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Norwegian Cruises aboard the Norwegian Star
Above: Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Star Cruise Ship.

Passenger reviews

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Ship Details
Began service: November, 2001
Guest capacity: 2,240
Total staff: 1,100
Length: 965 feet
Passenger decks: 15
CDC inspection score: 99

Norwegian Star Overview

The Norwegian Star cruise ship departs from Los Angeles, CA and Vancouver, British Columbia. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to Alaska and Mexican Riviera.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Alaska and Mexican Riviera.

I can tell, almost with certainty, what my experience will be like from the moment I cross the threshold on a ship. When a smiling young purser grabbed our carry-ons and led us to our room, joking along the way with my mother, and when every staff member we passed offered a cheery "hello, welcome aboard," I knew the eight days we would spend aboard Norwegian Star would be stellar.

The Star is a big ship, custom-built for Freestyle Cruising -- NCL's signature program of "dine whenever you want, with whomever you choose." It has 10 restaurants and 11 bars and lounges.

Family-friendly and handicap accessible, with public spaces that range from intimate to exuberant, a stunning two-level spa and workout space, activities and entertainment all day and night, and guest quarters that range from standard inside cabins to the enormous 5,700-square-ft. Garden Villas, this ship has something for everyone.


Norwegian Star has a wide variety of cabin types which range from standard insides to the two huge and elaborate Garden Villas perched above the aft portion of the ship.

The standard rooms (all of them, except for those designated as "suites"), are designed with a seating area that can be converted (in most rooms) into another bed, and a "split bathroom" configuration that has a small sink in the middle, toilet on one side, and a nice-sized stall shower on the other, each closed off by a sliding glass door.

There is plenty of closet space and drawers, a mirrored vanity, a writing table, a television and a mini-fridge. Oddly, the only 110-volt plug is located at the vanity area, which also has a nice salon-style hairdryer to use. If you intend to bring a laptop, bring a set of converter plugs so you can plug into the 220-volt outlets located by the writing tables.

Mini-suites have a large, elegant bathroom with tub, a larger seating area, and elegant drapes, spreads and carpeting. The full pull-across drape separating the seating area from the sleeping area is double-lined, shutting out almost all light, and welcomed by those who have alternate sleeping and waking schedules.

Hint: The closet in the mini-suites is located adjacent to the bed, facing the center of the room. You have to reach sideways to access the shelving since there is not a door that opens to that part of the closet. It isn't an ideal design, but is made much easier when you realize that there is a light in the closet. It's hidden almost at eye-level, there is a little button at the back. The button is visible in the dark since it emits a soft glow, but if you don't know it's there, it makes the closet difficult to use.

Guests in mini-suites and above have a concierge at their service; guests in Penthouse suites have the added advantage of butler service.

Of the 36 suites on Star, two are Garden Villas, 5,700 square ft., complete with private gardens, saunas, hot tubs, three bedrooms, a living area, a pantry and butler service. The others range from forward-facing Owner's Suites with 740 square ft. of living space to a variety of Penthouse suites, the ones at the aft corners having enormous wrap-around verandahs. All of the suites (except mini-suites) have whirlpool bathtubs. We particularly like the Penthouse suites located on the sides of Deck 11, with a floor-to-ceiling one-way window in the bath next to a whirlpool tub.

The 20 wheelchair-accessible rooms are available as insides, or outsides with balcony.


Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the concept of Freestyle dining, with multiple large restaurants and intimate specialty dining venues. Guests who prefer standard dining can notify the maitre d' upon boarding and arrange to do just that. For the rest of us, Freestyle offers flexibility that allows for a more relaxed dining experience. There is also 24 hour room service in case you are too exhausted from your day's activities to make it to any of the restaurants.

There are two main dining rooms for traditional-style dining, Aqua and Versailles. Both serve the same menu items but cooked slightly different, with Aqua adding a contemporary flair to old traditions. There are several tables for two in each restaurant, or you can ask to be seated with others if you prefer.

Two of the specialty restaurants, Endless Summer (serving a Tex-Mex menu with items like ribs and burritos) and La Trattoria (Italian pasta and pizza) require reservations but no surcharge.

Ginza, specializing in Asian recipes, has a teppanyaki bar that only seats 12 at one time, so make your reservations early in the trip. There is also sushi bar with a mechanical "train" that delivers a rotating assortment of sushi. Both are priced a la carte; the main restaurant has a surcharge of $12.50.

Note: The sushi bar offers a $10 "all you can eat" special but the variety is extremely limited. My mother and I ordered a la carte, had the sushi rolls and sashimi that we really wanted, ended up quite full, and paid a lot less than the $10 per person charge for the special.

The SoHo Room serves an eclectic mix of items based on Pacific Rim cuisine. The lamb with a pistachio coating was so good that I regret not going back to that restaurant for another round ... and everyone, just once, has to at least see the tempura cake presentation. I opted for poached pears with mascarpone, which was just light enough to keep me from exploding after such a wonderful meal. The surcharge is $15.

Le Bistro, NCL's signature French restaurant (surcharge $15, $20 if you get the surf and turf), specializes in Continental dining. It is a small, dark, intimate, restaurant. The signature dessert, a fruit and chocolate fondue, is so good that it's a shame to leave it for last.

Cagney's Steakhouse is located at the top of the ship and replicates a typical high-end steak-and-chop house, with white linens and a clubby feel. The Star Bar, located adjacent, is a nice place to sit before or after dinner, overlooking the neon palms that line the pool area.

Blue Lagoon, the 24-hour dining spot, is wonderful despite its limited menu.

The Bier Garten, located high above the pool deck, serves Bavarian fare (wurst, pretzels) during the afternoon. It's a great place to sit when it isn't too windy outside.

The Garden Cafe, the ship's buffet/cafeteria restaurant, serves the usual breakfast and lunch fare, casual dinners, and light snacks the rest of the day and night. Omelet and waffle stations are available for breakfast, and at lunchtime, the port side becomes a vegetarian station, with fresh salads, steamed vegetables, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes. That same port side is transformed into La Trattoria at night, the pasta and pizza restaurant.

Room service is minimal with mostly cold items, sandwiches and salads available 24 hours, and Continental breakfast ordered with a door-hung card the night before.


As usual, the entertainment is wonderful. There is bingo, art auctions, karaoke, and fantastic Jean Ann Ryan company production shows at night in the Stardust Theater. The nightly shows include magicians, comedians, production numbers, and a Cirque du Soleil-type of gravity-defying extravaganza.

The ship also has a host of talented individual performers who add to the ambiance of relaxation. Whether it's jazzy piano cocktail music, boogie-woogie and 1940's standards, the Beatles, calypso and reggae, salsa or classical, you can find it aboard Norwegian Star. On its Mexican Riviera sailings, the Antonio Remirez Folkloric Festival comes onboard during the ship's lengthy stop in Acapulco.

Daytimes (and sea days) are made enjoyable with the many contests and activities available on almost all of the public decks, including movies in the Deck 12 theater, enrichment lectures highlighting the history and cultures of the region, golf chipping contests, and hairy legs contests at the pool (men only, please).

NCL has a "Star Search"/"American Idol"-type program that allows guests to strut their stuff and possibly win a cruise or a chance to appear as a performer onboard one of the company's vessels.

The Ship 'N Males Review, which features service personnel strip-teasing a la Chippendale's, is a fun night out for the ladies. The best, though, is the staff and crew show, which showcases the talents of the multinational employees with acts that highlight their national heritage.

Fitness & Recreation

This ship is so long that it only takes three and a half laps on the Deck 13 walking and jogging track to make a mile. When you're done with your jog, you can flop into one of the chaises which are close at hand.

The big pool has a pair of twisty slides, and hot tubs at each end. There is an indoor lap pool in the Barong Spa, 40 feet long and 13 feet wide.

The well-equipped fitness center is open 24 hours, and has a large variety of new weight training and cardio-vascular equipment, all situated at the aft of Deck 12 looking over the stern's wake.

The Mandara Spa is equipped with a lap pool, whirlpool, a hydrotherapy pool, steam and sauna, plus a solarium with wicker chaises and a terrific view. There are several treatment rooms where you can get facials and massages, and a salon for hair and nails. The spa special, a $59 sampler, is a great deal because it includes a mini-facial, a scalp and neck massage, and a mini-back massage.

Elsewhere on the ship there are two golf cages, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes and Ping-Pong. There are also classes in yoga, pilates, spinning, aerobics, and toning, some of which cost $5 to $10.

Public Areas

Although this is a large vessel, most of the bars, lounges and restaurants are centrally located so you can just go steps from one to the other and have an immediate change in atmosphere.

Decks 6 and 7 are home to the Carousel Lounge, Pearl Martini Bar, Gatsby's Champagne Bar, Wine Cellar, Havana Club (Cigar Room) and the Star Club Casino. All of these areas lead to the restaurants surrounding them, and to the Stardust Theater.

Note: This ship, originally designed with Hawaiian itineraries in mind, was built without a casino since they are not permitted in Hawaiian waters. Dazzles Nightclub (in the original design) was transformed into the current casino, with a variety of table games and slots that range from nickel denominations to one machine at $100.

The Java Cafe is located in the middle of the Grand Atrium, serving specialty coffees at a la carte prices, along with cookies and pastries, some at no charge. The Red Lion Pub, with a fabulous singer of oldie pop standards, is located just before the entrance to the supermarket-sized Galleria Shops, which carry everything from logo items and toys to the shipboard equivalent of haute couture.

Deck 12 holds the library and reading room, a card room and a small chapel. There is a movie theater which doubles as a conference/presentation room, and several rooms for business activities or private functions. The Spinnaker Lounge serves as an observation lounge, a room for daytime activities, and a nightclub at night.

The Internet Center is located in a mezzanine and is only accessible from two doorways located on Deck 9. Packages can bring the Internet rate down to as low as .35 cents per minute, with a $3.95 start-up charge. Wireless Internet service is available for those with Wi-Fi-equipped laptops, or the center will rent you a laptop or Wi-Fi card. "Hot spots" are located in public spaces in the center of the ship but not in staterooms.

Almost all of the ship is wheelchair-accessible. Elevators have buttons that are reachable by guests in wheelchairs and they "ding" before they arrive so sight-impaired guests can find the one that is opening; deck numbers are listed in Braille.

Smoking is limited to the port side on outside decks, the casino, and to certain areas of bars and lounges. There is no smoking in the Grand Atrium, in any of the restaurants, or in the Stardust Theater.


This is a ship that is designed for families, and its recent refurbishment added to the already great amenities for kids and teens. On Deck 13, at is Planet Kids, with activities for all age groups through 12, including five computer stations, a movie theater, a nursery and a playroom. Kids are welcomed from age two, and if they aren't yet potty-trained, the parents will be issued a beeper so they can be called when it's time to change a diaper.

Note: No diapers of any kind, including "swim" diapers, are allowed in any of the pools.

On Deck 12, there is teens-only area, with a dance floor, several computer stations and a living- room-like space for mingling. Just across from this space is the Video Zone, with several high-tech (and loud) video games. Behind the Barong Fitness Center is the Splash Down Kid's Pool, with two rocket-shaped slides, a wading pool and a hot tub. This area is accessible to all, including adults.

Since meal times are flexible with Freestyle dining and there are so many activities on the ship for everyone, children of all ages can be happily accommodated. Mom and dad can have some alone time, too, with Mom and Dad's Night Out, and group babysitting is offered for a small hourly charge ($6 per child; must be planned in advance).

Expert Norwegian Star reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Alaska and Mexican Riviera.


Discount Code

Norwegian Star cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Norwegian Star Score: 99

Cruise Critic: Norwegian Star
The Cruise Critic gives NCL's Norwegian Star a 3-ribbon rating.

Web links

NCL Cruises
Request a brochure, or find a travel agent who represents Norwegian Cruise Line at the company's official Web site.

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