We booked this trip 3 days before sailing, need a quick break from work and electronics. Would highly recommend the "Parking Doctors" when leaving from Tampa, book on-line and you save some money, they drop off & pick up very quickly. We arrived just before noon and were quickly checked in and on-board.
The buffet and pool area were quickly busy with guest grabbing lunch and cocktails before sailing. The lines at the bars were very long this day, I'm guessing NCL's Unlimited Beverage Package had something to do with it. We unfortunately didn't have the UBP since we booked 3 days prior to the trip. Had dinner in Versailles dining room, very good meal and service. Late show was great, an introduction to the entertainment for the week.
Here is a run down of what we did each day. You can scroll to the bottom of the review for a quick summary of what we thought overall about the ship, the trip, the fellow guests.
First day was at sea and it was beautiful weather. Almost all sun lounges were being used or "reserved" by 9:30. It is rather unfortunate because as you walk around and look around, many of the chairs go unoccupied for hours. They are all conveniently reserved with a towel & book even though signs say don't do this. We did find a nice quiet spot at the stern on the helipad, guests unstacked their own chairs. NCL would benefit by having drink service on the sides and back of the ship as well, they do it better on their other ships.
Next day was Roatan. Booked our excursion via NCL. Took the Jolly Roger 60' cat for a snorkle trip. After a very short ride out to the reef, we spent an hour in the water. The guide was very good and made sure we stayed somewhat together. Plenty of fish and coral, the water was very calm and very clear. Back on board they served a very good lunch of grilled chicken, beans & rice, slaw, watermelon and endless rum punch, better than expected on a chartered boat. A longer trip back to the dock with music, sun & fun made for a great day. The crew was very attentive, friendly and made sure we all had a safe and fun trip. They even took hundreds of pictures that get posted on FB, so it was nice to download some free pics of our day.
Belize City...booked excursion via NCL to Altun Ha Mayan Ruins. We love to travel Europe and love history, so thought we couldn't miss this opportunity. The guide on the bus was funny and informative, the guide for the ruins, Pedro, was very informed and made sure you got a good overview of the history and excavation of the ruins. After an hour at the ruins, it was back on the bus. So a 3 hour tour was two hours of travel on a bus that needed to be retired due to a poorly working AC. Many on the trip mumbled and complained about the lack of AC. This is the first NCL excursion I've been on that I would not recommend. Not much to see and tour operator provided substandard bus.
Costa Maya...booked a day at the beach at Yaya Beach Club. Most reviews on TA are great. I would rate the day as excellent. We paid $45 each for our own sun lounge with umbrella, lunch and unlimited drinks. Had the place to ourselves for a long time. The water was clear and warm. Spent a while in a hammock over the water. Only $2pp for cab each way just outside the port. Massages are $20 and were very good. Would highly recommend Yaya as an alternative to others. Other cruisers from NCL Star were there, we all seemed to have a great day. Will hopefully go back one day.
Cozumel...Swim & Ride Dolphin booked via NCL. Amazing experience in the water with the dolphin. Everyone in our tour "group" seemed to love it, all ages. I would do this again. You don't need to rent a $14 locker, just put your shoes & towel in the storage bench next to the water. Food & drink were included, would rate as OK. The facility takes photos and videos the 40 minutes you are in the water interacting with the dolphin, you are not allowed to have anyone use their own camera. The facility makes a fortune selling the photos, I paid $125 for 8 pics. If I had taken my credit card, I probably would have bought more. If you want the pics, you must buy on the spot, you can't buy on-line later. These are some of the best pics I have and it was a great memory. If you've ever wanted to do this, I would recommend it.
Last day at see was very windy. Spent some time in the sun, very relaxing. The pool is a little small for the number of people that want to use it.
Overall, we had a really nice trip and it was relaxing, about what we expected for this price point (I would consider this an "economy" trip) and itinerary. Would we choose NCL again, absolutely, they are our favorite line. Would we choose the "Star" again, no. We much prefer the other NCL ships we've been on.
Food was very good at Versailles and the buffet, we did not go to specialty venues.
On & off the ship was excellent & very quick. We did find it interesting the number of guests that didn't know they needed their key-card to get off the ship or complete a customs form. NCL could do a better job letting first time cruisers what to do.
Entertainment was excellent on the main stage. We were pleasantly surprised at how good it was, the female lead was superb.
We felt the crew & staff on board the Star was very friendly and they did an excellent job.
The common areas of the ship left a lot to be desired in terms of decor and space. The Five O'clock Somewhere bar decor reminded us of an old Long John Silvers fast food restaurant, always packed with people playing cards so nowhere to get a drink except outside. The pianist in Gatsbys had the volume turned up so loud, you couldn't even get the bar staff to hear your order correctly or chat with anyone. We could never find a space to sit and have a drink before dinner or before a show, everywhere was packed.
It amazed us to see how many people walk into the buffet for breakfast & lunch (we did not eat dinner at the buffet) in just a swimsuit and sometimes barefoot. NCL did a poor job of enforcing the dress code in this regards. It was also amazing to see the number of people that did not sanitize their hands before eating or chose to lick their fingers after eating something just put on their plate in the buffet line and then pick up tongs to serve more. NCL should do a better job policing this. After having norovirus on an NCL trip in 2010, I may be a little overboard about keeping clean. Although you try not to notice, it was just very sickening to see so many people have no regard for the health of others on board. We felt that NCL did a better job of this on their other ships.
We were OK with this cabin because we didn't spend much time in it, we were pool side most often. On other cruises we've opted for a balcony since we planned to be in the cabin more often during fall or winter cruises. Location was great, very easy to get to the stairs and only one level down to dining. Plenty of storage in this cabin. Did have a few negatives though: Workers were often outside the window working on the lifeboats, no noise but no privacy unless drapes were closed. Location is above shuffle board court so often lots of activity could be heard through the closed window. Cabin to the right of us was occupied by some seniors that spoke extremely loud all through the day and even very late at night. We talked to guest services, although there was nothing they could really do. It really was almost as if we were sharing our cabin with 2 other guests, we could hear every word the man said. It was loud enough to wake you up out of a deep sleep at 1:45 in the morning after taking a sleeping pill. We stayed out of the cabin as much as possible to avoid listening to them talk constantly. First time we've even encountered this on a cruise, it was frustrating and very disappointing.
Jolly Roger trip booked via NCL.
Ruins- OK, but not much to see compared to other site of historic value. Bus - not good, poorly working AC and an hour each way. 3 hours total trip. Wouldn't recommend this tour.
Booked a day at Yaya Beach. Highly recommend.
The time with the dolphin was about 40 mins. Great experience. Have always wanted to do this. Riding "Helena" across the pool was exciting to say the least. You don't need to rent a $14 locker, just put your shoes, towel & bag in the storage bench next to the water. The facility was very clean and nice. Included lunch buffet & drinks, food was just OK, but I was there to ride a dolphin! They video and take photos of the time you are in the water, you can't have your own "person" do it. The cost for 8 photos was $125, they had other packages available. I would have bought more if I had taken my credit card or more cash. The photos are priceless to me!View All 456 Dolphin Swim & Encounter Reviews