The outstanding qualities on this ship more than make up for any slight negatives. She is a winner! Our plane was late and we didn't arrive at the ship until 2:30. We had express check-in and that's exactly what happened. Hardly anyone else was in line (They were all having a good time on board already.) and we were processed and on board in no time at all.
The ship is magnificent to look at from a distance - very impressive. The cabins are quite nicely appointed but small. We had a standard inside cabin on Aloha deck 12. Our cabin was even more crowded because of our toddler and his suitcase and crib. Luckily the crib fit in the open-air closet. The bathroom was even tinier, the smallest shower I've ever been in. But we managed and laughed about it all week. Our steward, Jeour, was excellent. He kept the room as neat as possible with all our junk and he took care of any requests we made.
The food and service in the dining room (Amalfi - traditional) were tremendous, as good as any I've had, even the Mercury. Highlights for me were the Chicken Kiev, Rack of Lamb and Beef Wellington. But all my dinners were simply delicious and plentiful. My only note would be larger potato & vegetable portions, which they gave you if asked. With food that good we saw no reason to pay more at another restaurant. The food in the buffet was not nearly as good as the dining room. But that has been the story on all my cruises. But it was plentiful and varied. I do think they should have hot chocolate, lemonade and orange juice available all the time. There is only coffee, tea and iced tea available all day. Orange juice is served only for breakfast. Hot chocolate is for sale only at the bars. There is no free dispenser.
The entertainment was the best I have seen at sea; constant, plentiful and varied. The production shows were wonderful, full of very talented dancers and singers. We saw an excellent singer and a fair comedian/ventriloquist. There were several other comedians but we didn't get a chance to see them. There is so much going on! The bands were good, too. Lots of talent on this ship.
The pools were definitely one of the highlights for us. There are really five pools and two baby pools plus seven hot tubs on board. They are fresh water heated pools and they are wonderful - no spitting out the salt! Even my shivering wife got in. And our 2 year old son loved them, too. They were so much fun to play in.
We didn't take any organized excursions but can recommend a couple of things. We were in Mexico and people need to realize that and not think they're going to paradise. Yes, there are beautiful sights, some not so beautiful and some downright sad. Here's a couple of suggestions. In Puerto Vallarta the Krystal Vallarta resort is two blocks south of the ship - an easy walk. This is a lovely resort with a great expansive pool area right on their beach. They charge $6 to use their facilities and it is certainly worth it. Spend the day here and forget about shopping for trinkets. You don't have much time in Cabo so just pick one thing. The water is much clearer here than PV or Mazatlan so maybe pick a water or beach activity. We took the glass bottom boat tour around Los Arcos to the Pacific side and back. It was fun, we got great views of the ship and land features and saw some sea lions and a few fish. This costs $10-$13 per person depending on your negotiating skills. The beach just south of downtown in front of the Melia San Lucas is also very nice.
There is a great children's program and facilities on the Star and your children should check it out. There are four rooms. They are divided up for ages 2-5, (3-5 starting May 1st) 6-8, 9-12, and 13-17. They must go with their own age group even if their sibling is in another group. The program is activity based and runs from 10-12noon, 2-5pm and 7-10pm. There is group baby sitting available from 10pm-1am for $4 an hour. They just watch a movie and are not allowed to do other activities then. The program staff included many retired teachers who seemed very kid-friendly and competent.
We have had a good time on all of our cruises but this one is right at the top. It's hard to pick much to improve on. If anything I would say they could use an American sensibility about some things, since they are catering to a mostly American clientele on this ship. The breakfast buffet, especially, could use some American tweaking. The crew and staff on board were excellent; always friendly and accommodating. We will always remember our cruise on the brand new Star Princess.