The Star is a beautiful ship. The first ship built by NCL for Freestyle Dining, it really works. We enjoyed every meal on the ship and could finally see why it appeals to so many people. After our June 2004 trip on the Pride of Aloha, I am willing to agree that Freestyle is a good alternative to the regular dining routine.
Embarkation was a NIGHTMARE. There were 3 ships in port (that's what they told us) and it took 2 hours of line waiting to get onto the ship for check-in. There was no Latitudes check-in available at all.
Our cabin was located in the forward section of the ship and was sold as an oceanview with a balcony. This is because the "window" cutout on the front of the ship does not permit a total open view from the room, however, it does afford more privacy for the balcony which I found really nice.
Dining service was great. Altho I usually like to get to know my waiter (I have a food allergy) I really was impressed with the level of service received in the Endless Summer, La Trattoria and Cagney's restaurants. The servers I had in Versailles did not impress or cooperate with my request. The food, especially in Endless and Cagney's was incredible!
The "specialty" restaurants that do not have an additional cost are Endless Summer and La Trattoria. The food and service are both very good at these. I was completely surprised to be honest!
We ate every breakfast at the buffet which offered made to order omelets and Belgian waffles in addition to the usual fare. The food was cafeteria quality but then it WAS a buffet! We ate lunch several times at the Blue Lagoon (THE BEST HAMBURGERS!) which had a set menu available 24 hrs. The service there was good and friendly if not always fast!
We only attended one show Cirque Pacific. It was good -- a slimmed down version of Cirque du Soleil. The Jean Ann Ryan dancers were very good for the most part. They were enthusiastic and on key.
The Spa is gorgeous and we did use the hydrotherapy/lap pool (no additional cost) for a relaxing afternoon when the weather was not cooperating. It was lovely. No kids under 18 are allowed. The fitness center is well equipped and I noticed in the Freestyle daily that there were a lot of "free" activities which if you complete 12 got you a T-shirt.
The galleria was really just one big shop as opposed to several smaller shops. The prices were competitive with what we would pay in town for Bonine, candy, etc. The perfume was about 10% higher than what I found in port.
We really took this vacation to celebrate our 20th anniversary so we didn't have the children. We didn't do a lot of the "usual" things that cruises offer because this was our 14+ cruise.
Acapulco -- you can have it! We toured the Fort San Diego which was really one of the most fascinating historic sites I have ever visited but the city was a nightmare. Several times we were followed for blocks through the old town by people who didn't take no for an answer to their taxi and sale queries. Ixtapa -- what a contrast! Gorgeous and serene. Puerto Vallarta -- did the Canopy tour -- zip line. Cabo -- did the whale watching thru the ship --too many people! Would do it privately next time.
I would definitely rate the ship a 9.8 (only because I kept getting lost until Day 3). The service was 92 (except for one REALLY ugly incident with a photographer!). I would definitely sail the NCL Star again in a heartbeat!