Dear Star Cruises,
I had wished that you would have showed a little more integrity in your advertising and marketing to your Australian market prior to booking this cruise. Being an experienced cruiser and being it was over the New Years holiday, I had expected much more.
Our check-in process was a sorry, disjointed affair requiring us to stand in queue several times with little or no direction from shore staff - a process that took several hours, including an hour for a late arrival of the ship. Due to the poor communication, some couples waited all day to board wasting a day of their vacation.
The cabin we had was poorly laid out and in a bit of a sorry state - doors rusting away and falling off the hinges. The state of the boat was generally filthy in the public areas (especially in the pool area), staff just ignored the rubbish and dirty dishes.
Dining in the Mariner Buffet was an experience that reminded me of my worst days eating in an Army mess with less selection and quality, eating off of plastic plates and cups. The same song played over and over for days...
The other restaurants were better, but never approached the level of standard and service that I have experienced on other cruises. 'Smart casual' was as much as I could bring myself to dress up on the 'Gala Night' many people were comfortable in shorts most nights...
The ship's entertainment was sad - the musical entertainment was repetitive and was pulled from some low-end pub Indonesia while the celebrity singers were a couple of has-beens. The magician was first rate mind you. The DJs were underemployed as the same CD played day after day in the pool area.
What is probably the most offensive thing is the itinerary and how you have presented it. Nowhere could I find details of the ships arrival and departure times - not on the web, not in the brochures, not in the info from the travel agent. So when we saw we had 'two days' in Phuket on the itinerary we at least expected the better part of a day or overnight to enjoy the island. Every one of the Australia customers had the same experience and felt the same way - duped.
One couple even left the ship due to the minimal information given, having made previous plans. Officially we were to have arrived at 5 pm only to leave at 2 am the next day. If you were the first person off and the last person on, you would have only gotten 5 hours on shore.
That same couple made the mistake to get back on the boat a couple of days later to attend the 'New Years gala affair'. The last night he ate a bad mussel at dinner, being polite he never spat it out being in mixed company. The next day, I convinced him to at least tell the doctor that he was violently ill with food poisoning (my wife an experienced nurse) even after he was better. His request to see the doctor was rebuked by reception staff as she told him the "you don't have food poisoning, no one else on board has food poisoning... the doctor is unavailable". Are your reception staff health professionals that are qualified to triage medical queries?
No, I don't think that I will ever consider another Star Cruise again. Market the trip for what it is... a GAMBLING SHIP. The itinerary is all based around getting the most time out in international waters to maximise revenues. Most Asian clientele loved the cruise, every Australian we talked to hated it.
Be honest... I have.