We have just returned from the 12 nights Scandinavia and Iceland Cruise departing from Copenhagen on 19th September 2013.
Our cruise departed from Copenhagen, a lovely city with friendly people. Embarkation was a dream with no line up as we arrived at 1.30 and proceeded on board. We went straight to our cabin and checked out the view from our balcony. Our room had adequate space for the 2 of us with plenty of storage cupboards and a nicely laid out bathroom. We then went to the Market Place Buffet to get a coffee and somehow we were tempted to eat another lunch. Food was always plentiful on the Star although a bit bland in taste.
The Crew greeted us and were helpful in directing us around the ship as we attempted to get our bearings. The problem with the Star is you sometimes have to go up and down decks to get to areas on the same floor, this became quite confusing at times and it took a few days to find all parts of the ship. We found there weren't enough quiet areas for sitting and relaxing especially since the weather was cold, foggy and rainy. The Star is geared for the Caribbean with lots of outdoor areas but nothing if the weather is inclement. We often ended up in our room looking at the water. There is no indoor pool and the outdoor spas were very cold to get to and from. On our HAL ship there was a beautiful lounge at the front of the ship where you could meet up and on Brilliance of the Seas an indoor pool as well.
Entertainment on the Star was excellent, we went to the shows each night. The Starlight lounge was dark and uninviting but never the less we went to the White Party and another couple of events held there. We found the entertainment crew seemed bored by their job ( I know it was the end of the season and they've probably had enough) but compared to other ships it was disappointing.
We also found the food in Aqua and Versailles to be below standard. One night I had to send the main dish back as it was tough and inedible. We went to Le Bistro after reading good reports but found the food bland and definitely not done to the French style. Maybe because our family is of French origin and I cook these dishes often I have become too picky. Our best meal of the trip was the Jazz Brunch ($15 extra) held in the Italian restaurant. The Chateau Brianne was perfect and the coffee freshly brewed. The Chocolate Buffet was also a hit. Staff at all the venues were good especially the girls waitressing. Free style dining is a good idea but you don't get to know your wait staff and build up a rapport. We found the Blue Lagoon a good place to have a late lunch or early dinner after an excursion.
The ship excursions were from all reports hit and miss. The two we did were excellent but other people complained of the cost involved when in most cities you could do the "Hop on, Hop off" bus at half the price. We did our own thing in most places and managed to see a lot using these buses. On other cruises we have been provided by the cruise lines with information on how you can independently move about eg buses or trains to catch , time schedules and costs. An information talk on the places we were visiting would have been good and I don't mean what ship excursions are on offer but the Geography and history of the areas. After all how many people get to travel to The Shetland and Faroe Islands as well as Iceland?
All in all our trip was a great success (except for the weather) and the ship was above our expectations after reading many reviews. Everywhere was spotlessly clean and well maintained, staff helpful and there was no constant upselling of products. The spa, photos and Port of Call shop were expensive as expected and the gym unfriendly but the smiling faces greeting us with hot chocolate as we returned from our day out made up for everything. We felt we were coming home to our family aboard ship!
My major complaint is to my fellow passengers- "Please don't treat the staff as your servants, say please and thank you and give a smile. Treat others as you would like to be treated"