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I wanted a cruise going through the Panama Canal on my birthday, and found this one - I had previously been on the Norwegian Star, and knew and liked the ship. See cabin revview below for more details. I love the Freestyle cruising - we went to all the restaurants but the Italian one, and partularly enjoyed the Japanese restaurants, including sushi. There were few kids on this cruise - great for me, since I don't have kids and worry sometimes they will be in the way. Plenty of older people (surprising how many were in the gym before 8:00am!) but this also meant many of the late evening activities were dead. We purchased the gym package to do yoga, TRX, body sculpting, etc. Did not use as much as we would have liked to, but worth it, though much easier than OTF or other high-intensity workouts. The gym "seminars" were OK, though some geared toward selling you something, but definitively kept us from drinking too much outside the gym. Bars - plentiful! Sports Bar types will like the 5 O'clock Somewhere (or the Spice H2O), which continually show sports games (football playoff games this time of year, and also, strangely, cricket). My friends loved the Martini Bar, but there's also a Sake Bar and a Mojito Bar. Do note that as every bar specializes in something different, you cannot get your Bushwhacker or frozen margarita everywhere, and a margarita or Bahama Mam will taste different depending upon where you order it. They really should have a bar on Deck Seven, but instead, they have a specialty coffee café. A little weird. Restaurants - I loved them all, but service fluctuated. Our waiter in Le Bistro just could not get anything straight (medium well vs. medium rare, e.g.) but the food was awesome. We never had a problem getting in anywhere, because our suite concierge did all the work for us, and we never had to wait. The shrimp was particularly fantastic, everywhere, in any way on the Star. But the fish was sometimes fishy. The Topsider Grill would make me a veggie burger whenever I wanted one, 5 minute wait. We only ate at the Garden Buffet once - I think it was Cuban day/night, and the food was good (black beans, yucca, Cuban rice, plantains). Entertainment - not a big deal for me, but I did attend all the shows with the ship's performers and all but one were fantastic (Particularly Paradis, awesome, but the Burt Bacharach show was meh). There were way too many activities for me to take advantage of (just chilling by the pool while not on a shore excursion is fine for me) - though I did join my friends who actually won the progressive trivia. I have sailed this boat (Norwegian Star) twice and it's my favorite so far. I hope to do it again.

Panama Canal well worth the cost of staying in a suite

Norwegian Star Cruise Review by Pamla

Trip Details
I wanted a cruise going through the Panama Canal on my birthday, and found this one - I had previously been on the Norwegian Star, and knew and liked the ship.

See cabin revview below for more details.

I love the Freestyle cruising - we went to all the restaurants but the Italian one, and partularly enjoyed the Japanese restaurants, including sushi.

There were few kids on this cruise - great for me, since I don't have kids and worry sometimes they will be in the way. Plenty of older people (surprising how many were in the gym before 8:00am!) but this also meant many of the late evening activities were dead.

We purchased the gym package to do yoga, TRX, body sculpting, etc. Did not use as much as we would have liked to, but worth it, though much easier than OTF or other high-intensity workouts. The gym "seminars" were OK, though some geared toward selling you something, but definitively kept us from drinking too much outside the gym.

Bars - plentiful! Sports Bar types will like the 5 O'clock Somewhere (or the Spice H2O), which continually show sports games (football playoff games this time of year, and also, strangely, cricket). My friends loved the Martini Bar, but there's also a Sake Bar and a Mojito Bar. Do note that as every bar specializes in something different, you cannot get your Bushwhacker or frozen margarita everywhere, and a margarita or Bahama Mam will taste different depending upon where you order it. They really should have a bar on Deck Seven, but instead, they have a specialty coffee café. A little weird.

Restaurants - I loved them all, but service fluctuated. Our waiter in Le Bistro just could not get anything straight (medium well vs. medium rare, e.g.) but the food was awesome. We never had a problem getting in anywhere, because our suite concierge did all the work for us, and we never had to wait. The shrimp was particularly fantastic, everywhere, in any way on the Star. But the fish was sometimes fishy. The Topsider Grill would make me a veggie burger whenever I wanted one, 5 minute wait. We only ate at the Garden Buffet once - I think it was Cuban day/night, and the food was good (black beans, yucca, Cuban rice, plantains).

Entertainment - not a big deal for me, but I did attend all the shows with the ship's performers and all but one were fantastic (Particularly Paradis, awesome, but the Burt Bacharach show was meh). There were way too many activities for me to take advantage of (just chilling by the pool while not on a shore excursion is fine for me) - though I did join my friends who actually won the progressive trivia.

I have sailed this boat (Norwegian Star) twice and it's my favorite so far. I hope to do it again.
Pamla’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Aft-Facing Penthouse with Large Balcony
Cabin SF 10226
This was my first time cruising in a suite and I have to say, I don't think I can cruise any other way in the future. It was so amazing to have that rear-facing view the entire cruise, especially through the Panama Canal. The balcony had two reclining chaise lounges, two patio chairs, and two small tables, so it was plenty of space for sunning, watching the stars at night, or throwing a small Panama Canal cocktail party.

One of the things I loved most was the private dining for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast was usually at Moderno restaurant, with a lovely buffet including smoked salmon and the same menu choices each morning (stay away from the seafood brioche, but the French toast is amazing). Wish they had gourmet coffees, though there's a Nespresso maker in the cabin. You can get fresh squeezed orange juice - at a price. Really should be included, I think. I wish the restaurant were open for breakfast later than 10am though.

Lunch for suite guests is in Cagney's Steakhouse. As a pescatarian, there were few options for me, but the scallop and shrimp risotto is amazing, I ate it three times. As with breakfast, the menu did not change.

We benefitted from having a concierge (Monica) who assured we had dinner reservations every night. We traveled with three other couples, and though they were not suite guests, we were able to include them in our regular or specialty restaurant reservations. We often changed our restaurant or number os guests, and Monica took care of it by telling me, "consider it done." She gave me 4 copies of a printed out list of all or reservations, once made. She also made sure we could take advantage of express exits at our ports of call. I wish she could have helped us with show reservations, but on the Norwegian Star this is not possible; however, we had no problem finding seats, usually at the 9:30pm show (we like sesting near the front).

We also had a butler but we didn't use/need his services much. He brought us treats every afternoon, but it's not like we needed more food on a cruise ship! It was often something sweet (cookies, tarts) and/or small sandwiches.

My other favorite thing in the site is the bathtub. They provided bath salts, and I loved soaking after one of our Level-3 activities (scuba diving, climbing the volcano...) The bathroom is about 50% larger than a regular cabin bathroom.

There is plenty of storage space too - drawers, shelves, etc. and two safes. More than we could use, actually. The closet is large too, with doors on two sides so you could walk/see through it.

Others rave about the Nespresso machine. Yes, it's there, but I like cappuchino not espresso, so I generally brought a small container of milk in from breakfast to put in my espresso, when I made it (there's a small fridge in the room, but you have to pay for what you use. We learned this the hard way). Since everything is on the ship, there's no need to stock with what you like, unless you do not wish to venture out of your cabin to get it.

The room also has bathrobes (nice for the trip to the jacuzzi from the LA/Pacific part of th cruise) and slippers (which we never used).

There are two USB ports, one under each bedside lamp, but you would never know this - they are not easy to find.

As a suite guest, you get expedited boarding and disembarkation. The expedited boarding worked nicely - and my parents joined us with no problem. But there was really no advantage to expedited disembarkation - Miami was a mess, and my longest, slowest cruise ship exit ever (this is my 5th cruise).

Overall, I loved the experience enough that I would rsther cruise less often and pay more to take advntage of the suite than to cruise more often, not in a suite. I will do it again, and likely with NCL. And in this same room, if possible (end, starboard side, 10th floor, just below the spa).
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    Nicely done. Emphasis on safety, two nice spots for snorkeling/free diving. They told us we'd get "one beer" once we were done snorkeling, which upset some guests (who asked "do we share the one beer?") but turns out there was plenty of beer and each person could have had 3 or 4, probably. I think it was lost in translation, as the divemsasters were from Argentina (and Australia). I wish I could have scuba dived with tthis company - but though they are primarily a scuba diving operation, it was not an excursion possibility with NCL.
    View All 8 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Scuba Diving
    Really great deal for the price - and decent diving (I am a rescue diver, so fairly advanced). There were only 6 divers on a boat that could hold at least 20. All wetsuit and equipment were on the boat, very well organized. Safety done well. Three of us (more advanced) went with one divemaster, three with another. Plenty of fish, though not mantas or whales. Eels, puffers, triggerfish, etc. plentiful (Pelican Rock), lots of snorkelers near, but not in the way. Second dive, he took us through a trickier dive at Lands End, dropped us in near the sea lions (saw one underwater) and went through some surge to opposite side, to a wreck. Overall, both dives much nicer than I imagined they would be. run by Cabo Adventures. Note there were sea lions in the harbor and alongside our boat, and we could also see the Humpback Whales breaching and flapping their tails not too far away from the dive boat. Dolphins from the cruise ship too. Hope to come back and dive again!
    View All 6 Scuba Diving Reviews
  • Mangrove Eco Canoe Journey
    Wish we could have canoed ourselves - but beautiful and glad to see they are protecting this area. Did *not* like everyone, evverywhere asking for tips. Ugh. Even the fisherman showing us on our tour how he sets his nets. Nice cold coconut water) and coconut - after the mangrove tour. The bus ride back included a good ride through the old city, so we did not need to go back separately, as we had intended. The duty free shopping rea near the cruise ship was outstanding. You could spend all day there with the macaws, dozens of them.
    View All 12 Mangrove Eco Canoe Journey Reviews
  • Los Angeles
    We used the airport transfers to get on the ship. Horrible. Don't do it. We showed up by 8:30am hoping to get on a transfer bus at 9:30. It was noon before a bus came by with enough space for us (Terminal 2 - they filled up at Terminal 1 and would just take one or two people and then go without us). Take Uber or Lyft, as we did from Miami after the cruise, easier, faster, more efficient.
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  • Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)
    Pataya Volcano hike very nice. Not too hard though yes, it was strenuous, definitely Level 3.
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  • Rainforest Tour
    Love what Costa Rica has done for ecotourism and wish other countries in the world could follow suit. The "Level 3" Rainforest skywalk was very easy - not sure why it was rated Level 3. If you are afraid of heights, it would be difficult. It was the dry season and very nice, lovely. We saw many birds (toucans, hummingbirds, even flying scarlet macaws) in the rainforest and later, two separate pairs near the crocodile Tarcoles eco tour. Crocodiles there, too, of course. And many birds. Very nice, but too short. Also too long of a wait for a "snack" as this is a full-day tour. Bring something to eat.
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  • Tarcoles River
    Love what Costa Rica has done for ecotourism and wish other countries in the world could follow suit. The "Level 3" Rainforest skywalk was very easy - not sure why it was rated Level 3. If you are afraid of heights, it would be difficult. It was the dry season and very nice, lovely. We saw many birds (toucans, hummingbirds, even flying scarlet macaws) in the rainforest and later, two separate pairs near the crocodile Tarcoles eco tour. Crocodiles there, too, of course. And many birds. Very nice, but too short. Also too long of a wait for a "snack" as this is a full-day tour. Bring something to eat.
    View All 38 Tarcoles River Reviews
  • San Juan del Sur
    Loved Nicaragua. Got in late, so excursion (Masaya volcano) started late, but ship waited for us as we arrived back in port about an hour late. Loved Nicaragua - olnly place with no beggars. Hope to go back.
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