Star Dec 1 – 14 Trip Report with some pics

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#1
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
NCL Star Panama Canal cruise Dec 1 – Dec 15 2017 Miami to Los Angeles.

I guess if I’m going to do a trip report of our Panama Canal cruise on the NCL Star I’d better get started. This was a great cruise and most of my complaints, with one exception, are nothing more than nit-picking.

My biggest mistake on this cruise was taking pictures with three cameras, two of which didn’t have the correct date and time stamp. At noon every day two of my cameras would change over to the next date. I didn’t discover this until I was back home going through the photos. It was very confusing trying to sort through my pictures by date. Lesson learned.

A little about us, my wife and I are both retired and in relatively good health. I’m a 72 year old curmudgeon and my wife is much younger with the personality of an angel. We were joined on this cruise by my sister and her husband who are also retired. To protect their identity I’ll refer to them as June and Mark.

The four of us flew to Miami a day early and stayed at the Red Roof Inn Plus near the airport. The reason I chose this hotel was the free shuttle from airport to hotel and hotel to the cruise terminal. The hotel was just OK and I doubt I would use it in the future.

This was the more expensive premium room.


December 1st
The next morning we took advantage of the continental breakfast the hotel offered. It wasn’t much but better than nothing. We had scheduled the hotel’s shuttle to the cruise terminal for 9 AM but just after finishing our breakfast the shuttle driver found us and asked if we would mind leaving at 8:30. We agreed and were at the cruise terminal by 9 AM while passengers were still disembarking the Star.

We were allowed inside the terminal building but just in the entry foyer. I would rather wait and kill time in a cruise terminal than kill time in a hotel room or lobby. Surprisingly security began screening passengers at 9:50. I think the four of us were in the first 25 people to enter the check-in area.

My wife and I had our room card and boarding group 1 card by 10:10 AM. The waiting area was almost completely empty. By the way, there was a special check-in line for Platinum and above Latitudes members but nothing for Gold or Silver members. It really didn’t matter since there were so few people checking in.

June and Mark had booked a suite on the Star so they were ushered to a separate waiting area for those “special people.” Mark and June had originally booked a mini-suite but bid on an upgrade to a suite that was accepted by NCL. They were upgraded to a forward facing suite on deck 10. I was shocked that a forward facing suite would still be available on a cruise going through the Panama Canal.

Boarding began for special needs folks first and then Haven and suite guests at 11:15. Platinum was boarded next followed by our group 1. After boarding the ship we headed directly to O’Sheehan’s for a light lunch. I ordered the buffalo chicken wings that came with celery sticks. The wings were very good, the celery sticks…tragic (LOL).


The cabins were ready by 1:30 PM so went to our cabin to unpack our carry-on luggage. Our balcony cabin (10692) would be more than sufficient for the 14 day cruise. We couldn’t find a remote control for the TV so we called housekeeping to report that issue. Also I noticed there were only packets of decaffeinated coffee by the coffee maker so I left a note for our room steward to leave regular coffee. We then headed directly to the Bier Garden to kill some time before the ship’s muster at 4 PM.


Muster is called by a series of high pitched ear piercing shrieks emitted over the loud speakers that was loud enough to wake the dead. We headed to our muster station which was down in the Versailles dining room on deck 6. No pictures and no cell phone usage were allowed but I did manage to snap this photo before the drill sergeant caught me and called me out.


After muster we headed back to our room and discovered our luggage had already arrived. Also a remote control was sitting by our TV and there was real coffee by the coffee machine. While we were in the cabin our room steward came by and introduced himself to us. During our entire cruise he would make a point of greeting us by name even if he happened to be in another cabin cleaning it.


After unpacking our luggage we realized we had forgotten to pack an extension cord. Even though we had a number of electronic devices with us that needed charging we were able to make do without one. I also discovered I didn’t pack my swimsuit.

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
#3
Pennsylvania
631 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Can't wait to hear more, we are going in March!


Sent from my iPad using Forums
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07-14-2013 Norwegian Epic-Mediterranean
11-17-2014 Carnival Ecstasy-Mexico
05-27-2015 Coral Princess-Alaska
11-16-15 Norwegian Sky-Bahamas
4-16-2016 Norwegian Escape-Caribbean
2-19-2017 Norwegian Dawn-W. Caribbeann
8-23-2017 Norwegian Getaway -Baltics
11-5-2017 Carnival Conquest -
Bahamas
3-15-2018 Norwegian Sun - Panama Canal
8-5-2018 Norwegian Getaway- Western Caribbean
9-19-2018 Norwegian Gem- Canada and New England
#4
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Sailaway was 30 minutes late because a crew member was running late and hadn’t boarded the ship yet. I think there must have been a partial changeover of crew members because while we were in the waiting area in the terminal I saw quite a few of the crew leaving the ship with their luggage.

While waiting for the ship to leave port I spent time on the balcony watching the NCL Sky and Carnival Victory sail out to sea before us. The Carnival Victory sounded as though there was quite a party going on with loud music blaring and people yelling and whooping it up as it sailed passed us. The NCL Sky was as quiet as a church mouse as it cruised by, perhaps with the free open bar on the Sky everyone was already passed out.
The Carnival Victory.


The NCL Sky passing by.


The ship began moving away from the pier at 5:30. As we cruised through the channel toward the ocean I saw a yacht that reminded me of the television show Below Deck. It really looked beautiful sitting at the dock with its underwater lights turned on.


We met with June and Mark in the 5 O’clock Somewhere bar for pre-dinner drinks. We decided that we would pay the $9.99 fee for the IConcierge App so that we would be able to text and call each other while we were on the ship.

I didn’t care for the look and feel of the beach themed 5 O’clock Somewhere bar. I preferred the old Lions Den that used to occupy this same bar area before the 2015 rehab of the ship.


We went to the Aqua dining room for dinner and were told we would have about a 20 minute wait to be seated. We were given a pager so we headed to Gatsby’s Bar for another pre-dinner drink. We had only been in Gatsby’s a mere 10 minutes when our pager went off so we had to down our drinks quickly and head back to the restaurant.

The menu on that first night included prime rib and also duck. Our meal was excellent. My only complaint is the French Onion soup which I ordered for my appetizer was a bit disappointing. I didn’t care for the hockey puck crouton and definitely not enough cheese.


When dinner was finished it was time to head to the Stardust Theater for the Welcome Aboard show. I have no recollection of this show and have no clue what transpired, I didn’t put anything in my notes about this show, and I have no photos from the show, so I don’t know if I enjoyed it or not. Perhaps the bottle of wine with dinner coupled with the pre-dinners fogged my memory a bit.

When the show was over we headed back to our cabin and called it a night.

It will probably be tomorrow before I get more of my pictures resized for Day 2 of the cruise.
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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
#7
Syracuse, NY
245 Posts
Joined Sep 2004
Enjoying your report so far, looking forward to reading more!!
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Upcoming:
Disney Fantasy 4/28/18
NCL Breakaway 1st TA!! 10/2/18
MSC Seaside 3/2/19
NCL Epic TA?? 11/22/19

Chandris Amerikanis 1986
Carnival Fantasy 1993
Costa Allegra 1994
Costa Atlantica 2004
Carnival Dream 2011
Carnival Victory 2012
NCL Getaway 3/12/17

Disney Dream 5/1/17
MSC Divina 12/2/17
MSC Seaside 3/2/18
#8
1,044 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Thank you for the start of a great review! Following!!!

We will be on the Star in about 36 days and delighted to hear of your experiences on this cruise.
#10
Phoenix Arizona
666 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
My wife and I boarded the Star in L.A. on December 15th right after your cruise. Reading your review is like Deja Vu for us. We boarded, had lunch at O'Sheehans. The wings were delicious but did not enjoy the so called Irish Stew (that wasn't a stew at all). We headed to the Bier Garden for a few. Had the Muster drill in the same location and couldn't tell you a thing about the show that night. LOL ... The only differences were that we were in cabin 10706 and had the Prime Rib at Versailles. Looking forward to the rest of your review for more Deja Vu
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1) Carnival Celebration- 1987 (Eastern Caribbean) Port: Miami
2) Carnival Ecstacy- 1991 (Eastern Carribbean) Port: Miami
3) Carnival Holiday-1992 (Western Caribbean) Port: Miami
4) Carnival Tropical- 1995 (Western Carribean) Port: New Orleans for Mardi Gras
5) RCCL Viking Serenade- 2000 (Mexico) Port: Los Angeles
6) RCCL Vision of the Seas- 2002 (Mexico) Port: Los Angeles
7) Sea Cloud's River Cloud II- 2004 (Italy) Port: Venice
8) RCCL Monarch of the Seas- Dec. 2007 (Mexico) Port: Los Angeles
9) Carnival Freedom April 26, 2008 (Trans-Atlantic) Port: Miami
10) Carnival Paradise Oct 31, 2008 Murder Mystery Cruise (Mexico) Port: Los Angeles
11) RCCL Radiance of the Seas May 22, 2009 (Northbound Alaska) Port: Vancouver
12) Carnival Spirit Oct 10, 2009 (Mexico) Port: San Diego
13) Azamara Journey Nov 3, 2010 (Europe) Port: Athens
14) RCCL Liberty of the Seas Oct 29, 2011 (Trans-Atlantic) Port: Barcelona
15) RCCL Adventure of the Seas Oct 27, 2013 (France & N. Spain) Port: Southampton, UK
16) RCCL Navigator of the Seas Nov 2, 2014 (W Caribbean) Port: Galveston, TX
17) NCL Epic Jan 24, 2015 (Canary Islands & Morocco) Port: Barcelona
18) NCL Star Dec 15, 2017 (Mexico) Port: Los Angeles
19) NCL Star Dec 14, 2018 (Mexico) Port: Los Angeles
20) NCL Pearl Sept 14, 2019 (Alaska RT) Port: Seattle
#11
Central Illinois
132,472 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Excellent start, very nice photos, will be following along.
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Bob

Past Cruises

Celebrity: Mercury
RCCL: Adventure, Allure, Brilliance, Enchantment, Explorer, Freedom, Independence, Jewel, Legend, Liberty, Majesty, Mariner, Monarch, Navigator, Oasis, Radiance, Rhapsody, Serenade, Sovereign, Vision, Voyager
#12
California
60 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Great narrative. You sound like someone we'd love to bump into on the ship. Laughing so hard about you not remembering the Welcome Aboard Show. Can see how that would happen.

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed review. Dealing with misdated photos must be a real headache and its nice of you to go to so much work to help the rest of us.

We're planning a Panama Canal cruise on the Sun in the future.
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Sitmar - Caribbean - 1987 (honeymoon)
NCL Pearl - Alaska - 2007
NCL POA - Hawaii - 2009
NCL POA - Hawaii 2017
NCL Pearl - Western Caribbean from NOLA - March, 2018
Looking forward to:
NCL Sky - Cuba - Oct. 2018
Panama Canal - 2020
#14
Smithtown, NY
2,738 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
I'm loving this review. You sound like you'd be a blast to hang out with.
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Regards,
JoAnn (ncklhaus)

Contact me: JoAnn dot Nickl at Yahoo dot com



Past cruises:
Norwegian Dawn 9-25-05
Norwegian Jewel 10-15-11
Norwegian Jewel 2-1-13
Norwegian Breakaway 10-5-14
Norwegian Breakaway 1-3-16
Norwegian Breakaway 1-2 17
Norwegian Breakaway 12-15-17


Link to my 13 day Breakaway Southern Caribbean in the Haven Review
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2446531

Link to my 14 day Breakaway Southern Caribbean in the Haven Review
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2302412

Link to my 7 day Breakaway Florida, Bahamas, and GSC Review
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2122298
#15
Ottawa, Illinois
4,593 Posts
Joined May 2009
Great start. I will be doing the same cruise in Feb. 2019.
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USS Saratoga CV-60 1974-1978

Upcoming cruises


Mariner of the Seas 8-24-18
Mariner of the Seas 8-27-18
Majesty of the Seas 10-29-18
Anthem of the Seas 12-6-18
NCL Star 02-15-19






43 Trips, the Empress of the Seas hasn't been added to the active list yet.
#16
Oregon
8 Posts
Joined Mar 2016
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.
#17
Behind the Redwood Curtain
685 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
I am looking forward to your review, haven't been back on the Star for 9 yrs. Great start!
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NCL Star Alaska Jun 2008, Carnival Legend W Caribbean Apr 2010, NCL Dawn S Caribbean Mar 2012, NCL Dawn W Caribbean Apr 2013, NCL Pearl Panama Canal Oct 2013, Carnival Liberty E Caribbean Mar 2014, NCL Jewel Alaska Aug 2014, NCL Pearl S Caribbean Mar/Apr 2015 B2B, NCL Pearl Panama Canal (partial transit) Mar 2016, NCL Gem S Caribbean Nov 6th/13th 2016 B2B, NCL Sun Ultimate Alaska May 2017, NCL Bliss PC May 2018.
#20
1,085 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by kevmoley
My wife and I boarded the Star in L.A. on December 15th right after your cruise. Reading your review is like Deja Vu for us. We boarded, had lunch at O'Sheehans. The wings were delicious but did not enjoy the so called Irish Stew (that wasn't a stew at all). We headed to the Bier Garden for a few. Had the Muster drill in the same location and couldn't tell you a thing about the show that night. LOL ... The only differences were that we were in cabin 10706 and had the Prime Rib at Versailles. Looking forward to the rest of your review for more Deja Vu
OMG, I had forgot about the Irish Stew in O'Sheehan's. You are absolutely right, that was more like some type of soup and I wouldn't call it Irish soup either. That is a food item everyone should pass on and perhaps NCL will add something worth while to replace it.
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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