Norwegian Star Review: Horror Cruise From Hong Kong to Sydney

Norwegian Star Review: Horror Cruise From Hong Kong to Sydney

The Norwegian Star cruise ship, adorned with colorful star graphics, docked at a port with clear skies and calm waters. The ship's multiple decks and large windows are visible, showcasing its grand scale and modern design.

Are you looking for an honest review of the cruise ship Norwegian Star? Then you are in the right spot.

I have experienced the most horrific cruise on the Norwegian Star – the ship was literally unable to navigate and left us all floating out onto the ocean near Bali.

From port cancellations to terrible information flow – this cruise was definitely adventurous. And this was not the first time something similar happened to the Norwegian Star.

Obviously, we also had a lot of fun on the cruise and there were quite a few good things despite the trouble. And I have summarized it all in this post.

If you want to figure out if you should book your cruise on the Norwegian Star, keep on reading in this ultimate review.

Let’s get to it!

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Norwegian Star Review – in Short


🩵 Friendly Crew

🩵 Good Food & Drinks

🩵 Informal (no dress codes)

🩵 Fun Entertainment

🩵 Small size, not crowded

🩵 Nice shore excursions


💔 Lots of cancelled ports

💔 The ship is in bad condition (note: it has been refurbished since then)

💔 Dangerous azipod failures

💔 Bad communication during dangerous moments

💔 No fancy gala nights

Horror Moments on the Norwegian Star

This ship review of the Norwegian Star would not be complete if I did not tell you about the horrific experience we had on this ship during our cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Before we arrived in Hong Kong, we had already been informed that our itinerary was gonna be changed because the ship had troubles with one azipod.

We got USD 200 of shipboard credit for the inconvenience and the canceled ports (Phy My and Laem Chabang) – so we were ok with it.

A document from the Norwegian Cruise Line detailing a route change for a Southeast Asia cruise. It lists original and updated ports of call, including dates and times, providing important itinerary information for passengers.

After a few days on the ship, we got a notice that more ports needed to be canceled due to the azipod problems. People were angry, but we were nicely compensated with shipboard credit.

As the cruise went on, we were told that the ship would have to be taken out of the water in Singapore to fix things. That leads to another canceled port. People were angry and the mood on the boat changed.

Things were apparently not able to be resolved, because after Singapore all the other azipods broke as well and we were just drifting off into the ocean.

They got mechanics onto the ship that seemed to fix the problem, but more ports had to be canceled.

People were SO angry. The compensation was supposed to be USD 500 shipboard credit and a 50 % reduction on a further cruise (as if I’d even book with that cruise line again).

In the end, riots broke out and people stormed the atrium of the ship demanding action. Company officials were flown in and people were offered higher compensation. Most people signed a waiver and took it.

We did not – because online research showed, that that had happened before. In the end, we managed to get all of our money back in addition to the shipboard credit. That was a fair result since most ports were canceled.

Fun fact: we left the ship in Sydney and drove on to Melbourne. The ship broke down on its way to Auckland and was towed back to Melbourne as well, so we could meet all of our friends that stayed on the ship.

Note: the Norwegian Star was completely refurbished in 2021, so this might not be an issue anymore.

The Norwegian Star cruise ship sailing on open waters, viewed from the side. The ship is adorned with colorful graphics and is fully equipped with balconies and lifeboats, cruising under a clear blue sky with distant land visible on the horizon.

Basic Info Norwegian Star

The Norwegian Star is a cruise ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line. It is known for its laid-back and freestyle cruising concept. Let me give you a bit of an overview of the ship before we dive a bit deeper into my assessment.

Here’s some basic info about the ship: (Source NCL)

  • Built: The Norwegian Star was built in 2001.
  • Refurbished: It was last refurbished in 2021 in dry-dock. It underwent a complete update of its facilities and amenities.
  • Passenger Capacity: The ship can accommodate about 2,298 passengers.
  • Crew: It has a crew of around 1,031 people.
  • Length: The ship measures approximately 965 feet (294 meters) in length.
  • Tonnage: It has a gross tonnage of about 91,740 GT.
  • Number of Cabins: There are 1,176 passenger cabins on board.
  • Amenities: It features a wide range of amenities including multiple dining options, bars and lounges, a spa, pools, a casino, and various entertainment venues.
  • Itineraries: The Norwegian Star travels to a variety of destinations, including the Caribbean, Europe, and transatlantic crossings. We did an Asia and Australia cruise with this ship.

The Staterooms

The staterooms on the Norwegian Star were not in great shape during my cruise. They had all the necessities, but they were pretty small and the furniture was outdated.

As mentioned before, the ship was completely refurbished in 2021. From the pictures on the website it feels like not much was done on the staterooms though, they look pretty much the same.

I suggest definitely booking a cabin with a balcony. The inside staterooms and the ones with a window were not too nice.

We had an inside cabin (as seen below) and we pulled up the extra bed to give it a more cozy feel.

A typical passenger cabin on the Norwegian Star in disarray, with two single beds, scattered clothes, and personal items. The cabin has wood paneling and functional decor, reflecting a comfortable but utilitarian design.

The Ship & Amenities

The Norwegian Star had a lot to offer in terms of amenities. There were awesome pools, whirlpools, a great spa, and lots of entertainment options.

Most parts of the ship were nicely done and decorated. But especially the pools were a bit outdated and the color was peeling off. (note: the ship has been refurbished since).

We hung out a lot in the atrium since that area was really comfortable and fancy. The theater was also pretty stunning.

There are lots of sunbeds everywhere you can chill out on, and mostly the deck was not crowded at all.

All in all, the ship sadly can’t compare with more modern ships like the MSC Fantasia, MSC Divina, or MSC Magnifica.

The Restaurants

We enjoyed an amazing variety of free dining options that suited every taste. There were two main dining rooms, a self-serve buffet, and lots of casual spots for quick bites. We usually ate at the buffet, because it was super convenient.

The best part was the Main Dining Rooms, where the menu changed daily. They served the chef’s special dishes and had great wine recommendations, so every meal felt like a new adventure.

There are also some specialty restaurants on the ship. You can try awesome steaks and Italian or French food. They usually cost extra, so we did not go there often.

Dining on the Norwegian Star is super relaxed. No dress code, no fancy attire, and no rules. We did like this part of freestyle cruising. But we were disappointed that there was no gala night.

The Staff

We had very mixed experiences with the staff on the NCL’s Norwegian Star. On one hand, most bartenders, cleaning personnel and receptionists were super friendly and sweet.

On the other hand, they could be unnecessarily strict at times. My friend and I look very much alike, and they happened to accidentally mix up our pictures on the cruise cards upon embarkation.

On the ship, we got in trouble multiple times over that, and they were usually not nice about it.

But apart from that unfortunate situation, the staff was nice, kind and fun!

Our Final Itinerary for Southeast Asia and Australia

Day 1: Hong Kong

Day 2: at Sea

Day 3: at Sea

Day 4: Nha Trang (Vietnam)

Day 5: at Sea

Day 6: at Sea

Day 7: Singapore

Day 8: Singapore

Day 9: at Sea

Day 10: at Sea

Day 11: Benoa (Bali)

Day 12: at Sea

Day 13: at Sea

Day 14: Darwin, Australia

Day 15: at Sea

Day 16: at Sea

Day 17: Cairns (Australia)

Day 18: at Sea

Day 19: at Sea

Day 20: Brisbane, Australia

Day 21: at Sea

Day 22: Sydney, Australia

There was an option to extend the cruise also visiting Melbourne and Auckland, but we opted to explore the rest of Australia with a rental car.

Conclusion: Norwegian Star Review

So unlike most of my other cruise ship reviews, this one was been pretty negative.

I understand that we were in a difficult situation with the engine failures, but truth is that that ship should have never been sailing and I do blame NCL for their bad decision making. As far as I know, most of their newer ships are pretty nice, but I still don’t trust that company enough to book with them again.

Most of the staff were nice, and the food was pretty awesome on the ship. Sadly, the rooms and the pools were not in great shape, but they have been refurbished every since.

So am I recommending booking a cruise with NCL? Kind of. I truly believe that they have some better ships out there and that the Norwegian Star issues have been resolved. But I still prefer MSC or Royal Caribbean over NCL and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.

FAQ: Norwegian Star Review

When was Norwegian Star last refurbished?

The Norwegian Star was last refurbished in 2021. According to NCL, the cruise ship was taken into dry dock and completely refurbished during that time. Because the Norwegian Star had massive issues in the past, this refurbishment was much needed.

Is the Norwegian Star a big ship?

No, I would not consider the Norwegian Star to be a big ship. It’s part of the Dawn class of ships operated by Norwegian Cruise Line and can accommodate around 2,298 passengers and 1,031 crew members. The ship features multiple dining options, a variety of entertainment and activity venues, and spacious staterooms, making it well-equipped to offer a full-service cruise experience on its multiple decks

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, originally from Austria. She spends most parts of the year abroad at various destinations with her husband.

She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.

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