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deefer

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  1. We were on the Star in April on a Panama Canal Cruise in cabin 9732. Here are the photos of the balcony In order to have breakfast on the balcony we had to bring the loungers into the room As you can see the balcony is quite small but we chose the wrap around feature as we also wanted a “side view” for the Panama Canal Crossing. I do not have any photos of the balconies on 10 but I am also under the impression that they are bigger. On the Jewel we were in an aft suite on the 10th deck and the balcony was HUGE. But I have no idea how it compares to the Star aft suites on 10. Here’s a photo of 10th on Jewel Not sure if this will help with your decision ...... but either way have an awesome cruise!
  2. Thanks for this great review. Just a quick question about your room - did you notice a lot of streaking on the windows? We have been on the Dawn before but in one of the family suites with balcony. Our next cruise is 22 days - to stretch our budget we booked a family suite without a balcony but I am a little concerned about the streaking problems reported on the windows by others on this board.
  3. Day 12 - Cartagena, Columbia Full cost of this excursion with NCL was $65pp. With our platinum discount and the $100 shore excursion credit our final cost was $8.50pp. Had a leisurely morning on the ship and were escorted of the ship for our 945am meeting time. Got on the bus and started our tour. Our first stop was the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas Fort. We got the history of the fort on the bus and then were given 10 minutes or so to take photos. We did not actually go into the fort. We then drive to what used to be an army barrack and is now a market We had about 25minutes to browse - they had the usual souvenir stuff but some of the shops were also unique local artist hand made products. Then we drive to Old Cartagena where we start our walking tour We go into the Spanish Inquistion Building Here we hear about some of the horrible things done in the name of religion. At one point on the walking tour we stop to watch a local artist paint on mirrors He’s very fast - it only takes him 2-3 minutes from start to finish. At the time I felt like this was “shopping stop” and didn’t appreciate it - now looking back I look at it as highlighting one of the local street artists. We then get some history on the local church We then stop to see a 10 minute show of local dancers. We really appreciated the air conditioning. I don’t think I mentioned yet that it was VERY HOT out. The show was okay. It only was about 10 minutes or so. As you are leaving there is a basket out for tips if so desired. We then had about 30 minutes of free time to wander around. Then it was back to the ship. There were beggars that were quite aggressive at both the fort and old Cartagena. Despite saying no they persisted for a bit. You would also be approached by people selling goods but one polite no thank you was all it took with the vendors. Although you are picked up right at the ship - you are dropped off at a very nice market/garden area. This is a map of this area where you can get snacks/souvenirs etc. Free WiFi was available. This is a very nice area - birds and monkeys walk around freely. The souvenirs/coffee available for sale in this area is the same as in town but more expensive. To save some dollars if you plan to shop do it in town. A complimentary shuttle bus is available from this area back to the ship I walked - its a good 10 minute brisk walk And that was our day in Cartagena.
  4. Day 11 - The Panama Canal! As the NCL Star is a smaller ship - we were able to go through the original locks. The night before in our cabin is our daily which gives you the approximate schedule for the day and a map that shows our route for the crossing At 630 am announcements start - we put on channel 13 on the TV so we can hear them in our room - this also gives you the front view of the journey. There are already a lot of people on deck 8 forward (which has been opened for viewing during the transit). We start the transit with breakfast on the balcony We order it for 8am and it arrives just as we are entering the Miraflores Locks. The view during breakfast We then wander to the front of the ship on deck 8 If you are not on the rail you really can’t see much. I had to ask someone if I could just squeeze in to take this photo. We did not stay here long. We thought we would wander around the ship - but because we had an aft and side view from our balcony & the front view from the TV - we stayed in our room/balcony for most of the transit. This a photo of the TV in our room showing us entering the Pedro Miguel Locks (2nd set of locks) Then this ship enters the Culebra Cut In the cut 2 ships our size can pass - but the Mega Ships (like the Bliss) will have no oncoming traffic. We then arrive in Gatun Lake - portions of it seem quite wide yet when ships pass each other they seem awfully close! We anchor in the Lake for about 45 minutes waiting our turn to enter the next sets of locks. This was a good time to grab lunch. Then we go through the Gatun Locks Leaving Gatun Locks It’s crazy how close the ship is to the lock walls! I was a little worried that the day may feel a bit repetitive towards the end. It was not! Absolutely loved the whole transit - time flew by! The narrative by the Panama Canal Port Authority person over the PA system was very good. But I would still recommend doing either some research ahead of time or going to those lectures offered on board to get more detail. So if you are considering a Panama Canal cruise you have some decisions. Full vs partial transit. Old locks (which means smaller ship) vs New locks. We wanted to see the old locks - but honestly any cruise through the Panama Canal I think would be amazing. The next day in our room we found this little memento Please feel free to ask questions!
  5. We did not pay extra for this package- it just happened to be a promotion that was offered in addition to the usual “free perks” at the time we booked. I’m not sure if it was offered for all categories but I do recall it was offered for at least the balcony level and higher ( it may have been available for all cabins - I’m sorry just can’t recall). And I do recall it was offered on many different sailings, not just our panama cruise.
  6. Day 9 - Puntarenas, Costa Rica Full price of this excursion with NCL is $99 per person. WIth the platinum discount and $100 shore credit our final cost is $39.10 per person. We had priority disembarkation.....got off on time then waited standing on the dock for 45 minutes for the rest of the group from the theater to arrive. If you have a hard time standing and are in a suite - it might be better for you to go to the theater and just go with the group on NCL excursions. We get on the bus, it’s about a 40 minute drive to the rain forest. Some nice scenery along the way and the guide is very informative about local culture/history If you didn’t bring water with you - it is available for purchase just before you enter the park $4 for a 2 liter bottle. Although it was a really hot day - the walk through the rain forest was fine because of all the shade the large trees provided. We bought the water but really did not need it. Entrance to the park Here you can pick up a walking stick if you like You walk across several suspension bridges If you have a hard time with stairs, this excursion is not for you. There weren’t that many - but enough if you struggle with them Throughout the walk the guide would point out interesting things/facts about the vegetation etc. You walk through the forest in a single line- there were at least 30 people on this tour - if you were not one of the first 5-10 people you would not hear anything he had to say. This is the disadvantage on NCL excursions - too large. I was 4th in line so was able to absorb the info! Then we take a short bus ride to the Tarcoles River - this river has the most crocodiles in both North & Central America and many different birds. We get on the boat for the river cruise Here is one of the big crocs we saw .... he was so still I thought he was dead until I saw him blink! We saw at least 10 different bird species The tour ends with a sampling of local banana & pineapple. And to drink they have coffee, mango juice, ice tea & water. There is also some goods available for purchase We had about 30 minutes to snack/shop before going back to the ship. An enjoyable day. Next will be the Panama Canal!
  7. We did Singapore to Hong Kong on the NCL Jewel last March. LOVED this cruise....we did truly private tours at each port (just my husband and I) and had priority disembarkation, that along with exotic ports is what I think made it amazing. I did a live review on this board, not sure if you would be interested in it as our only common stop is Singapore. But if you are, just search for it, sorry don’t know how to cut and paste the link on my iPad 🥴
  8. The email did not specify - but when I signed into my foxwoods account the event was listed as “NCL Premium Cruise”.
  9. Day 8 - San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua Full price of this tour with NCL is $125 pp. With our platinum discount and $100 credit, our final cost was $62.50pp. This was a last minute decision for us - really none of the excursions peaked our interest. We settled on this one because neither of us has seen a live volcano. I believe Nicaragua is trying to build it’s tourist industry. I researched independent tours also - and really could not find anything. This is a tender port - NCL used their own life boats as tenders. Took about 10mins to get to shore. On arrival we were greeted with local dancers and a small market with goods for sale The drive to the volcano took over 2.5 hrs EACH WAY. The tour guide on the bus did his best to educate us about his country but unfortunately was a little light on information which made the bus trip VERY LONG. For example, he would say the recent political unrest was very tumultuous and in so did not want to talk about it. On the way there we saw a procession on its way to mass Locals at a watering hole We get to the volcano and spend 10-15 mins there walking around, snapping photos The guide told us at night you can see the glow of the lava. On the way back we stopped in a very small town called Catarina and had 20-30 mins to walk around. Here you can see a beautiful volcanic lake called the Apoyo Lagoon and there are some local shops that have hand made goods/souvenirs. We had a police escort for almost the whole time - the guide said it was to help us get through traffic. My guess it also was for safety. One of the other buses was late returning to the ship - the ship waited - we left about 1 hr later than scheduled. These poor people were on the bus for over 6 hours. Although I thought the volcano was really cool to see -overall I did not really like this tour. Next will be Costa Rica .....
  10. Just got an email from Foxwoods - certificate to be picked up on May 26th. Oceanview room - for Bermuda, Carribean, Mexican Riviera, Canada/New England, Alaska & Europe. We will not be picking them up as get better cabins when booking directly with CAS.
  11. As far as my favorite speciality restaurant - probably La Cucina - but that’s because I love pasta and rarely have it. Really the food here is probably at the level of Olive Garden. My husband’s favorite is Cagney’s. Better than the Outback steak house but not quite at the level of a top steak house. Since you have enough .... try them all! Le Bistro has the BEST mushroom soup. If you go there - you must try it. On this cruise the lights were really bright which dampened the ambiance. Maybe because the cruisers were a little older and couldn’t see the menu? To add variety you could also use one of your SPD meals at the Ginza Restaurant. For a $7.50pp upcharge you can order sushi and rolls. We did that one night to change things up. We really enjoyed it. The day you board the lunch is served in Cagney’s, but after that the suite breakfast & lunch is served at Moderno’s. French pressed coffee at breakfast And here’s a photo of a section of the breakfast buffet that you can sample before ordering from the menu We went to thermal spa everyday - did not take any photos of it. In the coed area there is a small lap pool, a hot tub, a small thalasso (sp?) therapy pool, & heated stone loungers. In each of the changing areas there is a dry & steam sauna. Many times we were the only people in the thermal spa. Never crowded. We really enjoy the thermal suite and always buy the pass - if you purchase it online before you cruise you save about $20pp. We rarely drink alcohol so did not frequent any of the bars .... sorry no input here. We really enjoyed our vacation ..... I wish you one at least as enjoyable as ours!
  12. Day 7 - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Visited a coffee plantation Full cost of the excursion with NCL is $79.10 pp. With our platinum discount and $100 credit our final cost was $21.10pp. Photo of the port from our balcony You walk through a nice little market on the way to the bus. The bus ride to the coffee plantation took about 90 minutes. Our tour guide was awesome. Talked almost the whole time - very interesting. Learned a lot about the people, the history, the politics etc. Time went very quickly because of her. Some of the scenery along the way Still some rebuilding needed after that large volcanic eruption last year This is the path one of the lava flows left We arrive at a family owned coffee plantation and start the tour. Although the day is really hot - coffee beans like to grow in shade - so the trees they plant to shade the coffee plants also keep us cool! The tour teaches about how the plants are planted & grow How the beans are harvested And the processing involved to get the beans ready for market It made me really appreciate how much work goes into me being able to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning! After the tour coffee & cookies are provided. Coffee and some hand made goods are available for purchase. We bought coffee to enjoy at home - $8 per pound. Back to the ship we walked around the market - and bought this bag for our dog sitter ..... it’s really well made - paid $23 USD. I noticed free WiFi available at one of the cafes in this market - we have free data on our cellphones so did not use it, but my guess was you would need to purchase something to be able to use the WiFi. I believe I saw beer for $1. Significantly cheaper than what you would pay for WiFi on the ship! Overall a very enjoyable day.
  13. Day 5 - Acapulco Mexico The ship docked at this port - our NCL tour was meeting time was not until 1145am, you could walk off the ship at 8am so we decided to walk off early and do some exploring on our own. When you first walk off the ship you walk through this area..... If you haven’t prebooked a tour (either with NCL or on your own) you will find official taxi/tour operators offering things to do. We decided to try a local outdoor market. The cost was $30 USD return and the taxi/tour operator escorted us the whole time. I forgot to get a business card of the company - but you will see them wearing badges in this area. The market Here you can see locals making goods There were mass produced souvenirs available for purchase, but also hand made equivalents. The souvenirs that we purchase are things that we can use in our every day life that do not look like a souvenir ....i.e. don’t have “Acapulco” prominently painted on it somewhere On this stop for $15 we bought a hand painted spoon rest Got back in plenty of time to make our NCL excursion. Full cost of this NCL excursion was $55 pp. With our 10% discount & $100 credit, Our final cost was FREE. Can’t beat that. I did not research any private tours as I knew there is no way there cost would be cheaper than free! Tour started with a short drive to the Famous Cliff Divers - on route the tour operator explained the history of the cliff divers, who they are etc. The tour cost includes all entry fees - and at the bathroom stop after the cliff divers (in a store) there is free water, soda or beer. It was VERY HOT out .... I would recommend bringing extra water for the time you are in the fort. Cliff Divers Some of the scenery on the way to the divers The best viewing for the cliff divers is on the lower deck. You have to be able to walk up and down 100 steps. We walked down to the lowest viewing area but I’m sure the views from the upper levels was fine. The cliff divers start on our side of the viewing area They climb down, swim across and then climb up the other side Then they dive .... there were about 8 divers in total, sometimes diving 2 at a time, doing flips from various places on the cliff Then we went to the Fort of SanDiego - this is a model of the fort A very nice guided tour explaining it’s history and how people lived The ship docks right across the street from this fort - this is a photo from the top of the fort And that was our day in Acapulco.... next wil be Guatemala!
  14. Toilet Flushing Issues The toilets on all floors for the back of the ship would not flush from 2am the day we arrived in Cabo - and were not fixed until around 6p after we left. Apparently someone flushed a big piece metal down the toilet and it clogged everything up for many many cabins. We were fine ..... but many people were livid. It was a long walk to find a functioning toilet from the aft - there were a lot of older cruisers with walkers etc. This would have been a challenge for them. When they say only flush toilet paper .... please follow their requests!
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