Let me start by saying I have cruised one time before on Norwegian Jade in Western Mediterennean 4 years ago. This review is divided in sections so you can read only what you are interested in.
Pre Cruise: We live in Cyprus, a small island in the Eastern Mediterennean sea. We took a flight with SAS air to Copenhagen with a stop in Oslo. I travelled together with my family of four and my mother-in-law. We arrived in Copenhagen at 8 pm. We took a cab, which took us to our hotel, hotel the Sqaure. I highly recomend this hotel as it is very central, the rooms are quite spacious, the price is resonable and the port is quite close. Copenhagen is a nice city, with an interesting history, but does not compare to major european cities (e.g. London and Paris). It is also very very very very expesive. The thing that supridsed me the most is that, when you buy a bottle of water, they charge yous 1,50 dkk extra for the plastic bottle. I found that ridiculous. The good thing is that everyone, including taxis, accept credit cards, so won't need any krones. In the morning, we took another cab to take us to the port, which is not very far from the city centre.
Embarkation: I was actually amazed by the speed of the embarkation proccess. Ten minutes after the moment we stepped out of the car we were onboard. The staff was very helpful. Once we got in the ship, we walked around the ship and the we heades to the Market cafe (the buffet) to have lunch. Oour cabins were available shortly after that (around 1 p.m.).
Dining: Food in the free restaurants was quite good. The buffet was always crowded and sometimes tables were not very clean but the food was good. Main dining rooms were nicely decorated (especially Versailles) but the service was a liitle slow. We had the Ultimate Dining Package so we ate in a specilaty restaurant every night. We tried them all and they were all excellent. The food was delicious, the service fast and staff were very kind and remebered our names when we went to a restaurant a second time. I highly recomend the Ultimate Dining Package, as it offers an excellent value.
Public Areas: The Star is a very nice ship. Although it is old, it is very well maintained. Of course, Norwegian Jade was a little nicer when it comes to public areas. For example, the Spinnaker Lounge on the Jade was wonderful whicle on the Star was average, It was dark and sometimes it smelled... old.
Service: Tthe staff was very attentive and friendly. They socialized with guests and made every effort to meet every request. No complaints here.
Cabin: We had to Mid ship Balcony cabins on deck 11 (cabins 11620 and 11618). They had enough space for 2 or 3 people and were smartly appointed. Oour room steward was very kind and done hsi job very well. The towel animals were a very nice touch.
Ports and excursions: As expected, the nicest port was St Petersburg one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I highly recomend a boat ride in the Neva river and a visit to the Hermitage and Spilled Blood Cathedral. We took an excursion with NCL in every port. Although they were expensive, the were all very oragnized and showed us the highlights of every port. Tallin and Helsinki are not very beautiful cities but they have an interesting history. Also, I highly recomend the Maritime Museum in Tallin, escpecially to families with kids. In Warnemunde we did the tour to Shwerin castle which was very nice. We considered a trip to Berlin but because we had the kids with us we thought it would be very tiring for them. But if me and my wife were alone, we would surely do it. In St Peterburg we did an excursion to the Hdermitage (very titing buy totally worth it) and onethat incuded a boat ride in the Neva River and a visit to the Spilled Blood Cathedral. The boat ride was impressive. This tour is excellent for families beacuse it does not include long walking sitances and at the small time you see and learn lots of interesting things. In Helsinki we did the boat ride and the city tour. Nothing special. In Stockolm we did the tourto Vasa Museum, the Old town and the Ice bar. Stockolm is a very beautiful and impessive city. The Vasa museum was impressive, the Ice bar fun and intersting and the Old town wonderful. All three of them are must-do in Stockolm.
Entertainment: I was impressed with the quality of entertainment. Most of the shows would have been very expensive to be seen in any major european city. Singers, dancers and acrobats were all very good. The nices show was the first one, four men singing. Their voices were amazing. I am sure that the same show in London would have costed around 100 pounds per person.
Activities: We palyed Bingo a couple of times. it was very fun. It costs $20 per game. We found ten pool to be small for the size of the ship so it felt really crowded. The Jade had two pools and a much nicer sundeck.
Shopping: There were several shops in the ship and prices were quite resonable. There was a Russian bazar on the last sea day, which is a great place to get some souvenirs.
Overall: This was the vacation of a lifetime!!! We all had an amzing time. I would happily cruise with the Star or any other NCL ship again. The reason we like cruising is that you see a lot of places and you combine sightseeing in major cities and the amenities of a beach resort, something that both grown-ups and kids appreciate. You also get a good value for your money. Can't wait to go on another cruise.
Sorry for any spelling mistakes. This review was written on an iPad!