58 Norwegian Star Alaska Cruise Reviews

NCL Star Alaska Cruise 9/17/-9/24 We had a wonderful time on our first Alaska cruise despite the rainy weather. This was our 29th cruise (5th on NCL) but our first one to Alaska. It was just my spouse and I - both 47 years old. We ... Read More
NCL Star Alaska Cruise 9/17/-9/24 We had a wonderful time on our first Alaska cruise despite the rainy weather. This was our 29th cruise (5th on NCL) but our first one to Alaska. It was just my spouse and I - both 47 years old. We flew from Atlanta to Seattle the night before the cruise and stayed at the Marriott Seattle Riverfront right across from the port. We had dinner at Elliott's Oyster Bar just a half mile walk and it was wonderful. On Saturday, the hotel bellman rolled our luggage across the street for us to the port at 11:00a.m. We had V.I.P. check-in since we were staying in a Penthouse Suite so we were able to check-in and embark quickly. We were on the 8th deck aft above the spinnaker lounge. DO NOT STAY HERE UNLESS YOU LIKE TO PARTY IN THE SPINNAKER LOUNGE UNTIL 2:00AM. I say this because I wish we would have known about it when we booked it. We could hear every song that was played and almost every word that was said and no one can sleep with the bass music that they were playing. Neighbors on both sides of us were also complaining. When we notified our concierge, he said there was only one other room available but it would be a downgrade from what we had. He finally offered to let us use the other room to sleep in and keep our room. We were also compensated. We are not complainers and tried to stand it as long as we could. We waited until the third day to complain and they said they get complaints every cruise and are going to be working on it when the Star goes to dry dock. Other than that, everything else on the Star was good. We ate at LeBistro, Endless Summer, LaCacina and Cagneys as far as specialty restaurants go. We only ate one meal in the MDR Venetian. All were good. We only saw one show - the hypnotist and really enjoyed it. Ports - Ketchikan - we flew a float plane (Misty Fjords Air) over the misty fjords. It was great. We ate at the Alaska Fish House - wonderful! Juneau - we ate crab legs at Tracy's King Crab Shack. We also went to The Gold Creek Salmon Bake - waste of money in our opinion. But we did happen to see a small black bear in the woods there. The salmon was good but all of the sides were not and they were out of Alaska beer. Skagway - We did the goldpanning, dogsled, and 40 degrees below excursion. We really enjoyed it. I had not heard anything about this excursion preivously and was curious about it but I am definitely glad we did it. We got to see and hold the sled dog puppies and see a team in action. Prince Rupert - We had made reservations for the Cow Bay Cafe for dinner and was very glad we had. They only have 8-10 tables and they were all reserved and were having to turn people away. It was the absolute best meal of the whole trip. If it had not been for this restaurant, we would not have stayed off the ship long as there was nothing else to do there and this was the rainiest day. It rained every day but we had rain jackets, boots, etc. so we were well prepared. This was also the most a ship has rocked in 29 cruises. The first day at sea was extremely rough and there were alot of sick people. We had brought our Sea Bands so were were okay but a little nauseous. There were also a couple of more nights that were rocky. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Last minute, budget, cruise to Alaska. First time on Norwegian. We were warned both online and off not to expect the service or experience we had with Princess or RCI or even Carnival. So, we came with low expectations. I thought I ... Read More
Last minute, budget, cruise to Alaska. First time on Norwegian. We were warned both online and off not to expect the service or experience we had with Princess or RCI or even Carnival. So, we came with low expectations. I thought I would post a few thoughts for others who are undecided if Norwegian is worth trying. It was as good as any other cruise in most ways, better than some in others. The staff on the STAR were without exception friendly, helpful, polite. This made the cruise for us. The food was unpredictable. In the main dining room portions were small but for the most part very good. In the buffet it was hit or miss be we always found something to enjoy (loved the breads). We only tried one fee place the food was excellent and if that is what cruising is about to you I would budget to pay for the better food options. Only once did we wait for seating at dinner, we were handed a pager that went off in less than 10 minutes. The music was very good, the shows mostly good and that is so subjective my fellow travelers found the shows very good. The "Elements" was quite a production. The Embarkation and Debarkation were the smoothest we have ever enjoyed as was every time they we were in port and people were getting on and off I was very impressed with their people handling. We did not do shore excursions this trip and still managed to enjoy our cruise very much. I would totally try Norwegian again and would compliment the STAR on their staff. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
* Background Information - first Alaska cruise, and I've heard so many rave reviews that I was expecting to be really wowed, but wasn't. * Hotel Info - Best Western Pioneer Square in Seattle was a pleasant surprise. While ... Read More
* Background Information - first Alaska cruise, and I've heard so many rave reviews that I was expecting to be really wowed, but wasn't. * Hotel Info - Best Western Pioneer Square in Seattle was a pleasant surprise. While warned about homeless and less desirable location, we were very happy with the neighborhood. Included breakfast was terrific. 1 block from ferry, 1 mile from pier 66, 3 blocks from Light rail service, route 99 free tourist bus stopped right outside. * Ship Info - they need to pay attention to the sound system - the volume in the Atrium, at the pool, and in the entertainment venues was so loud that it was actually painful. There is no Quiet Zone except outside - not ideal in cool damp weather. The small library was the only indoor seating that was supposed to be quiet. * Activities - pretty standard and what I expect on a cruise - no issues * Service - our room steward always said hello, but he tended to start at one end of the block of rooms and work to the other. The result was that just about every evening he came to turn down our room very late(for us). I realize that very few people get up at 5 or 6am, and return to the room early and go to bed at 9:30 or 10pm., After the second night, despite telling him we were not attending nightly functions, he came to turn down the room after we returned for the night. We asked him to come earlier but he consistently showed up around 9 or 930. We actually didn't receive evening services since he was later than we wanted. Dining room services were good. Our last night we had a fantastic waiter - wish we had met him first! * Port & Shore Excursions - this was the most disappointing part - while excursions were good, if you weren't doing an excursion there is nothing to do in most ports except walk through rows of jewelry stores and genuine souvenirs made in China, Honduras, Korea, Pakistan, etc. It is so hard to find anything made in America. Seattle - loved it. Very walkable city with great transportation options, and lots to do independently. Loved the views from the Bank of America Building (Columbia Building). Highest in Seattle and the great view includes the Space needle. Ketchikan - easy to get public bus ($2) to Totem Bight Park. After about an hour there we returned to town and walked around. Juneau - several buses take you from the port to Mendenhall for $16 round trip. Some nice trails to walk there. Saw eagles, bear, and lots of salmon. This port met my high expectations Skaguay - I loved the White Pass Railroad. I stood outside most of the trip and got some great photos of spectacular scenery. They tell you that both sides are good for scenery - you change sides at the top of the pass. However, the trip up is much slower so the left side of the train definitely has a better view. Unfortunately our train broke down and we sat on the track for about an hour - I booked through the cruise line for this one because the reservation I could get was cutting it close to cruise on board time. We were an hour late getting back. With several hundred missing passengers they waited for us. Unfortunately the morning spent in town was a bit boring - not much to do or see. Prince Rupert - the only thing I wanted to do there was hike the Butze Rapids trail, but in a steady rain I opted to stay on the ship at this port. The town has nothing much to offer. My friend did go in to look around but came back in an hour after walking the entire town. The only thing she commented on was the cow -printed trash cans in Cow Bay. * Summary - My expectations were probably unrealistic, but I had hopes of being able to explore more on foot and without taking an expensive tour. If I return I think I need to consider a different itinerary with Denali and Vancouver as starting and end points. * Stateroom - standard interior cabin - exactly what we expected * Dining - much better food than I expected. I love Celebrity's dining, but on my only other NCL cruise I didn't think food was too good. I thought both of the dining rooms (Versailles and Aqua), the Tex -Mex specialty restaurant, and the Market Place cafe were all very good with lots of variety and decent quality. The luncheon menu in the dining rooms was the same ever day, but other than that I was very pleased. * Entertainment - I'm not a fan of comedians, hypnotists or circus acts, and that was the vast majority of shows. I also hated the sound level, and the lighting director should be fired - the bright lights were rotated directly in the faces of the audience. I had a migraine from the strobe light effect. * Disembarkation - we got in to port and cleared an hour early. Painless and easy self-disembarking got us to the airport an hour earlier than expected. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Just got back from Alaska cruise on Norwegian. We took our granddaughter on her first cruise, and did not have particularly high expectations, having read some unflattering reviews from other cruisers. We were pleasantly surprised. We ... Read More
Just got back from Alaska cruise on Norwegian. We took our granddaughter on her first cruise, and did not have particularly high expectations, having read some unflattering reviews from other cruisers. We were pleasantly surprised. We normally take Regent cruises and were uneasy about everybody on Norwegian hustling us to spend money, and the possibility of overcrowding and bad food, bad service. It's true that the employees on Norwegian try to sell you stuff, but they are very friendly and not really aggressive about it. They were uniformly polite and eager to please everywhere we went, and treated our granddaughter like a princess. We had booked a couple of shore excursions that had to be canceled because of bad weather, and they fell all over themselves to help us arrange alternative trips. (Btw, late August is pretty likely to be cold and rainy in Alaska -- we knew this, and took serious rain gear, and warm fleeces, hats, gloves, etc.) We decided to take this trip at the last minute, and the Picasso suite was the only balcony suite available; it turned out to be absolutely worth the money. Great bathroom (better than anything we've ever had on Regent), fabulous linens, somewhat silly decor, but who cares? We had access to Cagney's for breakfast and lunch every day, and our concierge, Patrick, steered us to the best seating for shows, most of which were quite fun. Andrew, the butler was always prompt, and Guillermo, the steward, was a gem, making funny towel animals to delight our granddaughter every night. Our granddaughter, at 9, turned up her nose at the kid's programs -- 9 year olds don't want to be in a program with 5 year olds-- but she loved the shows, the pool and slides and played bingo like a champ. All in all, a solid 4 star experience. I withhold a star only because the food was definitely mediocre, often not much better than your average college dorm. Don't go for the food. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Cruised NCL on 8/6/11. The ship was very good. Shore excursions were overpriced. Took the local bus to Mendenhall glacier and saved $43 for 2. It was $8 both ways. Mile walk to glacier and the lake in front kept us from getting close ... Read More
Cruised NCL on 8/6/11. The ship was very good. Shore excursions were overpriced. Took the local bus to Mendenhall glacier and saved $43 for 2. It was $8 both ways. Mile walk to glacier and the lake in front kept us from getting close enough to touch. We went cheap and did not visit any of the pay extra restaurants. I heard great things about all of them from fellow cruisers. Regular dining was fine. It got old a few times waiting on our next course so saved a lot of time going to the Market buffet for breakfast and lunches. The grill on deck was also very good, especially the made to order omelets in the morning. Took the train and had breathtaking views all the way up the mountain in Skagway. Didn't feel it was worth 119 a person though. The best shopping deals for souvenirs was in the first port of Ketchikan. All the rest were repeats with higher prices(Juneau,Skagway,Prince Rupert) Prince Rupert was worthless to visit. Don't waste your time, there's more to see on the boat than here! We also sailed to Glacier Bay, but I was disappointed at the distance we were from the Glacier. You could barely see it so don't waste 3 hours waiting for the perfect shot on deck saving a space. The ship stops quite a distance from it and there is a good 15 minutes to take a picture because they also meet up with a shore excursion there. That excursion goes much closer(friends took it). The New York strip was fantastic, All fish was cooked perfectly. Disappointed with Rib-eye and prime rib thinness. These were in regular dining. Also the Chocolate was mostly bitter Dark Chocolate. I would have liked to see some Milk Chocolate. All Food was good, not spectacular, but adequate and I did gain 7 pounds so don't worry, you will like it! The captain had a great sense of humor and all staff was anxious to make you happy. Definitely a repeat with less shore time. Would have gotten a room with a balcony had we known we would see so many Whales without running up on deck all the time. Bring a clock for your cabin because they are not supplied. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first cruise so I don't have another to compare to. The cruise staff was very nice and attentive but some were hard to understand because they are all from other countries. I didn't like the pushing to sell jewelry ... Read More
This was our first cruise so I don't have another to compare to. The cruise staff was very nice and attentive but some were hard to understand because they are all from other countries. I didn't like the pushing to sell jewelry all the time. They had a presentation for shopping in ports by the shopping consultant but most of it was about jewelry. I thought it would be about where to go for souvenirs and things like that but no, it was where the shops are to get the jewelry and I was so sick of it by the end of the cruise I could scream. We went to Cagney's Steakhouse to have a nice quiet dinner and of course there was a screaming toddler in there. I don't mind kids but you would think that the ship would have at least 1 or 2 specialty restaurants that were adult only to enjoy some peace and quiet from all the people and kids on board. Sometimes it was like chaos and I needed to have some quiet time and it would have been nice for 1 meal. The buffet was chaos and it was hard to find a place to sit most of the time, I hated it. The Alaska ports were good but Prince Rupert BC was a joke. What is wrong with NCL choosing this port? My husband and I walked to the mall and that was such a waste of time. We went into 2 stores close to the ship and they didn't have anything worth looking at. We were back on board within an hour. If you go on the Alaska cruise and they stop in Prince Rupert, don't bother getting off the ship. The bright shining light of the cruise was our steward Atish. He cleaned our room and left us towel animals. He was a very sweet young gentleman and we appreciated all his hard work. I think we will have to try another cruise line in the future to see how they do compared to NCL. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Getting there We started our trip with the airline losing half our luggage so my travel partner ended up having no clothes for the cruise. Once found the airline was unwilling to send the bag to Juneau for the ship to bring on board for ... Read More
Getting there We started our trip with the airline losing half our luggage so my travel partner ended up having no clothes for the cruise. Once found the airline was unwilling to send the bag to Juneau for the ship to bring on board for us. I can also say the staff at the airport was not as helpful as the staff at the 888 number when calling the airline. The staff at the airport said sorry but tough luck. The call in number at least advised us on how to get clothes for the cruise and how to claim the receipts. Embarkation Instead of a free style, it appeared more like a free for all. It did move quickly and we were able to drop what bags we had at the x-ray machine. I did feel sorry for the one individual who was lifting them all onto the machine. The line broke into three lines and he was certainly hustling to get them all through. Since we did not stay until the bags had gone through the x-ray machine, I wondered why we could not just hand them to an attendant and then they take them and feed them through the machine as is done by Holland America. It just seemed to be an extra line to stand in. Staff I do have to commend the staff at the desk as they made every effort to get our lost bag for us, and did quite a bit to make our first days as manageable as possible. They were very understanding and gracious in their attitude and assistance. Our cabin steward was equally helpful and did all he could to turn what clothes she had to the laundry and back to minimize the amount of clothes we ended up buying on the cruise. Overall, the staff was professional and courteous, although I did not see many smiling. Having worked in the hospitality industry I do feel for them as they all work hard with 10-hour days 7 days a week. Yes, there was always someone selling something, and they did a great job of checking back every so often without being pushy. Dining After the first day, we stayed away from the buffet as much as possible, although it was busy most of the time. Staging was an issue, as they would run out of an item and there was a significant period between restocking. In the end, we did the first day and two breakfasts in the buffet due to scheduling issues on our part. We ate primarily in the Versailles dining room. We had a great waiter on our first night (port side aft) that was smiling and very efficient. We made every attempt we could thereafter sit in his section. For three meals, we sat in a section (forward starboard side) that took twice as long to get our food. One time there was no one there to take our order for 10 or 15 minutes. The maitre de did visit with us, but offered no apology and just wanted to know if we wanted a drink. I never did figure out the issue, as there were five people for 15 tables to provide service yet once we waited 10 minutes just to get a glass of water. No other section seemed to have this problem. Chocolate Buffet was another interesting adventure, as there was only one entrance and we walked in a long line. However when we got to the side with the chocolate we noticed there were two lines, one for each section. The staff at the door did not tell anyone that there were two serving areas which would have cut the line significantly. Cabin Our cabin was on deck 5 (5137) being the last inside cabin aft on the port side. It was somewhat noisy with the dining room and kitchen areas being above us. The walls were thin and we could hear those in the cabin next to us and behind us pretty clearly. Excursions Our excursions were very good and we did the duck tour in Ketchikan, self-tour of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, bus tour to Cross Car from Skagway and the lighthouse wild life tour in Prince Rupert. Only thing I would do different is to tell the bus driver on the Skagway trip to stop in some places so we could get pictures. Other than that, we saw several animals on both land and sea during one or more of these tours. Summary Overall, the trip was enjoyable and the onboard entertainment was more than I could image with excellent performances. Everyone did a great job, from the guitar player to the main show ensemble. We will pack differently on the next adventure just in case the airlines decide to lose some of our luggage again. We will probably cruise a line that is less for families; not that I am anti kids, but we experienced kids playing tag and climbing on chairs in the dining room next to our table while their parents visited. We also watched kids run through the buffet area playing tag. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our 13th cruise but our 3rd on NCL. My husband and I were the only ones on this cruise. We are both 54, we live and Arizona, and have been married 33 years. Because Alaska is more "pricey" than most cruises, we opted for ... Read More
This was our 13th cruise but our 3rd on NCL. My husband and I were the only ones on this cruise. We are both 54, we live and Arizona, and have been married 33 years. Because Alaska is more "pricey" than most cruises, we opted for an inside cabin (for the first time I might add). We figured that since it was Alaska, it would probably be too cold for a balcony. We flew to Seattle the day before on our own and explored Seattle a bit. We stayed at the Red Lion Hotel in downtown Seattle and we pretty much could walk everywhere we went. We mainly hung out at the Public Market. The next day was cruise day so we opted to take a cab from our hotel to Pier 66. The cost of the cab was $12.00. When we reached the pier, it was 12:30 in the afternoon. There were a lot of people already in line but the lines weren't too bad. They winded around quite a bit (like you were in Disneyland). There were "discount coupon" books available for Alaska while we were waiting in line and everyone was grabbing them. We found out later that they weren't worth anything and we were told to throw them out if we took one because they weren't being honored in the ports. Anyways, like I said earlier, the lines went pretty fast but there were two women in front of us with a child about 8 years old. They were travelling on the cruise and the NCL staff asked the women if they had "permission" from the father to take the child out of the country. (We were visiting Canada also on this trip). They didn't know that they were supposed to have permission from the other parent so they were taken from the line where they had to contact the other parent and get some kind of proof. They said that no one told them that they had to have this when they booked.We got onto the ship at about 1:30 where we headed to our room. Luckily our cabin was on Deck 9 so that lessened the "pain" of having an inside room. However, when we walked in, we were pleasently surprised to see a large bed (possibly a Queen)and if we needed a bunk above it to pull out. NCL has used this small space wisely. We had a nice closet and quite a bit of storage. The room had a small refrigerator (which was stocked with liquor)and plenty of drawer space. The bathroom had a shower which was adequate. The room was equipped with a hairdryer which was outside of the bathroom. There were hooks on the walls to hang purses, shirts, etc. The only problem we had with the inside cabin was the fact that we couldn't tell if it was daytime or nightime and we slept in the following day until 10am! (Luckily we were at sea that day!).The first night we sailed (Sat), we ate in the Aqua Dining Room. They had lobster that night so we took advantage of that. We never did see lobster again. I'm sure they served it at the restaurants you had to pay for. The food was about a B+ in the dining room. Because it is considered a "freestyle" cruise, we opted to eat around 7pm.The next day when we were at sea, we decided to check out the restaurants and the ship. We saw the spa and they have an inside pool and jacuzzi's, however, in order to use these facilities, they were $30/day or $119/week (for one person). They said it's cheaper in the long run to spend the $119 and after they had 100 people sign up for it, it would no longer be available. We decided to pay the $119 (times 2 ) since the weather wasn't exactly hot. There were 4 jacuzzi's outside but like I said, it wasn't exactly hot.The ports we visited were Scagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Prince Rupert, Canada. We had researched what to do in the ports online through cruise critic before we said so we had already booked our shore tours online. When we got to our cabin, our tickets were there waiting for us for the tours. In Ketchikan, we chose the Saxman Native Village and Lumberjack Show. We went to the Saxman Village first and it wasn't really our "thing". It was interesting but boring too. Because it was raining and the wind was blowing, we decided not to go to the Lumberjack show. We visited their giftshop and learned all about the totem poles. This tour was scheduled for 4 hours, but we only did the first part, which lasted 2 hours. A bus transported us back to the pier for those going to the Lumberjack Show so we just decided to shop instead. In Scagway, we did the train which was beautiful and breathtaking and in Juneau we visited the Mendenhall Glacier. We opted for the 75 minute tour and we were glad we did that one. They have a little gift shop which doesn't have much and even though the glacier is spectaculer, the only other thing you could do would be to hike the 45 minutes to a waterfall. Because we were told that there was a stong possibility that you could encounter bears on the hike, we opted not to do that. In Prince Rupert, we didn't take a tour. We just walked the town and visited a bar. They had a little swapmeet so to speak outside of the ship so we wandered around there a bit but everything was pretty pricey.The shows on the ship were really good and the best show was "Elements" on the last night. Make sure you see that show. It was amazing!The only negative we encountered was the fact that everything cost money (plus 15%!). The spa was 18% gratutity for my services which was a 60 minute facial, and massage for $114.00. Of course alcohol was expensive but I had an issue when I ordered a "Shirly Temple" (obviously not alcohol) and one bartender charged me $2.65 (sprite plus cherry juice) and another bartender charged $4.95 and called it a non-alcoholic cocktail. We took issue with that and had to go to the informatin desk to find out why. They refunded the difference but then after that, I noticed that almost all of the bartenders (except for one) considered a Shirley Temple a non-alcoholic cocktail (which cost us $4.95 plus 15% gratutity!). We finally gave up trying to convince them it was only sprite plus cherry juice so I decided to just drink the alcoholic specials. They weren't much more in price.All in all, we had a great time but like I said earlier, it was a lot more pricier than we were used to. I guess that's the sign of the times. Although Freestyle Dining is nice, we think we prefer the regular dining schedule offered on other ships so that we can meet people. The buffet food was adequate but nothing to write home about. We noticed that they catered a lot to the Indian culture, as they had a whole section in the buffet of just Indian food. I never did see any more lobster or shrimp or even chocolate cake in the main dining room. We did eat one time in Ginza which cost us $15.00/each for the all you can eat sushi. That was pretty exceptional.NCL is a nice line but I think we're going to explore other cruise lines next time. My preference at this time is Carnival, but all in all, it was a very nice vacation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Same cruise line but what a marked difference between two ships. My wife and I, after using various other cruise lines, first cruised with NCL on the Jade last Christmas and New year, cruising the Western Mediterranean, this to us was a ... Read More
Same cruise line but what a marked difference between two ships. My wife and I, after using various other cruise lines, first cruised with NCL on the Jade last Christmas and New year, cruising the Western Mediterranean, this to us was a bad experience. As we had already booked up on the Star for the Alaska cruise we were a bit concerned that things on the Star might be the same low quality. How wrong we were and thankfully things were much better with one exception. Prior to the cruise we had flown into Calgary to experience the Rocky Mountaineer railway to Vancouver. After staying overnight in Vancouver we traveled down to Seattle and again stayed overnight before taking a taxi to the dock. As we had plenty of time on our hands we decided to try to get on board a bit early ,as did others ,because the traffic and people unloading road side was a bit hectic. I grabbed a porter who knew the short cuts etc. and he took us to the check in area (well worth the $5 tip). We got into line with only about 20 people in front of us. At about 11.00 we were escorted to the latitudes check in desk for a very smooth process, given a card to join group 1 in a waiting area and eventually channeled on board at 1130. Having time to do so we went to the Versailles dinning room rather than what I call the "trough" self-service area (each to their own of course). We had a very nice lunch then looked round the ship and purchased a wine package, 6 bottles with 20% discount. At about 14.00 we went down to our cabin and at 15.30 to the lifeboat muster. We had arranged to meet up with some of the cruise critic folk by the pool bar straight after muster. Down to the cabin again we decided to freshen up intending to have an early 17.30 dinner in the Versailles then onward to the Stardust Theater for the show. AGH AGH no hot water. We eventually got a plumber to fix the problem but that made us very late for dinner consequently missing the show. Well things like that happen. Unfortunately the water problem reoccurred on Sunday so we called reception to deal with it and then went out to enjoy ourselves. Back to the cabin and onwards again to the Versailles. Having ordered our food and had the main course served. We were descended upon by an assistant wanting to sell bookings in the specialty restaurants. That's really not clever NCL whilst people are eating. We purchased two specialty meal tickets one for a brunch in the Italian restaurant (bad move) and one for a dinner in the French restaurant (good move). So onto Monday and after a good day enjoying the boats facilities and entertainment we went down to our cabin to get our "glads" on for a meal in the French eating house. AGH AGH no hot water!!!. Time now to be a bit firmer, went to reception and asked that the manager come down to the cabin to witness the luke warm state of the water which she did. Same plumber came so I asked him to check out another close by cabin. By this time I was gently insisting on a move to another cabin. Some time later we were offered another cabin. We changed the time on our dinner ticket and hurriedly packed our belongings and moved cabins. Bliss bliss hot water, and what's this slightly wider and much softer mattresses in a same grade cabin (good move). I suppose that it's all down to money so I'll have to smack my travel agents wrist for screwing NCL down so that they supplied a low quality cabin. Oh by the way the water problem cabin is number 4001, avoid it, the better one was 4579. In total we ate four times in the French restaurant once in the Italian and the rest in the Versailles main dining room with some quick breakfasts, for early excursion starts, in the Blue Lagoon. Overall we thought that the food was nothing special but acceptable in the Versailles ,although they could do with a greater choice lunch time menu . Shore excursions arranged through NCL were very good with the final disembarkation and tour of Seattle being well arranged. I did delight in being asked to lead the Bible study and worship for the crew in their wardroom late on Thursday night. God bless you all. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Just got home from our trip to Seattle and Alaska. There were 7 of us that were on this trip. My parents (in their 60's), my husband and our three sons (10, 8.5, and 5). We had two cabins between us. We chose the penthouse with ... Read More
Just got home from our trip to Seattle and Alaska. There were 7 of us that were on this trip. My parents (in their 60's), my husband and our three sons (10, 8.5, and 5). We had two cabins between us. We chose the penthouse with balcony on deck 12 (#12010) and my parents had one of the owner's suites (#12002) just a few steps away. The VIP treatment that we received going thru security and check-in was great since we had the kids and my parents with us. We were on board the ship within 15 minutes of leaving our luggage at the baggage drop-off area at the pier. We met, Virginia, our concierge for the week in the VIP lounge and she escorted us onto the ship. We did have a few backpacks that we carried on and she brought us to our cabins to drop them off before heading to Cagney's for lunch. The cabins weren't ready at that time but that was no problem.Cagney's restaurant on Deck 13 was a suite perk for breakfast and lunch daily and we took full advantage of it for breakfast and ate there for about half the lunches. The menu is the same for both meals each day but the variety is good and the service is excellent. They were very accommodating with any special requests and made the kids their own pot of hot chocolate each morning.After lunch, our cabins were ready. Our cabin was very nice and spacious enough for 4 of us. Two of our kids slept on the pull-out couch each night and one would sleep in the pull-out in my parents' cabin. Our kids would rotate nights between the two cabins. The bed that my husband and I had was spacious but it was actually two beds pushed together. The closet and drawer space was ample and the bathroom was perfect with two sinks and a separate tub and shower. The shower was the perfect temperature every time and the water pressure was amazing. The rainhead was great and there was a handheld nozzle as well. The cabin's decor was quite nice...lots of creams and beiges with a hint of color on the curtains. I brought my own hairdryer despite there being one in the cabin. It didn't fit in the wall socket inside the bathroom so I had to sit at my desk chair and dry my hair which had a sizable mirror and I was able to look at the gorgeous scenery while doing so. The windows were huge and the balcony had three chairs and a table.Our butler was named, Lucky, and he was great. We tipped him $20 as soon as we met him the first day and he took care of us all week. We didn't call on him often but the kids did get DVD's from the movie library everyday because there are not many channel options on the TV. Lucky was the one that brought those to us.My parents in the Owner's Suite were able to get unlimited Pepsi products in their suite and they also had Lucky as their butler. They too gave Lucky $20 upon boarding the ship and he hooked all of us up with sodas...Pepsis, Sierra Mist, Orange Crush and Mug Rootbeers...we never bought the soda bracelets and didn't need to. The kids drank water, lemonade or milk at dinner and had a soda back in the room while looking out the windows for whales.My parents suite was amazing! Their suite was directly above the bridge and the windows were floor to ceiling and even wrapped around the side of the ship so you could see everything...fantastic for viewing Alaska! They had a huge bathroom with a jetted soaking tub, water closet with a frosted glass door, separate shower, two sinks and ample drawers and shelves for storage. There was even a flat panel TV in the bathroom.The living space in the suite was huge and the separate bedroom had a king sized bed. Lots of closets as well.Without these great accommodations, I don't think I would have enjoyed this cruise as much as I did. There were 2,800 guests on board the ship and I think they were all in the marketplace and main dining rooms. The weather was pretty great so the outdoor spaces were utilized as well on most of the cruise. The food was great in Cagney's for breakfast and lunch. The main dining rooms had food that I would rate as good. We did opt to eat at La Cucina on Wednesday night and it was not good. Three of us ordered the chicken parm and it was drowning in olive oil. The kids had one of their specialty pizzas and it was terrible. My husband had the Osso Bucco and he did say it was very good. It cost us $80 with surcharges and tip. Waste of money. We had a reservation for Friday night in the Teppanyaki Grill but decided to cancel that based on our experience in La Cucina. I do have to say our waitress in La Cucina was great...very attentive without being overly so.By the end of the week, I was ready to get off the boat because I was so sick and tired of being hit up to spend more and more money every where I turned. It started at lunch the very first day! We were approached in Cagney's while we were eating to reserve space at the Father's Day Brunch the next day for an additional charge, we were approached by another person offering to make reservations for us in all the specialty restaurants during the same meal! It goes on and on from there. Then my husband and I wanted to have a beer each at the Bier Garten during pullout from Seattle. The bar staff refused to get us two beers...said we should buy the bucket of six where you buy 5 and the 6th one is free. Yeah, right, it doesn't even come close to free when each of the other beers are $5 each plus gratuity and a $5 bucket deposit.You should also be aware when playing Bingo, you can buy just one or two cards but they don't tell you that up front. They have a pitch to include a certain number of instant win card strips, raffle tickets to the "free cruise for two" giveaway and a t-shirt plus six Bingo cards and tell you come and get it before they sell out...only a certain number of manager specials for Bingo available. If you want a frozen cocktail, they ask you if you want a tall glass. I'm on vacation, right? So, I say yes and they bring me a tall, skinny, plastic "souvenier" cup with my margarita in it and I get charged $12. Not one hour later, I'm sitting in a different bar and order the same drink and when the server asks me if I want a "tall glass", I say no thanks. He brings me an actual 16oz pint glass with my margarita in it with no Norwegian Logo on it for $6.50!!! Amazing the deception that is involved on these cruise ships. They sail in international waters so they can get away with this crap. They excursions that we took were amazing and educational. The kids had a blast on each and every one. Native Saxman Village and Totem Pole Park and Lumberjack Show in Ketchican, Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier in Juneau, White Pass and Yukon Railway in Skagway and Crab Dinner and Bald Eagle Boat Ride in Prince Rupert. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Alaska did not disappoint - the weather was at times cold and rainy (as expected for late September) but the scenery was outstandingly beautiful. We stayed in an AB penthouse on the Star, and loved the cabin. It was spacious, comfortable, ... Read More
Alaska did not disappoint - the weather was at times cold and rainy (as expected for late September) but the scenery was outstandingly beautiful. We stayed in an AB penthouse on the Star, and loved the cabin. It was spacious, comfortable, quiet, and we really appreciated the suite perks. Everything worked as expected and we had no complaints. The staff were great and always responded quickly and cheerfully to our requests. We booked online through an NCL personal cruise consultant who was also very responsive, replying to each of my emails within 24 hours. No complaints about any of the staff before or during the cruise. We met the senior staff at the CC meet and greet on the first day at sea, and they were very keen to assure us that we should let them know if we had a problem and not keep it to ourselves on the ship, only to vent later on the internet. That's fine insofar as it relates to problems that can be fixed on the spot, but of course some complaints relate to much wider systemic issues that are beyond the ability of the ship staff to fix. So I thought it a little disingenuous of them to bemoan the tendency of passengers to complain on the internet but not to them. Having said that, I did get the impression that if we had had an immediate problem on the ship, they would have done their best to fix it. This brings me to the issue of the food. It ranged from mediocre to good. It was never great. We ate mostly in the specialty restaurants - I didn't like the look of the buffet at all, and our one meal at Versailles was by far the worst we encountered. It is unrealistic to expect a truly gourmet experience considering the numbers that have to be catered to and the cost we were paying. I wasn't upset about having to pay extra for the nice food, because, really, the cruise is not expensive. You are paying from around $100 to $200 per person per night, and that includes accommodation, transport and entertainment. For that sort of money, the food is going to be basic. Another factor is the vast quantities of food on offer. Maybe if portions were smaller, or fewer courses offered (three courses for both lunch and dinner is a lot of food) then quality could improve. But I understand that other passengers have different priorities and presumably NCL knows its customer base pretty well. Other things that others have complained about we just ignored - the bingo, the art sales, the shopping seminars ... there was no hard sell to attend any of these and we found it easy to filter out everything we weren't interested in. I am very aware that much of what we liked about our experience on the ship was a direct result of being able to afford the suite and the specialty restaurants. I imagine it would be a different experience altogether if you were on a stricter budget. Overall though, I still thought the cruise was reasonable value. It is much cheaper than staying at a five star resort. Our only sour note came after we got home and realised we had left some personal items in the cabin. I emailed NCL in the (probably) vain hope that they have some sort of system for returning lost property, and have not even had the courtesy of a response. NCL if you are reading this, and I think you must be, there is no point spending so much effort on customer relations during the cruise, only to ignore them once it is over. People do remember this sort of thing and yes, they will vent about it on the internet. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Norwegian Star, 9/18/10 Stateroom 5628 For eight months after we booked this cruise we wondered how much fun we would have. The answer is we couldn't of had a better time and we were not disappointed. We arrived in Seattle the day ... Read More
Norwegian Star, 9/18/10 Stateroom 5628 For eight months after we booked this cruise we wondered how much fun we would have. The answer is we couldn't of had a better time and we were not disappointed. We arrived in Seattle the day before the cruise and bought a pre-cruise package through NCL which turned out to be a good decision because not only was our room ready at noon, but we found out the next morning that our luggage with the NCL tags attached would be taken to the pier ahead of our bus and it would be at our cabin door by 3:00 PM. Our bus arrived at noon and we were on our way to stand in line at the pier. I think the process went fairly quickly since over 2000 people are trying to do the same thing. There are enough NCL people around to guide you and give information. After going through security, filling out the health form, checking in and getting the embarkation picture taken, we were sitting down at the Versailles and eating by 1:30 PM. I would recommend going to the Meet and Greet arranged by a CC member from your cruise but supported by NCL. We met and befriended a number of other CC members and met some of the directors of the Star. They answered questions and assured us to tell them about any problem we might encounter since they can't fix it if they don't know about the problem. Luckily we didn't have any issues. Here are our views on the Star - Free Restaurants- The Versailles, Aqua (evenings only) Blue Lagoon, Market Cafe, and pool buffet were more than adequate to satisfy anytime eating. The food was good and we never had to wait for a table for two at the times we ate - early. Pay Restaurants - We loved Le Bistro, it is worth the extra surcharge, liked Cagney's and Endless Summer. Again no problem getting seated. Crew - We were impressed at how pleasant and how eager to please the passengers they were. Each one we encountered was pleasant and seemed to enjoy the conversation. They did their jobs efficiently and always had a smile on their face in front of the passengers. We talked to almost every category of crew from the Cruise Director and her staff to the servers, bartenders and stewards. Oceanview Room - We were on the fifth deck midship and loved the location. Would we have loved a suite? Yes, but we could not afford that. The bathroom is laid out with a sink in the middle and glass doors on either side with the shower on one side and the toilet on the other. We used an over the door shoe organizer to handle the toiletries we used frequently. We liked the fifth deck because it was close to the restaurants, atrium, theater and casino. Since the elevators were usually busy we could always walk up two decks and walk down any number of them. That became our unspoken rule of thumb while going about the ship. We both thought the bed was comfortable, the layout of the room was OK for us, which was bed under the window with a small side table on either side. The closet was opposite the bathroom with lots of hanging space and drawers and the desk was on the other side of the room. At the end of the closet was a mini desk area with a small TV on a shelf. Also on the closet side was more drawers and a mini refrigerator. We put all the expensive items from the frig into an unused drawer so we wouldn't use them and then used the frig for the beer we bought in the bucket. Our suitcases did fit under the bed and we used one of them for dirty clothes. The stewards were very friendly and took care of our room two times a day. We always had ice in the room and I only asked for it once, but then they knew we would use lots of ice. We couldn't ever hear the neighbors so the walls are quite soundproof. In fact we thought one room was empty and realized someone was there only when we saw the luggage outside the door on the last night. Entertainment - We thought the shows in the Stardust Theater were very entertaining. Our favorite was Kenny Byrd, the ventriloquist. He was very funny and would pick people in the crowd to come on stage. We were glad he didn't pick us! We live in the Midwest, so we have no experience with Broadway shows and limited experience with Vegas shows but in our opinion the shows on ship were great. They had a Frankie Valli Tribute, 70's band show, Kenny Byrd, Second City Comedy and dancers with Chinese acrobats. We also saw the welcome aboard show, a crew talent show and a finale with some funny skits. There was various music around the ship in various places and at various times- just look at your Freestyle Daily. We liked Stan Skyes at Gatsby's Bar. The Spinnaker Lounge had lots of adult shows starting after 10:30PM like the Not So Newlywed Game, Karaoke Idol and Dancing With the Stars (crew). We never went to one, but they are replayed on the ship's TV channel. Ports - The ports the Star visits are very nice quaint towns. We liked them in this order. First is Skagway. The shopkeepers that we talked to were very interesting to talk to and shared their experiences on living all year in Alaska or if they were there just for the cruising season. The Gold Rush Visitors Center was very interesting with some exhibits, posters and maps to look at. The half hour movie was put together very nicely. Of course the best excursion in Skagway is the White Pass Railroad. There are several different length of trips. We took the 3 ½ hour trip and since we booked with NCL (only $9 difference), we got to board right at the pier. We were lucky enough to have a nice sunny day and could see lots of lovely scenery. Next is Ketchikan. The shopkeepers were very friendly especially in the Creek Street area. We just shopped and then did some people watching while having drinks and appetizers at the Fish Pirate Saloon. Third is Juneau. This port took more time to disembark and the busing system into town seemed confusing. We only shopped in Juneau, but there didn't seem to be as many locals keeping shops and most of them were more business like an not as friendly. The best thing was that the Alaska Shirt Company had everything half off since it was end of the season. Last was Prince Rupert. We never got off the ship because like Juneau it was hard to get off the ship and by the time we felt like going it started to rain. The passengers coming back said we didn't miss much because the ship arrived at 4:00 PM and most shops didn't stay open late. What we tried to avoid after experiencing: Elevators - They are very slow and they get backed up fast and the people waiting are unaware that they are blocking the stairways. Art Auction - We got tired of walking into the area. It is right in the middle of a main hallway and the workers blocked the hallways moving the art into the Aqua for the talks and auctions. Buffet - We never found a time that the buffet wasn't busy and the way the tables are laid out makes it easy for one small group to use room for six to ten people. We went one time for lunch around 3:00 PM and there was barely a table for just the two of us and the lines were closed getting ready for dinner. We thought that keeping one line open while they were changing the other line could work, then they could get that line changed over to dinner. Maybe then the buffet wouldn't be so busy. We did find that when the weather was good enough we could use the pool buffet, which is more or less picnic food with more room to sit and eat. Casino - We knew we wouldn't win much at the casino, but we tried it anyway. We both could use one coupon each once a day that gave us $20 play for $10. Thank goodness we printed enough for four or five days. We thought the casino was too smoky and too warm for us so we left before too many people filled the room. TIP- instead of using the ATM for cash ($8.50 charge) go to the cashier and ask for money and charge it to your sea pass card (no charge). Getting off at ports - We aren't sure why disembarking was so different at each port, but since we didn't have any early excursions we waited until the crowd got smaller, but even then it could be over an hour waiting. Thoughts about NCL pushing sales - We never felt any pressure to buy anything extra on the ship. From the Photo Gallery, Bingo, Pull-Tabs, to pay restaurants, drinks and the Gallery Shops. We never felt funny saying no to buying anything extra. That includes us sitting in a bar area for almost three hours listening to the music and people watching and the only thing we ordered was three beers and two ice waters. Finally, disembarking on the final day was very organized. Thinking that over 2000 people are leaving is overwhelming. The colored tag system works very well. Staff are placed around the 7th deck informing the passengers where to go and answering questions. We sat in the Atrium and watched the people leave since we had a post cruise hotel package and were the last group to leave. For the most part people were very orderly and patient leaving the ship. We got to leave a little early because everything was going smoothly. We located our bags arranged downstairs in the terminal by the color tags given out the day before. Again there are many NCL port people around to answer questions. Since we left the ship early our bus wasn't there (of course), so all the brown tag people stayed together and amid the confusion of many busses and taxis and next weeks passengers arriving we were finally picked up about 10:30 AM. Again we were glad we bought our hotel package from NCL because our room was ready before noon. I'm happy that the hotels booked through NCL worked out so well. I sat and checked online last March to see which would be a better deal, booking a hotel ourselves or through NCL. I think I made the right decision because our price included the transfers to and from the pier, baggage handling, tipping the handlers and all room taxes. TIP - If you stay at Holiday Inn Sea-Tac and want to go into town, use the Link Light Rail for $2.50 each way. All you have to do is go out the Lobby door, walk towards the street, turn left and look for the over the street walkway that is less than a block ahead. There is a stairway or an elevator to take you up to the level. Once you cross over the street the ticket station is easily seen and you can be at the Westlake Center in less than a half and hour. It is an easy walk down to the Wharf, Pikes Place, Downtown shopping or the Space Needle. So in conclusion our cruise was tremendous. We are impressed with all the organizing that goes into running a cruise ship and from our experience how smoothly everything did go. We will be planning another cruise on NCL as soon as possible. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Overall- really enjoyed the cruise, though the embarkation was a mess and the propeller issues altered my excursion plans. Embarkation was a bit of a mess since the gangway at the port was inop. The lines were hundreds of yards long when ... Read More
Overall- really enjoyed the cruise, though the embarkation was a mess and the propeller issues altered my excursion plans. Embarkation was a bit of a mess since the gangway at the port was inop. The lines were hundreds of yards long when we arrived, and we sat outside for over an hour before getting inside. I'm pretty sure we saw some service areas of the ship you don't normally visit while boarding. First, the cabin and the changes made to the Star: we had an AJ Family Suite and loved it. We've had quite a few hotel rooms that were smaller. There were only two of us, but it would easily handle 4, and 6 wouldn't be much of a stretch except for the single bathroom. There was a tremendous amount of storage and the bank of windows was great. I loved the Lavazza coffee maker. The room was handicapped-accessible, so the closets were against the walls vs the entry to the bathroom. The bathroom was also very open. The deck 13 running track was above part of our cabin, so there was some traffic noise starting early each morning, but it wasn't too bad. We wouldn't hesitate to book this suite again, so from that standpoint we like the changes. It was odd not having the forward-looking Spinnaker Lounge, and we did miss that, but it wasn't a huge detractor for us. On the whole, I like the addition of the new suites. The food was good everywhere we ate (Aqua MDR, Cagney's, teppanyaki, Blue Lagoon and La Cucina). No complaints here; we never anywhere hungry. On the whole, the weather was quite nice for AK in September. Lots of clouds, but minimal rain. We had a delay getting into Ketchikan based on a propeller issue (had to shut down the starboard prop due to a vibration). This left very little time for any sightseeing or shopping once our excursion was done. As a result of the prop problem, the rest of the itinerary was modified. The Prince Rupert stop was dropped completely. Instead of getting in Juneau early and sailing Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier late, we sailed up Endicott Arm and viewed Dawes Glacier early instead. The weather was perfect- decent temps and almost completely clear skies. We managed to get rather close, so we had some great shots. According to the Captain it was the best visit he'd had in 5+ years of visits. We to Juneau around 2, and since we were the 5th sip in port we had to tender in. Our Tracy Arm Fjord excursion was cancelled here based on our time change, so floated the Mendenhall River instead. Miraculously, the propeller issue resolved itself on the way to Skagway. We just rented a car there and drove to Carcross, B.C. It was a nice drive, and we visited the ghost town of Dyea on the way back. On the whole it was a relaxing day. Since the prop was working again we added Prince Rupert back to the lineup. We just walked around town in Prince Rupert and enjoyed a little local seafood. We didn't catch much of the evening entertainment, so can't comment much on it. Second City was entertaining, as usual. One interesting note- we try to collect a set of highball and cocktail glasses from each ship. They didn't have any Star highballs, and the only cocktail glasses were from the Sky. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
First let me say I was really worried reading the reviews on this website prior to my cruise with NCL, frankly pretty harsh for most cruises. It seems folks are pretty serious about complaining and I was preparing for a difficult time. ... Read More
First let me say I was really worried reading the reviews on this website prior to my cruise with NCL, frankly pretty harsh for most cruises. It seems folks are pretty serious about complaining and I was preparing for a difficult time. However, I must complement NCL for making our cruise a stress-free and enjoyable family jaunt. Since there were three of us, Mom, sister and I, we chose the Pearl Suite in the AB category. It provided two separate sleeping areas and two separate bathrooms. There was plenty of storage, a refrigerator we could use for Mom's insulin and even a sharps container was supplied to us for the used syringes. The master bathroom was magnificent with a ceiling to floor window over the tub and in the shower, two sinks and separate vanity table. This was critical with 3 women! My mother, who is a full time user of 02 and travels with a Sequel Eclipse POC, had no problem getting around the ship and our embarkation was very smooth. We were provided a steward who pushed my mother around in wheelchair until we were safely checked in and in our room, as process that took about 45 mins. A wheelchair and steward was also provided at the end of our cruise. Every morning our breakfast was delivered by our wonderful Butler John and our room steward Johnny provided help when we needed it, and a smile every day. In fact, every one of the crew members greeted us, and smiled as we made our way down the corridors of the ship. These folks work very hard, 7 days a week, and yet they were professional and helpful. When we were waiting for a table at one of the restaurants (we only ate at the non-cover charge venues), the host noticed my mom struggling a bit to stand and he found a table for us immediately. It was this kind of care that we really appreciated and was available to us. We were invited to a cocktail hour with Capt Lars (for all suites) and he actually came to our table and spent some time with us, signing our card. Truly a thrill for Mom! My thrill came one morning alone in the spa when a bald eagle soared past the windows. We purchased a spa pass for 2 (150 dollars) at the beginning of the cruise and had access to the hot tubs, steam rooms and the lap pool. Truly worth the extra money. I would not recommend a massage as it was quite expensive and then is followed by the therapist recommending some product to purchase. Not a relaxing ending, but I'm sure encouraged by the NCL marketing dept. The food in the sit-down restaurants was adequate and for the most part fine for the average American pallette. The environs in the Market Cafe was a bit too much to tolerate, not really NCL's fault with the exception of the food temperature being too cold. The place was like a 'feeding trough' and other cruisers were at times rude, pushing into line. We ended up on one night, asking Mom what she would like to eat and just bringing it back to her. Very helpful staff who covered our food to keep it warm on our way back to the room. All in all, the trip was a wonderful success, the one shore excursion to Mendenhall Glacier with a trip to the hatchery (very informative) and Salmon bake truly enjoyable (don't miss the waterfall behind the picnic tables at the Salmon bake). The other stops we just walked around on our own and had a great time (don't miss the rock shop in Skagway). The true highlight of this cruise was the trip through the Tracy Arm Fjord. My mother could cuddle up on the sofa with a comforter and watch the most amazing natural scenery. Sis and I out on the balcony videotaping this magnificent place. I recommend the Norwegian Star to Alaska for a family vacation no matter what the abilities of the vacationers! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I am sitting here still feeling the gentle swaying of the ship and reflecting about my first cruise ever to Alaska, and there's so much to tell and say, and, and, and you get the point I am sure. I don't think anyone could have ... Read More
I am sitting here still feeling the gentle swaying of the ship and reflecting about my first cruise ever to Alaska, and there's so much to tell and say, and, and, and you get the point I am sure. I don't think anyone could have prepared me for this experience; it's truly one of those you have to experience firsthand to really understand what it's all about. Because I am a weenie when it comes to traveling -- (my idea of camping is the Four Seasons) I wasn't sure what the cabins would be like so we booked a suite. During this time our PCC made sure our excursions were taken care of, listened to me fret about the worry of being sick, and a myriad of other things I asked about. Over the course of 4 months my PCC and I developed a friendly rapport and I can't thank him enough. The night of the 20th we drove to Seattle, and spent the night at the Marriot. It was expensive, and the room was okay, but we didn't really care about the room, we just wanted the 20th to be over so we could begin our adventure. After a really expensive and horrible meal at the Crab Pot on the waterfront we took a leisurely walk back to our hotel and settled in for the night. We tossed and turned due to excitement I am sure -- before we knew it, it was 8:00 AM. We ordered breakfast and talked about what we thought "it" was going to be like. I can't remember a time I have been this giddy. Maybe when I was a child during Christmas? Or perhaps the night before I married my husband or gave birth to my son. This chick was giddy! Boarding was easy - we had booked a suite and had preboarding embarkation privileges. Those kinds of things are worth it to me - I hate standing in line due to a hip and knee injury. The level of service from start to finish was really amazing. In a matter of minutes we were escorted to the lounge where we met our concierge Patrick, had a few refreshments, and before we knew it we were being escorted to the ship. Our cards were scanned, we heard that lovely "ping" and then we were welcomed aboard and taken to Cagney's which is probably one of the nicest steakhouses I have ever been to. Our server was Syndrea, hands down one of the loveliest people I have ever met. She took a shine to my son, fawned all over him, and made us feel special. She was amazing. After a delightful lunch, many text messages and photos and OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS a lovely lady appeared and escorted us to our cabin. The cabin was really nice. I am not sure what I was expecting. It was darker than I think I anticipated -- I know I was frustrated because the curtains only opened one way and I would have liked more light. But my gosh to complain about that is ridiculous. I just spent a lot of time outside on our deck! Our butler appeared - Flor, another lovely lovely woman. Our luggage hadn't arrived and my husband was a little twitchy about that but she assured him it would arrive and she would help us put our clothes away. After a few moments to settle in I felt nervous in doing this but I handed her 20.00 and shared with her that my husband really liked his ice bucket full and could she make sure it stayed that way. She smiled and said "But of course and thank you" (The ice bucket was never ever empty). During this time she wanted to know if we wanted some espresso and we both said yes. I wanted to watch her make the first cup, as that's something I have always done for my husband is bring him his first cup of coffee. It's an I love you thing. Neither Flor nor I were sure how to operate this machine, and so we both bonded over learning how to froth milk and laugh oh did we laugh. This set the tone for our entire cruise. She loved us and we loved her. And oh my gosh, she spoiled our son rotten. (Later I found out he was the only child in the suite section -- and all of the stewards butlers made sure to say hello to him and he enjoyed that). Our concierge Patrick and our steward Vincent arrived both bearing letters -- the concierge sat down with us and made it very clear that no matter what we wanted or needed we just needed to let him know. Vincent wanted to make sure I knew the ice would never be empty, he would see to it. He then made sure our deck was ready, and brought our son an extra deck chair. I followed him out to the deck and handed him a 20 dollar bill as well, thanked him ahead of time, and told him I hoped we wouldn't be too big of a pain in the neck. He laughed and said "Don't be silly - you guys are great, I could hear Flor laugh all the way down the hall." Finally they all left and we began to check out the room. This is when I first noticed a really odd odor. It was cross between latrine and alcohol (like rubbing alcohol) and stale water. It was odd, and creepy. I asked my husband if he could smell it, and he said it was probably because we were in port and they were doing something with the sanitation. (More about that later) Before we knew it was 3:30 PM and time for our drill, once we completed our drill and headed back to our room it was time to set sail and we were on our way. We decided to go to Ginza our first night and it was amazing. The sushi was fantastic, the wine was wonderful, as well as all of the other Asian dishes. We met Joey the Assistant Restaurant Manager who is a dead ringer for an Asian Gary Shandling. When I told him who I thought he looked like he said - "You know I get that a lot" After supper we took a stroll on the deck and continued to explore the ship, enjoyed the sea air, ordered the kid some ice cream from out butler and turned in around 11:00 PM. And that was the first day aboard the Star. Some highlights - • Breakfast from any of the specialty restaurants that offer breakfast in your room. • Whale watching in Juneau. The photos we got were fantastic. We saw Orcas AND Humpbacks in the same area which the skipper from the excursion we chartered said doesn't happen often. They also put a microphone down in the water and you could hear the whales sing to one another which brought tears to my eyes. That was worth the trip itself. • The Chef's Table excursion in Ketchikan -- for one rainy rainy town the food was fabulous. I tried Black Cod (Sable fish) for the first time and became a fan. Ryan the young (24 year old) chef created lovely dishes with fresh ingredients, I recommend it to anyone. It was well worth the 125.00 we shelled out per person. • A deep conditioning and style at the salon as well as a 75 minute sports massage. (Just say no thank you to all the stuff they want to sell you, they get the message). • The larger than life prawns at Cagney's • The literally cut it with a fork tender steak at Le Bistro • The Cagney's French fries • The antipasto plate at La Cucina • Anything at Ginza - I mean anything. I think I personally ate 3 Dynamite rolls myself. • If you stay in a suite the mid afternoon snack they bring you. Cheese and fruit, or sweets. It was all great. • Sleeping like a baby at night -- the gentle motion of the ship was like being in a big cradle. I sleep better than I have in years. • The hospitality of 99% of the crew. • Bingo -- it was a hoot, and the assistant Cruise Director Joel is just hilarious. However, if you have kids, I am not sure I'd bring my child if they were under 13. There was some adult conversation about the number O-69 that we could have done without. I don't think I need to go any further with that! • The wait staff. FANTASTIC. Hands down, we didn't meet one wait person, wine steward, or maitre d' that wasn't nice and accommodating. Monique the restaurant manager actually made time to help my husband find a bottle of wine they said they were out of. • Again the butler and steward really went out of their way to make us feel at home and take care of our son, who they said over and over was well behaved and not a pain in the neck. There were 350 kids on board and we saw all kinds of stuff from really great kids to kids that I am sure parents would have liked to have left at the Kids Center the entire trip. • The portions on the ship regarding food - PERFECT size!!! • We had a private tour of the bridge and all I can say is WOW. It was mind blowing, and the staff and officers were so kind. They explained why we didn't get to travel further and see Sawyer Glacier close up -- I was horribly disappointed about that, but safety first. • The guys at the end of the crew finale with the spray bottles who danced and sang "We are family" they were funny - in fact the entire finale was heartwarming. Things that were not so great about our cruise (there are not many): • The odor in our room. No matter where I go I take air freshener with me when I travel. I mean let's be real when there are three people sharing a room the last thing you want to smell is someone else's poop, right? So I bring Lysol and everyone is happy. Every time we'd enter our room in the foyer as we entered this room we could smell this horrible odor. After about 5 minutes we'd get used to it. However, after about an hour we'd feel sick to our stomach and have a headache. We'd open our door to the deck and air out the room and breath fresh air and we'd be okay. The second day I asked our Butler and Steward if they smelled it. They said they couldn't, but kindly reminded me that I had been spraying Lysol and to them that is all they smelled -- so stop spraying and let it build up. So we did and sure enough the smell came back and this time they called the deck supervisor Edgar, as well as our concierge. Both men came up took a whiff and said "ICK what is that" No one knew, we all shrugged our shoulders, and began pulling everything out to see if something had died. We couldn't find anything. Next, the AC guys came up to check out the air conditioning. They found one plugged drain with rancid standing water. They unplugged it, cleaned it out, and they left 2 air purifiers in our room. That helped -- kind of. At least the headaches and the nausea went away. But the smell sort of stuck around. Everyone but us was freaking out. They offered to move us to a different cabin, but the cabin they had available was smaller than the one we were in, and my husband felt like he needed more room as it was. (We have decided our next cruise will be an owner's suite. I'd rather save for it and travel comfortably; he's a very tall guy that needs room). The ship bought us dinner at Cagney's minus alcohol, they also didn't pay for Lobster and that's fine with me. I felt weird accepting it. • The soda card rip off. We were lead to believe that the soda card covered everything even bottled water. Nope. It sure doesn't. The soda card covers everything that comes out of the soda fountain. Now on the Star the ginger ale was broken for a few days so they were giving out cans. I asked our Butler since they were giving out cans could we get cans delivered. She said yes, for 2.25 So we ran down and they end up giving us a few at a time, we'd bring them back up to the room. And that's how we did it. We figured we'd need to drink a heck of a lot of soda to make that work for our family. I myself drank a bottle of San Pellegrino a night at 4.50 a pop. So next time no soda card. • The gratuity system. -- I don't mind spending 12.00 per day per person. In fact, we gave our concierge, our butler and steward an extra 50.00 in cash without blinking. They seemed almost embarrassed to take it. What irked me was anytime we bought a beverage in the restaurant they charged a gratuity, I felt they were double dipping. I may be mistaken thinking that the bartenders don't receive the group gratuity. • Everything is for sale! Bingo, art, jewelry, make up, hair products, they want you to spend spend spend. I will say the ship's store was reasonably priced for the most part. But everywhere I turned around they wanted me to buy something. I learned to smile and say no thank you a lot. • Not being able to see Sawyer Glacier full on, but safety first we don't need the Titanic out there. • Last but not least -- Candi the Cruise Director, a lovely woman, but after 2 days of hearing her voice I wanted ear plugs ha ha. I learned how to imitate her perfectly, my family hates me now! She just has one of those voices that grate on your ears after a while. Things I learned - • It's a ship not a boat. • Forward is forward, and aft is the back of the ship • A green apple does wonders for any sort of sea sickness. Bonine is my friend, but take it beginning on the Wed before you set sail. And take it like clockwork. It doesn't make you sleepy • If your room is forward you will feel the motion of the ocean more, but it's a great place to see ports, glaciers, and whales. Last but not least, we had one really rude encounter. One woman from the excursion desk needed a huge time out. I think by the time my husband finished talking with her boss she was going to get more than a time out -- her behavior was deplorable. I am still saying "OMG" when I think about it. She was totally not NCL material. I know there's tons more I could say about my first cruise but I have rattled on and on. Thank you all for helping me prepare, it was amazing, I can't wait to do it again. Take care! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We sailed our first cruise ever to Alaska. The weather was beautiful, we had all sunny days for our total vacation. The embarkment & disembarkment went smoothly for us. I understand the computers had gone down for some during the ... Read More
We sailed our first cruise ever to Alaska. The weather was beautiful, we had all sunny days for our total vacation. The embarkment & disembarkment went smoothly for us. I understand the computers had gone down for some during the embarkment. Our ship left 10 minutes late due to the computer issues. We carried out our own luggage during the disembarkment and met our ride at 8 am. We managed to squeeze in an inside cabin, which included my husband & myself, 2 boys ages 18 & 16. We set up our room by moving our 2 twin beds down and placing our trundle bed & table at the head of the twin beds. So we had a path between the twin beds. The cabin stewart took out our chair. We had great cabin stewarts who were friendly and met all of our needs. Roger and Grace always were smiling and addressed us by our first names. Make sure you turn your dial at the door to turn down your beds at night so you get your towel animals. The food was good. They had stated that they had gotten a new head chef from the Netherlands that had started this particular week. We mostly dined at the Market Cafe for breakfast and lunch. The buffet included all different ethnics foods including sushi at lunch time. We enjoyed eating at the Aqua for supper. They had the better and faster service there compared to the Versailles. We ate one night at the specialized restaurant Asian Fusion. It was good, but I don't think it was worth the extra $60. The Market Cafe had good selection of Asian dishes. The Special Chocolate night was Wednesday evening. The chefs came out to watch our reactions. There was various ice sculptures, chocolate fountain, and all kinds of chocolate desserts sitting at all the Market Cafe food lines. There were mobs of people at this event. Since we had an inside cabin, we were concerned about finding a place to sit along the window. There were always plenty of seats around the ship. We took excursions at each port. We took a sightseeing excursion at Ketchikan and saw a black bear cub and numerous salmon and eagles. We took a whale watching excusion in Juneau and saw numerous gray whales. We had wanted to go to Mendenhall Glacier, but they had closed the road down. So we went up the tram and saw a beautiful view of Juneau. Our ship travelled to Tracy Arm and we saw Sawyer Glacier. Captain Lars stated this was the furthest he has gotten back to Tracy Arm in 5 years. We rented a car in Skagway and drove up to Emerald Lake. The trip was breathtaking. They are always better excursion deals outside the ship; except Prince Rupert. The NCL cruise will not allow you to book anything outside of them at this port. This was probably our most disappointing port. We went walking around for about an hour and returned back to our ship. We ate supper and then took a Crab Discovery Excursion. It was informational and good for small children, but definitely not worth the $130 per person. You also received a crab dish and complementary drink. Make sure you get back to your ship by the designated time or your ship will leave you. Many people were left behind. The shows were good, some better than others. My favorites were: the crew talent show (especially the fountain), Frankie Valli tribute band, band on the run 70's tribute show, and juggler. My boys enjoyed themselves too. They stayed up later and went to Spinnakers at night to the shows, and hung out at the exercise room and hottubs. Be sure and check your bill before disembarkment, there were some double charges on our bill that had to be removed. FYI: lemonade is no longer offered free on the ship. I used the internet to print out our boarding passes for our return flight, it adds minutes without you knowing it. It cost me $22 to use it for 30 minutes. Things I didn't like on the ship: the smoke smell in the Stardust Theater. I finally realized it was coming from the casinos. High priced photos taken on the ship. They never did come down in price. It was a good first time cruise for our family. We enjoyed being waited on, and the delicious food. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was our second cruise to Alaska. Both have been with NCl. The first was on the NCL Pearl the recent was on the Star. We found the service to be great on the Star with all personnel being very friendly and service oriented. Our ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska. Both have been with NCl. The first was on the NCL Pearl the recent was on the Star. We found the service to be great on the Star with all personnel being very friendly and service oriented. Our Stewards Donna and Alfredo were great. They were efficient and quite pleasant. My wife and I traveled with our two daughters ages 9 and 13. Due to a late booking we had to split up and had separate balcony cabins. The cabins were 10 doors from each other on deck 10 AFT. My wife was with our older daughter and I was with our 9 year old. We dined at the buffet regularly for breakfast or brunch and ate at one of the specialty restaurants in the evening for dinner. We very much enjoyed all of the dinners with La Cacuina being our favorite. We also tried Cagneys, Tapenaki, Ginza, and Blue Lagoon. We never waited for a table for the buffet and found the dining room to be clean and the food was good. We did think that the menu at the buffet was the same each day. This may be a problem for some but with the variety that was offered it was not an issue for us. The cabins were efficient and served our purpose but then again we spent most of our time on the balcony looking for whales and letting the beautiful scenery go buy. It may have been better to have a bigger cabin or bathroom but I doubt I would rate the cruise better if the cabin was larger. We took 3 excursions. The Tracy Arm/Sawyer Glacier tour, The Deadliest Catch tour in Ketchikan, and the garden and Glass blowing experience in Skagway. All were good. The glacier tour was about a hour too long as one can only take so many pictures of ice. But don't get me wrong I wouldn't of wanted to miss the experience because it was beautiful.The family loved the glass blowing. It was educational and interactive. I didn't care much for the lunch but the ladies loved the tea party and quiche. The Deadliest Catch was the real surprise for us. It was Awesome and even though the other excursions were good these guys were spectacular. They were honest and authentic. I highly recommend this excursion. The Star was clean and was big enough that it never seemed crowded although it was sold out. The weather was fantastic. It never rained and was in the mid to high 60's each day. We were amazed at the lack of people in the Star Bar on deck 13. In fact we had this bar all to ourselves several evenings of the cruise. The bartenders said that for some reason it does not get visited as the other lounges. Definitely a place to check out. I found the new Spinaker lounge to be an inadequate replacement for the old forward looking Spinaker of the Pearl or other NCL ships. While I understand the economics of the decision I don't think the product that is put forth is of the same quality. The Star is now lacking public viewing areas that protect cruisers from wind or the elements. The new Spinaker is like a deep dark cave.It is in desperate need of windows. Although we had our own balcony I felt sorry for those that did not. As surely they would benefit for more public viewing areas that were protected. The new cabins on deck 12 are very nice and will suit many. Just not my family as we won't cruise without a balcony to see, feel, smell and sometimes touch environments like Alaska. It struck us strange as to the color choices of these new cabins. The hallway carpet was a light tan and was already stained and tattered and it was only its second week. We heard from the crew that NCL planned to convert some of the other ships to this new format. I hope they don't. The embark was slowed when the NCL computer system went down. The NCL embark crew did a good job trying to counteract this but the lines were long and the ship did leave about 30 minutes late. The disembark was a breeze as we walked off with our bags without delay. We went to several of the shows including the Charles Peachock (sp), Oh What a Night- Frankie Vali Tribute, The International Crew Show, Band on the Run, and Cirque de Pacific. All were good but the Frankie Vali tribute was outstanding. The kids club for both age groups did not appeal to either one of our kids but it did look like kids in the younger ages were enjoying themselves. The teens however seemed bored; however, this may be more a reflection of the age group rather than the facility. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
The good: (1) The kids' program. My wife and I went with a 2 and 4 year old. They both loved the kids' program and begged to go to whenever possible. My 9 year old nephew, also on our cruise, also loved the kids' program. ... Read More
The good: (1) The kids' program. My wife and I went with a 2 and 4 year old. They both loved the kids' program and begged to go to whenever possible. My 9 year old nephew, also on our cruise, also loved the kids' program. It's free when the ship is sailing, $6 a child or $10 for two when the ship is in port. Almost no one used the latter service, but we did, and the kids got lots of attention. (2) The staff. Hardworking, and always friendly. (3) The Blue Lagoon. An eighth floor 24 hour casual dining spot, rarely crowded, relatively quiet, big picture windows. (4) The specialty restaurants. We dined at La Cucina and the Tex Mex restaurant, $10 a person each (5 for kids). Well worth it. Better food and better service, they really try to please the customers who choose this option. At first I saw this as a ripoff, trying to extract more money from customers, but after trying it I see it as a way for customers who want a much better dining experience to pay a little extra for it. (5) The kiddie pools. Mostly too cold to use them, but our 4 year old loved them. (6) The buffet. A nice buffet, but, more important, unlike on our Carnival experience two years ago, no significant lines, ever, whereas Carnival had long lines all day. Also a nice small kiddie area. (7) Room service. On port days, with short times in port, we just ordered room service (didn't have to be from the breakfast menu, I had pizza twice) to be delivered at 6:30, we ate in the hall (room too small) and were out by 6:45. The Bad: (1) Smallest room sizes in the industry. And our room (4506) was clearly smaller than the other outsides. And, if we had to do it again, we'd want a guaranteed window instead of a porthole. My sister had the window and it was a great way to see Alaska. (2) SELL! SELL! SELL! NCL is constantly trying to sell you whatever they can: jewelry, shore excursions, bingo, spa services, and so on. (3) Entertainment. We didn't go to most of the shows because of the kiddies, but we thought the Frankie Vallie tribute band was awful, and the Second City group only okay. On sea days, there was relatively little to do on board, no lectures on Alaska and only one movie, NCL wanted you to attend bingo or a ripoff art auction instead. (4) Short times in port. Had to leave Juneau at 1:30, for example. (But unlike many people, we actually enjoyed Prince Rupert, because it seemed like a real town, not a tourist trap, and wasn't filled with other ships). (5) Food in non-specialty restaurants: mediocre. The Ugly (1) The Versailles dining room. Long lines, bad service, mediocre food. Only one table for 10 (our party size) available in the whole place. The first day, we witnessed the maitre de giving instructions to the waiters, who didn't know what she was talking about, the waiters apparently had been on another ship or in another dining room before. If you got to the restaurant much passed 5:30 when it opened for dinner, the line was crazy. When this happened once, we asked whether Aqua would be better. We were told no, but went there anyway, no line. Lunch and breakfast were also disorganized with bad service. Aqua is not as attractive, but had much better service (same food). But do yourself a favor and eat in the specialty restaurants at least two nights, just add it to your budget. (2) The "happy happy guy." Standing at the entrance to the buffet was an employee with a bottle of anti-germ spray. Every time someone came in he said "Happy happy smiley smiley." By the end of the cruise, I wanted to "punchy punchy" him in the "mouthy mouthy." How about a simple "good morning?" Miscellaneous: Alaska car rental in Ketchikan was a pleasure to deal with. We drove north to the totem park and then to Ward Lake, avoiding the crowds. Avis in Skagway was unpleasant to deal with. They refused to honor a rate we got from the internet, and, after our daughter got car sick (but not in the car) we asked if we could return it very early in the day for a partial refund, early enough that they probably could have rented it again (11 am, the other NCL ship was going to be in port until 7:30 pm). Nope. Nice playground for small children in Prince Rupert right by the ship. There are Safeways in P.R. and Ketchikan if you need groceries or toiletries, and of course Juneau has all sorts of stores. In Juneau, we took a taxi directly from the boat to the glacier, and got there well before the crowds, we had the glacier practically to ourselves, 34 dollars plus tip each way. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Trip Review - NCL Star to Alaska July 10-17, 2010 This was our second cruise and first on NCL Star and to Alaska. Our first was in 2007 on Carnival to Mexican Riviera for 5 days. Both times we brought our kids (now mid teens). Despite ... Read More
Trip Review - NCL Star to Alaska July 10-17, 2010 This was our second cruise and first on NCL Star and to Alaska. Our first was in 2007 on Carnival to Mexican Riviera for 5 days. Both times we brought our kids (now mid teens). Despite all of the negative reviews on the NCL Star we read that scared us to death, it was pretty good overall. All family members rated the overall trip 8 out of 10. Give the negative reviews a grain of salt. I think people who have bad experiences are more incented to complain (online), so take them with a grain of salt. Comparing NCL to Carnival is unavoidable. Generally we preferred Carnival (Elation) better due to a younger, livelier crowd, better dEcor and deck layouts, better public spaces, more fun things to do on board, better teen program and spaces, free soft drinks everywhere and maybe even better food. But the Star's entertainment and cabins were superior. Food The food is one of the biggest draws for any cruise ship. NCL Star wasn't bad, wasn't great. There are five free eating areas: Blue Lagoon, Aqua, Versailles and Market Cafe and the outdoor grill (that we were aware of). The rest require varying cover charges per person. The Market Cafe we called the zoo because it's loud and constantly swarming with people, kids and service staff. It was often hard to find a place to sit. It's a buffet, so what do you expect? Most was edible and plentiful. The pancakes were bland. Desserts were everywhere but most were tasteless. I'm so turned off in general by fat Americans piling tons of food on their plates that they basically don't finish and waste. Makes me ill. We took what we expected to eat and ate it. I'm a snob, but over 10-20% of the guests had to be grossly obese—disgusting. NCL sported a chocolate buffet night splurge fest with various deserts and chocolate fondue and ice cream, but basically wasn't that tasty unfortunately. We ate at Cagney's Steakhouse and Ginsa Asian restaurant. Both were good, but not really worth the extra money. Best part was service, nice dEcor and no crowds. The steakhouse may have been better, as we got a hefty sized filet with all the trimmings, lobster bisque soup and more. The au gratin looked nice but was tasteless. Overall average tasting. Service was always good. One real downside is that we found waiters frequently trying to up sell us on "specials" in the cover charge restaurants. In fact, at breakfast one day, our waitress hovered over us for a long time making small talk and finally came out and tried to up sell us. Really irritating. A minute of chitchat is fine, but hovering over us constantly was inappropriate. It was very disappointing that soft drinks and lemonades must be paid for (free on Carnival). Only apple, orange, pineapple juices were free at the Market Cafe during breakfast. As a soft drink addict, I found this irritating. Only water, milk and coffee are free otherwise and I don't drink coffee or milk. Hot chocolate was included at Blue Lagoon. I skipped the $50/week unlimited "refill" pass more out of spite. You'd have to drink at least four cans a day to break even, and I only drank around three a day, so I saved $10+ buying a can each for $2.24 (including tax and tip). Although with the pass you don't have the added overhead of signing for each can—geez. The bar staff swarms almost everywhere trying to sell you drinks which is good if you are looking for them, but perhaps too many as we ordered one then three other waiters show up to serve us. Leave us alone! We never used room service because of the limited selection of items. Was easier to walk two floors up to the Market Cafe (which we called the Zoo). Cabins We got a balcony room for us, and an inside cabin for the kids across the hall. It worked out great. So NCL's policy is that kids must have a parent in the room with them, but we simply got extra keys and re-arranged ourselves after we checked in. The staff didn't care and our kids are old enough to be self sufficient and responsible. The kids felt the beds were extremely comfortable and didn't mind being inside though did miss being able to see the view, so they'd try to come into ours sometimes, but eventually became comfortable roaming the ship without us and seeing the views elsewhere. The rooms were not gaudy we felt except for perhaps some gaudy artwork, reasonably appointed, white bed sheets and nice wood paneling on various cabinets. Good lighting in the room and on the balcony. The bathrooms were very nice (better than Carnival's) though they have no electrical outlet. The hair dryer and outlet are in the main room near the bathroom with a mirror. Shampoo and bath gel are in the showers. The water pressure wasn't great in the shower but certainly got hot enough. The balcony room was not large but not cramped either. It's great for two people. The couch supposedly unfolds for a third but I wouldn't recommend it. The beds were not gaudy and had nice white sheets. The pillows were nice and big/soft but the mattresses were somewhat hard. The room had several large mirrors and behind the bed making the room feel larger. Temperature control was good and we could open/close the sliding glass window for some quick fresh air. There is only one 110V AC outlet in the room so if you need juice for multiple devices, you should bring a power strip and even an extension cord (we did). Came in handy with several chargers we had. The balcony spoils you and like others say, and I agree, you never want to go back to inside or ocean view room once you've experienced a balcony room. You wake up each morning looking out your sliding glass doors at the scenery from your bed. Marvelous. We wanted to sit out on the balcony more often but due to cruising Alaska, it was generally too cold and windy to spend much time out there. We could with a few nice warm days interspersed. Rooms were always cleaned quickly and well. The stewards we did interact with were very friendly and accommodating. My daughter misplaced her TV remote once and we couldn't find it so the staff quickly brought a replacement (we thought we might be charged for losing the first one, but wasn't). Then the other remote showed up later. BEWARE! When the boat docks at port, crewmen on a moving platform on a track outside washes down the ship. A couple times we were rudely surprised as we were practically naked changing in the morning and we see a guy outside our balcony suddenly moving across our view! Although I don't think he looked in, he could have. There was no warning. Freaky. The tiny TV sucked but was adequate since we really shouldn't be wasting our time in front of the tube. While an expense, I'd recommend NCL upgrade rooms to 40+ inch flat screen LCD TV's to replace the crappy tube TV and gaudy artwork. It would certainly differentiate NCL and improve the overall experience. One channel was a 24/7 webcam of the front of the ship that was fun for 2 seconds but otherwise dull. Would be nice to see different parts of the ship on cam. The voyage stats channel was a nice touch for 1995 but should be upgraded on that new LCD screen I'm suggesting. It just cycles slowly with various info like speed, position, pool temperatures, etc. The map system was slow and outdated and would be nice to have more interactivity and a GPS route, etc. But it tuned out to be our favorite channel as we read we could see where we were at any given time. Events Some events were really good but many weren't. We loved the comedy, game shows, contests, dances and karaoke at Spinnaker lounge. Be careful as you may be picked to participate! Ken Bird the ventriloquist was hilarious. Oddly he first picked my daughter to receive and hold a one of his wiggling furry creatures. Then later, he picked my wife to join him and another audience member to serve as human dummies that he spoke through—was hilarious. She did not want to be picked but reluctantly participated. She was also unlucky to be picked Dance With The Stars at Spinnaker. She is such a ham and got into it with her partner (Fraggle Rock) and ended up jumping on him exposing her underwear. She's a goof and was embarrassed as of course the event was televised through everyone's staterooms on an endless loop. So she was somewhat famous for a week I guess. Second City gave some good comedic performances which were fun, especially the adult versions of course. O What a Night (Frankie Valli tribute) was also very entertaining—much better than we expected. Ports & Excursions We only had four ports outside of Seattle: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert. Generally, the Star doesn't provide sufficient time at the ports to really soak up the local experience, so you are forced to move quickly. The most plausible explanation is that they want to cram more ships in (NCL Pearl shared ports too), they prefer you spend more time and money on ship, and port fees must be high although they certainly make decent commissions on the excursions. Yes they are priced high and some are probably rip-offs but you are held hostage and you are there to enjoy the off-ship scenery so you are stuck. They digitally photograph you when you first embark and associate with your card key, so they never asked us for photo ID, just our cards when exiting/entering the ship. They have a small scanner after you enter for checking metallic substances, so be prepared to remove belts with buckets, cameras, cell phones, change... They don't allow food back onboard but they never seemed to care or enforce it. So many of the ports sell candy, popcorn, drinks, and they seem to let those in apparently. We never tried to smuggle in alcohol. Ketchikan is the quaintest of the ports we felt, an interesting little town with quite a bit of shopping, history and scenery. Ketchikan had the best and most varied shopping we thought, though Skagway and Juneau had typical tourist shops too. Recommend you walk past the tourist shops and far back into the town towards the park to see some incredible old totem poles, scenery and get the local feel. In Juneau, instead of paying $300 for the family to tour the glacier we simply caught a cab from the dock for only $70 round trip to the Mendenhall Glacier—and got a personal tour from the driver. We were not rushed to stay with a tour group and saw many people running/complaining of their schedule. We missed the hatchery (but who cares) and had more time seeing the glacier. The young Russian cabby on the way back took us to see the governor's mansion (wasn't much I'll say). He was a real kick. In Juneau you need to stop by Tracey's King Crab Shack for some mouthwatering bisque and crab. Skagway is the farthest north and has requisite tourist shops galore down a strip, but nothing entirely noteworthy. A few off the beaten path restaurants and bars. The real draw is the scenery, mountains, and rivers. We took the train ride up the mountain with incredible vistas. They provide free water bottles but recommend you bring snacks since it's a long 2-3 hour ride. Sit in the middle of the train car if you go because we found numerous kids opening and closing the door to the outside which was freezing and windy (we sat at the end). Prince Rupert (Canada) was forgettable except for the scenery. Don't forget your passports which you also need to re-enter the US in Seattle. I ended up taking my daughter on a 3.5 hour kayak tour which was well worth it. However, not being experienced kayakers we got very tired 1.5 hours into it and found ourselves dying by the end to get back to the beach where we started from as the clock ticked towards 8pm and getting darker and colder. But the tour cooked up free crab and donuts at the end and they were very friendly and informative. Recommended Things To Bring 1. Small power strip and extension cord. 2. Nook eReader packed with reading material. 3. iPod to hear tunes while hot tubing or lounging. 4. Binoculars for scenery and occasional whale/animal sightings. 5. Camera and/or camcorder with lots of batteries and storage and small tripod. 6. Layers of clothing. Shorts for hot days (there were a few) and long pants. Hat and gloves for cold weather, ski coat and light sweater, hiking shoes for dirty excursions, flip-flops or slip-ons for ship use and fancy shoes for nightlife. 7. Don't' forget valid passports! 8. A duffle bag for your last night. Miscellaneous Enforced tips suck. They are convenient from an accounting perspective though and the staff generally performed quite well despite this approach. We read we could opt out of enforced tips to tip individually, but decided it wasn't worth it. We heard that the staff doesn't get any time off weekly—that they have to work continuously for 8 months and then get 4 months off. Sounds incredibly grueling and unfair. They should get at least one day off a week in not two. Staff was efficient, friendly and courteous. I asked a janitor once where the nearest men's room was and pointed the way in a crowded corridor. I changed my mind about using it then and went back into the fitness center, and he had followed me to make sure I found it and said it wasn't in there! While it was a little creepy that he was following me with dedication, I found it noteworthy that he cared. The hosts and hostesses of events were outstanding, fun and friendly. Candi our South African cruise director was terrific and Kristine (Filipino hostess) was a kick. The cruise age demographic was top heavy and while I am being ageist, I enjoy a younger crowd 20-55 singles, couples and families with older kids for the energy. I'd estimate at least half of the passengers were 55-85. I know old age is my fate if I am so lucky, but I'm not there yet. The ship is modern and well designed. I looks beautiful. It felt extremely sturdy and safe. It did sway a bit especially in the open sea, but this is normal. Generally you could not tell you were on a ship—Carnival's Elation had more noticeable movement. Carnival really does have better public areas (design and larger space). The Star sacrifices that for upscale restaurants with cover charges to keep out the riffraff. It just seems like a business decision that's paying off for them. The Spa area was beautiful. They pushed a special $99 for one or $150 per couple for the week to have unlimited access to the spa area which was quite tempting. The more private spa area includes two hot tubs, a lap pool, sauna, showers, classy lounge chairs, and two private reading areas with small bars. It was quite tempting but we ended up passing because we felt our balcony cabin was sufficient for both privacy and view and wanted to save money. We ended up visiting the public hot tubs daily, which was not so bad and afforded us people watching and socializing sometimes which we like. The more private spa offers some of the villa experience at substantially reduced price. Overall, again we had a great time and loved seeing Alaska as it's been on our bucket list for many years. All of the extras do add up and we had a $1500+ bill of incidentals (excursions, forced tips, drinks), so make sure you budget beyond the basics. Try to ignore any negatives, focus on the positives and bask in the glow of luxury cruising for the masses. And check out the scenery once in awhile. Most of all, have fun! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We were first time cruisers who live within driving distance of Seattle so we drove to the parking structure across the street from the pier and rolled our suitcases (across the train tracks) to the pier where we were able to check them ... Read More
We were first time cruisers who live within driving distance of Seattle so we drove to the parking structure across the street from the pier and rolled our suitcases (across the train tracks) to the pier where we were able to check them about 10am. (we boarded the ship closer to noon). Parking for cruisers is pretty well marked but cost a shocking $140 for the week! (paid as you leave) We will pack lighter next cruise and take more compact rolling suitcases (one each with a backpack and handheld bag apiece), our rolling duffles were rather floppy. We packed a lot of cold weather stuff we didn't wear, but a few items are important for cruising up to Alaska. Raincoats and fleece hoodie were worn plenty. Shorts could be worn in the sun on deck (not ashore), but capris were mostly what we wore on board. Dining was truly casual even in the main restaurants, but one could dress up and not feel out of place. For going ashore we wore zipoff nylon pants, but didn't have occasion to zip the lower legs off. One might need more warm clothing if doing some of the shore excursions, which we didn't do this trip. Good big binoculars were used all the time (we both took them) on this trip. I was glad I took 2 big memory cards for my digicam, I took a lot of photos! Really important were clothes that were forgiving in the waist! Don't bother with clothing that 'just fits', it won't won't be popular with you a ways into the week! We liked the food very much, it wasn't gourmet but that isn't our preference; it was fresh, plentiful, good choices for everyone (even us non-meat eaters). I loved the chilled fruit soups and my travel partner loved the veg sushi and we both ate more salad and fresh fruit than at home (fresh pineapple every day!). We ate at the 'main' restaurant Versailles twice and the 23 hr Blue Lagoon once (limited menu there). Both were fine, and the desserts were better than in the buffet where we usually ate. (note: Blue Lagoon is closed for one hour for cleaning from 4-5am). We liked the ship a lot, it had many areas to hang out on and the flow seemed pretty good, except going quickly out to the 13 deck from inside wasn't easy to figure out. I didn't much care for the piped in music all over, even in Market Cafe and especially loud at the pool. Who is that for, the staff? Surely not the relaxing de-stressing guests, I found it more irritating (ie, stressful) than entertaining! The fitness center was excellent, we used it every day, with good equipment and towels/spray to keep it clean, also cold towels in a refrig! Neither of us paid for spa services, but it looked good if someone wanted pampering and procedures (teeth whitening, botox, etc). Laps around the upper deck were fun for fresh air, exercise, and scenery on this gorgeous cruise. Our weather in mid-June was the usual unpredictable maritime mix of sun, drizzle, clouds/sun, and wind (especially in Skagway). The air was really chilly cruising the glaciers. The mini-suite was rather cozy in a good sense, a bit narrow but we got used to that; I loved having a coffeemaker with as many packs of caf and decaf as we asked for and ceramic cups to drink it in, and we had a tub (I used it) and a bit bigger balcony and sitting area than a regular balcony room. There were bathrobes in the closet, but one of them needed washing. I also noticed a lot of dust on the wood tables, and candy wrappers under the bed. There are limited outlets, bring an adapter to 220 if you need to charge cell phones or a laptop. A 110 is by the vanity/hairdryer along the hall next to the bathroom and another one is almost hidden under the shelf over the sink. We didn't realize the closet had a light, I read about it after on this forum; we used a flashlight to see our clothes on the closet shelf! There were another 2 drawers next to the vanity (which also has a stool and big mirror with a light). The big duffels empty fit under the beds out of the way and there were shelves above the closet area for more storage. The bathroom mirror had a big magnifying mirror, and the entire cabin was full of mirrors to make it feel more spacious. The TV was not flat-panel like in some cruise lines' cabins nor did it get very good reception. We mostly had it tuned to the bow cam so we could see where we were headed, but the last day at sea I discovered the channel (?2 or 3) that showed us a map with a little ship of exactly where we were�I would've loved that all the way if I'd known about it! Also one of those channels had the shipboard announcements, which we couldn't hear very well from the room (we'd stick a head into the hallway or miss it). The cabin had lots of hooks, rather dim reading lights by each bed (twins which could be made into a queen), very comfy mattresses, decent but not luxurious sheets and towels. We loved the shower which had a handheld option for the showerhead. Very nice shampoo and lavender-scented handsoap in wall dispensers in shower and by the sink, respectively. (no need to pack shampoo, but you might want to take a face soap and shower soap if you're sensitive to body washes like I am). We really liked the little shelf next to the doorway where you could leave your keycard, or whatever item you wanted to grab when you went out. The sofa in the sitting area next to the sliding glass door was comfortable and could be made to a double bed for 1 more adult or 2 kids (any more people would overtax the cabin, I think), but room to move around would be very limited with this pulled out. It was best for just 2 people. The ship is very family-friendly, in fact almost family-centered; there were many families with kids of all ages on our summer sailing. They were mostly pretty well-behaved and many were in their programs during the day, but it got a bit wild and noisy the last day and evening at sea with thundering feet above us (we were aft on deck 11) from the kids' areas just above. It was convenient to take the stairs up to the Market Cafe a deck above in a jiffy, I could bring my meal back to the cabin with me if the cafe felt too crowded and busy. The Market Cafe has great views with big windows on both sides of the ship, so it's nice for scenery watching if you can take the hub-bub in there. The main problem, and the one than may make me choose another cruise line over NCL is their smoking policy: guests can smoke in cabin/on balcony. That was the only place onboard we had a problem, we had several heavy smokers in the cabin one forward of us (upwind as the ship moved). They lit up often and not only was it awful on the balcony where we wanted to do a lot of hanging out watching scenery, it actually infiltrated our cabin, and the hallway by our door was atrocious. The dangers of secondhand smoke are well known nowadays, and there were so many children on board; smoking, including secondhand smoke exposure, is a major causative factor in most cancers and many other illnesses that can take many years or decades to affect the future health of them as well as the present health of all who breathe it! It really spoiled our trip at times (like during the highlight of the trip, cruising the fjord to the glaciers, we were forced to breathe it on our balcony). NCL is very conscientious about cleanliness when it comes to handwashing, touchless stations are all over the ship. After 3 polite complaints about the smoke we finally got a plug-in air filter in our cabin but it had already been smoky for days and the desk knew about it. They did offer to 'refresh' our cabin when I complained about the smell, but I declined as it wouldn't help the balcony and would force us out of our cabin while they changed everything (to no avail, I'm sure). My requests to be moved were answered with "the ship is full" (??). NCL needs to re-think this smoke-friendly policy and get modern. They could give smokers some spots onboard to indulge their habit without subjecting others to it, like Celebrity does: specifically NOT in the cabins and on the balconies. I like a lot about NCL's Freestyle cruising, but this is the wrong kind of freedom! Not in anyone's best interest. The service wasn't what I'd consider 'top-notch', more like so-so, often very perfunctory. Our cabin steward left things out and we had a bogus $15 minibar charge added to the obligatory $12/day/person on one of our charge cards but we didn't know about it until the charge card bill came 2 weeks after the cruise. When I called to ask why it was there, they believed me right away but I had to have it credited back to my card in the next billing cycle. Debarking was really easy as we chose the "easy-walk-off" method, as long as you can manage your own luggage (don't overload yourself!) you can leave first and customs was no more for us than show our passports and go. We walked across the street to reclaim the car and were headed for home in the more-usual Seattle rainy weather in no time. Overall it was a great trip, except for the smoke pollution, and we want to cruise Alaska's Inside Passage again someday, although we're not sure if we want to take a gamble with our assigned neighbors on NCL again! And I would recommend a balcony for viewing the Inside Passage scenery because that is the main draw of this cruise itinerary!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Since I'm prone to seasickness, I tend to avoid boat vacations. However, I could not pass up the opportunity to see Alaska. My friend and I were booked on the repo cruise from L.A. and it was 3+ full days on rough ocean waters until ... Read More
Since I'm prone to seasickness, I tend to avoid boat vacations. However, I could not pass up the opportunity to see Alaska. My friend and I were booked on the repo cruise from L.A. and it was 3+ full days on rough ocean waters until the first port of call. I'm glad I brought along some Bonine so I was only feeling ill for part of the day. The rear of the ship seemed to rock the worst where people were stumbling like terrible drunks down the walkway! The GOOD: Our balcony cabin was wonderful. Clean, bright and cleverly laid out. I saw inside a windowless cabin and it was dark and claustrophobic even though similar in square footage. The cabin bathroom had separate sliding doors for the shower and toilet. Only two outlets in the whole cabin - one in the bathroom and one near the small refrigerator. We made use of the mini-safe in the cabin. Most of the ship staff were very helpful and professional. They all work so hard and such long days. We enjoyed chatting and getting to know some of them personally. We loved the trivia contests even though we never won any of them! Met some fun and intelligent people. Also, this activity allowed us to be somewhere more quiet, away from the noise and crush of people. The gym is decently equipped with the usually machines. I also walked along the outside circuit on Deck 12 on the mornings when it wasn't blowing too hard. The gorgeous Versailles dining room became our favorite venue for dinner. The food ranged from weird fusion/bad to surprisingly good (the Indian food for lunch at the Market Cafe and the rack of lamb for dinner) but most of their desserts were disappointing. The ice cream stand is a very nice treat. I do like the open seating, dine whenever concept. The Stardust Theater is beautiful and the seats were very comfortable. We'd catch the earlier 7pm shows so we could have a late dinner and avoid the crowd. The complimentary champagne at the "art" auction was decent and, again, it was a quiet, peaceful venue away from the noise and crowds. Besides, I could never tire from looking at the Rembrandt etchings they had. Disembarkation/customs in Canada went pretty well considering three cruise ships had docked that same morning. We took our own bags off the ship and that was a wise decision. NCL did right by offering a choice of times to leave the ship. We had breakfast first and did not feel rushed in preparing to disembark. We found a taxi right away after we cleared customs. I took photos of Canada Place and Vancouver as we docked. Two other HAL cruise ships (Oosterdam) were at the pier already. You can see them on my zazzle home page under mltdesigns. The Not So Good: The NCL website needs improvement. It wasn't set up to be intuitive and the site couldn't keep our accounts separate (two people with different addresses booked in the same cabin). Also, NCL customer service did not deliver on their promise to email me about my airline arrangements. I had to chase them down twice over the phone to get that information. Embarkation took a very long time. Also my luggage never showed up to our cabin. I had to ask TWICE at the reception desk about it. Finally, I was told it was being held for contraband items. A fire hazard. I had a curling iron in my bag but was dumbfounded by their policy. Passengers can smoke in their cabins but I can't have a curling iron or clothes iron in the room?! The security staff decently let me keep the contraband items if I don't use them while I was on the ship. I was really more upset that I wasn't notified that my bag was being held. I was finally able to retrieve my luggage after 8pm that night. We had to pay for everything else, expensive too! Cabin fee does not cover mandatory tips at $12/per person per day (we paid that plus extra directly to our waiters/housekeepers etc.), alcoholic drinks, soda, bottled water, any excursions and for use of the inside pool in the spa. However, the martini I ordered was made perfectly and, while the canoe paddle on Mendenhall Lake was $160 a person plus tip, it was the highlight of our trip. I was surprised how expensive this cruise turned out to be even though we did not eat in any specialty restaurants and only bought two drinks each during the whole cruise. The fee for wifi Internet service was outrageous at 75 cents a minute and terribly unreliable. Even though I was given partial credit, it was still quite a rip-off. On Day 4 of the cruise, I was finally able to check email at the public library when we docked at Juneau, then later in Ketchikan. Both libraries are 2-3 blocks away from the ship docks. Too little time at port. After spending about 3.5 hours on a tour/excursion at both ports, we only had an hour or two to explore the town. I'll just have to go back someday! Library and movie theater were closed due to construction. The TV seldom had any stations on. All I wanted was CNN news since the Internet wasn't really available. Bathroom amenities: Practically none. I suggest bringing your own shampoo and soap. The shower dispenser took many pumps to get enough to clean with.. and it was cheap product. I've not been on any other major cruise ship so I'm not sure how to rank the NCL line. The week-long river cruise ship I was on had much better food and included more educational/interesting activities. I was also spoiled by the all-inclusive river cruise fare which included beer, soda, meals and shore excursions, optional tipping. Summary: Alaska is a must-go-see. A balcony or outside window cabin would really make for a better trip. I loved my first ocean cruise experience - it was an adventure on many levels and restful too. Next time, I'll select a cruise that starts closer to Alaska and with more ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We arrived in Seattle the day before our cruise, May 28th. I had gotten a room at the Sheraton Seattle downtown through Priceline for $80. We arrived in Seattle about 10:30am. I had done some research, and since we had plenty of time, we ... Read More
We arrived in Seattle the day before our cruise, May 28th. I had gotten a room at the Sheraton Seattle downtown through Priceline for $80. We arrived in Seattle about 10:30am. I had done some research, and since we had plenty of time, we took the short walk to the Light Rail, and rode it to the Westlake Station for what should have been $5. When we got to the Light Rail station at the airport, we found the train just sitting there with nobody around. We just got on. About half-way through the trip I noticed some brochures on the wall about how to ride the local transit system. Just as I got to the part where it explains you buy your ticket at a vending machine at the station, a security guard came along checking tickets. He was very polite as he escorted us off the train at the China Town station and helped us get our tickets...just $3.50 from there. We caught the next train about 15 minutes later and finished our journey. As luck would have it, the Seattle Sheraton was only 2 blocks away from the station, and we easily carried our luggage to the hotel. If you have the time, this is the way to get downtown. It takes about 30 minutes to make the trip. Even though we were real early, we were able to go straight to our room. The Sheraton is a very nice, and very large motel. About the only drawback was they did not offer a free continental breakfast. BTW...EVERYTHING in Seattle is expensive...at least compared to rural Oklahoma. Before we'd left, I had made reservations with Tours Northwest for a tour of Seattle. These are really nice folks and give a pretty good tour for the money, even though they don't take you to the Space Needle, though it did seem they took us just about everywhere else. They do not collect any payment till the last stop before they return you either to your motel, or Pike Place Market or any other place as long as it's not too far out of their way (they won't run you to the airport). The cost for this tour for the both of us was $92 after I used a $3 per person coupon I got off of seattleattractions.com. The $6 I saved I tacked on as a tip ($98). We ate lunch at the nearby Cheesecake factory, and a light supper at another place I don't recall. We got 2 small bowls of soup for about $12...the best deal we could find. Can't wait to get on the ship! Saturday morning we took a cab to pier 66. The fare was $6.75. I just gave the cabbie a 10. We arrived about 10:45am, and went through booking in about 15 minutes. After about another 30 minute wait we were allowed to board. Somebody on this board stated NCL WAS giving Destination Alaska coupon books out, but I never saw them. I had ordered one through snail-mail for $5, and it was well worth it. We didn't have time to use it extensively, but easily saved at least 5 times what it cost us. Once on board, everybody headed for the Market Cafe. It was a little crowded, but not too bad. The food was decent buffet fare. About 2pm we were allowed in our rooms. Our bags weren't there yet, but came shortly afterward. We had an inside stateroom on the 8th deck. Yes, it was small, but it was big enough for the two of us. The bathroom was nice with a fairly roomy shower. Shampoo, shower gell, and handsoap were all in wall mounted pump containers that worked real well. They also supplied a bottle of Elemis body lotion. While we brought hair conditioner with us, my wife never used it. The hair dryer worked very well also. On our sea-day, Sunday, the Star had arranged for a Cruise Critic meet-and-greet. We met in LeBistro at 11:30 am. Jean Michelle (I hope I'm not butchering his name) the hotel captain, along with several other male and female officers including Candi, the cruise director, visited with us and answered questions. One of the female officers made the cookies for our meeting, and my wife said they were the best cookies she had on the cruise. There are basically 4 free eating places on the Star, and several specialty (fee) eating places. We did not buy any of our food on board...Call me cheap. We ate most of our breakfasts at the Market Cafe. With both outside walls lined with floor-to-glass windows, enjoying my meal and a cup of coffee afterward while watching spectacular scenery slide by was one of the peak times of the day for me. Second would be having a snack of buffalo wings at the Blue Lagoon just before sunset in front of their floor-to-ceiling windows was another one. Which brings up another point. I've heard a lot of whining about the Spinnaker being moved to an enclosed room aft, and now there's no place to view the beautiful Alaskan scenery from inside the ship. There are PLENTY of places for viewing from inside the ship, including I don't know how many hall-way windows with comfortable cushion lined sills where one can sit and read a book and enjoy the scenery. There are also many places you can sit outside watching the scenery still completely out of the elements. We ate our dinners in the Versailles, and enjoyed it very much. The Aqua, the other dining area just never appealed to us. I think it was mainly because there were fewer windows. The Versailles is located at the very back end of the ship. The entire back wall is solid glass with ornate metal framing. There are also windows on the sides. We liked the free-style dining arrangement. Except for a couple evenings, we volunteered to share our table. If you get there when they first start serving, you'll find this is the best way to get a table right by the back glass. A bonus was the interesting people we met at those meals. To finish off the eating, the Market Cafe has an excellent variety of food at breakfast and lunch. We never ate dinner there. They also serve a late evening buffet which we tried once and liked (they have pizza). The poolside grill serves several varieties of hot dogs (bratwurst, sausage, etc), hamburgers, french fries and all the fixings, weather permitting. And the Blue Lagoon, the only 24 hour eatery. It has a limited menu of buffalo wings, fish and chips, burger and fries, chip and dip, and a few deserts. We'd always eat a snack here between shows about 9:30 or so, and enjoy a fabulous Alaskan sunset. The shows were hit-and miss. The Frankie Vallie tribute was very good as well as Band on the Run. The Circque Pacific was ok, and the Second City show was a total waste of time. Candi Finklestein (?) was our excellent cruise director, and made sure our days at sea, and I guess in port was full of things to do. I believe it was between Juneau and Skagway that we took a side trip up Endicott Arm to see the Dawes Glacier. We were supposed to go up Tracy Arm to see the Sawyer Glacier, but there was still too much ice. We got very close to the glacier and got some excellent pictures. Just a few other odd and ends. Yes, they really hawk their jewelry for some reason, but I was never approached by anyone hawking jewelry. The water on the Star is excellent. I really see no reason for anybody to bring a case of water onboard. I even saw people filling their water bottles with ship water. The last two days of our cruise we were sailing outside of the inside passage in rougher water. The ship rolled constantly. The wife and I put on motion-sickness patches just as a precaution, and did just fine. On our last sea day we broke tradition and ate breakfast at Versailles, and enjoyed it. We still like the Market Cafe better for breakfast. While we heard of whale-sightings from the ship, we never saw any, but saw a few dolphins that swam alongside us for awhile. Disembarking Saturday morning was a breeze. We took our own bags off, and basically walked off when we were ready. We went out to get a taxi..WARNING.. If you want a taxi, walk straight to the taxis. There will be a group of men you pass that will try to get your attention and tell you they have a taxi. They DO NOT. They will take you in their personal vehicle, so it's pot-luck on what you get. We took a taxi back to the Westlake station for $10 including tip, and were at the airport by about 10am. The line for check-in was terrible, but that's another story. FINAL THOUGHTS. We took the Star because of the price ($550 each) through vacations-to-go. I consider the Star a "meat-and-potatoes" style of cruise ship. It is a beautiful ship, and I thought it was clean and well-maintained. The crew were all very friendly, helpful, and cordial...BUT...if you consider the ship you want to take as a destination unto itself, the Star ain't it. There's a ping-pong table, shuffleboard on the deck, water tubes and pools for the kiddies, and jacuzzis for the adults and kids, but there's no climbing wall, or ice-skating rink. If you're a connoisseur with a refined palate, you may not be impressed with the food. The Star provided the best price for the Missus and I to see Alaska. They showed us Alaska, and kept us fed well and entertained along the way which is all we asked. While this is very long, I still left out a bunch, so I'll be glad to answer anybody's questions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
I just returned from a cruise aboard the Norwegian Star departing from Seattle Washington to Alaska. I went with my mother and brother. This was a bucket list trip for mom to do with her two adult children. Neither my mother or brother had ... Read More
I just returned from a cruise aboard the Norwegian Star departing from Seattle Washington to Alaska. I went with my mother and brother. This was a bucket list trip for mom to do with her two adult children. Neither my mother or brother had ever sailed. This was my 4th cruise, and my first with NCL. Embarkation was very smooth. We boarded the ship around 1230, was eating lunch at the Market Cafe by 1300, and our cabin was ready by the time we were done with lunch. The 3 of us shared a cabin, so it was adequate, but not overly spacious, but we were aware of that prior to booking. The cabin was clean and well maintained. Storage was adequate. Our room stewards were very attentive to our needs. We were economy minded and did not partake of the specialty restruants, however we found dining in both the Versailles and Aqua dining rooms to be very nice. Food was delicious and attractively prepared. The only problem was sometimes we had to wait a long time for dessert, although appetizer and main course were timely. The Market Cafe was the typical cruise ship buffet and seemed to lack variety. We did enjoy breakfast there, but seldomly ate other meals there. We did like the 24 hour Blue Lagoon. Menu was limited, but food, service, and environment were good. We also utilized room service a couple of times and found that was a positive experience. Ship entertainment was good and included music, magic, comedy, etc. The Stardust theatre was beautiful. Seats were a little crowded and you had to get up to let people pass through in the row. We felt all staff was courteous and went the extra mile. Ship was clean and well maintained. We were blessed with good weather....sunny every day, no rain and in the 60s. That could not have been any better. We did enjoy the free style cruising as far as dining when you chose, however, I have cruised before with set dining and missed the experience of consistent wait staff and dinner entertainment which is not present with free style cruising. A lot of reviews do talk negatively about the cruise line trying to sell things such as specialty dining, drinks, pictures, etc. and that does occur, however, it is totally optional. We did not partake of most of those things and our onboard expenses were minimal. Due to the location and time of year, children aboard were minimal and most participated in children programs. The majority of the guests were probably 40s +. The fitness area was nice. I went to the gym most days. Crowded at times, a variety of equipment. Debarkation was exceptionally smooth and we were off the boat and in a taxi by 0830. We did opt for taking our own luggage off the ship which does greatly expedite the procedure. Overall, we had a fantastic time and would recommend the NCL star cruise to Alaska to friends and family. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our second cruise aboard the Star and our fifth with NCL. Our previous cruise on the Star was on the Mexican Riviera. We are empty nesters so its easy to get away any time of the year, as long as we can find cat-sitters. We chose ... Read More
This was our second cruise aboard the Star and our fifth with NCL. Our previous cruise on the Star was on the Mexican Riviera. We are empty nesters so its easy to get away any time of the year, as long as we can find cat-sitters. We chose to do Alaska in May because the weather in Alaska can be as cold and rainy in July as it is in May, but in May there are fewer ships in port than later in the season. The ship sailed from Vancouver, BC, because the previous cruise had been a repositioning cruise from Los Angeles. Vancouver was the foreign port that was required in order for the ship to operate its casino. But the Star will be primarily based in Seattle this summer. We stayed at the River Rock Casino, which is just east of the airport and right across the street from a light rail station. We don't gamble, but we found a package special on Travelzoo that included a two room suite, breakfast, and free parking, for just $140 per night, including tax. Unless you want to go out of town, you don't even need a car if you stay here, because the airport and Canada Place (the location of the cruise terminal) are all on the same, very easy to use, rail line. We chose to rent a car because we wanted to drive up to Whistler the day before the ship sailed. We were aware that two HAL ships were departing from Canada Place cruise terminal on the same day as the Star. What we did not know is that the cruise terminal, while having room for up to three ships, was totally unprepared to deal with three ships. We got our first clue when we found the streets by Canada Place in total gridlock. We called the rental agency and were told to return to the care to the parking ramp under Canada Place. However, the traffic police had that blocked off and did not want to allow us in. I was let in after explaining to the cop that we needed to return the car. Our plan was to return the car at noon, check our bags with NCL, and wander around Gastown for a couple of hours. Wrong. After returning the car, we headed down the jammed elevators to the cruise terminal. We were met at the bottom by a huge queue, stretching as far back and forward as we could see. We were curtly informed by someone who appeared to be in charge that those at this location in the line had been waiting for two hours, and that we would have to go back up the packed elevators, out onto the street, and down the street to get to the end of the line. Another person who seemed to be in charge suggested that people may want to go away for a couple of hours and "have a coffee". We decided to take his advice and leave for awhile. Unfortunately, there was no way to dump our bags. So we took off, three suitcases, a backpack, and a carry bag in tow. Strolling Gastown was out of the question. Fortunately, we found Steamworks brewpub nearby and had a couple of excellent beers. I also ran down to the Alibi Room a few blocks away while the wife watched the bags. We returned at 2:30 and found the queue to still be huge, but at least it was moving. We still waited in lines for another hour before we were on the ship. The major jam was at customs. Everyone had to clear US customs before boarding. The queue for each ship did not even start until after customs. It looked like the non US or Canada citizens were being shunted off to a waiting room and were waiting even longer. Until we cleared customs, there was not an NCL or HAL representative in sight. I know the queue was not the fault of either cruise line, but I wish they had their reps out there letting people know what was going on. Based on this experience, I would advise avoiding cruises from Vancouver, or at least making sure that no other ships are leaving that day. Since we'd been on the Star before, we pretty much knew what to expect. The jogging track on deck 13 is ¼ mile per lap and extends almost 2/3 the length of the ship, making for great sights while running. The only problem is, for much if its length, the track is separated by a Plexiglas wall from the rest of the deck. Since the track is right against the railing, there is the temptation for non-runners to use the track for standing and taking pictures. The Star has a great terraced sundeck above the pool. This deck was very popular when we took the Star to Mexico. Unfortunately, it is likely to not get much use on an Alaska cruise. The Spinnaker lounge has moved from a bright space on Deck 11 forward to a windowless space on Deck 7 aft. If I'd booked an inside stateroom with the intention of watching the sights of Alaska go by from the comfort of the Spinnaker lounge, I'd have asked for my money back after they moved it. There are really few interior spaces left on the Star to just sit and watch the scenery. And you need this for an Alaskan cruise. The library, which used to be in a very nice space by the old Spinnaker, is now in a temporary space by the Internet Cafe. Most books are only set out for a few hours per day. Our stateroom was an aft balcony on deck 10. We love aft balconies: we had one on the Jewel last summer. The balcony is larger than inside balcony cabins; ours was even larger than the balcony we had in a mini-suite on our previous Star cruise! Being in the rear keeps you out of the wind. Our two sea days were sunny days and we were able to sit on the balcony in our bathing suits and just sun. Of course, we are from Minnesota, so 60 degrees feels warm! And when cruising in scenic areas, you can just tune the TV to the bow cam to see what's coming up. And, of course, you can see the sights on both sides of the ship. The room size was standard for a balcony: there was a queen bed, small couch that doubled as a bed for a third person, and a small table. The size is adequate for two people, but would be quite cramped if you tried to shoehorn a third person in. There's not much foot traffic in the very back of the ship, so there was little hallway noise. Immediately above our stateroom was the spa, so there was no late night noise from above. WiFi is now available in the state rooms, and the connection is good. But the ship's standard Internet price is 75 cents per minute, and the best of the packages only cuts the price in about half. And there is still a one time "connection fee" of about $4 on the ship. We ate most of our dinners in the Versailles main dining room, along with a few breakfasts and lunches. The food is standard NCL fare: Good quality, well presented, but nothing spectacular. We recognized most of the menu items from previous NCL cruises. Service, with a couple of exceptions, was usually fairly fast and even. The dining room seemed more crowded for breakfast and lunch than we've experienced in the past. I'm guessing it had to do with the lack of desirable outdoor dining options on an Alaska cruise. The queue was long a couple of times when we arrived for dinner, but had disappeared when we returned later. A trick we have learned is to go to the early show in the Stardust Theater, sit on the mezzanine level in the back, then leave as the show is ending and make a bee line along the promenade deck on 7 back to the Versailles. The biggest problem we had was when we tried to use a free bottle of wine coupon we had from a previous cruise. The waiter said that, despite there being no time limitations on the coupon, they no longer used the coupon. A person who appeared to be his supervisor, confirmed that. My wife had a quick conversation with the F&B Director Ivo Bellev about this at the Latitudes meeting and we had a bottle of wine AND a cheese plate in the stateroom within two hours. While we were very grateful for this, it was disappointing that the dining room staff did not feel empowered enough to be able to honor what was obviously an NCL-issued coupon. We ate at the buffet a few times for lunch and breakfast. The buffet has lines, not stations, making for very long queues at times. Tip: if you want a ready made omelet for breakfast, you will have to go to the Versailles Room or order room service. The only omelets at the buffet are pre made, and are only one type. We ordered room service for a late lunch one day and had a good pizza and sandwich delivered in about 30 minutes. We ordered room service twice for breakfast with less successful results. The first time, we had ordered cereal and yogurt as part of our order. No spoons were included with the order, so I had to run up to the buffet to get a couple. Which kind of defeats the purpose of room service. The second time, we ordered room service for 6:30 AM (the earliest time you can order room service breakfast) because we were due in port at 7 AM. We got a call at 6:20 AM that our breakfast was on its way. Great! However, at 6:45 AM we still had not seen any breakfast. I called room service to see where it was. They said they'd have to check. I responded that if they did not know where it was then we'd just go to the buffet, because we needed to get into town. I was somewhat surprised that, despite three port calls at 7 AM, the buffet never opened before 6:30 AM and Versailles never opened before 7 AM. We only ate twice at the surcharge restaurants. There were no two for one specials that NCL often offers for early or late reservations. We ate dinner at La Cucina Italian restaurant one night. The food and service were great. The Italian and Mexican restaurants have the lowest surcharge, at $10. We also went to the "Best Of" lunch in Le Bistro the final sea day. For $15, you can order selected items off the menus of the surcharge restaurants and also select items from a buffet of offerings from those restaurants. I think this is a very good idea for NCL. They utilize a space that is unused for lunch and get to charge $15, and the passengers get to try menu items from restaurants they might not otherwise visit. The entertainment in the Stardust Lounge was not as good as it usually is. We saw the Jeanne Ann Ryan Company production of "Band on the Run" for the third time. This is getting really old. They need to either get some better '70's songs for the show, or scrap it altogether. Bob Trunell did a magic show that wasn't particularly unique. We saw Second City, with many recycled jokes we saw a different Second City troupe do on the Jewel. A notch above these acts was Cirque Pacific, featuring the Jeanne Ann Ryan Company and a couple of Chinese acrobats. While not as spectacular as the Cirque Bijou show we saw on the Jewel, it was quite entertaining and the performers did a very good job. The best show as "Oh What a Night" a group that performs Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons hits. The sound quality was very good and the singers did a good job, especially on the falsetto pieces. We didn't go to any late night shows in the Spinnaker, even though it was just three decks below ours. It probably had something to do with three 7 AM port calls. The Cruise Director, Candi, was very enthusiastic and did a good job. She was the Asst Cruise Director the last time we were on the Star. I think she may have been a last minute replacement as Cruise Director, because the Freestyle Daily on embarkation day referred to "Cruise Director Ray Carr", and his picture was initially up on the photo wall of the ship's officers. His photo quickly disappeared, but Candi's photo never appeared. Our ports were Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert, BC. We arranged our own tours in every port except Prince Rupert. We took no ship organized shore excursions. In Ketchikan, we booked a Misty Fjords airplane tour through Southeast Aviation. The cost was $206 for early booking. The day was warm, bright and clear, and the fjords were not misty at all! We got a smooth 90 minute scenic ride in a 6 seater plane. The pilot set down in an isolated lake and we scampered onto a large rock for photos. $206 is a lot to spend for 90 minutes, but given the beautiful weather, it was a good investment. If it were cloudy or rainy I'm not sure I'd think the same way. We then walked around town (all you need is a couple hours, maximum, to do this). Most of the shops were tourist oriented. We stopped at the New York Cafe for $5.25 craft beers and 12 cent per minute Internet terminals. We had picked up a walking map of Ketchikan and it had a coupon in it for a free beer glass with the purchase of an Alaskan Amber beer at Fat Stan's pub, near the dock. The two drafts, Longboard Lager (a Hawaiian beer in Alaska??) and an Alaskan summer beer (no Amber on draft) were expensive at $6.50, but not expensive if you want a souvenir glass thrown in for free. We walked off the ship in Juneau with nothing pre booked, but immediately signed up for the $14 round trip shuttle to Mendenhall Glacier. The bus did not leave for an hour, so we walked about five blocks uphill to check out the state capitol building and the state office building (with totem pole and stuffed bear in the lobby). We were back to the dock in plenty of time to catch the shuttle to Mendenhall. The trip took about 20 minutes and let us off very close to the visitor center. We skipped the visitor center and headed straight to the glacier. While you can see glacier quite well from the visitor center, you have to walk for about 20 minutes to get to the waterfall, which is as close to the glacier as you can get. It's worth the walk, if you are up to it. Back in town, my wife went to the library for free Wi FI, while I hit the Alaskan Hotel for a couple of beers. The place was gorgeous - it looked like an ornate British Pub. They had 18 craft beers on draft, and sadly, almost no customers. By contrast, the "historic" Red Dog Saloon, closer to the dock, was full of tourists. The library Wi Fi proved to be very slow, so my wife eventually joined me at the Alaskan Hotel. We discovered that they also had Wi Fi (ask for the password). I also had a great Crab Bisque at Tracy's Crab Shack, right by the dock. You know this place is good when you see Scandinavians from the ship's crew eating there. I didn't see the F & B Director there, but I did see him heading back to the ship from that direction! It was cooler and cloudier in Juneau that it was in Ketchikan, but it was still in the '50's. We left Juneau at the early hour of 1:30 PM, but the afternoon was spent cruising by a glacier. We were supposed to cruise by Sawyer Glacier, but the captain said it was too icy in that area, so we cruised by another glacier whose name I fail to recall. In Skagway we had pre booked a trip for $69 through Dyea Dave over the White Pass and up to Carcross, Yukon. We booked with another couple and their toddler son. We met them on line though our cruise's roll call board on Cruise Critic. This is the third time we have booked tours with strangers we met on the roll call. We've had great results every time! Dyea Dave apparently was chauffeuring another group, so he subcontracted the job to Howard Mallory, who runs Alcan Myway Excursions. Howard was great guide, with lots of local knowledge. The day was chilly with intermittent rain, but the drive was gorgeous. It was foggy and snowy at the pass. Those who paid a lot of money for the train were probably disappointed when they got to the top of the White Pass and all they saw was white! And the train apparently did not go any further than White Pass this early in the season. In Carcross, we came upon a female Canadian Mountie, in full Mountie gear. The other couple's toddler was also dressed in red, so we stopped and asked if she would mind having his picture snapped with her. She happily obliged, then invited us over the Carcross Police Garage for a BBQ! Apparently, it was police week, and it seemed the whole town was there for the BBQ, including kids and dogs (they must have let school out). They had a couple of grills fired up with hot dogs and burgers, and also had chili, cookies, and coffee. This turned out to be a real highlight, to be able to spend some time with real locals, instead of just those in the tourist industry. Back in Skagway, we checked out the local library for Wi Fi. While there were a lot of people inside working on laptops, we couldn't get a connection. We went to the Skagway Brewery for a couple of beers brewed on premise, then hit the "Sarah Palin Store". Yes, there really is a Sarah Palin Store in Skagway! I'm guessing the store is not sanctioned by Sarah herself, as there were many unflattering items on sale, along with the requisite "Run, Sarah, Run" bumper stickers. I got my picture taken with a life size cardboard cutout of her, and told everyone at work that this was a picture of me and my new Alaskan girlfriend! Before boarding the ship we stopped for a quick beer at the Red Onion Saloon, which was full of tourists, but had a nice selection of microbrews. The NCL Pearl was also in port that day. Even with two ships in port, Skagway did not seem overly crowded, The only reason I can figure that NCL stops in Prince Rupert is to have a foreign port before returning to the US. We saw no NCL shore excursions that looked remotely interesting, and none of the trips being sold on the dock were any more interesting. The weather was nice, so we walked up the hill into town and to a mall, where we were able to buy Wi Fi access for $2 per hour. Half of the storefronts in town are vacant. There are several blocks of vacant lots, and even a burned out building. The town center appears to mainly serve fishing crews. How else would you explain 5 barber shops, and a bar that does not open until 9 PM? The fire museum just up the hill from the dock is somewhat interesting and is free (donations accepted). There were some little craft shops in Cow Bay, down by the dock. We also stopped for a beer at Breaker's Pub in Cow Bay. They had some interesting Canadian beers and free Wi Fi. Nearby, we watched a bald eagle in a nest. Disembarkation at Pier 66 in Seattle was a breeze. Since we were in no hurry, we chose luggage tags that allowed us to be two of the last passengers off the ship. On this one day only, the Versailles dining room opened early, This was probably to encourage people to get off the ship early. Despite that, service was surprisingly slow. There was no line to clear customs and our bags were waiting for us in the terminal. We were the last passengers in our tag color group, but there was an NCL rep keeping an eye on all unclaimed baggage. Interesting note about the Pier 66 Terminal: After the Star set sail on its next cruise that afternoon, a group from our friend's daughter's high school came in and decorated it for a prom. All of the prom decorations had to be immediately taken down right after the prom, because the NCL Pearl was due in the next morning. We had a room booked for two nights at the downtown Crowne Plaza ($79 per night + tax) which included free parking. The taxi ride was only $11 (with tip) and our room was ready when we arrived at 10:30 AM. We hung around downtown all day, so we did not need a car. We hopped the light rail for the airport the next morning to pick up a car. The light rail station is only three blocks (downhill) from the Crowne Plaza. A note about Seattle airport: There is free Wi Fi throughout the airport. And if you have an early flight out, like we did, many food outlets are open at 5 AM and most are open by 6 AM. A cruise is definitely the best way to see this part of the country. Juneau and Ketchikan are land-locked, and Skagway is accessible only by a long drive from the Alaska highway. May is a fine time to do Alaska. I'm not sure I'd want to do those ports in summer when they are crowded with several ships. We don't have much experience with other cruise lines, but we like NCL, and especially the freestyle dining options. The NCL Pearl substitutes Victoria, BC for Prince Rupert. All other things being equal, I'd guess I'd rather stop in Victoria. Both the Pearl and the Star will be mostly based out of Seattle this summer, so avoiding Vancouver as an embarkation point should not be a problem.. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our first cruise on NCL and to tell you the truth we were very nervous about it. We had read some not so great things, but were going to go into with with a positive attitude....any vacation is better than no vacation. How bad ... Read More
This was our first cruise on NCL and to tell you the truth we were very nervous about it. We had read some not so great things, but were going to go into with with a positive attitude....any vacation is better than no vacation. How bad could it really be?? We live in Southern Ca so we did not have to worry about flying into LAX or finding transportation to the pier. We did use Zippy Shuttle to go from our house to the pier and he was on time and very friendly with a better price than his competitors. We arrived at the pier around 12:15 and gave our bags and case of water to the porter with a tip to make sure our bags made it to the ship. We then were instructed to go into the terminal, fill out our sick or not sick paper, went through security and were placed into various lines to check in. This is one of the few not so pleasant parts of our cruise. We stood in line in San Pedro for over an hour before it was our turn to check in. We have never stood in line that long in all of our 10 cruises...it was quite frustrating. Once we got to the front of the line and it was our turn to check in, it literally took us 4 minutes and we were done. It was at this point we realized that we were surrounded by a very large group of foreign travelers that did not speak English and that's why it was taking so long. Once we arrived on the ship, we walked around a bit, made some reservations for speciality dining and than decided to go to one of the main dining rooms for lunch. We were sat immediately and all enjoyed our lunch very much. I had the BBQ pork ribs, my hubby had the risotto and BLT. They were all served warm and were very tasteful. Shortly after lunch the announcement was made that cabins were ready and we headed off to find ours. When we arrived to our cabin it was in great shape. Clean and did not smell strange at all. We opened the balcony door to check out the view and sat there for about 15 minutes before all 3 of our suitcases arrived and our case of water as well. We unpacked and enjoyed sitting on our balcony. Four o' clock came and went when there was an announcement that we would not be leaving until 6pm. It was found out later that they needed the additional time to load construction materials and cabins on for the refurbishing they are doing on deck 12. Six o' clock came and we were off!! We went to the main dining room for dinner(Versailles) and were seated with our friends at a table of 4 after a 5 minute wait. The service was prompt and friendly and our meal was brought to us in a timely manner and was correct and served at the right temperature. We did order drinks from the bar and they were also brought in a timely manner. Our first night we were all waken up by the noise of the cabins creaking. We were in pretty rough waters with swells between 12-18 feet and the ship was a rocking!! I do recommend bringing ear plugs with you so you can sleep. Unfortunately our friends did not bring any and were very tired for the next few days. Our first day at sea was taken up by a few ship activities but mostly relaxing and taking multiple naps with a trip to Blue Lagoon for lunch and Teppanyaki for dinner. It was great entertainment and everyone at our table was quite friendly. We even sat with an actor from CSI which my husband was thrilled with as that is one of his favorite shows. We all chatted with each other and the with the chefs and the food was very good. The show that night was good as well and then we hit the sack. Our second day at sea we decided to do sushi for lunch and it was pretty good. It isn't the freshest ever but if you are not a die hard sushi eater it was pretty tasty. For $15 a person for all you can eat sushi...it is a pretty good deal. We left very stuffed and had a snack for dinner and hit the show. Our third day at sea was much like the previous two. We went to the main dining room for breakfast, had room service for lunch (Mac n' Cheese is yummy) and went to Endless Summer for dinner. We each ordered fajitas and couldn't believe the size of the serving. Two people can easily split them. The free margarita was indeed small but free so I'm not complaining. Our first port was Juneau and it is quite a quaint town. We did the whale watching and Mendenhall Glacier tour. It was educational and we did get to see quite a few whales even though it was early in the season. The weather was sunny and I think we had sprinkles for about 5 minutes all day! We had to be back by 5pm and got there at 4:30...once again, we were waiting in line to get on the ship for almost an hour!! They need to work on the embarkation and debarkation process or maybe it was the group of 700 people who didn't speak English and didn't have any manners culturally speaking. Ketchikan was the next day and we did the lumberjack show and the duck tour. The lumberjack show was very entertaining and we would do it again, the duck tour was ok and we ended walking back to things we saw on the tour to check out for ourselves. Both towns are very walkable and the weather in Ketchikan had followed us from Juneau so we were blessed with another sunny day. Our last day at sea was supposedly cruising the inside passage. We couldn't see any land so were a little bummed by that but the water was like glass and we could appreciate that after the 3 rough days we started out with. We enjoyed our last day lounging in the spa and reading in the library. Our friends purchased a $55 Internet package and they got good use out of that. On debarkation day we chose the last tag to get off. We went down and had a leisurely breakfast in Versailles then finished off our packing and had to be out of our cabins by 11:00. We decided to sit in the library until our color was called. We sat there about a half-hour and when our color was called we got off the ship in Vancouver and were in a taxi to the Westin Bayshore within 40 minutes. Definitely a much better experience than embarkation. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience with NCL. We never encountered a rude staff member....lots of rude passengers, but not NCL's fault. Of all the times we ate in the main dining room for either breakfast, lunch or dinner, I think 5 minutes was the longest we waited for a table for 4. There was not excessive usage of the intercom system for worthless announcements, so that was nice. There was an update from the captain each morning at 9am which was also a nice touch. I think the entertainment was better than what I have seen on Princess or RCL. Nobody can touch Disney so that's not up for comparison. I don't think we could have asked for much more than we received except maybe a free upgrade??? We will definitely cruise with NCL again if the price and itinerary are what we are looking for....and we will somehow make sure there is not a group of 700 foreigners on the same ship!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Norwegian Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.0
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 4.0

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