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Gail Sparacino-Vina

Age: 23

Occupation:Teacher

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Star

Sailing Date: August 11th, 2002

Itinerary: Hawaii

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Sailing Date: August 11th, 2002

My husband and I went on the Norwegian Star's 7 day Hawaii Cruise for our honeymoon. The airplane ride was long and tiring, and we were all ready tired from our just finished wedding ceremony and reception. While it does not sound as romantic, I would recommend honeymooners don't go on this cruise right after the wedding, wait a day or two if you can so you can be refreshed. We did not wait and the first two days of the cruise we were exhausted and could not enjoy all the ship had to offer.

The Star offered Freestyle cruising, which meant you could eat whenever you wanted, had many restaurants to choose from, and didn't have to sit with others if you didn't want to. We had a private table almost every day, which was very nice. Freestyle cruising also added automatic gratuities to your account everyday "for your convenience." We did not like this because it was an automatic $12 per person each day, and then they divided that between all their staff. We tried to change this, but felt uncomfortable with all the purser's questions and gave up. We would of much rather tipped people ourselves the amount we felt was earned, and did not like this aspect of freestyling. I have now found out though most cruise lines have switched to this paid up front gratuity method, though some cruise lines still charge less a day (Carnival 9.75 rather than 12).

While on the ship, it was not a Hawaii experience, and it was possible to forget you were in Hawaii while on the ship. Also, the ship's port hours were short, and I often wished I could spend more time on land enjoying Hawaii at each port. There was one non-Hawaii port (Fanning Island) as well, though I loved this port anyway (one of my favorite's actually.

The ship had lots to do. I found out now that the ship offered areas many other ships actually do not offer, such as a card/game board room and a movie theater that planned rather new releases. We enjoyed the pool deck the most. Actually, my husband thought our day at the pool deck was the best day of the entire cruise. We relaxed (though space was limited at times) and read our leisure reading and drank fruity drinks and switched from the pool to the hot tub off and on. The drinks brought to you are charged onto your account. They give you a receipt that you sign and it has a space for tip on it, so we tipped. Later we found out though that 15% tip was already added to the drink price, and so by us writing in a tip, they were tipping 30%, watch out, don't make the same mistake. There were some kids on the cruise and they did go in the hot tubs even though it so no one under 18. At first I was upset by this, but my husband taught me that when you are vacation, as long as you are relaxed about everything, the experience is perfect, so I got use to pretending the kids didn't exist, and forget about them.

There are a lot of dining options, but sometimes you felt nickel and dimmed, cause some restaurants had a cover charge, actually quite a few did. The Le Bistro had a cover charge, and for that reason we went only once, and it was my favorite meal, so well worth it. We went to the Ginza and rang up a large bill on many kinds of Sushi (though on Carnival I found on Sushi is included free) and then ate the free Japanese style meal. We couldn't even finish the sushi we paid for. I would eat the free meal first and try the sushi after you finish instead of as an appetizer, you will spend less and still enjoy both. We never got to go to the Teppanyaki room, there is a cover charge, though we heard it was great. We went to Versailles for breakfast several days and also for the formal dinner night. We liked it very much and there was no cover charge and lots to choose from on a gourmet menu of options, much better cuisine then the Market Cafe Buffet, which was okay if you were in a rush and still were hungry. The Grill was great when you were at the pool. They cooked right in front of you and you could smell everything while out relaxing at the pool. The BBQ was great, one of our favorite places to eat, along with Versailles and the fancy Le Bistro. The Blue lagoon left a lot to be desired, not worth visiting, no cover charge, but you might as well go to the buffet or Versailles, though The Blue lagoon was open 24 hours a day, unlike the others.

The entertainment shows we only experienced once. We went to the Chinese Acrobat show on the last night which was absolutely great, and we wish we saw more shows. We heard the Acrobat show was their best for the week. We went to a Art Auction, which was a fun, new experience, but didn't buy any art.

Our room was an inside room, the cheapest room possible. It was rather nice considering it was the cheapest. They always cleaned our room, like 3 times day, and we were messy people. We watched the TV late at night and enjoyed room service of the dessert of the day and chicken Caesar salads a lot (there is a free menu, the only good things on the free menu were the above). We had two twin beds which turned into a double, but the beds would slide apart all the time and I would kind of all fall between the two beds, but we made the best of it (I never heard of anyone complain of this before, but it happened to us a lot actually).

The ports were great. We loved Maui the most, and would go back on an air/land package to Maui any day, and it would probably be about the same price as the cruise. What makes the Hawaii vacation expensive is the airfare, so cruise or land is not that different in price. We liked being able to explore the different islands though. We never would of know Maui was our favorite till we explored them all. And Fanning Island was nice too. The private island option was $10 each, and well, well worth it

We did many excursions and spent a significant amount of money on them, but we thought it was our honeymoon, so why not. We loved the excursions and have no regrets, but recommend not planning too much so you can just relax and go with the flow some days, instead of being on a schedule all the time which planned excursions usually require. Also, sometimes you can find better deals on tours not offered by the cruise line.

The cruise was great. Be careful with how much you charge on your account, cause it rang up quick, quicker then most cruises ring up with all the additional fees at times. We are going on a Carnival cruise for our anniversary this August and want to compare the experience for value. People who were on the cruise and were experienced cruisers said it was nice, and NCl has a great Caribbean cruises, great ones, but Hawaii left more Hawaii to be desired, and either cruise somewhere else tropical or stay on land in Hawaii, but cruising in Hawaii was not ideal. We enjoyed ourselves though, and maybe someday will do the same cruise 20 years from now for kicks...

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