The itinerary was nice. The ship layout was very nice. The services... well.... here's my cruise...
My flight down to FL was cancelled due to weather. yea, stuff happens. No problem, I purchased NCL travel insurance that included travel interruption protection. Or so I thought. Since I didn't purchase my flight through NCL, as far as their insurance is concerned (or as far as that agent was concerned) my trip didn't actually start until I hit the ship. We did the amazing race and drive overnight to IND, flew on SW to Ft. Meyers, rented a car and drove to the port. We made it with an hour to spare.
Boarding the ship was a breeze. It was perhaps the nicest boarding experience we have had in a long time. Thank you!!!
We had as many days at sea as we had in ports. I like that, as we get to know more of the crew and we get to just relax and unwind.
Our first excursion was an ECO hike on St. Johns to a remote beach where we were going to get to kayak, SUP, or just sit on the beach. We made it to the beach after a nice hike, but the amenities weren't there for us, they were there for us to rent. This is contrary to what the excursion description indicated. Still a nice boat ride to st johns, and a nice hike, and a nice beach. Next time, we will just take a ferry and do the hike on our own.
Our second excursion was to "escape to jost van dyke". OMG, was that nice. A little costly, but I would do this again. we left the boat early, escaped, and hit a mostly empty beach just as the bars were opening, at 9am (yea, it was 5pm somewhere). Very enjoyable. The beach gets busier as the day goes on, so plan to get out around lunch time.
Our third stop was in Nassau, Bahamas. We walked around a bit, but, not sure getting off the boat was really all that exciting other than it gave us a place to walk around without going in quarter mile circles on the ship.
The ship was nice as it was recently remodeled. We are noticing a pattern on late season cruises, though. As you get past tax day, the crews seem to be getting tired. This is not just related to the STAR, as this is the third time in a row on different itineraries and ships that we noticed it. It is the little things like ordering a beverage at the pool bar and having to wait and watch as the bar-tender disciplines a member of the wait staff for borrowing an ice scoop. It was a public spectacle that shouldn't have happened, or I needed that drink so it wouldn't have mattered.
We tried to buy CruiseNEXT deposits, as we usually do. We watched in horror at the treatment of the person in front of us. Surely, nobody can be so dense that they can't understand the program, but that customer was having a lot of issues, and the cruisenext rep had lost her patience. We asked if we could just leave the deposit purchase form that was filled out and signed. She grumped at us and said no, that she must go over all the program details and requirements and we can't just leave the order form. So, we left. We opted for the first time in many cruises to NOT purchase the CruiseNext. They are a good deal, but not if you have to deal with a grumpy person on your "cruise of a lifetime" just to get it. Maybe next time.
We went to the OShehans bar and the bar tender there was as nice as he has been the entire cruise. Brought a smile to our faces even before he delivered our beverages. Always a pearl to be found if you look close enough and don't harbor an attitude.
We had to travel lightly, so we did one load of laundry mid week. Last time it worked out great. This time, we got our clothes back with a blank laundry form, not the one we filled out with the item counts. Being the relatively retentive person I am, I saved a copy of the original. The basket was missing 3 shirts and there was no indication or explanation. So, if I hadn't saved my original, I would have no way to show what should be there. Seems to me that they had to know the shirts were missing, as they had the original laundry ticket. SO, why didn't they deliver the laundry with a note indicating that they misplaced 3 items and will be looking for them or will replace them in a day or two? This is a rather unethical way of doing a laundry business. Accidentally misplace a garment, then return the rest and hope nobody will notice. We ended up getting the garments back, but it took a discussion with the room steward and two calls to customer service.
Our room was mostly clean when we moved in. Just a dirty coffee pot, dirty balcony(grossly dirty), and little half cigarettes in the tray under the coffee pot. I suspect is if from the prior tenant smoking shorties on the balcony (which is not allowed). No towel animals this time. Just basic service. Nice smile, though.
We noticed on our final bill that we didn't get our Lattitudes discount on the excursions. That's ok. Grab a beverage (we did have the package, after all) and go wait to talk to the customer service person. The young man didn't even seem to know that NCL had a frequent traveler program called lattitudes. he read and re-read the flier we brought from our room and still had to talk to three different people. Nothing was resolved, and we were told to watch our online account and it should be fixed overnight. If not, stop back before getting off the ship. Well, we stopped back, and got the same treatment the morning of disembarkation. So far, no discount for the lattitudes member. So, remind me why I keep coming back?
The specialty dining was very nice. Our favorites were Moderno, and Cagneys. Very nice. Good food. Nice relaxing environment. We do it every cruise and will continue.
The buffet was nice as well. The only issue I had is that nothing was marked as to allergens, so it was difficult to pick through the offerings and not get something by accident. The crew were nice about it, however, not well informed. Can't cruiselines just put GF, DF, V and what ever other acronym applies to each food ID tag on the buffet? We survived. The food was very good on the buffet. If you couldn't do the specialty dining, there were still high quality options at the buffet.
Disembarkation... on most cruises, this could be converted to a four letter word. On the Star, though, they have it down. It was perhaps the best experience we have ever had getting off the ship without waiting in lines that circle the ship twice. The cruise director and disembarkation staff should teach a class to the rest of the industry. Thank you for a very nice ending to our cruise.
I would certainly cruise on the STAR again. I would do this itinerary again, but prior to the spring break/tax day timeframe. We have decided not to cruise the Caribbean after tax day in the future though. The staff is consistently burned out by the crazy spring break crowds that they have been dealing with. The staff are only human, so you can't expect 100% perfection. I think all cruise lines should look into how to get their staff relief in the last weeks of a busy stretch (like spring break).
All in all, the cruise was ok, the entertainment was awesome, and most of the staff were amazing people.
The cabin was a nice size, except for day 1, it was kept very clean. We enjoyed the balcony and just hanging out in the room part of the day.
description did not match actual offerings. The description indicated we would be able to use their kayaks, SUP boards, chairs, and be provided water. We got chairs and water. The boat ride over was very nice.View All 44 Eco Tour Reviews
Awesome. A little pricy, but worth it. I would do it again, and again....