We just got back from our 7 day cruise on the NCL Star. We had a wonderful time with friends and family – we were a large group. We had so much fun it was the best cruise ever. However, my review will focus on the ship and its crew.
This ship was launched in 2001, its quite old. The Star has seen better days it is time for this ship to retire. My husband and I sailed on the STAR in 2005 and had a wonderful experience however, things have gone down hill.
Check in was easy however, there was an extra 2 hour wait to get on the boat. There was mandatory training that the staff had to take prior to letting passengers on.
Customer Service Failed:
Each passenger is automatically billed $12 per day, which supports an incentive program for the service staff. This program appears to have failed. The staff does not provide excellent customer service. I had services in the spa and the entire time I was pushed to buy the ships products. Not very relaxing and I was billed an 18% gratuity for the pleasure. For our drinks we, paid a 15% gratuity to wait for servers to acknowledge us. I don’t like to tip for bad service. The staff needs extensive training in customer service. There appears to be "Low Morale" in the workplace!
There were several small restaurants that you had to pay extra for. They did have an Ultimate Dining Package for an extra 119.00 per person dine in a specialty restaurant every night of your cruise. We did not buy the package, but we did go to the Steak House and it was very good.
The Freestyle Cruising leaves a lot to be desired. We like to know we have a table assigned to us. We were able to call to make a reservation in the two main dining rooms, Aqua, and Versailles. The only time available was for after 8:00 pm. We could not get the time we wanted. I was not going to stand in line for 30 minutes to wait for a table at an earlier time. The Garden Cafe, the ship's buffet/cafeteria restaurant, serves the usual breakfast and lunch and dinners. The food did not look very appetizing. It reminded me of Circus Circus or Excalibur. The furniture in the buffet reminded me of a school cafeteria. After the first few days we went to the Versailles dining room where the food was much better. No one in our party was really thrilled with the food overall.
We did spend sometime in the casino however; I can not understand why they allow smoking in the casino. It was way too smoky in the casino to enjoy your-self. I always knew which way the casino was by the smell of smoke.
I found the public areas were designed in such a way it was difficult to get around. This did not work for me. I felt lost all the time. It was so hard to figure out how to get to one place to the other. What happened to the Atrium. They turned it into a coffee shop. I remember it was a nice bar area back in 2005.
Like I stated up front we had a wonderful time with friends and family. It was under a hour drive to the pier. It was great to leave from LA (no added expense of a flight to Florida).
NCL has an opportunity to make some changes to make the cruise experience better for their customers.