This was our third Caribbean cruise, first two were on Princess. Before we even took the NCL cruise, the big difference between it and Princess: NCL wanted their money up front for shore excursions.
Even parking at New Orleans port had to be paid in full before cruise even started. As an option, they asked to pay the daily $12 tip before the cruise; we opted to pay it after.
Entertainment: we've heard about legendary entertainment onboard of NCL ships and were excited to see it. Not on NCL Star. Second City comedy shows were good but the rest of the shows were not. Too much emphasis on volume and not enough on talent.
Food: buffet looked like school cafeteria. Old chairs, and dated look of equipment, decor also dated/cheap. Not a lot of variety in choices, same foods every day. There were many more fee-based places to eat than the number of complimentary locations. The two complimentary dining rooms: Versailles was nice, stylish, and classy. Aqua More
appeared to be an extension of the buffet.
Freestyle Cruising: in our opinion, this is a step down from a classical cruise concept. There were no formal nights, dress code not strictly enforced even in Versailles, (we saw individuals wearing jeans and baseball caps). Instead, every morning at the entrance to a breakfast buffet you will get two guys yelling at you phrases that appear to be made up by a 4 year old: "wakie, wakie, washy, washy, happy, happy" etc. For some reason, the cruise director was proud of these guys. Once inside the buffet, you were greeted yet again by a conga line of servers, and NCL employees singing, clapping, and yelling. I did not have my morning coffee yet! Not what I want in the morning... Loud is not always better.
NCL Shore excursions: chaotic, disorganized, frequently late/not on time, expensive, and not exciting.
Based on our experience, we will not take another cruise with NCL. Less