Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Star by OopsieDaisy Repositioning Cruise October 2, 2010
I pulled another one of my famous last minute cruise bookings and got a six day repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles with ports of call (Victoria, BC; Astoria, OR; San Francisco, CA) along the way. I paid $299 pp for a guaranteed ocean view and ended up with a balcony cabin on Deck 8! Score!! They could have pulled me behind the ship in a dinghy and I would have had my money's worth. So I am grateful, really I am.
I DO, however, have some comments to share. I would have been REALLY disappointed if I had paid anywhere near brochure price. Mostly, I am not a fan of the trend towards casual cruising. NCL calls it Freestyle. I do understand the attraction of setting your own meal schedule (although you are still constrained by the operating hours in the full service restaurants), but the freedom comes at a price. You now have to show up and line up, instead of arriving and going to your assigned table. I found the food quality pretty good in the restaurants, but the buffet was awful. Tables so crowded together that you have to ask people to interrupt their meals to let you in and out; school cafeteria quality desserts; food lukewarm; not enough variety.I prefer tipping via the onboard account rather than scrambling on the final day to find each person and hand them an envelope. But the casual concept has arrived at a point where your stateroom attendants are virtually invisible and you never see the same dining room waiter twice. So therefore the outstanding service of yesteryear is gone with the wind. Service aboard the Norwegian Star was adequate and no more than that.
Our stateroom was quite small and had really bad accumulated dust on shelves above the room safe and by the TV set. I didn't want to unpack any clothes in these dirty areas. The bathroom was a decent size and well equipped.
The ship had lost it's contract for any TV sports channel the week before our cruise and staff reported there was no word as to when it would be reinstated. As we are in baseball playoffs, mid-football season and the beginnings of hockey and basketball seasons, there were a lot of unhappy campers about that.
I found some of the staff at the Guest Services and Shore Excursions desks very difficult to understand with their heavily accented English. (And I have lived overseas in 5 different countries for 15 years and am quite an 'active' listener!)
My friend and I booked 'Spa Combo' services for an 'at sea' day. 7 x 20 minute services for $109. I got a male hairdresser who, although very kind and earnest, had little skills as an esthetician. He raced through 5 of the advertised services and booted me in 1 hour. My friend got the 'whole enchilada' and came back to the stateroom a full hour after I did. I know, why didn't I say something? I hate to complain when I know someone's job/promotion/salary increase might be affected, that's why. But I was p*ssed, believe me!
So. For $299, I still got a helluva deal. But stacking NCL up against Holland America, Azamara, or even Carnival? Not impressed. Likely will not cruise with them again. Oh! Unless I get a six day cruise, balcony stateroom, for $299 again. That tends to compensate for a lot of shortcomings!! :D