Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: January 4th, 2006
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL Star Cruise Review
My husband & I enjoyed this cruise despite some problems. The ship was beautiful, always clean and well maintained. The service was good. The beds were comfortable. Our room, deck 9 with a balcony, was beautiful however the cruise line says it can sleep 4, we would not wanted to have had more than 2 people in this room as it was smaller than expected. We cruised with our 2 children on the Disney Magic two years ago and the Magic’s rooms were much bigger and better suited for a family.
Some things that you might expect to have provided for you, were not provided on the Star. No hair conditioner in the bathroom, no robes to wear to the Jacuzzi on a cold night, no CD or DVD players.
We had booked this cruise because it went to Acapulco and Ixtapa. Unfortunately we received a notice two weeks or so before sailing that the itinerary had been changed and we would not be going to those two ports. NCL would not refund our cruise if we chose to cancel, nor would they let us change our sail date to a future date when they would again include Acapulco and Ixtapa.
If you like good food you will be disappointed in the main dining rooms, Versailles and Aqua. The steaks are thin, inexpensive, flavorless cuts of meat. The fish was dry. Most nights when we dined there, or checked the menu there, there were no offerings of shellfish. If you want great food plan on spending 15 to 20 dollars extra per person each night and you can enjoy fabulous 5 course meals in the specialty restaurants. You will need to make reservations. If you do so when you first get on the ship you should be able to get reservations for each night at whatever time you want. These reservations can be cancelled by 5 pm on the night that you are going to dine, without incurring a charge. The nights we ate at the specialty restaurants we had appetizers, soup, salad, and entrées and it was all delicious, except the lobster, it seems the lobster tails are dry and over cooked everywhere on the ship. When we complained and sent back the lobster tail the next one came out just as dry. If you really like lobster, have it for lunch in Mazatlan where the price is right and the lobster is good. When we dined at LeBistro we especially enjoyed the escargot and the filet with béarnaise sauce. At the SoHo room we had a wonderful vichyssoie soup with poached quail eggs and smoked salmon and the schezwan beef for our entrée was delicious. At Cagney’s we enjoyed the prawn cocktail, crab cakes, sautéed mushrooms, and the oyster Rockefeller casserole, also the filet and porterhouse steaks were as good as we would expect to find in the finest restaurants. We are not big dessert eaters but we could have had that also, included in the price. We also enjoyed our dinner at Endless Summer, this is a specialty restaurant that requires reservations but there is no charge to go there. The spicy crab corn chowder was good and the prawn fajitas were good also.
We ate at the Market Café for lunch several times. This is the buffet style restaurant and the food here is hit or miss, other than the fish which was always moist, tender and delicious.
We did not get around to trying the food at the blue Lagoon (one can only eat so much) but the fish and chips looked good, so did the buffalo wings.
Drinks: We pretty much stuck with beer and wine after ordering Mia tias and margaritas that tasted like overly sweet punch, yuk.
Tips on the ship are charged to your room at the rate of $10.00 per person per day. If you don’t know this you can end up tipping as you go (because they always leave a space for an additional tip) and having to pay up at the end of the cruise. My husband liked the flat rate tipping because we did not have to worry about who to tip or how much to tip.
Ports of Call:
Manzanillo: We took a cab for $12.00 to The Hotel Sierra at Playa La Audiencia. First we stopped to enjoy a margarita at the swim up bar at the hotel. Then for $10.00 we rented a palaypa with 4 beach chairs and a table for the day. When you rent the palaypa you will also get service, you can have drinks and food delivered. We had chips, guacamole, and margaritas, it was all very good. The beach was nice and it was a protected cove. We did some snorkeling and saw some pretty fish.
Puerto Vallarta: We did not do much in this port except take a cab to the main shopping area and shop. We ended up finding the best quality sterling silver jewelry right next to the port, at Factory Jewellery 41. Mary made us a good deal.
Mazatlan: We took a cab ride, $10.00 to the Las Flores Hotel on the beach. If you get there early you can get a palapa on the beach and beach chairs(no charge), and the Hotel restaurant will deliver food and drinks to you. The hotel will also let you check out towels. If they try to get you to listen to their time share in exchange for free food and drinks you can just tell them that you prefer to pay for your own and they won’t bug you. This is a nice beach and it is in the Golden Zone which is the main shopping district. There is an island across from the beach and you can hire a boat if you want to go out there. We did not go to the island but we were told that it is a nice place to snorkel.
Cabo San Lucas: I cannot say enough about our shore excursion in Cabo. We had a great time! What a blast. We went on the snorkel and sail to Santa Maria Cove. The catamaran took us out to sail by land’s end, we saw some whales on the way and the snorkeling in Santa Maria cove was better than expected. We have snorkeled in the Bahamas and the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico. This was as good, if not better. We saw so many colorful fish, schools of them. We were glad that we brought our ½ wetsuits because the water was cold. The tour company, Tropical Tours was very generous with the drinks on the way back and served us delicious salsa, guacamole and tuna sandwiches.
All in all we had a great time but next time we will try a different cruise line due to three things. 1. The poor quality of food in the main dining rooms. 2. The poor quality of the drinks. 3. The fact that when we complained about the change in the itinerary NCL gave us only a $50.00 per person ship board credit. We felt that this was not just compensation since we had booked this ship because it went to Acapulco and Ixtapa and the others did not.