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Kimberly Marchese-Kieffer

Age: 40

Occupation:Elementary School Counselor

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Star

Sailing Date: March 22nd, 2007

Itinerary: Mexican Riveria

Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Star Cruise Review
Mexican Riviera

Kimberly Marchese-Kieffer

We just got back from our Mexican Riviera Cruise on NCL. I’ll start by saying we had a wonderful time. I’ll also say that there were some highs and lows about the trip and the cruise line.

I’ll start with NCL’s reservation and information phone line. This is my biggest complaint. The employees are very unknowledgeable! The man who booked our cruise didn’t know if I needed a passport for Mexico. He also told our friends that there was babysitting for their toddler and there wasn’t for ages 2 and under. Then, another representative told them that children weren’t allowed in the restaurants and they definitely are. Any time I called to ask a question, the response was read to me from a manual—things I already read myself but had additional questions they couldn’t answer. There is no excuse for this lack of knowledge about their trips.

I read many reviews complaining about the embarkation process. We did not have the same negative experiences. Boarding was a very smooth, fast experience for us. It was well organized and we got our luggage pretty quickly compared with other cruises.

We had a mini-suite and it was fantastic. The balcony was wonderful, the room was spacious and the bathroom had plenty of room. We didn’t have the same claustrophobic experience we had on other cruises. Some of my best memories include waking up in the morning, going out on the balcony and watching the boat arrive in its next port; and ending my day out there as we pulled away.

This is a kid friendly ship, so if you don’t like kids, this isn’t for you. It was perfect for us, we took our 3 year old and were very appreciative of the kid’s menus, booster seats, kid’s pools, and children’s program. Our room even had a curtain to separate my son’s pull out bed from our bed, a helpful touch.

The kid’s program seemed good with caring, professional adults supervising it. For some reason, my son did not like it. I don’t think this is a reflection on the program, all the other kids appeared happy and there were some really cute activities planned.

The meals were decent. I really enjoyed eating at Aqua, the specialty restaurants were kind of mediocre—I don’t know if they were worth the cover charge. To be honest, my steak at Gatsby’s was one of the worst I ever had; it was the fattiest, grizzliest NY Strip I’ve ever had. I liked Le Bistro, the French Restaurant. I noticed that all the food was loaded in LA, so if you want fresh fish have it early in the trip. It just gets fishier as the days go by.

As for the ports and excursions, we had a very nice time. Acapulco was kind of dirty. The fort is interesting. The Zocalo didn’t have much going on. If you speak a little Spanish, venture out to Magico Mundo Marino at Playa Caleta. It was a very cool way to immerse yourself in local culture. While the aquarium is a bit primitive, you can see some cool sea critters and my son had one of his best days of the trip there. There is a Sea Lion show daily at 3:00 (or 2:00?). My son got to take a picture with a seal and got to hug it and it gave him kisses. We had some really good margaritas and guacamole and chips at a place in el Zocalo—it’s upstairs on the right of the gazebo as you head back to the port.

Zihuatanejo was our favorite stop. The town is small but really charming. Playa Madera is nice but if you want to swim, snorkel or whatever go to Playa La Ropa. Our friends did the catamaran trip and said it was one of the best tours they’ve ever taken, anywhere.

Puerto Vallarta—well, the first thing you see as you pull in to port is the WalMart; could have done without that but whatever…The city is both very, very rich and devastatingly poor. We did the Zip Lining Tour and had a blast. The tour company (Vallarta Adventures) was extremely professional and safety minded.

Cabo San Lucas had the most beautiful water, I couldn’t get enough of it. It was a gorgeous, clear, sapphire blue. We did the Sea Kayak and Snorkel tour to Lover’s Beach and the Arch. Wow! We had a great time! It was a magical place. We didn’t see much of the town but did a little shopping by the port and had to hurry back to the ship. Our friends went to Todos Santos and had a nice, mellow day.

The spa treatments we had were great. Everything I had and my friends had were fabulous. The technicians are so thorough and put a lot of care into what they do. I wouldn’t bother with a manicure. The hand sanitizer you need to use everywhere on the boat eats away your pretty nail polish.

Disembarkation was kind of a mess. It took a very long time with a lot of waiting in an enormous line. We wanted to get off at 9 am but there were no baggage stickers for that time so we had to settle for 9:30. We arranged for our car to pick us up at 10 but with all the waiting, we didn’t get off until 10:45. Other cruise lines handle this process much better.

All in all, it was a very nice trip. I have so many nice memories. I would recommend this particular trip if you are traveling with kids over 2. Otherwise, some of the hassles aren’t worth it and you may want to look into Princess or Royal Caribbean, they have a similar itinerary.



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