Just got off the NCL Star on January 19, 2014, after surviving the worst vacation experience of my life. Lost Luggage, outbreak of Norovirus (so NCL claims) and entirely inadequate service and compensation from NCL.
Our entire vacation package had been booked with NCL (air, transfers, cabins). First problem - luggage lost for 5 days since flight connection time in Dallas was way to short for our bags to make it through. We do not have time to make a baggage claim with AA since the NCL transfer staff are rushing us onto the bus, again because the flights are scheduled too close to ship departure time.
NCL Customer service on board the ship tell us for 3 days that they are working on our baggage issue. Since I do not want to wear the same underwear for another day I phone AA myself. Guess what - AA has no knowledge of our lost luggage and no claim has been filed! I file the claim and AA forwards the luggage to us in a timely manner and I expect at considerable cost. (Thank you American Airlines!) The level of poor customer service on NCL can not be highlighted here enough! I am not sure if the staff are just overworked, or if they are just really badly trained. But, the level of incompetence and rudeness is remarkable. I have never been made to feel like I was such a bother to someone who is supposed to be helping me.
The biggest issue however, was the outbreak of a gastro-intestinal bug. Rumours on the ship are that over 100 guests and many staff are affected, however the official announcements from the ship captain are vague about numbers and clearly state that the issue is a virus that was "brought on board" in Costa Rica (clearly implying that a passenger is the cause of the outbreak and not NCL). I was violently ill as was my mother and a family friend we were travelling with. We were all quarantined in our inside cabins until 12 hours after our last symptoms. For me that meant that I was isolated alone (as a single traveller) in my inside cabin, in the dark with no fresh air, for about 36 hours. I was released on disembarkation day, with a phone call from the medical team at 6:00am. Convenient for NCL don't you think? When I inquired at the customer "no service" service desk about compensation for my lost days, I was told that there was none.
To top it all off, it took 2 and a half hours waiting in line ups to disembark the ship. Of course, we arrive at MIami airport on our NCL scheduled transfer to get our NCL booked flight only to find out that we are too late to board the flight and AA will need to sell us new tickets at a cost of $350 each. After about an hour on the phone with NCL with only vague reassurances that they will fix our problem, we head back to the AA airlines desk. Again AA comes through for us and agrees to put us on a direct flight home, at an increased cost of only $75 per person. So far, I have heard nothing from NCL and I really don't expect to, since they are completely incompetent and uncaring.
As for the ship and the staff and the food. Ship is old and getting dirty. It is very 3 star - sort of like staying at a cheap hotel on the Las Vegas strip for 2 weeks. Food is okay, but I would stay away from anything that has been left out at a buffet that is not heated, as the cooled food really does not stay cool. Do NOT eat cold meats, mayonnaise or salads with mayonnaise that are on the buffets!!
Cruise staff, other than customer service, seem to be working really hard, and my heart goes out to them as I think that their working conditions must be appalling. (If they treat the staff as poorly as the paying passengers then they must be miserable.)
PLEASE, please, please do not cruise with NCL.