26 Norwegian Star Cruise to Nowhere Cruise Reviews

My wife and I got home about an hour ago. Had a great time on the Star. First time on NCL for me. She had cruised NCL once before. Very impressed with the ship overall. Loved the embarkation process. They have the boarding kiosks ondeck ... Read More
My wife and I got home about an hour ago. Had a great time on the Star. First time on NCL for me. She had cruised NCL once before. Very impressed with the ship overall. Loved the embarkation process. They have the boarding kiosks ondeck and had multiple entries onto the ship so there were no long lines. They did similar process for debarkation. We just walked right off!! So easy. We had Balcony cabin 9720. Had everything you needed. Comfortable bed, nice pillows a duvet. I think the closet and drawer space would be a little tight for a 7-night cruise - especially if you were bringing any formal wear. The bathroom setup was the best I had seen on a cruise. The toilet and shower were on opposite sides of the bathroom so if needed, two people could be in there at once. The toilet also has a sliding privacy door. Similar door on the shower which had ample space (I am 6' 4"). I didn't miss the curtain that most other cruise ship showers have. The ones that tend to stick to you like a burrito shell. Wasn't sure about the "freestyle cruising" approach initially, but I liked it. Would like to take a longer cruise to try more restaurants. We went to Cagney's (had made reservations online pre-cruise) and it was a great meal. Terrific smoked salmon appetizer and the oysters rockefeller were very good. And the ribeye very delicious. The onboard reservation process looks easy. They had TV screens scattered about the decks so you could see what restaurants were filling up. They also has same info on the TV in your cabin. Went to Versailles for first day lunch and had a great meal. Pasta Bolognese and Philly Cheese Steak. It was nice to have a dining room open on embarkation. That has not been the case on Carnival. Also ate in Versailles for the second night's dinner and had a good meal. Caesar salad was very nice and crispy - but missing anchovies. Could have asked for them I guess, but since I also had to ask for fresh ground pepper (and that took about 5 minutes), I decided to go without. Had a decent "latin" style sirloin steak. Pretty good seasoning - sort of like a pesto rub. Surprisingly, the worst part of each meal was the potato dishes. French fries at lunch weren't crisp or hot. Potato Gratin at Cagney's were mushy and flavorless. Wedges at Versailles dinner were dry with no seasoning. Second city comedy shows were very funny. Didn't get to see the other regular shows but people were raving about Elements. Pool area has some great seating areas. There is also a quiet area (much like Carnival's Serenity) where they have deck chairs and adults-only hot tub. We did an onboard Pub Crawl event that was alot of fun. We went to 5 bars, had a different drink at each and played some games. The final stop was by the pool deck where they had everyone play a twist on "Simon Says". Last man standing got something - maybe a t-shirt. I wasn't the last person standing. The ship has alot of music venues. There are two piano players, a guitarist and four other live bands that play at various times and bars. There was a trio in the Atrium that were very good. And the live band they had on the final night for the 70's disco theme was amazing. They were playing earlier in the same lounge with only us and about 5 other people - and played some incredible rock and rolll. The lead guitarist was amazing, able to coax alot of feedback from his Fender Stratocaster. Really talented. Some negatives: The main pool area is ill-conceived. The two slides take up alot of deck space and the pool is very small. The slides also aren't meant for adult use. Every adult we saw try to use them couldn't make it all the way down without "scooting". Gave us a few laughs. But for something that takes up that much space, it didn't seem to have enough "fun value". This cruise ship also had a much larger focus on alcohol consumption than any other I have been on. The cruise director said during his talks, "Drink Heavily". Now I realize that the cruise ships make a lot of revenue from the drinks and it is what keeps cruising inexpensive. But with past and recent concerns about passenger safety, it is irresponsible for a ship's officer to be making a statement like that. At the same time in your cabin, they have a video telling you not to sit on a balcony handrail because you might fall off. Also, the cruise director staff member Bloody Mary (yes - that is what her name tag said) who lead the Pub Crawl, was visibly drunk before it even started. She was having a hard time keeping track of where we had to go next. Will I go on another NCL cruise? Yes. Definitely. I had a great time and look forward to trying a long cruise on a different ship. The Star is leaving Tampa in a few weeks, and I think the Dawn is replacing her. So maybe I will look to see what deals come through next year. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We took the one night cruise out of LA this past Friday on the NCL Star. It was a good opportunity to check out the ship. We have the Star booked for the May reposition cruise to Alaska. Realizing that it was a booze cruise type of ... Read More
We took the one night cruise out of LA this past Friday on the NCL Star. It was a good opportunity to check out the ship. We have the Star booked for the May reposition cruise to Alaska. Realizing that it was a booze cruise type of trip our expectations were not that high. So our disappointment with this cruise was not a total shocker. Embarkation was a nightmare starting with check in. The lady at the counter had no idea how to put four people in two cabins on one credit card. That process took 25 minutes to get through. Then there was the customs delay of two and a half hours before we were allowed to board. For the first half of the delay there was no announcement as to what the problem was. When we were finally allowed at on 2:00 we went straight for Versailles for a bite to eat. Our server seemed like she hated her job and hardly spoke to us. The food was yet another disappointment. We were all so hungry from not having breakfast we choked it down followed by a couple of stiff drinks. I must say the bar runner was efficient and friendly. It was now time to go check out our cabins and put our overnight bags away. Our adult kids had an inside no frills cabin. We needed to have the beds separated and could not locate their steward. We are use to being greeted by our smiling cabin stewards when we board other cruise lines. We did not ever meet any of our stewards the whole time on board and had to resort to calling housekeeping. Our cabin was suppose to be a partially obstructed view window cabin but was fully obstructed. One of the glasses by the ice bucket was a used and dirty as well as one of the glasses in the bathroom had crusty stuff in the bottom which was promptly deposited in the trash can. It reminded us of the story on 60 minutes about hotels that just rinse and dry previous occupant's glasses, YUCK. We did thoroughly enjoy the entertainment and casino as well as the barbeque. I found a penny slot machine and kept hitting on it. Each time my winnings went over $100 I cashed out. When all was said and done I ended up winning over $500 after a couple of hours. Back in the cabin it was time for bed. The walls in these cabins are paper thin and we could hear everything going on in the adjacent cabins. At one point around 1:00am the noise became so loud in one of the cabins I had to bang on the wall. It was followed by them banging back and turning up the TV volume. The bed was horrid and the seam between the two mattresses was a pain in the butt. Morning came and it was time to test the waters in the buffet for breakfast. Once again we were disappointed with the food. The eggs had three different shades of yellow so I scooped out the color that looked right. The bacon was almost raw and greasy in the pan so I steered away from that. The biscuits were like hockey pucks and the gravy was like water. There was a solo Frisbee pancake in the pan that I had to poke holes in so the syrup would get in and soften it up, BAH. Disembarkation was our last disappointment with this cruise line. It took 30 minutes of standing in a long line to reach the only one card scanner open to "ding" you off. We are so glad that we took this one night CTN to check out this cruise line and ship. We are now having second thoughts about spending seven nights on the Star for the May reposition cruise. There were so many negatives as oppose to positives. Seven nights might just send us to the funny farm. We already have our non-refundable airline tickets booked for our return trip to LA. We are considering cutting our losses at just the airfare and cancel the trip. The other option is to go with HAL or Princess for their 3 day repositions. They all arrive in Vancouver in time to catch our return flight. Well see.... Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
OK so it was not the best cruise. We stayed at the Crown Plaza Port of LA. It was a small good hotel for the night. Cheap too! We took a few buck taxi ride to the port. The port was dirty and terrible. It was so outdated! We had a 3 hour ... Read More
OK so it was not the best cruise. We stayed at the Crown Plaza Port of LA. It was a small good hotel for the night. Cheap too! We took a few buck taxi ride to the port. The port was dirty and terrible. It was so outdated! We had a 3 hour delay at the port!! So much for a fun day... The bad: the staff was rude and not helpful, embarkation was horrific,and entertainment was lousy and cheap! The good: Cabin was in a nice location and had a large bathroom. Pool was fun with two small slow slides. It was good enough! now some info Layout: simple and easy! pool: Band was playing and kids were swimming in the rain. Was fun! theater: Small, dark, and dinghy. Show was Jersey Boys tribute. It was good but OK Cabin: Big enough and simple. Nothing fancy!The food was surprisingly good! Kids club was closed and not running since in was a cruise to nowhere! Disembarkation was fast and easy. Ship was good but with some flaws. overall and OK cruise! Thank You!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
In September I took the repositioning cruise between Vancouver and Los Angeles. This was my first cruise experience (birthday present) and I traveled solo - my husband is a teacher so he couldn't go, but we have already booked an ... Read More
In September I took the repositioning cruise between Vancouver and Los Angeles. This was my first cruise experience (birthday present) and I traveled solo - my husband is a teacher so he couldn't go, but we have already booked an Alaska cruise this summer on NCL. I booked so late (within 6 weeks of departure) that I was able to get a balcony stateroom for the same rate as double occupancy. so I decided I couldn't afford NOT to go. The cruise started in Vancouver and stopped in Victoria, Astoria and a beautiful day and night in San Francisco. I had read all of the Norwegian Star reviews on this site, everything from five stars to zero stars, so I was trying to manage expectations. As a result, I was pleasantly surprised for the most part. Embarkation:  I flew up to Vancouver the day before departure, did not want to miss the boat because Alaska Airlines decided to have a mechanical or something. I stayed in the airport Marriott and the next morning went back to the airport for transfer to the pier. Embarkation was unbelievably quick. I had been led to believe it took hours. From the time the airport transfer bus dropped us off at the cruise terminal to the time I was walking up the gangplank must have taken a full 30 minutes. Most of that time was weaving in and out of the security line with passengers from two Holland America ships that were also docked at the terminal. Basically show your ticket, go through airport-type security, then walk down a long hall to a cavernous room where the NCL desks were. They sat us down in rows of chairs and we sat down only about long enough for someone to come around and give us water or juice and then they had our row stand up and go check in and 5 minutes later I was on the ship. As soon as I boarded a nice young crew member came up and took my carry on and asked me where I would like to go since the cabins weren't ready yet. I wasn't ready for lunch so she took up me to Deck 12 near the pool where I could walk around and take pictures of the harbor (or I could have eaten at the Topsiders Grill there anyway.) About an hour later they told us our cabins were ready. My suitcase didn't come for another hour but it was there well before we left port. We had the mandatory life jacket drill right before we departed. In fact it was so close to departure I was afraid we were still going to be lined up when the ship started moving. I was surprised by all the people who just sauntered up with (or without) their life jackets after the rest of us had been standing there 15 minutes. I don't believe I ran into one crew member the entire cruise who didn't sing out a friendly greeting when they passed - whether it was the cabin stewards or just someone cleaning the deck chairs. Everyone flashed a big smile and said, "Good morning, Madam," and they were always asking if they could help you with anything. It appeared many of the service crew were from the Philippines. When we came into San Francisco, they all came racing up on deck and were laughing and chattering and snapping pictures of each other crazily with their cell phones because they had not seen the Golden Gate Bridge before. It was fun just to watch them getting as much enjoyment from being where we were as the passengers did. Dining:  The first night I made a reservation for La Trattoria, the Italian restaurant. If I had have known better, I wouldn't have made a reservation for the first night, because there was a huge sail-away barbecue at the pool with hot wings, hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, etc. But I had no way of knowing this ahead of time. There was a $10 cover charge at LT but the food was excellent. I had fettuccine which was very good, very hot and tasty. But the bread was cold, which was disappointing. I also noticed the same bread in the regular market cafe buffet, which seemed kind of strange. I had to pay extra for a coke. There are no free soft drinks with your meals on this ship, although you can get all the coffee, juice or milk that you want. If you want a coke, you have to go to a bar. The service at the restaurant was phenomenal - every time I took a drink of water someone was right at my elbow to top off the water glass. Waiter checked on me constantly. The restaurant was kind of noisy because all they do is just hang up curtains to partition it off from the rest of the market cafe since it's still part of the market cafe at other meals. Since I was a balcony passenger, I was allowed to eat breakfast in the Aqua restaurant. It is one of the main dining rooms that is open to everyone at dinner, but apparently it's not open to the masses for breakfast. Breakfast was served on a white tablecloth and I ordered scrambled eggs, hash browns and dollar pancakes, which were very good. There was also a buffet line with fruits, juices and croissants, etc. Very nice. Again, wonderful service - there is ALWAYS someone there hovering at your elbow, pouring more coffee or water, asking you if everything is okay and if you're enjoying the cruise. I was always asked if I wanted to dine solo (which I did) or not, and I never had to wait for a table. I never did eat at the Versailles (main dining room) but several passengers told me it was excellent. I found the food in the market cafe to be good, a fair amount of variety, but definitely not the best buffet I have eaten at. That being said, I always found something to satisfy me. I never did experience any lines. Since I really didn't go on a cruise to experience the whole food thing, I often grabbed something from the market cafe and just took it back to my cabin. The ports:  I didn't get off the ship in Victoria because it was freezing cold and windy and we docked what seemed to be an awfully long way from downtown, but it was very scenic and I enjoyed just sitting on my balcony and watching all the harbor traffic. I was amazed at all the float planes - they were coming and going all day like regular buses or taxis. There were two other cruise ships in Victoria at the same time (Princess and HAL) but they were unable to dock because it was so windy. So they just sat out in the bay and ferried people in on tenders. Our captain did a tremendous job parallel parking a 92,000 vessel without the help of any tugboats. Astoria was a wonderful port. Apparently they only get the repositioning cruise ships in May and September. It's a town of 10,000 and believe me, the whole town is out in force when a cruise ship is in. They have arts and crafts booths set up on the pier and they give everyone a big VIP sticker that you can wear into town and get discounts on everything, ride the bus wherever you want to go, etc. Half the town was wearing navy blue CRUISE HOST sweatshirts and there was a host standing on every corner in case you had any questions. As with the rest of the cruise, the weather was perfect. I went looking for a market to stock up on bottled water and Coke so I wouldn't have to pay the exorbitant prices on the ship, and the market was packed with other passengers with the same idea. Someone should have set up a bottled water booth on the pier with the other arts and crafts and they would have made a killing. Water on the ship was about $5 per liter with an automatic 15% gratuity. This cruise was worth it if all we had done was come into San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. It took us about an hour and a half to dock, just going slowly under the Bridge, by the Presidio, by Alcatraz. The sun was just coming up and the skies were clear as a bell. We docked at Pier 35 so the starboard side (the side my stateroom was on) was facing west. Since I was on Deck 10 I was above the top of the pier buildings and I could see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the rest of the city from my balcony! It was like being in a hotel with a view. The cruise terminal is right next to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, close enough to walk. I didn't go on any shore excursions because I have been to SF many times, so I just went out and enjoyed some of my favorite places in the area around the Wharf. I did find a Safeway a few blocks from the water and again stocked up on bottled water and Coke. And of course BUTTER, because I went back to the ship with some of that famous sourdough bread that served as my lunch for the next two days. The ocean was very smooth the whole way. Never more than slight seas (1-4 feet.) I was actually disappointed, because I wanted to feel like I was really at sea. There was a little bit of motion on the one full day we were at sea between SF and LA. I saw a lot of people with those little patches behind their ears to ward off seasickness - hope it made them feel better because personally, I could hardly tell I was on a ship. The ship:   I had a balcony stateroom on Deck 10. There is one 110v outlet in the cabin and two more 220v outlets which are kind of inaccessible but at least they're there if you need them. There is a small wall safe to lock up valuables. The bathroom was small but functional. There is very little storage in the cabin - three small drawers. I easily filled everything up. Suitcases fit beneath the bed. The furnishings are kind of ugly - I guess you would call them Danish "modern" which means they look anything but. I think the ship is probably ready for a refurbishing in the not too distant future. The bed was absolutely the worst. I had the two twin beds pushed together into a queen but it was very uncomfortable, sagged on both sides. There was a small sofa that I think turned into a bed for a 3rd person but it was almost too hard to sit on. By all means, spend a few hundred $ more and get a balcony stateroom. I actually spent quite a bit of time up on deck, but it was still nice just to be able to go out there in the middle of the night or when you first wake up or whenever you want. The cabin TV has a voyage channel that gives you all sorts of information about how fast you're going, what time is sunrise and sunset, what's the ship's position, maps, how many miles left to the next port, etc. It's good information to have and is updated on a real time basis. CNN was on all the time plus a couple of old movie channels. The cabin was very quiet. I've heard you want to avoid getting adjoining cabins because they can be noisy. Announcements over the loudspeaker system were always prefaced with a chime, so you could either listen to the announcement on the TV or go over and put your ear up against the door and hear it from the hallway. But you definitely couldn't hear them in the cabin itself. The ship is easy to find your way around in, once you establish what side you're on! Up to the last day I still got turned around. Fortunately, the cabin doors on the starboard side are all blue and the ones on the port are red. Also you can look out the windows on Deck 12 where the elevator and stair lobbies are and see which way the water is going so you know which way is fore and aft. I went up to the Spinnaker Lounge a couple of times - it is on Deck 12 looking forward, there are floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the lounge so you can see out three sides. The lounge is located right over the bridge and they have windows where you can look down and see the two navigators running the ship. There are signs that tell you what all the various instruments are. It was really interesting. It looked to me almost like an airplane cockpit, they were sitting in chairs surrounded by computers and instruments and had little joysticks. So much for big wooden ships' wheels and lookouts in the crow's nest. The only reason I ever found this was I read about it in Cruise Critic. Many of the passengers I talked to had no idea you could look down and see the bridge. The Cruise Director had a slide show one day that showed us the parts of the ship we are not allowed to visit, like the engine room, kitchens, etc. This review wouldn't be complete without mentioning the hand sanitizers. I guess some cruise ship must have experienced an epidemic or something, because these people are OBSESSED with washing your hands. Hand sanitizers are everywhere. I even took a picture of one. Every restaurant you go into you have to stick your hands under the hand sanitizer before they let you in (there are crew members standing by to make sure you use it.) Before you come back on board if you have been ashore, you have to stick your hands under the hand sanitizer. If by chance one runs empty, there will be a crew member standing by with a squirt bottle making sure you get your hands squirted. I went into the buffet once and put my hands under it like a good little passenger and nothing came out, so I just rubbed my hands together anyway like they were wet and the girl didn't notice and let me by. Debarkation:   The worst weather we had was saved for the last day. It was so foggy coming into San Pedro we couldn't see anything until we were past the breakwater. Since I live in Southern California, my husband and son were at Ports of Call waving as we went by. They threw the first line over at 7:30 am and started letting the Express Debarkation people go ashore at 8. The hardest part was finding an elevator that wasn't already full of other passengers and their luggage. But once I got down to Deck 6 where they were letting us off, there was only a short line. I went over into the terminal, down the escalator, turned in my immigration form and was outside on the sidewalk by 8:20. That's how easy it was. One of the receptionists told me the ship was full (although every stateroom wasn't double occupied) but I never had the sense there were very many people on the ship. I don't think I saw more than 20 different children the whole week - probably because school had already started. I am anxious to experience a "real" cruise this summer when we go to Alaska, but I would also love to take another repositioning cruise. It was very restful, had the best port ever (San Francisco) and was a great introduction to cruising. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Background I wanted to do a different kind of cruise, so booked a pacific coastal repositioning cruise, Vancouver to Los Angeles. We had cruised with NCL in the past and were happy, so went with the Star. Decided to splurge and get a ... Read More
Background I wanted to do a different kind of cruise, so booked a pacific coastal repositioning cruise, Vancouver to Los Angeles. We had cruised with NCL in the past and were happy, so went with the Star. Decided to splurge and get a suite, albeit the lowest category, AE. Boarding There was another ship in port at the same time, and the line to security was quite long, took about an hour there. After that boarding was fairly quick, although we had a suite so got moved along because of that. Cabin It was nice, but not extremely large for being called a suite. Another new thing for us was a balcony on the stern, which was nice. Never met our room steward, I think since tips are automatic, they don't feel a need to initiate a personal relationship with their customers. Also had a butler, John. What a worthless piece of humanity. Only saw him twice, he was supposed to bring snacks and fruit every day. Got that stuff twice total. We did not bother with room service. Needless to say, the tip I left for him was ZERO. And I do not even feel bad about it. Dining As a suite guest, were entitled to use Cagney's for breakfast and lunch. This was probably the best perk of all. If indeed there were any others. Only problem was one breakfast I ordered the special, extra cost orange juice. It was so full of seeds and pulp I could not drink it, got tired of spitting out seeds. Told the waiter, and he supposedly ordered another for me, but it took so long to arrive I got up to leave, and met the concierge at the door. Complained to her that I had to pay for OJ that was undrinkable. Finally the waiter decided he better adjust the tab, as I was headed downstairs to find some to really complain to about it. Ate only in Aqua and Versailles for dinner. The dinners on NCL have really diminished in quality. Never did a waiter really impress us, and the food was average at best. I could not believe how thin they can slice prime rib nowadays, and I was really surprised on lobster night to only get 1/2 a lobster. Never did a waiter offer to bring additional courses. Entertainment The shows were about average, I was not impressed, but not disappointed in them. Overall I think NCL and probably all cruises lines are feeling the economic pinch, and trying to maximize income while minimizing expenses. I do not like this auto tipping. I don't think the staff is really motivated to impress, as they know they will get their tips anyway. Just so long as they do not really anger people, they will get their tips and get to keep their jobs. For this reason, my next cruise will be with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This is my review of our wonderful trip to Hawaii and cruise on the NCL Star 04-04-04. We are a 38 and 39 year-old couple and their daughter Kayla age 8, (going on 18).... It was our second cruise - our first was summer 2002 in Alaska on ... Read More
This is my review of our wonderful trip to Hawaii and cruise on the NCL Star 04-04-04. We are a 38 and 39 year-old couple and their daughter Kayla age 8, (going on 18).... It was our second cruise - our first was summer 2002 in Alaska on the RCCI Legend of the Seas. This was our third trip to Hawaii, and I thought the cruise was a wonderful new way to see our favorite places and some new ones, too. Throughout this review, I will probably do a lot of comparisons between the two cruises and cruiselines (NCL vs. RCCI). Many of you will tell me you can't compare - I know!!! I just want to say that I didn't spend the whole week comparing the two....... I am just thinking about it now so that people, like me, who have done a cruise on one might have a better idea of whether they would like the other.... We were in category BD (the cheapest balcony) on the Star, in room 8560. On the whole, all three of us preferred RCCI, but we had a wonderful cruise on the Star. I just want to say that we had a wonderful trip, but this review has several sharp criticisms of NCL in it. I admit that I didn't think much of NCL compared to our previous cruise, but also compared to a general standard in the tourism industry, but I think it's pretty hard to screw up a cruise in paradise. Also, we just made the most of things and enjoyed it at the time. I think my annoyance and even anger at some of NCLs shortcomings really only ripened after I got home and I starting realizing how poor some elements of NCL really are - they seem to be headed in the wrong direction on many elements of customer service. All the same, it was one of our very best vacations and I hope the NCL lovers of this site will not attack me too ferociously.... The good points in a nutshell.... Food: we loved Freestyle and thought the food on the Star was excellent. I didn't mind paying for the specialty restaurants - we enjoyed Ginza twice and le Bistro, but honestly we thought both Aqua and Versailles were excellent and if you are worried about paying extra, I suggest you can eat there plus Endless Summer happily every night. We never waited in a line (we eat early). Itinerary: We felt very lucky to stay in Hawaii - we probably would have loved Fanning Island, but we really appreciated Kona and Lahaina, our two favorite ports, too. The nicest things about this itinerary are the (for us) smooth seas and the slow speed of the ship keeping things calm. I thought NCL handled the itinerary change very well (we also had a change on RCCI and they were very defensive about it). Of course, we were pleased with this change, but many people weren't. Throughout the cruise, we asked crew members who uniformly said they hated going to Fanning Island - so believe what you will about "the engine problem." (LOL!) Ship, Captain Crew: (anybody ever play that old dice game?) We thought the ship itself was beautiful, and liked its size and layout. We really liked the captain - although we never met him in person, we thought his announcements were amusing and we appreciated the way he tried extra hard to make sure everyone got to see red lava at night, etc. The Hawaiian ambassador June made the cruise special. We met the F&B Manager at the CruiseCritic get together and he was great. My husband had nothing but good things to say about the gym - he used it daily and really liked the layout and equipment. We didn't use the spa, but it was beautiful. I thought the shopping was excellent on board - the choice was wide and there was a great range of products at all prices. We all liked the deck games like ping-pong, giant chess, golf, basketball and shuffleboard. My only criticism is that on port days, the crew's family and friends are allowed to come aboard. That's fine. But, we came back to the ship early a couple days and found the kids pool, ping-pong, etc. totally taken over by some very loud, pushy crew kids who didn't seem to understand that EVENTUALLY, it's nice to let someone else have a turn. We didn't attend any shows (we aren't show people) but the theater was lovely. We liked the cinema and I went to see two movies - Something's Gotta Give and Lost in Translation. Both full for the 7:30 show, by the way, so go early. Cabin: Although we much preferred our cabin on RCCI, which was the same class but seemed to be MUCH larger and better organized, we give NCCL credit for a really nice bathroom - WAY nicer than RCCI. More below on the cabin. On the downside, in a nutshell.... Kids Program: we really thought the kids program was a disaster...shockingly bad in attitude and hugely disappointing to Kayla. RCCI has a 100% better program so if that's important to you, choose them instead. I have posted extensively on this, so I won't belabor the point. Service and Crew: The service on the Star was VERY uneven, but overall, the crew seemed tired and unenthusiastic and not very friendly to us or to each other. We didn't like the emphasis on buying things all the time...it was really too much. Although we weren't that affected by it, you could see that people were really having a hard time with the shore excursion desk.....I had had so many problems pre-booking shore excursions before we ever got on, that I got fed up and cancelled and just rented cars in each port. It's hard to explain, but when we disembarked from the Legend of the Seas, we felt like the ship was part of us - we had made friends and we loved it so. This time, we just felt the experience was impersonal. Very nice, but not very friendly. We also had a really, really irritating experience with room service that irked me throughout the cruise and summed up the problem of the crew attitude for me. The evening before the first port day, I stuck the doorknob breakfast order thing on asking for our breakfast at 6 am, with a nice smiley face note on it asking for them to set the tray in the hallway and knock very softly. I didn't want them to wake Kayla. Next morning - No breakfast. At all. Never showed. We were in a hurry to get off so we just grabbed something at the Marketplace. Next night, I did the same. No breakfast. So, I pulled the phone out onto the balcony and called. No record of my order. Fine - I reordered breakfast and asked again VERY nicely if they could just tap lightly on the door - I would be listening. Fine. We hang up and five minutes later, the same guy calls the room, loud telephone rings, but Kayla miraculously sleeps. He tells me he found BOTH my previous doorknob order forms but that, basically, he cancelled the order because he cannot leave the tray in the hall and tap softly - that is too complicated. So, I cancel the order - he understands and but is pretty rude. Fine. Five minutes later, there is, and I am NOT exaggerating, a POUNDING on the door and it's the same guy with the incorrect order of my cancelled breakfast. I swear to god, he just grabbed some food and came to pound on my door to irritate me. The food bore no relationship to what I ordered. So, I asked him to be quiet and give me the tray. He refused, insisting on carrying the tray into the cabin. We ended up standing in the hallway arguing over the tray. It was just absurd. That was the end of room service for me. BTW, I thought RCCI had bad room service, too. Shore excursions: What a complete mess! I have already posted about all the problems I had pre-booking. We are not shore excursion people. As a general rule, I think you can always do better on your own, but I had been worried about getting to the Volcanoes from Hilo in the time of the original itinerary (7 am to 1 pm in port). So I tried to book the Kilauea Hiking Adventure on-line. When I called to check, NCL said to call back after 72 hrs. Called back, no record. Booked by phone and had to argue with the rep to get her to send me an email confirmation. Good thing I did as she had it completely wrong. Had to call again (all from IRELAND!!!!) and straightened it out and got the right confirmation showing two adults and one child. When we got to our cabin, we found the tickets - for THREE adults. What a pain, but with the new itinerary giving us til 6pm in Hilo, I just decided to cancel and rent a car. Here's a very tiny annoying thing about the Star vs. the RCCI. On RCCI, they put a locked box outside the shore excursion office which is there 24.hrs. On NCL, they have one, but you have to go into the office to see it. The office was closed most of the time and whenever it was open, the lines were so huge and the people inside seemed so irate, I didn't dare go cancel until the very last minute. Still, to give NCL credit, I didn't get charged. One morning I stood in the lobby and watched about 25 people in a row come out infuriated that they had booked on line but there was no record of their excursions - it seems our sailing was particularly bad because it was the first with the new reservation system. The moral of that story is to book by phone and CONFIRM at least twice. Our Trip: Complaints out of the way, let me tell you about our wonderful voyage. Anyway, we are Americans living in Northern Ireland, so our trip was a long one, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We made it extra long by deciding to take our ten-month old puppy back to his breeder in Glasgow, Scotland so that added a day and a ferry ride to the trip. We went to Hawaii on United frequent flier miles after finding out it was the same number of miles to Hawaii as it was to DC (50,000) so Hawaii seemed like better value.... Anyway, we ended up flying from Glasgow Scotland to London (I hr.) then to Los Angeles (11 hrs.) and, after a five-hour layover, to Honolulu, arriving at 10:30 pm Hawaii time, 26 hrs. after we arrived at Glasgow airport. We took a cab straight to the Hawaiian Village, where we did our customary sticking our feet in the ocean and woo-hoo'ing. (It sounds silly but it's what we do) Oh, an aside. I am a real Type-A traveler - way over organized, blah, blah blah. I had a little notebook with all our confirmation numbers, etc. which I managed to leave on the plane. My husband Nick just laughed and laughed when we got to the HHV and I found out I was going to be forced to RELAX and enjoy Hawaii without my notebook. A real life lesson for me.... Anyway, back to Saturday night at the HHV. The time change between the UK and Hawaii is 11 hours. I was convinced that we would beat jetlag by going to sleep by 11:30 pm and then sleeping until nearly the 11 am check-out time, but.....oh no.... at 4:45 AM someone called my room by accident and woke us all up. He didn't speak English very well and was talking about bags and taxis, etc, and I was just disoriented enough that I didn't realize right away that it was a wrong number. Kayla, who had lost a tooth on the plane, discovered the Hawaiian tooth fairy gives double dollars, so the excitement proved so much no one could go back to sleep, so, just like in 2001, we ended up walking on the beach at 5 am waiting for the restaurants to open..... Thank God they open at 5:30 at the HHV. Hint: Even if you cannot imagine who might call you, put the "Do Not Disturb" on your hotel phone on the first night...... the jet lag should have been solved, but I ended up being tired for days as a result of the guy mis-dialing. Anyway, we checked out of the HHV at 11 and took a taxi to the Aloha Tower - we boarded almost right away - maybe after 5 minutes wait. We met very nice people in line, and happily ran into my CruiseCritic buddy LuckyFrog as we checked-in next to each other. Oh, just wanted to note that we had booked through cruisequick.com whom I love, but I did find that we were very slightly delayed by not having actual cruise documents or baggage tags. But maybe only delayed by 5 minutes because we were there so early. Later on, this might be a big problem, so I recommend actual (not virtual) cruise docs.... We were in our cabin by 11:30 am, but we got right back off the ship, after stopping to make the first two night's reservations at the Teppanyaki and Le Bistro. We had promised Kayla she could use her allowance to buy a Game Boy (so much cheaper in the USA than here in the UK) and she had spotted CompUSA a few blocks from the Aloha Tower. Also, as soon as I learned about the itinerary change, I wanted to leap off and reorganize my rental car reservations from a pay phone, which I did. We had a shave ice at Aloha Tower and reboarded about 2pm and the line was HUGE! We had no trouble reboarding - it took maybe 5 minutes. Our initial thoughts on our cabin: Although the same class as the RCCI cabin, it was much smaller. That's mainly because the Star's bathroom was so much bigger and nicer. It sticks out so far into the room that the bed/sofa are was crammed. On RCCI, we had the twins-turned-into a queen, with nice end tables with drawers on each side, plus a queen-sized sofa bed on one side and a large desk/vanity on the other. It felt spacious and we were never in each others' way. There was also a dividing curtain. We felt it would be easy to have two kids in the cabin. On the Star, we felt very cramped - there was no way we would have been able to stand having another kid. The closet was okay but there were very few drawers. The desk was in a goofy place, meaning that anyone was sitting at it, no one else could get by. With no end tables or space between me and the sofa bed, I had to crawl out of bed at the foot, which annoyed me. But like I said, every day in the big, nice bathroom, I got over it..... and by the end of the week we were navigating around each other pretty well. The balcony was very nice, with super comfy chairs. The bed was high enough off the ground for our large suitcases. I had brought my bungee cord, but the sailing was so smooth, we found the door stayed open by itself. BD cabins have weird balconies...if it's not much more, I suggest a higher category for a better view. For those considering a balcony, but not sure. I said the same thing after our Alaska cruise - I loved our balcony and thank goodness we could afford it, but if you can't or if it means not doing something else you want to do to afford it, don't believe all the hype about balconies. Book the best cabin you can and enjoy. You will have a lovely cruise with, or without the private balcony. If you don't have one, just go hang out somewhere else with a view....there are plenty of indoor and outdoor spaces with gorgeous views. Let me tell you, though, why we loved our balcony on this cruise. For whatever reason, Nick and I never fully recovered from jet-lag and never slept past 6 am. Kayla was fine off the bat and liked to sleep til 8. So, every morning Nick went up to the Marketplace Cafe with our thermal mugs and brought back coffee and a plate of Danish/croissant. Then he and I had a nice, easy morning watching as we pulled into ports and talking about the day. Romantic and relaxing and just plain nice. Our cabin attendant introduced herself immediately. A nice Romanian girl. I asked her about how she likes working on the ship and she instantly went into complaining mode about the pay, how much she misses her family, how hard she worked. I'm sorry for her...but I have also run a large customer service operation and rule one is that you don't complain about your own problems to the client.... She also blew off my requests for a child-sized life jacket. Her partner, a nice woman from the Philippines was much more professional and really was nice to us later in the week when my daughter was feeling badly after a (minor) sunburn. But, no towel animals...which was also a big disappointment to us. Our RCCI cabin steward was a really good guy and we got to know him well. I liked the little wheel on the door to indicate "make up room" or "do not disturb." We toured the ship and hit the pool. We liked the Teppanyaki, but felt the two cooks very disinterested and not nearly as fun as hoped. A tip - the Kobe Steakhouse just outside the HHV gate is MUCH better and there is a two-for-one coupon in the Entertainment book. I'd recommend doing this instead. We did both! That night Kayla was the only one with energy, but she dragged me around the entire ship on the kids' crew scavenger hunt. She thought this was the most fun ever - I thought it was a pretty clever way for the Kids' Crew staff to avoid doing any work for the evening. On Monday we wanted to make the most of our only sea day. We love all the pub quizzes, games, etc. on cruises. We did Coffee Morning Trivia (and won mugs!). Nick and I went to the Sushi demo, which was excellent. We picked up Kayla from Kids Crew (-- she'd spent the morning parked in front of cartoons. Blah!) and had all-you-can-eat sushi lunch. Next, flower lei making, napkin folding, and The Friendly Feud game. Later in the day, we did Kukui Nut lay (don't miss this one - June can literally talk for 30 entertaining minutes on the history and many uses of the kukui nut and it became a family joke.) The leis are beautiful, too. Every evening of the cruise, we did the 5:30 pub trivia in the Red Lion. What a hoot! After the first night, we teamed up with a really nice man, Steve and it became a really fun part of every day. It was nice to hear what he and his wife and two granddaughters did every day - it kind of replaced the dinner companions we missed from non-Freestyle cruising. (BTW, Steve had a terrible experience on the Halekula downhill bike trip. The teenage boy behind him went too fast and lost control, hitting Steve, who broke his collarbones and cracked some ribs. Luckily, it was near the bottom and they had a van standing by to take him to the hospital.) I have to brag that we won every night, even when we only got 8 questions right out of 20! We also enjoyed the CruiseCritic gathering Monday evening and I got to meet the wonderful Seawishes and Ms. Chicken of the Sea - such nice people and we found we had so much in common. All I can say Jeff is that Kayla wishes so badly she was in YOUR third grade class. Kayla had a quick meal at the Marketplace and Nick and I ate later in Le Bistro, which was lovely. This is getting long....sorry. ... maybe I'll just stick to highlights in each port! Hilo - rented a car for Volcanoes National Park. Did the Grater Rim Drive clockwise stopping for quick hikes through the Lava Tube, Devastation Trail, and the site of the big lava flows on the way to the Steam Vents. Kayla did the Junior Ranger program so we stopped back by the visitor center to turn in her book. The Ranger (Michael) was incredible - he spent about 15-20 minutes with her going over every page of her book and activity. The he got on the loud speaker and made everyone stop what they were doing while he awarded her junior ranger badge, poster, booklets, etc. So proud! We also went to Walmart (the dumpiest of the FOUR Walmarts we visited). It was gorgeous weather all morning but pouring in the afternoon, so we just went back to the ship. Just worth noting, too. Our rental car minivan (Thrifty) was NOT waiting at the pier. I was struggling to call them and the nice Hertz driver came over and told me he would be happy to give us a lift. Really kind and informative guy. Kayla, by this point, no longer wanted to go to Kids Club since all they did was plop the kids in front of movies she had already seen, so we were at a bit of a loss about dinner. We looked at the menus for Versailles and Aqua, but she didn't see anything she liked. I stupidly didn't realize they might also have a kid's menu, so we ended up eating at the Marketplace which I resented. (I just hate buffets - the Marketplace is actually nice) Kona - we didn't really know what to do with ourselves in this surprise port. We walked down to Snorkle Bob's and asked where to go. They recommended the SeaQuest boat trip to Kealakekua, which I thought was a great idea as I had a two-for-one Entertainment book coupon, but alas, no space left. Bob's staff recommended just taking a taxi to Kahaluu Beach, which we did. I gotta tell you, we arrived and saw the crowds and I almost told the driver to keep going, but it was great. We saw zillions of amazing fish and huge green sea turtles. Plus there was the nicest snack bar (with showers and bathrooms) with good food and a nice elderly couple playing ukulele and singing Hawaiian songs. A very pleasant place afterall. Nick and Kayla headed back to the ship while I dashed up by Walmart Shuttle to one of the nicest Walmart I've ever been in to buy the Easter Basket fixins in secret. I was sorry I waited, though because the line to get a tender was enormous, not helped by rough seas at the port. (By the way, the tenders are really, really hot inside - no air circulates....so try to get a seat near the entrance.) Kayla decided to try out kids club again (she really wanted to like it) so she did that while we tried Endless Summer. This one of our favorite meals - excellent service and nice background music. I had my favorite dish of the cruise - their macademia chocolate torte, which was just awesome. We felt guilty, though, when we picked up Kayla since that was the night the counselors made the kids sit completely silently for over 20 minutes as a "game" before turning on the video.... We had a gorgeous view of flowing lava from the ship. It was a bit far away so bring your binoculars. Lahaina: Our favorite Hawaiian town. I woke up early and could see with my binoculars a surfing school just to the left of the port, so we headed there - Outrageous Adventures. Kayla joined a kids surf class ($55 plus $20 for a CD with about 30 pictures of her) which was one of the highlights of her life. I cannot say enough could stuff about this place - the staff were incredible to her - they had my eight-year old and everyone else surfing well in about 20 minutes. There was a nice shady spot with lounge chairs for parents to sit and watch. Great stuff! We had prearranged to have lunch with some friends of ours from DC who happened to be in Maui, too. We love Cheeseburger in Paradise and it didn't disappoint. We did all our souvenir shopping in Lahaina (we buy the main stuff in Walmart, but the special stuff - aloha shirts, jewelry, etc. in Lahaina) Kayla started realizing she had gotten a bit sunburned and very blistered hands from surfing and started feeling badly so we headed back. We ended up bringing dinners from the Marketplace back to the balcony. I probably should have called room service, but I just couldn't take that again! Kahalui - this was kind of an admin day for us. We had every intention of going up Haleakula, but there were serious clouds up there. We toyed with going to Hana, but I don't like twisty, turny roads and Kayla doesn't like long car trips. (Seawishes later made us feel better by saying how tiring his trip there was - we'll save Hana for when we can fly there and spend a few days) Anyway, we ended up going to Wqalmart and dropping our film. Since we live overseas with the US Government, I have a US postal address - we realized it might be a good idea to mail home a lot of American goodies we can't get - like breakfast cereals, toiletries, and birthday decorations, etc. There's a post office just near Walmart so we mailed home this stuff, plus all our dirty laundry, giving us lots more room to collect souvenirs! My Walmart pictures were great quality, by the way. We have always had luck spotting whales from MacGregor point so we went down there for the afternoon. I saw one breach very well, so I was happy. Aqua had steak on the menu so Kayla wanted to go (that's when I found out that it and Versailles have nice kids menus - duh!) Had a wonderful meal with nice family from Pennsylvania. Nawiliwili - I had never been to Kauai and I just loved it. It was out only overcast day and we went up the North Coast in intermittent rain. But truthfully, I enjoyed having a rainy day. We stopped at Snorkle Bob's to pick up gear just in case, but never used it. We drove all the way to Lee Beach, stopping along the way to marvel at the incredible scenery. We spent a few hours in Hanalei, which I just loved, and had a nice Mexican lunch there. We got back on the Star early and played deck games s we were starting to panic about the cruise coming to an end. Everyone who went on helicopter trips just raved, as did the Tubing the Ditch folks. Maybe next time.... We had a terrific dinner with another family in Versailles. I would say I liked this meal best (so again, if you don't to pay extra fro Le Bistro, don't worry!) I had really incredible seared ahi and excellent cheesecake. Disembarking - we were doing our own thing, so didn't play to get off until 10 am. I agree with other posters that the "freestyle" final morning stuff telling you to "relax and stay in your cabin" is a crock. By 8:30, the cabin staff were knocking. We told them we would leave at 10. At 9, they came and asked for our sheets. We told them we'd leave at 10. At 9:15, they told us the :must" have towels right that second. We just gave up - went to the Market Cafe for some breakfast and then disembarked. We found our luggage with no problem, but getting a cab was nuts. If we didn't have a porter who knew a taxi driver, we would have been stuck. The plan was to pick up our car, go to Pearl Harbor and then the North Coast and head back to the HHV in the late afternoon after check-in time. Not what happened. Now, this is the only point when my missing notebook was a problem. I had written the address of National Rental Car in it. The taxi driver said he knew where it was, but after driving around Waikiki aimlessly, I noticed we were very close to the HHV anyway, so we just got out there. It worked out great. Our room (upgraded to concierge level because of my hubby's Hilton card) was ready and gorgeous. We decided we were way to late for Pearl Harbor anyway, so I cancelled National (no penalty) and we hung out at the HHV and on Waikiki beach all day. Kayla took another surf lesson (good, but not as good as Lahaina). We were supposed to have dinner with the family we met at Versailles the night before, but she called exhausted saying that they had gone on the NCL booked "duck" sightseeing trip all day and the bus/boat broke down and they were stuck most of the day in the hot sun waiting. We had a delicious and entertaining dinner at the Kobe steakhouse, which an extraordinary chef. The next day, I picked a rental car from Hertz right at the HHV (a much better idea and not any more expensive than national once you ad in taxi fares downtown) and headed to Hanauma Bay. We had a weird experience. When we arrived at 9:00 am (I know, way too late) the gates were closed with a big sign saying "Parking Lot Full" Everyone else just kept driving straight, but Nick made a sharp left down through some field to turn around. By the time we found a place to turn and came back up the gates were open. There was hardly anyone there, so who knows what happened before. We had a great time at the new improved Hanauma Bay. We were last there in April 2001, and it's much better IMHO. The new "buildings" are nice (they look like the Flintstones said Kayla) and although there was a lot of grumbling about having to watch the film before being allowed to go the beach, I enjoyed it. I think people act a lot better there now - we only saw one guy climbing on the reef and we yelled at him to stop and he did. We rented snorkeling stuff there - there were lockers, showers, nice bathrooms, etc. There were definitely more fish this time - we got excellent underwater photos. It was almost too cool, so we didn't stay very long, but really enjoyed it. We then went to the Sea Life Park where Kayla had a dolphin date at Splash U. I really liked SLP - it was nice and small with excellent, friendly staff and trainers. We still had stuff to buy so we went to the Ala Mouana Center and ended up just eating there. On Tuesday, we got up early (not as early as I wanted) to go to Pearl Harbor. The wait at 9 (stupid time to go, I know) was about 20 minutes to get a ticket, which told us to come back at 12:15. I was delighted as that gave us time to go up to the Dole Plantation. We went up, did the maze, and poked around the giftshop and had a nice cool Dole Whip. We got back just as they called our group. All of us, even Kayla were thoroughly moved by the film and the experience at Pearl Harbor. My great uncle actually survived the Arizona and he just doesn't talk about it, so I was happy to be able to learn so much. We took the car back after consider time looking for a gas station - tip - get gas on the outskirts of the city - it's hard to find a station in Waikiki and they always seem to be on the other side on a one-way street! On our last night, we made the pilgrimage back to Cheeseburger in Paradise, Waikiki at sunset. It was a delight. They had an excellent duo singing 60s-70's pop songs and everyone sang along. PERFECT! Our flight home was eventful and rather pleasant. Our only disappointment was that they were bumping people on the LA-London flight and offering to fly you the next day business class plus give each of you an $800 voucher with United. We immediately asked to be bumped, but were too far down the stampede who also volunteered. All six of our United flights were 100% full, but all took off and landed on time and were very comfortable with excellent, mature crews and great movies. Our puppy missed us, but had fun with his doggie relations. Our ferry ride back to Ireland was REALLY rough, making us long for - as if we didn't already the calm seas and beautiful sunsets of Hawaii. Sorry this is so long - I'm writing it as much for me and my scrapbook as anything. If anyone has questions, I'd be happy to answer. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
The first thing was the cruise line changed the itinerary because of a problem they did not explain and were not going to Fanning Island but were offering two additional ports of call. Lahina and Kona. Great for me to start. We showed ... Read More
The first thing was the cruise line changed the itinerary because of a problem they did not explain and were not going to Fanning Island but were offering two additional ports of call. Lahina and Kona. Great for me to start. We showed our tickets and were directed to the first Kisok. We noticed the Latitudes line was not occupied and after traveling on the SS Norway, we were members but were not sent there. The clerk spent about 20 minutes and finally called the supervisor over because he could not figure out the code for my wife who was born in Germany traveling with an american passport. It was not until the second day that by chance we met our room steward and that was because I called the information desk. We had our bed turned back once during the entire cruise and it was usually not made up until about 1130. The food was at best similar to Ryan's or Golden Corral and I never met but one friendly waiter which I wrote up a card for superior service. The wine was probably my fault for discontent as I did not recognize any of the reds and the waiter recommended one. I tasted it (Should have refused it which I have never done) and figured although not good that evening with the dish would certainly be better the next evening with another dish. My mistake I and the wife both tried it with the filet mignon and came to the conclusion the waiter's assistant should drink it and see if they would still recommend it. We found out later in the cruise that the Captain's party had already taken place but according to a golfer at Poipou Bay Golf course I and my wife didn't miss anything. We were also lead to believe that they were going to have a luau on the deck and found that to also be misleading as well. $178 later we went to a luau at the old lahina which turned out to be absolutely outstanding. The high point out of the entire cruise was the lobster which was great but the waiter seemed perturbed when I asked for an additional one but he did bring it. Personal choice dining is not for us and we will not be doing it again. We like the traditional first sitting with the waiters sing and dancing with the baked alaskan with HOT, HOT< HOT or them doing the Macorana. We felt because the wait staff was going to get tipped at the end that they were obligated to serve you to get you out of the way. In the Market Cafe where we ate breakfast and lunch we never found a friendly waiter. Our orginal voyage was on the SS Norway and it set the standard for the next 13 cruises which were met or exceeded by Princess, Royal Carribean, Carnival, and Holland America but in our opinion this was the absolute worst. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Well this was our 2nd cruise and 2nd with NCL. First 3 days spent on Oahu with off/on rain with sun breaks but still mid 70's to low 80's. Embarkation onto the NCL Star was a breeze as we are now Latitudes members, so got to ... Read More
Well this was our 2nd cruise and 2nd with NCL. First 3 days spent on Oahu with off/on rain with sun breaks but still mid 70's to low 80's. Embarkation onto the NCL Star was a breeze as we are now Latitudes members, so got to surpass long wait line. Then came the first in a series of "issues". Were informed of an itinerary change, no longer going to Fanning Island, which we (wife, 14 yr old son, and 16 yr old daughter) were looking forward to. Purser offered vague reasons for change (weather, currents, engine problems) but no offer of compensation of any sort. Then we checked out our cabin, which we were told by on-line travel agent would be the same configuration as last year on the Sky, an inside with 2 singles, a pull down, and a settee. But we found the 2 singles, pull down, and a roll under from one of the single beds that popped up between both singles. This configuration then completely filled all spaces and was very confining for four. But we made due. The first and most concerning thing for us as far as the crew/staff went was a very striking mood. It almost seemed as if the entire crew with few exceptions, was unhappy. Few smiles or greetings with exception of our very extraordinary cabin steward and stewardess who, quite frankly, may be what compels us to go NCL again or not. Many others we met felt much the same as us. Last year on the Sky, every single crew member, bar none, was smiling, happy, and greeted us at all times. We were never uneasy with going into main restaurants even in shorts after 5 pm. Not so on the Star, were my wife was verbally insulted by several guests and we were told by the crew we were not welcome unless "properly attired." (My wife hates to dress up or wear pants and is most at ease in shorts in warm weather). Again we bucked up and gave in even though we saw others in shorts. Food was very good in main restaurants (we did not pay the extra to dine in Le Bistro or others), and although service was much slower than on the Sky, we were still happy with quality of foods. Bar service was adequate though still with much fewer smiles. With itinerary change the ShoreEx desk was deluged with long lines to find things to do. We were unable to get what we wanted but Nicole went out of her way to help and still cannot thank her enough. 4 out of seven days were sunny for the most part with 2 days of much clouds and rain, but still warm. Kids enjoyed the pool and cinema. Shows were good as was the comedy act. Ship rode well in heavier swells than we encountered in the Caribbean. Ship was in generally good shape with few surprises. A medical emergency on last day was handled quickly and professionally. We disembarked with no hassles, on time, and all went well. In summary, we would have better feelings about this cruise had NCL staff been able to change rooms (full boat and unable so we were understanding) or had they offered something to offset the itinerary change (previous cruise also skipped Fanning Island so NCL knew in advance they would not be going), also we had to purchase passports due to Fanning Island at the tune of $400 which we didn't need. So many issues occurred that may sway us away from a cruise next year and back to a condo on the beach but will have to wait and see. Good luck if you plan on cruising the NCL Star in Hawaii. But we would sail again on the Sky in a heartbeat if it had a different itinerary such as a Western Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
NCL Star March 21 - 28 , 2004 After reading for months the reviews and observation others had on the NCL Star, I thought it only fair to voice my opinions. This was our eighth cruise, our first on NCL, so we have had some experiences in ... Read More
NCL Star March 21 - 28 , 2004 After reading for months the reviews and observation others had on the NCL Star, I thought it only fair to voice my opinions. This was our eighth cruise, our first on NCL, so we have had some experiences in cruising, most of which have been good. We arrived in Honolulu on Friday, to allow time to get over some of the jet lag, and of course to enjoy the city. Wonderful stay at the Royal Hawaiian, but how could it be a bad one. We had visited Honolulu several years earlier, and honestly not much has changed other than the traffic has become more congested. We arrived at the Aloha Tower, for embarkation at around noon on the 21st of March. We had a short wait outside as the process started around 12:30, on that day. The checked bags were processed outside in a very efficient manner, and the carryon bags were screened inside. We had obtained a bottle of wine, in Honolulu which was noted by security and was detained by NCL, until our departure from the ship. This was not totally a surprise as this is clearly their policy and after all we are subject to their rules. We were booked into a AF mini-suite, so we were allowed the use of the suite check in. It was smooth , quick and efficient. Within in minutes we were being escorted to our cabin by one of the Star's fine crew. The process of cleaning the ship was well underway, but the crew dealt wonderfully with early arrivals. The importance of packing the carryon with a change of casual clothes was rewarding, as our checked bags took several hours to arrive at the cabin. Plenty of time to explore the ship and find our way around before the ship began filling with other passengers. Of course the first Mia Tai at Topsiders was a must. This also gave us the chance to meet Rosemariee, a great bartender and a must get to know on this ship. At 5pm the normal emergency drill was conducted, where we had the chance to meet Scott. He was our tender commander and had just joined the cruise as one of the wonderful singer/ dancers. By the way, don't even think of missing the review to Andrew Lloyd Weber and the Friday night combined show. The shows were well done and the experience one to remember. This was our first experience with Free Style dining, as previous cruises had been on the RCL and Holland America lines. We all in all felt it a good experience and enjoyed the variety. We especially enjoyed La Bistro and Ginza. Be sure to asks for Harry Krishna (yes really his name) and Malvin in La Bistro. Making of reservation could be a little easier. The food was special, the added costs to go from good food to great food was not painful. I guess the difference is a dining experience rather than and eating experience. We attended the Cruise Critic meeting, which is always held on Monday at 6pm at the bar on the 13th floor, above the pool, forward. We met Douglas, the Hotel Director, Rob the Food and Wine director and Kiern, the Cruise Director. They were all very enjoyable gentlemen with the common goal of making our cruise a wonderful experience. Make sure you attend this meeting, it helps to know the leaders. Douglas and Rob have got to proud of their accomplishments on running a very efficient and happy organization. It was crystal clear as the week progressed that they have established a well working team. Kiern is by far the BEST cruises director we have ever experienced. His dry wit and sense of humor along with the programs he has arranged certainly add to the joy of this cruise. Our first stop was Hilo, on Monday morning. Raining as usual when we docked. We took the Hawaii Volcanoes Deluxe Nature Adventure with our guide Anila ( sp?) who did a great job. What an enjoyable excursion, natural beauty and lots to learn about volcanoes. The ship encountered a mechanical problem half way to Fanning, so we turned around and spent 2 days in Maui. This didn't seem to upset anyone in particular. We attended the Luau on Maui , which was good, but if you have been to one before, skip it. We also did the West Maui Helicopter excursion, which is well worth the money. Truly enjoyed the sighting of whales and their young. On the final day of our adventure, we visited the beautiful Kauai. This is truly our favorite of the islands. More natural beauty and less population. The Kauai Backroads Adventure is better than we expected and is great for those that have visited Kauai before. The final morning on most cruises is horrid. The Star and their crew smoothly handled this without any apparent hitch. The NCL policy of being able to remain in your cabin until your color is called or you desire to leave makes for a most civilized procedure. Clearly we had a wonderful adventure and have great memories of our 30th anniversary cruise. I believe the NCL Star has received some unfair criticism in the past. The ship was clean, the service efficient, the staff friendly, the food was good to great, the performances and activities were memorable. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We sailed on the March 14, 2004 sailing of the Norwegian Star. There were 2 families--our has 1 child (11 years old), the other family has 3 children-- ages 7, 11, and 13. This is our 3rd year in a row doing a cruise for spring break. We ... Read More
We sailed on the March 14, 2004 sailing of the Norwegian Star. There were 2 families--our has 1 child (11 years old), the other family has 3 children-- ages 7, 11, and 13. This is our 3rd year in a row doing a cruise for spring break. We did Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas last year, and 1 week Disney Magic Cruise the year before. Our overall experience on the Norwegian Star was good, but there were some shortcomings on this cruise. First the cabin: We were in a "mini-suite" with a balcony. Although they call it a mini-suite, it is far from that. The outside cabin with balcony on Disney was slightly larger, so I would call this cabin a "deluxe" outside cabin w. balcony, rather than a "mini-suite". Although there are only 3 of us, this cabin was very tight. There are 2 twin beds pushed together and a sofa that opens up to a double bed at night. There is very walking around space in the cabin when the bed is open. Last year on Navigator, we had a Grand Suite (approx $1500.00 more than this cabin), but much, much more room. Also, the cabins on this ship creak so loudly when they is amy rolling of the ship, mainly because of the fact that there is so much teak wood in the mini-suite and suites. The bathroom is a nice concept with sliding doors between each area (bathtub, wash area, and toilet), but with the doors closed made for tight spaces. Our friends had a penthouse suite which was incredible. It had 2 full bathrooms, 2 sleeping areas, 4 televisions (including a plasma over the whirlpool tub), and slept 5 with no problem. It includes concierge service (with Julie, the best concierge we have ever had the pleasure to meet), and many other special amenities. If you have the chance to stay in one of these, they are well worth the difference in price. The food: The breakfast buffet was nowhere as nice as Royal Caribbean. They did not have the variety of foods like RCCL. There was an omelet person only every other day or so (and he was very slow). They give out the food (I guess for virus reasons), so if you wanted more or less of something, it was a pain in the neck to give it back or ask for more. They never had waffles as advertised, and not all the buffet areas were always open, so sometimes you had to walk around to 2 or 3 places to find what you wanted. For dinners, the food was excellent. We ate in most of the extra charge restaurants, and enjoyed every meal. It is well worth the difference for these places. You're on vacation, so splurge and spend a little extra. The best meal was in SOHO. Also, LeBistro had excellent filet mignon, with great desserts. The Japanese Tepanyaki was also very good, and worth the price. Activities: Although the cruise director Clint Wells is very personable and seems like a great guy, there was not a lot to do on the ship. I know we and our children were spoiled by Navigator and it's size (with Mini-Golf, Rock climbing, in-line skating, etc). But they just didn't do any exciting activities. The only daytime pool party was a day we were getting into Maui at 1pm. What a waste. Part of this lack of activities was possibly because this cruise attracts a much older crowd, who would prefer to do arts & crafts, rather than have a party. There was bingo, but NCL really needs to examine the cost of this. The first day was $39 to play with the bingo "computers", but after that it went to $59 per computer (person). For the 3 of us, it was $177 just for 1 day! I figures that during the cruise that bingo took in roughly $60,000 and paid out approx $14,000. Not bad, NCL!! Don't get me wrong, I am all for making money, but at least pay out half the take, not just 22%. Our children all got bored. Now, they did not do organized activities (except for the 13 year old, who had a great time). But unfortunately for the 11 years olds, they did not want to hang out with 6 year old kids and dress up like pirates and parade around the ship. I think it NCL wants to get families, they need to do more fun activities for the families as a group. Ports of call: The only real disappointment was Fanning Island. What a waste that was. The weather didn't help as it was overcast and drizzling. But there are no lounge chair to lay on, only small beach chairs that are very uncomfortable to sit on. There are dogs running around that some people were nervous around. We had no problem with them, they are just dirty. But this will all change in a few months when the US flagged ship no longer has to call on Fanning Island. I know this has helped these people, but they survived before NCL just fine. The shows: Everyone was raving about the shows on NCL. The Jean Ryan dancers were so-so, but the shows were boring. The only show that was really good was Charles Bach, the magician, but his time ends this week. He was very good and enjoyable. Overall, we had a good time. Cruising is a lot of fun, and I would highly recommend it to almost anyone. I am not saying we didn't have a great time. But we got very spoiled with Royal Caribbean and her Voyager class ships. There seems to be more to do and would recommend those to ships to families. NCL does have a great idea with freestyle cruising. That was the best part of the cruise. I never wore more than a shirt and pants (although some people wore tuxes). I wear a tie every day to work and did not miss it at all. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
I have just returned from a wonderful seven day cruise aboard the Norwegian Star. Our itinerary was changed: instead of cruising to Fanning Island, we added Kona (Hawaii) and Lahaina (Maui), still having one day at sea. What can I say? ... Read More
I have just returned from a wonderful seven day cruise aboard the Norwegian Star. Our itinerary was changed: instead of cruising to Fanning Island, we added Kona (Hawaii) and Lahaina (Maui), still having one day at sea. What can I say? Free-style cruising was great. We were able to eat when we wanted to, what we wanted to and where we wanted to. There was no pressure to dine at the added charge restaurants. The food was excellent and well-presented at all the restaurants. Our cabin (inside) had plenty of closet space and adequate room for my travelling companion and myself. Though slightly less than 150 square feet, the cabin was fine. (If we had wanted to have more cabin space, we could have paid more and reserved a larger cabin -- get my drift??) The entertainment onboard was fantastic. The "Broadway shows" were very well done with great performers. The Native Dance Group was unsurpassed (even by the dancers at the Luau at which we paid almost $100!). The Hawaii Lecturer (Wayne Chang) was thorough and well-read. The ships was comfortable and well-appointed. Upon embarkation, we boarded about noon, stored our luggage, had a buffet lunch (included) and then left the ship to do a walking tour through downtown Honolulu. We had plenty of time to see all the sights (close by) and then return to the ship. I highly recommend this ship/tour to anyone who has never toured the Hawaiian Islands in order to get an overview of the major islands. Once we unpacked, we were done: ready to relax and be pampered. Speaking of which, the fitness center and spa were fantastic -- besides a very complete work-out area and (mostly) free classes, the sauna and steam rooms (separate for men and women) were available (at no additional charge) to guests. Following the cruise, we spent a week on Maui which had been pre-arranged. It turned out to be the perfect combination: a night in Waikiki prior to the cruise, a week cruising the Hawaiian Islands and nearly a week on Maui. I only hope that when you take this cruise, you will be able to echo my compliments for the crew of the Norwegian Star. Maholo for reading my review and Aloha! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
NCL Star March 21 - 28 , 2004 After reading for months the reviews and observation other had on the NCL Star, I thought it only fair to voice my opinions. This was our eighth cruise, our first on NCL, so we have had some experiences in ... Read More
NCL Star March 21 - 28 , 2004 After reading for months the reviews and observation other had on the NCL Star, I thought it only fair to voice my opinions. This was our eighth cruise, our first on NCL, so we have had some experiences in cruising, most of which have been good. We arrived in Honolulu on Friday, to allow time to get over some of the jet lag, and of course to enjoy the city. Wonderful stay at the Royal Hawaiian , but how could it be a bad one. We had visited Honolulu several years earlier, and honestly not much has changed other than the traffic has become more congested. We arrived at the Aloha Tower, for embarkation at around noon on the 21st of March. We had a short wait outside as the process started around 12:30, on that day. The checked bags were processed outside in a very efficient manner, and the carryon bags were screened inside. We had obtained a bottle of wine, in Honolulu which was noted by security and was detained by NCL, until our departure from the ship. This was not totally a surprise as this is clearly their policy and after all we are subject to their rules. We were booked into a AF mini-suite, so we were allowed the use of the suite check in. It was smooth , quick and efficient. Within in minutes we were being escorted to our cabin by one of the Star's fine crew. The process of cleaning the ship was well underway, but the crew dealt wonderfully with early arrivals. The importance of packing the carryon with a change of casual clothes was rewarding, as our checked bags took several hours to arrive at the cabin. Plenty of time to explore the ship and find our way around before the ship began filling with other passengers. Of course the first Mai Tai at Topsiders was a must. This also gave us the chance to meet Rosemariee, a great bartender and a must get to know on this ship. At 5pm the normal emergency drill was conducted, where we had the chance to meet Scott. He was our tender commander and had just joined the cruise as one of the wonderful singer/ dancers. By the way, don't even think of missing the review to Andrew Lloyd Weber and the Friday night combined show. The shows were well done and the experience one to remember. This was our first experience with Free Style dining, as previous cruises had been on the RCL and Holland America lines. We all in all felt it a good experience and enjoyed the variety. We especially enjoyed La Bistro and Ginza. Be sure to asks for Harry Krishna (yes really his name) and Malvin in La Bistro. Making of reservation could be a little easier. The food was special, the added costs to go from good food to great food was not painful. I guess the difference is a dining experience rather than and eating experience. We attended the Cruise Critic meeting, which is always held on Monday at 6pm at the bar on the 13th floor, above the pool, forward. We met Douglas, the Hotel Director, Rob the Food and Wine director and Kiern, the Cruise Director. They were all very enjoyable gentlemen with the common goal of making our cruise a wonderful experience. Make sure you attend this meeting, it helps to know the leaders. Douglas and Rob have got to be proud of their accomplishments on running a very efficient and happy organization. It was crystal clear as the week progressed that they have established a well working team. Kiern is by far the BEST cruises director we have ever experienced. His dry wit and sense of humor along with the programs he has arranged certainly add to the joy of this cruise. Our first stop was Hilo, on Monday morning. Raining as usual when we docked. We took the Hawaii Volcanoes Deluxe Nature Adventure with our guide Anila who did a great job. What an enjoyable excursion, natural beauty and lots to learn about volcanoes. The ship encountered a mechanical problem half way to Fanning, so we turned around and spent 2 days in Maui. This didn't seem to upset anyone in particular. We attended the Luau on Maui , which was good, but if you have been to one before, skip it. We also did the West Maui Helicopter excursion, which is well worth the money. Truly enjoyed the sighting of whales and their young. On the final day of our adventure, we visited the beautiful Kauai. This is truly our favorite of the islands. More natural beauty and less population. The Kauai Backroads Adventure is better than we expected and is great for those that have visited Kauai before. The final morning on most cruises is horrid. The Star and their crew smoothly handled this without any apparent hitch. The NCL policy of being able to remain in your cabin until your color is called or you desire to leave makes for a most civilized procedure. Clearly we had a wonderful adventure and have great memories of our 30th anniversary cruise. I believe the NCL Star has received some unfair criticism in the past. The ship was clean, the service efficient, the staff friendly, the food was good to great, the performances and activities were memorable. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
From the time I began booking this cruise, I experienced nothing but argumentative, unhelpful service from the NCL staff. Once the cruise was booked, they messed up the reservation and then told me that if I wanted it altered to what I had ... Read More
From the time I began booking this cruise, I experienced nothing but argumentative, unhelpful service from the NCL staff. Once the cruise was booked, they messed up the reservation and then told me that if I wanted it altered to what I had originally requested, there would be additional charges. I ended up canceling the NCL flight portion and booking the flight myself. When I returned from my cruise, there still was no credit, $1,900, showing on my account for the flight portion. When I called NCL to inquire, I was basically dismissed and told they would 'get back to me.' Reminds me of the check's in the mail excuse. As far as the actual cruise, it was substandard. The sheets and comforters on our beds were stained and dirty. I found a bathroom towel in our suite that was dirty and had makeup on it. The ship was amazingly noisy so you never got a good nights rest. All night long, things were banging, creaking and making noise. The food was poor to average. If you wanted to eat in the nice restaurants, you had to make reservations, which most of the time you could not get due to them being booked . . . then there was an additional $12.50 per person charge to eat there each night if you could get reservations. In the restaurants you could eat in without the $12.50 charge, lobster and other high end selections were an additional cost. The Tappas 'Restaurant' is not a restaurant at all. It's a bar that serves the same three appetizers every, single night. The entertainment was worse than some high school plays I've seen and it never changed . . . the same three entertainers where featured the entire week - BORING. The extra activities were a joke. The staff at Blue Lagoon, the Market Cafe the Tappas Bar, the other bars and the food areas by the pool treated you like you were more of a bother than someone who had just spent thousands to be on the vacation. The only good thing I can say is that the shore excursions were nice. However, that has nothing to do with NCL as each excursion operator is an independent contractor. Overall, this cruise was a waste of money and time and a huge disappointment. I will spread the word to everyone I know to stay away from NCL. I can't express how much of a disappointment this cruise was. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
My husband and I thorougly enjoyed the cruise! Our mini suite with a balcony was large enough and nicely appointed. The ship seemed huge, and lots of people seemed lost lots of time. Carry the little map of the ship with you. We enjoyed ... Read More
My husband and I thorougly enjoyed the cruise! Our mini suite with a balcony was large enough and nicely appointed. The ship seemed huge, and lots of people seemed lost lots of time. Carry the little map of the ship with you. We enjoyed the freestyle dining and thought the food was good overall. We paid the surcharge and dined one evening in Le Bistro where the food and service were excellent. The chocolate fondue was to die for. However, my husband wasn't thrilled with the upcharges in the selected restaurants so we usually dined at Aqua which was fine. We dined one evening at La Trattoria where my pesto linguini was good but my husband's spaghetti was just so so. We didn't like the lack of atmosphere there because it's a section of the Market buffet area that they have attempted to separate with screens. We enjoyed Endless Summer one evening and liked the location above the Atrium. We enjoyed the free room service in the mornings so we didn't have to dress to go to breakfast to get coffee. The room service selection was limited, but we sometimes went to second breakfast like the Hobbits. My husband liked the ice cream every day from 2:00 to 4:00. I enjoyed the wine tasting for $10, $5 of which you got back if you bought a bottle of wine. It's neat that you can buy a bottle of wine any time, and they'll keep it in their cellar to use on future nights in any restaurant. We were fortunate to have good weather so we made it to every island. We were a few hours late getting to Maui because of a medical emergency during the night. (We understand that bad weather and emergencies can change a trip drastically.) We followed much of the advice of other cruisers on this website and rented a car (before we left for the trip via the internet, much cheaper than Norwegians' offer of a Budget car once you are onboard) in every port. We stuck with Dollar because it was cheaper. They had a convenient shuttle waiting for us in every port and shuttled us back to the ship at the end of the day. They provided maps and info at every location. We upgraded to a convertible when we could, and that was worth it in the beautiful weather. We took other cruisers' advice and did the helicopter tour on Kauai with Safari Helicopters (booked before we left via internet, much cheaper than the ship's helicopter excursion and cheaper than booking Safari when we docked). In each port, we hit the ground running and saw all we could, usually doing 2 or 3 things while people on the ship's excurions had time for 1. The lines to book excursions on the ship were often long, and we were glad we had done our homework beforehand. We made the best of the Fanning Isl. jaunt but agree that the cruise will be nicer in June 2004 when the Star will cruise only in the Hawaiian Islands. As I understand it, there will be a 7 day cruise on which you'll spend more than one day on each island. On the present cruise, we definitely ended each day wishing we could have spent more time ashore. Yet, this cruise was a great way to get a taste of Hawaii. We had 4 days in Honolulu (mostly in the rain) before we left for the cruise, and that was very nice. We had time to tour most of Oahu, hike Diamond Head, visit the Bishop Museum (very good!), and enjoy the beautiful island. We agree that Walmart is a great place to buy tacky souvenirs and any kind of Hawaiian wear you want. Also, we liked Longs Drugstore for jams and macadamia nuts. We never made it to Hilo Hatties, but the ship sure recommended it and people seemed to like shopping there. Onboard shopping was good, especially the day they pulled out a table full of sterling silver jewelry. I saw the exact same slipper (flipflop) and plumeria (flower) jewelry in shops in towns for twice the ship's price. Plus, there's no tax on the ship. My husband thought the cigars in the Galleria area were reasonably priced and fresh. I enjoyed the hula lessons and crafts with Cathy Foy, a former Miss Hawaii. She was a lovely person. The lectures about Hawaiian history and culture by Eddie Chang were very interesting. The Polynesian Patangi dancers were excellent and seemed very authentic, performing dances from vaious parts of Polynesia. (Whoever said they didn't learn anything about Hawaii and its history weren't paying attention!) The entertainment aboard ship was excellent. All the shows in the Stardust Theater (Andrew Lloyd Webber, It's Fame, Cirque Asia, the magician, and Roger Carr's cabaret show) were very good. Get there early for a seat. The Filipino group playing in the Atrium around happy hour every day were good. They play everything from the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, and Neil Diamond to Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, Jr. Roger Carr in Gatsby's is entertaining and developed quite a fan following. My husband enjoyed the Havana cigar bar off Gatsby's, but you can't hear the music from there. The comedian in the lounge was funny, and there was quite a crowd there. I took one step class in the fitness center and thought the instructor from the Czech Republic was excellent. Wish I had taken advantage of more of the free classes there. Some classes, such spinning, have an upcharge. My husband had a long wait to use the free weights on one of our days at sea. We didn't take advantage of any of the spa's services. They were quite expensive. The deck and the jogging track are nice, but the wind can blow you away at times. Warning: people stake out deck chairs around the pool early in the day and it's hard to find a spot. We definitely would recommend this trip and this company. The staff were knowledgeable, professional, and helpful. Patti, the cruise director, does a super job and is very approachable. She really means it when she says she's there to answer any questions and to help in any way. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
The cruise itself was good. The ship was beautiful and we like the "Freestyle Cruising" concept. The service on the ship was "uneven". Our cabin stewards were very good. We arrived for embarkation around noon and ... Read More
The cruise itself was good. The ship was beautiful and we like the "Freestyle Cruising" concept. The service on the ship was "uneven". Our cabin stewards were very good. We arrived for embarkation around noon and sailed through the process. I understand that any earlier than that, and they're not ready to receive you and later than that, it tends to get crowded. Debarkation is at your leisure, within reason, so that's why you can't get on too early while they're resetting the ship from the last cruise. Spa service was poor (specifically, we had booked special combo offers, but were charged the a la carte full price which we never completely got straightened out but got tired of fighting with them...they were always late for appointments though they insist you be there 15 minutes early...spa staff attitudes were "aloof" to put it kindly). On the positive side, they provided their services well and were trained properly, though they used you as a captive audience to try to sell over-priced products during your "relaxing" sessions. They must receive a commission on what they sell. My wife had booked a total of 7 hours of services on 3 separate days, so these comments are not based on an isolated incident. Table service in the restaurants was good. The food was very good and we especially liked the variety. Either the main dining room or the "alternate" main dining room, Aqua, are outstanding in both food and service. If you choose to share a table with others, seating can be almost immediate. Entertainment was mediocre. I'm glad they're offering a future itinerary which does not include the 3-day excursion to Fanning Island. The ship was full, but we never suffered because it never felt crowded nor did service suffer. There were plenty of activities on board and we could not take advantage of them all, so we were never bored. A highlight was the Hawaiian Lectures provided by a Mr. Chang. He was knowledgeable, personable and I learned a lot which added to a Hawaiian themed cruise. I think we might have been not as pleased had the cruise been our entire vacation, but we had 3-days before the cruise on Oahu and 4 days on Kauai after. I would recommend that to anyone. My wife would not take this cruise again, but I would. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Ok here it is... a positive review from two early 30-somethings without kids. Enjoy! Pre-cruise - We arrived in Honolulu on 1/1 it was raining and that coupled with the holiday left us with not a lot to do but shop. We spent some time at ... Read More
Ok here it is... a positive review from two early 30-somethings without kids. Enjoy! Pre-cruise - We arrived in Honolulu on 1/1 it was raining and that coupled with the holiday left us with not a lot to do but shop. We spent some time at the Ala Mohana center where we ate an excellent meal at The Pineapple Room, which is the more casual (and affordable) Alan Wong restaurant. Don't let its location inside a Macy's department store fool you - this was one heck of a meal!! That night we stayed at the Sheraton Mohana Surfrider, which we didn't really like. Maybe it was all the rain but it was very musty and or room was small and in desperate need of some updating. Before dawn the next morning we were on our way to Pearl Harbor during what appeared to be monsoon like weather. It was well worth the trip even though we returned soaking wet and cold. We then checked in to our final pre-cruise hotel - The Halekulani. We did not have a smooth start at this five star resort as it took three hours for our room to be ready and all we could do was sit in the lobby cold and wet. We ate that night at 3660 on the Rise - another fantastic meal. On our last pre-cruise day the sun was finally shining and we had a wonderful day driving all around the island - spending some time at Queen Emma's summer Palace, The Polynesian Cultural Center, and eating amazing shaved ice! Embarkation - We arrived at the pier at about 11 am. There was already a small line forming even though they weren't letting people in until 11:30. We told the gentleman who helped us with our luggage that we were in a suite and he kept us off to the side so we were among the first to go check in. The whole process was very quick and smooth and I was particularly impressed with all the security. We were escorted to our room and found that it was still in the process of being made up so we set out to explore the ship. Being among the first on the ship was awesome as it felt like the whole place was ours to explore! We quickly made our spa appointments (taking advantage of the embarkation special of saving $60 on a package of three massages), dinner reservations for the first two nights, and took a guided tour of the ship and the spa. Our Room - We were in Romance Suite 10726. It was a nice room of a decent size but we found the drawer space to be a little tight. It was, however, in the back of the ship and you really felt the motion of the ocean - especially at night. We had relatively calm seas for our voyage I can't even imagine how bad it was in previous weeks when the seas were really rough. Along with our suite came many amenities such as a DVD player and large TV, fresh flowers, goodies in our room almost daily (deviled eggs, cookies, chocolate covered strawberries, champagne, chocolate, fruit), the ability to make our dining reservations for the full week rather than two days at a time, VIP tender times, and a special cocktail party with the captain. We enjoyed the services our butler Rey who could bring us food from the main dining rooms in addition to the regular room service menu but didn't see much of our concierge Al (although it was his name on all the goodies). The Restaurants and Freestyle Dining - All in all I would say that freestyle was not for us. We are the type of people you like a schedule so we found we preferred the traditional cruise experience to Freestyle. Freestyle dress made for very underdressed people in the dining rooms even at dinner when a "resort casual" dress code was supposed to be enforced. Also overall we were disappointed in the food in comparison to the food on RCCL. We did get a chance to try many of the restaurants, however. On the first night we ate in Le Bistro, which we both enjoyed (chocolate fondue - Yum!!). We had the whole restaurant to ourselves as everyone was at the sail away BBQ. This was a good night to eat there, as it was often all booked the other nights. The second night we ate at La Trattoria, which was our favorite of the specialty restaurants. The food was great and there was no cover charge. We liked it so much that we went back three to eat on the final night of the cruise. We ate in Versailles on Tuesday for formal night and Aqua on Wednesday for lobster night. Both were good and if you ordered something you didn't like they would gladly bring you something else (one night I had three soups before I could one that I liked!). Thursday we ate at Ginza where I was a little disappointed when I was told that I couldn't order a dish that I wanted because it is really a dish for two people and my husband did not want to share it with me. My husband, however, was very excited to have Peking Duck at the mere price of the cover charge! For breakfast we found the Market Cafe to be the easiest option. We ate in Versailles on morning during the cruise and again on disembarkation day. We tried to order breakfast in our room on the Hilo morning but since they do not serve hot breakfasts in the room before 6:30 or 7:00 am, and we were supposed to be off the ship at 7:00 am for our excursion (we ended up with an extra 2 hours - see below), we could only get a cold continental breakfast - which disappointed us a bit. The Ports of Call - Due to a medical emergency we lost two hours of our already short time in Hilo. We had booked the Deluxe Volcano National Park tour, which was cut from 5 1/2 hours to 3 hours at a reduced rate (although not reduced enough in our opinion). The tour was great! We were in small group of 10 people so it was very personalized. There was no red lava to see while we were there. We didn't miss anything due to the shortened time frame; we just spent less time at each stop and ate our lunch on the bus. On Fanning Island we opted for the Napali Beach Break, which I can't recommend enough. We were the first off the ship (which makes a big difference), the beach was huge and beautiful (far better than the tiny beach on Fanning itself) and we had the use of floating beach mats (for free) as well as catamarans, kayaks, and bikes (for a small fee). After spending some relaxing time there we took the tender over to Fanning, got our passport stamped and ate at the BBQ. I think Fanning is an underrated stop. We really enjoyed it. In Maui we rented a car from Hertz and drove to the Maui tropical Plantation. It was beautiful and the tour was very informative. From there we drove to Lahiana and walked around the shops before heading to the Old Lahiana Luau. We did have to leave early in order to make it back to this ship on time but it was worth it to watch the sunset from a beautiful location while enjoying great food and entertainment. On Kauai we booked our own tour, which was the Hawaii Movie Tour. I highly recommend this informative and very fun tour of the island. We got to see many beautiful locations where many movies and TV shows were filmed and the highlight was our stop at the old Coco Palms resort. It was haunting to be on the grounds of this now closed resort with its rich and groundbreaking history as we retraced the steps of The King - Elvis - in Blue Hawaii. The Ship and Activities Onboard - The ship was very nice. The dEcor was not my style but it was not unattractive. The karaoke bar was a highlight for us as we made many friends (both fellow passengers and with the host staff - Summer is the best Hostess onboard!) singing there every night. The pool was small but the slides were a treat and you didn't have too difficult of a time securing a lounge chair even on at sea days. We spent a lot of time at the spa both getting incredible treatments as well as taking advantage of the free use of the facilities. Bingo is a favorite cruise activity of ours and we really liked the power bingo boxes (although being in the very front of the ship in the Spinnaker lounge - or as I liked to call it "Spin-your-head lounge" was sometimes not so much fun). The arts and crafts classes with Cathy, our Hawaiian Ambassador and former Miss Hawaii were great and we came in second place in Movie Theme Song Trivia. I also performed in the Star Seekers talent show, which was a highlight for me. Milt Able the comedian was fantastic. His second show was standing room only! The production shows started out great and then went downhill. Music of the Night is the only one worth attending in our opinion. And I have to give props to Patti, our enthusiastic Cruise Director, and her assistant Kawicka for keeping us entertained all week. The most disappointing part of the ship was the Galleria (shops). They seemed more like K-Mart that the upscale shops we are used to seeing on other cruise lines. Disembarkation - As a suite holder we were able to be the first to leave the ship but since we were not leaving till the red eye at 10:00 that night we opted to take an all day Deluxe Grand Circle Island tour of Oahu that did not leave until 10:30 am so we were the last off the ship. The tour, although exhausting, was a great way to spend the day while our luggage was being securely held under the bus. While we toured many of the places we had seen pre-cruise, it was nice to have a guide to tell us stories and the significance of many things we had passed along the way. Mahalo, Hilary Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
I'm submitting this review in hopes that what happened to my husband and I, will not happen to someone else. We have been on 3 cruises before this one and never have either one of us felt so lousy. The trip to Fanning Island was very ... Read More
I'm submitting this review in hopes that what happened to my husband and I, will not happen to someone else. We have been on 3 cruises before this one and never have either one of us felt so lousy. The trip to Fanning Island was very rough!! We had motion sickness pills and wristbands. They just kept you from going over the edge, but my husband was sick for 3 days straight which makes for a not-so-fun vacation. Our advice...if you have a tendency for motion sickness, take the pills a couple of days before you get on board. We were told this by a crew member 4 days after we were on the ship! We were very excited to go on this cruise. It was our first time to Hawaii and we looked forward to getting a little taste of each of the islands. We stayed overnite in Honolulu and then took the tour of Pearl Harbor the next day, which was an amazing thing to see. We boarded the ship around 2 p.m. and it was as easy as what everyone else has said. We were on board within 10 minutes. We were shown to our cabin (10186) which was a great cabin with a balcony. I would highly recommend a balcony especially if you are going to be doing the Fanning Island trip...it was a great to get some fresh air when the ship was rocking!! We chose to do our own excursion in Hilo, which was half the price of the ship's. There were several different vans waiting there to take you wherever you wanted to go for half the price (from Wal-Mart to the volcanic crater to waterfalls.) We just negotiated when we got off of the ship. As soon as we left Hilo headed for Fanning Island we knew it was going to be interesting. We had very rough seas for 3 days (a day and a half there and a day and a half back.) We knew it was a lot of days at sea, but never expected it to be so rough. Once we got to Fanning Island, it was wonderful!! We would highly recommend a walking tour with one of the locals. We went to the school and dropped off paper,pencils,crayons,markers,books,and some other misc. It is very true that they do not harass you like in Mexico or other places. The people are very quiet and shy. They always said "thank you" with a great big smile on their face! We had brought puzzles, yo-yo's, hair scrunchies and a few other misc. things that were an absolute joy to give to the kids. If you like a quiet beach, there is a great spot through the market on the dirt road and to the left. There were about 20 people on it, and it is beautiful. We tried to snorkel there, but it was way too windy and there is a very strong current. Rough seas plagued us on the way to Maui too. Once in Maui we did the downhill biking, which was a blast. We did book this through the ship only because we were with a group of 16 and wanted to all go together. It is very cold, and you go very fast!! We completed 22 miles in an hour and 5 minutes. The ship was late in to port and so we were rushed down the mountain before the sun set. We didn't get to take any photos on the way down, which was a let down since the views were breathtaking. We arrived in Kauai to an overcast day. We were a little worried because we had booked a helicopter tour for 8:30 that morning. We got off and talked to the driver for Island Helicopters. They were not going up until later and we rescheduled for 9:45. They dropped us off at the Anchor Cove shopping mall and then picked us up at 9:45. We were their first flight up that day and WOW was it awesome!! I'm not big on flying, but this truly was a once in a lifetime experience!! We would highly recommend Island Helicopters if you want to do a helicopter tour. We booked online and saved a lot of money by doing it that way. If you want to see all of the island...do a helicopter tour!! The Hawaiian waters are very calm and so our trip back to Honolulu was very nice(as was from Maui to Kauai.) Overall the ship was very nice and the food at the Soho and Le Bistro were our favorites. The cruise director and her crew were very energetic and probably the best we have seen so far. The only thing we would not do again would be three days at sea. It was a great experience to see Fanning Island, but you're only there for 6 hours which was not enough time for us after 1 1/2 days at sea. We went in to this cruise with the attitude that it would be a great experience, and with that it was!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
We sailed the Star on December 7th, 2003. This was our second cruise. Formerly we sailed on Royal Caribbean which was a wonderful experience. Though very different in nature, overall, I would say this cruise was at least equally nice. We ... Read More
We sailed the Star on December 7th, 2003. This was our second cruise. Formerly we sailed on Royal Caribbean which was a wonderful experience. Though very different in nature, overall, I would say this cruise was at least equally nice. We loved the Freestyle dining and although initially I didn't like the idea of having to pay at some of the restaurants (weren't we paying enough already?) we soon discovered that it really wasn't an issue because the non-pay restaurants were just as good and never once did we have any trouble getting seated. I liked the idea that they would seat you by yourselves if you wanted but also gave you the option to sit with another couple if you wished. We always chose that option finding it fun to meet other people. The ship is gorgeous and other than the rocky experience we had coming back from Fanning Island and a little difficulty finding our way around the ship at first, we had no complaints. The entertainment was superb and our cruise director, Patti we found very personable and helpful (talented too!). For the record, I know some people find it obnoxious that the ship photographers are always in your face, but you have to remember recording those events is their job whether or not you buy their photographs. As professional photographers ourselves, we just decided to be friendly with them and spent alot of our time chatting with them and talking "shop." We even attended their little mini-class on "Photography 101" for those interested in getting better shots and think they did an excellent job with their presentation. And for what it's worth, do believe them when they tell you the airport officials are dead wrong when they tell you the xray machines won't hurt your film. They certainly can (especially after multiple xrays) and this crew had actually done an experiment to prove it! One very important thing to me I would like to express; that is the issue of going to Fanning Island. It seems to me that this is a very black and white issue - people either love going there or they hate it (mostly because it takes so much time out of their cruising schedule leaving too little time to spend on the other Hawaiian islands) While I can totally understand this opinion, personally, we found it an absolute delight - for the following reasons. Fanning Island, is like a Gilligan's Island out in the middle of nowhere, where if it weren't for the cruise you would never even hear of, let alone have the opportunity to see. Here out in the middle of nowhere are people who have almost nothing in terms of material comforts, yet are happy with what they've got. Yes, they sell their crafts (mostly bead jewelry for a pittance), but never once did they act pushy or "commercialized" The children absolutely beamed when you took their picture and my husband, feeling like a GI with a pocketful of Hershey bars, brought even more smiles to their face when he handed them a quarter after taking their picture. We got some great "National Geographic" like images of those women and little kids. If you take the cruise that is going there, I would definitely recommend choosing the option that takes you to the private side of the island, because the NCL beach there is absolutely stunning (one of the prettiest beaches we saw on our whole trip) and not nearly as crowded as on the other side. You can still take the tender back to the other side at any time you want for the NCL food fest and make sure you get good pictures of the natives dancing in their black hula skirts. My opinion regarding the complaint about going is this - You know well before you book this cruise that going to Fanning Island is going to take three days of you time so if you don't like it, don't book it. I am so glad we did because I think it's not only a little different diversion from the hurry and scurry of all the commercialized islands, but it's just a really good experience to be able to see first hand how the other half lives. I understand now there's a brand new American owned ship that won't be going there. But if do like the idea of going to Fanning (and I CERTAINLY HOPE NCL DOESN"T TOTALLY DISBAND THIS CRUISE ITINERARY) then do what we did - just add another couple days to your vacation and see whatever else you want to see on your own. We stayed two days on Oahu - seeing Waikiki, Diamond Head (beautiful and worth every "ouch" of walking up their steps), the North Shore and the Polynesian Cultural Center (another delightful place). The we flew over to Maui for another couple days where we did the Road to Hana (pretty much an all-day trip - very worth while) which you would not have the opportunity to do on the cruise routine. We did snorkeling at Molokini (next time I think I'd do it at one of the beaches), saw Tropical Plantation and the Iao Valley (a photographer's paradise) and best of all - the Old Lahaini Luau - much much better rated than any of the other luaus on any of the islands, especially the one the cruise offers you. As to the cruise excursions - we did mostly their tours - now that we know our way around more, I'd probably go for the cheaper way of renting the car - I understand it does work pretty smoothly but we saw the national Volcanoes Park in Hilo ( a wonderful tour - but it was hard to choose because so many of the tours there were good - wished we could have done more) Back on Maui we went to Haleakala NP which was nice but would have preferred doing it on our own since our bus driver gave us limited opportunities for some of the greatest photo ops - including a beautiful rainbow that we could only view out the window (bummer!) Kauai was the best. After taking a rather short trip to Hanalei (pretty but the same problem with the bus driver) we still had time after we got back from there so at the last minute were very fortunately able to book on our own a helicopter tour. I think this has to be one of the biggest highlights of our whole trip. Wow! What an amazing way to see this gorgeous island. We went with Safari and at the end they gave us a video of OUR trip. A little hesitant at first I calmed down immediately when my eyes feasted on the waterfalls coming at you from everywhere in those lush green mountains, the rugged shore and sea caves of the Napali coastline and the colorful walls of the Waimea Canyon - dipping down and up close was a view you will never forget. If money is an issue, forget it. It was worth every penny we paid (and going on your own, also made it cheaper) At the end of the cruise since we didn't fly till evening we had more time to spend in Honolulu. We chose this time to take the ship's excursion to Pearl Harbor. In spite of the cost, we thought this was a very good way of doing it - especially since we had luggage to deal with because the bus, who stayed with us the whole time, kept all of our belongings, including our purses which for security reasons you can't take into the PH area, locked up and safe. We didn't have to put them in the safe at the PH area. After seeing the Arizona, he took us to the USS Missouri and then down to Waikiki for lunch. Those who had early flights he took to the airport in the afternoon, and those of us with evening flights, he came back for at a later time. I thought that was very nice as it optimized everybody's time and didn't leave anyone having to wait at the airport too long. Our trip to Hawaii was an absolutely wonderful experience and the NCL cruise I think did an outstanding job in giving you an overall experience with these stunning islands. Of course, in one week it is impossible to see it all, but if life is good to us we surely will be back and I wouldn't hesitate for one moment to cruise NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
Fantastic Freestyle Hawaii on the Norwegian Star -- by Joe Leader If you've ever dreamed of feeling like you owned your own cruise ship, then the Norwegian Star Hawaii experience is for you. The ship brings cruising back to its ... Read More
Fantastic Freestyle Hawaii on the Norwegian Star -- by Joe Leader If you've ever dreamed of feeling like you owned your own cruise ship, then the Norwegian Star Hawaii experience is for you. The ship brings cruising back to its glory days with 10 restaurants, consistent service, above-and-beyond entertainment, and amazing ports of call. In Honolulu, the Norwegian Star features a late departure time of 8:00 p.m. to accommodate passengers arriving from the mainland US. That provides customers nearly eight hours to board the vessel and venture back on shore to Honolulu before departure. That leisurely, freestyle pace of boarding sets the pace for the remainder of the journey. In my estimating, freestyle cruising should be the only way to cruise. Rather than being herded into a table of 12, you can grab a table of any size on any night in any restaurant. The formal night is held as optional. The activities are non-stop on board the ship but they do not cajole you into activities that you do not want. Decadent chocolate buffets, professional musical acts from Andrew Lloyd Webber, comics that are actually funny, and even financial talks to increase your knowledge without making a pass at your wallet top off the itinerary. The ship and its staff are top notch with exemplary service. In addition, there are no worries for tips as they may be automatically charged to your room or you may instead opt to personally award staff for service. My Diet Coke addiction was satisfied with an unlimited Diet Coke card sticker for $25. Normally that would be the price for 12 soft drinks and the beverages were brought to me at my table, at the buffet, and even in my beach chair by the pool for free. Early the first morning after departing Honolulu, the ship docks in Hilo, Hawaii. Called the big island, Hawaii provides a volcanic backdrop for the opening of the journey. Absolutely make the effort to get to Volcano National Park with its active lava flows visible on most trips. I would recommend booking this shore excursion before boarding the Norwegian Star as many of the popular first day trips did sell out of seats. After viewing the moonscape of the big island, the ship departs early that afternoon to the Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati. After a relaxing day at sea, the ship journeys 1000 miles from Hawaii and docks for tenders to ferry you to Fanning. For the island, I would recommend the private beach excursion for $20 that affords you the luxury of being the first on to a beach that resembles Blue Lagoon. The inhabitants on the island of 1600 are remarkable and friendly. Gifts of all sorts can be purchased for a few dollars - but I recommend bringing single dollar bills as change may be a rarer commodity. While the people have no electricity or running water, they do have a remarkable sprit. Norwegian has also invested heavily into the infrastructure of the island to better the passenger experience while broadening the horizons of the people of Fanning Island. For lunch, head back to the main island to have a barbecue feast and shop at the main market. There will be dancing and for a tip of $1 a police officer will stamp your passport officially from the Republic of Kiribati. After a return day at sea, the islands of Maui and Kauai afford the ultimate reward upon return. In Maui, I highly recommend the Maui Downhill experience. So long as you can coast on a bicycle, then the journey will be your dreams come true as you descend from a 10,000 foot volcano down to the ocean. In Kauai, enjoy the garden isle and pray for a sunny day as we received on our cruise. The garden island stays green from rain, but all of the excursions are unforgettable. If you have a big budget, then this is the place to invest in the helicopter ride of a lifetime. For a smaller budget, take the snorkel and boat ride excursion, as it will provide on of the best tours of the island. After venturing toward the Forbidden Island where 160 people live the life of Hawaiians from hundreds of years ago, the ship will dart down the scenic Kauai coast affording you the views of mountain after mountain along the sea, several waterfalls, caves to venture into, and snorkeling with sea turtles. On our trip, a school of several dozen dolphins followed our boat for a mile leaping out of the water. On our return, we saw two male humpbacked whales thrashing their tales in a fight for dominancy. Upon returning to Honolulu, take advantage of the late departure of most flights by doing a final trip to parts of Oahu that you would most enjoy. My final favorite moment of Freestyle cruising was the departure. On most ships, you are corralled like cattle into public areas for hours before you are allowed off the ship. On Norwegian, you are afforded the luxury of leaving the ship whenever you like. We slept in, woke up at 9:00 a.m. to pack, and left our room at 10:30 a.m. I highly recommend the Norwegian Star and her upcoming sister ship NCL America featuring seven-day all Hawaiian cruises. NCL has perfected the freestyle cruise and I recommend jumping on-board before word spreads and prices increase. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
We just returned from the seven night cruise aboard the NCL Star. Just wanted everyone to know what an absolutely fantastic time this was for myself, my husband and two grown (21 and 22) year old daughters. We had cruised NCL 15 or so ... Read More
We just returned from the seven night cruise aboard the NCL Star. Just wanted everyone to know what an absolutely fantastic time this was for myself, my husband and two grown (21 and 22) year old daughters. We had cruised NCL 15 or so years ago and was not impressed by their ship or service but enjoyed the itinerary, sooooo decided to give another chance and glad we did! This is a very nice ship with very friendly staff, much nicer than the Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas, which we sailed last year and spent more money on. Iloved the Freestyle Dining plan as it gives you so much variety , there is absolutely no way to get bored with the food. And the food was great in all the restaurants (buffet was just ok but that is not one of the restaurants). I didn't mind spending the little bit extra on the surcharge, it was worth every penny. One complaint might be the wine selection, there was a bottle of Chardonney which goes for 7.87 at Sams Club and they were hawking it at 26.00 per bottle. needless to say, we didn't bite that one! The cabin was spotless and the most comfortable beds! Duvet covers instead of blankets, which I appreciated. The itinerary is great except for going to fanning island but that will not be an issue starting in 2004 as I think this ship will change registry,so it will be a perfect trip! We loved it and felt it was the best way to see the islands as you don't waste time getting on "puddle jumpers" and going island to island. Having done Hawaii both ways now, I highly prefer this cruise one! Take the helicopter excursion in Kauai, well worth the money for something you will never forget. If you go to the Haleakala Crater in Maui, be sure to ask if it is fogged in as we went and couldn't see a thing. I understand we could have checked on the internet cam from the ship beforehand. The Mauna Loa Volcano in Hilo is a must see for excursions also ( has vent holes with steams coming up and many "hot spots" on ground as lava is only 2 miles or so down). Wish I had extended my time in Honolulu for one day but did squeeze in the Arizona 'Monument, very very interesting. All in all a great time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
First of all, let me say that this was one of the most enjoyable cruises I have experienced. As a formerly loyal Crown and Anchor member, this ship, with its "Freestyle" atmosphere is surely the future of cruising. No more ... Read More
First of all, let me say that this was one of the most enjoyable cruises I have experienced. As a formerly loyal Crown and Anchor member, this ship, with its "Freestyle" atmosphere is surely the future of cruising. No more rushing to make an 8:00 p.m. second seating dinner. Sure you give up the busboy knowing how many ice cubes you like in your tea, but geez!!!! We flew in to HNL @ 2:00p.m. local time from Sacramento, CA. and arrived in time to see rather long lines for check-in. Opting not to start our "relaxing" vacation waiting in line it was a short stroll to "Hooters" on an adjacent pier. After a few brews and plenty of hot wings it was time to again attempt to board, especially after remarking in my outside voice that the place should be renamed "Cheeks" after our waitress. Oh well, I guess I still have a lot to learn, even @ 55 !!! Unfortunately, the line was as long as ever. But I was relaxed already. The goose egg on my right temple made sure of that. We joined the que, and were fortunate to meet Bill and Deirdre from Long Island, he a Port Authority police officer with many a tale of 911 and his involvement in the weeks after that tragedy, she a nursing supervisor with an equally affable personality. We were to be nearly constant companions for the remainder of our trip. This cruise, in my opinion, is less about Hawaii, and more about unabashed cruising. Which is afterall what we pay the big bucks for, right !! Forget the other reviewers complaints about the days at sea enroute to Fanning Island, how better to get to paradise ?? There are plenty of activities onboard to keep you busy, but just "cruising" was fine for me. I spent time charting our position with the help of the GPS on the T.V. (we made it to within 4 degrees of the equator !!). The one and only gripe I had about this trip was the "Barracuda Reef Snorkel" @ Fanning Island. this was an immunity challenge on "Survivor" gone mad. It was nothing more than a short tender ride...OUTSIDE THE REEF...into open ocean in 25-30 feet of murky water. Basically your "divemaster" orders everyone to jump out and "drift" until you are either hypothermic or sick, or both. There were some schools of fish, but I would save my snorkeling for Poipu on Kauai any day. Needless to say, my illusion of the Great Barrier Reef went away quickly, especially for the $79. each fare. I was looking forward to Maui, having never been there, and was advised not to miss Lahaina. Well, except for the giant Banyan tree that place is nothing but an over rated tee shirt shop in my opinion. The mad cacophony of powered catamarans positioning themselves to load passengers for a "moonlight cruise" was almost more than I could stomach. Get me to Kauai....fast. Saturday means Kauai for the Star, be sure to be on deck for the harbor entrance ballet. It's awesome from the ship, but even more amazing from shore if you get the opportunity. Here you can avail yourself of the free shuttle to the nearby shopping center, but walk a little way further and avail yourself of the luxurious Marriott Kauai Beach Club. We have a timeshare there and find it one of the most beautiful and relaxing places I have ever visited. If you tell them I sent you (just kidding...), they will give you a towel (not kidding..) to use while swimming in the largest pool on the islands. Of course the sheltered beach is right there too, if the Star didn't miss it's turn and run aground there. You'll see what I mean after you've been there. As far as recommendations, book a cabin on the starboard (right) side of the ship, it approaches most ports on that side. Try to book a balcony, it is a singular experience to read Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at 50" from this perspective. All of the restaurants are first rate. The reservation thing is not too bad after you get the hang of it. I don't consider the Marketplace a restaurant by the way, it's just a quick place to get your breakfast and get out. Take your tray out by the pool, it's cool !! Overall, as I said at the outset, this was definitely the best cruise I have experienced and would recommend it to anyone who is truly needing some sea time, or an Island sampler, or both !! Ejn Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
I arrived in Oahu early and took a limo taxi to the hotel for about $30. We took the Deluxe Grand Tour of the island one day and spent another day at the Polynesian Culture Center. We took a Limo Taxi to the pier and it cost $20. I sailed ... Read More
I arrived in Oahu early and took a limo taxi to the hotel for about $30. We took the Deluxe Grand Tour of the island one day and spent another day at the Polynesian Culture Center. We took a Limo Taxi to the pier and it cost $20. I sailed on the Norwegian Star on August 10, 2003. Although there were 2,500 guests on board, the ship never felt crowded. Only during the embarkation were there crowds. Once we were on the ship, it was never very crowded in one place. All the people just spread out through out the ship. The Cruise Director, Patti Honacki and her staff were friendly and wonderful. The Hotel Director, James Deering and his staff were accessible and very helpful. Each night we saw two great shows. The Matongi Polynesian Cast were fantastic. We were able to learn about the culture during the shows and Hawaiian Arts & Crafts classes with Cathy, the Hawaiian Ambassador on board. I took home many handmade crafts that I learned to make during the classes. (Coco Nut Lei, which sells for $6-10 in stores.) The Jean Ann Ryan Company is a very talented and entertaining group. I loved the show "It's Fame" because it was a top notch show. The band that played at the 50s?60s Sock Hop were phenomenal. Roger Carr had a marvelous show. The Cirque Asia show was extraordinary for a cruise show. The Magic and Illusions of Charles Bach and the comedy of Rex Havens were remarkable. The Stardust Theater is large and very comfortable. Just imagine how mush these show would cost at home. I chose only to eat at the free restaurants. Since I either ate early or late, I was able to avoid all the lines. My favorite restaurant was Versailles. The service was excellent and the food marvelous. I had rack of lamb, veal, beef ribs, lobster, etc. The desserts were all wonderful. I made reservations for Endless Summer and LaTrattoria for 9:00. We were able to get into Aqua without waiting. Don't miss the Chocoholic Buffet on Wednesday at the Versailles. Even if you don't like chocolate you will enjoy this. Remember to try the beef ribs from The Grill by the pool. Also look for the 2 for 1 drink specials on the ship. During Bingo they gave out a couple of free Norwegian Cruses for two away. Some of the other prizes were good also. One prize was an instant upgrade to a balcony cabin. The Freestyle Daily is your lifeline and connection to all the activities on the ship. Bring a high lighter pen to highlight the important events you wish to attend. Make sure you get your tender tickets the day before you get to the island. They will call your tender number and it will go quickly. Fanning Island was like one big flea market. All the merchandise is made by the natives. Most items are made from shells and cost a dollar. The food and stuff is brought from the ship. There are a few flies but it was not a bid problem. At each port there were free shuttle buses waiting for the passengers. I booked my shore excursions online and my tickets were on my bed, the first day. I avoided the long lines and disappointment of not getting on a fully booked tour. When we got back on the Star we went through a security check and x-ray equipment scanned our things. I felt safer doing this. Debarkation was really simple. We got colored coded tags and we were able to leave when they called my color. There was a short line at Versailles and I was able to enjoy a leisurely last breakfast before leaving the ship. The ship is almost brand new and has a beautiful Grand Atrium. I had an inside stateroom and it was comfortable. It had a good sized bathroom. The stewards kept it spotless. The shows are top notch and very enjoyable. Freestyle dining is great, but may not be for everyone. Shore excursions went smoothly and were wonderful. There is not one thing I was unhappy with. Yes, we had rough seas but you can't blame anyone for that. I had a FIVE STAR trip from beginning to end. Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
I won't do a day by day or a play by play, but let me just say that Norwegian is the best. My husband and I, travelling with my husband's parents arrived in Honolulu on July 4, 2003. We did the usual things, check into the ... Read More
I won't do a day by day or a play by play, but let me just say that Norwegian is the best. My husband and I, travelling with my husband's parents arrived in Honolulu on July 4, 2003. We did the usual things, check into the hotel, walk around, have dinner, etc. My husband and I were bound and determined to see the fireworks in Waikiki, and did. It wasn't as good as we are used to seeing in Washington, DC, but that atmosphere was much better! We boarded the Star with no trouble, we used the Latitudes lines, and enjoyed the convenience, and shorter line. My inlaws had to wait in the other line, but weren't delayed that much behind us. Since we boarded on 7/6 - which was our first anniversary (honeymoon was spent on NCL Wind in Alaska's inside passage), we would have waited in line all day, just to be on the boat. The synopsis includes, getting to Hilo, taking the Volcano tour, and walking on lava that was flowing 3 months prior, taking pictures with the now famous speed limit signs almost covered in lava. While we were out about 3/4 of a mile on the lava flow, you could see a storm coming, and of course we got caught in it. Not exactly my favorite part of the trip, but memorable none the less. Fanning Island was truly a delight - if you could get past the commercialization that NCL has done there. We brought sun glasses, and toys for the kids. They were very friendly, and very much "hams" when you got your camera out. We enjoyed the visit very much. We did the obligatory playing bingo, and sitting by the pool. We were a little disappointed by the "marking your territory" of people putting towels on chairs, and leaving for hours. But, that's not NCL's fault. That's other people being rude. We enjoyed Lahaina and Kauai very much also. In Kauai we took a shuttle to Wal-Mart of all places. My husband and I like to go places like that to see what the cost of living is. $7 for a gallon of milk and we were floored!! While we were there, we bought some wine (sorry we didn't buy more since it is so wonderful). We brought it back on the ship, and it was never taken from us. We never experienced the alcohol policy. One thing we did experience, that most people don't is the medical center. Sadly, I began to miscarry after we left Fanning Island. It is a terrifying thought to be 1000 miles from the nearest ANYTHING, and facing such a situation. I have to say, the Dr. on board was very very kind and compassionate. Not that anyone takes that into account when they book their cruise, but it's good to know if you ever do need it. The only thing that we didn't really like was the Cruise Director, Patty. We felt that she was loud enough with the microphones!! Some people are just 'too' perky! Overall though, we loved Hawaii, and got to take a little bit of all the islands. We love NCL, and recommend them highly! Read Less
Sail Date July 2003
our family went on the star 7/13-7/20. it was a wonderful cruise, probably the best cruise we have ever been on. we cruised with our14 year old daughter and my parents, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. i will split this review ... Read More
our family went on the star 7/13-7/20. it was a wonderful cruise, probably the best cruise we have ever been on. we cruised with our14 year old daughter and my parents, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. i will split this review into a couple of different post. friday my husband, daughter and i arrived 2 days before the cruise and stayed at the hilton hawaiian village. we rented a car through hertz as they have a rental site on the hotel and we were able to drop the car off there on sunday morning. we arrived on friday afternoon and checked into the hotel which is very lovely. within 30 minutes we were at the snack bar and beach. we were really hungry and then realized that there was a 4 hr. difference in the time and it was near the time we eat dinner. the beach was great and the pool was large. that night we went to the aloha friday king's jubilee & fireworks. then we went shopping at the markets around the hotel and bought cokes at abc and some other treats. as many people have mentioned food is expensive at the hilton. a large coke my daughter ordered on the beach was $3.50. hence the trip to abc for $2.99 a six pack. there was a fridge in the room. the time change really caught up with my daughter and husband and by 8:45 they were sound asleep. the next day we got up early as my daughter was going surfing. saturday &nb sp; someone off the aol boards recommended this great surfing teacher. http://www.isurfwaikiki.com roger was great. he picked us up at the hotel and then took us to waikiki. he gave mallory and hour + lesson for $35.00. she stood up on her first try and was immediately hooked. we booked a lesson for the next morning. there was a surfing contest going on so she liked buying the local t-shirts and rash protectors. they also have photographers taking pictures so she got a picture of her eventful day. i tried to video tape, but the surfers were far out and hard to pick out who was who. that afternoon we had lunch at dukes which was located down the beach. it was a great place to eat and they had really neat t-shirts. after lunch we headed out to hanuma bay and snorkeled. we did not get there until after 3:00 pm so the crowds had thinned out. there were lots of fish but also rough waves. we really had to swim to see the fish. i had been here 10 years ago and was surprised that the number of fish was not as great as i remember. also people were no longer allowed to feed the fish. it was a fun day and we arrived back at the hotel, tired and hungry. we ate dinner that night at the golden dragon. the food was wonderful. another plus for the hilton is the entertainment that is around the hotel. nearly every bar or lobby had live entertainment. we got back to our room to find a note from ncl that they would pick up our luggage at 10:00 the next morning and take it to the pier. the room had an iron/ironing board so i was able to press some of the clothes that got wrinkled on the flight over. i had brought a thin hang-up bag and was able to carry on pressed clothes to the ship. a word of warning. i had planned to do a small amount of laundry at the hilton. they have no guest laundries. i ended up going to a nearby small motel that had machines in the parking garage. sunday mallory went to her next surfing lesson on sunday. we got back to the hotel around 9:30 she showered and went back to sleep. we didn't have to check out until 2:00 pm. (join hilton honors or ask for late check-out) we got on the ncl bus from the hotel to the pier and after a 20 min ride we were checking in on the ship. there were hundreds of people checking in at 3:00 pm. our latitudes membership saved us from waiting in the really long line. soon we were on-board and in our room. my parents had come in from dfw and were all ready on board. we had a quick lunch in the market place (not the best place for lunch) and headed for the pool area. my daughter was in the pool and having a great time. that evening we had dinner at versailles. mallory went to the teen program which started at 10:00 pm. they were given a permission slip to have signed by their parents and told to be back at 11:00 pm. by 10:30 pm she was sound asleep. monday today we visited hilo and the volcano. this is a very quick day. my parents took a helicopter tour that they book through http://tombarefoot.com/hawaii/heli_bigisle.html. they enjoyed this very much and were given a tape. they were also dropped off at hilo hattie and walked over the wal-mart and then took the shuttle back to the ship. we took a tour with sharks tours. it was ok. we were picked up at 8:00 am and went straight to volcano national park. this is a drive. we saw the visitors center, thurston lava tubes, etc. the guide was very nice. we were unable to see the lava as it was 1 â½ miles. my husband said he wished we had gone straight there. my parents saw lava in the helicopter. the price for the tour was $60 hr and we were there for 4 hours. i know we saw more than we would have on the ship tour but it is a let down not to be able to see the lava flow. we returned to the ship and began our trek to fanning island. that afternoon my family went to the hula lessons and the lei making class. this was wonderful. the hawaiian ambassador who hawaiian name is longer than a line and goes by the name of june is one of the best people they have working on the ship. other great people were james deering and patti the cruise director. tuesday tuesday was a day at sea and this is the first time we have sailed that we didn’t spend a fortune in the spa on this day. june had plenty of actives to keep us busy. my daughter along with many other teens attended all of june activities. as she said she would rather learn hula and make leis than fix pizza. we also played bingo and went to james deering wine tasting. we actually had lots of fun and were not board. that night we ate in soho. this was wonderful. the wait staff was very good and the schezwan filet was unbelievable. we also enjoyed both the piano players in gatsby. mt husband liked the cigar room havana’s. we went to the late show which was super. overall it was a great day. a word of warning shore excursions book up very fast. many were booked before we ever got on the ship. my father waited in a long line on sunday to book his golf tour on kauai. you could not book this until you got to the ship. my daughter wanted to surf in maui and it was full. i posted at least 3 different posts on these boards to ask about this excursion and no one knew anything about it nor had anyone who had taken it. so if you want an excursion book ahead. wed- sun. wed. fanning island we arrived at fanning island on one of the early tenders thanks to me. deering placing us on the vip list. my daughter was in the hula class and we didn’t leave until the lessons were over. (she became addicted to the hawaiian culture info "being at lessons at 8:00 am) the tender was a short ride to the island. it was like you had stepped back in time. upon our arrival there were a group of adults singing as we walked down the dock to the island. we had purchased gifts for the children and after finding a table to put our beach stuff we headed for the straw market. we bought several necklaces and my 14 year old daughter enjoyed giving the gifts to the children. the kids we so sweet and cheerful. they liked anything you gave them. we took about 20 small trucks that we bought at big lots. the boys loved these. there are two trucks on the island so they kids knew what they were. we had also taken lip gloss and finger nail polish to give to the teen age girls. mallory did not find very many teenagers, but the grandmothers really loved the finger nail polish. another big hit was the blow up beach balls we took. everyone loved these. we only had a few but plastic rings that you find at the party store but they were very popular. i wished we would have brought more of these. we commented riding back on the tender we could have brought our old madi gras beads. it is recommended you do not give candy as there are no dentists. once you see the adults you will know there is no dentist. also there were a lot more babies than i thought. someone had brought balloons and as a former preschool teacher i cringed every time i saw a small child, teething, biting or sucking on a balloon. they are so dangerous and can get sucked down your windpipe and kill small children. i wished we had bought rattles, teething rings and even some baby clothes. most residence do not wear shoes so there is no point in baby shoes. they children always say thank you and are not greedy. we have been on many cruises and my daughter thought this was the best shore excursion or best place she had ever visited. it is such a life changing experience. since they have no electricity the wash by way of boiling their clothes. ncl offered them electricity and they said no they have nothing that needs it. she was amazed at everything they did. other activities on the island were adults doing native dancesâ€"they never stopped the entire time we were there. also there are beautiful beaches and swimming. yes there are some flies but we have flies in el paso. there are lots of dogs on in island. we saw no cats but others said they did. ncl had a wonderful bbq lunch and fresh baked pizza. they also provided lots of cold water in coolers. you were not expected to by ncl bottled water. a word of warning is to apply sunscreen before you leave the star and then again when you are on the island. you are so near the equator that you burn easily. even my daughter who was very tan, checks got red, not to mention my husband’s shoulders. we took one of the last tenders off the island. it is a place i will never forget and would like to go back in 5 years or so to see how things have changed. be sure to attend mr. deering talk on fanning island. if you miss it you can see it on tv. thursday thursday was another day at sea. much like tuesday. my daughter did hula lessons in the morning and they had a show in the afternoon. she had a tattoo done by the team of polynesian dancers and went to the fashion show on how to tie sarongs. the entertainers are all young and very very nice. she went to another class with june and made a bandana. later in the evening we went to the polynesian show and then dinner at le bistro where we celebrated my parent’s 50th anniversary. the dinner was very good. i had purchased an anniversary package for them and it included, dinner, wine and photo which they did the package. we had a wonderful time. friday maui the ship was supposed to arrive in maui by 1:00 pm. many people had booked cars, and planned excursions. the ship was finally cleared around 2:30 pm. we finally got off at 3:00 and had to be back by 9:00. when we boarded the star on sun. there was a golf excursion to the dune at maui. the excursion cost $199 and included club rentals, golf balls and a drink. before leaving texas my dad had booked a round of golf at the same course for $43. after two it is twilight rates. he and my husband took a taxi which cost the $10. the course is very close to the ship. they brought their own clubs and thought the golf was ok for the price they paid. the course is only three years old and by the time they got started the drink girl was off for the afternoon. they were not happy with this. since they didn’t start playing until nearly 3:00 they didn’t finish all 18 holes before it got dark. the skipped one hole and missed another when it got dark. they said they would have been really been upset if they had paid $199. http://www.dunesatmauilani.com/frames_golf/frame_golf.html http://www.teetimeshawaii.com/maui_dunes.html (cheaper at this site) my mom, daughter and i rented a car from thrifty (i would recommend budget or alamo as we saw twice as many of their buses at the pier. it took two calls to get thrifty to come.) we then headed for lahania. we left the airport at 3:30 and there was a major traffic jam and a small brush fire. it took nearly 2 hrs. to get to lahania. we were running around like crazy as were other people from the ship. the ships bus to get to lahania is $20 per person. the rent car was $32. several people we saw shopping said their tours were cancelled at 2:00 pm. they assume it was because we were so late getting in. the rent car said the people off the ship had been late the last few weeks. anyway my suggestion is if you are late to skip going to lahania. shop in the town near the ship. there are many stores and a big k. a place we wanted to stop but didn’t have enough time. another suggestion is the ships luau at the sheraton. people who attended said it was wonderful the food was great and the entertainment was even better. we got back on the ship we had dinner in versailles. my daughter went to the karaoke bar and sang in one of their private rooms. overall had i not been to maui before i would have been really upset. my daughter wanted to surf and by the time we got down to where she could it was so lateâ€"she decided to blow it off because she wanted to shop. then she heard when she got back to the ship that the surfs up was cancelled because there were no waves. saturday kauai kauai was great. it more than made up for maui. my father and husband took the ships golf tour and played at the marriott’s lagoon course. they said the course was wonderful and well worth their money. my mom, daughter and i went on the movie tour. http://www.hawaiimovietour.com we purchased it through http://tombarefoot.com/kauai/activities_kauai.html (this was cheaper). we saw so much of the island. they picked us up at the pier and dropped us off at the beach and stores near the ship. my daughter who wore her swim suit jumped in the water several times. the lunch was great and at a lovely beach. i would recommend this to anyone who was on the ship. there were many excursions on the ship which looked good. once again sign up early as they were booked. after the tour we were dropped off at a group of stores that was within walking distance of the beach. my daughter went to the beach and we rented a boogie board for an hour. you could also surf but the board rentals are for the day. she loved the boogie board as the waves were breaking close to shore and you could just ride in. also there were huge sea turtles ---as big as her boogie board that you could see. this was a wonderful day and we all came home with great memories and were dead tired. we had to pack tonight. once again thanks to mr. deering for getting us vip embarkation tickets. we were off the ship by 9:00 am on sunday. anyone who wanted to carry their own luggage out could have gotten off by 7:30. sunday this was the easiest day we had in ever leaving the ship. we got off the ship and headed for our hertz rent car at the airport. we had rented a van which was nice and went straight to pearl harbor. there was a 2 hr. wait after we got our tickets but we went to aloha stadium very near by and shopped. great pricesâ€"10 t-shirts for $20. towels $3 lots of shell/ hawaiian jewelry. our two hours went fast and then we did our tour. it takes about 75 minutes to do pearl harbor. we all had been there before except our daughter and it was still interesting. our daughter really liked it mainly she knew lots about it from the movie pearl harbor. we stopped to get something to eat, drove by punchbowl and my mom to make one last trip to the abc store. she wanted to buy their macadamia nut liquor. we dropped them back off at the airport and headed back to hilo hattie’ s. this is their flagship store and is huge. there is a back room where things are marked down really cheap. we drove around and then turned in our rent car to get our 10:15 flight back to phoenix. we slept all the way home. overall this was the best cruise vacation we have ever been on. the people of hawaii are so nice. each port we sailed into had people greeting us, music and dancing. it was a wonderful trip and one we will not soon forget. we will probably go again when the pride starts sailing. 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Sail Date July 2003
My husband and I sailed with Norwegian for our honeymoon, and had a wonderful time. We had a mini suite which I highly recommend because you get concierge service, and we took advantage of this more than once (dinner reservations, shore ... Read More
My husband and I sailed with Norwegian for our honeymoon, and had a wonderful time. We had a mini suite which I highly recommend because you get concierge service, and we took advantage of this more than once (dinner reservations, shore excursions, etc..). Plus the balcony was wonderful to eat breakfast on! We enjoyed the food onboard and tried most of the speciality restaurants. We really liked Endless Summer. We liked being able to eat whenever we wanted, and to have the option to eat alone. Also, they will save your wine for another night if you don't finish it. I recommend booking all of your shore excursions before you cruise (which we did), because the line for them looked long. We also really liked our trip to Fanning Island. It was a once in a lifetime experience. We booked the excursion to the private beach, and it's well worth the extra money. It was the most beautiful beach we have ever seen, but make sure you head to the other side of the island for the BBQ. We enjoyed the days at sea it took to get there, but after planning a wedding I think we were looking forward to the down time! My personal favorite for days at sea were lying by the pool with a Mai Tai. The entertainment on the ship was pretty good. I especially enjoyed the Andrew Lloyd Webber show. We didn't feel formal night was worth the effort or expense. You spend most of the evening waiting in line for picture to be taken, but to be fair we were tired of our picture being taken, and we had recently been all dressed up (remember the wedding!?!). So maybe it was better than we thought, who knows. The spa on the ship was great. I had a massage, and only wish I could have stayed longer! Overall, we thought everything was great and would sail with Norweigian again. A wonderful way for you to get a taste of Hawaii, especially for first timers. We stayed in a hotel on Oahu after the cruise and thought that was a great way to wrap up the trip. The Halekulani on Waikiki beach is a fantastic hotel, and I can't say enough good things about it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2003
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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