Norwegian Star Cruise Review
& Photos From Our First NCL Cruise

Pictures and opinions about our 2008 cruise to
Acapulco, Mexico, aboard the Norwegian Star

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Norwegian Star cruise ship -- Photo by Jim Zim
Our home away from home for 8 fun-filled days!

To celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary, my wife and I took the 8-day "Mexican Riviera" cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines...  with visits to Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas.  Of course, we had a great time!

I'm guessing that you found this web page after Googling "Norwegian Star"...  and that you're either booked on an upcoming cruise, or thinking about booking one.  So, let me show you around the ship...

Norwegian Star lido deck
The pool and hot tubs are definitely fun!


Norwegian Star cruise ship
This picture shows what is just to the right of the previous picture.
It's a very nice terraced area overlooking the pool...
with tables for eating under the sun, and lounge chairs for working on your tan.
Several times during the cruise, they barbecue out here.


Photo of the Norwegian Star pool deck at night
During our stop in Acapulco, it was still warm even after the sun went down.
While some people were off the ship enjoying the night life in town,
others chose to enjoy some of the comforts of the ship.
In the background, you can see the lights of the homes on the hills overlooking Acapulco Bay.
In the upper right, you can see the windows of the ship's best suite...  which goes for $12,000 per person!
It's got 3 bedrooms, as well as a huge private patio with a private pool and hot tub.


Norwegian Star atrium
This is lower level of "the grand atrium".
There's actually a lot more to it than I could fit in one picture!
What you see one floor above the lobby is the "Endless Summer" Tex-Mex restaurant.


Norwegian Star cruise ship
The opposite view from the last picture,
showing the staircase I was standing on to take the previous picture.
A 3-piece band, "The Manila Trio", frequently played here...  and they were really good!


Norwegian Star balcony cabin
Here's a look at our cabin, which was room # 10558.
This is what is known as a (category BA) balcony cabin.
We spent a LOT of time out on the balcony enjoying the view and the weather.


Balcony cabin on the Norwegian Star
Looking the other direction, away from the balcony and towards the bathroom, closet, and entryway.
Personally, I don't agree with their decision to decorate the rooms in a nautical theme.
I think it's loud and tacky.  I think they should just do it like a tastefully decorated hotel room.


Buffet dining on board the Norwegian Star cruise ship
Speaking of tacky, I thought the buffet restaurant, The Market Cafe,
was decorated a bit like the old food courts they used to have at K-mart stores.
I didn't really think the food was that good, either!


Norwegian Star childrens buffet
A small section of the buffet restaurant is set aside just for kids.  The tables and chairs are kid sized!
It's hard to tell from the photo, but they're a good foot or so lower than a normal table.
No matter what the adults are being served, there are always hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries available here.


Norwegian Star childrens area
Here's another area of the ship that is just for kids.
They have their own pool, hot tub, and mini water slide.


Ice cream aboard the Norwegian Star cruise ship
Right next door to the kid's pool is a place where you can get real ice cream.
Luckily, this is NOT just for kids!
After a few days, I learned that if you just ask for a "strawberry ice cream cone" (my favorite) they only give you one scoop.
So, I started specifying that I wanted two scoops!


Norwegian Star internet cafe
This is the Internet Cafe.  I needed to spend a few minutes online each day,
so I bought a package of three and a half hours of Internet access for $100.
If you bring your wi-fi enabled laptop computer, you can access the Internet
from many public areas of the ship...  but not from your cabin.


My hat is off to whoever designed The Norwegian Star.
It's a very nicely designed ship, and there were many times when I found myself
noticing little things about the ship that were better than other cruise ships I had been on.
Here's one (strange) example...
Norwegian Star mens restroom
A men's restroom with a million dollar view!
The public restrooms on the Norwegian Star are way nicer than the ones on other ships I've been on.
Here we are docked in Acapulco, and WOW! how about that view of Acapulco Bay from the men's room?!


Norwegian Star cruise ship at night
The ship is especially beautiful at night.  I bet people on shore are so jealous when they see her!


Ricky Matthews, Cruise Director on the Norwegian Star
Ricky Matthews was the Cruise Director.  He's funny, and kept us entertained!


Photo taken in the Spinnaker Lounge of the Norwegian Star
My wife and I posed for a picture in the Spinnaker Lounge, at the front of the ship.
With big windows from floor to ceiling, this is a great place to see the sights if it's too hot or cold outside.


Norwegian Star cruise ship -- Photo by NCL
Norwegian Cruise Lines supplied this photo of the Star

Shore Excursions

Our cruise was during the first week of April, and the weather was great... with temperatures in the 80s for quite a few of the days.  Even the ocean water temperature was 80 degrees at quite a few of the places we stopped!  So, we spent a lot of time "in the water" one way or another.  In Acapulco, we took a snorkeling excursion...

Jim Zim snorkeling in Acapulco Bay
Fish hang out in the shadows and around the rocks, so that's where we snorkeled.
We saw a LOT of very cool looking fish, but I failed in all of my attempts to get pictures of them!


Kellyn snorkeling in Acapulco, Mexico
All of these "in the water" photos were shot with a cheap disposable waterproof camera

We enjoyed the "Captain's Choice" snorkeling excursion in Acapulco...  in fact, it may just have been the highlight of the whole cruise!  You get off the cruise ship, meet up with the rest of the people who have signed up for the same snorkeling excursion, and then hop on to a small boat which takes you out in to Acapulco Bay.  It's called the "Captain's Choice" snorkeling excursion because the exact destination will depend on the particular conditions that day.  In fact, after the boat headed across the bay to the captain's favorite location, he checked the conditions in the water and decided that there might be better snorkeling at another spot.  So, we went and looked at another location.  It was a little murky there, too...  so we moved one more time before he was finally satisfied that we had found the best spot.

Captain's Choice snorkeling excursion in Acapulco
This is the boat we took on our "Captain's Choice" snorkeling excursion in Acapulco Bay


In Puerto Vallarta, we went to the "Sea Life Water Park" to act like kids for a day...
floating around on inner tubes, and sliding down water slides. It was fun!
Kellyn at the Sea Life water park in Puerto Vallarta
Kellyn staying cool at the Sea Life water park in Puerto Vallarta


Water Slides at Sea Life park in Puerto Vallarta
If you look real carefully at this picture, you can see me at the base of the water slide.
I just splashed down (backwards!) after a wild ride!
Note the color of my legs compared to the others in the water!!!


Floating down the lazy river at Sea Life park in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
I liked the waterslides, but Kellyn preferred just floating down the "river"
on top of one of those big yellow tubes!


My wife with a Macaw on the dock at Puerto Vallarta
My wife and I have a soft spot in our hearts for Macaws.
(We used to have one as a pet!)
We were delighted to find two different places in Puerto Vallarta with Macaws on display.


Isla Ixtapa
After the ship anchored off Zihuatanejo, we took an excursion to "Isla Ixtapa"
which is a small island off of Ixtapa.  (Just north of Zihuatanejo.)
We enjoyed swimming in the warm water, drinking under the umbrellas, and laying in hammocks.


Watersports in Cabo San Lucas
I shot this photo from our balcony when the ship was in Cabo San Lucas.
Everywhere you looked, there were people having fun!
The big rock you see is the last rock at "Land's End" at the southern tip of Baja California.


Jet ski in Cabo San Lucas
We had just been to Cabo San Lucas a few months earlier, so we decided to explore on our own.
In retrospect, we should have rented jet skis...  it looked like an awful lot of fun!

Norwegian Star vs. Carnival Elation

Our April 2008 cruise with NCL on the Norwegian Star was just 3 months after we had done a similar cruise on board the Carnival Elation...  so it was easy to make comparisons between the two cruises.

I wrote a review for which details the differences I noticed between our cruises on the Star and the Elation.  Click here to read the full article.  However, if you don't want to read the whole thing...  here's a quick summary:

Advantages of the Norwegian Star over the Carnival Elation:
(Big, important advantages are in yellow)


Advantages of the Carnival Elation over the Norwegian Star:
(Big, important advantages are in yellow)

Please don't get me wrong...  I enjoyed our cruise on the Norwegian Star and I would not rule out the possibility of another cruise with NCL someday!  But there is always room for improvement, and I do think that my first choice will probably be to stick with Carnival.

The best example I can give to illustrate how the NCL experience was just a little sub-par to Carnival is to talk about how each one prepared a hamburger at lunch time out by the pool.  On Carnival, the bun was toasted on the grill...  and the burger and bun were taken off the grill and put together at the last minute just before being put on a plate and handed to me...  so that the whole thing was literally "hot off the grill".  On NCL, there was a metal tray of pre-cooked burger patties and a metal tray of buns.  I grabbed a burger patty myself with a pair of tongs, placed it on the cold bun, and added any condiments I wanted.  The bun was never heated, and the burger patty was cooked quite a while ago and just kept warm in a warming tray.  The NCL burger was lousy, the Carnival burger was good.

One cruise I would like to take someday soon is the 7 or 8-day cruise on the Carnival Spirit out of San Diego.  It's a longer cruise than the 5-day Elation cruise, so you stop at more and better places than the Elation does.  Also, the Spirit's main dining room has quite a few tables for two and tables for four...  so it's possible to avoid that experience (I hate) of having to eat dinner at a big table with a bunch of strangers.

Freestyle Daily

Each day of the cruise, they publish a little newsletter that tells you information about what will be happening on the ship that day.  It's called the "Freestyle Daily".  If you've never cruised before, you'll find looking at a copy of the Freestyle Daily to be a great way to see the kinds of activities available onboard the ship.  I've scanned the Freestyle Daily's from each day of our cruise, as well as the shore excursion order form...  which I think you'll find interesting.  They are  in .pdf format. 

Freestyle Daily - Monday, March 31st - Setting Sail
Freestyle Daily - Tuesday, April 1st - At Sea
Freestyle Daily - Wednesday, April 2nd - At Sea
Freestyle Daily - Thursday, April 3rd - Acapulco
Freestyle Daily - Friday, April 4th - Zihuatanejo & Ixtapa
Freestyle Daily - Saturday, April 5th - Puerto Vallarta
Freestyle Daily - Sunday, April 6th - Cabo San Lucas
Freestyle Daily - Monday, April 7th - At Sea
Shore Excursion Order Form

Other Cruises We've Been On

If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading about:

The largest cruise ship in the world: Allure Of The Seas
The best cruise ship we've ever experienced: The Norwegian Getaway
Our December 2013 cruise on the newly remodeled Carnival Sunshine
The newest ship in the Carnival fleet, the Carnival Breeze
Our first cruise with Princess!  January 2014 Sapphire Princess
The second newest ship in the fleet, the Carnival Magic
One of the oldest ships in the fleet, the Carnival Inspiration
Our first Caribbean cruise:  the Carnival Glory
Our many cruises on the Carnival Spirit
Our February 2010 cruise on the Carnival Splendor
Our April 2009 Carnival Paradise cruise
Our January 2008 cruise on the Carnival Elation
Our first cruise!  1996 on Carnival Cruise Line's MS Holiday

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