The 7-night cruise on the Norwegian start departed New York on a Sunday, passing by a firefighter salute from a NY fire boat, and under the Verazano Narrows Bridge. We had good sailing and excellent weather en route.
We carried on our luggage and were able to board within 45 minutes of going through security. We went directly to the buffet for lunch and soon our deck was announced as being ready to accept passengers to state rooms.
Our inside state room was clean and neat. It comfortably fit two people, though the travel agency and cruise line claim in can fit up to four (with a roll out bed and a bunk style bed that folds down from the wall). Any more than two adults would have been a huge challenge logistically, in my opinion. An inside state room is a budget option, and space is limited.
Our cabin steward never introduced himself to me or addressed me by name, which was somewhat of a disappointment. However, our cabin was always neatly turned down, thoroughly cleaned and stocked with towels and amenities as needed.
One issue particular to our cabin was a tapping noise in the ventilation that kept us awake at night. We were unable to resolve this during our cruise. Also, some of the mattresses appeared to be very worn and should have been replaced.
The food on the cruise was varied. We didn't eat at any of the themed restaurants that had surcharges, as we were on a budget. We stuck to the buffets for breakfast, and the two main dining rooms for lunch and dinner (Aqua and Versailles).
The breakfast buffet had plenty of options and the quality of the food was good. We noticed an officer inspecting the buffet each morning before opening to the public. There was smoked salmon, made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, hot dishes, cereals and much more.
The buffet was OK at lunch, but dinner options seemed to be less appealing. We quickly started taking all our dinners at either Aqua or Versailles, and it wasn't until halfway through the cruise that we discovered the menu was the same for each restaurant. It got down to whether you preferred the formal ambiance in Versailles, with a nice view out the stern (and occasional live music), or the more modern feeling Aqua. Over the course of the trip, we ate at Aqua more often.
The wait staff and hostesses at both restaurants were very good. Very few complaints. Any issues that did come up were remedied fairly quickly. During especially busy seatings, we were offered the option to share a table with other cruisers, and on occasion this ended up being an interesting way to meet other people.
My only real complaint about the food is the options available for late-night snackers. Other than room service, the only food service area open was the Blue Lagoon lounge, and it had a very limited menu that consisted mostly of fried foods (wings, burgers, fries), and very few healthy options.
We found the ship to be OK. It had a nice jogging track, but people would occasionally not respect runners and clutter the track. I never worked out at the gym because it was too crowded. During especially sunny days it was hard to get a chair poolside, and I noticed a number of unused chairs that were reserved.
The pool was TINY! So tiny that at first I thought it might just be a large jacuzzi or spa. However, it was refreshing to take a dip, and much of the afternoon games and entertainment centered around the pool area. Be warned, the pools and hot tubs were salt water, so you quickly got dehydrated.
There were four hot tubs in the main deck. You could usually find room in at least one of them, though, throughout the cruise, the jets didn't work in one, and this wasn't fixed.
Entertainment aboard the Star was excellent, and much better than I expected going in. The quality of each show was very high, with some small exceptions. The singers and dancers were very skilled, the stage sets well made, and one felt like each event was a true theater performance.
The cruise director, Kyle, was a friendly, funny guy, but we constantly felt like we were being "sold" to. Encouraged to stay out late, buy drinks, buy lottery tickets, etc. This pervasive attempt to sell us on things quickly became annoying and point of ridicule.
That aside, the staff on the ship (including Kyle), was super-friendly, helpful, animated and generally very pleasant and clearly focused on making sure we were a)safe and b) enjoying our vacation. Many of the staff wore a "Vacation Hero" pin on their lapel, indicating their role in customer satisfaction.
We were fortunate to get a three-hour behind the scenes tour in the kitchen prep and storage areas, and could see how hard the staff worked. We were also able to visit the bridge and learn about the ship from the very knowledgeable offers on deck. They fully answered many of our questions about safety and security.
Over all, I was very pleased with this cruise. I would consider the Star again, but would also like to explore some of NCL's larger ships.