Norwegian Star sailing past the village of Velsen-Noord at the 9th of may 2015.
Star Cruises was founded in 1993 as a part of the Genting Group, that has its base in Malaysia. In origin, the 1965-founded company Genting was the owner of many casino's in Southeast Asia but later they diversified into many other areas. One of those was cruising and with the huge financials of Genting, Star Cruises had an immense growth after it was started up. They began with two rebuild ferries of Rederi AB Slite from Sweden. These ferries were rebuilt into modern cruiseships, dedicated to the needs of the Asian passengers. Star was one of he first companies that brought western quality to the Far East and it served them very well. In 1999, the company took delivery of its first two newbuilds, just six years after the company was founded. These ships were not small, some over 75.000 tons and they were named Superstar Virgo and Superstar Leo, built by Jos L. Meyer in Germany and revolutionary for Far East cruising. You can say the whole growth of this market was started up by Genting Group through Star Cruises. The success of both big ships in the region gave Star Cruises the faith to built two more ships, the Superstar Libra and Superstar Scorpio. These two ships were larger, around 91.500 tons, and the class was called the Libra Class.
At june the 23rd of the year 2000, the first blocks of the Superstar Libra were lowered into the dock at Jos L. Meyer in Papenburg, Germany. The ship was built as yardnumber 648 and measures some 91.470 tons. Her lenght is 294,13 meters, she is 32,20 meters wide and her draft reaches 8,20 meters. Four 14-cylinder diesel engines, four generators and two MAN B&W motors drive the ship, propelled by 2 Azipods and giving a speed of 24,6 knots. There is a capacity of 2348 passengers and 1083 crewmembers and the ship has a total of 15 decks.
Like every ship within the Norwegian Cruise Lines fleet, Norwegian Star has her own distinctive hull-art. Of course in her case, several stars are twinkling around her name.
In the same year that Superstar Libra was laid down, Genting Group bought the financially questionable Norwegian Cruise Line and so the pioneer in Caribbean cruising was in Asian hands. Because NCL was now the pride of Genting, mostly because the company had a worldwide name and history, Genting decided to place the recent pair of large newbuilds of the Libra Class in the fleet of their new company, replacing older tonnage frm the leet of NCL into Star Cruises. So still during the building stages, Superstar Libra was given the name Norwegian Star, a little hint to the original plan, and Superstar Scorpio was to become Norwegian Dawn. Next to that, the class was also extended with several more ships, Norwegian Jewel in 2005, Pride Of Hawaii in 2006, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Gem in 2007. The ships look very much alike, although the newly ordered ones are a little larger with just over 93.000 tons, but they are designed for a totally different market then the first original Libra-class ships. That is why the ships that were intended for Star Cruises in the beginning are seen as a totally different class within the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet.
Norwegian Star was floated out of her building dock at the 30th of september of 2001 and moored at the fitting out pier at the wharf, leaving throug the river Ems to the Dutch Eemshaven at the 3rd of october. At the 31st of october of 2001, the ship was handed over to Norwegian Cruise Line and named on november the 17th in Miami, Florida. This was a dual naming ceremony, as also Norwegian Sun was named there.
The official first cruise of the Norwegian Star was strangely only starting at the 16th of december 2001, a month after her naming ceremony. She started cruising around Hawaii from Honolulu, a new gimmick for NCL. A year later, NCL also bought the unfinished hull of the Project America ships, the first passengerships to be built in America since 1958 when the Brasil and Argentina were delivered to MooreMcCormack Lines from the same yards, Ingalls at Pascagoula in Mississippi. In Project America, it was the plan to revive the United States Line name and use American built and American flagged ships for American cruises. It also was hoped that this order would bring American wharves again in the cruiseshipbuilding industry. You'd imagine that America, where the cruiseboom started in the 1960's at Miami, wanted to have true American ships next to the mostly foreign flagged, Norwegian inspired liners that sailed from its shores to the Caribbean. Sadly, Project America failed on its financials and the owner, American Classic Voyages, went bankrupt.
Next to the unfinished ship, NCL bought all materials and equipment and had it all towed to Bremerhaven where the ship and its sister were completed. As NCL America, both ships and one of the newbuilds in the class following Norwegian Star and Norwegian Dawn, started up the idea of cruising with US flagged liners after all. To do this, NCL insisted on changes in the Passenger Vessel Services Act, that prohibits foreign built passengerships to operate directly between US ports. An exception was made for NCL America, when they would crew the ships with mostly American officers. As a reaction to that, NCL also bought two American classic icons, the United States and the Independence and promised to bring them back in service. It seemed very farfetched and finally, Independence was sold for scrap and United States, that was laid-up since 1963, sold off without ever seeing service under NCL America flag. When all three new ships came in service in Hawaiian waters, Norwegian Star was replaced in more international markets. Later, the Hawaiian market seemed to be too small for three giant ships and NCL America was downsized to only one ship.
Norwegian Star started sailing mostly Alaska and Mexico cruises after her Hawaiian start and recieved the new hull-art that distincts every NCL ship in service. But she was also seen in other waters and in the night following the 2nd of april in 2002, the ship rescued 11 crewmembers of the Indonesian coastal tanker Insiko 1907. The Indonesian ship got into trouble at the 13th of march when an explosion occurred in her engineroom and the ship went adrift.
For the 2010 winter olympic games, Norwegian Star was intended to be chartered as an accomodationship, but because of low demand this was cancelled and instead the ship was sent over to the Victoria Shipyards at Victoria to be updated. In march 2015, the ship again recieved an update at the Vigor Industrials Drydock in Portland, Oregon. As you can see in those, NCL still keeps the major updates of the ship in American yards, maybe due to their involvement in NCL America.
In april of 2004, a problem arose when there was damage to the forward thrust bearing of the Azipod and because of the problems, the ship had to skip her stopover at Fanning Island, Kiribati. Because of the same Act that NCL had changed for their NCL America brand that restricts foreign built ships to sail directly between US ports (the exception was made just for the NCL America brand and not for NCL in a whole), Norwegian Star was breaking the law when she skipped Kiribati sailing this Hawaii cruise. Because of the damage to the ship, the penalty for skipping Kiribati wasn't given.
In 2012, the ship had three incidents involving bad weather. On the 27th of april, while docking at the New York cruiseterminal, Norwegian Star struck pier 86, where the 1943-built USS Intrepid aircraft carrier is docked as part of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum. The incident was blamed on the high winds and the low tide and there were no injuries. On july 8th, the ship created a large wake to keep in course in the strong currents at excactly the same location while docking at New York. One of the ships on display at the museum, the cruise missile submarine USS Growler was rocked by the waves so her gangway collapsed into the water. The US Coast Guard said that 'that is what vessels do in strong currents' and again there were no injuries. On september the 14th, still 2012, the mooringline of the ship broke while docked at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Bermuda and Norwegian Star hit the stern of Royal Caribbean's Explorer Of The Seas. None of the ships was damaged too badly and for a thirth time that year, Norwegian Star hit someting and of course she also hit the news.