Length: 971 ft
One of the mid-size Norwegian ships, Caribbean cruises from New Orleans, free-style diningBest For People Who Want
Multiple restaurants with open seating dining; Las Vegas-style revues and staged Broadway musicals; 24-hour fitness facilities; full-service spa open late at night; a sports bar with live ESPN broadcasts on multiple screens; terrific facilities for kids and teens.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
The intimacy found aboard smaller ships; traditional cruise dining and dress rules; not to be pestered to attend art auctions and buy, buy, buy at the daily sales in the shops;Onboard Experience
NCL has become synonymous with innovation in the cruise industry, and this is one of the newer NCL ships that proves it. As the the second ship purposely built to offer the "Free-style" concept of dining there are ten different restaurants onboard. Obviously, this is not a cookie-cutter cruise ship. There is a variety of accommodations, with many interconnecting cabins ideal for family cruising. Sixty-five percent of outside cabins have private balconies, while several inside facing cabins overlook the Grand Centrum.
In 2010 the ship received an upgrade to add a complex of Garden Villa Suites similar to the newer NCL ships. The largely occupy decks 11 through 14. Some of the public rooms, such as Spinnaker's Lounge, were replaced.
Open-seating dining is offered in the two main Aqua Restaurant. Don't forget the Market Cafe Lido Buffet or the 24-hour Blue Lagoon Cafe. There's a wrap-around promenade, expansive kids' and teen facilities, a two-deck 1,000-seat show lounge, disco, cinema, casino, Roman Spa & Fitness Center, and observation lounge. The sports deck has a jogging track, golf driving range, and a court that basketball, volleyball and tennis enthusiasts alike can use.Decor
While there is just enough neon and gilt to remind you are on a cruise ship, each room on the ship truly has its own flavor (appropriate for a ship with 10 restaurants).Public Rooms
In keeping with the new NCL philosphy of creating "districts" for dining, drinking and playing, Norwegian Star has an atrium area with different features on each deck.
The fun starts on Deck Six where you find the Stardust Theater. behind it you will find the Star Club Casino with the usual table games and slots that range from penny denominations and up. Close by are two bars, Gatsby's and the Wine Cellar, plus the Art Gallery. Two dining spots are also close; Le Bistro and La Cucina.
Deck seven boasts The Java Cafe, located in the middle of the Grand Atrium, serving specialty coffees at a la carte prices, along with cookies and pastries, The abundant Galleria Shops, which carry everything from logo items and toys to designer clothes, have been relocated to to forward portion of deck seven. A miniature Asian Village comes next withthe Sake Bar, the Sushi Bar, the Gina Restaurant and the Teppenaki Restaurant. In the aft area of deck seven you find shore excursions, reception, the Red Lion Pub (a traditional English Ale House) and the photo gallery. In the aft section is the relocated Spinnaker Lounge, formerly the observation lounge on deck 12 forward. This room now offers nightclub entertainment, with large picture windows looking aft over the wake of the ship.
The teen and children's centers are at the aft of the ship, as is the Barong Spa and Fitness Center.
The Internet Center onboard Norwegian Star is located in a mezzanine perched above the Grand Atrium and is only accessible via two doorways located on Deck 9. It's a hard-to-find space but once there, it is quite nice, separated from the activity but allowing you to witness the goings-on in the atrium lobby. Packages can bring the Internet rate down to as low as .35 cents per minute, with a $3.95 start-up charge. Wireless Internet service is available for those with Wi-Fi-equipped laptops, or the center will rent you a laptop or Wi-Fi card. "Hot spots" are located in public spaces in the center of the ship but not in staterooms.
Almost all of the ship is wheelchair-accessible, although some of the locations and entertainment venues seem to require a round-about means of arriving. Elevators have buttons that are reachable by guests in wheelchairs and they "ding" before they arrive so sight-impaired guests can find the one that is opening; deck numbers are listed in Braille.
Smoking is limited to the port side on outside decks, to the casino, and to certain areas of bars and lounges. There is no smoking in the Grand Atrium, in any of the restaurants, or in the Stardust Theater.
Deck 12 has the Oasis Pool, Topsider's Bar and The Grill. Midships is the MarketPlace Buffet. Aft is the fitness center, juice bar and the kid's Splashdown Pool.Cuisine
This is a "Free-style" ship which means there are all kinds of cuisine available on abord at a variety of prices from free to $20 per person. The Sushi Bar offers all you can eat for $10, while Le Bistro, the signature alternative restaurant of NCL is $15 per person, and worth it.Restaurants
There are two main dining rooms onboard Norwegian Dawn; Aqua with its traditional table clothes and chairs, and Versailles which evokes the luxurious ocean liners of yesteryear with its hushed candlelit elegance, and stunning chandeliers.
NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" allows passengers to choose when and with whom to dine in the traditional Versailles Main Dining Room. Beyond the traditional dining rooms, there's Cagney's Steakhouse, on Deck 7 behind the Grand Centrum, which charges $30 per-person and serves steaks and chops and whole lobsters in a 1930s-ish setting. In Le Bistro, NCL's French restaurant (surcharge $25), appetizers include escargot in garlic butter, and a generous array of salads is offered. Order chocolate fondue -- chunks of fresh fruit served in a pineapple "boat" with a pot of melted chocolate to dip it in - for dessert. The Thai/Japanese/Chinese Ginza ($12.50) serves gorgeous Asian-fusion dishes. The complex also includes a Teppanyaki room ($25) and sushi bar (a la carte pricing).
The least impressive of Spirit's dining areas, The Market Cafe, often has long lines. It remains open into the evenings for those loking for fast and simple food at no surcharge.
Late-night snacks are available in the casino. The Blue Lagoon serves up burgers, fish and chips, and wok dishes 24 hours a day. Room service is simple, with mostly cold items, exceptions being ramen noodle soup, made-to-order pizza, and grilled cheese sandwiches.Service
The staff, recruited from all over the globe, is generally attentive and pleasant.Tipping
NCL automatically adds a fixed service charge of $10 to the shipboard accounts of passengers over 13 to make service personnel feel appreciated; children between three and 12 are charged $5. Those under three get off scot-free.Entertainment
The Stardust Theater , with excellent sightlines, presents elaborate, colorful and sometimes even exciting shows. NCL's Las Vegas-style revues and staged Broadway musicals have been keeping Jean Ann Ryan Productions in chocolate and nylons for years. JAR shows generally feature themes like "Salute to Hollywood" or Broadway, or the Fifties. Whatever they are saluting, the shows offer ongoing medleys of popular songs, lively dance-steps, costumes that look like costumes, unusually tall dancers, and an adagio duet who perform beautiful pas de deux.
The aptly named Cinema & Auditorium offers movies throughout the cruise. The Sports Bar & Grill is almost always packed with sports fans gathered to ogle live ESPN broadcasts on banks of huge TV's. The inviting Topside Lounge offers panoramic views by day and a live band at night. There's music in disco at night as well, of course, with a D.J. spinning popular dance tunes.
Popular on-board activities range from craft lessons (beaded geckos!) to learning a foreign language (Spanish and Tagalog, the language of the Philippines) to games, trivia contests, and bingo. The casino, Star Club, offers a huge array of slots and table games. The art auctions are popular too.Cabins
There are all of the basic cabin types: insides, portholes, windows, balconies, junior suites and suites, all of which feature more assertive colors than the public areas. The decor is lively. Almost all of the standard rooms on this ship are interconnecting, making them ideal for friends or family groups. Double metal doors (as opposed to the single composite doors in most other ships) minimize sound seepage between adjoining rooms.
Outside cabins have a large picture window. Balcony staterooms have a full-wall sliding glass door, floor to ceiling, side to side, and an exterior balcony enclosure made of glass. Balconies are narrow (40 inches), but wide enough to accommodate a white plastic chair, a short lounger and a little table.
A series of various suites were added in 2010 including the vast 6694-square foot(!!!) three-bedroom Garden Villa. This may be the largest suite at sea with three separate bedrooms each with king- or queen-size bed, a private luxury bath and CD/DVD library. Two bedrooms also feature a full bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower. Each Villa features a private garden with hot tub, outdoor dining area and terrace. Butler service and concierge available.
Owners Suites are 721 sq. ft. and includes a living room, private balconies, dining room, separate bedroom with king-size bed, mini bar, CD/DVD library and luxury bath with whirlpool tub and separate shower.Fitness/Spa
The gym is small but well equipped. The fitness center contains two small swim-against-the-current pools. The two sexes have separate changing rooms, relaxation rooms, and steam and sauna rooms. The women's side is gorgeous and expansive, with a window-lined relaxation room along the port side. There are a couple of televisions and several comfy chairs and sofas. The Roman Spa, operated by Mandara (Steiner of London in disguise), offers treatments ranging from hot stone massages to body-cleansing wraps, albeit in tiny treatment rooms. The mid-range for massages seemed to be around $100, but specials are regularly mentioned in the Freestyle Daily, especially on port days.
The outside promenade on Deck 7 circles the ship and is the ideal place for a walking circuit; the Sports Deck has a running track (pleasantly unobtrusive, as it is set off from sunning areas by a wall; six circuits to a mile), basketball and volleyball courts, and a golf cage. Ping-Pong tables are located at the aft of Deck 11. The ship's Sports at Sea program offers logo items to those who complete their programs.
The one swimming pool on the Lido Deck, big enough for early-morning lap swims, is nicely laid out and attractive, but can feel a bit oversubscribed in mid-afternoon.Children's Facilities
This ship is a dream come true for juvenile passengers, with approximately one-fifth of Deck 10 allocated to them. The kids' center itself is divided into several age-appropriate rooms. Then there is the video arcade to keep older children and teens distracted for hours, and a teen disco. The little folks' area features climbing tubes and tunnels, a ball crawl, and lots of soft toys, all in bright primary colors. There's an outdoor activity area and a crafts section. Splash Down is like an onboard water park, with a pool surrounded with caves and a mountain, two small slides that require entry through a tunnel, pirate's cannons that shoot water, and even a children's hot tub. An amphitheater has been installed between Decks 10 and 11 at the aft end so parents can sit and watch their kids play while getting hammered on drinks from the Raffles bar. There is no charge for the center, which welcomes children from age 2 to 16.Attire
The designated dress code is "resort casual," which for ladies means sundresses, blouses, sweaters, slacks and skirts, and for their male companions shirts with collars, such as polo shirts, and khakis or trousers. Dressing up for formal nights is optional, as informal attire is permitted in several areas, but jeans, shorts, T-shirts, swimsuits and beachwear are forbidden in the restaurants after 5:30 p.m. On the one formal night per one-week cruise, most men say to hell with it and put on a dark suit instead of a tux.
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Shelly Vavrin Western Caribbean February 5, 2012
Don't bother to go on this ship. It is dated, worn, complicated to get around, balcony's are a joke, room service was not eatable, and the bathrooms are made for midgets. Getting on board was lines and waiting. Open buffets were located in areas that make a high school cafeteria look like a 5 star restaurant. The staff was not knowledgeable about where things were located. You needed a map to get around the ship and had to go up and over and down to get to some locations. Scooters for handicapped passengers were left in the hallways outside their rooms, creating difficulty in walking down the halls with passengers coming in the other direction. The balcony was small, very worn, dirty floor, room for two chairs and a tiny table. Room service food was totally disgusting and not worth it. The specialty restaurants were empty and constantly pushed on you. I was well when I boarded the ship but after a few days got a respiratory infection and two weeks later still had a cough. The ship knewthere was a virus on board and had people at locations to wash your hands "washy washy", give me a break, we aren't in kindergarten! The shops were way overpriced and nothing compared to the Carnival Legend that we sailed on in November 2011 out of Tampa. The bathroom was big enough for a midget. If you are handicapped in anyway, forget it. The service in the restaurants was slow and the staff like machines. We have cruised several types of ships and NCL, particularly Star will never ever see us again. Save your money and don't bother...
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Marty Western Caribbean November 27, 2011
Cruise Review - Norwegian Star 2011
We sailed on the Norwegian Star out of Tampa, Fl. on Nov. 27, 2011.
Overall, this was a great cruise for us. Given my health and mobility problems, the ship is a little longer than I like. Hard for me to get around. But, well worth it. We had previously sailed on the Dawn, which is the Star's sister ship. There were several differences, even though the basic layout is the same. The gift shops on the Star were not as nice as those on the Dawn. Not really a problem, since I don't cruise to shop. The 24 hour restaurant, called the Blue Lagoon, was significantly better. Instead of plastic tables and chairs and mediocre food, as it was on the Dawn, the Star's version was very nice. Fairly elegant atmosphere and the food was quite good. We even ate dinner there one night, as I was too tired to do anything else.
In general, the food was better than I had expected. Very disappointing the first night, but then it did an aboutface and was generally quite good. They had even solved the problems of stale bread and poor desserts, which we had experienced on the Dawn. And the Market CafÃ©, their name for the Lido deck buffet, was surprisingly good. I could have eaten every meal there and not felt cheated. Good variety and most of what we tried was very tasty.
Probably the biggest factor in our enjoyment of the cruise, though, was the attitude of the crew. Almost every person working on the Star was cordial and very friendly. We got smiles from virtually everyone we encountered. And that is contagious. Passengers who receive lots of smiles tend to offer their own. So, the general atmosphere was welcoming and pleasant.
In particular, the Cruise Director, Jaimie, and her assistant, Christine, were very professional, yet warm and friendly. Christine was especially open to engaging passengers, not just for activities, but to answer questions or just chat. Great team.
Okay, day by day. The embarkation was a tad rough. Happened to arrive just when it was mobbed and that is nobody's fault. I was worn out by the time we got on board. Got a bite to eat at the buffet, then rested a bit and unpacked. The main dining rooms now use a beeper system, like many restaurants do. I don't know if it is the economy or just the random nature of cruises, but the MDR's were packed every night. We were standing in line to get a beeper when a man gave my husband a hard shove. He turned around to confront whoever it was and it turned out to be a friend who lives about Â½ block down the street from us! He and his wife were traveling with another couple, who are also neighbors. We had dinner with them twice during the week and that was definitely the icing on the cake for us.
I had a very hard time the first night, as you had to walk down one deck after your beeper went off. Very painful for me. The next day, I received a new cruise card that would take the elevator down to the level of the dining room and then gave us priority seating. It made dinner a lot easier for me and it was not something I had asked for or even knew about. The maitre d' apparently noticed my problem and gave me a way around it. That was a gracious nicety, especially since it was unexpected.
The wait staff in the Versailles (the aft MDR) was exceptional. Every night, we received service as good as or better than traditional dining on past cruises.
Day 2 was Roatan, Honduras. This is one of our favorite ports, but we had been disappointed the year before on Carnival, when their ship docked at Mahogany Bay. Really disliked that. But the Star docked in Coxen Hole. We had signed up for a tour that went to an island where they offered snorkeling. It was called Maya Key Resort, though the name of island is Anthony's Key. We were a little afraid that it might be very hokey, but were very pleasantly surprised. It is mostly a wildlife refuge for local critters. Rental on the snorkeling gear was very reasonable. There was a long dock, with a snorkel area marked off. A shallow reef, with a lifeguard keeping an eye on things. Not great snorkeling, but still fun. My DH went for the swimming pool, then we walked around. The animals were in very large cages, so that they had room to run around and there was a simple wooden rail to alert people not to feed a hand to the jaguars. The howler monkeys were not confined, but lived on a smaller island across a small inlet. We even had a baby howler monkey run right between our legs. We then had a tasty lunch, which was included, then headed back to Coxen Hole. Walked around a bit in Coxen Hole, then back to the ship.
Day 3 was Belize, again a favorite of ours. In spite of the cruise lines all trying to discourage people from going outside of the "safe" zone, which is mostly overpriced tourist stuff and bars, we went out back to the Flea Market, which is primarily a craft market. Locals are friendly and, since this used to be British Honduras, they speak good Englishâ€¦.although their local patois is beyond me. My husband is a hand drummer and had drummed with the locals in Roatan, then again in Belize. He knows their rhythms and loves communicating with others via music. I did pay a visit the Loom Store, which sells fabulous locally made textiles. Can't afford the rugs, but the decorative pillow covers are amazing. Not cheap, but they look well worth their price.
Day 4 we were in Costa Maya. Skipped the high priced enclave and took a cab to the nearby town of Mahahual. This was originally a tiny fishing village, then became a tourist spot. Got completely wiped out by a hurricane and rebuilt. But, it is still a very laid back little town. One street, with a second one being built. On one side of the "main drag" is a row of shops and cafes. The other side is a beautiful, nearly pristine beach. One of the prettiest in the Caribbean, in my book. We both had luxurious massages, lying on tables on a gorgeous beach, followed up by a swim in clear blue waterâ€¦.heavenly. Did a little shopping, mostly looking for unusual Christmas gifts. They have expanded the compound to add a "downtown" section. Totally fake and filled with stores selling Mexican souvenirs. The sad thing is that all of it is leased or subcontracted to outside vendors. From a very selfish point of view, that's fine, since it leaves Mahahual uncrowned and the vendors there will bargain heavily, trying to compete. But, it does seem wrong to take advantage of the locale and totally exclude the local population. It can no longer be a fishing village because of the big ships coming in, so the cruise lines have made the local dependent on tourism, then won't allow them to sell things where most passengers go.
Day 5 was good old Cozumel. Used to be my favorite, but just so crowded now, with multiple ships each carrying a couple thousand passengers all converging on a smallish town. We docked close enough to downtown to just walk to the plaza, then hit a couple of favorite stores. Or tried to. One had disappeared. One minor annoyance was that most places now charge you to use their bathrooms. Given that you used to have to bring your own toilet paper, I thought that was ridiculous. Found one that did not charge. But, I was getting desperate enough to almost pay to pee. Still had a good, if low key, day.
Last day was a sea day. Rough seas again, although not as bad as the first day. We had enjoyed the deck band all week. A group called Xcite from Trinidad. Not your usual steel drums, but those guys could, and did, play anything.
Sadly, the show band was nowhere near as good. The trumpet player, whom I think was also the Music Director, could not play in tune. He even played in an entirely different key at times when they were playing in the Atrium. But, the entertainment in general engaged us. The first show was so-so to me. But, for the first time in years, I actually went to every show. And they just kept getting better and better. The show on the last night was amazing. Have not been thrilled by a cruise ship show in a long time and that was a great way to end the week. Tried to go up on deck for a last stroll looking at the stars and almost got blown off my feet! Very windy. But since we love just being at sea, that was fine, too.
Debarkation was fairly easy. You had to pick up your luggage tags by the purser's desk. But, you could pick your color based on what time you wanted to debark. I liked being able to choose rather than have the cruise line decide when you should leave.
Last, I must mention our cabin steward, Alex. He was sheer perfection. Friendly, and very accommodating. Plus we rarely had to ask for anything, and when we did, we had it asap. But, I swear the man reads minds.
Overall, one of the best cruises in my lifeâ€¦out of around 35 cruises. Felt good to feel like we truly had a great vacation.
Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by Guy Stewart Western Caribbean November 13, 2011
Wow! Where do I start. We just spent a LONG week on the Norwegian Star. Here are just a few of many complaints and comments. Rooms are noisy, the music kept us awake. Boom! Boom! Boom! In the room on many occasions. The rooms are obviously not built well to isolate sound. (9th floor). Anytime dining is designed to drive customers to dining rooms you have to pay for. You have to wait in line almost every meal and are given a beeper so you can sit around for a half hour while waiting for food. This is all designed to make you pay for one of the specialty restaurants in my opinion. The food in the "FREE" dining rooms is mediocre at best. The same menu for the entire week, thin little steaks, very limited selection, waiters don't really care to wait on you because they know they are not working for tips because $12 per person, per day has already been added to your bill. (which I promptly went to the desk and had removed asI did not authorize it to be put on my card. The staff on the desk did their best to try to talk me out of removing it but I insisted and got it removed) (this practice alone will make it so I do not cruise with Norwegian again)
At one point they closed one of the two "free" dining rooms to use the room for another function, making hours shorter so that you were forced to pay to eat in the specialty dining rooms.
Cigarette and cigar smoke EVERYWHERE!!!! You can't sit on a deck chair without someone sitting down next to you and lighting up a cigarette or worse a cigar. At one point a lady sat down at the table we were eating at and lit up a cigarette!!!!!
The tiny little pool (only one pool) area was smoking as well so every time you walked past the pool you had to inhale smoke. It made it so you didn't want to go near the bathtub sized pool at all.
Ship is tired looking and feeling. Lots of things need attention, rugs in halls are dirty and ragged, Beds are extremely uncomfortable.
Unsanitary things with cafeteria. Juice dispenser required hands on. Dirty buttons that everyone had to touch. People dumping water bottles in juice and coffee dispenser drains and rinsing bottles and refilling.
Poor organization throughout ship for moving crowds. Photographers blocking isles in atrium. Ship excursions were extremely inflated. We took exact same tours for 1/3 the cost that ship wanted. People in the Bars seemed to intentionally made soda flat and undrinkable that was served for soda package. $52 spent and soda was never drinkable. Free ice cream hidden at one end of the ship and closed lots of hours Tiny little area for kids. Puny little 13 inch tv in room Ship is primarily focused on extracting every penny possible out of it's guests with little concern of what the guest gets for value for their money.
Rooms very small but did have a nice bathroom.
Stores very tiny with poor selection. Everything on the ship is overpriced.
Pitiful attempt at a movie screen hung over a bar with crappy picture and sound with very little seating
Every other seat is broken in theatre. You sit down and often you were almost touching the floor due to a broken seat cushion. The entertainment was very good however.
We certainly will not be returning to Norwegian any time soon. We have cruised many times on Royal Carribbean and have loved it every time. Norwegian has a long, long way to go before they come close to Royal.