This was our 33rd cruise and we were booked in a Penthouse Suite with Butler and Concierge services. Because we are Platinum members on NCL, we received some extra perks which added a great deal to our Cruise experience.
We had a private escort to a gathering place upon check-in where we met the Concierge who introduced us to the Butlers and presented us with our Day 1 Freestyle Daily and room cards. From there we were escorted to Cagney's for lunch until our Penthouse Suite was available. The food, ambiance and service was perfect..
We found our suite to be quite comfortable and spacious with a lot of closet space. The mattress, linens and pillows were 5 star worthy. Our suite was on deck 9 aft and had a wrap around balcony giving us new vantage points for viewing. We loved that aspect. The suite was equipped with a Lavazza Expresso machine and we took full advantage of the Expresso and teas provided.
We were terribly disappointed that there were no Catholic Masses offered during Holy Week as had been in the past on other NCL ships and felt that if NCL was willing to have friends of Dorothy, friends of Bill (which we are happy they have) that at least during Holy Week, they should have "Friends of Jesus Christ" and have services available for Christians on board.
For those who book through Casinos at Sea, there is another disheartening change fleet wide and that is there are no more call drinks. So, rather than spend money gaming, go to the bar and spend it there, you'll save money! Seems like a foolish move to us. We eventually were granted what we requested, which was not much, but felt like we had to beg. We spoke with several officers on board, who took our comments seriously and thanked us for our input. We also voiced our disappointment to a casino host, and were informed they would track our play and advise if an exception could be made. This was insulting. We feel the new policy is a huge mistake and will cost them in gaming revenue. I only asked for Grey Goose or Absolute Vodka and Grand Marnier at the end of the day. Didn't seem unreasonable to us.
We ate in several specialty dining rooms and found the food and service to be worth the additional charge. We avoided the main dining rooms because it was spring break, large families and long lines. We heard from others the service was a bit slow and food not up to par, but after all, it was spring break and that is to be expected at peak holiday times.
We attended the Jazz Brunch on the first sea day. The music was not too loud and quite entertaining. The food was good but not over the top. Service was excellent.
Wine tasting offered a nice variety of wines and we were served enough of a portion to really taste and enjoy along with a plate of various cheeses and fruits. The tables were square or oblong and small. Feel the large round tables are far better for this type of event. We were not impressed with the sommelier and learned nothing new. Still. For the price, we did get to taste a nice variety of wines and meet other passengers.
We found the public areas to be the cleanest and best maintained of most all ships we have sailed on. We saw staff regularly cleaning hand rails, elevator buttons, handles, etc. and the pub lic bathrooms were well maintained even on disembarkation day. This was very impressive to us.
Every staff member we came into contact with was polite, willing to assist in any way, interested in our complete enjoyment and personable. We must commend the crew on a job well done on the Star!
The photographers were all good and our pictures actually looked like us! Unlike other cruises where our faces appear somewhat distorted.
Our favorite dining experiences were in La Cucina and Moderno, although our breakfasts and lunches in Cagney's (available to certain category passengers) were excellent. Le Bistro was very fine as well.
The cruise critic meet and greet was different for us because people were seated at small tables and not mingling so much. The gift exchange and cabin crawl gave us an opportunity to actually meet. We feel a meet and greet should be conducted in a mostly standing position to promote mingling and meeting one another. The Senior Officers introduced themselves one by one and gave us a printed card containing their extensions and we were urged to contact them with criticisms, praise, suggestions, etc. The cruise line provided coffee, water, Joyce and Danish for the occasion and the officers were able to recall our names upon meeting the remainder of the cruise. I don't think it had anything to do with my extraordinary beauty either (lol).
The pool areas were well maintained and the pool and hot tubs refreshing. Bartenders were visible and available but we didn't feel constantly solicited for beverages, which we have felt on other cruises. The quite zone in the forward had an oversized hot tub but the water was under the desired temperature and we could not locate any controls for bubbles or jets.
We took one ship offered excursion in Roatan and went to South Beach Experience. It was our fourth time on that excursion and likely our last. The amount of time to enjoy the sea fed lagoon or cove was limited and the lunch served was no where near as good as in past years. We find that often an excursion planned for a group through another cruise critic is the way to go although you just be cognizant of the time and certain not to be back on board on time. It was more populated than previous years, so not as quiet. We were there about 3 hours. Hardly worth the effort.
In Cozumel we spent most of the late morning/early afternoon at Margaritaville enjoying other cruisers and live entertainment and great food and tequila. The cost was about the same as for the excursion in Roatan and we had a bigger blast making new friends, sharing many laughs, and listening to live music. Some of the Star's crew were there, which further endorsed for us that this was the place to be.
Disembarkation was streamlined for us and we were escorted off the ship very smoothly and efficiently by the Concierge.
Overall, this was a fantastic cruise experience and we fell in love with the ship, her crew and our suite.