We got a call from NCL the day we were driving up to Seattle offering us an upsell to AC from AF, we took the deal so some of our experiences are colored by the additional perks for suite living, but most experiences are common to all fellow cruisers.
First off the Star is a beautiful ship, well kept, clean, easy to get around, (unless you are directionally challenged like my DW), and for the most part comfortable. (more on that later).
Embarkation: The process most colored by our upsell. VIP embarkation is a dream. After checking in we were given an escort who took us directly to the VIP area where there was ample refreshments available, and we we greeted by the biggest asset on the ship, In MHO, Simone our concierge who always seemed to be at the right place at the right time during the cruise. I could use up plenty of space writing about Simone. My in-laws were also booked on this cruise but in a mini-suite so as we were being escorted away my Father-In-Law shouted hey that's my daughter, so like any good daughter my DW asked if they could embark with us. As soon as my DW asked they sent a VIP rep out to escort my in-laws to the VIP lounge and they enjoyed a number of the perks with us. We were briefed on the perks that come with the room and then our Butler Timothy escorted our in-laws and my DW and myself to our suite. We arrived at the terminal at 11am and we were in our suite at 1210. A side note is that we entered the ship at the mid elevator and took it up to the 9th floor, our suite was 9002 which is at the front of the ship OMG one look down the hall toward our room and I swear we had a mile to go. We never got used to that view so we would almost always took the front elevator, at least we could see that far on other decks. A small victory for a mental lightweight.
Cabins: Our suite was great, I had arrange for it to be decorated for our 30th anniversary and for a dozen roses to be in the room, all was ready when we arrived which caught me by surprise. I just knew there was going to be a screw up because of the room change. BTW the people in our original room which adjoined my in-laws, asked my in-laws if they knew a Teri. My father in law told them he had a daughter named Teri and about the cabin change, after which they told my father-in-law to wish Teri a happy anniversary. It turns out their suite was also decorated complete with cake, and the card which never made it to our room. I hope that they were discrete enough not to share its contents with anyone. A bottle of champagne was on ice we we got to the room which is one of the perks. We had a large closet where we were able to hang ALL our clothes, plenty of drawers, make up table with chair and mirror, an adequate bathroom, (same size as mini-suite), a wet bar, desk, small dining table with 4 chairs sitting area with a "couch" and small sofa chair, two safes, lots of storage space and room under the bed for two suitcases. We had a deck to die for. 150sf with two lounge chairs and as far as Im concerned the best views on the ship except for the villas. Being in Alaska it was a bit cold but we had a couple of nice weather days, and when we traveled the Endicott arm the views were incredible. We saw whales, bears, seals, and eagles for our front deck while enjoying wine and strawberries. Now a word about comfort, we ended up using the dining chairs, as the couch and sofa chair felt as if they were made from rock. I am convinced that this is to encourage you to get out of the cabin so that they can help you lessen the burden of a fat bank account. The bed was comfortable and I slept like a baby, rocked to sleep every night after enjoying an adult beverage or two.
Food: NOTE: The chilled fruit soups are great and must be tried at least once. This is another area which is colored by the perks. We were able to have breakfast and lunch in Cagney's every day if we wished and were allowed to bring my in-laws as our guests. We took advantage of this perks most days. The food at Cagney's was excellent for both lunch and dinner. Cagney's breakfast were offered both with menu or buffet or both. My wife says that the french toast should be illegal. I enjoyed whatever I had in the morning. We did eat at Cagney's for dinner one night and it was worth every penny.. I know that some have criticized Cagney's but we hit them on a good night. The service was attentive, quick, and pleasant, the food was served promptly, cooked as ordered and great tasting. The highlight was the Alaskan king crab legs my mother-in-law had.
We also ate at one other fee restaurant, the Endless Summer. As stated in other reviews the tortilla chips were stale and we did bring this up, we we thanked and told that it was one of the areas that they were discussing with their vendor. My DW and I both had the Lobster Tacos, what a treat. The lobster was cooked just right and the amount was such that we skipped desert as we could eat no more. With dinner came free Margaritas in the large glasses with no additional charge for the first one for each person. We had one dinner and one lunch at the Versailles. While others reviewers seemed to like the Versailles our experience was different. We found the service to be slow and the food to be unremarkable for the one dinner we had there. One dinner is not a fair trial but because there were other choices we chose not to back for another dinner. I had the Beef Wellington which was decent enough though nothing to write home about, but my DW and her mother had the fish and lobster and except for dinner at the market cafe this food was the poorest of the cruise. Lobster was small and overcooked and the fish had a bland taste. We did find the servers to be good at the Versailles but the service was slow and distracted due to the large number of people there in MHO. Lunch was much better there and we enjoyed our one meal there and we shared the table with two other charming couples who were strangers when we sat and friends when we left. The food was good and the service well paced for lunch but since we were spoiled by Cagney's for lunch it is hard to make a fair comparison. Unlike some others our favorite was Aqua. We enjoyed the smaller more casual setting, jeans are ok there. The service was great and every meal we ate there was terrific. We ate dinner 3 times at the Aqua and every one met our expectations. My favorite was a Mahi Mahi dish I had one night it was spicy but not too much and cooked just right as the fish was moist and tender. we had a great sever there twice an Indonesian girl named Jasminita and the Hostess, who also did lunch and breakfast at Cagney's, was one of our favorite members of the Star crew. The hostess name was Roann and she was from Trinidad Tobago. She was warm, witty, and took took the time to learn our names after our first encounter. The market cafe was at best mediocre at worst bad. The food was bland, uninspired, and presented poorly. To be fair my in-laws like the Cafe and ate there often. Also we found the tables to be clean and well policed, the food was just not to our liking. We only ate there once but I commented on the tables because we passed through cafe almost every day and we had read that the tables were dirty and were not policed well. The food at the Blue Lagoon was OK, but we liked the wings. The problem with the Blue Lagoon is the room, there is none.
A note about Adult beverages. We brought 4 bottles of wine aboard and paid 60 dollars for that privilege. I knew this already and was willing to pay to enjoy wine that I knew to be good. My wife became addicted to "Dirty Bananas" and I have the charges to prove it. But this was our vacation and we both enjoyed it the way we wanted.
Entertainment: Anyone who gets bored on this cruise ship is .... well.... never mind. We enjoyed team trivia, sushi making sake tasting, making new friends, exploring the ship, attending lectures, wildlife viewing and wild life viewing, excursions, shopping, shows, parties and reading, in fact our problem was finding time to be bored. We never got to the Spa, the Work out room, the Casino, the Cinema, or many other activities offered. We did not care so much for the Jean Ryan Singers, but we enjoyed Murray the Magician as much for his humor as for his magic, the ventriloquist was ok and second city had their moments. As you can probably tell we found the entertainment to be good but not great. But we had a great time enjoying what was presented. If you want Vegas go to Vegas.
Excursion: I find this area difficult to comment on so I will keep it short. We loved the white pass train ride, my DW caught more salmon then I did, we had a great time fishing and if you want a reference ask I got a great one. My DW shopped with great gusto and I carried the packages as well as any old pack mule. Skip Prince Rupert and you will have missed nothing. One note here during the last 2 or so hours of approaching Prince Rupert we had many a whale encounter so keep a sharp eye here.
Staff: I am truly perplexed at the negative comments I have read about the staff of the Star in some reviews. THE STAFF WAS GREAT. Except for one small issue about a over aggressive seller of beer. The staff was polite, professional, eager to please, smiled all the time, provided great advice, and well, many other positive words could be used here. We were constantly asked about our day, nights sleep, activities, likes and dislikes etc... And this was from the general staff. On top of that our concierge and butler contacted us often about anything we might need. I would be remiss not to mention our Butler TIMOTHY. What a fine young man he is and a first time father to be in 4 months or so. Congrats Tim. He spoiled us to the core along with Simone. I would like to add that during every meal, except when we ate at the Market Cafe, the maitre d asked about our food and service. Breakfast, lunch, dinner no matter where we ate except room service of course and then it was Tim who called to see if our food was to our liking.
This review has already taken up to much space so I will close with a few remarks. NCL like other cruise lines are very good at offering you ways to leave your money with them. I can understand some people finding this to be a bit intrusive, but I did not. I did leave some money with them, (I should now own the rights to the "Dirty Banana"), but not an excessive amount. In fact I can in under budget. I made good use of my time and I set the pace for myself not depending on someone else. If you treat the crew with respect and kindness and take the time to talk to them, they will respond in kind, in fact we wish we could have filled out a style card for each one. Use the S.T.Y.L.E. cards to reward good service, it is a much desired commodity among the crew. The cruise was great and my mother-in-law who had to be dragged onto the boat now wants to cruise again. Make the most with the time you have, because time goes quickly. You get out of life what you put into it. One other thing, we took the time to introduce ourselves to other cruisers when possible, we made some good friends this way and it made the cruise that much more enjoyable. So God Bless and Happy Cruising