My husband booked our April 2-9 Mexican Riviera cruise as a Valentine's gift - to celebrate our 32nd anniversary. We spent our 30th anniversary on the NCL Dawn and had a first class experience and fully expected another positive experience.
The Good: We were able to fly to LAX Saturday in time to catch the boat; no delays in getting on-board. The Bad: Our two large fully sealed bottles of water were not allowed on board. The Ugly: Within a couple minutes of embarkation, our arms were twisted to purchase a six-pack of water for our stateroom at a grossly overinflated price. Word to the wise: pack an extra duffel full of bottled and sealed water and send it through with checked luggage!
Our stateroom was small! as the NCL Star is a sister ship to NCL Dawn we expected a larger room - and a bathtub. Our error.
The Ugly: Apparently NCL Star was short of stateroom stewards as our room was missing an extra pillow; we had no room service menu; no map of the vessel; or anything to even write a note on or with - in other words, the room was pretty much stripped. Six out of seven days on NCL Star we DID NOT have a bath mat, two wash cloths, two hand towels, and two bath towels at the same time. The toilet bowl had a black ring that was not scrubbed for the first five days of the cruise. Either the vacuum cleaner was broken or not used in our stateroom the entire trip.
Dining: We noticed the food offerings in the buffet were not as lavish or labor intensive on this cruise as on NCL Dawn; the quality of food was not as high; the service was very slow; and the portions were smaller - the portion size was not an issue - if one wants more food, just go get more food. We dined six out of seven nights in specialty restaurants: The Good: Twice Le Bistro and Twice at Cagney's - though being served three prawns in a prawn cocktail looked just plain cheap! The OK: La Cucina (salmon was past it's prime); and The Ugly: Sushi. We waited 120 minutes sipping over-brewed lukewarm tea to be served sashimi that still had ice crystals and sushi made with warm rice. Not a pretty combination.
We adjourned to Gatsby's to drown our sorrows. Looking at our on-board charge bill, we spent way too much time drinking bubbles being taken care of by the best staff on the entire boat - those working in Gatsby's.
The vessel holds around 2,100 passengers plus crew. We were told there were over 800 children on the boat. We saw some fabulous parenting; as well as some horrible parenting and a lot of non-parenting. Our last NCL cruise was first week of April and there were very few children on board so we did not encounter this issue.
We have been to Cabo and Puerto Vallarta many times - and were looking forward to returning to Mazatlan but understood and respected the safety issue. We booked a tour to Todos Santos to avoid spending two days in Cabo. The tour was interesting, the guide was very good. NCL's tour description did not disclose that the road to Todos Santos was under construction and the drive took almost two hours each way on a bumpy road! The P-V cooking school, city tour, and shopping was a 100% waste of money. That cooking school could have been taught poolside on the boat by a fifth grader; the shopping area was a tourist trap; the tour guide's English left a lot to be desired.
Enjoyed a wonderful mini facial/neck massage/foot massage in the spa. In my opinion the spa on NCL Star was a good value and far superior to the spa on NCL Dawn. Wine selections were OK and even with service charges fairly priced.
I do not blame NCL for the cold weather or 800+ children on board. However, we question whether we wish to cruise again on NCL based on the lack of service. The cruise was not all bad. Met some wonderful people, saw whales, sea lions, dolphins, and harbor seals; got rid of the 'golf balls' in my neck and shoulders, and still break into a smile when I think of the performance of Fountains.