We were on the May 30 - June 6 cruise on the NCL Star which left out of Seattle. We had the most amazing time ... it was the best vacation we had ever taken! We’d do this trip again in a heartbeat.
I've seen some very hateful messages on here - especially the ones saying they or loved NCL Star. I'm posting my review based on our experience on this trip. My perspective is coming from being a first-timer to Alaska, and also our first cruise on NCL line.
Okay, this was the part that was a total nightmare - the only nightmare of our cruise. We arrived at Seattle airport at 12:15 - we didn't even get on a bus until almost 3:00!! By time we got to the pier (about 20-25 min. drive) it was 3:30. Then with the long lines - we didn't even get checked in until after 4:00. The ship was supposed to leave at 4:00, we were really stressed, nobody told us the ship was delayed!! I'm recovering from knee surgery, so standing around for 2 1/2 hours really hurt. But from what we can tell, this nightmare was the fault of Seattle airport - they were so disorganized. It wasn't just NCL that was affected. They had one idiot running around trying to coordinate everything.
But we decided that once we were aboard, we were going to forget about it and not let it ruin our cruise. Once we were walking aboard the ship - all that had been forgotten. Wow! What a big ship - and a very pretty ship.
We were hungry at this point - so we went to the deckside grill where they were having a bon voyage party. The food was awesome! We were actually surprised by how good it was. They had hotdogs, hamburgers, various salads, fast-fry steaks, BBQ ribs. The ribs were excellent. They had the cruise band, The Ionics, singing ... and everyone was having a blast! It was a tad loud - but they cruise staff even got some of the older people up on the dance floor - teaching them line dancing. It was so funny and cute.
We were on a company-sponsored trip so after the BBQ we had gathered in the Spinnaker lounge for a welcome reception. This lounge is located at the front of the ship with big picture windows all the way around - so we had wonderful views of leaving the pier. The lounge was fantastic – we enjoyed this room quite a bit during our trip.
The main dining room was average. But the alternative restaurants were incredible!!! We really pigged out. We knew before the cruise that we’d be eating most of our meals at these restaurants. When on vacation – we like to live large and eat like Kings. We ended up have Surf & Turf 4 times!!! The restaurants we went to were: Cagney’s Steakhouse – highly recommend this one if you just feel like an awesome steak; The SoHo Room – Surf & Turf was excellent; and Le Bistro – awesome Surf & Turf. All three restaurants were incredible – we rated Le Bistro as #1, with the other 2 very close 2nds. Every staff member of these restaurants catered to us and fussed over us as if we were royalty or celebrities. We’d never been THIS pampered in any 5-star restaurant before. Freestyle dining? We just LOVED this. We normally eat dining at the same time every night, but on the cruise, with so much to do, we ate at different times almost every night. The elderly people didn’t seem to like the freestyle – and ones that were in a large group. But most seemed to really love it.
Juneau – Went on the Whale-watching and Wildlife Quest. This was GREAT!! We’d absolutely do that one again. We saw humpback whales, Killer Whales (which are rare for that area) and Sea Lions (who put on quite a show for us). This was a fantastic outing. We were soo fortunate with all the wildlife that we saw. The killer whales swam right beside the boat.
Skagway – Went on the WhitePass Railway and Klondike Gold Dredge excursion. This was a tad too long. The Railway was fantastic – I’d recommend that everyone do this once. The Gold Dredge was a little disappointing – but the really neat thing was that we got to pan for our own gold and got to keep the gold flakes. I’ve got mine in a clear glass pendant – so I can show people that I panned my own gold in Alaska. The funny thing is that it’s not as easy as it looks. It really made you appreciate how hard of life the gold miners and stampeders had.
Ketchikan – Went on the Crab-Fishing and Wildlife Adventure excursion. We LOVED this one too. We saw tons of bald eagles, and also saw 2 gray seals that were swimming around our boat. The dungeonese crab were delicious!!
Victoria, BC – We didn’t have anything booked for this one – we just got off the ship and ended up getting a Pedicab, which took us to a beautiful park and some of the tourist areas.
THE BARONG SPA
There are so many reasons that we’d go back on the Star. This SPA is definitely one of them. Hubby and I each got the hot rock massage. It was incredible. I think I near moaned with pleasure during the entire massage. But even if you don’t have a massage or treatment done, they have a great area open to all cruisers on the ship: they have two hot tubs – one is so incredible – it has a large “rack” that you lay back on, so your entire underneath gets massaged by jets. And it also has an indoor pool. It’s located at the back of the ship and they have lounge chairs that face one wall which is covered with picture windows, so you can lay back and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Oh my god …. How can you even begin to describe it??? The reason that Alaska is so beautiful, is because it’s largely so untouched – the air and waters are so clear. And watching the wildlife in their natural habitat …. Wow! If you can appreciate these things, then Alaska is for you! While cruising Glacier Bay – the Captain “parked” us at Marjorie Glacier for awhile – which was so perfect. We had the most incredible weather – comfortable with only a sweatshirt on – bright blue sky, no clouds. Got amazing photos. We had a perfect view from our balcony – glacier was directly in front of us. We got to see the Glacier calving – where a huge chunk of ice breaks off and falls into the water. The loud crackling sound that you first hear, echoes around. Then the piece falls. When it hits the water, it sounds like a gun-shot. Incredible, just incredible.
If anyone has any questions about the Star – or our trip, please post question or e-mail me directly and I’ll be happy to help!
We were on the NCL Star on her next-to-last cruise in Hawaii -- and my husband and I absolutely loved it! It is a very nice ship and we found the crew to be very pleasant. While the food in the main dining room was fine, the specialty restaurants were fabulous!
To ehogan, you might want to post your question on the ncl message board. It is for people that cruise ncl and you might find out more info. Regarding question 1, on the NCL Dawn we could stay in our room and wait. I believe specialty restaurants could could be reserved 48 hours in advance, short notice was just about impossible on the Dawn. If the Star has the same setup as the Dawn the buffet lines were short and moved right along. I hope this helps. I'm jealous because it seems like months since we came back and its only been a few weeks. I would like to go to Alaska on ncl, let me know how you like it.
1. Disembarkation - we had a really easy time with this. They do colour code you - they deliver the color-coded tags to your cabin the night before docking, so that you can attach them to your luggage. We were very lucky - we were on a company-sponsored trip, so they had arranged for us to disembark first (Red #1).
2. Speciality restaurants - they allow you to make a reservation for "tomorrow", but not 2 days in advance. We called Cagney's Restaurant one night at 9:00, and we were starving. We asked if they possibly had any openings - they told us to come on down! Only one night (for LeBistro) - we had to pick either 5:00 pm or 9:00 pm reservation, because they were busy - but that was the only time we didn't get our pick of reservations.
3. Long lines - I've read a few comments about people having these nightmarish 3-hour waits, etc. The longest we ever had to wait for the buffet was 5 minutes. We never had any problems with the dining. The only thing we didn't like, is the buffet had international nights - so alot of times we couldn't eat there because the food was Thai or Japanese, etc. Yeah, feel sorry for me ... I had to suffer with eating Surf 'n' Turf cause the buffet was too ethnic ... !
Hope this helps ... feel free to ask me any questions you may have!
I'm back from the June 20th cruise and I found the trip to be awesome. We loved the ship and we had a great time. We also took the Whale and wild life quest but not as lucky to see as much as some. We did see a few whale backs and fins. The first bunch was a mother and baby humpback and then a single one by itself later. Did see the sea lions sunning on a bouy and a few eagles. But maybe better luck next time we go. I hope to go again sometime. We stayed in our room at disembarkation until the estimated time for our color to be called and knew that the stewardess might want to start cleaning so moved to the stardust theater right by the deck 7 gangway. The only thing is if you are in your room, you have to have the tv on to the cruise channel to hear the announcements. On the Sun you could hear them just in the room but here it was in the hall area but if you have the door closed, you have to have the tv on.
We had georgeous weather. Alaska had an 8 day heat wave and we had mid to high 80's. They weren't used to that and stores didn't have air conditioning and some buses didn't but we survived. Beats cold and rain any day.
Glacier Bay was the highlight. We too, were on our balcony and had a beautiful view of the calving. I thought that Johns Hopkins Glacier was stunning and jaw dropping, the way the ranger described it. You don't hear a lot about that glacier because it doesn't calve the way Marjorie does, but you are in for a real treat when you see that one!