We just returned from a 13 day Panama Canal cruise on the Star. The weather was great even though we had a force 9 gale for a while the ship rode well and no more than the bow section was closed off due to the wind. We only eat at a couple of the specialty restaurants as the food was (in our experiences) excellent in the main restaurants. There was quite a long line up on Thanks giving for the Versailles so we walked over to the Aqua and were seated immediately.
We booked 5 tours and were pleased with them all, we enjoyed the itinerary, especially Huatulco, very clean and few hawkers. As expected Cartagena was very hot and humid; we did have an armed guard accompany us on the bus and canoe trip, for our protection I assume.
The ship I think is in need of some TLC, carpets, the seats and armrest in the theatre and so on, we were aboard a year ago and we feel she has gone downhill more than a little since then. Unfortunately the hot tubs were out of service the whole cruise, that is a total of at least 7 tubs including the ones in the Spar, we were never told officially why only that they will be fixed soon as parts are on order!(?) In fact the information I gleaned from some crew members and a lady who took the ships tour was that the health department in LA had shut the tubs down seemingly because on the previous (2 day) cruise someone had got sick in one of the tubs and they were not able to sanitize the system satisfactorily enough for them to be cleared, and hopefully would be inspected and certified safe in Miami, as I say this was not an official statement. The Captain referred to the hot tub issue a week or so into the cruise and stated they would not be serviceable before the end of the cruise. He also announced at the same time there would be a “happy hour” the day after on the pool deck; fruit punch or rum punch would be available, I participated in the program. Some passengers took the closure of the hot tubs worse than others; I just wish we could have been better informed.
The staff and crew were very friendly and helpful nothing was ever too much trouble, the passengers on the whole were in the older category with only 30 children were on the ship. The crew we spoke to were very excited in the fact the ship is to be in Vancouver for the Olympics as a floating hotel, I would imagine the engineers will take advantage of this down time to repair one of the engines. The ship still made 21 knots on the 3 remaining engines on parts of our cruise.
Welcome home bmh Sorry to hear the ship has gone downhill, but very glad to hear the cruise was good overall. I take it you did the complete transit of the canal. That must have been great! We're hoping to do a 10 day in 2011, just to the Gatun locks, but still I'm looking forward to that When and where are you heading next?
Yes we did do the full transit, I did not want to sound that negative regarding the condition of the ship but it is sad to see things slide. It could be the short 1&2 day cruises are harder on the ship than 1 or 2 week cruises. Could it be that longer cruise passengers take better care of their ship than passengers who only cruise for a day or two?
We are planning a cruise on the Jewel in April, 13 day out of Miami and disembarking in New York. Just have to work on the finances.
bmh - Thank You for your input on the NCL Star! It is sad to learn that she is showing signs of wear and tear and that the engine problem continues! A few weeks refitting is in order for this fine ship!
She and her sister ship, the NCL Dawn are personal favorites and they are both due for some work. Perhaps,while the Star is being used as a hotel ship she will get the needed attention!I'll keep my fingers crossed!!
I should have mentioned one more observation regarding the Star. The murder Mystery is now $20.00 per person. It includes a menu from one of the specialty restaurants that may be served in the Aqua or the Shoho. The last 3 or 4 cruises we did find the plot was the same, therefore this time we did not take part, also due to the price and the fact we like to eat in peace (especially in a pay restaurant) rather than discuss who did it!.