Debunking The Star, Freestyle Dining and Fanning Island.1. The Norweigan Star. This was our 5th cruise and first with NCL. The Star was the easiest ship to navigate and get around. Forward, Mid and Aft each have their own color coded carpet. Blue for Forward, Red for Mid and Green for Aft. Restaurants are all situated off of deck 7 (some on 8 and some on 6 but all within proximity of 7). Pool, located on 12, is large with two big water slides for the kids and plenty of hottubs for the adults.Staff friendly and helpful. More amazingly - the MANAGEMENT (James, Hotel Director, Patty, Cruise Director, Tony, Food and Beverage) were not only visible, but extremely available and helpful.2. Fanning Island- Had read it was a hot, bug infested and I think the exact quote was 'Hell Hole' that I read in another review. Nothing could be further from the truth. NCL basically brought the entire ship ashore. Beach chairs, changing areas, towels, beach toys, food, beverages, etc. etc. The gentle tradewinds kept the island cool and bug-free. Go to the Tuesday Maui/Fanning Island talk and learn about this unspoiled, glimpse into a very bygone world. If you are at all interested in photography, you owe it to yourself to go on the Fanning Island 'Photo Safari'. My husband and I learned a ton about photography and just had an amazing time overall. Go see Marcel in the Photo Lab to sign up. Marcel is not only extremely knowledgeable, but a really cool guy.3. Freestyle Dining. Freestyle is actually very simple. Every restaurant serves dinner between 5:30pm and 10:00pm. The problem with Freestyle is not NCL or the program it is the public. I'll admit I'm guilty of this too. At home, we'll decide about 6:30pm to go out to dinner. We'll roll into some restaurant at 7pm and are surprised to not be able to get a table. Like most of the world, we do not make plans in advance. And of course when that happens we can't get a table and are angry at the restaurant. A. The two main dining rooms which DO NOT take reservations (Versaille and Aqua). We dined once in each of these restaurants. Our party of 4 went at 7:45pm to Aqua and were immediately seated, we went at 6:50pm to Versaille and again were immmediately seated. (The lesson here, don't go at 7pm or 7:30pm and you'll probably not have to wait). B. Specialty Restaurants. The other 5 nights we dined at the specialty restaurants. Each requires a 24 hour in advance reservation. Reservations can be made by phone or by going in person between 9am to 5pm to deck 7. I never was able to get through by phone, but it took less than 5 minutes to reserve my table in person on deck 7. We were able to get 7pm or 7:30pm for every restaurant. Be aware all but two of the specialty restaurants (Endless Summer and Trattoria) have a cover charge to get in. C. Our Specialty Restaurant experience: 1. Endless Summer (No cover). The only restaurant on the ship serving Hawaiian and Polyenisan cuisine. Great great food and awesome service. Try the ribs they are to die for. 2. Le Bistro ($10.00 cover charge) French cuisine in a very elegant surroundings. I had the Filet Mignon with the bernaise sauce, my husband had the daily special (I think it was salmon) we ended our meal with Chocolate fondue. At the end of the meal we agreed, $40.00 was definitely not too much to dine in a swanky French restaurant! 3. Ginza ($10.00 cover charge). Japanese cuisine. Had a very enjoyable meal, my mother highly reccomends the Green Tea ice cream. 4. Soho ($10.00 cover charge) Pacific Rim Cuisine. Sort of a Japanese/Thai flavor great service.To sum up, Fanning Island is charming, Freestyle Crusing is absolutely no big deal, and you do not want to miss the Star.
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