This was the third NCL cruise undertaken by my wife and myself, the others were Jewel in 2008 and Jade in 2009, similar style ships to the Star.
Our overall verdict is that standards have definitely fallen in the intervening years.
The ship, whilst kept very clean, is showing its age with signs of wear and tear here and there. The Star can be confusing to get around and with several dead ends which we seemed to repeatedly encounter.
Our balcony stateroom was excellent and kept spotlessly clean by our stateroom attendant who was great, friendly and efficient he fulfilled any request we made willingly and straight away. No loss of standards here.
The itinerary and ports of call were impressive, especially of course the Panama Canal itself which was a lifetime experience and highly enjoyable with very good commentary by the Canal guide who came on board for the duration of the crossing.
Dining is important to us on our cruises and it was in this area that some disappointments came.
The Market Cafe or Buffet Restaurant was always packed no matter what time of day we visited and came across more like a works canteen than anything. We took breakfast there for the first three days after which we used the Versailles main dining room which was a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience.
We did not use the Aqua Dining Room preferring to take our evening meals in the Versailles. On the positive side we found no problems in getting a table straight away and found that there were many tables for two and most well spaced from nearby tables which is not always the case on other cruise lines. Whilst we had one or two very good dinners there we found mostly that the quality was not as high a standard as we had received on our earlier NCL cruises. There has been some cost cutting here and in the standard of service which was slow, on several occasions it took 45 minutes from being seated at the table to receiving the starter course. As far as we could see the delays were occuring in the kitchen since as food was delivered to the local waiters it was the brought to the table without delay.
We tried three speciality restaurants. The Teppanyaki was the best and the dining experience and food quality were excellent, just as we had remembered it. Cagneys was very good too but Le Bistro was disappointing. The tables there are packed closely together and the restaurant has service issues, the food was OK but not fine dining.
As far as the bars were concerned we found the Red Lion to easily be the best, quite lively and with the best pub atmosphere, other bars seemed lacking in this aspect.