November 2013 - Norwegian Star to Panama Canal, Central America
Being my first cruise, I can not compare it to other cruises or cruise lines. For me, I had a wonderful experience. It exceeded all my expectations. I was a solo traveler, so I really enjoyed the ability to share different dinner tables (free-style dining) each night to meet new people. I don't think I would of liked the idea of dining with the same people every night. With 2000 guests on board, I want to meet them all ... ok ... mayve 1950 of them. I enjoyed the idea of being on the ship for 14 days. I liked the schedule where we were at sea 1-2 days, docked for a day, sea 1-2 days, etc. There was always things to do, or not do, on the ship while at sea. My only comment to newbies is that I had better luck setting up most of my shore excursions on my own once I exited the ship for the day - you could always make a deal with the vendors waiting outside the ship. For me, the on-board excursions were too expensive and somewhat limiting. I had a bad expereiece on my first on-board excursion and cancelled most of the rest of them I made on board (just fyi, you have to cancel within 48 hours of the excursion). I did take the 8-hour excursion in Costa Rica from the ship that was the zip-line tour. It was worth every penny. Since the tour was with the ship, I knew that if we were late coming back, they would wait. Guess what, two of our busses out of four (70+ people) got back 20 minutes late and I was on one of them. The ship did wait. Also, I thought that the safety issues would be better since the tour was through the ship. Best of all, it rained while we were zipping over the rain forest - go figure.
If you went hungry during the cruise, it was your own fault. There was always (too much) food available 24-hours a day. The entertainment was good. The staff was excellent, as was the cabin. I booked the cheapest in-board cabin since I wasn't planning on staying in my room much was was upgraded to an outside cabin with a 2'x3' window - luckily it didn't open or my room would of been pretty wet. The room was just right for a solo traveler. I wish they did offer single rooms since I had to pay double to have a room by myself - but I knew that booking the trip.
Overall, it was an excellent trip for me. I live in Connecticut and took Amtrak from CT to LA (3+ days) before arriving in LA a day early for the trip. It was an adventure of a life-time for me. The bonus was that I meet some great people during my travels. It was nice seeing different ports for a day since now I want to travel back to Costa Rica and Columbia for a longer stay and explore the land, culture, and people. Hopefully that will be my next adventure. The main reason I picked this trip was for the crossing of the Panama Canal. This trip had a purpose, and not just stopping at beaches. Growing up, you read about the digging of the canal and now I can appreciate the size of it as it took about 8-9 hours to go through the entire canal.
- excellent trip
- worth the cost (even as a single traveler) - I booked about 2-3 weeks before the trip so it was cheaper
- loved the free-style dining since I could meet different peole all the time - wasn't bound to a single table every night
- great food
- good entertainment
- A few of the on-board excursions are worth it, but you can get a better deal off the ship
- Luckily, we had great weather - only two days of mild seas (12' swells) of 14 days.
For me, I am glad I took a 14 day cruise as my first cruise.