To begin, we are loyal NCL cruisers who generally cruise to the Caribbean as it works out best for our schedules. Maybe later on down the road we will be able to expand to longer cruises but for now seven days is our max.
We love NCL. We have enjoyed some ships more than others. Our first cruise was on the Sun and we loved it. Having experienced the newer, bigger ships I am not sure we would really love the Sun as much now as we did 10 years ago.
We cruised on the Epic in November and at the end of January we had a last minute opportunity to cruise on the Star. NOLA is much closer for us than southern Florida as we generally drive to the port. We made it to NOLA in one day and stayed at the Hilton Riverside on Saturday night. NOLA was crazy fun with parades and preparations for the Super Bowl. I loved it.
Sunday morning we got up and got ready to head to the port. I did not remember that cruising out of NOLA is not quite as organized as ports such as Miami so we did not get on the ship as early as we usually do. Nothing lost, we got our spa passes in line while we were waiting to board the ship and that is our main reason for getting on early. Our cabin (family inside I upgraded to a few days before we left for a tiny additional fee). We usually go inside as we do not spend much time in our room and it allows us to cruise more frequently.
We sat down to a nice lunch in Versailles. We found the Star staff to be among the friendliest we have ever had. We headed out to explore the ship, went to the muster drill and then back to the cabin to unpack.
We generally cruise for the relaxation of it. We do not do a lot of planned excursions, preferring to go off on our own. We took a bus to the first beach in Costa Maya (can't remember the name). It was an ok beach but we were constantly bothered to buy things. Anyway, it was a nice day.
We did not take the tender into Belize, chose to just stay on the ship. One of the things we noticed early in the cruise was a lack of "hot" water for showering. We prefer to shower in the spa and it was particularly cold there. We mentioned it several times in the spa and were told "it is being worked on" or "it is fixed". Well it was not fixed. We also only had luke warm water in our cabin. While at the Meet N Greet we were given extensions for NCL key personnel so after a few days of this I called the Housekeeping Supervisor and explained our problems. He promptly sent someone to our cabin and he checked and thought the "warm" water was ok. It wasn't but we told him the worst problem was in the spa. He explained that this was another department but he would be sure they took a look at it. At this time we had heard several other cruisers complaining about the lack of hot water.
Well the spa water situation did not improve, still only cold showers. The spa package is not cheap and we do expect to be able to get a hot shower while there. After a couple more days of this I called the Hotel Director to explain the continuing problem. This was about 3 days before the cruise was over. He said he would look into it immediately and acted like he knew nothing about it previously. He told me he would call me back within two hours.
Two days later we finally received a call from the Hotel Director who explained that the water situation was corrected. It finally was - we had hot water in the cabin and the spa for a day or so. He told us he would send us a bottle of wine and a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries for our trouble. Since we only had a day or so left we did not know how we would eat them but not to worry because they never came.
On the evening before debarkation I got a copy of our bill and all was well. On the morning of debarkation we had a copy outside our stateroom. It included 3 separate bar charges and also 2 charges for an arcade type game (money grabber) outside the casino. We did not drink in any bars and did not use this arcade machine. Oddly, 2 of the bar charges were credited back later on the bill. When I approached Guest Services I was asked to look at the charge slip on the other bar charge and asked if this was either of our signatures. Of course it was not and the bar charge was removed. I then asked that the arcade charges be removed. The customer service rep spoke at length with the casino manager and finally put me on the phone with him. He told me it was impossible that there was an error on the arcade game as it is paid by swiping our room card. I told him that we had never used the machine. We even went over the time the charges were made and I knew we had been napping in our room at that time. He finally said that since our cruise was over he would need to look at the security tape for that time near that machine and see what the situation was. Believe it or not this was a total of $2.00 in charges. We have booked almost exclusively through Casinos at Sea and I am a Latitudes Platinum member. I informed him that no way would I lie about a $2.00 charge and waste my time standing in line to try to get out of a $2.00 charge.
These were the Really Aggravating parts of the cruise. We also found the food in Aqua to be lacking, the beef inedible at times. We enjoyed our meals in Versailles, the Blue Lagoon and the buffet.
The star is an older ship but if we had not had the above problems it would have been a very nice cruise for a very reasonable rate.
I can't say a lot about the ports as we did not do any excursions. The cruise was not a bust by any means. Do check your bill carefully though. $2.00 per passenger is $4,000.00 so it really adds up.
Oh, by the way, I received a call at work yesterday. Guess what! They reviewed the tape from the arcade game and it "was not us" using the machine. They are crediting back the $2.00 and gave us $100.00 in onboard credit for a future cruise.