Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Star
Sailing Date: February 10th, 2007
Itinerary: Mexican Riveria
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Star Cruise Review
It was more than a great disappointment.
We will never go with Norwegian again.
They denied the $75 on board credit that was part of the booking benefit. They changed the itinerary completely after sailing without any explanation. This caused many passengers to miss booked excursions as our time in port was shortened. This also involved turning in and reissuing all of our excursion tickets.
The good and the bad :
The good :
- Food in surcharge restaurants ( extra $10 - 20 per person ) excellent with fabulous service. Surcharge for Valentines went up to $45 each.
- Really good entertainment, especially lounge singers/musicians. We particularly enjoyed Stan Sykes.
- Beautifully appointed public areas.
The Bad :
- Unrelenting noise. Everywhere, and loud ( like unable to have a conversation loud ). From our stateroom ( Deck 8, outside balcony, forward ) we could hear our neighbors up down and sideways. Additionally we could hear the music from two different lounge areas. The ship was very crowded with people everywhere. This made it difficult to travel from any area of the ship to another.
- While the food and service in the surcharge restaurants was excellent it required reservations that were difficult to come by and they wouldn't accept reservations more than 24hr in advance.
- The food in the sit down restaurants that didn't have a surcharge required reservations, also hard to get ( Endless Summer, Trattoria , Aqua, Versailles ). Blue Lagoon - a tiny, very limited menu place in the middle of a main traffic corridor ( literally ) had good food, burgers, fish and chips, cookies, but very limited menu. Advertised as open 24hr, but wasn't.
- There were three other places to eat which did not require reservations. Room service ( cold food only ), the grill at the pool, and the open buffet ( Market Cafe )
The grill at the pool offered hamburgers, hot dogs, and a couple salads. The buns were stale and sometimes half frozen every time we ate there. Hot dogs cold to lukewarm. One time they had no fries in the line and when I asked about it the cook just glared at me.
Room service was really horrible. Breakfast " assorted pastries " was two stale rolls like one would buy at 7 - 11. The " fruit platter " was one strawberry, three grapes and a garnish size slice of orange, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon. Three times the carton of milk was sour and once it actually poured out in chunks. One morning we ordered extra butter which did not get delivered. We called and asked for it - they brought more coffee creamers.
The Market Cafe ( main buffet ) was almost as bad as room service. We are not at all picky eaters, but this was really bad. Three day old coleslaw, stale breads, only one main selection, really low rent desserts, stale iced tea, inedible scrambled eggs, it went on and on.
The food was arranged in a totally nonsensical manner and there were no trays to carry your plate and drink on, a real problem for the elderly who received no help from the crew.
The crew with a few exceptions was unfriendly, and unhelpful - no doubt the fact that most didn't speak English contributed. On numerous occasions the crew was outright rude to both of us. Very condescending.
The water pressure was quite low, the toilets malfunctioned quite often in all areas of the ship and we endured banging in the walls at all hours related to plumbing problems.
The soap and shampoo ( neither of which produced suds ) were supplied in wall dispensers. The public restrooms ( not well maintained ) offered wall blowers for drying hands.
On several occasions we ordered drinks ( nonalcoholic ) when in public areas. The waiters never returned. We heard more than once from servers that if you don't order alcohol they won't fill your order as they don't anticipate a tip.
Our stateroom was perfectly acceptable. The balcony was on the small side. My only real complaint was the fact that they didn't utilize standard bed linens. They had a very thin " duvet " and a thin bedspread. No top sheet or blanket. Our bedspread kept disappearing after the room was serviced, we had to keep calling for another. The first morning we were told that they had taken it away to launder as they didn't have time to do it between the last cruise and the start of ours. I could have gotten by without that little bit of information. Three days we returned to our room late in the day finding that the housekeeping staff had yet to service it.
Regarding the Ports. The only one we got to see was Ixtapa ( for one hour ). All others we were late getting to our excursions and late returning for departure of the ship ( due to itinerary change )
The ship is laid out odd. When attempting to go from one end to the other the corridors route through lounges, restaurants, dead end and crisscross. Use the outside promenade on the Port side, it is a straight shot.
The elevators are slow to arrive and quick to close. We routinely were unable to board before the doors closed. Take the stairs.
Plan to do your shopping in Ixtapa. Nice shops, no beggars, reasonable prices, nice merchandise.
If you are elderly and require assistance of any sort do not plan on getting any from the crew staff.
If you want good food and service plan to spend the money and commit to a reserved dinner daily. Reserve first thing in the morning to get a space.
Take your own soap and shampoo.
If you need a blanket for sleep pack one.
Collect chocolate chip cookies from Blue Lagoon to take to your cabin for a late night snack.
We found Blue Lagoon had very good potato skins and fish and chips.
The best quiet spot to hang out with a great view is the Spinnaker lounge. We enjoyed really good whale watching and also spotted porpoises at the bow. The Spinnaker Lounge also had the best most syrupy soft drinks on the entire ship.
Don't bother to attend the shopping seminars unless you are interested in high end jewelry, that is all they discuss.
We highly recommend the Dolphin Swim in Xtapa. It is expensive at $185, but worth every penny. We had an hour in the water with the dolphins in a group of twelve. Each person had almost constant opportunity to interact with the dolphins. This also included one on one activities such as being pushed and pulled by the dolphins.
We don't recommend the Pirate Ship Excursion in Puerta Vallarta. The seating was on wooden benches without back support and minimal leg room between the benches for a one and a half hour ride each way to the beach destination and back. Part of this ride was in full sun. The " sail " is actually motorized.
The entertainment which is constant going and returning is very loud music and a lot of shouting. I knew we were in trouble when it started with a whistle blowing demonstration followed by the dance of the Macerana to the tune of Mission Impossible. The "secluded" beach is actually a crowded beach ( shared by a private resort ) with an incoming surf so strong that the staff had difficulty in reaching the beach, keeping the boats in place long enough for passengers to get out, and then re-launching the boats to depart the beach and return to the Pirate ship. The waves coming in were strong enough to turn the boats sideways despite four crew members attempting to stabilize. Several men guests had to assist the crew in order to allow us all to return to the ship.
Our main reason for taking this excursion was to snorkel. The water was filthy. The crew recommended not getting in the water as it would probably burn the skin and we might develop a skin infection. Several people did get in the water and attempt to snorkel. A woman with a small child became panicky and was trying to return to the boat holding the child in her arms as she called for help. The crew member on our boat was oblivious, it took me several attempts and finally involved me grabbing his arm to get him to realize that one of the guests was in urgent trouble. I think part of the problem, aside from inattention, was that he didn't speak English. The boats that one snorkels from offer no ladder or swim platform to get back on the boat. Two of the crew haul the guests back into the boat by grabbing them under the arms.
The beach itself, as I have said, had
large rolling, crashing wave action. It also dropped off abruptly into deep
water. A small boy was knocked off his feet, dragged under, and swept out. The
only thing that saved him was another guest had been watching the boy after
realizing the parents were more interested in partaking in the free alcoholic
beverages than supervising their child. This gentleman dove in repeatedly at the
place he had last seen the boy and ultimately was able to find him and pull him
The excursion to Todos Santos in Cabo was pleasant, but rushed. It was an hour and a quarter bus ride coming and going. Twenty minutes at the Mission/Museum ( which included the bathroom break for a bus full of women in a three stall bathroom ), a 30 minute group lunch, and another 20 minutes to explore the town and shops. The tour guide was friendly and informative, but talked the entire trip coming and going. A little silence to enjoy the ride would have been welcomed.
In Acapulco we signed up for the Fort Presentation and Night Cliff Divers. We boarded a bus at our pier which took us up to the Fort. The bus driver entangled the top of the bus in some sort of low hanging utility wires on one of the narrow streets.. After much walking around the bus and consultation back and forth between the driver and our guide they chose to just drive off pulling the wires until they disengaged. The walk from the bus to the presentation area at the Fort is assorted sand and cobblestone with uneven surfaces not well lighted. Wear appropriate footwear. The presentation was quite interesting. A short bus trip brought us to the cliff diver location. Interestingly enough we had arrived thirty minutes early with our guide insisting that we spend our time in the adjoining shops where we were subjected to high pressure sales techniques. The show itself was very enjoyable. We were able to see quite well, a large portion of our group were seated in an area were they could not see the divers. Our guide for this excursion was loud and obnoxious blatantly soliciting tips. He had the microphone in the bus turned up very loud and repeatedly performed a cackling laugh thinking it humorous. I had a splitting headache before we ever arrived at the cliff diver location.
On arriving home I felt I needed a vacation from my dreadful vacation. The entire experience was constant noise, large crowds and constant rushing. We heard the same complaints from every single person on the ship who had taken a cruise before with another line. No one planned to book again with Norwegian.
The only other cruise we have done was Alaska last year. The difference between Holland and Norwegian was like the difference between flying first class and taking a bus in Tijuana. No kidding.