Background: Our party of 4 retired military adults cruise together twice annually. I thought that cruising the length of the Canal would be a great experience and I wasn't wrong. We cruised from Miami, through the Canal and debarked in Long Beach. Thinking back, those cruises that provide an experience going through either the Caribbean or Pacific locks and then return to home port would be just as interesting.
Hotel: We stayed at Homestead AFR Base and found the quarters to be modern and well maintained. I recommend checking out the space available prospects for retired service members.
The Star: I really liked this ship. Although full, I didn't get the feeling of being crowded or "too close" to my fellow travelers. There seemed to be plenty of space for sun worshipers and those who prefer to find a special nook for some quiet solitude. There are a number of dining venues so there's never a long wait for a table or a spot at the buffet - more on this under "dining." The ship exterior is colorfully decorated and well maintained by the crew. There seems to be adequate provision for handicapped travelers and both the crew and other passengers seemed to defer to those who required a little more time or assistance.
Service: Because of previous experience with viruses, most of those crew members normally employed as area service and clean up were dedicated to serving individuals in buffet lines and other duties ensuring sanitation. See dining below. Otherwise the service was very good - which I expected. ( See cabin attendant below for the one exception.)
Cabin: We had an interior cabin which was okay. The small bath, the counter space, closet space and lighting were all adequate. There was a flat screen television for watching news while waiting for your spouse to get ready. One disappointment was our cabin service which was inconsistent. I asked for ice by 8:00 pm each evening and received it at least half the time. Sometimes the attendant forgot towels or bath mat. Like I said cabin service with inconsistent and disappointing. Our friends didn't have the same problems with their cabin attendant.
Dining: Generally pretty good. You get what you pay for on cruise ships and Norwegian is no exception. My singular disappointment was the La Cucina Italiana pay dining venue. La Cucina service was indifferent and it seemed as if the wait staff (and I do mean "wait") was overloaded. I ordered pene and meatballs. Over the years I've discovered that meatballs seem to be an oft overlooked treat in Italian restaurants. I expected some nice, plump, veal, pork, Italian masterpieces of culinary delight. What I got were shriveled, little nuggets of cardboard. I could go on, but you get the idea. I had expected something more from a specialty restaurant but left most of my meal on the plate. No one checked on my satisfaction with the meal once the meal was served - as you find in the complementary venues. Other than La Cucina, I enjoyed each meal in the complementary venues.
Entertainment: Very good! Each of the bands played well, and in tune. Jim the piano guy was entertaining and funny. The dancers and singers in the production numbers were excellent and sang well in tune and in sync with the accompanying musicians/sound track. When it comes to applause, I'm not a "spring butt" like so many of my contemporaries. However one mid cruise production number caused me to join the blue hair set in leaping (as much as those over 65 leap) to my feet. Not everyone is entertained by every entertainment venue, but I thought that Norwegian had a good variety of professionals.
Disembarkation: Painless. Way to go Star Crew!
Summary: I would cruise on the Star again in a heartbeat. Aside from my little annoyances I had a great time and was well taken care of. One more thing - What makes my fellow Americans think that they can drop a towel on a deck lounge and leave for several hours before returning? I think we're selfish and rude when away from home.