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LONG MEGA review-STAR Mex Riviera 10/28-all you need to know!

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We are a family of seven who cruise at least annually. Let me start off that we had a fantastic cruise over all. We believe that a cruise, or any vacation for that matter, is what you make of it. If you keep an open mind and do not have too many high expectations, you will find it hard to be disappointed. We always approach any vacation with a laid-back, fun attitude. We usually cruise NCL because we like the Freestyle dining: getting to eat when we want, and having many dining options.

 

EMBARKATION: Smooth. Helps that we are Lattitude members, were in a Penthouse suite, got there early, and gave a little extra tip to the nice NCL rep that was helping people get checked in. We were on the boat eating lunch by 12:30 PM.

 

SHIP: My parents had a Deck 8 Aft Penthouse suite, we had a Deck 11 aft AF mini-suite, and the rest were obstructed view outside handicapped cabins. The handicapped cabins are much larger than regular outside rooms, and were released as an upgrade about 3 weeks before sailing. And it wasn’t even obstructed! You could see right over the lifeboat, so it was a good deal, considering it was less than a regular outside. I am so glad that we splurged for a balcony, and the mini-suite ended up being just a tad bit more. So worth it. A concierge is great, if you are into that sort of thing. All rooms were very spacious, with plenty of storage. My only complaint is that the walls are thin, I could hear the neighbors who were early risers, but I am a very light sleeper. Also, the rooms creak while sailing, but nothing earplugs did not fix!

 

DINING: When it comes to cruising, I am the “Julie McCoy” of the family. As soon as we got on the ship, I went to reception and got the main dining menus for the week. I then decided what menus we did not care for, and called Al, our concierge, to set up our specialty dining reservations for the week. If you don’t have a concierge, you can make reservations a day before, usually with no problem if you do it early enough. The specialty restaurants are so worth it, quieter and the food is wonderful. But the main dining rooms are good enough, too. We are just not a buffet family. Food tends to be cold, not good quality. Except breakfast, it is pretty hard to screw that up! There are cooked to order Belguim Waffles, omlets and eggs if you wanted. But I say, void the zoo, and treat yourself to the dining rooms for free, or a specialty restaurant.

 

VERSAILLE AND AQUA: Main dining rooms. FREE. Menus vary slightly. Usually no wait, if you avoid prime time. Food is average to good. Loved Italian night (mmm, carpaccio with arugala). We ate here 4 nights and were very pleased with the food and the service.

 

BLUE LAGOON: FREE. Snacks and light entrees (fish n chips, chili, salad)Food is cooked to order and comes out HOT! (Fish in Chips is good in the Red Lion Pub from 6-9, too!)

 

LA TRATTORIA: FREE. Italian. Great atmosphere, can hardly believe it is the Market Café during the day. On the Acapulco night, you can dine there and see the Fort’s light and sound show while you eat! Great tirimisu!

 

ENDLESS SUMMER: FREE Tex Mex. Our meal was OK. We preferred to go during happy hour for tapas and chips with GREAT guacamole!

 

SOHO AND GINZA: Pacific Rim and Asian. Did not try. $15 pp I think.

 

IL BISTRO: French. $15 pp. Yummy! Escargot and spinach salad was wonderful.

 

CAGNEY’S: Steakhouse. $20 pp. So worth it! The oyster rockerfeller casserole was to die for, and the filet and rack of lamb outstanding. Where else can 2 go to an upscale restaurant for $40? You will love it!!! Our favorite by far.

 

 

DRINKS: Coming from NJ, $3.75 for a beer is very reasonable. And wouldn’t you tip someone serving you anyway? I don’t think adding an auto gratuity of 15% is outrageous. Look for 2 for 1 sangria and margaritas for happy hour, buckets of beer (buy 5 get the 6th free), Lattitude discount of 20% off in Star bar first 2 days, drink of the days.

 

ENTERTAINMENT: Better than any other cruise line I have been on. The magician is very funny; the Chinese acrobats are outstanding. There is always so much to do so many shows or activities going on it is hard to choose what to do! We loved going to Pub Trivia each night at 6:00 for cocktails and fun. In fact, I even missed the CC party, as I was too busy with other things going on!! There is never a dull moment. On the other hand, again, it is your choice. You don't have to do anything, and just relax!

 

CRUISE DIRECTOR AND ASST. CRUISE DIECTOR: Absolutely OUTSTANDING! We cruise often, and Kieron and Clint are the best guys we have seen yet! So much fun and personable, you will LOVE them!! Make sure that you introduce yourselves to them at the beginning of the cruise, and give Kieron a hard time about chickening out on the bungee jump in Acapulco!! We did not let him live this down. (Kieron, how is your chicken on a stick?) This is the perfect job for him, as he is a wonderful singer, hilarious comic and fantastic entertainer over all. Clint also has wonderful humor, and is great. I promise you will enjoy these guys so much!

 

SPA: Oooooh, so great I had not one, but two massages! If you put in your entry for the spa drawing, they will call you with an offer of 50% off any service on the Cabo day. Also, Latitude members get $30 off in port, $10 off at sea. The spa itself is wonderful. There is an indoor pool and relaxing area, Jacuzzi and hydro pool. All free. Go and relax and enjoy!!!!

 

PORTS: We do not take ship excursions, as they are expensive and usually crowded. We instead research and book on-line excursions, or just checkout the port ourselves by walking or cab. The key in Mexico is NEGOTIATE!!!On a side note, I cannot imagine that any of these ports would be easy for the handicapped, as most ports we had to tender into, and would be difficult to navigate around. We tried to dissuade a couple on scooters on going into Acapulco, as it was a city with no apparent handicapped accesses, stairs, busy streets, etc. It also worried us that they would not be able to easily make their way past the many aggressive vendors, and we worried about their safety overall.

ACAPULCO- see above. Could have done without this port. HOT. It is a big city, lots of hassle, very aggressive people. Women use their small children to try to sucker you to buy gum. Not much to do, little shopping. We negotiated a cab for 4 to Senor Frogs for $10 each way, our driver even waited for us. Beautiful view of the bay. Then later we got a big suburban for 6 to Cliff Divers for $30 round trip. Driver stayed with us, got us in for $17 each which included admission and two drinks, great seats if you get there early enough. You can choose to just go to the pier for $3 to see them, but it was crowded and I imagine hard to see. Quick, but fun to say you did once! At the 10:30 show the divers go with lighted torches. Later, some went to Paradise Bar, all of the crew was there, as this is their only night off the ship. FUN! Bungee jumping for the brave.

(Yeah, not you, Kieron! But, way to go Clint!)

ZIHAUTENEJO/IXTAPA- Quaint little fishing village, cute cobblestone streets, great deals for souvenir shopping. Again, NEGOTIATE! I got a great hammock for $15, silver earrings for $5 and cute serving bowls, 9 for $25! Do not be afraid to walk away, they will usually call you back and meet your asking price if it is reasonable. Beach was nice, one of us parasailed, nice to just sit at a random beach bar and veg out.

PUERTA VALLARTA- most of our group booked an on-line Canopy tour that was 1/2 the price of the ship and loved it! We opted to take a cab into the city and go to old-town to get a $30 1 hr. massage. Different, place was sparser and more "primitive" as we are use to being pampered in a spa, but just as good as a massage here in US, and price is right.

Walked around town for a while, old-town on the beach is cute, but PV is still a city.

CABO- Wonderful! Blue water, great souvenir shopping, cute town. Cabo Wabo was good for a t-shirt, probably really happening at night. Then we took a water taxi for $3 each to beach and plopped ourselves down at Baja Cantina, the Office was way more crowded and tables and chairs on top of each other, loud! Baja Cantina has lounge chairs set up right as you get off the water taxi, (beware, you have to jump off into the water to get out). Music in the background, had lunch and drinks right there in the sand, as the boys rented jet-skis for $35 for 35 minutes. Great souvenir shopping, venders come by constantly, but Baja gives you signs that say "No, Gracias". Not that it really does any good! Just wave them off, but if you need souvenirs, bargain!

 

DISSEMBARKATION: was OK, line for immigration was long, but not NCL's fault, customs was late getting on so they screwed up the time schedule for people to go. Still, not horrendous. For 3 ships in port that day, they did a great job. Smooth once you got off the gangway, getting luggage and transportation back to the airport was a breeze, we were there by 10:00 AM, and that was after having a good breakfast and somewhat relaxing morning on board, if you got up early enough and allowed yourself time.

 

OTHER NOTES: Last day at sea was windy and cold, but plenty of other things to do! A little rough that night, but nothing a little Dramamine couldn't fix. The men had a lot of fun in the casino, the dealers and pit bosses were great, even bought you drinks if you played a lot and got friendly with them!

 

I guess that is it! Very long, but I hope informative, as I know I looked for every little detail I could find about my trip before I went. Any questions? :)

 

Pam

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Just wanted to add that there is always so much to do, that you will never be bored. On the other hand, feel free to just relax. I even missed the CC party, because we were having too much fun! (Sorry, guys!)

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Pam,

 

Glad you had a good time! We miss you! The chicken on a stick is JUST fine thanks! :p Hope you had a good trip home!

 

Peace

 

K & C

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GREAT review Pam - thanks! Hey are you going to add it to the member review section for the Star on this site? I would encourage you to! You did such a good job!

 

shiprat

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Star Boyz, my husband and I will be on the January 16th sailing and can't wait to meet you and see you bungee jump!!!! Thanks for the excellent review, Pam! We can hardly wait!

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We don't sail til next April but sure are looking forward to it. Have read many good things about the Star Boyz and sure hope they're still on the ship as I would hate to miss them. See you next April.

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You wrote a great review..:) We were on the same cruise and what you said pretty much summed it up! The Star Boyz...:) were great! Keiron was hilarious, (he kinda reminded me of Austin Powers) hehehe..must've been the accent...and him saying "Yeah Baby" all the time..haha!

 

I can comment on Soho and Ginza which were wonderful! Ate both places but I have to agree with you, Cagneys was definitely the BEST! Soho and Ginza were also good, I had the Lobster at Soho (YUM!) and also the Asian BBQ Duck at Ginza which was also very tasty!

 

I was fortunate enough to have a picture taken with the guys (Keiron, Clint, Shawn Farquarh, and me and my fiancee') I'll have to scan it and post it on here..it's very nice..Think it's all the handsome guys I'm surrounded by...hehe!

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I am leaving Saturday on this cruise, and your review comes just as I was hoping to find something new to get me excited.

 

Thanks, and I hope your great memories stay with you forever!

 

I have a 12:30 return flight. It sounds like I can exit at the normal time without using the early exit option. My companion lives in LA, so I was afraid we might get the last group, as I made my airline arrangements separately. But, I did list the flight on my pre-embarkation docs.

 

Is this something I can ascertain with the purser early in the voyage, or will I have to wait until the day before we return?

 

Thanks for any advice!

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Pam, what a terrific review!! Darn, we won't get to experience the Star until she is repositioning for her Alaska cruises. I want to go now. You have me all excited. Sure hope K & C are still on her then.

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I am leaving Saturday on this cruise, and your review comes just as I was hoping to find something new to get me excited.

 

Thanks, and I hope your great memories stay with you forever!

 

I have a 12:30 return flight. It sounds like I can exit at the normal time without using the early exit option. My companion lives in LA, so I was afraid we might get the last group, as I made my airline arrangements separately. But, I did list the flight on my pre-embarkation docs.

 

Is this something I can ascertain with the purser early in the voyage, or will I have to wait until the day before we return?

 

Thanks for any advice!

 

The day before disembarkation you will get info in your cabin that will tell you to go to Reception if you have a flight departing before 1PM and have made independent flight reservations to get red tags which if everything is on time debarks at 8:30AM. Even with the delay of Customs and Immigration arriving late on board the red tags were called in plenty of time to make a 12:15 plane from LAX (around 9:15). We got the Super Shuttle right across from the ship baggage area and there was no traffic. If for some reason you are very delayed in a line on board and you are worried about the time, seek out someone in charge and tell them again you have an early flight. We went thru Customs and Immigration both on board, so did not have to do Immigration again after collecting bags, but don't know if this happens all the time or just because there were 3 ships in port making over 6,000 passengers to process and this was the quickest way to do it.

M.L.

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Wow, Pam what a great wrap up of this cruise! We will be sailing on her jan.8, 2005. We have a an AB suite for the first time and I can't wait! We also have booked this ship for the Alaska, Glacier Bay cruise on July 17. Do you know if the staff is the same then? Will Kieron and Clint be on board then? We will have to introduce ourselves to Kieron since my daughter's name is Keira ! Marilyn

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I am glad that you all enjoyed the review, I understand how excited it gets you to go! Believe me, just thinking about it and writing it down made me want to live it all over again!

 

OK, Kierin and Clint, I will take my $20 now. (HeHe)

 

We flew out of LAX. As ML said (aicruiser-also my mom!), their flight was at 12:15, ours at 1, and we were there in plenty of time. Just get red tags for dissembarkation (for flights earlier that 1PM), and arrange for transportation to be there for you when you get off, things should go smoothly.

 

Don't know if Keiron and Clint will be there when you all go for Alaska, (boys, any comment?) I hope for your sake they are...they are a treat!

 

And Jessica, your picture sounds good....I also have some great ones with them both in the Pub...but BETTER ones of Clint with my sis at Ship N Males!!

Ladies...DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!!!!! The most fun you will have...wait till you see the fireman!! HOT!! Sizzle Sizzle. Of course the men complained that there was not a female review......

 

Pam

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Hi Star Boyz, I hope you can help. I am trying to get a message to Eby who works in Ginza, Market Cafe and Versailles. Can you tell him, his friends in Minnesota are trying to reach him and need his mailing addresss? Or, can you provide me an address where we send an envelope or package to him? Thanks so much.

 

Also, tell him we are booked for the Star for July 27, 2005!

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Will pass on your message to Eby! Watch this space!

 

Clint and I are here until December 15th. I go for a break then and Clint will be CD and I will return for 4 months on Jan 16th 05.

 

When you get here, PLEASE look us up!

 

Pam - My chicken is growing feathers! :p

 

OK folks, got a nother wild and wacky trivia to run to!

 

Safe Travels to LA!

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Geez. Someone in my group wants to know if there are irons in the rooms. We have a regular balcony stateroom.

 

Does anyone know this? I personally will wear things wrinkled before I'll iron on a cruise. I don't iron at home.

 

Thanks!!

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The day before disembarkation you will get info in your cabin that will tell you to go to Reception if you have a flight departing before 1PM and have made independent flight reservations to get red tags which if everything is on time debarks at 8:30AM. Even with the delay of Customs and Immigration arriving late on board the red tags were called in plenty of time to make a 12:15 plane from LAX (around 9:15). We got the Super Shuttle right across from the ship baggage area and there was no traffic. If for some reason you are very delayed in a line on board and you are worried about the time, seek out someone in charge and tell them again you have an early flight. We went thru Customs and Immigration both on board, so did not have to do Immigration again after collecting bags, but don't know if this happens all the time or just because there were 3 ships in port making over 6,000 passengers to process and this was the quickest way to do it.

M.L.

Thanks so much for the information! It is a relief, that was my only worry as I pack tonight! Everyone has been so helpful, I hope I can write a review when I return to do you all justice.

 

I wish I could write a review of the "reviews", all the little tidbits put together are going to make my trip spectacular! Thanks again for taking the time to advise future cruisers.

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Geez. Someone in my group wants to know if there are irons in the rooms. We have a regular balcony stateroom.

 

Does anyone know this? I personally will wear things wrinkled before I'll iron on a cruise. I don't iron at home.

 

Thanks!!

Hi Cat,

 

Sorry to say, no irons. When are you going? I am sailing the Star March 21.

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We go on Dec. 15th...only 33 more days!!!!! Thanks for the wonderful review. I am not sure I can wait that long!! I live about 10-15 minutes from the port, and am going to leave early for work on saturday so I can see the ship in port before work. Anyway, thanks for the great review.

 

Bill

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Great! You will still be on board for our Dec. 7th sailing. Looking foreward to meeting you.

I have a friend with the family name of Farquar, real unusual name.

We are a group of chili cooks counting the days.

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We have 1 month and 1 day left before we leave... we are doing a day in LA before and then a day in Vegas after. We are from Kentucky and have never been to the west coast! So Excited! This will be cruise #6= in the past all have been out of Miami. Say- maybe you can give me some advice? Our plane arrives at 3:50pm LAX on Dec 14th... and we are staying at the Shearton Harbor Hotel near the cruise terminal (they pick us up at the airport when we call them). Anyway- with such a little amount of time-- what do you suggest we see/ do while we are there? I wanted to see Hollywood.... but my husband say's we won't have time (he wants to get on the ship asap that morning). We were thinking about the Queen Mary and Long Beach (rent a car I guess)... but aren't sure what to do. Any advice?

Thanks so much!!

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Thanks so much Pam for the great review. We depart tomorrow on the Star, and I'm looking forward to eight days of relaxing. I've done the weather checks, looks like we'll just have iffy weather while steaming along the CA coastline, Mexico should be in the 80's to 90's (wowee, that's warm for November for me).

 

This is my third cruise, and first time in Mexico (I love Norwegian, Freestyle cruising is great, no having to pack fancy dress clothes, and haul around extra luggage with all the formal wear, pick what time you want to eat!). I've enjoyed Le Bistro on my other two NCL cruises, and the staff have always been unbelievable, so polished....way better than fancy restuarants where you pay an arm and a leg for the privilege to eat their food!.

 

I've read other posts, no irons in the room! UGH (we had one on our cruise to Alaska, plus an ironing board). We didn't have a blow dryer to the Western Caribbean, so I'm happy to read they are pretty good on the Star. We've been on the Sun and the Sky, both GREAT ships.

 

Can't wait to meet our cruise directors, and the rest of the staff. The guys better watch out, now that their names are published, and they read these threads! But, I see nothing but compliments! The view off the bridge cam today looks like very choppy seas, so I'm glad I've got my seasick patch and spare Dramamine (we have a cabin right up-front, right there under the camera!).

 

Thanks for your clues for off-ship activities. Yes, Mexico...they love to hound you. I've been to Nogales and to Tijuana, and to see little kids trying to sell you Chicklets, it's tough. In the Caribbean, none of that was evident anywhere, it was nice (except Jamaica was awful). I hate being hounded and don't like having to barter (if I don't like the price, I don't need the item). Guess I won't bring home that Velvet painting of Jesus, or a huge sombrero, ha ha!

 

I've gone to web pages for information about Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, etc., and some have nice maps (wowee, a Walmart in Acapulco!). Plus, I recall the "shopping" info meetings prior to docking....they always provide great maps!

 

I've printed up your review (and my husband reads these too), and I'll take the information about La Trattoria with me so we can watch the Fort's light and sound show (we only signed up for a short excursion while in Acapulco). Seems like we do a lot of "tendering" on this cruise...but that's always fun to board a smaller vessel to get to shore!

 

A short note to our cruise director.........please tell me some TV on the ship will be showing the NASCAR race on Sunday..........not just football (or soccer!). I'm a huge NASCAR fan (and, it's not just for red-necks!), and I'll be going through withdrawal, missing the final two races of the season, and no champion "crowned" yet. I realize you won't do it just for ME....but I'm sure there are other fans aboard as well (we always find some wearing a t-shirt to support their favorite driver!) I don't blame Kieron for not bungee jumping in Acapulco! But, it's nice to see them get involved (our other two cruises, never saw the staff off the ship, and we weren't on full ships). I think our ship is full tomorrow! We'll be keeping the staff super busy.

 

Again, thanks so much for your great information and for thinking to share it with others. I'll do my best to post any updates when we return. How I dread returning to the real world.......cruising is the only way to have a vacation!

 

Thanks again.

 

Pat

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Geez. Someone in my group wants to know if there are irons in the rooms. We have a regular balcony stateroom.

 

Does anyone know this? I personally will wear things wrinkled before I'll iron on a cruise. I don't iron at home.

 

Thanks!!

 

Our first trip on the Star, we (actually my DH) asked for an iron and they brought it to our room, no problem. However, by what I see here on these boards I think they have eliminated them. One time, I packed a pair of linen pants (stupid, I know) and you can only imagine what they looked like. So, I sent them to be pressed for I think $7.00. They picked the pants up and returned them quickly and well pressed. It beat me trying to do it!

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I have seen quite a few posts about no irons on the Star. I am going to bring a steamer for my dress for the formal night, that wont be a problem will it?

Thanks

CJ

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