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Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Star

Norwegian Star Review

Insider Take

Overview

One of the mid-size Norwegian ships, Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, free-style dining.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

The intimacy found aboard smaller ships; traditional cruise dining and dress rules; not to be pestered to attend art auctions and buy, buy, buy at the daily sales in the shops.

Decor

While there is just enough neon and gilt to remind you are on a cruise ship, each room on the ship truly has its own flavor (appropriate for a ship with 10 restaurants).

Public Rooms

In keeping with the new NCL philosophy of creating "districts" for dining, drinking and playing, Norwegian Star has an atrium area with different features on each deck.

The fun starts on Deck Six where you find the Stardust Theater. behind it you will find the Star Club Casino with the usual table games and slots that range from penny denominations and up. Close by are two bars, Gatsby's and the Wine Cellar, plus the Art Gallery. Two dining spots are also close; Le Bistro and La Cucina.

Deck seven boasts The Java Cafe, located in the middle of the Grand Atrium, serving specialty coffees at a la carte prices, along with cookies and pastries, The abundant Galleria Shops, which carry everything from logo items and toys to designer clothes, have been relocated to to forward portion of deck seven. A miniature Asian Village comes next withthe Sake Bar, the Sushi Bar, the Gina Restaurant and the Teppenaki Restaurant. In the aft area of deck seven you find shore excursions, reception, the Red Lion Pub (a traditional English Ale House) and the photo gallery. In the aft section is the relocated Spinnaker Lounge, formerly the observation lounge on deck 12 forward. This room now offers nightclub entertainment, with large picture windows looking aft over the wake of the ship.

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 can bring the Internet rate down to as low as .35 cents per minute, with a $3.95 start-up charge. Wireless Internet service is available for those with Wifi equipped laptops, or the center will rent you a laptop or Wifi card. "Hot spots" are located in public spaces in the center of the ship but not in staterooms.

Almost all of the ship is wheelchair-accessible, although some of the locations and entertainment venues seem to require a roundabout 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.

Deck 12 has the Oasis Pool, Topsider's Bar and The Grill. Midships is the MarketPlace Buffet. Aft is the fitness center, juice bar and the kid's Splashdown Pool.

Cuisine

This is a "Free-style" ship which means there are all kinds of cuisine available on board at a variety of prices from free to $20 per person. The Sushi Bar offers all you can eat for $10, while Le Bistro, the signature alternative restaurant of NCL is $15 per person, and worth it.

Restaurants

There are two main dining rooms onboard Norwegian Dawn; Aqua with its traditional tablecloths and chairs, and Versailles which evokes the luxurious ocean liners of yesteryear with its hushed candlelit elegance, and stunning chandeliers.

NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" allows passengers to choose when and with whom to dine in the traditional Versailles Main Dining Room. Beyond the traditional dining rooms, there's Cagney's Steakhouse, on Deck 7 behind the Grand Centrum, which charges $30 per-person and serves steaks and chops and whole lobsters in a 1930s-ish setting. In Le Bistro, NCL's French restaurant (surcharge $25), appetizers include escargot in garlic butter, and a generous array of salads is offered. Order chocolate fondue - chunks of fresh fruit served in a pineapple "boat" with a pot of melted chocolate to dip it in - for dessert. The Thai/Japanese/Chinese Ginza ($12.50) serves gorgeous Asian-fusion dishes. The complex also includes a Teppanyaki room ($25) and sushi bar (a la carte pricing).

The least impressive of Spirit's dining areas, The Market Cafe, often has long lines. It remains open into the evenings for those looking for fast and simple food at no surcharge.

Late-night snacks are available in the casino. The Blue Lagoon serves up burgers, fish and chips, and wok dishes 24 hours a day. Room service is simple, with mostly cold items, exceptions being ramen noodle soup, made-to-order pizza, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Service

The staff, recruited from all over the globe, is generally attentive and pleasant.

Tipping

NCL automatically adds a fixed service charge of $10 to the shipboard accounts of passengers over 13 to make service personnel feel appreciated; children between three and 12 are charged $5. Those under three get off scot-free.

Entertainment

The Stardust Theater , with excellent sightlines, presents elaborate, colorful and sometimes even exciting shows. NCL's Las Vegas-style revues and staged Broadway musicals have been keeping Jean Ann Ryan Productions in chocolate and nylons for years. JAR shows generally feature themes like "Salute to Hollywood" or Broadway, or the Fifties. Whatever they are saluting, the shows offer ongoing medleys of popular songs, lively dance-steps, costumes that look like costumes, unusually tall dancers, and an adagio duet who perform beautiful pas de deux.

The aptly named Cinema & Auditorium offers movies throughout the cruise. The Sports Bar & Grill is almost always packed with sports fans gathered to ogle live ESPN broadcasts on banks of huge TV's. The inviting Topside Lounge offers panoramic views by day and a live band at night. There's music in disco at night as well, of course, with a D.J. spinning popular dance tunes.

Popular on-board activities range from craft lessons (beaded geckos!) to learning a foreign language (Spanish and Tagalog, the language of the Philippines) to games, trivia contests, and bingo. The casino, Star Club, offers a huge array of slots and table games. The art auctions are popular too.

Cabins

There are all of the basic cabin types: insides, portholes, windows, balconies, junior suites and suites, all of which feature more assertive colors than the public areas. The decor is lively. Almost all of the standard rooms on this ship are interconnecting, making them ideal for friends or family groups. Double metal doors (as opposed to the single composite doors in most other ships) minimize sound seepage between adjoining rooms.

Outside cabins have a large picture window. Balcony staterooms have a full-wall sliding glass door, floor to ceiling, side to side, and an exterior balcony enclosure made of glass. Balconies are narrow (40 inches), but wide enough to accommodate a white plastic chair, a short lounger and a little table.

A series of various suites were added in 2010 including the vast 6694-square foot three-bedroom Garden Villa. This may be the largest suite at sea with three separate bedrooms each with king- or queen-size bed, a private luxury bath and CD/DVD library. Two bedrooms also feature a full bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower. Each Villa features a private garden with hot tub, outdoor dining area and terrace. Butler service and concierge available.

Owners Suites are 721 sq. ft. and includes a living room, private balconies, dining room, separate bedroom with king-size bed, mini bar, CD/DVD library and luxury bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower.

Best For People Who Want

Multiple restaurants with open seating dining; Las Vegas-style revues and staged Broadway musicals; 24-hour fitness facilities; full-service spa open late at night; a sports bar with live ESPN broadcasts on multiple screens; terrific facilities for kids and teens.

Onboard Experience

NCL has become synonymous with innovation in the cruise industry, and this is one of the newer NCL ships that proves it. As the the second ship purposely built to offer the "Free-style" concept of dining there are ten different restaurants onboard. Obviously, this is not a cookie-cutter cruise ship. There is a variety of accommodations, with many interconnecting cabins ideal for family cruising. Sixty-five percent of outside cabins have private balconies, while several inside facing cabins overlook the Grand Centrum.

In 2010 the ship received an upgrade to add a complex of Garden Villa Suites similar to the newer NCL ships. The largely occupy decks 11 through 14. Some of the public rooms, such as Spinnaker's Lounge, were replaced.

Open-seating dining is offered in the two main Aqua Restaurant. Don't forget the Market Cafe Lido Buffet or the 24-hour Blue Lagoon Cafe. There's a wrap-around promenade, expansive kids' and teen facilities, a two-deck 1,000-seat show lounge, disco, cinema, casino, Roman Spa & Fitness Center, and observation lounge. The sports deck has a jogging track, golf driving range, and a court that basketball, volleyball and tennis enthusiasts alike can use.

Fitness/Spa

The gym is small but well equipped. The fitness center contains two small swim-against-the-current pools. The two sexes have separate changing rooms, relaxation rooms, and steam and sauna rooms. The women's side is gorgeous and expansive, with a window-lined relaxation room along the port side. There are a couple of televisions and several comfy chairs and sofas. The Roman Spa, operated by Mandara (Steiner of London in disguise), offers treatments ranging from hot stone massages to body-cleansing wraps, albeit in tiny treatment rooms. The mid-range for massages seemed to be around $100, but specials are regularly mentioned in the Freestyle Daily, especially on port days.

The outside promenade on Deck 7 circles the ship and is the ideal place for a walking circuit; the Sports Deck has a running track (pleasantly unobtrusive, as it is set off from sunning areas by a wall; six circuits to a mile), basketball and volleyball courts, and a golf cage. Ping-Pong tables are located at the aft of Deck 11. The ship's Sports at Sea program offers logo items to those who complete their programs.

The one swimming pool on the Lido Deck, big enough for early-morning lap swims, is nicely laid out and attractive, but can feel a bit oversubscribed in mid-afternoon.

Children's Facilities

This ship is a dream come true for juvenile passengers, with approximately one-fifth of Deck 10 allocated to them. The kids' center itself is divided into several age-appropriate rooms. Then there is the video arcade to keep older children and teens distracted for hours, and a teen disco. The little folks' area features climbing tubes and tunnels, a ball crawl, and lots of soft toys, all in bright primary colors. There's an outdoor activity area and a crafts section. Splash Down is like an onboard water park, with a pool surrounded with caves and a mountain, two small slides that require entry through a tunnel, pirate's cannons that shoot water, and even a children's hot tub. An amphitheater has been installed between Decks 10 and 11 at the aft end so parents can sit and watch their kids play while getting hammered on drinks from the Raffles bar. There is no charge for the center, which welcomes children from age 2 to 16.

Attire

The designated dress code is "resort casual," which for ladies means sundresses, blouses, sweaters, slacks and skirts, and for their male companions shirts with collars, such as polo shirts, and khakis or trousers. Dressing up for formal nights is optional, as informal attire is permitted in several areas, but jeans, shorts, T-shirts, swimsuits and beachwear are forbidden in the restaurants after 5:30 p.m. On the one formal night per one-week cruise, most men say to hell with it and put on a dark suit instead of a tux.




Ship Overview

The second in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Dawn-class, Norwegian Star debuted in 2002. Renovated in 2010, the ship received cosmetic upgrades such as new carpeting and upholstery, the addition of 54 suites and staterooms, and enhanced children’s facilities.

Purpose-built for Norwegian's Freestyle cruising concept, Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Star each have more than a dozen dining options, a variety of entertainment selections, and expansive facilities for children and teens.

These ships introduced Norwegian's superdeluxe Garden Villa accommodations, English pubs, and 24-hour dining in the Blue Lagoon Restaurant. Interior spaces are bright and cheerful, especially the atrium area adjacent to the outdoor promenade, which is flooded with sunlight through expansive windows. A second smaller garden atrium with a prominent waterfall leads the way to the spa lobby. Near the children's splash pool is a hot tub for parents' enjoyment.

Norwegian Cruise Line set sail in 1966 with an entirely new concept—regularly scheduled Caribbean cruises from the then-obscure port of Miami. Good food and friendly service combined with value fares established the line as a winner for active adults and families. Innovative and forward-looking, Norwegian has been a cruise-industry leader for decades, and its fleet is as much at home worldwide as in the Caribbean. Several of the line's ships cruise Alaska's Inside Passage, including one of its newest, Norwegian Bliss.

Noted for top-quality entertainment, Norwegian combines action and high-energy activities as well as a variety of dining options in a casual, free-flowing atmosphere. Norwegian's freestyle cruising signaled an end to rigid dining schedules and dress codes. Norwegian ships now offer a host of flexible dining options that allow passengers to eat in the main dining rooms or any of a number of à la carte and specialty restaurants at any time and with whom they please. The ships' accommodations include some of the largest suites at sea, studio cabins for solo travelers, and a private ship-within-a-ship complex called The Haven, a more luxurious area with personalized service.

From a distance, most cruise ships look so similar that it's often difficult to tell them apart, but Norwegian's largest, modern ships stand out with their distinctive use of hull art. Each new ship is distinguished by murals extending from bow to midship.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Showrooms have full proscenium stages for the lavish shows
  • You can look forward to performances by the improvisational company Second City
  • Three-bedroom Garden Villas are among the largest suites at sea, with private whirlpools and outdoor patios

Cons

  • Freestyle dining doesn't mean you get to eat precisely when you want
  • Overcrowding can be a problem when the ships are fully booked
  • There is a charge for the most popular restaurants
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,065
  • Entered Service 2002
  • Gross Tons 91,740
  • Length 965 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,174
  • Passenger Capacity 2,348 (2,683 max)
  • Width 105 feet

By Dave_CR

  • New

Apr 5, 2015

Cabo San Lucas

This was easily the worst cruise I've been on. Compared to Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, this cruise line is a joke. Mediocre food, terrible comedians, and quite possibly the worst disc jockey (known as DJ Vibe) this side of Jupiter's moons. It was my wife's first cruise, and I hyped it up as a week of fun, food, and dancing. It turned out to be a week where we couldn't wait to get off the ship. I wish I were kidding. Food: Bland, tasteless,

lukewarm, uninspired, boring. One exception: the crepes were yummy. That's about it. Seriously. That was it. Fine except for the whiny kid in the next stateroom who started his whine routine at about 6:30a every morning. I kid you not. There were plenty of things to choose from. Highlights included the onboard dancers and dance shows. One show in particular was quite impressive (Paradis). The two comedians, on the other hand, almost made me laugh once. Almost. The mock game shows were mildly amusing, but the late night Deck Party one night was dead on arrival. As for the night club, the cover band (Exotique) out of Atlanta was quite good, but when their set was done, we all had to suffer through night after night of DJ Vibe. What a travesty this guy was. Apparently DJ Vibe ascribed to the mantra, "All Pit Bull all of the time!" On no night did he not play fewer than 6 Pit Bull songs, even on theme nights. That's 40 minutes of Pit Bull nightly! How could he submit that kind of torture to vacationers? This alleged DJ did not play ANY hip hop, very little 70s (even on 70s theme night), no 80s, no 90s, very little 00's or '10s. What did he play? He seemed to like Bruno Mars, Neo and Pit Bull, and Pit Bull. Oh, and quite a bit of Latin tunes. Every. F-ing. Night. Requests were completely ignored. I love to dance, and have really had a lot of fun dancing on other cruise ships, but every night on this cruise I walked away angry and incredulous. And I was by no means the only one who felt this way. I complained so loudly that other passengers heard me and concurred. One theory I had was that this guy was purposely trying to clear the dance floor with undanceable crap each night so he could get off work early. The emptiness of the dance floor (and the club) each night testified that I may have been right. The lows definitely outweighed the small number of highs. Food, music, and fun are what cruises are supposed to be about. This ship failed in all three. My wife hated it. I'm not sure I will be able to convince her to go on another cruise in the future thanks to this disaster. I imagine the Titanic was more fun. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being best, I give this cruise a 2.5.

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  • New

Jan 8, 2015

Mexico

In the past, we have done Princess Cruises and this was our first time doing Norwegian. It was very disappointing compared to Princess. The food was subpar and very basic. The service was moderate and most staff were not friendly and did what they could to avoid passengers. The ship itself is very old and constantly felt very crowded. There was a lot of congestion around the elevators and stairs throughout the week, almost all the time. The wait to

eat at most of the restaurants was always an issue. The entertainment was okay, but considerably lower than what we've seen in past cruises. This was the first time out of 7 cruises that we looked forward to getting off the ship! Subpar food. Stateroom was good, no issues. Didn't participate much in the activities on the ship. Excursions were great.

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By Len_CR

  • New

Dec 27, 2014

Panama Canal

Started off in LA and the inprocessing was a complete disaster. The personnel handling the inprocessing were completely inept. Must have been all trainees, not all stations were manned. They tout being a Latitude member but in this case we were penalized for being in the Latitude line. Priority was given to the first time people. Was so bad the ship was an hour and a half late leaving port. I will forgive this once occurance but Norwegian needs

to fix this NOW! Adequate food, some people like to pig out on cruises but all in all the food was good. Versailles resturant was well staffed and again food was good. We were fortunate to have an outstanding Cabin Steward who kept us supplied with ice,clean towels and always asked "is there anything I can do for you". He made our trip a pleasure! Anything you might want was available as far as entertainment goes, we wanted a relaxing trip with no hassle and that is what we had on board! Some of the ports in Mexico were pretty filthy and had no appeal. Cabo was great as was Puerto Vallarta

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  • New

Sep 6, 2014

Transatlantic

The ship was older, but nice. The specialty restaurants were very good. There were many food options. The entertainment was good.... especially in the bars and atrium. The wait staff, art staff and housekeeping were excellent. This was my seventh cruise, but my first NCL cruise and will be my last NCL cruise, not because of the cruise itself but because of "guest services". If you want the gory details...keep reading. As I said, this was

my first cruise on NCL. I was joining four other people on this trip, so I did not choose NCL. This was their first cruise on NCL as well. It did not bode well when in March I was unable to get through to NCL without waiting on hold for less than 20 minutes. I tried the "chat" option on their website at least three times and was never connected. I tried the "call me back" option twice and no one ever called me. As a last resort I wrote them a snail mail letter. The result of that letter was a message on my answering machine from a woman an NCL. She left me her email address and told me to email her. I emailed her and she never answered my email. I wrote another snail mail letter to corporate. This time a woman from NCL left her phone number on my answering machine. I called her and told her I was shocked that the response to my letter was a woman that ignored my email, she asked if I had had my question answered, I told her I had and that was the end of the conversation. Finally the day of my cruise arrived. It had been a year since I booked the cruise. I love cruise vacations! Boarding the ship was very easy and very quick. No long lines. My cabin was nice, the cabin attendant was terrific, there were lots of food options, the bar staff, casino staff and dining room staff were all great.... life was good. I am still amazed that everyone knew our names. How do they do that? They all worked so hard to make our trip enjoyable and I for one appreciated it. There were some very bright spots on the cruise. The Park West Art staff was amazing. They were all friendly, informative and helpful. I went to all the art auctions and bought six items because of the art staff. Naomi, Stewart, Alex and Ashlee were always smiling and by the end of the cruise they were like old friends. The music in Gatsby's was terrific. In the early evening there was one of two duos. Both were great. After dinner there was Tonya. She played sing-along tunes and was great fun. The cruise entertainment staff was friendly and always smiling. About half way through the cruise I noticed that the cabin prices on my second cruise (Baltic capitals) had dropped. I was changing cabins for that cruise and it was booked as a completely different cruise. I went to "guest services" and told them I wanted to upgrade my cabin on the next cruise from ocean view to balcony. I wanted to pay to upgrade my cabin. (name removed), a "guest services" assistant manager, told me all he could do was put in a request to upgrade the cabin and when we got to Copenhagen (the start of the second cruise) they would see if there was a balcony available. I told him I wanted to pay to upgrade my cabin. He said all he could do was put in a request and wait until we got to Copenhagen. I told him I knew NCL (I booked directly through them) could upgrade my cabin for me and asked if he could call NCL for me. He said he couldn't, but I could call them from my cabin. I told him calls from my cabin were ~$5/min so I didn't want to call from my cabin.... especially with the wait times I'd experienced. He told me to email them. I told him each time I emailed them I never received a response. He shrugged and said he'd put in my request to upgrade my cabin if a balcony was available once we arrived in Copenhagen. The next day I checked cabin rates on the next cruise and the cabin prices had dropped again. I went back to "guest services" hoping to speak to someone other than (name removed), but when my turn came I was again in front of (name removed). We had the same conversation.... I wanted to upgrade to a balcony and he told me I couldn't. I told him I could not believe he couldn't contact NCL and get my reservation changed. He went into a back room and came back a second later to tell me his manager told him there was nothing they could do. If I wanted to call from my cabin I could. I left literally shaking my head. It was unbelievable. I knew NCL was doing their best to fill all cabins in the days before the cruise and the chances were slim there would be a balcony available when we arrived in Copenhagen. The next day I checked cabin rates on the next cruise and the balcony cabins were now the price I paid for my ocean view cabin. I went back to "guest services" and with no one else in line chose to speak to someone other than (name removed). I told this person I wanted to change my reservation on the next cruise but I needed to call NCL. She asked me if I had the phone number. I told her I did and she put me on the phone with NCL and in about 15 minutes I had my reservation changed. I immediately filled out a comment card detailing how (name removed) had refused to help me, changing the "vacation hero" on the card to "vacation zero". A day or two later I received a call from "guest services" saying they had my new travel documents and they wanted to know if they could bring them to my cabin. (name removed) showed up at my cabin and apologized saying he misunderstood what I was asking. I told him he didn't misunderstand, I explained twice, two days in a row, exactly what I wanted and he simply refused to help me. He agreed and then said that was company policy. I told him I didn't believe that because the very next person I spoke to placed a call to NCL for me. I told him I was very angry. He asked if there was anything he could do to make my cruise better, I said "no". He offered to buy me dinner and I refused. Later there were chocolate covered strawberries in my cabin. So that is my "guest services" story, but as I said I was traveling with four other people, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in one cabin and two of their friends in another cabin.. I boarded the cruise in Miami, the other four boarded in Los Angeles. Their trip was three consecutive cruises. My sister-in-law made her own trip to "guest services" to see about a possible shipboard credit since prices had dropped far below what they had paid. She drew another "guest services" assistant manager, (name removed)). He told her she would have to call NCL from her cabin. When she balked at paying ~$5/min to call them he told her she should be happy to pay for the call since she was trying to get a credit. And then there was the last of our group. They too had their "guest services" story. They had an inside cabin with sewage backing up in it. One night they had plumbers in their cabin at 3am working on the situation. They were told the problem was a result of a guest flushing a washcloth - clearly not NCLs fault. The problem persisted for days and days and days. They were told the ship was full and there was nowhere else to put them. When they complained again after our stop in the Azores they were told someone had gotten off and they could temporarily stay in the now vacant cabin...but they would have to go back to their cabin when we reached Dover. They were happy to have a clean cabin and a good night's sleep. When we arrived in Dover their cabin still wreaked so they refused to move back into it. "Guest Services" put up a fight, but they stood their ground and refused to go back. "Guest Services" reluctantly moved them to an open balcony cabin and they were told they could stay there until the end of their last cruise, May 28th. Satisfied that they had a clean cabin they went to their new cabin and slept. The next day they went to "guest services" to get their permanent key and were told by (name removed) that he had been checking their old cabin every hour and that the problem was now fixed, so they were to go back into their original cabin. They told him that they were told they could stay in the new (clean) cabin until the 28th. The person that told them they could remain In the new cabin confirmed that he had told them just that. (name removed) said the other person was mistaken....they were going back to their original cabin. Dismayed they went to their old cabin to check on its condition and it still wreaked of backing up sewage. They told (name removed) they would not return to that cabin and Getting nowhere with him, they went to the ship's nurse as they were sure the cabin was not fit to occupy. The nurse came, swabbed the place and said the cultures would take 24 hours. (name removed) said they could stay one more day in the new cabin. The next day they got a call saying they could remain in the new cabin until the 28th.....no explanation. Any guess as to what the cultures showed? There were no apologies and by then one of them was sick either from something the culture found, exhaustion, a bug, stress or some combination. She was sick enough to have to see the ship's nurse and was in bed for three days. Their "guest services" story beats mine. I played bingo run by the assistant cruise director every day. He'd ask how things were and one day I told him our three "guest services" stories. The next day he told me that(name removed), the head of "guest services" was going to call me. I never heard from her, but I did see her going table to table in Cagney's Steak House. She spent considerable time at other tables chatting with the guests. When she got to our table she asked how our dinner was and scooted by. I have to wonder if she checked cabin numbers and names before doing her walk about. I received a note from her thanking us for our "kind words" and more chocolate covered strawberries. So those are my "guest services" stories. My last "service" related story is about "shore excursions". We booked three tours through NCL: Leed's Castle in Dover; Pushkin & the Hermitage; and Imperial St. Petersburg. Leed's Castle was nice. The excursion consisted of a bus ride to and from the castle and entrance into the castle. There was no tour.... you were on your own...which was fine. We ended up with 2 hours to see the castle. It would have been nice to have an extra hour or two. Two hours was just enough to see the inside of the castle and the gift shop. It did not leave enough time to see the grounds too. Pushkin & the Hermitage was wonderful. Then there was Imperial St. Petersburg. Included In the description of the tour was a hydrofoil across the Gulf of Finland from Peterhof back to the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. We did see that the hydrofoil was dependent on the weather. We may have chosen this tour anyway, but when we saw the hydrofoil, that decided it. We would take a gamble on the weather. The day we did the tour the weather was perfect. It was sunny, calm, and 80 degrees all day. As we were entering the palace in Peterhof, another person in our group asked about the hydrofoil.... they too were excited about the trip across the gulf. Our guide then informed us that there would be no hydrofoil because they don't offer that until June. A number of people grumbled that the hydrofoil was the reason they picked that particular tour and the weather was perfect. No one was very happy that they were sold something that did not exist, at least not in May. Then, to add insult to injury, the trip back to St. Petersburg took almost an hour and a half due to traffic and the bus getting stuck on a narrow street. That ate up our time at the Peter and Paul Fortress. We had less than a half hour to rush through the Cathedral. The hydrofoil would have saved us approximately an hour. The day after the tour I went to the shore excursions office and told them what happened. They said they could cancel the hydrofoil at any time. I explained that it was not canceled, it was never a possibility...it was not planned. He said he would check with his manager. I received a message on my phone saying that they had the right to cancel the hydrofoil at any time for any reason. I returned to the shore excursions office and again tried to explain that we were promised something they had no intention of doing and that it screwed up the tour of the fortress. She said they could cancel at any time and therefore there would be no compensation of any type for the inconvenience. Shore exclusions either did not grasp or chose not to acknowledge the difference between "canceling" part of a tour and offering something that had no chance of happening. By their definition they could advertise lunch with the Queen of England as part of an excursion and then just tell you it was canceled. They misrepresented the tour and had no intention of even trying to make it right. We were duped. A few last things...trivia in the Spinnaker Lounge was fun but when it was held in the Red Lion Pub it was chaos. Not enough seats so people were standing everywhere. Between the crowd and the people at the bar talking and enjoying themselves you couldn't hear the questions, which resulted in people yelling that they didn't hear the questions making it louder and more chaotic. I gave up on trivia held there. I played bingo everyday and was disappointed to find out that it wasn't "snowball” bingo. On other cruise lines I've traveled on, the last bingo game of the cruise was for the jackpot accumulated throughout the cruise. Not so on NCL, on NCL no one wins the jackpot...I say that because a member of the cruise director's staff that ran the bingo games said they'd never known anyone to win the jackpot. Despite the problems we had with the "guest services" and excursion staff, we had a great trip.

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  • New

May 4, 2014

Mexico

We just got back from our 7 day cruise on the NCL Star. We had a wonderful time with friends and family – we were a large group. We had so much fun it was the best cruise ever but the worst ship ever. However, my review will focus on the ship and its crew .This ship was launched in 2001, the Star has seen better days it is time for this ship to retire. My husband and I sailed on the STAR in 2005 so things have gone down hill.

Customer Service Failed: Each passenger is automatically billed $12 per day, which supports an incentive program for the service staff. This program appears to have failed. The staff does not provide excellent customer service. I had services in the spa and the entire time I was pushed to buy the ships products. Not very relaxing and I was billed an 18% gratuity for the pleasure. For our drinks we, paid a 15% gratuity to wait for servers to acknowledge us. I don’t like to tip for bad service. The staff needs extensive training in customer service. There appears to be Low Morale in the workplace! There were several small restaurants that you had to pay extra for. They did have an Ultimate Dining Package for an extra 119.00 per person dine in a specialty restaurant every night of your cruise. We did not buy the package, but we did go to the steak house and it was very good. The Freestyle Cruising leaves a lot to be desired. We like to know we have a table assigned to us. We were able to call to make a reservation in the two main dining rooms, Aqua, and Versailles. The only time available was for after 8:00 pm. We could not get the time we wanted. I was not going to stand in line for 30 minutes to wait for a table at an early time. The Garden café, the ship's buffet/cafeteria restaurant, serves the usual breakfast and lunch and dinners. The food did not look very appetizing. The furniture in the buffet reminded me of a school cafeteria. After the first few days we went to the Versailles dining room where the food was much better. No one in our party was really thrilled with the food overall. The Steak House was very good. Our stateroom was bad. I swear it was haunted. We had an inside cabin it was right next to the staff areas and maintenance. This created a lot of noise. I recommend staying away from those rooms. We could hear lots of banging and clanging at night. The last night of the cruse it sounded like they were throwing the luggage down the stairs. The drawers would slide out when the seas were a bit rough. Always save your money and book tours on the pier.

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