My husband and I have cruised previously with Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean so we were unsure if Norwegian would meet our expectations. They most certainly did.
We had put together a group of friends and some family members and selected the Star out of Tampa as one member of our group had family there.
Even though I used a travel agent there were times I had questions and called NCL direct and was always impressed with the customer service I got.
Embarkation day:We had stayed in Tampa for two days prior to the cruise at the Sailport Waterside. I would stay there again. We had rented a car from Alamo with a drop off at the Westin on Harbour Island. Worked great. Dropped my husband and daughter off at the port about 10:30am with our luggage and all of his dialysis supplies. Tipped the porter $40 since we had so much stuff. I ran the car over to the Westin (about 5 minutes away if you don't use MapQuest or Google). Alamo's shuttle ran me back to the port. So easy. We then headed to check in. The line for Security was kind of long but moving quickly. But because my husband uses a cane we were immediately pulled out and given priority through the Security line. Then off to pay the corkage fees for our bottle of wine. We were then directed to the Handicapped line where since we were suite passengers we were processed quickly and immediately escorted to the suite waiting area. There were small sandwiches, pastries, coffee, tea and water in the suite passenger waiting area. In a very short time we had our room key cards and were escorted on board ship to Cagney's for lunch for suite passengers. Two other members of our group were also in a suite so we all enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing lunch. Vigny was the hostess and she is a very special young women. With the exception of Royal Caribbean we have never gotten this kind of treatment on any of the other lines we have cruised with even though all have been in suites. At 1:30 pm we were alerted that our cabins were ready and off we went.
Cabin: We were in the two bedroom family suite. It is all done in warm wood and is very spacious. The master bedroom and bath are absolutely wonderful. I hope to post pictures shortly. The second bedroom was small with a fold out couch and drop down bunk. It had its own small bath and closet area. Our bed and bedding was fabulous but daughter needed two foam pads to make the fold out couch comfortable. Our butler was Jomar who was very pleasant and Ronald was our room steward. Ronald was on top of everything we ever needed. As a hotel manager I always look at cleanliness of a room and ours was spotless. Luggage was delivered by 5pm. We dropped our jackets and began exploring the ship.
Sail Away: Fun to say the least. Food was good.
Food: We ate at Cagney's for most of our breakfasts and lunches and we didn't have anything that wasn't delicious. For my husband who is usually a late riser he would grab breakfast at the buffet. There was a great selection and food was good. Don't listen to the whiners about it being cafeteria food. Everyone in our group liked the food in the buffet. We ate once in Aqua, once in Versailles, once in our cabin and once in Le Bistro for dinner. The rest were in the buffet for dinner. Both Aqua and Versailles had good food. The service is slow but it was explained to me that they want the diners to relax, have a chance to visit and enjoy their time. Makes sense to me. Le Bistro was excellent. The lamb was to die for and husband, daughter and friends said the tenderloin was beyond belief. Others in our group ate at Cagney's for dinner. Their comments were the T-Bone wasn't anything to write home about but their other steaks were good.
Entertainment: We didn't go to any of the shows but others in our group did and they enjoyed all of them. There was always something going on.
Ports: Since we have been to all of these ports before we didn't plan anything but an excursion to Altun Ha. Our bus driver though seemed like he was trying out for one of the 500 races. Hold on tight was our motto by the end of the trip. Road is rough but I have driven on worse here in the states. Altun Ha was good but after Tulum nothing compares. In Cozumel we visited the small chocolate factory on our own and then shopped in some of the back streets. Got seated in a restaurant for lunch just as it started to pour rain. Didn't last long and then a leisurely walk back to the dock.
Staff: Most of the staff was pleasant and helpful. Some seemed shy but none were unpleasant. I always said hi and was greeted with smiles and hi back all the time. I listened to one man on a port day demanding and yelling about something with Guest Services. The staff remained cordial and polite while trying to explain to him that the doctor had gone ashore and they were attempting to get hold of him. The man kept pointing to something on his arm and complaining about what ever it was. I was close enough to see and didn't see any bumps, cuts, bruises or rashes so not sure what it was all about.
Would we sail again with Norwegian - yes. I actually rank it over the other cruises we have been on over all.