The Norwegian Star Still Shines Bright

The Norwegian Star, one of two sister ships which Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) christened in November 2001 as the first Hawaiian-based cruise ship, continues today to live up to her name with some new and improved itineraries for the Fall of 2005.

With her vibrant color schemes and faux animal prints accenting the interior d�©cor, with her 10 distinct restaurants and specialty cuisine, and her attentive onboard staff who greet and cater to passengers every step of the way, the Star remains the definition of innovation in the cruise industry today.

Service throughout the ship is well-trained and attentive, treating guests in true star-style. Upon being welcomed with a friendly greeting and a smile, passengers enter into a seven-story atrium area with marble columns, windows and glass all around. Transparent elevators flow up and down carrying passengers like some sort of high-tech space capsule. Hanging from the ceiling is an enormous movie screen showing playful beach images from Endless Summer. Also in the atrium is a raised platform coffee bar, where passengers can sit and relax or simply grab a quick pick-me-up.

Rich reds and greens, similar to the lush tropical ports she calls on, dominate the hallways and staircases. Wood handrails, doors and moldings are also plentiful throughout. The artwork onboard the ship varies based on the room or area of the ship, however large wall paintings and sculptures give the vessel a thoroughly decorated feel.

No stone was left unturned in the “attention to detail” department. Cabins, which are all uniquely decorated with a strong contemporary, European influence come equipped with electrical outlets suitable for 110 and 220 voltage-catering to passengers from all areas of the globe. A TV, radio, telephone (including voice mail and speed dial), refrigerator, coffee maker, blow dryer and safe come in each stateroom. Seventy percent of the cabins onboard the Star are outside staterooms and more than 70 percent of those have balconies. Once you have had the pleasure of sipping a glass of chilled wine from your own private verandah while watching an orange-pink sunset dip below the horizon with currents of the blue ocean rushing below your feet, it’s not an experience you will soon forget–or ever do without again.

Whether you are a CEO, oil tycoon or just the average American trying to outdo ‘the Jones’s,” you can sail in luxury style when occupying one of two “Garden Villas” onboard the ship. The 2,153 square-foot Garden Villa sleeps six in three uniquely decorated bedrooms and opens up to a 1,722 square-foot Asian-style private, outdoor garden complete with lounge area, sauna and whirlpool. Hosting private parties is a breeze-and very exclusive-in the Villa where a decorative small bridge and stream lead guests up a staircase to a private rooftop terrace that accommodates up to 100 people.

If you’ve never cruised because you have visions of blue hairs playing shuffle board and imagine a week of dining with complete strangers, you will be surprised to find that this is no longer your mom and pop’s cruise. NCL was the first cruise line to introduce the Freestyle Dining concept (doing away with traditionally structured two-seating dining), and also the first to build a ship with actual restaurants.

Ten different restaurants offer guests a variety of culinary fare including Thai/Japanese/Chinese, in Ginza; modern and classic French a la carte, in Le Bistro; Californian and Asian contemporary cuisine (even a live lobster tank), in The SoHo Room; and Spanish hot and cold tapas, in Las Ramblas bar and restaurant-just to mention a few. Talented chefs create dishes that are well prepared, well portioned and well presented. In terms of capacity, two of the restaurants accommodate more than 350 people at one time; Versailles seats 384 and Aqua seats 392.

Broadway-style–not Las Vegas style–productions are held in the main show lounge, called The Stardust Lounge which seats up to 1,037 people and is beautifully engineered to provide good sight lines from all seats in the house. This room serves as a theater in the evenings for NCL’s renowned Jean Ann Ryan productions. In fact, Andrew Lloyd Weber was personally involved in the creation of the line’s production “Music of the Night,” which was an exclusive to NCL.

For those who want to do business at sea or for guests who just can’t stand to be out of touch with land, The Star holds seven boardrooms which seat 10-25 people for meetings or break-out sessions and the Internet CafÃ?© provides 51 workstations for sending pictures and checking email. Shuffles, the card room, would also suit a small meeting of up to 44 people, as would the Lifestyles Room which holds 52. Other public rooms include Spinnaker’s Lounge (cap. 371), the Cinema/Auditorium (cap. 151), and Dazzles Nightclub & Lounge (cap. 37).

Whether it’s for business or pleasure, this vessel gives passengers plenty to entertain themselves. The Sports Deck contains a golf driving range, volleyball and basketball court, while a two-deck fitness and spa center boast state-of-the-art cardiovascular equipment, aerobic and boxercise area with sprung wooden floor, steam and sauna rooms, a jet-current exercise pool and an interior 20-yard lap pool. The 24-hour fitness center unlike some fitness areas at sea, has many windows overlooking the ocean below. Hydrotherapy facilities are available for “R&R” or post-workout relief. Mandara Spa pampers guests with its full-service spa and salon/beauty treatments.

Not only does this 2,240 passenger vessel do an excellent job of catering toward adults, but the ship is also particularly family-friendly offering a large children’s center with outdoor pool and water slides, play room, movie theater, computer rooms and video arcade.

To top it off, this “floating hotel” allows one to experience as many as five different places all in one trip-no resort can match that. The “south of the border itinerary” –which is new for Fall 2005–takes guests cruising round-trip from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera for eight days and visits enchanting ports including Acapulco, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. NCL’s innovative Norwegian Star offers the only weekly itinerary with an overnight stay in Acapulco.

This will also be the Star’s first season in the brilliant northern waters of Alaska. Passengers can kick back and relax while surrounded by the natural beauty of Alaska aboard a ship that never ceases to amaze with its many world-class amenities. The ship offers convenient Sunday departures from Seattle making this itinerary really shine.

The Norwegian Star is a great way to see the breathtaking glaciers in Alaska May through September and the sun-soaked ports of the Mexcian Riviera September through May. It also allows passengers the benefit of only have to pack and unpack once!

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