Norwegian Star Entertainment & Activities
As usual on an NCL ship, the entertainment shines brightly. The main entertainment venue is the Stardust Theater - a 1,100-seat venue inspired by classic European opera houses and spanning three decks (5, 6, and 7). Nightly shows include magicians, comedians, lavish Broadway-style production numbers and a Cirque du Soleil-type of gravity-defying extravaganza. During the day the space is transformed into a cinema.
Daytimes (and sea days) are made enjoyable with the many contests and activities available on almost all of the public decks, including movies in the Deck 12 theater, enrichment lectures highlighting the history and cultures of the region, golf chipping contests, and hairy legs contests at the pool (men only, please).
The ship also has scattered around its sundry bars and lounges a host of talented individual performers who add greatly to the ambiance of relaxation. Whether it's jazzy piano cocktail music, boogie-woogie and 1940's standards, the Beatles, calypso and reggae, salsa or classical, you can find it aboard Norwegian Star. On its Mexican Riviera sailings, the Antonio Remirez Folkloric Festival comes onboard during the ship's lengthy stop in Acapulco.
NCL has a "Star Search"/"American Idol"-type program that allows guests to strut their stuff and possibly win a cruise or a chance to appear as a performer onboard one of the company's vessels.
The Ship 'N Males Review, which features service personnel strip-teasing a la Chippendale's, is a fun and funny night out, especially for the ladies. The best, though, is the staff and crew show, which showcases the talents of the multinational employees with acts that highlight their national heritage (on our cruise crew members represented 64 different nationalities). Bring a hanky. Bring two.
Norwegian Star Bars and Lounges
5 O' Clock Somewhere Bar (Deck 7): This bar – the first on the Norwegian fleet – replaces The Red Lion Pub. It retains the same shape, acting as a link between Spinnakers Lounge to the lobby, but the décor and vibe is completely different. The whole look and feel is ersatz Caribbean/South Florida, with surfboards stuck to the wall, multi-colored deck chairs and a long bar packed at the back with rums and tequilas. It's worth noting that this is not a Margaritaville – which debuts on Norwegian Escape – as this is booze only, no food. We felt there could have been more Caribbean/South Florida décor, personally, such as a parrot hanging from the ceiling, but it tries hard with what it's got and there is even a small area for live music. Cocktails such as the 5 O' Clock Somewhere (Margaritaville Silver & Spiced rums, passion fruit) start at $9.95. Open: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on sea days and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. when in port.
Sugarcane Mojito Bar (Deck 13, midships): This replaces the Star Bar, but shares the space with Moderno Churrascaria, which takes up the vast majority of this room. The bar is just that – a bar with a few stools, surrounded by dining tables. It's hard to imagine what the designers were thinking of here: there's no view or vibe, and it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to perch here other than waiting for their table to come free. The drinks selection is, as you would expect, centered on various interpretations of mojito cocktails from $10.95. Open: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day.
The Bier Garten (Deck 14): Located high above the pool deck, this outdoors bar serves Bavarian fare (wurst, pretzels) accompanied by an international selection of beers. It's a lovely place to perch when it isn't too windy outside.
Norwegian Star Public Rooms
Although this is a large vessel, the public areas are designed in such a way that makes many areas of the ship feel cozy and intimate. Most of the bars, lounges and restaurants are centrally located so you can just go steps from one to the other and have an immediate change in atmosphere.
The core area just slightly forward of the atrium elevators on Decks 6 and 7 is home to the Pearl Martini Bar, Gatsby's Champagne Bar, The Wine Cellar and the Star Club Casino. All of these areas lead nicely to the restaurants surrounding them and to the main showroom at the front of the ship, Stardust Theater.
The casino, which is large and well equipped, with a variety of table games and slots that range from nickel denominations to one machine at $100.
The Java Cafe is located in the middle of the Grand Atrium, serving specialty coffees at a la carte prices, along with cookies and pastries, some at no charge. The Red Lion Pub, a dark, quiet spot featuring entertainment, is located aft on the port side, just before the entrance to the Spinnaker Lounge.
The Galleria Shops, located on Deck 7 forward near the theater, carry everything from logo items and toys to the shipboard equivalent of haute couture.
The teen and children's centers are at the aft of the ship, as is the Barong Spa and Fitness Center.
The Internet Center onboard Norwegian Star is located in a mezzanine perched above the Grand Atrium and is only accessible via two doorways located on Deck 9. It's a hard-to-find space but once there, it is quite nice, separated from the activity but allowing you to witness the goings-on in the atrium lobby. Packages include 100 minutes for $85 or 250 minutes for $129, with a $3.95 start-up charge. Pay by the minute at a rate of $0.95/minute. Wireless Internet is available bow-to-stern. Passengers can rent a laptop from the computer center.
Almost all of the ship is wheelchair-accessible, although some of the locations and entertainment venues seem to require a round-about means of arriving. Elevators have buttons that are reachable by guests in wheelchairs and they "ding" before they arrive so sight-impaired guests can find the one that is opening; deck numbers are listed in Braille.
Smoking is limited to the port side on outside decks, to the casino, and to certain areas of bars and lounges. There is no smoking in the Grand Atrium, in any of the restaurants, or in the Stardust Theater.
Norwegian Star Spa & Fitness
This ship is so long that it only takes three and a half laps on the Deck 13 walking and jogging track to make a mile. The view from here is great, too, looking down on the pool and the gallery that rises above it at the forward end. And when you're done with your jog, you can flop into one of the chaises which are close at hand.
The big pool is flanked on the aft end by a pair of twisty slides, and at each end with hot tubs. If there are too many people in the main pool for you to feel comfortable swimming laps, not to worry: There is an indoor lap pool in the Barong Spa, 40 feet long and 13 feet wide.
The well-equipped fitness center is open 24 hours, and has a large variety of weight training and cardiovascular equipment, all situated at the aft of Deck 12 looking over the stern's wake.
The spa itself, aft on Deck 11, is a Mandara Spa run by Steiner Leisure. It's lovely, with the lap pool, a whirlpool and a special hydrotherapy pool, steam and sauna, plus an aft-facing solarium with comfy wicker chaises and a terrific view. There is a charge to use the lap pool, Jacuzzi and Hydropool. There are several treatment rooms where you can get facials and massages, and a salon for hair and nails. Check the Freestyle Daily for specials.
Elsewhere on the ship there are two golf cages, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes and Ping-Pong.
Norwegian Star For Kids
This is a ship that is designed for families in mind. On Deck 13, aft, is Planet Kids, with activities for for children ages 3 to 12, including a movie cinema and a large jungle gym. Kids are welcomed from 6 months old, and if they aren't yet potty-trained, the parents will be issued a beeper so they can be called when it's time to change a diaper.
Note: No diapers of any kind, "swim" diapers, are allowed in any of the pools.
Norwegian's Splash Academy is currently divided into four age groups: Guppies (6 months to 3 years, with parent), Turtles (3 - 5), Seals (6 - 9) and Dolphins (10 - 12). The teen program, called Entourage, accommodates passengers 13 to 17.
On Deck 12 next to the cafe is the teen-only area, complete with a dance floor, jukebox, air hockey table, several computer stations and a "living room" space for mingling. Just across from this space is the Video Zone, with several high-tech (and loud) video games.
Behind the Barong Fitness Center is the hugely popular Splash Down Kid's Pool, with two rocket-shaped slides, a wading pool and a kid-sized hot tub. This area isn't limited to the children in the Kid's Crew program; it's accessible to all, excluding adults.
Since meal times are flexible with Freestyle dining, and there are so many activities on the ship for everyone, children of all ages can be happily accommodated. Mom and dad can have some alone time, too, with Mom and Dad's Night Out, and group babysitting is offered for a small hourly charge (plan on $6 per child, plus $4 per hour for each additional sibling).