This is our fifth cruise and third on NCL. The previous cruises were with NCL Dream (2), Carnival Paradise, Dawn Princess. We drove from the bay area to LA. We were on board the ship within no time. Boarding was a snap because we were Latittude Members and my wife is pregnant. We did find out the lines for foreign citizens are a lot shorter. As soon as we were on board we were told the stateroom would not be ready until 2:00pm and everyone were encouraged to have lunch at the Market Cafe (the buffet restaurant) first.
By 1:30 the stateroom was announced ready. By the time we arrive at our room, our luggage was right behind us. The inside cabin we booked is of Ok size and decently decorated with plenty of storage space. The bathroom is designed very efficiently and felt more spacious than it actually is. I particularly liked the sliding glass door and faucets in the shower. We found we had 2 twin beds and requested our cabin steward to make them together. Our cabin steward Ondina and her partner turned out to be extremely friendly and she is so talented in making those towel figurines. She even utilized some of our left out personal items into her designs. The room is always kept neat and clean. After a couple days when she figured out that we sometimes laid down during the daytime, she would turn down our bed early.
Public facilities on the ship are pretty well designed. They are easy to get to but are private enough for you to enjoy. The fitness center is very modern and clean. Spa facility is nice too with indoor lap pool and two jaccuzzis. Since they do charge a fee of 15 a day or 78 a week to use the indoor pool and jaccuzzis unless you have spa treatment, they are not crowded at all. The library is bright and has nice collections of books covering very diversified topics. The Galleria is about twice as big as an average cruise ship shopping venue. They have a very good collection of jewelry and watches range from inexpensive Citizens to premium brands such as Longines and Omega at lower than retail price plus being tax free. The only complaint we have regarding the public area is the policy of allowing reserving lounge chairs at pool side. There are so many chairs unoccupied for hours, just because somebody puts a towel or water bottle on there, the other passengers could not enjoy them. This is a huge waste of resource. As I know, most other cruise ships either does not allow chair reservation or limit the time a chair can be left unattended for more than 20 minutes.
The food tasted decent most of the time in all the restaurants that we ate at. We tried two no-charge specialty restaurants: La Trattoria (Italian) and the Endless Summer (Tex Mex), which you need to make reservation a day or two earlier. There are two Main Restaurants on the ship serving the same menu item. The Versailles is really beautifully decorated in a lavish French style and perhaps the most luxurious cruise dining room we have experienced. The Aqua, supposedly features a contemporary theme, is not impressive to us and needed some design upgrade in my opinion. This ship makes wonderful chocolate dessert, which is very rich but not sweet, which is the way we like it. The only other ship that made comparable chocolate items is the Dawn Princess. The only time we were disappointed at dining room was the night they served lobster. Because they used Caribbean lobster as opposed to a cold water lobster, the texture was mushy and even tasted a little fishy. The buffet was not bad at all, however they could improve the serving time since we found they usually have a 30 minutes gap between meals which left only very limited items at the counter. The barbecues at the pool were fabulous with ribs and terrific special vegetable salads, about the best among all the poolside food we've had. The 24 hr Blue Lagoon is a convenient place to grab a snack and serve both western and Asian affairs. However being expert on Asian cousin, I would not recommend their Wonton soup. The other things they serve there were good although they could have used less salt in the Noodle stir-fry. Two other passengers from a different background felt the same regarding the noodles. However, the Blue Lagoon manager, upon hearing our complaints, apologized sincerely and asked if we wanted anything else.
Talking about crewmembers on the Star, they are really a group of commendable people. Almost all the people we encountered, from staff to officers, are all very warm and greeted us with genuine smiles, which is hard to find on other cruise lines. Even the people who suppose to push some sales are also nice and never embarrassed us for anything. Maybe just because they are so polite and non-pushy, I eventually spent more on this ship than any other previous cruise. I even tipped some crew members extra this time. The entertainment on the Star is very good. Nighttime show was held at the very nice Stardust lounge. We particularly like the Jean and Ryan Company, who performed on three nights with different program. The magician and Chinese acrobat team also did nice job. Most of the actors and actress are very talented and of Broadway caliber. There is also a movie theater showing new movies several times a day. The Spinnaker Lounger also held some shows and or dancing class. The Manila Trio played in the Atrium lounge were very pleasant and performed lots of tunes on passenger's request.
We didn't sign up for shore excursion provided by the ship and did tour on our own since this is not the first time we have been in Mexican Riviera. However, if you do have some Gemstone shopping in your mind, I strongly recommend attending the lecture by shopping consultant Loralee, who gave out useful tips. You might even get some of freebies and free taxi ride following her instruction. She will also be in some of the shops for a while and help you negotiate deals with the shop manager that you wouldn't normally get by yourself. The disembarkation on the last morning is very easy and stress free. Going through immigration has never been so pleasant although we did hate to leave the ship. All in all, this is a very enjoyable and relaxing babymoon for me and my wife.