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coasteraddict

Another Star 5/30 review

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Like Deb, we also went on 5/30 Star. This was only our 2nd cruise ever. Our 1st cruise was RC Voyager ship to West Carribean.

We arrived in Seattle Thursday night and stayed at Grand Hyatt Seattle through precruise trip booked through NCL. Hotel was fantastic!!! and conveniently located in downtown. Friday we used coupons we received with package to do Underground tour in Pioneer Square (was enjoyable) and Argosy lock boat trip. We also did Space Needle and took monorail from Needle park back to hotel. Saturday we went to Mt. St. Helen's as part of NCL package. We enjoyed this trip with only one other couple...had a nice size van with driver for just 4 of us for better part of day. Trip ended with dinner. It was just a shame that by the time we got to the visitor center at Johnston Ridge, the rain and fog rolled in pretty heavy and we didn't get to see much of top of Mt. St. Helens.

Sunday we went down to Pike Place Market (Deb is right...lots of gorgeous flowers at the flower stands!) and had breakfast on 2nd floor of Lowell's overlooking the Bell Street Pier and had our first glimpse of our ship!

We had a transfer from our hotel to pier as part of NCL precruise package. The transfer picked up every 1/2 hour at our hotel from 10:30 - 2:00pm. We took the transfer at 1pm and arrived at pier about 20 minutes later. We tipped the longshoremen to take our luggage...no problem. However, we must have waited at least 1 1/2 hours to embark ship. And the only reason we got on that soon was because as soon as we finally got the 2nd floor of the cruise pier they pulled part of our line into the lattitudes check-in just to get the line moving faster.

Deb was right...I believe our original sail time was supposed to be 4pm. However, it didn't sail until at least some time after 6pm. You could tell that they were still loading luggage after 4pm.

We ate in Aqua restaurant...meal was very good and we were seated right away. We ate at least 2 more nights in this restaurant. They usually had the same menu as Versailles...though sometimes we found that each had a slightly different fish option or side entree difference.

Monday we relaxed! The weather was so-so. We did enjoy a movie in the ship's cinema. They had popcorn on the outside deck by the pool before the movie which you could take in with you. Monday night we ate in the Tex-Mex restaurant Endless Summer. Both my husband and I had fahitas (shrimp for him and chicken for me). Food was also very good (including Sangria with fresh fruit and jalapena poppers).

Tuesday in Juneau it was a little disappointing to find we would tender in. We had tender ticket #4 and arrived at the dock about 2:30 pm). We stopped by the Mt. Robert's tram and paid for roundtrip shuttle tickets to Mendenhall Visitor center/glacier. (we used frontier, $10/person roundtrip, they picked up at dock and Mendenhall every 1/2 hour). We had late afternoon lunch at a bar on waterfron called the Hanger which had great window seats overlooking the area where float planes where coming in and out. We then walked town a little before our 7pm helicopter trip through Temsco to walk on Mendenhall Glacier. This was great as we were last tour for the day. We were only two people going up with helicopter pilot. The helicopter that dropped us off picked up last people on glacier. We had our own glacier guide for just the two of us. She was great and said she was able to show us things she couldn't usually take a larger group to. Since we were the last tour of the day, the remaining glacier guides flew back with us on the way off the glacier. What a special treat we had!

Next stop....Skagway....will send later this evening.

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[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img] CoasterAddict: Another review!! Well this is a real treat! Thank you very much. I enjoy reading them.I do have a question about the hairdryers on the Star. How are they? Can I use theirs or should I bring my own? When was lobster night? Looking forward to reading more.

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Thanks for posting - looking forward to hearing more! Was there a chocolate buffet - if so, when was it?
Any special events on the ship that you really enjoyed?

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The hairdryers were just fine...never unpacked the one I brought. Lobster night was Friday night after Ketchikan (everyone headed down early...we ended up putting our name on a waiting list and was told could seat us in 1 1/2 hour. (Deb's right..3 small pieces of tail...on RC we received a whole tail...though the waiter did offer to get my husband a 2nd serving of lobster.) The chocolate buffet was from 11:30-12:30. We fell asleep but set a wake up call to go down. Once again, there was a line from Versaille entrance all the way down to the grand atrium by the time we got there around 11:50. My husband had been frustrated earlier in the day with the long tender line in ketchikan and decided to skip the buffet. It was probably about 20 minutes wait to get to the buffet. It was good...if you didn't mind the wait.

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Skagway:

Greatly relieved we docked - no tender here. Downtown itself is quite cute with the buildings and train depot. I originally had planned to go on the train but my husband was really anxious to try the horseback riding. We did a horseback ride through Southeast Tours. We had a 1 1/2 hour van ride up along some of the same road the train paralled for a while, through Frasier and into the Yukon up to Emerald Lake. Once again we had the van and Joni (who led the horse ride) to ourselves. I've only been on a horse once before in my life but really enjoyed it! We even saw bear tracks on the ride...but actually I was quite relieved not to meet up with the bear! On the van ride back, Dave from Southeast was kind enough to make some stops for pictures. The ride up to the Yukon had fantastic scenery!!!! I really enjoyed getting out of town some. We still had time to walk around town and check out the train when it came back into town.

Glacier Bay: Sunshine!! We had a perfect day in Glacier Bay. It was very windy though. This was one day when I was glad to have my earmuffs and gloves while standing at the front of the boat. (of course later that night, we sat on our balcony in short sleeve shirts, sunglasses....who can figure the weather in Alaska!) We must have spent at least 4-5 hourse in Glacier Bay. The ship got quite close for viewing and spun around so everyone had a chance to view Marjorie Glacier. There was even some "calving" going on.

Ketchikan: My husband and I split up today. He really wanted to go fishing (we booked on our own...Northern Lights) and I really wanted to do the Misty Fjords Seaplane (we booked on our own with Island Wings). Once again we find out we were tendering in and out of Ketchikan. There was a small notice in the Daily Bulletin so my husband had gone to the library right as soon as they started to give the tender tickets out so we could get an early tender because his fishing tour was supposed to pick him up at 7:00 am (we were supposed to dock at 6:30 am originally). My husband was really worried about making his trip. They let the NCL booked tours tender first. In fact we finally just got onto a tender before they even called for people with tender ticket #1 and made it to the dock by 7:15 am. Luckily Ken from Northern Lights had parked his boat at the same dock our tender went to and waited for my husband. Unfortunately, it was not a good day of fishing but he still enjoyed the trip (and a good eagle story from the trip).

My seaplane ride was supposed to be at 8:00 am with a 7:45 pickup at dock. I had no problem with making the pickup but when we got to the plane, Michelle explained that she discovered a potential alternator problem during preflight checks and was having a mechanic come over to check it out. So the van driver took our group over to Saxman park to see totem poles, up to hotel where incline chair goes to for view, and van tour of downtown. The plane was fixed and we were up in the air by 9:15 am. (I must give Michelle credit, she was not willing to take chance and told us exactly how long would probably take and offered to reschedule us with another company if repairs took longer). This was my favorite excursion!! The views were incredible, everyone had a window in the plane and a headset with microphone in which to talk to Michelle and other passengers. Rather than precorded tape during flight, Michelle gave information and answered everyone's questions. The best part was landing on one of the little mountain lakes and getting out of the plane for about 15-25 minutes. It was absolutely beautiful, peaceful and all you heard was the rush of a waterfall down the side of the mountain and birds.

I walked down creek street and through town and went to get in line for tender at 12:25 (last tender was at 1:00). Unfortunately, there was an incredible long line for the tender. My husband was closer to the front since he got in line around 12:15. Needless to say there were a lot of unhappy people waiting in a very disorganized line to tender back. Around 2pm the captain made an announcement that there were approx. 500 people still on shore waiting to tender back yet and that we would be leaving late as he couldn't leave them behind! This delay along with a stron headwind caused us to be late docking in Victoria on Saturday.

Victoria: We docked in Victoria, but the ship didn't dock until 7 pm (was supposed to be there at 6pm) and until you waiting in line to get off the boat and through line at Canada customs it was almost 7:30 until our tour left dock. This was only tour we booked through NCL (other than precruise tour in Seattle). The captain had guaranteed everyone we would stay until 1 am since late docking and that all tours would not be cut short. This was true, however, our tour was for Buchert Gardens and wine tasting. The tour bus did go through down and the tour leader putted out many places on waterfront on way to Gardens. However, we didn't get into the gardents until a little after 8:30 pm so we didn't have as much daylight for pictures as we would have had originally. The gardens are fantastic!!!...but then I like gardening. We left Buchert Gardens at 10:00 pm and went to Victoria Estate Winery. They had a very nice set up in basement of winery where wine barrels stored. Tables in white linens, table cloths and chocolate and wine paring. It was nice but if you are a serious wine person, it was really geared more as a tourist attraction rather than serious winery. On the way back to ship, the bus stopped downtown so people could take a picture of the lighted government building.

Disembarkation:

We had previously requested early disembarking and left ship at 8:30 am. Getting off was easy, finding you're bags dumped in big warehouse/cruise building not so easy. We finally found two bags together, 3rd bag nearby and 4th bag way on other side of building after much searching....seems like there should have been a better method.

Overall, we enjoyed trip...how can you not...Alaska is beautiful! Most frustrating part was tendering, lines and delays getting into port. Food was good in main dining rooms and specialty restaurants (we ate in texmex and italian). We had no complaints with service. Staff was generally very nice and helpful. We loved having balcony room! We ordered breakfast from room service every day and watched scenery go by as traveled inside passage. Deb is also correct, our boat did go west of Vancouver Island before going into inside passage. There was definitely boat rocking motion to contend with the first day and a half and the trip from Ketchikan to Victoria. Check out the jacuzzi, hydrotherapy pool and lap pool in spa. No charge to use and great lounge chairs overlooking from back of boat in spa. The cruise director was quite humorous and entertainment in main theater fairly good.

We're not diehard cruisers. We are usually going for the destinations and ports of call, not necessarily for the boat activities. I liked being able to pick when to dine and where and with whom, but my husband said he preferred cruise with set time and regular wait staff. We heard many people frustrated with lines and tendering, and late arrivals in port...maybe this will work itself out after a few cruises. But it was still a great vacation...loved Alaska and ports! Hope everyone has a good trip!!!!

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Great review and all very accurate. Wish you could have come to the meeting on Monday. It was quite a treat to meet everyone I had been talking to on line for 3 months! And hopefully, we'll be able to keep in touch!

STAR gazing in Alaska
[img]http://escati.linkopp.net/cgi-bin/countdown.cgi?trgb=000000&srgb=00ff00&prgb=008080&cdt=2004;5;30;16;00;00&timezone=GMT-0800[/img]

NCL Star 5/30/04
Carnival Destiny 4/02

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Coasteraddict,
Thank you so much for your great review! We too have the Southeast Tours horseback riding and Island Wings Misty Fjords seaplane trips booked. Glad to hear that you enjoyed both. As for the horseback riding, were you able to get anything to eat for lunch? I heard they have snacks only after the ride. I'm so excited - can hardly wait for our cruise in August.

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The only food on the Southeast Tours was at the end of the ride...basically some baked goodies, "cowboy coffee" and soda. I would recommend a hearty breakfast that morning or grabbing a quick sandwich before you leave.

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[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] coasteraddict: I appreciate your information about the hairdryers. That's one less thing to take! We hope they get some of the kinks worked out before our cruise, but we will be overjoyed just to see Alaska and glacier bay. What do you think is the best spot for veiwing glacier bay on the ship. We have no balcony(not yet anyway).

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I am wondering with the remodel that just took place, does the ship have the feel of a "new ship"? When adding the casino, are there slot machines? What time do lines start to form for dinner. If we were to go as soon as the dining room opens, would we have to wait,as a rule?
Are the colors they chose toward the sedate or more vivid colors?

Thanks for any input you can provide.

Carnival Spirit-Hawaii
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Thank you for a great review. I appreciate you taking the time to go into such detail. You answered some of my questions. It sounds like you had a wonderful cruise, despite the tendering issues. Tendering is never a great activity, in my opinion. But it has to be done.

Cathy

[url="http://www.pazooter.com"][img]http://www.pazooter.com/bandc.gif[/img][/url]


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Until our **STAR** search
Seattle to Alaska on NCL Star
June 27, 2004

Fantasy 12/25/03
Inspiration 4/13/03
NCL Majesty 12/27/02
Jubilee 3/23/02
Norwegian Sea 11/23/01

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Coasteraddict: Thanks for your review. I reached the Ketchikan section and realized that my wife and I were on the Island Wings flight with you! You helped us with a picture at the lake. Hope your picture that I took came out alright. We also just hopped onto a tender in order to make the flight; we missed the first notice about tendering in the Freestyle Daily and ended up with tender ticket #16!

I'm thinking about doing a review, but you and the others have included such good detail that I would have little to add other than a few of our own restaurant and/or excursion impressions. Thanks again for the great review.

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Thank you coasteraddict!! [img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

ganders, we would love to hear your additional observations as well!!

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I have a few questions......

How is the drinking water on board? They do offer something besides the Evian they charge for don't they?

On the rainy days, is it all day rain, or spotty like it can be in Florida?

Also, I noticed you said that you did not get into Juneau until 2:30. I know it shows 2:00 in the brochure, but I made 2 calls to NCL and also had my TA inquire, and all 3 times the answer was 9am to 10pm for Juneau, that's quite a difference between 9am and 2:30. I'm going to have to call again........

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Mo,

"Technically" we should have arrived in Juneau at noon. We were late because of the trickle down effect of leaving late. I asked one of the excursion directors when we got on board, since I also had seen the 9am arrival time on line. He said noon and there are not any other excursions added.

With the tendering off the ship and the possibility of late arrival, I would not plan anything too early.

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[img]http://messages.cruisecritic.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_cool.gif[/img]ganders: Yes do write a review!!! You may have tried a different restaurant or have a different opinion. Or maybe you could comment about the new casino or a shore excursionetc. This is why I like to read different reviews. Thanks.

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