We sailed on the Norwegian Star on their Pacific Coastal voyage, from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Embarkation was handled efficiently by NCL and we were on board and directed to our cabin by a steward immediately. Lunch was provided at the Market Buffet with a good selection of food. The café itself is a bit small and we could not find a table inside on several occasions during the cruise, the layout is also a bit "high school lunchroom style" and seemed a bit bleak, a lot of traffic beside the tables did not make for a relaxed dining experience. Service was always excellent in the Market Buffet.
Our room was an inside cabin which was small but adequate, the bathroom was well laid-out with a shower door rather than the usual curtain. The room was always well attended, with excellent attention to the bathroom area. The little wheel located outside the cabin, which allowed you to indicate "do not disturb", "make up cabin", etc. was a wonderful idea, it completely avoided being disturbed by the steward as has so often happened on our previous cruises. The fridge was not pre-stocked with items which allowed us to put in our own items, a big plus.
We immediately toured the ship which is very beautiful. Detail on the public areas:
Exercise facility: Well laid out, with an adequate number of machines and equipment. There were several exercise lessons provided, however there was a $5 charge for each, which I thought, was unnecessary. The aerobic machines had TV screens and headphones could be rented for $5.
Spa: Very lovely, with a Thai theme. We did not use this area so I can't comment on the service.
Pool area: The design of the pool area can only be described as "busy" but this is also due to the two waterslides which were well used by the children on board so they serve a good purpose. I really liked the terraced seating with tables by the pool. The stern provides a nice quiet area with a hot tub that is not used by many passengers. The children's pool and play area is a wonderful idea. Generally speaking, the ship has provided well for small children. Our cruise did not have many children on board, but the few there were seemed to be happily involved with the on-board activities provided for them.
The main theatre is stunning, with lots of seating, the balcony areas generally have good views, the only negative was the lack of drink holders or small tables at the seats. Performances were excellent in this theatre, with a good variety and a very good in-house troupe, with some performers having spectacular singing talent.
The casino was adequate, a bit small and enclosed feeling and the slot machines were definitely not "loose".
The library, card room and reading room were very elegant, with a relaxing atmosphere. The library provided a good selection of books, but as on most cruise ships we found the opening hours restrictive.
There are many alternative restaurants on board, five at no additional charge and four with surcharges ranging from $12 to $25 per person. We used the Ginza and it was excellent. The main restaurant, the Versailles was average to good, with the quality of service inconsistent. The problem with the freestyle cruising plan, is that there is no assigned seating and this restaurant was generally lined-up if you came between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Generally speaking the food on board was adequate to good.
We found service throughout the ship to be very good with the exception of the high-end jewelry section of the shops.
In summary, this is our first experience with NCL and we were favorably impressed. We took the cruise to try out the "freestyle" cruising concept (less formality, no assigned dinner seating) and unfortunately discovered that this type of cruising is not what we prefer - we missed having a set seating time, with the same dinner companions. This type of cruising would probably appeal if you were cruising as a group, perhaps with young children and you preferred the flexibility of dining arrangements and less formal atmosphere