Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: December 3rd, 2005
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Star Cruise Review
7 Day Mexican Riviera
I was accompanied on this first time cruise by a female friend and the trip was booked through a travel agent. Several days before sailing, the travel agent sent us a letter advising us that the itinerary had changed due to engine problems which did not allow the ship to achieve maximum speed and that we would be given a $100 cabin credit. The shortened trip eliminated Acapulco and Ixtapa and substituted Manzanillo and Mazatlan. I had visited Acapulco and Mazatlan before but was looking forward to seeing Ixtapa.
After flying into LAX, we got our baggage and were met by NCL representatives who guided us to where we would catch a bus to the port. After about 45 minutes, we finally boarded the bus and headed for the port. Once there, we had to wait almost an hour on the bus. We were told that there were problems with the gang plank and this was delaying embarkation. Our luggage was picked up and we were told that it would be delivered to our stateroom. We then had to wait in line for almost an hour and a half before beginning the embarkation process. Fortunately we were at the head of the line that snaked all around the building. Others behind us had a much longer wait. While we were waiting in line, they passed out a paper from NCL stating that the itinerary had changed. It was obvious that most people in line were previously unaware of the itinerary change.
Once aboard and after going through registration and processing, we headed for our balcony stateroom on deck 9. The room was small with two twin beds, a couch, small table, TV, hairdryer, small fridge, a closet and bathroom with shower. The outside balcony had two chairs and a small table. My only complaint about the room was that it creaked. Once we got to the calmer waters off Mexico, the creaking stopped. Each day, we were provided with "Freestyle" which is a newsletter covering shipboard activities, port reviews, and other information. It took me almost two full days to explore the ship and feel comfortable walking around so that I knew where I was going.
Dining was "freestyle" meaning you could eat when and where you wanted. The ship had several specialty restaurants where an additional fee was charged. We ate mostly at the non-specialty restaurants with the exception of Cagney's on the last night. We had dinner twice in the Versailles and found the food to be excellent. For breakfast and lunch, we ate at the Market Cafe buffet. In general, I thought the food and service were very good. The exception to this was a Mexican dinner I had at the Endless Summer (Tex-Mex) restaurant. Quite frankly, I thought the food at my local Taco Bell was better.
I drink alcohol so I usually had a few drinks before dinner and wine with dinner. The drinks served in the various bars were expensive and weak. The exception to this was a daily drink special and a double martini that costs around $8. They also add a 15% gratuity to all drinks including sodas. I asked one bartender if he received the gratuity and he said "no" so the gratuity is not really a gratuity at all. I was displeased to see that smoking is allowed in all bars and the casino but fortunately, there did not seem to be an abundance of smokers on the ship.To cut down on your bar bill, I would advise bringing a bottle with you although it is against NCL rules. The wine served at dinner came in big glasses but with very little wine. I would guess 3 ounces at most. The waiter encouraged you to buy it by the bottle to save money and also you can take the bottle back to your stateroom. I did this on several occasions. I might also add that we were charged a $10 per day gratuity on our shipboard account.
Shipboard activities were numerous. They had a daily schedule of events such as poolside talent shows, bingo, lectures on various topics, and night time entertainment. In addition, there is a movie theater showing recently released movies.There is also a very nice casino on deck 6 which has all the latest electronic slot machines, video poker, table card games, roulette, etc. I was fortunate to hit 2 jackpots on the next to last night which covered my previous losses as well as my shipboard account.
Concerning port excursions, all excursions were shortened due to the itinerary change. Our first stop was Manzanillo. We did the sightseeing and city shopping tour. I was not overly impressed with Manzanillo compared to the other stops and the shopping was not that good. Our next port was Puerto Vallarta and we did the city sights tour which was very good. At the end of the tour, we had some time to go shopping and believe me, the shopping there is great. Stop three was Mazatlan and we did the old Mazatlan city tour. This was an interesting tour and it was good to see the locals trying to revitalize the older buildings in this part of town. The final stop was Cabo and again we did the coastal highlights tour. The tour was good but we did not have any time to look around Cabo itself as the ship had to sail at 2 PM.
Disembarkation went a lot smoother than embarkation. We were given a color assignment matching our baggage stickers and when our color was called, we cleared customs. The good thing was that we could wait in our stateroom until our color was called rather than waiting in a long line. The disembarkation process probably took about 45 minutes.
In conclusion, despite the itinerary change and embarkation hassles, I loved this ship and the cruise. I guess it's because this was my first cruise ever. I would like to go cruising again but I will probably select another cruise line the next time.