Let me start by saying that the good point of this cruise was the Cruise Critics group we met up with onboard. Fun group that met for daily happy hours and dinner each day. Good port call destinations, although the ship's staff offered no destination lectures or information unless you bought a tour, and then the only info offered was where to meet the tour bus. They did have onboard lecturers, but their topics were unrelated to any of our port calls. Port information was not even offered on the ship's TV channels. NCL's ubiquitous "Freestyle Cruising" motto needs some explanation. Other reviewers have pointed out that the Star is an older vessel in need of some upkeep. The problem is not confined to one ship though. All cruise lines have strategies aimed at getting you to spend money onboard, granted. NCL's approach, however is to hold passengers hostage to their "specialty" restaurants. While its theoretically true that you can dine in one of the 2 dining rooms (which are small) "whenever", what actually happens is you are given a buzzer and told to wait up to an hour. And, when you do finally get seated, the food is mediocre at best, inedible at worst. Service is Ok but indifferent, since the wait staff never has the same people at their tables. They know that they will not be getting anything extra at tip time, so why should they exert any effort? (NCL actually discourages giving additional tips. The response from management is to try one of their specialty restaurants at a $15-50 pp surcharge.
Every available inch of space on the ship has been converted to this purpose. Or to suites.Some passengers who actually like NCL pointed out that one of the lounge areas on deck 12 forward had been converted to suites during the last overhaul. There is no space on the ship where you can lounge about, read, play cards, etc. We actually counted, and there were 23 (count 'em) seats that were not part of a restaurant or bar and these were in a crowed overlook in the atrium area. Which means that we spent more time in our cabin than normal. Don't like the small cabin? Simply upgrade to a suite! That is NCL's answer to every complaint; upgrade.So don't be misled by NCL's "Freestyle" logo. It's not free, and they have no style. Being first timers we didn't know better, so now we do. And we look forward to our next cruise which will NOT be with NCL.