We had wonderful cruise! A really great family vacation! I will preface this by saying, we do not expect everything to be perfect and we try to remain flexible, which was necessary for certain aspects of this cruise. Our embarkation and debarkation was super smooth.
We have been cruising every year during the first week of March, to avoid spring break crowds later in the month. Well, because of leap year this year evidently many colleges bumped their breaks up a week. We cruised out of Tampa on the Star and two colleges in Tampa were on spring break and the Star was loaded with them. I think our cruise was sailing close to passenger capacity, or at least it seemed that way.
Fortunately we were able to upgrade to a family suite for this cruise and thank goodness we did so....this allowed us to stay away from the "breakers", as we referred to them, for breakfast and lunch using mainly the dining option for those in the suites. We then used specialty dining for most of the cruise along with an evening at Ginza and one in the Versailles main dining. The breakers did not use the specialty dining when we were there. The one night in Versailles we were surrounding by about 60 of them at large loud group tables and it was not enjoyable.
Our specialty dining at LaCucina x 2, LeBistro, Moderno and Ginza was great. We skipped Cagneys because our two boys, (10 & 12) loved our waiter at La Cucina and wanted to see him again. We rarely used the marketplace buffet because of the breakers crowd. However, it appeared to be well staffed and clean, particularly considering the high volume of traffic going through - not sure how they kept up.
Our suite was wonderful, quiet, clean and well appointed. We had room 12518. We had five in our suite and really appreciated the extra large bathroom space and large shower! I had read a review mentioning the joggers on the jogging track above awakening them early, but we never heard anything other than the occasional late night yelling in the hallway from a passerby. Our butler and room steward were fantastic. Our butler brought us treats daily, especially for the kids. We loved having the in room espresso machine to use at our leisure!
On this cruise the Star experienced ( IMO ) very rough seas. Of all the cruises I have been on this was the roughest overall. Thank goodness none in our group felt seasick. At one point I think the swells were over 18 feet high, for an extended amount of time, forcing Costa Maya to close the port. So, we had to skip Costa Maya. We then went on to Cozumel arriving at 4:00pm and we stayed in port overnight and through the next day. This was nice, but we would have preferred making the prior port because we had planned on enjoying ourselves on the pool deck while all the breakers left to party in port. They monopolized the pool / pool deck and were relatively disorderly, rude and very intoxicated. Our boys saw more than we bargained for because we still allowed them to use the water slide connected to the main pool. There are two slides there but one was never open. Sometimes we took them away to the baby pool / slides in back when it became too much at the main pool.
We booked private excursions in Roatan (Victor Bodden zip / dip) and Cozumel (Mr. Sanchos) and they were great. NCL's private island off the coast of Belize, was supposed to be open for this cruise, but it was not. We don't like the tenders to Belize so this was a day we spent on board and actually got to use the main pool, pool deck and really enjoyed ourselves. The breakers got off which is the only reason we were able to access the main pool.
The kids tried one event at the Splash Camp, which they deemed "lame" and described it similarly to being baby sat. So, they never went back for any other activities there.
We enjoyed using the I-concierge app to communicate with our boys while on board. We keep a tight watch on them and this allowed us to give them a bit more independence. Well worth the extra $7.95 / device.
We enjoyed the Gatsby's Champagne Bar / music and music / drinks in the atrium. We probably would have enjoyed more drinks at the outside bars, but as mentioned, we were not as inclined to want to be out there due to the breakers. We were able to get seats at the Bier Garten after 4:30 one evening which was nice.
My sister used the fitness center and was disappointed she could not use a spinner individually. You could only use a spinner if you joined a class for $12 extra. So she ran on the treadmill that day, which was good, and on the deck outside as weather permitted.
A couple things I want to mention. Our suite was like a retreat, very comfortable quiet and a pleasant place to go to get away from busier areas. I had read reviews mentioning the staff on the Star was not as friendly as other ships...I found this to be 100% inaccurate. The staff, in all areas of the Star, everywhere we went were wonderful and incredibly friendly, always greeting us. I sailed on the Star in 2012 also, and prefer this size ship.
As I mentioned, we are flexible and look to make the best of our time together. We were NOT happy about all the breakers but we found other areas of the ship to enjoy and other things to do. We were not thrilled to skip Costa Maya, but Mather nature had other plans. However, I will be looking at longer cruises, 8-12 days and / or earlier to avoid any chance at having breakers on a sailing with us again.
Our suite was wonderful, quiet, clean and well appointed. We had room 12518. We had five in our suite (3 adults and two kids) and really appreciated the extra large bathroom space and large shower! I had read a review indicating the joggers using the jogging track above our room were loud, early in the morning. We never heard anything like that. We had a wonderful butler and room steward. We will definitely look to book a suite again, because of the many amenities which accompany it.