Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: December 19th, 2005
Itinerary: Mexican Riveria
Norwegian Cruise Line
NCL Star Cruise Review
We booked this cruise as a family Christmas vacation about 5 months ahead of departure. I Used Cruisesonly.com which was excellent on customer service.
On the whole, the cruise was wonderful, the weather was perfect and the ship was decorated quite festively.
I don’t want to downplay the excitement and enjoyment we had on the cruise, but really feel the need to express NCL’s unethical tactics and ‘captive audience’ marketing style.
Even at that time of booking I could not get the room I wanted as they did not have it ‘opened’. I waited about 3 months and then was able to get a mid-ship balcony.
The prices jumped all around during the 5 months, but I was able to get a $550 credit by calling and asking for the current fare vs. canceling. I got a further $350 ‘shipboard’ credit and an upgrade after another price drop during the phase where there was a significant cancellation penalty.
The room credit was not ‘allowed’ to be used as a credit against the mandatory $10 per day tip charges, but at the end they did credit the balance. They wanted you to spend the credit with their constant sales tactics.
SALES, SALES, SALES….everyone on the ship was selling you something. This certainly got in the way of relaxing at times, but we learned to just ignore. This sales tactic went as far as even the waiters in the restaurants. The Spa / exercise area stood out as the worse, approaching people on the treadmills to the point where some guests would not return to the high pressure atmosphere.
Even the ship captain announced sales events over the entire ship intercom! ‘For the next 30 minutes we are having the best sale for the entire cruise’.
Every day when the cabin was made up the bed was covered with sales brochures.
My girlfriend booked an expensive facial / massage combination they were advertising. This came with a coupon stating 20% discount if you book during port times. Of course this was another marketing scam and they would not accept the coupon, coming up with another price list showing that the prices were already discounted ($100 for a facial is a discount?)
Unfortunately, they overbooked ship capacity by 500 people (2700 passengers), making it impossible for all passengers to enjoy Christmas dinner in a restaurant, leaving them to the buffet or room service. We were fortunate to have the foresight to book a reservation 4 days ahead of Christmas, but could not get a reservation except in the makeshift Italian restaurant and not until 8:30PM.
The port changes were in my opinion an unethical act by NCL to save fuel costs. I understand that some other lines will now assess a fuel surcharge by being up front with the passengers.
NCL claimed the ship could not go over 20 knots, but my GPS said that we were going 30-32 miles per hour (whatever that is in knots) at night. We also left the last port (Cabo) two hours early due to the ‘mechanical problem’ to get back to port on time. We arrived back in LA two hours earlier than stated.
The food on the ship was less than average; even the specialty restaurants were so-so. The buffet I would compare to a college dorm cafeteria in quality, although my kids told me I was being generous.
I booked NCL due to reputation and recommendation, but will certainly NEVER use them again.
Hate sounding like a ‘whinner’, but really feel people should know the scam they are entering into by sailing on NCL. Watch out for NCL!
Try another cruise line with the same itinerary, as, all in all, a great itinerary (if you find a line who will really go to Acapulco), good weather and a nice clean ship.