We sailed out of New Orleans on the Star on January 13 to the ports of Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel. We arrived at the terminal early and had the usual hour of waiting. Check in was fairly fast once we got to the check-in place. We were on the 10th floor mid-ship balcony and the room was nice, very clean, quiet, and comfortable. The Star is a fairly large ship and capable of handling big waves well, but the seas were mostly calm for our trip. One night we did have 7-15 foot swells and that was hardly noticeable.
The entertainment on the ship was very good. The comedians --Sharkbait--were hilarious and very talented. The musicians in the Spinnaker Lounge were "Exotique" and were able to play any type of music. The only show that seemed a bit lame was "Second City". We saw their improv show in the Stardust and were not impressed. Some people later saw one of their scripted shows in the Spinnaker and said it was much better. The show "Elements" which we had seen last year was nicely done and we really enjoyed the magic show. Be sure and go to the "scavenger hunt show" on board the ship. It is hilarious and for adults only.
Now to the food. The buffet was lacking in some areas, but we were able to find a few items that were okay. The fruit was mostly out of season and not very good. I tried the watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. Needless to say...well never mind on them. One thing we did like on the buffet was a guy cooking cherry filled crepes one night and that were fun to watch and good to eat. The better food was in the main restaurants. We ate at night either at the Aqua or Versailles. The food was usually the same at both but the Versailles was nicer with more ambiance and had did not allow shorts and flip flops. The lobster and steak looked really good the first night, but we did not order that because we had ordered that on the Spirit and it was not good. The salmon, pork chops, and salads were always good.
Just a bit about Freestyle dining. It has pros and cons. It has no set dining time which can be good or bad. If you are a couple you may wind up dining by yourself. It is much nicer if there is a group or you meet someone on board that you want to dine with. Many still prefer the set dining time and to be seated at the same table with the same group every night because you get to know them better. One disadvantage to freestyle is that you never really get to know your waiters and they don't anticipate your needs as on some other ships. As I said, pros and cons. We did not eat in any of the dining rooms with a cover charge. I just personally think that you should not pay extra for food when so much food is available--just seems like a waste to me.
Liquor prices in the liquor store seemed quite a bit higher than usual, so we bought our take home liquor in Cozumel. There is a liquor store at the end of the pier that has really good prices. Just take it back to the ship, turn it in and they will take it and return it the night before debarkation. Alcoholic drink prices on the boat seem about average for cruise prices. We did have champagne on a tour of the bridge, at the art auction, and at the return cruisers party.
Cozumel is also a good place to buy leather or silver. There are lots of stores selling silver, tanzanite, diamond jewelry, etc.
We tendered at Belize and took The Land Rover/Jungle tour excursion. We had met four other people and our group had our own Land Rover. The excursion consisted of about a 45 minute bus ride, a jungle walk (take mosquito spray-the mosquitoes were bad on just part of the walk-don't know if they are always that way or not), a cave tour --skip this part if you are not in fairly decent health. Our guide for this part was extremely knowledgeable, especially about the local plants and trees. Next we drove a Land Rover over a really bumpy road, followed by a muddy road, a riverboat ride, and a boat ride back to the pier.
At Costa Maya, we walked outside the gate and caught a bus over to Mahahual, formerly a small Mexican fishing village just a few miles from the pier. It is very safe and most of the cruisers go there. There are always buses or vans to take you back. I think the price is two dollars per person each way. We went last time, this time, and will go back next time. You can get a massage on the beach for cheap, or you can sit and drink beer, eat, and there are lots of vendors. We also saw people from our cruise ship wading and fishing. We do not know if a license is required or not.
We did lots of other things on the cruise and there seems to be something for everyone a cruise--a spa, lots of exercise equipment, lots of restaurants, trivia games, etc. Seems you never run out of things to do. All in all we enjoyed this ship much more that the "Spirit" that we cruised on last time. Just do not forget to join the Balcony Club.