Star Dec 1 – 14 Trip Report with some pics

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#61
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by BostonGal35
this is terrific! thank you! we will be on Star for the 3rd time doing this transit from LA to Miami. we are so excited!!!!!
I'm excited for you. I'm sure you'll have a great time.
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#62
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by cpcanuck
Oakman58 - Thank you for your in-depth review! I am particularly grateful for the pictures and details you have mentioned about mobility issues and accessibility. It has not been easy finding out the particulars about the style of buses used on tours in these various ports. The Accessibility desk nor Shore Excursions could answer our specific questions. It looks like buses are quite basic without the capability of having a ramp or lowering the bus down to curb level. This makes it near impossible for folks who struggle with steep stairs or high buses. Seeing the photo with a wiggly step stool was enlightening to say the least! Good to know before spending money on a shore excursion that will not work. We are grateful for the time and care you are taking in sharing such good information!
I'm glad my trip report helped. Sometimes I think I go a little too in-depth when I write my reports. I'll be posting day 8 (Nicaragua) later tonight and have a bit more to say about the accessibility of the tour we did.
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#63
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
December 8 Corinto, Nicaragua

Once again it was very hot and humid this morning. The ocean was very calm this morning. I can’t remember a cruise where I saw the ocean this calm. As we approached Nicaragua one of the country’s many active volcanoes came into view. In the early morning light, coupled with the haze and the cloud over the volcano it looked very foreboding. It reminded me of those movies where a scientific expedition discovers monstrous animals in the jungle that devour all the scientists. I was glad I wasn't a scientist.


The ship wasn’t scheduled to arrive in port until 9AM so after eating an early breakfast we were back on our balcony enjoying the sea air. We watched as the pilot boat approached the ship and dropped off the harbor pilot.


When the pilot boat pulled away from our ship, dolphins began playing in its wake. In the picture below you can barely make out one of the dolphins in the boat’s wake near the bottom of the picture.


Not long after the pilot boat departed, the ship began rolling from side to side, rather dramatically I might add. I couldn’t believe the ship had so much movement in such calm water. This rolling motion only lasted for about a minute or so and then it stopped. Once we were docked in Corinto the Captain apologized over the public address system for the motion of the ship and explained that due to shallow water the ship’s stabilizers had to be retracted. At least I think that’s what he said. If you were on this same cruise and remember the announcement please correct me if I’m wrong.

As the ship approached the pier we cruised by a lot of beautifully colored fishing boats in the harbor.


As the Star was slowly sideling up to the pier I noticed a building with a large mural of the famous Nicaraguan Ruben Dario and a short quote from his famous poem A Margarita Debayle. I include this information in my trip report hoping I fool everyone into thinking I’m a well-educated and classy kind of guy.


Our excursion today was the Banana Plantation & Hacienda excursion with a meeting time in the Stardust Theater at 9:15 AM. I was surprised we were meeting in the theater since the ship was docked at the pier in Corinto. Perhaps it was because this was a working port for container ships and they didn’t want passengers to wander around and possibly get injured.


Continued in my next post.
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#64
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Day 8 Corinto continued

Our tour buses were small and held about 20 passengers so there were three buses to handle everyone going on this tour. When we boarded our bus there was already a man with mobility issues in his seat and his wheelchair was folded and stored in the front of the bus near the driver. Outside our tour guide and driver were engaged in a conversation with a man who was accompanying the disabled passenger. The conversation went on for quite a while and ended with the disabled man being helped off the bus and put back into his wheelchair. The two seemed upset as they left and headed back to the ship. This is a picture of the interior of the bus, you can see the bus driver preparing to remove the wheelchair.


On the ride to the banana plantation our tour guide explained that he had talked the two out of the excursion because he thought the banana factory we would be touring would be too dangerous and difficult for someone in a wheelchair. When our tour was completed I had to agree with that decision.

The banana plantation tour is listed as a level 1 (easy) activity with no mention of difficulty for people with mobility issues in the tour description. I think NCL should do a better job of informing guests of the degree accessibility of all the tours they offer.

The drive to the plantation was an hour long with the last 15 minutes of the ride over a bumpy dirt road. Once we arrived at the plantation we had the opportunity to use the restroom. There was only one toilet for women and one toilet for men and unfortunately the electricity to the building was turned off so when you closed the bathroom door it was pitch black inside. I was glad I had the flashlight app on my smartphone or who knows where or what I might have peed on.

It took quite a while for everyone to take advantage of the toilet break. Here’s a picture of a small part of the line to use the bathroom.


Once the tour began we were taken into the fields where the banana plants were growing and given a lengthy explanation of how the plants grow and are cared for. Looking at the terrain in the two pictures below you get an idea of how difficult being in a wheelchair would have been.


One of the plantation workers explaining the care of the plant and the bananas.


From the fields we were taken to the nursery area where the plants are started. Our tour guide acted as an interpreter so we could ask questions of the plantation workers.


After the tour of the plantation we boarded our buses again and drove to the factory where the bananas were processed for shipment to Europe and the U.S.

When the bananas arrive from the fields the first step was removing the protective plastic from the banana bunch. From there they went through a power wash to remove any dirt or insects.


Continued in my next post.
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#65
Citrus Heights, CA United States
4,174 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
19 years ago we moved into this house. My DH purchased a banana tree and 19 years still no bananas. I know they don't love frost but... you guessed it someone actually has a harvest of bananas a few miles from us. LOL Great pictures once again!
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#66
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Day 8 Corinto continued.

The bananas were then sorted by size and then put on an assembly line where they were washed once more and then packaged into boxes for shipment. Any bananas that weren’t perfectly shaped were sent to a different area of the factory. It was very close quarters in this part of the factory so maneuvering through it in a wheelchair would have been difficult.


On the loading dock the cases of bananas were loaded onto waiting trucks. The rejected bananas I mentioned earlier were loaded onto a different truck for distribution to stores within Nicaragua.


From the factory we drove to the hacienda. At the hacienda we were given a snack and bottled water and we also had the opportunity to buy souvenirs. The snack was very good.


This tour turned out to be very interesting and much better than I had anticipated. From the hacienda we were driven back to the port and the ride took exactly one hour arriving just after 2 PM. The heat of the day apparently took something out of us because when we got back to our cabin we both took an "accidental" nap.

Later we played trivia in the Spinnaker again and the questions were very hard tonight. Even so, one team claimed to have answered all 20 questions correctly. Mentally I called B.S. on that team.

After trivia we walked over to the 5 o’clock somewhere bar where Mark and June joined us for drinks before dinner. The servers in this bar were friendly and outgoing and gave great service as did the servers in all of the bars. The servers always brought us plenty of bar snacks. The snacks were my favorite part of the NCL bars…except for the drinks of course.


The 5o’clock somewhere bar was really becoming my favorite bar until I ordered a Pina Colada. Nope, the only frozen drink available was a frozen Margarita. OK, then I decided to have a beer so I ordered a Corona. Nope, only beers listed on their menu were available. No Pina Colada, no Corona beer, what the heck kind of beach-themed bar is this? Jimmy Buffet should be ashamed of this bar. I finally just ordered a Budweiser.


We ate dinner tonight in the Versailles dining room. The show in the Stardust Theater tonight was Queens of Rhythm and didn’t appeal to us. There wasn’t anything appealing going on in the Spinnaker Lounge either, so after dinner we headed back to our room and called it a night. I think the excursion coupled with the heat of the day had really drained us. We did have a towel animal waiting for us when we entered our cabin.
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#67
41 Posts
Joined Jul 2016
I think you are right about the captain saying where the deep water meets the shallow bay it causes the ship to roll substantially (he also said surfers like it). I would have been nervous when it happened had I not heard the captain's announcement the night prior to our stop in Nicaragua that we were to expect this rolling motion and not to be alarmed as the ship would not tip over!! We were having breakfast in Versailles when the rolling occurred, sitting near the kitchen port side, and each time the ship rolled to port I thought the water was going to reach the outside of the window of the dining room! We heard lots of clattering from the kitchen as crockery was being broken.
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#68
326 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by jaapie
I think you are right about the captain saying where the deep water meets the shallow bay it causes the ship to roll substantially (he also said surfers like it). I would have been nervous when it happened had I not heard the captain's announcement the night prior to our stop in Nicaragua that we were to expect this rolling motion and not to be alarmed as the ship would not tip over!! We were having breakfast in Versailles when the rolling occurred, sitting near the kitchen port side, and each time the ship rolled to port I thought the water was going to reach the outside of the window of the dining room! We heard lots of clattering from the kitchen as crockery was being broken.
We were on this cruise as well. And I sure do remember the alarming rolling of the ship as we came in to dock that day. We were on the port side, so I know what you mean! I had not heard any heads-up report from the captain, so it sure was a surprise. I must confess though, he was a bit "wordy" in his announcements, so I tended to tune him out during his reports -- let that be a lesson to me! It's funny you said he called it a "rolling motion". My words for it was a bit more colorful.
Oakman58 - thanks for your review and photos! (I look for myself in your photos - nothing yet, but you never know!) Even though I was on the same cruise, I always enjoy other folks experiences of the same trip. We agree on many observations, including the game of Mine Sweep we'd play when attempting to choose a seat in the theater.
#69
Midwest
1,969 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Thank you so much!


Sent from my iPhone using Forums
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#70
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by Clemmie
We were on this cruise as well. And I sure do remember the alarming rolling of the ship as we came in to dock that day. We were on the port side, so I know what you mean! I had not heard any heads-up report from the captain, so it sure was a surprise. I must confess though, he was a bit "wordy" in his announcements, so I tended to tune him out during his reports -- let that be a lesson to me! It's funny you said he called it a "rolling motion". My words for it was a bit more colorful.
Oakman58 - thanks for your review and photos! (I look for myself in your photos - nothing yet, but you never know!) Even though I was on the same cruise, I always enjoy other folks experiences of the same trip. We agree on many observations, including the game of Mine Sweep we'd play when attempting to choose a seat in the theater.
I had not heard the heads up the night before either. When the rolling began I was standing on our port side balcony. The first time the ship rolled to port and the ocean seemed to be getting closer, an image of the Costa Concordia flashed through my mind.
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#71
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Day 9 Puerto Quetzal Guatemala

It was hot and humid again this morning with a light fog. The Star was scheduled to arrive in the port at Puerto Quetzal at 8 AM. As we entered the harbor the fishing boats leaving this port were quite different from the other ports we had visited, very different.




This morning for some unknown reason our television would not stay on. I would turn it on and after about 30 seconds it would turn itself off again. We called guest services and reported it.

Even though the ship was tied up to a pier we had a meeting time of 8:45 in the Stardust Theater. Our excursion today was the Safari Drive - Through. In the theater, after a crew member called our excursion we had to walk (or take the elevator) down to deck 4 to debark the ship. The line on deck 4 was very long but even so it didn’t take too long to exit the ship.


Once off the ship we had to walk through a large tourist trap area of vendors to get to our tour bus.


The bus ride to the safari park took well over an hour. The bus stopped at the entrance to the park so our guide could pay the entry fee for everyone and gave us a chance to get off the bus to use the bathroom. Right by the bathrooms there was a palapa with some beautiful macaws perched under it.




Continued in my next post.
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#72
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Day 9 Guatemala continued.

The safari drive-through was a rather small park with your typical zoo animals. I think I set my expectations a little too high for this excursion because I was a little disappointed. The road through the park was bumpy and with the bus windows heavily tinted I didn’t take many pictures.




After completing the drive through portion of the tour, the bus stopped at the park’s snackbar. We bought a couple of beers for 30 Quetzal and sat down at one of the picnic tables. One U.S. dollar is worth just over 7 Quetzal. Along with their beers, Mark and June bought some nachos to share with us.


As we were drinking our beer, our tour guide came over and joined us. I foolishly asked him how long he had been working as a tour guide and ended up hearing more of his life story than I wanted. Especially the part about shooting his stepfather when he was 13…TMI my friend, TMI.

The scenery was interesting on the ride back to the port and I snapped a picture of one of the many volcanos in Guatemala.

It was just after 2:30 PM when our tour bus dropped us back at the same point where we had boarded. We had to walk through the area of the tourist shops again to get to the ship. I almost made it without buying anything until I ran into a super salesperson hawking coffee. I bought one pound of Guatemalan coffee to give as a Christmas gift.

We stopped at O’Sheehan’s for a snack before heading back to our cabin. I don’t remember what I ordered but Joyce had a burger that was undercooked and not to her liking. Back in our cabin the issue with our television had been fixed.

As with most nights we met up with Mark and June in the Spinnaker Lounge for the evening trivia and then headed over to the so-called beach-themed bar for drinks.

We ate dinner in the Aqua restaurant tonight. Actually the doors between the Aqua and the LaCucina restaurants were open and we were seated in LaCucina which was almost empty. Here’s a picture of the menu for tonight.


After dinner we went back to the Spinnaker to watch the Battle of the Sexes Game Show. Not surprisingly the women won.

The 9:30 show in the theater tonight was a man and woman aerial and acrobatic act. Halfway through the act the man came out wearing a clown nose and hat and did a comedy routine that required the audience to interact with him. He never spoke a word using only his hands and a whistle to direct the audience. It was hilarious. When the show ended the audience gave them a spontaneous standing ovation.

After the show we called it a night and went back to our cabin. There was no towel animal tonight (sniff, sniff.)
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#73
Sammamish, WA
426 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Originally posted by Oakman58

The 9:30 show in the theater tonight was a man and woman aerial and acrobatic act. Halfway through the act the man came out wearing a clown nose and hat and did a comedy routine that required the audience to interact with him. He never spoke a word using only his hands and a whistle to direct the audience. It was hilarious. When the show ended the audience gave them a spontaneous standing ovation.
I thought that husband and wife act was the best show on the cruise. I even liked the little film they showed about their lives and circus school in Moscow.
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#75
Vienna
5 Posts
Joined May 2017
Originally posted by Vacation1964
I am enjoying this report and looking forward to reading about your trip. We will be on the Star and headed to the Panama Canal on February 16. I will appreciate any hints and recommendations you provide about the cruise.
We will also be on this cruise - looking very much forward to it...
#76
Vancouver BC
1,593 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Love the review and pictures. I appreciate the time & effort involved. Did you keep the Dailies? Is it possible to email or post them?
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#77
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by fastpitchdad
I thought that husband and wife act was the best show on the cruise. I even liked the little film they showed about their lives and circus school in Moscow.
I agree they really displayed a professionalism that I'm sure was due to their circus background.
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#78
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by jenniferandwhatnot
Great review! I love the photos of the canal crossing! I'm always especially interested in photo reviews that aren't of the newer, really huge ships.
I'm glad you are enjoying it.


Originally posted by eltigre
Love the review and pictures. I appreciate the time & effort involved. Did you keep the Dailies? Is it possible to email or post them?
Thanks for the kind comments. I'm sorry but no, I didn't hang onto the Dailies.
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#79
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Day 10 Sea Day

Holy Sailboats Batman, when I stepped out onto our balcony this morning my coffee cup was almost blown out of my hand. The wind was blowing harder than I have ever experienced in my life and the seas were rough and rolling. I thought there was a fine mist falling at first but no, it was sea spray blowing all the way up on our balcony on deck 10.

I went back inside and since Joyce was already awake I turned on the TV to the Navigator’s Channel. While the wind speed wasn’t available the seas were 12 to 18 feet. I’d be willing to bet that the gale force winds were in the Strong Gale Force or Storm Gale Force category. Surprisingly the ship seemed quite stable in the heavy seas.
This picture doesn't do justice to the size of the waves.


After eating breakfast at the buffet we walked around the ship for a bit. Deck 13 was closed due to the high winds and the tables by the pool on deck 12 were deserted. Many of the chairs by the pool were being blown around. Eventually the crew stacked many of the chairs together and put them in a corner out of the wind.


We grabbed a table by the windows on the starboard side since they weren’t affected by the wind as badly as the port side. I walked over to the pool bar and ordered a couple of mimosas. As I walked back to our table the wind blew the top half of our drinks out of the glass. Yes, it really was that windy.

It didn’t take long for us to finish our half-glass of mimosa so we headed back inside and walked around the interior of the ship to get a little exercise. On deck 7 the promenade deck was closed because of the high winds but even so, there were a couple of people walking the promenade for exercise.


The casino on deck 6 was almost deserted this morning but there were a couple of folks playing the slot machines. Here’s a tip for you; in the morning they put out coffee, juice, and breakfast pastries on a table in the casino. I guess they do that for the people who want to gamble while they have a breakfast. Actually it was handy for grabbing a cup of coffee while wandering the ship.


At 9 AM Joyce and I went to the Spinnaker for a trivia game put on by the CruiseNext staff. We did OK despite the fact most of the questions concerned the mega-ships. Nope, I had no idea how many beers were on tap at the District Brew House on the Escape. I don’t want to ruin this game for others by giving away the answer but the correct number is somewhere between 23 and 25. The winner actually won a prize from the staff although I don’t remember what it was. The rest of us got a punch in our activity card.

The trivia game caused us to work up a thirst so we went up to the pool deck for some mimosas. Although it was still very windy it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had been. I was told later by a crew member that the captain had moved the ship closer to shore for the reduced wind speed there.

The loungers on the sundeck were still stacked up and tied down but even so, with the sun shining some folks refuse to be denied the chance to sunbathe.


At some point in the morning we went to the casino so we could donate some money to NCL. We did a good job of that. Since we were already on deck 6, at noon we played the game Goofy Golf by the entrance to the theater. I think we had about 15 people play. There was one lady wearing a Royal Caribbean sweatshirt and I was unsuccessful in getting her disqualified. LOL.


Continued in my next post.
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2018 Norwegian Jade 4 day Cozumel https://boards.cruisecritic.com/show....php?t=2592418
2017 Norwegian Star Panama Canal full transit https://boards.cruisecritic.com/show....php?t=2577896
2016 Norwegian Epic E. Caribbean http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...highlight=epic
2016 Norwegian Jade W. Caribbean http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...highlight=jade
2015 Norwegian Dawn W. Caribbean
2014 Norwegian Star Panama Canal full transit http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2130707
2011 Carnival Valor W. Caribbean
2009 MS Giselle Nile River Cruise
2005 RCI Rhapsody of the Seas W. Caribbean

Future cruises:
2018 NCL Jade British Isles
2019 Holland Alaskan Cruise/Tour
2020 NCL Epic ABC cruise
#80
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Day 10 Sea Day continued.

Mark let me know via IConceirge they were on the pool deck so we joined them for a drink. The wind had really subsided by that time. After finishing our drinks we went to the Spinnaker for the Visual Trivia National Costumes game. Wow we sucked at identifying countries by the costumes people in the photos were wearing.

I have never played the Deal or No Deal game so with the promise to potentially win $5000, I decided to cough up the $25.00 for one card and play the game. Mark and June bought a card too. The game begins by one of the players being called up on stage to open the cases. The idea is for the money value of your case to match the money value of the case opened by the player on stage. The more matches you make the bigger your prize. If you’re the player on stage you have a better chance of winning money than the rest of us poor slobs. The game was played twice on the same card. In the first game the player on stage won $350, in the second game the player on stage won $75.00. We didn’t win anything.

After the game I took a look at my card and realized that although each card had 20 cases, there were only 10 money values on the card. Mark’s card was the same way. The 20 cases on stage each had a different money value while my card only had 10 money values. You could potentially eliminate 4 cases with just one incorrect match. I think I’ll stick with the casino in the future.


Our dinner reservations were at 8 in the Teppanyaki restaurant tonight so the four of us ate a very late lunch at the buffet. I had brought a trivia game from home so after lunch we went out by the pool and played some trivia, guys against the girls. The guys won but only, according to the girls, because we kept getting easy questions.

After the game Joyce and I went back to our cabin to relax for a bit. The sun had been out all day so once the wind subsided the water on our deck dried out leaving behind sea salt residue on everything. Here’s a picture of our balcony railing covered in sea salt.


Just before sunset we saw a very small pod of dolphins playing in the ocean. They were taking turns jumping completely out of the water and at one point a couple of the dolphins did forward summersaults in the air. It was really a treat to see this dolphin behavior. Who knew they could be such showoffs. I wish I could have gotten some photos of them frolicking in the ocean.

We had a beautiful ocean sunset tonight.


We joined Mark and June in Gatsby’s at 7:30 for a drink before going up to the Teppanyaki for dinner. It was shortly after 8 PM when we were seated in Teppanyaki at a grill table for 12. Here’s the menu from Teppanyaki.


The show our two chefs put on was excellent. At one point each of us had to try to catch a small piece of chicken in our mouth that was flipped from the chef’s spatula. When it was my turn the chef just kept flipping chicken at me until I cried “uncle.” I think I had a piece of chicken hit every part of my face except my mouth. My brother-in-law Mark got a big kick out of that.

With the exception of the fried rice, I though the vegetables were excellent and the meats tender and juicy and cooked to perfection. Here’s a picture of our chef when he was displaying his juggling skills.


The production in the Stardust tonight was put on by the ship’s cast. It was Vegas! The Show and it was a tribute to some of the entertainment icons who had played Vegas. The show was very good but to be honest I became a little bored toward the end. Perhaps I was just getting tired.

Eek! In our cabin tonight there was a mouse in our bed.
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2018 Norwegian Jade 4 day Cozumel https://boards.cruisecritic.com/show....php?t=2592418
2017 Norwegian Star Panama Canal full transit https://boards.cruisecritic.com/show....php?t=2577896
2016 Norwegian Epic E. Caribbean http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...highlight=epic
2016 Norwegian Jade W. Caribbean http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...highlight=jade
2015 Norwegian Dawn W. Caribbean
2014 Norwegian Star Panama Canal full transit http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2130707
2011 Carnival Valor W. Caribbean
2009 MS Giselle Nile River Cruise
2005 RCI Rhapsody of the Seas W. Caribbean

Future cruises:
2018 NCL Jade British Isles
2019 Holland Alaskan Cruise/Tour
2020 NCL Epic ABC cruise