This was our 3rd NCL Cruise and a total of 33 Cruises to our credit.
Embarkation was quick, we were on board the ship in 15 minutes, NCL has done a great job on this aspect of the boarding process. We were greeted by several NCL staff people who welcomed us aboard and escorted us to our cabin.Let me say up front the STAR is a beautiful ship with large cabins and very clean in every area we went. Our cabin was 9110 mid ship outside with balcony. The bathroom is very large and the shower area has room to move around in all directions. Bring your own soap NCL uses a dispensor for the soap and it has no lather so bring the soap you will thank me for this. Storage is adaquate for a 7 ay Cruise and we had no problems here.
Before we took this Cruise I reviewed many reviews about this ship and many people complained about the cabin noise. Let me add my name to the list. Our first problem arose the Ist night out on the way to Hilo, the cabin was so noisy we could not sleep, as a matter fo fact the banging, creaking, moaning, squeaking was so bad we actuall had no sleep for 3 nights. I reported this to the front desk and they said they would look into the matter. Well, it was not untill we arrived at Fanning Island we found the problem. The tenders used to ferry the passenges off the ship are located right below deck 9 and most of the noise was coming from the life boats stored under deck 9.
Even though the trip to Fanning was rough as was much of the Cruise, Fanning Island is a complete waste of 3 days, unless you like poverty and millions of flies. It was sad to see 1200 people living in those conditions, I am glad NCL is trying to help them. However The 3 days wasted could be spent at the islands but the Jones Act will not allow it. Any way, after we departed Fanning and the tenders were returned to their resting places did most of the major noise go away. However, the creaking and moaning did not, just as other reviews had said. If you are going on the STAR get a cabin away from deck 9. As far as Fanning Island as a stop, NCL puts on a cook out but the flies will drive you nuts, We made a quick getaway back to the ship.
Now regarding the Tours, we only took 1 the Crater Tour on Hilo, that was interesting but it poured down rain the entire day so it made for a nasty day. The Tours are very expensive so we elected to go on our own. I only heard comments that the Tours were not worth the money.
Now the Food. The STAR has 10 restaurants and we did manage to go to 3 of them. The best is the La Bistro, excellent food and service and you will spend an additional $35 -$45 to eat there.The Ginsa Japanese is good we ate at the Teppan part and all the food was great.Forget the Italian restaurant they offer 3 items and they were all bad.
The balance of the meals were in the main dinning room the Versailes and I have nothing good to say about the quality of food there and the servive was good some times and very slow others, I blame that on the Freestyle way of dining. By the way it's a beautiful room but at the back of the ship so you will feel every movement of the ship.We did have 1 meal at the Aqua Restaurant and the service was so bad we never returned. The Market Cafe is where we had breakfast every day and after 4 days everything was still the same thing they served so we got bored with it. However everything was always hot but 7 days of bacon and eggs gets old quick. NCL had a cook out on deck around the pool every day and that was good. They served ribs hamburgers skit steaks and salads.
The entertainment was great, a new show every night and everyone enjoyed all the different type shows they put on.
My overall feeling is that NCL has a long way to go with their food quality. This feeling was shared by many who have cruised other lines. NCL takes a back seat to Princess, RCCL and Celebrity when it comes to food quality.However we did not experiene this on the NCL SKY. We had good food and excellent service on that ship.
Our cabin attendent did a great job in all ways to be sure we were comfortable and the cabin was always spotless. As far a freestyle Cruising goes, we like some aspects of it but the service seems to be much better when you have the same waiter throughout the Cruise, they get to know your likes and dislikes. NCL charges your account for the tips so the personnel know they will get it for good or bad service and it showes.
In summary,I would not take the STAR Cruise in Hawaii, if you want to see Hawaii stay on the Islands and enjoy the time, you won't get to see much on this cruise. And if you really want to experience top quality food and service try Princess, RCCL. or Celebrity.
I will not be cruising with NCL again, only because there are better choices for the same money. I was disappointed in this Cruise and I hope NCL improves things on the STAR because we did have a good time with them on our prior cruises with them.