18 Norwegian Star Cruise Reviews for First-Time Cruisers Cruises to Mexican Riviera

Our initial circumstances were a little unusual. We'd never really considered a cruise, but this was with family members, their treat. So we didn't choose the itinerary, dates, or cabin. Which frankly took a lot of the pressure ... Read More
Our initial circumstances were a little unusual. We'd never really considered a cruise, but this was with family members, their treat. So we didn't choose the itinerary, dates, or cabin. Which frankly took a lot of the pressure off. Fewer decisions and less second-guessing. The family lives in Southern California, so there's no hotel or transportation to the port to cover. We were in suites, so embarkation was quick and painless. It was a little odd that the suite waiting area was set up so we were seated facing everyon else. They didn't have the boarding photo station set up when we boarded, and with everything else, we forgot to go back. Registering for the kids club (we had a 3-year old) went quickly. We did receive some attitude (and inaccurate information, it turned out) from the restaurant reservations people but that was reallly the only poor service on the trip. Disembarkation lunch service in Cagney's was very slow (also, the only time; they seemed to just be having some transition issues that day) but extremely tasty. The three of us were in 12500, one of the suites that used to be the observation lounge. A middle one, so only facing forward, and no balcony. There was plenty of space, although all the closets and dressers were in the living area instead of the master bedroom. Not an issue for us. I think a larger group (the room sleeps up to 6) would still have enough storage for all their clothing. At least on a 7-day cruise. The two bedrooms that let people be up or asleep without disturbing each other was the best part of the suite. And the coffee machine. Frankly we could have done without the butler and the snacks. Although our family in another suite with a different butler had a much better experience, so maybe it could have been different. Our room steward was great, personable and helpful. And the concierge was also a benefit. Apparently he was a last-minute substitute but did a great job. Considering NCL's reputation, the food was fine. The atmosphere in the buffet was very high school cafeteria and only the breakfast selections appealed to the adults (unlimited lox!) but it was convenient for feeding our son on the way to the kids club. Especially because we could dish up toddler sized portions and not waste food. (The kid-specific buffet was off in a corner and never stocked.) And I really appreciated them always taking his order as soon as we sat down in the MDRs. We're pretty mellow about nutrition on vacation so the kids menu selections were fine. It's all hot dogs and chicken fingers and mac & cheese. The carrot 'sticks' are actually slivers for stir fry. That was a little odd. We didn't get the UDP or UBP but did have dinner in Le Bistro, Cagney's (the best meal; those au gratin potatoes!), La Cucina (great polenta), and at the sushi bar (shockingly poor selection; only three kinds of fish and almost every roll full of spicy mayo). Our only time in the more formal dining room was one lunch but it was a nice atmosphere with a lovely view. We had three dinners in the more casual dining room and it was not a significant step down in food or atmosphere from the specialties. Much louder, though. Their reputation for poor desserts is somewhat accurate. Cakes were always dry. The profiteroles seemed stale. Anything non-cake was fine, however. The afternoon grill by the pool was a favorite of us all. Especially when I discovered bangers, grilled onions, and HP sauce. We didn't take advantage of many activities. We spent a lot of time just catching up with family. We had looked forward to trivia but there were few sessions and at unworkable times. The one show we saw was the Russian acrobats -- our son loves acrobats. It was a little cheesy, and some parents probably complained about some of the costumes, but the routines were impressive. The last two sea days were cold and rainy, so not a lot of pool opportunities. Chair hogging is very real. Good grief. The kids club was probably the most impressive thing. They did a great job. Our son never wanted to leave. He brought completed crafts back to the cabin every evening. Learned fun new songs and dances. Told us about books read. Etc. The older kids were regularly taken outside to the sports court. The one downside was that our spring break sailing had almost 1,000 children, far over capacity. So you had to line up for about 20 minutes three times a day in hopes of getting in. They closed for two hours each at lunch and dinner, so a lot of our time was spent either lining up to pick him up or lining up to drop him off. But again, he loved it. And we figured it would be easier to go back to preschool after a week off if we maintained a similar structure. The one ship excursion we did was very successful. A dolphin encounter in Cabo San Lucas. It was a last minute selection. We'd been looking forward to the semisub but it was cancelled due to mechanical issues. I strongly recommend rash guards for all participants because you can't wear sunscreen in the dolphin pool. I burned the heck out of my shoulders. In Mazatlan we went to Stone Island on our own, which made for a very nice, very economical beach day. It's a very short, straight walk from the port. We took too long making a decision for Puerto Vallarta and overslept to boot so we ended up with a day pass at a nearby resort. The resorts do not all have private beach space; you can still end up beseiged by vendors. We were in suites, and one of our party was in a wheelchair, so disembarkation took about ten minutes. Overall, we're glad we went. Especially because our son had such a great time. And we're discussing a 2017 trip with the same family members, who cruise about twice a year. But I don't know if it's something we'd do on our own. The ship reminded us both a lot of a Vegas hotel, which is not a positive. The casino, the stores, the mediocre bands (most of the live music was quite poor), the drunks. Maybe something less beachy and at a different time of year. We definitely liked the opportunity to visit multiple cities without changing hotels, repacking, wasting daytime in transit, etc. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Every detail is taken care of. The Versaille restaurant is the best restaurant in the ship. Very elegant, clean excellent service and terrific food. By far better than the Special restaurants. (and it is free of charge) The Musical ... Read More
Every detail is taken care of. The Versaille restaurant is the best restaurant in the ship. Very elegant, clean excellent service and terrific food. By far better than the Special restaurants. (and it is free of charge) The Musical shows are better than in Las Vegas or Broadway. The crew is wonderful. The only thing that was not comfortable is the small bathroom in our cabin. Next time, we will buy a bigger room. Overall, just EXCELLENT Thank you Ziva Sagi Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was my first cruise. I was disappointed in the overall experience. Ship - Norwegian Star Ports - Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Peurto Vallarta - 7 day cruise First the positives: - The general staff was attentive and seemed ... Read More
This was my first cruise. I was disappointed in the overall experience. Ship - Norwegian Star Ports - Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Peurto Vallarta - 7 day cruise First the positives: - The general staff was attentive and seemed happy to help with any questions/problems - We stayed in a family suit --> The butler and steward were phenomenal. ANY PROBLEM, ANY TIME, it was solved. Any requests were met concisely and expeditiously. - Staying in the suite automatically includes VIP everything (embarkation, disembarkation, access to balconies at shows, snacks in room with BRILLIANTLY fashioned towel origami into animals --> AMAZING) - Concierge was also fantastic - The casino was looser than expected. (I won the slot tournament) The negative: - Food was not really that great at all. Nothing special, like cafeteria food. This includes the "freebie" eateries/buffets - The cover charge restaurants were nice in appearance, but food was lackluster, plain. This was the most disappointing part of the entire experience. We had the Ultimate Dining Package but I wound up eating hamburgers and fries most of the time as these were so-so and I could dress them up. - Our room was directly under one of the outer decks, so we heard people running on our ceiling until 1:00 AM nearly every night - The community hot tubs were ALWAYS filled to capacity with 12-15 little kids. The pools just as bad. I paid $130 to be able to use the adults only private spa that had it's own pool (2.5 to 3 feet deep), hot tub, sauna/steam room. This was the only way to get away from the crowds...to an extent. A lot of adults will come here as well so...not always restful/peaceful. - Food was disappointing - One community pool...ONE. Additional kids only pool/play area - Crowds. Everywhere all the time. 1200 passengers (900+? staff) locked onto one vessel. Only sanctuary was in room...but not quiet sanctuary. Still had people running on the ceiling and loud music from main deck - Very limited shopping. Two stores. One had trinkets/clothes, the other was split with alcohol (a LOT), cigs, and jewelry. - Food was disappointing - Ultimate Dining Package is not Ultimate. We still had to pay at the Sushi restaurant!! What?!?! Oh, but it's 20% off for UDP. No, thank you. - If you don't pre-register for the restaurants months in advanced or THE SECOND YOU ARRIVE ON SHIP, plan on eating at 9:30 PM every night because all other times are filled - Shore excursions...see above. Better have that taken care of before you even get there. - Free drinks, free wine tasting, free raffles for spas and art, etc...they only ask that you sit through a small one hour presentation prior to each one. - Did I mention that the food was disappointing? - Paid for excursion (through NCL) that promised "horseback riding along 12 miles of pristine beaches" and wound up being 4 miles through dusty old town with beach not even visible. (Stonebeach excusion --> Not recommended) - Our Family Suite had no balcony. Big windows, no balcony. - You simply can NOT get away from uncontrolled kids. Impossible. Many parents were like "go, do whatever, I'm having drinks." *sigh* - Not much stuff to do for teenage girls. Lots for boys, video games,foos ball, etc, but my daughter and her friend found the "Teen Programs" to be pretty boring. - Our bathroom flooded once. 1" standing water upon our return from 1st port. We called, water was gone when we got back, but not really sure if floor sanitized or if problem fixed. Tile seemed "squishy" afterwards. - Shows were so-so at best, not spectacular, but what else are you going to do? Two stars are given because we had GREAT butler/steward staff. Effron is the best! I can only imagine cruising again if I had a private villa...I cannot imagine that ever happening, so... Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first cruise and we travelled with our son (15) and our daughter (14). We chose this cruise because the dates, embarkation port and NCL Freestyle concept all appealed to us. We were initially a little concerned that the STAR ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we travelled with our son (15) and our daughter (14). We chose this cruise because the dates, embarkation port and NCL Freestyle concept all appealed to us. We were initially a little concerned that the STAR was an older ship but this turned out to not be an issue as it was recently out of an overhaul period. In our opinion the ship was in very good shape. I have read quite a few reviews on Cruise Critic and I believe that the travellers attitude has a lot to do with how they will perceive the experience. I find it ridiculous that people get annoyed and complain about the little things. I won't call anyone out on this but keep this in mind when reading people's reviews. BOOKING: I booked using NCL's website and found it very easy to navigate. I was able to secure two inside cabins at a price which I was comfortable with. I am from Canada and something Canadian travellers always need to consider is the exchange rate between the Cdn dollar and the US dollar. This can have an impact of the "true" cost of the cruise. Be aware of your exchange rate your credit card company offers and what rate NCL may charge if billed in Cdn dollars. CABINS: We had two inside cabins. My wife and daughter booked in one and my son and I booked in the other. As your issued room key has your name and details printed on it and is used for on ship charges we needed to make arrangements to get extra key cards as we wanted the kids in one room and the adults in the other. Once on the ship it was very easy to get extra room keys from the customer service desk. There were no issues with having a 15 and 14 year old in one room together despite NCLs policy of an adult in each room. Our cabins were great, the were comfortable clean and well layed out. Yes they were small but we expected that. Close the door at any time of the day and turn out the lights, its dark...no way of knowing what time it is. A small night light and a travel clock would be a good suggestion. DINING: We found the food to be very good and certainly better than I was expecting. I can appreciate the challenge of feeding that many people with quality options quickly. NCL did this very well. The freestyle dinning concept is great and we explored many of the different restaurants on the ship all of which provided good options and fast service for us. BEVERAGES: Probably my only real complaint about the cruise. It always seemed to take a little longer than it should have to get a drink from the bar. Not sure if it was lack of bartending staff or if we just always went to the bar at the wrong time. SERVICE: All the NCL staff were friendly and very helpful. POOLS: They were always busy except days in port were the ship always emptied out of passengers. The adults only hot tub at the front of the ship was lukewarm at best. The hot tubs in the main pool area were a good temperature but these were always busy and during the day filled with young kids as well. SHORE EX: We did not book any of the ship's excursions but opted to just get off the ship and do our own thing. We had a good time and finding this to do and places to eat was fun and never a problem. TEEN CLUB: We signed our kids up for the teen club and they each spent a small amount of time there but I do not believe they found it all that interesting. NCL does try to put on events at the teen club to entertain, but it didn't really work for our kids. Not a problem though the kids still had a great time on the cruise. SUMMARY: We consider our first cruise a very good success and will definitely cruise again with NCL....probably without the kids next time!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was the first cruise for my wife, my 2 children (11 & 13), and myself. I have many family members that have cruised many times and I heard all the stories of what a great time they had, unfortunately my experience was a bit ... Read More
This was the first cruise for my wife, my 2 children (11 & 13), and myself. I have many family members that have cruised many times and I heard all the stories of what a great time they had, unfortunately my experience was a bit different. First, the Star seemed like a nice ship at first, but after a couple of days, we started to realize that there really wasn't much for the kids to do. They did take part in a couple of kids club activities, but for the most part they spent their time at the pool. The pool is average at best with 2 water slides that open late and close early each day. My kids enjoyed their time, but it got boring after the 200th time down the same slide. The pool deck was occupied by the same group of people every day that wake up early and put towels on the chairs before daybreak to be sure the can sit, smoke and watch other peoples children run around the deck. A couple of creepy overly tan older gentlemen were always there drinking and smoking away. The outdoor seating areas were dominated by smokers. Almost every table had a smoke cloud around it all day. Really kind of sucked, since us non smokers had not choice but to smoke right along with them the entire time, at least if you wanted to be outside. The food in the Buffet was decent, not a lot of variety, but overall it was good. We ate at Versailles, Aqua, Ginza, La Cucina, and Teppanyaki, all of which were good. Versailles is cool, but it is very slow. Aqua, the food was good, but din't care for the atmosphere. All the other eateries were good. We had the ultimate drink package which was good other than the service was poor a lot of the time. Sometimes you literally had to wait for 20 minutes to get 2 drinks. the consistency of mixed drink varied drastically from server to server. Consistency is not their strong suit. The drink system on Norwegian is a model in inefficiency. Even with the drink package you have to sign a receipt for each and every drink you order. A total waste of time since they are already adding on a 18% gratuity to each drink. Our state room was good, we had enough room to get around and Phardi, our steward was amazing. What a great guy! Cool towel animals every day, elephant, penguin, snake. Pretty cool. The entertainment was pretty good, we saw the hypnotist, as well as a couple others that were great, had a good time. If you are the kind of person that likes the freedom to explore and enjoy the culture of the places you travel to, cruises are probably not for you. You only get a short amount of time off the ship at each port, and in Mexico, that means you are dealing with the constant pushy vendors everywhere you go. The $13 per day per person gratuity seemed a bit excessive to me, but I guess that's what you get on a cruise ship, a reasonable price to get you on the boat then they nickle and dime you to death. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. Very efficient system, other than it took 5 hours to get our bags to our room. Overall we did enjoy our first cruise, but it's not something my family will likely do again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was my first cruise and it was given to me by my mother. Both my mother and I went together on this cruise and we had a fabulous memorable vacation together. I absolutely loved every minute of this vacation with my mother. The ... Read More
This was my first cruise and it was given to me by my mother. Both my mother and I went together on this cruise and we had a fabulous memorable vacation together. I absolutely loved every minute of this vacation with my mother. The staff was terrific and went above and beyond to make my vacation as fantastic as could be. The ship was great, I didn't get sea sick at all! The stateroom was fanominal, mom got us a suite! Loved, loved, loved the balcony. There was so much to do on the ship that we couldn't get to do it all. The evenings were great with delicious meals at the restaurants and the entertainment at night especially the game shows! Thank you Norwegian Cruise lines for making my first cruise a success and looking forward to cruising in the future with my husband and with my family again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our first time going on a curise as a family. My wife and kids did not know what to expect. The embarkation process was a little slow going. I think we waited in line for a little over 60mins which I think was a little long. But ... Read More
This was our first time going on a curise as a family. My wife and kids did not know what to expect. The embarkation process was a little slow going. I think we waited in line for a little over 60mins which I think was a little long. But once we got to the check in process it was pretty quick to get our room keys an all the paper work that goes with it. The one thing that did not go well was the picture that I took that was supposed to be attached to the key cards did not linked up so I had to get another one taken on the ship. That was another line to stand in but I waited till after the lifeboat drill and walked really quick to guest services so the wait was not that long. The ship itself was nice. It just came out of dry dock and there were a lot of upgrades. The kids had a blast with Splash Acadamy program. There my 5 year son and 7 year old daughter made friends and they continued that friendship to the pool area. The program was great in that they had activities that my kids like and the counselors were great in that they took the time to know your kids and address them by name when seeing them on the ship outside of the program. The activities onboard are great. There are activities for the entire family or just for adults.There is a basketball/soccer court and shuffle boards games for the entire family. There are 2 pools one for the kids and one for adults. I took the entire family for some late night cruise activities as battle of the sexes where they kept it PG-13 and my kids did one of the activities for that show. The theater had shows for the entire family. The food selection was good. The buffet was a little disppointing in that there is not a lot of variety. They tried with their speciality nights but it was disppointing. The seafood night was mostly shrimps. The outdoor grill was great in that they served steaks, burgers/ dogs, and chicken. The main dining resturants was decient, the menu was limited. We did not do any of the speciality resturants or bought any of the dining or drink packages. We signed up for one shore excursion which was the dolphin encounter and that was good. But beware that if you want pictures of your experience it will cost you. We also walked around Cabo and haggle with some of the vendors and got prices to go down from what the ship excursions cost. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I decided to book a cruise for my wife and myself two days after we got married. We drove from Arizona to Los Angeles and stayed at the Best Western in Wilmington which was about 10 minutes with traffic from the port. The hotel staff was ... Read More
I decided to book a cruise for my wife and myself two days after we got married. We drove from Arizona to Los Angeles and stayed at the Best Western in Wilmington which was about 10 minutes with traffic from the port. The hotel staff was friendly and extremely helpful and the breakfast was very good as well. My wife and I were able to leave our car at the Best Western for free, which was nice, and then take a cab for about $20 down to the port. This Best Western was also considerably cheaper than other hotels closer to the port. The ship that my wife and I sailed on was the Norwegian Star. It was incredible, I do not think that we could have asked for anything more. There were plenty of activities offered to keep us busy and allow us to have a great time. My wife and I loved the game shows like "deal or no deal" or "the Newlywed game". Though we had to pay a small amount for "deal or no deal" it was completely worth the fun. The service was the best that we had ever had anywhere! I wish that everywhere we went had the same kind of service that Norwegian gave us. From the moment that we got to the curbside we had helpful individuals talking with us and guiding us in where to go. On board everyone was very quick, kind and helpful knowing what to do or who to call in every situation we encountered. They were always very quick and diligent in cleaning our room and were very personal when talking with us, making us feel as if we mattered to them. In the dining rooms the waiters/waitresses were quick to refill our waters and brought the food quickly and always extremely well done. In addition to this, there was also a great variety of food to choose from and many different dining areas which to enjoy it in. My wife and I had a balcony suite stateroom located on deck 9 closer to the front of the ship. It was a fantastic room with more than enough room for us to relax in when we were not out doing things. At night, having our own balcony, it was incredibly nice to stand and watch the stars while listening to the waves crash below us. We stopped in one spot and that was Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was probably the best place we could have gone for our honeymoon since we did not feel rushed to get off the ship and seeing a ton of historic locations while also trying to relax on the beach. Rather we were able to make our way off the boat on our own time and get to everything. My wife and I had signed up for a kayaking and sea snorkling excursion, but since the waves were too large near the arch and there were a ton of other boats going out there and coming back, our excursion was cancelled. A ship representative let us know immediately upon exiting our tender and walking onto the dock. They did offer to take us snorkling still with a 15% refund which was a complete rip off. Instead my wife and I went to walk around. We ended up being talked into taking a boat to the arch and over to the beach. I was a little nervous at first about working with them, but it was fantastic, as my wife and I had our own personal boat out to the arch and back. One thing I do want to warn you about is they say to enter a boat in the marina, it will cost a dollar each to get through the security gate. I do not believe this is true, but we paid anyway. Just something for you to think about when you go. Also, they are pretty quick to lower their prices so that they can get you and especially if you say you are going to check with one of the other vendors standing right off the marina trying to get you to charter something through them. The second day my wife and I paid $25 to rent a kayak for an hour. They gave us a boat ride to the beach and we were able to kayak all the way out to the arch on our own and get back to the beach in the hours time. If you want to do something fun and active, I would recommend kayaking. It is great for communication, you get sun if that's what you want, you get plenty of exercise and you even get a little wet which is also pretty fun. Do make sure to bring enough cash, because the ATM fees will kick your butt, especially if your bank charges fees as well. Finally there is a restraunt that I have to recommend. It's a small hole-in-the-wall type restraunt right off the beach called the baja stop. They had incredible service and food as well as prices. They had one dollar tacos that my wife and I feasted on in addition to four dollar chicken quesadillas that were mouthwatering and delicious. Also they had cheap smoothies and alcoholic beverages at there walk up bar. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our honeymoon and will hopefully be travelling again soon with Norwegian to another fun location. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We just came back from the cruise and we really enjoyed it! Complimentary food was fantastic! The food and the service on the Complementary restaurants was perfect, nothing to complain about. The inside cabin was ok, we got what we paid ... Read More
We just came back from the cruise and we really enjoyed it! Complimentary food was fantastic! The food and the service on the Complementary restaurants was perfect, nothing to complain about. The inside cabin was ok, we got what we paid for. The shows on the cruise were very enjoyable. Primary the circus, "magika" and the Second City Show was spectacular!! The cruise dancers and singers were OK, but nothing fabulous - I will give them 6 out of 10. The crew was super careful, kind and respectful, they certainly earn the $12 per person per day. The only negative thing about those $12 a day is the fact that you also get charged gratuities for every single purchase you make. The excursions are expensive as hell!!!! RECOMENDATION!!! Cabo: just take a local water taxi, pay $15 for them to take you see the arch, some beaches and leave you like an hour in one of the beaches. The driver also tells you some history and Mexican jokes. The same excursion costs $80 per person approx. The water is cold. Mazatlan: worthless, nothing interesting to see. We took an excursion that was just fine. You can take a taxi (called spider or pulmonia in spanish), they will take you to all the important points in the city - nothing special - and then to a restaurant where you can also enjoy a Show. We went to the "La Playa" hotel, had lunch and enjoy a very nice show. We checked, and the lunch was $20 per person. In every hotel, you can pay around $15 and get access to their beaches. Puerto Vallarta: Veeeeery nice city! No need to take an excursion at all, unless you want to do some extreme or outdoor activities. Go to the Malecone street and enjoy the market. From the port to the Malecone, you will pay $3/$4 per person. The beach is nice and the water is worm. You will need to pay $5 for the chair, and pay for a drink (at least $10 approx. in drinks each person).   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Not having anything to compare it to, we were not disappointed in our first cruise aboard the Norwegian Star. Our balcony stateroom was perfect except the bed was not that comfortable. The shower and bathroom were no problem. I kept ... Read More
Not having anything to compare it to, we were not disappointed in our first cruise aboard the Norwegian Star. Our balcony stateroom was perfect except the bed was not that comfortable. The shower and bathroom were no problem. I kept hearing how small it was going to be but it was adequate for two of us. Having done a lot of research and reading before sailing, I found that an over the door shoe organizer was a perfect item to bring on board, it held all our bath/cosmetic items out of the way. It was great having a coffee maker in our room for a leisurely morning on the balcony. The food was great in the two main dining rooms. Breakfast was good at the buffet and outdoors at poolside. We did splurge and had dinner at Cagneys one night. Delicious meal. You can almost always get a burger at the pool. My husband didn't care for the buffet but he is a fussy eater. I was fine with it. The daily drink specials at the bar were yummy, I tried a different one every day. Our cabin steward was amazing! Our room was always clean and neat even if we left it 5 times a day, when we got back it was picked up again. We always had fresh ice in the ice bucket, clean towels and made up bed. Always had a "friend" on the bed at the end of the evening. He always reminded us to be back on board well before the time stated so not to run into any problems. The shows we saw were a lot of fun and if you miss some of the game shows they tape them and run them on the tv, we laughed a lot watching them in our room. Everyone we ran into was pleasant except for one incident at a bingo game where someone tried to take another persons saved seat. Almost a brawl! There was always a current movie "Captain Phillips and Gravity" playing if you wanted to stay in your stateroom and just relax. They loop them so they play over and over all day long. One channel had kids moves. We played bingo, saw shows, played in the casino and just relaxed!! Did not do any excursions this time but we did go ashore at Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. I am already to go again. Never been so relaxed in all my life! Never had an ache or pain or headache! The ocean is a beautiful thing! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Our family of five just completed our first cruise on the Norwegian Star to the "Mexican Riviera". We decided to book our cruise fairly late and ended up booking the Star, which was our second choice behind the Sapphire ... Read More
Our family of five just completed our first cruise on the Norwegian Star to the "Mexican Riviera". We decided to book our cruise fairly late and ended up booking the Star, which was our second choice behind the Sapphire Princess. We preferred the Princess because it had better reviews than the NCL Star but were unable to book it due to the unavailability of three person cabins at the time, which we needed for our three kids (ages 17, 13 and 10). We had also considered but ruled out the Disney Wonder (too expensive), The Carnival Splendor (lower rated) and the Holland America Oosterdam (too formal and mature for families). This first cruise was fun overall, and we enjoyed our family vacation. Looking back, most of the reviews we had read about the Star were accurate, and I am pretty sure we would have had a better experience on the Princess ship. NCL is leaving the Mexican Riviera and the Port of Los Angeles indefinitely in a couple weeks so this review may only be useful for the ship and crew, not the itineraries. Here is our take:Embarkation:Somewhat chaotic, but went fairly quickly. We arrived at the terminal at 11:30am and were on board by about 12:15. It disturbed me that the baggage porters just piled everyone's luggage onto carts and whisked them away, without providing claim tags. The staterooms were not available until after 2:00 pm so we grabbed lunch at the buffet and camped out by the pool and biergarden until then. The bags didn't arrive until MUCH later that evening and not all at once. Some bags didn't arrive until well after dinner. Staterooms:My wife and I had a mini suite balcony and our kids shared an inside cabin triple. We were fairly pleased with the size and layout of our mini suite. The dEcor was relatively tasteful and the bathroom was very good. The bed was pretty firm for my taste but my wife said it was very comfortable for her. The air conditioning worked well and was very quiet. We did not use the pull out couch as a bed but it was there in case we needed to isolate one of our kids from the other two. One complaint: the wood cabinets have a glossy finish that shows fingerprints clearly. I had to ask the steward to wipe them off because I was tired of staring at them. Our kids did fairly well in their inside cabin considering its size. There seemed to be plenty of storage in both cabins.Beverages:This was the most consistently negative part of our whole cruise and served as a nagging reminder of how NCL was trying to weasel as much money from its guests as possible. Soda: We purchased soda plans for four of us which cost a whopping $190. You'd think for that price, soda would be easily and readily available. Not so! In fact, they were so stingy with doling out their 8 oz solo cups of soda (filled with ice) that it became a running joke with my family. The first insult was having to pull out and show your room key sticker to prove your "worthiness" to receive such a precious commodity. The second insult was having to wait 10 to 15 minutes for your server to bring it. The final insult was the ridiculously puny size of the cup you get. I became so infuriated by this process that I instructed my kids to order a soda from every server that came by even if you didn't want one, since you could never tell if or when the next one would really arrive. Alcohol: Clearly a huge profit center for NCL. Very expensive and with a 15% gratuity added on. You could get a "free" 6th beer if you ordered a bucket of five, but it grew tiresome and awkward to carry a bucket of beers around the ship (I was the only drinker), so I switched to margaritas after a while. Just as with the sodas, it became apparent that if you ordered from a waiter, it could be awhile before getting your beverage, so I quickly learned to avoid the waiters and go directly to the bar to get my drinks. The bartenders make your drinks right away and tend to pour more generously when you are watching them. I discovered that the bar on deck 8 overlooking the Grand Atrium only charged $6 for a large margarita while they were over $8 elsewhere on the ship. I can't resist adding one more comment about tips. For a family of five I was obliged to spend $420 ($12 X 5 X 7days) in tips. When you buy drinks they tack another 15% additional tip on your bill. Then when you sign for your bill there is always a space to add an additional, third tip! Are you freakin' kidding me? Restaurants:Food quality was fairly good on average. The one specialty restaurant (Ginza) we went to was very good. I wish we had tried the Bistro and Endless Summer but we never got around to it. We didn't feel that Cagneys was worth the extra money (we splurged on some great restaurants while on shore). We typically ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet and/or the poolside restaurant. Much of the food there was typical cafeteria food, but some standouts were the Indian dishes and the poolside hamburgers. I also liked the smoked salmon and pickled herring at breakfast. Bagels were conspicuously missing from breakfast for some reason. Dessert dishes were surprisingly bland. As mentioned in previous reviews, food was good in Aqua and Versailles (no surcharge), but service was glacially slow. Serving sized were fairly small (good if you are trying to keep from gaining weight), but the appetizers were practically bite sized. We learned that it was ok to order more than one appetizer each. Entertainment/Shows:We all felt these were consistently excellent, and we attended at least one show each night. We would typically go to the early show at the Stardust Theatre, then proceed to the Spinnaker Lounge for a later function/activity/game show. Our kids especially enjoyed the magician couple (Extreme Vegas), and the Comedy Hypnotist. My 13 yr old son convinced me to volunteer to be hypnotized, and I did some crazy things on stage that will be a funny memory for us to share for a long time. The acrobatic shows like Elements and the singing act Shout were also very good. I was very impressed by the production quality of the shows, but some veteran cruisers I talked to said that was pretty standard.Kids/Teen Club We signed our kids up to these programs as soon as we got on the ship to avoid long lines to register. Oddly enough, these clubs did not end up appealing to our kids and they ended up hanging out together or with us most of the time. Many had told us to expect the kids to disappear to hang out with their own but ours seemed to not be interested or had difficulty breaking the ice with the other kids. It's hard to predict how teens will adapt to social situations these days. It didn't help matters that our 10 yr old son was split off to the kid zone rather than teen club, so perhaps the older kids were circling the wagons to keep our youngest from being alone. We did see groups of teens hanging out together, and they seemed to be having fun. They congregated in groups on the stairwells most nights (in everyone's way) and on the last night, the "drama" of saying goodbye was a spectacle to behold. My kids thought it was pathetic but at least it meant they made some good friends during the cruise. Ports of Call/Shore ExcursionsSince NCL is pulling out of LA and Mexican Riviera cruises I won't waste time on this subject except to say that it was ridiculous that while we were in Cabo San Lucas two days, they required us to be back on board the ship by 7 pm the first night. They said it was because they had to leave port, but it didn't take a stretch of the imagination to know why. It was clearly so they can get back into international waters to recapture all that profit by opening the casinos, duty free, booze sales and specialty restaurants. It would have been nice to be able to stay in Cabo for dinner/nightlife then get back to the ship. Of course there was the option of buying a couple of hotel rooms for the night in Cabo but I already paid for my hotel out there in the water.Fitness CenterMy wife and I used the fitness center every day and it was very good, but crowded. There was a good variety of cardio machines that included TVs. The weight machines were adequate. Free weight and exercise mat area were good but also very crowded. (balancing on an exercise ball on a rocking ship is an interesting experience). I liked the cold wet towels, in a fridge near the life cycles. There is a fresh juice bar, but of course, the juice costs extra (with an additional gratuity I'm sure) so I didn't partake. The jogging track is great, but closed a couple of days due to high winds.DisembarkationChaos and long, long lines snaking double the length of the ship, over the gangway, back again two ship lengths through the terminal to customs. There was only 1 (one) NCL cruise representative (from Boston, can't recall his name) standing by to thank the guests and say goodbye. The wait to exit the parking lot was at least an hour long after that. If you park at the Port of LA, make sure you park near the exit not the ship. If you are parked near the ship you will be one of the last to leave the parking lot. Things We Didn't Use/DoCasino, Bingo, Shore Excursions, Internet, shuffleboard, sports deck, spaAgain, overall we really enjoyed our first cruise, but I am not sure how much of that should be credited to NCL. The best highlights were the shows/entertainment on the ship and our experiences while ashore. Most everything else seemed to be adequate compared to what I hear is available on other cruise lines. We do like the cruising experience, but would rather stay longer in port locations, so we may stick with traditional air/land based vacations for now. If we do decide on cruising again, we will probably opt for a different cruise line than NCL so that we can contrast and compare. I would jump at the chance to book a cruise that was truly all inclusive, where I was not pestered to keep coughing up more money and automatic tips for poor service. There are plenty of resorts that fit that bill, and I think we will try that next. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
My first-ever cruise was on board NCL's Norwegian Star, leaving from Los Angeles with stops at Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. I had always wanted to go on a cruise but was put off by the formal nature of most of them. ... Read More
My first-ever cruise was on board NCL's Norwegian Star, leaving from Los Angeles with stops at Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. I had always wanted to go on a cruise but was put off by the formal nature of most of them. I'm not the dress-up kind of guy nor do I like to be put into forced social situations. I wanted a cruise vacation where I could do what I wanted, when I wanted it. Fortunately, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) provided the perfect solution. I went with a friend of mine and we decided on NCL's 7-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera, leaving from Los Angeles (in part because my friend lived in the L.A. area for many years). NCL's Freestyle Cruise environment was exactly what both of us were looking for and we definitely appreciated the freedom during our cruise. The Norwegian Star is definitely an excellent ship for a first-time cruise. Colourfully decorated both inside and out, the ship helped create a fun atmosphere with its modern feel and hotel-like environment. I especially appreciated the many paintings and murals displayed on the walls of the corridors. One thing I had heard prior to the cruise was that inside cabins tend to be small, even for just two people. I didn't know what to expect when we first entered our cabin (8501) but immediately was pleasantly surprised. The cabin was well-laid out and made efficient use of its space. Neither me or my friend felt cramped at all. The bathroom area also was a pleasant surprise. It was laid out in a very efficient manner and neither or us had any trouble moving around or attending to our personal needs. The shower was quite spacious actually for a small cabin. Another positive experience was the food on-board. Some people have written criticisms of the food on the Star but neither myself or my friend found this to be true. The least I could say about the food was that the desserts were ordinary with little to make them stand out. However, they were still tasty. The main food was actually excellent in every restaurant or dining area we visited. The salad vegetables were very fresh, even on the last day of the cruise. The menu items were reasonably varied and very delicious. I also commend NCL for providing items that were low-fat and low-sugar as I am mildly diabetic. The outdoor pool area of the Star consists of a central pool area, flanked on either side by hot tubs. In back of the pool is a stage where entertainment was presented each afternoon. Water slides were located on either side of this stage. The sunning area was a series of stepped decks with lounge chairs to lie out on in the sun. Everything was colourful and festive and provided a positive happy atmosphere for passengers to enjoy the time in the sun or in the water. This area also included buffets, a couple of bars and a BBQ area which was very convenient. During the cruise, both me and my friend used the fitness centre. If I have to make any criticism of the Star's facilities, it would here. There were a few weight machines (some of which were more difficult to use than what I am used to at my gym), a rowing machine, a lot of treadmills and some dumb-bell weights. We were disappointed that there were no bar-bell weights available. However, we did make the most of what was available, including some time on the Star's outside jogging track (a 400 metre marked off ring of the ship's outer deck). We were able to put in the exercise we wanted. We just would have liked more choice. One attraction on the Star both me and my friend really liked was the Spinnaker Lounge. We found a number of different activities available here, especially the late-night dance parties presented after midnight. There was a good sized dance floor available and the fist-pumping music was really great. We spent several nights at the Spinnaker taking in all the fun. We didn't find all of the entertainment options to our liking, however, the two that we did attend were really enjoyable. The first was the crew show that showcased some of the musical and dancing talent of the Star's crew members. Although not entertainment professionals, the featured crew members were very entertaining and always gave their all. Some of them even rivaled the professional entertainment. The one professional evening show we attended was called "Elements" and was a visual and music presentation with the motif of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water. With magic and acrobatics, it resembled something Cirque de Soleil might have presented. It was an excellent show and I would definitely see it again if given the chance. Another area that we had some concern about prior to the cruise was the logistics (embarkment, disembarkation, etc.). We'd heard that sometimes these procedures are long and complicated. We did not find this to be the case. We made sure to be at the Port of Los Angeles at noon on departure day so that we could avoid any last minute confusion. Our check-in at the Port was very smooth and with no problems. It was done in roughly 15 minutes. Our wait time to board the Star was also about the same time. In no time, we were in the Market Place Dining area, having our first on-ship meal. Disembarkation at the ports of call was straight-forward as we were all pre-cleared into Mexico. The final disembarkation at the end of the cruise was a little longer and slower but also not too difficult. As soon as we left the ship, we both were already wishing we could do it again. In fact, my friend has already put down a deposit on his next cruise with NCL. The only major logistical change I would suggest to NCL is more use of computerized receipts. Several of the bars and specialty restaurants already used these which speeded up adding charges to your tab. However, certain things like deposits on beer buckets or beach towels were hand-written and time consuming. Also, the staff responsible for these hand-written receipts seemed not to totally have a handle on these. My friend had small hassles with having the deposit charges removed from his tab for a beer bucket because of the hand-written receipt system in use. NCL should seriously consider computerizing everything on board so that a quick electronic receipt can be generated and searched quickly when necessary. One nice thing about the cruise was simply when we took it. Since it was during Spring Break, the ship had a lot of younger college students on board and this lead to a vibrancy and festivity that were both unexpected and welcome. The students knew how to have a good time and still remained behaved. There was no rowdiness at all, just lots of good times happening. It created a nice happy atmosphere that seemed to spread to all of the passengers, young and older. Another positive here was the NCL seems to be gay-friendly. The Star held a "Friends of Dorothy" gathering in the Star Lounge every night at 6:30 pm and this was advertised in the daily ship's newsletter. It's nice to see this kind of support from a cruise line. All in all, cruising on the NCL Norwegian Star made for a great first-time cruise experience. I hope there will be another similar one in my future. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
I will make my review short and sweet or not so sweet. Embarkation was a breeze, took less than 40 mins from arrival in San Pedro to actually boarding the ship, seemed organized and went smoothly. Cabins were better than expected, we ... Read More
I will make my review short and sweet or not so sweet. Embarkation was a breeze, took less than 40 mins from arrival in San Pedro to actually boarding the ship, seemed organized and went smoothly. Cabins were better than expected, we booked an interior and found it to be comfortable and suited our needs just fine, comfy beds and pretty good cabin stewards, no complaints about the cabin. Ships general condition seemed nice enough with the exception of a lil construction from the remodeling they are doing. However I was disappointed with the general upkeep of the public areas ie the basketball court/golf driving nets shuffleboard equipment. Upon arrival i noticed the netting in the basketball court was sagging and it was nearly impossible to shoot a ball without it hitting the net covering the court... they then closed the bball court for 3 days to replace the netting, great for the next cruisers I guess but no so great for me. irritated it took a crew of 5 men 3 days to fix some sagging netting, definite lack of outdoorsy activities to do. I didn't find it to be a major concern when booking the cruise but after being on the ship for a few days I definitely would have liked more activities. Food. plain and simply disgusting, the buffet was worse than a golden corral/sizzler desserts sucked no taste no taste no taste I tried several and they all were subpar for a chain buffet let alone a cruise ship. The main dining room meals were edible, but the menu was limited and frankly boring as they serve the identical menu in both of the free dining rooms. We ate at a few of the upcharge restaurants and they were slightly better with the exception of Cagneys which was by far the best meal we ate on the boat, however I don't feel as if it was 50 dollars better. We also ate at TEX MEX and La Cucina.. both of which were only a little better than the main dining rooms. I found the best food at least for me was at blue lagoon/endless summer which is open 24 hours they actually had a decent dessert a new york style cheesecake which put me in comfort for the last 3 days of the sailing, nice comfort foods there chicken wings/burgers fries etc.. I liked this place the best wish i would have found it earlier in the cruise. The entertainment on the ship was alright.. the cirque show was not very good, lots of mistakes and frankly I didn't last thru more than 30 mins of it, just not my thing, the jugglers were entertaining as well as the sctv comedy the entertainment could use some improvements but i was overall satisfied with the entertainment, perhaps they could add some acts or schedule more shows??? The staff of the ship seemed a little less than happy to be there, mostly horrible service with the exception of our cabin steward and the drink staff, the rest of the staff was short and didn't make u feel very special at all. Needs improvement. The getting on and off the ship in ports was easy enough, no complaints with any of this. Overall I had a positive experience but the poor poor quality of the food really has left a negative impact on us as far as considering returning to NCL again. I had heard that the food was not very good on NCL but thought how different could it be... well now i guess i know. Bottom Line is the Star was ok to good, the construction and shuffling of things was a bit tacky, the food was horrid, other than that no significant complaints. I do not see myself booking again with NCL anytime soon, I loved the cruise experience and will continue to cruise but believe I will take my money elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Myself and my girlfriend embarked on the Norwegian Stat for a seven day cruise of the Mexican Riviera. Stops included Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta. This vacation was at then end of march 2010. Getting registered on the ship was pretty ... Read More
Myself and my girlfriend embarked on the Norwegian Stat for a seven day cruise of the Mexican Riviera. Stops included Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta. This vacation was at then end of march 2010. Getting registered on the ship was pretty painless and fairly quick. Due to flight schedules, we were there a couple hours ahead of time and were among the first to go onto the ship. No issues with embarkation at all. This was our first cruise, but others in our party had a lot of experience with NCL. We purchased an inside room for this trip, which was reasonably nice and received good service from the staff. The shower was very good and better than most hotels. No tub, but space is limited. For $400 more per couple, we could have a room with a balcony. Next time, I would opt for this though as its nice to go above the water and not always have to be up on deck. Nice to get a fresh breeze too. Others in our group had a balcony and it was a nice feature. I think it's worth it. Few TV channels, ESPN, CNN, couple TBS channels, but I assume cruisers aren't there for the TV. We left at 4:00 AM the morning of the cruise and had to catch two flights to get to the pier. We were starving and ready to chow. The restaurants were mostly open when we boarded the vessel and we joined another in our party at the Marketplace Cafe. This was a buffet style eatery that served food virtually all the waking hours.In general, we found the food at the buffet to be rather plain and mediocre at best. The fruit was awesome, but the warmed, prepared food was lacking in flavor. My girlfriend was annoyed by a smell that bothered her from "something" from the buffet. Eggs were definitely powdered. The Versailles and the Aqua serve the same food and were also free, along with the buffet. These were sit down restaurants with a quite limited menu. Food here was not special either. Plain, kinda odd, and bland. There were service issue here too. At the Versailles, there was a big crowd for the "wellington and Lobster" night. They weren't special, don't get why. There was a line so the people had a seating list. However, there were at least two different people with two different lists. It was chaos getting seated, and there was plenty of room in the restaurant to be seating folks. Not well run. At the Aqua, we sat with another couple we didn't know. She had mentioned the night before she never received her coffee until dessert even though she ordered it at the start of the meal. Well, guess what, same thing happened right in front of our eyes despite several requests for coffee. Weak, weak, weak. Two of us also ordered the same dish, pasta carbonara, and got very different looking dishes. Inconsistent for sure. The Blue Lagoon was also free, food just OK, its more of a hot dog, hamburger, chicken strip place, but is open all day and night. Endless summer costs $10 more, but the food was pretty good. Menu included ribs, seafood with a mexican flavor. Food was pretty good, not extremely good though. Cagney's Steakhouse was good as well for $25 a person. It's set up to be a fine dining restaurant. One of the better meals, pretty decent food, steaks were large, cooked to order. Bottom line is the Buffet, Versailles, Aqua, Blue lagoon, Grill by the pool, were the only free ones, and the Aqua and Versailles used the same menu. All the rest were extra money, which was kind of disappointing to me, so only a few free places out of ten places or so. Versailles and Cagney's impersonated fancy restaurants visually, but the food and service did not follow. For example, we booked a reservation two nights ahead for a table of 12 so the whole group could have a farewell dinned at Cagney's. We called and verified this. When we got there, they would only seat us as two tables of 6 despite our asking for a different arrangement. The tables were not in distance enough to visit with half our party at all. So they fell short there, but for a little salt in the wound, as we were nearly finished, they came in and seated a table of 12 right in front of us. Poor planning and service in these sit down restaurants, they try to be high class, but the food and service really don't meet the standard. Foods just OK at best. One of the free treats on the cruise is supposed to be an iced tea. OMG. Ice tea was really bad. My whole party of 12 all agreed on this. In fact, ,many were asking for extra glasses to dilute the tea with water, and my party are serious iced tea drinkers. We heard the same from others on the ship as well. Really, really bad iced tea. Hard to believe that some business exec from NCL actually made the call to serve that crap on the cruise and call it tea. The shows at night were pretty good for a cruise ship, sun deck was great, service out there was good. We didn't use the casino, others in my party did and said the ship takes extra money off the top compared to most. Running trip was nice, more workout machines would be nice as they were full often. This is likely weather dependant as it wasn't' warm all the time. We had incredible shore excursions thanks to another in our party who did tons of homework. Parasailing and glass bottomed tour boat and shopping in Cabo. Be careful, some of these tour boats were not in great shape. Ours was. Tour van with guide in Mazatlan. Go to the city market there downtown near the cool Cathedral, followed by some time at Stone Island. In PV, we went for ATV rides and then the Los Veranos Zipline. The ATV ride included a tour of a tequila factory and the botanical gardens. Watch out for biting "no-see-ums". The Zipline was cool, highly recommend this. We sti9ll had time for a two and a half hour stroll on the Malecon at sunset. Highly recommended. Art sculptures were cool. It was figured out that booking privately without NCL cut the cost of these events in half and kept us together more without being on a big, crowded bus. make sure you watch the cliff diver at Mazatlan and the "creek" diver at the Los Veranos ziplines. Brave people. All in all, we had a good vacation. Food was disappointing but edible. Room service was great, ship was clean. Our party brought soda pop on, so we didn't pay those costs. To buy beer there, about $25 a six pack. Drinks $7 to $10 each plus an extra 15% gratuity. Also, $12 dollars a day per person mandatory tip that went your room. So be careful when budgeting this trip, there are extra charges. Make sure you get off the boat and enjoy yourself at the ports. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Well Lets start off by going on the first night. I paid for the Honeymoon/anniversary package with the expectation that all the "stuff" for the first night would be in the room when we got in. There was nothing in the room. I ... Read More
Well Lets start off by going on the first night. I paid for the Honeymoon/anniversary package with the expectation that all the "stuff" for the first night would be in the room when we got in. There was nothing in the room. I call down and they said "sorry we will bring that right up". We waited 30 minutes and gave up went walking. Come back to the room a couple hours later and all that came was the chocolate covered strawberries. We called again and they apologized for not bringing the wine and would bring it asap. I then tried our safe which was broke. So I call front desk and they said they would send someone. 30 min later we got our wine but no one came for the safe. We waited 2 hours and then just left to go do some more wandering and learning about the ship. Spent about 2 hours away and STILL no one fixed the safe. So we called again and this time they were there in 5 minutes. Then Tuesday they were supposed to bring the hors d'oeuvres by 6 pm. We waited until 7pm and called. We will bring those right up. Waited another hour and decided to go to the hot tub. Came back about 45 minutes later and there they were. Then the room cleaners broke one of our glass's in the room and did not clean up all the glass as I got a piece in my foot while walking around the room. The only real service I got on this ship was in the Le Bistro dinner for two I got. I had never been to a "real" restaurant and wow this one blew me away. Food was awesome and service was top notch. So the beginning part of this review made me fell the $12/day per person for gratuity was WAY overpriced. It was closer to needing to be $5/day per person with how poor the service was. The people cleaning the room made one mistake and that was the glass but other than that they were good. The ship itself was kind of boring. They only had shows at 7pm and 9pm in the stardust theatre but those were entertaining. Hard to imagine acting like that while the ship is rocking. The spinnaker lounge was a big smoke hazard so I could not go in there since it reeked so bad of smoke. I did not want anything to do with the art gallery/ auctions as well I dont have any interest in art and I did kind of get tired of having Jewelry pushed down my throat just about everyday. The chess board was cool but there was always someone on it. The ONE pool was always full of kids and it was even hard to get into one of the 5 hot tubs. Plus the track was a pain to run on. Most people ran early morning but I ran 10pmish and there was still one or 2 others running with me. The track is only wide enough for 1 person so you cant pass and 2 lengths. You can pass on the two curves. Plus there were a few drunks that could not understand why I kept pushing them into the glass on the JOGGING ONLY track and all they were doing was stumbling around. It was nice, however, to have a place to exercise :D. The food well there was PLENTY of food. Problem is the kids section had better food than the adult section. Yeah you got to bend over to get the food but it was better than eating the crap they had on the "adult" foods. Out of 7 days there was good food only 3 of those. Then when the outside deck had steak they did not have it inside. There were two barbecues my wife and I went to and those were awesome outside on the deck :D. I also did not buy any drinks because I felt that I should not have to pay them gratuity to get me a beer at the bar when I was already paying $12/day per person. They say cruising is cheaper than going on a vacation???? Not sure how they came up with that but I spent more on this cruise with just my wife and I than I have on the last 3 vacations I have taken with my 4 children included. So next cruise I pick IF I go on one (which I most likely wont thanks to this experience) I will make sure and look at every detail of the ship to see what kind of fun stuff they have on it (like knee board pool). I can say I did meet a few people on this ship and that was a fun experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
As first time cruisers taking the plunge with a spring break trip out of Los Angeles, we had a few concerns over what our experience would be with the number of kids and college students on board as well as the cruise line itself and the ... Read More
As first time cruisers taking the plunge with a spring break trip out of Los Angeles, we had a few concerns over what our experience would be with the number of kids and college students on board as well as the cruise line itself and the recent changes. Having nothing to compare the "old" Star versus the "new" Star, we weren't sure what to expect. We flew out of Seattle the morning of the cruise, staying overnight the night before at the Sea-Tac Raddisson (which was outstanding and offered free parking for the week we were away and a free shuttle to the Airport terminal). Flew into Long Beach which is a nice small airport. Within 15 minutes of landing we had our luggage and were waiting for car pickup (another 15 minutes). Paid $55 for A-1 Transportation to take the four of us the 30 minutes or so to the World Cruise Terminal. We got to the terminal at 11:45 and were through security and checked in with our room tags by noon. Skipped the embarkation photo (which we later regretted, however after traveling all morning no one felt very photogenic). It was a little confusing to figure out where to get the Teen Passports (Ginza Room) and Spa Passes (at the Spa, duh!) but we got it straightened out and headed to the main dining room for lunch which was excellent and very relaxing. The portions were modest so order two entree if you are hungry. By the time we finished eating we wandered around a bit and our room was ready by 1:30ish. Our mini-suite was larger than we expected, very comfortable for four (two adults, two large teenagers!). Unpacked and found ample space for everything with use of the over-door shoe holder for toiletries. We bagged up the contents of the mini-bar and had the steward take it away so had use of the fridge for snacks. Several notes - the rooms were impeccably clean. Our room steward Vicente was marvelous, helpful, cheerful and quick to make up or turn down the cabin. There is an indicator outside the door which you turn to note when you are ready for the room to be made up or turned down and it was amazing that whenever we left, by the time we returned our room as perfect. We tipped him the first night and the last night for the remainder of the week. There were hand sanitizers everywhere. There were crew members manning the stations at the entrance to the restaurants and it appeared that passengers were using the sanitizers. We made use of the breakfast room service every morning. It served as a nice wake-up call (a few moments before delivery they ring your room) as well as a pleasant start to the day with hot coffee on the balcony, fresh fruit (superb!) and yogurt or cold cereals to tide you over for a later breakfast. Make sure you list number of servings on the form or you will end up short. We tipped the delivery person each morning. We signed the teens up for the teen club and it seemed that they had quite a few activities scheduled. Our sons were busy the first half of the cruise with excursions so did not try to use the club until the last two sea days and found there wasn't much going on they were interested in. They wanted to do dodge-ball but it was canceled due to lack of participation. They did make use of the water slide, chess, and golf cage as well as enjoyed a few of the shows and the movie in the Stardust. They felt it would have been better if they went to the ice-breaker reception in the beginning instead of waiting. We attended a few shows - the intro show the first night, the comedy/juggling act RootBerry (fun and the guys in the show were very engaging when we ran into them off ship or in the common areas), the magician (he was good for a brief bit we saw), the Chinese acrobat/Jean Rand dance show (which was not our cup of tea), and the Second City comedy sketch show (funny and PG-13). We didn't gamble although the area around the casino reeked of cigarette smoke. We shopped a bit buying fairly inexpensive gifts (some jewelry, a mug, an ornament) at reasonable price. We didn't buy anything in the duty free shop. There are a variety of specials throughout the cruise so watch for what you want to go on sale. The spa admission package was excellent when we wanted to get away from crowds or relax out of the wind. There are a steam and dry sauna, a lap pool, thermal pool, hot tub, lounge chairs and relaxation rooms with armchairs. We used it frequently. We used several spa services - teeth whitening, haircuts, mini-back massage and mini-facials. Everything was on sale the first day at 25% off and services went on sale throughout the cruise. We did not get pressured into buying anything. We dressed up and got photos taken the first day at sea, "formal night," which turned out very nice. We purchased several on the buy 3 get one free special. We ate in the main dining room several days for breakfast which had good food in a nice atmosphere. We ate at Blue Lagoon several times, for breakfast and lunch. The food was generally very good with a few exceptions and it was uncrowded. It was a good space to listen to the evening jazz band in the atrium. We ate in Aqua for dinner formal night - the lobster was uninspired and tough, although the duck the same night was delish! We ate at Endless Summer which we felt was mediocre and the lobster tacos were not good. We ate at Ginza for all you can eat sushi which was ok but service was really slow - the fish quality seemed good and the deserts were good. We ate at Cagney's which was excellent and offered the best meal we had - well worth the upcharge. And, yes, a 14 year old boy CAN eat a 32 oz steak with all the sides even if it says it's for two.... We ate quite a few times at the buffet - the food was generally good with a wide variety to choose from. Lots of fresh fruit and salad options, the sandwiches were primarily bread and the pizza was not good. We enjoyed the desserts and the option for skim milk and tea throughout the day. The main drawback for the buffet was the atmosphere and the crowds. The kids got soft serve everyday. The only unpleasantness we witnessed was a discussion over chair saving - a rampant practice which made it all but impossible to get a deck chair on a sunny day (although the sun bathers generally cleared out by 2:30ish and you could enjoy the deck with ease). The elevators could get crowded but it was easy to get around with the stairs (and far better for your waistline!!). We did use the internet more than expected - 8 hours between checking business emails and young men chatting on facebook with girlfriends! The internet manager was helpful and the speed wasn't terrible. Disembarkation was a breeze. We tagged our luggage with the latest tags having a very late flight out. We changed our mind and wanted to rent a car so half our party disembarked with no luggage which was very swift and then, 40 minutes before our color tag was called the luggage porters told those waiting with the rental car that all the luggage was actually in the terminal, so the second half of the party walked off between luggage calls and it went smoothly and quickly. Between leaving the ship and getting out of the Cruise Terminal was less than 30 minutes. All in all it was a very pleasant and relaxing trip - weather was perfect, excursions were great and the boat was wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
My husband and I took our first cruise on the Norwegian Star on Christmas 2009. We had Penthouse AC 10500 and really enjoyed it. The two middle penthouse suites on deck 10 front of ship are the best because they have much more sq feet as ... Read More
My husband and I took our first cruise on the Norwegian Star on Christmas 2009. We had Penthouse AC 10500 and really enjoyed it. The two middle penthouse suites on deck 10 front of ship are the best because they have much more sq feet as the bridge is directly above. The room was lovely and the service great. However.....this cabin is directly under the night club and our room was rocking all night long. We are young 37 & 47 and like to have fun, but it was too much. However I was shocked that they actually turned the music down in the club when we called. The food was ok at best, but we are pretty picky. The people are great and we really enjoyed our trip. We are going on the Epic this December and can't wait. The thing that we hated was watching people pressured to buy reproduction art from Park West Gallery. They really try to scam you and make you think you are buying the actual piece in front of you, but in reality these are series of reproductions and not an investment at all. Check out this article: http://www.fineartregistry.com/articles/far_investigates/parkwest-auction-victim.php Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We arrived in Long Beach the day before our cruise and stayed at the Double Tree in San Pedro. The hotel was great and gave us a chance to relax and sign up for the shuttle to the cruise terminal. The hotel is set up for cruisers and they ... Read More
We arrived in Long Beach the day before our cruise and stayed at the Double Tree in San Pedro. The hotel was great and gave us a chance to relax and sign up for the shuttle to the cruise terminal. The hotel is set up for cruisers and they know what they are doing. We stayed there one night after our return too. Flying in a day early and leaving a day later saved a lot of stress. We rented a car from Enterprise Rentals after our return - be forewarned the rental office in San Pedro is small and the line was long. Get there early! We arrived at the cruise terminal at the time recommended by NCL and the line to enter the terminal was incredibly long. There was some confusion on our part as to what to do with our luggage. We finally flagged down a porter and he loaded it on a cart. Most people were getting in line to drop off their luggage but then had to get in line to enter the terminal. Using the porter service is the way to go. It seemed to take forever to get in the terminal. I think we were in line without moving at least an hour if not more. It turned out the ship was being inspected by customs and it delayed the cleaning and boarding for departure. It would have been helpful if they would have announced that over a PA system. Next time we will be more prepared with water, snacks, sunscreen, etc. Once we were inside the process was smooth and we boarded the ship. Make sure you know the rules for what you can bring on the ship. We had a balcony room and it was great. I can't think of anything that wasn't awesome. The balcony had 2 chairs and was a great spot for relaxing. The bed was comfortable, and it was great having a coffee maker and fridge. We had a little trouble with housekeeping, mostly things were not replaced. The dirty towels would be taken but not all of them replaced. One time the supplied robes were taken but not returned. The same with the breakfast order form you can complete and hang on the door if you want room service, and items we used from the mini bar. We had to keep calling and asking for the items. Overall the room was spotless and a great place to just hang out. We loved the TV and the ship info provided on it. We wondered about the water on the ship but it tasted just fine. We had packed water bottles and we just filled them from the sink. We thought the food was awesome and we loved that we could eat anytime and sit a our own table if we wanted. We never had to wait more than a few minutes. We didn't try any of the specialty (extra cost) restaurants because the food was so good in the regular ones. The buffet was a little crowded at times but manageable. The buffets at the pool area were the best and a great spot to people watch. We loved the bars, especially the one at the top of the ship and the service was excellent. We wished we could have brought our own liquor - our bar tab was pretty steep by the end of the cruise. We never attended any shows other than the presentations on the ports, which turned out to be a sales pitch for all the shops that are associated with NCL. They announced they would provide maps but they turned out to only show NCL's partner vendors. We had done a little homework and had a travel guide with us so we were fine. We really tired of the pitches to but diamonds. We loved the areas outside and enjoyed sitting on the chairs by the pool and just watching the sea. The running track on top was great. We had a great time in the casino and my wife actually won a fair amount there. The employees at the customer service desk could have been better informed about the services available on the ship. We were given incorrect information a number of times and learned to hunt down other staff on the ship to get the real story. Overall the staff was great. When returning to Long Beach, you have several options to disembark. The night before you arrive, you place your luggage in the hall. There is a ticket system and you select the time you want to get off the ship. You pick up the tickets in the lobby. Because we were in no hurry, we picked the last time to leave and just relaxed. It was a great process. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
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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