The Star is a beautiful ship, and the price could not be beaten. We booked a guaranteed-rate oceanview cabin, which meant that Norwegian picked the room. Previous experience suggested that, for my wife and me, a balcony was not useful as ... Read More
The Star is a beautiful ship, and the price could not be beaten. We booked a guaranteed-rate oceanview cabin, which meant that Norwegian picked the room. Previous experience suggested that, for my wife and me, a balcony was not useful as we don't smoke and we prefer to eat in a dining venue. We received a cabin containing a queen bed and space to walk a few steps, with a porthole rather than a picture window. It had a great shower, with hot water always available instantly and good water pressure. The cabin was serviced at least twice per day, and was maintained spotlessly (although we had to request sheet changes).
We ate in the two main dining rooms and the buffet, and were consistently pleased with the food (although the use of frozen fish when we are going to seaports almost daily was a puzzling disappointment). The service in the dining rooms was excellent and we appreciated the Freestyle policy that meant we could get a table for two at any time without a reservation. However, the meals came very slowly, particularly in Versailles. When we didn't want to devote two hours to dinner, we went to the excellent buffet. The one disadvantage of the latter is that it was usually impossible to tell what was in the dishes, whereas in the dining rooms I could check whether ingredients to which I am allergic were included. I did experience adverse reactions twice. I suggest that Norwegian label the buffet dishes and provide nutrition information. Ideally that information could be posted somewhere in advance to aid diners in choosing what and where to eat. We tried the Chinese restaurant once, and my Chinese-born wife pronounced the dishes unsatisfactory. We never ate in the restaurants that required a surcharge, not only because of my inherent cheapness, but also because we reasoned that they are limited by the same availability of fresh ingredients as the main venues.
We appreciated the presentation of 45-50 minutes of live entertainment nightly, and took full advantage, The entertainment varied in quality. The house band and cast of singers and dancers were excellent. Unfortunately, the cast only appeared in 4 shows. So guest acts were imported for the other nights. I suggest that Norwegian abandon comedians, as they were not very funny and verbal humor does not play well across a culturally diverse audience. I enjoyed the singers and the magician; the acrobats did amazing things but ten minutes is enough.
We are not big on game shows or gambling, but we do like to play ping-pong and electronic games. The ping-pong tables were overcrowded on sea days, and the Wii was difficult to get going without help. We would have liked to try other games such as foosball. Perhaps there could be an adult game room as well as one for kids (which was underutilized because there were few children or teenagers on this sailing.
The primary attraction that drew us to this cruise was the set of Middle Eastern ports. Bucket-list venues were Luxor, Petra, and Dubai; they lived up to their billing. The Pyramids were also on my list, but we didn't get to see them because undisclosed security issues induced Norwegian to cancel the Port Said stop. Oddly, the line was still advertising the original itinerary even after they had determined to skip northern Egypt. We also found the two ports in a country I knew little about, Oman, to be quite interesting. I would return to that country if it did not require an excruciatingly long flight from California.
We stayed a couple of days in Rome (prior to the trip) and Dubai (after the trip). Both embarkation and debarkation went smoothly; we exercised the option to take our bags off ourselves. (Remember to get some local currency at the airport or port.) I was struck by the similarity between the old cities of Jerusalem and Dubai, which were both new to me. Subtract the religious differences and costumes, and one can see traditional marketplaces, streets that look like alleyways to me, and the same architecture and building materials. I was also struck by how easy it was for use to communicate everywhere the ship went. We could easily converse with people we encountered on the streets. It seems as though English is now being taught throughout Europe and the Middle East.
I have one question for Norwegian. Why did they check to see if we brought water on board every time we returned from an excursion? I do not believe this was a security issue; rather, they were trying to force passengers to buy the ship's very expensive bottled water. This is a losing battle in any event, as passengers got drinking water from the buffet despite signs forbidding the practice of filling bottles there, Why not just accept that North Americans don't like to pay for water and provide guilt-free dispensers? Read Less