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NACTA Seminar at Sea

Age: Various

Occupation:Travel Agents

Number of Cruises: Many

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Star

Sailing Date: September 11th, 2005

Itinerary: Alaska

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Star Cruise Review
7 Day Alaskan Cruise

NACTA Seminar at Sea

The following review was done by the participants of a NACTA Seminar at Sea. The ship was divided into three sections: restaurants, bars & theaters, miscellaneous area of the ship.

Restaurants

Sushi Bar
$10.00 cover includes Miso Soup, all you can eat sushi, ice cream or fruit plate. The sushi is vegetarian only, no raw meat or fish.

Ginza
$12.50 cover includes 2 menu items + chef’s appetizer. Portions good size. Negative is that the music from Gatsby’s bar is not appropriate to restaurant atmosphere. Restaurant is seldom full.

Cagney's Steak House
Located on deck 13 aft, it is, as the name implies, a steak house. Featuring primarily steaks, like T Bone, Boneless, New York Strip loin and Filet Mignon. It also offers Pork and Veal chops, Rock Game Hens, Salmon Steaks and Lamb ribs on the menu. For a specialty restaurant, it has the widest selection of menu items, but is also the most expensive on the ship at $20.00 service charge per person. This price is posted in large type on the top of the menu, which is smart, because it is pretty hard to overlook like that. Like most of the restaurants, it also offers Surf and Turf at an additional $5.00 per order charge. Some of the specialties of the house are in the appetizer section, with oyster rock casserole, crab cakes, New England clam chowder and onion soups. Salads feature both the traditional Caesar and also a Spinach salad. The service was good, the staff very friendly and the ambiance was quiet.

Le Bistro
This is the signature restaurant for NCL. The restaurant is on each of their ships and has pretty much the same menu on each one. The service price is $15.00, but is buried in small print at the back of the menu, easily overlooked. Since we witnessed one party disputing this, maybe they should move it to the top and in larger type. The menu features Salmon, Sea Bass, Filet Mignon and a Vegetarian Entree. Also available was the Surf and Turf at an additional $5.00 charge. A signature dish is the mushroom soup which is served in a bread bowl. Not only is the presentation nice, but it tastes excellent and I had it both times I ate in this restaurant. The other signature dish is in the dessert section and is a pineapple filled with cut up fruit and served with hot chocolate fondue. They strive for a continental feeling in this restaurant, which would be better served if the Maitre D here would help bus tables during busy hours instead of just frowning in that direction. Since our second meal here was during a time in port, and most persons were ashore, the service was better as the restaurant only had 2-4 tables occupied during the entire dinner. My husband had commented that the Filet Mignon was very small, so they served him two of them on the plate. That was a nice accommodation. The service is not as good as it once was here, nor as good as other NCL Bistro's.

Versailles Restaurant
No reservation required and no charge. This is, in my opinion, the most elegant and nicest restaurant on The Star. I had breakfast, lunch, and the famous Chocoholic Buffet here. The service in this dining room was wonderful, just as the rest of the ship. Food was very good and if you are lucky enough to get a table at the very back, the window overlooking the ocean is quite large and beautiful! The whole dining room was lovely, light and airy. I could have eaten here every day and been perfectly happy. Even during the chocolate buffet, the wait staff was easily handling the crowd. At lunch, we were asked if we wanted a private table (there were only 2 of us) or if we wanted to join others, which we did. The option was nice. As you can tell, I highly recommend The Versailles.

Versailles Restaurant
This restaurant was truly an elegant dining experience. The Versailles décor was French as you might imagine with impeccable service provided. The timing between courses was perfect. Our drinks were well attended to because we never had to look about for our server. He was extremely helpful and attentive to our every need! My ethnic background is Japanese and so I ordered an Asian dish which was prepared to perfection. My husband’s sandwich choice could have been a bit larger. We chose the lunch meal to try this restaurant. The Versailles is open for breakfast from 7 – 9 am most days; lunch 11:30 am– 1:30 pm and dinner from 5:30 pm to 10 pm. The cuisine will satisfy all palates. Alcoholic beverages will cost patrons extra. Highly recommended.

LaTrattoria Restaurant:
The transformation of "The Market Place" buffet service style to the "La Trattoria", was done professionally in full fledged Five Star style. They sectioned off the plain decor of a cafeteria line with panels of beautifully designed fabric curtains that made you feel you were in an original Italian restaurant. The Staff was dressed in a variety of colored vests and black formal attire. The menu presented a nice variety of Italian fare and an excellent choice of imported wines. Service was professional, prompt, courteous and made our evening well worthwhile.

Teppanyaki
Teppa means an iron plate and yaki means cooking, thus cooking on a grill. This is one of the Asian specialty restaurants. It seats 12 people and has ala carte pricing. Prices are from $10 - $15 per meal. The lobster is at market price. Seating is around two Teppas and two chefs work them skillfully when the table is full. The piano music from Gatsby’s can be heard, so that is nice. The experience was a pleasant departure from the main dining room hustle and bustle. We enjoyed!

Blue Lagoon
Easily accessible by a main walkway from Reception to the elevators. The seating area is long and narrow and is separated from the kitchen/serving area by the main walkway. It presents an informal, food-court ambience. The seating area will readily allow handicap access or usage by a family with children. A children’s menu is included along with many international favorites such as hamburgers, fish and chips, soups, and wok dishes. The restaurant is open 24 hours, is tastefully decorated, and has pleasant servers.

Endless Summer Restaurant:

Beautiful atmosphere, views from both sides of the ship with excellent service. Problem with passenger traffic walking through restaurant to get to other side of ship was a little distracting. The restaurant was billed as Tex Mex and we found the food not very tasty and much too dry. We quizzed other diners on different nights and they had the same reaction as our party.

Market Café
The Market Café has Freestyle dining at its best for a variety of reasons: great dishes to choose from, all you can eat and very flexible hours for a no rush dining experience. The floor plan is quite plain featuring galley-style seating in along the windows. The views of the sea are breath taking! The Market Café can get crowded but this minor flaw is best solved by dining during off-peak hours. The menu is varied and excellent with buffet-style efficiency. Our choices were as varied as the nationalities represented aboard. Asian, Mexican, All-American, you name it, it was there. Menu varied on main courses day to day. Although you would serve yourself, the staff stood by ready to assist at any given moment. Disabled patrons were assisted to their table with another attendant carrying their trays. The Market Café is where we took the majority of our meals but we chose to, it was very good and convenient. Breakfast is from 6:30 am to 11 am, lunch is 11:30 am to 3 pm, dinner from 5 pm to 9:30 pm. Highly recommended for those casual diners on a budget.

The Soho—high end Pacific Rim food
There are twenty three tables. The Soho offers a movie star motif. The restaurant is light and airy with one wall of windows. There is a $15 per person charge. Some items are called a la carte which really means an added per person charge. The waite staff was friendly and accommodating. The menu included: Appetizers—Ahi tuna tar tare with caviar was a stellar presentation with a small salad under an inverted champagne glass with the tuna and caviar on top. Next there was Rice Wine marinated Sea Scallops, spiced avocado & gazpacho. It was very nice but the Ahi tuna was better. Entrees: Signature Dish was sautéed jumbo black tiger shrimp served with tortellini, aromatic vegetables, chervil & Sauvignon Blanc cappuccino. Very good. Next was a grilled cider marinated 10 oz. veal chop celeriac, baby leeks & carrots on soft porcini—polenta, tapenade veal jus. Then there was pick your own live cold lobster $10 surcharge, however, I was NOT offered the option to pick my own even though I specifically asked if I was going to be able to. The surf & turf ordered at a table near us looked like a better choice. Desserts included tempura chocolate cake with carmel fudge sauce. Not overly inspired. Red wind poached pear with mascarpone & pistachio nuts—good but not overly inspired.

Bars
Wine Cellar:
A name only not a bar or cocktail lounge.

Sake Bar is in Ginza Restaurant. It seems not to have customers.

Star Bar—Midship, Deck 13 overlooking pool area. It is quiet with piano/vocalist in evening.

BierGarten-
located on Deck 13, high up midship, overlooking the pool area. You can clearly hear the pool side entertainment here. Unfortunately, since it is so high, it is not a highly desirable place to be in Alaska or any other cold weather cruising, hence the reason it was open only twice on this cruise. It was offered once during the sail away party and one other morning. Fortunately, we have sailed on the Star in a warm weather clime, and this bar is a huge gathering place during those conditions. The bar serves the standard array of drinks, especially featuring the helmet with the purchase of 4 beers, the fifth is free. However, since they serve bottles which can readily be carried into the pool area, this might need to be re thought. When The Star was in Hawaii, the bar served hamburgers, hotdogs, knockwurst and sauerkraut, and giant pretzels. This voyage had no food services.

Champagne Bar—Gatsby’s
Deck 6 Forward and adjacent to LeBistro and Soho dining rooms, and Havana Club Cigar Bar. There was singer/piano entertainment every evening. There are 15 tables with 4 soft plush chairs per table. The bar has seating for six people. All types of drinks are available. During the daytime this area is used for small presentations and/or classes. Entertainment this week varied between Jeffery Allen and Allen Roman. Mr. Allen had a wonderful voice and entertained guests with Elton John tunes. Champagne by the glass is $4.95-$8 & $10. Vintages and non vintage—waiter did not know the difference. By the bottle the prices ranged from $19-$99. Seven tables are non smoking and often the singing is quite loud and interferes with Ginza dining.

Dazzles Bar
Located in the casino. Small, seating for 8. Poker played at 3 of those seats by inlaid screen in bar. Very non descript. Not somewhere you would go for a drink unless you were in the casino. No sign to even let you know it was The Dazzles Bar. Only people using it were playing poker or the servers going to the bar for the drinks they were delivering to the players.

Carousel Nightclub
Located on Deck 7 and near midship, this nightclub features music and regular karaoke activities within elegant surroundings. The circus-like atmosphere is complete with normal size carousel horses used for seating at the bar, a small band stand, animal print covered seating, and colorful wall décor. With its beautiful décor and low hung ceiling, the cozy atmosphere and carousel ambience seems to invite the first-time-aboard cruiser to linger several minutes while congering up pleasant childhood experiences. The nightclub is situated on either side by the ships main corridors and comes to life only after the dinner hour. At no time during the week was the volume of the music or karaoke activity loud. The Carousel Nightclub is a great place for taking pictures whether day or night.

Star Dust Theatre:
A large professional theater with comfortable stadium seating for approximately 1,000 people. It is easily accessible to all passengers and provides handicap viewing areas. The Jean Ann Ryan Co., without question provides some of the finest five star talent that you will find on any stage in America. The singing voices and dancing performed by this group to portray the story line just like on "Broadway" is a MUST see for all NCL passengers.

Stardust Theatre
It is decorated in reds and gold and seats half of the passengers. It is lovely with no poles on the main level. Good viewing with adequate slant to floor. Nice comfortable seats, though there were no drink holders and/or tables. Minimal bar service before show as there is not enough room to have wait staff deliver to your seat. There is no access to the seats down front against the wall on either side, so you must climb over lots of people to get to those seats and to those in the middle of the upper rows. There were not enough aisles to facilitate the seating. There are very few balcony seats, and not wonderful viewing because of the glass partition. The sound system and lighting were terrific. The shows were as follows: Sunday, comedian Ben Anderson was family friendly & funny; Monday, Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber; Tuesday, Chris Riggins, classically trained singer; Wednesday, “It’s Fame” Broadway dancing and singing; Thursday, Magician Shawn Farquher; Friday, “Cirque Pacific” was visually stunning. It was dance only, with special Chinese acrobats and martial arts performances. I found this singing and dance troupe to be one of the most talented of any ship. Saturday, Tribute to Elton John show was at 4 pm to accommodate our Victoria Port Call at 6 pm.

Miscellaneous Rooms

Atrium

Six decks with 3 glass elevators, two winding stairways going up 2 decks to Internet Café. Java Café is located in center. There is often live music.

Purser/Reception—Well staffed and courteous.

Shore Excursions—Staff well versed on destinations. Sign up went smoothly.

Miscellaneous Rooms Deck 12 Forward
Reading Room with comfortable chairs and tables for computers, Library—well stocked with books, three conference rooms, two game rooms with lots of game tables. Well used area. On each side of Spinnaker Lounge is one small room with comfortable chairs for small gatherings.

Cabins

More spacious than some I have been in and lots of storage space. The main plus was the bathroom. The shower was larger than most and enclosed by a sliding door. Water on the floor was never a problem. The toilet was on the other side and also enclosed by a sliding door so 2 people could use the facility at the same time and maintain some privacy. The sink was in the middle. Towels were changedconstantly even though we had hung them up and would have used them again. Safe in the cabin was easy to operate and I like having one. Linens were changed daily as well. Overall, the cabin we had was very nice. No complaints. Maid was personable and sweet, couldn’t do enough to please you. We gave her an extra tip.

Cinema /Auditorium:
The destination lecture "Alaska: the Great Land" with the presentation by Mr. & Mrs. Perron was more than just "statistics". It did compare the size and scope of what Alaska is, but also the adventure and History of its people were brought to "life" with stories of their struggles to settle a new frontier and then gain Statehood and a future. It was nicely presented and very interesting. The facility is also used to show the latest movie films available and is accessible for all who wish to attend.

Fitness Center
It is large and fairly bright, but machines face a wall instead of the ocean. The classroom area has large windows, mirrors & bars. Very nice, large exercise area. All the major types of equipment are available. There is good sanitation available as well. Smoothie Bar available in the room. Music is piped in and you also have individual TV monitors on the equipment. Downstairs is the Spa.

Sports Areas
The golf area for driving was unattended on this cruise, but they did have some putting on the schedule. The basketball area is adequate in size, however the netting overhead would prohibit many shots. Ping pong is back by the kid’s swim area during this cool weather cruise. There are two oversized chess sets on Deck 12, where the walking track is. One shuffleboard as well, in addition to the two located on Deck 7. The basketball area doubles as a soccer and volleyball court. The track was four laps to equal one mile, and was on the perimeter. A little tight when passing someone, but walkers were directed to the inside. I would say the facilities were very good, although I passed the sports deck several times and never found it attended. In the warm weather cruises, I’m sure they would be available as well as in the Dive In center. I didn’t recall any scuba diving excursions in Alaska!

Barong Spa
Deck 11 Aft is accessible by a grand spiral staircase or elevator for the physically challenged. Spacious changing areas are surrounded by steam, sauna, showers, and in the center of the spa is a lap pool 1 whirlpool, 1 thalassotherapy pool, lounge chairs for reading/relaxing by floor to ceiling windows. The luxurious surroundings compliment the offerings to provide a soothing experience. The hydrotherapy area may not be conducive to those with a physical handicap. Massage, facials, body treatments, hair and nail services are provided. Fees are not for those on a strict budget but there is a wide selection to choose from. The Fitness Center is adjacent and open 24 hours. It has all the newest equipment to compliment the various classes offered.

Galleria (The Shops):
Beautiful appearance similar to a department store feel on a smaller scale. A lot of jewelry and a nice collection of clothing. We were a little surprised at the warm weather clothing on the racks. Lots of perfumes and makeup that is on other cruises.

Embarkation
This experience was very orderly and efficient. Your room key is printed with your designated muster station and your name. Crew members directed you to your cabin. The Emergency Drill conducted just before sailing was not only required but absolutely necessary should an emergency at sea arise; this could save many lives. Security on the ship was very good.

Internet Café
Location on Deck 9, midship. There were 12 stationary terminals or you can use your laptop. Plans are not interchangeable. You pay by the minute. There are three plans:
250 minutes $100 (40 cents/minute)
100 minutes $55 (55 cents/minute)
33 minutes $25 (75 cents/minute)
+$3.95 activation fee.
For laptop users there are hot spots around the ship: Grand Atrium (all decks), upper and outside deck areas (poolside, Bier Garten, Conference rooms, Reading room and general surrounding areas). There are very few 110v outlets. You need a 220V adapter.

You can rent a wireless card at $10/day, optional insurance at $3/day, or you can rent a laptop for $20/day with insurance of $10/day. Smaller time plans became available Friday at 30 minutes for $12 and 15 minutes for $8.25. Time Plans end at disembarkation. Wheelchair access to the Internet Café is from Deck 9 but there is a very heavy door that must be opened. The area feels very dark and has no view.

Disembarkation
Our experience was quite satisfactory. The Star did a great job of getting the word out to the guests regarding the debarkation procedure. The colored tags were an excellent method for debarkation because this "staggered" the guests. We were lime green so we enjoyed the opportunity to relax, eat breakfast and reflect on our great experience! The actual debarkation was very orderly and efficient. We had no difficulty locating our baggage in the Terminal. We had no flight to catch so we simply hiked up to downtown Seattle and took the bus home (very healthy)!

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