A group of twenty seniors embarked on January 19 in Los Angeles. We had chartered a bus from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Embarkation process was quick and efficient. Cabins weren't ready for occupancy, but we were welcomed for a buffet and burgers and hot dogs on the 12th deck.
We had booked a mini-suite, which consisted of an unusually large bathroom with w-c separated by a sliding glass door, a sleeping area, a sitting area, and a private balcony. The cabin was clean and nicely appointed. The small television set received CNN, several movie channels, several ship information channels. There was a safe and a small refrigerator. Throughout the trip, the cabin was kept clean and well supplied; we never saw the room steward.
Despite its large size, it's easy to find one's way around the Star. Three banks of elevators serve the decks containing the shops, dining venues, theatres, casino, and other public rooms.
Dining is "freestyle," meaning that one eats wherever one wants, at any time the selected venue is open. Tables for two are available, and large tables can accommodate eight or ten. The food in the two main dining rooms, Aqua and Versailles, was good, though nothing out of the ordinary. Cagney's Steakhouse (for an upcharge of $20) offered outstanding beef entrees, with unusually good service. Le Bistro, also with an extra charge, offered French-inspired dishes, and was quite good. La Trattoria, Italian food at no extra charge, was perfectly awful. The Blue Lagoon is open 24 hours a day, and offers really good burgers, fish and chips, and the like.
Early on in the cruise, norovirus began making its way around the ship, despite the obvious efforts to contain it by insisting that all passengers sanitize hands over and over. Self-serve at buffets was discontinued, and crew members served virtually everything, always on clean plates. Only one of our group was affected, but we think the number of passengers struck down was significant.
The casino is larger than any I've seen on any other ship, and the payback was not bad at all.
Entertainment was generally quite good, with very talented musicians and singers in the public areas and lounges. The dance/song show in the main theatre was (perhaps unintentionally) the gayest, campiest thing I've ever seen. Chinese acrobats were outstanding.
Shore tours offered through the cruise line were, at best, undistinguished. We had arranged six months before sailing to meet Rosie in Acapulco (email her at email@example.com) for a tour. We'd read wonderful things about her on several websites. All of the positive comments were completely accurate. She met our group as promised, and gave us a perfectly delightful day of sightseeing, shopping, and local color. We all agreed that it was the best shore excursion most of us had ever had. She has a wide following, so book her early!
Disembarkation was quick and problem free.
We've enjoyed about 24 cruises over the years, and this one surely ranked among the best.