Lots of shops and the Lumberjack Show was just a few blocks away. We went on a bike ride with a guided group and had a fabulous time. All the guides were awesome and the scenery was hard to beat. The ship tendered here while 3 other ships were pulled right up to the pier. Juneau - Here we could tell that NCL pays the least amount on port fees. We are always situated furthest from town! It is a bit of a hike to Juneau but they had shuttles that would take you to town. We went on a river raft trip down the Mendenhall River past the glacier. Amazing! More great guides and people to meet. Between Juneau and Skagway we went into a fjord and got up close and personal to Dawes glacier. For me this was a highlight of the trip. Sitting on the top deck watching the glacier calve, hearing it calve, was amazing. I got some great photos here. Skagway - My favorite port of the entire cruise. We did not get to see town because our excursion was 9 hours long but I would love to get back and see more of Skagway. Our excursion was a combination of a trip on the White Pass Train and a hike to Laughton Glacier. I believe this was the highlight of the cruise. Not a easy hike by any means but well worth the end result of sitting at a glacier eating lunch. More fabulous guides and great people on the tours. Price Rupert - I know this stop is just mandatory because of the foreign ship law but I do wish the Star would stay there for more than 5 hours. We did not arrive till 5pm! I would have really enjoyed seeing more of the island. We went on a fabulous whale watch trip and enjoyed the company of many humpback whales. By the time we got back it was time to board the ship and head out to sea. Very short visit to British Columbia! * Disembarkation: Another quick and easy getaway. We booked a Seattle tour through the ship and that was a great option. We got a few hours of touring Seattle and then we were dropped off right at our airline! Was only a little more than cab fare and well worth it since the tour was well done. Lots of information. We had a wonderful trip and I can't wait till I can get back to Alaska. I will not be planning the next cruise there with NCl however. I would like to give another cruise line a chance to make a Alaska trip even better. I feel NCL cuts too many corners and they have dropped their standards since I cruised with them 3 years ago. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
My wife and I took the cruise to Alaska as par of our Honeymoon, and I could not have selected a better trip, to have a relaxing time. Saturday (getting to Seattle): Unlike many people, we took Amtrak Cascades Service from Vancouver, ... Read More
My wife and I took the cruise to Alaska as par of our Honeymoon, and I could not have selected a better trip, to have a relaxing time. Saturday (getting to Seattle): Unlike many people, we took Amtrak Cascades Service from Vancouver, Washington (just north of Portland, Oregon) to catch our cruise. We caught the train at 9:00 am, and arrived at Seattle's King Street Station by 12:15 or so. We caught a cab (15 cabs or so were waiting outside the station doors), and for $7.00 + tip, we whisked Bell Street Pier (about a 5-10 minute ride). Embarkation was easy with the right paperwork in hand. We were aboard and checked into our state room by 1:30pm, with plenty of time to spare before the ships departure. We went up too the Market Cafe for lunch, which was quite tasty. The views of downtown Seattle from all of the decks of Norwegian Star were wonderful. Around 3:30 pm, we did a quick and non-dramatic lifeboat drill. The ship departed Seattle around 4:10 p.m.; as there were two other cruise ships that pulled out before us, and we followed them out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Depending on your dining style, there are several options to choose from; including the Market Buffet on Deck 12, which offers lots of food options, in a relaxed setting with more foot traffic; The Versailles Dining Room, also included with the cruise, is much more relaxed and elegant. Sunday (sailing): I would have to say I was disappointed that this cruise chooses not to go northbound through the British Columbia Inside Passage passing ports such as Port Hardy and Bella Bella. There are not many maps on the ship to get an idea of where you are, so I do suggest getting a set of simple road maps from AAA to give you a framework to start with. There are also some great inside passage maps available on the market as well. The day was fine with plenty of activities to keep one occupied. We had our meals that day at the Market Cafe, which were fine. The Caesar salad with was exceptional. After dinner (and more ice cream and crepes with assorted fruit of the day) we went to a stage show in the Stardust Theater. It was a musical review of all the Andrew Lloyd Webber shows including: Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Cats, Jesus Christ Super Star, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coats. It was a good show, we both enjoyed it. After the show we took a walk around the boat again and yes, got more ice cream. Then we went to bed for our early morning awakening. Monday (Ketchikan): Waking up in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA, was exhilarating!!! We had breakfast at the Market Cafe, which was very crowded with others going to explore the city (i.e. get jewelry). The weather was rainy when we got off the ship, which should be of no surprise, as Ketchikan get nearly 170 inches of rain per year making it one of the wettest places on earth. We, however, were going on a "Wild Life" rainforest tour. It turned out to be a van ride tour of the city and a visit to a couple of look out places south of town past Saxman. Here, the only wild life we really saw were a bunch of salmon going up the creek and sea gulls. We were driven to Rainbow Falls to take some pictures then headed back to town. We did see a Bald Eagle far away in a tree, but couldn't get a picture of it. We had dinner at Cagney's Steak House around 5:30 p.m. Dinner was very nice and yummy. My wife had crab cakes, clam chowder, fillet mignon - captain's cut with cafe de Paris butter and onion shoestrings. I had colossal shrimp cocktail, clam chowder, prime rib of beef - king cut, and potatoes au gratin. For dessert, I had the cheesecake with strawberry compote and my wife had the sinful chocolate obsession (so good!). We went back to our cabin to write some post cards and then we'll take another walk and hopefully get some more ice cream. The food on the cruise ship is defiantly geared towards carnivores, as vegetarian or non meat selections are available; however, they are somewhat limited. Tuesday (Juneau & Endicott Arm): Juneau is the capitol of Alaska. After grabbing a quick bite to eat for breakfast, we headed off the boat to catch the shuttle bus into downtown. Our shore excursion was set to begin at 9:30 a.m., so we got there a little after 8:30 a.m. while my wife looked in a couple shops, while I looked for a mailbox to mail some postcards. In Juneau we took the bus ride out to the Mendenhall Glacier. The Visitor Center is a terrific vantage point and there are a variety of ways to walk around the Glacier. It was amazing to see how much the glacier has recessed over the years. The water was icy blue. On the way back from the glacier, our driver delivered us to the dock rather than the tram terminal, which saved us from a long line. We had a lunch by the pool, which consisted of juicy burgers and French fries. Again nothing fancy, but hit the spot after a day of seeing the town. Our Captain announced that weather conditions were not favorable to go see Sawyer Glacier in the end of Tracy Arm, the typical route of our cruise. However, he felt that we could have a good glacier experience by cruising Endicott Arm to the Dawes Glacier. The cruise into Endicott Arm was beautiful in itself, with mountainous terrain and waterfalls on both sides, and remarkable turquoise ice floes in the aqua-colored water. The U-shaped glacial valleys and hanging valleys were classic text book images. Cloud/mist lifted off the Dawes Glacier just as the captain artfully turned the great ship 'round, creating memorable moments for all of us on board. When a glacier shows its true colors, it's a truly breathtaking image. The captain wanted to be out of the Endicott Arm by sundown so we had to turnaround by 6:00 p.m. It was very cold and crowded up at the front of the boat, but we got some pretty good pictures anyway. The best attraction of Gatsby's, and perhaps one of the best entertainers on board Norwegian Star, was Jana Seale "Acoustic Coffeehouse". She sang nightly in Gatsby's, and attracted a regular following of people who enjoyed her mix of pop and folk music from the 60's and 70's to today. The space was nice and relaxing as we found ourselves drawn there night after night. Jana was responsive to requests from her "song book," as the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," was requested for nights in a row. Wednesday (Skagway): We didn't have a shore excursion to get up for today, so we slept in until 8:00 a.m. Breakfast was crowded, I guess others were getting up later too. As predicted, it was cold, super windy and drizzly in Skagway. Did I say it was windy? Well, it was down right blustery... as we were both blown around a lot while walking from the ore dock to downtown. Skagway was an old gold miner's town, and many of the buildings have been restored to look the part, as the town even has wooden plank sidewalks. We looked in many shops and just wandered around the town (of course going to the Depot where the White Pass & Yukon Railway is) About 11:45 a.m. we had been blown around and rained on, we decided to go back to the ship. We had a nice lunch in the buffet, got some ice cream, and went back to the room to relax. We had dinner together around 6:00 p.m. then went downstairs to listen to Jana Seale's "Acoustic Coffeehouse" again and turned in around 9:30 p.m. Thursday (Prince Rupert, BC): The morning waters were "Moderate" once again, and we woke up and had breakfast. The day went pretty slow because we spent more time in our room resting and dealing with the moderate seas. We had lunch at the Blue Lagoon, which had fish and chips, which were good. Later in the afternoon, we heard an announcement from the captain that we would be about an hour late getting into Prince Rupert (6:15 p.m.) We also heard that there would be gale force winds if we went on the Ocean side of Vancouver Island on Friday, so the captain made a change of course from the ships normal routing, to head south through British Columbia's Inside Passage which will proved the passengers with calmer waters. This didn't leave us much time in town. We got dinner around 5:00 p.m. because we wanted to see a show on the ship when we returned to the boat later. We pulled into the dock at Prince Rupert around 6:15 p.m. We left the ship around 6:30 p.m. along with what seemed like the rest of the boat passengers. We didn't go into downtown, but instead went to the Waterfront Building which included the visitor's center We headed back to the boat at about 7:30 p.m., so we could catch the ship show "Band on the Run" which was a review of some 70's music. After the show we headed back to see Jana Seale. We stayed until the end of her set at 11:00 p.m. because we were going to get some goodies at the "chocoholic buffet," but the line was too long and we were both tired, so we skipped it and went to bed. It was rough sailing again during the night, but we kept speed and will have good weather going along the inside passage of British Columbia on Friday. Friday (sailing): The waves were still rolling us around in the morning and it is starting to take its toll on us. By 11:00 a.m. we entered sheltered waters so the waved began to be calmer (once we entered into the Queen Charlotte Sound) and the rest of the day was the same. The rest of the day we relaxed, packed our bags and walked around the ship around deck 7, to take pictures of the scenery along the Inside Passage (places such as Port Hardy and Alert Bay). We had a nice treat when we saw some dolphins jumping in the waves created by the ship, as we headed trough Johnstone Strait. We had dinner around 6:00 p.m. then went to see Jana Seale again, then went back up to have more crepes and ice cream and then went back to listen to more music. We put our big bags out in the hall for a pick up to be delivered to the docks. Saturday (back in Seattle): Our boat pulled into Seattle around 7:00 a.m. Our baggage call was supposed to be at 9:40 a.m. but we were called shortly after 9:00 a.m. We had breakfast then headed down to our room and off the ship. Going through customs was a breeze and we found our bags easily. Self-selecting by color worked fine. We found our luggage off-board with no difficulty. Taxi cabs were waiting for us and we had a quick trip to the train station in Seattle. We had about a 4 1/2 hour wait at the train station and a quick 3 1/2 hour train ride home to Vancouver. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We arrived at the NCL port at 1:20 p.m. and were checking out our balcony cabin on deck 10 less then 30 minutes later. We proceeded to the main deck where the ships chefs were grilling chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs along with all the ... Read More
We arrived at the NCL port at 1:20 p.m. and were checking out our balcony cabin on deck 10 less then 30 minutes later. We proceeded to the main deck where the ships chefs were grilling chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs along with all the fixings. Seattle was all sunshine and in the mid 70's and as the afternoon wore on lots of people were taking in the sun and the great food. During our 7 day inside passage cruise to Alaska we ate in 4 different restaurants including one with an extra charge, but it was part of our package so we didn't really pay extra. The service in all the restaurants was top notch. We were always served by smiling, polite wait staff and the food was always good to excellent. For those of you who complain about the food stop and think. Gee, this is not a restaurant that is costing me $75 or $100 per plate, and this is not a restaurant that serves a couple of hundred people a night, more like a 1,000, and I did not have to have a reservation, and I do expect to be seated and eat any time between 5:30 and 10:00 p.m. If like me you have read those reviews were people said the portions were laughable, don't believe them, the portions were exactly the right size for a fulfilling meal, maybe those people like to "Biggy Size" their meals but I would guess their waist line is larger then their shoulder spread. We found the entertainment to be adequate to excellent and never had a boring day on board. The casino was one of my favorite spots, except for the smoke, please NCL stop the smoking except on outside decks We spent a lot of time on our balcony watching the beauty of Alaska and the dolphins that played beside the boat. We will never again sail without a balcony, it opens up a whole new meaning to cruising. We did three shore excursions, whale watching, kayaking, and a jet boat excursion into the Misty Fjord. We did see hump back whales, sea lions, seals, eagles, brown bear and lots of salmon. But the real thrill was Alaska itself. No one could ever do it justice verbally, you must see it for yourself. This cruise is highly recommended as is the NCL ship Star. When we docked in Seattle it took three crew members to drag me off the boat, just kidding, but we would have stayed for another seven days if they would have let us. Embarkation took less than 45 minutes from the time we got in line to leave the boat until we were seating in a shuttle to Sea/Tac airport. The NCL Star and her crew get a big four star rating from us and we are already planning our next NCL cruise to New England and Canada in 2008. Free Style cruising is the only way to go. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We live in WA State, so we did not stay overnight in Seattle before or after. We arrived for embarkation at 12:10, and it was already very busy. Our cabin fell into the VIP category, which got special boarding - bags transported, escort to ... Read More
We live in WA State, so we did not stay overnight in Seattle before or after. We arrived for embarkation at 12:10, and it was already very busy. Our cabin fell into the VIP category, which got special boarding - bags transported, escort to the first available check-in agent, and then a concierge orientation. All were exceptional, and we definitely felt good about splurging on the trip! We were on board and having lunch by 1 PM. The pools and buffet were open, and I recommend packing bathing suits in your carry-on - even with the special check-in, some of our bags didn't show at our cabin until 5 PM. The layout of the ship is mostly good, but there are a few areas where you can't get there directly, or have to walk around or up another floor then down to reach them - a few of the restaurants, the spa, and the Kid's Club. We ended up walking through the Market Cafe (the buffet restaurant) constantly. The good news, though, is that you don't have to go through the casino or shops all the time to get to other locations - that's been a problem on other ships we've sailed. Overall, the service and friendly attitude on the ship was outstanding, far above any other cruise we've done. The service in the restaurants was somewhat slow, but that seemed to be the kitchen, and not the servers. The cabin staff, concierge and butlers were fabulous. The shore excursion desk folks were exceptionally friendly, helpful and well-organized. The lounge entertainers on the ship were in a different league than other ships - Stan Sykes and Jana Seale were so good we skipped the main shows just to see them, and many other folks did the same. We rarely had to use the customer service desk, but there was never any sort of a line, which is unusual in my cruising experience. Speaking of shore excursions - book ahead on-line if you can. Some of our preferences were sold out or almost sold out when we boarded. I highly recommend the lumberjack show in Ketchikan, the Saxman Village tour in Ketchikan, the mushers camp in Skagway (not the usual choice), and the marine sightseeing/wildlife boat trip in Prince Rupert. The food is fine, but not outstanding, with two exceptions - the Teppanyaki restaurant and the Chocolate buffet (which was truly amazing). With those exceptions noted, there was not much difference in quality between the specialty restaurants and the main dining rooms. We did not try Cagney's, so that may be an exception as well. The buffet and outside grill food options were fine, but nothing special. You could get food just about 24 hours a day, thought, which is important to many cruisers! Planning ahead for reservations is important. The spa and fitness center were pleasant and clean, and not too crowded. The spa was somewhat disorganized, and as usual the services were very expensive for what you received, but the people were very nice. Though we cruised with two children, we only used the kids club once - we had a bad feeling about the attitude of some of the staff, and the one time we did use it on our last sea day one of the counselors was so nasty she actually made my 9 year old cry. They would not let the kids call their parents to be picked up, either, which was confirmed by several kids and counter to their stated policy. The facilities seemed great, but I would only use it for older kids that can stand up for themselves (tweens and up). Bring plenty of batteries and chargers for your cameras and videos, and plenty of layers for cruising the glaciers - to fully appreciate it, you stand outside for a while and it gets COLD!! Overall, I would definitely cruise NCL again - it was the best of my cruising experiences. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
First let me say Thank You to all Cruise Critic members for their useful advice and information. This was our very first cruise and we chose the NCL Star for their freestyle cruising. Booked our cruise to Alaska for August 11-18, 2007 to ... Read More
First let me say Thank You to all Cruise Critic members for their useful advice and information. This was our very first cruise and we chose the NCL Star for their freestyle cruising. Booked our cruise to Alaska for August 11-18, 2007 to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. We had a wonderful time and are planning our next cruise with NCL. Living in Washington and 1-½ hours from Seattle we decided to reserve a motel room the night before our cruise. I am glad we did because of the lane closures on I-5. The hotel we stayed at offered one night stay, car parking for duration of cruise and transportation to/from the pier. Total cost was around $145.00, not a bad price. For us this was the only way to go. Embarkment: total wait time after arriving at pier was 20 minutes, started boarding at 11:30 and on the ship by noon. Dh was hungry and didn't want to wait for Versailles to open so we ate in the Market Cafe. Not to bad for buffet style. Cabins were ready by 1:30 and luggage arrived shortly after that. Had everything unpacked and put away before muster drill (which is mandatory) at 3:30. At 4pm went to the Spinnaker Lounge for our cruise critic meet & greet. Meet 2 great ladies and their families. Very nice people and will try to keep in touch. The view was fantastic leaving Seattle. Ship: What an awesome ship. She is huge and beautiful. We found her to be very clean and lots of hand sanitizers everywhere. A person can get turned around easily on the Star. After a few days it gets easier and by the end of the cruise I knew where to go and how to get back. I really have to praise NCL on their help. Everyone was friendly, helpful and willing to go that extra mile. Cabin: Our stateroom was on deck 8 port side aft, cabin 8652 ocean view. Just the right size for 2 people. We decided to keep our beds separated to give us more room. Our luggage fit under the bed and had plenty of closet space. Had enough drawers to put things into. Liked having coffee in the room. The hair dryer was powerful enough. Glad I didn't pack mine. Loved the layout of the bathroom. It even had a clothesline in the shower if you needed it. Every evening our beds were turned down and we found either chocolates on our pillows or towel animals on the bed. Very nice touch and couldn't wait to see which was waiting for us at bedtime. Slept very well on the ship and the beds were comfortable. Dining: We ate breakfast and dinner twice in Versailles. Very nice and the staff was always friendly. Ate the rest of breakfasts in the Market Cafe. They had more choices than Versailles. Had dinner in Aqua once. Also very nice. Endless Summer had good food and staff was friendly also. A couple of times we had late lunches and skipped dinner. Most of our lunches were on the pool deck at the grill. Very, very good hamburgers. Ate the fish & chips at the Blue Lagoon twice. Very good. Did not buy the soda card-too expensive so we drank water or ice tea. Never had to wait to be seated in the restaurants. Overall the food was good. Entertainment: There is a lot to see and do on the ship. One should never be board. We listened to Mt. Motown several times. Really enjoyed his music. Played bingo once too expensive for us. Wasn't real thrilled with the casino. They didn't get a lot of our money. Spent a lot time on deck watching the view, being together and people watching. Ports: In all 3 Alaska ports we toured the towns on our own. Wanted to see the history. For us Skagway was the best. Longest time in port for one, and second it was more old town looking with lots of history. Recommend the NPS tour. It is free and our guide Erica was great. Sawyer Glacier was great even if we couldn't get real close. Was able to get a lot of good pictures. As we were leaving we heard what sounded like thunder and was told it was the glacier calving. Wish we could have seen it. Oh well, maybe another time. Other: Wish the Chocolate Buffet were an earlier time. We are not night owls. Suggestion for future cruisers, please check your accounts at least twice before you receive your final bill. I am glad we did because our obc wasn't on our account. At the last minute I decided to bring my final payment from NCL showing that we had one coming. They took a copy and by that afternoon it was on our account. Excellent response to this oversight. Disembarkment: We chose the express disembarkment, which is where you can leave anytime you, want to as long as it is before 9:40am. You take your bags with you. Very fast, smooth and easy. Final thoughts: Being first time cruisers we had a fantastic time and was sorry to see it end. However we signed up for a future cruise with their on board booking special. We want to thank everyone on the Star for a great cruise. We would recommend this cruise line and to ship to anyone. THANK YOU!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
We arrived a few days early in Seattle to tour around and visit with a friend that recently relocated there. Seattle is a wonderful place and has a wonderfully mild climate in August than where we are from (Texas). We decided to find the ... Read More
We arrived a few days early in Seattle to tour around and visit with a friend that recently relocated there. Seattle is a wonderful place and has a wonderfully mild climate in August than where we are from (Texas). We decided to find the pier a day early and scout it out. As we arrived we noticed a sign in one of the windows that said "Concierge". We went in and found out that we could drop our luggage off with them starting at 7:30a.m. and pick it up later in the day to be loaded on the ship. All it cost was $3.00 for each piece of luggage! On Embarkation day we dropped off our luggage and went to get breakfast and do some shopping. When we got back to the pier at about noon things were hopping so we decided to get our luggage and check it into the ship. The NCL employee at the porter's area said things were slow so we should go ahead and check in. When we got inside the line was extremely long and we feared it would take forever to get processed. However, we were extremely wrong. The check-in took no more than 15 minutes and we had our room cards. We still weren't ready to go on board so they said we could leave and enter through another security area. We checked out the markets and then at about 3p.m. decided to board the ship. Went through the alternate security check point and was on the ship in a matter of minutes. The Star is a beautiful ship and immaculately maintained. Though other post recommended eating lunch in the dining room we opted to go up on deck for the buffet and found it relatively uncrowded. Toured the ship and then proceeded to our room. Our mini-suite was extremely spacious and the bathroom had a tub/shower with sink area separated from the toilet. Some post complained about the liquid soap/shampoo dispensers but I found the quality of both relatively good. The shampoo had a wonderful rosemary scent to it. The soap was a little hard on my sensitive skin (I find this to be the case with any soap in a hotel or ship.) So those with dry/sensitive skins might want to bring an alternate along. I agree with everyone that the mattresses are HARD! I like it that way but those who like a medium to soft firmness you will definitely need to request the egg crate topper. We had requested a bar set-up and it was taken care of by the time we got to our cabin. It definitely saved money but unlike some posts I didn't see any difference in pricing than what I've experienced on other cruise lines (Princess, Carnival) for drinks. There is a 15% gratuity but that is been our experience on the above lines also. There are specials such as double shots in a special glass that gets you discounts on the remainder of the cruise and drink specials listed in the daily schedule so you should take advantage of those for better pricing. We found the food to be overall very good. I travel all of the U.S., France, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK and eat at some very fine restaurants so I should know what I'm talking about. The meals in the dining rooms do focus more on presentation than quantity but at 6'4" and 235lbs. I never left feeling hungry. The food in the Market Cafe was average but put it in the correct context there should be no complaints. I mean hey it's a buffet that has food sitting under heat lamps what do you expect? We ate the majority of our dinners in the dining rooms and only visited one specialty restaurant. That was Le Bistro which serves French cuisine. The food was excellent and the portions were definitely bigger than the dining rooms. The downside of the ship? Most definitely the entertainment. The shows were second rate and 90% of the singers in the lounges were awful and off key save for Jana Seale in the Gatsby bar area. She was sublime. The performers all seemed to be concentrating on their positions on stage or their dance steps rather than actually performing. They had a troupe from Second City but the were second rate (no pun intended). We eagerly anticipated the Chinese Acrobats but were disappointed by the combination of them and the ships performance troupe. Had it been just the acrobats it would have been fabulous. Disembarkation was a breeze. We choose to have NCL deliver our bags to our airline and they also printed our boarding passes. We got up and leisurely ate breakfast in the dining room and then got off the ship in about 10 minutes. Walked around Seattle some more and then caught a cab to the airport. Walked through security flew home and got our bags and went home with no problem. Ketchikan was our first port and it was beautiful. In fact we were blessed with great weather at every stop. Sunshine and mid 60's everytime. Walked and shopped around the historic area where the brothels used to be and then took a float plane tour of the Misty Fjords NM. This shore excursion through the ship was canceled so we did some research and opted to book on our own with Island Wings. It was wonderful. The plane was a beautifully restored Beaver and our guide was very knowledgeable and attentive. We had two-way radios and she encouraged us to ask all the questions we wanted. She is from Alaska and was very knowledgeable. We landed on a remote lake and were able to explore the area for quite awhile before returning. I would recommend Island Wings to anyone. Plus the price is definitely cheaper than what we had booked through NCL. Second stop was Juneau. Mostly a midsized city and not much to be seen. Beautifully located though. We booked a river float and had a great time. Not recommended for those looking for major rapids plus as we neared the end of our tour we were right in the middle of residential areas. Overall it was very fun and we saw many eagles which was a plus. After we left Juneau we headed to the Sawyer Glacier. There is some debate over whether this is better or worse than Glacier Bay but I thought it was beautiful beyond words. I was afraid we wouldn't be able to go very far up the Tracy Arm because of all the ice but everytime I thought we had reached our limit the Captain pressed onward. Ultimately we got within viewing distance of the glacier but the Park Service said it had calved several times that day and we could go no further. Still it was an awesome sight. The ship did an amazing 360 degree turn so everyone could get a good view and pictures of the glacier and then we headed back out. One thing to be aware of is that the travel time to the glacier is not short. The ship goes very slow and it took us about two hours to go up the Tracy Arm. Plus it was COLD. So if you plan to find a good spot on the deck definitely plan to bring a heavy coat and dress warm. We thought it might be good to view this from our balcony but the view all around the ship was so incredible we opted to stay on deck crowded as it was. Next stop was Skagway. It is a cute old mining town that is in a National Park. Every store is either a trinket shop, bar or restaurant and after a few blocks things finally get a little tiresome. We took a train up to the Denver Trailhead and hiked up into the rainforest. It was spectacular. One complaint is that it was a like a forced hike. The guides left little time to stop and take it all in or even to take pictures. Be prepared for a fairly difficult hike. The shore excursion book makes it seem easy but you will definitely get a workout. There trail is not groomed and you have to pick your steps very carefully (or risk slipping on a wet tree root and falling which I did twice.) Last stop was Prince Rupert. By reading some posts we had decided just to stay on the ship but opted to get off at the last minute. The town is quaint but nothing special. Just an average small village you would find anywhere with some beautiful mountains for a backdrop. By the time we arrived most of the stores and restaurants had shut down. We found a few unique gifts in one store and found a museum by the dock to be downright beautiful. We picked up some wonderful numbered prints in the gift shop. All in all we were off the ship for about two hours before we decided to go back on board and have some dinner. Overall the trip was wonderful. No matter what ship you do it on Alaska should be on ANYONES list of must do. The scenery is utterly beautiful and words fail to do it justice. This was our first trip on NCL and by some of the negative postings we were a little worried. However, the staff of the Star were beyond reproach. The food was better than we expected and the ship and our cabin were clean and well kept the entire cruise. We still consider Princess our favorite line but with the right itinerary we would definitely sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
We live close to Seattle so this cruise was driving to the Port of SEattle which made things a lot easier than flying into a port.  We got to Seattle early for boarding. I think we were on the curb at 12:45 and we were eating lunch on the ... Read More
We live close to Seattle so this cruise was driving to the Port of SEattle which made things a lot easier than flying into a port.  We got to Seattle early for boarding. I think we were on the curb at 12:45 and we were eating lunch on the ship by 1:30. Very fast getting onboard. We ate at the Versailles which became our favorite restaurant. Cabin: This was an Oceanview Cabin that had 90% obstructed view. And, that was the truth. There was a lifeboat right in front of us but we are in our cabin so little that we really didn't mind. I did find it interesting that there were 2 windows in the cabin. The cabin was well laid out. Lots of room for 2 people. Restaurants: We loved the Versailles and also ate at the Aqua which has the same menu but the Aqua has a more casual atmosphere. Le Bistro was wonderful. We always ate after nine so it's 2 for 1. A five-course superb French menu was delightful. We ate at Cagney's which has a very good Beef menu. I had a large cut Prime Rib and my husband had the 24 oz Porterhouse. Neither one of us could finish our meal. Again, this was after 9 pm and 2 for 1 prices. We also ate at the Ginza. We ordered off the Sushi menu and ended up with 48 different pieces of Sushi. Again, half price. I'd like to mention that we saw a lot of the officers and entertainers eating at this venue. Nice and quiet. Good windows. Ports of Call: We had not made shore excursion arrangements ahead of time. Ketchikan was mostly shopping. The ship tenders at this port. Juneau was interesting. We took the tram to the top of the hill for a spectacular view of the Juneau Bay. WE also took a bus to the Mendenhall which was easy and fun. Skagway was a cute little old-fashioned mining town. We opted to find the local brewery and local smoked salmon in lieu of shopping. Favorite: The ship stayed in Juneau until 1 pm and then proceeded up the Tracy arm to the Sawyer Glacier. This was the highlight of our trip. The weather cooperated and we stayed outside the entire time. The Sawyer Glacier is magnificent and we doubt we will see anything as breath-taking as this in our lifetime. We enjoyed the icebergs on the way and were in so utter awe of the Sawyer Glacier. The few hours to the glacier is packed with beautiful scenery at every turn. You must take your camera. Sit outside early as everyone wants to be by the rail. Freestyle Cruising: I can see why families like the freestyle approach because you can choose where, when, and with whom you eat. The choices of restaurants is more than you can possibly do in a week so it never could get tiring. Although, we could have eaten at the Versailles morning, noon and night and been thoroughly happy. The Market Cafe is a buffet that is open pretty much all the time. We found the choices were adequate and the food was fresh and hot. I also liked all the choices of fresh fruits and salads. The Ship: The ship was spotless and well laid out. It took us about 3 days to get to know our way around. There are ship layouts posted on all walls so no worries. I liked the hand-sanitation stations and used them often. Smokers were confined to their cabins, the casino and parts of the outside decks. The crew seemed happy to be working and liked to tell you about their families (most haven't seen their families in up to 6-9 months). Packing: Of course we overpacked. You will need a windbreaker-type jacket. A hat or earmuffs. I used gloves once. (up close to the glacier) Be sure and bring binoculars. I'd say bring a nice dressy outfit and wear it twice. (remember you aren't sitting with the same people at dinner). Then it's just casual (very) to resort casual. It is Alaska after all. Suggestions for Norwegian: Just one. Please turn the music off when you are sailing through the Tracey Arm. Especially when you get close to the glacier. I would have loved to hear the quiet. Advice: Bring your own wine on. Paying a $15/bottle corkage fee still saves you money. Order bar service ahead of time. We paid $40 for a litre of Absolute which was waiting when we got there. Overall, we saved another ton of money by having out cocktail in our room instead of paying per drink in the bars. (we did that, too). Bring lots of camera memory. Bring binoculars. Make reservations for the surcharge Restaurants early in the week. They are booked up by the end of the week. Would we do it again? YES!! Since this port is close to home, we had no flight considerations to make. This is a scenic and very relaxing cruise. If you want to party only, this is not the cruise you'd want to take. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
My hubby and I (50,48) arrived in Seattle at 9:00am, we live in So Ca so didn't worry about getting there the day before. It was 100+ degrees when we left and I had to find my long lost jacket to carry. Called for a Town Car at the ... Read More
My hubby and I (50,48) arrived in Seattle at 9:00am, we live in So Ca so didn't worry about getting there the day before. It was 100+ degrees when we left and I had to find my long lost jacket to carry. Called for a Town Car at the airport phone bank, it arrived within 5 minutes. Off to the cruise terminal, had heard about the freeway problems but we took I99 so we didn't experience any delays. When we arrived at the terminal I informed them I was a Latitude member and they put us front of the line for the next check in person. We checked in and sat down to wait for the ok to board. Within 1 hour were on board and ordered our 1st of many 6 for the price of 5 beers. We had eaten at the airport due to the early flight time and no breakfast on the plane and the lines at the buffet were so long so we didn't eat lunch. The Ship is beautiful, we had a balcony, LOVED the balcony. Loved the shower, the toilet had a door inside the bathroom which we thought was wasted space. We never met our room steward, I didn't like that, I wished he/she had introduced him or herself then they could have disappeared. The bed was hard as a rock, used a post-it to request a egg crate. It help a little but not much. Slept with the balcony door open every night, nearly froze hubby but it was wonderful for me. The ship hardly rocked, in fact when we got home I never had the rocking feeling you usually get on land after the cruise. Hubby and I both thought it was even smoother then the Caribbean. Ate at Teppanyaki the first night, good food, and good entertainment. Ate at Le Bistro the second night it wasn't as good. Not bad but nothing special. The rest of the time we ate breakfast in the buffet and Lunch at the Versailles and Dinner at Aqua. Before dinner each night we had a Espresso martini, which was delicious. Waiters were nice and service was good at both lunch and dinner. Couple of times I ate at the Sushi Bar which was good also. I joined the Texas Hold-em Tournament, got to the second round without any additional buy-ins, but have to have more experience and was out at 19 of 35. The rest of the casino, even though the tout Loose slots were NOT loose. Ports were wonderful, not enough time in Ketchikan, we took the Duck Tour which was good on land but not as good on the sea. Juneau was great, took the tram on our own, and took the bus to the Mendenhall Glacier, which was awesome. The bears were really active due to the salmon spawning so they had roped off some of the pathways. I had reserved a car for Skagway thru Avis and while I was in Ketchikan they called me and said they over booked 8 cars and had to cancel mine, I was very disappointed due to wanting to use Murray's guide, but we decided to take the White Pass Railroad and bought our ticket at the rail station and got a train car with only 15 other ppl in it so we had great views up and back AND saved money. The Sawyer Glacier was AWESOME! We viewed it from our balcony, took a zillion pictures. We didn't get off the ship in Prince Rupert, but watched ppl and the town from our balcony. Had a spa sale the last sea day called 5 ways to heaven, had a massage and facial then used the Sauna and Steam room, they tried to push their products but not to hard, just said no and that was that. We saw eagles, seals and one whale! No bears but that's ok. We didn't see any shows, we were on the ship to relax and that's what we did. We will be back to Alaska, it was so pretty and green. Lots of streams and trees. Disembarkation was the best ever, we picked our color, when it was called, we walked right off the ship, the customs man on the walk off the ship said "All American citizens, you can put your passport away now" then we found our luggage and walked out of the terminal after giving our declaration sheet to an employee and we were at the street looking for transportation in about 15 minutes. We were going to hail a taxi but a Town Car driver showed up and we took it back to the airport. Over all had a wonderful trip. This was my hubby's first trip on NCL he loved it, loved the freestyle dining. This was my second time with NCL and on the same ship both times. I loved it too, only down side was the short time in Ketchikan, and will choose my next cruise to Alaska based on the times in Port and not the ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2007
For months we looked forward to our honeymoon cruise on the Norwegian Star. Many reviews had been read and we went into the cruise with an open mind. Prior to boarding the Star, we had spent 4 days in the Seattle area and arrived at the ... Read More
For months we looked forward to our honeymoon cruise on the Norwegian Star. Many reviews had been read and we went into the cruise with an open mind. Prior to boarding the Star, we had spent 4 days in the Seattle area and arrived at the pier around noon for boarding. Boarding was a fiasco to say the least. There was no sense of direction from either the Port staff or NCL staff, it was mass confusion with three x-ray machines but no lines, and everyone crowded into one area. Once beyond all the security checkpoints and on the ship, all was great. When you board they will try to shuttle everyone up to Deck 12 to the buffet but keep in mind, the Versailles is OPEN for lunch! There was hardly anyone there and we were able to enjoy a very quiet and relaxing lunch before heading off to our cabin. STAFF: The staff of the NCL Star was wonderful. Our room steward was amazing in he was always having to wait for us to leave the cabin in the AM or evening for him to do his job. Never a negative word out of him. All our wait staff in the restaurants were amazing as well. They learned who we were and were constantly cordial. SHIP: The Star is a beautiful ship. The only problem we had were the kids in the hot tubs at the main pool versus being in the hot tubs at the kids pool. Unfortunately due to this, we were not able to use the hot tubs. Bummer! PORTS: Prepare for rain. 4 days out of 7 we were on the cruise we were in rain. We survived but when we were to cruise past the glaciers, it was to foggy and we could see NOTHING!!! This was a big downer for us but we enjoyed the fog from our balcony. The ports are fun and you make them what you want. We enjoyed all of them especially our whale excursion in Prince Rupert - "Peppy the humpback" put on quite a show for us. CABIN: We were in cabin 9582 - balcony BB cabin. Our cabin was perfect for us and we enjoyed our balcony especially at night with the door open to sleep. Definitely do a balcony cabin through Alaska. FOOD: This was the big downfall of the cruise. By the final morning I could do no more breakfast in the buffet without my stomach doing an immediate churn. The buffet was HORRIBLE and that was including the beverages as well. Le Bistro was below par in our eyes and the service there was not where it should have been. We loved Endless Summer and the Asian restaurant. Cagney's was wonderful and the service, A+++++. Overall, the food was average at best. After having been on so many cruises and NCL through Hawaii and Alaska, I am not sure we would ever sail NCL again. With the price we paid for our honeymoon, we expected better food quality (room service was better then Versailles). Overall, I would rate the NCL Star a C as the food brings down the rating considerably. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
My husband and I had not been on a cruise in 17 years and we chose NCL because of the price, and the "freestyle" concept. We do not like to have to dress up on vacation and this was a perfect fit for us. We flew into Seattle a ... Read More
My husband and I had not been on a cruise in 17 years and we chose NCL because of the price, and the "freestyle" concept. We do not like to have to dress up on vacation and this was a perfect fit for us. We flew into Seattle a couple of days before our cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the city. This was our first trip to Alaska and one I will never forget. We left our hotel (Grand Hyatt Seattle) around 11:30 by taxi to the port and stopped at Pike Place Market for a beautiful bouquet of flowers for our cabin. The port was busy but everyone was very helpful and efficient. We were on the Star by 12:15. We were off to a great start. We had a great lunch in Versailles and checked out the ship. Our cabin was ready a little before 2pm. We were happy with our balcony cabin. We definitely used the balcony and I must say it is worth the additional expense for an Alaska cruise. We saw so much from right outside our balcony. It also made the cabin seem larger. We were happy with the size of our cabin and all of our 4 suitcases fit under the bed. We brought too many clothes for this trip, especially with the laundry special on Weds. you can have your clothes washed and pressed for the trip home. Next time I will definitely bring less clothes. Our cabin was kept clean and tidy, but we never met our room steward. We were extremely happy with the service and the food on this cruise. I can't imagine how someone could not be happy unless only eating in buffet. We only ate there if we were having a quick breakfast before an excursion. Versailles was preferred over Aqua in our opinion of the service. (food was the same) We ordered room service for breakfast several times and it was always on time and exactly as ordered. ( I wrote in pineapple juice and got it!) We ate at Cagneys one night and it was wonderful. The service was first class (server brought me an appetizer from another restaurant when I asked about it) and the steaks were excellent. We also ate at Le Bistro (ok), Ginza (excellent), and Endless Summer (excellent). There was always food available and it was good. We also liked the idea of eating by ourselves if we wanted to and not having to dress up for dinner. Khakis and shirt (no tie) were fine any night. The chocolate buffet was a treat and a little crowded but a lot of fun. The spa facilities were beautiful and the dailies provided lots of activities each day. My husband and I spent a lot of time in the casino, which had some of the friendliest dealers we had experienced. We travel to casinos frequently, and this casino was top notch. We also enjoyed the comedy group that performed. We were not crazy about the musical performances. We noticed lots of children at the pool area and playing on the elevators at times, but otherwise they were occupied elsewhere. We only did one shore excursion through the cruiseline. In Prince Rupert, we did the ancient Indian village and petroglyphs tour. They grilled fresh salmon which we thoroughly enjoyed, but that was the highlight of the 4 hour tour. In Ketchikan we booked a wilderness tour online and it was ok. We saw one bear cub and lots of bald eagles. Ketchikan had the best shopping so save time for that. In Juneau we did the glacier and city tour for $25 booked after we got off the ship and it was very informative. In Skagway we rented a car from Avis and drove the Klondike highway to Emerald Lake, stopping at Caribou Crossing for a summer dog sled ride. It was a lot of fun and a beautiful drive. We were back around 2pm. We just did not want to sit on a train for that long and not be able to get off and take pictures if we wanted. Disembarkation was a breeze, although neither of us made it to the disembarkation talk onboard. I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone. I can not imagine someone not having a good time. Alaska is absolutely breathtaking and the cruise overall was wonderful. We can't wait to go again. I hope this is helpful to others planning their cruise, because this website helped us tremendously. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Overall, I was very satisfied with my NCL experience. Our group consisted of 4 adults - two inside cabins. Since the daylight hours are so long in Alaska, we were happy to have inside cabins (dark at night). Considering that Alaska ... Read More
Overall, I was very satisfied with my NCL experience. Our group consisted of 4 adults - two inside cabins. Since the daylight hours are so long in Alaska, we were happy to have inside cabins (dark at night). Considering that Alaska receives such a great deal of rainfall all year, my biggest recommendation is to pack raincoats or at least a water repellent jacket. We experienced mostly a light but constant rain, nothing terrible enough to ruin the experience. Embarkation was a breeze. We checked our baggage at about noon. There was no waiting in line to check in. Waited about 10 minutes before being allowed to board the ship. As others have commented, ship staff encourage you to go to the buffet for lunch once you board the ship, however, Versailles is open for lunch. It was a great choice.. the restaurant was empty when we arrived and were able to get a table by the window. By the time we had finished our lunch, we were told that the cabins were ready. Our luggage was delivered to our room just around the time that the ship began to sail away. Cabins were comfortable and clean. We were happy to have the refrigerator where we kept the water bottles that we brought along. Only two power outlets, but that was enough to charge the phone and the camera battery. Dining overall was good. As you would expect, the meals at the restaurants were better than in the buffet. We had breakfast at the buffets and thought they were fine.. the food options were the same each morning. The buffet and grill by the pool were best for lunch. For dinner Aqua and Versailles were both nice, they both had the same menu which varied each night, but we preferred the atmosphere and the service at Versailles. We enjoyed the meals at these restaurants - they had a nice selection; taste and presentation were great. The Endless Summer Mexican cuisine restaurant was OK - nothing spectacular. Le Bistro (cover charge) was fine, but we didn't think it was worth paying for it when the food and service wasn't that much better than it was at Versailles. Blue Lagoon had good food, but the service was slow. We mostly went there to grab a cookie and/or poundcake with coffee or tea. The prices for soda and alcoholic beverages were outrageous, so we stuck to water and tea while on the ship. Entertainment was somewhat lacking. We didn't mind too much because we just wanted to rest and relax, but there really weren't too many interesting choices. Staff around the ship was great. Everyone was very friendly and always trying to satisfy the guests. Excursions were somewhat pricey, but we thought they were fun. Definitely a good idea to make reservations online EARLY. We made our reservations online a little over a week prior to sail date and one of our choices was already sold out. We saw that the excursions office onboard had long lines. We planned excursions at each port and were glad we did.. the towns are really small and it is best to plan to do something. Our favorite excursions were: Skagway - helicopter ride to Meade Glacier, and in Prince Rupert - Wildlife cruise (on a fast boat)where we saw the most spectacular humpback whale show. The biggest disappointment was the Yukon Railroad excursion in Skagway. The views are very nice but it's a 3 hour train ride to nowhere and back - no stops along the way. After about 1 hour we had enough of the train but had no choice but to stick it out for another 2 hours. Ketchikan and Juneau were the best for souvenir shopping. The ship's souvenir shop Galeria was expensive and the selection wasn't impressive. Disembarkation was a breeze as well. You are able to choose the time that you want to get off the boat. We had chosen an 8:45 departure, but ended up leaving earlier (8:30). Once off the ship, we found our luggage quickly. I would say that the whole process took about 15 minutes. I plan to cruise with NCL again in the future and would recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Norwegian Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

Find a Norwegian Star Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click