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Doug DuCharme

Age: 60

Occupation:Retired

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Star

Sailing Date: February 18th, 2007

Itinerary: Mexican Riveria

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Star Cruise Review
Mexican Riviera

Doug DuCharme

Arrival
We arrived in San Pedro, California on Saturday afternoon, one-day before our cruise departure. Having booked a Holiday Inn “Park & Cruise” package for $149 per couple, plus tax, we received a deluxe room accommodation for one night and free parking for the duration of the cruise. One of the best features - their parking lot was under video surveillance 24/7. In addition, a chauffeured van was available to transport us to the Los Angeles World Cruise Center the following day.

Day One – Sunday, February 18, 2007 - Embarkation

My wife Judy and I arrived at the LA World Cruise Center at 1:30pm, Sunday afternoon. Two other couples were riding in the Holiday Inn van with us. They were sailing on the RCCL Vision of the Seas. The driver pulled up at the NCL pier and proceeded to unload our entire set of luggage…or so we thought. First mistake, we didn’t count the number of bags he pulled out of the van. After dragging our luggage into a passenger “line up” at the pier, we began our long wait. The weather was cold. There must have been four to five hundred people waiting to gain entry into the main building. Curbside cruise line porters were nonexistent. This day we had to wait until we entered the building to drop off our luggage. Poor service! About fifteen minutes in to our long wait, Judy noticed the duffel bag with all our medications and toiletries was missing. She concluded that it hadn’t been taken off the van. I agreed. Judy suggested I stay in line while she tried to chase down our bag over at the RCCL pier. Trying to move four large pieces of luggage in a progressing line, albeit a slow one, was difficult. Thanks to some caring folks from Bulgaria, I was able to keep up. Judy returned about forty minute’s later empty handed. The staff at RCCL told her that if they found the duffel bag, it would be returned to our ship. Good luck! After waiting about one hour and thirty-five minutes in line, we were finally inside the building. Judy mentioned the lost bag to the first NCL official we found. This young lady promised to follow-up. After receiving our room key/charge card, we progressed up an escalator to the ship’s entrance…unfortunately without our most important piece of luggage!

Our Stateroom
Our cabin was number 11680 AFT…a mini-suite on the eleventh deck. We were pleasantly surprised that our luggage (minus duffel bag) was waiting for us when we arrived at the cabin. Our stewards were Efren Rivera and Juniver Ilag…wonderful gentlemen. They were continually busy, we didn’t see them much. The rooms were always clean. I was a little disappointed that this mini-suite was smaller than the ones we had on RCCL and Princess. The bathroom was larger. It had a shower with a sliding door. The bed was king sized. Unfortunately the clothes closet was a mess. Positioned parallel to the bed, it was difficult to access clothes. And the little “cubbies” were a challenge. Storage space for luggage was minimal. We ended up stacking two suitcases on the couch. The balcony had two nice lounge chairs. I reserved a port sided cabin so that we could have the “sun” in the afternoon on our journey north from Acapulco.

By the time we finished the mandatory muster drill, our misplaced piece of luggage still had not arrived. The ship was scheduled to depart San Pedro at 4pm. It was now 5pm and the ship was just pushing away from the dock. This wouldn’t be the only time Norwegian Star would be off schedule. We stayed on deck for a few minutes after departure but it was so cold, we soon went to our cabin. Much to our chagrin, the duffel bag was still lost. So what now? Let’s eat!

The Ship
The ship is large and beautiful. First suggestion, pick up the handy little “Pocket Guide” from your room and keep it with you at all times. You will refer to it every day during the cruise. It will keep you from getting lost.

Norwegian Star was built in 2001 and refurbished in 2004. Passenger capacity is around 2200 and it seemed like there were that many standing in line earlier in the day! Prior to going to dinner, Judy thought it would be a good idea to check in with Guest Services (front desk) and see if anyone had heard of our plight. The nice associate who took care of us filled out a written report and then mentioned that someone would soon make contact regarding our missing bag. A different associate standing nearby gave us t-shirts, toothpaste, toothbrush, shaving cream and razor. We thought that was very nice of the two of them. It helped too.

While Judy was checking on the whereabouts of our bag, I signed us up for daily admittance to the Barong Spa. For $70 each we were allowed to use (for the duration of the trip) the lap pool, Jacuzzi tub, hydro-whirlpool and wooden lounge chairs with comfortable padding. You can also use these facilities if you booked a treatment…but for that day only. We used the Spa facilities every day. I don’t think we saw more than ten people at any one time when we were in the Spa area. The lounge faces out to the ocean from the southern most part of the ship…just large windows and water. Is the dining room open yet?

We proceeded to Aqua, a wonderful restaurant on the 6th deck. After being told it doesn’t open until 5:30pm, Gatsby’s lounge was our next stop. A short walk from Aqua, this lounge is centrally located. To one side is the SoHo room, featuring California/Pacific Rim cuisine; to other side isle is Le Bistro, food with a French twist. On another side we have the Havana Club with its enclosed cigar room. The Wine Cellar is in the middle of it all. Gatsby’s is a lovely, dimly lit lounge, perfect for two people who lost a valuable piece of luggage. We sat down and ordered a glass of wine. About then, an entertainer named Jana Seale arrived and stepped up onto the small stage. She plugged in her acoustic guitar and proceeded to mesmerize us with her singing for one hour. Just what we needed…well, that plus a second glass of wine.

Time for dinner at Aqua. This is a wonderful restaurant with very good food and great people. We were never disappointed dining in Aqua. Tonight we had Mahi Mahi and it was superb. After dinner we went up to the non-smoking Star Bar on deck 13 and enjoyed Jana in her new venue. After a glass of wine, we decided to return to the cabin and change into our bathing suits. The Spa was waiting!

Upon arrival at our cabin, I noticed the message light was on. Anita Niedinger, Assistant Front Office Manager, called and shared some good news. They had found our duffel bag! The bad news was that it was on the Vision of the Seas. We went directly to meet with Anita. She was a personable young lady…caring and attentive. Anita is definitely an asset to NCL. After explaining to us what had transpired, she offered us an onboard credit to assist in our procurement of toiletries from the gift shop. We spent most of it that evening. I was impressed with Anita’s people skills…her genuine concern for our dilemma. Judy and I felt much better after our conversation with Anita. She even loaned Judy a pair of black dress shoes for formal night. That’s service above and beyond! Now…off to the Spa!

The Freestyle Daily is delivered to your room during the evening hours. This is the ship’s daily newsletter. There are so many activities scheduled, you will never get bored. It mentions the times and locations of all the restaurants, shows and music venues. Games, classes, meetings and guest services are listed. Utilize this resource to attend events…or to avoid them.

It is 9:30pm and we are the only people at the Spa. After testing the Jacuzzi and the Hydro-whirlpool, we decided it was time to retire for the evening. Except for losing a duffel bag and a one hour and thirty-five minute wait in line, it was a pretty good first day.

Day Two – Monday, February 19, 2007 - At Sea

Judy and I decided not to visit the buffet this cruise. Nothing against buffets…we come from the land of the buffet - Las Vegas. We just wanted to dine in a “sit down and order” atmosphere. The Versailles Restaurant on deck 7 was open daily for breakfast (7:30am – 9:30am), lunch (Noon – 2:00pm) and dinner (5:30pm – 10:00pm). This is a beautifully decorated dining room and the food was always good. As for the staff…exceptional is the word that comes to mind. Most days we would visit for breakfast and lunch. The food was always tasty, the service prompt. This day Judy had an omelet and I had French toast. Delicious. We brought our own decaf green tea.

After breakfast we visited the casino. Being from Las Vegas we had to check out the gambling arena. The Star Club Casino had an ample number of slots. The variety was OK. Table Games offered a good assortment of product and the minimums encouraged play. We decided to try our luck at the Video Poker – Deuces Wild. After about fifteen minutes of play we cashed out winner. So the money wouldn’t burn a hole in my pocket, we proceeded directly to the Galleria gift shop and spent our winnings…plus more.

Not very far from the gift shop was the Guest Services counter. We strolled over to visit with Anita to see if anything was new regarding our bag. She told us that the RCCL ship was to be in Puerto Vallarta on Thursday, the day before we arrived at that port. Their representative will take the duffel bag off Vision of the Sea and secure it for transfer to our ship the following day. Great news! We thanked Anita again and bid her adieu. I decided to telephone the Ship’s Doctor to determine if he had any of the meds I needed. Turned out he had only one…the one I didn’t really need to take for a few days. Oh well…I can get what I need in Acapulco.

We made reservations at the SoHo restaurant for this evening. The food was great! Judy had the lobster…one and half pounds to be exact. I had the tiger prawns. My wife needed a little help cracking the lobster shell, which the staff readily provided. For dessert I had mango flambé while Judy had chocolate cake. SoHo has a $15 cover charge per person…$20 if you have the lobster. It was now 10:30pm; we went back to our room for a night of peaceful slumber.

Sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning we were told to set our clocks ahead by one hour. This coincides with Cabo San Lucas time (Mountain Standard Time), but not the other three ports. They are all on Central Standard Time. It gets tricky if you book any shore excursions yourself, not through the cruise line, as I did. More to come on this subject.

Day Three – Tuesday, February 20, 2007 – At Sea

It is sunrise and I am enjoying our balcony. The temperature is very comfortable 68 degrees and it is sunny. Finally, the warm weather has arrived. This morning we had another delicious breakfast at the Versailles room. Upon our return to the cabin, we prepared to walk down to the Barong Spa for some R&R. Come to think of it…this entire cruise is nothing but R&R.

Upon entering the Spa I decide to swim a while; Judy climbed into the Jacuzzi. A short time later, I joined my wife. After about fifteen minutes of that bliss, we moved to the hydro-whirlpool. Following about ten minutes worth of this therapy, we are now totally relaxed. Off to the lounge chairs! Soft music, relative quiet and a great view of the wake of the ship soon has us dozing off.

This evening is the one and only Formal Night during this cruise. Now Formal Night on the Star means anything you want it to mean. I wore a long sleeved dress shirt with dark blue wool slacks. Judy wore a lovely black, long sleeved top with print skirt...and the shoes Anita loaned her. Most folks did not wear formal attire, yet were dressed very nicely. “Upscale Causal” was the attire of the evening.

Since we had breakfast and lunch at the Versailles Room, we decided to make it a clean sweep and have dinner there too. The Lobster Tail was outstanding. We didn’t miss dessert either…Crepe Suzette. It sure was tasty. After dinner we attended the 9:30pm show in the Stardust Theater. It was entitled “Music of the Night,” a tribute to Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s finest songs presented by the Jean Ann Ryan Company. We thought they did a fine job on the music. Having just attended “The Phantom” at the Venetian in Las Vegas one month earlier, we were a little spoiled by the quality of that singing. But this group did OK.

Judy suggested we return to our cabin for an early turn-in. Busy day tomorrow in Acapulco.

Day Four – Wednesday, February 21, 2007 – Acapulco

The time is 8:00am and it is 77 degrees with 82 percent humidity. Visibility is hampered by the fog. The ship entered Bahai deAcapulco only to find out that the Princess ship which was scheduled to leave Acapulco last night didn’t. Later I found out they had mechanical problems which wouldn’t be fixed for five days. We heard the passengers were transported to the airport and arrangements were made for them to fly home. OOPS!!!!!! Unfortunately, our ship had to anchor in the bay. There are two spots for ships to dock. The other pier was being used by one of the Crystal ships. They would leave port by 3pm or 4pm and our Star would then proceed to the dock. What does this mean for the passengers of our ship…we had to use tender boats to visit shore. Our ship didn’t weigh anchor until 12:30pm ship’s time – 1:30pm Acapulco time. One and a half hour late! I’m glad I arranged for our tour guide to meet us at 2:30pm ship’s time. We were in no hurry to tender in as we had two hours to spare.

A month or so before this cruise, I went online and contacted several potential tour guides for Acapulco. After reading up as much as I could, and after considerable negotiation, I decided to hire one of the Pink Ladies – Olga. The self named Pink Ladies all wear pink shirts and white pants. A good way to brand isn’t it. Anyway, I wanted a mini-tour of the city culminating with the 7:30pm (Acapulco time) Cliff Divers show at La Quebrada. Reservations were made at La Perla restaurant. I asked to return back to the ship at the conclusion of the show…about four and one half hours after we began. Here is Olga’s e-mail address oescuen@hotmail.com and we highly recommend her. She has a wonderful personality and speaks good English. She is very accommodating as you will see during this review.

We arrived at the pier around 2:15pm ship’s time. After walking past several shops and many more cab and tour drivers, we walked out the exit gate and happened on to Olga holding a sign with a version of our last name on it. Yup…we’re here. She proceeded to lead us to her red Chevy Suburban – 2006 I believe. Olga began outlining her basic tour when we interrupted. I asked, “Can you bring us to the Pharmacy?” Judy began to explain about our missing bag with my medications, our toiletries, and her shoes. Olga commiserated with us. First stop, the Pharmacia! About ten minutes down the busy main street was the Pharmacia. They had everything I needed. All the medications were in blister packs of 14, 20 or 30...direct from the manufacturer. Four packages of meds ran about $140 US. In this country it would cost around $260 without insurance. Next stop… hotel row.

The traffic was horrible. Nobody drove in a lane and there were no crosswalks…it didn’t matter. People just ran across the street whenever and wherever they wanted. Olga began to point out the various hotels that lined the street. Beautiful properties to say the least. As we started to drive up the hill, she pointed out the famous Las Brisas hotel. I remember that hotel from several movies. She pulled over into a turnout and I took a few pictures…of both the hotel and the bay. Good stuff. We continued on. Next we visited the Chapel of Peace. You will see this landmark on a hill overlooking the city, designated with a large white cross. Beautiful place. Olga asked if we had any other places we wanted to go or anything we wanted to do. Judy told her we needed toiletries. We also wanted to get ashes since it was Ash Wednesday. I wanted Judy to buy some shoes and a Mexican white lace dress. Perhaps a traditional Mexican formal men’s shirt for me. And of course…the Cliff Divers show at 7:30pm Acapulco time. Olga stated that we better get moving! And so we did.

Olga said she had the perfect place for us to pick up toiletries. Plus the church of the Blue Cross was near the location. Soon we were driving into the Wal-Mart Super Center in downtown Acapulco. It looked just like the one we visit here in the US. In and out in about fifteen minutes. The cash register even converted pesos to dollars. Now off to the church. The traffic was really heavy. Soon we were parked right in front of the Church of the Blue Cross. We jumped out, walked up the steps and into the church. A priest was standing near the alter. As we approached, Olga said something to him and he nodded. He then picked up the bowl with ashes and placed his thumb in the bowl. As each of us stood before him and bowed our heads, he made the sign of the cross on our forehead with the ashes. We then headed for the exit. Near the door, we dipped our fingers in the holy water font, crossed and blessed ourselves, and proceeded to leave the church. It was almost like drive-thru ashes! OK…off to the flea market!

Olga took us through the old…I mean really old section of town. It was one traffic lane each way and cars were parked on either side. Barely enough room for two cars to pass! Did vehicles slow down and even pause at the stop signs? Nah…not really. It was quite an adventure. The cobblestone streets were interesting, adding to the flavor of the journey. After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at what Olga said was the flea market. She parked right in front of one gentleman’s store front. There we found Judy’s dress, my shirt and various other souvenirs. Around the corner was a shoe store. The ladies spent twenty minutes there trying on shoes. In total, we spent about one hour shopping at the flea market. Next stop, the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada.

I calculated that we must have spent almost two hours driving or in traffic. Suggestion – if you take a private tour like we did, go for six to eight hours. You’ll see much more of the city. It took us about fifteen minutes to arrive at Hotel El Mirador, home to La Perla restaurant. Olga explained that she prepaid the tickets for the Cliff Divers show, $20 each, which included two domestic drinks. Soon we would descend the stairs to a wonderful spot down below, midway between where the divers pushed off and the spot they land in the water. We would only be thirty to forty yards or so away from the performance. As we waited in line to be shown to our seats, I noticed the hostess shake her head and frown. She then told Olga that the restaurant workers just went on strike! Timing is everything isn’t it. Olga said that the work stoppage should be short…but how short, no one knew. It was getting close to show time. Olga then took us down a few steps to a large balcony. This is where we viewed the show. Not great seats, but we did get to see the show. As for our two drinks, they were delivered in Dixie cups! I’m sure the labor dispute was settled right after we left…of course.

Olga had us back at the pier by 8:30pm Acapulco time or 7:30pm ship’s time. We paid her our agreed upon fee in US dollars. We then extended a generous tip to her for the outstanding service. We all hugged then offered each other a heartfelt “hasta luego.” The Norwegian Star was now parked at the pier, thank goodness. Judy and I boarded the ship with our loot. Time to eat, isn’t it?

We dined at Aqua. Then we did the Spa thing again…very relaxing. Off to the cabin to watch a movie. They had a couple of first run movies showing on TV and several oldies too. Time for sleep.

Day Five – Thursday, February 22, 2007 – Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa

Only about one hundred and fifty miles or so northwest of Acapulco is the lovely village of Zihuatanejo. We arrived a few minutes before 7:00am. The ship anchors as passengers prepare to take the tender boat ashore. The gangway is on deck 4, mid ship. Judy and I are in no hurry. When we finally arrive at the pier around 9:00am, we walk over to the building advertising water taxi tickets to Las Gatas beach. There we purchase tickets for $3.50 US each, round trip. Keep your ticket for the return visit, otherwise they will charge you twice. It is a short ten minute ride over to the beach. You see wonderful views of the bay on the way over.

When we arrived at Las Gatas, the sky was a little cloudy but the temperature was warm. The first sight you notice after landing on the pier is a long row of palm-thatched huts with lounge chairs sitting out front. Each particular area had a sign with the name of the restaurant or whatever it was, prominently displayed. Menus were everywhere. The only real designator was that each “spot” had a different colored table cloth or umbrella color or chaise lounge cushion marking their area. And yes, they were territorial. Every “spot” had a salesman out front encouraging you to sit at their table/chairs. We walked about half-way down the beach when we met a gentleman by the name of Angel. He promised, “Good food and clean bathrooms. Outdoor showers too.” We chose his place to relax. I really think it was the orange table clothes that attracted Judy if the truth be told. The name of the place was La Red del Pescador. Hope I spelled that correctly. I also learned from Angel that all beaches in Mexico are public beaches.

It was now time to snorkel. I asked Angel if he had swim fins to rent…of course he did. We brought our own face mask and snorkel tube. Upon entering the warm ocean, I hoped not to get a mouthful of sea water. Well, that’s the first thing I did. Is that the old “you move toward and become like that which you think about” scenario? Anyway, Judy took right off like a fish in water. I kept stumbling and mumbling. Finally I got it right! I actually saw fish. Some small, some tiny and some a little bigger than that. A few different colored fish too. It was fun! This adventure lasted about one hour. Soon it was time for a soda and cheese quesadilla. Just sit back and relax. Aah...the good life.

Arriving back to the ship around 2:00pm, it was just a little late to have lunch at the Versailles room. So we ordered a pizza from room service. Don’t bother…it was terrible. Judy had scheduled a facial at the Barong Spa for around 3:00pm. That of course meant that I would indulge myself with a Jacuzzi and a swim, and then relax on one of the lounge chairs. I will be famished by this evening.

Earlier today we made reservations for the Endless Summer restaurant on deck 8, mid-ship. It is known for Tex Mex cuisine. Reservations are required but there is no additional charge. Judy and I had the Red Snapper topped with a relish of diced papaya and tomato. Excellent meal.


Day Six – Friday, February 23, 2007 – Puerto Vallarta

The ship backed into the pier around 9:00am this morning. It was fun to watch from our balcony. Puerto Vallarta has a beautiful port with lots of green grass, well kept buildings and a nice variety of shops just outside the exit. The weather is perfect today…clear skies and mid 80’s with a slight breeze. I scheduled massages for the two of us at the Millenium Massage Clinic in the Hotel Krystal just a few blocks from the pier. All correspondence was accomplished online at www.milleniummassage@hotmail.com a month before our visit. The time reserved for us was 12:00 noon Vallarta time, 11:00am ship’s time.

The Hotel Krystal is about a ten to fifteen minute walk after you exit the dock area. It’s just down a side street. Two Hotel representatives were standing at the entrance gate upon our arrival. I told them we had scheduled massages and they directed us to the front pool. It looked like they intended on charging us to use the hotel facilities. Anyway, we proceeded to the front pool (thatched hut) to check in with a lady named Judith. She confirmed our appointments for a couples massage, beachside. Being an hour early, we laid out on two lounge chairs at the beach. When the appointed time arrived, we proceeded to meet with Judith near the pool. She then led us to a tent adjacent the beach. That is where we were introduced to Gabby and Rodrigo, our masseuses.

The seventy-five minute massage was a little slice of heaven. The sound of the waves, the soft spa music in the background, it was well worth the $75 for the two of us. This will be a required stop for us in our future visits to Puerto Vallarta. We soon took our leave only to end up at the back pool for a quick dip. The water was perfect. After a quick change of clothes, we hailed a taxi. Next stop, old town.

A yellow cab took us downtown to an area near city hall. This is where it’s advertised that the original Senor Frog’s bar and restaurant began. Although, I think we heard the same thing in Acapulco. Anyway, we went in to their gift shop and donated to the Mexican economy. Afterwards, we walked around for awhile before approaching a taxi driver to take us back to the pier. I asked “how much? He stated $8 US. I tried to negotiate down…he said $8 US. We started to walk away…he let us! I tried yet another taxi driver…he said $8 US. We kept walking. After going about a long block, we approached a new taxi driver. We asked “how much to the pier?” He stated $8 US. I said it was $8 US a block ago. He said $8 US. We kept walking. Judy told me we should just pay the $8…I said no, “They are supposed to negotiate.” We kept walking. It was now about five blocks from Senor Frog’s store. Five long blocks. Our forth different taxi driver approached down the street. We flagged him down, and asked “How much to the pier?” He said, “$10 US.” I said “What! Five blocks ago it was $8 US!” He said “OK, OK. $8 US.” We happily agreed with his price. I finally got someone to negotiate with…well sort of!

Arriving back at the pier, we decided, well Judy decided, we should shop some more. So we did. She shopped while I sat down in the shade. Soon we were back on board and in our room. It was now around 4:00pm. Our missing duffel bag had arrived…hallelujah! We checked the contents of the bag and determined that everything was accounted for. Both Judy and I expressed a sigh of relief. It was now time to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. From our balcony we watched our fellow passenger board the ship. The Star is scheduled to depart Puerto Vallarta at 5:00PM. We watched some people run onto the gangway around 4:57pm. That was cutting it a bit close.

Ginza was our restaurant of choice this evening. Reservations are required for this outlet and there is a $10 cover charge. It is located on deck 7 forward. Ginza is known for its Asian fusion cuisine. All servers are attired in oriental garb…nice touch. We both had the sweet and sour shrimp for dinner. I don’t remember what we chose for dessert…but I’m sure we had something delicious!

Day Seven – Saturday, February 24, 2003 – Cabo San Lucas

El Arco, a rugged rock formation with a wide arch cut through it by generations of tides and wind, welcomes visitors from the sea. This is where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. Since Cabo does not have a deep-water port, the ship will be anchoring in the middle of the harbor. Passengers will tender to the pier. This is one port that we have nothing in particular planned. We are just going to do the tourist thing. Maybe do a little ocean swimming. Our large beach bag contains towels and a bottle of water. Bathing suits are being worn under our shorts. We’re ready!

Upon arriving at the tender pier, we walked around the dock area. After asking for directions to Cabo Wabo (Sammy Hagar’s place) we took off on foot. From the tender pier to Cabo Wabo is about a thirty minute walk. After taking the obligatory pictures of CW out front, we went inside to purchase souvenirs. We loaded up on t-shirts. Now it was time to get a taxi and go to Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos, a beautiful hotel situated on El Medano beach. It was a $7 cab ride to the hotel. This property was recommended on a cruise review board as being accommodating to cruise passengers. It turned out to be a wonderful suggestion. We arrived at the entrance and proceeded to stroll to the pool area. Then, we went down some short stairs to the beach. It was there we asked a gentleman wearing a hotel name badge if we could sit on their beach chairs…at the same time I was giving him a three dollar toke. He said “Of course Señor, would you like an umbrella too?” I said yes. The gentleman soon returned and took our order for chips, salsa and a bottle of water. On the review board I mentioned earlier, someone stated that if you order something, food or drink, they’ll let you use the facilities. It worked for us. We had an enjoyable time utilizing the Pueblo Bonito beach. And the pool is outstanding…warm water. I swam in the ocean for about fifteen minutes. There was a fairly strong undertow. Probably not good for children. By the way, Pueblo Bonito it is right next door to Nikki Beach.

After a $10 taxi ride back to the dock, we walked over to the Dolphin exhibit, a short stroll from the tender pier. There we were able to view Dolphins playfully swimming, through a large glass porthole. We learned that the only way to gain access to the top side of the facility was to book a tour through one of the cruise lines. Maybe next time.

We ate in La Trattoria this evening. In case you couldn’t tell…this is the Italian restaurant. No additional charge to eat here but reservations are required. We both had the penne pasta with veggies. A very pleasing dinner. Most every restaurant on the ship has a vegetarian food option, just in case you are so inclined. They’re all good too!

Most evenings while we were at dinner, our stateroom attendants turned one of our bath towels into the image of an animal. It was cute. Tonight they created some sort of a creature I couldn’t recognize. I decided to turn it back into a bath towel.

Day Eight – Sunday, February 25, 2007 – As Sea

After a tasty breakfast at Versailles, we attended the disembarkation seminar at the Stardust Theater facilitated by our Cruise Director Archie. It was at this time that Archie told the group the ship will not arrive in Los Angeles until around 9:00am...two hours late. This was due to the Captain shutting down one of the engines for unexplained reasons. Combine this with the fact that the seas are rough, plenty of white caps and there is a head wind blowing 20 to 25 mph. After the seminar we proceeded to the Atrium to pick up disembarkation luggage tags. We obtained the 10:45am tags. After a leisurely wandering around deck, we went back to our cabin and spent the day alternately packing and sitting on the balcony. We filled out the U.S. Customs form required of all passengers. Also completed were the disembarkation ID tags for our entire luggage. Later, we did find time to visit the Spa for a relaxing soak.

Day Nine – Monday, February 26, 2007 – Disembarkation

It is 8:00am and the ship is now scheduled to arrive in San Pedro (Los Angeles World Cruise Center) around 11:00am. We lost another engine last night. Two down…two to go??? Good luck to the next group of passengers boarding this vessel. Judy and I went to have our last breakfast at the Versailles room. Always a great way to start the day. Our cabin statement was left at our door. Upon review, all charges were accurate. If you have a disputed charge, proceed to the Reception Desk/Guest Services for resolution.

The NCL Star finally docked in LA at 10:30am. I figure it will be at least 30 minutes before the first passengers disembark. Our “color” was finally called around noon. We got off the ship at 12:45pm. A porter was waiting for us as we entered the luggage area. Within minutes we identified our bags, the porter placed them on a cart and we were out the door to a holding area for departing passengers. I called the Holiday Inn for pick up, but the van was in Long Beach dropping passengers off. The nice lady at the desk asked us to catch a taxi and she would reimburse us…which she did (the yellow cab driver was terrible, rude). Soon we loaded up our car and started heading back home. The end…well, almost.

Summary

The food was excellent (kudos to the Chef and his team for the myriad of culinary choices), the entire staff was exceptionally professional and friendly (“Atta girl” to Anita and her crew), other passengers were genial and the entire experience…well, what a wonderful adventure! My wife and I can hardly wait to cruise again. With the exception of terrible embarkation and disembarkation experiences, the Star represents Norwegian Cruise Line in an exemplary manner.




 




 

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