This was our fifth cruise and our second with Norwegian. We chose the trip based on the itinerary and the freestyle dining which we enjoyed before. The Star is an older ship and that is evident with the worn carpeting and dated furniture. However, the staff was warm and friendly as always. The drinks weren't weak and the food was decent.
We ate at Le Bistro and Teppanyaki during the week long cruise. Both were FANTASTIC and well worth the cover charge. Don't miss either!!! We ate at Teppanyaki the first night and made reservations as soon as we embarked the ship. Good thing as it filled up quickly and never seemed to have open space. There is only one table that seats 12 and so space is extremely limited. Make sure you eat there. The food is great and the experience was top notch. Le Bistro (the French restaurant) was by far the best food on the ship. We ate the duck and the lamb and both were cooked to perfection. Very quaint and warm atmosphere. We wish we had gone there more than once.
The main dining rooms were fine for lunch and dinner. Versailles is a much nicer room than Aqua as far as appearance and the wait staff was faster and friendlier. The food was better than the buffet but not as well done as the specialty restaurants. Versailles is a little cold so bring a sweater while you eat. Expect a wait if you don't make reservations and know that you might be seated for a while. The wait staff takes their time delivering the food. Each dinner averaged between an hour to an hour and a half for just the two of us.
We ate at the buffet for breakfast and we weren't disappointed with the selection or the expediency of the serving line. It was quick and the food was more than acceptable.
Our first stop was in Costa Maya, Mexico and the area itself was very lacking. Nothing but small shops with overzealous vendors trying to sell you cheap silver, local tee shirts and hair braiding. There is nothing to see here unless you have an excursion. There are a couple of bars/restaurants catering toward tourists and a very tiny area to lay out in the sun. No beach area right off the pier though. We did the dolphin encounter just a five minute walk away and it was awesome. The trainers gave you plenty of time with the dolphin and it was well worth the money. We did the swim and ride as opposed to just the encounter. You don't get to ride the dolphin on the encounter. I highly recommend the swim and ride if you haven't done it before. It lasts about 1 1/2 hours and it was great fun. The CD package they offered was quite expensive though. We bought it because there was really no other way to get pictures of the excursion.
Our second stop was Belize City, Belize. The downtown area is dirty, rundown and full of more overzealous vendors selling junk. We were not at all impressed with it. However, we chose to do another excursion so we were quite pleased with the stop. We did the ziplining and crystal cave tubing adventure. It was an hour and 15 minute bus ride to get to the jungle but I found it interesting to get away from the city and get a real feel for the country of Belize while driving. The ziplining was fantastic. SO much fun and well worth it for people of all ages. You do need to climb a lot of steps to get to the top of the zipline but it was well worth it. You do five lines and it seemed to be go by really quickly. Very fun though. The cave tubing was also a fun adventure. It was a neat experience and I'm glad I did it once. Not so interesting that I would do it again though. I would however zipline again and again and again. We'd still recommend the excursion. Time was limited so we had to wolf down the lunch provided before getting hauled back on the bus. They could have timed it all a little better.
Our third stop was Roatan, Honduras and by far the best stop on the entire cruise. The view from the boat is breathtaking as Roatan is full of lush, green jungle plants/trees and beautiful flowers that cascade along the pier site. It's absolutely picturesque. The pier area was cleaner than the first two stops and we were greeted outside by local dancers and singers. The weather was ideal. We signed up for the Gumbalimba Park/Tabyana Beach excursion. BEST EXCURSION AVAILABLE!!!!!! The park was just 25 minutes away on a beautiful Roatan road. We were in awe of the beauty of the park. The gorgeous free-flying macaws and parrots, the fun and adventurous spider monkeys climbing on our heads, the large iguanas roaming the grounds and the ugly but hilarious Honduran rabbits. I would go back to this park a million times over and bring my kids. The beach was just a five minute bus ride away. We were given a great lunch and there were plenty of beach chairs available for sunbathing. We rented snorkel equipment for just $15 each and spent a long time out in the ocean swimming in the schools of fish along the coral reef. It was awesome.
Our last stop was Cozumel, Mexico. We signed up to swim with the rays but the weather was overcast, windy and the ocean was too choppy to do the excursion. We were disappointed but the cruise line reimbursed us immediately. Cozumel has 10x more shops available to browse through than the other three ports but honestly, it's all the same stuff. Tee shirt and trinket shops, silver stores, bars, etc. Nothing unusual about Cozumel other than there are more shops to go through. The vendors are just as aggressive and obnoxious with their marketing.
Second City comedy from Chicago was aboard the second half of our cruise. They did one staged set in the main theater and two improv sets in the smaller theater (The Spinnaker lounge). Don't miss any of their performances! They were hysterical! We played Bingo once and it was way more expensive than on past cruises. The smallest package you could buy was $39.
We gambled in the casino every day and we were pleasantly surprised with the friendliness of the dealers. They were talkative and tried to help you out (as legally as they could) at the tables. They often bought drinks for you if you were losing. :0)
The main theater shows were decent. They had good singers and the performances were standard cruise ship fare. We caught a couple and we were entertained enough.
Our stateroom was a small inside cabin but we were comfortable enough. The water in the shower never seemed to get quite hot enough but our steward was helpful and attentive. The TV was old but it actually got some decent channels.
We were definitely happy enough with Norwegian to cruise again with them. We enjoy the freestyle dining tremendously. We could eat when we wanted and with so many more options to choose from.