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Old January 16th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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Default Thoughts from a 1st time cruiser -- LONG.

Happy New Year everyone!
I am just back from a first time ever cruise.
I went on the Star on the Jan 4 Mexican Riveria Cruise with 3 friends.
I WILL go on another cruise but it WON'T be on NCL. There are many other cruise lines to try.

I understand that with every situation there are good and not so good points.

On NCL (in MY experience):
Food.
In the main dining room(s) Versailles and Aqua I was not impressed with either the food or the service. The food was WAY to much "wedding banquet" and the service was less than stellar. On more than one occasion water glasses were not refilled during the meal at all and no one ever came back to check on how we were doing.
In the Market Cafe Buffet I was even less impressed with the food. If anyone is familiar with Las vegas I would rate it right down there with the buffet at the Sahara.
In the specialty restaurants it was better however it was next to impossible to get reservations in these locations. Perhaps that is a reflection of the quality of the food in the main dining rooms. La Trattoria was the best on the ship but this place is shared with the buffet during the day. I thought that this was rather cheesy -- in the daytime it is a buffet and then at night they hang up some curtains, put cloths on the tables and call it a restaurant. Give this location a real space!
I had salmon on three nights and this was the best meal I had on the ship.
Don't miss the Tiramisu in La Trattoria!!!!
Service.
I was not impressed with the service on this ship either. My travelling companions had some "guests" on the other side of their room that were really noisy at all hours. From what I heard they were woken up in the middle of the night on more than one occasion. They called security and were told that security didn't hear anything so they couldn't do anything about it. The guests on the other side of the Noisy's were quite old and (speaking to their daughter) were woken up by these people as well, called security and were told that since no one else had complained there was nothing they could do.

How many complaints does it take to get something done? Why is one person's complaint not enough?
I already mentioned the service in the dining rooms.

Staterooms:
OVER THE TOP WONDERFUL!!!!! We had a mini suite -- 11076. The people we were travelling with had the one right next door and we had the stewards open the balcony door between the two. It was great.
The rooms were much bigger than I had anticipated and there was a bathtub!! Plenty of room for clothes and a nice sitting area with a couch right by the TV.
The stewards were great too. Took care of me and made up my room just the way I liked it and turned it down at night too. Always had a nice Good Morning or Good Evening and seemed to work all the time!
The sad thing about all of this is that now I can never go on a cruise in anything less than a mini suite! I saw into some of the rooms on the inside of deck 11 and there is no way I could stay in that glorified closet!

Ports:
Manzanillo: One of our group is fluent in spanish so we had a HUGE advantage. We hired a taxi to take up to all of the sights and then to lunch. We went to Las Hadas -- oldest(?) hotel in town and very nice. Nice beach. We went to one of the locals markets and had a fruit water. That was fun. We went to one of the tourist markets on the beach. Then he took us to a great restaurant for lunch. As soon as we sat down plates of food were brought to the table. Guacamole tostadas, ceviche tostadas, potato tacos, enchiladas, meat tacos, etc etc. All anyone pays for is drinks. The place was HUGE. There were other tables full of people from the ship on a tour.
There were 5 of us and when we got done with lunch the bill was $26.00 and I have never eaten so much food in my life.
This restaurant was the best part of this port.

Puerto Vallarta:
Again we hired a taxi driver to take up all over town and we spent about 4 hours riding all along th coast seeing all of the beautiful beaches. Had lunch at a place on the beach that was not that great. We all agreed that we should have just sat on the beach and eaten from the vendors that came around. We went to a store (Mini Super) in PV and got lots of sodas and mineral waters and brought them back on the ship. Loaded up the refrigerators in our rooms for the rest of the trip. I was really surprised that there was no problem bringins lots of beverages onboard as NCL lost some $$ by not selling sodas to us.

Mazatlan:
We got a Pulmonaria driver (translated means "lung car") to take us to the locals market and then to the beach. We just wanted to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun. One of us went para sailing. We ate some cheese, dulce, chips and salsa that we had gotten at the market and some fruit from the vendors. Were there for about 4 hours and then we ate at a place right on the beach. Blue Shrimps Mojo de Ajo that were as big as my hand. HEAVEN!!!! We looked at the menu at the Shrimp Factory and Senor Frogs -- um......no. Those places cater to tourists and we wanted to have some good food!

Cabo San Lucas.
We got to shore, had a delicious breakfast, walked around the mall a bit and went right back to the ship. We can go to a mall like that any day in La Jolla. This port was one of the least enjoyable. As we left, there were some beautiful beaches that would have been nice to go to for the day. The 4 hours that we were in Cabo were not worth it.

Speaking with other cruisers, NCL is not known for it's food or it's service. Well that shows.

Oh this is a good one.......when we got to our stateroom I was checking everything out and looking all around. I was looking on the floor by the sliding glass door and saw something there the looked like a black string. I picked it up and to my horror it was a thong, a black one and it was not fresh out of the laundry! EW!!!! I had the steward get it out of there.



This vacation was a great experience and I had a great time. Next time I am going to bring good coffee with me. All of the stuff onboard is really lousy!

Next cruise is going to be Alaska and I can't wait!

Happy cruising!
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Old January 16th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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I loved your report and suggest you submit it as a member cruise. Carnival has some of the best food, largest cabins and best nightlife. If you seek something more refined, I highly recommend one of Celebrity Cruises' newer ships, like Summit with much better food, service and lovely cabins.

Welcome to cruising. It's easy to get hooked!
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Old January 16th, 2006, 03:25 PM
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Thank you for telling us about your cruise on the Star. I also hope that you submit it to the Reader Review section of Cruisemates so many more can share it.

I also sailed on the Star in September of '05 on an Alaskan cruise. My experience was somewhat different. I only ate in Versailles on one evening and service was mediocre but the service and food in Aqua was quite good as was service throughout the ship. I think everyone was happy that they would soon be changing to the warmer climate of Mexico.

We ate many meals in the specialty restaurants and all were very good but made reservations at the very beginning of the cruise to avoid any conflicts. I somewhat agree with your assessment of the buffet. The initial thing that sets it off is the decor. It somewhat reminds you of a "true" cafeteria. It took some time to find something I enjoyed.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the cruise. I was somewhat apprehensive upon boarding but I was very pleased with the product and rate it in the middle of all my cruises. I also enjoy experiencing true Freestyle for the first time.

Take care and welcome to the addictive lifestyle of cruising.
Mike
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Old January 16th, 2006, 04:12 PM
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Thanks Anne and Mike!
I just submitted it to the Reader Review area.

Uh oh......another thing to get addicted to!
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