We boarded the NCL Star on April 23, 2011. The embarkation process was fast and easy but we quickly found out that we could not take a bottle of wine on board without paying corkage fees. The whole process was handled wrong but the port people are to blame for that. We originally sailed on the Star a few years ago to Alaska and didn't quite enjoy the ship as much as we thought we would. This time the Star was remodeled and looked like something we would enjoy. The price was less than $100 a day per person for a balcony room so we can't complain about that. Freestyle cruising is not for everyone and certainly not for my husband and I.
The restaurants are all good and the food, overall, was good but average. We constantly had to wait 20-30 minutes for a table to eat in the dining room for dinner. Once inside we could see anywhere from 5-15 empty tables. I always got the feeling that the waiting would prompt us to try a specialty restaurant and pay the cover charge. Most of the time we would ask to talk with the Maitre' D and he would always seat us within a few minutes. When we would ask him why they are creating such a wait no one was able to give us a straight answer. Service was good for the most part but with freestyle cruising you never get to know anyone and the waiters never get to know you so they cannot anticipate your likes and dislikes. Also, we were never offered to share a table with anyone else and sometimes, in our experience, it's the best way to meet people and learn about what they did or discovered when in port. The one thing that bothered my husband the most was that the waiters never asked you if you wanted coffee or tea with your dessert. Once my husband would ask for coffee it was always pretty bitter. The best coffee was at the 24 hour restaurant on the 8th floor. Actually, that little place had the best food and service of all. Chicken wings and wanton soup were the best. The Endless Summer Mexican restaurant was also very good and for $10 a person cover charge you also got a Margarita. The buffet and lunch menu in the dining room, however, was always the same and after the 3rd day I was sick of everything. This is something NCL should really change up a bit because the same thing everyday becomes boring.
Our Cabin was always clean and we never saw our cabin steward but the mirrors could have used a cleaning and the chairs were never dusted. I only noticed this because my husband placed his socks on a chair under the vanity and it was quite dusty. Also, our bed was always made but never with a bed cover. Personally, I don't like to sit on the bed with my clothes on so that was a bit awkward. The bathroom was larger and quite nice after the remodel. The TV in the room was very small though and we're used to flat screens on newer or updated ships so that was a little of a let down but not a big deal.
The ship is a little awkward in layout but that could be just our taste. There was no real quiet place to read other than the library and the pool area was mainly for kids even though they had their own pool area. The worse part for me was that all the chairs were in the sun so there was very limited shade and a place to sit down. I later found out that there is a spa pool for adults only but it cost $119 per person for a week. That really upset me because I don't swim and there was nowhere I could go to use the pool. We saved a lot of money on our room but if we started to pay all these fees for the pool, the sauna, the restaurants then we would have paid the same amount of money for another ship like Princess or Royal. Basically it all comes down to a preference and our was not the freestyle cruising.
Entertainment was the best part of the cruise. The magician and his wife were AMAZING as were the french aerialists. The last show, Extreme Vegas, was easily a million dollar show and so amazing to see and experience.
Comparing the Star to some of the other ships we're cruised with it sadly doesn't compare. This is only our opinion though. With Royal Caribbean, Princess and Celebrity you pay more for your cruise but everything like the pools, saunas, service and attention to detail is all included. The food is amazing anywhere you go and you get variety, always. One must figure out what is important while cruising and then make a decision on what cruise line to vacation with.
Overall we relaxed and had a good time but that is all up to you. If you choose to be annoyed then you'll have a bad time and if you choose to let the things that bother you go then you'll have a good time.