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jtyasu

Star to Alaska 6/5/05 Review - Part 1

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6/5/05 – NORWEGIAN STAR TO ALASKA REVIEW – PART 1

 

EMBARKATION – This was our first experience with cruising and our first trip to Alaska. Our party consisted of two adults, two teenagers and two seniors for a total of six. Here goes with this rather long review:

 

We caught a couple of taxis to Pier 66 and arrived around 11:30am. We were able to find a porter immediately and he escorted us to an NCL agent who did a preliminary check of our documentation and told us to proceed to the check-in area. Check-in had already begun and we were given numbered cards which indicated our group number for boarding. We were met by another NCL agent who made sure we had all the right documentation and explained the whole check-in procedure. My Mom has a Green Card and the agent personally escorted her to the check-in line for resident aliens.

 

The rest of the check-in process went very smoothly as the agents carefully checked our passports and tickets. I had state certified copies of my kids’ birth certificates (with the raised seal) and had no problems. We set up the payment method for our onboard accounts by credit cards. Each stateroom gets a separate account and each person gets their own ID/charge/key card for their stateroom. A photograph is taken which is encoded onto the cards. Your mug shot appears on the computer screen for a positive ID when they swipe it every time you get on and off the ship in the various ports. Rather nifty.

 

Our boarding number was called shortly after we checked in and we were onboard around 12:30 or so. We noticed a photographer was taking pictures on deck but decided to bypass him. A young lady took my Mom’s carry-on and escorted us to our staterooms. Needless to say this made us feel very special.

 

We had two adjoining balcony cabins on deck ten. Our room steward introduced himself and explained the services he would be providing during the cruise. I had ordered a gift fruit basket and bottle of wine for each stateroom and they were waiting for our arrival just as I had instructed. I’ll have more on the ship, crew and staterooms later.

 

We decided to eat lunch in Versailles and found the place was already buzzing with activity. The view of the restaurant from the top of the stairs as you enter is simply fantastic with large windows revealing a panoramic view from the back of the ship. We were quickly escorted down the stairs to our table and the rest of the service was excellent. The food was also excellent for the most part except I found the pasta to be a little dry. It was not until later that we found out most of the people who were eating in the restaurant were a group of travel agents in town for a convention and we had the restaurant all to ourselves by the end of our meal. I guess most of our fellow cruisers decided to eat elsewhere.

 

Although the Daily indicated there were guided tours of the ship at 1:30 & 2:30, we decided to explore at our own pace before the mandatory drill at 3:45. Most of the public rooms are accessible and this is a great time to get some pictures of the facilities before they get crowded. The spa will have crew members waiting to give you a guided tour and I found them to be rather pushy as they will try to get you to book a treatment. Avoid this tour if you don’t want to hear a sales pitch.

 

The drill also went smoothly and took about half an hour. Our drill location was in the Aqua restaurant where there was ample room to sit and listen to the emergency procedures. I did not see any photographers at our location although there were pictures on the wall of the photo gallery the next day of fellow cruisers in their life jackets.

 

We went back to our staterooms and found our luggage had been delivered. We got a great view of Seattle Harbor and the Islands from our balconies as we departed. We asked our room steward to unlock the metal door between our balconies and this allowed us to freely move around. Although this is great you may find yourself having use a chair or table to prevent the door from banging during very windy conditions. Since the weather had turned rather overcast and chilly after departure, we decided to pass on the BBQ. We ate at the Blue Lagoon for a quick bite and can highly recommend the Fish & Chips and BBQ Chicken Wings…very tasty.

 

The cruise on the west side of Vancouver Island that evening was rather windy and choppy. We could feel quite a bit of movement during the night but it wasn’t bad enough to cause any real sickness. My daughter decided to work out at the spa and said the movement made her queasy while on the treadmill. She took some Bonine as a precaution and was just fine.

 

All in all it was a very painless and impressive check-in process. An NCL representative was there to guide us every step of the way. This attentiveness certainly made us feel quite welcomed. For this first time cruiser, embarkation day left me with a great impression of the ship and her crew. All my pre-cruise anxieties melted away once we sat down for our first meal onboard and we could look forward to many new experiences to come.

 

TIPS: Although your ticket may say boarding starts at 1:00 it usually starts much earlier. Arrive around 11:00 so you can board early and have a leisurely lunch onboard and do some exploring before the mandatory drill. Make sure you have the tags attached to your luggage before you arrive at the curb. This will allow you to find a porter immediately and proceed to check-in. Make sure you have all your documentation in order and readily accessible. Check your Daily as soon as you get to your stateroom so you can plan out the rest of your afternoon and evening.

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As Seattle residents who will be on the Star in Oct, we decided to head downtown yesterday to see "our ship" and take a peek at our room from the outside and watch as she sailed out of Elliott Bay. Sunday was just amazing weather all day/night, so sorry to hear it turned as you got to Vancouver Island.

 

We're looking forward to our cruise on the Star so really enjoy reading the reviews. Enjoy the rest of your cruise!

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We are leaving on the Star in Late Sept....will look forward to your writings on excursions etc. Which side of the ship do you think is better to view the inside passage and bergs?

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We are leaving on the Star in Late Sept....will look forward to your writings on excursions etc. Which side of the ship do you think is better to view the inside passage and bergs?

For some reason the Star has been cruising on the west side of Vancouver Island instead of the route through the Inside Passage as indicated on the itinerary. This was true on our cruise earlier this month and if this is the case you'll miss the scenery through the passage on the east side of the island. However, no matter what side of the ship your stateroom is located you'll see what you missed during the return trip to Seattle.

 

As for the icebergs and glaciers, the captain will turn the ship around while in Glacier Bay so that both sides get a good view. It'll be awesome!

 

Have a great cruise!

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I am most anxious to know what to pack for a cruise to Alaska? Do you need alot of warm clothing - - we are scheduled for the cruise on Star for 1st week July '05

Also, I am hoping the literature about activites for teenagers lives up - I have a 16 yr old son and hope there is something to engage him during the evenings - - we have daytrips layed out - so day time won't be the problem!!!

Also, is there one thing you forgot to pack/bring and wish you had?

This is our 1st Alaska cruise so we hope to take advantage of it by being prepared!:D

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Also, I noticed in some messages that tenders were used in ports?

 

If you have pre-signed up for daytrips - how will getting on tenders work?

 

The only time I used a tender was on that big old (but very nice) NCL ship that did the islands. That was a pain.:confused:

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Hi few,

 

The key to dressing for Alaska is "layers". The weather is unpredictable and you need to be flexible enough to roll with the punches. Make sure you're prepared with rain gear and have it with you on your shore excursions. On our trip we were very lucky and the weather was gorgeous in the ports except for Misty Fjords which lived up to its name. It can get rather chilly while out on deck because of the wind factor and on my next trip I will remember to bring a pair of gloves. These would have come in handy especially in Glacier Bay as you will want to be outside for most of the day.

 

Can't give any advice on specific teen activities as my kids never participated in them on our trip. I know there is a Teen Club program and they have activities such as dances and parties. My kids spent their time going to shows and working out in the spa.

 

On our trip we were lucky and did not have to tender at any of the ports. I think the ship usually tenders in Juneau but the captain said another ship was delayed so we took their slot. Cruisers who sign up for shore excursions through NCL will get priority if the ship needs to tender. They'll give you instructions on the time and place to meet prior to docking. Very convenient.

 

DON'T FORGET YOUR BINOCULARS! Have a great cruise!

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Thanks - great info - would never have thought about gloves

 

- I am curious also about the FORMAL nites......last time I was on an NCL trip (one of the last NCL trips for the NORWAY) it was the XMAS holiday week cruise and had 2 very formal nites (1 was New Years Eve)...

so the boys and I are having a running spat (I am the only female) about the need for formal wear. At a minimum I am insisting on khakis for dinner and maybe a sports jacket - they are even resisting this saying this is ALASKA....

Any pointers on formality of dressing in the evenings?:eek:

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Thinking about booking the Star for early Sept. Thanks for the info....Please keep it comming..................

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Thanks - great info - would never have thought about gloves

 

- I am curious also about the FORMAL nites......last time I was on an NCL trip (one of the last NCL trips for the NORWAY) it was the XMAS holiday week cruise and had 2 very formal nites (1 was New Years Eve)...

so the boys and I are having a running spat (I am the only female) about the need for formal wear. At a minimum I am insisting on khakis for dinner and maybe a sports jacket - they are even resisting this saying this is ALASKA....

Any pointers on formality of dressing in the evenings?:eek:

There is usually only one formal night on the Star to Alaska. It will be in the Versailles or Aqua restaurant and is optional. The same menu will be served in both so if you want to dress up you can choose the restaurant designated for formal attire that evening. Also, keep your eyes on your Daily for the Presidents' Dinner. The attire will be "freestyle" and the food excellent. It was one of the best meals we had in the main restaurants.

 

As for evening attire most of the people on our cruise did follow the "resort casual" rule. There were a few people with jeans and even a t-shirt for dinner so the rule seems to be flexible but they stood out like sore thumbs. I did see one man turned away at Versaiiles because of his jeans. Many people did wear sports jackets but I didn't. Khakis and collared shirts would be just fine for your boys.

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jtyasu: thanks again - knowing the dressing will make the men happy! (although the boys do look so James Bond when they dress up - - so I will miss that even if they don't!!!)

Hate to be a pest, but is the pool indoors and outdoors? Were they even open on an Alaskan cruise? - also were there hairdryers in the rooms?

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jtyasu: thanks again - knowing the dressing will make the men happy! (although the boys do look so James Bond when they dress up - - so I will miss that even if they don't!!!)

Hate to be a pest, but is the pool indoors and outdoors? Were they even open on an Alaskan cruise? - also were there hairdryers in the rooms?

There is a kiddie pool section and a regular section plus jacuzzis. Both were open on our cruise and were being used by a lot of people because the weather was great most of the time. I can't tell you whether it was cold because I did not take the plunge. The spa has a lap pool and hydro-therapy pool indoors but I believe the age limit is 16 and over.

 

I believe all rooms come with a hairdryer. We had a balcony room on the 10th deck and loved it. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the layout of the room and bathroom. Enjoy!

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Thanks for all the great information - - I am now in a panic because I just remembered we got rid of 2 of our old suitcases last Dec - - and I need to pack today and tomorrow!

 

We have a balcony as well, I believe it is on the 10th or 11th - - is there enough room under the beds to stow your empty suitcase? We will have 3 and a duffle bag - - on other NCL ships we had beds that had enough roon under them to stow the empty suitcases.....not sure about the newer ships tho~:confused:

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Do you know if the Sapphire and Diamond Princess out of Seattle also cruise the same way that the NCL Star does (NOT through the Inside Passage)? Just curious! My father-in-law said it was a MUST that we sail on a ship that goes by Glacier Bay which the Star does. Sapphire and Diamond Princess do not. But, I wonder if we're missing something by not sailing through the Inside Passage. Thanks!

 

For some reason the Star has been cruising on the west side of Vancouver Island instead of the route through the Inside Passage as indicated on the itinerary. This was true on our cruise earlier this month and if this is the case you'll miss the scenery through the passage on the east side of the island. However, no matter what side of the ship your stateroom is located you'll see what you missed during the return trip to Seattle.

 

As for the icebergs and glaciers, the captain will turn the ship around while in Glacier Bay so that both sides get a good view. It'll be awesome!

 

Have a great cruise!

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1) I believe there is enough room under the bed to store a suitcase or two as long as they are not too thick. I had a garmet bag which easily slipped underneath. There's also some room in the closet.

 

2) There have been numerous postings by other cruisers who were disappointed that the Star did not cruise on the east side of Vancouver island. This was also the case on our June 5-12 sailing. I can only go by the info given by others that we missed some great scenery and more chances to spot wildlife. I would be curious if there's anyone who got an explanation from a crew member or even the captain as to why the ship did not cruise the advertised route. I believe NCL should make a correction to their itinerary map if the ship takes the west-side route on a regular basis. In my opinion this is false advertising.

 

The Sapphire Princess sailed out of Seattle with us and we spotted her and the Diamond Princess at sea and in several ports during the 7-day cruise. I don't recall seeing them while we were crusing west of Vancouver island both north and southbound so they could have indeed taken the inside route.

 

And yes, Glacier Bay is awesome!

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I have never been so pleasantly surprised by the amount of storage on a ship! There's no need to worry about having enough room for storage of either clothes or empty suitcases and/or bags. Both beds (which can be made into one bed if you make the request to your cabin steward) have plenty of storage room beneath them for the medium and small suitcases, shopping bags, etc. Inside the closets there is a shelf above the rod for hanging clothes, a tall, deep shelf on the side with three other shelves beneath it, and still leaving room for our huge suitcase and other bags on the floor beneath the hanging clothes. On the outside beside the closet, there were three deep drawers for additional storage. The bath is divided into three sections: enclosed shower with sliding plexiglass door (includes a clothesline from one side to the other and an ample wire basket for shampoos, soaps, etc.), the vanity/sink area with magnified mirror and railed shelf for toiletries, and a separate toilet area with a sliding plexiglass door for privacy. It was a wonderful setup. The stateroom had a dressing table with padded stool and a well-lit mirror with a hairdryer on the wall. When we arrived, an electric coffee pot on a tray with coffee and condiments rested on the dressing table, but I put it on top of the mini-refrigerator out of my way for our cruise. There was also a small five-foot sofa that could be converted into a twin bed and storage room beneath its cover as well. By the balcony door was a built in desk with a chair and the television rested upon a shelf above the desk with another semi-circular shelf above the tv. Our stateroom felt almost spacious because of its arrangement and attention to storage. And it was always CLEAN! Outside the door of each stateroom a small dial mounted to the wall allows the cabin steward and cruisers to communicate efficiently: Welcome (steward's signal that he's tended to the room); Makeup cabin (cruiser's signal that he/she has vacated the room and requests that it be cleaned and bed made up); Do Not Disturb (self-explanatory).

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Couldn't have described it better myself, bluedevil72! Great description of the stateroom. We were also pleasantly surprised.

 

Also on the wall-mounted dial: Turn Down (signal to the steward that you'd like the bed and/or sofa prepared for the evening by the time you get back).

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Do you know if the Sapphire and Diamond Princess out of Seattle also cruise the same way that the NCL Star does (NOT through the Inside Passage)? Just curious! My father-in-law said it was a MUST that we sail on a ship that goes by Glacier Bay which the Star does. Sapphire and Diamond Princess do not. But, I wonder if we're missing something by not sailing through the Inside Passage. Thanks!

Both the Sapphire & Diamond Princess cruise on the west side of Vancouver Island and go to Tracy Arm Fjord/Sawyer Glacier. You do miss the magnificent scenery of British Columbia's Inside Passage when you cruise on the west side of Vancouver Island but you do cruise Alaska's Inside Passage. It's still a wonderful cruise with lots to see but you do miss some fantastic scenery on the two "at sea" days.

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THANKS Blue Devil - - I just picked up a couple of suitcases and hope they can be stowed - - sounds like there should be enough room - - its been over 2 years since I bought big suitcases, they are looking mighty thick to me - - we'll see!!

your description of the stateroom is outstanding - -!!!!!

Off to finish packing!!!!!

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We stowed two 26inch suitcases under one side of the bed. As far as formal night, we were told the Versailles restaurant was designated the formal restaurant. There were 5 of us traveling in three rooms. The women didn't really want to get into formal clothes, so we all went to the Aqua. We wore nice (church type) clothes and the men wore jackets and dress pants, but no ties. I personally wouldn't go to a formal restaurant unless my husband and I were dressed for it, but that's JMO. The Star is a wonderful ship and I hope to go on it again next year. Even though we did a lot in Alaska, there is far more to see.

 

Katie

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