Our Background: Husband and Wife 40/31 married 10 years on our 5th cruise.
3-Carnival, 1-HAL, 1-NCL. We are open minded people that believe you create your own happiness wherever you travel. We love to cruise! And we are self proclaimed foodies. We live in the Seattle area.
EMBARK: Fairly smooth, good natured people guiding you through the process. We arrived about 10:30 am and found the lines short. Used "My Primetime Limo" for transport to the port, they did a nice job!
Got on the ship before noon, used a tip from another cc writer, "eat in the MDR on the first day and avoid the zoo at the buffet" great tip I highly recommend doing it. The NCL staff will try to herd you to the buffet but you do have choices in this regard.
THE CABIN: NCL gets you into the cabins fast before 1:00 pm (nice job)! We had a Deck 10 inside cabin (first time in an insider). The cabin has a nice layout, and the bathroom is above average in size and style. The beds were More
very comfy but could use a bridge between the twins, when pushed together. I did get swallowed alive one night. :) Other lines offer this option, and for a couple that likes to cuddle it's a must! Storage is average with other cruise lines we've experienced. Our Cabin Steward was below average in friendliness and up keep of the room. Our Cabin was clean but not super clean. Towel animals were lack luster (no biggie, my DW gets a kick out of them).
FOOD: Ok please remember the DW and I are foodies. So about 50% of the reason we take a cruise is we really enjoy having others cook for us! We have varying levels of expectations, depending on the venue. For example the MDR= high quality and amazing flavor, The Buffet= good tasting food maybe lower quality ingredients, yet solid taste is a must. That being said...
MDRs: Food average, service a bit slower than other lines. We did have a few bright spots here, Desserts were above average, the DW was delighted with the cheesecake. I had the coconut souffle and it was wonderful, the Dessert Chef on this ship is good, which would later puzzle me.
SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: Le Bistro, the food quality and service was excellent! ($20 per person). La Cucina, the food quality was below average, overcooked very thin rib-eye steak. Also under cooked bland pasta dish. Sent the steak back and received and slightly less cooked yet just as low of quality cut of beef. Had 3 cuts of beef on the Star, all were low quality. The service here was very good! ($10 per person).
BUFFET: Low quality choices here, not much flavor with only a few bright spots. The Ice Cream was tasty and the cookies were good. The atmosphere here is terrible, reminiscent
of an older high school lunch room (and I mean room), all stainless steel, I am sure very easy to clean yet not appetizing! Cramped seating here, not comfy!
CHOC BUFFET: Wow! One cc writer put it best "just enough cocoa to turn it brown" ok NCL you have some great desserts and the talent to produce them on this ship. However you will not find them at the choc buffet! Its held in the "lunch room" and the flavor...well there is none! NCL please I cry out to you! Do this event right or just stop doing it all together! Please! We have a palate.
JAVA CAFE: Lattes very good here! Free pastries with coffee purchase. Free drip coffee here as well. Prices fair.
LOUNGES: Mixed reviews here. Some locations not ready for customers. Most bars were very good. Over-all service here was good! No happy hour, specials were so-so. Snacks provided (nice touch). Prices on par with other lines sailed.
SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT: Over-all above average!
Elements, Best we've ever seen on a cruise ship, Top Notch!
Angels, Amazing show!
Band on the Run, Average.
Misc shows, Average.
Family Comedy, enjoyable.
Dancing with the Stars, Could have been good, Mr. Sugar (asst. cruise director) ruined it with his rude demeaning humor.
Lounge Entertainment, average with bright spots, The piano player from NYC was great (Gatsby's)! Ruby was very good! African American female singer amazing! (spinnaker)
PUBLIC AREAS: Over-all very clean! I noticed some secondary railings are down to the bare wood, this is a first for me!? On the ships we've sail thus far they have all been impeccably maintained. A little shocking to bare wood on 1000 ft cruise liner. (again no biggie) The ship was easy to navigate for us and it has a nice feel. As mention by other cc writers there was a lite smell of sewer in some ares, maybe due to rough seas? Not sure. Wasn't overwhelming.
WRAP UP: Over-all for us the NCL Star was not as good as our other Cruises. The main reason I believe, the food program on NCL is of lower quality than Carnival and HAL. Carnival cabin fares are about the same as NCL, so for our money Carnival is a better value. Before cruising NCL again the food program would have to substantially improve!