Cruise Review of Norwegian Star

Name: Cruizer Date Submitted: 03/22/2007
Age: 50 Cruise Line: NCL
Number of Cruises: 5 Cruise Ship: Norwegian Star
Overall Rating: Date Sailed: 10/08/2005
Embarkation: Los Angeles, CA Destination: Mexican Riviera

This review is long. About 20 typed pages. So I am posting days one through four here and continuing days five through eight in a second review ...

Norwegian Star - Mexican Riviera (October 8 - 16, 2005)

This is my fifth cruise, but first on Norwegian (the forth different cruise line for me). Noting several comments from people wanting more details, I decided to spend some of my free time on the balcony typing up my thoughts about the day’s events. As a result, this review is very long, but created while the day’s events are still fresh in my mind. You might want to print it out and then read it, as it exceeds 20 single-spaced type written pages. This cruise is a first for me, as it is the first time I am going on a cruise without knowing anyone before hand.

Day one - embarkation

I live close enough to San Pedro that I drove to the ship on this morning. I planned to arrive so that I would be in line at 11:00am. However, the traffic gods were with me and I arrived a few minutes earlier than I planned. There were three ships in port this morning. The Island Princess heading to Hawaii, the Sapphire Princess preparing for the one week Mexican Riviera cruise and the Norwegian Star, the ship I was book on. The Norwegian Star is doing an eight-day Mexican Riviera cruise. The main difference between the eight day Mexican Riviera cruise and the one week Mexican Riviera cruise is the eight-day cruise goes all the way down to Acapulco (about 400 knots south of Puerto Vallarta).

Unfortunately, when I arrived, they were still unloading the ships, so I had to park and drag my own bags into line with me. Last time I was here, I prepaid the parking. This time I did not, so I had to set aside $96 so that I would be able to leave once I returned to the port.

Once in line I received a flyer informing me that customs had picked this day to do one of its quarterly inspections of the ship’s crew - as a result embarkation could be delayed. Okay, bad luck. But I was standing in the sun (the first people in line had arrived at 9:45am). So I asked if the check in process would proceed while the customs inspection was taking place (then we could wait inside the terminal to board the ship). Well, the person I asked knew less than I did. To his credit at least he realized he had not answered my question and he asked someone else. The answer unfortunately was, we would have to wait.

After all of the luggage was removed from the ship, the porters went down the line picking up everyone’s checked luggage. At noon the check in process started. While it looked disorganized, the line was moving very fast. After having my passport and travel documents checked by two different people I was getting on the ship. I was on board fifteen minutes after the line started to move (and that included the embarkation picture). Then it hit me, I had no room key, no security picture and had not set up the on board account yet. Turns out all of this is done on the ship. By 12:30 I had my room key, my ship board account had been set up, the security photo taken and I was in my cabin enjoying the fantastic view of the luggage being loaded on the ship right under my balcony. However, I knew the view would improve in a matter of hours and I set about to explore the ship.

I have noted other reviewer remark that Norwegian’s embarkation seems disorganized. I agree that it appeared that way, but what they lacked in appearance they more than made up for in action. I would guess there were 250 - 300 people in front of me in line. Yet they processed all of those people and me in 30 minutes. The whole process was quick, fast, efficient and painless.

So I spent the rest of the time until the lifeboat drill exploring the ship. The ship is a beauty. The kid’s area looked like an area that would keep any youngster happy. An impression that was confirmed after we were underway. The children’s area is in the back of the ship and the kids were having a great time on their own water slides (there are two for young children and one for preschoolers), pool and hot tub.

The main pool looks just as fun. It has two water slides. I’ll check it out tomorrow. For now I still had plenty of other public places to check out. Normally I get my bearings on a ship in a matter of minutes. However, by the end of the first day I still found myself thinking I was walking forward when in fact I was headed aft, or thinking I was on the port side (inside the ship of course) when in fact I was on the starboard side. I think the reason for this is all of the restaurants. Normally there are one or two restaurants and I quickly realize where I am in relation to the restaurant. However, on this ship there are ten restaurants, so I could not orient myself in relation to any one restaurant. For those of you who are interested in these things, this ship has full wrap around promenade deck (meaning you can walk completely around the ship - there is also a quarter mile jogging track on the sun deck).

Well, soon the alarm bell rang and it was off to the muster station. On the first cruise I was on they took roll and the drill was over quickly. The next three cruises I went on they did not take roll, and the drill took 20 minutes (though it seemed longer) as they had to check every cabin on board the ship for passengers trying to skip out on the lifeboat drill. On the Star they took roll and it seemed like the drill only took five minutes (though it was probably closer to ten). It was so quick that my life jacket did not have time to get uncomfortable.

Okay, back to the cabin, put away the life jacket and time to check out the sail away party. As I looked out the window, I noticed the water seemed to be moving. I looked up and sure enough we have already passed under the bridge and were spinning (I never felt the ship move). One hundred eighty degrees later we were waiving bye to the other two ships. As we passed the restaurants in Ports of Call, two of them used their speakers to wish us well. A very nice touch. There is something strange about sailing from Los Angeles. Once the ship clears the break water it actually makes a small course change to the right. As a result it appears we are sailing directly away from Los Angeles, which would be to the west. However, because of the shape of California, we are actually sailing south. In fact, the ship’s heading is less than 180 degrees, so we are sailing a little to the east of due south.

I had a lunch at the market café and the pool side grill (a little from each of the two buffets). The food was typical buffet fare (edible but not memorable). I then waited for the sun to set while watching the kids having fun on the water slide and watching the sail away party. They set up a bar-bee-que near the main pool. I looked at the line, looked at the sun and decided I could find a place to eat later, I was not leaving the deck until the sun set. Well the sun did set, behind Catalina Island. Not many clouds in the sky, so the sunset pictures I took were rather bland. With the sunset over, I looked down from the sun deck and noticed the sail away party was still going strong. Then I noticed that the line for the barbecue had disappeared along with the sun. I love beef ribs, but am neutral about pork ribs. The music was a little loud. I had to yell to ask my question but was able to hear the pork reply. Oh well, the chicken was good. Typical barbecue food. The main items taste great but the rest is just like the buffet.

My overall impression of the day is, if the rest of the cruise goes like today, I am going to have a wonderful time. A five star day.

I have a standard balcony cabin on deck nine (category BB). I received this as a free upgrade from the category BD cabin I booked at the time I booked it (Norwegian was offering the free two category upgrade at the time I purchased the cruise). The cabin is near midship and has cabins above and below (quiet). It connects to the cabin next door (good for families). It is a little smaller than a standard Carnival cabin (166 sq. ft vs. 185 sq. ft), but it looks roomy enough for two (it can sleep three, which in my opinion would be a little tight - the third person sleeps on a pullout sleeper from a love seat). The shower is big enough that you can bend over and has a hand-held shower head whose height is adjustable. While I give high marks to the shower, the rest of the bathroom could be a little better designed. The bathroom is divided into three compartments. The shower is one compartment, the sink is the center compartment and the third compartment, the toilet (lets just say I now know where the term water closet comes from). Soap is available from a dispenser in near the sink and soap and shampoo is available from a dispenser in the shower (the soap near the sink is red, the shampoo is white, and the soap in the shower is blue). There is a 110-volt outlet in the bathroom for the shaver and both a 110 and 220 volt outlets in the cabin (in case you want to bring your electric washer and dryer with you).

What sets Norwegian apart from everyone else is the Freestyle dining. As I mentioned, there are ten dining areas. Six are free, four cost extra, and only three do not require reservations (Aqua, Versailles and the Blue Lagoon). It is noted that Norwegian does not allow blue jeans, tank tops, shorts, T-shirts or beachwear in any of the restaurants after 5:00pm. It is also noted that Aqua and Versailles (the two main restaurants) get very busy between 7pm and 8pm.

The advantage of Freestyle dining is you can eat when you want. However, that is only true in three of the ten restaurants. All the other restaurants require reservations. What is the difference between making a reservation and having a set dining time? Also, for groups this can be a problem. In traditional dining you show up at your table at the assigned time. You know the rest of your group will either already be there, or will arrive soon. With Freestyle dinning, your group has to decide where it wants to eat and when. If you have ever tried to get a group to agree on anything, you know what a chore this can be. Also, if your group is large enough, you can guarantee that someone will show up at the wrong restaurant at the right time, or show up at the right restaurant at the wrong time. For me, I don’t like having to take time out of my day to make a reservation. The whole idea of cruising is to have a carefree vacation. I believe that having to make reservations takes away from that experience.

The ten restaurants are:

Cagney’s - Steak House - $20 extra The Soho - Pacific Rim - $15 extra Le Bistro - French Cuisine - $15 extra Ginza - Asian Fusion Cuisine - $12.50 extra Teppanyaki - “Cooking just for you” - A la carte pricing Sushi Bar - “Japanese Specialty” - A la carte pricing Endless Summer - Tex-Mex cuisine - reservations required La Trattoria - Italian Cuisine - reservations required Aqua - “contemporary cuisine” Versailles - “traditional cuisine” Market Café - buffet Blue Lagoon - 24 hour sit down fast food

I attended the show tonight. This was more of a meet the cruise director, the band and one of the main performers. John Woodard, one of the singers for the group involved in three of the shows later in the week, took center stage and sang. He has a great base voice. I will be attending the shows on this cruise.

You can follow the ship’s progress on one of the TV channels. Per the TV the seas are four to 7.5 feet and we are moving at 22 knots. There is a slight roll (a slow change in the lean of the ship from left to right). Well, the ship’s time is 11:00pm and we are 125 knots closer to Acapulco then we were before the life boat drill. More tomorrow.

Day two - day at sea

I have a port side balcony, so when we are traveling south my balcony faces east. I was up in time for the sunrise, but alas, there would be no sunrise this morning. Overnight we had sailed from mostly sunny to cloudy. Oh well, the shower at 7:00am was warm and then it was off to the Market Café for breakfast. I like to go up, pick out my breakfast and bring it back to the balcony to eat. The eggs were runny, the bacon crisp and the eggs Benedict looked good. There were oranges, but I did not see any that were pre cut, so I elected to get a banana. They both have to be pealed before being consumed, however, with the banana you get less juice in the eye while pealing it. The drink cups looked like they were designed for a three year old, because if full when spilled, the water would evaporate before you could wipe it up with a napkin. Picture something about the size of one and one half mouth wash cups. I ended up taking three glasses back to the cabin and would have been happier with four.

I went to the Java Café to get a drink in the morning. For some reason service was very slow. After that I did a little shopping. When I returned to my cabin, I found the cabin door open and the cabin steward was cleaning the cabin, so I just put my new purchases in the closet and left. However, for those of you who believe it is safe to leave your valuables out in your cabin, I do not believe the cabin steward even knew I was in the cabin. Instead of dropping something off I could just as easily have picked something up and left. Also I note that my cabin door does not close by itself (I have to make sure I pull it until it locks closed).

After a little shopping I attended a “port lecture.” It was more of a history lecture than a port lecture. The port (shopping) lecture was later that afternoon. So I checked out the parts of the ship I missed yesterday (and find that I now have my bearings). Basically there are three decks to remember; deck seven (the deck with the major inside public places) your cabin deck (deck nine in my case) and the pool deck (deck 12). By reference to these three decks I found it was easy to go where I wanted to go without the use of a map.

This ship has some forward facing suites with a balcony. I was thinking about getting one until I thought about the wind in the face factor. So I wanted to see how bad it would be by going to one of the forward facing outside decks. Nice theory, but we had a tail wind that was just a few knots slower than the ship was moving. The net result was very little wind. Okay, I’ll check again when we are heading north.

The port lecture was the typical port lecture. Who knows if the recommended stores are better, or are just giving the better kick backs this week? I was a little concerned because we were given information that conflicted with information I had received / collected earlier. No matter, the Freestyle Daily (the ship’s newspaper) would provide the official information on the day I needed it. One thing that bothers me about the activities / lectures is that it is impossible to do everything I want to do. So I have to see where the conflicts are and decide which activities to attend and which I will have to miss. I also managed to catch a few minutes of each of two football games. My favorite team won their first game (go Packers!) and the Cowboys crushed the Eagles. One thing that was interesting about the broadcast is that there are no commercials. So while everyone else is being told which deodorant works best, we get to hear the game announcers talk to each other and their technical support people.

As we traveled south, the weather improved. So I decided to try the pool and the water slides. Well, I guess they picked up the pool water near Los Angeles. For those of you who do not know, Los Angeles gets its sea water (yes, the pool is salt water) from Alaska - fresh frozen. If they drain the pool and refill it early tomorrow morning, the water should be at least ten degrees warmer. I tried out the water slide. I would have preferred more water pressure or a steeper slide (Carnival’s water slide is much higher from top to bottom than the water slides on this ship). The trip down was a little slow for my taste (though the kids seem to be having fun). At least the water in the water slide is not cold. And the water in the hot tubs is nice and warm. I ordered a banana smoothie and enjoyed the hot tub for a few minutes until I noticed another cruise ship about one mile off our port side. Note, signing for the drink in the hot tub, without getting everything wet is a real challenge. I am not sure I would recognize my own signature on that slip.

I took pictures of the Holland America Ryndam as we passed it. It was also on its way to Acapulco, but was scheduled to arrive one day later. I also noticed the Vision of the Seas as she headed back to San Pedro around 11:30 p.m. last night. So, after checking out the Ryndam it was time to change for the only formal night on the cruise. I had a couple of pictures taken and decided to eat before the show. I would guess that about 50% of the people dressed up (I was not one of them).

I decided that since this should be the best dinner of the cruise that I would try one of the main restaurants. I arrived at Versailles about two minutes before it opened. There was already a good sized line. Nonetheless, I was sure the restaurant could hold more than the number of people in line. Within five minutes of the doors being opened I was seated. I choose a table for sharing (not wanting to take up an entire table just for me). I was seated with a mother, her teenaged daughter and one other lady traveling with them. They were on their first cruise, so I answered a few of their questions about cruising. The mother had the lobster. She commented on how small it was. I told her she could order another one, which she did.

Several aspects of a cruise are subjective. I found it interesting that the mother asked me if I slept all-right last night. I slept well. She asked about the movement of the ship. I told her that all I had to do was bend my knees and I was fine. I told her I get sea sick easily, and I was not bothered a bit. This reminded me of a story my dad (who loves sailing) told me. He was on a Caribbean cruise (pre September 11) and asked the ship’s captain if it was always this calm. Before the captain could answer another passenger asked if it was always this rough. This ship is moving, but it is a slow gentle rolling motion, which is not bothering me one bit.

I had the beef. It was okay, but not as good as Carnival or Royal Caribbean. The waiter did his job, but that is all. It was not the personal service you get when you are going to see the same wait staff for seven nights. The assistant waitress was much more on the ball. She was the one who noticed my ice tea glass was empty. I got the feeling she went a little above and beyond. When we wanted dessert, she had to go get the waiter. Only two and one half stars for this meal.

After dinner I was looking forward to the show (based on last night’s taste of what was to come). It was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night. I prefer something with a little more energy. No matter, you cannot please all the people all of the time. The performance was good and I’ll hope for a little more energy with the next performance. Something I noticed is that the seats in the Stardust theater slope forward, which is not very comfortable.

Something else I noticed is that inside the cabin I cannot hear all of the daily announcements (which is good). The announcement for the lifeboat drill was easily heard in the cabin. It is nice not to have to listen to the steady drone of announcements about Bingo, art auctions, the special drink of the day, the current activity / game, the store’s deal of the day or whatever else the cruise director decides I cannot live without knowing.

In summary this was a nice relaxing day at sea. I am looking forward to more of the same tomorrow, before hitting four ports in four days. Today gets only four stars. Good, but not great.

Day thee - day at sea

The beds are about thirty inches wide. The blankets are about thirty-two inches wide. For someone like me who turns on the air conditioner when the temperature hits 68 this is not a problem. However, every time I turn over, there is some part of my body that is no longer covered. A quick adjustment of the blanket fixes that, but when you are used to bigger blankets, it is something that is noticeable.

Last night we passed the halfway point to Acapulco. Early in the morning we passed Cabo. I remember on the Carnival Pride (last year) on the way to Puerto Vallarta we passed Cabo at around 1:00 p.m. on the second day, so I figure we are about seven hours ahead of that pace.

Last night we also lost one hour (had to set our clocks ahead) so I ended up missing sunrise. The temperature this morning was about fifteen degrees warmer, which means I can no longer leave my balcony door open while I am on the balcony (I keep my cabin as cold as possible). I saw a fish jump (don’t know why - maybe the ship scared it). We are to far from land so all that there is, is the sky, clouds, water, the ship’s wake and a jumping fish or two. Still, that beats the view on my way to work, so I guess I really cannot complain.

This morning the captain gave us a brief status on the ship’s position, schedule and the weather. He also warned everyone to wear sun protection, as we are now about 1000 miles south of Los Angeles and Acapulco is about 1500 miles south of Los Angeles. The sun is much stronger as we go south.

I notice that Norwegian is attempting to keep the spread of viruses to a minimum. There are hand sanitizers all over the ship. Yesterday I went to breakfast right after my shower. At the market café they would not give me the food tray until I had sanitized my hands (even after I told them I had just taken a shower). Hopefully this will work, and if it does, I hope the other cruise lines adopt this same procedure.

Again I went to the Market Café for breakfast. The eggs are still runny. No eggs Benedict, so I made my own egg Mcmuffin out of an English muffin, ham and eggs. This time I took four glasses of milk, but spilled half of one on the way back to my cabin. As I suspected I did not realize I spilled any on me because the cup did not hold enough to soak through my pants. I was going to cry about it until I remembered there is no use in crying over spilled milk. Oh well, three and one half glasses was perfect. Ginza is half price today between 5:30 and 6:30, so I made reservations for 6:00. Hopefully that will give me enough time to catch the sunset and the 7:30 show. There is a $5.00 charge if you cancel or miss your reservation after 5:00p.m.

I attended the port lecture today for Cabo. At this point I am beginning to think that these lectures hold no value for anyone who has been to the port before. It was the same sales pitch I heard twice before, once yesterday (different ports) and once last year on the Carnival Pride. After that I attended a future cruise lecture / sales pitch. However, this time there was a real benefit. After the lecture we were able to take a tour of one of the garden villas.

The garden villas each have three bedrooms (there are two garden villas which can be combined in case you need a 11,000+ sq. ft. suite that sleeps twelve), each bedroom has its own bathroom, walk in (or walk through) closet and down the hall there is a huge living room /dining room overlooking the pool and of course the ocean. There is also a two level private balcony with a private sauna and hot tub on the lower level. The upper level of the balcony is a very large area for sunbathing and I guess if you wanted to, you could host a party for 100 of your closest friends. About the only thing these garden villas do not have is a water slide. And all of this for only $25,000 per week (for each villa).

They set up a bar-bee-que by the pool for lunch again today. The line was big while I was touring the garden villas, but by the time I was done, so was the line. I had a light lunch consisting of a hot dog (good, but they ran out of mustard) rice and a macaroni salad. I brought it back to my cabin so I could enjoy it on my balcony. As it turns out the room steward was still making up my cabin, so being on the balcony kept me out of his way. The cabin has a desk-top refrigerator which works really well. It keeps the water cold without ice (less than forty degrees).

I decided to check out my theory about the pool water. Just as I got there, the hairy chest contest was ending. The guy with the most relatives on the cruise won. Sure enough the pool water was warmer. Still a little on the cool side, but after thirty seconds I really did not notice. I checked out the water in the water slide, and it was warm. I was soaking in the hot tub when the cruise director announced it was time for the swimming Olympics. There was one requirement. You had to be able to swim. He also said you should be in good shape. He wanted six males and six females. He was not getting as many volunteers as he wanted, so I volunteered. This is something for the fit thirty and under crowd. It was fun, and we all got a T-shirt that was too small, a small box with something in it (I’ll open it later - I am too tired to open it now) and a free drink. An hour nap helped in the recovery, but I think I am really going to feel it tomorrow morning. Still, it was my first ever scheduled ship board activity, so it was worth it (I hope - I’ll know more tomorrow morning).

While I was napping, we passed Puerto Vallarta. Typically cruises that go to Puerto Vallarta arrive around 8:00a.m. the morning of the third day. We passed Puerto Vallarta around 4:00p.m. on the second day (this ship is moving at about 24 knots). The weather is great and we should be in Acapulco on time tomorrow.

According to the TV, sunset was 5:45p.m. today. However, whoever said that forgot to check with the sun (or forgot about the time change). So I showed up at Ginza 15 minutes early and was seated right-a-way. I had mushroom soup and the Asian pork, which is pork served in the style of three different Asian countries. This is more like the kind of meals I am used to getting on a cruise ship, great food and good service. Inside Ginza is Teppanyaki, where they cook the meal in front of you and the pricing is a la carte. The people looked like they were having fun, so I think I will give Teppanyaki a try later in the cruise.

Well, I warned my server that if the sun set, I was going outside to take pictures, but would return. However, I finished my meal before the sunset, so I went outside and waited. I think I got some very good sunset pictures. There was still time until the show, so I picked out my formal photos and then went to the show. While picking out my pictures someone remembered me from the swim Olympics (nothing like a nice ego boost to help make your day).

Tonight’s show was a magic show featuring Shawn Farquhar, a two-time World Champion of Magic. He was fantastic. He is not only a great magician, but he is also very funny. A five star show. I recommend him to anyone anytime, anywhere (land, sea or air). He received and deserved a standing ovation. He made everything disappear except the charges on my ship board account. Speaking of which, Norwegian does not provide a method of checking your ship board account via the TV. You have to go to guest relations to get a printout of the ship board account. I prefer the TV method.

Though tired and sore, I would rate this a five star day.

Day 4 - Acapulco

The ship has been doing between 22 and 25 knots for the last 62 hours and now we are about 60 knots and three hours from docking. I still cannot see land so I decided to use my binoculars. Okay, who changed the focus? Adjusting the focus is not doing any good. Then it dawns on me, taking glass from a cold environment (like my cabin) into a warm environment, it is about 78 degrees with about 78 percent humidity outside (at 8:00a.m. - and not a cloud in the sky) is going to produce some condensation. A hand towel took care of the binocular problems (as well as the condensation on the screen of my computer). Still, I cannot see any land. When we left Los Angeles, we were on a course of about 170 degrees. Since we have been slowly turning more and more to the east. We are now headed about 110 degrees (about 20 degrees south of due east) right into the rising sun.

The TV said sunrise would be 7:15a.m. Well, I think they missed the time change again. I think the sun came up at 6:15 and I slept until 6:30 (and needed every minute of it). After a nice shower I feel fine (a little sore, but no complaints). Breakfast today consists of some grapefruit (already pealed of course - I still have not seen any pealed oranges) and milk. I decided a light breakfast was in order, since I can feel the ship starting to list to whichever side I am standing on. Found a compromise on the morning drinks that seem to work. I only took three glasses, but drank a forth glass before leaving the Market Café. I am happy to report I arrived on my balcony with the same amount of milk as when I left the Market Café. Since we will be in Mexico today, I naturally choose the Italian restaurant for dinner tonight. La Trattoria is free, however, reservations are required.

Acapulco is supposed to be one of the three most beautiful harbors in the world (Rio and Hong Kong are the other two). So I used up an entire memory card as we came into the bay. We finally docked at 11:30a.m. which is one half hour late. Had the captain averaged one-half knot more for half the trip (thirty hours) we would have been on time. The ship was not running at full cruise speed, so this would have been well within the ship’s capabilities. This seems to be poor time management on the captain’s part, in my opinion. This is my fifth cruise and the first port I have arrived late to.

For those of you who wonder if insurance is good to have, we were at our first stop after leaving Los Angeles and the first two people off the ship were taken off on stretchers to a waiting ambulance and to a Mexican hospital. Insurance will cover the medical flight back to the United States if you need it.

I was scheduled for the Acapulco City tour and Cliff Diving shore excursion, along with at least 250 other people. One bus would pull up, load up, take off, the next bus would pull up, load up, take off . . . I think this could have been handled a little more efficiently, but the line moved fast. First we stopped at one of the ship’s approved stores for a little shopping. I was trying to figure out what a jewelry store was doing in the middle of nowhere when I realized we were next to a park. The store did not interest me, so I walked around the park. It had two swimming pools, one for swimmers and a shallow one for non swimmers, a play area and a pond. Overall a very nice park, and no one was bothering me inside the park, even though the gates were open and it was free to come in. Two steps outside the park a street vendor approached me. So apparently the park was safe. I retreated back to the bus, and we were off for our city tour. Turns out the park used to be a hotel’s property. The hotel was not paying its taxes and the Mexican government took it over. The government turned half of the property into a park. I must say that any city in the United States would have been happy to own this park.

The tour of the city consisted of a drive down the main road to the Princess Hotel and back toward the hotel where the cliff divers perform. The tour was okay if you enjoy driving past luxury hotels. The tour guide’s English was okay, but sometimes it was hard to understand her because of her accent. Also, I think she needs to learn a little more about the city. Granted, I was just interested in seeing the cliff divers, so only half of the city tour portion of this excursion was of interest to me. But the guide ran out of things to say and started to repeat herself. Also, the tour guides need some new jokes. The one about if you enjoyed the tour, my name is Maria and the driver is Carlos, and if you did not enjoy the tour, my name is Amber and the driver is Tony is getting a little old. We did stop in a great spot for taking pictures, which several people, including myself, took advantage of. The cliff divers did not impress me as much as I thought they would. That is not to say they were not impressive, just that something as well known as the cliff divers did not seem to be world class impressive to me in person (in my opinion). Upon our return to the ship it was the same unload one bus at a time routine. I could have walked the distance of two buses as could have most of the other people on the bus. Oh well, I supposed there was some safety concern, and really, so I lost five minutes of my life sitting in an air-conditioned bus, big deal. Overall I would give the tour three stars. It was an average ship-bought tour. The quality was there, but the delivery could have been better.

After the tour I did a little souvenir shopping and then changed for dinner. I was half hour early for dinner, but they had an open table and were able to seat me (there were others waiting in line, so I think some people did not understand you are supposed to make reservations - which, as I noted earlier, is not something I enjoy doing as part of my cruise experience). Dinner was as good as any other free meal I have had on any cruise ship. Someone else who was eating there mentioned it was the best meal they had so far. I mentioned how much I liked Ginza. They had not eaten at Ginza yet, but had eaten at Endless Summer (free Tex-Mex) and La Trattoria was much better. I had soup and lasagna. I would give the meal and the service four stars (good but not great).

Something to keep in mind is that there are two times. One is local time and the other is ship time. Make sure you keep your watch on ship time. This ship is doing the same thing the Carnival Pride did last year. We move our clocks ahead one hour after the first full day at sea, then do not change the time anymore. So in the first three ports (Acapulco, Zihuatanejo and Puerto Vallarta) it might be 5:30p.m. but the ship’s time is only 4:30p.m. Passengers on the ship live by ship time, not local time.

Unfortunately this is not a balcony night for me. Since we are leaving at night (12:30a.m.) the captain turned the ship around so he could leave straight out in the dark. As a result my balcony is next to the dock, which is okay during the day. But at night, if I want to listen to traffic noise (the main street is about 100 yards away) I can open one of my windows at home.

As I walked around the ship at night looking out at the bay, I notice that the Norwegian Star has too much plexiglass wind screen. I understand its importance near the front of the ship and on the pool deck, but along the sides and rear of the sun deck it does not have to be so high, or so much (though I did notice the increase in the wind across the face as we pulled into the bay). With the ship traveling at a reduced speed, and moving across the wind instead of with it, the wind factor was much more noticeable, especially above the wind screen. Below the wind screen it would be like driving in a convertible car. The forward facing balconies do have a low windscreen. Perhaps if I have the chance in the future, I will try one of the forward facing balconies (which I believe are all suites). The view is as good as the captain gets, so it would be an experience.

Well, we are 125 miles from Zihuatanejo, but then we have been for the last twelve hours (we are still docked in Acapulco). I wonder if anyone will still be enjoying Acapulco’s well know night life when the ship sets sail? Considering that school is in session, I am surprised at how many school aged children and young adults (college aged) there are on this ship. I hope everyone realizes that the ship will leave without them. I did not attend the show tonight. It is a folkloric dance and that does not interest me at all.

Overall I would give today a four star rating. Good quality, but the delivery was lacking. Of course it still beats a good day at the office by a long shot.