My husband and me just got back from a 7 day NCL cruise to the Mexican Riviera. This is our 3rd cruise on the same itinerary, 1st time we did RCL Vision, 2nd time Diamond Princess. This time NCL Star. I am 44 and my spouse is 41, no kids.
First off I should say that I've never had a bad vacation, I love to travel and will do so by donkey cart, train, plane, automobile or ship. Doesn't matter, love it all.
NCL was a lot of fun, the entertainment was actually enjoyable, not just the shows but there was a lot of live music all over the ship in many different areas. There was always something going on in the evenings and you could dress up or wear jeans, either way was fine. There were 2 designated 'dress up' nights but they were optional, most people dressed up on those nights but definitely fewer tuxes and such than on Princess and RCL.
As mentioned here by the couple from Las Cruces (Richard and?) The week pass to the spa is hands down the best deal on the ship. We paid $140 for a couples pass for the week, that's $10 per day for a nearly private pool, 2 huge spas, locker room, robes, fresh towels and recliners lined up in front of a wall of windows facing the stern. Heaven, I spent every day there watching dolphins chase the ship and reading. Only had to leave when I couldn't talk my spouse into bringing me food. I'm not getting on the scale for awhile.
A couple of small criticisms, the Star desperately needs (IMHO) another outdoor pool area. The main pool area has large slides that tend to attract teenagers and children and the only other outdoor pool is a kiddie/tot pool. I loved the indoor spa pool but a small outdoor plunge pool away from the kiddie slides would have been wonderful.
The other criticism is with our stateroom attendant. I spoke to him once to ask for the twin beds to be converted to a queen and he sighed heavily and said 'okay, if you really need the beds together I can do that' The only other time we spoke to him all week was when my husband asked him for a hand towel because we didn't have one and my husband got the same reaction that I had gotten. I don't know his name and frankly just tried to avoid him the rest of the week. I hesitate to mention this because everyone else on the ship was very kind and tried to provide wonderful service, but it does only take one burned out individual to create a poor impression.
My husband and I were laughing because on RCL we had a junior suite and it seemed like every time one of us sneezed the stateroom attendant was pushing a kleenex under the door for us, he was so attentive he drove us crazy. Somewhere between 'whaddya need a towel for?' and 'let me blow your nose for you' there has to be a happy medium And we tipped the same for both of these examples, go figure!
At any rate, we really, really enjoyed this cruise and would definitely cruise with NCL again, we are still looking for a line to call 'home' and plan to try Carnival next, it's such hard work figuring out which cruise line we like best!
Thanks for all of the info on the board, it helps so much!
I agree. The time usually spent in Cabo San Lucas is too short, compounded by the need to tender.
Our favorite shore excursion was actually in Mazatlan. It was called "Colonial Villages" and visited three villages in the Sierra Madres. It was a long tour, but very nice. We visited a bakery, furniture maker, and tile maker, among others. The people we met could not have been nicer, yet we did notice the sad sight of very young children begging the closer we were to Mazatlan. We spent little time in Mazatlan itself, so I can't comment about the hawkers there.
We like Cabo. especially for the whale watching, but we are truly partial to Puerto Vallarta. My husband always gets the massages right there by the port ($35 for an hour massage with the hot stones included). Our favorite excursion in PV is the day trip to Yelapa fishing village, it's how I imagine Cabo was 'back when' you know. Staying on the ship is always fun on port days too!
So glad you liked the NCL Star and took the advice on the day passes to the spa that we gave everybody here on cruise-chat.com. The spa is a great deal, that many passengers over look. I totally agree with the review of the NCL Star pool. They could use another, but unfortunately that's impossible at this point.
Sorry to hear about the room steward, as this can happen. Glad you liked the entertainment.
We will be back on the Star in Nov 2009 for the Panama Canel transit L.A. to Miami. It's a great ship, and great executive staff. They really care about the ship and their guests.
In fact I just spoke to the Hotel Director Jean Michael Dehlin, today via email, as we made good friends on our recent cruise. We found everyone on the Star to be very friendly, but as with any crew, you just might run across a crew member that isn't so nice.
Sure would like to hear more about your cruise. Perhaps you can provide a detailed review. I would like to get your thoughts on the dining experiences. Food is so important to many cruisers. Did you experience any of the specialty restaurants? and if so, which ones? Your thoughts?
The only specialty restaurant we went to was Endless Summer, the fajitas in particular were very fresh and had great flavor. Make sure you are very hungry because the courses are filling, we misjudged and wound up splitting an order of fajitas between the two of us. The Blue Lagoon was great for a quick lunch with good burgers, chicken tenders and such.
The buffet is similar to other ship buffets but there were a few standout items. The milk and dark chocolate fondue fountains and free ice cream were both nice surprises and were a lot of fun! The pretzel bread was completely addictive and made a really good sandwich. My husband ate the thick french toast every morning and it was very tasty.
I'm a picky coffee drinker and absolutely loved the coffee in the buffet. It was nice and strong and yet wasn't bitter. Not so fond of Java Cafe as I got a latte that wasn't very good but I am very picky about my lattes and feel I make the best ones in the world myself!
Aqua was our favorite place to eat on the ship, the steaks were always done as ordered and I could've eaten the salmon every night. We also tried the cooking light dishes, the light chicken breast was a standout while the light fish was bland and mushy. Light desserts were generally quite good. Service was very good and the atmosphere was very comfortable.
I think NCLs dining concept worked very well, we never had to wait more than 10 minutes to get a private table and that was with no reservations and a full ship. We loved that if we felt like dressing up we could and on the other hand if we were short on time and wanted to go to Aqua wearing more casual clothing we could do so. Jeans and capris were allowed with no problem, we never went there in shorts but we did see an elderly gentleman turned away for wearing shorts so that rule seems to be enforced.
As I said we liked NCL, has anyone been on their more recently launched ships? More pools on those??
We where on the NCL Pearl 3 times in 2007.....
We were on the Jewel in 2006..both beautiful ships.
Both of these ships are sister ships of the Gem....
We will be on the Sky in March 2008....
Also several others in the past, older ships like the Dream which is now outr of the NCL fleet. NCL booasts to have the youngest fleet of ships cruising the oceans.
Our favorite was the Jewel and of course the Pearl. The Jewel, Pearl and Gem, all have the grand buffet setup with food stations that we thought was a great concept. We also like to take in Teppanyaki, and we usually do that the first night out of port...as our NCL cruise consultant usually provides a coupon book, that gives us the first night out at a specialty restaurant 2 for 1. Pearl, Jewel and Gem have multiple pools.
I have sailed RCL and Princess many times, we still favor NCL for all the reasons you discussed, causal dress and we love the Freestyle approach to cruising. For us, it's what we like, for others, they would rather have the more regimented style of cruising. I truely do believe that NCL has set a standard for relaxed cruising for those who just want to have a good time overall without the formal nights and fancy tux's.
We did however enjoy our 15 day cruise to Hawaii last year via the Diamoond Princess. We did find it was an older age of passengers. I was on the Diamond Princess three weeks after it first sailed, and three years later. When on again, I felt it needed a lot of work to bring the ship back up to conditons as new.
One thing we find about NCL is maintainence is a top priority.