Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: May 8th, 2005
Itinerary: Pacific Coastal Repositioning
My wife and I are avid cruisers and this was our first time with NCL. We were so impressed with all aspects of this cruise that we booked another one on the same ship for next year.
Embarkation in San Pedro CA
We flew into LA the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Pedro near the pier. The service and accommodations were excellent and it was only a $6 cab ride to the ship. Embarkation was very quick and organized. We were greeted with refreshments and friendly service by the check-in staff.
Since we cruise every year, we always book inside staterooms to save money. The cabin on the Star had everything we needed including a fridge. It did not include the use of bathrobes like some other cruise lines however. We only saw our stateroom attendant once the whole week but he did a great job cleaning our cabin promptly twice a day.
Our first meal was lunch in the Market Place Cafe. I didn’t have the highest expectations based on reviews I’ve read but I was pleasantly surprised. There was a good variety of hot foods and salads the quality of which exceeded my expectations. The only things I missed at the buffet were freshly squeezed juices and self serve espresso which other cruise lines offer.
The Star has a number of cover charge restaurants. We ate at the Ginza when it happened to be half price for only $6.25. This place had great Asian food in a very relaxing environment with live piano music while you eat.
The Italian restaurant is open for dinner only and is free of charge. Both meals we ate there had great food and good service in a quiet environment.
The Mexican restaurant Endless Summer is also free of charge but it was a little disappointing. The service and ambiance was fine but we made the mistake of ordering a family style meal which includes a variety of dishes that you share. It turned out to be way too much food with some unusual items I didn’t care for.
The Versailles is one of the main dining rooms we ate at twice for breakfast and twice for dinner. The food was always great but the service and noise levels were a little disappointing.
Our favourite place for lunch was a smaller buffet on the pool deck called The Grill. This was open all afternoon and was never busy. I liked the hamburgers, sausage, chicken and salads.
Beer is $3.25 a bottle plus a 15% service charge. I took advantage of the bucket of six bottles for the price of five. The fridge in the cabin was useful for storing full bottles for other days. If you’re a pop drinker I recommend buying a 12 pack on shore rather than paying $1.50 each on board.
The entertainment this cruise was second to none. The highlight for me was the Jean Ann Ryan Company performing Music Of The Night. NCL is the only cruise line licensed to perform this show of Andrew Lloyd Webber hits.
The other entertainment such as the comedian, the magician and the juggler were all excellent too. Not to be missed is Jeffrey Allen performing as Elton John.
Ports of Call
The ports of call on this cruise were Catalina Island, San Francisco, Seattle, Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver. San Francisco was great since Pier 39 was only a short walk away. In Seattle we went to Pike Place Market which is also walking distance from the ship. We normally only spend the mornings in port in order to get back for a free lunch on board.
NCL did a good job unloading the passengers by deck number but next time I will sign up for their Freestyle Express disembarkation option at 7:00 am to avoid the crowds in the terminal.
In summary, NCL far exceeded our expectations. We love the Freestyle concept with no formal dress required and no set dinner hours. NCL has earned our loyalty for next year’s cruise and more after that I’m sure. Bon Voyage!