We sailed on the Norwegian Star out of New Orleans on March 3, 2013. We chose this itinerary because it offered a few ports we'd never been to, and the dates worked out perfectly given spring break (my husband teaches at a university). However - we did not want a wild and crazy spring break! This cruise gave us a great mix of adventure and relaxation, with just the right amount of "party scene."
Booking was a bit annoying. We initially had booked an inside stateroom, about 6 weeks prior to sailing. (We often book "last-minute" to get good rates, and our schedules are pretty flexible, so it works.) About two weeks prior to sailing, we saw the balcony prices come down significantly, so hubby decided to pay extra to upgrade us. We have never had a balcony before - always go inside - so the idea of a balcony was quite exciting!! However, the NCL rep on the phone insisted no balconies were available (even though NCL.com showed many available). It took a few calls and a good hour on the phone to book the upgrade.
I am glad that this worked out for us, as the balcony was wonderful. I loved seeing the huge, bright sun every morning. It felt great waking up in that room. We also enjoyed the great views - watching other boats go by at sea, sail-away and arrival at each port, having wine out there before dinner.
Food on the Star was great. We ate in Versailles two nights, Aqua one night (lobster!), Moderno one night, Blue Lagoon one night and the buffet the other two nights. Versailles is fancier than Aqua. Moderno is worth the money - that was my favorite, for sure! Buffet was nice. I especially liked the yam and potato salad they had there - and the chocolate night! I also appreciate that they had a barbecue at the pool deck during at-sea days. I love being able to grab lunch right there, rather than having to go inside and sit down. Grab a Corona, chicken, rice, shrimp, grilled veggies - sit right by the pool and soak in that sunshine! I was impressed, too, with the service at the pool. Several times I was offered a fruit kabob or rum runner (free).
Hubby made a good observation, which I suppose is true, but it didn't really bother me: They don't really have good Italian food in the main dining rooms, because they want you to go pay extra in the Italian restaurant... and they don't really have the best steaks there, because they want you to go pay extra in the steakhouse... same with Asian-inspired dishes. If you want that type of food, you have to pay extra at the Japanese restaurant. However - I am not a picky eater and can always find something I like, so it was all good as far as I am concerned.
Wait times for restaurants weren't bad; we generally tried to make reservations and/or eat at off-times.
Other things that were remarkable:
Allan, our room steward, was so kind and helpful. I liked that he brought me a bathrobe to relax in on the balcony!
Kyle, the cruise director, was excellent - he really helped to create a fun atmosphere. Welcome back party in Cozumel - we were docked next to the Norwegian Dawn, and guests of both ships were welcomed back to the dock with cool towels, jello shots, popsicles, music and dancing - a nice added touch (I think NCL does a great job with extra little things like this). Xcite, the steel drum band on the pool deck - I loved the tunes! Much more fun than the ships that just put a TV show up on the big screen during the day. The theater shows - wonderful! Especially the Elements show, that really was outstanding - do not miss it! The acrobat team - Dmitry, Maria and Ivan - so amazing. Sharkbait and Second City Comedy - also amazing.