Jump to content

Another Star “Post Dry Dock” Review, 5 Day Cabo & Spring Break


Recommended Posts

Hello everyone!

 

We’re just off the Star from her first cruise following dry dock, the 5 day cruise to Cabo. I'm going to try to finish this review over the next day or two, because I figure if I don't write it down now, I'll forget a lot of stuff, and end up not writing much of anything! ;)

 

Now to be fair to those CC members who love photos, I will first say that I don’t have any to share. I’m sorry! So if you only read the reviews to see photos, mine may disappoint. I’m just not much of a photographer. My husband took a few random photos, but nothing specific that you all might be interested in. I do, however, have a detailed take on our cruise in general, the food and beverage service, the dry dock, and a few other items!

 

Travel to Los Angeles

 

We left Phoenix early the day before the cruise, had an uneventful drive to LA (my husband slept most of the way, ha!) and checked into the Crowne Plaza, which I bid for on Priceline a few months before the cruise. It’s a nice hotel in a great location, just across the street from the maritime museum and near the cruise port. The staff were all quite friendly, too. I asked for a view of the harbor, but the rooms that have the best view (on the East end of the building) are the mini suites and executive suites, so we paid an extra $30 for one of those rooms. It may seem silly, but it was totally worth it to us! We love the water, and we don‘t get to see the ocean often, so it was great having that beautiful view. The corner executive suites are huge, and we could see both the entrance to the harbor, and the World Cruise Center.

 

We had dinner at the San Pedro Fish Market. It’s not the cleanest or quietest place, but DH got tons of seafood and it was grilled to perfection, along with potatoes and veggies. I’m not a seafood lover, but I munched on some shrimp and the veggies, which were delicious! And, the table next to the water didn’t hurt. (You’ll notice a theme of tables next to the water throughout our trip. I really do love the ocean. Someday, I may move to be next to it! But for now, cruising will have to suffice. ;)

 

We watched sunset from the waterfront, and then wandered all along that area towards the WCC, and finally returned to the hotel. I tried to go to sleep early, but I was too excited! I kept waking up and opening the curtains to see if the Star was in port yet. Finally, at about 4 AM I could see the Star as she was just nearing the harbor entrance. So, the kid in me couldn’t help it – I woke up my husband and we got dressed and walked down to the pier to watch the Star back into the harbor! It was actually pretty cool to see. We did bring binoculars, which we used quite a bit during the cruise. The Star reached her berth at exactly 5:00 AM – I thought that was pretty impressive, considering that was her scheduled arrival time!

 

Back at the hotel, we packed, loaded the car, had breakfast, and drove to the port. Yes, we were ridiculously early, but I didn’t care. I was too excited to sleep anyway, and I didn’t want to just sit in our hotel room!

 

Note: For a short 5 day cruise, it was actually a better deal for us to bid on Priceline and pay the parking fees at the WCC. They have gone up, however, and it's now $16 per day instead of $12. But I did like the convenience of having our car at the port. For a longer cruise, I'd probably choose the park and sail package at the Crowne Plaza or Doubletree.

 

EMBARKATION

 

Upon arrival at the WCC, we unloaded our bags and then hung out in front of the check-in building, and I chatted with some of the workers who were getting off the ship. They were extremely glad to be getting off and going home for some leave. They were also clearly sick of the ship, and exhausted from the dry dock. Every single one of the workers said it simply wasn’t enough time to get everything done, and they needed at least another week, if not a full month, to do things properly. A couple of the contractors actually seemed rather disgusted with NCL for trying to cram in so much, in such a short amount of time. That was disappointing to hear, but not surprising. If the ship isn’t cruising, she isn’t making money – but I still think it would be better to do things right, even if it means losing one more week of income. But I’m not the CEO, so…

 

They let us into the building around 9:45 AM, and we went through security and then sat down to wait for check-in to begin. Now, on CC I have read a few awful stories about suites check-in at San Pedro, but I was very pleasantly surprised. There was a friendly gentleman who approached us and asked our suite number, and told us where to go once check-in began. They were very clear about timing for everything, which I appreciated. I knew we were early and would have to wait, so no big deal. There were lots of other people who were early as well, and the staff made sure to communicate with all of us. The staff in general at the port were all outstanding, from what I could see – very friendly, smiling, and eager to assist. Now, maybe it was because it was early and the hoardes had not yet arrived, lol, but I appreciated their positive attitudes!

 

Check-in began at about 10:30AM, maybe a little later. It was very smooth, and then we were directed to the suites waiting area. They eventually brought in some coffee and snacks – just simple things like brie on baguettes and loaf cake, but it was nice to have something to drink and munch on!

 

Also, since it was St. Patrick's Day, a lot of people were dressed in green, and had on fun hats or shirts, beads, etc. I loved it, made things quite festive!

 

There was a delay for boarding, something about not yet having cleared customs. I wondered if it had to do with the sheer number of staff getting off and new staff coming on, but I could be wrong about that. Regardless, they kept telling us, “Ok, we’re going to board now”, so we would get up and get in line, and then they said no, sit down, there’s a delay…etc., etc. Even on the gangway, they stopped everyone again. Not a big deal for us, we were just excited to board, but it did seem to irk some people. I think it was close to 12:15 or 12:30 PM when they finally let passengers onboard. So, not late, but certainly not too early, either.

 

We were escorted to our suite by our butler, Cipriano, who was AWESOME!! We loved Cipriano, he was always smiling and incredibly friendly and prompt. He showed us to our room, and then showed us to Cagney’s for lunch. We ended up not staying at Cagney’s because it was a zoo by then, so we went back to our room to unpack first instead.

Link to post
Share on other sites

excited to read the rest of your review! We board the Star on Sunday, cant wait! I do have a question if you or anyone else reading this can answer. We are suite passengers, but are traveling with another couple that are NOT staying in a suite, but they are Platinum. My question is, will they be allowed to stay in the waiting area with us, and go aboard at the same time we do? I can understand that they probably will not be allowed to eat lunch in Cagney's, but if they were allowed to at least board with us, that's be great. Anyone have any experience with this kind of situation?

Edited by mcgovernsandra
Link to post
Share on other sites
excited to read the rest of your review! We board the Star on Sunday, cant wait! I do have a question if you or anyone else reading this can answer. We are suite passengers, but are traveling with another couple that are NOT staying in a suite, but they are Platinum. My question is, will they be allowed to stay in the waiting area with us, and go aboard at the same time we do? I can understand that they probably will not be allowed to eat lunch in Cagney's, but if they were allowed to at least board with us, that's be great. Anyone have any experience with this kind of situation?

 

I'm not sure. I don't know if Platinum members go in the same group as the suites, but they were on the same general side of the waiting area as us. Sorry, I know that doesn't help much! My best advice if you want to board close together in time, is to arrive early, that way even if they don't let your friends board with you, at least they'll be in an early general boarding group.

 

Maybe someone else has a more accurate answer, though!

Edited by Arizona Packer Backer
Link to post
Share on other sites

OUR STATEROOM

 

We were in the 2 bedroom Family Suite (SC), which was wonderful! We’ve been in this suite once before, and this room is pretty much the reason we took this cruise. If you want full details, there are several great reviews with videos and photos somewhere on CC. The suite has plenty of space, a completely separate bedroom and bathroom with its own door, tons of storage throughout, a dining table for 4, a good sized balcony with comfy loungers, a very comfortable queen size bed, and a master bathroom that is fantastic! The shower and tub with ocean views were worth the price of admission. Yes, I booked a cruise because of the bathroom – and yes, I used it. A LOT. I brought tons of bath gels and scrubbies and all the girly spa stuff that I love but never have time for at home, and I used it all! :D

 

Note on the shower and tub:

Yes, you can see into the bathroom from outside the ship, during the day and especially at night. The windows are tinted, but not enough to prevent viewing from outside. This is not a big deal when you’re at sea, but use caution in port. There are, of course, shades you can pull down, which I used while anchored in Cabo. While out at sea, I didn’t care if the whales or dolphins could see in. :p

 

After unpacking, we went to Cagney’s for lunch. It had quieted down, and we got a nice window table for two. I was starving by then, and got the cheeseburger and fries, which was delicious! My husband had the seafood risotto – also delicious! We shared the drink of the day, a Pear Martini. It was excellent, not too sweet, and perfectly prepared. More on the drinks at the end of this review, because after Day One, it was all downhill in the beverage department!

 

After lunch, we went back to our room and opened some champagne for sailaway. (Note for wine lovers: The free sparkling wine for suite guests is not that great; we brought our own champagne instead. I've heard the Owner's Suite and GV guests have actual, good champagne.) We watched sailaway from our balcony for awhile, and then went up on Deck 13 to see the view as we left the harbor. I love it up there! It’s definitely a nice place to hang out, and is especially quiet in the mornings.

 

Then we explored the ship for awhile, and of course discovered that O’Sheehan’s was not yet open, nor was the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar. As others have mentioned, that bar is still closed as of March 23. O’Sheehan’s eventually opened for drinks only, but they might as well not have, IMHO. I believe O’Sheehan’s is now serving food, but they never served food on our cruise. It is, however, a nice indoor area with ocean views, and so a few times we got snacks from the buffet and brought them up to O’Sheehan’s to eat. They have comfy booths next to the windows, and plenty of tables and chairs overlooking the atrium.

 

SHIP IN GENERAL

 

As for the main areas, I haven’t been on the Star in years, so I have nothing recent to compare it to, but things for the most part seemed clean and well-maintained, with a few exceptions here and there. (I just read in another review that mentioned the tops of the elevators. I noticed that, too! They were VERY dirty and gross. Makes you wonder about the elevator maintenance in general.) The dining areas were all kept clean, even the outside buffet by the pool.

 

That said, some of the carpet was poorly installed in a few areas, and it seemed like they rushed or didn’t finish many of the dry dock jobs (even apart from the new dining venues.) They were still fixing/re-installing the huge light fixtures out by the main pool, the weather stripping was poorly installed in some of the suites, windows weren’t fixed in the SJ suites that desperately needed it, and it also didn’t appear that they washed the windows in the staterooms, inside or out. Ours were filthy. (When we disembarked, however, they were washing our windows right outside our room. So, maybe they ran out of time on that one during dry dock?) And finally, the coffee table in our stateroom looked really shabby. Not a big deal, though. They gave us flowers for our suite, so we put those on the table. Problem solved! 

 

STAFF IN GENERAL

 

For the most part, the housekeeping staff was really great, and they were working hard to make the cruise special for everyone. Every staff member that we saw in the hallways smiled and said hello, and our room steward and butler greeted us by name. The hostess and waitstaff staff in the restaurants were always friendly, too, with the exception of one server in Le Bistro. Oddly, the other exception to the friendly staff were the bartenders – but again, I will cover drinks at the end of my review. We also had an issue with the people at Guest Services, but that's part of the drinks review.

 

CONCIERGE

 

The concierge was Roel Gonzales, and he was outstanding! He made our dinner reservations, of course, but he was also just friendly in general – he joked with us, showed us to reserved seats in the Stardust Lounge, escorted us to priority tendering, etc. Anyhow, we simply enjoyed seeing Roel throughout the day. His desk was right outside Cagney’s, so it was easy to find him at breakfast or lunch if you needed anything.

 

BUTLER

 

As I mentioned, our butler was Cipriano Luces, and he really helped to make our cruise fantastic! He did all of the things that you normally read about on CC, and was incredibly prompt with any request we had. He kept us stocked with plenty of coffee for the Lavazzo machine, brought lots of goodies, served us dinner in our suite several times, etc. And I never saw him NOT smiling! He’s just a friendly guy in general. I asked him how long he’s been with NCL, and he told me 13 years! Wow. So, I’m sure some of you have met him in the past.

 

OTHER SUITE PERKS AND STATEROOM NOTABLES

 

THE LAVAZZO COFFEE MACHINE! Oh my. I loved it. I’m a closet coffee snob, and I was just a bit worried before the cruise, because I had heard a few things about the machines not working, not brewing properly, not hot enough, etc. Well, at least in our room, the machine worked perfectly and made the best espresso I have EVER had. That’s not an exaggeration. I usually have to add just a bit of sugar to my espresso, but this Lavazzo coffee was so smooth and not at all bitter, that all I added was a tiny bit of cream. Delicious! You can make regular cups of coffee, too – I experimented a bit, and ended up using the “free pour” to add just the right amount of water to the medium size coffee cup. If I wanted a larger cup of coffee, (they have 3 cup sizes in the suite) then I simply used two coffee pods – one to make espresso first, and then another pod using the free pour. But then again, I like my coffee really strong. YMMV.

 

THE TOWELS. I don’t know if they have the same towels in other staterooms, but in our suite they had the largest, fluffiest bath towels I have ever seen. They only stocked our room with 2 of these towels at first, the rest were “normal” towels, but I trained our room steward to only bring us the large bath towels. :D Ah, getting out of the shower and wrapping yourself in one of those fluffy towels? Heaven.

 

Speaking of which, our room steward was Lydionito(sp?) who told us to call him Joon. He's a very nice guy, seemed eager to please, and was always quick to leave and come back if we were in our room during turndown time, or in the morning, or whenever. And both our butler and steward respected the "Do Not Disturb" sign outside our door.

 

THE BATHROBES. Same as with the towels, the suite bathrobes are wonderful! They're quite heavy and plush, very nice for hanging out on the balcony on a chilly morning. I really want to buy one for myself, but I forgot to ask how much they are before I left the ship. I might call NCL later, although I suspect they're ridiculously expensive.

 

THE ICE ISSUE. We had an ice bucket in our room, like everyone does, but I think these are the smallest ice buckets on the planet. We also had a champagne bucket in a floor stand, and so I asked the steward and our butler to keep it filled, which they usually did, and we used it for chilling wine and champagne. I like a lot of ice, though, and I don’t understand why the ice buckets have to be so small. Doesn’t that just make more work for the stewards? Oh well, not a big issue, just surprising.

 

The TV and CD/DVD player. Our room had a total of 4 TVs. They all worked perfectly except the one in the living room, which had poor sound quality – it seemed like a cable issue. So, we called our butler, who immediately called a staff member to come fix it. Within an hour or so we had a new TV, and no sound issues the rest of the cruise. We didn’t get any movies from the ship’s library, but we did play a lot of our own music.

Edited by Arizona Packer Backer
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your review. Glad to hear you had a good time.

My nephew got married on the ship March 17th and overall they also had a good time but had some issues with service in the main dining room. They also reported that the crew this time was not as friendly and helpful as on our past NCL cruises. My sister did tell me that she had some wonderful food in the Chinese restaurant which makes me want to try it next time. She said Cagneys was ok but service was slow. I think that was the biggest gripe I heard from our group, was slow slow service.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for your review. Glad to hear you had a good time.

My nephew got married on the ship March 17th and overall they also had a good time but had some issues with service in the main dining room. They also reported that the crew this time was not as friendly and helpful as on our past NCL cruises. My sister did tell me that she had some wonderful food in the Chinese restaurant which makes me want to try it next time. She said Cagneys was ok but service was slow. I think that was the biggest gripe I heard from our group, was slow slow service.

 

Yeah, I'm sorry they didn't have good service! It sounds like their experience was worse than ours. We did have slow service in Le Bistro, but most of the time we ate later or at "off" times, or in our stateroom, so I think the slow food service that people are talking about didn't affect us as much.

 

I'd love to hear more about your nephew's wedding, though! Is anyone from that wedding group planning to write a review? I'm always curious about weddings at sea. :)

Edited by Arizona Packer Backer
Link to post
Share on other sites
Yeah, I'm sorry they didn't have good service! It sounds like their experience was worse than ours. We did have slow service in Le Bistro, but most of the time we ate later or at "off" times, or in our stateroom, so I think the slow food service that people are talking about didn't affect us as much.

 

I'd love to hear more about your nephew's wedding, though! Is anyone from that wedding group planning to write a review? I'm always curious about weddings at sea. :)

 

I doubt if anyone will write a review about the wedding. If I hadn't already booked the Epic for next month, I would have been there. They were married while the ship was still in port. They had about 36 guests who all sailed. I'm not sure how the rules work, but from what I was told, cruises of 7 days or longer allow non sailing guests to board just for the wedding. They did not allow that this time because it was only a 5 day cruise. I don't know what difference that makes, but those were the rules. One concession was made for my niece who is 7 months pregnant. She was allowed to board for the wedding but she was not allowed to sail. She still had to pay for the cruise. They all had the free booze package, so please forgive any of my relatives who may have gotten out of hand. I am the oldest family member and I wasn't there to control them. The bride and groom opted for a small cake, champagne and hors d'oeuvres. We are a family that loves cruising. The grooms younger brother (my other nephew) used to work on the Dawn as a DJ. His wife is a dancer from Australia and they met while they were both working on Carnival.

 

I asked my sister whether or not the slow service could have been because there were so many of them, but that was not the case. Once the wedding was over, everyone broke off into their own little groups.

It wasn't that anyone had a bad time, because we can have fun on any ship, any time. Heck, we can have fun on a tug boat. But this time, my sister said something was missing. On other cruises we have made friends with the bar tenders and waiters and gotten really good service. This time my sister said they seem to be watching you like a hawk and she told me that on one occasion they wouldn't bring her another drink until she finished the one she had. Also, this is not a complaint, but info for anyone who might be interested. She said that Redbull was not included in the UBP.

Link to post
Share on other sites
We're there any upgrades/refurbishments to the 2 bedroom family suite during the dry dock?

 

I also book that suite for the bathroom.

 

So, I'm not the only one! ;) And no, it didn't look like they did anything to our room. They might have replaced the carpet, not sure about that, though. And the mattress may have been new - it's extremely comfortable! But otherwise, the room pretty much looked exactly like it did when we got the same suite years ago. The bathrooms could actually use some refurbishing. The tiles look worse for wear, and you can see where they've patched some of the tiles after repairing the tub and shower areas. And the patching does NOT look good. There is also quite a bit of rust in some areas of the shower, and parts of the tub around the drain and jets.

 

Speaking of the tub, I did clean it myself before I used it, which I HIGHLY recommend you do. That's all I will say. ;)

Edited by Arizona Packer Backer
Link to post
Share on other sites
I doubt if anyone will write a review about the wedding. If I hadn't already booked the Epic for next month, I would have been there. They were married while the ship was still in port. They had about 36 guests who all sailed. I'm not sure how the rules work, but from what I was told, cruises of 7 days or longer allow non sailing guests to board just for the wedding. They did not allow that this time because it was only a 5 day cruise. I don't know what difference that makes, but those were the rules. One concession was made for my niece who is 7 months pregnant. She was allowed to board for the wedding but she was not allowed to sail. She still had to pay for the cruise.

 

Thanks for the info! I'm surprised they still made your niece pay for the cruise - that's odd. ::shrugs:: Guess those are the rules. At least she got to attend the wedding!

 

They all had the free booze package, so please forgive any of my relatives who may have gotten out of hand...

 

...I asked my sister whether or not the slow service could have been because there were so many of them, but that was not the case. Once the wedding was over, everyone broke off into their own little groups.

It wasn't that anyone had a bad time, because we can have fun on any ship, any time. Heck, we can have fun on a tug boat. But this time, my sister said something was missing. On other cruises we have made friends with the bar tenders and waiters and gotten really good service. This time my sister said they seem to be watching you like a hawk and she told me that on one occasion they wouldn't bring her another drink until she finished the one she had. Also, this is not a complaint, but info for anyone who might be interested. She said that Redbull was not included in the UBP.

 

LOL - trust me, I'm sure there were other people who were way more "out of hand" than your family, lol! I heard them in the rooms next to me at 3 AM, and on deck above us...

 

As for the drinks and whatnot, I am in total agreement. Like you, we could have fun on any cruise, but it's some of the little extras that were missing on this one.

Edited by Arizona Packer Backer
Link to post
Share on other sites

THE ACTIVITIES

 

They had a lot of activities during the day that looked appealing, but we attended very few of them. For us, this cruise was pretty much about relaxing and doing nothing. And my “spa time”, of course! :D But I was happy to see so many fun events. The last time we took an NCL cruise years ago, it didn’t seem like there was a lot going on that interested us. This time, it just seemed more lively overall.

 

Speaking of which….

 

THE SPRING BREAKERS. Oh dear. You know, when I booked this cruise, it didn’t even OCCUR to me that it would be spring break. We don’t have school-age children, so I didn’t give it a second thought. I booked because it fit my schedule, and I thought it would be great fun to be on a ship for St. Patrick’s Day (one of my favorite holidays!) I also assumed there would be an awesome party in O’Sheehan’s for St. Patrick’s Day! Ahem. Except that it wasn’t yet open, of course. (Who didn’t think of THAT during the ship’s dry dock schedule?? Hello!!)

 

Anyhow, I’ll just say that the spring breakers were rowdy. At least we weren’t on the 12th floor, which was apparently worse than our floor – I’m sorry for those of you who were in those suites! Also, the girls in the room next to us were so sweet – they actually did tell us, “If we get too loud, just let us know!” They were fine for the most part, it was the GUYS in the hallways and on deck who had one volume – FREAKING LOUD! But you know what? Have an extra glass of wine with dinner, and you’ll sleep like a baby! :p

 

The only other time that I got cranky about “spring break” was when we anchored in Cabo. I purposely chose a room on the starboard side, so we could see Cabo’s lights at night, see the beach, etc. But what I didn’t know is that those bars on Medano Beach crank up their sound system loud enough to be heard all the way to Hawaii. We ended up not sitting on our balcony that evening, it was so obnoxious.

 

So, note to spring break cruisers – if you want a quieter balcony, perhaps choose a port side cabin. (Assuming the winds are the same, and the captain anchors with the starboard side towards the beach!) I know nothing is a guarantee in that respect, though.

 

SHOWS

 

We only went to one show, Marambolla. It was fantastic! If you only go to one show, it should be this one. It was simply phenomenal.

 

Note: Someone asked if they fixed the seats in the Stardust; I don’t think they did, but we ended up sitting in the reserved area, anyway, which had very comfy seating.

 

CARLO’S BAKERY

 

I thought they were going to install a full Carlo’s Bakery during dry dock; they did not. They just have a few Carlo’s items at the Java Café in the atrium. We got the cannoli, which was good, and the lobster tail, which was not. It was really dry, and the cream filling was grainy. In general, I wasn’t wowed. They had better bakery items in the buffet, to be honest. (The chocolate filled, chocolate éclairs were fantastic!)

 

WHALES AND DOLPHINS

 

We saw quite a few whales on the trip down to Cabo, not as many on the way back up. Some of them were quite close to the ship, and the binoculars came in handy. And one day, I saw a huge pod of at least 50 or more dolphins, right next to the ship, leaping and playing. It was really, really awesome!

Edited by Arizona Packer Backer
Link to post
Share on other sites
Do you have to pay for the Carlos bakery items?

 

Yes. It was $3.50 for each of the smaller items, plus an 18% auto gratuity. That's right, they charge you gratuity for putting a bakery item on a plate. I was surprised, and a bit insulted. (Especially considering that I asked her for the items "to go" and she ignored that and put them on two plates instead. Oh well.)

Edited by Arizona Packer Backer
Link to post
Share on other sites
Hello everyone!

 

 

 

We’re just off the Star from her first cruise following dry dock, the 5 day cruise to Cabo. I'm going to try to finish this review over the next day or two, because I figure if I don't write it down now, I'll forget a lot of stuff, and end up not writing much of anything! ;)

 

 

 

Now to be fair to those CC members who love photos, I will first say that I don’t have any to share. I’m sorry! So if you only read the reviews to see photos, mine may disappoint. I’m just not much of a photographer. My husband took a few random photos, but nothing specific that you all might be interested in. I do, however, have a detailed take on our cruise in general, the food and beverage service, the dry dock, and a few other items!

 

 

 

Travel to Los Angeles

 

 

 

We left Phoenix early the day before the cruise, had an uneventful drive to LA (my husband slept most of the way, ha!) and checked into the Crowne Plaza, which I bid for on Priceline a few months before the cruise. It’s a nice hotel in a great location, just across the street from the maritime museum and near the cruise port. The staff were all quite friendly, too. I asked for a view of the harbor, but the rooms that have the best view (on the East end of the building) are the mini suites and executive suites, so we paid an extra $30 for one of those rooms. It may seem silly, but it was totally worth it to us! We love the water, and we don‘t get to see the ocean often, so it was great having that beautiful view. The corner executive suites are huge, and we could see both the entrance to the harbor, and the World Cruise Center.

 

 

 

We had dinner at the San Pedro Fish Market. It’s not the cleanest or quietest place, but DH got tons of seafood and it was grilled to perfection, along with potatoes and veggies. I’m not a seafood lover, but I munched on some shrimp and the veggies, which were delicious! And, the table next to the water didn’t hurt. (You’ll notice a theme of tables next to the water throughout our trip. I really do love the ocean. Someday, I may move to be next to it! But for now, cruising will have to suffice. ;)

 

 

 

We watched sunset from the waterfront, and then wandered all along that area towards the WCC, and finally returned to the hotel. I tried to go to sleep early, but I was too excited! I kept waking up and opening the curtains to see if the Star was in port yet. Finally, at about 4 AM I could see the Star as she was just nearing the harbor entrance. So, the kid in me couldn’t help it – I woke up my husband and we got dressed and walked down to the pier to watch the Star back into the harbor! It was actually pretty cool to see. We did bring binoculars, which we used quite a bit during the cruise. The Star reached her berth at exactly 5:00 AM – I thought that was pretty impressive, considering that was her scheduled arrival time!

 

 

 

Back at the hotel, we packed, loaded the car, had breakfast, and drove to the port. Yes, we were ridiculously early, but I didn’t care. I was too excited to sleep anyway, and I didn’t want to just sit in our hotel room!

 

 

 

Note: For a short 5 day cruise, it was actually a better deal for us to bid on Priceline and pay the parking fees at the WCC. They have gone up, however, and it's now $16 per day instead of $12. But I did like the convenience of having our car at the port. For a longer cruise, I'd probably choose the park and sail package at the Crowne Plaza or Doubletree.

 

 

 

EMBARKATION

 

 

 

Upon arrival at the WCC, we unloaded our bags and then hung out in front of the check-in building, and I chatted with some of the workers who were getting off the ship. They were extremely glad to be getting off and going home for some leave. They were also clearly sick of the ship, and exhausted from the dry dock. Every single one of the workers said it simply wasn’t enough time to get everything done, and they needed at least another week, if not a full month, to do things properly. A couple of the contractors actually seemed rather disgusted with NCL for trying to cram in so much, in such a short amount of time. That was disappointing to hear, but not surprising. If the ship isn’t cruising, she isn’t making money – but I still think it would be better to do things right, even if it means losing one more week of income. But I’m not the CEO, so…

 

 

 

They let us into the building around 9:45 AM, and we went through security and then sat down to wait for check-in to begin. Now, on CC I have read a few awful stories about suites check-in at San Pedro, but I was very pleasantly surprised. There was a friendly gentleman who approached us and asked our suite number, and told us where to go once check-in began. They were very clear about timing for everything, which I appreciated. I knew we were early and would have to wait, so no big deal. There were lots of other people who were early as well, and the staff made sure to communicate with all of us. The staff in general at the port were all outstanding, from what I could see – very friendly, smiling, and eager to assist. Now, maybe it was because it was early and the hoardes had not yet arrived, lol, but I appreciated their positive attitudes!

 

 

 

Check-in began at about 10:30AM, maybe a little later. It was very smooth, and then we were directed to the suites waiting area. They eventually brought in some coffee and snacks – just simple things like brie on baguettes and loaf cake, but it was nice to have something to drink and munch on!

 

 

 

Also, since it was St. Patrick's Day, a lot of people were dressed in green, and had on fun hats or shirts, beads, etc. I loved it, made things quite festive!

 

 

 

There was a delay for boarding, something about not yet having cleared customs. I wondered if it had to do with the sheer number of staff getting off and new staff coming on, but I could be wrong about that. Regardless, they kept telling us, “Ok, we’re going to board now”, so we would get up and get in line, and then they said no, sit down, there’s a delay…etc., etc. Even on the gangway, they stopped everyone again. Not a big deal for us, we were just excited to board, but it did seem to irk some people. I think it was close to 12:15 or 12:30 PM when they finally let passengers onboard. So, not late, but certainly not too early, either.

 

 

 

We were escorted to our suite by our butler, Cipriano, who was AWESOME!! We loved Cipriano, he was always smiling and incredibly friendly and prompt. He showed us to our room, and then showed us to Cagney’s for lunch. We ended up not staying at Cagney’s because it was a zoo by then, so we went back to our room to unpack first instead.

 

 

Thanks

Link to post
Share on other sites

ROOM LOCATION

 

I forgot to mention this, we chose a room that was as far forward as possible, and was therefore fairly quiet. On Deck 11 on the Star, the forward rooms are near the bridge, and so (normally) there isn’t too much guest traffic in that area. Our room wasn’t too far from the elevator, but since it was just forward of the elevators, we didn’t have all the extra foot traffic from people getting off and heading aft towards their room.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And now, on to FOOD!!

 

For the most part, I thought the food ranged from good to excellent, with a few exceptions. I was also pleasantly surprised by the food in the buffet. Granted, I had very low expectations for the buffet (Market Café), and so maybe I was easy to please! Our best dinners were actually from Versailles; we were not wowed by the two specialty restaurants (Le Bistro and La Cucina) and so we ended up eating from Versailles the other 3 nights.

 

I will try to remember everything, but some meal reviews will be more detailed than others. I was pleased with most, but a bit disappointed in a few items. This will be an honest review, so please don’t flame me if you liked something that I didn’t care for! ;) And no, there was NOTHING that “ruined” our vacation. We had a fabulous time, these are simply my observations of the food.

 

Anyhow, here’s the breakdown:

 

Embarkation Day:

 

Lunch:

We had lunch at Cagney’s, as I mentioned earlier. I had the cheeseburger and fries. The burger was perfectly cooked, and I could eat those fries every day! DH had the seafood risotto (I think it was shrimp and scallops?) and he said he could eat THAT every day. The pear martini was delicious as well. We didn’t have dessert or apps. (Trying to pace ourselves the first day, you know?)

 

Dinner:

We had an 8:30 reservation for Le Bistro, and our table was ready when we arrived. We had been told that the first night was a good night to eat in the specialty restaurants, so we did. However, it didn’t seem any less busy, and the service was extremely SLOW. Our server also never smiled. Not once. Maybe he was having an off night?

 

I started with a glass of Veuve Clicquot, which was a great value at $6 and was (of course!) excellent. I didn’t see Veuve on any other bar menu; I don’t know if you can only get it in Le Bistro, but it was a nice start to the meal.

 

For my first app I had the Quatre Cornets, which was fine, but the portions were tiny and it didn’t have much flavor.

DH had the Coquilles St. Jacques (seared scallops) which he said were delicious.

 

Between courses I ordered a French 75, which is Bombay Sapphire, lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling wine. It was excellent as well, and quite refreshing!

 

I then had the Salade Gourmand, which was frisee and endive lettuce with smoked duck and walnuts. The salad itself was excellent (all the salads on board were quite good; very fresh and crispy lettuce, every time), and the dressing was delicious. The smoked duck was good but not great. It was just missing…something. And I love duck!

 

DH had the mussels, which he again said were delicious.

 

For our entrée, we had already been planning to share the Cote de Boeuf Pour Deux (32 ounce ribeye, carved tableside), and I was rather excited about it. Well, you know what they say about expectations, it’s better to keep them low! ;) First of all, I think I was expecting something different for the “carved tableside” portion of the evening, but the waiter brought out the plate, plopped it in front of us, and proceeded to roughly cut it into random chunks. “Carving” it was not.

 

Speaking of which, I ordered steak at least twice during the cruise, but never received a steak knife. Do they not have steak knives on board? I’m just curious.

 

Back to our meal. Once our server was done portioning out the meat to both of us, he started to take the meat plate away (along with all the yummy juices and the ribeye bone which still had a lot of meat left on it!), but we stopped him and asked him to leave it. We cut the meat off of the ribeye bone ourselves, and that part was delicious! The rest of the ribeye was just ok. It had nice enough flavor, but it was VERY gristly and fatty. Of course, ribeye is known for being a fattier steak, but it doesn’t have to have big chunks of fat and gristle. We cut off quite a bit from the steak. Maybe it was just a bad cut, because I had read rave reviews on CC.

 

The sides and veggies were very good, and perfectly cooked. We also asked for a side of mashed potatoes (gotta have those with a steak!) and they were delicious, too.

 

Our wine with dinner was a cabernet that we brought onboard. We actually brought several bottles of wine and champagne, and I was glad we did; I had perused the wine list before boarding, so I knew what to expect. Their onboard wine selections, especially by the glass, are rather limited and not all that great, IMHO. So, if you really love wine, plan to bring your favorite bottles. I packed ours in our carry-on, in bubble wrap and had no issues. (Plus, it leaves more room for souvenirs on the way home! :D)

 

For dessert, we had the chocolate fondue and the profiteroles. I thought the profiteroles were good, but I was disappointed by the fondue. It tasted very thin, more like a chocolate syrup than a rich fondue. I love chocolate and I make my own fondue at home, so maybe I had higher expectations, but I didn’t eat much of it.

 

Overall, it was a good dinner, but was it worth the extra money? Not really. It was the most expensive night on the trip, but not the best. I’m glad we did it, though, because I would have wondered about that ribeye for the rest of the cruise, lol!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Day2 – Sea Day

 

We had breakfast at Cagney’s, and it was excellent. I had the French toast, which was as good as everyone says it is! Over the course of our trip, DH tried every single seafood breakfast item, and loved all of them. I stuck with French toast, except for trying the omelet one day, which was excellent as well!

 

I will say that I was disappointed in the French Press coffee at Cagney’s. I had heard great things about it, but it was VERY weak. So, I ended up bringing my own coffee from our room. 

 

We slept off and on most of that afternoon, completely missing the various events, parties, and lunch. But it was SO nice out on our balcony! 

 

Since we missed lunch, we went to the Market Café for snacks. Keep in mind, this was between meals, so they didn’t have all the normal entrée items, but it was a decent spread. It tried a small variety of things; I remember the potato salad was excellent, as was some kind of corn salad with avocados, onions, and I’m not sure what else. They did have yummy looking croissant sandwiches that I didn’t try; I got a slice of pizza instead. That was a mistake! The buffet line pizza was AWFUL. But other than that, I was pleasantly surprised by the buffet throughout the cruise.

 

Other notables on the Market Cafe:

 

For seafood night, DH went early to get a snack, and there were no long lines like I had heard might happen, so that was nice! He tried a few things, including some sushi and sashimi, I think? It was slices of raw tuna and salmon, which he really enjoyed.

 

For Mexican food night, I was curious so we again went early to get a snack. I tried the guacamole, which was not that good, and some kind of dish (maybe their version of fajitas?) with thick pieces of steak with veggies, which was excellent! It was, quite surprisingly, some of the best steak I had on the ship. Go figure. And unlike traditional fajitas which usually have small strips of steak, these were actually at least several ounces each, and thicker cut. Yum!

 

During “snack time” in between lunch and dinner, the soft serve ice cream station was closed each time I went. So, I guess they don’t want you to have an ice cream cone between meals? Lol…I did think that was a bit odd.

 

Desserts and bakery items (rolls, etc.) at the buffet were good for the most part. I tried the chocolate crepes, which were excellent (how can a crepe with nutella not be delicious?), and the chocolate croissants, which were good, but seemed a bit dry. The chocolate filled, chocolate covered éclairs were excellent, however! The pretzel rolls were very good, and one night they had some kind of soft roll with a tiny bit of sugar on the top – those were so good! I wish they had them every night. I didn’t try the cakes or cookies from the buffet, but our butler did deliver chocolate chip cookies to our cabin one day, and they were rather hard and not that tasty.

 

Dinner the second night was room service from Versailles.

 

NOTE ON THE MDR MENUS:

We had been told on CC, prior to the cruise, that you can get menus for each night from the MDR, at the beginning of the cruise, so that you can plan which meals you want in the specialty restaurants, and which meals you want in the MDR, and make your reservations accordingly. This was NOT the case in our experience. We asked our butler, the concierge, and even went directly to Versailles multiple times, but all we could get was that night’s dinner menu. I looked on the TV as well, but I don’t think the Star has their menus on the TV, at least I couldn’t find them. It made it a bit harder to plan, but we dealt with it. I just don’t know why they can’t make them more readily available – doesn’t the chef know what he’ll be cooking the next couple of days??

 

Back to room service from Versailles. Our butler was very prompt, from taking our order to delivering the food. I wasn’t that hungry after our seafood snacks, so I just got a slider and a salad. Both were excellent. DH ordered several dishes of seafood, and I’m sorry that I can’t remember what, but he enjoyed all of it!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you mentioned pastries - do they have donuts at the breakfast buffet or anywhere else? My kiddo LOVES having a donut with breakfast when we're cruising. We got spoiled by Krispy Kremes on our 3 Disney cruises. Then when we sailed Royal they had no donuts and a pretty hideous pastry section (in our opinion). Thanks for the report!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Since you mentioned pastries - do they have donuts at the breakfast buffet or anywhere else? My kiddo LOVES having a donut with breakfast when we're cruising. We got spoiled by Krispy Kremes on our 3 Disney cruises. Then when we sailed Royal they had no donuts and a pretty hideous pastry section (in our opinion). Thanks for the report!

 

Unfortunately, I didn't see donuts anywhere. They did have croissants and chocolate croissants I think every day, and sometimes those eclairs, but no donuts. Sorry!

Link to post
Share on other sites
So, I'm not the only one! ;)

 

Definitely not. We've booked that type suite on the Jewel class several times, mainly because of that great bathroom. When we renovated our bathroom at home, I had the same type of shower installed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Q&A with the Quark Expeditions Team: New Ship Ultramarine
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...