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Medic1330

Just back from the Star 1/20-1/28/2006

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We just got back from the 1/20-1/28/06 sailing on the Star and after reading everyone else’s posts prior to going, here is ours:

Pre-Cruise Package: We stayed 3 nights in Santa Monica prior to the cruise. The hotel was very nice (Doubletree suites) and centrally located within walking distance to everything. We found an excellent café for breakfast/lunch in Santa Monica called Jinkys that we could walk to. We went there everyday. We were able to book a tour from the hotel to see various sights in LA. The only negative was that the hotel-pier transfer bus was 40 minutes late in picking us up from the hotel. There were about 10 people staying at the hotel who were going to the pier. While we were all antsy from sitting around and waiting, we got to know fellow cruisers and we made it to the ship with plenty of time before sailing.

Embarkation: This was one of the smoothest embarkations of all the NCL cruises we’ve been on. We got to the pier and there were representatives pointing us to the correct line to be in (we went on the separate Latitudes line) as there was a line for Latitude members and a line for non-Latitude members. We went thru the line in about 20 minutes. This embarkation was so much better than when we sailed out of NYC in 04/05! While we were waiting there were waiters bringing around glasses of cranberry juice…it tasted watered down and not very thirst quenching.

State Room: We had a mini suite #11150. The room was very nice but the closet was positioned next to the bed and did not have a lot of room. There was no light above the closet and we didnt find out until almost the end that there was a light in the closet that we couldn't find. I dont think that we would get a mini suite again, because the regular balcony rooms would have met our needs. I know people have been asking about the towel animals. There was only one night that we got one. The refrigerator has not been converted into a mini bar as on some of the other NCL ships. NCL has also discontinued placing chocolate mints on the pillow at night. This did not take away from our enjoyment of the cruise, because we ordered room service three times late at night......Ha Ha Ha

Cruise Director: Darin Wyman was the cruise director. While he had a lot of energy when he was on stage talking, he did not mingle with the people on board during the day/night otherwise (this was our experience and the experience of a few other couples we talked to during the cruise). I guess I should mention that the bar was set high after our prior cruises…we were on the Dawn in January 2005 and Colin Kerr was the cruise director and in January 2004 on the Dawn, Kieron Buffery was the cruise director. Both of these cruise directors got to know the passengers by name and could greet them by name if passing them in a hallway, out by the pool etc. Darin on the other hand could not. One afternoon we were in the buffet…Dave Heenan, the comedian on board was at the next table and we were talking to him. Darin walks by, talks to Dave, then walks past our table and doesn’t say anything. We watched him walk out and he didn’t greet any of the people at the other tables (it wasn’t that crowded that he couldn’t have taken a minute to say hello and ask if we’re enjoying the cruise). For those of you who have cruised with either Kieron or Colin we found out that Kieron has resigned from NCL and Colin is the cruise director for one of the sister cruise lines (either Orient or Star lines…can’t remember which one).

 

Cruise Director Staff: We found that the cruise director staff was very nice and sociable. Marisa from the staff always sought us out to say hello and ask how our day has been. We remembered her from the Dawn last year. If you are going on the Star and see her, please tell her we send our best.

Entertainment: (1) Dave Heenan from NYC was the comedian on the ship and he had us in stitches. We actually sat with him at the buffet for lunch prior to his first show and had no idea he was the comedian on board (we thought he was another passenger at first). Dave got to know the passengers better and talked to more of the passengers than the cruise director did. We ran into him in one of the ports and he knew our names, where we were from etc. We went to all 3 shows that he did and I highly recommend seeing him if he is on your cruise. (2) Jeffrey Allen was the piano player in Gatsbys. He also did a tribute to Elton John (full costumes, wigs etc) the last night, which was excellent; it was like seeing the real Elton John if you didn’t know it was Jeffrey Allen. 2 nights during the cruise he did a “name that tune” game where he would play parts of a song and the people in the lounge would have to guess what song he was playing. Our team won this game the first time. The game is played like the way the ships trivia is done, where each team writes down their answer and at the end whichever team has the most correct answers wins. Of all the NCL cruises we’ve been on, he has been the best piano player. (3) There was also a piano/guitar player in the Star Bar on Deck 13, Allen Roman. He took requests and did a fair amount of songs as well. He was good, but our preference was Jeffrey Allen in Gatsbys. (4) The Jean Ann Ryan Company did a few shows. We only saw 2 of the 3 shows that they did. The 3 shows were Music of the night, It’s Fame, and Cirque Pacific (this one we missed). There was just too much to do and not enough time to do it all. (5) Burt Lynch played classic rock music on the guitar in the Red Lion Pub. We listened to him for a while one night, but the Red Lion Pub was just too smoky to stay there. If he played someplace that wasn’t as smoky, we would have seen him more. This cruise was his first week on the ship. (6) There was a husband and wife magician team on the ship (Don’t remember their names). His magic was the basic magic that you expect. His wife’s role is what made the show. She did acrobatic stunts and had to be a contortionist the way she was able to fit herself into a box for one of the acts. One of the funniest parts of their act was when she brought a man onstage from the audience who had a jacket on. She was tied up and then a curtain was put over both of them and when the curtain was removed, she was wearing the passengers jacket under the ropes and the passenger didn’t realize that she had his jacket on.

Food: For dinners we went mostly to Versailles, twice to Endless Summer, and once to Aqua. We never tried any of the cover charge restaurants. The food was good and the presentation was very good. I found the service in Aqua to be slower than Versailles as there was more wait time between courses, getting refills on water/iced tea. The iced tea was a favorite. For breakfasts/lunches we went to the buffet at the Market Café on deck 12. The French toast was very good but the pancakes were lousy (they tasted like sawdust). One of us found a favorite with the corned beef hash. There were fresh fruits always available at the buffet and I wish we could get the “summer fruits” at home as fresh as it was on the ship. The lunch buffet had a vegetarian section, which had some flavorful Indian dishes. There were fresh-baked cookies available in the Java Café on deck 7 all the time. Ice Cream was available from 11am-9pm (flavors varied daily) on deck 12 by the fitness center/juice bar. Kind of odd that ice cream would be served next to the gym, but I guess it is incentive for people to exercise?

Fitness Center: We took the exercise classes as opposed to using the equipment in the gym, but the equipment appeared to be new/modern as there were TV’s on the treadmills and elliptical machines. The fitness instructors were good, but I felt that they were pushed to be sales people. They are contractors and not NCL employees. There are still a few free exercise classes that you don’t have to sign up for, but the majority of them were $10/class and had a sign up sheet in the gym. During sea days, in the Freestyle Daily, the free classes were not mentioned, yet they were listed during the days in port. In our stateroom the first day there was an itinerary of all the classes for the week (more copies were available in the gym). They constantly pushed for you to get a metabolism/body fat test (which of course had a fee) and if you did it then they pushed for you to buy products. I had this test done on a cruise a few years ago (before the change) and the fitness instructor didn’t try to sell me anything. She just made recommendations to increase the weights and keep active. This time I did it (when it was offered for $15 instead of $30) the instructor kept pushing for me to buy various products in the spa and told me to lose 20 pounds. I am 2 pounds less than I was the last time I had the test done…guess that is what happens when NCL contracts out the fitness program. For those of you who have cruised with NCL prior to the change in the fitness program, they still had the Sports Afloat punch card to earn a free tee shirt. For our cruise you had to get 10 punches by taking 10 classes or doing an early morning walk with the crew staff (it didn’t count if you just walked on your own). The crew staff was very pleasant and talked to you as you did your 3 laps (3 laps=1 mile)…they would initial your card after you completed your mile with them. We earned our tee shirt this cruise and it was different then the ones when NCL ran their own fitness program (the old ones were the “In motion on the ocean” and this one has the “Sports Afloat” logo on the front).

Ports: We did not get off the ship in Manzanilla and from talking with other passengers during the cruise we were told we did not miss anything. There is nothing at the pier and you have to take a taxi anywhere you want to go. So many people said they were back on the ship within a half hour. In Puerto Vallarta we did a van tour where we were driven to various places, and even got to walk around Liz Taylor’s house. The funniest thing happened to our van (well the driver may not agree)…as he was turning the corner on the narrow streets he hit the curb. Everyone in the van heard the familiar hissing of the tire losing air and he kept going. When he went to turn another corner he hit a Volkswagen then the curb and backed up into the Volkswagen again. When he got on this street he had to change the tire. Luckily for all of us sitting around waiting someone from one of the stores helped him out. That was our excitement there. In Mazatlan we hiked to their lighthouse. What a great hike! The hike was challenging and the view from the top was amazing. Unfortunately due to security reasons we were not allowed inside the lighthouse. Cabo San Lucas was our shortest time in port and we would have preferred if it were the longest. Cabo was beautiful, we tendered in to the marina people had boats docked. NCL would have been better off skipping Manzanillo all together and spending more time in Cabo. We just wandered around on our own, stopped in Cabo Wabo for a drink and listened to their house band play.

Debarkation: After the change in itinerary the ship was due to get back to the port at 9am and start letting the passengers off at 11am. Due to the change we had to make different flight arrangements to get home as our return flight was originally for noon. As it turned out, the ship got in at 7:30am. The customs procedure was different then any of the other cruises as we had to go to the Spinnaker lounge with our custom cards, key cards and passports and get asked questions by the custom agents (they made everyone go thru this). Once we completed this we were given a sheet of paper to take with us when they called our luggage tag color to leave the ship. I think this was more confusing for people as the announcements weren’t clear. On past cruises we turned in the customs card as we went to where the luggage was. This time it was a 2-step process.

All in all we had a great time, met a lot of nice people and booked another cruise while we were on this one. If we had to make a comparison, we did prefer the Dawn to the Star.

Robin & Chris

NCL Star: 1/20/06 (Mexican Riviera) and 7/16/06 (Alaska)

NCL Dawn: 1/15/04 and 1/20/05

NCL Sky: 1/03

Norway: 1/99 and 1/01

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Robin & Chris,

 

Thanks for the indepth review. We will be on the Star Dec. 1, and we're looking forward to it. This is our first cruise on NCL. I'm hoping we enjoy the cruise. It seems, from all the threads, most pax are happy on the Star.

Thanks again,

Lois

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Thanks for the great review Chris and Robin, I like to hear both the postitive and the negatives. We will be back on the STAR in 3 weeks for the second time to the Mexican Riviera. I think this was Darin's 1st or 2nd cruise on the STAR and I hope he warms up a little bit before then.

 

Did you attend a CC gathering? Did Darin show up, or any of the other crew members? I don't suppose NCL provided any snacks or drinks?

 

Thanks,

 

:)

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Hi Margaret,

We looked each day in the Freestyle Dailies for any CC get togethers but didn't see one:( ...we were hoping to meet up with some of the others that were on the cruise. Hopefully when we are back on the Star in July we'll see something so we can meet other people from CC.

Robin & Chris

 

NCL Star: 1/20/06 (Mexican Riviera) and 7/16/06 (Alaska)

NCL Dawn: 1/15/04 and 1/20/05

NCL Sky: 1/03

Norway: 1/99 and 1/01

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Hi Margaret,

 

We looked each day in the Freestyle Dailies for any CC get togethers but didn't see one:( ...we were hoping to meet up with some of the others that were on the cruise. Hopefully when we are back on the Star in July we'll see something so we can meet other people from CC.

 

Robin & Chris

 

Our CC gatherings never get posted in the Freestyle Dailys unfortunately. Basically they are just arranged on the roll call threads and then someone contacts passenger courtesy and they assign us a meeting room and usually send some of the crew down to meet with us.

 

:)

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Robin and Chris

 

Thanks so much for you review of the Star. So much has been written lately good and bad about this ship and NCL in general.

 

We have the Star booked in October for our first cruise and I was hoping that I had not made a mistake. And as a rookie cruiser, I am always looking for whatever information I can find.:)

 

The only question I do have though, is how did we survive all these years without the internet making all this so available.

 

Thanks again.

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One of the reasons your cruise director may have seemed a little off was it was his first week on the Star. We were on the cruise before you and Darin took over for Michael. Michael was heading to the Jewel, I think.

This has been my two cents.

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Nice review! Thanks for taking the time and posting a detailed review.

 

2 questions, in P.V. was that a ship tour or did you book it on your own? If you booked it, how did you do it and what was the price?

 

In Cabo how was the Cabo Wabo? Was there a fee to enter? Any other info was the band good? I plan to stop there and just recently read some bad reviews on it.

 

Thanks again for posting!

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Nice review! Thanks for taking the time and posting a detailed review.

 

2 questions, in P.V. was that a ship tour or did you book it on your own? If you booked it, how did you do it and what was the price?

 

In Cabo how was the Cabo Wabo? Was there a fee to enter? Any other info was the band good? I plan to stop there and just recently read some bad reviews on it.

 

Thanks again for posting!

 

Hi Judy,

 

We booked our excursions from the ship,out of convenience. I'm sure we could have done this on our own as there were cabs/vans waiting at the pier looking for people to hire them. I don't know what the prices were. The prices on board for the excursions weren't too bad-one was $49/pp and the other $39/PP (I don't remember which one was which).

 

We had a good time at Cabo Wabo. We didn't go into the restaurant part, but the menu looked good. The outside bar/band area was nice. There wasn't a cover charge and a fair amount of tables. The band played cover music with a reggae beat. If we didn't have to be back to the ship by 1:30pm, I'm sure we would have hung out longer.

 

Have a great time when you go!

 

Robin & Chris

 

NCL Star: 1/20/06 (Mexican Riviera) and 7/16/06 (Alaska)

NCL Dawn: 1/15/04 and 1/20/05

NCL Sky: 1/03

Norway: 1/99 and 1/01

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Thanks! So Cabo Wabo was within walking distance from the ship? What else was around that you got to do and see in Cabo. This is the one port I'm thinking of not booking any thing to do. Maybe just get a water taxi ride to land's end, Cabo Wabo and walk around like you did.

 

The Star must be goo I see you booked her again to Alaska. Many of our roll call has sailed her many times too. That's always a good sign!

 

Thanks again for the great review.

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We walked around the marina and saw some really nice yachts that we picked out. More than 60 feet of course. We also went to the Hard Rock and got some T-shirts. Being the dreamers that we are, talked to someone about real estate. If I had the Tequiela Bloody Marys before we saw the real estate agent, we probably would still be there.:D

Be aware of the locals and their children on the pier trying to sell everything under the sun.

 

 

Robin & Chris

 

NCL Star: 1/20/06 (Mexican Riviera) and 7/16/06 (Alaska)

NCL Dawn: 1/15/04 and 1/20/05

NCL Sky: 1/03

Norway: 1/99 and 1/01

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Thanks sounds nice. I'm thinking of booking the horseback riding excursion through the ship. Did you here anyone talking about that one.

 

Cabo we're doing just want you did, sounds like a nice day.

 

Thanks

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