We are currently living in Asia and wanted to "sample" the travel options available and this cruise was the perfect solution. Our family loves cruising, there's something for everyone. This particular cruise offered a good mix of traditional sightseeing and adventure tours, which made it more appealing to our children, or at least the original itinerary was.
Unfortunately the Azipod (part of the propulsion system) broke on the sailing prior to ours and it required custom parts to repair, which impacted that cruise and our cruise. I fully understand that these things happen; ships are mechanical and such things break. Furthermore, I have found the NCl compensation package to be quite generous. My problem was, and remains, with their lack of communication.
I discovered that there was an itinerary change from a third party tour operator approximately 6 days prior to sailing. My NCL account had no notification, nor did my travel agent. In fact, the NCL website was still selling excursions online to ports we were no longer going too. That is not only bad business, it's flirting with fraudulent.
I been on two other NCL cruises with no issues and enjoyed both but their complete mishandling of this cruise will prevent me from seeking out their cruises in the future.
Now that's out of the way, here's the low down on the ship:
We were in connecting ocean view cabins and it was perfect for our family of 5. The interior door allowed for free access to both cabins and greatly improved my experience. We have younger children and my husband and I usually have to split up, but not this time. Plus, there was no confusion over which key opened which cabin, etc. Loved the connecting rooms.
Our cabin attendant, Sesato, was awesome. He built a special bond with our youngest son, it was very cute. Even though I'm sure Sesato was very busy, he took the time to talk to Connor and truly went above and beyond.
The boys all enjoyed the cruise, the food, pool, and the splash academy, although the older two were less excited. This is our third (Spirit, Jade, and Star) NCL cruise and it seems all of the youth activities are the same. They all do the SAME circus at the end and that was disappointing. If NCL wants families to return, it's advisable to inject some variety to the youth programs.
I actually prefer to have the same waitstaff each night, so we "forced" that by making the same reservation each night and throughly enjoyed that. Thomas was always ready with a recommendation and could read our boys' minds.
The food was fantastic. The only complaint is that they didn't have chicken tenders available at the 24 restaurant or the buffet. We all know that's kid crack, it should be readily available; not just in the two main dining rooms.
We used Buffalo Tours for private excursions and can't recommend them enough!! They were flawless in handling the TWO major schedule changes from NCL and even tried to refund part of our previous payment, because the new tours were slightly less expensive. We rarely participate in ship excursions. Too many people.
Hong Kong is perpetually under construction. Our favorite thing there was Disney. Well worth the trip if you have time. Although it does look very cool at night.
Hoi An, Vietnam, is still up and coming. Don't bother with the tailors there. It's all a big hustle. The street food is better than the sit down places. Be prepared for scooter chaos.
Saigon, was nuts. We went to a cricket farm and the Chi Chu tunnels though and enjoyed both of those. They are outside the city. The city itself is very crowded and difficult to move about. There's no good public transport and the traffic is horrid. That being said, there are many historical sites that are worth seeing, it was just a lot for the kids to handle.
Thailand was my favorite. We only went to Bangkok. Ko Samu was cancelled. We went to the temples and grand palace on day, markets on the next. We went to a market outside of town where they set up on the train tracks and then pull everything off when the train comes. It was pretty cool. We tried local fruits and street food (we love street food).
The last stop was Singapore. I wasn't overly impressed. Everyone told us to go to Santosa Island but we didn't have time. The city is very space-aged in it's architecture, which is it's best trait, in my opinion.
Overall, had we gone on the original itinerary, I think it would have been awesome. Would I go again on a 14 day cruise that was at sea 9 days? No. But if you book ANY cruise on the Star- be forewarned: The Azipod on the Star has broken several times since it came out of dry dock.