Review/Report - Norwegian Star Oct 8- Oct 15

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#1
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
My wife and I are in our 40s and live in Sammamish, WA which is about 20 miles east of Seattle. We have 3 kids in college (the youngest started at UW this fall), two dogs, a cat, two chinchillas, and a hedgehog. We are not really avid cruisers (although that might change after this trip)…in fact our last cruise was in 2011 (when I created this account). But ever since Game of Thrones was released on HBO it has been her dream to visit Dubrovnik. So about 9 months ago tired of waiting for me to book something and while I was on a business trip she walked into an Expedia Cruise shop and plunked down a deposit on a 7 day NCL Mediterranean Cruise set to sail Oct 8th 2017. I was left to pretty much make the rest of the arrangements. One of my wife’s best friends essentially did the same thing once she learned of our itinerary.

I can't believe how quickly our departure date arrived.




On Oct 3rd we left SEA for FCO to spend a few days ahead of the cruise exploring Rome (which was fantastic) before taking atrain the night before departure to Venice. Rome was everything I had hoped it would be but bigger…almost overwhelming. We had an Airbnb right off of Campo De Fiori which was a perfectly central location. We walked to all of the centralRome sites (the Coliseum was the furthest and about 1.5kms away). I would definitely recommend that location for anyone visiting. Supposedly we could have also walked to Vatican City but that day we were a little pressed for time and took a cab. Our specific Airbnb was outstanding (if anyone is interested inits name PM me).






We arrived at the port of Venice about 11:15. We stayed atthe Hilton Garden Inn across the bridge which we thought would work well because of the bus stop next to the hotel…except that every bus into Venice was packed completely full and we had two very large suitcases so we ended uphaving to hire a taxi for about 30 euros to take us across (but he was able to take us all the way to the port so not a bad deal actually). As first time NCL cruisers we had absolutely no status (which pains me as a Marriott Plat, SPGPlat, Hilton Gold, Delta Diamond, United Million Miler, and Alaska Gold 75) butwere given boarding number 6 (we were told later the boarding numbers went upto 40). We were on the boat by 12:30.

When we booked we were given two premium options. Originallywe took drinks and internet but my boss said he would let me expense internetso we switched to UDP and UBP. Once on the boat we immediately took advantageof UBP. My wife and I have been on a very low carb diet for about 6 months(OK…her more than me but I haven’t had a beer in all that time) so once onboard I set out to find the perfect no carb drink that could fit within theconfines of the UBP. It ended up being Patron Silver, Cointreau, and unsweet lime juice shaken and poured martini style (about half way through the cruise the no carb diet kind of went out the window but more on that later). We spent most of the next several hours repeatedly trying to figure out if this indeed was the perfect low carb drink (while the couple with whom we were travelling laboriously tried to figure out what their favorite drink was). At some point we went to the 12th deck to watch the sail away from Venice.





That evening we had Dinner at Cagneys which I recall as good but can’t remember what I ordered. Afterwards we headed to 5 O’clock somewhere for more drinks and Karaoke…except that this was Sunday and I am a huge Seahawks fan. So while the other three were crooning away I was desperately trying to figure out a way legal or otherwise to watch the Hawks/Rams in LA via the ship’s internet (eventually via two VPN’s and subscribing to the NFL Europe package later I mostly got to watch the game). At some point the group moved to Spinnaker to play sing it if you know it (?)…I was still battling internet and NFL blackout policies. In the end we all drank at least one toke over the line and headed back to our cabins in anticipationof Dubrovnik. The Seahawks won and I was able to see the game clinching fumble recovery.


Things we did right on Day 1.
Arriving to the port early made embarkation a snap. We heardhorror stories of people waiting for 3+ hours.
Patron Silver, Cointreau, and Lime Juice (the first 5 or 6 times).
I had two EU and a UK plug converter in my travel bag which meant we had 4 outlets we could use in our cabin.
Cagneys (I think).
Cab from our original destination was only 10 Euros more thanthe flat rate from the bus station to the port.
We had 10186 which is an aftish balcony which I thought was perfect.



Things we got wrong.
Patron Silver, Cointreau and Lime Juice number 7+
We waited until day 2 to try the wings at O’Sheehan’s


Day 2: Slightly hung over in Dubrovnik...
#2
19,665 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Nice backdrop of the Colloseum! Did you go inside? The last time we were there, there was construction going on.
Will be following your review and hope to see more of your nice photos!


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#3
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by easyboy
Nice backdrop of the Colloseum! Did you go inside? The last time we were there, there was construction going on.
Will be following your review and hope to see more of your nice photos!


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We did go inside but didn't take the tour that lets you walk around the lower arena (I wish we would have in retrospect).

#4
19,665 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Originally posted by fastpitchdad
We did go inside but didn't take the tour that lets you walk around the lower arena (I wish we would have in retrospect).
Wow! That was what we were disappointed not to see. Hope to be able to do it the next time.
Thanks for sharing.



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#5
85 Posts
Joined Feb 2017
Awesome start!
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Celebrity Amerikanis 1993
Carnival 1995 (?)
Norwegian Star 2011
Norwegian Getaway December 2017
#6
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Day 2: Dubrovnik

Day 2. Shockingly we woke up late but the ship wasn’t scheduled to arrive in Dubrovnik until 1PM…although it arrive a bit early.



We were in a cab and headed to the city by 1PM (a cab is much cheaper than the bus if you have a party of more than 2…and really only break even with the cruise bus if you have 2). As mentioned in my original post we are big game of thrones fans and this stop was the reason we chose this cruise. It was pretty cool walking up to the city gates and seeing Black Water Bay on the right.



We had scheduled a GoT tour but it didn’t start until 2:30 so we went to explore the town and find something to eat. We spent 4 days in Rome and another in Venice prior to the cruise (and acouple of more in Venice and Rome after the cruise) and far and away the best Pizza we had was in Dubrovnik (I had ordered a ham and cheese salad which was meh...but our travel mates each ordered a pizza and I pilfered some of each). The crust was perfect, the cheese was perfect, the toppings were perfect, the sauce was perfect…it was seriously some of the best pizza I have ever had. Although because we were still on the low carb diet at this point I only really ate the meat and cheese (and snuck in a little crust). I guess it was the Italian influence from when they ruled the city.


The GoT tour guide was amazing. She was a local who is partof the production team when GoT films in Dubrovnik so she was able to provide city history, game of thrones location highlights, and anecdotes of during filming. Her name was Iva and I can't reccomend her enough. We heard some of the other tours later in the day and they were not nearly as good. The couple with whom we were travelling hadn't seen a single episode and they also gave it rave reviews.











Once the tour was finished we explored a little more (my wife bought a magnet...she buys a magnet every where we go) and thenheaded back to the boat. Since Cruise time wasn’t until 8PM we hadn’t made dinner plans so my wife and I headed to O’Sheehans and it was at this point that we discovered their wings. Plain wings with Ranch as a side…I think this is the best dish served on the entire ship. We ate two orders each in this sitting and I think I had them at least 15 times during the week.


After eating we set off to find an open hot tub. One of the NCL staff suggested we go to the hot tub at the front of the ship near the bier garden. She was right...that ended up being our favorite spot on the boat. It was relatively quiet, close to a bar, and we met some great people there during the week. Since we had over done it the previous night we didn’t drink as much at all this evening…which was a good thing since day 3 was Kotor and a long up hill hike...
#7
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Day 3. Rick Steves says Kotor is like a small Dubrovnik…except that it is more quaint and has a massive fort carved into the mountain that just begs to be climbed. I think this stop was the highlight of the trip.


We immediately headed for the entrance to the fort (paid our 8(?)euros and began the ascent. It was a freaking hike. Every time to get to what you think is an observation point near to the top you look up and realize that you're not even close. But it was awesome…and eventually you make it (unless you quit along the way…and nobody would blame you).







Once we hiked down (which was considerably easier) we ended up at very cool wine bar (I think it's called the wine bar or wine cellar) where my wife said she the coffee was outstanding (and we are from Seattle)…although that might have had something to with ascending 1000 vertical feet and then coming right back down...I thought my bottled sparkling water was awesome. We found it mentioned later in the Rick Steves book.


We ended up back at the boat a couple of hours before sailing so my wife and I decided a hot tub to sooth our aching muscles...and we found our favorite spot on the ship. I had several webex calls for work that I had to attend later evening so I left her and ran back to the room to get ready although I was secretly hoping that webex wouldn’t work over the ship's internet. My wife stayed longer and met an american couple who lived in Holland who we would see later that evening.

I spent about an hour or so at the bar at O’Sheehan's working away in prep (the bartenders teased me for obviously working whilst on a cruise) and then headed to Aqua to meet everyone for dinner. Unfortunately the service was so slow (more than an hour and still no entrees) I had to leave before for my meal. I headed back to the room to log on. As luck would have it my laptop just could not support a webex meeting using the ship’s bandwidth but (un)fortunately the webex app on my phone worked flawlessly (I assume it uses less bandwidth). So I spent the next 4 hours on conference calls on our balcony explaining what the background noise was and giving my location.

When I was finally done I met up with everyone (after two more orders of wings) At Spinnaker for the not so newlywed game. My wife and I put our names in but we were not chosen for our range (22 years married). The couple from Holland that my wife had met earlier were selected and they were the hit of the show (and ended up winning easily). I would have had a difficult time answering the question that caused the most controversy so I am glad our names weren't drawn. The show was a lot of fun and was replayed all week on the ships TV. We had several more drinks and went back to 5 O'Clock for Karaoke. I didn't sing though. Even with UBP I don't think I ever got drunk enough to want to sing.

Day 4...Olympia (except we chose to go elsewhere).
#8
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
A couple of more pictures

Better picture (my wife took it of course) of Black Water Bay Dubrovnik



One of the Guardians of the City of Kotor.

#9
NJ
414 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Thanks for the review. We are headed to Venice to board the Star tomorrow (should have arrived today but flight was delayed and we just boarded the plane to try again). This is really giving me something to look forward to!


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Quark "Ocean Nova" Classic Antarctica (2008) Holland America "Volendam" Australia & New Zealand (2011) Royal Caribbean "Liberty of the Seas" Bermuda (2015) NCL "Norwegian Gem" Canada & New England (2016)

#10
18 Posts
Joined May 2014
Hello, thank you so much for the report - doing the same cruise next year! Can you give me the name of the GOT tour you used please, thanks


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#11
Ottawa, Ontario
110 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
Thanks for the great start to your review!! I just booked this cruise for next year and can't wait to read more!!
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Happy Sailing!
#12
Central Illinois
115,744 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing!
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Bob

Past Cruises

Celebrity: Mercury
RCCL: Adventure, Allure, Brilliance, Enchantment, Explorer, Freedom, Independence, Legend, Liberty, Majesty, Mariner, Monarch, Navigator, Oasis, Radiance, Rhapsody, Serenade, Sovereign, Vision, Voyager
#14
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by steel1203
Hello, thank you so much for the report - doing the same cruise next year! Can you give me the name of the GOT tour you used please, thanks


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Our travel agent sent us this link for excursions CLICKY

And our Game of Thrones tour was this CLICKY
#15
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Thanks for all the replies. I am actually writing this from a Courtyard Marriott in New Jersey. We got back to Seattle on Tuesday and I had to turn around and fly here for business on Thursday. But don't shed too many tears for me because it worked out ok...


Day 4...Katakolon

We woke up a little bit late but still felt we had plenty of time when we ended up at O’Sheehans at 9:30 for a quick breakfast before heading out…except that it was 10:30 and they had stopped serving breakfast (oops...time change in Greece). Rather than wait until they started lunch we decided to get off the boat and find something on land. As I was walking off the ship a NCL employee asked me if I was dressed appropriately. While still thinking ***?I walked out into the pouring rain. Being from Seattle I just looked up to the sky and said “warm rain? You have to do better than that”. I then waited 5 mins undercover for my wife to put on her hood and cinch up her jacket. After 5 minutes of walking in the rain I was kind of wishing I had gone back for my jacket.

90% of the boat was headed to Olympia by can train or bus but my wife and I decided to take the little hop on hop off tourist train to a local winery (we are kind of into wine). It ended being a great decision for us and we really enjoyed the day away from the crowds. The winery was over 150 years old and still had all of the equpment they had used over the years. We spent about 90 minutes tasting and touring with the winery staff. It was 2 Euros for the a taste...although the taste which was really a full glass of wine.




We were buying a couple of bottles of wine when the owner came over to talk to us. I told him we were from Washington and and really into our local wine and showed him a picture of my inventorying our the past year’s acquisitions (long story short…wife bottles for several local wineries and is paid in wine). He insisted that he take a bottle of his white on him (we had bought two bottles of red). We walked around the winery a little more and then hopped back on the train and got off on the next stop for lunch at the beach.

We had greek beef meatballs which were pretty good and zucchini gouda balls which were outstanding (we ended up ordering some more to go). About 3pm most of the beach cleared out and we relaxed in peaceful bliss before our required boarding time at 4:30. At 320 we went to parking lot to wait for the next hop ontrain which arrives at the top and bottom of every hour….330…335…340. My wife then looks at their brochure. Apparently the train stops running at 3PM. Oh crap!

Just then a Mercedes cab comes to the parking lot and drops its car full of passengers and backs into aparking spot to wait. So I asked him if he would drive us back to port. He closed his eyes for a second and then agreed. When I was 6 years old my parents took me to Star Wars and I remember the first time the Millennium Falcon jumped to light speed as the coolest speed space time effect I had ever seen. This guys driving was close to that and about 38 seconds after getting in the cab we were back at the cruise port and walking on the boat. My wife put her bag with the 3 bottles of wine through the X-Ray which we expected to be held until the end of the cruise...except they didn't. She picked up the bag at the end of the converyor and we walked to our cabin.

We then went to play trivia with Lester (who looks and sounds exactly like Mateo from Superstore). We were close but we didn't win...but we played every day after that and never lost again (included the eventful Sunday we arrived back in Venice) :-) .

We ate at the French Bistro which was very good…probably better than Cagneys except that I can’t remember Cagneys. My wife and our travel mates (let’s call them D&H) went to the show while I decided to try my hand at craps. If I didn’t know that a corporation this large wouldn’t risk loading the dice against the player…I could have sworn the dice were loaded. I have never lost so fast in my life. The good news is that I never set foot in the casino again. I will say the drinks come a lot faster in the casino and I probably had too many.

I joined the other 3 for the rest of the show. I think it was the husband and wife acrobats and they were very good (I might have my nights mixed up on that).

Day 5 Athens
#16
18 Posts
Joined May 2014
Originally posted by fastpitchdad
Our travel agent sent us this link for excursions CLICKY

And our Game of Thrones tour was this CLICKY
Thank you so much!! Can I ask one more thing - does the tour go to any of the locations that Cersei does the walk of shame? Eldest wants to "shame" her sister!!! Joy of kids .....
#17
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by steel1203
Thank you so much!! Can I ask one more thing - does the tour go to any of the locations that Cersei does the walk of shame? Eldest wants to "shame" her sister!!! Joy of kids .....
Yes...although the tour didn't take us all the way to the top but once you know where it is you can do it on your own. Iva had some great stories about the making of that scene.
#18
Ann Arbor, MI
282 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
I'm so glad you're writing this review! We're trying NCL for the first time next year on the Star. I've wanted to visit Greece for a long time and the combo with Dubrovnik sold my husband. Thanks for the feedback on our GoT tour - we'll check them out. We visited Kotor on our honeymoon And can't wait to go back! It was the unexpected highlight of our trip that time!


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Next up:
Coral Princess 7 night Voyage of the Glaciers Nothbound-September 2016
Sailed:
RCI Freedom OTS Eastern Caribbean-May 2016, RCI Vision OTS Mediterranean and Venice-October 2015, Carnival Breeze Southern Caribbean-July 2015, Carnival Freedom Eastern Caribbean-May 2013, Carnival Imagination Western Caribbean-January 2013, Carnival Legend Western Caribbean-March 2012, RCI Majesty OTS Bahamas-March 2003
#19
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Day 5 Athens

Day 5

We arrived in Athens before 7AM and I still hadn’t figured out where the hour went from Kotor and I definitely had one too many at the Casino the night before. My wife dragged me out of bed pre 7am (which felt an awful lot like 6 am) and after a quick bite stumbled off the ship in search of the Acropolis. According to google a bus could take up to 2 hours but a cab could be a little as 30 mins. In my current condition there was no bleeping way I was going to sit on a bus for 2 hours.The cab driver was a maniac and took back roads and sidewalks and we made it in 20 mins. It is a good thing too because while it was crowded it was nothing like the crowds we saw 2 hours later when we were making our descent.




Once finished with the Acropolis we walked down to the new Museum but didn't go in (which we later regreted when we heard some reviews) and then took a Rick Steves walk through Athens. It was nice but I wasn’t feeling very well and in the end I was looking forward to getting back to the boat. After several more ruins and temples and tourist shops (another Magnet) we finally decided to head back. My wife and I ended up at our favorite hot tub and I felt much much better as we sailed away with our new hot tub friends from Malmo Sweden.

The 4 of us played trivia and eeked out a victory…our activity cards were filling up nicely.

For dinner we had Teppanyaki and I thought this was our best meal of the week. The food was fantastic and the chefs were pretty engaging. Iordered the Shrimp and Scallops (and cold Sake) but tasted everything else. TheFilet Mignon was outstanding…I will order that with the shrimp next time.

That evening we went to the show which I think was Legends who were pretty good although the music was a little before my time. I couldn’t help thinking that in 20 years are the shows going to be cover bands of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana? My wife said they were much better than Band on The Run which they had seen earlier (I think I was working or losing money at the Casino at the time).

Day 6 at Sea...
#20
Sammamish, WA
122 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Day 6 was a Sea (and I don't think we took any pictures). It was nice but we were sailing into the wind so our forward hot tub spot felt like Dorthey’s Kansas. We did spend quite a bit of time relaxing on the beach chairs on the other side of the bier garden listening to Future Perfect play Margaritaville for the 68th time.

At 3pm I went to the beer and whiskey tasting at O’Sheehan’s while my wife went to the Martini tasting at Gatsby’s. Unfortunately there were only 3 of us for beer and whiskey (a fun couple from San Jose and me) and it had a minimum of 10 but we all had the UBP so we had them do our own beer and whiskey tasting and the bartender gave us the special Jamesons we would have gotten. It turns out there weren’t enough for the Martini tasting either.

This was the day we went to pick up our passports at Spinnaker so trivia was at Gatsby’s which was pretty packed when my wife and I got there so we sat with a really nice Irish couple and teamed up. High fives all around as we won.

That evening we ate at Moderno which I thought was terrible…well maybe not terrible but certainly the worst place I had eaten on the boat. We felt that all of the UDP Restaurants were worth it except this one…in fact I would rank Moderno below O’Sheehans and the Buffet in terms of quality.


I think I am mixing up my days again but I think we played bingo as well. It is all in good fun I guess but I don’t understand how 100 people can pay $20-$40 for a bingo card and the payoff for the winner is only$127? Although I didn’t have to worry about it because I wasn’t even close to winning.

Day 7 Split...

Off toTailgate...Go Hawks!!!