The Norwegian Star
Pros : clean, well maintained, quiet, stable in moderate seas, adequate meal seating, great staff, duplicate food/beverage stations in Market CafÃ©, aggressive hand cleaning hygiene
Cons : European Schuko electrical outlets in room, non-directional carpeting in cabin hallways, no bridge viewing room (like on the NCL Pearl), cigarette smoke from casino permeates to other decks/areas of the ship, Verizon cell phone coverage was nonexistent except in Cozumel.
Summary : We would absolutely cruise on this ship again.
My wife and I sailed the Western Caribbean trip January 2012 (Tampa, Roatan Honduras, Belize, Costa Maya, Cozumel, Tampa). We stayed in penthouse suite 9500 (see the photos). I would HIGHLY recommend staying in a suite if possible because there are many perks when you do. Those perks included priority escorted embarkation/disembarkation, daily afternoon hors d'oeuvres, butler and concierge services, fresh flowers, an evening of free drinks with the captain, free bottles of water, free gourmet coffee/tea and free plug-in adapters (see below). We paid for the airport transfer service ($20 per person each way) and it was well worth the expense. After claiming our luggage at the airport, we boarded a bus that took us to the pier. The driver provided some helpful information along the way. The line to get to the registration desks was long and took us about 45 minutes. Once we were registered (suite = priority status), we were escorted onboard to Cagney's restaurant where we had a nice lunch while we waited for our room. With priority status you can have breakfast and lunch at Cagney's restaurant and avoid the hustle and bustle of the Market CafÃ©. NOTE -- the food quality and taste at the specialty restaurants is better than the "free" food and dining at those "extra cost" restaurants is recommended. Also, since I am a physician, I was interested in a tour of the ship's medical facilities. That request was declined citing cross-contamination avoidance policies.
Our room was quite nice. Suite 9500 is forward and has a large balcony overlooking the front of the ship and the CREW hot tubs. Previous reviews reported that the wind on the balcony was quite strong. It was windy but not intolerable. It was very pleasant even while at sea and especially at night. However, neighbors on either side can look directly into the large window to your room so modesty requires that you keep the curtain closed. We had a free in-room gourmet coffee/tea maker with various flavors provided. The bathroom is nice with a typical shower/bath tub and separate water closet. Shampoo and body wash was provided in dispensers. There is a separate vanity with a hair dryer and the ONLY 110 volt US plug. The other plugs in the cabin are the European Schuko outlets (see photos) and will require adapters for US electronics. Our butler did provide an adapter and power strip for free but we needed more adapters. There is a typical in-room safe that is not big enough for a laptop. This room had thick curtains that could be closed around the bed to provide a truly dark sleeping environment even during the day. The flat screen TV had a DVD player attached. A list of free DVD movies was included. Storage/closet space was adequate. Several drawers and cubby holes were available. The room is two floors above the Stardust Theater and rehearsal and shows can definitely be heard. This was not bothersome if you went to bed after 10:30 pm.
Roatan, Honduras -- We did not leave the ship at this port.
Belize -- We booked the Raiders of the Lost Mayan Cave tour and had a GREAT time. There are several other reviews of this excursion and it is a must. I am an experienced spelunker/rappeller and this excursion was quite easy. My wife did not have any previous experience and she easily enjoyed it. Elvis was our tour guide and he was FANTASTIC. He provided historic and cultural information about Belize. Clearly he is very proud of his country and his heritage. Elvis worked very hard to make sure that each tourist had a great experience. He was funny and very helpful. We enjoyed him as much as the spelunking and rappelling. SPECIAL NOTE -- I am a chocoholic. We purchased some Belizean chocolate from the MOHO Chocolate company that is right on the pier as you exit the tenders. I was not impressed with either the milk or dark chocolate and would not recommend it.
Costa Maya -- We did not do an excursion here. We did walk thru the shops and watched the tourists swimming with the dolphins. We had lunch at Senor Frog's. The food there was marginal but the atmosphere is reminiscent of my college party years at Senor Frog's in Cancun.
Cozumel -- We did the Captain's Choice scuba dive here. Both of us are very experienced divers. The drift dive was well organized and enjoyable. We took all of our diving equipment except our BCs and rented those there ($10 each). I think you could request nitrox on your ship as you booked this excursion but we did not and nitrox is not needed for these dives. We saw a shark, a seahorse, several yellow stingrays, turtles and the typical Caribbean fish. Water temperature was 78-80 Â°F with visibility of about 100 ft. Bottled water was provided on the dive boat but snacks were not.
Summary -- We had a fantastic time on this cruise. It was stress and hassle free. The ship was better than expected. Our Captain was Swedish (not Italian !). All of the staff and crew were very friendly, happy and pleasant. Safety, security and cleanliness were clearly priorities.