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Old 07-28-2006, 11:32 AM
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My husband and I are trying to decide between the NCL Star and the Golden Princess for our first ever Alaskian cruise next May. We have both been on several other lines in the Caribbean (which is also where we live) so we therefore have NO idea what to expect with either one.

I have seen extremely mixed reviews for both. We definitley want a balcony room and are looking at the mini-suite on the NCL Star and one of the larger regular balcony rooms on the Princess.(they're about the same size and the Princess is actually more expensive that the NCL even though the NCL we're looking at is a Suite). The mini-suite on the NCL would come with a concierge - what exactly do you do with a concierge?

It looks as if our deciding factor will have to be food and overall cruise experience, but unfortunately we don't know anyone who has been on either ship. Is there anyone out there who can give me some information that might help in our decision??
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Old 07-28-2006, 12:10 PM
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My husband and I leave for Alaska on the Star on August 6th. This will be our second cruise; our first was 8 years ago, also to Alaska on a much smaller ship.

The itinerary was the main reason we chose the Star, as it only visits one port that we stopped at our our last cruise. We also do not like to dress up for dinner, so that freestyle dining was a huge factor. We like the idea of being able to choose what time to eat, based on what our plans for the day are. It seems that people either love freestyle or hate it; most of the negative reviews I've read are from people who prefer the traditional assigned seating at dinner, with the same waitstaff who do get to know your preferences quickly.

The concierge is there to assist you with things like dinner reservations and priority tender assignments, similar to what the concierge in a hotel does. It's up to you if you want to utilize their services, but if you do, keep in mind that they do not share in the $10/day/person tip that NCL automatically charages to your shipboard account.

There's a wealth of information on the cruise boards that will help you make a decision. Whatever line you choose I know you'll enjoy Alaska - it's truly amazing.
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Old 07-28-2006, 12:50 PM
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I've been on both ships in the last couple years. Both cruise experiences were enjoyable, but for our preferences, especially for Alaska, I believe I'd choose the Star. Like Parker, we enjoy the freestyle dining concept, and how it works - and my husband does not like to dress up! Princess will be somewhat dressier on the formal nights; NCL will have a whole range of dress. Princess does have "Personal Choice" dining, allowing you to choose open seating instead of being assigned a dining time and table.

On the other hand, Princess has been doing Alaska for many years, and has invested rather heavily in the destination, building its own lodges used for cruisetours. The balcony cabins are larger and, IMO, nicer on Golden Princess, although the bathrooms on the Star were large, and the shower was positively luxurious by cruise ship standards! Food is, for us, a wash; my personal preferences don't match Princess food, although in our experience the quality of the food & service in the main dining rooms is superior to NCL's. The Star has more alternate restaurants of different types (most extra charge, but worth it); the steakhouse on Golden Princess was absolutely outstanding, and the one on the Star was close to as good.

I've posted reviews of both ships on cruisereviews.com, our sister site. Perhaps those will help (although different itineraries, the ships are the same as the ones you are considering).
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Old 07-29-2006, 12:10 PM
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Forgot to mention: Golden Princess has self-serve laundry facilities onboard (on some of the cabin decks), in case that's important to you. Star does not.
 
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alaska, alaskan, alaskian, balcony, cruise, dinner, formal, golden, ncl, princess, ratings, seating, star, v, wear

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