We're a married, professional couple who have taken lots of cruises with different lines, including NCL, over the last 10 years. This was our second cruise on the Star and we were sadly disappointed this time around.
Unfortunately NCL recently made a lot of changes to the public lounges and the layout on board. We didn't see anything that we would consider a positive change. The biggest mistake they have made is in taking away the Spinnaker Lounge, which used to be on deck 12 forward. This was the viewing lounge, great for Alaska and enjoying the inside passage and the glaciers. Now this area is under construction - another bad thing, because there was a lot of noise from that work that we could hear in our deck 11 cabin. Also the hallway was covered in plastic sheeting and had construction workers welding and pulling the ceiling panels down all week. So now if you want to sit anywhere other than your cabin that has a view outside, the only place is the Market Cafe. That means it is very hard to find a table to sit and eat as people don't want to give up the window seats. The library has also gone from deck 12 - now it's a couple of shelves of ratty paperbacks. No cinema, no card room or game room. We also noticed that the quality of the food seems to have gone down considerably since we last sailed with NCL. The buffet was often cold and unappealing, with the same things being served day after day. The specialty restaurants are still pretty good, but of course you have to pay extra for those.
There seems to be a huge push to get you to spend money on board. Almost all the activities and things to do at sea either cost money, like Bingo and Martini Tasting, or were sales pitches very thinly disguised as seminars.
The TV in the room is lousy. Most of the channels were blank all week. Once in a while a news channel would come in but it would never stay on more than a few minutes before it cut out again. We asked why the only TV channel we had was ESPN and they just told us it wasn't always possible to pick up the satellite. Our cabin steward told us it had been working until that week. I guess they want you out spending money instead of watching TV.
On the positive side of things - the crew still do an excellent job in general. Service was almost always polite and friendly. I think the problems lie more with management than with the service personnel.
The entertainment was a mixed bag as far as we were concerned. There was a Frankie Valley tribute which was SOOOO cheesy. The four guys sing well enough, but the jokes and chit chat in between is so lame, it spoils the show. The singer and dancer shows were the same as last time we were there -Cirque Pacific was not as good as last time, as they have fewer Chinese acrobats now and that was the only good part of the show to begin with. The other show was Band on the Run - it's good, but again, same show. The Second City comedy show is another repeat, the same show we've seen on all our NCL cruises. We were hoping they would have changed some of the sketches but it was almost all the same. By far the best and our favorite was the magic show with Bob and his wife Sarah. They did a show called Believe that had some great illusions and lots of comedy and audience participation. Bob has a great personality on stage and we had a lot of fun watching him. He also did a close up magic show on the last day that was fantastic. In the lounges we liked Odyssey, the band who play rock and roll stuff, and also Shaun who plays guitar and sings in the pub. Other entertainment was standard cruise ship game show stuff. The cruise director seemed nice enough but she didn't seem to know the right things to say on the microphone - a bit amateur and inappropriate at times.
Alaska - as always it was beautiful. I wish we had more time in the ports, and would choose a different itinerary next time because of that.
Overall, not a great cruise. NCL seems to be slipping in lots of areas. I don't know that we would choose them again with so many other options out there.