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  #1  
Old January 14th, 2012, 11:50 AM
Ex-Calgarian's Avatar
Ex-Calgarian Ex-Calgarian is offline
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Default Norwegian Pearl vs. Star / Family vs. Aft-facing Mini Suite

Looking at a Panama Canal cruise and both the Pearl and Star have itineraries. I have looked at Norwegian's site to get some general information about the two ships but was hopng to get some input from cruisers that might have sailed on both. Given that it is a 14-day itinerary wanted to make sure there was enough variety on the ship to keep it interesting.

Also, the Aft-facing Mini Suite (Pearl) and the Family Suites (Star) are available for the same price. On a sq. ft. basis, the Family Suite is larger but was wondering if the Aft had other advantages, especially given the itinerary.

Thanks for sharing your experiences!
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  #2  
Old January 14th, 2012, 07:22 PM
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moonjelly moonjelly is offline
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Hi Ex-Calgarian,
I have been on both ships 3 times, the Star twice before her recent remodel and once after.

I would heartily recommend the Pearl over the Star for this itinerary. They have replaced the Star's forward panoramic viewing lounge with more suites, so there is no longer that beautiful, climate controlled place to commune with the ocean and the sights while taking shelter from the elements. It will get very hot over the hours of the canal transit, so it would be nice to have the option of relaxing in a great veiwing lounge while you pass through. Also, the decreased public space will mean more passengers vying for the remaining viewing areas.

Another disadvantage to the Star that I experienced was that it still had the "one-line" cafeteria model for their buffet, as opposed to the "action stations" where you can move quickly from section to section that are on the newer ships. It was very frustrating for both those who like to grab it and go and those who like to take their time choosing, reading descriptions, etc, because one group has to go at a crawl when they are quicker and the other has to suffer being rushed. Long lines are something I like to avoid on vacation. The Star did have an awesome sandwich section in the lower traffic area of the buffet, though! maybe they have added the new format recently and it would be better now.

When I sailed them, both ships had exceptional crews, entertainment, meal options and fellow passengers. I never wanted for something to do and actually was disappointed that there were so many things going that I had to miss out on some to partake in others.

As to the difference in the accommodations, I would prefer the aft because you can see off in the distance to both sides, as opposed to just one side on the family suites. Then again, I LOVE the wake view, so I might not be impartial enough in that comparison!

Are you traveling with kids? Does comparison of nightlife hold any value for you? I can discuss further if these features are of interest.

Last edited by moonjelly; January 14th, 2012 at 07:33 PM.
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  #3  
Old January 14th, 2012, 10:04 PM
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mmeoww mmeoww is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonjelly View Post
Hi Ex-Calgarian,
I have been on both ships 3 times, the Star twice before her recent remodel and once after.

I would heartily recommend the Pearl over the Star for this itinerary. They have replaced the Star's forward panoramic viewing lounge with more suites, so there is no longer that beautiful, climate controlled place to commune with the ocean and the sights while taking shelter from the elements. It will get very hot over the hours of the canal transit, so it would be nice to have the option of relaxing in a great veiwing lounge while you pass through. Also, the decreased public space will mean more passengers vying for the remaining viewing areas.

Another disadvantage to the Star that I experienced was that it still had the "one-line" cafeteria model for their buffet, as opposed to the "action stations" where you can move quickly from section to section that are on the newer ships. It was very frustrating for both those who like to grab it and go and those who like to take their time choosing, reading descriptions, etc, because one group has to go at a crawl when they are quicker and the other has to suffer being rushed. Long lines are something I like to avoid on vacation. The Star did have an awesome sandwich section in the lower traffic area of the buffet, though! maybe they have added the new format recently and it would be better now.

When I sailed them, both ships had exceptional crews, entertainment, meal options and fellow passengers. I never wanted for something to do and actually was disappointed that there were so many things going that I had to miss out on some to partake in others.

As to the difference in the accommodations, I would prefer the aft because you can see off in the distance to both sides, as opposed to just one side on the family suites. Then again, I LOVE the wake view, so I might not be impartial enough in that comparison!

Are you traveling with kids? Does comparison of nightlife hold any value for you? I can discuss further if these features are of interest.

I have to add my agreement to this one - we love the Star and are sailing her again soon, but we did the Panama Canal on her and not having the Spinnaker was a big loss. We took a cruise on the Pearl out of Vancouver B.C. and sitting in the Spinnaker as we sailed through the straight watching the Orcas jumping while we were cozy inside was one of the best things! The Pearl also has a nicer spa area with the heated tile loungers, although of course we enjoyed the pool in the spa on the Star as well. I had a fabulous time on both cruises and both ships but were I to do the Panama Canal again I'd try for the Pearl.

It's a FABULOUS trip, have a great time!
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Norwegian Star, Panama Canal, December 2010
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  #4  
Old January 14th, 2012, 10:19 PM
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Fishbait17 Fishbait17 is offline
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Not sure how familiar you are with NCL so - Exactly which categories are you comparing? If, on the Star, you are looking at a "true suite" starting with the designator "S" (as opposed to a mini suite starting with the designator "M"), the you might want to look into NCL's suite benefits (which are not available in M categories, only S categories). There is a link on the website under "Ships" , then choose a ship, then look under cabins for the "Suites and Villas" website. I would post a link but am on an iPad which makes it very hard to post links! . The suite benefits on NCL are great and should be taken into consideration when comparing cabins.

I have never been on the Star, so can't really compare the ships, but hopefully someone can give you better info on the suite you are looking at - I know that there are several "new suites" on the Star that are located where the old "Spinnaker Lounge" was, so perhaps the one you are looking at would have the spectacular view that the lounge used to have, and all to yourselves!

Robin


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Last edited by Fishbait17; January 14th, 2012 at 10:20 PM.
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  #5  
Old January 15th, 2012, 09:49 AM
kjquilts kjquilts is offline
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Haven't done Panama Canal but have been on both Star and Pearl several times.

Think the SJ Star family suite would be great choice. We were in 12018 for the fall Pacific Coastal and loved the suite and the wall of windows. You would be staying in the old Spinnaker lounge location that is much missed by many. If you need a balcony there are four SG family suites with balconies. We have one booked for 2013, Caribbean out of New Orleans.

I agree the buffet is better arranged on the Pearl and Pearl has the Great Outdoors but we ate in the buffet a few times with no problems. With family
Suite comes access to Cagneys for breakfast and lunch, one of our favorite suite perks. This would not be available with mini-suite because it is not full suite. Star family suite is larger and comes with wonderful bathroom, 2 sinks, tub and very nice separate shower.
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