33 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

Our Background: Husband and Wife 40/31 married 10 years on our 5th cruise. 3-Carnival, 1-HAL, 1-NCL. We are open minded people that believe you create your own happiness wherever you travel. We love to cruise! And we are self ... Read More
Our Background: Husband and Wife 40/31 married 10 years on our 5th cruise. 3-Carnival, 1-HAL, 1-NCL. We are open minded people that believe you create your own happiness wherever you travel. We love to cruise! And we are self proclaimed foodies. We live in the Seattle area. EMBARK: Fairly smooth, good natured people guiding you through the process. We arrived about 10:30 am and found the lines short. Used "My Primetime Limo" for transport to the port, they did a nice job! Got on the ship before noon, used a tip from another cc writer, "eat in the MDR on the first day and avoid the zoo at the buffet" great tip I highly recommend doing it. The NCL staff will try to herd you to the buffet but you do have choices in this regard. THE CABIN: NCL gets you into the cabins fast before 1:00 pm (nice job)! We had a Deck 10 inside cabin (first time in an insider). The cabin has a nice layout, and the bathroom is above average in size and style. The beds were very comfy but could use a bridge between the twins, when pushed together. I did get swallowed alive one night. :) Other lines offer this option, and for a couple that likes to cuddle it's a must! Storage is average with other cruise lines we've experienced. Our Cabin Steward was below average in friendliness and up keep of the room. Our Cabin was clean but not super clean. Towel animals were lack luster (no biggie, my DW gets a kick out of them). FOOD: Ok please remember the DW and I are foodies. So about 50% of the reason we take a cruise is we really enjoy having others cook for us! We have varying levels of expectations, depending on the venue. For example the MDR= high quality and amazing flavor, The Buffet= good tasting food maybe lower quality ingredients, yet solid taste is a must. That being said... MDRs: Food average, service a bit slower than other lines. We did have a few bright spots here, Desserts were above average, the DW was delighted with the cheesecake. I had the coconut souffle and it was wonderful, the Dessert Chef on this ship is good, which would later puzzle me. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: Le Bistro, the food quality and service was excellent! ($20 per person). La Cucina, the food quality was below average, overcooked very thin rib-eye steak. Also under cooked bland pasta dish. Sent the steak back and received and slightly less cooked yet just as low of quality cut of beef. Had 3 cuts of beef on the Star, all were low quality. The service here was very good! ($10 per person). BUFFET: Low quality choices here, not much flavor with only a few bright spots. The Ice Cream was tasty and the cookies were good. The atmosphere here is terrible, reminiscent of an older high school lunch room (and I mean room), all stainless steel, I am sure very easy to clean yet not appetizing! Cramped seating here, not comfy! CHOC BUFFET: Wow! One cc writer put it best "just enough cocoa to turn it brown" ok NCL you have some great desserts and the talent to produce them on this ship. However you will not find them at the choc buffet! Its held in the "lunch room" and the flavor...well there is none! NCL please I cry out to you! Do this event right or just stop doing it all together! Please! We have a palate. JAVA CAFE: Lattes very good here! Free pastries with coffee purchase. Free drip coffee here as well. Prices fair. LOUNGES: Mixed reviews here. Some locations not ready for customers. Most bars were very good. Over-all service here was good! No happy hour, specials were so-so. Snacks provided (nice touch). Prices on par with other lines sailed. SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT: Over-all above average! Elements, Best we've ever seen on a cruise ship, Top Notch! Angels, Amazing show! Band on the Run, Average. Misc shows, Average. Family Comedy, enjoyable. Dancing with the Stars, Could have been good, Mr. Sugar (asst. cruise director) ruined it with his rude demeaning humor. Lounge Entertainment, average with bright spots, The piano player from NYC was great (Gatsby's)! Ruby was very good! African American female singer amazing! (spinnaker) PUBLIC AREAS: Over-all very clean! I noticed some secondary railings are down to the bare wood, this is a first for me!? On the ships we've sail thus far they have all been impeccably maintained. A little shocking to bare wood on 1000 ft cruise liner. (again no biggie) The ship was easy to navigate for us and it has a nice feel. As mention by other cc writers there was a lite smell of sewer in some ares, maybe due to rough seas? Not sure. Wasn't overwhelming. WRAP UP: Over-all for us the NCL Star was not as good as our other Cruises. The main reason I believe, the food program on NCL is of lower quality than Carnival and HAL. Carnival cabin fares are about the same as NCL, so for our money Carnival is a better value. Before cruising NCL again the food program would have to substantially improve! Thank for Reading! Kind Regards Michael and Jamie Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I have done 5 other NCL cruises and 16 cruises in total. I would think twice again, before I go on an older ship. It made the difference from a good cruise v a great cruise. I went with one of my friends, this cruise is not geared to ... Read More
I have done 5 other NCL cruises and 16 cruises in total. I would think twice again, before I go on an older ship. It made the difference from a good cruise v a great cruise. I went with one of my friends, this cruise is not geared to singles. It caters to an mature audience. I am over 50 but not quite at the retired stage. I enjoy more activity and nightlife. This ship does not really offer this. There were some younger folks but in general the vast majority were 70-80's. Go for the ports. The value of this ship is not very good as they charge a lot of money to sail and offer a tired ship, limited entertainment and fair quality food, the ship should be retired. IN GENERAL LIMITED QUALITY AND QUANTITY EMBARKATION: I must say the people who work at the port of Seattle were rude and abrupt. It was the worst embarkation I have experienced. The time to board took about 45 minutes. Not good not bad. As I am a previous guest on NCL we are supposed to receive priority boarding. Based on the time we waited in line It made no difference being a prior guest v 1st time traveler. Lesson get in the shortest line! LUGGAGE: we received our luggage in a reasonable and timely manner and I have no concerns or issues to report. SHIP: The Norwegian Star is an older ship. It was last refurbished in 2010 (according to NCL) While it is fairly new refurb do not let that fool you it is an older ship and in desperate need of maintenance. Toilets backed up all over the ship, the odor was awful. Window film peeled, pieces of cork flooring needed replacement and quite frankly needed another refurb. FOOD: Stick to the main dining rooms, Versailles being better than aqua, Food choices are limited, food quality while fresh, taste was good, appetizers were tastier than the main entrees. Menu offers limited change nightly. service was good but not great. BUFFETS: limited choices of food, limited quantities, food was generally overcooked and looked better than it tasted. quality was similar to a Golden Coral Buffet. Not as many choices. Deserts were small, they put less out at a time. Service was good in the buffets, they were generally quick to clean tables. Sometimes took food away before you could finish it. (kind of annoying) FOOD AND SERVICE OVERALL: Were generally good but never great. Of course likes and dislikes differ for us all I can only comment on my past cruises experiences. ROOM: I stayed in Mini Suite, based on other cruise lines and past cruises this particular mini suite was smaller than past mini suites I have stayed in. But the room Steward was fabulous. The room always clean. CREW: In general the crew was very cheerful and eager to do their jobs. They do a great job despite long hours and thankless cruisers. SHOWS: A couple of the shows were downright awful,the humor was tatselss and insulting and not necessary. A couple of the hsows were better and enjoyable. I am far from a prude but if you are going to have an adult show then list it as such in the program. The talent was fair ENTERTAINMENT/MUSIC: This cruise gets an older crowd. If you are looking for late nights I do not think it will be on this ship. There were numerous older people with walkers and canes. The music gears toward and older crowd shutting out people who want to hear top-40 and dance. Nothing much happended after 12 am and the casino closed early on a couple nights as no one came to gamble. TOURS : take any one you can afford Alaska is wonderful see anything you can and you will not lose. PORTS OF CALL: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Prince Rupert CA All of these ports were enjoyable. The scenery is incredible, the air is clean the water calm and glasslike and the mountains and scenery on the way knock your socks off. Saw Ididarod Dogs, Saw the mendehall glacier, incredible. What ever you chose I think is a good choice. did not here one bad word. DIS-EMBARKATION: Went very easy, I did a "walkoff". Worth dragging the luggage. You get off fast, do not have to find your luggage. Well worth the labor. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was my fourth cruise and I have to say I was a little disappointed in the ship itself. As soon as we got settled on board, my family (husband and 1 teenage son and 2 teenage daughters) and I went to the buffet. We were terribly ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise and I have to say I was a little disappointed in the ship itself. As soon as we got settled on board, my family (husband and 1 teenage son and 2 teenage daughters) and I went to the buffet. We were terribly disappointed in the food at the Market Cafe. It was mediocre quality at best. We had 2 staterooms. The one my husband and I had was fine, but the kids' room reeked of cigarette smoke. The staff was friendly and accommodating, but some were difficult to understand because they were from other countries (which is fine, just had to pay attention closely when speaking to them.) For the most part, the food in the restaurants was good and we enjoyed the different cuisines. The entertainment was good. We enjoyed the shows and the lounge music. The Alaska ports-of-call were amazing! We enjoyed them very much and saw the wonders of Alaska. We avoided the shopping because we felt like it was Norwegian Cruise Lines trying to get more money out of us. It was all about jewelry and we aren't interested in jewelry. We enjoyed our excursions. We went salmon fishing in Ketchikan and were successful there! The fishing charter company cleaned and prepared our fish and shipped it home for us. In Juneau, we went whale watching and took a short hike to Mendenhall glacier. After our short stay in Juneau, the captain sailed the ship into the Tracy Arms fjord where we saw the Dawes glacier. This was a highlight of the trip for us. In Skagway, we took the White Pass and Yukon Railway tour. It was well worth it. Our last stop was Prince Rupert, BC, Canada. This was a waste of time. There is nothing there. I think it was just a refueling stop for the ship. Overall, it was a good time, but having cruised in the Caribbean with other cruise lines and NCL in the past, we expected more. Just to mention, they had a Chocoholics Buffet one night that was not up to my standards for a cruise like this at all. Very poorly done. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We boarded the Norwegian Star on August 6, 2011. My in-laws accompanied us. My father-in-law has always wanted to see Alaska and it was part of his "bucket list." Our first experience was with the buffet lunch, which is ... Read More
We boarded the Norwegian Star on August 6, 2011. My in-laws accompanied us. My father-in-law has always wanted to see Alaska and it was part of his "bucket list." Our first experience was with the buffet lunch, which is customary when you board. It was good. Then we went to see our cabins. They were smaller than what we had expected. They have some very old 13 inch TV's and 15 channels or so, half of which are cruise ship channels to promote the ports, sell you stuff, etc. The bathroom was okay and was a little bit bigger than what we had experienced previously. After checking our cabin, we went to tour the ship. We are used to amenities on board and this ship is older and does not really have much to do. There was no rock climbing wall, water park, outdoor big screen for movies, sporting events or anything. There were a couple of golf cages, a couple of pools, hot tubs, and there was a water slide which the kids enjoyed once or twice, but the Alaska weather doesn't really lend itself to that. In fact, I never had a bathing suit on during this cruise (and maybe that's a good thing!). So, let's talk about dining. We did like the ability to go to the dining rooms whenever we wanted. With NCL, you have freestyle cruising. The food was good. Kids loved the steaks. I had some really nice fish plates. The service though was lacking. The waiters seemed to have too many tables to care for and their assistant waiters were good at filling your water glass, but very slow to clear plates, etc. It was not the dining experience that we were used to. The food though was decent. We enjoyed breakfasts out on the back deck (level 12) where we could get fresh waffles and omelettes. Do wear a jacket when eating breakfast outside because it can be a bit chilly. We did not try any of the "specialty" restaurants. We paid $4,000 per cabin for 3 people ($8,000 for the six in our family) and figured that we should get our money's worth for what we had paid for. They did try to up sell the specialty restaurants quite often. As for our cabin steward and his assistant- they were very lacking. We have normally had really good attention on our other cruises (Carnival, Costa, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity), to the point that I've given extra gratuities to them. Not so here. In fact, the service was so lacking that we asked to have the gratuity lessened (NCL charges $12 pp/day). My wife was embarrassed to have to do this, but it was not up to par. I even asked the cabin steward how many rooms he was taking care of and he responded 18. This is probably too much. We did enjoy the ports and I'll comment on those below. We spent a fortune on excursions and purchased them through NCL. NCL probably takes a 40% cut for them, but we wanted to experience Alaska to the fullest. I tried to see if the excursions could be booked privately, like we've done in other places, but it just wasn't possible. Entertainment is one of the final things that I will comment on. We generally love the production shows, the cruise director and staff, etc. The first night on board was the worst show imaginable. This set the tone. The cruise director, Jaime, is very nice, but just not the larger than life personality that a cruise ship needs. Her assistant, Rob Sugar, should probably take her place. He's lively and pretty fun. Jaime is milk toast and I hate to berate her, but she needs to be there for the introduction of the shows to pump up the audiences and get them excited for the shows. She did not do this. I think this is a major flaw. So, the production shows were lame, except for the final show on Friday night- "Elements" which was very good. The other shows during the cruise that were NCL production shows lacked any star power at all- very few if any set changes, costume changes, etc. We are used to some really great shows on Carnival and RC. We did enjoy the French acrobat show and the hypnotist, Dr. Scott Lewis. Scott did three shows and should have done more. He was terrific. Truthfully, I would have liked for his shows to be a little more wild (especially the late night, adults only show). There was a comedy troupe on board that was okay. We do like more variety and talent stuff. NCL underperformed here big time. Let's see- final thoughts- The gym was okay. Make sure to bring headphones. The on-board shops were okay. You kind of get tired of them after a couple of rounds. If you want real ice cream, it's back by the gym and is open from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. The kids liked the kids club. I thought it was a bit wild at times- very noisy, but hey- kids like to play and have fun. They did a good job with it and our kids kept asking to go back, which gave my wife and I plenty of time to do what we wanted to do. Enjoy the ports, they are fun, but the NCL star was very lackluster in our estimation. Oh, I should also comment on the staff. We are used to people being much more friendly. The staff was performing a job, not really enjoying their jobs- the friendliness factor was greatly missing on this ship. We saw lots of loafing around and at one point even saw a couple of the staff making fun of fat people on the ship and moo'ing at them. It was very disrespectful and mean spirited. Also, we generally expect to have a bill to review the day before- they don't put it out till the morning of disembarkation. I wanted to review our charges for accuracy, so I went and got a bill on Friday night. There also was no comment card given out to rate the ship and give opinions. I found this odd. Maybe this is why our experience on NCL was mediocre at best. They need to up their game and if you have the choice between NCL or Carnival or Royal Caribbean, go with Carnival or RC. We have no desire to sign up with NCL in the future based on their current performance. Also, we thought that the value for the price that was charged was not very good. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our 2nd cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines.The first was fantastic aboard the Pearl and the 2nd was very disappointing aboard the Star. Embarkation in Seattle was very smooth, as well as debarkation in Seattle. We ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines.The first was fantastic aboard the Pearl and the 2nd was very disappointing aboard the Star. Embarkation in Seattle was very smooth, as well as debarkation in Seattle. We had a party of 12 on this cruise and had booked through Norwegian Cruise Lines direct. Some minor problems with the booking director is where the first disappointments started. Once aboard the Star we were dismayed at the condition of our cabin. Our cabin had worn and wrinkled carpets, the beds were extremely hard and was equipped with only one electrical outlet, soap dispensers in the shower did not work the whole trip and we found that very inconvenient.We had mentioned to the steward the problem, but was never addressed. After the Star,just going through a reconditioning a few months prior to our trip, we thought that the cabins would be in better shape than they were. We feel that Norwegian should have focused on the cabins prior to the reconditioning, instead of just making new cabins on the 12th deck where the Spinnaker Lounge used to be. The stabilizers seemed in need of revamping too, we always had a rocking motion on this cruise. Smoking needs to be limited to one side of the ship or lounges only. We enjoyed the Spinnaker Lounge on the Pearl as it was a place where people could gather and watch the scenery or just go and relax. The Spinnaker Lounge on the Star is now in the back of the ship and no windows to view from, just another lounge and not a place where one could go to relax. The Stardust Theater had some good entertainment, although the sound level needed to be brought down so people could enjoy it. Many of the seats were broken and very uncomfortable. The main buffet had decent food although some of it could have been cooked longer. The restaurants were better and the food was always hot and the service was OK. The ports were as follows: Ketchikan - very good Juneau - very good Skagway - loved the port, but a disaster for handicapped persons - Handicap ramp was closed after people disembarked and then when people returned to re-board at least 3 people(possibly more) in wheel chairs were carried up step stairs by crew members, until someone realized the danger to both the passengers and the crew members. There were at least 17 people that we saw waiting, that had wheelchairs or were using walkers and finally a forklift was used to hold the ramp in place so these people could re-board. We were not very impressed with the way Norwegian Crew handled this hazardous situation. Prince Rupert - very good The crew for the most part, were very pleasant, but almost seemed like they would rather be somewhere else. We think it would be better if the passengers had the tipping control rather than it being charged to you room each day automatically. Last but not least, we feel that when passengers have complaints, the people in Public Relations should at least return the phone calls or letters, if nothing more than to show and keep good customer service. In our opinion, it seems like money wins out over customer service. Being in Customer Service for over 30 years myself, I am very disappointed in Norwegian this time around.We will really have to think about taking Norwegian for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Our cruise experience on the Norwegian Star was, at best, uh, okay. We chose NCL because, my wife and I, being strongly independent, were taken by the notion of the "Freestyle Cruising" (which we took to mean do what you want, ... Read More
Our cruise experience on the Norwegian Star was, at best, uh, okay. We chose NCL because, my wife and I, being strongly independent, were taken by the notion of the "Freestyle Cruising" (which we took to mean do what you want, when you want) touted by Norwegian. We were especially taken by the concept of not having set dining arrangements. I guess had the restaurants been better, that would have made a difference, but more about that later... The check-in process for our Alaska cruise was pretty straightforward, but it certainly helped that we were there early. We ended up being the fifth and sixth people to embark, so we didn't see a lot of pushing and shoving. Once onboard, we found the Norwegian Star to be an adequate ship. Certainly not a five-star floating hotel, but not a Motel Six either. Our balcony stateroom was clean and of an adequate size for two with only a bit of "waltzing" to get out of each other's way. I can't imagine how our next-door neighbors stayed sane with four people in the same room though... Bathrooms were small, but at least our room had a shower-tub combination. The room TV was pretty disappointing. I hadn't seen a 19-inch CRT TV since college, and, being a little older now, things were kinda hard to see when trying to view from bed (which, given the layout of the room, was the only place to view the TV). The selection of movies running during the cruise was pretty good though (from what I saw of them). The food at most restaurants was "workmanlike", neither great nor totally terrible. The fare at the Market Cafe, served buffet style, left a lot to be desired. Think slightly more upscale cafeteria food... "Free" sit-down restaurants (of which there were four) were okay and have suitably diverse menus, but it was certainly nothing special. Expect your food to be lukewarm when it arrives, depending on how far you are from the main galley and how efficient your waiter/waitress might be. There were also four restaurants with "service charges" (added over-and-above the price of your ticket), with slightly higher quality fare, but these restaurants can charge from $10 to $25 more per person, not inclusive of any tip you might consider for the wait staff. We liked the "Ginza" (the Chinese/Japanese sushi restaurant) and "La Cuchina" (the Italian restaurant) the best, probably as much for the friendliness of the wait staff as for the food. Speaking of staff, the restaurant staff on the Star was hit-or-miss... Many of the waiters/waitresses take time to get to know you, will stop and chat and are generally very pleasant. Some however must be wishing they were someplace else... They go through the motions, and serve you without enthusiasm. You end up feeling like you may as well have gone to the buffet. The "Best of All" buffet (featuring the best menu items from all of the high-end restaurants) was pretty good, but, like many things on the ship, there were ups and downs. The crab cakes from "Cagney's" (the onboard steak house) were great, as were the oriental offerings from "Ginza" and the antipasti from "La Cuchina". If you are going for the prime rib though, look out for "angry cow". It was pretty darned rubbery and way underseasoned... Avoid the "Chocholic Buffet" at all costs (offered once on the cruise). It was wall-to-wall people, fighting for some of the worst-tasting dessert offerings imaginable. The shipboard activities were decent, though we found ourselves planning our days. Here too, you had the good and the bad. The "Elements" show on the last evening was a "go out with a bang" presentation, but shows by The Second City (whose alum include many who became SNL stars) were pretty flat. Vegas it certainly wasn't. The biggest downside of the cruise we found to be the constant din to shop, shop, shop... Three of the twelve TV channels available onboard carried nothing but back-to-back commercials for the Columbian Emeralds, watches, perfumes and pay-per-visit spa treatments. I didn't know that you could get botox treatments while sailing between ports-of-call and honestly can't imagine why someone would want to, but there were certainly commercials shilling them. When you arrived in port, many of the "recommended" stores on the town maps provided every night sold jewelry and Caribbean tchotchke (sunglasses, color-changing t-shirts, etc.). Once in said jewelry stores, you were treated to the same high-pressure sales tactics as one might find on a car lot. You could look, but once you showed the smallest bit of interest, sales associates came popping out of nowhere to show you this or that piece. And if you didn't choose to mortgage the house and buy that $60000 diamond ring you passingly admired, the charming staff and management would turn surly, like you had just wasted their precious time. The most telling criticism of many of the "recommended" shops came from a Ketchikan native we spoke to, who said, "Oh those shops opened the minute your ship docked and will be closed the minute they raise the gangway. The cruise lines bring them in only for cruise season. They don't live here." After that little denouement, we generally avoided the "recommended" shops and struck out on our own. In the end, I suppose I had higher expectations than were realized on this, my first cruise. NCL and the Norwegian Star were okay, and I generally enjoyed the "cruise experience", but I suspect we may be shopping for another cruise line for our next trip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Being Australians and not having cruised before, it was with some trepidation that we embarked on this particular cruise on this ship. I guess it was because of the 'tyranny of distance' syndrome that makes it questionable. ... Read More
Being Australians and not having cruised before, it was with some trepidation that we embarked on this particular cruise on this ship. I guess it was because of the 'tyranny of distance' syndrome that makes it questionable. Our first impressions of the ship were impressive by stature but those impressions gradually diminished over the period of the cruise to the extent of 'can't wait to get off' at the end. Let me say that NCL's 'freestyle' cruising will not suit everyone. I have no problem with the style and concept of that, it is merely their interpretation and implementation that impinges on the fond memories generated during the cruise. At our group's "meet & greet" we were informed by the 'chiefs of the cruise' that ... it was 'our' cruise and we were to enjoy ourselves ... Somehow, that message got lost amongst the crew! Let me firstly list those things that grated, like the embarkation process for which you had to queue! the dis-embarkation process that was just way too long and barely sensibly organised, the constant selling of art/paintings etc [sic], the near continual haranguing of the 'selling' the various competitions etc. [bingo/casino/trivia], the almost constant harassment by the drink waiters no matter where you were on the ship, the gross imposition into personal spaces by the ever-present, annoying 'photographers' who's photos were very expensive and the almost palpable indifference of the 'hotel' crew in general. Now to the other things! Was the ship everything that we expected? Most definitely YES! Was our 'inside stateroom' adequate for our needs? Unquestionably YES [would go for a balcony next time though] Were we satisfied with the available dining options excluding the 'surcharged' places? Definitely. Quality & quantity of food in those dining places? In most instances, more than adequate in taste & style. Did we eat at the 'surcharged' restaurants? Only on two occasions and neither the "Ginza" or the "Tex-Mex' met standards that should warrant the imposition of the $10-$15 surcharge. We were more than satisfied with the care and attention showed to us by our cabin attendants. Their attitude was so different to the embarrassing, inept & almost careless attitude displayed by most of the other crew. Would we go cruising again? Certainly not on the other side of the earth - Northern Hemisphere! Would we travel/cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines again? Probably not! Overall, the lasting impression of the cruise is that you have to be able to make your own way, to choose your own destiny and not be reliant on the cruise line/ship's crew to choose for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My wife and I are in our mid 30's and just returned from the Sept 18 Alaska sailing on the Star from Seattle. We were traveling with six older relatives, five of which are senior citizens. We initially planned to do the Golden ... Read More
My wife and I are in our mid 30's and just returned from the Sept 18 Alaska sailing on the Star from Seattle. We were traveling with six older relatives, five of which are senior citizens. We initially planned to do the Golden Princess because I have sailed on Princess before and have always wanted to sail on their Grand Class of ships. However, due to procrastination, the ship was sold out in the category we wanted (oceanview) and the only option on that sail date was the Norwegian Star. Still seemed fine and we got a good deal as most were on a budget. There was a line at the port but we arrived at peak time (right at noon) and the moved quickly so no problem. The staff at the port were all very friendly and helped you quickly though the process. Once we boarded the first thing to do was go eat lunch because the rooms were not yet ready. Everyone was ready to try soem cruise food so we went up to deck 12 and the Market Cafe. I have cruised 8 times before but 3 of the people in our party were on their first cruise. The Market Cafe (buffet area) was packed and the way they have the tables arranged it makes it very easy for two people to hog a table for six. We spilt into two groups of six and two in two tables and started eating. It's not really laid out well because on the starboard side of the ship, the cafe is twice as long and you can walk through it to get from the midship pool area to the aft gym. But on the port side the cafe stops half way back and becomes a crew only closed door area. So if you are sitting there and wanted desert you literally had to fight your way forward the port side, around the front and all way down the aft side then go back the way you came to get to your table. Walking is never bad when you are on cruise eating non stop but a bad design is still a bad design. Plus if you wanted a soda or alcohol they set up a "cart" on that same starboard side only again making it inconvenient to those on the port side. We were all satisfied well enough with lunch and anxious to get to our rooms and unpack before the life boat drill. Mind you, we only had an oceanview and not a balcony, but the king size bed took up the whole room and the only way on or off the bed was from the foot. There is a small table and desk chair on one side and a table/cabinet piece of furniture on the other side with a stool in front. Really? Who is going to sit down at a desk in 150 sq ft stateroom to right their memoirs? Essential space could have been picked up by losing the stool (and chair) and just building wall storage. The bathroom was tiny with little sink space but the doors on the shower and separating the toilet were nice. The water temp was never consistent in the shower even when left on the same setting. One day hot, one day just lukewarm. The soap dispensors looked cheap but it saved me having to crowd the tiny shower shelf with my personal toiletries so it worked. The lifeboat drill was odd. On every cruise I've been on before, your muster station was actually out on the open deck below the lifeboats. On the Star it was in the lower section of the forward Stardust Theatre? You really are telling me that is the ship is sinking I am supposed to come into a 900 seat theatre, go to the lowest point and sit there?? We had beautiful weather in Seattle and found a nice spot on deck 13 for the sail away. The pool deck has a nice tapered rising gallery for chairs but the strange column things by the slides are ugly and so are the numerous fake palm trees. I like that forward area of the ship had nice deck space as well. This was a wonderful spot to enjoy the sailing away from Kethchikan on our third day when it was gloriously sunny and in the upper 60s! We ate at the Auqa and Versailles rooms but only the Versaille (aft) is open for breakfast and our cabins were pretty forward. The breakfasts in the Market Cafe are as bad as people say. No omelet station. No waffle station. Cold eggs. Hard pastries. Lukewarm pankcakes. The bacon was good. The cereal was good. The fruit was good. We still ate there 5 of the 7 mornings because the Versailles only serves until 9:30am. The Market Cafe though was pretty much always crowded and sometimes took several walk arounds to find a table. We ate at the Steakhouse which was excellent. As our party was looking to me to be kind of the organizer I had previously also suggested we try the Italian and Tex-Mex restaurants too. So the first day on board I make our reservations for the three nights. What I had seen before told me the last two had no cover charge but now NCL decided to charge $10 pp at these. Everyone still said we would try them and I enjoyed the Italian (where others in our group didn't) and we all liked the Tex-Mex. Excellent service there and great steak fajitas. So two of the three were hits. Dinners in the main dining rooms were ok. You can tell they have taken the food down a tier to drive people to their specialty restaurants. There isn't anything inherently "free" with their freestyle dining. One more negative then I will get to some positives. I think the ship's cruise director Candi was awful. Very plastic, fake sounding personality. She repeated the same phrases over and over seemed very ingenuine. Her cruise director staff selling the lottery cards were worse then used car salesman. And the assistant cruise director and Bingo guy was grating to the ears. His English was terrible and his "it's Biiiiiiiingo time!" announcements might as well just said "it's time for us to get more of you moneyyyyyyyyyy". Probably the least enjoyable cruise director staff I have ever had. Ok, things I liked. The professional entertainment was good. Second City, music shows, most live performers, etc. The Star Bar on deck 13 quickly became our favorite place. Initimate, usually uncrowded with the same waiter every night. And maybe the only real true bargain on board: 2 for 1 Martinis from 5-9pm each night. The only bad thing is the decor of the place lookes like a lounge from a ship 20 years ago and the view is basically the pool and those ugly fake palm trees I mentioned earlier. This ship lacked the "oh wow" public area with an amazing view. That's the one thing I was looking forward to on the Golden Princess - the view from Skywalker Lounge. We had beautiful weather in all three Alaska ports and at Dawes Glacier. Prince Rubert was a waste a time and my wife and I only got off the ship because we figured we could find a Tim Horton's (think Canadian Dunkin Donuts only better) and sure enough we did, about a 5 minute walk from the pier. Someone else mentioned the Spinnaker Lounge being a dungeon. And even the gym had only tiny walls with window views. Most of the workout equipment was facing a mirrored wall with no line of site to the outside. Two big fails in my opinion. A ship should maximize its window space and every public space should have nice outside views. Even the Versailles which has large rear windows are not full windows. They have these architectural designs that block 50 percent of your view on what could otherwise be a gorgeous glass dining room overlooking the wake of the ship. All in all, I was underwhelemed and a little disappointed. I would never go on this ship again and being my first time on NCL, I would pretty much gurantee I would not go on any of their ships again (even the Star). It felt like they were always selling something, or cutting back on something to force you to spend extra and it felt cheapened like I would expect on Carnival. Next cruise will definitely be Princess. I have leared. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Stateroom: We had an oceanview room, but it was very poorly laid out. The beds were pushed together and facing the door, but accessing either side was quite difficult as there was a fold-up bed on the wall on one side and the desk was ... Read More
Stateroom: We had an oceanview room, but it was very poorly laid out. The beds were pushed together and facing the door, but accessing either side was quite difficult as there was a fold-up bed on the wall on one side and the desk was against the bed on the other. We ended up turning the bed so it faced the fold-up bed and we could access both sides better. There was also a cot under one side of the bed, but there would be no space to actually use it in the room. These rooms are for four according to NCL, but it barely fit 2. The bed was very hard and the frame was made from metal siding. I'm not sure why they did this, but it made for two very sore backs. There was an adequate amount of closet space, but the shelving was a bit awkward and the drawers made a ton of noise. The mini-bar was nice since we had it emptied and used it as a personal refrigerator. The bathroom is a bit nicer than some since the toilet has its own door and the shower has a door instead of a curtain. The room stewards did a good job, but didn't say anything to us the few times we saw them. Dining: The food was nothing to get excited about. The buffet often had hot dogs, sandwiches, and typical food. We did not eat there often, but seating was hard to find when we did. We went to two of the restaurants that require an additional fee. In our opinion, the food there was maybe as good as I would have expected the free food to be. We did not go to the steakhouse as the surf and turf was $35 per person and not worth the cost in our opinion. We didn't have a problem most of the time getting seated right away at the main dining room. The food was okay, but you could tell it had been sitting under a heat lamp for quite some time on most of the food. The room service had a good selection and the food was pretty tasty. Entertainment: For the most part we didn't go to the shows because they weren't our style and geared towards an older crowd. We did, however, enjoy the Second City group as well as the juggler. There seemed to be lots of options to keep us busy so we were overall satisfied here. Tendering: There was a problem with our ship and we arrived late to Juneau which made us have to anchor and use tender boats. For some reason it took over 2 hours to get us off the ship and it took 30 minutes or so to load each boat. We have never had it take more than 10-15 minutes to load each tender. I don't know what took them so long, but we ended up only having about 3.5 hours of the 6 we were supposed to in Juneau. Ship overall: The decor was nice, but some of the layout was not. It seemed like they just put restaurants in whatever area may have been empty in the past to make more money. We paid $15 a person to eat sushi for lunch one day and had to listen to an art auction the entire time because the restaurant was overlooking the bar the event was held in. I asked the waiter how much longer the auction would last and he said 15 minutes, but it was going on the entire hour we were eating. There were only a few bars on the ship and they took away the best bar to put in more expensive suites. Overall it was a decent ship, but NCL seems to be a bit more greedy than the other lines we've sailed with. It was a relaxed environment, but we did miss not having the same servers every night. It just felt like there was no personal touch. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I'm a first time cruiser. I had NO expectations before leaving. In fact, I decided to keep ONLY an open mind. Just got off the boat this morning in fact. About a month after I booked the cruise and a month before leaving, I ran into ... Read More
I'm a first time cruiser. I had NO expectations before leaving. In fact, I decided to keep ONLY an open mind. Just got off the boat this morning in fact. About a month after I booked the cruise and a month before leaving, I ran into this website and read the reviews. Not much I could do, as I had already dished out more than $3000 for our small family of 4 (2 kids, 1 and 3). Alaska was recommended by friends as being really beautiful. That part is true. The positive (?): Ketchikan was so-so. Don't do the Lumberjack show. Boring! Three families, including ours, left after the first 15 minutes. It's a small town. If I could do it again, I might have done the duck tour. People are unfriendly. My son (we're talking about a 1 year old) was chasing pigeons. Some *witch-looking* woman in a toll-like booth right at the booth across from the duck tour yelled at my 1 year old. Why wasn't she doing her job instead of staring at pigeons? That was the greeting and impression we left of Ketchikan. Not a friendly town. No smiles anywhere we went. It was just a cold, cold feeling in Ketchikan. I won't return. Juneau was pretty / ok - Coming from Seattle, some of the sights were familiar, but the Mendenhall Glacier (and Garden) was nice, a little better than average. Skagway - surprisingly was my faorite. I liked the Yellow Streetcar tour. It was interesting. All in all, the sights were alright. It was one of those things that you could experience once. That's all you need. Prince Rupert was so disappointing. Looks pretty from afar. We took a tour of the city and viewed houses. I'm not kidding you! We saw new houses, old houses, stores. Not fun. The bad: The food was the worst part of this trip! Believe everything you read. There is 1 buffet - the Market Cafe, and two free restaurants - the Versailles and Aqua; the rest are specialty restaurants that require surcharges amounting to what you would pay (almost) in a regular restaurante. Granted, you can eat as much as you want, but we ate just about the same as any other restaurant. The Market Cafe had "below average food", although it was always plentiful. Everyday was the same food over and over and over again. Before going on the cruise, you'd think, it's not a problem; on and after the cruise, it was *ugh*gross*! Please no more boiled eggs. The specialty restaurants are good, but they DO require tipping along with the surcharge, even though (yes!) I did pay a hefty service fee at the end of this vacation. (Our total final bill was $837 more than what we paid on top of the ticket prices. Internet is $103.95 for 250 minutes. Service fees, automatic tipping, was $252.) If you don't tip, you get a rather rude response, just like a normal restaurant. They also act like they don't want you to eat that much. We ate at Ginza (Asian Fusion) and La Cucina. We tipped at Ginza, but not La Cucina, as we didn't like the service. The guy chased me down and thought maybe I forgot to put a tip. They made us feel very uncomfortable. I still didn't leave a tip. My opinion is: the specialty restaurants should have been the quality of food for all restaurants on the ship. What you get in the other two free restaurants is amateurish cooking (a little less than what you would find in a culinary school) that is overly salty. Soda pop is extra; so, water is all you get in the restaurants. Fortunately, we had 2 kids so we could order apple juice and orange juice free of charge in the restaurants. Soda pop was $2.25 if we wanted to order it. *Argh* Next were the rooms! Internet is slow and NOT SECURE! WARNING: USE INTERNET WITH CAUTION. Although, the ship advises you to check your bank accounts before leaving Juneau, as you may not have service, DON'T CHECK YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS OR USE PURCHASE ANYTHING. Our credit card number was stolen, right after I made one purchase, and someone has racked $1200 on my card. I feel lucky it wasn't more. (Sadly, it came right from my bank. Yes, I know.) I am fortunate that I DID not check my bank account. I am now disputing all charges. Not a fun way to end a vacation. Just a warning to all of you! Believe me, I used all precautions except one: DON'T USE YOUR CARDS OR CHECK YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS via the internet on the ship. Our room was a good size for a cruise ship. The steward was friendly; but, in 7 days, we NEVER once had our linen changed and it was looking pretty dirty by the 7th day. We have 2 young kids, so we're talking about candy on the pillow cases, chocolate on the sheets, yogurt sprinkled on the bed sheet, all visible everyday, none cleaned. We requested a few times, and finally just gave up. We'll just sleep on the dirty sheets. I just think these should be common-sense stuff. Entertainment? NONE that were interesting for my 3 year old. She goes to preschool everyday, took a peek at Kids Club and said: no, thanks. We looked in to see four adults lying on their stomachs in a slumber party-like fashion talking like if we were unwanted. We felt very unwelcomed and like they didn't want to be disturbed. So, we left. We did see the Comedian Juggler and the Cirque Pacific which we liked; but, aside from those two shows, we found eating in the Market Cafe the only other thing to do. I asked the Kids Club if I could borrow some books to take back to the cabin to read to my kids. "No, we can't do that" was the answer. Oh, not my lucky ship. Lastly, the pizza making and cupcake making were all a waste of time. Cupcakes and pizzas were made and the kids ate them. I'm a former elementary teacher (now college instructor) and couldn't think of why they couldn't have been a bit more entertaining. The TV had very few channels, all controlled by NCL. We were lucky to catch the end of Dora one day on the final day. I spoke to a lot of people on the boat. Most people I spoke to seemed to be a bit upset about things that are priced above what you pay for the tickets. A few of the families DID like the kids club, we DID not! Their kids were a bit older than ours: 5 and older. I asked my husband how he ranked our trip. We both give it 3-4 of 10 and neither one of us would do this again. I estimate that this trip cost us $5000 too much plus another $1200 that I now have to deal with. Hopefully, NCL got my billing correct so that I'm charged $837 and nothing more. We'll see. All in all, TRUST the reviews here; and, don't end up like me: very, very disappointed. Good one time experience, but there won't be a second on NCL unfortunately, not until the food is improved, at least. :( (Sorry for the ranting.) Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I think the title says it all: there were some great views and ports with equally not-so-great service and food on the NCL Star to Alaska. I'll start at the beginning with embarkation. Embarkation: Line after line after line. I have ... Read More
I think the title says it all: there were some great views and ports with equally not-so-great service and food on the NCL Star to Alaska. I'll start at the beginning with embarkation. Embarkation: Line after line after line. I have never had to wait in so many lines in my life. First you have to wait in line to drop your luggage off then you have to wait in another line to go through security and lastly a line to check-in and get your room card. It took about 1 ½ hours to get through all the lines. Once on board it was time to eat! The Food: The food, for the most part, was mediocre. Most of the food in the Market Cafe and in the two main dining rooms was cold and tasted old. Breakfast was horrible! It was the same food every day. Bland, frozen pancakes and waffles, potatoes so dry you practically choke on them and cold muffins. I don't think I ate a single thing in the cafe that was actually hot. Room service breakfast wasn't too bad, although you couldn't get anything hot; only cereal and fruit. The variety of food at lunch was better, but again most of it was cold. We ate dinner in two specialty restaurants: Teppanyaki and La Cucina. It is worth the extra fee to visit the specialty restaurants. The food is a lot better, it's served hot, and the service is better. The food in the main dining rooms was ok but the service was terrible. The highlight of the food was the chocolate buffet. It was excellent!!! Service: This was some of the worst service I have ever received and this was my 6th cruise. Most of the staff acted as if they would rather be anywhere else than there serving you. Most had sullen looks and were not quick to offer help of any kind. This was most apparent in the two main dining rooms. There was usually a wait to be seated and then once you were seated it was at least 10 minutes before anyone even came over to your table to take your order. Dinner was usually 1 ½ to 2 hour affair because it took so long to get each course. Just forget dessert-they were disgusting!!!! That said, service in the specialty restaurants was quick, attentive, and friendly. The room steward was also very friendly except that I found a flip-flop under the bed and a make-up compact under the dresser (from the previous guests), so she wasn't a very thorough cleaner. The Room: We had a mini-suite which is about the size of a regular balcony stateroom on Carnival. The main bed was pretty comfortable but the second bed (pulled out from the couch) was hard as a rock. I did ask for a foam pad to put on it which did make the bed a little more comfortable. There were three adults in the room and it was cramped. It was nice to have a tub and not just a shower. The location of the mini-suites is not ideal. It is on deck 11 right under the main deck with the pool and hot tubs. A lot of noise from above at all times of day. The Ports: In Ketchikan, we did the duck tour which was fun and informative. Very reasonably priced. In Juneau, we did the tour of Juneau with visits to Mendenhall Glacier and the Salmon Hatchery. Tour was great but the ship does not spend enough time in Juneau. By the time the tour was over, there wasn't time to do anything else. It also didn't help that we were not docked at the prime spot near the Mt. Roberts Tramway and all of the shops. It was quite a walk from the dock to get to these attractions. In Skagway we did the White Pass and Yukon Railway. It is a little pricey, but well worth the money. A must see!! We did not book an excursion in Prince Rupert and I must say that I have yet to figure out why any ship would dock there. It is very small and there is absolutely nothing to do. We saw the entire town by foot in 1 hour. There is a little shopping area (read: 3 stores) near the dock with specialty (expensive) merchandise. There is a mall but don't waste your time. It is nearly empty. Debarkation: Very easy. No problems whatsoever. Final Words: While I loved visiting Alaska, I would advise people to choose a different company to cruise with. The food and service are not that great and they money you to death!! Almost nothing is included in the cruise fare. All of the classes they offer on board (they call them NCL "U") cost extra and if you want to use the indoor hot tub and pool? Yep, that's extra too!! You have to buy a $99 Spa pass to use these facilities. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This past week we finished up our first cruise on NCL and unfortunately the wow factor was not there. This was around our 12Th cruise over all and had mainly cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past. However, our daughter works for NCL and ... Read More
This past week we finished up our first cruise on NCL and unfortunately the wow factor was not there. This was around our 12Th cruise over all and had mainly cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past. However, our daughter works for NCL and we wanted to visit her so we booked a cruise on the Norwegian Star out of Seattle, Washington. When critiquing something you should always start and finish with something good, so I'll start off by saying that checking in was a breeze. We flew into Seattle the day before and stayed at the local Hampton Inn just a few blocks from Pier 66. We got to the terminal around 11:15 AM and there was no line to drop the luggage and when we walked in to check in, we were able to walk directly up to the counter to check in. Approximately 30 minutes later we had our first picture taken on the gang plank and were than talking to my daughter face to face for the first time in a few months. What a great start to another trip for us to Alaska. However, that good feeling went away as soon as we ate for the first time in the Marketplace cafe. The marketplace cafe is their version of a buffet. The fist thing that came to mind was that we walked into a college cafeteria and all I'll say is that I've eaten better at college. There is nothing worse than eating bland food except for when the food is cold and unfortunately in the Marketplace Cafe the food was both bland and cold. If you want hot food and you have the time eat in the dining room. The food is still bland but at least its hot. We did spend the money to eat one meal in one of the specialty restaurants, which cost us an additional cover charge of $25.00 each. The food was excellent, but just unfortunate that you have to pay more money above the price of the cruise to get the good food. As far as the dining rooms, the only other complaint we had was that the dining rooms were not open long enough. For example, the Versailles and Aqua dining rooms were only open until 9:30 AM in the morning. Which meant if you want to sleep in on a sea day lets hope you want to eat cereal or pastries in the marketplace cafe. Or you can head to the Blue Lagoon to eat cause their open 24 hours and still serve hot food, however the seating is limited. The other biggest complaint about the trip was that the overall condition of the ship is poor. There was carpet coming off of the risers on some steps, which were a safety hazard, the carpet was also bare on the steps in the Versailles restaurant. I would also recommend that you not book a room on the front of the ship from deck 9 or above. They are currently working on most of the front part of the ship on deck 12 and the hallways are filled with the smell of construction. Luckily the only thing we smelled from the state room was when we were on the balcony and our neighbors were smoking. Whatever strippers and equipment they are using can throw you into an asthma attack with all the different overwhelming smells. The other place of the ship to stay away from is near mid-ship to the back where the engines are due to the smell of oil. We discussed throughout the trip what we liked the best and what we liked the least and the biggest complaint we all had was the disappointing food and the slow service in the dining rooms. I would have to say that being on the Star reminded us more like some of our trips to the sea shore. If you have ever been to a hotel at the seashore you'll know what I mean. Their always run down, you pay a fortune and the food is lackluster at best. NCL took what should have been a great vacation and turned it into a ho hum vacation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My boyfriend introduced me to cruise vacations. We've taken 4 cruises in the past 2 years--3 to the Caribbean (twice aboard Carnival and once on Holland America) the most recent trip was my 40th birthday gift from my last month to ... Read More
My boyfriend introduced me to cruise vacations. We've taken 4 cruises in the past 2 years--3 to the Caribbean (twice aboard Carnival and once on Holland America) the most recent trip was my 40th birthday gift from my last month to Alaska on NCL's Star...I know, I'm a lucky girl. I love the experience of putting the cellphone away for a week, having date nights every night for a week, exploring new ports each day, people watching and laying out on the Lido deck. We've had a charmed experience on the past three cruise, finding insanely reasonably-priced fares, perfect weather, zero travel issues I started to think we had things down to a science. Let me tell you about the 40th Birthday cruise that almost didn't happen! I was flying out of Chicago, took the elevated train from the city to the airport which experienced some unforseen delays. What usually takes 45 minutes took an hour and 15 minutes. That loss of 15 minutes made all the difference. I arrived with just under an hour to check-in. Southwest Airlines check-in was 8 lanes deep. Security was equally packed for a Saturday a.m. At the gate I was told my seat had been given up and the plane...with my boyfriend aboard, taxied the runway. Southwest immediately put me on the next flight to Seattle and apologized for the long delays. New flight was due to arrive at 2:50pm...an hour and 10 minutes before the 4pm departure time! I should have allowed more time to arrive at the airport clearly but I really appreciated the airlines' quick response to get me to Seattle. I sat down and immediately called NCL to alert them to my situation. I've never missed a flight before. Customer service quickly told me "if you aren't at the Port of Seattle by 3pm which is the check-in cut off, you aren't likely to be allowed onboard". Trying to reason with the Rep, I said "My flight arrives at 2:50pm--at best, I could be at the Port by 3:30pm. What I'd like to know is that if I am there a half hour before the ship leaves that I'll be allowed to board?" I went on to reason with them,"My boyfriend made the flight, already preboarded us online, will likely have my luggage and can check us in at the dock...the only thing missing will be me...I'm not asking for special treatment i.e. holding the ship (which I know they would not do). At which point the Rep (now a supervisor as I was placed on hold for 40 minutes)asked "Well do you have travel insurance?". "No" "Well, if I were you I'd just start making plans to meet your party at the first port of call on Monday, I'm 99 percent sure they will not allow you to board". I was numb, absolutely devastated that I'd ruined the trip for not only myself, but my boyfriend and the other couple we were cruising with. Basically-since I had not paid for insurance, the NCL customer service department could care less what happened to me. Anyone that has cruised knows how much $$ you've already spent on the rooms, shore excursions etc. So...I got creative...this is IMPORTANT in case it ever happens to you! I googled the Port of Seattle from my Blackberry and called the cruise terminal there. Spoke calmly to a very nice woman and explained that I needed to get word to the check-in area of the Norwegian Star that my flight was delayed. She got me in touch with them--the wonderful (contracted employee) Sam immediately asked for my flight information, offered to call the airport in Seattle to alert them of my arrival and sent a Rep to the airport to meet me at the gate! I was floored...at his willingness to (find a solution) to the problem...especially after the experience I had with NCL. It's important to note that Sam was a contracted employee of the cruise terminal, doing check-in for all the cruise lines. He went above and beyond to help me make the trip. I arrived at the port at 3:30pm. Was checked in quickly, found and hugged Sam my new BFF, thanked him for everything and made my way up the gangway. The safety drill was happening so my boyfriend, and our friends were standing there watching me arrive! Thank goodness my boyfriend had the good sense to get on the plane in Chicago because he was able to get our luggage and check-in at the port--and also alert them to my late arrival. After a few tense minutes...my boyfriend still decompressing from the whole experience, the worry that he'd have to coordinate getting me a flight to Alaska, how much $$ would that cost plus hotel etc...but relieved that I made the ship...we began a very fun, amazing trip to Alaska. The scenery is tough to describe because it was so beautiful. Stewards great, the employees on the boat work hard. No problems there. Liked the English Pub on board, entertainment was same as other boats (I find it terribly cheesy on all the boats but part of the cruising experience). Criticisms of the ship--older boat, needed updating, kind of "sad", smelly elevators, rooms were fine but the tv was small and bad reception, there was constant running water in the walls of the bathroom. Biggest criticism was the food quality!!! We expected NCL to be better and more impressive than Carnival and Holland America. Really surprised us! Many of the "freestyle dining" options you pay extra for and if we weren't with another couple (who wanted to stay in the free dining rooms), we would have probably experienced at least one but I have to say that much like my feelings after hearing the comment "Do you have travel insurance"...as if, had I paid more $$, NCL would have cared about my situation, I feel like on NCL why should you have to "pay more for better service/food quality?" My boyfriend and I figured out by day two that the food was just not up to par and kind of shrugged our shoulders and just enjoyed the experience of being together on vacation. Ports of call--all great choices but Prince Rupert??! Not a tourist destination at all. I saw other reviews that said the same. I've never been to a port that had nothing to offer. No traditional Also-the times at port were very short. like 7am-1pm in Juneau. Other ships have allowed for more time. We figured it out when we saw another NCL boat follow us at each port. NCL saved $$ on docking fees by having two ships at port each day. Because of the customer service situation and the lackluster feelings about the boat, mostly the really poor food quality we won't be cruising NCL again. Carnival and Holland America were both wonderful to travel on and we look forward to cruise one of them again or another cruise line...Costa maybe? We are thinking about going next year maybe a cruise to Greece or Italy. I'll be at the airport hours before my flight...I can promise you that! : ) Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Enticed by a price that fit all pocketbooks (wrong, more later!) and the proximity of a Seattle round-trip, I booked the family on NCL for Pop-Pops 75th birthday cruise. We went to Alaska trailing 3 groups of novice cruisers. While a ... Read More
Enticed by a price that fit all pocketbooks (wrong, more later!) and the proximity of a Seattle round-trip, I booked the family on NCL for Pop-Pops 75th birthday cruise. We went to Alaska trailing 3 groups of novice cruisers. While a wonderful time was had by all, we are not inclined to repeat our NCL experience. We had a mini-suite with other family in inside cabins across the hall. The insiders were moved to other cabins by the second day due to overhead noise. They had no available place to move us from the mini-suite class. The noise and construction were obvious negatives. They do have excellent bathrooms on NCL. Econo lodge style toiletries, but a superfunctional bathroom layout. The "free-style" dining experience was interesting. It was difficult to get a hot meal in any of the included restaurants and the wait staff tended to be the most inexperienced. Main dining venues suffer from lack of supervision and organization.Dining room dress codes appear to be nonexistent. (somebody please tell me the need for a cowboy hat, at dinner, at sea?) We quickly gave up and booked the specialty restaurants for the rest of the cruise. We got great food (best escargot I have ever had) and great service thereafter. But we had to pay for it. That's NCL's dirty little secret...everything is cost plus. I can estimate my ships account to about $50, but it was instructive to note the looks on the faces of less experienced guests waiting in line to settle accounts. The add ons on this cruise line are egregious and priced above the more expensive cruise lines. Perhaps it is better to pay the higher fares with better food and service. Novice cruisers should also note that with "free-style" dining the tipping is mandatory and added daily. It is also interesting to note that the specialty waitstaff are part of this shared pool yet present bills with lines for addition gratuities. Cabin service is impersonal at best unless you happen to be the employer of some of their friends working stateside, then attention levels alter rapidly. To be fair, the cabin to employee ration is very high and the rooms are kept very clean. They work very hard. I have to say that the hygiene standards are very high and the standards are enforced. They have an outstanding Executive Housekeeper and the commitment to the environment dictates that over 8000 napkins a day are laundered and folded. The cruise did offer something for everyone and Alaska is spectacular no matter how one gets there. It was a memorable trip, but NCL's contribution to the memories was limited. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We're a married, professional couple who have taken lots of cruises with different lines, including NCL, over the last 10 years. This was our second cruise on the Star and we were sadly disappointed this time around. Unfortunately ... Read More
We're a married, professional couple who have taken lots of cruises with different lines, including NCL, over the last 10 years. This was our second cruise on the Star and we were sadly disappointed this time around. Unfortunately NCL recently made a lot of changes to the public lounges and the layout on board. We didn't see anything that we would consider a positive change. The biggest mistake they have made is in taking away the Spinnaker Lounge, which used to be on deck 12 forward. This was the viewing lounge, great for Alaska and enjoying the inside passage and the glaciers. Now this area is under construction - another bad thing, because there was a lot of noise from that work that we could hear in our deck 11 cabin. Also the hallway was covered in plastic sheeting and had construction workers welding and pulling the ceiling panels down all week. So now if you want to sit anywhere other than your cabin that has a view outside, the only place is the Market Cafe. That means it is very hard to find a table to sit and eat as people don't want to give up the window seats. The library has also gone from deck 12 - now it's a couple of shelves of ratty paperbacks. No cinema, no card room or game room. We also noticed that the quality of the food seems to have gone down considerably since we last sailed with NCL. The buffet was often cold and unappealing, with the same things being served day after day. The specialty restaurants are still pretty good, but of course you have to pay extra for those. There seems to be a huge push to get you to spend money on board. Almost all the activities and things to do at sea either cost money, like Bingo and Martini Tasting, or were sales pitches very thinly disguised as seminars. The TV in the room is lousy. Most of the channels were blank all week. Once in a while a news channel would come in but it would never stay on more than a few minutes before it cut out again. We asked why the only TV channel we had was ESPN and they just told us it wasn't always possible to pick up the satellite. Our cabin steward told us it had been working until that week. I guess they want you out spending money instead of watching TV. On the positive side of things - the crew still do an excellent job in general. Service was almost always polite and friendly. I think the problems lie more with management than with the service personnel. The entertainment was a mixed bag as far as we were concerned. There was a Frankie Valley tribute which was SOOOO cheesy. The four guys sing well enough, but the jokes and chit chat in between is so lame, it spoils the show. The singer and dancer shows were the same as last time we were there -Cirque Pacific was not as good as last time, as they have fewer Chinese acrobats now and that was the only good part of the show to begin with. The other show was Band on the Run - it's good, but again, same show. The Second City comedy show is another repeat, the same show we've seen on all our NCL cruises. We were hoping they would have changed some of the sketches but it was almost all the same. By far the best and our favorite was the magic show with Bob and his wife Sarah. They did a show called Believe that had some great illusions and lots of comedy and audience participation. Bob has a great personality on stage and we had a lot of fun watching him. He also did a close up magic show on the last day that was fantastic. In the lounges we liked Odyssey, the band who play rock and roll stuff, and also Shaun who plays guitar and sings in the pub. Other entertainment was standard cruise ship game show stuff. The cruise director seemed nice enough but she didn't seem to know the right things to say on the microphone - a bit amateur and inappropriate at times. Alaska - as always it was beautiful. I wish we had more time in the ports, and would choose a different itinerary next time because of that. Overall, not a great cruise. NCL seems to be slipping in lots of areas. I don't know that we would choose them again with so many other options out there. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
I like the idea of freestyle cruising since it lets the guests eat in the main dining room whenever they want within the set hours. There is also no formal dress code, which I find quite liberating. My partner and I think that the ... Read More
I like the idea of freestyle cruising since it lets the guests eat in the main dining room whenever they want within the set hours. There is also no formal dress code, which I find quite liberating. My partner and I think that the food was good, even though they do not receive our utmost praise. We like dining at Le Bistro since the French food there was quite good. Our waiter was also very friendly at the Ginza Restaurant, which helped enhance our dining experience there. The sushi was well prepared at Ginza and they even let me order from the Teppanyaki Restaurant menu without incurring another 15 dollars charge. However, we were quite disappointed with the ship's itinerary on the Sawyer Glacier/Tracy Arm Fjord. There was a so-called expert who was supposed to brief us on what we will be seeing on our way to the Sawyer Glacier. Instead, she gave a very long winded Geography lesson on the various terms of the glaciers and their formations....stuff that I could have just read from any book on glaciers. Our ship headed back prematurely before we reached the foot of Sawyer Glacier, and we did NOT even get close the the edge of the glacier to see the calving, where the glacier makes a thunderous noise falling into the ocean. Neither the captain nor the 'Glacier Expert' explained why we have to turn back prematurely!! That was NOT cool! The ports of call were so-so. Skagway exists because of the cruise ships. The population of 800 people would perish if the ships stop going there. People who work at the so-call chain stores (tourist souvenirs stores) were treating us like we were burdening them with work. Most of them had sour faces and were not happy with the influx of cruise passengers swarming their stores. One lady even brought up Obama vs. the Republican politics in front of her customers...so much for leaving your personal beliefs behind! You would think that they (the business owners) would welcome the cruise passengers with open arms, especially since we are the only source of income in Skagway. We do like all our shore excursions since we did not pay through the nose for the helicopter rides and glacier/dog sledding adventures. I personally think those activities are over-charged...you can probably get a much better deal shopping around after your ship has docked in the port. Just ensure that the independent operators commit to taking you back before the ship sails... To my utmost disappointment, there was no indoor heated pool in the ship. There was one in the spa area, but you gotta pay 20 bucks to use it. Yeah, right! As to why NCL does NOT have an indoor pool considering the Alaska rainy and cool weather, I do not know! I just think it is absurd to design a ship to Alaska and think that passengers would want to use the outdoor pool when the day time temp is less than 70 degrees in the SUMMER. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Went on this cruise with my sister, mother, two friends and one of their mothers, six of us in all.  I had been on one other cruise previous on Carnival.  The others had all been on many other cruises.  I felt overall the Carnival ... Read More
Went on this cruise with my sister, mother, two friends and one of their mothers, six of us in all.  I had been on one other cruise previous on Carnival.  The others had all been on many other cruises.  I felt overall the Carnival cruise was superior in every way.First off, I thought the ship was beautiful although there was some evidence of wear and tear.  Our cabin was on deck ten and was a balcony.  These cabins are very small, when the couch was made into a bed I literally had to crawl over my sister to get out of bed or if we wanted to get to the balcony.  After a few nights of this we asked our cabin steward to make it out only 2/3 of the way so we could get around.  The beds are very uncomfortable (not at all like Carnivals Dream beds).  The couch made into a bed was like laying on concrete.  Also, we had to remind them almost every day that there were three of us and we needed extra towels.  Very annoying!  WARNING: The soap in the shower is highly perfumed and gave my mother a horrible rash.  It took two calls to reception and three requests to our room stewards before we could get a bar of soap she could use.  If you have delicate skin - bring your own soap.  The children/teen area's were hidden away so well on this vessel that I had to go looking for them.  They were very nice with teens having a large video arcade, dance floor, computers, etc.  and smaller childrens had a whole room that was a jungle gym - they were having a great time.  The food was average overall.  The best thing in the dining rooms was the salmon, prime rib, soufflet's and pineapple cake.  My friend tried the steak and it was too tough for her to chew.  We did not try any of the specialty restaurants and thought it seemed like a lot of wasted space as they were usually less than 1/4 full.  One thing they do not advertise is that if you are in a balcony cabin you can eat in the Aqua Restaurant for breakfast.  Much better than the buffet.  Very few people seemed to know about this so you have a lot of waiters with nothing to do.  One morning we had four waiters taking care of the six of us.  Overall, none of us liked freestyle dining as you never got to know your waiters or if you found one you like you never saw them again.  Also, when we went ashore there was little for our elderly mothers to do other than watch a movie or go to the library.  There were no craft classes or anything to help entertain.  Even the behind the scenes tours cost extra.  The bingo was much too pricey costing $30-40 a shot!  The evening shows were good and varied but nothing spectacular (again this also was much better on Carninval).  Also, it got very annoying that they were constantly hawking pull tabs or bingo or whatever before every show.  Everything seemed to cost extra on this cruise.  The best part of the entire cruise was the ports and cruising up Tracy Arm to Sawyer Glacier.  Absolutely breathtaking.  There was a naturalist on board explaining what we were seeing along the way whom you could listen to over the public address system or in your stateroom on the television.  Best excursion was the train out of Skagway.  Don't do this if you are afraid of heights.  Ketchikan is easy to do the walking tour.  Just pick up a map at the visitor center right on the dock.  You are in Prince Rupert in the evening so if you want to see the museum go there first as they close at 7pm.  Best decision was getting a rental car in Juneau as with the limited time in that port we saw a lot more than most of the other passengers.  We rented from Rent a Wreck and they picked us up at the cruise ship, gave us a layout of the land on the way to their office and took us back to our ship.  I've heard they're the only one's who will do this without an additional drop-off charge.  The cost was very reasonable, about $52 for the six passenger van.  Will I go on an Alaskan cruise again?  YES.  Will I go on NCL again?  Absolutely not!Hope this was helpful, if you have any questions just ask.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Trip was an anniversary trip for two couples. My husband & I & friends had Annv. 1 wk. apart. They took a cruise 5 yrs. ago & invited us to go along. We cruised Alaska with another couple last year & talked about going ... Read More
Trip was an anniversary trip for two couples. My husband & I & friends had Annv. 1 wk. apart. They took a cruise 5 yrs. ago & invited us to go along. We cruised Alaska with another couple last year & talked about going back...didn't think it would be this soon! AA out of DFW, nothing eventful. we went to find transport & as I had read here a Limo was the right way to go. My husband asked the shuttle co. for a price, it was $55 for 4 people. a Limo was $45!..no brainer!! We were driven to The Moore downtown. Checked our bags & began to walk the area. We went to Pike Market & Ivar's Fish Bar for chowder.We than went to the Seattle Aquarium & rode the free "Trolley" until it was time to check in. After some rest in the room we had dinner at the Crab Pot. A lot of fun & a lot of food! DAY 2. We has breakfast at Lowell's in the Market & than picked up a car for the day. We drove to Mt Rainer, which we dubbed "Mt. Rainy er" We drove around in the fog & rain , but still had a lot of fun.Returned the car by 7PM & went back to The Moore to rest. We walked 1 blk. to the Virginia Inn for dinner..very good. DAY 3. Breakfast at Lowell's again. Took the ferry to Banbridge Island. Walked around the island for a while & than had lunch at the Harbor Pub..again another great meal. Rode back to the mainland & to The Moore.We were tired and fell asleep without dinner (our friends walked to Ivar's for some more chowder). DAY 4. Lowell's again!! Packed our things back in our luggage. We walked to the dock..it was only 6 blks. & all down hill. We were on the ship by 12 noon. Had lunch in Versailles. The banana soup was very good (thanks CC posters) I had the beef salad ..not good. The room was ready & we went to wait for our bags one by one they appeared. We & our friends asked the steward to open the partition on the balcony. After asking 3-4 times he opened it. Our beds were already together but our friends had to ask several times for the steward to put theirs together. The beds need something in the center to join them better, we & our friends noted you slip into the crack by morning.We went to the sail away BBQ, that wasn't..a BBQ I mean. It was just cold burgers & hot dogs. We all went to the Market Cafe (buffet). Food was OK , the bread pudding is really good.We went back to our rooms and rested until the "welcome aboard" show. It was pretty good. We went to the Blue Lagoon for a snack. None of us liked it ...very greasy frozen, fried food. None of us went back to BL during the cruise. Note.. the stateroom (balcony was about the same size as the one we had on the Sun Princess last year, a little better arranged). DAY 5. We all went to the buffet for breakfast. My husband (Leo) signed up for the poker tournament. Leo & I went to Versailles for lunch. Not very good. Met our friends at Market Cafe, had a snack & back to the room to rest.Tonight is Lobster night, my friend can't wait! It was good but very small.To the comedy show & than bed. DAY 6. Ketchikan. Fishing day. We hired a guide & boat. Leo caught about 25 "trash" fish, which our guide killed & thew back. Between me & our friends we caught another 20 or so "trash" fish & 3 sharks. The guide took us back to town & we went shopping. Leo & I went to the murder mystery dinner..fun , fun!! Be prepared to act in character. DAY 7. Juneau. We had booked a heli tour..cancelled for weather. Walked around & found a float plane to take us up...they cancelled for weather. Rode the bus to Mendenhall. Very nice, but no heli tour.Left port at 1PM cruised up Endicott Arm,couldn't get very close ,but what we did see was beautiful. DAY 7. Skagway. Rode the train up & a bus back down. Both very interesting a fun.It was really cold at the stop in Canada. Went back to Juneau. A lady who owned a shop told us that this was the first summer she can remember using her heat in her shop in July.Had dinner ..of sorts in the buffet. It has become clear that they do not make very many changes in the buffet menu, mostly the same each day! Saw the Temptation cover group in the Stardust..it was pretty good. DAY 8. Prince Rupert. NCL needs to change this port from the schedule. There is NOTHING there. I had read on CC that the tours were pretty lame. Thank you..all that posted. We (Leo & I) had dinner at Aqua. Our friends slept. Our table mates (four ladies, 2 tours .really upset about the fact that they paid good money for not so good tours. The highlight of one of their tours was driving past a homeowners heated driveway.). DAY 9. Sea day. Laid around in bed. Leo played in a poker tournament again. He won 3rd place! We all decided we would not eat in either the dinning room or buffet..we had all had it! Well we weren't the only ones.We couldn't get res. anywhere. We went ahead & ate ate Aqua. It was OK. The 3rd time I had steak there, it was a safe bet. It was almost empty. The buffet was empty. We all thought the food was getting old for everyone.We than took in 2 shows. Can't remember the name of it, but it was the dance troupe w/ the chinese acrobats. It was pretty good. Then we saw the comic, this was his adult show. He was a lot funnier tonight , his show was only 30 min. & could have been longer.Off to bed & finish packing. we were doing express disembarkment. DAY 10. Off the ship. Had breakfast & waited for our group to be called. Stowed our bags with the concierge on the dock ($3 @ bag) Walked around the Market & than over to the monorail stop & rode it to the Seattle Center. We sat by the fountain & made some phone calls home. We walked over to the Sculpture Park at the waterfront. The views are breathtaking. Called our Limo driver from Wed., he had given us his card. Flight back home went really fast,we had TV this time. Final impressions: The trip was great, the company too. Weather could have been a little bit better, but we had already decided that we'd roll with the flow & make the best of everything no matter what the weather thew our way. Out steward was almost invisible. However, when our friends had trouble getting their beds put together, they tipped him & walah! It was done right than. After that he was all over them with service. They gave him a good tip when we left. And we would have too, but it seemed he thought the gold mine was with them. Too much bingo..bingo,bingo! They even close the curtain in the Spinnaker lounge when people are viewing the ocean to start the bingo game. We should have eaten at the pay rest. By the time we got sick of the food everyone else figured this out & we couldn't get in to one. The buffet needs some improvement, too much of the same food over & over again. The main dinning room is really average at best, not a lot of choices, we talked to several past NCL cruisers & they remarked that the quality had slipped with every NCL cruise they had taken. Two couple said they thought NCL brought the quality down so you would eat in the pay rest. And NCL .. Go back to Victoria or anywhere but Prince Rupert. We tried to be positive about it but there was no way. All the other cruisers were very disappointed by it.Didn't use the spa. Nor did take any NCL excursions, booked our own. Will we cruise NCL again.. most likely not. Mainly the service & the food. The entertainment was average. The food & service we experienced last year on the Sun Princess was far superior to this cruise. Will we cruise again?..yes. BTW , this was our 4th cruise,1st on NCL. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This was the first cruise for myself and hubby. We traveled with my brothers family, who are dedicated cruisers. My niece who is 4 has been on 3 more cruises than we have. :-) Embarkation was OK, we were prepared for the worst based on ... Read More
This was the first cruise for myself and hubby. We traveled with my brothers family, who are dedicated cruisers. My niece who is 4 has been on 3 more cruises than we have. :-) Embarkation was OK, we were prepared for the worst based on the comments here on Cruise Critic. We arrived around 1pm, there was someone right there to take our baggage and lead us directly to the person who would check us in and tell us what line to wait in. On a side note, we had scheduled a van to take us from the hotel to Pier 66 but it got into an accident, so they sent a stretched limo that would fit all 7 of us. This may be the reason that the luggage people helped us right away. Because we had a suite, we were in a special line and taken to an area where they provided us with our room keys, champagne and snacks. Someone was assigned to us to escort us onto the ship and to our room. The "extras" that we received with this room I think made this cruise at least bearable. We were prepared with what restaurants we wanted to make reservations at and did so, soon after our arrival. Cagney's was awesome, service was very good. Soho was disappointing, our experience at Endless summer was very good. The tortilla soup was very good! The main dining room was disappointing to say the least, the one night we had dinner here it took over 25 minutes to have water served. The service was much better in the restaurants where you paid additional. The buffet was a joke, it is really true - the food is horrible. Hot food is cold, cold food is hot - we avoided it anytime we could. Ketchikan: We did the zipline excursion at this port. AWESOME!! The guides were friendly and wonderful. This is not a tour for anyone that is afraid of heights. I am not afraid of heights but I still got a little scared. There is one line that was over 750 feet long - it was worth every penny! Juneau: We did our own thing at this port, there is a tram that goes to the top of the mountain where we saw an eagle that had been rescued. We took a hike on the trails that offered some amazing views. Skagway: We did not prescheduled anything for this port either, when we got off the ship, we purchased train tickets which they charged back to our cabin. Keeping in mind that I am type A, I was totally bored with this excursion. The scenery was beautiful but after 1 hour of it, I was ready to be doing something else. I think that part of it was there was nothing too exciting about it, there were lots of trees, waterfalls, etc... many of the same things that we viewed from our balcony while sailing. Just a different tree and a different waterfall. Prince Rupert: We did the Sealife Discovery and Waterfront Cruise. The crew was awesome and friendly! The crab that they served was some of the best I have ever had and the serving was huge. I am not a seafood fan and do not like fishy things - this crab was not fishy at all! One area they stopped, they were able to get a couple of eagles to come down and feed. In another area, they did the same thing and there were like 5 eagles swooping down to get crab. It was amazing, I would highly recommend this tour. Overall: I felt like we were getting nickel and dimed at every turn. If you want decent food and good service, be prepared to pay the additional fees for the specialty restaurants. If you can afford to have a suite, the little extras - like being able to have breakfast and lunch in Cagney's, having a snack delivered every afternoon, our butler Rogin was very attentive and was able to help us with a lot of little details here and there. My brother said that Carnival and Princess were a better cruise in their opinion in regard to food, service, etc... We may try another cruise in a few years but for now we will stick to air/land vacations. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
I spent weeks deciding whether or not I wanted to submit a review, but after spending weeks on this site and seeing the low responses from cruises in July to Alaska... I decided to step up. My husband and parents spent the week of July ... Read More
I spent weeks deciding whether or not I wanted to submit a review, but after spending weeks on this site and seeing the low responses from cruises in July to Alaska... I decided to step up. My husband and parents spent the week of July 5th on NCL Star cruising to Alaska. This was my third cruise, but my husband and parents first. We chose NCL Freestyle since there were four of us and we didn't necessarily want to spend all of our time together. I will say this was good choice I did enjoy the Free Style cruise... But our experience ion the NCL Star had it's ups and down. If you are going to cruise from Seattle, I would recommend spending a couple of days before your cruise in Seattle. This is wonderful city and worth the extra few days. We spend two nights at the Comfort Suites outside downtown. It was close to the Space Needle and the Duck Boat tour (actually worth going on). Seattle is easy to get around and a beautiful city. Recommendation: The Metropolitan Bar Happy Hour! A local hang out with great food and great deals at Happy Hour. After spending the 4th of July in Seattle watching a wonderful Fireworks Display, we used the hotel shuttle to get to the cruise terminal We arrived about 11:30 and Embarkment was a breeze. At this time, there are very view people in line and you get through very quickly. We were on the boat by 12:15. We waited for Versailles to open for lunch... although we were "encouraged" to go to the buffet. Lunch was quick and the food was good (not great). Both my husband and my parents upgraded to a balcony room. THIS IS WORTH IT!!! If you are ever going to spend the money to upgrade to a balcony.. do it Alaska! By 2:30 we were allowed into our room. The room was very spacious for a cruise and the bathroom was great. Loved the sliding door on the shower instead of a curtain. I do recommend bringing your own shampoo & soap. And a makeup bag or shoe holder is a must to hang on the door. Our room was always clean and very comfortable, but we did have trouble trying to get more than two towels at any one time. Even on the two night we had towel animals in our room... they took the extras we hung up. My husband got very good at taking extra towels from the cart and hiding them in our room. Now onto to the food. I have to agree with a large number of the posters on this website. NCL is NOT known for it's food. We ate two nights at speciality restaurants. Le Bistro was the best!! Great food, great service. Cagney's had great food.... but we did run into one issue. We tried too book a reservation for 7:00 on Friday and were told they were booked. In looking at the reservation book, it is obvious they only allow 4-5 reservations each 30 minutes. Yet there are plenty of tables. We ran into this multiple times. We decided to go with the 9:30 reservation at Cagney's. At 8:00, we received a call asking if we could come early. We were happy with this and headed up to the restaurant. Our dinner was great... but at 9:00 they turned on all the lights. Our queue to leave???? We felt like we were rushed out. We were barely allowed enough time to finish our wine and enjoy our time together. This was definitely a minus. We paid extra money to eat there and were rushed out.... As far as the rest of our dining experience. The buffet has easy access, but is always busy and the food is so-so. Aqua and Versailles are the same menu. The food it okay. Not great. We also felt like the on-board activities were limited. We spent most of our time on our balcony. Or at the Spinnaker Lounge (avoiding the servers pushing drinks and Bingo). Recommendations & Tips: - Murder Mystery Dinner. This was fun and allowed us to meet other people. - Liar Club and Newlywed Game Shows (both pretty funny and a nice evening) - Take bus to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. - DO NOT pay for the unlimited sodas. Not worth the price. - Le Bistro. Worth the cover charge. - Balcony Room! - Poker tournament - Endless Summer Restaurant: Tomato Soup is great - Romance Package - this turned out to be a good deal. Check it out on ncl.com. - In Skagway: White Pass Railroad tour - Trivia is fun - Bring binoculars, extra camera and a good book. Overall, we loved Alaska. The scenery is beautiful. But it is Cold and Rainy! Bring layers. We will be back, but maybe not on NCL. Next time we'll try Holland Cruise Lines or one of the more up-scale cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
As a first time cruiser, I didn't really know what to expect from NCL's freestylin' Norwegian Star. I had a preconceived notion of what cruising would be like: hours kneeling over the toilet (being prone to motion-sickness) ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, I didn't really know what to expect from NCL's freestylin' Norwegian Star. I had a preconceived notion of what cruising would be like: hours kneeling over the toilet (being prone to motion-sickness) and 7 days of all-you-can-eat madness. So armed with motion-sickness pills and an empty stomach, I embarked from Seattle on a sunny July afternoon. Since I hail from Seattle, getting to the port was a breeze. The port is located on Alaskan and Bell, which is close to the bus lines. Checking our bags in, signing a clean bill of health waiver and receiving our card keys was easy. When compared to what we go through at airports these days, this was a pleasure. A credit card is needed which NCL attaches to your card key. No cash is accepted on the ship and all charges are made on your card key going forward. This is actually a great modern-day convenience. When we boarded the ship, we were greeted with hand sanitizer (they spray you before meals and upon entry/re-entry onto the ship) and a glass of champagne. The ship interior was highly decorated, but not in a sophisticated way. If the reader has ever been to a cheesy Las Vegas casino, he/she can imagine what the inside of this cruise ship looks like. The Carousel Lounge looks like the inside of a circus tent, and has merry go round horses for stools at the bar. The Grand Atrium did get an "ooh" from me because it revealed how monstrous the ship was. The reception desk sat on one side and on the other side was a glass elevator. The overall layout of the ship left something to be desired. To make your way from one end of the ship to the other you had to walk through the restaurants. In order to get from our room ( the front of the ship) to the gym ( the back of the gym ), we had to walk through The Market Cafe buffet. Everytime I walked through I was accosted by a hostess armed with a spray bottle of hand sanitizer. Our cabin was actually larger than expected. I had heard horror stories of how the bathrooms were so small, your face was pressed against the wall when you sat down to use the toilet. However, I was pleasantly surprised with a full size shower and no face-pressing scenarios. The full-size bed was probably a cot as there was a dip in the middle. A tiny television offered updates on ship activities and 2 movie channels that rotated the same movies. A comment on the service on the ship. It is evident to see that increased globalization has taken over the cruising industry as well. I'm not sure what service was like in the heyday, but present day service standards leaves much to be desired. The majority of the 1000-person staff is from the Philippines. Americans definitely make up the minority of the ship staff. I'm not saying that service is a factor of the nationality of the ship staff, but I believe that in an effort to save on payroll, cruise lines do not train or pay their staffers enough to bring the level of service to what it should be. One blatant example - We were enjoying a dinner at Cagney's steakhouse ($20 min cover charge each) and my boyfriend ordered a Porterhouse medium rare. It arrived and when he cut into the side of the steak, saw that it was clearly overcooked. My boyfriend flagged down the waitress and explained as such. The waitress told him to cut in the center of the steak by the bone and that medium rare steak doesn't have any red in it anyways. Strange. As far as we know, medium rare does have some red to it. And besides, if only the meat located around the bone is cooked to order, are we supposed to discard the rest of the steak?! When we sent the steak back, we say her mouth off obscenities under her breath. The restaurant manager did absolutely nothing. He simply shrugged when told the food was not up to par. For the most part, food on the ship was on par with airplane food, just lots of it. Despite the poor quality, I still ate enough for a small country (Hey! We paid for it!) The same ingredients were reincarnated in different forms day after day. Yesterday's bbq ribs would shop up on today's strange spaghetti with bbq pork lunch menu. Most restaurants required a cover charge. Cagney's was decent as long as the steak was cooked right. Stay away from the creamed spinach though. The Teppanyaki room is for kids and the food they serve you is not worth the $25 cover charge. And even though we were headed to Alaska, the land of wild salmon, the sushi bar served farm-raised Atlantic. Of the non-cover charge dining options, The Market Cafe, was buffet style with long, slow-moving lines at peak hours. The Blue Lagoon served "comfort food" 24 hours a day but was closed from 4-5am. Weird. I ordered a wonton soup which was just that. A wonton. We were never able to get a reservation at Endless Summer (Mexican style food), and Versailles for dinner required you do dress up. One thing I did like about freestyle cruising was the ability to wear jeans to dinner (with the exception of Versailles). I would also recommend making reservations early. You can make them for the day of and the next day only. Of the amenities/activities available on board, we participated in progressive team trivia (Which we won and received NCL trinkets for. Anyone want a beer cozy?), Bingo and watched drunk cruise guests sing karaoke. The gym was decently stocked with stairclimbers, treadmills, elliptical machines and bikes. Free weights and a small stretching area were also available. It was fun to workout next to the rail-thin dancers after you know you just consumed your weight in food at The Market Cafe. Speaking of the dancers...performances were provided by the Jean Ryan Dance Company. They worked very hard at delivering Andrew Lloyd Webber cover songs and 70s inspired hits, but were often off beat and not in sync. I learned afterwards that they have no understudies, so if one member is injured or sick..too bad. We missed Murray the Magician, but did see some stand up by David Naster. He cracked some Nascar jokes that were pretty funny. Our ship came with an art auction and a "shopping consultant". We did attend an art auction and a shopping seminar. In the end we did walk away with 5 lithographs (glorified posters??) and a blue stone. We were told that Diamonds International was THE PLACE TO SHOP by the consultant. It wasn't until afterwards that we found out how seedy DI was. There are several reviews on them online about shady dealings and poor customer service. Be wary of sales pitches by the shopping consultants. It is very likely that they are getting a cut for everyone they bring into the shops along the ports of call. The ports of call give you some sense of the Alaskan wild. If you really want to immerse yourself in Alaska, cruising probably isn't the best way to do it. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our Ketchikan canopy zip-lining adventure. The zip-lining guides are attentive, funny and encouraging. They never make you feel stupid for being scared of being 135 feet above the ground. The Juneau glacier kayaking trip was disappointing. July in Alaska is much like winter in Seattle which means cloudy skies. We did not get a view of the Mendenhall Glacier and our guide was pretty lackluster. Biking in Skagway was great! Our guide was very knowledgeable about the surrounding area and we got a nice history of the Skagway & Dyea gold mining days. Of the ports, the only once to write home about was Skagway. While all ports were lined with tacky tourist shops, historic Skagway offered a free tour that taught you about the town history and introduced the legend of gang leader Soapy Smith. Prince Rupert was a necessary international stop. There are several possible reasons for this, but we were told that all ships not registered in the US have to make an international stop. We did not book an excursion there, and was finished touring the town in an hour. There are several cute cafes and shops, and one really scary mall that time forgot. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
We sailed out of Seattle after spending the night. In the cruise terminal there was a booth with Alaska souvenirs plastered with signs "Cheaper than Alaska". That was a lie. Ball caps were $5.00 In Alaska you can get caps for ... Read More
We sailed out of Seattle after spending the night. In the cruise terminal there was a booth with Alaska souvenirs plastered with signs "Cheaper than Alaska". That was a lie. Ball caps were $5.00 In Alaska you can get caps for $2.99. From the time we boarded we were inundated with crew members pushing alcoholic drinks. The specialty restaurants with the cover charge were very lacking. Cagney's was much over rated. You got better food in the regular dining room. The steak was dry and over cooked. And the prices were even more after you got there and had paid the cover. The Mexican restaurant Endless Summer had terrible food. The chocolate Midnight Buffet was not very good. They had a lot of tasteless jello fluffy stuff rather than a lot of real chocolate. In the buffet dining area the crew members serving always seemed angry. One lad in particular would not give you more than 2 pieces of bacon or ham for breakfast, and when youasked for more she would throw it on your plate. Very rude. Several waiters we talked to in the Versailles told us they were getting off the ship when their tour of duty was over and not coming back. We saw several servers in the Buffet putting food in their pockets wrapped in napkins. One girl told us the crew eats the left overs every day. OUR CABIN CREW WAS WONDERFUL!!!! There was not as much to do on this ship as some of the other cruises we have taken. UNLESS you want to play very expensive BINGO. We actually had to look for things to do. The cruise director Ricky was very gravely voiced, hard to under stand and was constantly making Bingo announcement over the PA system. The captain is very boring with a monotone voice. There was comedian named Jeff who was vulgar. In Karaoke there was way too many kids trying to sing every time. Only 2-3 adults, and the length of time was a waste of time. By the time they started it was time to end. There was an acrobatic show Cirque Pacific that was very good. And a singing group was good. Rest of the entertainment was very cheesy and not as good a Six Flags Over Texas. The spa was Good. We talked to several people in Alaska from Royal Caribbean and Costa Cruise ships that had a better time and experience. I will never travel with Norwegian to Alaska again. We had taken 2 other couples with us on this cruise, and we were very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
This was our 5th cruise, our 3rd with NCL. Our two other cruises were on Carnival. After our first three cruises on NCL, we were satisfied that NCL would be our cruise line of choice. Our last NCL cruise we took 2 other families with us. ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise, our 3rd with NCL. Our two other cruises were on Carnival. After our first three cruises on NCL, we were satisfied that NCL would be our cruise line of choice. Our last NCL cruise we took 2 other families with us. This cruise, we again took 2 other families with us. My wife and I had bragged about the food, service, staff, etc... we had enjoyed on NCL. Those two families did not experience the same quality food, service, staff, etc... we enjoyed on the Dream or Sun. We arrived in Seattle on June 13. Embarkation was very smooth, organized, and quick. The embarkation staff was very helpful and polite. Please note; They sell Alaska baseball caps in the cruise terminal with a big sign that says, "$5.00 cheaper than in Alaska" This is totally untrue. I bought one of the caps for my son and then bought 7 more of the identical caps in the Alaska ports for $1.99 each. Once on board our rooms were not ready due to early boarding. This was not a problem and we understood the situation. This is where the disappointment begins. We went to the Market Cafe. We were not permitted to serve ourselves and the serving staff was very careless and sloppy. The food was not a very good quality and food that should have been served hot was cold. The food was not very good. Our friends asked if this was because it was the first day. I had hoped so, but the food was the same sections everyday and the same poor quality. We ate in the Versailles main dining room several times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food was acceptable, not great as expected. The service staff was very polite and adequate. Our food orders were slow at times and wrong on occasions. The staff always corrected but this was not what we expected. The Aqua Dining room was about the same as the Versailles. We and our guests were disappointed with the food quality and selection. The Blue Lagoon is a very small indoor cafe with order off menu format. The food in the location was very good. The service was acceptable here, but the wait was lengthy to dine here. Most of the entertainment was on the amusement park level. The singers from New York were good as were the Chinese acrobats. A new team, "Dreamers" were also quite good. Bingo, bingo, bingo, and more bingo, and then some more bingo. This was everyday. The directors staff wore us out with announcements and peddling bingo. It seemed endless and became very annoying. We are not alcohol drinkers so we bought the soda program which cost total about $50.00. As long as we went to a bar we could get a soda with no problem. When the serving staff came by selling alcohol, a soda order was not well received and it was rare if the server ever returned with the soda. We didn't by alcohol we were made to feel like a second rate cheapskate passenger undeserving of service. Big disappointment. Debarkation was a special treat. We purchased a Seattle city tour that was to permit us off the ship by 9:00am. We were off between 10:30 and 11:00. We as I said earlier, we had one time decided NCL would be our cruise line. Now we are looking at other lines and reviews for other ships. The Star is a beautiful ship, but anytime a line was the order of the day, mass confusion and no supervision or direction from the staff was. forthcoming. Alaska and Canada are beautiful. The ports of call are wonderful. We will be going back. Not sure who we will be going with next time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
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
While my wife and I are not seasoned cruisers, we actually only went on one other cruise and with another line, we tried desperately not to compare. When we first embarked it was easy not to compare but as the week continued the other line ... Read More
While my wife and I are not seasoned cruisers, we actually only went on one other cruise and with another line, we tried desperately not to compare. When we first embarked it was easy not to compare but as the week continued the other line eventually won out. I honestly can say by Thursday I was ready to go home and that's unusual for me. I know I should give Norwegian another chance but since we didn't win the free cruise we will not be cruising with Norwegian again. Getting on the Norwegian Star in Seattle was actually good. The cruise experience went downhill from there. During embarkation, the staff were pleasant, helpful, and efficient. The lines moved very quickly. Our cabin was ready but others in our party weren't as lucky. There were quite a few guests hanging out on deck level 7 waiting until they were called to their cabins. Free Style Cruising is not for everyone. Our experience on board, "Free Style Cruising" basically meant you are on your own. If you are accustom to being waited on hand and foot it didn't happen. Activities were limited and my idea of a fun activity is not having a seminar on having your teeth whitened. There were 700 kids on board and by Wednesday most of them seemed to be bored. For a cruise line that markets to families activities geared to kids were noticeably missing. Some of the crew were very friendly and helpful. We prepaid tipping but we always tip extra when the service is exceptional. We tipped two crew members extra. I never did meet my cabin stewart and that included trying to page him/her a couple of times, I finally gave up. Food With the exception of the buffet on Level 7, the food on board was exceptional. Beware there are cover charges on some of the restaurants on board and in most cases it was worth it. By Thursday and Friday it was impossible to get reservations and the lines for the restaurants that didn't need reservations was long. We ate many lunches and some dinners in the Blue Lagoon. It's fast food but it was good and the manager was one of the few crew that was exceptional. He, Dhuri, always treated us like we were the best of friends. One theory I heard from a fellow passenger was the food on the buffet was purposely mediocre so they would force you to the other restaurants. The menu never changed and ranged from undercooked to cooked but cold. Shore Excursions The shore excursions were well run and exceptional. We had some minor issues in Skagway on the train but realistically it was partly our fault. My only disappointment with the excursions was I would have liked to spend more time in Juneau and not in Prince Rupert. Overall, I was impressed with getting on and off the ship in Seattle but the overall cruise was a disappointment. Alaska is indescribable and if everyone has the chance should go, just not on Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date July 2007
Norwegian Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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