We enjoyed a wonderful Panama Canal cruise for 14 nights, sailing on 2nd February, visiting the Mexican Riviera and "the tropics" along the way. The first thing to note is our choice of cruiseline & ship was based primarily on our preference to sail west to east during the first half of February. Apart from meeting that requirement Norwegian had an excellent mix of port and sea days, allowing relaxation as well as sightseeing.
We thoroughly enjoyed the ship, the food for the most part was good. Some of the reviews do make me wonder if cruisers forget that we are talking about a cruiseline, like most others, catering for the masses....that means the food provided and served is "banquet food" i.e. they need to feed upwards of 2000 people, and do an extremely good job in that regard. By necessity, not everything can be perfect and isn't. On four nights we ate in Le Bistro speciality restaurant which is superb, and more than worth the $20 cover charge! We tended to do that on the nights where MDR offerings were least attractive.
The main show theatre entertainment was average, and nothing really stood out even in the production shows. However, we always go to the theatre each night.....it is part of our cruise experience, and we enjoy them well enough. The Cruise Director announced the evening before Panama Canal that they would open the bow Jacuzzi area (normally accessible only to crew) to passengers for the canal transit. What an experience it was to approach and enter the canal locks from that vantage point, an excellent touch from Norwegian and appreciate by us and many others!
We found the crew to be courteous and efficient most of the time, and how they cope with some of the obnoxious attitudes and petty complaints from some cruisers is always a mystery to me. It is not their fault that mass cruising necessitates queuing in the garden cafe buffet, and for tendering into Cabo San Lucas!
The officers were highly visible, and interacted well with passengers. The Hotel Director, Tony from Miami, is an amazing character with incredible charisma. He takes his job seriously, and clearly loves doing it as well as he does.
The Norwegian Star overall offers a very good cruising experience, and gets most things right most of the time. If you are looking for a new mega ship with all the "attractions" they bring, then do not cruise on the Star. It is extremely unfair to compare it with those ships.