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Sandra

Age: 48

Occupation:retired

Number of Cruises: 20

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Star

Sailing Date: 2009-09-12

Itinerary: Alaska

We just returned from a family cruise celebrating our parent's 50th anniversary. It was the last sailing of this season for this ship, and the weather reflected that. It was a good venue for our family group of 11 individuals. The kids program was well liked by the 3 and 5 year-olds. The 17 year-old did not participate in the teen's program, but had a good time on his own. Everything was relatively accessible for the member what was wheelchair bound.

The rest of our group was adults between the ages of 38 and 77, most of us have gone on several cruises before, but 4 of them were on their first cruise.

What my husband and I noticed the most was the way NCL has become REALLY CHEAP!!! I mean, having about half of all the events listed in the onboard daily newsletter, the "Freestyler", have a participation fee. It is really upsetting. I mean, even the tour of the kitchen and the bridge were fee activities! Forget about the good old days of sharing a dinner at the captain's table! The actual ships officers never even made an appearance!
There was definitely no genuine interest by the crew in any capacity to get to know any of the passengers. Activities like BINGO were horribly loud, fake-excitement events that you could hear far outside the lounge. Even though there seemed to be adequate space for the onboard shops with the Galleria taking up much the whole rear end of one of the decks, they still took over the central area where the pursers counter is located with a bunch of tables and silly desks selling all sort of cheap trinkets and even temporary tattoos!

Also, we were never warned in advance that a group of pseudo-medical people were having a seminar on this cruise that monopolized all the meeting rooms and even kicked the rest of the paying passengers out of public lounges so they could monopolize those areas as well for "private functions". I feel the crew should ensure that at least one meeting area and all the lounges are kept free for passengers that were not a part of the group (the majority)!

The dance team was pathetic and the French ballet couple was totally lacking talent. The male strained and grimaced whenever he had to lift his partner.

I resent the $12.00 per person service charge that is automatically added to your cabin account. I approached the purser's personnel and explained that I believe tips should be earned not automatic, and dependent on the level of service. They told me that for each person that a guest personally interacts with, there are many other people that work behind the scenes. I agreed with this, but reminded them that those "behind the scenes" personnel should be paid a fair salary, and not have to rely on tips, which are usually reserved for personal service personnel, and if I am paying for "behind the scenes personnel" with the service charge, then that fee should be included in the cost of the cruise up front, and not hidden in a separate, additional, onboard charge. After all, we are already charged a seperate fee for fuel and port charges, that should be rolled into the upfront cost. They were very helpful and provided tip envelopes.

On this ship at least, NCL has really crossed the line from providing a good vacation experience into a group of people who are looking for any chance to wrestle your cabin card away from you and make a bunch of overpriced charges!

On the plus side, the food was delicious and the variety was pretty good, although the ice cream parlor was very sad offering only cones (we had to go to the buffet and find bowls and spoons when we wanted them) and no toppings of any kind were provided.

The Chinese acrobatic group was outstanding, as was the Alaskan historical singer, and the ventriloquist were absolutely wonderful. Embarkation/disembarkation went very smoothly and quickly. The cabin stewards and, for the most part, the dining area staff did a good job and were unobtrusive.

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