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CalicoCat

Just Returned--November 13th Sail on the Star

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Overall Score.........95. It was fabulous and just great fun!

 

Some notes:

 

We arrived at LAX at 10:00 embarkation day and were sipping bloody marys by the pool bar at noon. In other words, they let you on when you get there and embarkation was organized and speedy. The cab was $48 + tip, so I'd arrange it through NCL next time. We did that on the way back and it's $20/person.

 

We made reservations as soon as we could for Le Bistro and it was absolutely fantastic. I suggest doing this early in the cruise, as its popularity builds and it becomes harder to get in later. We did the same for Cagney's the second night. Again, just fabulous food and service. These are $100+ dinners for the small cover charge. Don't miss them!

 

The other restaurants were just fine. Good selections, great, friendly service and just a nice dining experience. Remember that you can order any combination of appetizers, entrees, etc. that you want. For example, on lobster night someone at our table ordered both the filet mignon and the lobster. No problem. If you're too full for desserts, they'll wrap them up and you can take them to your room.

 

The crew was fantastic......ALWAYS greeted you with a smile and anything you needed, they would find for you. We found a lovely wine we liked at Cagney's one night. The next night we called Room Service and asked to have it delivered to the room. It wasn't on their wine list, but she said we will find it and get it to you. And, they did in about 20 minutes! Great service everywhere. Our room was always spotless and our room stewards seemed to magically work around when we were out.

 

The entertainment was exceptionally good. The magician was fantastic, as was the Andrew Loyd Webber Review and the Cirque Asia. It was all good. Don't miss some of the comedy nights in the Spinnaker Bar. Liar's night was hilarious. The Cruise Director, Kieron and his crew do a great, great job.

 

Our captain had us on a great schedule when we would disembark in ports. A nice, orderly routine of issuing colored tender tickets and then NOT going to the gangplank until your color was called. Unfortunately, it all went to **** when it came to disembarkation. Everyone ignored the order they were supposed to go to Immigration and just wanted to be first. Chaos ensued and it took some time to get through it all. However, for some perspective, we docked at 7 am and my sister and niece were happily on their way on the 405 at 10:15. So, it seemed a mess, but it still went quickly. And, the disorder was not NCL's fault.....Just Ugly Americans in too big a hurry.

 

We had an eventful cruise. We stopped right away in San Diego to have the Coast Guard take a medical emergency off the ship. We saw porpoises by the hundreds one time. We saw manta rays fly out of the ocean. And, the coup....Whales off of Cabo! Very, very awesome! And, on the last sailing day back to Los Angeles, we rescued a guy in a little sailboat who had been stranded at sea for 3 days! Believe me.....He thinks the Norwegian Star is the best thing since sliced bread. TAKE BINOCULARS!!

 

If you have questions on shore excursions, just ask. We did some and sometimes we went on our own.

 

Final analysis is.............You will love it and have fun. We did run in to one couple who thought the whole thing was awful, but those kind of people won't have fun no matter where they are. They spent all their energies trying to get "stuff" out of NCL because they griped all the time. Sad people. Be happy and have fun.

 

Any questions?

 

Linda

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¶T 0Dike you had a great time. We're on the 11/29 sailing and getting very excited. Some questions for you:

*which night is lobster night?

*which night is formal night?

*which excursions did you do and did you hear of any that you were sorry you missed?

*Binoculars for what?

Whales in Cabo would be a great treat. Hope we are as lucky as you :o

 

We will also be sipping bloodys by the pool by noon if all goes as planned! Thanks for the review and, in advance, for the answers to my questions.

 

Janice

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Thanks for your review.

We are on the Dec. 7th cruise. I was hoping the whales would be as far down as Cabo and had forgotten binoculars on my list.

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Calicocat,

 

Did you happen to do the dolphin swim in Ixtapa? Did you go to the night cliff divers (we are reserved for the 9:30 show)? Was it cool or warm on deck the first 2 days at sea?

 

Thanks so much for your review--we leave on the 29t!

 

debr

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Janice. Formal night was the second night out. We sailed on a Saturday and it was Sunday night. Strictly optional, of course, and all the other restaurants are open if you don't want to go to the Versailles at all. Lobster night was the next-to-the-last night of sailing....Friday night for us. We did two sailing/snorkel excursions....One out of Puerto Vallarta and one in Cabo. The Puerto Vallarta Sailing Adventure is on a fairly small boat and lasted 5 hours. It was pretty uncomfortable for that long a time. The Sail/Snorkel to Santa Maria Cove in Cabo was much better....Bigger boat and shorter trip. I didn't really hear any discussion about good versus bad excursions. You'll want binoculars for several things....checking out the incredible houses in the towns, looking at other ships in port, etc., but mostly for looking at whales or dophins up close if you see any.

 

Debr. We did not do the dolphin swim and I'm sorry, but heard no reports about it. Everyone saw the cliff divers and the reviews were mixed. We didn't go. It was very cool the evening we sailed from L.A., but warmed up gradually by the first day at sea. By the second day, we were basking in the warm sun. The last day at sea headed back to L.A. was windy and cold. We couldn't get out at all.

 

At every port, there are lots and lots of guys willing to take you anywhere. At Zihuatenejo, we just grabbed a water taxi right where the tender docked and he took us to Las Gatas Beach where we had a lovely, lovely day for $20.

 

Hope that helps.

 

L

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Thanks for your review. It all helps to make right choices for our cruise.:)

 

We are looking forward to getting into some 90 degree weather to "cook" these colds out of us! Yuck.......

 

~Dianne

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Had a great time too but did notice that they are making little cut backs that go to saving money. I did not think that the food in the dining rooms were as high a quality as last year. The presentation was still very nice but I did not think that the steak (I am a beef eater and live in NYC) were much better than we can get at a Sizzler. The lobster tails were over cooked (I had the duck that night which was terrific and had my waiter bring me a lobster tail which they were more than happy to do.)

 

Also the option of early disbarkation, with carrying your own luggage also helps them and frees the staff to do other things. It was great for me but it is a help to NCL.

 

But I did not let that spoil my vacation. It is what it is on a mass market cruise line. I think that they are trying hard not to raise the cost of the cruise.

 

I am going on SilverSeas next week for 8 days and I know that it will be an entirely different experience.

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I had a different experience than the other folks posting here. I don't know if that's because a) cruising just isn't for me b) I went with a young child or c) I'm just a grump!

 

I was less than thrilled with the ship and the experience. I absolutely hated the 12th floor and having to go through that crowded, loud market cafe to get anywhere. There were always so many people in there and the smells of greasy food cooking.

 

Speaking of food, I wasn't impressed for the most part. We ate in Ginza one night - that was the only "paid" restaurant we went to because we figured we'd paid enough for the cruise already! Ginza was good. Aqua and Versailles were good but the service in Versailles in particular seemed exceptionally slow. The food was tasty, but I didn't find it over the top or anything to write home about. Many nights we had the cooking light choices and they were good and tasty. Market cafe was nasty. May as well be The Golden Corral. I was really disappointed in the kids care - hamburgers and hot dogs. Gee. No veggies, no pasta or chicken.

 

Some of the CC members we met at the Star Bar know that our daughter - who is 5 - fell in Planet Kids and injured her arm. We first thought it was broken, but after going to the hospital in Acapulco found that it was torn ligaments. She was in a lot of pain the first two days (this happened on Sunday - our first full day at sea) and was scared, as were her Dad and I. The doctor and nurse were decent - took care of her - told us about pain medication. Said they'd arrange everything for x-rays in Acapulco. A security officer called for an accident report. However I felt like NCL didn't do anything exceptional about the situation. No one of the "officers" or higher staff called to check on us. We had to follow up with the doctors staff twice to find out what to do in Acapulco and no matter how many questions I asked about how to handle the expenses no one seemed to care to take the time to explain. It left a bad taste in my mouth. We got more sympathy and concern from our cabin stewards than anyone on staff.

(I am an Event Planner and have had people injured at my events. I am there the whole time. I file a report with the site and with the client. I call the injured person the next day and send a written note a few days later, often with an event t-shirt or other such token of our regrets for their experience).

 

I loved a couple of the ports. I hated all the lines and shuffling to get to them. I REALLY disliked the photographers. They were so pushy! In Puerto Vallarta my husband was holding my daughters hand (who is less than 4 feet tall, very slight and in a cast and sling) and I was behind her. The photographer grabbed my husband's shoulder to push him up against the silly-dressed Mexican woman for a cheesy photography. My daughter was squished back and if I hadn't been there could have fallen. But, gee - she got her photo.

 

Like I said - maybe I'm just a grump. I think cruising probably just isn't for me - I don't like crowds or loud music - I wanted peace and to find a nice outside place to sit and listen to the ocean. The whole experience with my daughter's injury really didn't help.

 

I don't know if I'll try cruising again - if we do, I know it won't be with Norweigan.

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Dawn: How is your little girl?? What a way to spend a vacation!! She seemed like she was taking it pretty well though. And WHAT A CUTIE!! It was great meeting you all. *smile*

 

I know what you mean about the pictures - that same woman literally pushed me away after the picture was taken. I thought that was definately RUDE!

 

I had a very good time on the cruise and meeting everyone. Thank you all for coming to the meeting!!

 

BTW: We were told that we were the biggest meeting the Hotel Director had seen in 2 years!!! Woooooooooooooooo hoooooooooooooooooo! We were a great group, I thought.

 

Emi

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Thank you for your great and honest review of your cruise. We are sailing on December 7th and have read some scathing reviews but have also read some great stuff. I totally agree with your final analysis. If something goes wrong with certain people, they will totally ruin their own trip if they keep harping on it. Additionally, those people that are complaining about the extra costs for the specialty rooms knew that ahead of time, so why gripe about it. If your going to nickeL and dime yourself, you shouldn't go on a cruise of this nature. THANKS SO MUCH!!

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We sail on December 7th as well and will definitely take our binoculars....never thought of this before! Hope we get to meet you!!!

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Linda,

 

We are going on the same cruise, Dec. 23. We certainly appreciate your optimistic and upbeat review. We continue to come up with new questions as the time to cruise gets closer.

 

Just wondering:

 

1. Did you feel compelled to tip waiters, etc. beyond the automatic tips taken each day? Some post that it is "rude" not to tip, others feel it is not needed, and the NCL information that comes with the travel documents states one is not to feel the need to tip beyond the $10 per person daily charge. Just wondering what you observed.

 

2. Is Lobster night in the Versaille dining room?

 

3. Do you know how many of the specialty dining rooms have cover charges and how many don't? Do they run $10 to $20 person? Most comment that it is well worth the charge as were your comments. Le Bistro and Cagney's you mentioned as very good. Any others you feel are outstanding?

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Marky: Let me put in my two cents if I may...*smile*

 

1) I did not feel "compelled" to tip extra, though we did tip an extra $10 at Le Bistro, $5 at Ginza Tempanyaki Room, and $0 at SoHo...we tipped extra because we thought we got extra special service and because we really liked the people serving us. At SoHo it was very good but not "extra special" and so we didn't tip extra. We also tipped our room stewards at the beginning and at the end of the cruise and we gave one "extra special" waiter at Versailles who served us at least twice a tip of I think $10 and he beamed!!

 

2) Lobster night has a lobster dish at "all" the restaurants including the buffet from what I've read on here but the dish on the buffet is like some sort of cassarole or something, not lobster tails. I don't know though if the Blue Lagoon or the pool side grills have any lobster on their menus that night.

 

3) I believe the specialty restaurants run from $12.50 to $20.00 (or ala carte pricing). $12.50 at the Ginza, $15 at Le Bistro and SoHo, and $20 at Cagneys. Endless Summer and La Tratorria require reservations but have no surcharge.

 

I was just thinking that maybe next cruise I will try not to eat at the specialty restaurants even though I believe they are well worth it and have loved the meals there. The reason is because I missed the Presidents' meals night and some other special things served in the regular dining rooms because of eating that night at a specialty restaurant. Plus I really like experimenting and having the cold soup options (due to those on these boards who recommended them) and so I missed some of those too...*smile*.

 

Have a WONDERFUL time!

Emi

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My husband and I really enjoyed the cruise. We did not like Acapulco, but enjoyed the other ports.

The Chileno Bay snorkel trip out of Cabo was just fantastic. The crew on that boat went out of their way to be sure everyone had a great time, and everyone did. I highly recommend that excursion.

Our cabin was very comfortable, loved having a balcony. We didn't tip the room steward any extra, as he did a good job but didn't do anything extra. In the specialty restaurants, the service was so much better than in the Aqua that we did tip. We had one terrible lunch in Aqua and one bland dinner there. The other meals we ate in the specialty restaurants and found it well worth the extra charge. Le Bistro was just fabulous, from the appetizer to the chocolate fondue. Ginza and SoHo also had delicious meals.

Ladies, be sure to take a wrap or shawl or sweater. The public areas of the ship are cold and the Stardust theater was just freezing. We did enjoy the shows, particularly the Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The photographers on the ship were not the best. At some ports we just kept walking and they didn't bother us. I compared our photo with ones from previous cruises and it was just not as well done.

If you are celebrating an anniversary, I recommend the Anniversary Package to be a great value for $79. Starting with chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne at embarkation, we enjoyed it all. The cake party was fun, as was meeting the other anniversary folks. Appetizers were to be delivered one night at a specific time, and when I called to inform that they never came, I was assured they would be delivered the next night. They were delivered at exactly 4:30 the next night, which was nice. The person at the reception desk was somewhat surprised when I called to thank them for taking care of that.

We found the service to be excellent. All the crew and staff were very friendly and helpful. Linda is right about the debarkation: if people had followed the directions it would have been much smoother. Getting on the ship in San Pedro was fine.

It has been said here before, a vacation is what you make of it. Every second is not going to be perfect, but it sure beats working! Hope you future cruisers have a great time.

Kevin

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Emi,

 

Thank you very much. Any information is helpful.

 

We are right now trying to figure out what we want to do for "eats" and what shore excursions, etc.

 

At this point, any info with regard to the Star is much appreciated..

 

Marky

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Hi Kevin!!! It was so great meeting you and seeing you around. I wish we would have had more time and could have all gotten together for a dinner or maybe even lunch one day...

 

I ordered the anniversary package too even though it wasn't an anniversary but because I thought it would be great to have strawberries and wine and were already planning on dinner at Le Bistro. We ended up bringing the first bottle home though but did drink the bottle of wine we got the night at Le Bistro. I really enjoyed the appetizers they sent to the room and it was nice to be able to pick out one photo to bring home with us. We didn't buy any others. Since it was just us girls - we didn't do the anniversary party but I still thought the package was fun and worth it.

 

We went on the PV Sierra Madre Expedition that is 7 hours long and it was great. I wish we would have had more time at the beach though. The lunch bbq was really tasty. We ended up being delayed getting off the ship in PV and therefore our time was cut short on the expedition. Maybe part of the reason we were delayed was because another ship had our parking space (lol) and we had to tender in.

 

My friend went on a SCUBA dive in Cabo and had a great time doing that. They offered her another dive for only $25 so she ended up doing 2. The one from the ship was WAY more (I think $90).

 

If it were up to me...I would still go with the ship's excursion on the PV excursion since it was 7 hours of an 8 hour port visit...way too easy to get messed up and miss the ship. But...I would definately book the SCUBA dive independently. There was no way that was going to interfere with getting back to the ship on time and it would have saved a lot of money.

 

Emi

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Emi,

 

RE: Diving.

 

The six of us going in December are all certified. Our diving has been in Kona, HI and Cozumel. As far as ports of call, which area is best for diving?

 

It appears Cabo or Zihua are coming up as good places to do so.

 

Ideas?

 

Our experience has been, dealing with a PADI dive shop directly is usually the best.

 

Thanks.

 

Marky

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Just my observation on tipping.....NCL says that the $10/day added to your account is the gratuity for all the service people on the cruise. You most certainly are NOT rude if you don't tip. And, like Emi did, if you do get extra-special service, you can feel free to tip that person extra. We did add a tip to our bills in Le Bistro and Cagney's because we felt we received absolutely superb service in both. And, may I say again, don't miss these two. They are fantastic!

 

And, Mirammom. Hi!! It was so fun to meet you guys! I'm glad you enjoyed the cruise too. We certainly did. I heartily agree with you about the cold, cold rooms on the Star. I FROZE two different nights in the Stardust Theatre. Ladies....Bundle up, and I don't mean a light sweater. I didn't take anything warm enough for the Stardust.

 

Any more questions, just holler.

 

Linda

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Marky: Since you have SCUBA dived (is that right?) here in Kona, you may be a bit disappointed as my friend Annette was. But she did enjoy the dives in Cabo. It seems like Cabo had much better vis than the other ports. However, I did not actually get into the water over my knees the whole time (except in the spa on the ship) - so I'm not a good one to ask...lol!!

 

CalicoCat: I miss hanging over the balcony to see if I can see anyone's feet propped up on your balcony....*smile* It's SAD trying to get back to work!! Annette wound up with a nasty cold in Palm Springs (where there was a lot of snow...*smile*) and I "broke" my back with all the dang luggage and strange beds. But...it was worth it!!!

 

Emi

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You said "The Chileno Bay snorkel trip out of Cabo was just fantastic". How much time did you actually get in the water? How many different spots did you stop at? The tour brochure says "assortments of finger foods and drinks available", can you comment?

 

Thanks for your time - annie

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Hi,

We leave on the Star tomorrow and I would really appreciate any info about La Bistro and Cagney's 1) what types of selections are offered, 2) is the menu the same all week, 3) are the menus available to review on the day of boarding, 4) is it true you can only make reservations for that day and the next, 5) is it possible to make reservations in the two main restaurants so you don't have to wait.

 

Thank you!smile.gif

 

debr

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Dianne: Had a BLAST at Disneyland...should have had a pedometer to see how much I walked but it was worth it. Went on the rides we liked about 3 times each! It was only busy on the last day, which was Vet's Day but it was the only day we could see the Electrical Parade - so it was a good trade off.

 

I THINK Pres's Day dinner was Wednesday, but I would have to look at my Freestyles, which are still packed somewhere. That would have been Zihua/Ixtapa day if it was Wednesday.

 

Debr: Have a wonderful time!! Yes, you can only make reservations for that day and the next unless you have a very high-end room. You can only make reservations in the dining rooms if you have a large party of about 10 or more according to our waiter, but not on lobster night (according to him). That said, we never waited more than like 2 minutes I think. On lobster night - we went to dinner right about 5:30 or 5:45 because they use the middle section of Versailles for the chocolate buffet and they only do the first wave in the middle for dinner then start to prepare it for the choc buffet. We got this tidbit of info from our great waiter. He said both restaurants (Aqua and Versailles) would be very busy later in the evening so to come early.

 

Also, some of the crew leave that evening for the show, which features some of the staff from all the different parts of the ship.

 

He said they are trying to change things around so all those events don't all happen on the same night (which sounds like a good plan to me!)

 

I believe the menus are pretty much the same but a few nightly items and you can see those menus when you are making reservations, but I don't think you can see the whole week at a time (though I never tried). Maybe the restaurants themselves have the menus???

 

Emi

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DawnStar, I'm sorry to hear about your daughters injury. But I just need to put in my own comments because I disagreed with several things you said. You said you didn't like the 12th floor because you had to walk thru the Market Cafe to get anywhere...this is wrong...if you took the mid ship or forward elevator to the 12th floor you didn't have to go thru the Market Cafe to get to the pool. The comment about the smell of greasy food cooking...I guess this is a matter of opinion...I found the Market Cafe to be a good alternative for a quick meal if you didn't feel like going to a fancier place and it never struck me as "greasy".

 

You made a comment about not being happy with the staff for not properly answering your questions about expenses related to your daughters injury. The first person you should have called was the company you bought your travel insurance from. It's not up to the ship staff to answer these questions.

 

You said you don't like crowds or loud music. Did you try the library or the reading room or the card room (all beautifully appointed rooms, very quiet and never crowded.) You also said you wanted peace and a nice outside place to sit and listen to the ocean...I can't believe we were on the same ship because I found spots like this all over. I noticed there were lawn chairs set up in spots you never expected.

 

I guess we all have a different take on things but everyone we talked to who had cruised with other cruise lines were of the opion that the Star was one of the nicest and friendliest ships they had ever been on. Perhaps cruising really isn't for you.

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