I had read many mixed reviews about NCL and I was not sure what to expect. I knew that many of the reviews are biased so I decided to go with NCL.
Embarkment was simple and organized. We were checked in, given a number and before we knew it we were exploring the ship. We ate at Topsiders for lunch, it was decent food.
When we were allowed into the rooms I had a chance to look around my accommodations for the week. I had read that the Star was showing her age. I would agree but it was not dirty. I found the mini suite to be clean and no complaints.The cost of the mini bar was less expensive then the drinks and snacks at the stores & bars. I found there was not a lot of storage but we made due once we thought about a plan. We put our empty cases under the bed.
We bought the wine package. We randomly picked the wine by region and cost. Nothing more then a $30 bottle and we bought 8. I would do this again. The only problem was we only had a case number so we would have to ask the help of the waiter to figure out what we wanted. On the second night the waiter figured it out for us and put the type & colour on the sheet. Not a bad wine all week!
We ate at 4 specialty restaurants.
The Bistro: It was so good we went back later in the week. I started with the muscles and I cannot complain, except to say there were not enough of the wonderful crustacean, I could have eaten double they put in front of me because they were so good. I then had the tenderloin with pepper sauce and it was amazing. The meat was excellent, the sauce was nice and the potatoes were amazing. For dessert my daughter and I shared the fondu each time and it was lovely.
Cagney's: It was good, the service was just as good as the bistro but I felt that it did not live up to it's reputation. Although it was good, I found the Bistro to be better. I had a Caesar salad (dismantled but I really enjoyed it) & steak, creme brule for desert and it was very good.
Endless Summer: This should not be missed. There was so much food and it was so good. We ate way too much.
Tapanaki: I would not go back to this one. The food, show and service was good but I can get that type of food at home with no problem. I would rather go somewhere that I can't go to at home.
Room Stewart: She was very good. I met her in the hall way the first day and asked her for a sharpy container, extra cream and coffee. I forgot to tell her what cabin, I just kind of waved in the direction (my error) but she figured it out and that night the coffee, cream and an extra 2 cups were in the room. The next day the sharpy container appeared. She always had a smile and a pleasent comment. The room was clean, the bedding was crisp and tucked in.
The room: The pillow was terrible for me, some people may life hard thin pillows but I don't. The beds put together had a large middle crease. I loved having the coffee maker in the room so I could make coffee, watch the waves and relax in the morning. The bathroom was nice with the privacy door for the toilet area.
Service: Excellant in the specialty restaurants, the bar tenders who went around the pools were great, friendly and fast. The waiters in the Versailles & aqua were so busy, I noticed the difference however the food was good.
Buffet: Was a pleasant surprise. I usually avoid them as much as I can because I find the food to be just ok and since I can get better food in the Main Dining rooms I dont bother. But the selection & quality of food was excellent. There were roasts (ham, chickens, beef etc) each day. Cheese platter, cold cuts, lots of fruit. An asian section, east indian curries, panini grill....It was far and above the fries and burgers!
Disembarkation was a nightmare. We were sent a letter saying all non US residents had to clear customs. The approx time for our deck was 7:40 but the letter stated we were to wait in our cabin and wait for an announcement. It never came so around 8am I called the guest services desk and I was told to wait. Finally we went down and we were one of the last to arrive.
Then, when we went for our luggage (we were on a tour) we were missing a bag. I spent a long time with the NCL staff who were quite helpful and eventually I found my bag in the line waiting to leave with someone else!
While I was looking for my luggage my family waited in line. They picked a random one because it was highly congested. When they got near to the end, about 30 minutes, they were told it was porter only and to leave the line. I wasn't impressed but we did. Only to see 5 minutes later the line being opened to everyone. I was NOT happy because we had a tour we booked with NCL. This production made us late by about an hour. It wasn't right for us or the others on the tour. NCL dropped the ball on that one.
In all, I was happy with NCL and I would cruise with them again. I choose first by itinerary and then by cruise line.