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Old November 19th, 2001, 03:33 AM
Ernie
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Default It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - NORWE

It’s not the NCL your mother used to know! – NORWEGIAN STAR
By Ernie Roller email: eroller@peoplepc.com

Interior pictures are located at:
http://www.cruise-addicts.com/picturepost/
Use the drop-down menu and click on “NORWEGIAN STAR”



NCL recently learned their new flagship, the NORWEGIAN STAR, would be finished a little early and they decided to offer a few shakedown revenue cruises. What better way to break in the staff, and receive some valuable feedback regarding the ship and operations? Four 1-night sailings were originally offered, with two of the sailings eventually being canceled. I sailed on Thursday, November 15th.

Keep in mind the majority of this review will be about the ship itself. Having been onboard for only one night, it’s difficult to measure food and service levels objectively. As with any shakedown cruise, not everything was as smooth as NCL would prefer, and this was to be expected. For the most part, things were well organized, and the staff onboard was very enthusiastic and professional.

A little about myself. I am 35 years old and reside in Atlanta Georgia. I work for a major airline but ships and cruises are my passion. The NORWEGIAN STAR sailing ranks as my 45th cruise to date. My preferred lines are Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, but I’m not picky and have tried all the major and not so major lines. This year has been an especially good one regarding cruises, with the “legendary NORWAY” in March, RADIANCE OF THE SEAS in May, GOLDEN PRINCESS in September, and of course the NORWEGIAN STAR.

For those of you into all the technical aspects of ships, this section is for you!
Gross Tonnage……………..91,740
Overall Length……………..965 feet
Beam……………………….105 feet
Draft………………………..26 feet
Engines…………………….Diesel Electric
Cruise Speed……………….25 knots
Passengers………………….2,240 (double occupancy)
Crew………………………..1,100

The Captain of the NORWEGIAN STAR is Geir Loeken. The Cruise Director is John Anderson, who was also my Cruise Director on the NORWAY in March.

EMBARKATION
From the very beginning, I could tell that NCL has changed! New uniforms, new check-in procedures, new logo, new NCL! Checking in for this one night cruise was no different than any other sailing. You were still required to fill out forms, provide a credit card and so forth. NCL now uses laptops (connected to their mainframe via satellite) to speed up the process, putting them on par with Carnival, RCI, and Princess. After clearing security the process was fairly quick. Another change was the issuance of a Charge/ID/Cabin Key combo card. It’s about time NCL caught up with the times. Although no security photo was taken (such as on Princess), they do swipe your card upon entering and leaving the ship. We entered the ship on Deck 7 and were escorted to our cabin. Nice touch NCL!

CABINS
Our cabin was a Category BA, cabin 10027. This is a standard outside with balcony on Deck 10. The first thing I noticed was the signage outside the cabin door. Not only did it display the cabin number, but also the message “Welcome”. This device also contained a slot that could hold any mail for your cabin. The little welcome message was actually a dial that you could rotate from underneath. Other displays were “Make up cabin”, “Do not disturb”, and “Turn down cabin”. A very ingenious way to let the steward know the status of the cabin.

The cabin itself was not huge, but adequate for a seven day cruise. The colors were bold (green, blue, gold, red) and I loved all the wood veneer on the walls. There were two closets, but only three drawers in the entire cabin. There were some shelves in the closet that could also be used. Amenities included a safe, refrigerator, TV (not interactive), hair dryer, and coffee/tea maker. There was a small sitting area with a yellow couch that could be turned into a single bed. A glass sliding door leads to the balcony which contained two chairs and a table. The balcony furniture was of high quality (better than plastic) although the balcony itself was rather narrow. The rail is made entirely of glass which was very nice.

The bathroom was certainly the best designed standard ship bath I have ever experienced. It’s actually divided into three sections. You walk into the main section which contains a nice size sink and plenty of storage space. On one side of the sink is a separate section that contains the toilette, and on the other side of the sink is the large shower area. Both the toilette and shower sections have a glass sliding door to separate them from the sink area. This terrific design makes it possible for two people to use the bathroom at once. Certainly something that is hardly possible on most other ships. The use of wood veneer is even used in the bathroom, and the floor is a very nice blue tile. NCL installed soap and shampoo dispensers on the STAR instead of individual packets. Again a nice touch.

I was able to view many other cabins, in fact, just about every category. All cabins are beautifully decorated and well designed. For the money, I would say the Category AF Mini-Suites are an excellent value. They are stunning with rich deep colors, dark woods, and beautiful fabrics. They also provide more closet and drawer space than the standard cabins. The bathroom in the mini-suites is of the same sectioned design, but with a bath tub instead of a shower.


SUITES
First stop is a Romance Suite. Category AD, cabin 10228. Just beautiful from top to bottom! Dark woods, expensive furnishings, flat screen TV, dressing area and a large bathroom. There is even a table and four chairs for dining. The walls are all covered with a rich, silk wallpaper. The aft facing balcony offers teak flooring and furnishings, and is a decent size.

Next is the Owner’s Suite. Category AA, cabin 10506. This is actually the “Picasso Suite”, and decorated to suit the name. The style of this suite will not appeal to everyone, as it is very avant-garde and eclectic. I absolutely loved it! There are two bathrooms and two balconies. One facing the side, and one with a forward view. The artwork and furnishings are truly unique and appear to be quite expansive. I noticed a satellite phone was provided, along with a laptop computer and flat screen TV. Another flat screen TV was located above the Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom! This suite was truly stunning, and most certainly “one of a kind” in terms of décor.

Last stop is the Garden Villa on Deck 14. There are actually two of these, although they can be combined into one VERY large suite. The Garden Villa is actually six different cabins that share two very large living areas. These Villa’s are located at the very top of the ship, with floor to ceiling windows that face the sea and pool area. In addition, both Villas offer a private deck decorated like a Japanese Garden. Complimenting the private deck is a personal Jacuzzi for yourself and any friends you may meet! J I thought the deck area was beautiful, but I was disappointed in the use of plastic plants and flowers instead of the real thing. The individual cabins (or bedrooms if you will) offer all the amenities as described in the Romance Suites. They are also somewhat eclectic in décor, and will not appeal to everyone. The shared living area is huge, complete with bar, kitchen, pantry, grand piano, dining table, flat screen TV’s, and of course couches and chairs. All the furniture is very modern and unique. The view from the living area is directly over the main swimming pool.

Each of the six bedrooms/baths has it’s own door and key, and I assume they could be sold separately, although I’m not certain if NCL is doing that. There is also a main entrance to each of the Villa Suites through a glass and chrome door. If both suites are purchased as one, the entire area can be closed off from a door on the deck below, making it completely private. There would really be no reason to ever leave!

THE SHIP
In general, the ship is a departure from any that I have sailed on. She is bold, eclectic, surprising, unique, and downright different! Most of it works, but not entirely. Remember that opinions are like a rear-end, everyone’s got one and thinks that everyone else’s stinks! J Just remember these are my viewpoints only, and yours may be different. The STAR was originally designed for the Asian market, and that explains much of the design and décor. I have heard she can be compared to her older and smaller sisters, the SUPERSTAR VIRGO and SUPERSTAR LEO of NCL parent company Star Cruises, but I have not seen these ships so I can’t comment.

The easiest way to tackle this is to go from top to bottom….so here we go.

DECK 14
The Bier Garden is located midship here. Pretzels and a variety of beer are sold in a fun atmosphere of teak furniture and street lamps with a view of the pool.

DECK 13 (yes, 13! – remember, the STAR was built for the Asian market, where the number 13 is considered lucky.)
All the outdoor decks are made of rubber composite, and I don’t recall seeing any teak decking. The decks are very well designed, in a tiered arrangement both in the forward section facing the bow, and midship by the pool. It actually looks a little like a stadium with rows and rows of tiered deck chairs (ala CARNIVAL DESTINY). There is a Jacuzzi all the way up front with a great view.

Midship is the Star Bar, a very classy piano bar with leather chairs and a view of the pool. Aft of the Star Bar is the Las Ramblas Tapas Bar & Restaurant. NCL did a great job making this area look unique and authentic. Lot’s of atmosphere and a far better representation than the generic Mexican restaurant onboard GOLDEN and GRAND PRINCESS.

All the way aft is the children’s area which I cannot comment on. Never made it there!

DECK 12
Forward is the Spinnaker Lounge and Bar. This is the longest bar on the STAR, and the view is over the bow. This is a very large lounge that is also used as a secondary show lounge for smaller shows like a singer or comedian.

Just aft on the port side are a series of conference rooms. These are state of the art and named after the great cities of the world. The starboard side contains a beautiful card room and reading room. Both lounges feature floor to ceiling windows. In the center is a cinema and rather large Library. The Library was fully stocked with books and featured very comfortable seating. These areas were probably the most conservative you will find on NORWEGIAN STAR, and they would easily fit in aboard lines such as Princess Cruises.

Midship is the main pool area. Disappointing from my perspective. The main pool contains two slides that I feel would be better placed in a children’s area. They take up a lot of valuable space and will most likely turn this area into a children’s playground. Unfortunately, there is no other outdoor pool area onboard the STAR. In this same area is another very small well-like pool with a raised bench inside the pool. I guess the only thing you could do in this pool is sit, as it’s not big enough to swim in. Aft of the pool is the main pool bar and grill. The entire area is decorated with large metal palm trees. At night, these light up and blink ala Carnival Cruise Line. Not really my taste, especially with the lack of a quieter second pool area.

Further aft is the Market Café and La Trattoria. La Trattoria is touted as an Italian dining area, but in fact it looks no different than the Market Café and is just an extension of this area. The Market Café is probably the most disappointing area of the ship in my opinion. It looks very much like a cafeteria with vinyl floors, plastic chairs and tables, and wall coverings that look like oranges, apples and other fruit. The whole area came across as cold and cheap, and not suited to the style of the rest of the ship.

Further aft is the top level of the Barong Fitness Center. It is connected to the deck below by a semi-circle staircase and mini-atrium. The fitness center contained every piece of equipment you could ever want, plus a very attractive juice bar. There are interior windows that look down through the small atrium, but strangely enough, no exterior windows which make this area a little dark.

Outside and all the way aft is the Splash Down Kids pool. I did not get a great look at this area, but it appeared to be quite festive for the young ones.


DECK 11
The lower half of the Barong Spa is located here all the way aft. Contrary to the fitness center, this area is completely surrounded by floor to ceiling windows facing the sea. This certainly ranks as one of the most beautiful spas at sea, complete with the longest indoor pool afloat. Separate men’s and women’s changing rooms, saunas, and steam rooms are offered. In addition, there is a beautiful lounge area for each sex in the port and starboard aft corners of the ship complete with aromatherapy.


DECK 9
Midship is the Internet Café. Happily all charges were waived during this inaugural sailing. The area is operated by Digital Seas and equipment was first rate. This area can only be accessed from stairs that lead up from the atrium area on Deck 8.


DECK 8
Midship is the Endless Summer Restaurant. This rather large and noisy restaurant is actually the upper balcony of the atrium. The specialty is Hawaii cuisine and this will probably be one of the easier restaurants to get a reservation at, due to its size. Check out the rather unusual chairs in the lounge area on the starboard side. Very fun to look at, and sit in!


DECK 7
Forward is the beautiful Stardust Theater. It’s almost all in red, with comfortable theater style seating. Individual air vents are located in the back of the chair in front of you! NCL put on a show entitled “Music of the Night”. As with all NCL productions, it was produced by the Jean Ann Ryan Company. I was surprised how short it was, only about a half hour. They may have actually abbreviated the show for this short cruise. The show was pretty typical, but the performers were extremely talented. The vocals of all the lead singers were exceptional and made up for a fairly blasé production.

Just aft of the show lounge is Karaoke Circus. Unique to any cruise ship, this Karaoke bar even includes six private Karaoke rooms. This area was left in tact from the original design of the ship for Star Cruises. The design is like a Circus and quite festive. In the center is a main stage area with four large TV screens behind the stage. A large bar is across from the stage.

Moving further aft is the Sushi Bar, Ginza Restaurant, and Teppanyaki Bar. All three of these areas essentially share the same space, and all look quite authentic and pleasing. The Sushi Bar has an open kitchen where you can watch the preparation. Teppanyaki is actually a private room that features one large cooking table such as you would find at a Benihana. I’m not quite sure how you would reserve it though. The entire area is open to another mini-atrium that looks down to Gatsby’s Bar below, and is connected by a staircase.

A long hall which includes the photo gallery leads to the Grand Atrium. The atrium is very attractive with fountains, four glass elevators, the reception deck, shore excursion office (port side), and a small sundry shop (starboard side). The center of the atrium is the raised Java Café. Coffee and baked goods are available here, and the seating area has a great view of all the action, complete with live music. The reception desk is open 24 hours and is fronted by an all white marble floor. Very attractive. Hanging from the ceiling is a large, retractable movie screen that is viewable from both the Java Café and the Endless Summer restaurant above. This was used to show promotional videos during my cruise, but I’m certain NCL will find other uses for it. There are also fountains to each side of the glass elevators along with a sea of plastic flowers. Again, I would have preferred to see real flowers as I found the plastic ones to be a bit cheesy, and not in keeping with the quality and style of the rest of the ship – not to mention Hawaii.

Continuing aft on the port side is the Red Lion Pub. This attractive bar reminds me of the Pig and Whistle on VOYAGER OF THE SEAS. It’s pretty much the sports bar on the STAR and looks like an authentic pub. In the same position but on the starboard side is the Blue Lagoon Restaurant. This is another area that just doesn’t seem to fit from my perspective. This small buffet restaurant is open 24 hours and is supposed to be like a diner. There are little tables and tiny round stools to sit on. This space is another left over from the original design for Star Cruises, and the small furniture seems like it was intended for the Asian market. In fact, this diner was going to be a 24 hour Japanese restaurant that served friend rice and egg rolls. The SUPERSTAR VIRGO and LEO offer a similar type restaurant which this was copied from.

Moving all the way aft is the Galleria Shop. This is actually one large shop, which NCL calls a Department Store. Without a doubt, it is the largest shop afloat, as this space was originally intended to be the Casino (hence the lack of a single window). The shop was open although only halfway stocked. The shop staff had been working throughout the night opening boxes and setting up as much as possible. One unique feature is a café/bar directly in the shop. I’m sure this was originally intended as the Casino Bar, but it certainly makes for a nice café if you want to take a break from shopping. The very attractive shop staff were from Germany, South America and South Africa. Somewhat different than the American shop staff on most ships.

Deck 7 offers a wrap around promenade deck, again with rubber non-stick flooring. Instead of having plain, white steel bulkheads, there are whimsical paintings on all the bulkheads surrounding this deck. I liked them, but my companion said they reminding him of the pictures (art?) on some of LA’s freeways!


DECK 6
Forward is the lower half of the Stardust Theater. Entry is from two long and ornate hallways, complete with glass displays and chandeliers. At the entrance are two authentic looking ticket offices, as you would find at an old theater. Lots of little details everywhere you look.

Moving aft is Dazzles Lounge and Nightclub. This lounge is completely enclosed and offers no windows. Even the entry doors are rather plain and nondescript. I guess NCL really wanted to make this like a true nightclub. I’m not sure if the disco will be in this lounge, or in Spinnakers, as Dazzles was turned into a Casino for this one night cruise. The décor was dark and nothing really stood out. I can’t really comment further as the lounge was not in its true form during this cruise. I’m sure NCL was pleased they spent the money to turn this lounge into a makeshift casino, as it was packed with standing room only!

Further aft is Gatsby’s Champagne Bar, The Soho Room, The Wine Cellar, Havana Club, and Le Bistro. All these spaces are in the lower level of a mini atrium and compliment each other. Gatsby’s is the main bar area, and is very open and includes a piano. Right off of Gatsby’s is the Wine Cellar, which includes a small sitting area for wine tasting, and open displays showcasing all the wine. Very attractive looking. The Havana Club is a glass enclosed lounge for cocktails and cigars. Very much like Michaels Club on the Celebrity ships, the lounge features large ocean view windows. The entrance to Le Bistro is also off this area, and this restaurant features French cuisine similar to the same offered on other NCL ships. There is a partially open kitchen where some of the preparation can be viewed. The final space of this area is The SoHo Room. Very light, airy, and bordered by floor to ceiling windows, this is another of the alternative restaurants on the STAR.

Walking aft down a long corridor past Le Bistro brings you to the first of the “included” restaurants onboard NORWEGIAN STAR. It’s called the Aqua Restaurant, and is very attractive. The décor is similar to The SoHo Room, again very light, airy, with windows on both sides. The ceiling looks like a sky of twinkling stars. This restaurant is supposed to feature lighter, California style cuisine, although on this short sailing the menu was identical to the Versailles Restaurant.

All the way aft is the Versailles Restaurant. Entry to this restaurant is only from the aft staircase on Deck 7. The reason?, there is a large galley separating Versailles and the Aqua Restaurant that makes it impossible to pass through on Deck 6. The entrance to Versailles is via a grand staircase and the effect is stunning. Versailles is very ornate, and very French in décor. All the way aft are huge double height windows with an incredible view of the ships wake. Quite a beautiful setting to be sure. Versailles could be considered the “main” restaurant onboard NORWEGIAN STAR, and there is no extra fee to dine here just like the Aqua Restaurant.

Last are the foyers, corridors and stairs. There are 12 large elevators and three stair towers onboard. Four of the elevators are glass enclosed. Each of the stair towers are a different color. Red, Blue and Green. I guess this way you always know what part of the ship you are in. The cabin corridors are rather plain and void of any artwork. The cabin doors are steel and painted with a glossy paint that makes them look rather industrial. Too bad this small detail could not be improved upon.


FOOD AND SERVICE
My only meal onboard was dinner at the SoHo Room. The food was excellent, served on specially created dinner ware designed for each dish. Very unique and worth the extra charge to eat here. Dessert was flambéed table side which was a nice touch. Service was uneven at best, but this was only the second dinner these servers had under their belt. I’m certain they will become very proficient in a short period.

Most of the staff onboard were Asian (Malaysian, Thai, etc.), which is the direction NCL is headed in. This is a direct result of the Star Cruises ownership. Gone are the mostly Jamaican and Caribbean staff that NCL has used for many, many years. Even the reception staff were from Malaysia, transferred from the Star Cruises fleet in Asia. I’m sure it will take a little time for the staff to become accustomed to the style of service that Americans are used to. Although the service was uneven, everyone I encountered was polite, eager and pleasant. I feel only time is needed to transform this crew into a top notch, first rate staff.


CONCLUSION
I hope you can conclude that I thoroughly enjoyed the NORWEGIAN STAR, and her unique décor and design. She is truly NCL’s first purpose built ship under the “Freestyle” concept, and the new management at NCL. There is nothing quite like her at sea, and although not everything is perfect, I would not hesitate to recommend her. I am looking forward to reading the reviews after her first Hawaii cruises. It’s difficult to get a true feel for a ship after only one night, as sometimes the ship takes on an entirely different personality after a week onboard.

To all those sailing on NORWEGIAN STAR, I hope this review gives you a little idea of what to expect, and the good times that are ahead. Please feel free to contact me with any specific questions.

Aloha!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old November 19th, 2001, 08:09 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 60
Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Hi Ernie
I was wondering what are the resturunts kids may not eat it in and which
resturunts charge extra?
Thanks in advance
Matt
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Old November 20th, 2001, 12:20 AM
Ernie
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Hi Matt,
To my knowledge, children are permitted to eat in any of the restaurants. There is no restriction.

There is an extra charge for all restaurants except the Versailles, Aqua, Market Cafe and Blue Lagoon Cafe.

Hope this helps.
Ernie
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Old November 27th, 2001, 02:07 PM
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Thanks for the great review, did you happen to see the AB Suites on deck 11, there are 10 of them. We will be in one on our April cruise and would love to find out more.
Thank you for any information.
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Old January 15th, 2002, 05:20 PM
Keith Hauck
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Dear Ernie;
Myself a fellow Airline type have the opportunity to sail on the Star on her 2/24 sailing around Hawaii. My wife and I have 3 children (9-12) with our last cruise on the Ocean Princess (carribean) last year, (awsome trip). We had previously sailed on NCL's Majasty which was not of the same quality of product, in every manner. It seems that every review that I have read other than yours paints a picture of disorganization, and food/service subpar to your favorites Celebrity and RCL. It also appears that to eat in the venues which serve higher quality cuisine, they all have cover charges/ ala cart menus. With 3 kids this adds up and defeats the value recognized with food included in the price of cruising. We would like to expose the children to Hawaii, but not at the expense of regretting the money I spent on the trip. I could probably due a carribean trip on RCL Adventurer of the Sea, Celebrity's Horizon or Galaxy, for about the same money. Do you think that the bugs will have been worked out prior to the 2-24 or that I would be expecting to much out of RCL. After cruising Princess I swore that I woud not cruise NCL again but due to the fact the Star is brand new and the price is right, I find myself reconsidering. What do you think?
Thanks
Keith
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Old January 15th, 2002, 05:26 PM
Keith Hauck
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Dear Ernie;
Myself a fellow Airline type have the opportunity to sail on the Star on her 2/24 sailing around Hawaii. My wife and I have 3 children (9-12) with our last cruise on the Ocean Princess (carribean) last year, (awsome trip). We had previously sailed on NCL's Majasty which was not of the same quality of product, in every manner. It seems that every review that I have read other than yours paints a picture of disorganization, and food/service subpar to your favorites Celebrity and RCL. It also appears that to eat in the venues which serve higher quality cuisine, they all have cover charges/ ala cart menus. With 3 kids this adds up and defeats the value recognized with food included in the price of cruising. We would like to expose the children to Hawaii, but not at the expense of regretting the money I spent on the trip. I could probably due a carribean trip on RCL Adventurer of the Sea, Celebrity's Horizon or Galaxy, for about the same money. Do you think that the bugs will have been worked out prior to the 2-24 or that I would be expecting to much out of RCL. After cruising Princess I swore that I woud not cruise NCL again but due to the fact the Star is brand new and the price is right, I find myself reconsidering. What do you think?
Thanks
Keith Debbie wrote:
>
> Thanks for the great review, did you happen to see the AB
> Suites on deck 11, there are 10 of them. We will be in one on
> our April cruise and would love to find out more.
> Thank you for any information.
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Old January 15th, 2002, 06:33 PM
Ernie
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Hi Keith,
It's hard to say. My review was mostly from a hardware perspective, about
the ship itself. I knew the service and food would not be up to normal
standards on this pre-inaugural cruise, so I did not focus on it. That
being said, I did not think the food or service was awful, just in need of
fine tuning. NCL is not the most organized cruise line. They have had too
many management changes over the years, but they finally may have the
stability they need under Star Cruises. Remember that many of the reviews you read are from chronic complainers, although some have validity. To help you decide, I am attaching an article from Cruise News Daily about your very question. The guys at Cruise News Daily are pretty head-on when it comes to the cruise industry. Have a look and see if it helps you out.

Good luck!
Ernie

article starts here:
-----------------------------------------------------------

Q: My family and I have a cruise booked next summer on the Norwegian Star in
Hawaii. I'm seeing notes from lots of people that say it's the cruise from
hell. I hate to cancel it because we have all been looking forward to it so
much. We are spending a lot more on it than we normally do when we go to the
Caribbean and I'd hate to waste that much money when we could go on a ship
we like in the Caribbean for less. Do you think we should cancel or do you
think it will get better?

Answer from CND: There has been lots of comment online about Norwegian Star.
It appears that some things didn't work as planned on the first few
sailings, and some people weren't too happy. On the other hand, on a new
ship and a new type of product, such as Norwegian Star is in Hawaii, it
usually takes a couple of sailings before things start running as smoothly
as they should be a few months into the program.

While the problems in those postings should be noted, I don't think you
should take them seriously enough to cancel your cruise just based on what
you've read so far.

There are three things that bother me about the complaining notes I'm seeing
online. One is that people are buying cruises on Norwegian Star and trying
to make it something it's not. Additionally many of the notes I'm seeing
seem designed to try to "punish" NCL because the writer didn't enjoy their
cruise and they seem to be trying very hard to convince others to cancel
their cruises. I'm also concerned that people are reporting they are
canceling because of these notes, which are more or less just a list of
things that went wrong or that they didn't like, rather than an objective
review.

NCL designed this cruise to be just like their other cruises. They are not a
"destination-oriented" cruise line (such as sister line, Orient Line), which
typically schedules lots of port time with the focus of the cruise on the
destination more than the ship itself. Instead NCL provides a resort-type of
atmosphere aboard with six or eight hours ashore in each port, which should
be enough time for a pleasurable activity in port, but not necessarily
enough time to comprehensively see the entire island.

I don't feel Norwegian Star should be booked as a once-in-a-lifetime trip to
Hawaii any more than one of NCL's Caribbean cruises should be booked for a
once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Caribbean where you are planning to absorb
the culture of the area and really "see" the islands in depth.

NCL's Hawaii product is no different from a Caribbean cruise transplanted to
Hawaii. Their Hawaii brochure is formatted in much the same way as their
Caribbean one, describing the ship and ports in the same manner as they do
in the Caribbean brochure. Just like a Caribbean cruise, you should be
looking at what Norwegian Star has to offer onboard, and viewing the ports
as opportunities for a few pleasurable activities ashore.

Another thing that several of the writers are getting wrong is they are
looking at the total price of their vacation on Norwegian Star, seeing it
total considerably more than the price of the Caribbean cruises they have
been taking and somehow concluding that they think it should be more deluxe
or a higher quality than NCL's Caribbean product. Yes, most of them live in
the eastern US, and it costs more to get to Hawaii than it does to fly to
Florida, making a trip on Norwegian Star much more expensive than going on a
Caribbean cruise. Just because the total price comes to more than the
Caribbean cruise they are used to, doesn't mean that Norwegian Star will be
a more deluxe product. The air fare and geography of where people live is
not NCL's fault. All along, NCL has felt it was going to be a strong seller
on the West Coast, where it costs about the same (in both money and time) to
fly to Hawaii as it does to fly to Miami, so Norwegian Star is a good
alternative to a Caribbean cruise for them, priced about the same.

Many of the complaints seem to center on the short time in ports or the
cruise not being up to the quality the writer expected for the higher price
they paid. NCL didn't change the itinerary or what they were doing onboard
from the time their brochure was printed. Anyone who bought the cruise with
the idea that they were going to be spending lots of time in the port in
Hawaii or that the cruise was somehow going to be of a higher quality than
NCL's other products didn't really look at the brochure that well. Their
complaint should more rightly be with the person that recommended this trip
to them rather than with NCL. So I don't see why many people are taking this
hostile attitude toward NCL on these points.

From reading the complaints posted on the bulletin boards, it's apparent
that some things have not been going exactly as NCL planned. There have been
problems with tendering and occasional problems with slow seating in the
dining rooms. Those are objective issues, which will be relatively easy to
rectify, but none of them can be done instantly while a shipload of
passengers is waiting. It may take a few days or weeks to decide how best to
address the situation and to implement changes. As it happened, some of
NCL's most senior management was aboard the first sailings and saw what was
happening, so no doubt, if these things are anything more than just a
growing pain, fixes are already underway.

Most of the negative postings, however, continue on making disparaging
remarks about the food, the entertainment and the service. It seems as if
nothing pleased these people about their cruise. It's easy to miss that
these are the writers' opinions, and not universally accepted by all
passengers. It's easy to miss, but there have been other notes posted from
people who have said they enjoyed the food and the entertainment.

The point that should be considered is that these notes, both positive and
negative, are not a scientifically random sampling of passenger reactions
from the cruise. They are only the people who have chosen to share their
feelings. As I've looked around at various bulletin boards, there actually
seem to be only about a dozen people who have posted negative notes (many of
them cross-posting them on multiple bulletin boards) and about a half dozen
generally positive notes. That's not exactly a good statistical sampling of
the approximately 20,000 passengers who have sailed on Norwegian Star's
revenue cruises to date.

It should also be noted that only a couple of these notes have actually been
balanced reviews. Most are just a litany of complaints and things that
didn't go right (although I did enjoy the creativity of the one that
referred to the NCLamebrains). Few of those mentioned anything which they
did like on their cruise. It's hard to believe that anyone could spend seven
days on a ship and find nothing they liked. For example one talked at length
about the two or three evenings they had to wait for over an hour for a seat
in one of the main dining rooms, but it never mentioned the other 17 or 18
meals and any waiting (or lack thereof) for seating for those. Reading that
note, it was easy to get the impression that they spent their entire cruise
waiting in line for meals, but if you think about it, that probably only
happened to them a few times, which still could frustrating - especially if
you're really hungry. (We did see that same complaint come up several times,
and a passenger on a later cruise said that NCL had already taken some steps
to correct the situation.)

I'm not sure if you participate extensively in bulletin boards or not, but
if you look around, it would be hard to find a cruise line or ship that
doesn't have the same of negative comments posted from unhappy passengers.
No line can please every passenger who sails with them.

Something that may contribute to this is that with the advent of the
internet and the bulletin boards, I think many people who participate on
them tend to over-anticipate their cruise. They build up a knowledge of
everything they can about every possible detail of their cruise, and when
things don't happen exactly as they are expecting, they have set themselves
up for disappointment.

So the bottom line is that I don't think you should cancel your cruise just
based on the negative comments you've seen online, especially since it is
still several months off, unless you have realized that you are expecting
your cruise on Norwegian Star to be something that it isn't, such as an
opportunity to sightsee extensively in Hawaii. No doubt, the actual problems
NCL experienced on the early sailings will be corrected as quickly as
possible. The other issues are subjective issues. My advice would be to
watch the comments over the next few months and see if they even out. If you
see someone who has a more middle-of-the-road approach, engage them in
"conversation," asking some specific questions about areas that you are
concerned about, and you'll probably find that Norwegian Star is operating
as smoothly as any other cruise you have been on.

Alan Wilson
Cruise News Daily
posted January 5, 2002
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old January 20th, 2002, 11:49 PM
Wendell Bias
Guest
 
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Ernie spent one night on this ship when it was half full. I spent two weeks on it. I'm not saying don't take this cruise, but from wht I read the same problems exist now as existed on Thanksgiving and no one from NCL seems to care. One knowledgable employee told me he had worked for cruise lines for 8 years and the Star was the most disorganized ship he had been on. He said the new owners of NCL were strickly bottom line bean counters with no real concern for passengers or crew. Our trip was a reflection of that. I have had no response from my returned comment form and letter, and no invitation to join the repeat passenger club. Nuf said. Ernie wrote:
>
> It’s not the NCL your mother used to know! – NORWEGIAN STAR
> By Ernie Roller email: eroller@peoplepc.com
>
> Interior pictures are located at:
> http://www.cruise-addicts.com/picturepost/
> Use the drop-down menu and click on “NORWEGIAN STAR”
>
>
>
> NCL recently learned their new flagship, the NORWEGIAN STAR,
> would be finished a little early and they decided to offer a
> few shakedown revenue cruises. What better way to break in
> the staff, and receive some valuable feedback regarding the
> ship and operations? Four 1-night sailings were originally
> offered, with two of the sailings eventually being canceled.
> I sailed on Thursday, November 15th.
>
> Keep in mind the majority of this review will be about the
> ship itself. Having been onboard for only one night, it’s
> difficult to measure food and service levels objectively. As
> with any shakedown cruise, not everything was as smooth as
> NCL would prefer, and this was to be expected. For the most
> part, things were well organized, and the staff onboard was
> very enthusiastic and professional.
>
> A little about myself. I am 35 years old and reside in
> Atlanta Georgia. I work for a major airline but ships and
> cruises are my passion. The NORWEGIAN STAR sailing ranks as
> my 45th cruise to date. My preferred lines are Celebrity and
> Royal Caribbean, but I’m not picky and have tried all the
> major and not so major lines. This year has been an
> especially good one regarding cruises, with the “legendary
> NORWAY” in March, RADIANCE OF THE SEAS in May, GOLDEN
> PRINCESS in September, and of course the NORWEGIAN STAR.
>
> For those of you into all the technical aspects of ships,
> this section is for you!
> Gross Tonnage……………..91,740
> Overall Length……………..965 feet
> Beam……………………….105 feet
> Draft………………………..26 feet
> Engines…………………….Diesel Electric
> Cruise Speed……………….25 knots
> Passengers………………….2,240 (double occupancy)
> Crew………………………..1,100
>
> The Captain of the NORWEGIAN STAR is Geir Loeken. The Cruise
> Director is John Anderson, who was also my Cruise Director on
> the NORWAY in March.
>
> EMBARKATION
> From the very beginning, I could tell that NCL has changed!
> New uniforms, new check-in procedures, new logo, new NCL!
> Checking in for this one night cruise was no different than
> any other sailing. You were still required to fill out
> forms, provide a credit card and so forth. NCL now uses
> laptops (connected to their mainframe via satellite) to speed
> up the process, putting them on par with Carnival, RCI, and
> Princess. After clearing security the process was fairly
> quick. Another change was the issuance of a Charge/ID/Cabin
> Key combo card. It’s about time NCL caught up with the
> times. Although no security photo was taken (such as on
> Princess), they do swipe your card upon entering and leaving
> the ship. We entered the ship on Deck 7 and were escorted
> to our cabin. Nice touch NCL!
>
> CABINS
> Our cabin was a Category BA, cabin 10027. This is a standard
> outside with balcony on Deck 10. The first thing I noticed
> was the signage outside the cabin door. Not only did it
> display the cabin number, but also the message “Welcome”.
> This device also contained a slot that could hold any mail
> for your cabin. The little welcome message was actually a
> dial that you could rotate from underneath. Other displays
> were “Make up cabin”, “Do not disturb”, and “Turn down
> cabin”. A very ingenious way to let the steward know the
> status of the cabin.
>
> The cabin itself was not huge, but adequate for a seven day
> cruise. The colors were bold (green, blue, gold, red) and I
> loved all the wood veneer on the walls. There were two
> closets, but only three drawers in the entire cabin. There
> were some shelves in the closet that could also be used.
> Amenities included a safe, refrigerator, TV (not
> interactive), hair dryer, and coffee/tea maker. There was a
> small sitting area with a yellow couch that could be turned
> into a single bed. A glass sliding door leads to the balcony
> which contained two chairs and a table. The balcony
> furniture was of high quality (better than plastic) although
> the balcony itself was rather narrow. The rail is made
> entirely of glass which was very nice.
>
> The bathroom was certainly the best designed standard ship
> bath I have ever experienced. It’s actually divided into
> three sections. You walk into the main section which
> contains a nice size sink and plenty of storage space. On
> one side of the sink is a separate section that contains the
> toilette, and on the other side of the sink is the large
> shower area. Both the toilette and shower sections have a
> glass sliding door to separate them from the sink area. This
> terrific design makes it possible for two people to use the
> bathroom at once. Certainly something that is hardly
> possible on most other ships. The use of wood veneer is even
> used in the bathroom, and the floor is a very nice blue
> tile. NCL installed soap and shampoo dispensers on the STAR
> instead of individual packets. Again a nice touch.
>
> I was able to view many other cabins, in fact, just about
> every category. All cabins are beautifully decorated and
> well designed. For the money, I would say the Category AF
> Mini-Suites are an excellent value. They are stunning with
> rich deep colors, dark woods, and beautiful fabrics. They
> also provide more closet and drawer space than the standard
> cabins. The bathroom in the mini-suites is of the same
> sectioned design, but with a bath tub instead of a shower.
>
>
> SUITES
> First stop is a Romance Suite. Category AD, cabin 10228.
> Just beautiful from top to bottom! Dark woods, expensive
> furnishings, flat screen TV, dressing area and a large
> bathroom. There is even a table and four chairs for dining.
> The walls are all covered with a rich, silk wallpaper. The
> aft facing balcony offers teak flooring and furnishings, and
> is a decent size.
>
> Next is the Owner’s Suite. Category AA, cabin 10506. This
> is actually the “Picasso Suite”, and decorated to suit the
> name. The style of this suite will not appeal to everyone,
> as it is very avant-garde and eclectic. I absolutely loved
> it! There are two bathrooms and two balconies. One facing
> the side, and one with a forward view. The artwork and
> furnishings are truly unique and appear to be quite
> expansive. I noticed a satellite phone was provided, along
> with a laptop computer and flat screen TV. Another flat
> screen TV was located above the Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom!
> This suite was truly stunning, and most certainly “one of a
> kind” in terms of décor.
>
> Last stop is the Garden Villa on Deck 14. There are actually
> two of these, although they can be combined into one VERY
> large suite. The Garden Villa is actually six different
> cabins that share two very large living areas. These Villa’s
> are located at the very top of the ship, with floor to
> ceiling windows that face the sea and pool area. In
> addition, both Villas offer a private deck decorated like a
> Japanese Garden. Complimenting the private deck is a
> personal Jacuzzi for yourself and any friends you may meet!
> J I thought the deck area was beautiful, but I was
> disappointed in the use of plastic plants and flowers instead
> of the real thing. The individual cabins (or bedrooms if you
> will) offer all the amenities as described in the Romance
> Suites. They are also somewhat eclectic in décor, and will
> not appeal to everyone. The shared living area is huge,
> complete with bar, kitchen, pantry, grand piano, dining
> table, flat screen TV’s, and of course couches and chairs.
> All the furniture is very modern and unique. The view from
> the living area is directly over the main swimming pool.
>
> Each of the six bedrooms/baths has it’s own door and key, and
> I assume they could be sold separately, although I’m not
> certain if NCL is doing that. There is also a main entrance
> to each of the Villa Suites through a glass and chrome door.
> If both suites are purchased as one, the entire area can be
> closed off from a door on the deck below, making it
> completely private. There would really be no reason to ever
> leave!
>
> THE SHIP
> In general, the ship is a departure from any that I have
> sailed on. She is bold, eclectic, surprising, unique, and
> downright different! Most of it works, but not entirely.
> Remember that opinions are like a rear-end, everyone’s got
> one and thinks that everyone else’s stinks! J Just remember
> these are my viewpoints only, and yours may be different.
> The STAR was originally designed for the Asian market, and
> that explains much of the design and décor. I have heard she
> can be compared to her older and smaller sisters, the
> SUPERSTAR VIRGO and SUPERSTAR LEO of NCL parent company Star
> Cruises, but I have not seen these ships so I can’t comment.
>
> The easiest way to tackle this is to go from top to
> bottom….so here we go.
>
> DECK 14
> The Bier Garden is located midship here. Pretzels and a
> variety of beer are sold in a fun atmosphere of teak
> furniture and street lamps with a view of the pool.
>
> DECK 13 (yes, 13! – remember, the STAR was built for the
> Asian market, where the number 13 is considered lucky.)
> All the outdoor decks are made of rubber composite, and I
> don’t recall seeing any teak decking. The decks are very
> well designed, in a tiered arrangement both in the forward
> section facing the bow, and midship by the pool. It actually
> looks a little like a stadium with rows and rows of tiered
> deck chairs (ala CARNIVAL DESTINY). There is a Jacuzzi all
> the way up front with a great view.
>
> Midship is the Star Bar, a very classy piano bar with leather
> chairs and a view of the pool. Aft of the Star Bar is the
> Las Ramblas Tapas Bar & Restaurant. NCL did a great job
> making this area look unique and authentic. Lot’s of
> atmosphere and a far better representation than the generic
> Mexican restaurant onboard GOLDEN and GRAND PRINCESS.
>
> All the way aft is the children’s area which I cannot comment
> on. Never made it there!
>
> DECK 12
> Forward is the Spinnaker Lounge and Bar. This is the longest
> bar on the STAR, and the view is over the bow. This is a
> very large lounge that is also used as a secondary show
> lounge for smaller shows like a singer or comedian.
>
> Just aft on the port side are a series of conference rooms.
> These are state of the art and named after the great cities
> of the world. The starboard side contains a beautiful card
> room and reading room. Both lounges feature floor to ceiling
> windows. In the center is a cinema and rather large
> Library. The Library was fully stocked with books and
> featured very comfortable seating. These areas were probably
> the most conservative you will find on NORWEGIAN STAR, and
> they would easily fit in aboard lines such as Princess Cruises.
>
> Midship is the main pool area. Disappointing from my
> perspective. The main pool contains two slides that I feel
> would be better placed in a children’s area. They take up a
> lot of valuable space and will most likely turn this area
> into a children’s playground. Unfortunately, there is no
> other outdoor pool area onboard the STAR. In this same area
> is another very small well-like pool with a raised bench
> inside the pool. I guess the only thing you could do in this
> pool is sit, as it’s not big enough to swim in. Aft of the
> pool is the main pool bar and grill. The entire area is
> decorated with large metal palm trees. At night, these light
> up and blink ala Carnival Cruise Line. Not really my taste,
> especially with the lack of a quieter second pool area.
>
> Further aft is the Market Café and La Trattoria. La
> Trattoria is touted as an Italian dining area, but in fact it
> looks no different than the Market Café and is just an
> extension of this area. The Market Café is probably the most
> disappointing area of the ship in my opinion. It looks very
> much like a cafeteria with vinyl floors, plastic chairs and
> tables, and wall coverings that look like oranges, apples and
> other fruit. The whole area came across as cold and cheap,
> and not suited to the style of the rest of the ship.
>
> Further aft is the top level of the Barong Fitness Center.
> It is connected to the deck below by a semi-circle staircase
> and mini-atrium. The fitness center contained every piece of
> equipment you could ever want, plus a very attractive juice
> bar. There are interior windows that look down through the
> small atrium, but strangely enough, no exterior windows which
> make this area a little dark.
>
> Outside and all the way aft is the Splash Down Kids pool. I
> did not get a great look at this area, but it appeared to be
> quite festive for the young ones.
>
>
> DECK 11
> The lower half of the Barong Spa is located here all the way
> aft. Contrary to the fitness center, this area is completely
> surrounded by floor to ceiling windows facing the sea. This
> certainly ranks as one of the most beautiful spas at sea,
> complete with the longest indoor pool afloat. Separate men’s
> and women’s changing rooms, saunas, and steam rooms are
> offered. In addition, there is a beautiful lounge area for
> each sex in the port and starboard aft corners of the ship
> complete with aromatherapy.
>
>
> DECK 9
> Midship is the Internet Café. Happily all charges were
> waived during this inaugural sailing. The area is operated
> by Digital Seas and equipment was first rate. This area can
> only be accessed from stairs that lead up from the atrium
> area on Deck 8.
>
>
> DECK 8
> Midship is the Endless Summer Restaurant. This rather large
> and noisy restaurant is actually the upper balcony of the
> atrium. The specialty is Hawaii cuisine and this will
> probably be one of the easier restaurants to get a
> reservation at, due to its size. Check out the rather
> unusual chairs in the lounge area on the starboard side.
> Very fun to look at, and sit in!
>
>
> DECK 7
> Forward is the beautiful Stardust Theater. It’s almost all
> in red, with comfortable theater style seating. Individual
> air vents are located in the back of the chair in front of
> you! NCL put on a show entitled “Music of the Night”. As
> with all NCL productions, it was produced by the Jean Ann
> Ryan Company. I was surprised how short it was, only about a
> half hour. They may have actually abbreviated the show for
> this short cruise. The show was pretty typical, but the
> performers were extremely talented. The vocals of all the
> lead singers were exceptional and made up for a fairly blasé
> production.
>
> Just aft of the show lounge is Karaoke Circus. Unique to any
> cruise ship, this Karaoke bar even includes six private
> Karaoke rooms. This area was left in tact from the original
> design of the ship for Star Cruises. The design is like a
> Circus and quite festive. In the center is a main stage area
> with four large TV screens behind the stage. A large bar is
> across from the stage.
>
> Moving further aft is the Sushi Bar, Ginza Restaurant, and
> Teppanyaki Bar. All three of these areas essentially share
> the same space, and all look quite authentic and pleasing.
> The Sushi Bar has an open kitchen where you can watch the
> preparation. Teppanyaki is actually a private room that
> features one large cooking table such as you would find at a
> Benihana. I’m not quite sure how you would reserve it
> though. The entire area is open to another mini-atrium that
> looks down to Gatsby’s Bar below, and is connected by a
> staircase.
>
> A long hall which includes the photo gallery leads to the
> Grand Atrium. The atrium is very attractive with fountains,
> four glass elevators, the reception deck, shore excursion
> office (port side), and a small sundry shop (starboard
> side). The center of the atrium is the raised Java Café.
> Coffee and baked goods are available here, and the seating
> area has a great view of all the action, complete with live
> music. The reception desk is open 24 hours and is fronted by
> an all white marble floor. Very attractive. Hanging from
> the ceiling is a large, retractable movie screen that is
> viewable from both the Java Café and the Endless Summer
> restaurant above. This was used to show promotional videos
> during my cruise, but I’m certain NCL will find other uses
> for it. There are also fountains to each side of the glass
> elevators along with a sea of plastic flowers. Again, I
> would have preferred to see real flowers as I found the
> plastic ones to be a bit cheesy, and not in keeping with the
> quality and style of the rest of the ship – not to mention
> Hawaii.
>
> Continuing aft on the port side is the Red Lion Pub. This
> attractive bar reminds me of the Pig and Whistle on VOYAGER
> OF THE SEAS. It’s pretty much the sports bar on the STAR and
> looks like an authentic pub. In the same position but on the
> starboard side is the Blue Lagoon Restaurant. This is
> another area that just doesn’t seem to fit from my
> perspective. This small buffet restaurant is open 24 hours
> and is supposed to be like a diner. There are little tables
> and tiny round stools to sit on. This space is another left
> over from the original design for Star Cruises, and the small
> furniture seems like it was intended for the Asian market.
> In fact, this diner was going to be a 24 hour Japanese
> restaurant that served friend rice and egg rolls. The
> SUPERSTAR VIRGO and LEO offer a similar type restaurant which
> this was copied from.
>
> Moving all the way aft is the Galleria Shop. This is
> actually one large shop, which NCL calls a Department Store.
> Without a doubt, it is the largest shop afloat, as this space
> was originally intended to be the Casino (hence the lack of a
> single window). The shop was open although only halfway
> stocked. The shop staff had been working throughout the
> night opening boxes and setting up as much as possible. One
> unique feature is a café/bar directly in the shop. I’m sure
> this was originally intended as the Casino Bar, but it
> certainly makes for a nice café if you want to take a break
> from shopping. The very attractive shop staff were from
> Germany, South America and South Africa. Somewhat different
> than the American shop staff on most ships.
>
> Deck 7 offers a wrap around promenade deck, again with rubber
> non-stick flooring. Instead of having plain, white steel
> bulkheads, there are whimsical paintings on all the bulkheads
> surrounding this deck. I liked them, but my companion said
> they reminding him of the pictures (art?) on some of LA’s
> freeways!
>
>
> DECK 6
> Forward is the lower half of the Stardust Theater. Entry is
> from two long and ornate hallways, complete with glass
> displays and chandeliers. At the entrance are two authentic
> looking ticket offices, as you would find at an old theater.
> Lots of little details everywhere you look.
>
> Moving aft is Dazzles Lounge and Nightclub. This lounge is
> completely enclosed and offers no windows. Even the entry
> doors are rather plain and nondescript. I guess NCL really
> wanted to make this like a true nightclub. I’m not sure if
> the disco will be in this lounge, or in Spinnakers, as
> Dazzles was turned into a Casino for this one night cruise.
> The décor was dark and nothing really stood out. I can’t
> really comment further as the lounge was not in its true form
> during this cruise. I’m sure NCL was pleased they spent the
> money to turn this lounge into a makeshift casino, as it was
> packed with standing room only!
>
> Further aft is Gatsby’s Champagne Bar, The Soho Room, The
> Wine Cellar, Havana Club, and Le Bistro. All these spaces
> are in the lower level of a mini atrium and compliment each
> other. Gatsby’s is the main bar area, and is very open and
> includes a piano. Right off of Gatsby’s is the Wine Cellar,
> which includes a small sitting area for wine tasting, and
> open displays showcasing all the wine. Very attractive
> looking. The Havana Club is a glass enclosed lounge for
> cocktails and cigars. Very much like Michaels Club on the
> Celebrity ships, the lounge features large ocean view
> windows. The entrance to Le Bistro is also off this area,
> and this restaurant features French cuisine similar to the
> same offered on other NCL ships. There is a partially open
> kitchen where some of the preparation can be viewed. The
> final space of this area is The SoHo Room. Very light, airy,
> and bordered by floor to ceiling windows, this is another of
> the alternative restaurants on the STAR.
>
> Walking aft down a long corridor past Le Bistro brings you to
> the first of the “included” restaurants onboard NORWEGIAN
> STAR. It’s called the Aqua Restaurant, and is very
> attractive. The décor is similar to The SoHo Room, again
> very light, airy, with windows on both sides. The ceiling
> looks like a sky of twinkling stars. This restaurant is
> supposed to feature lighter, California style cuisine,
> although on this short sailing the menu was identical to the
> Versailles Restaurant.
>
> All the way aft is the Versailles Restaurant. Entry to this
> restaurant is only from the aft staircase on Deck 7. The
> reason?, there is a large galley separating Versailles and
> the Aqua Restaurant that makes it impossible to pass through
> on Deck 6. The entrance to Versailles is via a grand
> staircase and the effect is stunning. Versailles is very
> ornate, and very French in décor. All the way aft are huge
> double height windows with an incredible view of the ships
> wake. Quite a beautiful setting to be sure. Versailles
> could be considered the “main” restaurant onboard NORWEGIAN
> STAR, and there is no extra fee to dine here just like the
> Aqua Restaurant.
>
> Last are the foyers, corridors and stairs. There are 12
> large elevators and three stair towers onboard. Four of the
> elevators are glass enclosed. Each of the stair towers are a
> different color. Red, Blue and Green. I guess this way you
> always know what part of the ship you are in. The cabin
> corridors are rather plain and void of any artwork. The
> cabin doors are steel and painted with a glossy paint that
> makes them look rather industrial. Too bad this small detail
> could not be improved upon.
>
>
> FOOD AND SERVICE
> My only meal onboard was dinner at the SoHo Room. The food
> was excellent, served on specially created dinner ware
> designed for each dish. Very unique and worth the extra
> charge to eat here. Dessert was flambéed table side which
> was a nice touch. Service was uneven at best, but this was
> only the second dinner these servers had under their belt.
> I’m certain they will become very proficient in a short period.
>
> Most of the staff onboard were Asian (Malaysian, Thai, etc.),
> which is the direction NCL is headed in. This is a direct
> result of the Star Cruises ownership. Gone are the mostly
> Jamaican and Caribbean staff that NCL has used for many, many
> years. Even the reception staff were from Malaysia,
> transferred from the Star Cruises fleet in Asia. I’m sure it
> will take a little time for the staff to become accustomed to
> the style of service that Americans are used to. Although
> the service was uneven, everyone I encountered was polite,
> eager and pleasant. I feel only time is needed to transform
> this crew into a top notch, first rate staff.
>
>
> CONCLUSION
> I hope you can conclude that I thoroughly enjoyed the
> NORWEGIAN STAR, and her unique décor and design. She is
> truly NCL’s first purpose built ship under the “Freestyle”
> concept, and the new management at NCL. There is nothing
> quite like her at sea, and although not everything is
> perfect, I would not hesitate to recommend her. I am looking
> forward to reading the reviews after her first Hawaii
> cruises. It’s difficult to get a true feel for a ship after
> only one night, as sometimes the ship takes on an entirely
> different personality after a week onboard.
>
> To all those sailing on NORWEGIAN STAR, I hope this review
> gives you a little idea of what to expect, and the good times
> that are ahead. Please feel free to contact me with any
> specific questions.
>
> Aloha!
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old February 12th, 2002, 01:02 PM
Nita
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Ernie, Thanks so much for the critique on the Star. My daughter and I are going on the Sun in April. Like you, I have a love for cruising. My daughter works for a company that used to be part of AA and my other daughter works for AA. I am a retired Travel Agent so have had lots of experience, not as many cruises as you, but plenty. I have yet to go on Celebrity, but like NCL better than RCCL. I know that's unusual. I have found the staff friendlier and the cabins larger, plus better entertainment. As for food, well, NCL isn't noted for the best food in town. I also think I like the intineraries better on NCL> (forget my spelling) I went to school a long time ago. Anyway thanks so much, we are very anxious to experience Freestyle cruising. Nita
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Old February 12th, 2002, 01:12 PM
Nita
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Default Re: It's not the NCL your mother used to know! - N

Keith, I have not sailed on the Star, but will be sailing on the Sun in a few months. Also the Airline type, so have been lucky that way. I think the reviews on the Star are less than fair, as most were written just as she was entering the seas. We all know it takes a long time to iron out the snags. You have made your decision by now so doesn't make much difference what anyone says. I for one prefer the better NCL ships to RCCL. The cabins are bigger and I think the staff friendlier. I kept hearing the food on RCCL was so much better, well, I don't think either have the best I have tasted. If you are happy with TGIF you will do fine, but if you are used to Ruth Chris' you will be disappointed. I have yet to try Celebrity. Acutally I am not an Airline employee, but have kids that are and I am a retired Travel Agent. Hope whatever you choose you will have a great time. Nita

ps can't beat those NCL prices
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