This was our first cruise with Norwegian, and the Freestyle approach was the main appeal in choosing NCL. In hospitality, there are a number of "moments of truth" that will set the tone for guest experience, and the port staff did a very good job of making the embarkation process smooth and efficient. The stateroom was pleasant and clean, and while not particularly spacious it was plenty of room for the two of us.
We were off to a good start, until ... trying to get to dinner the first night. Absolute train wreck! There was more than a one-hour wait for a table and the line of people waiting to get a pager went from deck 6 to deck 8. Second night wasn't much better. It took several days before we were able to figure out the right timing for getting a table and still being able to see a show. The trick was to arrive before 6:00 pm if you wanted any chance at all. Service was haphazard, sometimes good and sometimes not. It was inconsistent. The food quality was fine, and we certainly never went hungry.
The entertainment was very good, and we did go to the shows on most nights. There are the inevitable cheesy cruise ship acts on a couple of nights, with musical numbers and way-off Broadway shows that are average, but there are more nights that impress, such as the magic show and the last night's finale.
Freestyle takes a little getting used to, but the casual environment makes it really feel like a vacation, so once you are able to figure out how to get seated in the dining rooms that are woefully undersized for the number of people who would like to eat before 7:00 pm, you will be able to make the rest of it work.
Shopping on board was pretty limited, but that may have been a blessing in disguise. We don't gamble or enjoy smoke-filled rooms so we stayed clear of the casino, but it seemed to stay pretty busy most of the time.
The cruise director, Jaime (pronounced Jamie) and her team did a great job in providing something for most everyone, and the "Fun Patrol" was visible throughout the day and night providing fun activities and entertainment in all areas of the ship. Sometimes they pushed the envelope in their interaction with guests, apparently taking a very liberal interpretation of Freestyle. It was not so much inappropriate but definitely more edgy and risque than other cruises we've been on.
Bottom line: the NCL Star is a very nice ship and the Mayan Riviera ports are mostly nice (Costa Maya, not so much) and with a new port each day you will never be bored. The days at sea will fly by because there is plenty to do throughout the day and night. We would consider NCL again, but we really hope they get their act together with the dining capacity and efficiency issues.