August 2015 - Norwegian Star to Europe - Northern Europe
As far as the ports are concerned, this cruise gives you an excellent sampling of the Baltic Jewels. While there wasn't enough time an any of the ports (which is to be fully expected), you do have enough time to hit the highlights and decide if further exploration on another trip is worth while. Getting off the ship at these ports was relatively easy, getting back on the ship took a little more time. The lines were longer and slower that I would have liked. This is not a true relaxing cruise. This type of trip is work. To get the full experience, your port days are long so don't be disappointed when you get home and need to relax. The ship itself was adequate, but did not really add to our experience. We felt more like we were on a floating hotel than on a floating luxury resort. We have been on dozens of cruises, so this was not based on unrealistic expectations, we just expected more out of the entertainment, specialty dining and activities. The crew performed as expected, nothing over the top, but no issues either. It was interesting to note, that the crew typically will be extremely diverse, but in this case, the majority of crew members we met were from the Philippines. In some way, this was less interesting because we enjoy the interaction of all of the different cultures. As mentioned above, our only area of mediocrity was the ship itself and it's programs. We ate in specialty dining most nights, and found our experience to be average to below average relating to both service and food quality. Our first night at Cagney's, we waiting 30 minutes for our table even with a reservation. A similar experience happened with Moderno's except we were already seated but still waited 30 minutes to be served. They offered a Shrimp stew that they said would take 15 minutes to prepare, we received an hour later after we were no longer hungry. My biggest beef (no pun intended) was with the beef. I enjoy Prime Beef. I only cook Prime Beef and typically will not eat beef out unless it is Prime. NCL has a notice on their menu "Norwegian Cruise Line's signature Steakhouse proudly services Certified Angus Beef brand steaks. Uncompromising standards ensure it's a cut above USDA Prime, Choice and Select, making it the best tasting beef available" As a Prime beef guy, I think this statement is outrageous and should be reworded or removed. The steaks on the ship were nowhere near Prime quality. Sorry NCL. We did eat in the main dinner room one night and the food and service was excellent. We made a point of sharing that we thought the main dinner room was better than the specialty dinner (save your money). The entertainment and activities was stale, average and typical. I am not saying they were bad, but nothing to get excited about. Over all it was a pleasant experience. We did not have any real issues but we probably will wait a while before sailing on NCL again.