120 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

Most everything about our cruise went well starting with booking the cruise over the phone with NCL staff. The staff was very helpful and not at all pushy. They even provided some assistance concerning our making flight reservations. All ... Read More
Most everything about our cruise went well starting with booking the cruise over the phone with NCL staff. The staff was very helpful and not at all pushy. They even provided some assistance concerning our making flight reservations. All of this is important to me as I do not travel very often. We arranged for the NCL transport from airport to Seattle but didn't locate anyone from NCL to direct us where to go. We walked around searching and this probably cost us about a half an hour ( Not the end of the world but we had just flown over 7 hours ) Embarkation was OK. Lots of people to take care of. We were very lucky to have been offered an upgrade to a room with a balcony which we happily accepted. I think a balcony on this particular cruise is the way to go. So much scenery to take in. The weather was hot in Seattle. We found the cabin to be very clean and ample for the two of us. There were many choices for food. The Market Cafe was a little too noisy and busy for us. We planned on eating at one of the " cover charge" restaurants but thought the Versailles was fine at no added cost. They definitely had the best food, service and ambiance of any of the "free" restaurants. The entire staff was upbeat and helpful. Everyone has their own expectations and ideas of what is nice and what is not. I think the ship has a variety of things to offer all types of people. It is impossible to completely satisfy 2,400 different people for a week. We found what we liked and returned to those areas. We will go again. Thank you NCL for a wonderful, memorable 25th anniversary. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Embarkation was quick, easy and efficient. DH has had a stroke which left him with very poor balance. One look at his cane and staff rushed to his aid, took us quickly through the formalities and straight onto the ship. The cabin ... Read More
Embarkation was quick, easy and efficient. DH has had a stroke which left him with very poor balance. One look at his cane and staff rushed to his aid, took us quickly through the formalities and straight onto the ship. The cabin was small but well organised. I was surprised by the size of the window - perfect for watching the waves towering above us. Did I mention 100mph winds and considerable rocking and rolling on our sea days! The crew were wonderful, friendly, always helpful. At one time when it was rough it took two of them holding tight to DH to get him through the Buffet. Always service with a smile. We enjoyed dining, mostly in Aqua, once in Versailles. Good food in both. Service was timely, the food was very good so that we never felt the need to use the other dining rooms. We asked to share a table for four each evening which allowed us to meet some interesting people. The only disappointment was the Blue Lagoon where the service was slower and food very uninteresting. I enjoyed the Hypnotist. He was funny without making his subjects do anything embarrassing. Second City did rapid-fire skits and improv. - great fun. The best show of all was Elements, on the last night. Quite spectacular! Now for the negatives - only two: There should be a proper plan of the ship given to everyone as part of the welcome package. It needs to be big enough to read, not the grotty , unreadable little slip of newsprint that they give out at the reception desk. We were not the only ones looking lost several days into the cruise. Finally, the reason that in spite of all the good reviews above, we probably won't cruise with NCL again, was the excruciating NOISE level in all the public areas. They had great singers and musicians - why did they have to amp then up to pain level! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our 14th cruise and the second one on the STAR. We sailed on her inaugural cruise from Miami to the west coast in 2001. For this cruise we brought along 18 people about a fourth of them had never cruised before, the rest ... Read More
This was our 14th cruise and the second one on the STAR. We sailed on her inaugural cruise from Miami to the west coast in 2001. For this cruise we brought along 18 people about a fourth of them had never cruised before, the rest had a least one cruise. I am a firm believer that CC members are obliged to write of their experiences for the benefit of all, so even if your experience was different than ours, its important to share them for a balanced view. A lot of comments have been related to the food on board. Some have had less than a good experience, others feel the food is good to great. Our experience was all the above. The problem is - it is inconsistent. For example at Cagney's the steak was excellent, but the salmon was covered in a heavily salted crab concoction that spoiled it. In the MDR's you might get a very good dish, or a just passable one with over-cooking the usual culprit. The solution to this is to order another entree. Or as one person did, not knowing if a dish would be good or great, they would order two entrees in the certainty that one would be better than the other. The Market Place food was usually quite good with some standout selections. A custom made omelette is available on the pool deck just outside the Market Cafe. You can get a fresh made waffle there also as well as eggs cooked to your order. If you order the same things in either MDR it will ALWAYS arrive at your table luke warm. It has something to do with the distance traveled and when the meal hits the window. So we saved the MDR's for lunch and dinner, and the Market Cafe for nearly all breakfasts. As to the service in the various food venues, yes it is slow. Too many tables for too few waiters, even in Cagney's the one on one attentive service was strained by the lack of staff to handle a full complement of diners. We liked the Freestyle dining because slow service made for a very leisurely dining room experience, with absolutely no rush for you to leave your table. It forces conversation while you wait for the next thing, and in this age of texting that may challenge some people a bit! We had a mini suite with balcony (11088) which came with a very nice coffee maker, that produces 2 coffee mugs worth of coffee at a time, a safe that worked with digits and did not require a credit card to operate (yea!), and curtains to divide the room in half. The cabin is 25 feet long and 8.5 ft wide. The balcony is 8.5 ft wide and 6 feet deep. Standard electrical outlets are (1) in bathroom and (1) in cabin. The closet has a light in it that 99 percent of travelers don't know about. Look up on the back wall for it. Without it you need a flashlight to see the hidden shelves on the sides! Another question I asked the CC board was is the cabin number the same as the cabin phone. Nobody seemed to know. The answer is yes, just dial the cabin number. The way to set up a wake up call however is inexplicable. I never could do it and there are no instructions either. Dial 00 and have Guest Services do it for you. Then it will work for sure! They used to put a card in the stateroom with the name of your room steward and a small pamphlet on how to work things (like the phone) - not anymore. The shower has two handles. One regulates the amount of water, the other regulates the temperature. You can go from warm to scalding hot with a 1/32nd turn of the temperature handle! Yeow ! Fortunately the shower head swings easily and you can bat it toward the wall before your backside is cooked! After 10 years, we noticed some significant changes on board. Market Place had hot chocolate machines, now you get a packet of chocolate dust. Juices were always available, but now only at breakfast, after that they become a $pecial drink. Trays are gone from Market Place, you have to carry your plate. This eliminates getting a significant amount of food at one time and multiple trips are required to get your meal assembled on your table. Consequently you have a LOT of foot traffic trying to get all their stuff together at their table. Chocolate milk is not on the line any more, but you can find it at the kids station. Lots of adults were going there to get some! The Latitudes welcome party used to include hot hors d'oeuvres, served by staff in white tux and white gloves - not any more, - White or red wine only, any thing else is $pecial. MDR's used to have cream for coffee in silver containers - now they are the plastic single serve things you find at McDonalds. The Pizza "store" is gone where you could get a slice of pizza anytime. You will find a sort of pizza at the Market Place at lunch time - but it isn't much of a pizza. You can order a 15 inch pizza from room service for $5 plus tip. Staterooms used to have double sets of bath towels and pool towels were at the pool deck. Now you get 2 of each kind of towel and the pool towels are in your room, which you are responsible for insuring their safety or paying for them. Many of our guests were in staterooms on deck 5, which unfortunately a number of them were beneath the floor of the MDR galley. 3 of our guests had serious issues with noise from the galley activities, including one stateroom subjected to loud radio playing at 3am in the morning. That took a staff officer to come to the cabin at 3am to solve the problem. Another had noise from things being dropped on the floor, skidded across the floor and a mixing machine that thumped the floor at early hours in the morning. If you are a light sleeper avoid any deck 5 cabin near the MDR galley overhead. In each case our guests were given a compensation, but a good night's sleep is really what they yearned for. Note for CC members: We had one issue that became quite unpleasant at the Guest Services Desk. I have purchased a CC pin, which I wore most everywhere on board. Many people did not know what it was, but when I went to resolve this issue the next day and explained to another Guest Services staff member what we do, and that I would be writing a ship review, he got very serious about solving the problem. I told him that we are encourage all the time by NCL to solve any problem while on board, and not when we get home, and this would be his last chance to have that happen. So there is power in being a CC member and also asking respectfully for a full resolution to any problem! I won't comment here on the Alaska ports as the ship won't be back for another year, our cruise was the next to the last one, and perhaps the only one that had 3 days of sunshine and 73+ degree temperatures! The entertainment was very good. I don't relish screechy female singers so those two nights I skipped the Stardust Theater. As noted by other CC members, the Stardust cranks the sound level up to just under the place on the dial labeled "painful" so be sure to have ear plugs with you when attending. The "Angels" aerial act with the male and female artists was superb and amazing how he could support the lady in so many gymnastic positions while flying across the stage! The hypnotist was excellent and we had a lot of fun with the volunteers and of course the Elements Show, at the last night of the cruise is the highlight and topper for the whole 7 days. A tip of the hat to the cruise director Jamie and the many events she organized and participated in. And very special recognition to her at disembarkation, where she and other officers wished us a safe journey home. What a great touch and nice way to end the cruise!! My thanks also to CC member GrapevineTX for organizing the CC Meet & Greet from our roll call. It was his work that won us a (extremely rare) and highly appreciated bridge tour Yea!! A cruise is what you make of it and a positive attitude will make it even more fun. We found all the staff without exception to be eager to help, friendly, always smiling and cheerful despite their long work hours. Special thanks to Guest Services employee An Juan Ray for his dedication and excellence in customer service - he could give lessons to one of his associates! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Just returned last Saturday from an Alaskan cruise on the Star. Our party consisted of my husband, mother and father in law and husband's aunt in one cabin and my grandparents in an oceanview. I was a little apprehensive and ... Read More
Just returned last Saturday from an Alaskan cruise on the Star. Our party consisted of my husband, mother and father in law and husband's aunt in one cabin and my grandparents in an oceanview. I was a little apprehensive and didn't know what to expect as the Star gets some pretty inconsistent reviews. Let me tell you, don't listen to any of the bad ones! We had an amazing time and have absolutely nothing bad to say about NCL after spending a week with them. Let me address some of the previous concerns I have read. Not once, did we feel pressured to buy anything nor did we ever feel nickel and dimed. My husband and I got off the ship with an onboard account balance of $61 and still had a fabulous time. The ship is 10 years old, but does not show it. The cabins are nice and the common areas are as beautiful as I would imagine they were when the ship was first built. Crew: The crew was amazing. Everywhere we turned there was a smiling face and someone asking us how our day was. Our cabin steward was quiet and efficient and friendly. Every night on the pool deck from 5-9 there was a member of the kitchen staff making crepes and he was SOOOO friendly. He was our highlight. Food: I have read a lot of reviews about how the food was mediocre. We did not think so at all! We ate only in the main dining rooms for dinner and were very impressed. The food was always cooked perfectly and had great flavor. Shows: The entertainment was very good. Elements was great at the end of the cruise, but Angels on the third night was the best live show I have ever seen. Ports: The ports were underwhelming, but that has nothing to do with the cruise line. Prince Rupert was beautiful as was Juneau, but Skagway was small and dirty. All in all we had a fabulous time! Everything was great and I will definitely recommend and cruise with NCL again. Hopefully in the near future!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Booked 4 cabins of different categories from inside to mini suite; 3 of family and one of family friends. Ages from 56 (me) to a toddler of 16 months. We were almost unanimous in our opinion(s) of the ship and ports. Overwhelmingly ... Read More
Booked 4 cabins of different categories from inside to mini suite; 3 of family and one of family friends. Ages from 56 (me) to a toddler of 16 months. We were almost unanimous in our opinion(s) of the ship and ports. Overwhelmingly positive. The ship was clean and obviously well maintained. The crew were almost universally friendly and outgoing... pleasant and helpful but not fawning. Meals in the MDR were good to very good but none were particularly great. Service in MDR's was likewise very good. Prompt, efficient and courteous. Only complaint in MDR was a constant fight to get coffee refills. They refilled waters and other drinks regularly but had to be asked consistently for more coffee. Pet peeve of this coffee-holic. We NEVER waited to be seated regardless of our table size. Literally seated within 60 seconds regardless of dining time. Meals in the buffet areas were typical of any buffet; from mediocre to very good. Buffet fare was surprisingly American; very small areas of more "exotic" offerings. Dining at LeBistro was simply fabulous and worth every penny. Same thought about Cagney's Steakhouse... simply wonderful. We did note that Cagney's seemed to be at a faster pace than Bistro despite both restaurants relative level of occupancy; we liked the more leisurely Bistro We didn't try the other "for fee" restaurants. Shows ran the gamut from excellent to so-so; also probably depending on one's taste. My wife loved the hypnotist/magician while I was bored to tears etc. Ship public address announcements were remarkably few... a nice surprise. Our cabin attendant was superb, of course, but we have had good luck with that on all of our cruises Since all ports save one were American, it was a breeze to get on and off the ship without Custons' issues. All ports were docked... no tendering. Prices for drinks were typical of all ships; from 4 to 8 bucks depending on souvenir glasses etc. Some venues were always crowded (The Red Lion) and some virtually empty (The Star Room). The Biergarten on 14 was underutilized but that may be due to the insistent cold, damp weather. The Piano bar and the Atrium Trio were always well attended but easy to find a seat at. Never felt pressured to buy anything at any time. Even the massage lady was low key about upgrades. All in all, we loved the cruise. Everyone of our party of 13 was happy with everything but the weather... and even the baby seemed to like the whole thing. I would recommend Norwegian Star without reservation, and would sail here again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have just returned from a cruise to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Star. I was a little apprehensive as it is the first time we have used and American cruise line and read so many differing reports. However, I shouldn't have been ... Read More
We have just returned from a cruise to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Star. I was a little apprehensive as it is the first time we have used and American cruise line and read so many differing reports. However, I shouldn't have been concerned. Our cabin was a reasonable size and the balcony adequate, not that big but enough room to stretch out. The cabin and shower room spotless, very efficient staff. The shower room would be a little cramped if you were large as it was two small compartments, one for the toilet and the other for washbasin and shower. The soap and shampoo in dispensers on the wall. Our cabin staff added a little touch by making different towel animals every night when they turned down the bed. The dining rooms were great, so much choice. The food was served hot and well presented. There was no pushing or shoving in the cafeteria which we found on our MSC cruise. For such a large ship the Star ran very efficiently. I am also hooked on freedom dining. Most people changed for the evening dinner but if you didn't want to dress up you didn't have to. So good if you were back from a trip you could take your time to dine. Only once did we have to wait but were given a pager and went for a drink until called, about 15 minute wait. The waiting staff were all friendly and more than helpful. Plenty to do for days at sea, the main theatre shows were a bit disappointing, one evening they had comedy which did not appeal at all to the British audience. However, the last night was a spectacular show, I would say one of the best I have experienced at sea. There were also plenty of other singers and musicians dotted around the ship, who played different types of music from jazz to country and western, etc. Embarkation and Disembarkation went very smoothly and we had no problem with either of these. Nothing is perfect and we were disappointed with the price of drinks which also added a tax every time you bought something. If you play bingo, which we don't, it will cost you 39 dollars for 4 games minimum. I did not like the hard sell of the Americans, the trips were very expensive , and i mentioned earlier our lovely towel animals. They even tried to see us a dvd showing us how to make these. They advertise an indoor pool but there is a charge to use this as it is attached to the spa. Some of the restaurants also carry an extra charge. Nevertheless I would go NCL again and would recommend them, food, cleanliness, comfort were as good if not better than other cruise lines we have travelled with. I am considering cruise next year with another American line, Celebrity Eclipse, and would appreciate any comments. Are they also hard sell? Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Us: Husband (37), self (42), and 15-year old daughter. We live in northern CA; we drove and parked. This is our 3rd cruise, our 1st on NCL. Boarding: We arrived at the parking structure at 10:00, and they wouldn't let us park ... Read More
Us: Husband (37), self (42), and 15-year old daughter. We live in northern CA; we drove and parked. This is our 3rd cruise, our 1st on NCL. Boarding: We arrived at the parking structure at 10:00, and they wouldn't let us park in "cruise parking" until 10:30. They did give us the option to wait in some open spaces that faced the port and ship until they were ready for us. However, I'm glad we arrived early. We used Republic Parking and paid $140 for the week. https://www.rpnw.com/seattle/fuel/ There were cheaper options, but for those you have to wait for a shuttle and it only saves $20-40. This garage is right across the pier and has nice elevators, luggage service, and a Sky-Bridge that walks you across to the NCL cruise lobby. It was worth it. The check-in process was so fast that I found myself fumbling to fill out forms and pull out passports. They got us checked in and gave us a number to wait for our group to be called. We were "11," the first group was "10." When we boarded at 11:30 there was still no line for those going through check in. I would suggest you arrive as early as possible. Ship: Not as grand and beautiful as other ships I've seen... but very nice. The atrium and main pool deck were nice and I thought they provided nice seating and atmosphere. My daughter loved the water slides. I liked the staggered stair-type seating at the pool. I liked the varied art in the stairwells. I saw a few places that could have been dressed up better, but overall it was fine and in most places very nice. Cabin: Balcony, mid-ship, port, 10th floor. This room was PERFECT location. Great for elevators and easy access. Port side is great for this cruise, only one day without land view. Bathroom: Best of 3 cruises. (More room, nice tile, nice sink. Clean. If you're tall you'll find the toilet area to be short and may consider upgrade to mini-suite where bathrooms are deeper. Ship provided good shampoo, not-so-good liquid soap, and no conditioner. No tub but larger shower than last two ships I was on, and great shower head. Water system is great and water tastes great, no need for bottled. (I didn't believe it because I'm so picky about water, but it was true.) Furniture: Smart design = room under bed for our suitcases. Closet was smallish but had lots of shelves and options and met our needs for three. It was tight, but it worked. Angled cuts, mirrors, and a chair without a back (stool) made for more walking space. Only one plug, bring a power strip or splitter if you have more than one device. (Cameras, cell phones, etc.) Hair dryer was fine. Beds: Queen was a bit hard, but OK. Pillows were good, bedding was good. Fold-out bed for my daughter was HARD AS A ROCK. I'm not sure how she could stand it... it would have killed by back and neck. She is 15 and sleeps on the floor sometimes "just because"... she had no complaints. LOL. If I had to sleep on that I would have been miserable without a foam pad. Cleanliness: I'm picky about this. Bathroom was all tile, which makes it easier to clean, and it was very clean. Changing out rooms they missed a french fry under the bed and the slider had "finger writing" of hearts from the prior passenger. After we got the room it was cleaned very well each day. Our attendant said he was just back from time off so I have to guess he didn't prepare the room... without us asking windows were clean and fry was gone after the first cleaning. Room attendant: Outstanding! Friendly, great service. We did tip a couple of extra dollars each night... he left us robes and pool towels without us asking, and great towel animals. He knew our schedule and turned down our room early. A few times I left out cash on accident and it was never touched. He called us by first name, always smiled, and quickly met any requests we had. Balcony: A very small balcony, smaller than on most ships. But, large enough for 2 chairs and met our needs. BRING GOOD BINOCULARS. We brought some cheesy ones thinking we wouldn't need them. We were fighting over them and wished we had three good pair. TV: Horrible little 13" old tube. I don't care much about a TV on a cruise, but it did seem a bit ridiculous to have such an old and little TV. I do like to refer to the ship's channel that gives you information such as current location, time, miles sailed from and to next port, temperature of air and water, speed of vessel, sea condition and wave height. With volume up you can also hear ship's announcements. I know many people use the front bow camera for light. Even with window or balcony if you close the curtains for sleeps it's really dark. They had a few channels with movies and one with TV shows. We didn't care about watching TV but if you do you won't be happy with tiny screen or old TV. Tip: Bring a small digital clock. There's not one in the room. I knew this and thought I'd just use my cell but it was a hassle to climb over the bed and go pick it up every time I wanted to see the time. I thought I wouldn't care.. I mean, we're on vacation, who cares about time? But, if you want to go to dinner/shows/activities/ports of call... you will care. I wish I would have followed advice of others and brought a clock that you can see in the dark and across the room. Cruise Critic Reception/Meet N Greet: Great fun! You should sign up/arrange for this event. I wasn't sure what it would be and if we should go... but it was great to meet the other CC members. They set up a nice meet area at Le Bistro and provided coffee/tea and cookies. The captain came for a quick meet and we also got a personal intro to the senior offices including cruise director. They knew we would be a small group and they still rolled out the carpet for us. We were all invited to a bridge tour on Thursday. Service: Hit and miss. Officers on this ship were more available and friendlier then I've seen on other ships. Guest services was easy to understand and helpful. Most crew-members were smiling and helpful. Some looked bored and/or disinterested, I'll talk more about that when I review dining as this is where we ran into poor service at times. Shops On Board: Only three. Typical jewelry, t-shirts, mugs. A lot of "made in China/India" plastic crap. I had some ship credit and went there several times having a hard time finding anything I wanted to buy. Almost nothing made in Alaska. I did find a small, wooden, Alaska-carved totem pole. Also, I asked for 10% off on a non-sale item and they gave it to me. They will re-position in a few weeks so if you're going to Alaska in 2011 look for big sails on the last 2 sailings. I ended up happy with purchases of the totem pole, a sweat-shirt, some scrapbook stuff, a 50% off mug and corkscrew. I spent $90 for all of that. Selling: Let me say this is my BIGGEST pet-peeve on cruises and I'm a bit over-sensitive to it after a horrid experience on Princess. Maybe it was just good luck but I had almost NO sales offers other than TV channels and room fliers (which I don't mind.) There were photographers looming about to snap photos, but no pressure to go view or buy the photos. There were waiters that would ask if you wanted something from the bar and "ship lottery ticket" sellers at the shows, but they never blocked our walkways and they always accepted a polite "no thank you." One night a nervous young man at Aqua tried to up-sell a specialty restaurant while we were eating. That was intrusive. I gave him a sneer and told him we were not interested and he left us alone. There were a lot of "bingo" and "art auction" and "jewelry seminar" announcements over the ship's systems.., but you couldn't really hear them unless we had our TV to the ship's channel or we had our door open, or we were out and about. I was pleasantly surprised that the ship offered these things but didn't push them. I did avoid things like art auctions, jewelry seminars, bingo, and any such stuff where they will try to sell you something as I didn't want to be spend my money on these things and I learned from past cruises that these are ship opportunities to sell you things you don't really need. I can do all that stuff at home, that's not what I cruise for. Actives/Parties (not shows): We thought the selection was great. We tried to get in on the Newly-wed game as a "married for a long-time" couple, but we didn't quite make it. It was fun. I liked the game shows and pool parties and night-club parties. We always had things to do and for those who say they didn't I wonder if they really read their daily schedules. Because, one negative I had, was that they didn't announce all their great activities very well and we often just stumbled upon them. They had music in the atrium and movies that we didn't even know about until after the fact. We were never bored so it is a small complaint, but be aware that many very fun, and free, activities are poorly advertised - really study your daily room schedule. Teen Center: My daughter only went on the last day at sea, but she loved it. They kept it simple and there were lots of teens there and she wished she would have gone there sooner. They had loud music with videos, air-hockey, food, and other teens. What more do teens want? They did have scheduled activities (like bingo and scavenger hunt), but the teen counselors let the teens decide if they wanted to do them or not. This was good as on other ships my kids felt the teen center was more for pre-teens with "dumb" activities. Spa and fitness center: Never used. Dining: Afraid of what I might find with so many bad reviews, but we were happy with the food. We did not pay for specialty restaurants. Buffet: Almost never used as we don't care for them. Food was OK, some of it good, kind-of like a good hospital cafeteria. Seating was limited and too close. It was not 24-7 and for "freestyle dining" there were many times late at night, brunch-time, or late lunch to early diner time that everything was closed (or a fee), except for Blue Lagoon. Blue Lagoon: Went for lunch and dinner... Good wings, good won-ton soup. Very limited menu with burger, sandwiches, or salad. SLOW service. Wait persons seemed bored. Service was fair to poor, food was acceptable. Nothing to write home about. Aqua: Good menu and choices. Not a great atmosphere. I am not sure why, but the PASSENGERS at Aqua were generally acting awful each time we went. The decor, menu, and tables were somewhere between predictable and upscale, but our fellow passengers were acting like they were at a Wal-Mart MacDonald's. Well, really, I'd get mad at my kid for acting that way at MacDonald's. We had one family seated to our right, almost on their dessert. After we were seated that family discovered they had more family two tables to our left. They proceeded to take pictures through our table and yell comments to each other through our table. No sooner did they finally leave did we have another family sit next to us and loudly argue over bingo. The tables are only separated by about one person and it was obnoxious. The service was just OK, as I think the wait people were also worn out by the rude passengers. We went there again thinking it was just a bad night... and that time the family next to us had kids getting up and running about and knocking into us.. and the parents didn't care. I like kids.. but this was simply bad behavior going unchecked. Then some teens were seated who proceeded to talk about very inappropriate subjects, very loudly, and my teen spent dinner sneering at them. I'm not sure why Aqua drew a different crowd then the other free sit-down restaurant, but it did. Versailles: Lovely. Had our 1st meal here (lunch after boarding) and got great service from a man named Romeo. DEcor was outdated and a bit gaudy, but table spacing was nice and it felt more private then Aqua. By luck we were seated in Romeo's section for our third day's dinner. My husband gave him a tip and every night (and some lunches) after that we went there and asked to sit in his section. Excellent service by him and his assistant "Charleston." Food was good. I did notice that both "free" restaurants overcooked the meat... prime rib, steak, fish, pork chop. Several times we would ask for beef "medium rare" and get "well." Some of the veggies seemed fresh, crisp, and lovely.. some seemed canned and mushy. Overall we were happy with the food; it was seasoned well, served at the right temperature and served at the right pace. The hostess was irritated when we asked to be seated in Romeo's section and she didn't provide good service at all. Tip: Versailles opens at 5:00, Aqua at 5:30. There is ALWAYS a line and EVERY night they opened a few minutes late. If you want to get a good seat at the early show (7:15) you need to be at the theater by 6:45. Dinner is 3 courses and can take a while. Show up to restaurant 10 minutes early or plan to wait in a long, disorganized line with irritated passengers. Room Service: Summary = Disappointing. My favorite part of room service is breakfast, but it was awful. Like a motel continental. There was NO protein available. You can get drinks like milk, "orange drink", (I think also tomato or grapefruit juice), coffee/tea, cereal, muffins/pastry/bread, and fruit. There may have been a couple more things. But NO eggs, (not even hard-boiled.. I requested them as a write in and they ignored it), no meat of any kind, nothing like a protein smoothie or even nuts. It was all sugar and more sugar. Not a good way to start a long day. The regular menu (lunch/dinner items) was not bad, but very limited. Pizza has a $5 surcharge, anything between 12-5 am has a surcharge (and buffet is closed). Twice when we called they told us the wait would be over an hour so we said forget-it. Once they said 20 minutes and it took 40. Ports: I will do port reviews but I will say this here - the ship needs to greatly improve the way they handle passengers going on and off the ship. They have no roped off area for the lines and they have elevators opening into the lines. This caused people to cut and other people who had been waiting to get very angry. I felt so bad for one female crew-member who was trying to organize the lines on her own. NO WAY. She needed about 3 assistants and some ropes. All the stairways have a right and left side and it's obvious that the line should go up one side and leave the other clear for passengers who need to get to their rooms or go up the stairs. Passengers were so irritated about people cutting that they were blocking people who were trying to get up or down the stair for other legitimate reasons. Lines in general were a mess; Prince Rupert being the worst... we got to the line at 20 minutes till and were about 100 people back. Soon the line wrapped all the way to the end of the ship and back around towards the start of the line and I felt that pushing and anger caused it to be dangerous at some points. A child or disabled person could have easily been hurt... and a couple of times I thought some heated passengers might go to blows. Side note: This is the first ship I've been on where I've noticed such bad behavior from passengers in general. You can't blame the ship for that.. but I had to wonder if "freestyle" cruising didn't attract some "I don't want to follow any rules" patrons. Excursions: Ketchikan= Zip Lining. Juneau = 1) Musher's Camp 2) Tracy Arm Explorer. Skagway = Combo of White Pass Train and Gold Fields. Prince Rupert = Heritage Museum and First Nation People's Feast Ceremony. I'll review them individually below on Port Reviews. Were they worth the money? I'm not sure, they were pretty pricey.. but I do have priceless memories and overall they were good. I spent A LOT on excursions and more than I ever have before. Doing pre-research I found that Alaska is expensive! Over the course of 4 ports and 5 excursions we might have saved $300-$600 by booking independently. But the ship offered extras that were not offered elsewhere that would have cost money like snacks and transportation. Not to mention we were CRUNCHED for time. It didn't seem worth it to lose the guarantee of the ship waiting for you and to lose the convenience of ship transportation. Tip: The time on our tickets was NOT the same as what we were told online when we booked. In every instance we had to meet up earlier than we thought we would. Therefore, we had less time in town than we thought. Tracy Arm meets on the ship instead of on the dock so you lose even more time. Entertainment: First, I go to theater a lot, and coach cheer and dance, so I'm a bit critical. The shows had good, great, and then not-so-good parts. 1st night was just OK... but it was an introduction so we didn't expect much. We noticed on the first night that the male dancers were A LOT better than the female dancers and the voice performances were very weak. 2nd night: 60's review dance and song = weak. 3rd night = missed. I can't remember the order of the next nights but - Comedy Troup = pretty funny; Hypnotist: Weak... and one guy was so under that he fell off the stage and cut open his head. It was quite the show! This was about the 5th time I've seen a live hypnotist and his material just wasn't very funny or interesting; "Angels" (aerial acrobats) = EXCELLENT! Superior show, amazing. Must see. Final night was "Elements" = Pretty darn good. It got amazing reviews and I did enjoy it a lot. It is mostly themed costumes and dancing combined with aerial acrobatics, props, and choreographed magic tricks. I could have done without the magic tricks, other that that it was great. Really inventive costumes and great dance moves. Movie Theater: Oh wait.. there is none. Seriously? I thought all ships had them. The used the main theater to show a couple of movies at times when we couldn't see them. This was lacking. Bar entertainment: Sorry, we don't drink much so we were only @ Spinnaker once. But I heard the music at both was pretty good for bar-room entertainment. We did hit the "White Hot Party" on the last night and my daughter and I danced to modern music and it was great because we both felt very comfortable and it was fun. Cruise Director: Julie = very good. I think it must be a hard job to please everyone. She had an 'over-the-top' (personality type) gay assistant cruise director... and he was great too. Very animated. They were very different and made a great team. She wasn't the funniest or smoothest speaker I've seen... but if they were both over-the-top you wouldn't have got the great feeling of informed guidance and suggestions she provided. She was very nice and remembered my daughter's name and we saw her all over the ship.., always welcoming and smiling and asking how our meal/excursion/show went. Good job Julie! Disembarking: Good and bad. Good = We could just carry off our own luggage.. no tags or night-before packing needed. Simple, nice, good. We packed our luggage and off we went, they started on time. Bad = For some unknown reason they made us haul our luggage up into Spinnaker Lounge (it's an up-hill, ramp type, long entryway) and then back down out of Spinnaker Lounge. It looked like they predicted a long line, but there was not one. And, this was unnecessary as they could SEE there was not a line because Spinnaker entrance and exit are just down the same hallway. (You can see right to the other end.) OK for us and just slightly inconvenient, but not for the elderly man in front of us that was struggling to pull his luggage up into and across the lounge. Then, once off the ship, but still in the port lobby, it was a madhouse. They were directing us to take either the escalator or the elevator, we chose elevator since we had our luggage. Around the corner we saw the LONG line to ONE elevator so we went back to escalator... directed by an employee. Then right at the escalator a RUDE man snapped at us that we couldn't go down the escalator with our large luggage. We told him we were directed there and he just snapped "it's dangerous, use the stairs" What? It's dangerous to use an escalator but not stairs? The stairs were spaced narrowly and didn't look safe to me if you couldn't pick your luggage up high, (ours was on wheels and heavy and neither I, nor my daughter, could not have managed the stairs with the luggage.) While he was concerned about his ability to control our entry onto the escalator we saw others with luggage going easily and safely down the escalator and pointed it out.., he didn't care and was getting angry because he didn't want them on the escalator either and we were obviously irritating him, so we just went back to the elevator... where there were now 20 more people in front of us. Sigh. Also, we had taken the Sky-Bridge over from the parking structure (no stairs or escalators, just an easy breezeway over the street) and we were trying to get back that way, but it was "closed until around 11." Really? When the ship is DONE disembarking at 11? I will say (for the good) that the only longish wait time was at the elevator where we waited about 20 minutes to go down one flight of stairs. Summary: Value = $3,700 (after taxes and port fees) for 3 of us in standard balcony. This was more than I spent on my last two cruises but A LOT LESS then other ships were charging for Alaska for the same type room; mostly because NCL only charged $400 for my daughter as a "3rd person" in the cabin. We spent $2,300 in shore excursions. (Ouch) 5 excursions, so an average of $153 per person per excursion. We got room credit of $335 + a free bottle of wine. I used the room credit for tips and still had $83 left for on-board charges and since I don't gamble or drink I went to the gift store and spent it. (The excursions were pre-paid so I couldn't use the credit for them.) The bottle of wine was nice.. we brought it home and gave it as a gift with a corkscrew we bought at the gift shop. Overall I think the cruise and room value were good. The excursion value was good except for White Pass & Gold Fields, which I'll explain in Port Reviews. I think it was a good value for what we got. NCL Star provided an overall quality experience with good service, entertainment, and cabin. I would recommend a few improvements to the Star, but overall I thought they did I great job. I would sail with them again and I would recommend them to family and friends. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We have just returned from a round trip cruise to Alaska. I had booked a suite as a surprise for my mum (part of a bigger holiday) I told her that we would be in an ocean view cabin so she was completely gob smacked when we were escorted ... Read More
We have just returned from a round trip cruise to Alaska. I had booked a suite as a surprise for my mum (part of a bigger holiday) I told her that we would be in an ocean view cabin so she was completely gob smacked when we were escorted to the aft suite after being whisked through security and check in. I had undertaken a great deal of research before booking the cabin and, now, I am absolutely sure that I made the right choice! The room was lovely and the balcony, a perfect size to enjoy the beautiful vistas as well as being completely sheltered from the wind. We had a Romance Package included (I know - mother and daughter!!)so we received 2 bottles of sparkling wine, choc coated strawberries, a romantic dinner for two, with another bottle of wine as well as an invite to the honeymoon party (complete with honeymoon pic!) The cruise was heaven; we dined in Cagneys for breakfast and lunch each day and also Versailles, Aqua, Ginza, Le Bistro and La Cucina. The food and service were excellent, particularly in Cagneys and Le Bistro. Our butler, Andrew, brought us canapes daily, Arnold, our friendly steward, ensured our room was spotless, had plenty of bathroom amenities and created great towel animals and Patrick, our concierge, ensured we had a smooth embarkation and debarkation, had the correct excursions booked as well as providing us with excellent seats in the theatre, Stardust (he also checked several times a day to see if "everything was ok" which it always was!) All staff we encountered were friendly and polite. The excursions, although some very pricey, were out of this world. We watched bear fishing for salmon at a hatchery in Ketchican, went dog sledding in Juneau, took the catamaran up the Tracey Arm fjord where we watched a huge "shooter" rise up from under the glacier as well as thunderous ice calvings. We also travelled the White Pass railway to Yukon and tried our hand at ziplining which was such fun. As cruise critic members, we attended the "meet and greet" on the Sunday and secured a really interesting bridge tour on the next "sea day". We also met up with Keith and Kitty, who were great fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows at the theatre; the best being Angels and The Elements. We avoided the jewellery selling hype (I actually found it quite hilarious in the end - did you know I look at my diamond ring 50 times a day?!) I ahve no previous cruise to compare but this one was just superb, Ok we travelled in style (I still need a new kitchen) but I would unreservedly, recommend our holiday to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My review of the Norweigan Star General impression of the Star is that it is nice but small. Our cabin was 8088, mid-ship. Going past cabins 8116 and 8118 had a smell of sewer gas all week. Our steward was fine, we had the towel ... Read More
My review of the Norweigan Star General impression of the Star is that it is nice but small. Our cabin was 8088, mid-ship. Going past cabins 8116 and 8118 had a smell of sewer gas all week. Our steward was fine, we had the towel animals, etc. One day I was waiting for my husband to come back and took a shower w/o locking cabin door. I heard noise and thought it was him. The next thing that happened was the steward opened the bathroom door! Not a great experience for either one of us. It was an honest mistake, but I don't know how he didn't hear me in the shower. He apologized every time we saw him, and it was embarrassing for both of us. We never used the pool, but my kids and spouse used the gym and seemed to think it was ok. Casino was ok, we got the $50 for $25 vouchers and had no trouble using them from http://slotplaycoupons.com. Entertainment was great. Cruise director funny, I loved listening to Mr. Motown and Dr. Scott Lewis the hypnotist was wonderful. The aerialist act was amazing, they got a standing ovation! The only one we didn't care for was the magic act, was kind of hokey. The Stardust Theater where the shows are offered is very small and sometimes there was only 1 show per night. If you didn't get there early you didn't get a seat. Dining rooms and food. We had only sailed with Carnival before this cruise. IMHO Carnival wins here, hands down. The included dining rooms are very small and we had to wait for a long time to get in. I feel they deliberately keep it this way to encourage you to go to the paying restaurants. We are retired and living on a fixed income and did not want to spend our money this way. The menu offer much less than I was accustomed to on Carnival. Was surprised to see that there was neither Crème Brulee nor Baked Alaska offered at all on this cruise! The servers were great and did their best to keep up. Some nights you would wait 25 minutes after your appetizer till you got your main meal, others it would come right away. We ate lunch and breakfast in the buffet restaurants. They had a great selection and were really careful to be sure that no germs could spread. Each time you walked into these restaurants they sprayed your hands with a disinfectant. Seats were hard to come by and I often felt like I was back in high school looking for a table to eat at. This necessitated us having one person to scope out the dining room and wait at a table until someone else came along. Didn't make for a peaceful, enjoyable mealtime together. We found the prices in Alaska for shopping were amazingly low. Prince Rupert had much higher prices. Here is a day by day synopsis: Embarkation on Saturday was a breeze. We got there early and dropped our things off and went to Pikes Market to look around. Sunday was a sea day and it rained and was real foggy for most of the day. Captain blew the fog horn many times. Monday we were in Ketchikan. We did the canoe and nature trail. We saw a bear on the way to the lake. Unfortunately it poured this day as well. It was a great excursion and had some beautiful scenery. Tuesday was Juneau and it rained a lot again! We went to the glacier and the glacier gardens and Salmon hatchery. Was another great excursion as we saw and learned a lot. Wednesday was Skagway. We did the White Pass Railway. Great scenery, but I felt that 3 ½ hours would be too long, that 2 ½ hours would be just great. Unfortunately, the train in front of us had engine problems and it ended up being 5 ½ hours. This didn't leave us too much time to shop or do other things. This also caused us to leave port late. We did cruise into the Tracy Arm Fjord that evening and it was beautiful to see the glacier there and surprising to see all the big ice chunks flowing around you. Thursday we were in Prince Rupert Sound. Did another nature walk and had a beautiful day. Guide said it was the best day of the whole summer and the only day there was no rain! Friday was a nice sea day and the weather was great. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This is a very welcoming ship with exceptional staff and a relaxed atmosphere. Traveling with our 10 year old daughter we were appreciative of their well run kids programs, the ability to be spontaneous with our dining, the attitude from ... Read More
This is a very welcoming ship with exceptional staff and a relaxed atmosphere. Traveling with our 10 year old daughter we were appreciative of their well run kids programs, the ability to be spontaneous with our dining, the attitude from the crew that our daughter was a valued guest on the ship - not a nuisance, and a lovely ship in general (although she is now getting older and showing it around the edges). We got to Pier 66 at noon to embark and the line up was huge. We quickly learned looks are deceiving as the line moved exceptionally quickly, and in a very organized manner. Countless staff were all over the place, directing folks and answering questions and being VERY patient with several cruisers who were impatient, unprepared (have passports, e-docs, etc organized and available), or simply uncertain of where to go or what to do. The whole process could not have gone more smoothly. A woman behind us was complaining that she had been in line for 15 minutes and I said in a good natured way that considering they were getting almost 2400 people and about 5000 pieces of their luggage through this line and onto the ship within roughly 5 hours I was pretty impressed with 15 minutes in a line up. She said she hadn't thought about it that way and seemed a bit more patient with the process after that. (A week later, disembarking was just as smooth, just as streamlined). Once on board, spank'n new key cards in hand, we snooped around a bit and learned staterooms were ready earlier than expected so checked ours out. Our luggage got delivered shortly afterwards, we hit the buffet (a mad house with folks jockeying for position in line and acting like the ship was going to run out of food within hours) and we lifted anchor so to speak. Our stateroom was compact, but we weren't surprised after checking out the various cabins on several websites - we never expected the space of a hotel room and the room was exact to pictures seen. There was plenty of space in the closet - it even had a light inside and side shelves, drawers and under the bed had plenty of room to store suitcases and purchases. Although things were compact the layout worked well. The room was very quiet, and we were not disturbed by noise above, below or beside us and with a room close to the middle of the ship we experienced little rock n'roll (although we never experienced it elsewhere on the ship when we were out and about either). The balcony gave extra space and a nice place to eat breakfast, thanks to room service. Especially on the Alaska cruise where scenery and wildlife are a key component of the cruise we LOVED our balcony - a private viewing area with comfortable loungers. It was nice to tuck our daughter in bed, slide the balcony door shut, and enjoy a relaxed conversation late at night. BRING BINOCULARS. All staff, from those at the reception desk to the cruise director to the stewards to waiters were welcoming and friendly. Certainly some were more outgoing and cheery than others, but truly, we never encountered a single staff that was not at least polite and had a smile ready as we passed in the corridor. Our stateroom steward was exceptional; good natured, thorough in his care to our cabin and he quickly charmed our daughter with whom he was very patient and kind. We always took a moment to chat with him and joke around a bit. Towel animals are traditions on many cruise ships. For some "chronic cruisers" the novelty may have worn off long ago regarding a facecloth shaped into a turtle or 2 bath towels turned into an elephant but to us it was fun and our 10 year old was fascinated. Our room steward knew this and made special effort to create the towel animals with her and put on quite a show of it. He made her feel special. The ships oozes crew all over the ship and if I ever had a question, needed something or couldn't figure out which elevator to take there was always someone in close proximity to ask and they willingly and cheerfully assisted in any way they could. Yes, stellar staff indeed. Prior to our trip, we spoke with many people who have cruised and googled many websites so knew that many cruise lines (not just Norwegian) put a heavy emphasis on selling everything from jewelry to art work to photographs. You were constantly encouraged to spend, spend, spend. There are even channels on the stateroom TV dedicated to helping you figure out the best places to spend your cashola, especially on jewelry. However, although displays were always up, flyers constantly distributed or photographers walking around, etc, we feel hounded or pushed to buy. A polite smile and "no thanks, I'm not interested" was met each and every time with a returned polite smile and "enjoy your afternoon madam" from the seller. And, you can always turn off the tv spending channel. Easy. The only time I could have screamed "Enough already, back off!" was during an afternoon close to the end of the cruise when photographers were positioned with huge set ups around main traffic areas (one was directly in front of the reception desk). Large screens, lights and equipment were sprawled out, meaning folks had to carefully maneuver around them, not only causing traffic jams but introducing potential for things to be knocked down or people tripping over items. Souvenirs and items in the gift shops were quite reasonably priced and many nice things were offered. Off ship and in port the push was far more aggressive in the stores and we quickly learned to avoid row after row of jewelry stores. 3 of the 4 ports visited were very nice (Ketchican, Juneau and Skagway) with loads of history, interesting sights around the towns and residents that have lived their lifetime there. Only one port, Prince Rupert was a thumbs down with little to do, gloomy/wet climate, and run down streets. A small pocket of pretty shops and sites close to the pier were nice but venture any further and the whole place looked tired and sad. I really don't see how it was ever determined that plunking down a few thousand cruisers here would be worthwhile, enriching or entertaining. Much of the typical tourist shopping (t-shirts, key chains, mugs, local souvenirs) was the same regardless of which port you were in. If you missed getting a Ketchican t-shirt, no worries, the same one was in Juneau - just with a different town name on it. Although you can book excursions well before your cruise dates, we waited until we were on board the ship and we're glad we did it this way. With fog, mist, and rain all risks on an Alaska cruise regardless of the time of year, we were able to wait until we knew the short term weather forecast to know if it was worth booking something where the weather may effect our enjoyment or the view. There were excursions for any budget, activity level and we appreciated the level of choice. The kids programming was very good. Registration was a snap and our daughter enjoyed the activities and program staff very much. Program leaders were high energy and experienced, they communicated well with us and fostered interaction between the children. The planned activities were fun. Five minutes of shyness the first day quickly morphed into excitement to go and play each day, and our daughter really enjoyed her time there and connected with many kids. She always seemed to know at least one or two of the kids to play with at the pool - where the water slides were a big bonus. It was wonderful for her to meet several children from so many different corners of the world. Shows in the Stardust Theatre were well done. Band on the Run was so much fun and Elements was the very best, but all were entertaining. This isn't Broadway, but certainly talent was witnessed. Shows are popular so arrive 25-30 minutes prior to the show's start to get a good seat, arriving 5 minutes before show time and finding slim pickings for good seating is your own fault. The Star's food ran the gammet from stellar (Cagney's) to very good (Aqua & Versailles) to mediocre at its best (the buffet). We quickly learned to head for dinner a bit ahead of behind the crunch time (ask crew when these times are) and never waited in line more than 10 minutes to eat in Aqua or Versailles. Restaurant staff didn't seem so pressured outside of the busiest pockets of time and food always arrived promptly. All meals were nicely prepared/presented and the children's menu had many choices that our daughter enjoyed very much. My husband and I treated ourselves to a date night dinner in Cagney's on the last night of the cruise, while our daughter gleefully attended the ships pajama party for the kids. WOW. A lovely restaurant, faboulous shrimp cocktails, steaks done to perfection and crisply prepared vegetables. Worth every penny with a waiter who was attentive and good natured. The buffet is at the other end of the spectrum. Very little changed from day to day as far as what was presented and food items were often runny, soggy, and exceptionally bland. OMG, so bland. A hospital cafeteria comes to mind. It did serve its purpose though as a dine and dash venue before an excursion or when you simply wanted a light snack. What floored me about the more relaxed Freestyle Cruising philosophy was passenger's attitude that this meant that it was appropriate to arrive to the buffet in an old stained sweatsuit or even your pj's and fill your plate to practice gluttony. There was absolutely no evidence of enforcement with the required casual (but presentable) attire in the buffet with folks walking right by ship crew in torn jeans and ragged t-shirts or as mentioned, even their pajamas. Awful. I've read many of the more recent reviews of the Star and am baffled by the overt, inflated negative ones. Really? I mean, really????? Was it so awful? This ship wasn't some tub and the crew most certainly did not circulate in sullen packs. To some of these folks I might suggest that if they want a waiter or steward to smile at them or demonstrate an "over and above" effort to their staterooms, they could think to smile first, demonstrate gratitude and a welcoming demeanor themselves. A 30 second chat or brief chuckle with a crew member goes a loooong way. With a staff that comes together from over 60 countries, this is a very multicultural crew and we were appalled by blatant prejudice and rude remarks by passengers behind their backs, even mimicking their accents and snickering. One passenger I chatted with was very critical of the cruise because it got chilly at night and windy on the deck. !!!!!!!! This is ALASKA, not California - research the weather and the cruise, bring a wind breaker and layer your clothes. Take responsibility - plan accordingly. Throughout this review I've used the word "research". Comb the Norwegian website, check out pictures on line of the cabins (again, through the Norwegian websites, or simply google them), watch YouTube videos posted by past passengers, and THOROUGHLY READ your E-Docs and other information forwarded to you prior to your cruise. Be prepared, be informed and be realistic. This is not a high end, luxury cruise on the Regent Seven Seas. It is a casual, family friendly, lovely older ship with a crew that is there for you - and more than willing to bend over backwards for you, especially when you demonstrate gratitude, respect, a pinch of humour and respect for all they do for its passengers. Role with the punches when a wrinkle presents itself, take in the scenery of a beautiful journey and RELAX. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I've heard that if you go to Alaska it will grab you and you will return. And so I did return. I was taking this cruise with 3 family members and my first problem was choosing a cabin. I worked with my NCL cruise consultant and looked ... Read More
I've heard that if you go to Alaska it will grab you and you will return. And so I did return. I was taking this cruise with 3 family members and my first problem was choosing a cabin. I worked with my NCL cruise consultant and looked at a range of possibilities. The only thing I requested was no trundle bed as I did not want wall to wall beds. The consultant recommended an inside room with two lower beds and two pullmans. We were placed on the 12 deck and assured this would be fine as we were on a new deck-the Star had been refurbished-and so would have a new cabin. Keep in mind I had told the consultant I would book up to a mini suite. The cabin was horrific. We are a close family and get along well, or thanks to the close quarters, we would have murdered each other. You could not get dressed or do anything if all four were in the cabin. We ended up using the library as a "living room" and as each got dressed, they left and met up in the library. In addition to being the smallest cabin I've ever had, it was ugly. Dull brown walls, no color. Let's get to other things than the cabin. As the Star had demolished its' Spinnaker with it's huge glass windows over the bow, I had done so much homework for the cruise, I took out Spa passes for my family and we spent wonderful hours sitting on lounges watching the incredible beauty of Alaska pass by. The Star itself was very well kept, very clean and I thought wonderful. We loved the main dining rooms and although NCL has changed their menus to mostly the same choices every night,they do have some new selections nightly. All the food was tasty and well presented. We ate in Le Bistro two nights as we are Platinum members and receive dinner for two free in this restaurant as part of the Latitudes member perks. The Blue Lagoon was also very good for breakfast and we enjoyed the quiet in the mornings. As far as activities, we did a couple of trivia competitions and saw most of the nightly shows. We loved Elements and Band on the Run. Also the hypnotist was so good, we also attended two additional sessions he held in the daytime. I like the entertainment on NCL and find their ensemble shows very good. I'll review the ports later, which is really the heart of why we did this cruise. I hate to add another negative but feel I have to as NCL needs to be more careful on which crew member to put in a supervisory position. We all went to the lifeboat practise. We were greeted by a crew member who wanted us to go down stairs in the Stardust lounge. I asked if my 77 year old handicapped friend could stay in an available chair near the entrance and not have to go down the stairs. Well, she didn't move fast enough and when I told him she had a hearing problem, he stated "She hears what she wants to hear". My friend was very embarrassed and upset. We did speak to an officer who said he would deal with the problem, but this was not a good way to start a cruise. To sum up, even with some problems, we enjoyed the cruise, the ports and each other. I will continue to prefer NCL as I love the free style dining and I must note, that NCL always responds to problems quickly and with a good attitude. I also must add, the care that NCL took with my 77 year old friend in embarking and disembarking was commendable. If anyone reading this is thinking about an Alaskan cruise, do it!! It is memorable and NCL does it well. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I am new to cruising and wasn't quite sure what to expect. We wondered how the motion of the ocean would effect us. How fun would it be if we were sick all the time. First of all, if you get sea sick I highly recommend the ... Read More
I am new to cruising and wasn't quite sure what to expect. We wondered how the motion of the ocean would effect us. How fun would it be if we were sick all the time. First of all, if you get sea sick I highly recommend the inner passage cruise. The Inner passage is just that, a cruise along the coast of Canada and Alaska between a row of islands and the mainland. There are almost no waves. During our cruise there was just one day on the open ocean. We did experience a some sea sickness that day but we took Dramamine and we were back on our feet in no time. The inner passage is beautiful. From the point we entered it you see land on both sides of the ship with small fishing villages along the way. The land is primitive, rugged, green and covered with trees. The cloud ceiling is lower that the peaks of the hills giving the whole area a mystic feel. Definitely spring for a balcony room on this one. It was AWESOME sitting on our own balcony watching the scenery float by. NCL is a good cruise line and all the staff were very helpful and pleasant. The Norwegian Star is a freestyle cruise ship so you can eat when it best suits your plans. They also have a restaurant in the stern of the ship called the Versailles that is beautiful and has great views out the side and back of the ship. We found this restaurant to be our favorite and ate most meals there. It was also not a buffet which pleased my wife. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We just returned from cruising the inside passage to Alaska with stops @ Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert, BC. We cruised to Alaska two years ago on the Pearl and loved it so returning was never in question. We selected the ... Read More
We just returned from cruising the inside passage to Alaska with stops @ Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert, BC. We cruised to Alaska two years ago on the Pearl and loved it so returning was never in question. We selected the Star this trip because it offered a slightly different itinerary. We sailed into Tracy Fjords @ 4 PM and arrived for our very brief, glacier glimpse @ 630 PM. Oh so disappointing. It was nothing compared to our previous trip on the Pearl which arrived @ 8AM and stopped directly in front the of the glacier for quite awhile. The pictures from that trip were stunning.           We were happy that we had chosen an excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau because that was an up close and personal experience.           The second disappointing part was Prince Rupert, BC. The people were friendly and helpful but there is little to see or do in the town. We arrived @ 4 and stayed til 10 PM. Most everyone returned to the ship within an hour and most definitely dined aboard ship as the town only had 2 restaurants that we noted. We are puzzled as to why the Star chose this stop. On our Pearl cruised we stopped in Victoria, BC which was a lovely location with plenty to see and do.           That said, the Star was fantastic. The staff were very service oriented and friendly. We stayed in a suite because we like the space, the butler and concierge service and the private dining options for breakfast and lunch. We also uitilized the specialty restaurants and can say that we had excellent food @ both Cagney's and Le Bistro. Our main dining room experiences were good but did not qualify as great. The Spa was fair.           The weather for our trip was very cold and rainy. If you are heading out soon, take along a good rainjacket, a layer for warmth such as a fleece vest, sensible, waterproof footwear and gloves/neckscarf just in case you need them. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Star to Alaska 7/2/11-7/9/11 Background: there were 9 of us travelling Balcony #1: Uncle, Aunt and Cousin (12yr old) Balcony #2: Me, Aunt, Niece (11yr old) Balcony ... Read More
Star to Alaska 7/2/11-7/9/11 Background: there were 9 of us travelling Balcony #1: Uncle, Aunt and Cousin (12yr old) Balcony #2: Me, Aunt, Niece (11yr old) Balcony #3: Grandma, Grandpa and Cousin (16yr old) Half of us were seasoned cruisers taking a few first-timers on a cruise. EMBARKATION AMAZING. We stayed at the Waterfront Marriott, basically across the street from pier 66; the bellhop loaded all of luggage onto 2 luggage carts and brought it all over for us, including my grandfather who was using a wheelchair from the hotel. We didn't even have to wait on line; a porter came right to us with a cart and took it all. And another employee met us with a wheelchair for grandpa. Then we got on line to check in. Super smooth, right to the wheelchair accessible desk. Pretty easy check-in, considering how many of us there were ?. There we made another wheelchair switch (not quite sure why) but our check-in agent was very nice and shocked that I had the correct paperwork for bringing a minor that wasn't my own on board. Then we stopped for the photo and WALKED RIGHT on. Wow, that has never happened cruising out of New York. We were headed for Versailles we they announced that the rooms were ready (another pleasant shock) so we went and dropped off our carry-ons. Two of our rooms (9088 and 9090) were next door so we asked the room steward, Joseph, if he could open the balcony, he said yes, after the inside passage because it would be too windy (and he remembered and did it with no reminder.) My grandparents' room was 9110 and a little closer to the elevator. The accessibility at sea people delivered his actual wheelchair that we had rented ($75) while we were admiring the rooms. Only problem came when one of our bags didn't show up by our room, I found it myself at the opposite end of the hallway. RESTAURANTS: Versailles - Meals- Lunch Day 1, Dinner Day 1, Breakfast Day 2, Lunch Day 2 and Dinner Day 2 (I think) Okay so the main problem with Versailles is stairs. If you are travelling with a person in a wheelchair it can be a little tricky because only one elevator goes to the correct floor, but getting that elevator to stop for you and have room was impossible. Also the Maitre D was located at the top of a staircase, but you are seated a level lower, so if you do not have able bodied people with you, you are basically out of luck. ***Please note we eventually received a special wheelchair accessible key card that made it so the correct elevator opened and you could go to Versailles, but it came after so many failed attempts that we ended up eating most of our remaining dinners at Aqua. I'm not sure why the special key card took so long to get to grandpa, or why it wasn't given at check-in. We were thankful to have so many problems at Versailles, because then we experienced Aqua and it was incredible!! While Versailles had decent food, it had extremely slow service. Forget getting coffee with dessert, buy the time it came, you were already done. Aqua - Meals - All the rest of our dinners (except 1) Great food, very similar to Versailles, but they called it more contemporary. Amazing wait staff, Jonolito was incredible. Friendly, efficient. Never had a problem getting a table at 8:30 for a large group. The only restaurant where we were actually told what the Chef Specialty was every night. I cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed Aqua. Endless Summer - Thursday Dinner - ½ Off Night The only reason we decided to try endless summer was the promotion of ½ Off. And it was well worth it. The best meal of the entire trip, but let me say it wouldn't have been worth $90 for us, but for $45 it was great. We had very special service because of a food allergy, the only restaurant that offered to make something special because of it. Best of All (at La Cucina) Friday Lunch $15 each The idea is you get a sampling of the specialty restaurants, while the food was good; there was nothing there that inspired me to go to any of the restaurants featured. Market Cafe - All the time ;) Interesting selection, part of the group really enjoyed the Indian buffet. Took us a while to figure out that at lunch time the first two sections are the same, but the 3rd is different, sandwiches, etc. The Grill - At breakfast they have an omelet station and a waffle station. At lunch they have burgers, hot dogs, wursts, etc. Blue Lagoon - The only restaurant where I ordered soup and it came out hot. I didn't like the set-up compared to the Spirit and Dawn. PORTS: Ketchikan 7/4/11 There is plenty to do and walk to easily on your own. We walked through town and picked up all of our free jewelry and then walked over to Creek Street. Creek Street is an easy walk (hard to find a bathroom,) there's Dolly's, some shopping and a tram up the mountain to a hotel. The tram is $2, well worth it for the bathrooms!! There are some totem poles and you can walk back down to Married Man's Trail, if you go right you will end up at the fish ladder to see the salmon as well. In town there are the normal cruise shops, nothing spectacular. Highlight there is a pharmacy right on the main street where you can pick up sundry items for a lot less than on the ship. There was a town parade, but the rain got so bad we watched it from our balcony. Juneau 7/5/11 We took the free shuttle into town. Again the normal cruise shops and also a lot of tours available to book on your own. We took the 3 hour Shrine, Glacier and Town Tour through M&M tours. Well worth it. We had an amazing local guide (Kevin) who showed us all through town, the creek where they first found gold, small churches, the state house, governors' mansion, etc. Then we went to the lake that Mendenhall Glacier feeds, we got to grab some glacier ice and eat it, it was very cool. Then we were off to the Shrine at St Therese, http://www.shrineofsainttherese.org which seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere. There were seals, eagles, salmon and I guess sometimes whales, but we were there at low tide. It was a great tour because we got to see the "valley" or "banana belt" where the regular people live and we learned a lot about the marine highway. NCL Excursion: Tracy Arm Glacier!!! AMAZING!!!! You leave the ship around 1pm and board directly onto a waiting catamaran. It was really cool to walk through the crew areas. The first 20 minutes are boring, take a nap, just sailing to....WHALES!! I think we saw about 7 total whales, the captain was very generous giving us lots of time with them. We saw a humpback jump and quite a few whale tails. Once you start going up the arm you really get to admire the beauty of your surroundings. There are beautiful icebergs, waterfalls, eagles, etc. We got to spend about an hour at the actual glacier; we saw a few small pieces drop and then a huge drop about 20 minutes before we left. There was also a seal swimming about. The girls on the ship were really informative about the area, native people and wildlife. They gave us free hot chocolate and coffee. Bring warm clothes, gloves; it is so beautiful you will want to be outside as much as possible. Skagway 7/6/11 $2 Shuttle into town or $5 for an all day pass which includes ride to gold fields, gardens and cemetery. Well we were suckers and bought the all day pass, just so you know you need to pay an entrance fee at those places, or the cemetery you have to talk more than .5 miles from the bus stop. The main town was pretty cool, nice shops, some authentic. We left Skagway late due to a medical emergency, Paul kept us very informed and we still (unfortunately) got to Prince Rupert on time ? Prince Rupert 7/7/11 Waste of a stop, some really cool stores, but nothing I would buy on a cruise. The only highlight was the eagles. GENERAL THINGS I DID NOT LIKE: Spinnaker Lounge - it's at the back of the ship, no windows, bad acoustics and all one level. Very dark and depressing and/or loud. As previously mentioned, it is hard to get anywhere with a wheelchair Spa - While my treatment was incredible, the entire experience was lacking. They don't do the whole robe, changing room, etc experience that they used to. They bring you to a waiting room (with a great view) and have you fill out a form and try to sell you add-ons. Then they bring you directly to the treatment room where you disrobe and get on the table. At the end of your treatment you are told to relax, get up when ready and put your clothes back on!?! (My clothes on my oily, just massaged body?!?) Then they come back with water and a sales pitch. My massage therapist gave me a great massage, but when she tried to sell me $300 worth of lotion, I immediately regretted even having a treatment. Other family members were also having treatments so I waited for them in the spa lobby, which was freezing cold. White Hot Party - in Spinnaker lounge which is already disappointing, but on top of that the music!! Spinnaker is all ages until midnight, so please explain why they played explicit music at 11:30? I'm talking incredibly explicit. "Shots" by LMFAO and "On a Boat" by Andy Samberg. http://www.metrolyrics.com/shots-lyrics-lmfao.html and http://www.metrolyrics.com/im-on-a-boat-lyrics-the-lonely-island.html So explicit I'm only giving links because they are really bad songs. Chocolate Buffet - perhaps the most disappointing thing the whole trip, but only because I have experienced 3 others on NCL cruises that were phenomenal. There were 2 ice carvings, no chocolate sculptures, no fruit carvings, and the worst desserts we ate all cruise. No Quest?!?! At every show they would say "no flash photography" and then this crazy chick with a laser pointer would go insane if you took out a camera. If you mean "NO PHOTOGRAPHY AT ALL" say that. WRAP UP We had a great time. Paul Scally, the cruise director was incredible. Jonolito at Aqua was by far the best waiter I've had on all my cruises. Arnold, bar staff, at the pool, stardust and spinnaker remembered our drink order after the very first time, so we always looked for him. The kids swam every day. The shows were great. And I would go again in a heartbeat, but I wouldn't have a spa treatment. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This is our first Alaskan cruise and 9th with NCL. I think we may be suffering from NCL burnout or the cruise was not as exciting as it was for me (though I will admit this cruise was my wife's idea). My fellow Cruise Critic members ... Read More
This is our first Alaskan cruise and 9th with NCL. I think we may be suffering from NCL burnout or the cruise was not as exciting as it was for me (though I will admit this cruise was my wife's idea). My fellow Cruise Critic members will have posted much better reviews than I so I will continue to highlight the Good, The Bad and the Ugly aspects of our trip.Background: My wife, daughter and I stayed in an ocean view cabin, 5100. We took the dawn patrol flight from Newark airport to Seattle round trip with Alaska Airlines. We took a $60.00 cab ride from SEATAC to the dock, but took the Seattle highlights tour at the end of the cruise to kill time and to see Seattle. Lots of Asians on board, mostly Chinese and a surprising number of Indians (see more below).The Good:Many past cruisers have noted the impersonal attitude of the crew as fallout of their Free Style concept. I noticed some blasE responses, surprising and especially from our room steward, but I think the crew overall was always pleasant, friendly and welcoming. They smiled when greeting you or at least said good morning, hello or asked how you were. I think what made the cruise for my DD was finding out that Star's photo manager was on the Dawn two years ago, so she had an instant friend. She hung out with him and his team almost the entire time we were on board. They were all friendly, welcoming and made her feel like part of their little onboard family. They looked out for her and treated her like their little sister. The food was bland to me (or I am burned out from the 8 prior NCL cruises). All the ala carte dining options seemed to blend together from ship to ship, which can be a good thing for consistency across the fleet or not depending on your taste buds. We ate at Cagney's (2x), Le Bistro, Blue Lagoon (4x), Sushi bar (2x), Tepanyaki and their Tex Mex place. We ate off the ship in Ketchikan, Prince Rupert and Skagway. They did try to experiment with Indian food. Now, we are New Yorkers, so good, authentic Indian food is almost on every 10 blocks in NYC. We were a little skeptical but were pleasantly surprised considering what they had to work with. A lot of the spices, rice and seasoning were ad hoc, but the food was very decent. On a scale of 1-10 on the taste like mom's scale, it was a solid 7. I think they were trying it out to see how receptive people were and to maybe see if 1 billion Indians would want to sail if they could somehow get decent home cooking.We visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert. Aside from Juneau, I wonder what would happen to these little places if the cruise ships ever leave as their economy would be devastated. We walked around town for all the ports, but we did the supposedly 3 hour and 20 mile White Horse train in Skagway, which turned out to a 4 hour epic journey. We saw enough mountains, waterfalls and fauna by the first hour (typical NY attitude) and wanted off, but they treated us to an additional 14 mile tour. Then they had to switch the locomotive as soon as neared the end, causing another 10 minute delay. Most people were ready to jump off the train and hoof it back to town as we were all starving.We ate at Blue Lagoon a few times for snacks and lunch. The big change is how they seat you like a regular restaurant. They take your order and deliver your food, but in more calm and professional manner. This totally different than all the other Blue Lagoons on the Dawn and Spirit where it was chaotic and rushed. They did have an ice cream service counter by the gym near the kids club. I thought it was an interesting place to put ice cream within sight of the people working out in the gym. There were numerous treadmills, elliptical, 2 stair climbers and 6 bikes. There was an ok selection of free weights and other cardio machines. (The Epic had the best gym I have seen on a ship.) I also had one deep tissue massage as a reward for a 20 mile run the week before. This time, there was no cross selling if the lotion or oils. This was a very nice change as well as the number of announcements for bingo; the weather and the art auction were way down. They still made them, but it wasn't as frequent as in past cruises.We also liked the efficiency of the crew getting passengers on and off the ship on port days. I remember lines of people crowding the decks only once or twice. Getting off was also quite easy as we booked the Seattle highlights tour. We were giving black bag tags and they escorted us the ship directly to the bags. The tour bus driver was also the guide and she bought tickets for the space needle for all of us and we spent an hour there an hour at Pike's Market. An additional stop was the old fire engines from the city's museum were out on display in a nearby park. We drove by the two sports stadiums and finally to the airport for home.The BadOur room steward was not has warm or friendly as all our prior ones. We have been fortunate to get exceptional stewards that made this one stand out. I think the main reason was his assistant had his own rooms to do where they used to share the duties. I didn't see his assistant until Thursday when he was covering. I think either they were short staffed or they cut back on the number of stewards.Food was bland most of the trip, except for the Indian buffet. All we really tasted was salt, which has been our most consistent complaint about NCL since we started cruising in 2004. The food was uninspiring and too predictable. I will admit we did not eat at the main dining rooms, but ship-wide food doesn't really change venue to venue when it comes to NCL. Blue Lagoon food was also the worst. The fish in the fish and chips was nasty and they only gave you one wanton in the wanton soup. The servings were also smaller. Guess this is how they are saving money. We really didn't eat too much in the buffet, except for breakfast. We bought the soda card and the price did go up. They also do not serve Coke products anymore, just Pepsi and we do not like Pepsi.The UglyInternet service was like the old dial up slow to the point I was looking for the phone cord. The weather was bad the first 4 days. Rain, clouds and wind on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and early Wednesday. The sun did come out in the afternoon on Wednesday and most of Thursday. Clouds and sun again on Friday. I did get sunburn from just sitting in the pool area on Thursday afternoon. I know you can't blame NCL for the lousy weather, but it did dampen our moods. There was a consistent funky, moldy, sewer like smell in the elevator area by our cabins all week. They ripped apart two cabins closest to the smell and moved the passengers to other cabins as they tried to solve the issue mid-week, but by Thursday the smell was back. There was also a really sewer odor in the internet cafe on Friday afternoon. I hope is this not a recurring issue on a 10 year old.OverallAny day cruising is better than a day at work is my motto, but maybe because Alaska was not where I wanted to go on vacation (beach bum) and the weather wasn't cooperating, but I wasn't thrilled with the overall experience. The Star is a nice size ship, great crew, ok food and decent ports. It is also showing its age and needs a refit to repair the frayed carpeting, chair upholstery and chipped furniture. I was not thrilled to not have Spinnaker on deck 12 to see the world go by and had to settle for a seat on deck 6 or 7. Would I recommend the Star? Yes. Would I recommend Alaska? Yes if you like nature and seeing the wild. Would I recommend the Star to Alaska? Yes, if you want a midsize ship on a mid-priced line with lots of dining options and plenty of chances to see eagles, whales and seals. Alaska cruises are not cheap and we thought this was a nice trip based on the overall costs. Some people will disagree and this is ok too. Free Style is not for everyone. We think we got our money's worth and my family had a good time together. At the end of the day, isn't that the most important thing? Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We returned from the Star to Alaska yesterday and had a great time. We are a family of 4 with 2 children ages 13 and 9. We have sailed 3 times prior (once with the kids) all on Princess. I will try and touch on the different aspects of our ... Read More
We returned from the Star to Alaska yesterday and had a great time. We are a family of 4 with 2 children ages 13 and 9. We have sailed 3 times prior (once with the kids) all on Princess. I will try and touch on the different aspects of our cruise and will do a separate review of the ports on the Alaska boards. Overall - We enjoyed NCL and the Star, but not quite as much as Princess. This didn't make for a bad cruise, but at the end of this review I will touch base on a few comparisons. The Star was in great shape - yes there are a few signs of wear and tear, but what do you expect with over 2,300 passengers on board each week. The layout of the ship is great with things spread out enough to keep the congestion down (with the exception of the shopping area - but I am sure that is by design). There was very little smoke smell with the exception of the casino. There is a smoking area near the pool and the crew made sure no one lit up in the non-smoking areas. Embarkation - We arrived Friday evening and stayed at the Hyatt Town Place near the Space Needle - great location and hotel with a free shuttle to the pier. We arrived at pier around 11:30 and things where just starting to get busy. We were staying in a suite and had VIP check-in. Things really appeared unorganized until we were informed that there was an inspection taking place and no one would board the ship until 12:30. At that point we walked down the pier for a snack and returned shortly after 12:00 and were escorted personally through security to the VIP room. We filled out our paperwork, had photos taken for our ID cards and then were escorted to Cagney's for lunch. 20 minutes tops after our return and we were on board. Cabin - we were in a family suite on deck 12. The room is the size of 2 cabins which was very nice with the 4 of us. The bathroom is large with 2 sinks and a separate tub and shower. There is plenty of storage space in the closets and drawers. We loved the big windows, particularly for Alaska and did not miss having a balcony. There is a flat screen TV, a fancy coffee maker and mini-fridge. The blow dryer was a little weak - so the long hair took a while to get ready in the mornings. We had an awesome room steward who took care of everything we asked for promptly (emptying the mini-bar for our own sodas, etc.) He was friendly and always greeted us. Butler & Concierge - The concierge Virginia met us in the VIP lounge and was very helpful with reservations for dinner each night. No matter how full the bookings were, she could always manage to get us something. While we didn't see her a whole lot we would call her each morning with our dinner request. At the end of the cruise she was there to escort us off the ship (and around all the lines). Our butler Lucky was a different story - he served our breakfast every morning when ordered and delivered afternoon snacks. Most other requests were met with "that is house keepings job". Never once did he ask if we ever needed anything, but did eventually pull off what we requested. Not that we really needed him waiting on us hand and foot but the hype around the butler had us expecting a bit more. Food - There have been a lot of comments around the food on the Star. Overall I would say the food was good, but not great. Only one thing I found inedible - the pumpkin ginger crab bisque soup with Maryland crab - pretty sure the crab was imitation. Other than that some things were a little bland but most things were very tasty. We ate at the Sushi bar for lunch and enjoyed it. We also ate at LeBistro for dinner and had a great meal. We tried Cagney's for lunch a couple of times and were not disappointed. The buffet was good - some things very good, others we passed on. Ate lots of free ice cream in the buffet and at the ice cream bar (if it is closed you can still get ice cream inside the fitness center at the juice bar - leave it to the 9 year old how to figure out how to get ice cream). Ate snacks and a few breakfasts at the buffet and the food was ok. I think NCL is perplexed with how to staff and serve their dining rooms and buffets because they really, really want you to spend money in the paid restaurants so we found odd hours at the buffet, etc. Entertainment - The magician the first night was horrible - spent the entire performance yelling into the microphone and the routine had no flow. After that we were hesitant for other performance but found the hypnotist, Second City and Elements all fantastic. Don't miss Elements even though the grand finale is a little cheesy, it is still a great show. There was lots of music around the ship in the multiple bars. I actually won a little money at the Blackjack table. Staff - We found the staff to be very friendly and always greeted us. They appeared hard working and focused on their jobs. Disembarkation - We walked off with our own bags and when we were ready the concierge met us on deck 7 and escorted us to the gangway. Customs took less than one minute and we were on the street and in a cab for a post-cruise stay in Seattle. Itinerary - we chose the Star primarily for the itinerary and the family suite. We loved sailing the inside passage - especially leaving Seattle. Most ships head straight for open water but the Star stays on the inside on Vancouver Island. When we woke up on Sunday morning and watched the shoreline go by it was breath taking. We loved Sawyer glacier - the fjord you travel for 20+ miles to reach the glacier is magnificent. We were able to get fairly close to the glacier face - not sure how it compares to Glacier Bay, but we were not disappointed. Now, let me draw a comparison to Princess. Here is what I would say about the cruise overall - the Star was just a step off of potentially being great. I know all the food is prepared in mass for the dining rooms, but it is on the other ships too. On lobster night we watched the table next to us order the steak and ask for a lobster tail with the steak. What came out are two complete meals, because that is how the galley prepared it. Only 3 courses are served instead of 4 - so if you want an appetizer and salad both, they arrive at the same time. Service was always brisk but never personal. Servers would deliver half the food and then get side tracked taking an order while the rest of the party waited. Dishes not cleared very fast, crumbs never swept from the table, etc. You do feel nickeled and dimed on this cruise - raffle tickets, paid dinning, etc. Little things on the upkeep of the ship could improve too - dining room windows were dirty on the inside - looks like someone sprayed cleaner on them and never wiped them down. Now none of this ruined the cruise for us, but I think if the Star staff (maybe NCL in general) could work to improve simple things like this the experience would reach a whole new level. Ok, enough of the soap box. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
If you're not fancy people, don't own ball gowns or tuxes and want to eat with your companions, then Norwegians Freestyle Cruising is the way to go! Casual wear, including jeans is our kind of cruise. We cruised on the Norwegian ... Read More
If you're not fancy people, don't own ball gowns or tuxes and want to eat with your companions, then Norwegians Freestyle Cruising is the way to go! Casual wear, including jeans is our kind of cruise. We cruised on the Norwegian Star to Alaska in late May. We had the best weather, no rain whatsoever. The ports of call were Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert, all were great ports to visit. We saw whales, porpoises and bald eagles. The sea was calm and we had sun every day. We also visited Sawyer Glacier, the icebergs in the water on the way there were a little unnerving, but never felt scared and it was a beautiful glacier, unbelievable. Whenever we left our cabin, upon our return the room was impeccable and always had a towel animal waiting for us on the bed. If you're going to spend the money to take a cruise make sure to get at least a balcony room. We spent a lot of time on ours with our binoculars in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, yes, it was a little cold, but we didn't care, we were on vacation! The food was great in every restaurant we ate. Definitely spend a little extra and dine at Cagneys Steakhouse, awesome food. With freestyle cruising you can eat whenever you want too, so worth it. Can't wait to go on our next cruise with Norwegian! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I'm inspired to write this because I read every review available prior to us leaving on our first ever cruise and it was an immense help. Hopefully this will provide some valuable information for at least a few people. For background, ... Read More
I'm inspired to write this because I read every review available prior to us leaving on our first ever cruise and it was an immense help. Hopefully this will provide some valuable information for at least a few people. For background, we are an energetic couple in our 30s who like to stay busy, but also like to marvel at mother nature's beauty. I had bought a walking tour book from Amazon and this came in VERY handy. Embarkation: We stored our luggage at the concierge in Seattle for $3 a bag while we took a chocolate tour. We got our bags around 1:30 and went right next door to the baggage area. They were quick and friendly and we were on our way to security. There was quite a long line to get thru security and it was held up for almost 30 minutes while they were trying to get everyone thru the check-in lines. Once the line started moving again, though, it went fairly quick. All in all, we were on the boat by 2:45 with our room keys in hand. Room: We had a balcony room towards the front of the ship. It was adequate for 2 people with a decent size bathroom. There was plenty of space and hangers for clothes. Our room steward, William, was very friendly and promised me my towel animals (which I adored). William took excellent care of us and was awesome! Favorite Food: Blue Lagoon (most people don't realize it's free) Most Visited Food Venue: Market Cafe (buffet)...it's really fast and easy, but the food isn't always the freshest and/or it has a limited selection if you're not a seafood eater Speciality Restaurant: We only went to Endless Summer. Besides the free margarita, the surcharge really wasn't worth it. Stardust shows not to miss: Band on the Run, Second City, Crew Talent Show, Elements Game shows not to miss: Newlywed Game, Perfect Couple, Dancing with the Stars Favorite Port: Ketchikan - lots of places to escape to in town to avoid the crowds (used the walking tour book), lots of shopping options other than jewelry stores Least Favorite Port: Skagway - not much to do in town besides shop. Luckily we had booked an excursion to the Yukon with Dyea Dave. Favorite Excursion: Dog sledding with ERA helicopters (booked independently) Disembarktion: We had opted to carry off our own luggage which was quite easy to do and we were off the ship in less than 5 minutes. Overall Pros: Beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather (low 70s with no rain), entertaining evening shows at the Stardust, hilarious game shows, very attentive staff, clean common areas, good fitness facility (which you'll need after all of those big meals) So/So: Food was okay (typical buffet style food), Endless Summer wasn't really worth the surcharge Cons: Large group of tourists from Thailand (~900) that insisted on taking 100s of pictures and blocking the walkways. This was not the fault of NCL, but became a huge inconvenience after 8 days of it. They also closed Versailles early the last two nights for a function for this group which put the kibosh on dinner plans that we wanted to have for the last night at sea. Also, the ship layout was off. For example, the ice cream bar was in the fitness center and you had to walk thru the buffet to reach the fitness center (hard not to want to grab something on your way thru). Other restaurants were also in the middle of the floors (Blue Lagoon, Endless Summer) so you had to walk thru them to get from one end of the ship to the other. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
A terrific time! We flew to Seattle on 5/26, had some time to explore Seattle and had the best chowder down in the public market. There were four of us: Mom (58), brother (29), brother's girlfriend (29) and me (31). We were ... Read More
A terrific time! We flew to Seattle on 5/26, had some time to explore Seattle and had the best chowder down in the public market. There were four of us: Mom (58), brother (29), brother's girlfriend (29) and me (31). We were celebrating their graduations from law school. We're a mellow group, like a good drink, hot tub and chilling out. Food: We ate in Aqua, Versailles, Cagneys, La Cucina, Endless Summer, Blue Lagoon, the buffett, and my brother and girlfriend ate at Le Bistro. It was my first time at Cagneys, as I'm not a big meat eater, but everything was fantastic. Crabcakes, salmon, lobster bisque and a brownie sundae to die for. The other three had various forms of beef, which I heard was great. Loved the wings at Blue Lagoon, Aqua was fine and the buffet was great for breakfast. A bit disappointed at the lobster tacos at Endless Summer, I remember them being creamier. No biggie though. Entertainment We saw a couple shows. Love Second City, their rip on Amway was hilarious. I thought the dancers were a bit stripper like in Band on the Run, but Elements was fun. There seemed to be a lot of activities listed for the day, but we aren't a family of joiners. Spa Mom and I joined the spa, and went every day. Love the roller hot tub and chilling out in the loungers, looking at the ocean. It as never really crowded, and I read about four books, while watching the scenery. Ports and Excursions Ketchikan: We took a tram to the top of a mountain and wandered around Creek Street. A mellow introduction to Alaska, followed by drinks at a bar. Juneau: We took the tram to the top of the mountain again, and the views were epic! We saw an eagles nest, hiked some trails and drank it all in. We went on the Tracy Arm Excursion and it was phenomenal! Upclose with upside down icebergs, glaciers, whales, more eagles then we knew what to do with. Best excursion I've ever been on. If you're on the Star, take it. You won't regret it. Skagway: We thought about riding the train, but weren't really into it. We took some pictures by the railroad, did some shopping, got some drinks. Great scenery and a calm day. Prince Rupert: We went to see Cow Bay, watched half a dozen eagles, bout a bottle of wine to dump into a water bottle. Misc. - The outdoor hot tubs were great and never crowded. - We brought on several rum rummers and they weren't detected in carry on or checked baggage. Judge if you must, but we also bought champage or wine every night. - Small turn outs at the Latitudes party and the Gold/Silver party. Great free drinks and I won a model ship in the raffle. It's on my desk at work. - There were 900 people from Amway onboard....they were interesting. - Our rooms were forward balconies, on deck eight, they seemed smaller then I remember from other ships, but plenty of storage and room. - The ship didn't feel very crowded, except in the gift shops, around the machine in the casino where you drop the quarters in, or walking down a hallway of Amway people taking pictures of the carpet. Loved the Star, Alaska and the trip. Will totally do it again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We (DH and myself) travelled with another couple. We arrived a day early in Seattle. Stayed at the Travelodge as they had a pre cruise special of $114/night for 4 adults. This hotel was perfect for what we needed. Basic room only 2 ... Read More
We (DH and myself) travelled with another couple. We arrived a day early in Seattle. Stayed at the Travelodge as they had a pre cruise special of $114/night for 4 adults. This hotel was perfect for what we needed. Basic room only 2 blocks from the space needle and a quick monorail ride down to the market. Embarkation was very smooth. We arrived at the pier about 11:15 am and our friends had an issue with their passports so we didn't get on the ship until about 1pm. The NCL staff was wonderful, exremely professional and very helpful. Highlights/things to note:Restaurants- We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants. We found the selection in the Versaille, Aqua, Market Cafe and Blue Lagoon to be very adequate for our needs and never overally crowded. Service in all was great and there were only a couple of items I didn't care for. The flan in the Versaille was very jello like and the Vietnamese spring rolls were really odd - like a cold meatless sushi. The hot and sour soup had a weird taste to it as well, but this could be just that I'm used to a more americanized version of it. Bars/music - drinks are very strong. We had the drink of the day twice and both times they were strong. - Kenny in the Red Lion pub was great fun. He has a play list and will play by request. - loved the free popcorn in the Red Lion. - The Star bar was very quiet - went there twice to hang out and not many people in there. - The atrium was crowded with shoppers and we didn't care for the elevator type music.- Walked past the jazz musician in Gatsby's, but not really our type of music either.Entertainment- We attended all of the shows and really enjoyed the Band on the Run production. They did a Mod-Shout show which was ok. The crew talent show was ok and we enjoyed the 5 guys who danced and the finale with Jamie, the cruise director. We didn't care for the magician or the hypnotist (both a bit showy). Second city was good the first time, but they did a couple additional shows and were recycling pretty much the same thing. The last nights finale needs a bit of refining - couple of the dancers had a hard time and there was a warddrobe malfunction with one of the female dancers. Ports- Ketchikan - great shopping. We did a bus tour with Sourdough and they are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. I don't normally care for these kinds of tours, but they did a great job. We also took the funicular up to the lodge and walked back down. - Juneau - took a helicopter to the glacier. Views were stunning and the guides were very informational. Great trip. Also did some shopping.- Skagway. Due to passport issues took the train insted of the car we had rented. The train provided great views. Did more shopping and ate lunch at a pizza place in town. - Prince Rupert. This was the only day where it was overcast. This port doesn't have alot of shopping opportunities and they had the same things as we saw in Alaska but double the price. We did see quite a few eagles. We walked thru town and talked to a fisherman. He told us about the struggles Prince Rupert has been facing over the past 10 years. NCL will no longer be going to this port starting in 2012. While we feel bad for Prince Rupert, there just isn't enough for 2500 cruise passengers to do. Other- Jamie - the cruise director is wonderful. Lots of fun, super friendly and helpful.- The bridge tour was interesting- All of the NCL staff we encountered were super friendly and eager to talk or answer questions. - We had booked an inside room to save money for excursions and this was good move. We were rarely in our room. Debarkation was EXTREMELY smooth. We took our own luggage off and could get off at any time. There weren't any lines and we had plenty of time to get to the airport for our 1pm flight. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Background: Our group included 4 newbie cruisers and the veterans, my wife and I. We decided to get together to provide a cruise as a birthday gift for my 85 year old mother, and introduce my brother and sister in law, and my sister, to ... Read More
Background: Our group included 4 newbie cruisers and the veterans, my wife and I. We decided to get together to provide a cruise as a birthday gift for my 85 year old mother, and introduce my brother and sister in law, and my sister, to cruising. The NCL Star was repositioning for the summer Alaska cruising season, with an itinerary I would not normally choose ... 4 days at sea and only 2 days in port. This less-than-ideal itinerary was exacerbated by the cooler weather expected in early May. These potential shortcomings were known, but the departure from a local port, and the slower pace of this cruise seemed appropriate for my mother (who needs a walker to get around). Ship: 7 out of 10.The Star is one of the oldest ships in the NCL fleet, built in 2001. She was supposed to undergo a refit in 2010, but I suspect that was a refit of the public areas only if it happened. While the public areas met our expectations of a NCL ship, the cabins showed their age; the upholstery was faded on the couches, the beds were the old style "hard" mattresses, and chipped paint and missing chunks of the balcony non-skid distracted from the experience. I was disappointed that the balcony glass was not cleaned prior to sailing, with notable water spots (this may have been a nod to our upcoming 3 days at sea, as they did clean the balconies in our first port). The ship also has an older design, where some decks are interrupted by restaurants, and you have to go up or down a level to cross over them, then down or up again to resume your journey on that deck. But that being said, the ship is still in better shape than any of the Princess ships I've been on. (In this category, Disney is always the winner among the three cruise lines we've tried, with an attention to cleanliness unique among mass market cruise lines.) Food: 9 out of 10.Cruise food is often described as ranging from horrible to acceptable, but its obviously subjective. For my money, NCL has really outdone the rest of the mass-market cruise industry that we've tried. Every entree I had was very good, prepared as ordered, with acceptable presentation. Because of my diet, a modified Atkins-style diet, I was more limited in my choices. I enjoyed the omelets in the morning, along with fresh chilled melon, coffee and crisp bacon (one morning's omelet was a 6 out of 10, as it was cooked just a bit too long). I ordered the NY Strip Steak several times for lunch, and had it prepared it differently (medium rare, medium), and each time the result was as ordered, and very good. Dinner saw good presentations of other entrees such as salmon (9/10), prime rib (9/10), and beef stroganoff (my brother said it was good, but alas, the noodles makes it incompatible with my diet). I was interested to see how my brother and sister in law would react to the food, as they have wide experience both creating and enjoying different dishes. My brother recognized that its "resort food", created for a large customer base rather than cooked to order. But he and my sister in law were complimentary of the taste and substance of the dishes, with the occasional concern that some dishes were prepared with unorthodox ingredients (the hollandaise sauce on the eggs benedict included mustard, we think, making it yellow rather than cream white). With few exceptions, everyone else found the food good to very good. A few entrees had either too much fat in the steak, or unexpected ingredients as noted above. Our foray into the highest rated specialty restaurant, Cagney's Steakhouse, disappointed: our expectations were set high for a "premium experience", but it was not far enough above the usual main dining room experience to be a good value. As an example, the filet mignon I had was very tender, prepared exactly as ordered, and tasty. But it was on a level of an Outback Steakhouse entree rather than the lofty heights of a Ruth's Chris entree. (My wife and I enjoyed Cagney's for breakfast and lunch on our Euro cruise as part of our suite package, and liked it very much then; we may have hit them on an off night.)Because of the cool weather, the outdoor dining options were not available, and there were times when our group could not be seated immediately in the main dining rooms. I timed the wait times, and we never waited more than 20 minutes for a table. I would rate the food on the other lines we have tried this way: Princess 3/10 and Disney 6/10. NCL wins hand's down in this department in my opinion. (The exception: Disney's Palo specialty restaurant, which served the best steak I have ever eaten, and a best-ever chocolate soufflE.) Entertainment: 5 out of 10. Cruise lines have three types of stage entertainment; in-house productions, contract productions and specialty acts (magicians, comedians, etc.) Most of the time it is simply awful, on the level of theme park entertainment. On this cruise, the Star had a contract production called "Extreme Vegas", featuring a husband and wife team that performed magic acts, quick change costumes, acrobatics and self-promotion for their DVD. It was enjoyable, but marred by a pulsing, pounding intro sound track that went on far too long. On its own, I would rate this as a 5/10, a high score for cruise line entertainment. The in-house production on the first night appeared to be similar to the awful show we dubbed the "Mormon Tabernacle Choir Gets Down and Funky with Motown" on our last NCL cruise, so we skipped it ... and conversations with fellow passengers told us we did the right thing. Everyone we talked to either hated it or walked out on it. I can't give it a score, of course, but I can say that I'm glad we missed it. A contract comedy troupe from Second City was horrible, a 1 out of 10, for poorly timed and excruciatingly bad comedy skits and all-to-predictable improv. We walked out on their show after suffering far too long, and I hope these folks go back to bussing tables for a living. Or get thrown overboard and eaten by sharks. The awful performances were doubly bad since the usual stand up comedian was missing from the entertainment line-up because of them. Usually the stand ups are at least a little bit funny. The in-house "Elements" stage show was nice, a 4 out of 10, with pretty enjoyable routines. It was marred by a change in the sound system that make the music tinny and raspy, like they had blown out speakers (or tomatoes were stuck in them from the prior night's Second City performance). The show featured two couples including the one from "Extreme Vegas", as well as the in-house entertainers. I never felt like retching or running for the exits, so for a cruise line show, it was pretty good. The final production was a crew talent show, featuring only members of the crew from the housekeeping, restaurant, guest services and engineering departments. As can be expected, the show has acts of varying polish, but that's the appeal: these are not professionals, but room stewards, waitresses and even the ship's fireman. I enjoyed this show most of all,and give it a 6 out of 10 for pure entertainment value. It was surprising to see these workers belt out diva-esque tunes, perform traditional folk dances from their home countries and work together for comedy dance routines. Itinerary: 7/10 for our group; 4/10 overallFor our group of first time cruisers, the itinerary with more sea days than port days allowed them to get a feel for cruising without too much distraction. But my wife and I prefer port-intensive cruises, and realized that without the rest of the family there, the three sea days would have been pretty boring. Especially when combined with the poor entertainment options and the colder weather that kept most people inside the ship. The weather also limited night-time outdoor options (midnight buffet, BBQs, dance parties under the stars, etc.) But a 7 out of 10 for a group cruise seems appropriate, as the extra time allowed us to meet for nearly every meal and enjoy some quality family time.Ports visited were Juneau and Ketchikan, and our excursions were arranged separately, as NCL was late in getting excursions scheduled for this trip. For Juneau, we visited the Mendenhall Glacier ($16 per person for round trip bus fare). We chose a Duck Boat tour of Ketchikan as a starter, then each couple went "on their own" to explore the town. We all enjoyed the ports. Because we had limited activity due to a disabled member of our party, we did not seek out more the more adventuresome activities available in these ports.We attended the Cruise Critic Roll Call meeting on board, and had the option to sign up for a tour of the bridge. That was a nice perk, and we enjoyed the time given the group by the Captain, first mate, and the rest of the officers on the bridge. While I didn't time the visit, they were generous with their time, and answered several questions. This was very nice, indeed.Conclusion:Overall, this was a good introduction to cruising for the newbies, and enjoyable for us (hey, we weren't at work!) Freestyle dining fits well with our group, allowing us to modify our schedule at the last minute to accommodate anyone in the group, and still eat together. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My husband and I took this cruise in September of 2010. We were actually on the last sailing of the year. I had wanted to visit Alaska since I was about 17 and it only took 17 years but I finally got there! We lucked out with the weather ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise in September of 2010. We were actually on the last sailing of the year. I had wanted to visit Alaska since I was about 17 and it only took 17 years but I finally got there! We lucked out with the weather because even though I did tons of reasearch I had no idea how rainy Alaska could be and I had NO idea that the time we chose to sail was the rainy season.All in all, we had fabulous weather that even the guides were shocked. We did all our excursions via NCL. For my husband and I this is the way to go. We just enjoy the guides and the stories and the little in and outs we would probably miss. Excursions really depend on the person/s because some enjoy going on their own- totally understandable considering pricing. We did dog sledding in Juneau which was fun. Smelly but fun. You have to love dogs for this one. Mudbugging in Ketchikan which was fun. We got filthy but the guide was great and we enjoyed it. Mind you, not alot of wildlife on this one since the carts are very loud. We did a tour in Skagway where we canoed up to a glacier. It was amazing and fun- even though I didn't realize canoeing is ALOT of work, haha. It was a great experience. Finally, in Prince Rupert we went whale watching. The boat took us back to the Alaskan border which shows you how far out we were- on a tiny boat. Brings meds if you think you'll get sick. Saw a few whales, had an awesome time on each excursion.As for the Star itself, no complaints here. We had some very rough weather and coming home the captain changed course. We ended up sailing back down the inside passage rather then going around. He was kind and spoke to the passengers via intercom often letting us know what he was planning to do in order to ease the ride. The crew was wonderful and friendly. Everything was great and though I cannot give you specifics I also cannot give you anything bad so that says alot. I went into this cruise a little leary as my prior cruise was on NCL POA and I was less then thrilled- with the ship not with Hawaii. Oh but wait, I did have one slight issue. The desk messed up the billing on my credit card. Caused me a TON of problems for days after I returned but NCL did resolve it AND gave me and my husband a fantastic on board credit we are using in June of 2011. So even though it was a hassle they made up for it and then some. I give the Star, their staff, and Alaska two thumbs up :)FYI, from what I hear bring bug spray if you go as the earlier in the season the more mosquitos. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Chose this trip with the help of a Travel Agent who pitched us at the right level of formality. The age range of passengers was predominantly 50+ although there were younger people, children and babies but everyone we met was friendly ... Read More
Chose this trip with the help of a Travel Agent who pitched us at the right level of formality. The age range of passengers was predominantly 50+ although there were younger people, children and babies but everyone we met was friendly and willing to talk and share experiences (not always about cruising but about lives in different countries). Majority of people were from America. The Norwegian Star seemed a big ship to us which meant we did not feel confined at any point and provided variety for eating and entertainment. Having not cruised before could not say what size ship we preferred but do not think anything much smaller would suit us although I accept this is personal preference. There was one formal night known as dress up or not and there were those that did the full whack with tuxedoes and long dresses and those that didn't. It wasn't a problem either way. Starting with arrival in Seattle- our hotel was located virtually opposite the airport although other NCL passengers were in the centre- pros and cons for both. We had anticipated spending time in Seattle but forgot the time delay and it did not happen. We were met at the airport and escorted onto the hotel transfer bus, check in was ok and there is a review of the hotel on Tripadvisor. Coach in the morning to the port was smooth and turned into a very amusing tour of Seattle as a bonus because the ship was not ready for us- brilliant coach driver with local knowledge and sense of humour set the tone. Embarkation was smooth and efficient. Cabins were not ready but passengers were ushered onto cafe on top deck where food and drink were available. It did not take long for cabins to be ready. CABIN: We heeded the advice to get a balcony cabin on an Alaskan cruise and although not essential for a good trip it is definitely to be recommended if the budget can stretch to it. I believe that balcony cabins are the lowest grade where there are tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin. Size is adequate and the layout is well organised. Bed is comfortable but pillows are abysmal. Shampoo and shower gel are provided but is no conditioner.There is a decent hairdryer ladies so you don't need to pack one. Bathrobes were also there.Needless to say it was spotlessly clean as was the entire ship. RESTAURANTS:Self service one up top which had a massive variety of food of a high standard with separate sections for different foods e.g. salads, Italian, Asian, soup etc and a further huge range of puddings> I defy anyone to not find something they liked. We only ate here at lunchtime (could control the size of our portions) or if we were doing an early morning trip (for speed and that extra 10mins in bed). By the pool area there was a burger/hotdog bar. There were 2 "posh" restaurants where there was waiter service. They served the same menu and it was personal preference as to the situation. On arrival at the restaurant you were asked whether you wanted to share a table or be on your own. Sometimes it was nice to share experiences with someone different and other times we sat on our own- no pressure either way. Choosing not to share sometimes meant you had to wait that little longer for a table but it was not a big deal. Food was superb and there was a constant menu with about 3 choices for each course and that sat alongside a daily changing one with the same variety. The 2 were interchangeable. The majority of the waiters/waitresses were friendly and chatty without being obtrusive.There were many speciality restaurants but they had a cover charge and we never saw any of them full. The food was so good in the main one that we never felt the need to pay out so can't comment (and we never met anyone who had tried them). Ice cream bar was just too nice! LOL ENTERTAINMENT: In the theatre there were professional shows which tended to happen at 7.30 and be repeated at 9.30. They lasted approx 1-11/2hrs and were of an excellent standard. They varied from a tribute act, dancing, comedy, juggling. Everyone that we saw had us enthralled. In one of the bars they had a different entertainment usually requiring participation. People we saw there appeared to be having fun. There were different things happening in different bars in the evening such as a pianist, violinist/flautist, quartet/ rocker. During the day there was something happening every hour (timetable provided in your cabin the night before) but we never did any of these activities and many carried a charge. There was a free gym with free towels and free headphones (hand in your room key in the spa reception as a deposit) It was adequately equipped and there were some classes (again a charge for many)The Spa itself was expensive as was joining the health club but you had to join the health club to use the indoor pool, although it was only approx 10m. Didn't join so again, can't comment.Casino there too but didn't partake. Bingo was $25! The outdoor pool and Jacuzzis were very much used during our unseasonal good weather. There was a library on the top deck where there was a daily crossword, word search and Suduko printed out for free and a variety of reference and non-reference books.There was also a basketball court. MONEY:We took out soft drink package when booking allowing free soft drinks and tea and coffee- excellent deal for us. There is also a wine package which I believe to be worth it if you like wine. Drinks were obviously on the expensive side but no more so than a hotel in a major city. Everything is charged to your room and paid for at the end of the cruise. There are lots of money making opportunities for the cruise operator such as photographs galore; each port, each night in the restaurant, on the "dress up or not" night, but you did not have to buy them. The shops covered most things that you might have forgotten and were desperate for. GOODS: Excellent service, levels of cleanliness, standard of food and in our case weather (not a drop of rain and opportunity to sunbathe most of the daylight hours.) You have to use alcohol gel on boarding every time and on entering any restaurant- didn't hear of any bad tummies. BADS:Pillows If you are hesitating about cruising then speak to someone who knows and let them help you choose which operator would best suit your requirements- not only do the itineraries vary but the levels of formality, the age groups and the nationalities. There will be one for everyone. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My wife and I & our two girls (12 / 8) sailed on the Star the week of July 10, 2010. We stayed in room 11066 AF mini suite. We were joined by my brother, his wife, and their son (10). They also stayed in an adjoining AF mini suite. ... Read More
My wife and I & our two girls (12 / 8) sailed on the Star the week of July 10, 2010. We stayed in room 11066 AF mini suite. We were joined by my brother, his wife, and their son (10). They also stayed in an adjoining AF mini suite. Day 1: Embarkation was a breeze. We showed our e-docs, had our picture taken and room card created, and waited for approximately 20 minutes before they allowed us to board the ship. We had a lot of bottled soda in the carry-on and I thought they would open the baggage after it went through the x-ray machine to verify if it was alcohol, but they didn't bother and we continued onto the ship. After boarding the ship we went to the front of the ship on deck 12 (poolside) to enjoy a few drinks of the day along with a bucket of beer. After building an appetite, we went to the Versailles dining room for lunch. 80% of the Versailles tables were open and we had a nice quiet lunch as compared to those who went elsewhere on the boat to eat their first meal. After going to the room and unpacking, we were able to meet our room steward. I immediately handed him a $20 and told him the girls were looking forward to towel animals each night. I also mentioned that I needed extra ice every day. He saw my football helmet bucket of beer and told me to leave the helmet in the room when I was done and he would fill it with extra ice each day. Needless to say, we always had a ton of ice in the room. By about the 4th day he was filling two helmets and a standard ice bucket twice each day. The extra ice was used to make mixed drinks on the balcony at our leisure along with cold sodas for the girls. Nothing beats lounging in your room or on your balcony with a cocktail in your hand, watching the Alaskan scenery go by. By the way, excluding the 1st night, we received towel animals every evening of the trip (monkey, swan, elephant, mouse, and two bunnies). It was always nice to come back to the room after an evening of fun to find some silly animal sitting on your bed or hanging from the ceiling. After unpacking on day 1, we took the kids up to the main pool where they could swim. The adults enjoyed the live poolside music and more drinks as the ship sailed away from port. Dinner the 1st night was at the Versailles main dining room. The food was good and we all found things we enjoyed. While the main dining rooms do not offer 5 star meals, you can order as much of everything you want and there is a wide variety of selections. We had 7 members in our party and we never had to make reservations in the main dining rooms. The longest we waited was maybe three minutes to be seated. However, we did make reservations for the evenings we ate in the specialty restaurants (cagneys, le bistro, teppanyaki, and la cucina). The casino opened around 8:30pm on day 1 and we played cards until about midnight. TIP #1: Eat in the main dining room for lunch the first day to avoid the congestion on deck. DAY 2: We ate at the buffet for breakfast. The buffet breakfast food did not excite us too much. Eating food that is mass produced, and then placed under a heat lamp where it sometimes sits for extended periods, results in a mediocre tasting experience. The buffet breakfast is OK for a quick bite if you need to eat fast. But you will receive a far better experience and food quality by eating breakfast in one of the main dining rooms. After breakfast we signed up for the Poker tournament as well as the blackjack tournament. I didn't win either one but had fun. In the afternoon we again went poolside and enjoyed some drinks while the kids played on the slides and swam. We tried the buffet for lunch with better results than breakfast. Although, the only buffet desert we all agreed was good were the cookies (and we tried many desserts). The kids liked the ice cream from the ice cream machine. Before dinner, the ladies went to the margarita tasting. They were feeling pretty groovy before dinner started. Dinner the 2nd night was at the Aqua main dining room. It has the same menu as Versailles, but is a little more laid back (not as fancy). Dinner was good. We ended the night in the casino playing more cards before retiring back to the room a little after midnight for a nightcap on the balcony where we watched the faint glow (sunset) on the horizon. Gotta love those Alaskan summer nights. TIP # 2: You can find the famous NCL pretzel rolls in the buffet during lunch. On the Star, you can find the small round pretzel rolls near the front of the buffet. But if you go to the rear right portion of the buffet (starboard side) you'll find the bun sized pretzel rolls. These oversized rolls are perfect for making sandwiches or for hot dogs. They were a hit with our entire group and can only be found on NCL. DAY 3: We woke up in Ketchikan. We shopped in town and then went to the lumberjack show. It was entertaining and a good family value. Getting back onto the ship was quick. After getting back onto the ship we sat on our room balcony and enjoyed multiple afternoon cocktails while looking at the marina and people watching. For dinner we ate at our first specialty restaurant (Cagneys). The entire meal from appetizer to desert was absolutely outstanding. The steaks were perfect, the Alaskan king crab was killer, and everything else was mouth watering. The kids (& adults too) loved the Cagneys Fries. A nice variation to the traditional French fry. The 3 kids were only charged ½ price in all of the specialty restaurants which was nice as they all ordered multiple things off the main menus. TIP#3: Kids can order off a kids menu at any of the dining venues (instead of the main menu). Our youngest daughter (8) rarely found something from the adult menu and instead was allowed to order mac-n-cheese, pizza, chicken fingers, etc. Since they didn't give us kids menus, we had to ask. DAY 4: Today we woke up in Juneau. The wife went shopping in port. The Star was the 3rd cruise ship in port and because of this, if you went to town you had to take a short bus ride. I stayed on board and played ping pong while the kids swam. We all (7 of us) booked the catamaran tour of the glacier. If you can only book one trip on the Star to Alaska, this is the one to do! The catamaran departed at 12:30 and we spent the next 6 hours getting up close & personal to icebergs, whales, seals, waterfalls, eagles, and glaciers. The catamaran has two inside levels for warmth and a 3rd level for outside viewing which is used while the boat is stopped or slowly moving. You can also order cooked food and drinks on board. We literally got to within 20 feet of two huge whales and watched them for a long time as they swam just under the surface right next to the boat. This area is one of the most beautiful, alluring places on Earth and being able to get up close to this beauty is something that can only be done on a smaller vessel. If you want to feel the true depth of beauty, the rawness of Mother Nature, you will be overwhelmed. We saw people tear up from the beauty. Words can not do justice for the catamaran experience. We felt sorry for everyone on the cruise ship. Also, we got right up to the glacier and watched it for about 90 minutes as pieces fell into the water. The cruise ship was sitting like a mile from the glacier, behind us, as it could not navigate through the ice to get up close. We also got to go into Fords Terror on the catamaran. According to the speaker, it was the first time they had gone into that area. We arrived to the Fords Terror right at high tide and were able to get over the sandbar and navigated through a small waterway with huge mountains on either side. Stunning scenery to say the least. The catamaran also provided binoculars to everyone on board. The catamaran cruised back to the cruise ship about 6:30pm and tied off to it in the middle of the bay to let the passengers back on the Star. Tracy Arm is one of the Dinner on day 4 was at Le Bistro which was outstanding. I ordered the lobster tail and it was a large portion that was to die for. The chocolate fondue for dessert at Le Bistro is a must order item as they carve out a pineapple, fill it with various pieces of fruit (banana, pineapple, strawberries, melon, etc.), and then place a cast iron bucket on the table filled full of molten chocolate to dip the fruit into. TIP #4: Spend the extra money and take the catamaran tour to the glacier! It was the highlight of our trip to Alaska. TIP #5: Get the Pineapple fondue for two if you go to Le Bistro. Day 5: Today we woke up to Skagway. We booked the White Pass excursion (round trip). The train leaves right from the dock which is nice. If you are only doing a train trip to the top of the mountain, and a bus trip back down, then sit on the left side of the train for the best views. If you are doing the round trip on the train, it does a loop at the top of the mountain and the right side will have the best views on the way back to the ship. The train trip was a good value and there were plenty of great sites to see along the way. I forgot my video camera on board the ship and this put my attitude in the gutter during the train trip as this was the only port I did not take video. It was windy and rainy when the train arrived back at the ship and we didn't feel like walking through the elements back into town so we headed back to the ship, ate a good lunch in the blue lagoon, and had more cocktails on the balcony of our room. I had numerous double cocktails to take away my 'forgetting the video camera in port blues' and the strong drinks seemed to put me back into my happy place. We ate dinner at Teppanyaki (think Benihana style). The dinner entertainment by the cooks was excellent and the kids had a wonderful time watching the antics. After dinner my brother and I played 3 card poker and had a great time in the casino. The ladies and kids went to the chocoholic buffet and were disappointed with what they tasted. They said most of it was worthless taste wise. The sights were beautiful and they made some cool sculptures from chocolate, but I was told most of the items they tasted were not very good. I did not attend. TIP #6: If you take the roundtrip white pass train excursion, the best views on the way up are on the left, and the best views on the way back are on the right side. Since the train does a loop & turns around at the top of the mountain, the back of the train (closest to the ship in the morning) will be the furthest from the ship when you return. This is good if you plan on shopping after the train ride as the walk is much shorter to town. However, we boarded late and all the rail cars closest to the ship were full. We had to walk a distance to get a seat near the front of the train (2nd rail car out of like 30). This actually turned out to be a blessing when we returned back to the ship because it was raining and our long morning walk to board the train meant that we ended up being closest to the ship on the afternoon return. This made for an easy & quick walk back to the ship through the rain. Day 6: We woke up to beautiful views outside our balcony (again) and just lounged around since we did not dock in Prince Rupert until late afternoon. After eating a yummy breakfast in the main dining room, we hung out and played a little bingo. Once we docked in Prince Rupert, we left the ship and made the mistake of going up the hill where the shopping consisted of a mall. If I wanted to go to a regular mall, I can do that at home. So we walked back down to the ship and shopped in the 4 or 5 small shops right next to the Star at the bottom of the town. Prince Rupert is relatively small and we did not find a lot to do. Our excursion was cancelled because of a lack of participation so we just shopped. The ladies found a craft fair and enjoyed that while the guys briefly shopped and then returned to the ship. I did get some great video of an eagle that was sitting on a roof top (about 30 feet away) eating a pigeon. That was really cool. There were several eagle nests nearby and 4 or 5 eagles were always close to us at the bottom of town. After boarding the ship we got a table at La Cucina and ate a wonderful Italian meal. The kids loved the pizza and lasagna and the adults enjoyed the various pastas. My wife said the tira misu at La Cucina was the best she's ever had. This says a lot since it is her favorite dessert. After dinner the ladies & kids went to the ventriloquist show while the men went to the casino for more cards & roulette. The ladies said the show was great and the kids liked it too. TIP#7: Prince Rupert has a few touristy souvenir type shops near the boat at the waters edge of the marina. Make sure you don't make the uphill walk away from the marina unless you want to shop at a typical mall, the likes of which you can find at home. DAY 7: Today was a sea day as we return back to Seattle tomorrow. We ate in the main dining room for breakfast again as to avoid the morning buffet (which is disappointing). After a yummy breakfast we simply hung out all day (swimming, gambling, drinking, and bingo). We did room service again for lunch. Cagneys was our favorite speciality restaurant and we ate there for a 2nd time on the last night of the cruise. As usual, the dinner was fabulous. TIP#8: Room service is free. You can place a call and have food delivered to your cabin within 45 minutes (average for us was about 20 minutes). However, the only warm breakfast food you can get with room service is an egg omelet but it is far superior to the eggs / omelet found in the buffet. The lunch/dinner fare is more extensive on the room service menu. The hamburgers, BLT, and omelets served by room service are great! Remember to tip a few dollars to the staff member who brings food to your room. They appreciate the tip. DAY 8: Disembarkation is a breeze if you either carry your luggage off manually, or have the ship send your luggage to the airport (for a $20 charge per person). We chose this last option and on the last day of the cruise our boarding passes were delivered to our room along with the proper luggage tags to send our luggage from the ship, directly back to our hometown airport. This was very simple and worth every penny in my opinion as we were able to disembark from the ship at any time we wanted, we didn't have to wait in the luggage lines at the ship, we didn't have to stand in line at the airport to check in our luggage, and we were able to just walk through the airport security, with our pre-printed boarding passes, directly to our flight terminal. TIP # 9: The scenery along the inside passage of Alaska is amazing. Bring binoculars. We used them daily from our balcony. TIP #10: Buckets of beer were buy 5 & get 1 free. Most of the time they came in a football helmet filled with ice. A bottle opener was included which you can keep. Budweiser products came in 16 ounce bottles which was nice. In reality, we paid for 5 beers and got 3 free due to the extra 4 ounces in each bottle. Getting buckets of beer, instead of individual beers, will save you some $$$ in the long run. TIP #11: Bring a pack of sticky notes in your luggage. You'll be able to communicate with your room steward if you want anything (towels, pillows, ice, etc.) by hanging a sticky note on the mirror. Negatives of the trip: The safe in our room malfunctioned on 4 of the 7 days. We would have to call and have someone come up to reset it so that it could be opened again. By comparison, the safe in my brother's room worked fine the entire trip. I'm speculating ours had a faulty battery which frequently caused an error message. Another negative was the foul smell in almost all of the elevators in the mid and rear banks of the ship. Thankfully, the ride in the elevators is typically quick and fresh air is just around the corner. Other Thoughts: The children went to the kids crew facility once during the cruise (1st sea day). The girls liked it. However, my brother's son didn't have as much fun. Thankfully, the kids (12, 10, & 8) agreed that they would rather stay in the state room while the parents played on board (casino, bars, etc.). The kids were able to watch movies (avatar, harry potter, percy Jackson, the princess & the frog, the mall cop, etc.). They also had fun ordering free room service while the parents were away. The service in all the dining facilities was excellent. Same goes for our room steward. He made sure to call us by name each time we crossed paths. Also, as you cross paths with other workers in the halls, they always made sure to make eye contact and say hello or some other nice gesture. I was worried that the construction on deck 12 would be within earshot of our room on deck 11. Thankfully, we didn't hear any construction sounds. We were able to take afternoon naps and didn't experience any troubles with sounds coming through the walls / ceilings. Overall we had an excellent time and we enjoyed the flexibility of freestyle dining. We are looking forward to future trips with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Just got back from the Norwegian Star 7 day Alaska cruise (today July 3rd) - Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Prince Rupert, and an unbelievable full-ship tour of the Sawyer glacier. We gracefully navigated the icebergs... getting closer and ... Read More
Just got back from the Norwegian Star 7 day Alaska cruise (today July 3rd) - Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Prince Rupert, and an unbelievable full-ship tour of the Sawyer glacier. We gracefully navigated the icebergs... getting closer and closer... stunning scenery. Stayed in a balcony (9th floor, forward) - loved it. The lower-half glass and overhangs made it pleasant even in light rainfall. And the weather was warm enough to enjoy a bit of sunbathing. The food was good, but the specialty restaurants were pretty decent too. The cover charge was $10-$15 per person, and made for very few crowds and no screaming children. Dined at the french restaurant... the italian restaurant... and the japanese restaurant - paying $30+ for what I'd expect to pay $150+ for at home. Room service is free, (they even have pizza) when you're bushed and just want to crash. As far as shore expeditions go; went to see the Mendenhall glacier in Juneau - worthwhile any way you can get there; took the jeep tour in Skagway (VERY jarring... knees and back still ache); took the Misty Fyords boat tour in Ketchikan (neat scenery... bring extra camera batteries and flash cards), and finally my favorite, the Sealife and crab extravaganza in Prince Rupert. The crab was great, but the close encounters with many amazing eagles that is what I loved the most. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
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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