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Stickman81

Star review from a 1st timer. Will be long with pics.

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NORWEGIAN STAR – WESTERN CARIBEAN CRUISE

7 NIGHT

12-18-2011 to 12-25-2011.

 

 

 

READERS DIGEST VERSON –

This will be my short, Readers Digest version. I will be posting individually from my fifteen type-written pages as I can and including pictures. I will be doing this as time permits as I am still on “vacation” and trying to readjust to the “real” world where I actually have to do something for myself.

 

This was our first cruise. We celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary on-board.

We had a wonderful time and at this point I am wondering if it will be topped, or even paralleled.

 

Embarkation was very quick even with the amount of people.

We had a quiet lunch in Versailles after embarking, avoiding the buffet thanks to tips from the Cruise Critic’s members.

 

We took two ship’s sponsored excursions, one in Roatan to Maya Key and the Easy Shore Snorkel in Cozumel. The ship’s shorex agent was instrumental in making our outing in Cozumel even better when she went above and beyond by contacting the company and advising them of my wife’s concerns about snorkeling and her not feeling comfortable in the water.

 

We had great meals on-board in the main dining rooms, the buffet and the specialty restaurants. Some were better than others and only one meal for me was a flop as the steak was tough. That steak was the New York strip that was served in Versailles.

 

The ship looked nice even though she showed some age in certain areas. I had read other reviews and expected worse than what I personally saw. I did see areas of wear including the carpeting but those were in high traffic areas around the stairs. With 2500 passengers per week (on this sailing schedule) I can understand the worn areas. I saw crew members cleaning and polishing at almost every turn.

 

Our mid-ship balcony cabin (10572, port side) was awesome with ample storage for our clothes and belongings. The over-the-door shoe thingy came in handy for us. The couch did show some signs of wear but again with the amount of passengers sailing every week it was no wonder.

 

We enjoyed all the entertainment venues that we saw. Most were in our opinion, outstanding with one being low on our list of enjoyment. The house band, Midnight Revue in the Spinnaker Lounge was very good as was the solo guitarist who played in various areas of the ship. The piano player in the Gatsby’s Lounge area was very talented as well.

 

The staff was friendly and those we came in contact with on a regular basis made our interaction feel personal. Our cabin attendant was friendly and personable and took constant care of our cabin. One server in one main dining room we met would always come speak to us if she was in the same restaurant as we were, even if she was not our server.

 

We had an awesome time and hope to do this again sometime in the near future.

 

Again, I will post a wordy review and pictures as soon as I can. Bear with me as it make take me a bit due to my current schedule, or lack thereof.

 

I will be happy to answer questions to the best of my ability as well.

 

BALCONY CABIN (BA) 10572.

DSC_0043.001.jpg

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We are looking forward to your review. We are on the Star in May! May I ask, are the 9th deck balconies covered?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Will be a first time NCL cruiser on Star in 26 days so looking forward to your insights. Fifteen pages - on vacation? When did you relax?

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Congratulations on the anniversary! Can't wait to see your review and photos - I'm seriously considering sailing the Star from NYC to Bermuda in September, so any ship thoughts/info would be helpful!

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NORWEGIAN STAR – WESTERN CARIBEAN CRUISE

7 NIGHT

12-18-2011 to 12-25-2011.

 

 

 

READERS DIGEST VERSON –

This will be my short, Readers Digest version. I will be posting individually from my fifteen type-written pages as I can and including pictures. I will be doing this as time permits as I am still on “vacation” and trying to readjust to the “real” world where I actually have to do something for myself.

 

This was our first cruise. We celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary on-board.

We had a wonderful time and at this point I am wondering if it will be topped, or even paralleled.

 

Embarkation was very quick even with the amount of people.

We had a quiet lunch in Versailles after embarking, avoiding the buffet thanks to tips from the Cruise Critic’s members.

 

We took two ship’s sponsored excursions, one in Roatan to Maya Key and the Easy Shore Snorkel in Cozumel. The ship’s shorex agent was instrumental in making our outing in Cozumel even better when she went above and beyond by contacting the company and advising them of my wife’s concerns about snorkeling and her not feeling comfortable in the water.

 

We had great meals on-board in the main dining rooms, the buffet and the specialty restaurants. Some were better than others and only one meal for me was a flop as the steak was tough. That steak was the New York strip that was served in Versailles.

 

The ship looked nice even though she showed some age in certain areas. I had read other reviews and expected worse than what I personally saw. I did see areas of wear including the carpeting but those were in high traffic areas around the stairs. With 2500 passengers per week (on this sailing schedule) I can understand the worn areas. I saw crew members cleaning and polishing at almost every turn.

 

Our mid-ship balcony cabin (10572, port side) was awesome with ample storage for our clothes and belongings. The over-the-door shoe thingy came in handy for us. The couch did show some signs of wear but again with the amount of passengers sailing every week it was no wonder.

 

We enjoyed all the entertainment venues that we saw. Most were in our opinion, outstanding with one being low on our list of enjoyment. The house band, Midnight Revue in the Spinnaker Lounge was very good as was the solo guitarist who played in various areas of the ship. The piano player in the Gatsby’s Lounge area was very talented as well.

 

The staff was friendly and those we came in contact with on a regular basis made our interaction feel personal. Our cabin attendant was friendly and personable and took constant care of our cabin. One server in one main dining room we met would always come speak to us if she was in the same restaurant as we were, even if she was not our server.

 

We had an awesome time and hope to do this again sometime in the near future.

 

Again, I will post a wordy review and pictures as soon as I can. Bear with me as it make take me a bit due to my current schedule, or lack thereof.

 

I will be happy to answer questions to the best of my ability as well.

 

BALCONY CABIN (BA) 10572.

DSC_0043.001.jpg

We are sailing on the STAR next October..first time on that ship. Did you use room service at all? I did on the GEM and they were punctual and got everything right.

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We are looking forward to your review. We are on the Star in May! May I ask, are the 9th deck balconies covered?

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Deck 9 balconies are covered by the floor of Deck 10.

Deck 11 just above us stuck out a bit further than our railing creating an over hang of sorts.

 

I should have some pictures up in a few days.

 

Hope this helps.

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Will be a first time NCL cruiser on Star in 26 days so looking forward to your insights. Fifteen pages - on vacation? When did you relax?

 

I typed fast. :D

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Congratulations on the anniversary! Can't wait to see your review and photos - I'm seriously considering sailing the Star from NYC to Bermuda in September, so any ship thoughts/info would be helpful!

 

I would do it in a heart beat.

I will be posting more of my log in the next few days.

I hope you will find some information in there useful.

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We are sailing on the STAR next October..first time on that ship. Did you use room service at all? I did on the GEM and they were punctual and got everything right.

 

We used room service one morning for the breakfast that was included in the Deluxe Anniversary / Honeymoon package. They called a few minutes before delivery and were actually a few minutes early.

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Below are some cabin pictures from our cabin 10572.

 

This will be about it for today. I am working with an unfamiliar laptop and a slow wireless connection.

 

I hope this will hold eveyone over for a bit. :D

 

 

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DSC_0050%252520%252528Medium%252529.JPG

 

DSC_0051%252520%252528Medium%252529.JPG

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We are in 10969 next month so I will bet our room will look exactly like this one. Thanks for the pics and keep 'em coming!

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INTRODUCTION –

This is the first cruise for my wife and I [late(ish) 50’s and early(ish) 50’s]. We are finally able to book a cruise after looking for over three years. For one reason or another it never worked out until now.

 

We celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary on-board on the 23rd.

 

We choose this cruise for the itinerary and the departure point being Tampa. We were able to drive to Tampa from the Atlanta, GA area and save on airfare.

 

I had researched cruises and with the help of a friend who is a travel agent, booked this cruise. We were booked in a mid-ship balcony (BA) cabin, room 10572 which is on the port side of the ship. I have also spent a lot of time on Cruise Critic reading reviews, information on the Star and checking out pictures. I have read a lot of reviews and comments. Most were positive with a few harsh negatives thrown in. I have maintained what I feel is neutral ground with a positive attitude ready to face the experience with what I feel is an open mind.

 

I am starting this journal of sorts as we are still sailing. Yes – I took a computer with me. I know to some it sounds crazy and may fall under the category of “I don’t understand”. I find that the computer has come in useful to download pictures daily. I also find the over-the-door shoe-thingy to be helpful as well, so call me weird if you must, but that thing actually is working for us.

 

I am a bit of a picky eater when it comes to certain foods. I will try most anything, but draw the line at escargot. By the end of the cruise I found very few things that I would not or could not eat. We did have some meals that were not as good as others, but I think that would be the case in any situation.

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TAMPA PORT AND BOARDING –

DAY 1 –

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2011.

EMBARKATION AND DEPARTURE.

 

We stayed the night at a Hilton Garden Inn in Riverwiew. It was a very nice, new hotel.

 

After our setback with the hotel shuttle to the port, we finally arrived at the Tampa Port Terminal #3 at 1230. We had off-loaded all the Carnival passengers from our shuttle first and then it was just the wife and I for the Star. A porter quickly whisked our luggage away and we rode the escalator to the second floor of the terminal building. Arriving at the top of the escalator I saw a lot of people. There were two lines out the door of the security check-in, down the side of the terminal building. Initially I felt we were going to end up waiting for a long time. I was later impressed that these lines moved fairly quickly. The agent at the door checked our identification and tickets. We then snaked through the serpentine maze to the security point where we passed through metal detectors and our carry-on luggage went through x-ray. We were quickly on our way to registration after filling out a health card.

 

At the registration desk our tickets and passports were checked. Our picture was taken as was our credit card swiped for on-board expenses. We were then issued our ship’s card. We made our way up another escalator and had our embarkation picture taken. We then made our way outside where we snaked through the gangway and were greeted on Deck #7 by the energetic, smiling NCL crew dancing, singing and welcoming us with a smile. We were directed aft to another checkpoint where they swiped our cards and welcomed us aboard again.

 

After reading many tips about lunch, we headed aft, down one deck to Deck #6 to Versailles for lunch. We were again greeted warmly and seated immediately. There were very few passengers in the main dining room. We were seated in the very aft of the room near the large windows. We were immediately greeted and handed menus. What I found interesting is that the menus were handed to us opened. This is not something I am used to and I suppose is indicative of a finer restaurant.

 

Here is where I must interject that the wife and I normally split meals when we go out to eat. We are not big eaters and find that one entrée per person is almost always too much food. At the end of the cruise we found that this was not the norm for meals served in the restaurants on-board with a couple of exceptions. The portion size was more “normal” if you will.

 

We ordered a club sandwich to split and Roni ordered the corn chowder soup. The food was delivered very quickly and we enjoyed a quiet lunch. We decided to order desert and that too came to the table very quickly.

 

Our lunch experience was wonderful and took about thirty minutes from start to finish.

 

After lunch, about 1400, I wanted to see if our room was available. They had not made the announcements that they were, but after reading Cruise Critic, I knew that most were ready before the appointed time. We made our way to the forward elevators and up to Deck 10. We walked down the left (port) side of the ship towards the aft of the ship. Luggage was starting to stack up in the hallway but there was no trouble getting by. We found our cabin with two of our four pieces of luggage already there. I tried the key card. The light blinked green as if the card was accepted but the door did not open. I tried again and failed with the same results. We then decided to walk around and explore the ship some before we tried the room again. We worked our way back down to deck seven and through the masses of people that were still boarding the ship. We found that there was a designated (more-or-less) smoking area on deck seven on the port side. The starboard side of the ship has some no smoking signs posted. We hung out on the port side of the ship long enough to take in some of the Tampa port while I smoked. We visited the Stardust Theatre and found Gatsby’s Lounge, Ginza / Teppanyaki, Le Bistro and La Cucina.

 

At about 1500 we headed back to our stateroom to try the door again. I slid in the key and the light flashed green again. Once more I was unable to open the door. I tried again and this time, I pushed the door inwards instead and, viola, we had access to our balcony cabin which we would call home for the next seven days. Honesty, I never thought about opening the door inwards, I guess I was just too excited to even think about trying it the first time.

 

Our room was wonderful. The ship’s staff had already set up the balloons, streamers and decorations as part of the Deluxe Honeymoon / Anniversary package that I had ordered. The flowers were there as well but it did not dawn on me until later in the day when they switched out that they had delivered the wrong flowers initially. We enjoyed the thrill of knowing that we had a wonderful space to call home for the next seven days while we started to unpack.

 

The cabin has in my opinion has lots of storage space. As we started to unpack the other two suitcases arrived. This was at about 1600 to 1630. We stored almost everything clothes and personal items wise in the cabin. I left a few items in one suitcase. These were the power cords and miscellaneous items well as some snorkel gear. Those suitcases fit under the bed with room to spare. The closet space has a light in the back with a small lighted switch on the bottom. This little light helps tremendously. There were eighteen, very nice, wood hangers in the closet. On the left side of the closet about half way on down to the floor are four shelves. These shelves jut outwards from the side of the closet towards the hallway-side and are under the in-room safe. We found these shelves to be great for shoes on the bottom and shirts and what-not’s as well. The back wall of the closet has two small shelves that can fold out into the closet. You could almost double the amount of hanging space horizontally, but you would be hanging only short items such as shirts or folded pants. The storage area above the closet is for life vests. Ours were not stored there but were instead in the top cubby above the safe. I used this area for my almost empty shaving kit and her hairdryer. On the left side of the closet are two large cubby holes and the in-room safe. The safe is about chest level behind a hinged wooden door. You enter a four digit code and press the “CLOSE” button and the safe locks. Re-enter the same four digit code and the safe will re-open. Roni used one of the cubbies above the safe for her shoes and pool towel storage.

 

On the right side of the closet is the mini-fridge and above that, two small shelves. All this is over three drawers. The drawers offered ample storage for unmentionables, swimwear and the occasional odd item.

 

The TV stand near the balcony door offered a little more storage as well for small items. I kept my personal effects here when not in use as well as cameras and our traveling alarm clock. We put the flowers on the top shelf for the cruise duration. This stand houses the ship’s phone and two light switches, one for the couch-side of the room and the other switch for the balcony light. The small table under the television can be moved around if needed. I find that it is useful for the ice bucket and assorted “stuff” but it seems to be in the way more often than not.

 

See the pictures of the cabin in the first few posts.

 

Sail-away commenced about 1715. We followed the Carnival Legend out of the port leaving the HAL ship behind.

 

We finished unpacking, cleaned up and headed to Aqua for dinner. Aqua was seemingly full but we got in and were seated right away. Again we were greeted with smiles and open menus. We were seated at about 1800 and received our entree by 1820. Again, another quickly delivered meal. Roni had the salmon specialty and I had the roasted strip loin of beef. Roni was not overly fond of the salmon but it was only because of the sauce that the salmon was topped with. My meal was wonderful as would almost all the meals that I had. We ended with Key Lime pie for desert. Again, the meal was quick and wonderful. We headed to Deck 7 to see the sights and take in some ocean air. We had already sailed under the bridge and were on our way to Roatan, Honduras.

 

We took in the show in the Stardust Theater at 2100 and had a great time. The show was a sort of Christmas presentation. There were singers, dancers and an aero / acrobatic display by “Duo Amaury”. While we do not take in shows at home, this was a great treat and wonderfully presented. The Cruise Director, Jamie also introduced the senior crew members. It was a really nice show. The petite blonde singer that sang, “Santa Baby” did an awesome job.

 

The seas started to pickup to about four feet. We could feel the ship rocking and swaying. It was an interesting experience to feel as we have never cruised before. Roni and I made our way to the Spinnaker Lounge and had a couple of adult beverages (lemon drop martinis and Jack & Pepsi). We enjoyed and danced for several hours to the live band, “Midnight Revue”.

 

Versailles Main Dining Room.

Deck 6, aft of ship.

Nice quiet lunch here just after embarkation.

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Coast Guard escort.

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The Carnival Legend departs just ahead of the NCL Star in Tampa.

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Cargo ship coming into Tampa.

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The Carnival Legend at sunset.

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Aqua for dinner on the first night.

Appetizer -

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My Roasted Stip Loin of Beef.

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Roni's salmon.

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Key Lime Pie for desert.

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Lemon Drop Martinis.

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Spinnakers.

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Stardust Theatre.

DSC_0035%252520%252528Medium%252529.JPG

 

View of Gatsby's Louge on Deck 6 from Deck 7.

La Cucina and Le Bistro are accessed from the lounge area.

DSC_0041%252520%252528Medium%252529.JPG

 

Sushi and Tepanyaki on Deck 7 just above Gatsby's Lounge.

 

DSC_0042%252520%252528Medium%252529.JPG

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Very much enjoying your photos included review :) Hubby and I will being doing the same cruise this coming March which will be our first NCL cruise and looking forward to it very much especially since other than Cozumel we have not been to the other ports.

 

Thanks again for sharing, and glad you had a wonderful anniversary on the Star.

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Was lobster on the menu the first night?

 

It was.......but it was not good at all. Our group said that the two pieces of "lobster" looked more like crayfish and it was cold and served with a small portion of rice? The plate looked like hospital food. And the dinner took two hours start to finish. This was our first and LAST time to dine in the regular dining rooms for the rest of the trip.

 

And no - we did NOT complain as it was truly evident that the waiters were really trying and we did not want them to get into any trouble. We did have a large group too so that is always a bit more difficult to handle. I intend to write my comments to the hotel/dining department with "constructive" criticism.

 

The lobster in Cagney's is the only way to go....

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