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South Side Mo

6/20/04 NCL Star Review (long and winded)

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This was my first cruise on NCL - I had previously cruised once with Carnival and Celebrity. I would not be interested in another cruise with NCL. I hated the freestyle dining - I very seldom wait in lines for restaurants at home, I certainly don't expect to do it after paying the money we did. My husband was looking forward to the freestyle, he didn't like the usual early/late dinner, but has now decided that was best. Also, I felt kind of bad for the older folks having to stand in line.

 

I thought the food was just acceptable. They offered other restaurants with the premium food for an additional price. My sister went to Cagney's and said it was excellent food and service, but I believe that should be your experience at every meal, not those with an additional price. The market place aka cafeteria, was horrible. I had to stop eating there altogether. Versailles and Aqua were OK, but I agree with RKWY's post that Versailles was way out there as far as choices. You never got the same waiter, some were excellent (Joseph from Panama) and others were just average.

 

Before I forget, a fun fact for you future Star cruisers.......there is a bar called the Red Lion on deck 7 (just off the grand atrium), where they have tables and chairs outside. This spot was well hidden for several days from a lot of the cruisers, so we could always find a seat. One of the bar waiters, Froilan Pantaleon, was our favorite guy on board. He was always nice, helpful, informative and just an all around great guy. He'll bring drinks out to you on the deck (the door is right as you step in the Red Lion from the Grand Atrium, it's VERY hard to push), so try to stop by and visit. We made sure we mentioned him on our comment card - personal service was so hard to find on this ship as it was, we really appreciated him

 

Okay, now onto other issues - there were a lot of kids on this cruise, and a lot of them were loud and obnoxious. There was absolutely no supervision in the pool area and apparently the parents had hearing problems. There were some very well behaved kids onboard too, so this isn't about all of them. They took over the pool and the hot tubs, while the pool and hot tub in the kids section remained empty. My next cruise will be on one without kids!!

 

Embarkation/debarkation - both went well for us. We got to the terminal about 11:30 Sunday morning and we were in our rooms in 15 minutes. My poor brother, on the other hand, who paid quite a bit more for his room, and was supposed to get special attention for boarding, ended up sitting in a "special" room for a couple of hours with others that had paid premium prices. Apparently there was the old computer glitch, but he wasn't a happy camper. Debarkation went well too, we were off by 10:00, no problems

 

Ports:

 

Juneau - my husband went on the pilots choice helicopter ride (with Captain Steve) and absolutely loved it, next time he will deal directly with Temsco, they'll even provide transportation. I think it will be somewhat less than the ship price. I went on a whale watching tour with my niece (the 3 hour tour) we saw about 5 whales, not very close (I think they have a certain distance they need to maintain) I liked the guides Gary/Joe, but the actual sightings were just ok. To be honest, I probably would have been satisfied with what I saw from the ship. (fyi, they had the independent kiosks right at the bottom of the tram in case you're looking for something a bit more reasonable), also to get back to the ship they tell you there are shuttles from the tram area, we were waiting about 15 min and decided instead to take a cab (look left at the visitor center, they're right there). The cab was only $4.00 to the ship and it's much farther than it looks like it is (at least 1 mile). We got in to Juneau about 1:15

 

Skagway - my husband and I rented a car ($75.00 at Avis) and drove to Emerald Lake. It took us about 5 hours, with a short stop in Carcross, the Cinnamon Cache and Spirit Lake Wilderness resort, with plenty of picture stops. It was beautiful and actually paralleled the train in several places. My brother and sister took the train on the day it was 85 degrees (4:30 train) and said it was so hot it was like a sauna, also on the way back the fumes from the engine were bad. Now it's not usually that hot in Skagway, so the train isn't air conditioned, but I guess the windows weren't even open. But I haven't heard a lot of other people with that complaint that have been there for other sailings, so maybe it was a bad day (we did hear the same complaints from others in town while shopping though - we actually felt kind of bad since we recommended the train based on what other cruisers told us, then we rented a nice air conditioned car for ourselves - oh well). I have to agree with another poster somewhere on this board that I was somewhat disappointed with the cinnamon rolls at Cinnamon Cache, they were ok, and that was it. Of course then we got the bright idea to go to Spirit Lake Wilderness Resort for lunch - about 1/2 block further. This was a bad idea. It was noon their time when we went in. There was a board with the menu written in. The first 2 things we asked for. Fish and chips, first on the menu too, and a hamburger weren't available, something about the fryer not being ready and I don't remember what for the hamburger. We then ordered a roast beef sandwich and turkey for my husband. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! There was 1 thin slice of roast beef on mine, the turkey was a little healthier but not much. I ordered milk and it was warm, and I do mean warm, so I asked for some ice cubes to stir in it and they were out of ice cubes - all this and they told us they were expecting several buses. I was so ticked with this place that I didn't even order a slice of the homemade pie (and if you knew me you'd know that was pretty ticked). We eat in a lot of restaurants since I don't cook, so we're pretty knowledgeable about restaurant quality, and this place was a joke. If we were in the U.S. I would have probably complained, but this was the Canadian side and I didn't think it was worth it. We just left. When we got into Skagway we shopped for a little bit and stopped at a place called the fish place (?)(it's on the Cruise critic's recommended places), and that was much much better. I had the fish and chips, my husband had the salmon sandwich and we got the peel and eat shrimp - almost too much, yet we still managed.

 

Ketchikan - once again I agree with one of the other posters about Ketchikan. It was a t-shirt town. There was a lumberjack show for about $30 each, we didn't go, but heard people coming out saying they really enjoyed it. Other than that, we didn't do anything here

 

Victoria - I LOVED THIS TOWN. I didn't expect much here, why I don't know, but we had a great time, and I really wished we could have skipped Ketchikan and spent more hours here. We had dinner at a place called Sauce, some signs said Suze at the main wharf street and Yates. We had an outside table and watched the sunset. My husband had the best fish and chips and I had a striploin, also very good. We walked around a bit, and just enjoyed the town. I didn't like dealing with the Canadian money there, so you'll probably want to use your credit card and the company will reduce the price for you into U.S. dollars. You have to go to Rogers Chocolates (by the way I went to The Alaska Chocolate factory in Ketchikan and it was just ok, but Rogers was fantastic) I just looked up the price on the internet, and it's going to cost me a bit more than in the store, but it's worth it. The creams they have are the best. This town was very clean also. There are shuttle buses at the pier, you pay $5.00 for a round trip to town. It was worth it

 

The last thing about this cruise is the timing of the entertainment. A few times we were kind of bored during the day. The shows started later, especially the Disco show or the sock hop, which started at 11:00. Alaska time is 3 hours earlier than my time zone (Chicago/Central) so this party started at 2:00 am in my mind. Way too late! We were exhausted by this time, especially if we had to wait until 8 or 9 to get a table in the restaurants. I wish they had done some adjustments taking the time changes into consideration (one night, the Ironics were playing after the comedy show and there were only about 15 people left there, kind of sad)

 

The cruise director Kieron, with his sidekick Clint were always pretty funny. I did enjoy them. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I did have a great time on this cruise in spite of the food/kids/timing issues. It was absolutely beautiful there, but I will go on Celebrity or Carnival next time.

 

Maureen

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South Side MO

 

Thanks for your review. Glad you enjoyed your trip dispite the problems with food etc. The things you described might not bother some people but others I'm sure will be glad to have your views when making their decision which line to book.

 

 

I do have one question. When describing your Skagway experience you said,

 

"If we were in the U.S. I would have probably complained, but this was the Canadian side and I didn't think it was worth it."

 

as a Canadian I wondered what you meant. Several possible explainations popped onto my head:

 

Canadians don't know how to cook so no use complaining... Canadians are easily annoyed and might set their pet polar bear on us if we complain...etc.:confused:

 

I'm hoping there is another explaination for that remark.

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I just got off of this cruise also and I have to say it was a great cruise.

 

Maybe the buffet wasn't 5 star food but buffets rarely are and we thought the outdoor BBQ's were great. We ate both in the Versailles and the Aqua and the only two nights we had to wait was Lobster and formal night but we usually have to wait that long for our favorite steak house here where we live so we are used to that. The swordfish in the Aqua on Thursday night I believe it was was absolutly delicious and the people at the table next to us weren't sure what to order and as we had already eaten we recommened it to them and after they ate it they said we were right it was a good choice and they loved it too. We ate Monday lunch at Versailles and the smoked turkey sandwich on foccaccia bread was teriffic. Also one other day for lunch we had a cuban sandwich, which we thought was very good also.

 

The train I will agree was very hot. We were on the train at 4:30 also, so we just stood on the platform and it was nice and cool, especially when we went by the waterfalls. We also had some spectacular pictures from the platform, so if anyone doesn't take the train, fearing the heat by get to them, it you are able to stand on a platform it still is a great trip.

 

I too was a little upset that there were kids in the hot tub but it didn't ruin my trip as there was so much beauty in the land all around that we didn't miss it. There have been kids on every cruise (4) we have taken and I didn't see these kids as any worse. In fact they might have been better behaved then the ones we had on the sun 2 years ago. I didn't see them riding elevators for the heck of it like we saw on the sun. And belive me, since we don't have kids, we would have been irritated by kids running amuck. We had worse kids on the plane flying home from Seattle.

 

I do think that Victoria was a great stop also. But I will say, to me, that was the worst port at arrival time. If you had NCL excursions, the tickets mostly said "at arrival" for the time. I think that those with ship excursions should have met in lounges like other ports and able to leave in a group. right after the ship is cleared. Most of us were afraid of missing tours since it was chaos leaving the ship at that port.

 

Also, in Juneau, we actually did arrive closer to 12:00 I think. By the time the ship was cleared and they got the tender boats down It might have been 12:30 or 12:45 for tendering to start. I do know that most all of the tendering was done by 1:30 because we were on the ship and had room service for lunch and were out on the balcony for a long time before we left for our excursion at 1:30. There is no way that they could have had customs clear the ship and have it empty in 15 minutes if we had anchored at 1:15. In Juneau, we took the shuttle to the dock and I thought it was very nice to have a free shuttle. They could have charged like they did in skagway but didn't so we were thrilled. We hate to be $1-2 dollared to death!

 

We went to the late night parties at the disco and had a great time. We also are on central time zone but we got our second wind since we love listening to the band.

 

I guess I'm hoping that people don't think that this was a horrible cruise, because it wasn't and hopefully, they will read other topics from other people on this cruise and find out that many people had a great time. I have sailed both RCCL and NCL and I really don't have that many complaints.

 

Our biggest complaint was with the ship's photographers and they are on every cruiseline bugging you for pictures and not taking very good photos. We stood in line for about an hour on formal night and then our picture turned out blurry. We had a stranger take a picture of us on our digital camera near by some steps that turned out better than the professional.

 

As far as staff goes, Our cabin stewards were two very sweet young ladies. One reminded me that in Ketchikan, even though it was cloudy and misty, I should take my hat since I burn easily. We also misplaced something and she helped us look for it. But the sweetest thing was what they did in Juneau. I had heard one time that if you have a balcony cabin, its fun to put balloons and deocrate, so on land you can see which room is yours. Well, we brought balloons from home and tied them all over our balcony. When we got back to the ship after our day, the balloons were all inside our cabin on the couch with a note that said "good day and that we had to take them down as the bridge requested we not have them up". We understood and thought it was nice that they tied them all together and didn't pop them. We left them on the couch and the next day while we were on shore, they taped them on the wall for us to deorate the inside.

 

In the Aqua Restaurant, There is a great waitress named Mercy. She not only knew all about the food she served and how it was preapred, but she told us little tips about the best time to to the chocoholic buffet was about 12:05 or 12:10 to avoid the crowds. She also said that on lobster night, even thought La Trotoria and Endless Summer don't have it on the menu, you can still order it in there. Our other waiters were kind and didn there job. Some of them offered to take our pictures for us and though they don't call you by name, we still had good service. At one of the late night BBQ after leaving Victoria, one of the bartenders was dancing as he was pouring a drink because the band was playing and he grinned from ear to ear and said now I am famous!

 

Keiron and Clint really were good together.

 

We thought Shawn the magician was fantastic and we loved the Andrew Lloyed Webber show with the Jean Ann Ryan company. Cirque Asia was great too. We didn't see Jane L. Powell though. We have seen her before on the Sun though she had a great show then, we were tired that night and just got room service and stayed in. Sorry I got long winded but I love reliving a cruise!

 

Luanne

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South Side Mo and Luanne,

Thank you both so much for your reviews. It's always interesting to me how different people can be on the same cruise and have such different views! But everyone has different tastes and expectations, so I always take that into consideration. Food is so subjective, so I'll reserve judgement on that until we get on board. Since we don't go until the end of August, I don't think there'll be as many kids on board on that time. Otherwise, seemed that everyone loves Alaska and the scenery and that's most of what we're going for.

 

This will be our first cruise, so it's always good to know what to expect, good and bad. We will be prepared for lines and be pleasantly surprised if there are none. We are really looking forward to it and to the Star.

 

I think it's wonderful that so many people take the time to write up these reviews and give tips to those coming after them. I'm so glad I found these boards!

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Didan

Thanks for your reply. YOU are the reason some people take the time to post reviews, because you are happy with receiving information and intelligent enough to read all kinds of reviews and make your own decisions. (And then you actually say thank you!)

I'm glad you found the boards too and hope you will find lots of tips and info to make your cruise the best it can be.

Happy sailing.

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With regard to your outing during your skagway stop, you took a good swing at just about everything else why not fire a shot across the bow of the Canadian portion of your visit. Don't you realize that we morally, spiritually, intellectually and militarily deprived folks, look to our benificent neighbours to the south to offer suggestions regarding refinement and the development of a national savoir faire.

 

Glad you enjoyed Victoria. Some gentile and refined.

 

TTFN

Nitro

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It's always interesting to me how different people can be on the same cruise and have such different views!

 

I find this interesting also. It is really strange. We got back two weeks ago from sailing on the Diamond Princess. It was without a doubt the very best cruise we have been on. I had absolutely nothing to complain about (other than coming home). Food, service, ship, ports and even the weather was fantastic. I was amazed when someone posted to the Princess board that they were on the same cruise and thought it was absolutely terrible.

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Thanks all for your comments on this cruise. Food is subjective so I will wait and see. Thanks for your tips too. I always gain new insights into every review. This is why I lkie to read several reviews.

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South Side MO

 

Canadians are easily annoyed and might set their pet polar bear on us if we complain...etc.:confused:

 

When I read this I was falling off of my chair laughing! IF you have a polar bear PLEASE post a picture.

 

PS I am from Detroit and my grandfather was Canadian and I have spent A LOT of time in Canada and never seen any polar bears! Maybe the wrong part of Canada since that part of Canada is actually SOUTH of the US

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Sorry sassycruiser,

 

I'd love to send a picture of my polar bear but my cat ate him!

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Unlike his Bruin cousins in Alaska, Canadian Polar Bears are usually like Canadian; easily upset, very forgiving, always quiet and not boastful, usually very placid, timid and unobtrusive.

 

Nitro

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so canadian polar bears are wimps? I must say I watched a team from Florida beat a team from Calgary(canada) for the stanley cup hey but who is bragging

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A team who's Captain is from Hamilton, Ontario. A team populated by many canadians and Europeans as well as very few US players. See you at the World Cup In September.

 

They're not wimps it's just that when sufficiently perturbed, they will eagerly ingest the source of their ire. This will cure their iritation and return them to their usual state of quiietude and placidity.

 

Nitro

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I haven got time to post a review as yet I have been busy cloeaning and washing clothes. I hope to get to it tomorrow. We had a wonderful cruise one of our best we got to meet some of the c.c. members and met with the crew that was very interesting and fun. I have a picture i will send a long in a few days.

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Hey there Oakville:

 

Maybe some enterprising cruise company could set up a 12 -14 day cruise north from St. John's past Greenland, Baffin Island and in to Hudson Bay. Down the west cost of Hudson Bay to Churchill Manitoba then on to James Bay and see some of the eluisve "Ursa Canadensis Polarus". After James Bay a quick run up the East shore of the Bay to Ungava and then back to Nfld.

 

I think our US cousins would get a real eye opener to the true arctic & the placid, tranquil, quiet and elusive Canadian Polar Bear.

 

Nitro from Cambridge

 

PS-GO LEAFS GO

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Nitro99

Just 2 problems with that last post:

1) Okay geography is not my strong point but, how much of the year would your proposed route actually be open to navigation ?

 

2) I am in favour of Canadian unity but -- despite my present address I was born and raised in Montreal. I could bring myself to root for the Flames in the most recent Stanley Cup but I am not sure what it would take to make me support the hated blue and white. ( Have you every read the story 'The Hockey Sweater?) Sorry about that, everything seemed to be going so well with the polar bear theme.:o

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A) I Was A Teacher For 35 Yrs. & Used The "hockey Sweater' With The Appropriate Accent Frequently.

 

B) The Route Is Open To Navigation For The Entire Year. Frain Is Hipped From Churchill Almost Year Round. The Major Problem Would Be Weather. The North Atlantic Can Be Very Rough At Any Time. I Would Think That 3 Months (late May Through Early July) Would Be Tops.

 

My Second Favorite Team Would Be Les Habitants. Great Fan Of Guy Lafleur And Larry Robinson As Well As The Little Fellow Jean Beliveau.

 

Nitro

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A) I Was A Teacher For 35 Yrs. & Used The "hockey Sweater' With The Appropriate Accent Frequently.

 

B) The Route Is Open To Navigation For The Entire Year. Grain IS SHIPPED From Churchill Almost Year Round. The Major Problem Would Be Weather. The North Atlantic Can Be Very Rough At Any Time. I Would Think That 3 Months (late May Through Early July) Would Be Tops.

 

My Second Favorite Team Would Be Les Habitants. Great Fan Of Guy Lafleur And Larry Robinson As Well As The Little Fellow Jean Beliveau.

 

Nitro

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Regarding the comment about being in Canada..........the meaning was that I was in another country and didn't want to make too big of a deal about the lunch. If I was here in the U.S., I wouldn't have paid for warmer than warm milk, and I probably would have sent the sandwich that I got back. I expected much more from a "resort". But like said I was in another country and didn't think it was worth any possible hassle. With my luck Dudley Doright would have been sitting there and would have hauled me in to the pokey.

 

I have to clarify what I said about arriving in Juneau, we actually arrived at the pier, via tender boat about 1:15. I didn't mean that's when we were docking.

 

And lets remember about Skagway, that I said the Skagway Fish Co had great food and that the scenery was absolutely beautiful. And about the train.......I said that it WAS way too hot - and I heard this from several people on the ship and in town. I also said that it was an unusually hot day and that I hadn't heard complaints previously on the board. I was just so happy that we rented a car and had a nice air conditioned ride, with stops whenever we wanted.

 

Once again, the cruise itself was fantastic. I would just go on a different line next time. Celebrity and Carnival had MUCH better food and no waiting in line - if you don't mind waiting, then hey! this is the cruise for you.

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Okay South Side Mo we'll let you off this time! Lucky for you, if the food was that bad in the Resort in Skagway just think what it would have been like in the Skagway jail:eek: I however will reserve the right to complain, if the food is really bad when I am travelling in the US. Hope that won't land me in prison!

 

 

Nitro99

 

Larry Robinson? Jean Beliveau? You are giving your age away! Obviously from the original six era.

Now if you say you also liked watching Maurice Richard I'll really have you pegged:D

 

Thanks for fixing 'the grain is shipped' part. I was having a little trouble with that when I first read the post.:confused:

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In the spirit of cross-border harmony as well as the fact that today is Canada's National Holiday "Canada Day" we will no sick our "elusive polar bears on you". Besides I think they prefer seals or some other aquatic animal.

 

To Gradencat: The comments may give you a hint about my age but I can remember when "Hockey Night In Canada" (In Toronto Ch.6) did not come on the air until mid-way through the second period because the Juliette Show was scheduled for 8:00pm Saturday nights; Dick Irwin Sr. was coaching Les Habs.

 

Nitro - 3 "Big sleeps to go"

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I used to watch Hockey night in Canada from Montreal. There we always saw the whole game followed by the Julliet show whenever the game ended. Vive la difference! I guess. Must admit I'm glad I lived where we got to see the whole game.:)

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