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shadowfox7

Review of STAR 4/6/05 Romance Suite 10726 & BA 10018

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Review of the 4/6/05 sailing on the STAR Mexican Riviera.

 

If anyone would like additional information or photos of either stateroom (see below) just let me know and I will email them to you. shadowfox7@olypen.com

 

 

Embarkation: We actually arrived a day early (from Seattle) as we wanted to be relaxed and not rushed trying to fly in and board all in one day. This was a great choice for us. We had a leisurely breakfast and took a short taxi ride to the pier. We saw many people that looked tired and very cranky checking in.

 

We arrived at the pier at 11:30 am and checked our baggage with the porter. We then proceeded to the check in line. We were booked into the Romance Penthouse 10726 which is on deck 10 stern port side. We presented our documents and were whisked to the front of the line and the whole process took less than 5 minutes. Here we realized the advantages of the “penthouse” life. The perks were definitely obvious. We were walked through every process with a personal assistant who explained what we were to expect aboard including the butler and concierge service. We were issued a boarding ticket and checked into our suite at 12:15.

 

 

Disembarkation: Another perk of the being on the penthouse level is getting off the ship. We were able to sleep-in, have a leisurely breakfast and proceed to the gangway where we were met by our concierge and taken right past everyone to the head of the customs line. We estimated people were waiting at least an hour or two in line getting through customs.

 

Since we had 6 hours to kill before our flight and we didn’t want to do the city tour offered by the ship ($30/person) we rented a car for $50 and drove north along the coast all the way to Ventura before returning to LAX late afternoon for our flight home.

 

 

General impressions of the ship: We were very impressed with the condition of the ship. I hardly saw any rust spots (a definite indication of poor maintenance) and everything was painted fresh. The varnish was in excellent condition everywhere we went. The carpet was not fraying anywhere we could see. The artwork was impressive throughout the ship. The only part of the ship that was not particularly impressive was the grand atrium. It was certainly not “grand” by comparison with other “big ships”. The second level had a restaurant overlooking the lobby which I thought was a bit odd. The promenade deck was wonderfully wide and perfect for strolling completely around the ship and we never got tired of the artwork painted on the ship along this deck. The deck 13 walking/jogging track was also great as it was separated from the general areas so you were never dodging people. The pool area was tiered and never overcrowded. The music was a bit loud at times. The hot tubs were always busy. We did not use the spa facilities but did a tour and it was very impressive. All the services prices were nearly 50% off the last couple of days. The duty free liquor shop had an excellent selection with very good prices and Latitude members receive an extra 10% off. The regular shopping area had the standard selection of shirts, fragrances, jewelry and sundries.

 

 

Shows: Sorry we didn’t see any…after several cruises and never being impressed we just decided not to bother this time.

 

 

Service and Food: The service was excellent from the Butler (Ariel) and Concierge (Jenny) to the dining room staff. We ate at most of the restaurants, both free and specialty. We enjoyed the Le Bistro the best of all where we had our best meal. The Ginza was above average for Sashimi. Cagney’s Steakhouse was very nice with great steaks and lobster. I noticed that the specialty restaurants were only about ¾ full while we were dining. For general meals we enjoyed the Aqua the best as the Versailles was a bit too grand and overbearing for us and somewhat crowded and noisy especially with big tables. The menus for these two restaurants were the same for each particular night with about average quality with nothing spectacular on any night. The Market Buffet was fine for quick meals and was always hopping with “grazers” yours truly included. Some people on these boards have stated that they found the service not particularly up to par due to “Freestyle” but we found it to be excellent. They always smiled and were very pleasant whenever we asked for something additional. We always tried to engage them in some chit chat about where they were from.

 

As small example was one night there were two young ladies (sisters about 10 and 11) that sat down next to us. Our waiter(from Jamaica) was serving them and he was so pleasant and engaging, trying to make their experience special. They were all dressed up and enjoying a dinner out without parents. He did everything he could to make their dinner special. He was rather handsome and tall the girls just giggle away the evening.

 

We did fill out the comment cards but never in front of the staff. We just took them to our stateroom.

 

The ice carvings and chocolate buffet in the Versailles were the epitome of decadence. There were some major chocoholics which were in need of some serious therapy!

 

We absolutely LOVED the Freestyle Dining!!! On vacation we never know what we want to do or when we want to do it so it was wonderful to just think, hey lets go eat and off we went. We actually ate alone every night, preferring not to eat with others. I realize that most people probably enjoy eating in groups but my wife and I have such busy schedules at home where we both travel that we just wanted to be by ourselves. We fell in love with the Red Lion Bar and got all our drinks there.

 

 

Romance Penthouse 10726 & Cat BA Balcony 10018: Ok then, this is where our trip got a bit strange…We originally booked the cruise in a BA category balcony and were upgraded to the Romance Suite. When we arrived and checked in (see Embarkation above) all went well. We got into our suite which was fabulous! The décor was beautiful with light wood paneling against blue silk wallpaper. It had a Zebra patterned bed spread which was not as weird as it sounds…but we too it off anyway and the clean white sheets and Duvet made for a nice clean and crisp appearance. We had crystal glasses and a dining area to enjoy our meals. The bathroom was more than adequate with lots of storage everywhere. There were 2 safes. A really nice feature was that the closet could be accessed from both the hallway entrance and the “powder room” area. The balcony was to die for. It was so big we could have our two teakwood lounges with cushions and the dining table with chairs and still have room left over. The deck was made of Teak. There was privacy from above and sides. There was no access to the side of the ship like on deck 9 and 8 but that was not a big deal as you could still look around the partition for a great view. Another nice feature was you only had neighbors on one side. The view straight out the back of the ship was indeed incredible. If you can at all get one of these types of suites it’s worth the cost….Having said that, we were to enjoy our suite only 6 hours that first day. We were in our robes sipping our champagne out on deck watching the Long Beach skyline disappear when the phone rang. It was the Front Desk Manager informing us that there was a gentleman that wished to buy our cabin from us for $3500 cash and were we interested. He currently had a BA balcony cabin on deck 10. Needless to say we were caught off guard. Well as much as we wanted to stay in our suite it was a no brainier to take the money and run…so after checking out the other stateroom (just to make sure) we decided to take the offer. We essentially came away with a free cruise and an extra $1000 over what we paid for the suite ourselves. The cruise line was extremely nice to us and allowed us to keep our full concierge service (we lost the butler) and all the amenities that came with the original suite (nightly canapés, champagne, duvet, robes and upgraded toiletries). We are Latitudes members which may have helped.

 

The BA stateroom was more than adequate although it did take another day to get over the fact we lost our beautiful suite but then I would reach into my pocket and feel the $$$ and all was well. One interesting fact was that the shower stall was much roomier (2 could fit easily J) in the BA stateroom whereas the suite had a tub and was thus more confined.

 

 

Ports Of Call: This trip was a kind of “going home” experience for us as we had cruised aboard our sailboat in these waters for 3 years with our 5 kids. So we knew the ports well and had our favorite spots to visit which were not tourist locations. We did not do any tours and just traveled in local buses to our favorite beaches, stores and taco stands.

 

We would always just hop on a bus and leave the tourist areas and were free from the never-ending vendors.

 

In Acapulco we just strolled through the streets, way into town away from the shore. We did visit the Fort which is right across the street from the ship. Don’t take a tour. It’s a small fee to get in and there is a self guided walking tour that allows you to go at your own pace.

 

In “Z”-town” as cruisers call we again walked into town and explored the residential areas and enjoyed the Mercado (open market). We returned to the pier and went to Las Gatas beach which was wonderful. The view of the ship at anchor with the town in the background was a delight. The water was a little murky but we could still see many fish on the coral reef which you could actually walk out to (wear old tennis shoes/sandals/or water socks). NOTICE: Don’t bother taking the tour from the ship here. Just take a water taxi right at the pier. The cost is 60 pesos ($5 US) roundtrip per person and you can rent the snorkel gear on the beach for much less than the tour (we brought our own masks).

 

In Puerto Vallarta we rode the buses into town and walked to our favorite art galleries, shops and taco stands, an exhausting but delightful day.

 

In Cabo we pre-arranged an AVIS Jeep rental for the day as we wanted to drive out to one of our favorite anchorages on the east coast, about a 2 hour drive on a dirt road to a bay called Los Frailies. We had anchored here for 8 days waiting out a gale blowing in the Sea of Cortez on our way to La Paz. It was a dusty ride of about 45 miles crossing paths with goats and cattle. It has a beautiful beach and a few homes along it’s coastline. We were only able to spend a short time here needing to get back to the ship before it sailed.

Tipping: We did the standard tipping through the auto charge. We think it's a bargain. It has been $10 for as long as I can remember and to think with all the inflation over the years it's not unreasonable. We gave extra and also seperate tipping for the Concierge who is not part of the "pool" of tips.

 

Weather: Long Beach was clear and in the mid 70’s when we departed. The first full day at sea the temps were in the high 60’s. It was a good day to unwind and explore the ship. By the second day the temps were in the mid to upper 70’s. Acapulco and

 

“Z-Town” were in the low 80’s with mild humidity but the breeze was just enough to cool things down.

 

Puerto Vallarta and Cabo were also in the low 80’s but with less humidity.

 

NOTE: The ship was at the pier in Acapulco and at anchor everywhere else.

 

The trip up the coast back to Long Beach was calm for the first few hours but by late evening the wind and seas started to build. The whole next day and especially the late afternoon and night the winds built to around 35-40 knots (40-50 miles/hour) and the seas grew to between 15-20 feet. The ship’s stabilizers worked about as well as could be expected but she did start rolling and bucking a bit during the night. By morning though all was quiet and we slipped into Long Beach right on time and the weather was again in the mid 70’s.

 

 

Seasickness: After many and all attempts to combat this gremlin while cruising aboard our sailboat (my wife is prone) we finally found the one and only thing that works. It’s called “Relief Band”. It’s an electronic “wristwatch” that sends and impulse on your wrist nerves and this in turn reacts with your inner ear. What is great about it is that it’s not medicine, there are no side effects and it works even after you’ve become seasick. Its battery operated (each last about 150 hours) and has a settings from 1 -5. My wife didn’t have to use it until the last night and then only on setting 2. You can buy these online for about $80.

 

 

Well that’s about it. We had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat.

 

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I have digital pictures of both the Penthouse Suite 10726 and BA 10018.

 

Adios

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Wow, you sure were in the right place at the right time! Some people have all the luck! So, are you going on another cruise since this one was free? You should consider a cruise to Alaska if you've never been!

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Timing is everthing...we did Alaska a couple of years on the Legend of the Seas.

We are looking into either a the Med or Tahiti.

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GET OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Glad you took the money....otherwise I would have had to cyber slap you!! :)

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