22 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

We took our first NCL cruise Sept. 2010 from New York to Canada and New England found it to be excellent so this year booked for Alaska on the Star *what a let down* Entertainment. The theatre was not only poor it must have been ... Read More
We took our first NCL cruise Sept. 2010 from New York to Canada and New England found it to be excellent so this year booked for Alaska on the Star *what a let down* Entertainment. The theatre was not only poor it must have been embarrassing to have one night of acceptable entertainment the whole cruise (the last night) I am guessing they were so embarrassed that is why the theatre only had one show most nights rather than there normal two! Dinning. We celebrated our Ruby Anniversary, so we dined in there main restaurants. The service was slow and the food was not consistent, it was mostly lukewarm, yes you would complain and you would wait for another but you should receive it hot to begin with. Example; the morning of the Glazier three couples in the restaurant first thing so we could have our breakfast and return to see the Glazier. The starter arrived the first table had a problem so we waited and waited the first table finished their starter then we all received our main it was cold and I mean cold, again they would offer another but the point of going early was to see the Glazier and we were not going to miss out and just left. We had to change ships at Vancouver for our second cruise on the Pearl, some law in USA/Canada you have to spend 24 hours, at the time we thought it was a stupid law but not now thank you America. What a difference we actually received hot meals and some of the best entertainment we have had on a cruise. The Pearl on the whole is an all round for superior ship. I did not receive a survey for the Star and I requested one! I also wrote to NCL head office in Miami, I have no doubt you have guessed over one month latter no reply. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
First things first, we were traveling with our toddler who was 3 months shy of NCL's 2 year cut-off of babysitting, so we weren't exactly expecting a relaxed vacation; however, we had high expectations given that we're not ... Read More
First things first, we were traveling with our toddler who was 3 months shy of NCL's 2 year cut-off of babysitting, so we weren't exactly expecting a relaxed vacation; however, we had high expectations given that we're not new to cruising... and our expectations weren't met in the slightest on the star! Having only cruised with Carnival in the past, we had really expected NCL to be somewhat above/beyond our previous experiences. After all, everyone says that Carnival is the lowest of the low cruise-wise. We had gotten a bit tired of Carnival and wanted to try someone new. NCL was not the way to go, apparently. THE BAD: 1) Horribly uncomfortable beds/linens/robes One of the things I really looked forward to were the comfy pillows, linens, beds and luxuriously fluffy robes that I had loved about Carnival cruising. In my stateroom on the Star I was really disappointed to find a too-firm mattress, pillows that felt like bricks (I prefer mine extra-poofy!), and linens that made me feel like I was in a hospital instead of a luxury cruise. We also had a problem with our twin beds constantly separating on us, so I had to spend a week 2 feet away from my husband because neither of us wanted to fall through the crack in the middle of the night. 2) Poor service With a toddler I was assured by the agent that we would have a crib as was mandatory per regulations. There was no crib when we arrived, and the steward had a hard time speaking english (yes, we're used to thick accents, but this was really difficult) and said he would bring us a cot. We did get a crib quite quickly after going to the customer service desk, though. Food service was horrible - it took forever to get anything (which is tough with a whiny kid) and more often than not they messed up our orders. Room service even brought us a 1/3 of our order one morning, and couldn't understand us when we called to notify them of the problem. 3) Mediocre Food and Little Variety I always expect delicious, tasty food when we cruise; and I was extremely disappointed to find the food uninteresting, bland, and just pretty blah. Nothing wowed me like it had on previous cruises. I heard the specialty restaurants served better food, but after shucking out $3000 for a cruise, I didn't want to spend more money for food... especially when we could barely enjoy a meal in a dining room anyway with a fidgety kiddo. I also didn't like that the buffet was limited (probably because they wanted you to eat in the specialty restaurants). If you wanted italian, mexican, seafood, or some other type of cuisine you couldn't really get it in the buffet and had to pay extra for the specialty fare. 4) Horrid Buffet Setup Carnival buffets had always felt very upscale and fancy to me with comfy seating and interesting displays, but on the Star I really felt like I was back in a high school cafeteria. Crappy tables/chairs and that dreaded sterile feeling. All that was missing was the lunch lady with the hairnet. They also tended to close half the buffet early, which was obnoxious. 5) Everything Closed Early! My husband got food poisoning (not sure if it was from the ship or on shore) and was really wanting some meds. The shops were supposed to be open until "arrival" in Prince Rupert, but they closed while we were still moving! I asked them if I could just come in to get some meds for my husband, but they said they'd have to get them for me. "Stomach bug" didn't make much sense to the guy, and I didn't want to say diarrhea that loudly. We ended up going ashore to Safeway instead. Again - they seemed to close the buffet really early - ahead of schedule. 6) Smoking in Cabins/Balconies I hate hate hated this! Don't even think about opening the balcony door to enjoy the fresh alaskan air, lest someone in a 20 ft vicinity lights up on their balcony. Also hated the smell of smoking that lingered in the hallways if someone smoked in their cabin. At least the cabin itself didn't smell, but perhaps no one had ever smoked in it - who knows. 7) Only one "Dress up (or not)" night On past 7-day cruises we've had 2+ formal nights, and we really enjoy them. The first day at sea, NCL had their Dress Up or Not, but we decided we'd wait until the next one, because our son was hungry and ready to go. Sadly, they never had another one. :( Maybe I should have expected that, but oh well. THE GOOD: 1) Friendly Crew The crew was unbelievable with our son. He made so many friends with the bartenders, waitstaff, hosts, stewards etc. They really helped us keep him entertained. And they always remembered his name - impressive! 2) The Red Lion Pub This was our preferred spot. I loved the crew members who worked here. It had a great atmosphere and free popcorn. I didn't really like that they had the walkway through the pub, but oh well - still my favorite hangout spot. 3) Splash Zone Our son loves water slides, and this was an awesome area for him and his dad to enjoy them together. Even on colder days they were out there braving the somewhat chilly pool water. It wasn't too crowded, and the parents did a good job of keeping their kids under control. Awesome! 4) Kid's Table in the Buffet I liked that they had a lower table with little cube stools for the kiddos to eat at. It was easier to get our son to sit still there than in a big chair. It was difficult to find a spot sometimes, because the large asian families dominated the area (can't blame them, though - I prefer to sit at low tables myself). BOTTOM LINE: I definitely recommend bypassing NCL unless you really want a casual cruise experience (not really something we enjoyed, either). We found that people who like NCL typically or people who have never cruised with any other line. Next time we may try Royal Caribbean, because they offer free babysitting services for younger children while still being affordable. Just felt like we got more bang for our buck on Carnival... but too bad they don't go to Alaska. :( ONE MORE THING: The ports were all okay, but I expected Alaska to be AMAZING. But being from Colorado and having traveled to New Zealand, it just seemed so-so. I got more impressive pictures on a hike in Colorado after we returned than I did in Alaska. Prince Rupert wasn't worth it, and we only went ashore to go to safeway for medication. Ketchikan was cute, but too touristy with nothing really to do unless you wanted to do a tour. Skagway Brewing Company was our favorite part about that stop :). Juneau was good for the glacier - don't pay for that glacier excursion... just pay the $8/each way for the local bus. You'll get there just like everyone else and save a lot more money :) Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Well what I have read about NCL is true. Probably the worst overall experience I have ever had. It started bad with over 3 hours to get through embarkation. It was a total disaster; and never a word of explanation from anyone from NCL. ... Read More
Well what I have read about NCL is true. Probably the worst overall experience I have ever had. It started bad with over 3 hours to get through embarkation. It was a total disaster; and never a word of explanation from anyone from NCL. Almost 1/3 of the passengers were not on the ship for muster and never went through the drill. Now for the good, bad and ridiculous.Ridiculous:No concern for the delays during embarkation; never a word said by the crew; explanation, reason, or apology given. Balcony staterooms; the smallest cabin I have ever seen. Almost no room to walk between the wall and the bed to get to the balcony. Ship layout made no sense and seemed quite closed in as compared to other cruise lines. Rooms inside rooms and no area atop (as with many ships) to relax and view the passing seas. This area had just been transformed to villa suites I think.Buffet layout inefficient and confusing with the worst buffet food I have ever had !Sell, sell, sell everywhere. Really seemed overdone.Food service inconsistent in all areas. Bad:Non surcharge eating areas had generally poor food. I have commented on the buffet already. The main dining room was up and down from day to day. Selection was not that great but could always get a steak.Daily activities were limited to non existent. It was especially odd since this was an Alaska trip and everyone stayed inside since it was cold and there was no pool activity at all. Should have providedmore inside things to do during sea days especially. Staterooms were really dated; especially the carpets and TV's.Good:Room steward staff very efficient and friendly. Certain food service staff excellent but not consistent. The theater shows. They were all pretty good with talented individuals. The final show "Elements" was the most spectacular show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Rivaled true Vegas type show.Disembarkation was the most efficient I have seen on any cruise line. No pushing crowds, line breaking, etc.; just a leisurely paced stroll off the Promenade deck.If you want a cheap cruise and a fair cruising experience I would say book NCL. The only redeeming aspect of the trip was cruising Alaska and some of the excursions. When I want an affordable 5-7 day cruise I'll stick with Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We really looked forward to this cruise and had decided to make the most of it however it turned out.We had read good, bad and mediocre reviews of the star, but hoped our trip would fall into the good category however, mediocre is the word ... Read More
We really looked forward to this cruise and had decided to make the most of it however it turned out.We had read good, bad and mediocre reviews of the star, but hoped our trip would fall into the good category however, mediocre is the word best described for our overall experience. Embarkation was quick. Loved how quick we got on the ship. The staff was courteous, but in robot mode. Mostly we felt let down by the food, entertainment, and staff. The food in the free areas was kept just above high school cafeteria level, we didn't complain, we just looked for better alternatives. The market cafe was just that, a Buffett with semi warm variety of snack foods and coffee. It was ok for mindless munchies, but for dinners we tried the dining rooms. The Versailles and aqua share a galley and I assume cooks. The food was good, but not at a level we have experienced on other ships. The staff seem to be in a broken record routine. No real interaction with the staff and they consistently delivered desserts a long time after your meal. Many times forgetting to deliver the coffee at all. Often, we would have to flag down a waitress to get anything. Our friend waited 45 mins after she was seated to place her order. Our group of 5 missed two early 7pm shows because our 530 dinner just could not get completed in time. The best meals we got were in the specialty restaurants where the was a 15 - 25 per person 'cover charge'. These meals were up to the standard that should have been included in our cruise price. Entertainment reminded me of the six flags performances we had seen. None stood out as incredible. Some of the magic show was literally taken word for word from David Copperfield (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxBKs1KmkEk&feature=youtube_gdata_player), but even that was poorly executed (he didn't get all the aces in the right spot and exposed his double sided cards more than once). The dancers were ok, but the show was poorly choreographed and written. Especially the 60s show on our first full day at sea. Overall, I would not recommend a trip on the star. If it's any warning to you at all, sewers nickel and dimmed to the tune of 1.5 k which many would say it's our fault for spending, but to get your vacation food experience, you will have to spend the money. Outside of the uncharged meals, we did buy a 3 bottles of wine, 2 medium priced excursions, and a couple of t-shirts. Except for 3 nights, where we ate in inclusive restaurants, we spent 30-80 per night eating in the upscale dining areas. (0 spent on gambling). Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My husband and I chose the cruise to correspond to our anniversary celebration. What a disappointment. Getting on the ship was easy and organized leaving pier 66 from Seattle. We have been to Alaska before and therefore knew what to expect ... Read More
My husband and I chose the cruise to correspond to our anniversary celebration. What a disappointment. Getting on the ship was easy and organized leaving pier 66 from Seattle. We have been to Alaska before and therefore knew what to expect as far as excursions and decided just to go off in each port and do our own thing. Our cabin had an ocean view window and was spacious enough for the two of us. The one major complaint regarding the cabin was that repairs were not made to the sink and drain even after leaving notes and the soap dispenser was not replenished. The television in the cabin was old and there was poor reception. We requested a non smoking room, but to our dismay the people next to us smoked and the second hand smoke was prevalent in our room and on the floor where we were situated. I believe that there should be specified floors for smokers or no smoking ban in cabins to avoid this issue. On the request data for the cruise, it was noted if you are celebrating a special occasion, please let us know, we filled it out that we were celebrating our anniversary on the specific date during the cruise. The date came and there was no recognition, not even a card on our door. We visited the guest desk and asked, but were told that nothing was noted and we should have purchased the anniversary package if we wanted recognition. We traveled on Princess Cruises last year and they provided us with chocolate strawberries, champagne, and a lovely banner all complimentary. We promptly deposited a note in the box of the hotel manager to let me know how we were treat and how disappointed we were and were told that we would get a response within twenty four hours, we didn't hear from him during the entire cruise. We ate in the main dining room Versailles where we expected the service would be good since they are used to getting meals prepared in a expedient fashion for those going on excursions, but we found otherwise. The service was terrible and the food was served cold such as at breakfast when cold uncooked eggs were served. Orders were confused since the servers rarely wrote down the orders. On the third day, the Maitre D asked us how things were going and we began to discuss our issues. He promptly took care of the situation and we were given personal service for the remainder of the cruise making sure that all of our meals in all of the dining venues were served hot and in due time. He was truly outstanding. We did however end up eating at the other restaurants such as the Tex Mex restaurant which was very good quality food and excellent server by the name of Jenallyne,the Bistro nice atmosphere, Asian Fusion good variety and La Cucina which was pretty good, but nothing special. The service in all of the specialty restaurants was wonderful and servers very personable. Our feeling is that the food quality in the buffet and dining rooms is lower as well as the service and therefore people tend to spend the money in the specialty restaurants out of frustration. We noticed increasing numbers going to the restaurants after the first three days. More attention should be spent on the menu selections particularly for those with allergies to nuts since almost everything had nuts sprinkled on or in the main courses, salads and deserts. There was not enough variety in deserts especially those for diabetics since there were limited selections of no sugar selections and we were told the freezer was too small to hold a selection. We attempted to eat at the buffet and just have coffee one evening after a show at 9:30P.M. nothing was left not even fresh fruit.This particular venue is supposed to be open long hours and there was limited seating. A little known fact on the ship is the drink dispensers located near Blue Lagoon self service for coffee, tea and water. This was especially nice for times when we sat and read, talked or played cards on the days at sea. The theater productions were entertaining especially the tribute to Frankie Valli and Band on the Run. The problem with the theater is that the staff are too busy selling lottery tickets rather than being concerned that people are creating a fire hazard by sitting on the steps from the top to the bottom. This could made it difficult for especially for the handicapp to get out of their seats especially if there was an emergency. In order to get a seat in the shows, people have to arrive at least a forty five minutes before the show begins because so many large groups reserve the seats. The trio that appeared in the atrium each night were very entertaining and enjoyable to listen to. We had an opportunity to speak with them and they were friendly and personable. The casino staff was friendly and offered free drinks for those in the casino, and we sometimes took the drinks into the shows rather than to pay six dollars or more for drinks being sold. The thing that we could not understand was that Harrah's Casino is connected to NCl Cruise line, but you don't get the credit applied to your card for gambling in the casino on board the ship. NCL has their own seaboard credit and you have to earn 1000 points to get ten dollars on board credit.We question why Harrah's Casino is even involved other than to offer a discount for passengers who have the players card since it not valid on the ship. The ports were easy to go off the ship and investigate on your own if you chose to do so. Skagway was the only one which might have required a bus or you could just walk, but the weather was very cold and rainy with wind that particular day and a number of people ventured out, but came back quickly. Prince Rupert was a total waste of time, although it is a short walk from the ship there is nothing much to do unless you book an excursion. NCL is the only ship to stop at this port which may tell the visitor something since most go on and stop in Victoria where there are more sights and interesting places to visit. Prices are higher in the stores by at least three or more dollars. There are two museums, but they tend to be overcrowded since there is not much of anything else to do in the town. Beautiful view of the ocean, but nothing special. There were plenty of comfortable places to sit throughout the ship either at tables or by the window seats where you could just chill. Popcorn was served hot every afternoon around 1;00-2:00 by the Red Lion Inn which made a nice afternoon snack. The sights and the people we met on the trip were enjoyable, but the Princess cruise to Alaska has NCL beat in food quality, service and customer relations provided. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
My previous cruise experience was on Carnival in 1999. It was a short 3 night cruise, and I found the food to be excellent, and activities enough to keep me busy. However, I was single at the time, and did not find that cruises were ... Read More
My previous cruise experience was on Carnival in 1999. It was a short 3 night cruise, and I found the food to be excellent, and activities enough to keep me busy. However, I was single at the time, and did not find that cruises were suitable for single people. Now that I'm married, I figured a cruise would be good vacation for my wife and I. She would like the relaxation of the cruise, and I would enjoy the activities at each port in Alaska. We enjoyed it for the most part, but left with a sour taste in our mouths regarding certain things. Embarkation: It was a bit tedious, but probably no worse than flying. I don't remember this process too much from my Carnival cruise, but it didn't seem as bad back then. Although long, at least the lines moved, so we didn't spend too much time standing. Once inside, we didn't see our bags until about 8pm, although we didn't depend on anything in them, so it was OK. Food: Read the title of the post. By far the worst part of the ship. The buffet was atrocious. When we boarded, we were told to go there and have lunch, and we were scared we were going to be run over because we were standing between rubes and all the food they could eat. The quality of the buffet was worse than my college dormitory. The restaurants were a little better. The recipes were good, but you could tell that the quality of the meats and vegetables were not up to par. On the second night of our cruise, I puked up the Beef Wellington. We did not attempt any of the "specialty" restaurants, because we did not believe the food would be any better for the extra money. If you were hungry late at night (most of the time we weren't, for obvious reasons), they had a late night cafe which served chicken fingers, hot dogs, and other stadium type food. (Note: Most ball park food is better) All in all, this was a major disappointment, as the reputation of cruises is that the food is great. This did not live up to it. Service: Overall it was ok. I do not look for having my feet kissed while on vacation, so I am usually not critical of the service. Wait staff was good. Bar staff was a little too exuberant, but when the drink waiters passed by too many times without you ordering, you would not see them again. Good thing about Norwegian is that they have a big selection of beers. Room attendants were good. Unlike Carnival, they don't make a point to say hello every day (fine with me), but when you needed something, they got it for you. Destination/Shore Excursions: Alaska was great! We did fun things and saw a beautiful part of our continent (Yes! Canada too.) Of the four stops, we booked 2 shore excursions. Each shore excursion had an itinerary change when we boarded, then one ended up being cancelled altogether. Do not let this deter you from visiting Alaska. My other complaint was that the shore excursions did not allow us to spend some time walking around the port town, relaxing, having a drink, or whatever. Do your research before you go. The best part of my trip was kayak fishing which I booked independently. Feel free to refer to my port information before making any decisions. On Board Activities: Another disappointment. They had some good entertainment, music, and activities, but their timing was terrible. On our first day at sea, there was NOTHING! (I guess they figured we were all old and needed to rest up for jewel shopping at the port.) Then, at our stop in Prince Rupert, which was in the evening from 4pm to 10pm, they decide to schedule a whole lot of shows, as well as their "White Hot Party". On our last day at sea, the only activities appeared to be sales of the junk they didn't sell during the earlier part of the cruise. Besides that, other activities included a jazz brunch ($7 fee), beer tasting ($18 fee), and wine pairing ($15 fee). Get it? Disembarkation: Something they got right. I remember Carnival corralling us into areas before leaving the ship. Here, they allowed us to choose our disembarkation time. The problem was that certain disembarkation times were too popular. Because of that, some passengers decided they would leave when they wanted to (a popular theme among them, just the first time mentioned here), which made it a bit more difficult. The good thing was we could sit in our rooms and relax until it was time to leave. Also, if you are flying, do not get the airport transfer from the ship unless you are travelling alone. Seattle regulations set the taxi fare at $35, which is cheaper than 2 people at $25 each. Result: I will try other cruise lines before cruising on Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
The Norwegian Star is a pretty ship with colorful decor and a gorgeous dining room. However, and it's a big "however" it has filled up every square inch of public space with 14 a la carte restaurants so that there is not a ... Read More
The Norwegian Star is a pretty ship with colorful decor and a gorgeous dining room. However, and it's a big "however" it has filled up every square inch of public space with 14 a la carte restaurants so that there is not a single place to sit on a chair with your partner and look out the window at the scenery. There used to be a fine observation lounge at the front of the top deck with panoramic windows where you could watch the ship move down the channel. Now that beautiful space has been leased to a spa and the room divided. There are still 12 lounges looking out those panoramic windows but in order to sit there you must fork out $150 to the spa. This is a travesty! Many people who had sailed the ship before were bitterly disappointed. I can only speculate that some ships are moving to make money on every inch of space. Gone is the card room, the movie theatre, and a separate library. I don't know if their other ships have undergone this transition as well but if they have, be forewarned. I would choose Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, or Royal Caribbean to do this cruise. One of the ports was Prince Rupert where it rains almost constantly. There is little other than the museum to see and that has been sewn up by the cruise line so it is really a useless port when they could have stopped instead at Vancouver or Victoria, both glorious cities. No doubt hey are cutting costs but the passenger doesn't get any benefit. Someone needs to wake up Norwegian. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
I just returned from a NCL Star cruise from Seattle to Alaska the week of May 22. The crew was very friendly, but I will not book another NCL cruise until it's apparent improvements have been made in the food and the itinerary for the ... Read More
I just returned from a NCL Star cruise from Seattle to Alaska the week of May 22. The crew was very friendly, but I will not book another NCL cruise until it's apparent improvements have been made in the food and the itinerary for the Alaska cruise has been changed. The food was very poor and disappointing. The food got better later in the week, but overall it was not acceptable. The time spent in each Alaska port was too short. In Ketchikan, we were in port from 7 to 3 PM, in Juneau, 7 to 1:30 PM, in Skagway, 7 to 5 PM, and in Prince Rupert, 4 to 10 PM. There is absolutely NOTHING in Prince Rupert, so I consider the time there to be a total waste of time. The biggest attraction was the very friendly RCMP Mountie taking pictures with the tourists. I would rather leave from Vancouver than from Seattle if it means skipping Prince Rupert. The Easy Walk off Disembarkation was fast and easy. You just have to be able to carry all your luggage yourself. Enjoy breakfast and wait in your room until 30 minutes after the start of the Easy Walk off, which is around 8:45 AM. We were off the ship in about 15 minutes. Other advice: Don't buy any diamonds or other gems in Alaska, you can always get a better deal at the local diamond center if you live in a major city. Don't even bother to get off the ship in Prince Rupert, nothing to see or do. Pack light and do the Easy Walk off disembarkation. Skip the specialty restaurants and eat at the Versailles. Don't forget the $12 per person/per day charge for the staff tips. Parking across the cruise terminal in Seattle is $140 for the week. Be sure to catch the "Oh What a Night" and the magic of Bob & Sarah Trunell shows. There's a basketball court and two golf cages. NCL needs to spend a few bucks and get a couple of new basketballs. The golf cages only had 1 right handed club each and a bunch of left hand clubs. Golf cages need some more golf balls. Best place to take pictures of the glacier (afternoon after Juneau) - Deck 7 next to swimming pool. Area is mostly covered. Shoot through one of 3 windows on each side. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Having cruised on Carnival in the past, we wanted to upgrade to NCL for our honeymoon, as they give the impression that they are a luxury cruise line.  What a mistake!  The food was mediocre at best, even at the pay restaurants (which ... Read More
Having cruised on Carnival in the past, we wanted to upgrade to NCL for our honeymoon, as they give the impression that they are a luxury cruise line.  What a mistake!  The food was mediocre at best, even at the pay restaurants (which almost all restaurants were).  The dining times were limited, and there was always a wait for a table at peak dinner times (530 to 8pm).  We felt like we were being sold to the whole time; before every single show, morning, noon and night, "bingo boy" would stand up and try to sell lottery tickets to the crowd.  In order to stand any chance at all at bingo (prizes were around 300-400 bucks) you had to spend $80 on a machine that played FOR you, taking all the fun out of going to bingo.  We received no information about any of our ports of call other than where to buy diamonds and other jewels, and each port had the exact same jewelry stores.  Instead of a tip added to your bill at the end of the trip, they charge a $12 per person per day "service fee" which cannot be adjusted by the guests (other cruise ships give you the option of adjusting your gratuity based on level of satisfaction with your crew).  Likely because you are not assigned the same waiter every night as you would be on another cruise, the wait staff in particular was not interested in doing their jobs well or being attentive in the slightest.  I have had friendlier service in a fast food restaurant.NCL was a complete disappointment; there were at least four other cruise ships in each of the ports we visited at the same time as us, so I know there are better options out there to see the same beautiful scenery of the Inside Passage without sailing with NCL, and I strongly suggest traveling on another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
My spouse and I cruised with the Star May 9 to May 16 from Seattle visiting Ketchikan, Juneu, Skagway, and Prince Rupert.  This is our 4th cruise, but the first with Norwegian.  All of our three previous cruises were with Carnival which ... Read More
My spouse and I cruised with the Star May 9 to May 16 from Seattle visiting Ketchikan, Juneu, Skagway, and Prince Rupert.  This is our 4th cruise, but the first with Norwegian.  All of our three previous cruises were with Carnival which we thoroughly enjoyed.  The reason why we chose a different cruise line this time around is solely to try a new experience and to compare.  I find that cruising so often with the same cruise line takes out the variety fbecause Carnival tends to repeat it's shows (even though I cruised on three different ships), activities, and even menus.Sadly, my experience with the Norwegian Star was very disappointing.  They did not meet my standards and I felt that they do not have the need to impress their cruisers.  Oh, the ship is beautiful inside and out, but unfortunately that is not the only reason why I go on a cruise.My first clue that this cruise would be substandard was upon embarkation.  The lady helping us did not know what she was doing!!!  A 10 minute process took 45 minutes.  I will give her credit though because she kept that sweet smile on her face the whole time along with a continuous verbalization of apologies because she was new.  Note to NCL's management:  Train your staff well before leaving them alone on the counter with customers.  This is the first impression your cruisers will have of you, make it shine.Upon entry to the ship, I was impressed.  The ship as I said was beautiful!!!Until I hit the buffet.  Cafeteria style seating.  Does not reak of class (so unlike Carnival).  Reminds me of a hospital cafeteria with an ocean view.  Then I saw the food and I almost wanted to weap.  I'll be honest, my main focus on the buffet is the carving station and the dessert.  What is on the carving statiion?  Chicken!!!   The dessert?  Cookies!!!  These are items I could pick up at my local grocery store for six bucks.  So I thought to myself, well it's the first day, maybe it will get better.  Sadly to say it never did.  They had chicken on that carving board every single day of the week.  All different flavors though..., lemon pepper, barbeque, jerked and so on and so forth.  If Ralph's Market has a cruiseline, this would be it.  Oh, the desert??  Sometimes they would bring out their chocolate fountain and you can dip your marshmallow, melons, and I highly recommend dipping the banana to hide that it's all beaten up.  Let me just tell you what you would get at Carnival ok?  At the carving station would be roast beef, pork loins, high end steaks, lamb, turkey, prime rib, other wise known as "not your everyday supermarket meats".  I never once saw chicken on the carving board on any of my three cruises with them.  Carnival's dessert would be all different kinds of tasty pies, chocolate mousse, cakes, some cookies, my personal favorite napoleons, all different kinds of pastries you would not even see at a specialty bakery.  To be bombarded with chicken and chocolate chip cookies on this cruise is almost disgusting.  Let me add on this portion one particular thing you will not see on Carnival...,the Star's staff would be on the buffet line with you.  The line is already long and you see that you are following a staff.  Because this is how special you are with Norwegian.  Well, that's just the buffet though.  Ofcourse they have their freestyle dining.  If you don't want to pay a surcharge go to the Versaille or Aqua main dining room.  These two always has the same menu.  They have their staples like sirloin steak etc. and they have their specialties which differs everyday.  I never met a carbonara I did not like until I tried Norwegian's take on it.  I also think that their food is either too salty or too bland depending on your choice of cooking light or regular meals. Let's move on.  Activities.  Oh, Bingo, Bingo, and more Bingo.  I hope you like Bingo!!!  They also have that scratcher they sell for $5.00 each.  Each night from the beginning to the end of the cruise 5 guys would go to the front of the theater trying to sell them to you with the promotion of "only for tonight, you would get one ticket free"  Each night they have that promotion.  I don't know how idiotic they think their cruisers are not to get that their promo price is actually the normal price.  They have their variety shows, comedy, magic, song and dance.  Pretty good.  Yeah, except that girl balancing herself on that guy.  By the fifth show you just want to shout, "enough already!!!"Another complaint.  I booked my cruise with Priceline (which by the way I would like to post a shout out to readers to beware of), and I had a small problem with not being able to claim their special promotion of in-room credit.  I showed my receipt to the Star's finance representative and he declined to give it to me saying that this matter is between me and Priceline.  So I asked if I could use their phone so I could call Priceline and settle the matter.  He allowed me to but every two minutes he would look at me with a questioning glance of "how much longer?'  Note to NCL's manaagement:  Stop making your staff pay for the customer's phone bill.  This is the only explanation I can come up with of his behavior.  I certainly did not see a line behind me.At this time, I still have not settled that small matter of being able to claim my $100.00 in room credit Priceline promised.  Wish me luck on that one huh???Regarding Priceline.  Beware on booking your trip through this company.  As soon as you are booked with them, you are on your own.  You will be placed on hold for the longest time when you call with a problem, and if you try the e-mail route, you will have a better chance of having your letter to Santa answered.Alaska is a wonderful destination.  Beautiful.  Great experience.I have so much more to say but is running out of space.  Let me summarize.  If you are a first time cruiser and does not have a standard to live up to, go for this cruise because your next cruises could only get better from this one.  If you are on a diet, do this cruise.  The only way positive thing I could say about the food is that it is edible. 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Sail Date May 2009
This was our first cruise and boy did it dissapoint us.NCL talks about freestyle cruising then neglects to state most of the restaurants onboard have a surcharge.The main dining room is open for breakfast if you are awake and ready to eat ... Read More
This was our first cruise and boy did it dissapoint us.NCL talks about freestyle cruising then neglects to state most of the restaurants onboard have a surcharge.The main dining room is open for breakfast if you are awake and ready to eat before 8:30 am, otherwise you are limited to the lukewarm buffet offerings ,which close down at 11:30 am on one side to get lunch out. The variety of the buffet is great until you realize it's the same offerings every single day of the cruise.Still people fall all over each other loading up plates and the crew will wisk away your plate ,even if you are not finished, if you so much as get up to get a refill of coffee.Watch your plates for cleanliness.I found lipstick still on a coffee cup in the "clean " dishes rack.Another time while eatting we got a floor show with a supervisor dressing down a crew member.They nickle and dime you to death for any sort of "extra" entertainment  such as bingo for $40 minimum and the free stuff is old movies and a limited selection in the library.Of course if you like to sleep in forget it.Every morning around 8-9 am there is either the Capt of the ship or some sales guy on the PA system broadcasting what they are selling that day  and you get to lay in bed and listen to it ! And if you are lucky, as I was , one of the crew members will re-set your "do not disturb" message to "welcome" and come in your room not once but twice while you are in bed! Or they will leave you a nice note saying your cabin was double locked and they could not get in it to clean ....How do you double lock a door when you are NOT in your cabin?The room  needed a good dusting so I have to think it needed a good cleaning as well.Towels must be limited onboard as we had to call for wash cloths  and an extra towel for my hair  as you get 2 bath towels per cabin standard .The sink plug did not work so I had to use a wash cloth to plug it when I put in my contact lenses. I wish they had signs in the passage ways to remind other passengers to be quiet as  there was  a party down the hall every day outside in the passage way.Entertainment was so so .The music "the melodics" in one bar were terrible, we thought it was karaoke we were hearing as we approached the entry to that bar. The 2nd city troupe were so so .I saw 2nd city in Vancouver , this group must have been interns as they thought charades was entertaining.When they did a workshop one passenger thought as we did that we the audience would be in on it.The heavy guy in the troupe loudly and rudely told him it was "only for those on the floor" .We left then as many others did .We went to a party one night where white was the theme and they were selling white t shirts in the entry area ..we waited for the "party " to begin and it consisted of blaring alternative music.We left and a photographer stuck his camera in our faces even after we both said "no" I could go on but you get the jist. We did love the scenery ,we did have some fantasic waiters. and a couple of nights the meals in the Aqua restaurant were outstanding. The cruise dragged on the  worse the food selections got in the restaurants.Also only one restaurant was open for lunch unless once again  you wanted to pay a surcharge to eat anthing  but fast food.Daytime entertainment was a joke while at sea.Never again !The excursions were way overpriced .tip .book the city and glacier tour once you get off the ship .we paid $27 each for   what NCL was charging $54 each! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We just got back from our very first NCL cruise on Saturday. Alaska was beautiful and EVERYONE should cruise it at least once. We had perfect weather (yes in May!!) with absolutely NO rain, except when leaving Vancouver. We were in a ... Read More
We just got back from our very first NCL cruise on Saturday. Alaska was beautiful and EVERYONE should cruise it at least once. We had perfect weather (yes in May!!) with absolutely NO rain, except when leaving Vancouver. We were in a mini-suite, and had high expectations from NCL about being considered "VIP" or "special". If you are book a mini-suite to avoid lines, waiting, delays, or just want something special...DON'T. Our room was really torn and passed the point of simple "wear and tear". We arrived at the original port thinking we would be taken through VIP boarding, but ending up waiting in lines with hundreds of other people to get on the ship. On our Carnival cruise, it was so fast, we must have been on within 30 minutes! However, with this cruise it took us an 1 1/2 hours! We left late waiting for people to get on too.NCL is only my second cruise and our first was with Carnival. For some reason, I expected to by wowed by NCL, and in return was pretty disappointed. If you think Carnival is "cheap" then NCL is will be shocker, it's even cheaper! They try and sell you everything and anything. They have "themed" parties, but you have to buy the t-shirts for 15.00. Then they do activities like yoga and towel animal creation classes, but they all cost 15.00 too. All the interesting things on the ship (beside shows) cost something extra. We had cigarette holes in our sofas, nasty scratches all over the furniture, and the fridge tended to not close most of the time. If you are looking forward to nice, new, comfortable bedding (like Carnivals), give it up now. We had to ask our stewardess to change our sheets 3 times, because they had all been washed soo many times, they had tons of darns in them. Then there are the showers. They do not stay a consistent temperature! The water only went from really hot to really cold, so forget shaving. Then theres the food. Really not good. The restaurants are pretty decent, but they all cost extra money. The free ones are disgusting. If you want to eat for free on the ship, the best places to go are the Blue Lagoon or room service. Cagney's is just as amazing as everyone talks about, but it cost us 90.00 for two people. If you want the lobster are crab legs, you not only pay the cover of 25.00 but then have to add ANOTHER 10.00. They charge for absolutely everything. Even Carnival gives you a free pen, no such luck on NCL.Surprisingly enough, we aren't complainers. We mentioned our troubles lightly a couple times and even stood in the tremendous line for customer service in the lobby of the ship, to get someone to help us. All they could do is ask what department we needed.....all of them??? While I know they probably couldn't have given us a new room, and tried once to fix the shower, I simply would have liked to see an effort to make things better. At this point, I can say that I will not recommend NCL to anyone I know. I'm only in my early twenties and LOVE cruising, which means I have years and years left of it do, there lose. What a disappointing ship. On a positive note, Alaska was soooo amazing, and we tried to live on the balcony basically, so it couldn't damper my trip!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
I just got back from spending 7 days on the NCL Star's repositioning cruise from San Pedro, California to Vancouver, Washington via Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska.Juneau: Beautiful sunny weatherBest cruise tour:  Mendenhall Glacier.  ... Read More
I just got back from spending 7 days on the NCL Star's repositioning cruise from San Pedro, California to Vancouver, Washington via Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska.Juneau: Beautiful sunny weatherBest cruise tour:  Mendenhall Glacier.  Interesting.  Learned something new.  Took great pics.Worst cruise tour:  Gold Creek Salmon Bake.   Cooks were unwilling to give more than 1 piece of salmon at a time.  Sauce is sickeningly sweet.  Try pouring sugar on your salmon?  My partner loved it, but then she does not like the taste of salmon.  I, on the other hand, thinks salmon tastes great by itself.Tram Ride:  Loved it.  Great views, especially on a sunny day.  Great pics.Ketchikan: Beautiful sunny dayBest cruise tour:  Tklingit Village.  Hosts were gracious.  They did not mind your taking pictures of them, in fact encouraged it.  They encouraged folks to dance with them.  I did.  Totem poles were beautiful.Not bad, but not great tour:  Lumberjack.  I've been to a real Lumberjack show out in the woods of Snohomish County, Maine.  There is, of course, no comparison.  Here, they use a swimming pool.  They try their best, but the show is sorely lacking in giving serious credit to those who have been lumberjacks and have risked getting limbscut off, etc., while building this great country.  Good show, but corny.  Vancouver CloudyOne tour only:  City TourThis was lousy.  Save your money.  You can get to the airport without doing this.  What really galled me is that the bus driver told us where to buy food.  So, trusting that he is not going to want us to get ripped off, we saunter into this shopping area, like lambs to the slaughter.  The ice cream cones alone were $5.00 a piece.  Trust me, this guy has to be getting a cut of the action.  Do not take this tour.  If you are going to be spending the night in Vancouver, go on the trolley ride.  I've been to Vancouver before and the city trolley ride is great...costing far less and letting you spend far more time at different places along the way.  Vancouver is a beautiful city and it is sad to spend the day doing this tour.Best restaurant on board ship:  Soho.  Go to the Jazz Brunch.  It is great!  Yummy...The other restaurants on ship leave a lot to be desired.  The worst was Ginza, although the staff there was wonderful...but I don't go to eat to see the staff, I go to eat.  The food here is terrible!Versailles is ok...at least it is free.  The waiters however, on the last night of the cruise were rude.  Food is not that great...variation?  What's that?The Norwegian Star is a beautiful ship...but what is this about, this Free Style.  Yes, you can get ok food at any time of the day, but the dining halls do not open until 5:30p.m...so how is that free style?Also, the shows are sub-standard.  Boring!  The only shows I truly enjoyed were the shows put on by staff and passengers.  If I saw this one girl balance herself on this guy one more time, I was going get sick.  Yes, it is a good thing to see ONCE...not every show!  NCL is money grabbing too.  They actually took my payment for the whole tour, and then also had the nerve to hold another $721.00 in captivity.  Best thing about this trip...meeting 3 wonderful people at the daily Bill W. meeting.Well, folks, I'm back to Royal Caribbean or off to Princess.  You can keep NCL.  It's just not for me! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
In 2008, a corporate website should be included in a review of any customer service experience. That being said, I should have known that I was going to have issues with NCL from the first time I logged into the NCL website. The servers ... Read More
In 2008, a corporate website should be included in a review of any customer service experience. That being said, I should have known that I was going to have issues with NCL from the first time I logged into the NCL website. The servers were not available, or slow, and many times would not log me on even though my login/password was entered correctly. We were not able to reserve shore excursions online. Shore excursions and dinner reservations could not be booked via the TV in our cabin either. We booked two rooms; a balcony and an interior. We expressed concern (at the time of booking) to the travel agent representative that the rooms were by the crew service areas but was assured it would not be an annoyance. At check-in, we realized it was a problem. The area around our rooms was crowded, and full of staff trying to be in one place or the other. When we entered our interior room expecting to see two upper and lower bunks for our 4 children, we were surprised with a set up for 3. We were not greeted by our stewards at check-in. Our balcony room beds were set up incorrectly. When we did not find our steward for awhile, we went to the purser desk to resolve the 4 bed situation. Unfortunately, they were not able to resolve the situation. We resolved to move the youngest child to our pull out sofa. We later found out a trundle bed was stored under one of the lower bunks which created a cabin floor with no walking space, and an upper bunk with no ladder access which I considered unsafe. I tried to laugh; I had three teenagers sleeping boy-girl and told my husband, I guess this was the only time in life I would ever give my daughter permission to sleep with two guys at the same time. I enjoyed the balcony restroom. The toilet is separated from the shower, so it was easier to be used by 2. I also enjoyed the bath robe and the spa toiletries in the shower. The dining experience was very disappointing to put it politely. The Market Cafe was awful on the day of departure. Tables are for 6, 8 or more people and most people acted like they were not happy to share. The tables were not kept cleaned, the ice machines never worked, and the food was not good. There were many choke points, and the layouts of the serving lines were a very tight cafeteria style. We did like the "Freestyle" dining and enjoyed a late dinner in the main dining room the first night since we are not early diners. We missed the same servers every night, though. The servers begin to know your likes and dislikes and are very attentive. The next day, we tried breakfast at the Market Cafe again. The main dining room stopped serving breakfast at 8:30 or 9, so we did not have much of a choice. We also thought it might be better after all the confusion of arriving travelers. We were wrong. It was the worst breakfast buffet on any ship I have ever been on, and worst than some hotels I have stayed in. There was no kid friendly cereals, no breakfast pastries; not even one doughnut for the kids who were supposed to be on vacation, too! The kids ate lunch at the Blue Lagoon. The seating arrangements there were strange as well. Most tables were little ottoman type stools and they were uncomfortable. The food was adequate. I ate there later in the week; the wings were overcooked, the fish was over-battered and the service was slow. Our family has cruised many times, so my son expected to dress up on formal night in exchange for a surf and turf dinner. It was barely surf; we were only served a half a tail or the smallest tail I have ever seen. We expected to spend some money eating on the ship but we did not realize almost every restaurant had an upcharge. After you multiply the service charge times 6 people, it gets very expensive. The Endless Summer restaurant was above average compared to the rest of NCL's fare but the quality and presentation that you would find on Carnival, Princess, and RC's main dining rooms. They did serve one free margarita or sangria with dinner per person which is a good exchange for the cost. The Soho Room dinner menu looked very good and I wish we had eaten there for dinner. We went to the Soho Room brunch since the Market Café was so bad and paid an upcharge for dining that is not an upcharge at the other lines mentioned above. The Aqua was very convenient and we enjoyed some dinners there. The lemon pepper flounder and tilapia were very good. The desserts were also very good. We saved the Cagney's Steakhouse dinner for our final night; our mistake. The service was extremely slow (2 and ½ hrs) which caused us to be late putting out suitcases. The food was good, and I would recommend it; just don't schedule it on a night when you have a schedule to follow. The worst part of dining was the night of our visit to Prince Rupert. The restaurant closing times were not adjusted to accommodate those that went ashore and were not due to be back on board until 9:30. The waiting list at Aqua was long by the time we arrived at 9:45, but the staff was very accommodating. They made sure that anyone who arrived before 10:30 would be served. A fellow cruiser went to Le Bistro before 10 and was turned away. Versailles was closed at 9. The entertainment was good but we thought the magician was somewhat cheesy. Spectrum, a Las Vegas Motown band, and Bud Anderson (comedian) were good. They combined some of the acts for more fun. The TV selections were above average with newly released movies included. We suggest the "smoothie package" if your kids like smoothies and you have more than one child. At $1.75 per smoothie, it is worth it. The drink package was disappointing since they did not provide a reusable drinking cup and the kids complained about obtaining refills. When we went to Ketchikan, I purchased a $3 reusable cup and the staff refused to refill it. I did not appreciate the $25 deposit on towels. Kids are absent minded and lose things daily, so we got lucky that our youngest didn't lose any. Speaking of the youngest, she did not appreciate not having towel animals every night. I am not sure if that is normal or just our steward. Our steward never cleaned the 10 year old fingerprints off the patio glass either. This is the first cruise I ever wanted to deduct the per person gratuities from a room steward. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
I truly try to be a positive and reasonable person, but it will be difficult not to be negative for this review. This was my family and my first cruise, and none of us (six people) ever want to cruise again. Embarkation was fine. It cannot ... Read More
I truly try to be a positive and reasonable person, but it will be difficult not to be negative for this review. This was my family and my first cruise, and none of us (six people) ever want to cruise again. Embarkation was fine. It cannot be easy to get over 2000+ people on a ship in just two to three hours! I thought things went fairly smoothly. Disembarking went just as well. My first impression of the ship was good. The Star is a beautiful ship. All areas that I saw were very attractively decorated and best of all, it was clean. I felt good about the cleanliness throughout the entire week. Our room had a balcony. I loved this! My advice for anyone about to cruise, pay the extra money for the balcony...You won't regret it. I expected the room and bathroom to be small, so this wasn't a surprise! Most people don't spend much time in their room anyway. I wasn't pleased with the entertainment. The shows were good but there wasn't much variety. I expected a different show each night. The magician performed twice. The band Tribute performed twice, as did the comedian. On one of these nights, the band and the magician performed together. I guess a lot of people's entertainment is drinking and gambling (More comments on this to follow!) As soon as we boarded the ship, we went to the Market Buffet for lunch. I always hate to hear people complain about food, because we are so blessed to have what we do. However, this review would not be accurate if I didn't tell you that this is the area of our cruise that was most lacking. The food at the buffet was horrible. As another member wrote, it didn't get any better as the week went on. My family and I refused to go to any of the restaurants that had a cover charge. This may sound cheap, but we were not willing to pay more than what we had already sunk into this vacation. I would rather NCL charge more for their cruises than to have this big gap in the eating choices. Blue Lagoon and the poolside grill were good, but how many hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. do you want to eat in a week? Room service was good but very limited in their choices. One night we ate at Endless Summer, which is a Tex-Mex restaurant. We were satisfied, but it is impossible to get reservations here. The strange thing is that the dining room was never over 1/3 to 1/4 full, but everyone was told that they were "booked up". I never did understand this...We ate at Aqua, one of the main dining rooms one evening, and the food was good. There is always a long wait here. This is where I have my biggest complaint. The night that we went to Aqua, my son had on a very nice pair of plaid shorts. We were told that shorts aren't allowed in the main dining rooms after 5:00 P.M. So, my son went back to the room and put on jeans. The shorts were so much nicer! The ironic thing is that I saw the following in the dining room while waiting for my son to get back: a man in an old flannel shirt, several people in tennis shoes, a man eating with his baseball cap on and a man wearing his cowboy hat while eating. And my son's nice plaid shorts that came to his knees weren't appropriate? NCL needs to decide if the ship is truly free-style cruising or not. I have no problem with dressing for dinner; I just didn't think it was necessary. I only packed jeans and shorts for my son. The other main dining room doesn't allow jeans. So, we couldn't have eaten there. Whatever their policy, they need to be consistent and let people know what's expected of them before boarding the ship. I kept reading about casual cruising, casual cruising, casual cruising; well, this isn't totally true. All my family and friends have talked about how most people do nothing but eat on a cruise. Not us! I probably lost weight during that week! A conspiracy theory even crossed my mind---Have terrible food at the buffet so that people will have to go to the restaurants that have an expensive cover charge. ha,ha! Our shore excursions were wonderful! Unloading and loading went very well. I was so impressed with the organization. It's amazing that so many people are going so many different ways and everyone gets to where they are going on time. I think we sailed out of the ports on time every single time. The excursions were expensive but worth every single penny. A word of advice: book your excursions early, at home before you leave. If not, the popular excursions sell out. In Ketchikan, we did the Duck Tour and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. In Juneau, we went to the Mendenhall Glacier and went on a whale watching excursion. We saw all kinds of whales! We went to a Musher's Camp and rode the White Pass Scenic Railway in Skagway. As far as the crew on the ship, they weren't as friendly as I thought that they would (or should) be. There was a waitresses in the Blue Lagoon who was a darling, and a waiter in Endless Summer was tops. I don't know their names. Other than that, the restaurant workers were rude. I've read reviews where people went on and on about their stewards (calling them by name). I have no idea who cleaned my room the entire week! I realize that he/she cleaned while we were out of the room, but I think that he/she should've introduced him/herself. If we needed anything, I wouldn't have known who to ask for. One thing that was very frustrating, although the crew members couldn't help it, is that their English wasn't very good. I had a hard time understanding them and they had a hard time understanding me. My biggest complaint of all is how alcohol was pushed EVERYWHERE, even at the breakfast buffet! I don't want to sound like a fuddy-duddy, but I felt like I had my twelve year old son in a bar 24 hours a day, seven days a week...Of course I knew that there would be drinking, but I didn't expect this volume. Even in the family-friendly shows, waiters and waitresses were constantly pushing drinks. I don't think that I was in the elevator once that someone didn't have a drink in his/her hand or reek of alcohol. I've spoken to people who have gone on other cruise lines and said most of the drinking was in the bars and/or restaurants. I know I sound prudish, but I was really amazed at the amount of alcohol consumed on this ship. I realize that I don't have any other cruise experiences in which to compare, but I hope I've given you some things to consider before booking your next trip. Although I was disappointed with the cruise ship, Alaska and the passage there and back was gorgeous. So, it wasn't all a loss. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Our first NCL cruise and last! We are veteran cruisers but will not cruise again with NCL!! Embarkation was relatively easy. The only problem was the lady checking us in, she was new and could not answer any of our questions. It took her ... Read More
Our first NCL cruise and last! We are veteran cruisers but will not cruise again with NCL!! Embarkation was relatively easy. The only problem was the lady checking us in, she was new and could not answer any of our questions. It took her an extremely long time to check us in. My sister and her hubby were in line behind us and it took them less than 5 min. to get checked in with a different agent. Once on board we were shuffled to The Market Cafe for lunch. The food here was not good at all. Not appealing in any way. Hoping that this was due to the first day on the ship and that it would get better. Boy were we wrong!! The food at The Market Cafe the same thing each and every day. The taste was comparable to that of a nursing home--with the nursing home beating NCL by a mile. The first night onboard we went to Aqua for dinner, now this is one of the few restaurants that we did not have a cover charge for. No one told us before hand that we needed reservations here even though there is no charge. We ended up waiting 45 min to be seated for dinner. The food was OK. Nothing out of this world or to even write home about. The service here was poor, which was pretty much standard across the board. The next night we dined at Cagney's Steakhouse. This was extremely good. There is a $20 cover charge for this one. Service here was OK. On Monday we had a shore excursion that left at 11:00 am at 10:30 we decided to go get a burger to eat fast.....no one opened until 11 for service, which ended up being not true, they really don't open any of the grills until 11:30. The "24 hour" restaurant, the Blue Lagoon, which closes from 4-5 am, only served breakfast at 10:30. Endless Summer, a Tex-Mex restaurant, is not worth the time or energy to visit. It is another of the restaurants that doesn't make you pay a cover charge. It is not worth eating. We had reservations for 6:30 p.m. We showed up at 6:15 and ask if we could be seated early. Now in this restaurant there were only 4 other tables taken - all other tables were empty. They seated us at 6:25 pm. It took us 2 ½ hours to get our food and eat. The food was horrible. Pace's picante sauce for salsa, canned cheese for con queso. The food when arrived was cold and dry and could not be eaten. The table beside us was seated 20 mins after we arrived and was served a good ½ an hour before us. Explain that please! I was extremely disappointed in the food not only here but everywhere. La Trattoria was an Italian Restaurant onboard. It was the same as the Market Cafe they just shut one side down and make it into a restaurant for night time. Cover charge of $10. Good food but my complaint is the cover charge. Online it says nothing about a cover, once onboard they tell you about the charge. NCL is not honest in many ways. So beware!! We did order room service, online NCL promotes: "If you can't come to the restaurant we'll bring the restaurant to you. We offer a menu of items, which can be prepared and brought to your stateroom. Room Service is available 24-hours a day." This is not true. Room Service consist of only sandwiches with chips, continental style breakfast, easy to fix stuff. Nothing was from the restaurants.. we tried and ask but were told no. We did eat at The Blue Lagoon it did have good buffalo wings, hamburgers but the service was bad. It seemed that we were a pain for them to wait on us. The girl from the Philippines even suggested we go to the Market Cafe to eat instead of at the Blue Lagoon. She did not want to wait on us. One other thing I did not like was the crew eating in The Market Cafe with the public. You would go through and try to find a table at night and the crew had taken a majority of the tables. They are suppose to have their own dining hall. The crew members would not move over they ran into us literally several times and never said excuse me. One crew member who made an impression on us was Gerry Almieda (?) from India. He was extremely nice. One of only a handful that actually smiled and was nice. Gerry worked in the Market Cafe as wait staff. Kids Club: My son did make friends with other passengers but the counselors were not friendly at all. The kids were not allowed to drink anything at all during the time they were in the kids club to play. We often picked up our son to fill him with fluids to keep him from dehydration. Each time we picked him up he drank 4 glasses of tea. On the last night at sea, the kids had a pj party, bring your own pillow and wear your pj's. My son would not wear his pj's and had been playing all afternoon in the kids club, so we took him his pillow. The kids were in the "teen club" playing and would be back shortly to the "kids" club, the counselor took my son's pillow and said she would make sure he got it, and that she would write his name on the pillow. We picked him up after the pj party and he did not have a pillow, it was never given to him and they never wrote his name on it. They did try to give him someone else's pillow to take back to the room with him. YUCK!! House Keeping in our room---stunk! Only had towel animals two times in seven nights. A flower greeted us upon arrival. By day two it was dead but left for the entire trip. We took buffalo wings back to our room one night midweek, while cleaning the housekeeper dropped a chicken bone on the floor and it stayed there the rest of the week until I stepped on it and hurt my foot then I picked it up. I felt I am paying for cleaning I should not have to do it on vacation as well. When we arrived an empty beer bottle was on our balcony. Never receive the bowl of fruit that we requested. Never got the extra blanket we ask for on day one. Shore Excursions: These were awesome. Very good. But NCL did try to charge me to much for one excursion in Prince Rupert. We did the Bear watching and was overcharged. We figured this out the last morning of the cruise when we received the bill. Did go and get it changed but not after being given a hard time by the accounting desk. They said I went on the trip I needed to pay for it. I told them I was not disputing that I went on the trip just the fact that I was being overcharged. The Galleria Gift Shop---one employee who was friendly. Did not get his name but he mainly stayed in the liquor area of the shop. He was so nice. Leaving in Sept. for home but he was nice. It was so refreshing to have someone friendly for a change. Entertainment: Chinese Acrobats were good they were just not on long enough. The Jean Ann Ryan Company was really poor entertainment. Backdrop never changed, dancers were not on beat, it looked like they needed more practice. Murray the magician was OK. My son liked him. David Naster the comedian was wonderful. If not for him we would have been crazy. He even made fun of the food the last night. It is bad when the food becomes a joke. Charlene from St. Lucia was one other employee who was fun and friendly. Sweet girl who made the week go by better. We choose to have our bags taken by NCL to airport for $19.95. This went smoothly and yes, we were nervous but our bags did arrive home when we did. This let us do the express check out. We have sailed many times before, never had trouble. It was a mere relief to be off the ship. I will never do NCL again. I hate the 'freestyle' way of life. It was a big disappointment to know we spent a lot of money for a cruise and it was bad. Alaska was great the ship was not. Read Less
Sail Date July 2008
Background: This was our first cruise, and since the cost would be ten times that of our typical vacation, there was plenty to be anxious about. I had heard that cruises are a good value for your money This was a fan club cruise which ... Read More
Background: This was our first cruise, and since the cost would be ten times that of our typical vacation, there was plenty to be anxious about. I had heard that cruises are a good value for your money This was a fan club cruise which is not an inexpensive way to cruise; the fares were about $400/person (about $100/day) higher than the same cruise without the fan club events. This probably cost ten times the amount of a typical vacation for us, so expectations are high. It was about 7 days into the trip before I could say I was having fun, and 2 days later I got sick. When enough time has passed that I have forgotten about the credit card bills, but remember the good parts, the trip will have been worth it. Booking: The travel agents were very helpful answering my newbie questions and didn't push additional products. (In contrast to the cruise itself, where plenty of additional product was pushed.) Flight: We parked at SkyPark. It takes a while for you to get to the airport, but probably no longer than being in economy parking, and if you give them your business card, you can park for about $10 per day. We flew from Newark to Seattle on Continental. Newark is always crowded, but security is efficient (unlike in Philadelphia). The flight went without incident, though each flight was its typical hour late. Hotel: Because we wanted to increase the probability we would get to the ship on time, and get to our return flight on time, we got to Seattle three days before the cruise and left a day after the cruise. We stayed at Best Western Plaza on the Green in Kent, WA. It's about 15 minutes from the airport and 30 minutes to downtown Seattle, and much less expensive (about $130 per day). I believe there is a shuttle to the airport, but we rented a car because we visited friends in the area. The hotel was nice enough; they had a hot breakfast. The only complaint we had was that the hot tub was inoperable. Travel to port of embarkation: Instead of driving to the port and spending 7 more days for a rental car, we returned the car to the airport and got a taxi from the airport to the port (about $40 each way). We got to the port about 12:00. People were there to direct you through security. You have to have your cruise ticket (1 per room (?), not per person) and your passport out. Fortunately, the security process is not nearly as intensive as at the airport: you can keep on your shoes, belt, jackets, and jewelry, and keep your laptop, liquids, and camcorder in your carry-on luggage. Each person can have 4 pieces of check in luggage. (How the contents of those 4 pieces of luggage fits in the room is another question.) After security, you check into the ship; the process is similar to that of a hotel except they take a picture of each person and gives each person a room key which doubles as a charge card. Makes it convenient to rack up huge bills. We still had to wait an hour or two until our room was ready, but we were able to eat at the Market Cafe and look out the window, so the wait was quite pleasant. Ship: I didn't have to worry about having nothing to do. There were so many things to do that it was hard to choose among them. One of the supposed positives about a cruise is that it includes everything. "All-inclusive" is, at best, a terribly gross exaggeration. Half the restaurants had a cover charge ranging from $10 to $25 per person, and some menu items had an additional charge on top of that. You got cafeteria food for free; anything higher than that was extra. Juice is free at breakfast. Water, tea, coffee, hot chocolate are free all day. Other drinks are extra, and about twice as expensive as on land. $2 for a can of soda, $9 for a mixed drink. Alternatively, you could get a soda card which would get you unlimited fountain sodas for "$6.25/day/person for adults and $4/day/person for kids+15% gratuity". However, you have to buy that for the whole cruise for about $50 per person, similar to saying that a shoe costs $50, but you have to spend $100 to buy two of them. The whole trip was basically an 7-day infomercial. It seems like living in a dorm in Las Vegas, but on a boat. Advertisements about casinos, tournaments, and how to play the games. Bingo games. Art auctions. Shopping consultants pitching gemstones. Advertisements about shore excursions, threatening "if you don't book with us, we'll leave without you." Spa treatments. The "extras" cost almost $3K. Even the spa pushes to buy extra products. Most of the crew was not from English-speaking countries. It's often hard to understand the crew. (You get used to it eventually.) If there was an emergency, someday someone will likely die as a result of miscommunication. This is not a problem at the Market Cafe, where you just point at the food. When you order at a restaurant, you never know what you're going to get when the food arrives. Advice: If you are seeking good weather, don't go to Alaska. It rained half the days. It was foggy half the days. It snowed on two of the shore excursions. It was nice to have a balcony room in two ways: (1) it was fun to take pictures of the ports as we came into port, and (2) being between Floors 8 and 11 means we didn't have to walk too many stairs to get to things. The restaurants are on Decks 6, 7, 8, and 12, the shows are on Deck 12, and the pool, fitness center, and sports activities are on Decks 12, 13, and 14. The wireless hotspots were on Decks 7, 8, 9, and 12. For an Alaskan cruise, bring raingear and lots of layers, a hat, gloves, sunglasses, and sunscreen. An umbrella is not so useful. The high in Seattle was in the upper 80s and the low in Alaska was in the 30s. If you take the fjords cruises or dogsledding tours, dress for 30 degrees, snowing, and a 30 mph wind, but also for 70 degrees and no wind once you are back in town. They say you can board the ship at 16:00, but I'd get to the ship by 14:00 at the latest. We found one US and one UK electrical receptacle. Bring a power strip and/or extension cord and maybe a foreign adapter if you plan to charge more than one item. There are no maps of the ship available on the ship that you can carry around with you, so if you are new to cruising, print the deck plans off the website before you go. We felt lost for the first three days. However, if you've been on mass-market cruises before, the layout seems pretty similar. There is no self-service laundry on the ship, but plenty of places to hang clothes, so you can do laundry in the sink, pay for NCL to do it, or bring enough clothes for the whole trip If you plan to drink alcohol, you are stuck buying it onboard, but if you plan to drink soda, buy some in the originating city to bring on board. Otherwise, learn to drink water, juice, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Depending on how much you plan to buy in foreign cities, consider bringing some local currency. If you have a camera, bring either lots of film or plenty of digital capacity (memory cards or a laptop). Extra rechargeable batteries and a charger will be useful as well, as well as something to prevent your camera from getting wet and a lens cloth (and other cloth) to wipe off your camera lens and body. You may get a lot of pictures, but do not expect to get pictures like you see in the brochures. It will likely be raining, and often you are in a moving vehicle, so the sights are visible for less than a minute. You also have to have a very long zoom (>300mm in 35mm equivalent) and know how to use it without a tripod to avoid your subjects being specks in your picture. There is one shore excursion that is photography specific (Capture Juneau Photography Tour). Most of the tours also have a lot of people that want to take the same picture you do, so they often get in the way or shove you out of the way. If you plan to use the internet enough to buy a plan (more than 73 minutes), consider buying it the first day. They give you about 15 or 20 extra minutes. Room: We had a balcony room (Category BB, 9th deck, Rm 9612) and really liked the location. It was on the same level as the internet cafe, which was great for us. It was relatively centrally located and not too much rocking. It reminded my wife of an RV. The bathroom was small, but adequate with liquid soap and shampoo and a bottle of lotion. The shower was a Grohe more typical of a European hotel (separate temperature (in C) and volume controls). The bed was tolerable, but not very comfortable, even by hotel standards. There is a small hotel safe, but we couldn't open it, so we never used it. The view of the mountains while on the ship is nice, but not spectacular since the ship is so far from land. They do housekeeping twice per day. In the evening, we got a bulletin with the next day's events. We also got a towel folded into a cute elephant. You hear lots of safety messages at the beginning. It may sound old, but is valuable for new cruisers, e.g., don't burn candles or throw cigarettes overboard. Mandatory boat drill. It's useful, and only takes about 15 minutes, but they forbid passengers from taking pictures, supposedly for security reasons, then the crew takes pictures of the passengers during the drill and sell the pictures to the passengers. Communication: Internet access was expensive ($100/250 min or $55/100 min or $0.75/min +$3.95 activation; get 15 or 20 minutes free if purchased the first day; after the first allotment, $12/30 min or $0.75/min) and slow (about dial-up speed). Cell phone quality was poor. My wife tried to call me from her cell phone to mine. So much echoing that we couldn't understand each other. Ship to shore calls to US and Canada $5.95/min, elsewhere $6.95/min. Toll-free calls are the same rate, and calling cards and credit cards are not accepted. Sports activities: There was one pool that was deep for swimming laps. The shallow pool was mostly dominated by children. There was about 6 hot tubs, most of which were dominated by children. Most of the time, it was too cold to swim; I imagine the pools would be used all the time on a Caribbean cruise. There were a variety of sporting events available: ping pong, basketball, soccer, dodgeball, and badminton. However, picking up a game was difficult: it seems as if you have to bring your own people to play with. I can play with my own buddies at home; I don't need to go on a cruise for that. Between Prince Rupert and Seattle, it must have been in a hurry to get back because the boat was really rocking (compared to on the way to Skagway). Restaurants: Reservations can be made one day in advance. They say you have to cancel by 17:00 on the day of the reservation to avoid getting charged. Reservation has a 15 minute grace period. However, my wife was late because of a spa treatment, and they were okay with changing the reservation. Resort casual, including jeans, is welcome at any restaurant except Versailles. Market Cafe even accepts swimwear. Sunday was dress-up night, but dressing up was not required. Service was slow in every restaurant we went to (Versailles, Aqua, Le Bistro, Ginza); dinner took about 1.5 hours. Le Bistro is their French restaurant. It cost an extra $40 with tips and one drink, but we got an appetizer, an entrEe, and a dessert, and we thought the food was good. The next day we went to Ginza the Asian fusion restaurant. It cost an extra $30. I found it strange—the dishes only sounded like typical Asian dishes, e.g., chow fun, lemon shrimp, but all tasted strange. I guess that's the "fusion" part. How often do you see recommended wines at an Asian restaurant? Aqua restaurant. This is one of the free restaurants that is open only for dinner, so you have to wait in line during peak dinner times. We went their twice; they had a slightly different menu each time. Versailles. This is their "dress up" restaurant, though "dress up" is relative on NCL. If you're a stickler for dress, NCL (at least on this cruise) is not for you. This is one of the free restaurants, so you have to wait in line during peak lunch and dinner times. We went there twice. Blue Lagoon: This is only restaurant open past 22:00. We went the first night, and not unexpectedly, it was crowded. We got to the front of the line to order food, and then were told the line started 10 feet back, so we were effectively kicked out of the line. Only after a complaint were we allowed to order (but only to go). After 25 minutes of the food's failure to arrive (and customers that ordered after us already got their food), we complained again, and it showed up a few minutes later. Chocolate buffet: We were glad we missed this, as we were told by people who went that the event was the ship trying to get rid of all the desserts it didn't sell during the week. I suspect they use basically the same dishes in all the restaurants and just slightly change them, e.g., the way they prepare them, for the different restaurants. For example, the same ice cream was available in Le Bistro and Ginza. The same flourless chocolate cake was available in Le Bistro and Aqua. Crème Brulee was available in both Le Bistro and Ginza. Sirloin steak was available at both Aqua and Versailles. It was nice to have some familiar items in all the restaurants, but some might ask, "Why have different restaurants?" They have a free ice cream bar each afternoon, but if you're used to Ben & Jerry's or Haagen Dazs, you will be disappointed in the ice cream here. I found it not worth eating even for free, though I did have ice cream as dessert in some of the restaurants. Water, coffee, and tea were generally available at any time. Juices were apple, pineapple, and orange, and were available only at breakfast. I found hot chocolate only at the Blue Lagoon, but available at any time. It seems that NCL cares about our waistlines. Portions were small compared to restaurants such as Chilis, Bennegans, or Fridays. The juices are diluted compared to buying it at the grocery store. The ice cream and desserts were not sweet, as if they forgot to add the sugar. They told us on your 3rd specialty restaurant visit, you get free champagne. We never made it to that 3rd specialty restaurant. Music: I really enjoyed the "Acoustic Coffee House" performer, Jana Seale. I ended up listening to her almost every night. The first karaoke night featured a bunch of people who were drunk. The second night, in comparison, seemed to be professional night; almost all of the performers were very good, the best I have ever seen except for once in Montreal. The last night, "Karaoke Idol" night, had a mix of very good and bad performers, but the audience had to vote for the best female performer and the best male performer. Melodic Quartet: From a southern American point of view, it was humorous to listen to foreigners sing country music. They did easy listening songs very well, though. Shows: We really enjoyed the comedian, Bud Andersen. He had adult humor without being too graphic (no swearing, no explicit sexual references, no jokes about race, religion, or politics, or jokes that made fun of NCL or its staff). We were glad we did not go to the acrobat show, as we were told later by people who attended that it was 5% acrobatics and mostly felt like tai chi for spectators. Many of the shows were late in the day, and we had to get up early for the shore excursions, so we generally did not attend the shows. Shopping: There is plenty of opportunity to buy expensive useless stuff (art, jewelry, knick knacks) on the ship and at each port. Ship prices for some items were not too inflated, other items were grossly inflated. Spa: You can do the typical spa stuff, though it's more than twice as expensive of a similar service where we live, and about 30% more than a similar service at a hotel. A part of each spa service is pressure to buy extra products. Ports of call and shore excursions: Most of the shore excursions are very early and the shows are relatively late, so you have to prioritize between shore excursions, shows, and sleep. Since the sun sets after 10 PM and rises between 3 and 5 AM, it's relatively easy to get up early. Every time you get off the ship, you need your ship card (and your passport if port is in a foreign country). You also were grabbed by people in costume to take a picture. I think it was a way for the staff to feel up the women, but I found them getting in the way of people trying to get to their shore excursions. We chose to do the wilderness and nature tours instead of the cultural tours for this trip. We were told the glacier tours are better from Juneau than from Ketchikan, and that whether you see Mendenhall Glacier or the Four Glacier tour does not matter. It seemed as if most of the guides were college students or recently graduated students. Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer: The trip takes you from Juneau to Rudyerd Bay and back. About 30 min of exploring and 4 hours of getting there and back. It's similar to driving hours to see the Grand Canyon, getting out of the car, trying to take pictures while other people are shoving you out of the way or getting in the middle of your picture, then driving home. The narrator, Christy, was very entertaining and informative. You will learn a lot about glaciers and the local trees and animals. She was able to explain things using familiar analogies so that even children would be able to understand. Sometimes the narration was hard to understand while the boat was moving fast or the. The crew was very good as well. If you want to take pictures, you'll want to go to the top deck. However, the top deck is cold. (Imagine 30 degrees, snowing, and with a 30 mph wind.) Four Glacier Helicopter & Dogsled Adventure: If you've never been on a helicopter ride (and you're not prone to motion sickness), it is an awesome sight. If you (or your children) like dogs, this is the tour for you. If you don't like the smell of dog doo, this is not the tour for you. If you want an adrenaline rush, this is not the tour for you. We took a helicopter ride, the usual 6-person, 2 in front with the pilot, 4 in the back. They assign seats according to weight; they try to keep groups together, but this is not always possible. (Don't complain about it; sitting apart is better than riding in a helicopter that crashes.) Fortunately, the two in the middle back going one way get to be in the front going back, so everyone gets a chance at a window seat. (In contrast to most helicopter rides where everyone keeps his seat the whole time, so 2 out of the 6 don't get to see much.) The sights you can see from the helicopter (glaciers, blue ice, crevasses) are incredibly beautiful if you have never seen glaciers before. The sleds are slowed down to 10 mph instead of the usual 35 mph, so the ride was rather boring. You don't really drive the sled; the employee says all the commands, and there are no turns (the trail is roughly a 2-mile circle), so you just stand in the back and step on the brake when directed. If you want to take pictures or video, do it from the front seat of the front sled. Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer: We chose this tour because it one of the few tours that lasted past 1 PM. (Tracy Arm had too much ice, so we went to Endicott Arm instead.) The narrators, Michelle and Bonnie, were very entertaining and informative. They were able to explain things using familiar analogies so that even children would be able to understand. About 30 min at the glacier and 4-5 hours of getting there. At least there were whales, eagles, seals, and icebergs along the way. The views on the way are beautiful. The boat does not get that close to the glacier, but the glacier still looks nice because it's so big. (Besides, you don't want to get hit by falling ice.) It is a unique vantage point to see a glacier, though. It's not every day I get to see ice break off of a glacier into the sea. Or harbor seals lounging on floating ice. The seats were not as comfortable in this tour, nor were there many binoculars (compared to Misty Fjords Explorer). One this cool about this trip is the cruise ship comes to Tracy (or Endicott) Arm to meet the boat we took for this tour, so you don't have to worry about a return trip. Ultimate Yukon & White Pass Railway: This trip takes you from Skagway (Alaska) to Carcross (Yukon) and back. The ride up was on the railway. While it was kind of interesting, it's hard to see much, and almost impossible to take good pictures, from a moving train. Most of the sights are visible for only 15 seconds, and there were too many people on the bus wanting to take the same picture, so they almost always get in the way or shove you out of the way. The sights from the train are not much different from what you would see in Switzerland. On the bus, there were more opportunities for picture taking, more stops in towns, and a tour of downtown Skagway. Each picture stop was only two minutes long, and there were too many people on the bus wanting to take the same picture to avoid not having strangers in your pictures. We did have a chance encounter with a bear on the road. The bus stopped so we could take pictures (from the inside of the bus). At Caribou Crossing, we had lunch and the opportunity to visit a museum, shop for souvenirs, and other activities such as panning for gold and a dogsled ride on grass. The complimentary lunch was barbecue chicken and donuts, which was better than I expected. The other activities cost money, $10 for panning for gold and $30 for the dogsled ride. Disembarkation: You have an express checkout option (leave at 8:00), but you have to carry all of your own bags. Otherwise, you can leave as late as 10:00. You have to pack and leave your stuff outside your stateroom by 1:00 the morning of disembarkation. Remember to keep your next day's clothes with you. NCL, unlike some other cruise lines, lets you enjoy the ship on disembarkation day instead of having everyone wait in a room until your name is called to disembark. Summary: We enjoyed the fan club part of the cruise very much—this might be the only reason we consider going on another cruise. We are glad we went, as we had not been to Alaska before. However, for the amount of money we spent on this vacation, we could go to Hawaii two or three times, or go to San Francisco ten times, and enjoy ourselves more. It is not that the cruise line did a bad job; they did their job very, very well. However, there are competing interests for our vacation time and money. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
This was our 6th cruise, however this was our 4th cruise in the 18 months. We are a couple in our 40's, along with our 7 year old daughter, who goes everywhere with us. We booked this cruise at the last minute. As an airline employee, ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise, however this was our 4th cruise in the 18 months. We are a couple in our 40's, along with our 7 year old daughter, who goes everywhere with us. We booked this cruise at the last minute. As an airline employee, we receive reduced "interline" rates available only to airline employees, and most of the time, active military. We were leery of cruising on NCL because of all the negative reviews we've read. However at 75% off, we went into this trip with the mindset that NCL would get us to Alaska at a greatly reduced rate, and not to have great expectations from them. We flew into SEA a day before, as we were flying standby as an employee off my own airline, and flying early the day of the cruise didn't look promising. We rented a car with Thrifty, as they have a drop off location right by the pier. We stayed at the Hyatt in Billingham, and had a great stay. We spent the day before visiting all the sights of SEA, as this was our first time visiting SEA. The morning of the cruise we dropped the car off with Thrifty, and they shuttled us over to the pier. The ship looked beautiful weighing in at over 90,000 tons. Embarkation was smooth. When we boarded the ship we went to lunch at the buffet. This was my first of many disappointments with NCL. The buffet area looked like a cafeteria from high school. The tables were long and narrow eating areas shared by two dozen other people. There were no booths, to eat alone, and showed no imagination and effort to make it look nothing more than a mess hall. They constantly ran out of plates and shuffled us to other buffet areas only to find out that those areas were also out of plates and silver wear. We then went to our stateroom, to check out our balcony. The room was smaller than rooms on Carnival, however I was aware of that before. The bedding was terrible compared to Carnival, that has very nice bedding and linens. We had a very thin dark green cover with nautical symbols on it that looked like bedding I had on my bed when I was a little boy. We went to the dining room for dinner, and showed up at our leisure, taking advantage of NCL's Freestyle Cruising. What a nightmare! We had to wait 30 minutes to be seated, and customers were getting very frustrated. When seated, the waiter seemed frazzled and unorganized. The second night we made reservations for one off their free alternative dinning choices, which was a Tex-Mex restaurant. There were many people that showed up that didn't have reservations that complained they tried to make reservations, however were told it was full, when in reality the restaurant was no more than 1/3 full while we ate there. I think that maybe NCL doesn't have the staff, or use their resources in the right places to accommodate customers dinning needs. When we tried to make reservations in other alternative free dinning restaurants, we were always unable to get thru the line, as reservations could only be made starting at 8:00 am the day before. If you waited to call later in the day, you were always told it was full. Many times through the week we saw alternative dinning rooms less than half full, however good luck making a reservation! My daughter looks forward to spending time at the kids camp. She said she had a good time, however every time we picked her up the kids were yelling and screaming, and there was no control over the kids, and it seemed like the counselors had no control off the situation. My wife talked to one off the counselors, and she said she was new. She was hired, flew to NCL headquarters in Miami, then sent immediately to Seattle for on the job training. Not very organized at all. We only went to one show. It was the Phantom of the Opera, by the Jean Ryan Dance Co. It dragged on, and wasn't very good. We never went back to other entertainment venues. We booked all our shore excursions ahead of time through NCL. All of them were very good, and the tour operator's were very organized. Disembarkation was the usual organized chaos, but not too bad. In summary, we kept an open mind going in, about our expectations, and most Cruise Critic reviews regarding NCL's ineptness were in line with what we observed. I would be hard pressed to go on NCL again, as Carnival is far superior than NCL. I felt sorry for those folks who paid top dollar for this cruise. There were some good things compared to Carnival. Shore excursions booked ahead of time, were not charged until you cruised, and added to your account. The door to the balcony was a sliding door, instead of a door that opens to the balcony, therefore limiting your use of the balcony. However, in a room shared by three, the bed for the third person is right in front of the balcony, and when it is set up, you have to climb over the bed, to get to the balcony. One last F.Y.I. Our Captain did a marvelous job getting the ship in close to the Tracy Arm Fjord, to see the north, and south Sawyer Glacier. He mentioned that in the past 4 weeks he wasn't successful in getting close enough to see the glacier. So, if you have your heart on seeing a glacier, you might want to make sure you visit the Mendenhall glacier in Juneau, because you might not be able to see Sawyer glacier, in Tracy Arm Fjord. Read Less
Sail Date June 2007
Norwegian is the worst cruise line I have ever dealt with. We went to Alaska on May 10th from Seattle on the Norwegian Star. Their ads are misleading and the value for the cost is very poor. The worst thing is the food. The ... Read More
Norwegian is the worst cruise line I have ever dealt with. We went to Alaska on May 10th from Seattle on the Norwegian Star. Their ads are misleading and the value for the cost is very poor. The worst thing is the food. The "Free" food in the Market Buffet is terrible. I can get better food at Denny's. The "surcharge" restaurants are not open all the time and they do have a dress code no matter what the Norwegian advertisements say. The room service menu is very limited and their is no hot food available for breakfast except watered down oatmeal. Our room was nice but it was not vacuumed all week long. The soap and shampoo was in dispensers and was so watered down it would not even "suds-up." We saw the big plastic jugs they were using to fill the dispensers and the product looked like it came from a cheap generic provider. Everything in the ship is upcharged to the max. Soft drinks for the week were $48.00 plus 15% gratuity. Coffee in the coffee bar was $7.00 plus 15% gratuity added in. The waiter acted ugly when I did not add more gratuity to the bill. I pointed out that 15% was already added in to the bill on top of the gratuity they were adding into our room bill. The port time was a joke. Only 3-4 hours in port or we came in at 6:00PM after all the stores were closed. The shore excursions were not very good and were all short because it took too long to get off the ship. That is another issue. They had only 1 or two gang planks at each stop and there were 2500 people on the ship. It was always disorganized and at Juneau it took an hour to get off. The crew ended up hollering at the passengers to get out of the way because people were going to miss their shore excursions... The on-board lottery tickets and raffle tickets seemed "cheesy" to us. Also, the $25.00 per person fee to eat in the steakhouse seemed out of line. If we have to pay to eat decent food, why go on a cruise? We were very disappointed in the food and all the fees and surcharges. However that was not near as bad as the six hour wait at the Seattle Convention Center to board the ship. We arrived at the convention center at 5:30. We were supposed to start boarding at 7:00 and sail at 10PM. We sat at the convention center till almost 11:00. We finally left and found a convenience store and bought some food and water. Norwegian provided no food, no water, not enough chairs, no explanation as to why we had to wait six hours to board the ship. We finally got to the ship at 11:00, got our boarding documents done and to our room by 11:30. The ship was supposed to sail at 10:00 and did not sail to almost 2:00AM. They would not explain why we had the terrible wait. They did not offer any on-board credits for their fiasco. They did nothing. On the last day, the cruise director begged us not to rate the crew down because of what happened in Seattle. So it was obvious that Norwegian knew they really messed up. I wrote a letter to Norwegian about their misleading advertisements and the terrible food and the mess in Seattle. They basically ignored by complaints but did offer a $100.00 room credit if we went on another cruise with them within a year....FAT CHANCE. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We booked our cruise over the internet. We were on the Norwegian Star out of Seattle on May 7, 2006 going to Alaska. The whole trip started out bad in Seattle where we were told at the last minute to go to the Seattle Convention Center and ... Read More
We booked our cruise over the internet. We were on the Norwegian Star out of Seattle on May 7, 2006 going to Alaska. The whole trip started out bad in Seattle where we were told at the last minute to go to the Seattle Convention Center and we would be transported to the ship. The ship was scheduled to load at 7:00P and sail at 10:00P. We sat at the convention center from 6:00 to 11:00 waiting to go to the ship. No one could tell us what as going on....A TV crew showed up filming the 2500 people sitting on the floor with no food, drinks or explanations...Norwegian staff tried to have the TV crew thrown out of the building. We finally got to the ship at 10:45 and waited another 30 minutes before getting our boarding cards. We got to our room and unpacked at 11:45 PM. NO One would ever tells us why this happened... The Captain apologized over and over again the next morning while we were rapidly sailing north as a result of leaving Seattle 3 hours late..It was a rough sail that day.. When we arrive in Juneau for our fist stop things were completely messed up. It took an hour to get off the ship. It was completely disorganized. Some of the crew started yelling at us to "get out of the way and let the tours get off." That did not go over well. It was NCL's fault that they did not manage the situation better. We only had about 5 hours there and it literally took an hour of waiting in the stairwells to get off the ship. The food in the free restaurants was the worst thing I have ever experienced in my 40+ years of travel. The buffet was simply low quality cheap, watered down food. The small 24hour fast food restaurant was a joke and the food was not fit to eat. The room service menu was very limited and there was no hot food for breakfast. Room service food was a joke. Then there were the "nicer" restaurants that surcharged for eating...The steakhouse charged $20.00 per person....I heard the food was good but not what most frequent cruisers are used to. Our biggest disappointment was the food and the fact that we feel mislead by NCL advertising. Their "Freestyle" cruising advertising states you can eat whenever you want (time) at the restaurant you want, and don't have to worry about what to wear....None of that is true. You can eat in the nicer restaurants if you are willing to pay extra. And you do have to worry about what to wear because the nicer restaurants have a fairly strict dress code.. We had to get off the ship to eat decent food because we did not take dressier cloths with us due to their misleading advertising. The crew and service was good as was the onboard entertainment. I was shocked that it cost us $50.00 to play 6 games of bingo.....I also did not like the "cheesy" on board lottery tickets they were selling everywhere... The cruise director begged us not to give the staff low ratings for what happened in Seattle and in Juneau so it was obvious that the crew knew something very bad had taken place. I have been in the travel industry my whole life. My family owned a group travel business for almost 50 years...I have never experienced a situation like this before. NCL just ignored our problem in Seattle. They could have offered an on board credit for us to spend in their "nicer" restaurants or to buy drinks with. Or they could have offered discounts of future cruises...BUT they did nothing. I will never use NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We were very disappointed with NCL's Star from Seattle to Alaska and back. The reason we chose NCL was because we wanted to see Glacier Bay, but due to mechanical difficulties (our captain informed us by loud speaker that our ship was ... Read More
We were very disappointed with NCL's Star from Seattle to Alaska and back. The reason we chose NCL was because we wanted to see Glacier Bay, but due to mechanical difficulties (our captain informed us by loud speaker that our ship was polluting the water due to a faulty azipod propulsion unit), we were not allowed to enter this natural wonder. If our family had not taken a bus to see Mendenhall Glacier, we wouldn't have seen a single glacier on our Alaskan cruise. They substituted the port of Sitka in place of Glacier Bay. Our dining experience on NCL was inferior to Carnival and Princess which we have traveled with in the past. There wasn't the selection or quality like on other cruise ships. The buffet rarely offered any choices that were appetizing. The waiters were seldom smiling, maybe that's because the passengers were disgruntled and annoyed about missing our port. This ruined the atmosphere. Our twelve year old did not like the kids' area for his age group. We were expected to sign him in and out each time he visited which was rare. The activities were not age appropriate. They were very young and "boring" activities. Our teenager got sick. The room arrangement was very poor. One bunk bed and a roll out which fit between two twins. That means three people sleeping side by side with no walk room in between beds. It was terrible. Then we were late getting into Victoria and most everything worth seeing was already closed for the evening. What a shame. I would have really liked seeing it. Embarkation and entertainment were the best NCL had to offer. Their shows were good and the embarkation was efficient. By the way, I did write to NCL's customer service and C.E.O. when we returned home. Their customer service representative said the $200 on board credit should have taken care of our complaint, and we would not receive any further compensation. To sum it up, some day we would like to re-visit Alaska, but we wouldn't want to do it with NCL, nor would we recommend it to our friends. There are just too many other good choices in cruise lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
Let me start by saying that this was my 3rd cruise, my father's 1st and my husband's, our childrens (11 and 13) second and my mother's 2nd. This was everyone's first time on NCL. We arrived at the pier around 2:00 to ... Read More
Let me start by saying that this was my 3rd cruise, my father's 1st and my husband's, our childrens (11 and 13) second and my mother's 2nd. This was everyone's first time on NCL. We arrived at the pier around 2:00 to long lines that moved quickly. We were on the ship within 40 minutes. My parents and our children were in a balcony room on deck 11 while hubby and I were down on 5. We were all very pleased with our accommodations. Believe it or not, we had more drawer space in our cabin than the mini-suite but really no true complaints. Most of our luggage arrived within an hour or two with the exception of my husbands--I will address that issue at the end. Everyone of us would rate the ship layout, cleanliness, activities and entertainment a 10 out of 10 but we will never cruise NCL again. The one and only negative aspect was the food---and in our opinion food is a huge factor on a cruise. Never have we chosen to eat in port while cruising but this time we did it twice! We found the food in the main dining rooms to be less than lacking and the food at the market grill buffet was actually inedible! We aren't picky eaters usually and my father will generally eat anything but he even expressed his dissatisfaction (which is very unfortunate because, as I mentioned, it was his first cruise and I was hoping for it to be awesome). The non-surcharge restaurants were booked solid for the entire week the first day (now we know why). We did eat at the surcharge restaurant Ginza twice and the sushi was very good but I still have a problem eating at a surcharge restaurant while cruising. I just wish they'd raise the price and include all restaurants. Any, when we would leave the main restaurant after having found very little to eat we would head to the Blue Lagoon. It's the 24 hour eatery with very limited seating and a very limited menu but everything on the menu was pretty good except the burger. They really only offered hot dogs, fish/chips, chicken fingers and fried rice plus tomato and wonton soup and a "blended meat" burger. Even though it was good, you can only eat that so many times in a week. As a side note, we weren't the only passengers disappointed in the food. There were many, many unhappy people. In summary, we did have a very good time and refused to let the food dampen our experience (although it came close). Luckily it was our first time to Alaska and the scenery quickly got our minds off our meals. It also helped that my daughter won $1000 at Bingo. In summary, I would not recommend NCL. This is unfortunate because it was my favorite ship. Oh, about my husbands luggage. It never showed up Sunday night so we made a call to the front desk. They put out an APB and checked all the common areas and were to get back to us Monday morning. We were told Monday morning that they were still looking for it. Monday evening came (formal night) and still no luggage. Another call to check the status of the search revealed our luggage had been found in our neighbors cabin but they could not remove anything from a cabin without the passenger being present. The occupants were not answering the overhead pages nor responding to the messages left on their phone. NCL offered my husband a tux but he declined. When returning to our room at 11:00 Monday night we saw our neighbors also returning. I alerted our cabin steward who contacted "upper management". Three officers approached our neighbors and retrieved our luggage. How anyone can not notice an extra piece of luggage in such a small space is beyond me! Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Norwegian Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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