I will write a quick review from our cruise over the New Years week on the Norwegian Star. The cruise was on the "Mexico Riviera" route and included stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. We had an extended family of 10 from ages 8 to 82 that included first time cruiser, occasional cruisers as well as experienced cruisers. Overall, everyone had a terrific cruise and we all found the Norwegian Star to be first rate. The food was terrific, the staff was awesome and there were very few negatives from the cruise
Embarkation: took us about 30 minutes. There was a long line to register, but it moved pretty quickly and once through the initial line, the rest of the waits were minimal. We had about 1 hour on the ship before our rooms were ready, but the buffet was available and we enjoyed exploring the ship, hitting some golf balls and playing a quick game of ship deck chess.
Staff: From the minute we got on the ship and throughout the cruise, the staff was terrific. They were especially fond of the 4 kids 11 and under and helped them have a great cruise. The staff was all very friendly and we only met a couple that did not seem to enjoy talking and joking around.
Food: We all though the food was great. We ate at Aqua and Versailles for all of our dinners and typically the buffet or blue lagoon for lunch and the buffet or Aqua for breakfast. We originally were planning to pay for some dinners at the specialty restaurants but found the food at Versailles and Aqua to be so good that we chose not to go to a specialty restaurant. Versailles was especially nice for early dinners close to the back windows at sunset. The variety of the dinners was excellent. The buffet was very good for buffet food and we did not mind the same breakfast menu each morning since there was a lot of different options. The only issue with Versailles was that there was too much time between courses and the dinner usually took 2 hours.
Staff: The staff was terrific. They were all very friendly and available for all of our needs.
Entertainment: This was GREAT. Paul Scalley, the cruise director did a great job as host and kept the mood lively. The entertainment was top notch. The only thing I did not think was great was the Second City over 18 show. It was as if there were trying to be raunchy since it was an over 18 show, when in fact, they were much funnier in the family shows. The Art experts had excellent education events and fun auctions. Everyone had a lot of fun with the variety of art events they hosted.
Ports: Cabo - we just took a water taxi to Medano beach and then to Lover Beach, which was quick, easy and fun. You are not in Cabo long, so this worked out well. Some of our group did the bus tour to Todos Santos, which they were not thrilled with since it is a long bus ride and not much of a destination. Mazatlan: We went to the north side of Mazatlan for horseback riding with Ginger's horses which was fun. We rented a car and driver for the day at the port for $150 for all 10 of us and he took us on a tour as well as up to the horses and back. Mazatlan is not a great destination and definitely far behind Cabo and PV for a stop. PV - We did the Wildlife adventures tour to see Humpback whales and also swim with the wild dolphins. This was a great tour and definitely the best tour of the trip for us. Then we spent some time on the beach and in downtown PV, on the boardwalk which is very nice and feels more like Manhattan Beach, CA than Mexico. PV was a terrific stop and it was great that we had the most time there.
Ship: I felt the ship was in good shape. The only issues were the water slides at the pool were VERY slow and not that much fun for kids. They were also closed quite a bit. The main pool is also very small and is salt water, which our kids do not like much. So because of these two things, our kids - who are typically big swimmers - did not want to use the pool much at all. The hot tubs were nice and rarely too crowded to use. I never felt over crowded on the ship even though we were at a peak time with a full ship.
Kids club: The kids club staff was great, but the room was very small and was just a normal room - not customized for kids. It was hit or miss for our kids - at times they loved and at times they were bored - depending on the schedule. We also have one daughter who was 10 in 10 days, but was not allowed in with the 10 - 12 year olds, so had to stay with the 6 - 9 years olds, which made kids club much less fun so she did not go after the first night.
Overall, I HIGHLY recommend the ship, staff and itinerary. It was a GREAT cruise and Paul Scalley and the rest of the staff, entertainment and chefs really made for an excellent vacation for all of us.