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angelsx4

Very long review, Star 1/4/06...

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1/4/06, Norwegian Star

About Us: Dh and I(both 37), dd-13, ds-10, ds&dd-8 yr. Old twins. This was my dh’s 3rd Mexican Riviera cruise, my 4th.

Cabins: 10593, and 10595

Embarkation: We drove down to LA the night before. We arrived at the pier at 11:30 and it was the easiest embarkation I’ve experienced. We thought we were in the wrong place at first because we just pulled right up to the porters. One of them ran over and helped us, he was so nice and explained the process to us, not rushed. He took our luggage and I crossed the street with the kids while I was waiting for dh to park the car. We walked right up to the check in counter, just one person ahead of us we had to wait for. The counter girl was new, this was her first day, she was very apologetic, but didn’t need to be for any reason. We then went straight over to the waiting area and were handed a #3 card to wait to be called. We walked around outside a bit and had to wait an hour(we were told right off from the porter that we wouldn’t be boarding until 1:00), took pictures, finished a soda and made some calls from the cell phone. They called the VIPs first at 1:00, then we were on by 1:30 after going through the screening process to get on. Our room was ready, but no luggage yet. So we dropped off our big bags and locked the door. By the time we went back to the room around 3:00 most of our luggage was in front of the room. We sailed away just after 6:00, a large ship came in that wasn’t where he was supposed to be and our captain blew his horn. He blew the send off horn later. LOL

At the muster drill we were surprised when WineGuy recognized our family and took us off guard. He invited us to see the Garden Villa that we later did, and WOW! The pictures don’t do it justice. And WineGuy and his family are awesome!

Kids Crew was a hit right off. My 10 year old who is shy shy shy, totally came out of his shell. He loved the other kids in his age group and they all got along great. It was really a neat group of kids. He didn’t mind one of the 12 year old girls nicknaming him Pipsqueak at all. Their leader, All-Star, was great with the kids and knew them all by name right away. The twins went to the 6-9 yr. Olds group that was much larger. There were some rowdy boys, but with some stern warnings they got along. My dd immediately had a new best friend, Molly, and they hugged every time one of them had to leave. I liked that it wasn’t so organized that the kids didn’t get to socialize. They had lots of organized activities, but they also got to socialize with each other. When we were leaving we walked passed the 2-5 year olds and there was lots of screaming. As the elevator closed though they turned into blood curdling screams. It was comical, we were laughing so hard. That’s typical for 2-5 year olds to be traumatized like that for those that don’t have kids yet. And, just as I suspected, the next night the screams were happy screams, and young singing voices. I never heard any crying from the 2-5 year olds the rest of the cruise except when one of them had to leave. LOL

At Sea: The sail away BBQ was great, it was hot and tasty. The next day was cool for the first part of the day. We spent most of the day exploring. It was windy and cool but that didn’t stop many from using the pools. The first full sea day was the formal. There was a long wait at Versailles and we were told there was no waiting at Aqua. The food was mediocre, not what I expected. It was then that I knew I’d have a problem with the bread. I loved the breads! I really like the atmosphere in Aqua. The maitre ‘d reminded us of an actor out of the Sopranos, I wouldn’t mess with him. But he was very personable and professional. The wait staff was great too.

My 13 year old just hung out with us most of the time, the teens in the group were mostly older than her and she wasn’t as comfortable. She would have done great in the younger 10-12 year old group though because my ds’s new friends really took to her. She was hungry after the formal dinner still so we stopped in Blue Lagoon and shared some of the noodles with her, they were GOOD.

Manzanillo: This was a new port to us and we really liked it. We took a taxi over to Miramar Beach and were dropped off at the flea market and a restaurant if I remember is called Huachimanga. We were offered a cabana right away and as long as we ordered their food it was free. The lunch was good, Civechy(sp?), nachos, virgin pina coladas and some sodas. It all came to $35.00 USD. The only potty is in front of the flea market and you do have to pay to us it, .50 cents. It was a great beach, we were there from 11:00-3:00. We took 2 cabs there at $12.00 for each cab, but on the way back we doubled up for $15.00. Manzanillo was smoky because of the nearby volcano I think. It didn’t smell smoggy, but was dusty like ash. We were late leaving this port because we found out later the ambulance was for a girl that was actually right next to us on the beach. She hit her head on the banana boat and started having concussion symptoms after she got back onboard. She was the little cutie that nicknamed my ds Pipsqueak. We never saw her again but were told she did board back on again and was taking it easy from another port. Her sister stayed on board with family. One the way out of port the captain blew the horn and I was afraid the town would come tumbling down because the echo was so deep. A car blew his horn, then another small ship, and it was pretty funny. I liked the captain.

Puerto Vallarta: This was our shopping day. We just took a taxi into town that dropped us off in front of International Diamonds I think. We just explored downtown, took a cab back, and went swimming on the ship. I had tried to book the Buccaneer Queen as well in Cabo and hadn’t heard back yet, so on our way back I stopped in the internet café just outside the terminal. It’s $3 for an hour. I was there 2 years ago and it was $6 for 15 minutes. Still no email from Buccaneer Queen so we decided to just forego that. There’s a Walmart and Sam’s Club right across the street from the ship too, so we walked over there and bought some cranberry juice for our cabin and restock on Diet Pepsi.

Mazatlan: I was ecstatic when I found out our itinerary would allow us to go back to Mazatlan. This has always been one of my favorite ports and I couldn’t wait to go on Randi’s Happy Horses again. She has an incredible memory. WineGuy’s daughtes and their boyfriends went, Hova, and dm77 too. We took first open air taxis to another dock, a water taxi over to Stone Island, and then a tractor/hay ride type thing over to the horses. Randi’s helper, Tony, cut open a coconut for my youngest son so he could try coconut juice. Then his dad paired us with our horses. We headed down to the beach where we rode for about an hour. On the way up to Victor’s, the girls let my 8 year olds ride on their own instead of being lead. The horses are great and Tony’s sisters keep a close eye and ride next to the little ones too. **Warning: A minimizing or sports bra is highly recommended. We ended up at Victor’s restaurant, just a sand floor open air restaurant covered by a thatched roof. The kitchen consists of a grill and hibachi, but the food is great! That was the best mahi-mahi I’d ever had. We ordered a combo platter to feed our party of 6, with tons of food and sodas it was only $24.00. I recommend Randi’s to anyone. http://www.randishappyhorses.com/

When we got back to the ship we went up to the Garden Villa with WineGuy. The bar was bigger than our stateroom. LOL Thank you so much for the tour!

Cabo San Lucas: We walked this time into town and went in the mall. It’s about 10-15 minutes, just walk along the waterfront to Paraiso Mall(?). On the way back we decided we had enough time to take a glass bottom boat tour so we haggled and got the guy down to $35.00 for our party of 6 for 45 minutes.

The last day at sea was cold. It didn’t stop the kids from swimming though. The front of the ship is actually pretty well protected with plexi-glass and you still get plenty of sun. If you’re into just sunning I’d hang out up there.

Overall Impressions:

Food: In the main restaurants there just aren’t enough selections, the menu is very limited, the food often came that wasn’t what I read the description as. The chicken salad ended up just being a sliced chicken on top of mangos and surrounded by 4 very small endive leaves. And I’m really disappointed that the only thing they offer with dinner that’s included is water and iced tea. The kids got juice but they came in shot glasses. Some waiters would just bring out 2-3 with them. On our last Carnival ship there was a fruit punch always offered and I think lemonade. I was pretty disappointed in it. We ate at Teppanyaki’s one night and that was the best food of the entire trip. I had the black jumbo tiger prawns, dh had filet mignon. They were both to die for. I think the specialty paid restaurants are definitely a step up from the dining room. The market café was disappointing too, not enough selection, and the presentation was lacking, very cafeteria style. We couldn’t get reservations for Endless Summer or La Trattoria because we waited too late. But I heard from other passengers they were good. The French night and the Farewell dinner night had some great food. At the Farewell dinner though, my dh, ds, and dd ordered the Beef Stroganoff and almost sent them back. It’s pretty hard to mess up stroganoff. I had the honey glazed salmon and it was fantastic. The wait staff was good, but imo, I’ve had better service from the staff when they are only your waiter, or set dinner times. I’m comparing to my last cruise on the Elation. I loved the Carnival buffet. I want the 24 hour pizza and ice cream. Although the hand scooped ice cream right next to the fitness center was good.

Entertainment: My dh and I were impressed with the Jean Ann Ryan Company dancers. The ballerina is a must see, she’s a bit of a contortionist too. I was on pointe for 6 years myself so I couldn’t take my eyes off. I thought there was a wide range of talents among the Company. The ballroom dancers were great. I had never seen ballroom dancing, and they were energetic to say the least. I liked Fallon Magic and the comedian, Dave Heenan, was good. The musical guest, Travis Cloer, he was talented, but not an appropriate venue for NCL. He’d be great on Holland Amer., but his music was ‘old’ imo. He was also touted as a “songwriter” and nothing he sang was original. I grew up listening to 60’s and 70’s music and this was even before that time. Just not my thing.

I thought the NCL band was really good. ___ Leeds(?) was the pianist, and he was right on.

They didn’t do the murder mystery because they said they had too many people and couldn’t accommodate them anymore. But, they offered it to the teens(13-17 y.o.) and my dd went to that. She said it was a lot of fun. She liked the dinners, digital scavenger hunt, and murder mystery. We purchased 2 teen passport smoothie books, 20 non-alcoholic drinks for $34.50. They allowed the whole family to use them. We used them for sodas, pina coladas, daquiris, margueritas, and smoothies. We really liked the mango smoothies.

Staterooms: My dh and the boys were in 10595 and their room steward was in hiding until about day 3. Then he made the towel monkeys and was always near. Our room steward was always around but did nothing. I had a lightbulb out that never was taken care of, the remote for the t.v. didn’t work well either. There were a few quirky things, but it was clean and adequate for the 3 of us girls. The lighting though is really poor in the vanity area(it shoots down at a funny angle) so you need to put your make up on in the bathroom. But one of the things I noticed is that the rooms were very well ventilated. I never smelled smoke in the hallways until the last day when I think everyone realized they had to get back to work. LOL

The Stardust Theatre, as beautiful as it was, I HATED going to the shows because of those stupid seats. They made you feel like you were sliding off. Thank goodness for my big hips because they held me in. And the seats were a strange length so every time I’d sit down it would catch on the back of my calves and I have the bruises to prove it.

I have the Freestyle Dailies with the modified itinerary(Manz, PV, Maz, & Cabo) scanned for anyone that wants those. However they are HUGE so I’m trying to find a way to post them so I don’t have to email them. I also have the dailies for the kids programs. Email me if you have any specific questions at dearden6 at yahoo dot com.

I’d sail on the Star again in a heartbeat!

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welcome back angels.. im glad to hear you liked the STAR.. im going to be emailing you soon

thanks for the review and the info.....

 

 

melissa

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Thanks for the review, just reading it got me all excited for our cruise in Two weeks! I would love to see the dailies! So if you figure it out that would be great. Oh I have a few questions... Did they have daily drink specials?? Did you visit the night club or karaoke at all? Thanks!

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Thanks for your quick review. I am so excited, we leave in two weeks and glad to read from someone who just got off. Glad you had a good time.

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Great review thanks for taking the time to post it and love the dailies you posted.

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First, I love walking and the promenade(deck 7) is perfect for morning walks. Four times around is 1.4 miles. They have a walk a mile with the officers at 8:00 each morning, but I got up to watch the sun rise each morning. On Puerto Vallarta morning I got up and just as I was coming around the 6th time I decided that was enough and looked out over the front of the ship to watch the sunrise(gorgeous!). Just then the ship was heading straight into a school of hundreds of dolphins. They were dancing right in front of the rising sun. It was absolutely magical. There was a married couple watching and a father and son walking too that caught it. They weren't the small dolphins like we saw the day before, they were larger, but not bottlenose either. All black and jumped in pairs mostly.

 

The day before at sea the captain announced that there was a school of dolphins on one side of the ship, so everyone ran over there. I decided to just stay with my lunch with my view of the water on the opposite side. Glad I did, because just then the smaller dolphins, dark grey with light grey bellies started jumping for us. About an hour later they announced there was a large whale off one side, but it was long past us by the time we got out to the deck. My husband and son saw it breech I guess before the captain had announced it.

 

On Board Credit: We had 2 cabins so we had 2 $100 credits=$200. I kept using my key card for all purchases and the last day at sea I checked our accts. and they don't automatically join the rooms, you have to ask for it. I had gone over on my credit and my dh still hadn't used any of his, so we had them joined to the same credit card and then the credits were almost completely used up. I hope that makes sense.

 

Crew: Mike S. was our cruise director. He originally brought the Star out when it came into service and was covering for Keiron Buffery while he was vacationing. He said he was headed back over to the Jewel after our cruise so I assume Keiron will be back now. The Hotel Director who has been on the Star the last 3 years also left after our cruise. I didn't catch where he was going or who the new one will be. Never saw him so the final night that was the first time I really saw him. I liked Mike S.(I'm not even going to try to spell it), the kids loved him, and he seemed to talk to a lot of passengers while out and about too. The kids crew staff were also transferring out to other ships or going on vacation except for 2 of them, so that will be all new staff too. Neat crew and we noticed that they seemed to all get along well and while they talked to each other a lot, they didn't ignore passengers. There was a really high passenger to staff ratio imo. The asst. maitre 'd in Versailles, Melania(?) from Romania, came over every time we ate there to talk to the kids. My ds was flirting with her. She was very sweet.

 

Gift shop/needs:

The night before we left I started getting a bladder infection, I have a fun kidney disease, and this was not fun. I went to the gift shop to see if they have anything, cranberry capsules? They have VERY limited supplies. I thought for sure I saw some on this rack with vitamins, but they were diet herbs and hangover tabs. LOL I'm sure I could have gone to the medical center, but I really didn't want to. I ordered cranberry juice from the bar($1.93, they include the auto gratuity). When I went to Versailles the next day I asked about it and they brought it to me no charge, she brought me out several glasses.

 

I thought overall the logo merchandise in the Galleria was cheaper than the other cruise lines I had been on. There was a can of Pringles for $3.95 though! But, the NCL merchandise was reasonable. They have a huge variety of perfumes at normal prices. They also carried Clinique makeup and products and Lancome. They carry a brand, Bijoux Terner, where it is ALL $10 or less, sunglasses, evening purses, scarves, watches, wallets, jewelry, bags/totes. If you need something it's reasonable.

 

It's a beautiful ship, very clean, and ventilated well. I liked the casualness about it. There are tons of activities to choose from. I missed the sushi making class, and a cooking demo from the chefs in Ginza/Teppanyaki's, and the cake decorating. We were always busy. I thought I'd explore the whole ship, but I never made it into some places like the casino or internet cafe. It was very well maintained throughout.

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Sadly, I heard that Kieron Buffery is no longer with NCL. I was really hoping he would be on our June cruise on the Star, as we totally enjoyed him the last time. Oh well. I wish him the best in wherever he goes.

 

Hikini

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Hi Jenne-

 

Thanks for the in depth review!

 

I'd love to see just one kid's club daily - judyf above mentioned you've posted the dailies?

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I'll scan the kids' programs when dh wakes up from his nap. LOL We're still trying to get used to normal life ;)

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Hi Jenne-

 

Thanks for the in depth review!

 

I'd love to see just one kid's club daily - judyf above mentioned you've posted the dailies?

 

No, Angelsx4 did in another post!

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