14 Norwegian Star U.S.A. Cruise Reviews

We are a retired couple from Canada, and this is our 25th cruise, having cruised with NCL about 12 times. This was an absolutely amazing fall vacation. We were initially a bit concerned about travelling in October in the Caribbean, and ... Read More
We are a retired couple from Canada, and this is our 25th cruise, having cruised with NCL about 12 times. This was an absolutely amazing fall vacation. We were initially a bit concerned about travelling in October in the Caribbean, and were very fortunate not to have encountered Hurricane Sandy as we were ahead of her when she hit New York. Great warm weather on this cruise, with only rain on one day, and a couple of windy days. We travelled from Toronto to New York by Greyhound Bus during the night, an 11 hour trip, arriving in New York early in the morning. We stayed at the Westin New York Grand Central, formerly the New York Helmsley, at an extremely reasonable price through Hotwire. A large cc group had booked rooms a year in advance. Extremely large room with a view of Empire State Building. Three days spent in New York City was definitely not enough, but we were able to scratch the surface and plan to go back again to enjoy some of the museums and a play. The HOHO bus 2 day pass worked extremely well for us. The highlight was Times Square, followed by Grand Central Station, trip up to the top of the Rock and an evening ride to Brooklin to enjoy the scenery at nighttime of Manhattan. One of our cruise critic buddies had reserved a couple of vans to take us to the port on embarkation day, which worked extremely well, especially since there was a bike race going on that day. Our van driver was extremely pleasant and seemed to get us there in no time at all. Our group was well organized by our great leader, Catherine. Everything went smoothly, porters took our luggage, advance tips that were collected were given to him, and luggage miraculously disappeared. Check in was extremely fast, a very short line, and we gathered in a lounge to wait to board our ship, which we did in less than an hour, having been met by the concierge and a few other familiar faces. As a group we were escorted to Cagney's for lunch. Since our cabins were ready we eagerly went to see our home for 14 days. What a surprise! We were upgraded from a minisuite to an enormous family suite with four large sets of floor to ceiling windows, large bathroom with double sinks and bathtub, dining table with 4 chairs, large sofa and two extra comfy chairs. A very nice surprise. This was our first time in a suite and we totally enjoyed being pampered and spoiled by our room steward, Benjamin, who kept our room immaculate & spotless, and had a talent for making a different towel animal every night, and our butler, Made, who set the dining table with such flair when we ordered room service. We felt we were eating in a fine restaurant. Made was always dapperly dressed, very respectful, and gentlemanly, showed us how to use the Lavazzo coffee machine, bringing in a fresh basket of fruit, which he refilled during the week, delivered hors deuves and cookies every afternoon, dvd's, chilled wine & water, etc.etc. The ice bucket was always full. Excellent service by these gentlemen. A+ NCL STAR, appropriately named The Happy Ship, is a great ship with a fantastic crew, who work extremely well together in an attempt to ensure that everyone feels special and has a great vacation. Nothing is too much for them. The officers are visible throughout the ship, and seem to find time in their busy, hectic schedules to exchange pleasantries with some of the passengers. I haven't noticed this on any other cruise line that we've been on. They are so upbeat, and are always smiling as if they do enjoy their jobs. This comes down from the very top and filters all the way down. They selflessly cater to our every needs, and we are so grateful to be lucky enough to be able to cruise on NCL ships. Super service, far superior to any other cruiseline. Granted there are times when the odd meal is not the best, but the majority of the time it's extremely good and great value for our money. Our cruise critic group was fortunate enough to be invited to 2 sailaway parties in the garden villas. What a spectacular way to leave New York City, passing by some famous landmarks, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Staten Island, with an air and sea escort, and barely making it under the Verrazano bridge (or so it seemed). An awesome start to a great vacation. On our first night we requested the concierge, Monica, who, by the way is one of the best, to make reservations for a group of 16 in the MDR Versailles at 6:30. She achieved this without a hitch, and some of us enjoyed the lobster dinner with the accompanying beverage. Ordering 2 was not a problem. There was an extensive menu to choose from. A great start to an amazing cruise getting to know our fellow cruise mates in such a beautiful room with glitzy chandeleirs, ambient lighting, and superb service. We enjoyed the majority of our dinners in the MDR, or Aqua, which is usually less crowded, and also tried 4 of the specialty restaurants. The meals in LeBistro, Cagneys, Moderno and LaCuchina were most enjoyable and certainly worth the upcharge IMHO. The salad bar at Moderno is one of the best; the only complaint I have is the music from the atrium, which sometimes makes it difficult to hear one another. A secluded quieter area would have been better IMHO. The entertainment on the Star was great. We enjoyed Elements the best, followed by Band on the Run and the Crew Show (Nih Liu and Flarita, you are so talented). There was also the usual juggler, comedian, trapeze acts, and hypnotist. The cruise director, Kyle, was extremely good, having been in the business for 22+ years, and his talent showed through. THE MARKET CAFE: Although it tends to get extremely crowded in the mornings, it's a great place at night when the singing chef is entertaining. The dance floor gets quite crowded as people congregate in this venue to enjoy his singing and antics, and dance the night away. Honourable mention should be made of the Washy Washy guys who greet you profusely before entering the room. They are so upbeat. Clean hands sure help to stop the spread of germs. I understand on a surprise inspection at one of the ports NCL got a 99 percent rating. The cruise critic group spent countless hours organizing a myriad of events, the top one IMHO being a horse race, which was the most exciting and enthusiastic group activity we had ever done on a ship. There were 5 horses and each represented an island; our Canadian Horse, Aruba, who started out very slowly, eagerly galloped to win the second race. The CC group also organized a Mardi Gras Parade, Halloween Party in the Gardenvilla, complements of Denise & others, Octoberfest luncheon, complements of John & others, Bridge Tour, LRC games, mahjong, Slot Pull, Cabin Crawl, and Indian meal. There was so much going on, no time to get bored, and all cc members were welcome to join in. These events were very well attended and a good time was had by a majority of people. A great big THANK YOU to all the organizers. PORTS: Since we had been to all the ports before, we did not book many organized excursions but did our own thing. In the past I've found that it's also easy getting off the ship in most Caribbean ports and doing an island tour with either a group or by private taxi, after negotiating an itinerary, length of tour, and price. Know what you're getting and paying for. A review of each port is done separately and follows this review. NEW ORLEANS: What a delightful enjoyable place. Since we were in transit, after a relaxing breakfast, we got off the ship around 9:15, went through customs very easily (however other people with luggage had an extremely difficult time due to a few problems with the first cruiseship entering the port for the year). We went to Harrah's to meet some friends who were joining us on the following cruise, and then took the trolley to Cafe Du Monde. Since there was an extremely heavy downpour, this curtailed our visit this time. We returned to Riverwalk where we spent a couple of hours browsing around the stores, had lunch, and then returned to board the ship. We were fortunate to get on the ship within half hour as we were in transit, but there were numerous angry people waiting in line to board as there was a delay. We loved this cruise, and give exceptionally high marks to the crew and especially to Yannis, the food and beverage director, who we felt did an amazing job despite all the problems he encountered. He kept his cool, and bottom line, did a great job working under pressure, standing out in the heavy rain, without a complaint; just doing his job despite the bad weather. Our hats also go off to all the crew members who had to pitch in and do so many extra hours to unload the ship in a timely manner. Thank you NCL. We will definitley be cruising with you in the future and can't wait until we board again. You treat us royally. THANK YOU. I have not attached photos as other cc members have done a great job with their videos. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
This is our 18th cruise with NCL in 4 years and we are at the Platinum level. We recently moved to Florida, so Tampa was the perfect port to leave from. The drive is only 3 hours from our home and it was nice to not fly to a port. On our ... Read More
This is our 18th cruise with NCL in 4 years and we are at the Platinum level. We recently moved to Florida, so Tampa was the perfect port to leave from. The drive is only 3 hours from our home and it was nice to not fly to a port. On our way we stopped in Sarasota for lunch at Greco Cafe (1592 Main St.) and it was like eating in Santorini! We stayed at the Hyatt Regency (downtown) which is just a short walk to the trolley which will take you along the sea port and to Ybor City. We were able to see the ships that were in the day before ours and we ate and drank at the wonderful Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City, for lunch. Dinner was at Jackson's Bistro-Bar-Sushi and it was fabulous! It was especially fun as lots of high school seniors were there for their prom night dinner. The dresses on the young ladies were to die for! (Just a little jealous!) The morning of our cruise we dropped our large cruise bags at the port and then parked in a secured lot. A shuttle took us back to the port where we were escorted to the VIP lounge and were checked in by a very pleasant lady. We then got to see our Concierge, Monica, whom we have sailed with before. It wasn't long and we were escorted to Cagney's for the VIP lunch, but as we had friends aboard we opted to head to the pool deck and await their arrival in the sunshine. About 1:30 the announcement was made that cabins were ready so we all headed out to our various decks. We booked a suite aft on Deck 9 (Deck 10 is the preference, but they were already booked). The wine and Proseco we ordered through Miami office was awaiting us and we began to unpack. (Unfortunately one of our fellow passengers fell ill and left the ship midway through the sail, offering their suite on Deck 8 to our friends. Thus the change in how this is written.) It wasn't long until there was a ringing of the doorbell and our Cabin Steward, Pelam, introduced himself. He said that his brother-in-law, Maxi, would be our butler and that he would present himself shortly. And he did. We could see that we would be well taken care of on this cruise by two such seasoned veterans of the cruise line. Hallelujah! Believe it or not, we had our cruise bags in our cabin, unpacked, and slid under the bed by the time we went to Muster. Once we were able to relax a bit we headed onto our deck and noticed a diver in the water with camera gear. Our fear is always the nasty Azipod problem, but we decided that Captain knows best, so we put our worries aside. Later we would learn that it actually was a propeller problem; a fish net had become entangled. It was obviously on the port side as we hardly ever saw that side running at full power. Our friends arrived shortly after Muster and the 'pop' of the bubbly bottles heralded the beginning of another fantastic cruise, one with new ports to come! We were all excited to be leaving from a port new to us and photo taking was the order of the day. As we neared the Sunshine Bridge our anticipation grew as we all love the architectural beauty of it. How disappointing to realize that the fascination for the bridge can only be realized from the roadway, not the waterway! But it was still a great sail away...and now it was time to get ready for dinner. The sail away dinner is always in Le Bistro and this night did not disappoint. We had a fabulous time...the food was delicious, the wine so fine, and dessert was just what we needed to 'start' us off right. Our servers were wonderful and even offered to deliver a little something to Captain who was dining just a few tables away. The Ship: We have sailed many times on M/S Norwegian Star and she is a favorite. She's not quite as big as the Jewel class ships, so it is possible to see someone more than once during a cruise! The only complaint we have is this: Since removing Spinnaker and putting it aft on Deck 7, the heart and soul of this ship is gone. The 'new' Spinnaker is like a convention center meeting room. It lacks warmth, it lacks, windows, it lacks a soul. It would have been preferable to cut the size of the old Spinnaker, but leave it in its glorious location. And now when you sail to Alaska or through the Canal, your viewing spots are limited. That's a shame for those that have inside or window cabins. And if you have a suite aft on Deck 8, you better be a night owl as the noise from the bands and recorded music is awful (as told to us by our friends). One night we could even feel the vibration on our deck! NOT acceptable! One other point about this great little ship: She needs to be refurbished in the cabins. Our suite was much like the one on Gem with the cabinet door over the refrigerator almost falling off; the tie-backs for the curtains pulling out of the walls, and the closet doors rattling in rough seas (tighten the screws!). And our deck was worse...the glass panels were missing almost half of the screws to hold them in place!!! We also understand those glorious coffee makers are about to bite the big one! Hurry! Order more! Activities: We really didn't partake in Bingo, Art Sales, etc., and we never do. We are on board to relax and unwind. The most rambunctious we got were cocktail parties and trips to the spa for massages and mani-pedis. Now THAT is relaxing! But I will say that we saw our CD, Kyle, EVERYWHERE, and he did a fabulous job as did his assistant. Kudos to Kyle! Service: We had wonderful service from those tending to us in our suite to the wait staff and the laundry folks. We were especially interested in one waiter at Moderno who was one of the best we've ever had. His name is Renante and he has the uncanny ability to make every single person at your table feel special. Once you go past four people that's hard to do; we had five and we all felt like he was catering just to us. We also must tip our hats to a few others who went above and beyond for us: Beverage Manager, Katya, who helped one of our friends order some very special wines. Restaurant Manager, Deepak, who arranged a lovely dinner for us one night. Hotel Director, Sean, who also arranged a lovely dinner for us at Moderno (more on this later). And, as previously mentioned, our Cabin Steward and Butler could not have been better. They were there to ask after us twice a day and the rest of the time they were very attuned to our wanting to just relax. They were great! A Big thank you to Martin for pinch-hitting for Captain at dinner (sorry you were ill, Captain), but we're glad we finally got to know the famous Martin. To Anne, Michelle and Sawant for taking us under their wings and being such wonderful friends. Chef Barrington...always a pleasure! Excursions: We took two excursions this time and both were adequate for the price paid. The first was in Jamaica where we signed up for the private beach time. This sounded like it was a private hotel/club, but was actually just a private beach with some tiki type buildings, very antiquated toilets, and little else. The wait in the tent was horribly hot and was much better once we moved outside (a half hour wait). The ride was quick, with a great driver named Big Mike, but the road into the place was a rutted dirt road. Beach chairs and lounges were awaiting us and the woman 'assigned' to us was very good about tending to us. About every half hour of the four hour stay we were brought a small plate of food. It started off with a rice offering, followed by a strange vegetable dish, then chicken from the grill. Rum punch or beer was available for free, but the rum in the coconut was $5 for one shot of rum, $7 for two shots of rum. At one point she came by with a tray of ice water that really appealed to me and I forgot the first rule of travel: Don't Drink The Water!!! I did and I paid for it just prior to dinner aboard ship that night. (I spent five hours praying to the porcelain God!) That aside, we didn't bring a camera as we thought we'd be snorkeling only to find out there is none. So it was sit on the beach, cool off in the water, eat the food, and drink the booze. It was a beautiful spot, but it could be so much more with just a little thought. Our second excursion was in Curacao; our third time there and we decided it was time to do more than just shop and drink cold beer (there was still time for that!). We took vans to the town center (got to go over the big bridge) and board the little train trolley. We were very glad we did so as we learned more about the city than we had imagined possible. We would encourage first-timers to do this. It also helped that the wind was blowing and the temps weren't as high as normal. This was worth the money and small amount of time involved. Aruba: Our third time and still not a favorite...maybe due to politics. We did go shopping for a bit and then hit Iguana Joe's for the always fabulous lunch and the service is top notch. St. Marten: Our first time here and we fell in love with the place! How wonderful that you get off a big ship and then take a water taxi to the town center. We were there on a Sunday and, in addition to that, it was also a day the children were having a parade at 2 p.m. We walked around town waiting for the shops to open (bought a new Nikon 1 at Chulani's Seiko House for a fab price!) as well as the restaurants. A lot of shops didn't open at all and we were warned they would all close at 2. Our friends took a boat excursion to the French side (which we had hoped to see, but the parade closed the roads) and they reported that all shops were closed. By 1 p.m. we had lunch beachside, did a bit more shopping and then headed back to ship. We want to go back again on a week day! St. Thomas: Always a favorite of ours; been there too many times to count! We five headed downtown for some serious shopping, then hit the bar in the midst of the walkway (you know where I mean if you've been there). Afterwards we headed back towards the ship and Grand Cru at Yatch Haven Grande for lunch. The food was great, the service was wonderful, and the drinks were delicious. After 3 days of a lot of smack talk, a few drinks, and a 'Double Dog Dare Ya', the guys went into ICE to get their ears pierced! Then it was back to shopping around the port (the power was out so many shops could only take cash) and then back aboard. And not to be forgotten: SEA DAYS! We love, love, love sea days. A time to really relax, unwind, get a massage, a mani-pedi. The folks at the spa did not disappoint as they needed weary muscles, did reflexology, painted nails, massaged legs and feet. Ahhh.... Note re Spa Services: This is the second time this has happened, so it's worth reporting. At one of the cocktail receptions the good doctor from the Spa was in the receiving line and told me I should come visit her as she could "make me look ten years younger". When I responded that I didn't want to look ten years younger she responded, "Okay, five years". I then told her she could do her magic on someone else, I am happy with whom I am and I don't need that stuff. Really, I'm always stunned when this happens as it is neither the time nor the place. I actually was insulted that she would say this. If I want something like this done I will go for a consultation. The payback was seeing ONE person attend her seminar in the reception area. BTW: Watching her slide show of before and after was NOT appetizing as I had breakfast at Blue Lagoon one morning. NCL: You need to put these 'shows' in one of the conference rooms. If there isn't enough business for this then maybe it's time to delete it. You know how to do that, don't you? Dining: We were so glad to see that some of the menus have not only changed a bit, but have been reduced. It makes for better dining in every respect. We were especially glad to see this in the VIP dining at Cagney's for breakfast and lunch. And we always have a night that we 'pig out' in the cabin with our friends. We have our butler get the Blue Lagoon menu for us and we order up a storm! We can drink, eat, be silly, get serious...it doesn't matter...we just enjoy! Moderno: This venue opened at the beginning of our sea days. We were invited to dine there with the compliments of one of the officers and it was so good that before the evening was over we had booked another night. But be prepared...don't eat a lot that day. As I told the officer responsible for our running amok that we were in a 'Carnivore Coma' the day following! You must start with the Caipiroska cocktail (2 are better), followed by the salad bar and the Pao de Queijo (Brazilian bread)...the beet salad was to die for...so simple and so refreshing. The salads were amazing, but the real star was the seafood chowder...OMG! It was soooo good! The first night we tried to do it all...every meat, every side...impossible! I will tell you that the lamb chops are perfectly prepared, the filet is to die for, the garlic beef is succulent, the sirloin is like buttah, the linguica and chorizo are perfection, the ribs with their fabulous dry rub are heaven, and the marinated chicken legs are like nothing you've had before. For sides I can only remember the fried sweet bananas...yum! And the one dessert was the coconut flan although my table mates loved the mango rice pudding. The only thing to improve it would be to have that wonderful Senior Waiter, Renante, hand feed you! LOL! It was THAT good! NCL got this right!!! Disembarkation: It's always so sad to leave the ship and as Star is truly our home away from home, this is no understatement (I think NCL's new ads had us in mind). We were all up early to take pictures of Lady Liberty as we sailed up the Hudson. We noticed the river was running pretty swiftly, but we failed to see how high she was. After a wonderful breakfast in Cagney's, with our usual Mimosas to get us in the festive mood, we sensed a problem. With both the river high and swift it was difficult, if not nearly impossible, for Captain to dock. We waited in the theatre, as assigned, and missed the 747 with Enterprise atop flying by. After two long hours we were finally docked (hey, sh** happens!) and off we went. What a fabulous surprise to see officers and crew on deck waving to us as we left. It's not 'good-bye' it's just 'until next time'. And they know we mean it. We found ourselves a porter to take all the bags for the five of us, were whisked through Customs, and off to a waiting limo. Our trip to lower Manhattan was almost too fast to digest, but staying at the Hilton Millennium, across from 1WTC, was a treat! We had great views of the tower, the memorial, the river. And if you're there for any time, have breakfast at Kitchenette (lower and mid locations) and enjoy the house coffee (Gramercy Park brew from Dallis Bros). Then, if you like French food and a relaxed atmosphere, visit Les Halles (two locations as well) and have the duck...it's fabulous and so is the service. Flying out of JFK we found ourselves, in the wee small hours of the morning, driving right by the hanger where the 747 and Enterprise were housed. Upon take-off we actually got a clear shot of both through the airplane window. Wow! What wonder-filled memories, both on the ship and off... Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We live in Oregon and really need more cruises departing from the west coast. Flew to Vancouver BC via Horizon - Portland to Seattle, then Seattle to Vancouver day of cruise. Very cramped aircraft but it got us there safely. Hung out at ... Read More
We live in Oregon and really need more cruises departing from the west coast. Flew to Vancouver BC via Horizon - Portland to Seattle, then Seattle to Vancouver day of cruise. Very cramped aircraft but it got us there safely. Hung out at the airport then caught limo to the Ballantyne pier. We were among the first to arrive at Ballantyne so fact that there was no separate suite line didn't matter. We were checked in and escorted directly to Cagneys for a wonderful lunch. Dropped off our carryon bags in the stateroom, explored a little, did safety drill and went to Biergarten for our cruise critic sailaway party. NCL provided light refreshments and we enjoyed meeting our message board buddies. There was no rain and sailaway from Vancouver was beautiful. First port Nanaimo - light rain but no wind so no problem for Oregonians. We took the free shuttle, got off at first stop and spent 3 to 4 hours wandering along the harbor and part of the town. Inexpensive low key enjoyable port. Victoria - captain announced that Victoria was expecting high winds and extreme weather and we needed to go in night before or we wouldn't be able to dock there. He got us safely to pier but in the morning it was POURING and WINDY. Our stateroom was above the gangplanks and we watched people walking backwards & having umbrellas turned inside out and decided to stay on board. We'll all be retired next year and can drive to Victoria in a few hours so we'll plan a three or four day trip and do the city justice. I think it was Victoria night that we ran into heavy seas - 17 to 20 feet. Roseann and I stayed in casino until it closed as deck 6 is more stable than deck 12. Mezacline (generic Bonine) worked again and none of us got sick or even felt queasy. Our friends are now assured they are sailors and we're looking forward to new schedules so we can plan next our cruise. Port of Astoria was closed so we were unable to make that stop. We had looked forward to approaching Astoria by vessel rather than car but the Columbia Bar is dangerous and weather was lousy so it was understandable. The port charges were refunded without asking. Port of San Francisco - we did the NCL Muir Woods and Sausalito excursion. It was foggy going into port - I was up on deck 13 and one of first sights was the Ghiradelli Square sign. Weather was ok in San Francisco and we enjoyed the excursion. They dropped us off at pier 39 and we explored, then walked back to the ship. Meal thoughts - we ate in Versailles one breakfast and several dinners. Had dinner at Aqua once but preferred Versailles. We didn't have any bad meals and some were really good. Most breakfasts and lunches we went to Cagneys. It was quiet and relaxing and the limited menus along with their small buffet were very enjoyable. Nida was wonderful server and we requested her station. We gave her tip at end of cruise and filled out STYLE cards for her. We ate in the Market Cafe a few times - food is ok but the Star buffet setup reminds me of a school lunchroom. Didn't do any specialty dinners this cruise. The Best of All lunch was wonderful - they had favorites from everywhere except the Sushi Bar. It was served in LaCucina - some buffet style and some ordered off a special menu. The beef tenderloin off the menu was to die for as was the prime rib from the buffet. Creme Brule - wonderful. For $15 per person this meal is a true bargain. The pool was not open on this cruise - it was filled on the last day to be ready for Panama Canal crossing cruise. Hot tubs were open and used. There were NO two for one martini specials - really missed that. Think they had 20% off wine every day. They did have two days of martini and margarita tastings as well as wine tasting but we didn't attend. We went to most of the shows - my first time to go to Second City show and I loved it. The "fountains" presentation was done at the end of the crew talent show instead of the main final show. We enjoyed Kenny in the Red Lion Pub - he showcased different singers each night. Also enjoyed the trio in the atrium and the couple in Gatsbys. There was no pushing to buy drink refills and some people just sat and listened or sang along without buying anything. Rich got up early every morning and worked out in the fitness center while the rest of us slept. He enjoyed the equipment and is probably the only one of us who didn't gain any weight. We were invited to tour the bridge along with other suite guests. This was one of the highlights of the cruise for all of us. Our family suite 12518 was another highlight - perfect for the four of us and it would work for 6 if you packed lightly and weren't bathroom hogs. Our butler Mark was great - brought us canapes every afternoon along with two pitchers of orange juice at our request. We didn't ask for anything special but I'm sure he would have done it with a smile if requested. I left my Nook charger in the room final day and he tracked us down to deliver it. For the four of us this was a low key relaxing and relatively inexpensive cruise. We enjoyed NCL's hospitality and rested and amused ourselves. Purchased another cruise rewards and I think my final bill was $450 (prepaid the gratutities). This was a record low for us :) Traveled home via JetBlue from Long Beach - $46 taxi ride to the airport. JetBlue was wonderful as always. Non-stop to Portland, plenty of leg room and first bag free. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This is my first review... so pardon me if I get too wordy. My wife & I flew from Portland into Vancouver International Airport on the day the cruise was departing; our flight on Air Canada Jazz was on-time and we cleared customs ... Read More
This is my first review... so pardon me if I get too wordy. My wife & I flew from Portland into Vancouver International Airport on the day the cruise was departing; our flight on Air Canada Jazz was on-time and we cleared customs & immigration in a breeze. (Note: we tried booking train on Amtrak but it was already booked for the day prior to the cruise 6-weeks prior to departure.) as we left the luggage claim area, we were met by NCL representatives who took our three bags and we boarded a bus. The driver gave us a 45 minute tour of downtown Vancouver BC on our way to the ship which was very nice. We arrived at the port terminal & was through security check in no time. We then waited maybe 5-minutes to check-in and get the cabin keys and our vacation was set to begin. We walked up to the ship & boarded... and to our cabin we headed. The cabin was 5006. It was perfect for my wife & I. (The cabin steward introduced himself and it turned out he's from the same town in the Philippines as my wife is from. Throughout the cruise, he was superb towards us.) We attended the mandatory ship emergency procedures meeting in the Stardust Theater and then we found ourselves wandering topside. While we wandered around topside, the ship departed the port and our cruise was beginning. We sailed under Lion's Gate Bridge leaving Vancouver behind. We spent the next two hours exploring the NCL Norwegian Star; we wandered back to our cabin and only two of three of our bags were there. We went to the stardust Theater show that evening and met our cruise director & a sampling of the shows scheduled. Our third bag arrived after the show ended - just before 9pm. We finished unpacking and then off for a late-dinner. The next day saw us stopping in Nanaimo. The weather was wet - with rain pouring down on us. It was the start of three days of bad weather... but still, my wife & I took the bus into Nanaimo and made the most of our time there. The afternoon saw the rain disappear... and the sun come out for a few hours. I was very tired and slept early. A Captain's announcement was broadcast that he was going to dock at Victoria at midnight to avoid the high winds expected the next morning. The day at Victoria was windy & rainy. Gusts of 40mph on the dock. My wife was determined to go ashore; I let her do so knowing my opposition would be ignored. She said she had a fun time ashore. BUT while she was ashore, wind gusts toppled a gang-plank while people were on it; two had a medical emergency and were taken ashore. While on the ship, I explored it... and watched shows in the Spinnaker Lounge. My wife returned after 3-hours in Victoria; and we had a fun afternoon exploring the ship together. The ship left Victoria on-time and we were at the show in the Stardust Theater at 7pm... and it was very good. About 30-minutes into the show, the ship began with rough seas. The stop at Astoria was canceled due to the rough seas. We had 15-18 foot swells. My wife was sea sick ... but I guess I had good sea feet. The day she spent in bed. I wandered top side a few times and it was closed due to the weather & rough seas. Water was splashed from the hot tub & pool onto the deck - and people were slipping. The crew had card games & board games setup and played movie in the Stardust Theater. I sat in the casino and had $10 last me 4-hours at slots and black jack table. (I was lucky - hitting six black-jacks and winning one double-down in a ten dealing span.) The next day was a planned day at sea. The swells were still 10-12 feet... but more tolerable. My wife was feeling much better although a few larger swells caused her to be dizzy. We again wandered between shows in Spinnaker Lounge and Stardust Theater. This evening, Angels performed; a ballet duo that was fabulous. Also this evening, we ate at Cagney's Steakhouse which was our treat on the cruise - celebrating our 24th anniversary about 5-weeks early. We had fun taking photos of the sea... and other ships we saw. Thursday saw us in San Francisco. It was a foggy morning as the ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge. YES - there were conflicting orders by NCL on clearing immigration and a few people left the ship before they should have been permitted off the ship. My wife & I had a fun 5-hours on SF Pier 39. We had lunch of Fried Clams and French Fries & Cole Slaw at a small booth near Pier 39. We walked ... and walked. We returned to the ship and had a quiet rest in our cabin. That evening, I strolled all around the ship after we set sail for our final destination. We had one more sea day. And my wife & I took the BEHIND THE SCENES tour. It was fabulous and long. We had an hour on the bridge as dolphins & whales crossed our path off the California Coast near Santa Maria (city). We had an early dinner and then to the last show in Stardust Theater. It was fabulous! I awoke early to go see us sail into San Pedro Harbor and our destination port. We disembarked smoothly although PURPLE and LAVENDER colors were very similar but treated differently by NCL staff. Still, we were off the ship and through CUSTOMS and on to bus for our LAX airport transfer. Our flight home was bumpy as another storm front had entered Portland area Saturday. The food on board in the main dining area (Versailles and Aqua) was superb. I did not like the Garden Cafe buffet food. But the top side food buffet had build your own omelettes every morning that were superb; and until 9pm, the same spot had crepes that were superb too. NCL does serve PEPSI products; we bought COCA-COLA and SPRITE in Nanaimo that lasted us the cruise. All in all, we had an enjoyable time. I took over 1,250 photos and my wife took over 900 photos. YES - we had lots of fun. And we will cruise with NCL again, soon. We will take a ten day Caribbean cruise during 2012. We are already counting the days. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I have cruised on Carnival, Dolphin (went out of business in early 1990s), Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean ... Royal Caribbean is SOOOO much better than any of the others. I was not thrilled with my first Norwegian cruise ... Read More
I have cruised on Carnival, Dolphin (went out of business in early 1990s), Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean ... Royal Caribbean is SOOOO much better than any of the others. I was not thrilled with my first Norwegian cruise (Norwegian Sun to Mexican Riviera, 2006) and was not any happier on this cruise. Never again for Norwegian. With that said, here are the details of our cruise ... Spent 2 days in Seattle before cruise departed. Weather was fabulous; had a great time. Stayed at the Seattle Renaissance (downtown); great location; walking distance to everything in downtown area (unlike most Americans, we like to walk!) like Space Needle and Pike Place Market. Ate at Lowells inside Pike Place Market (based on reviews) - don't waste your money - everything was bland. Dinner the second night was at a little dive of an Italian restaurant (Luigi something - corner of 1st and Cherry) - Fantastic!!! Don't let the look of the place fool you. Took tour of Boeing Factory (largest building in the world (considering footprint)); impressive. Went to the top of the Space Needle; nice weather made for nice views. Took the Seattle Underground tour - hysterically funny and interesting. Cruise Info - the good (some things), the bad (some things) and the average (most things) ... Weather: Terrible! Pouring rain for 4 ½ of the 7 days; high of 55 degrees; when it wasn't raining, the winds were in excess of 40 mph. We live in Norfolk, VA, and just experienced 35+ days of 100+ degree weather; so all 4 of us were sick (colds / sinus infection) by the 4th day because of the drastic change in weather. I know that isn't Norwegian's fault, but it still left us with some not so great memories of our cruise. Check-in: Since I am a Latitudes member, we jumped to the head of the line; very quick and efficient. We were on the ship, sitting at the pool, having a drink within 10 minutes of arriving at the cruise terminal. Room: We had 2 inside cabins. I really wanted a balcony, but could not justify the additional cost (balcony room to Caribbean is cheaper than inside room to Alaska). With the horrible weather, no one was using their balcony; so I made the right choice. The inside room didn't bother 3 of us; however, my husband says no more inside rooms, since it is dark 100% of the time in the room and he had no reference for daytime or night time. Now I have a reason to book a balcony room on future cruises? The bathroom was a surprise; roomy and functional; sliding glass door to roomy shower (last ship I was on, the shower was so small you couldn't lift your arms to wash your hair without your elbows hitting the walls). Food: We are serious food snobs. I travel all over Europe for business; and let's face it - Europe has better EVERYTHING than the US (coffee, bread, cuisine, etc.). The 4 of us are good friends, and we constantly eat off of each other's plates ... so we all offered feedback at every meal. - Market Cafe (ongoing buffet). The food was pretty good! The only thing I had that was not great was the Caesar Salad dressing; very bland; needed garlic. A great variety of dishes, including 3-4 different soups at lunch each day, which we inhaled every day trying to keep warm. The Hot & Sour Soup is the best I've ever had. Lots of variety at breakfast. Always 1 of 4 stations opened for late afternoon snacking. Coffee was terrible. Did not eat here for dinner. - Versailles Dining Room: Had breakfast here the last 3 days; got tired of fighting the masses at the buffet. Food was wonderful; service was great 2 days; terrible the 3rd day; guess it depends on the server. If you don't see what you want on the menu, they offered to cook nearly anything you wanted. I am gluten-free, so I brought my own bread, and they gladly toasted it for me each day. They also provided a large tea pot of steamed milk when I asked for it; got to have my Cafe Latte each morning (and it was free, as opposed to paying at the Java Cafe). - Aqua Dining Room: did not use. - Blue Lagoon: open 24/7; free. We ate here once (after Shore Excursions in Juneau). Food was average. - Endless Summer: $10 charge per person. Ate here for dinner one night; ship was running a special; if you booked a table before 7pm, service charge was half-off. My lobster tacos were missing the lobster, but great otherwise (good filling, sauce, etc). Everyone else got fajitas - fabulous - very spicy. Like the Caesar Salad Dressing, the Guacamole needed garlic!! - La Cucina: $10 charge per person. Ate here 2 nights. Night 1: 2 ordered penne pasta with marinara sauce and meatballs - bland; again - where is the garlic? And onions? And basil? 1 ordered carbonara - so, so. I ordered the seared salmon with white beans and basil oil - fabulous - highly recommended. Night 2: 3 ordered pizza - just average - again, bland. I ordered the osso buco - absolutely heavenly!!!!! I was very sick at this point (night 6) and the osso buco with creamy polenta was like comfort food; it warmed my soul. I've been to Italy 19 times, and the osso buco on the ship was better than any I've had in Italy - who could they get this so right, and nearly everything else so wrong?? - Cagney's: $25 charge per person. I remembered Cagney's as the highlight of my first Norwegian Cruise ... too bad it wasn't the highlight of this trip. Everything was average; not bad, but certainly not worth the $25 cover charge. Crème Brulee was excellent. As my husband said, 'They didn't do anything I can't do with our grill at home'. We didn't bother to return. - Ginza: $15 charge per person. Outstanding - both food and service (waiter was adorable and very funny). We tried all the appetizers and 4 main dishes (Orange Beef (spicy!), Lemon Shrimp, Crispy Fish, and Beef & Brocolli; we were starved that night). Desserts were so-so; crème brulee trio was interesting / different, tapioca pudding used the huge tapioca beads (never had that before). - Le Bistro: $20 charge per person. Ate here 2 nights. Night 1: Everything was great; Steak au Poivre, Bouillabaisse, and Grilled Pork; chocolate hazelnut torte was yummy. Service was outstanding (Ask for Jonifa - She rocks!). Night 2: 3 ordered the lobster special ($10 extra); good but not great; lobster was slightly overcooked, and therefore a little tough. Steak au Poivre was just as good the second night. I ordered a chocolate cake for our group because of a birthday; wonderful!! But the waiters CANNOT sing; they were so bad that everyone in the restaurant cringed when they had to listen to the wait staff sing Happy Birthday or Let Me Call You Sweetheart (for anniversaries). - Chocolate Buffet: My husband is a very quiet man, is happy 99.9% of the time, and rarely makes negative comments, so I will use his words "It sucked!" Yes, it was that bad. Everything LOOKED wonderful, but there was no FLAVOR! I am an excellent cook, and I have been baking since I was old enough to reach the counter tops in my mother's kitchen ... if you ask me, they used just enough cocoa powder to achieve a dark brown color, but not enough to give anything a chocolate flavor. The one exception: the macaroons dipped in chocolate - PERFECTION! I went back to get more (wanted a few extras for the room), and they were gone; bummer? - Java Cafe: Coffee, hot water & variety of teas were available for free all day (6am-10pm). Specialty coffees cost $. The price was not unreasonable when compared to Starbucks, but to have to pay for coffee on a cruise is ridiculous; the additional 18% gratuity was highway robbery. Cafe Lattes and Cafe Mochas were excellent. The only desserts available here were different flavored slices of pound cake. Really?? The last Norwegian Cruise I took at least had wonderful pastries to go with the overpriced coffee. Bar Service: There is always a waiter available to keep you liquored up. Don't forget ... there is an additional 18% gratuity added to each alcohol order. Spa: All services were outrageously priced; however, I had decided that I would treat myself to one spa treatment. They were offering a special for the first at-sea day (Sunday); book a spa appointment before 9am, get 20% off (in essence, this covered the additional 18% gratuity). Since I'm one of those obnoxious early-morning people, I jumped at this. Booked an 8am Ginger & Lime Scrub, followed by a 1 hour deep tissue massage ($195) with Nadia (performed both services) ... I wanted to bring Nadia home with me. I get a deep tissue massage approximately once a month; over the years I've had 16, maybe 17, massage therapists work on me ... Nadia is tied for first place! She even used her elbow to get into my neck (knots most therapists don't know what to do with). Highly recommended. The thing I hated about the spa service on my first Norwegian cruise was that they gave you the hard sell at the end of the service to purchase their products; not true this time - nice to see this change. Gym: Average. Equipment is old; elliptical machines are of inferior quality; facility is small in comparison with other cruise ships I've been on. The 2 personal trainers are a joke. I am a certified yoga instructor, so I was excited about the yoga classes ... don't waste your money ($12 for 1; $20 for 2 ... and don't forget the freakin' 18% gratuity!!). Both of these guys strutted around the ship bragging about their yoga training with Stella. When I asked, 'So, who is Stella', they looked at me like I'd grown a second head. 'She is Madonna's private yoga teacher!!' ... so I thought, OK, yoga here will be fantastic. WRONG. These 2 guys are full of crap; not once did they use the English or Sanskrit names for any pose, they have no idea how to sequence a proper yoga class, and the class only lasted 40 minutes. I repeat: don't waste your $$$. Pool: Total of 4 pools; all small. Due to weather, very few people in the pools. Not impressed. Public Areas: OK, but not great. Nowhere comfortable to just sit and put up your feet, except the chaise lounges by the pool (which no one could use due to the poor weather). The ship is in need of refurbishing; definitely tattered and worn. Staff: I must admit, 99% of the staff were smiling and friendly 100% of the time. I don't know how he does it week after week, but our Cabin Attendant (Alfie / 11th deck, aft) knew all 4 of our names by the end of the first evening, and always addressed us by the correct name; he was also excellent at keeping our room clean/ bed made up / supplying us with fresh towels. One morning, we went to breakfast - but had to return to the room 7 minutes later for a forgotten item ... and the room was already clean. I ordered a birthday cake 2 days prior to needing it; an easy process at the Guest Services Desk. Three times during the cruise, I wanted to see the details of our on-board account; no problem - just stop by Guest Services and request a print-out; had it in seconds (Hey, Norwegian - if you upgrade to flat screen TVs, the guests can check their on-board accounts whenever they want, and never have to bother a staff member!!!) The guys working at the Java Cafe were a delight; they close at 10pm, but one night I arrived at 10:07 pm; even though the machines were already cleaned and supposed to be 'down' for the night, the barista happily made me a Cafe Mocha. Shore Excursions: NOTE - shore excursions happen rain or shine; if you did not want to participate in the pouring rain (which we had in Ketchikan and Juneau), you DID NOT get a refund. - Ketchikan: Men did the zipline; loved it. Women kayaked in pouring rain for 3 hours; not fun. After your shore excursion, stop for lunch at Burger Queen (right across from cruise pier); the best french fries EVER (even better than in Belgium, and they invented the french fry!!). Skip the town; nothing but tacky jewelry stores (owned by the cruise lines, no less) - Juneau: Men took the helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier; loved it. Women took walking tour of Juneau and trek around top of mountain that overlooks Juneau (get to top by tram); pouring rain and thick fog pretty much ruined this excursion. After spending 2 days in the pouring rain, it's no wonder all 4 of us were sick. Walking around town was OK, once you passed the gauntlet of tacky jewelry stores (owned by the cruise lines). - Skagway: All of us took the train ride; nice. Beautiful scenery once the fog lifted. Once the rain stopped, the sun came out and the wind picked up - big time! The men did the Glass Blowing Experience at Jewel Gardens in the afternoon - RIP OFF. The description says you get to make your own glass ornament ... the guys said you got to blow into the pipe once and that was it, the rest of the time you watched someone else make your ornament. Total rip off at $205 pp. By the way, Skagway shouldn't even qualify as a town; 4 blocks long by 1 block wide, and 85% of the businesses are guess what???? - Prince Rupert: All of us took a Seaplane ride over the Canadian wilderness. The highlight of our trip; TOTALLY WORTH the $239 per person!!!! Stunning. Prince Rupert is a charming little town (don't know why there is so much criticism about it by other reviewers - maybe they like to jewelry shop). The town didn't have a single jewelry store - just unique locally-owned businesses. Norwegian attempted to open jewelry stores there this year, but the town said NO (good for them), so Norwegian is pulling Prince Rupert from their itineraries for next year (bad for them). Entertainment: All the Cheese You Need! Attending the nightly shows in the Stardust Theater was like watching a rerun of the Solid Gold Dancers (hope you're old enough to get this reference); it was just that cheesy/awful. However, the 'Angels' show (2 french acrobats) was one of the most impressive demonstrations of athletic prowess I have ever witness ... DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW. Complaints: - Many employees were from non-English speaking countries and had VERY thick accents. I have worked for NATO for 24 years, with 1,000 staff in my office from 28 countries, so I can understand just about anyone ... I had to translate for the other 3 in my party all week. There were even some people that I couldn't understand. Don't know how the average American is able to understand their waiters, cabin attendant, barista, entertainment staff, etc. - Stop the hawking / hard selling of jewelry. Why does the cruise industry think that is all we are interested in when on vacation???? It was NON-STOP, both on the ship and in port. Found out the cruise lines own nearly every jewelry store in each port. Charming little Prince Rupert (Canada) said no to Norwegian opening jewelry stores in their town, so Norwegian has removed this beautiful little town from its itineraries for next year. What a shame ... but another reason I will not cruise with Norwegian again. - Need more activities to keep you busy during at-sea days. I have the same complaint about both Norwegian cruises I've taken ... the only activities were Trivia Contests. The Cruise Director and her staff need to be fired, if this is the only activity they can think of. My 10 year old niece has a better imagination. - During my first cruise, you got access to the other areas of the spa (relaxing chaise lounges overlooking the wake of the ship, steam rooms, etc) the same day as your spa appointment. This is no longer true (changed policy on Jan 01, 2011); now you have to pay an additional $30 (and don't forget the - yep, you guessed it - 18% gratuity) for that little luxury. Another reason I won't cruise with Norwegian again. - The hairdryer and TV in the room are from circa 1972!!! The hairdryer weighs at least 9 lbs. Can't remember the last time I saw a 9" CRT TV ... come on Norwegian - join us here in the 2010s. With all the money you take from us, you should spend some of it on flat screens like every other cruise line. - There is only one electrical outlet in the room. Luckily I read this in several other critiques, so we took a triple outlet with us (three outlets connected to one plug - $4 at your local True Value Hardware store). This allowed us to keep all of our techo-gadgets charged (2 cameras, 2 cell phones, 2 iPads, 1 iPod Touch). - There were zero events held for the Latitudes members. When I was on Royal Caribbean, they held DAILY events for the Crown & Anchor members. For me, Norwegian is just a so-so cruise line. I really resent the way they are constantly looking for ways to nickel & dime you to death. Even though Royal Caribbean has a formal dining room with assigned seating and dining times, the food was 10 times better than anything I ate on Norwegian (which we had to pay extra for!!). I would love to try the following experiment: pay for a cabin and then attempt to spend ZERO dollars during a 7-day cruise; I know it can be done, but it would be extremely difficult. For the money, Royal Caribbean is the way to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My husband and I cruised on the Star from October 2nd-October 8th; a repositioning cruise starting in Vancouver and ending in Los Angeles. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and because of the price. Norwegian markets their ... Read More
My husband and I cruised on the Star from October 2nd-October 8th; a repositioning cruise starting in Vancouver and ending in Los Angeles. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and because of the price. Norwegian markets their "Free Style" concept, but on this ship that translated to waiting in lines and poor service. In all fairness, the food and the service was very good at breakfast and lunch. At dinner, food and service was just average. We had the impression this was done to encourage guests to pay extra for specialty restaurants. We have since talked to people who have cruised other Norwegian ships, it sounds like other ships have better systems in place to avoid waiting in lines. There are two main dining rooms. Versailes is beautiful, the traditional formal cruise ship dining room. Aqua was very unappealing, with low ceilings and crowded tables making it very loud and unpleasant. We ate at two specialty restaurants. The French themed, Le Bistro, was excellent, food and service were outstanding. It reminded us of what we usually experience on Royal Caribbean or Carnival NIGHTLY. Paying extra for the Italian themed restaurant was a total waste of money. The food was just average. Service was poor. We were seated at 7:15 and felt this would give us plenty of time to make it early to the 9:00 show. As it was, we didn't finish until AFTER 9:00, totally missing the show as there were no seats available. Also,if you enjoy having the opportunity to get dressed up once in awhile, this is NOT the ship for you. There was one "formal or not" night; very few people dressed up. In fact, in the dining room, or even at specialty restaurants, you were more likely to see baseball caps, jeans, workout shorts, t-shirts. On to positive, the entertainment was excellent. Our favorite was the group "Oh What a Night," singing 4 Seasons songs. Each show was superb. We also enjoyed the band that played nightly in the Spinnaker lounge, Melodious Jones. We really enjoyed our balcony room. This was especially important as there were very few common seating areas on the ship, especially when weather is inclement. People were crowding on narrow window seats. We met people who had taken prior cruises on the Star, who said their used to be a couple large, pleasant areas to sit and relax. However, these have now been converted into suited. In past cruises on RCCL or Carnival, your cabin steward would introduce himself the first night, get to know your needs and then work to please you. On the Star, this didn't happen; I think each steward was responsible for more rooms than they could handle. For example, I had to hunt down and make special requests for basics like wash cloths (2 nights), breakfast order forms (2 nights) refilling empty shower get container, etc. Port talks were nonexistent. Perhaps this was because it was a repositioning cruise, but still some information should have been available. No maps of ports were available on the ship. Somehow, this doesn't even seem responsible. In past cruises, we were always given an evaluation form to fill out the last night. We were told this wouldn't happen on the Star because it was "free style." Frankly, I don't think anyone cared what we thought. I assumed there would be an e-mail evaluation form, but that also didn't happen. To finish, we did enjoy our cruise. Its just we have had so much better. NCL would not be my first choice when planning our next vacation. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Pre-cruise.. Flew to Seattle and spent 3 nights in Seattle. Great town great time, but this is a cruise review. Used SeaTac car service to get to hotel downtown. Cost was about $40 + tip. This was real late at night and we have found ... Read More
Pre-cruise.. Flew to Seattle and spent 3 nights in Seattle. Great town great time, but this is a cruise review. Used SeaTac car service to get to hotel downtown. Cost was about $40 + tip. This was real late at night and we have found the car services to be about the same cost as a cab, but much nicer, cleaner, and we feel safer. Doesn't mean we are any safer, but we feel it so who cares. Did take Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver. DW booked the ticket and paid extra for business class. I highly recommend this. The extra cost (minimal, about $10 or $15 per ticket, can't remember) got us early check-in with no waiting (bypassed a long line,) early boarding onto a crowded train station, $3 each off of anything in the bistro car. However, eat something before you get on the train and use this just for a snack or coffee. It also allowed us to get off the train first and get us through Canadian immigration prior to the coach passengers getting off the train. Took a cab from the train station to the cruise terminal. It was right out front of the station and dropped us off right at the terminal. Gave the cabbie $13 US and we were both happy. Very pleasant ride. Baggage porter met us at the cab and took bags (as we had luggage tags on already.) There were about 10 people in line. Would have just done it myself with less people in line, but was expecting it to be further away like in Miami. Probably should have done this myself and saved the 5 bucks, but hey, it is vacation. Next in through security. This was a long winding line, but it seemed to keep moving. There were 3 ships in port, maybe that made it longer. Probably took 15 or 20 minutes. Got in the terminal through security and went straight in to get our room keys. We had a mini suite AF, so we got to go on the side of the suite passengers. No wait. Other line looked like a fairly short wait. But we were on early. Day 1, Vancouver. Went right on the ship and DW asked if the restaurant was open. He said yes, deck 12, directing us to the buffet. I then asked, "Is there a sit down restaurant open?" He said' "Versailles." Of course we figured it was, but didn't know what time it was at the moment. So we went to Versailles for lunch. Not very crowded and of course it was very tasty. We have learned from Cruise Critic members to always go to the restaurant the first day for lunch ,as it is less crowded than the buffet. They try to get everyone in the buffet and out of the way of the entry deck. While we were eating a message came on the loudspeaker that cabins on Decks 11 & 121 were ready, so a lunch, we went on up to our cabin. This was our first time in an AF, our biggest cabin yet. We loved it. Luggage came fairly quickly and not all at once, so we had ample time to unpack. I went downstairs to order some surprise chocolate covered strawberries for DW. Went to dinner around 6:30, which is late for us. We went to the Aqua, and it had a line of about 7 parties in front of us. Line went fairly quickly and for the first time in a while, they asked if we minded setting with others. We said no and sat at an 8 top with 2 other couples. We had a great meal and a great time. Went to bed early. Skipped the show. Day 2, Victoria. Got up late so we just headed up to the buffet for breakfast. It was pretty good, and of course, quick. Coffee was nasty so we came back to the room and made a pot that was fairly decent. On both meals on Day 1, coffee was fairly good. Just the buffet coffee is nasty. Did our only ship excursion, which was the hop on/hop off bus. Great buy as it is only 10 bucks a head and gets you to downtown and back as many times as you may need. We only needed once. We found out that the world's largest Wal-Mart is in Victoria, unless the one in Texas has opened, but did not go. Don't like to go at home, so we really don't want to go to the world's largest one. We did go to Don Mee (www.donmee.com) in China town for a Dim Sum lunch. We don't usually eat off the cruise ship, but I had heard Dim Sum is a good lunch. We didn't know what it was, but this was a great place to try it. One, it was crowded, usually a good sign of good food. 2. When the waitress sat us down, she put a piece of paper in a glass. On the back it explained what Dim Sum was. For those that don't know, Dim Sum is where you sit and girls bring by items on carts. You look at these and just pick out what you want, if anything. They mark on your ticket what you got. In the end, you pay just for what you take. It costs us about $28, but we were stuffed when we left. It was really good and I will definitely do it again some day. Bought a Tea Pot and some tea at a place called Silk Road. Other than that, just walked around town and enjoyed the sights of this town. Came back on ship. I went to the ping pong tournament. However, there were some real table tennis players there and beat up on this old ping pong player. Then we went and watched "Sing it if you can." Was a decent way to waste a few hours. DW saw the seals on the rocks while I was away playing ping pong. The chocolate covered strawberries were supposed to be here at 4:00. They got to the room about 4:45. Not really a bad thing, just used to getting such superb service that you come to expect things to happen like they say. They were wonderful! Had dinner at Versailles. As usual was an NCL style dinner. Done right. I tried something new, only because it was something I had heard of but wouldn't think of paying for it in a restaurant. It was ok. One of our table-mates had it for the same reason and loved it. I just have different taste buds. Went to the Jean Anne Ryan show "Band on the Run." Was fairly good as it played some oldies. Of course, if you've seen one JAR production, you've seen them all. Went to the dating game after that. Well worth the visit. We enjoyed it. Day 3, Astoria. After a rough night at sea, we made it to Astoria. What a cute town. We had breakfast in Aqua. Was there when the doors opened. If you've never been one to go to the dining room for breakfast, you have to at least try it once. It is great. In order to get off ship, don't listen or read. You have to bring something that shows citizenship. Although they say a picture ID, that won't work with the immigration folks. Luckily, I brought my Military ID and my wife had hers in her purse. I showed mine and she showed her drivers' licenses as they said all you need is your key card and photo ID> Better bring a passport to get off in Astoria. We rented a car from Enterprise here. Great deal, only $30 total. We went to the Columbia river museum. It was $20 a head, was real nice. Bought some coats here as gifts. Very good price. $30 each when we bought two. Came back on the ship for lunch and since the sit down wasn't open yet, headed up to the Blue Lagoon for lunch. Pretty good, and the price was right. Then we headed off to Cape Disappointment. Was a pleasant drive, but can't see anything unless you are willing to walk. All in all, to do it again would probably just stay in town or go over to Ft. Clapstop. At sail away we were serenaded by the Astoria High School pep band. Also, there is a Coast Guard PX if you have PX priviledges and need it. It also has gas. Just up the road from the Enterprise Car Rental. Enjoyed sailing out of Astoria. Saw a good view of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse on the way out. Had dinner at Aqua. Simply amazing. I had the Spaghetti Carbonara, DW had the Chicken Picatta. Sat with two other couples and just had a great time. This is the day they had the laundry special, fill the bag for $24.95. However, they failed to leave the message in our rooms. We had good cabin stewards and they took care of us anyway. Good thing we asked. DW went to bed and I went to the Extreme Vegas show. It was wonderful. Maybe the best show I have seen on a cruise ship. I love the quick change aspect and someday, someone is going to have to explain this secret to me. Maybe a new TV show, Vegas unveiled, or something. Day 4, at sea. Had breakfast in the Blue Lagoon. Won't be going there for breakfast again. Not bad, just not my style. Went to morning trivia, which is always fun. Of course I learned a few useless bits of trivia that I will hopefully never use again. But hey, I know them now! Later we went to the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. Thanks Greg for putting this together. We enjoyed it. Much better than that was the slot pull that Robin put together. That was a lot of fun. No wonder Vegas is so huge. We put in a total of $320 and pulled the lever a total of 160 times at $2 a pop. We ended up with a total of $150 dollars or so in winnings, split 16 ways. We would do this one again in a heartbeat; much better than taking $320 of my own money and putting it in the slots. No time for lunch so we grabbed a couple of pretzel rolls (they are to die for) and some cold cuts and took it to the Stardust for the Latitudes party. That was as usual, couple free drinks and a couple of canapEs. Listened to the dumb jokes from our Cruise Consultant. Came back to the room and the laundry was there. Wow, quick turnaround. Less than 24 hours. I then went to the Majority Rules game show in the Stardust. That was quite fun. Watched some folks get upset in the black-jack tournament as some old guy didn't know how to play and cost a few guys quite a bit. Of course, it wasn't real money. They probably would have thrown shoes at him or something for hitting when he should stand and standing when he should hit. Glad I didn't get in on that particular game. Went to dinner at the Aqua tonight. I had my best meal yet. Everything was just right, including both deserts. What a life you can live on a cruise ship. Came back to the room and found a flyer for another laundry special for $19.95 a bag. Didn't need this one, but nice to know it was offered if needed. Went to see the show "Oh What a Night." This was a tribute to Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. It was fairly good. Day 5, San Francisco. Had breakfast at Versailles. Then off the ship to SF. We had bought tickets to Alcatraz from home earlier, so we had some time to kill until that kicked off. We walked a short walk down to Fisherman's warf, and then bought an all day pass on the MUNI system for $13 each. This enabled us to ride the street cars, bus, and cable cars. Pretty good deal as the cable car itself is $5 each way, no transfers. I really liked the cable car ride. Especially hanging off the side, just like on TV. We also went downtown and to Ghiradelli Square. I really enjoyed Alcatraz. Had dinner at the Aqua and it was again wonderful. Was having trouble getting coffee at the same time as our desert. It would usually come after we had finished desert. Was tired and went right to bed. Day 6, at sea. Had breakfast at Versailles. I have come to enjoy and expect phenomenal service from the cruise industry. Just not receiving it. Great service, and better than most land restaurants, but just not quite up to sea standards for me. Just going to relax today. Went to hear "How to Operate a Floating Hotel" with cruise director, Executive Chef, Food and Beverage Manager, and the Hotel Director. Informative meeting. I really like the cruise director, Ray Karr, from Seattle. May be our best CD yet. Very funny, never obnoxious. He actually stated that the cruise line is in the business to make money. They took out some non-revenue producing venues and brought in more revenue producing venues. Of course, I don't like it, but it makes sense. And, cruises cost less than they used to. I guess little old me wants the price of today with the service of 30 years ago. Of course that is not going to happen. I went up to find a good place to read and landed at Java Cafe. Great place to sit and quietly read. It took a while for the wait staff to come over and take my order, but that was just fine by me. I really just wanted to read the book. The vanilla latte was great though. The staff never bugged me. I might go back this afternoon. Then went to lunch-time trivia. Trivia is one of those activities I hope they don't get rid of. I don't go often, but always like going. It is also a place to meet some new folks. We had a great team and a fun time. Went up to the Market Cafe for lunch. I just love those pretzel rolls. This afternoon consisted of naps and walking around the ship doing nothing. It was a relaxing day, just like vacation is supposed to be. I did walk by the theater this afternoon just in time to see the grand finale, "Fountains," of the crew talent show. The first time you see fountains, it is kind of funny. After that, it is ok. A couple of the folks couldn't keep from laughing during their performance and that was pretty funny. However, the best part was this cruise we didn't have to hear John the CD from Australia keep telling us we don't want to miss "Fountains" at the crew show. Went to Aqua again for supper. While on the Dawn last year, we preferred the Venetian as it had a wonderful pianist playing for dinner. Also, we had an aft cabin. As our cabin was mid ship this time, and there was no pianist in Versailles Dining Room, we went to the Aqua more often. This was the friendliest waiter we had all cruise, and the first time for dinner we were not asked if we wanted a sharing table. Must have been because we got there earlier and there were lots of open tables and no one waiting. Unfortunately, the waitress got my order wrong. I did not complain because my wife said that I was going to get the Salmon, not the Snapper like I ordered. But hey, nothing to make the cruise bad. Just stating what happened on this cruise. Maybe I didn't speak plain enough. After dinner we went to the Cirque Pacific show. The JAR dancers are very talented. However, this isn't our cup of tea. The Chinese Acrobats were wonderful and we really liked them. Then they brought out a bunch of the crew. That was nice to bring out a stage full of folks that are not always seen. We stopped by the Blue Lagoon to get some wings for the first time this cruise. I really liked the old Blue Lagoon better. Something about sitting down at the new place just doesn't seem to fit. Bring back the old Blue Lagoon. We did skip quite a few of the shows this cruise. Day 7, Disembarkation. The ship was cleared for walk-offs at 7:30 AM. We were sitting down having a final breakfast in Versailles when the announcement came on. Had our best server ever, and he was very attentive and made our last dining experience a memorable one. Nothing major, just made everything happen, including bringing the items together like we asked. Finding some crescent rolls that weren't in the original bread basket. Overall cruise experience (compared to other cruises, mostly on NCL)- Average. Overall entertainment experience-- below average. Food—below average. Food compared to a land vacation-- cruise wins, totally. Value of cruising over other vacation types--- cruise still wins hands down. Big question, did I get what I paid for? You betcha. Although this cruise experience wasn't what I hoped for, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would cruise NCL again. I have nothing against them. However, I would like to try some other cruise lines so I have more of a comparison. I wrote this to be what I did on the cruise and how I felt about it at the time. Cruising is a wonderful experience and I loved every minute of it, up until I had to get off the ship. Come Monday when I go back to work, I will miss the ship even more. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We were a little cautious about NCL after reading some reviews. It turned out to be pretty much what we had read about. The beds were bad. The mattresses were worn out. Our Stewards did manage to swap mattresses with the overhead bunks ... Read More
We were a little cautious about NCL after reading some reviews. It turned out to be pretty much what we had read about. The beds were bad. The mattresses were worn out. Our Stewards did manage to swap mattresses with the overhead bunks and those mattresses were less worn. The stewards were very good. The food was very salty to our tastes, especially the hot soups and sauces. We tried to order low salt meals but it proved difficult. The food was also uninteresting; it was like cafeteria fare at an institution. The Blue Lagoon food was the worst. It was like frozen dinners heated in a microwave. There was incessant music pushed through tinny speakers in the market cafe. I was reminded of a transistor radio turned to maximum volume. The ship itself had and awkward layout and the remodel which replaced the the observation lounge with staterooms was a mistake. There was nowhere inside to look forward over the bow. The entertainment was ho hum and the activities uninspiring. It was very much a budget cruise. We did enjoy the staff and they were pleasant and helpful, except the shore excursion people who had very little interest in us when we wanted to learn about the ports. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Norwegian Star Sailing Date 2 October 2010 Itinerary: Pacific Coastal Number in party 6 (one from Seattle, and 5 from the Salt Lake City, Utah area) On 28 September 2010 five of us flew from Salt Lake to Portland, Oregon and board Amtrak ... Read More
Norwegian Star Sailing Date 2 October 2010 Itinerary: Pacific Coastal Number in party 6 (one from Seattle, and 5 from the Salt Lake City, Utah area) On 28 September 2010 five of us flew from Salt Lake to Portland, Oregon and board Amtrak Cascades to Seattle. We transferred to the Empire Builder and left the train in Edmonds, Washington. The scenery along the railroad is really wonderful, some of it is inland and some along the sea shore. We stayed two nights in the Seattle Area. Then we boarded another train (Amtrak Cascades) for Vancouver. Crossing the boarder into Canada, a number of people were waving at the train. We arrived in Vancouver and stayed two nights in North Vancouver. We did rent a van, but it appears the mass transit system in Vancouver I really good. Doing this again, I would not rent a van. On 2 October, we went and dropped off the luggage, and most of the people at the pier. My wife Kristi and I then took the van back to the rental agency, and walked back to the pier. We went through the check in line, and boarded the ship. The check in line was not really bad, it only took us about 45 minutes once we were in the queue to be on board the Norwegian Star. I am not really sure about the hull graphics (some might call it art) on the outside of NCL's ships; however, the inside was really tasteful. NCL does push the pay extra dining options. There are only a few choice for the free options, two dining rooms, a cafe, and the buffet. We ended up eating breakfast in the buffet, lunch was a mixture of the dining room, the buffet, and once on shore. We had dinner in either the Versailles or the Aqua dining room. The Versailles dining room had better decor, but the service was terrible. The Aqua dinning room had really wonderful service. As near as I could tell in the Versailles dining room when someone complained about the service, the head waiter / maitre'd of the section would pull all the people from other tables and have them wait on the table that complained about the service. Now the complainers had fair service, but the rest of the dining room suffered. The Aqua dining room ran like a well oiled machine, really good service, and the wait staff did attempt to talk to the customers a bit. As far as the free style dining ... I can see this being useful, esp. if people are late getting ready, or the ship is in port late. You show up for dinner when you feel like it, not on a schedule. I did miss getting to know the waiter and assistant waiter. When you have the same waiter, they know what you want to drink and it is waiting at your table, along with the bread, and the table is all set up. With the free style we had to wait for a table to be set up a couple of times, and we always had to order our drinks first. The food quality was as good as we had on other mass market cruises. The portions were smaller then I remember from years ago sailing on NCL, but as I recall the portions on all the ships have been getting smaller. The ship did make an attempt to let you know how much you were spending on things ahead of time. I am not sure if this is a sign of the times with people watching their money more closely, or if it is a policy of NCL's. It was nice to be informed that the corkage charge for bring your own wine on board was $15 before you even started the cruise. Also, I purchased a soda card, and they did want you to know just how much it would cost. The drink menus had the prices, so you new you were spending $9 for a fancy drink. They were not pushing drinks as much as they did before the free style cruises. (We last sailed on NCL in 1995... we have been on other lines since then.) The ports on this cruise were Victoria, Astoria, and San Francisco. In Victoria we took a van taxi to Buchart Gardens, in Astoria we took different ship's tours, and in San Francisco we took a Grey Line Double Decker Bus tour from dock side. All the different options were fine, no real problems with any of them. The layout of the Star reminded me of the layout of NCL's MS Seaward / Norwegian Sea. The main difference is the size of the ship, and the Casino is hard to find on the Star. The entertainment was the Las Vegas Review type of shows. We did clear immigration before making port in Astoria. We had to go through customs again in Los Angeles. NCL does have a walk off (if you can carry your own luggage), and we did that because we had a 12:15 flight from LAX to Salt Lake. Would I sail on an NCL ship again - yes! However, I would hope NCL fixes the service problems in the dining room. Roland Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
My wife and I took the Star's repo (Vancouver to LA) that left Sept 20th. Given it was only a six day cruise, I'm not comfortable attempting a thorough review as one occurrence - good or bad - can get blown way out of proportion. ... Read More
My wife and I took the Star's repo (Vancouver to LA) that left Sept 20th. Given it was only a six day cruise, I'm not comfortable attempting a thorough review as one occurrence - good or bad - can get blown way out of proportion. However, I will provide some observations which I hope are helpful. Embarkation - we boarded from Ballantyne Place in Vancouver - several miles away from the normal hustle + bustle of Canada Place. It was a breeze. We arrived a bit before 12:30 and were onboard by 1:00. GREAT!! Layout - I've been on ships for two weeks and not found every spot. The Star layout was pretty simple - large pool area (although pool lovers might find the "tiered" chair aspect less "pool friendly" than the "beside the pool" approach). The main dining rooms (Versailles and Aqua) were easy to find. The "show" area (Stardust) had lots of seating but you might want to arrive early if you want a great seat. Rooms - fine for a week long cruise. We had a bit of a space issue because we were transferring to the Pearl for a 14 night cruise so likely had more luggage than most. However, that won't affect most cruisers on the Star. Restaurants - the Blue Lagoon is GREAT - location, food + service (not the case on all NCL ships). We preferred the Agua to the Versailles for dining rooms (we didn't try any of the specialty restaurants). The Versailles - particularly at the back - can get quite noisy (and the servers will confirm that, it's not just me.) My one "bad" meal on the Star was at the Versailles and I'm convinced the server had a hard time hearing the orders. Some soundproofing techniques would help. Shore Excursions - Victoria, Astoria and San Francisco. If you are at all active, downtown Victoria is a nice 20 minute stroll. If you prefer a private tour, there are harbour tours, whale watching and Gray Line bus tours available downtown (others as well). Astoria offers a $5 unlimited bus pass. We went all the way to Seaside, spent a couple of hours, then returned to the town and toured the Flagel House before bussing it back to the ship, In San Francisco, we walked to Fisherman's Wharf, took a cable car to Union Square, met the Victorian Walking Tour (www.victorianwalk.com) and then took a double decker bus over what they said was the Golden Gate Bridge (it was so foggy, it could have been anywhere). Great day!! The Star of the Star - I have few complaints about any of the crew and one GREAT BIG compliment. To us, the Star of the Star was the Hotel Director, Rosita!! I've seen previous cruises where the staff seems to get along at Meet + Greets and receptions but, if you look closely, there seems to be a bit of underlying tension or turf. Not on the Star. The interactions between Rosita and the senior staff at the Cruise Critic M+G and Latitudes reception showed a solid team who liked and respected each other. Leadership begins at the top and to watch the management team interact with each other or see Rosita in action (whether it was explaining NCL policies to the Cruise Critic group during a question + answer session or on-stage during the goodbye show) showed an efficient, customer focused senior manager. The ship was well run and it showed to the passengers. If there were issues, they were well handled! Shows - Here is where Cheryl and I part ways. Cheryl likes most of the shows that involve singing and dancing, regardless of how many times she's seen it. I don't. Given the number of repeat customers, I think NCL should offer "fresher" shows. Also, we heard from other passengers that Second City was "bad". Some left their "performance". Disembarkation - We were leaving the Star in LA and heading several hundred feet away to board the NCL Pearl. We were in no hurry to get off as we had to collect our luggage, go through customs and check-in on the Pearl. It was a breeze. A helpful porter and a short walk and, in no time we were ready to begin the next part of our adventure. Value - I haven't done a lot of research on the Star in terms of pricing but in looking at what we paid and what prices are available for some of the upcoming Mexican Riviera and Alaska cruises, I find it amazing that people expect absolute perfection in everything throughout a week long cruise. We were more than satisfied with our experiences on NCL Star and found almost all our interactions with managers and crew were good. The few things that weren't were minor and well handled. Thank you Rosita and NCL Star!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We returned recently from the Star's Pacific Coastal repositioning cruise. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the cruise -- even more because it was such a great value. Our first-time cruise friends booked an inside cabin, and we had ... Read More
We returned recently from the Star's Pacific Coastal repositioning cruise. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the cruise -- even more because it was such a great value. Our first-time cruise friends booked an inside cabin, and we had a balcony. $249 per person for a six day cruise was a great way to introduce someone to cruising, and I think our balcony was $449 per person, which is the same amount that we paid for our first 7 day cruise on the old NCL Sea 5 years ago -- in one of those tiny, 110 square foot inside cabins, so we felt that it was a good deal for a balcony as well. If you're considering a repositioning cruise, do NOT think you can get away with booking a one-day NCL cruise to go from Seattle to Vancouver before. We were talking with a couple in the taxi line at San Pedro who had tried that -- and were escorted off the Star's one-night sailing, 10 minutes before the ship sailed. It cost them $500 in bus and hotel fares to get to from Seattle to Vancouver to board the repositioning cruise. There were several other posts I saw regarding this. Most of them NCL managed to notify prior to their actually boarding, but they were left scrambling to try and figure out how to get from Seattle to Vancouver. The law (Jones act, passenger services act, whatever it's called) may seem like a silly rule to us cruisers, but the ship will NOT let you get away with it once they discover that you're on both sailings. The couple we talked to was upset with NCL for not notifying them sooner -- but more upset with their TA for not realizing that the combination of sailings wouldn't be permitted. Prior to boarding the Star, we did the one-night Golden Princess cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. The first part of this review will include some comparisons between the ships, as it was our first cruise on Princess. As far as the ships go, I prefer the layout of the NCL ships. It may just be a comfort level, as the last 4 NCL ships we've been on have been so similar, but we had a little trouble finding our way around on the Princess ship. The cabins on the Golden were noticeably larger than the ones on NCL, and had nice flat panel TV's compared to the older ones on the Star. The bathrooms on NCL were definitely better than the ones on the Golden. I love the design of NCL's bathrooms on the newer ships, with the shower doors between the different areas of the bathroom, and find them much nicer than the shower curtains which are still in use on the Golden Princess. Our bed on NCL was more comfortable than the one on Princess. We were in an inside cabin on the Golden, and it was quite obvious that the beds had been pushed together -- and there was a noticeable ridge running down the middle of the bed. As far as the overall ship decor, NCL was much brighter than the Princess ship. One of my CC friends said she finds Princess' decor boring. I think I prefer NCL, but again, that may be a matter of familiarity. Both ships had music playing in various venues around the ship. That is totally a matter of individual preference. I liked what was being played on NCL. My DS made the comment that they preferred the classical music on the Princess ship. As far as food goes, we had the interesting experience of being served Prime Rib on the Golden, and having it again a couple of nights later on NCL. As a loyal NCL cruiser, I'm afraid that, hands down, the food award goes to Princess. A much larger, better prepared cut of meat, with a baked potato instead of whatever sort of starch was served on the Star along with their prime rib. We also tried the cold soup on Princess, and were surprised that it was served as a smoothy -- complete with a straw -- instead of in a bowl with a spoon as NCL serves it. The flavor that night was a pina colada one, and it was delicious -- as were most of the NCL's during the next week. We also had shrimp cocktail on both ships. The one on Princess included 4 or 5 fairly large shrimp, served with regular cocktail sauce. The one on NCL is a baby shrimp cocktail, served in what I'm informed is remoulade sauce. Again, we preferred the one on Princess. We were quite surprised with the dining room on Princess. I much preferred the setting of the Versailles on the Star. The Princess dining room reminded me of the old, antiquated one on the old NCL Sea. Nothing ornate about it, with no extended ceiling height. I don't know if the other two dining rooms were the same, but it wasn't what I was expecting on a Princess ship. We didn't notice anything much different about the service on Princess compared to NCL, but obviously didn't get the experience of having traditional dining on a one-night cruise. I'm still curious to try that sort of atmosphere, and I think we'll continue to look at both NCL and Princess, in particular, when choosing our next cruise. We didn't like having to be off the Princess ship by 8:20 in the morning. I prefer NCL's freestyle disembarkation, even if it means you can't go to your cabin immediately upon boarding. We spent most of our time on the Golden Princess just exploring the ship, but did enjoy their production show, called Cinematistic that night. We were quite surprised to be informed that we were due to disembark at 8:20 AM on Sunday --- we'd hoped to be allowed to stay on the ship until at least 9 AM, but instead, we were pulling our luggage off the ship at 8:20. We took a taxi from Canada Place, where the Golden Princess docked, to Ballantyne to board the Star. Since we were there so early, we had cleared customs and were waiting to board the ship by about 11:00. We were onboard by shortly after 11:30. They made the normal announcement that the cabins should be ready by about 2 PM, and that we could check any luggage at the Carousel Bar if we wanted. We didn't carry that much on with us, so we didn't bother. We ate lunch at Versailles and introduced our friends to the wonderful chilled banana & mango soup, and promptly got them hooked on chilled soups too. By 1:30 they announced that we could go to our cabins, so we found our cabins and left our carry-ons inside. We then met up with our friends and showed them around the ship a bit, did the muster drill, and met several of our CC roll-call posters in the Bier Garten for an informal get-together during sail-away. The weather in Vancouver was beautiful, and it was great to be back onboard. We ate dinner in Versailles again, went to the show which was an introduction to the Jean Ann Ryan Company, and then headed to bed as we had a fairly early whale watching tour scheduled the next morning. I'd wondered what we'd do during the time between Vancouver and Victoria, as it certainly doesn't take from 4 PM to 8 AM to get between the two ports, but the ship sailed aways out of Vancouver, and then seemed to just sort of drift around in the ocean for a while. We woke up to a beautiful day in Victoria. We grabbed a quick bit of breakfast in the buffet, and left the ship by about 8:30 am. We got a taxi and had him drop us off in the inner harbor area, where we'd arranged to go whale watching with Naturally Salty tours. When we got there, he explained that he'd "double booked" for the morning's tour. He would either arrange to get us on with another company, for a 25% discount, or we could wait for his afternoon tour. We didn't want to wait for the afternoon tour, which was due back into Victoria at 4:00 pm, since we were due back on the ship at 4:30 and that was cutting it too close for us to feel comfortable. He called Springtide and arranged for us to join their 10 AM tour. Both our friends and my DH and I were left with the feeling that he'd simply gotten a better offer -- a bigger group -- and decided to shuffle us off to someone else. Naturally Salty's boat only held 12 people and the Springtide boat is much larger and will accommodate 50 or more. If it had been full, we wouldn't have been terribly happy, but since they had a small group of about 20, we felt like we had plenty of room to walk around and see the whales. There was a marine biology student onboard who did an excellent job of telling us about the different whales and marine life we were seeing, and we felt that it ended up being a very satisfactory tour. We unfortunately didn't see any Orcas -- the resident pods were out of sailing range that morning -- but we were able to spend quite a bit of time viewing a couple of humpbacks that were traveling together. We also sailed out to Race Rocks and saw the lighthouse and all the sea lions, and saw seals, turkey vultures, and lots of other birds. It was chilly out on the water, and they provided extra coats and hats for anyone who needed them. We were back onboard the ship by about 2:30, and just made it up to the buffet before it closed. After another serving of chilled soup (I've forgotten the order we had them in), and a satisfying lunch, we all returned to our cabins for an afternoon nap. After all, the ability to be able to relax is one of the things I enjoy most about cruising. That night we ate in Versailles again and attended the production show, Music of the Night (featuring songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber). It was very well done, and all of us enjoyed it. During the show, the wife of the couple we were traveling with leaned over and asked if I'd noticed the rocking of the ship. I said yes, and didn't think a lot more about it. Unfortunately, she noticed it way too much and had to make a trip to the purser's desk for meclazine. They've sailed a lot on Lake Powell and she wasn't expecting to be seasick, but luckily it didn't last too long. We did notice a LOT of movement on the ship this cruise. A couple of nights we were informed that there were gale force winds, but the seas never had lots of big waves. I guess the wind must have been causing the motion, and we spent a lot of time rolling from one side to the other, and occasionally up and down as well. Tuesday was the day for Astoria, OR. Since we were in port from only 8 AM to 4 PM, we again retired early so that we could get a good start the next morning. We headed into the Columbia River about 6:30 AM, and were greeted with a beautiful lighthouse and gorgeous sunrise. That's why I can't stay up late at night -- I can't bear the thought of sleeping through the sights as we're pulling into port in the morning. We'd arranged to rent a car in Astoria, and were planning on driving as far down the Oregon coast as we felt we possibly could. Unfortunately, by the time we went through the US immigration process, it was almost 9:30 before we got off the ship. We'd arranged to rent a car through the local Toyota dealership (Lum's) -- the regular rental car places have a very limited selection, and were overbooked by the time we decided what we wanted to do. Lum's picked us up in their shuttle, and took us to Warrenton where they had the two cars we'd reserved all ready for us. Since we had to be back on the ship by 3:30 for a 4 PM departure, we decided we didn't dare drive any further than Cannon Beach. We stopped at both Seaside and Cannon Beach, and were very impressed with the wonderful scenery along the Oregon coast. Returning for a land vacation is definitely on my list of places to go in the future. After heading back north, we drove over the long Astoria bridge, and a short ways up the Washington side of the coast. Then we dropped the car off, caught our shuttle back, and had lunch in the buffet. That night we decided to eat a bit later, as our lunch was so late, and there was a special showing of a Chinese Acrobat company in the Spinnaker lounge at 6:45. All 6 of us attended, but the setting of the Spinnaker Lounge didn't do the acrobats justice, as many of the seats had obscured vision. The regular show that night was a comedienne, but none of us felt like attending, so I have no idea how the show was. Dinner that night was in Aqua. We recognized the Maitre'd from a previous sailing on the Pearl, and visited with him for a short while. The food and service was fine, but our party decided we preferred the ambiance of Versailles, so we didn't return to Aqua. Wednesday morning dawned, but without my sunrise. It was very cloudy and remained cloudy and overcast all day long. Our meet and greet was scheduled for 11:30 AM in two of the conference rooms on the ship. Several of the ship's crew were in attendance, including Ray Carr, the cruise director, and several of the housekeeping/food & beverage officers. Ray cheerfully introduced them and they spent several minutes answering questions for us. We had a good turnout from the posters who had signed up, and enjoyed the opportunity to get better acquainted with several of them. We then had a gift raffle and I ended up with some lovely treats from Hawaii! Our friend's brother and his family had traveled to Alaska on the Star about a month earlier, and came back raving about the Blue Lagoon, so our friends had been anxious to try it out. I can see why people enjoy eating there so much. The fish and chips were delicious, and we were able to stop at the buffet first to enjoy the lunchtime chilled soup selection. Wednesday night was "dress up or not" night, so we threw on our slightly fancier clothes, and returned to Versailles for dinner. Dinner choices include Beef Wellington and the Lobster/Grouper extravaganza. I didn't feel like either of them, but the rest of our party enjoyed the lobster and I was satisfied with my "always available" steak. The Captain announced Wednesday night that we'd be sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge between 6 and 6:15 AM. So, Wednesday night was another early-to-bed night for all of our party. We scheduled a wake-up call for 5:45 to make sure we didn't miss anything -- but we might as well have slept in as the bridge was almost totally obscured by fog. We finally started to see an orangish glow as we got closer, but our view was limited to one of the bridge supports and a tiny bit of the underneath of the bridge deck. By the time we sailed past Alcatraz, we were able to see a little bit more, but it was too dark for a very good view. The Star was docked at Pier 30/32, which is seldom used for cruise ships. The advantage was that we got to sail under the Bay Bridge, and even though it's not as beautiful as the Golden Gate Bridge is, it was pretty in its own right from the ship. We had arranged to rent a mini-van here in San Francisco, but ended up with a Ford Expedition instead, and appreciated the room since we had 6 adults in the vehicle. We'd decided to drive to Muir Woods. Again, the Golden Gate Bridge was hiding from view -- both ways -- but Muir Woods was beautiful. It had been years since I'd been, and it's so totally unlike anything here in Utah that we enjoyed our visit. We drove back into San Francisco, and had the obligatory clam chowder and sourdough bread for lunch. I'd forgotten what a pain it is driving in San Francisco. Luckily my BIL wasn't rattled by all the traffic, and we were able to return the rental car by about 4:30 M and were back on the ship in time for dinner. The show tonight was the performance by Second City. My DH and I have seen them several times, and no one else in our group was interested, so I returned to our cabin for a nap after dinner. The rest of our party tried to see the bridge as we sailed out to sea -- but again, it was foggy and I didn't miss anything. Thursday night was also the Chocoholic Buffet. It was set up in the Versailles restaurant, and was probably the best experience we've ever had at one of these events. The announced time was from 11 PM to midnight, but they opened it as soon as everything was ready -- which eliminated the crowds as people were sent in as soon as they arrived. We got to Versailles about 10:45, and walked right in. Since we'd frequently spent quite a bit of time waiting in a long-line on other ships, we thought this was a great improvement. As always, it's prettier to look at than anything else, but I do love the fruit skewers that they dip in melted chocolate at the chocolate fountain. Friday morning dawned cloudy and foggy. Again, no sunrise, much to my dismay. We spent the day in various activities. I joined my DS and BIL for a team trivia event. My BIL participated in the ping-pong tournament, and we returned to the Blue Lagoon for another round of fish and chips. Friday night was our last night at sea, so after another fairly early dinner at Versailles, we returned to our cabins to start packing. We went to the later show of Band on the Run, which my DH and I saw on one of the other ships. It's OK -- but most of the music isn't what I'd pick if I was doing music from the 70's. With most of the passengers on this cruise being retired, I'd be surprised if most of them enjoyed it. We left the theater, and stepped out on the Promenade deck to find that the clouds from earlier in the day were totally gone. We had a beautiful view of the moon and stars, and it had warmed up significantly. I wish it had done that earlier in the cruise, so our first-time cruiser friends could have enjoyed more of the experience of relaxing in the loungers on the Promenade deck. That's normally my favorite part of a cruise. As we were standing there, we noticed that we had dolphins playing alongside the ship, jumping out of the water and we watched them for quite a while. We went to the Internet Cafe and printed our boarding passes for our flights the next day ($.50 per page), and then returned to our cabins. When my DH went out on our balcony, he discovered to his amazement that we had MORE dolphins swimming along the ship. We stood outside and watched them for probably 30 minutes or more. What a wonderful experience to end our cruise with! Saturday morning, I woke up to see us pulling into the San Pedro pier area. Unfortunately, our cruise was ending . After a final breakfast in the buffet, we returned to our cabins, waited for them to call our luggage tag color, and joined the line leaving the ship. I don't know why, but it's the first time we've ever experienced any sort of line leaving an NCL ship. We located our luggage, went outside, and discovered to our dismay that the taxi line was VERY long. As we were flying home from Long Beach at 12:30, I was starting to get a bit stressed about making our flight. Luckily, the wife of our friends had the good sense to find the taxi supervisor and got our name on a list. After waiting for about 45 minutes, they called our name and we were able to get into a van for our ride to the airport. We arrived about 2 hours before our flight, and since the airport is so small, it only took us about 5 minutes to get through security. If we hadn't put our names on that list though, I think we still might have missed our flight We really enjoyed our cruise, and our first-time cruiser friends liked it well enough to consider another one, so the trip was a success. My Mom was a teacher though, and a strict one at that, so I don't give "A" grades easily. Food: B- While we certainly didn't lack for things to eat on the ship, and our scales show it, there has been a decline in the food quality & choices since we started cruising almost 5 years ago. On our first cruise, I can remember looking at the menu and having a very hard time deciding what I wanted each night. These days, I can almost always find something that sounds good -- with about a once-a-cruise fall back to the always available menu. Salad choices on this cruise were strange. Very few green salads -- other than the always available Caesar salad. Most of the desserts were just OK -- except for the wonderful Crème Brule' with chocolate on the bottom layer that is one of the best desserts I've ever eaten. The chilled soups were as good as I remembered (and anyone who has read my posts knows that I LOVE my chilled soups), and we particularly enjoyed the banana mango, the apricot and peach, and the black cherry soups. If NCL eliminates these, as it appears from the trial menus on the Dawn, it will make it much easier for me to try a different cruise line. Not only were the food choices not as exciting as before (and part of this may be due to the fact that we've cruised on NCL 7 times now since January, 2004), but some of the food wasn't particularly good. Twice other members of our party ordered the always available steak. Once it was so fatty that they could hardly eat it, and the other time it was quite overcooked. Mine was very satisfactory, but I'd much rather have it served with a baked potato than French fries. At our first lunch on embarkation day, one of our friends ordered a pasta dish that she just sort of picked at. When we asked her about it, she said the pasta tasted like undercooked rice. We convinced her to have them bring her a different entree, but weren't impressed that her first meal was not satisfactory. CABIN: A- I'm still not convinced that "once a balcony, always a balcony", but we were happy that we had one this trip. We had our last $500 certificate from the old NCL MasterCard program to use, and it seemed a shame not to spend any more than that for our cabin. So, we splurged for a balcony. The bed was wonderfully comfortable! I informed my DH the first night that he might not get me out of it for the rest of the cruise... I love the NCL bathrooms on the newer ships that eliminate those horrible, sticky, shower curtains. There were a few small maintenance items in our cabin that keep me from giving it an "A" -- like some rust on the balcony and sticky drawers by the closet. SERVICE: B+ Many times on our cruises, we've found a waiter that we really enjoy, and we'll ask to be seated in their area when possible. We didn't bother this time. Partly because no one really stood out, and partly because we figured it would be harder with a party of 6. The food service was perfectly adequate -- but not spectacular. There was a HUGE improvement over our last trip on the Dawn, however, as we never had to wait more than 5 minutes to be seated in the main dining rooms. Our cabin stewards kept our room clean, and we had towel animals 4 of the 6 nights. They didn't, however, bother to greet us by name, and never introduced themselves. If they had, we probably would have left them an extra tip. Since they didn't, and the automatic service charge has been raised to $12 per day, we didn't bother. ENTERTAINMENT: B The production shows were fine. We really loved Music of the Night, thought Cirque Pacific was fine (and enjoyed the Chinese Acrobats who also performed in that show), and I could have done without Band on the Run again -- but my DH and our friends enjoyed it. We enjoyed listening to the musical groups that were scattered around the ship. My DS made the comment that she thought she preferred Princess' classical string music, but I can take that or leave it -- and it puts my DH to sleep. The main thing that stops me from giving an "A" for entertainment is the schedule on the sea days. We used to love the old game shows on the ships -- "Who Wants to be a Bazillionaire" and "Jeopardy" come to mind. We didn't ever participate, but we did enjoy watching. Those are nowhere to be found. We used to like the ice sculpture and fruit carving demonstrations -- again, didn't see those listed anywhere on the schedule. There was a towel animal folding demonstration one afternoon -- complete with a CD for you to purchase for $9 and take home so that you can make your own towel animals for your family and friends. Much of the entertainment on sea days now seems to be centered on events that they can charge for. Wine tasting and mojito tasting ($15), bingo (way too expensive for my tastes), the art auctions -- even the previously mentioned towel animal demonstration. Very little offered that was of any interest to any of our party. Luckily, I can amuse myself with games on my Iphone, reading, and just relaxing. Now that I've complained, I will give the cruise director, Ray Carr, a "thumbs up". While I don't appreciate his schedule of activities, it's similar enough to our last cruise that I'm sure he's providing what the corporate NCL office instructs him to. We enjoyed his sense of humor, and he managed to be funny without being annoying. I particularly liked the banter that he and one of the other officers (Rosita?) had going on at our meet & greet about the various lines he's worked on. He's definitely among my favorite cruise directors -- and probably second only to Colin Kerr from the Sun many years ago. OVERALL: B+ After our last cruise on the Dawn, we came home quite dissatisfied with the shipboard experience. We had LONG lines at dinner every night, service issues, and had talked about switching to another cruise line. This time, we didn't experience those issues. I still don't like the emphasis that is placed on spending more money onboard. I'd rather pay a bit more upfront, and have better food in the main dining rooms, than feel like they've "cheapened" the options to encourage you to spend more money in the specialty dining rooms. We definitely got tired of the constant pushing of drinks by the bar staff -- they seemed much more obtrusive on this cruise than they have done previously. On the other hand, for the price we paid for this cruise, we received a good value for our $$$. I'm sure all 6 of us are the kind that NCL hates to see board the ship: we don't eat in the surcharge restaurants, we don't drink alcohol, and we don't gamble. I think our onboard tab was only about $75 more than the automatic gratuities. We did buy an internet package, a couple of things from the shops, and a couple of sodas at dinner. NCL did a lot to redeem the line in our eyes. We feel at home on the ships, and they'll probably continue to be the first line I consider when booking future cruises -- but I'm sure we'll eventually branch out a bit if we find a great deal or itinerary on another line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This review will be mixed because I have to say, with my first cruise using Norwegian, I LOVED free style cruising. We have cruised with other cruise lines and I loved not being tied in to dressing up and having a set time for dinner. We ... Read More
This review will be mixed because I have to say, with my first cruise using Norwegian, I LOVED free style cruising. We have cruised with other cruise lines and I loved not being tied in to dressing up and having a set time for dinner. We flew to Vancouver 4 days before the cruise as we had never been there before. We stayed at the Westin Grand. Although a nice hotel, our room was great, I did not like the location. My husband, however, felt the opposite. We were across the street from the library but far from the main center of town. While there we took the off and on trolley, which is the way to go. Not too expensive but it allows you to see the town at your leisure, including Stanley Park. Vancouver is a beautiful town, we loved it. We had an opportunity to attend a comedy fest which was a lot of fun. Sunday we left the hotel for the ship. We were early (11:30)so it was a little of a pain, very little, standing in line waiting for the doors to open (12:00). We met some very nice people in line. Once the doors opened, however, this was the easiest embarkation that I have gone through. Although we were in a suite, the line for everyone moved so fast we did not even bother going over to the suite line...we just moved on through and was on the ship within 5-10 minutes. We knew that the cabins were not going to be ready so, after reading on this board we could go to a dining room rather than the buffet, we headed to Versailles. Lunch was great. During lunch they announced that our cabins were ready so we headed to the cabin. We were met there by our butler and concierge. What nice people. I am horrible on names, so already cannot remember theirs but they were great the entire cruise and very attentive. It was difficult for us to use them as much as we probably could as we are so use to doing for ourselves but our butler kept reminding me that I was on vacation and to relax and let him help me. Now this is where this review may be a little negative. The cabin was only okay. The decor is horrible. We had the zebra decor. The bedspread was so old and had been washed so many times it definitely needed replacement. In fact it even looked dirty (I don't think it was). We asked them to remove it and not to bring it back. The back of the chair that matched the couch was broken. They were going to take it and have it fixed. We told them to take their time and just bring it back after the cruise...as it actually gave us more room in the cabin. It was very nice having a table with four chairs for our breakfast each morning. I loved the wrap around balcony and spent quite a bit of time out there. The bed was very comfortable and we both slept very well all night. The bathroom, however, had mold in it which was never cleaned completely. That was a drawback but I am sure there is a problem with mold just because we are out on the ocean exposed to the moisture all the time. The rest of the cabin was kept very clean. Our stewards were very attentive. Even though we did not have a bedspread any longer they still came in and turned down the bed and left the mint. The rest of the ship was very well maintained. I saw nothing else on the ship that needed maintenance. They were constantly working on the ship, painting and varnishing...but were not in our way at any time. I loved all the different bars as each one was unique. The library was wonderful with quite a few books to read: fiction and non-fiction. There was food everywhere you went. We dined in Soho the first night and it was wonderful. We had steak and lobster. It was great. The second night we tried the Tex Mex restaurant. Although not one of my favorites the food was good. We ate at the Aqua dining room twice and although they served the same menu as the Versailles, the food did not seem up to par as the other dining room. The food seemed to be overcooked. In addition, I did not feel that the atmosphere was as friendly as the Versailles. There was not much smiling going on with the waiting staff. Now...why did we eat there two times...well, they allow jeans in that dining room. So we accepted what we decided to do. We ate in Versailles about 3 times for lunch and all three times we loved it. The wait staff was wonderful and went overboard each time we were there. The food was great...we have nothing but great things to say about Versailles We also had an opportunity to eat at Cagney's. What a wonderful place. Although we had late reservations and closed the place, they were wonderful. The food was cooked exactly to our liking and the sides and desserts were wonderful. Great place to eat if you have an opportunity. My sister and her husband ate at Le Bistro and loved every minute. We also took one night at ate at the Blue Lagoon. The hot wings are to die for. If you go on this cruise, do not miss them. My husband also had the fish and chips and he said they were very good. Our first port was Victoria. We took a tour around the city and over to Buschart Gardens. The gardens are wonderful and no one should go to Victoria without visiting them. My only complaint was that we did not have enough time to seem them all. We are definitely going back. We loved it. The second port was Seattle. Now my favorite city. We took a city tour which included going up in the Space Needle. This allowed us to see many parts of the city. Although it was foggy the day we were there, so the view was limited, this is a beautiful city. We are going to plan a trip back and spend a week there seeing everything. The last port was San Francisco. We had ordered tickets to Alcatraz before we left. But we docked in South San Francisco right near the baseball stadium. Anyone that knows San Francisco will understand what I am saying. It was so far from the wharf that we decided to stay on the ship as we knew the city well (we are California natives). It was a beautiful day there and although we stayed on the ship it was an enjoyable day. We were at sea two days on this cruise. The Star has so many activities going on during sea days it is difficult to pick which ones you will attend. This is a definite plus. I chose to go to Wine tasting and Martini tasting. We also attended all of the shows. They were quite good for a cruise line. All in all, it was a great cruise. We are already planning our next on Norwegian and in fact, on the Star. This time we are going with a different cabin category as we are not quite suite people. We are going to take our son and his wife sometime next year. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
This is my third cruise (Bahamas, Transatlantic and Pacific Northwest) and my partners first cruise. Embarkation was from Vancouver BC and disembarkation was in Los Angeles. The cruise line offered airfare for $700 p/p. After some internet ... Read More
This is my third cruise (Bahamas, Transatlantic and Pacific Northwest) and my partners first cruise. Embarkation was from Vancouver BC and disembarkation was in Los Angeles. The cruise line offered airfare for $700 p/p. After some internet searching I found airfare, a hotel and train tickets for the price of one fare offered by NCL We rode on the morning AMTRAK Cascade directly into Vancouver, BC. After a four hour train ride and another five minutes to be greeted by Canadian customs and we were off to the pier. If you've got the time, AMTRAK is definitely the way to ride in luxury. There's so much space around each seat I thought I was flying international first class. After a 10-minute taxi ride we arrived at the NCL pier. Our luggage was collected and we proceeded to the security screen queue. Having arrived around noon, or one hour before the published check in the line moved smoothly. The photographers taking the obligatory "welcome aboard" pictures were a little tenacious ... ugh, more on that later. Once on board we were required to disinfect our hands before proceeding, no big deal, the greeters also suggested we enjoy lunch on 12 deck. Decent buffet lunch, but I could have done without the waiters constantly hawking their "commemorative" $9 drinks. Embarkation - 5 points out of 5 points. Everywhere we went, the ship was clean and well maintained. Originally I had booked an oceanview stateroom on 4 deck, to my surprise we were upgraded to a balcony stateroom on 12 deck. While not much larger, the balcony made all the difference especially when entering or departing from each port of call. The room was nicely furnished, but oddly enough only one 110v electrical plug. The room was clean, no scent of previous cigarette smoke eventhough the bed spread showed signs of burn marks. Lots of storage space and an in-cabin wall safe. The bathroom was equipped with dispenser bath soap, and shampoo. Much nicer than those little bottles with the foil safety cap that can be dang difficult to remove with wet fingers. Only one complaint the toilet area smelled of urine. I cleaned the outside of the toilet and the floor, it didn't make any difference, maybe it has something to do with the vacuum disposal system. On previous cruises the room stewards made a point of coming by on embarkation day for introductions and provide assistance. I never saw our steward until day four or five. Stateroom - 4 out of 5 points. The entertainment on board was fantastic and disappointing. Shawn Farquar the magician was fantastic, the dance company a big yawn. The two days at sea the cruise director and staff offered a number of activities from sushi demonstration, acupuncture lecture, trivia contests, and daily Friends of Dorothy meet and greet. Activities - 4 out of 5 points. We didn't purchase any excursion. However, at each port of call NCL offers pictures of the disembarking passengers with a human size fuzzy animal. Mouse for Canada, Seal for Seattle, etc. NCL if you're listening ..... move the pictures about 20 feet to the side so the passengers can hit the ground running. After waiting to get off the ship I don't wanna queue up for a picture I don't want. Port of call - 1 out of 5 points (sorry) Freestyle Cruising .... Woooo Hooooo! I've done the formal dinner thing with the same passengers for 10 days . . . shudder. About half of the 10 restaurants on board charge a surcharge, were cheap so we didn't book reservations. We dined at LaTrattoria, and Endless Summer restaurant. Definitely make reservations, if not you'll be told there's a three hour wait even if the restaurant is only 10% full. Oddly the "dining room" restaurants don't accept reservations for a party of two, but our wait was short and we dined with some very nice people. the Aqua restaurant was particularly nice. The Market cafe was nice for a quick breakfast. Dining - 5 out of 5 points. NCL definitely has a winner with express disembarkation. Register the day before disembarkation and no-more leave your luggage outside your stateroom before midnight, dang! did I pack up my pants and how to I carry off my bath robe. Express disembarkation allows one to disembark starting at 7:30 AM and hand carry off ones luggage. We were off the ship, on the airport shuttle and on our way to the airport before the 8:30 group was called. Beautiful! Disembarkation - 10 out of 5 points. Overall we had a great time, and plan to take another NCL cruise. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
We took a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles with my wife and my 4 year old. It was our fourth cruise and my daughter's first. The good: Cruise was as promised. We didn't find any unpleasant surprises. The staff ... Read More
We took a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles with my wife and my 4 year old. It was our fourth cruise and my daughter's first. The good: Cruise was as promised. We didn't find any unpleasant surprises. The staff in general is very likeable and helpful. Most of the activities started on time. The accommodation was very good. The ship is fairly new and it shows. Restaurants are not extraordinary but the food is good and they deliver what they promised. The embarkation process was good considering that it was out of the ordinary (the cruise left at 11 pm and arrived to the port around 5 pm... a challenge). The bad: Although I did know about it, the automatic tip model is not something I like. Tips are supposed to be a reward you give to a people when they give you a good service and not an automatic reward of any kind. If that's the policy for NCL, I'd rather have the "tips" charges upfront (in the cabin price) and let us tip the employees delivering really good service. We used the Children's program and we have mixed feelings. True, our 4 year-old had a great time, BUT, we would like to see an opportunity to be involved in some of those activities. It seems to be designed to drop the kids and forget about them for 9 hours a day. It would be nice if, for example, they have a Parent and Tot afternoon or a meet my parents afternoon or something like that. The Ugly: First day, we enter the cabin, put our suitcases in the closet, drop down dead in bed. I noticed something underneath our cabin's desk, approach it... A Bra! A purple big sized bra! Well, not a pleasant first sight in a cruise, don't you agree? In general, I would say the cruise was fun, we enjoyed it and we most likely will go again on a NCL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
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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