Introducing Norwegian Star - May 2015
Roy & Margaret Jones – 19-05-2015 – Norwegian Cruise Line – Norwegian Star
We visited the Norwegian Star in Dover on the 8th May 2015. Dover was the first stop of the ship’s transatlantic cruise from Miami to its summer port of Copenhagen, where it will spend the summer cruising to the Baltics and Fjords.
Launched in 2001, the 2,348-passenger Norwegian Star was the first NCL ship custom built for Freestyle Cruising. Star was refurbished in February 2010 in Victoria, British Columbia. The two-week dry-dock focused mostly on cosmetic enhancements (carpets, upholstery, etc.) and engineering work, but the line also added 54 cabins and suites, as well as enhanced Star's spaces for kids.
The ship was dry docked again in March 2015 and was brought to Vigor Industrial dry dock in Portland, Oregon for maintenance. Norwegian Star added the first at-sea Jimmy Buffet and the Margaritaville-inspired Five O'Clock Somewhere Bar (replacing the Red Lion Pub) on Deck 7 aft, which features signature margaritas and live music in the evenings.
Norwegian Cruise Line is also enhancing its own very own private island, Great Stirrup Cay, in the Bahamas. The line is adding a special Bacardi Bar for guests to enjoy. Also, NCL’s new 75 acre site, Harest Caye, in Southern Belize is expected to open at the end of 2015 and will include many new enhancements.
Among other enhancements, the popular pub, O'Sheehan's , was added to the ship. O'Sheehan's is a 24-hour complimentary restaurant. Other changes included moving Moderno Churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, to Deck 13 and the addition of the Sugarcane Mojito Bar.
Other changes include digital touch-screen signage, where an interactive touch screen allows guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining and shore excursions by scanning their stateroom key.
Additionally, updates were also made to the casino, photo gallery, pool deck and galley areas; and there were window replacements; new carpeting; and flooring in passenger areas.
Norwegian also made a number of technical upgrades to the ship while in dry dock, including new silicon paint on the hull, along with an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade to reduce fuel emissions and energy consumption.
Safety updates include a lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement. Following these upgrades and improvements, Norwegian Star returned to service 17th March 2015.
Norwegian Cruise line was the first company to introduce Freestyle cruising. Up until then, most cruise lines offered fixed dining with the Freestyle concept. This was done away with so you could eat where and when you liked. This also meant that dress suits and posh dresses were no longer obligatory; bringing an end to formal nights.
On the basis that you can eat where and when you like; NCL introduced a more varied range of dining options. This is something that many cruise lines offer today, but in 2001, when the ship was built, this was quite revolutionary.
17 Different Dining Options
Norwegian is making it easier than ever for guests to further customize their holiday experience. Guests can now make reservations for the main dining rooms up to 90 days prior to their cruise date, resulting in everybody being able to choose a different restaurant for every night of your cruise.
There are two main dining rooms for traditional-style dining. Aqua, located midship, and Versailles, located aft. Both are lovely, with Versailles looking very much like its namesake (lots of gold and gilt and French Renaissance flourishes); while Aqua is contemporary, calm and cool. There are several tables for two in each restaurant. These two restaurants still operate the freestyle concept where you can eat when and with whom you like.
Other restaurants include:
La Cucina Italian pasta and pizza. Cover charges $14.95.
Moderno Churrascaria Brazilian-style steakhouse. Cover charge $19.95pp.
Ginza Restaurant Complimentary dining venue. In addition to dishes from the Noodle Bar, the restaurant will serve special a la carte items, including a custom sushi and sashimi menu and Japanese Hot Rock Ishiyaki for an additional fee. Also, a first for the cruise line, Ginza will feature a moving sushi belt offering a choice of four specialty rolls.
Teppanyaki Is dinner and a show as hibachi chefs grill up steak, seafood, chicken and veggies right before your eyes. With only seats 12 at any one time, it’s critical to reserve your place early in the trip. Cover charge: $25pp
Le Bistro NCL's signature French-Mediterranean restaurant specializes in continental dining, with the atmosphere being almost as important as the food. Cover charge $19.95pp.
Cagney's Steakhouse Located at the top of the ship, this restaurant replicates a typical high-end steak-and-chop house. Cover charge $29.95pp.
Blue Lagoon Complimentary 24-hour dining venue. Wonderful restaurant despite a limited menu. It's located on Deck 7 overlooking the atrium.
The Bier Garten Located high above the pool deck and serves Bavarian fare.
The Garden Cafe The ship's buffet/cafeteria restaurant is located on the Lido Deck aft, serving the usual breakfast and lunch fare.
Room Service NCL have introduced a room service charge on two of their ship of $7.95. I have no doubt that this will go fleet wide in the not too distant future. Morning coffee and continental breakfast remain free. Suite and Haven passengers do not pay a room service fee.
Norwegian Cruises do offer different dining packages and are well worth taking up if you want to use the alternative dining venues.
Costs as of the 11th May 2015.
- 3 night cruises - $59.00
- 4 night cruises - $74.00
- 5 night cruises - $89.00
- 6 night cruises - $104.00
- 7 night cruises - $119.00
- 8 night cruises - $134.00
- 9 night cruises - $149.00
- 10 night cruises - $164.00
- 11 night cruises - $179.00
- 12 night cruises - $194.00
- 13 night cruises - $209.00
- 14 night cruises - $224.00
There is also a range of drinks packages available. Beverage packages must be purchased for all guests staying within the same stateroom.
The ship has a range of Bars:
5 O'clock Somewhere Bar Enjoy the sounds of the tropics while sipping on a signature margarita.
Atrium Café & Bar The Java Café offers specialty coffees, teas, pastries and cookies.
Barong Juice Bar The Barong Juice Bar offers a wide range of juices and smoothies.
Bier Garten The Bier Garten on the terrace offers cocktails, refreshing drinks and - of course - beer.
Gatsby's Champagne Bar Known for its premium selection of champagne and vodka, caviar, Paté, and Foie Gras. It’s an ideal venue for an intimate cocktail party.
Spinnaker Lounge A lounge featuring a full bar and dance floor.
Star Club Casino Bar Blackjack, Roulette and a full service bar.
Topsiders Bar & Grill Topsider's Bar & Grill is on deck near the Oasis Pool, which features two hot tubs.
Entertainment is well catered for in the multi-deck Stardust Theatre, which seats more than 1,000 guests.
Mandara Spa is aft on Deck 11. This is a great area and features a lap pool, whirlpool, a special hydrotherapy pool, steam and sauna. There is also an aft-facing solarium with comfy wicker chaises and a terrific view. There is a charge to use the lap pool, Jacuzzi and Hydropool. There are several treatment rooms where you can get facials and massages; and a salon for hair and nails.
Standard staterooms are comfortable, if not plush, decorated in bright fabrics and wood panelling. Overall, the rooms are pleasant and adequate - with TVs, minibars, well-designed bathrooms and, in a little less than half the outside cabins, there are small private balconies.
At the high end, the ship offers 10 different categories of suites. From the incredible Garden Villa with its three separate bedrooms, living room, dining room, private garden with hot tub, and outdoor dining area and terrace; down to the 283-square-foot Mini-Suite.
These staterooms come with two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed. Some cabins have additional Pullman beds to accommodate an additional two guests with ensuite facilities. Approximate size 142sq ft.
These staterooms have a picture window and come with two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed. Some cabins feature Pullman beds to accommodate an additional two guests with ensuite facilities. Approximate size 159sq ft.
Balcony staterooms can accommodate up to three guests; with two lower beds that convert into a queen-size bed and a convertible sofa to sleep one more. These rooms also include a sitting area and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a private balcony with ensuite facilities.
Approx size 203 to 220 sq ft – Balcony size 37 to 54 sq ft.
Norwegian Cruise lines are well worth a try, especially if you want to forget about the traditional fixed dinner sittings and dressing up for those formal nights.