I truly try to be a positive and reasonable person, but it will be difficult not to be negative for this review. This was my family and my first cruise, and none of us (six people) ever want to cruise again.
Embarkation was fine. It cannot be easy to get over 2000+ people on a ship in just two to three hours! I thought things went fairly smoothly. Disembarking went just as well.
My first impression of the ship was good. The Star is a beautiful ship. All areas that I saw were very attractively decorated and best of all, it was clean. I felt good about the cleanliness throughout the entire week. Our room had a balcony. I loved this! My advice for anyone about to cruise, pay the extra money for the balcony...You won't regret it. I expected the room and bathroom to be small, so this wasn't a surprise! Most people don't spend much time in their room anyway.
I wasn't pleased with the entertainment. The shows were good but there wasn't much variety. I expected a different show each night. The magician performed twice. The band Tribute performed twice, as did the comedian. On one of these nights, the band and the magician performed together. I guess a lot of people's entertainment is drinking and gambling (More comments on this to follow!)
As soon as we boarded the ship, we went to the Market Buffet for lunch. I always hate to hear people complain about food, because we are so blessed to have what we do. However, this review would not be accurate if I didn't tell you that this is the area of our cruise that was most lacking. The food at the buffet was horrible. As another member wrote, it didn't get any better as the week went on. My family and I refused to go to any of the restaurants that had a cover charge. This may sound cheap, but we were not willing to pay more than what we had already sunk into this vacation. I would rather NCL charge more for their cruises than to have this big gap in the eating choices. Blue Lagoon and the poolside grill were good, but how many hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. do you want to eat in a week? Room service was good but very limited in their choices. One night we ate at Endless Summer, which is a Tex-Mex restaurant. We were satisfied, but it is impossible to get reservations here. The strange thing is that the dining room was never over 1/3 to 1/4 full, but everyone was told that they were "booked up". I never did understand this...We ate at Aqua, one of the main dining rooms one evening, and the food was good. There is always a long wait here.
This is where I have my biggest complaint. The night that we went to Aqua, my son had on a very nice pair of plaid shorts. We were told that shorts aren't allowed in the main dining rooms after 5:00 P.M. So, my son went back to the room and put on jeans. The shorts were so much nicer! The ironic thing is that I saw the following in the dining room while waiting for my son to get back: a man in an old flannel shirt, several people in tennis shoes, a man eating with his baseball cap on and a man wearing his cowboy hat while eating. And my son's nice plaid shorts that came to his knees weren't appropriate? NCL needs to decide if the ship is truly free-style cruising or not. I have no problem with dressing for dinner; I just didn't think it was necessary. I only packed jeans and shorts for my son. The other main dining room doesn't allow jeans. So, we couldn't have eaten there. Whatever their policy, they need to be consistent and let people know what's expected of them before boarding the ship. I kept reading about casual cruising, casual cruising, casual cruising; well, this isn't totally true. All my family and friends have talked about how most people do nothing but eat on a cruise. Not us! I probably lost weight during that week! A conspiracy theory even crossed my mind---Have terrible food at the buffet so that people will have to go to the restaurants that have an expensive cover charge. ha,ha!
Our shore excursions were wonderful! Unloading and loading went very well. I was so impressed with the organization. It's amazing that so many people are going so many different ways and everyone gets to where they are going on time. I think we sailed out of the ports on time every single time. The excursions were expensive but worth every single penny. A word of advice: book your excursions early, at home before you leave. If not, the popular excursions sell out. In Ketchikan, we did the Duck Tour and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. In Juneau, we went to the Mendenhall Glacier and went on a whale watching excursion. We saw all kinds of whales! We went to a Musher's Camp and rode the White Pass Scenic Railway in Skagway.
As far as the crew on the ship, they weren't as friendly as I thought that they would (or should) be. There was a waitresses in the Blue Lagoon who was a darling, and a waiter in Endless Summer was tops. I don't know their names. Other than that, the restaurant workers were rude. I've read reviews where people went on and on about their stewards (calling them by name). I have no idea who cleaned my room the entire week! I realize that he/she cleaned while we were out of the room, but I think that he/she should've introduced him/herself. If we needed anything, I wouldn't have known who to ask for. One thing that was very frustrating, although the crew members couldn't help it, is that their English wasn't very good. I had a hard time understanding them and they had a hard time understanding me.
My biggest complaint of all is how alcohol was pushed EVERYWHERE, even at the breakfast buffet! I don't want to sound like a fuddy-duddy, but I felt like I had my twelve year old son in a bar 24 hours a day, seven days a week...Of course I knew that there would be drinking, but I didn't expect this volume. Even in the family-friendly shows, waiters and waitresses were constantly pushing drinks. I don't think that I was in the elevator once that someone didn't have a drink in his/her hand or reek of alcohol. I've spoken to people who have gone on other cruise lines and said most of the drinking was in the bars and/or restaurants. I know I sound prudish, but I was really amazed at the amount of alcohol consumed on this ship.
I realize that I don't have any other cruise experiences in which to compare, but I hope I've given you some things to consider before booking your next trip. Although I was disappointed with the cruise ship, Alaska and the passage there and back was gorgeous. So, it wasn't all a loss.