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Norwegian Star
Norwegian Cruise Line

November 17-19, 2001
Christening 'Sneak Preview' Cruise

by Linda Coffman

Welcome to Hawaii's newest heavenly body—Norwegian Star

Norwegian Star's Grand Atrium

~ Grand Atrium ~

Warmed by Miami sunshine and the excitement of the morning's dual ship christening festivities, I gratefully accepted a traditional Hawaiian orchid lei greeting and stepped aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's gleaming new shipNorwegian Star.

First impressions are lasting and I won't forget mine as the Norwegian Star's Grand Atrium overwhelmed me. This is NCL?

Purpose-built for NCL's Freestyle Cruising concept, quite simply Norwegian Star has more of everything. More dining options, a variety of entertainment selections, an enormous spa, and expanded facilities for children and teens. All of this on a ship dedicated to the freedom of choice. Finally, passengers can tailor a cruise vacation to fit their lifestyle, not someone else's. 

Warning—this is not the NCL of old. Norwegian Star is bright and vibrant. She pulsates with energy. 

Norwegian Star's array of traditional and exotic eateries tempts even the least adventurous palate to try the cornucopia of international cuisines. Ten restaurants with eleven menus and only seven nights to nosh through them all—it's a floating food festival! What's your pleasure?

  • Versailles—One of two main dining rooms with an elegant French-inspired decor and six-course menu of traditional fare
  • Aqua—The second main dining room serving contemporary cuisine in an equally contemporary atmosphere and featuring a "display galley" where guests can watch the preparation of pastries and desserts
  • Endless Summer—Overlooking the Grand Atrium, this Hawaiian-themed restaurant features island favorites
  • Le Bistro—NCL's signature upscale French Mediterranean restaurant featuring gourmet French cuisine served on Versace Rosenthal China in Art-nouveau style (cover charge)
  • Ginza—Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar and teppanyaki room (á la carte pricing)
  • The SoHo Room—A modern art-inspired, intimate high-end Pacific Rim restaurant serving Californian and Asian specialties, including live lobster from the dramatic lobster tank (á la carte pricing)
  • Las Ramblas—Authentic Spanish Tapas bar with live entertainment and a menu of hot and cold tapas that changes daily
  • La Trattoria—A casual Italian restaurant where pasta, pizza, and other traditional Italian dishes are specialties 
  • Market Café/Kid's Café/The Grill—Buffet style indoor/outdoor eatery open around the clock with special kid-sized serving buffet and tables
  • Blue Lagoon—Diner-style eatery offering snacks and fast-food around the clock

For attacks of the munchies, try the Bier Garten overlooking the Oasis Pool for Bavarian snacks such as wurst and pretzels with your favorite brew or satisfy your sweet tooth with ice cream, sherbets, and sundaes at Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar. Of course, room service never closes and dining on one's private balcony is a sublime treat. 

While there is a charge for the upscale restaurants, no one is forced to pay it. Colin Veitch, President & CEO of NCL, explains the dining fees are levied for capacity control, not exclusivity. On my short cruise, the specialty restaurants were booked solid. I sampled Ginza, as well as the Versailles and Aqua restaurants, Market Café, Java Café, and room service. I haven't been able to look at my scale without guilt—I think it was the caviar and goose liver pâté canapés that did in my diet, though.

Norwegian Star's Endless Summer Restaurant

~ Endless Summer Restaurant ~
My choice for prettiest meal setting

This is Freestyle Cruising and passengers can choose resort casual attire every night or dress up for a special dinner. Formal attire during one evening is optional with one or more restaurants set aside for those who don't want to forgo this shipboard tradition. The only "dress code" caveat is that no jeans, t-shirts, shorts, cut-offs, tank tops are allowed in any of the restaurants at dinner. Most of my fellow passengers selected an array of "country club casual" outfits, ranging from pant-and-top ensembles to cocktail dresses. Except for a handful of gentlemen in tuxedos, I spotted very few ties but numerous sport coats. Pack light and think mix 'n match with various accessories. Without assigned dinner partners, it's unlikely that anyone will notice a "repeated" garment.

Freestyle Cruising offers the flexibility of dining when you wish and with whom you choose. What a concept... eating when you're actually hungry! However, cruise traditionalists who prefer the same table and waiter every night at a certain time can simply inform the Maitre d' and those  arrangements will be made. For parents who want to share a romantic dinner for two, the Kid's Crew program and group babysitting solves the problem of child care.

So many categories, how can you pick one? Although there are over two dozen fare categories listed in the brochures, Norwegian Star's accommodations boil down to standard Inside and Oceanview Staterooms, Oceanview staterooms with Balconies, Mini-Suites, Penthouses, Romance Suites, Owner's suites, and the fantastic Garden Villas. More than 70% of all staterooms are outside.

All staterooms have gleaming light cherry wood cabinetry and paneling accents, a small refrigerator and personal safe for valuables, as well as in-cabin coffee service to heat water for tea or instant coffee. (Oddly, there was no appropriate outlet to plug it in.) A professional style hairdryer with real power is mounted over each dressing table. Bathroom amenities include shampoo and soap dispensers and hold your hats... most bathrooms are split into sections! Yes, the toilet is separated from the sink area by a wall and sliding glass door. The shower is roomy and also has a sliding glass door. No more clinging shower curtain!

At 172 square feet, the standard Oceanview Staterooms are generous. Even Inside Staterooms are cheery and the  clever use of primary colors and strategically placed mirrors achieves an open feeling.

One of the most desirable of all stateroom amenities is a balcony and a whopping 70% of Norwegian Star's outside staterooms have them. Book yours fast—I predict Oceanview Staterooms with Balconies will be a hot seller in Hawaii. Mini-Suites with a balcony are even more desirable with additional square footage, generous storage, and bathtubs.

Stepping up in posh and space, Penthouses and Owner's Suites are some of the chicest digs at sea. To tempt newlyweds and couples celebrating a second honeymoon, the choice of elegant Romance Suites with their soft billowy fabrics afford a luxurious hideaway for two. Penthouses, named for gems and artists, come in a variety of decor styles and a knowledgeable travel agent is a necessity when selecting one.

Norwegian Star's Garden Villa

~ Garden Villa ~ 
Private Hot Tub

The pièce de résistance are the two Garden Villas. High atop the Norwegian Star, they are the ultimate in opulence. With living room, dining room, three bedrooms with luxury baths, and more toys than I could count, they are a floating fantasy. Occupants need only step outside to enjoy a relaxing soak in their hot tub or al fresco dining in their private garden. Have the butler serve cocktails while I slip into my specially-designed robe (a silky fabric lined in terrycloth). Okay... I'm through daydreaming, but it is a lovely castle in the air. Mr. Veitch confided they are not at a loss for occupants, even at rates that make my gold card tremble.

For large families, interconnecting standard staterooms and suites can create a two to five bedroom area and passengers with disabilities haven't been overlooked—twenty cabins of various types have been designed for their special needs.

Public Areas
She's bright, she's glittering, and she's big! Most of all, though, Norwegian Star is open and expansive. Even so, the intimate size and nature of many public rooms belie her size. It was easy to forget I was on a ship with over 2,000 other guests!

The Grand Atrium hums with activity as guests sip specialty coffee at the Java Café, shop in the boutiques, and discuss tour options with the Shore Excursion staff. A second, and smaller atrium is surrounded by Ginza on one deck, while one deck below, Gatsby's Champagne Bar anchors the entries to The SoHo Room, the Wine Cellar, Havana Club (for cigar aficionados), and Le Bistro French Restaurant. These rooms each have a distinctive style, reflected in their decor.

For sheer exuberance, the Karaoke Circus is unparalleled—the singing rather matches the primary colors and wild animal nature of the surroundings. If you don't consider publicly humiliating yourself fun, check into a private karaoke room where you can exercise your pipes and retain a bit of dignity. 

Other spots to freestyle the nights away should appeal to a wide array of tastes... the rollicking Red Lion Pub, the Star Bar and its piano melodies, Dazzles Nightclub for dancing, and the Spinnaker Lounge.

Reminiscent of a European opera house with its red and gold color scheme and sparkling crystal chandeliers, the Stardust Theater is one of the most beautiful at sea. Theater style seating is made even more comfortable by air conditioning vents built into the seat backs. With the exception of the last row of the top balcony, sightlines are good throughout. It's a grand setting for the lavish production shows presented on its proscenium stage.

Finally, there are meeting rooms, a library, card room, reading room, chapel, and a PROPER cinema—a real treat for those of us who enjoy watching first-run movies on a large screen. 

Active Lifestyles
Follow the soothing sounds of the waterfall in a third mini-atrium to Barong Spa. Staffed by the acclaimed Mandara Spa, it boasts a full menu of salon treatments and spa indulgences. For those who consider perspiration a sign of good health, the Norwegian Star's 24-hour fitness center sports state-of-the art equipment and a wide range of classes taught by certified instructors. For sheer serenity, the Barong Spa Pool beckons. It's the world's longest cruise ship indoor lap pool... following a swim, relaxation is king here. Try a sauna, steam bath, the therapy pool, or Jacuzzi (all complimentary). Then lie back on a chaise lounge and watch the lights overhead turn from white to blue—heavenly!

Joggers are sure to admire the unique wall murals while doing their laps on the wrap-around Promenade Deck. If sunning is your thing, the Oasis Pool has ample deck chairs on terraced landings. The Oasis Pool's water slides and light pillars are somewhat incongruous... until the sun goes down. That's when the lights twinkle and the laser show begins! Then, it makes sense.

The Norwegian Star Experience
From the caviar and pâté de foie gras offerings in Gatsby's Champagne Bar to ale and darts in the Red Lion Pub, Norwegian Star's Freestyle Cruising should satisfy the tastes of even the most discriminating passenger. Couch Potato to Type "A" Personality, there's a little something to appeal to everyone. When you're not ashore exploring the beauty of Hawaii, if nothing appeals to you, there's always your private balcony, a quiet corner to read, or a deck chair from which to contemplate the sea.

Norwegian Star's high-tech Teen Club

~ The high-tech Teen Club ~

Parents can relax, knowing their children are well entertained in the "Kid's Crew" Program at Planet Kids and well fed from one of the special menus designed to suit even the finickiest junior passengers. Families have the flexibility to dine at their own table or mom and dad can savor a "Night Out" while their youngsters are having a pillow fight at a pajama party. Teenagers, always difficult to please, can opt to participate in a wide range of sports, dance parties, and entertainment options or simply "do their own thing" with new-found pals in the Video Zone or Teen Club.

What You WILL Find:

  • Abundant choices
  • Tasty meals, creatively presented
  • Service by an attentive staff
  • Activities to suit a wide range of interests for all ages
  • Freestyle Cruising "Active Decompression" lifestyle & enrichment programs, including personal finance seminars, cooking, mountain biking and computer classes, and genealogy discussions
  • Well stocked duty free shops and a "department store" where men can relax at the bar while the women shop 'til they drop
  • A chapel for weddings, marriage renewal of vows ceremonies, and religious celebrations
  • Numerous connecting staterooms and suites for families
  • Huge, well-equipped areas for children, including Planet Kids and their own Splash Down Kids Pool with water slides
  • Duvets on supremely comfortable beds
  • Children under two sail at no charge with two or more paying guests
  • Concierge and butler service for suite guests
  • The very best entertainment afloat, presented by the Jean Ann Ryan Company and guest performers
  • Theme evenings
  • Gratuities are automatically added to all accounts

What You WON'T Find:

  • A self-service laundry
  • Structured dress codes
  • Rigid dining schedules
  • Boredom

Fast Stats

  • 91,000 tons
  • 965 feet long
  • 105 feet wide
  • Speed 25 knots
  • 2,240 guests, double occupancy

More Norwegian Star Photos - Staterooms & Public Areas

Photos © Linda Coffman & Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

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