We’d booked this cruise in March of 2010, a full 18 months out. Wanting an aft cabin, we knew we had to move quickly (hey, we could always cancel if we changed our minds!). I left a message for my PCC telling him I wanted an aft balcony. By the time he called me back, we told him we wanted an aft suite. What can I say? We’re weak. LOL Actually we decided that a 15-day cruise screamed for a suite, and the Star has the wrap-around balconies on decks 8 and 9. Perfect for a Panama Canal cruise. Our first cabin was deck 8 on the port side. After the renovation to the Star and reading reports of the noise from the newly moved Spinnakers, I watched the cabins and was able to move to deck 9 on the starboard. Come final payment time, our cabin on deck 9 on the port side opened up and we moved a final time to the cabin I wanted to begin with. It’s nice when persistence pays off!
I won’t spend a ton of time on the pre-cruise activities, but want to mention that the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro, about a mile and a half from the Port of Los Angeles, can be booked through Priceline for $65. The hotel was perfectly fine and clean and runs a free shuttle to the port. Wanting to avoid the rush (which was turned out to be non-existent at 10:00 am) DH and I hooked up with another Cruise Critic on our roll call to rent a cab. The first car that showed up was a Toyota Prius. We looked at the three of us and at our six pieces of luggage (plus carry-ons) and went, “Nah”. The Prius drove off and we requested a van. 30 minutes pass with no van so we throw in the towel and ask for 2 cars. Another Prius arrives and don’t you know we all managed to fit in that thing? Three of us squished in the back and luggage piled in the trunk and front seat. I wouldn’t recommend it for a long ride, but for 5 minutes it was fine, especially when the windows were rolled down for elbowroom. Total cost for the three of us? $7.50. Good deal.
The delay at the hotel rendered our timing perfect. We spent a couple of minutes watching Princess passengers get into our line by mistake, then the doors to the terminal opened, and we were able to begin the boarding process.
We moved quickly through security, but when we went to check in we were turned away from the area clearly marked “VIP/Suite” to the Latitudes line. If you don’t get the answer you want the first time, ask someone else. We asked someone who looked a little more authoritative where we should go and he directed us to the VIP line. Ha! We checked in, met the concierge Patrick, and before I had time to think about being bored; we were being escorted onto the ship. I glanced at my watch and saw it was 11:39. Awesome!
We dashed to deck nine, through the closed doors (we aren’t rookies) to drop off our carry-on bags. Clarizia, our room steward, rushed up to us, assuring us that she’d prioritized our room and it was ready for us. Clarizia would turn out to be one of the best room stewards we ever had. Super efficient (she could make-up the cabin faster than anyone I’ve ever experienced) and very friendly, she made our 15 days wonderful.
Lunch would be the first of many at Cagney’s. I had my beloved asparagus salad and a shrimp and scallop dish with risotto that I found quite tasty. DH had the fettuccini and thought it delicious.
Off to the Bier Garten for the first of many sail aways. The Star would sail about an hour past her scheduled time as she needed extra provisioning due to the length of the cruise. No worries. The sun was shining and the beer was flowing and it was the first day of our cruise!
Back at the cabin getting ready for dinner, Lucky, our butler, stopped by to introduce himself. All we asked for at that point was some milk so we could make cappuccinos later. He takes a page out of Clarizia’s book for swiftness. I swear a minute didn’t pass and he was back with a carton of milk.
Dinner was at Cagney’s as well. I enjoyed the lobster bisque as always. It’s not the traditional bisque that you’d get in New England, but is very good.
Cagney’s was a bit deserted this first night. In fact we could walk in any specialty restaurant the entire cruise. I chalk it up in part due to the length of the cruise (figuring people were spreading out the budget), and also the older demographic. A line for Versailles began forming every night by 4:30, so you get the idea.
After dinner we wandered off to the casino where DH tripled his money playing craps. While we were at the casino I tried to order a bucket of beer. I was told we couldn’t buy them there anymore. I figured this was limited to the casino and shrugged it off. When DH was done gambling for the night we stopped by Spinnakers to purchase our bucket and were told we couldn’t.
Now I admit we don’t really like change, but we really don’t like change that has a negative impact on the passenger. We were told that it was now policy that you could only by buckets of beer at outdoor bars. WTH? This was confirmed by the Beverage Manager Gianina Butiseaca in a rather blunt manner. We asked her what outdoor bar was open at that time and she looked at her watch and said, “None”. Well we went off on her at that point (not proud of that at all) but really it was her demeanor that set us off more than the situation. We didn’t really want 6 beers at this point, just wanted to stock the fridge. But most managers I’ve dealt with would have given us the 6 beers as the policy is new and just told us to know what to do in the future. I think the situation was poorly handled on all sides.
Well I put that all out of my head when we turned in for the evening. All-in-all, it was a wonderful first day. As I snuggled down into my comfy bed I looked forward to the first of many wonderful sleeps at sea.
Tomorrow the meet and greet and our first sea day in two cruises!
NCL Majesty 05/02, NCL Majesty 06/03, NCL Majesty 06/05 ,NCL Majesty 06/06, NCL Spirit 04/07, NCL Majesty 06/07, NCL Majesty 10/07, NCL Gem 01/08 (Mmm.. New Ship Smell), NCL Dream 5/08, NCL Dream 6/08, NCL Dawn 10/08, NCL Gem 01/09 (best cruise yet! ), NCL Pearl Alaska 6/09 (WOW!),NCL Spirit 09/09 , NCL Gem 1/10, NCL Epic 6/10...Most Excellent!, Mahalo Pride of America 4/11, NCL Star Panama Canal 10/11, NCL Spirit 2/12, NCL Sky 5/12, NCL Epic Med 10/12, Breakaway One Night from Rotterdam 4/13, Breakaway TA 4/13, NCL Star Norway & Faroe Islands 9/13, NCL Gem Eastern Caribbean 1/14, NCL Jewel...GV to Alaska! 6/14, NCL Dawn Bermuda 10/14, NCL Pearl 3/15 - Awesome Southern Caribbean Cruise!, 10/15 Escape One-Nighter, 10/15 Escape Inaugural Crossing, Celebrity Silhouette Scandinavia and Russia, 5/16, NCL Dawn Fabulous Repo 10/16, NCL Jade British Isles 05/17
256 days and counting...
Cruise on deck!
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