Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: December 3rd, 2005
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Norwegian Cruise Line
As a couple in our early 20's, we picked the NCL star Dec 3 cruise because it was inexpensive, and we wanted to try something new. I was scared of some of the bad food reviews I had read online, but once onboard, we didn't have any problems.
Our room was the least expensive category, and it was still great. Bigger than other cruises I have been on, and very nicely decorated. There was a mini-fridge and safe, both of which we used everyday. The best part was the shower, which was spacious, had a sliding glass door, and decent water pressure.
We ate at Versailles, the beautiful main dining room, many times for a variety of meals. They try to ask you to share a table, but we always told them we would prefer our own table, and it was never a problem. A couple times, we got beautiful window tables that were incredibly romantic. We never had to wait for a table there, but we also tried to avoid going during the peak hours. We ate at the other dining room, aqua, two times for dinner, and while not as pretty, the food was just as great.
My main advice for food is to look at the menus they always post for the dining rooms during the day; You can take a look and see if there's anything that you like. If not, make a reservation for a specialty restaurant that night. We never had a problem getting a reservation, but we were flexible with our times. Sometimes we ate at 9:00, sometimes at 6:30.
Granted, I'm not a picky eater, but even when I heard other tables trying a dish and not liking it, the waiters are happy to bring you anything else you want quickly and without any hassle.
We didn't try any of the surcharge restaurants, seeing as we were more than satisfied with the free ones. la trattoria (italian) and endless summer (tex-mex) are really great, and the service was always good.
One complaint is that they have signs posted by the restaurants that jeans are not allowed in the dining rooms after 5:00 pm. Its completely ridiculous, and the staff didn't seem to care either, seeing as how almost every night I wore my blue jeans and no one mentioned anything to me. Looking around, I saw several people doing the same.
We found the buffet to be good. The breakfasts were nice with a lot of variety and selection. My only complaint is that they give you free pineapple, orange, and apple juice during breakfast, but for lunch and dinner, they only offer iced tea. It doesn't make much sense to me, but we didn't mind filling up jugs of juice and keeping them in our room fridge for drinks during the day.
Regarding the ports, I would say that they are all generally ok. Alot of times, vendors try to sell you tours and they can be a little difficult to get rid of. We got so tired of saying "No, Gracias" that for awhile we just ignored them, but a some got offended at our silence and yelled after us. I guess for us it was harder because we just wanted to be left alone and explore for ourselves, and most others were shelling out lots of money for tours.
We did use our $50 shipboard credit for a turtle ecological tour in Manzanillo, which was incredible. For the other ports, we just took taxis to the shopping areas and walked around. It was a good mix of shopping, food, and nice beaches. But it is still Mexico, so they weren't perfect either.
The shows at night were performed by the Jean Ann Ryan company, and they were pretty good. They did a good job of keeping most people of all ages entertained. There were some broadway themed shows and an incredible one called "Cirque Pacific". This was a definite highlight of the cruise.
There was also a comedian named Dave Heenan, who was hillariously funny. His brand of humor didn't appeal to some people, but I was laughing non-stop. I was surprised to find someone so funny on a cruise ship, so I have to give credit to whoever booked him. That was definitely another highlight.
The magician, Matt Fallon, was alright. He had some amazing tricks but a goofy personality. I think he was good overall. They had a few singers and piano players in various bars around the ship at night, and i didn't particularly like any of them.
One thing that dissapointed me was that there was no real nightclub on the boat. The carousel bar was the closest thing, and supposedly it has music after 11:30pm, but mostly it is just karaoke, art auctions, and people sitting around. It is not a closed off nightclub, and I thought that was one was lacking. I think that there weren't many couples our age on board, so they probably don't have many complaints about that, but it would definitely have been fun.
I thought the cruise director did a good job of having activities planned througout the day. There were some goofy game show type things with passengers, but they were entertaining. I thought there were a decent amount things to keep us busy during sea days (i.e. a movie theatre, shows at night, a cool board/card game room, a video arcade, the pools). there's a teen club that i never went too, but it seemed like kids were having fun and they had special activities. The 24 hour gym is awesome, but can get busy at peak hours. Inside the Barong Spa, there is a very relaxing indoor lap pool with hot tubs, and there is no charge for its use. It is probably the most beautiful part of the ship.
The staff are very nice overall, but you get tired of them trying to sell you stuff as well. You can't sit in a public lounge without a cocktail waiter/waitress coming up to ask if you want a drink, and sometimes 3 or 4 different people ask you within the span of just a few minutes. Also, personally I didn't agree with the mandatory tipping, but at least they tell you up front about it, so you should factor that into the cost of the cruise.
Overall, I was impressed and satisfied with the cruise. Some other reviews I had read beforehand scared me, but the bottom line is that some people expect everything to be top of the line and luxurious, and they should not be going on this cruise. It is an excellent value for the money, and don't sweat the little things. I would definitely cruise with NCL in the future.