Just finished up a 7 day Norwegian Star cruise to the Mexican Riviera... This is my 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Star, my 10th cruise altogether. Embarkation as a suite passenger was fast (less than 30 minutes) however it took 5 hours for our bags to reach our room. In contrast: On a 4 day Carnival cruise (Inspiration out of Long Beach) taken just after this cruise, our bags arrived at our stateroom within an hour of boarding.
Being a foodie and having cruised on the Star in the past, we opted for the ultimate dining package so we could "go crazy" at the specialty restaurants. We didn't dine at the MDR for any dinners in hopes of making the most of our unlimited package. Here's a summary:
Cagney's steakhouse: We ate here 4x because of the high quality of food and service. This is "surf & turf" type fare in a romantic setting. The restaurant exudes "expensive" but isn't hoity-toity, the food was consistently very good.
Le Bistro: A little more romantic than Cagney's and a great excuse to get dressed up- if that's your thing. The french food is solid, not the best I've had, but still good. The service was excellent, the Coq au vin was a tasty choice.
Moderno: A fun dining option for carnivores. A semi-romantic setting overlooks the atrium. Pasadores (meat servers) bring freshly grilled skewered hunks o' meat to your table. There is also a yummy salad bar that includes olives, meats, soups, ceviche, and prepared salads. Hint: arrive early (6-7:30) when the restaurant is busiest to get the freshest cuts of meat.
The non-specialty (read: no fee) restaurants included:
The Buffet: The absolute worst on the high-seas, avoid at all costs, has high-school cafeteria type seating.
The Blue Lagoon: A 24 hour cafe with simple basic food. Great views.
Versailles: MDR serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The dining room is handsome, a francophile's dream touting tall ceilings, lots of mirrors, paintings, gold filigree, and heavy drapes. The service was consistently good, the food was standard cruise-fare: fancier than Golden Corral, but most definitely not the Ritz.
Aqua: A more modern and glitzy dinner venue than Versailles but serves the exact same menu.
The ship: The ship itself is looking a little dated although it appears to have just received a fresh coat of paint. It is in good repair with the exception of:
-worn out chaise loungers
-broken/tacky looking fountains in the atrium
-a buffet that has less charm than most hospital cafeterias
I typically don't go to shows on cruise ships due to low production quality, so I have nothing to report in that regards. The only "planned activity" I participated in were Latin exercise/dance classes in the Spinnaker lounge, which were a mix of Zumba and aerobics, but nonetheless got my heart pumping. I walked the promenade daily for my 10k steps, played a little golf and ping pong with my husband.
There was a very good R & B band from Trinidad/Tobago that were very enjoyable, however I didn't much care for the Spanish folk-singers or the Asian 50's greaser band. However, my opinion is likely entirely due to my age (early 40's).
The common areas were all very clean, the staff was very friendly and helpful.
Cabo San Lucas: Here we took a boat cruise of Lover's beach and El Arco. Mostly we just killed 2 hours, as the tour was not very interesting, the pre-recorded Jacques Cousteau presentation was b-b-b-boring. After the tour, we walked the pier into town and went to Los Barriles. There we had a fantastic lunch platter with lobster, filet mignon, prawns, sea bass, and crab. What a feast! Our server (Nestor) was fast, efficient, and friendly. The guacamole prepared tableside was simply delicious.
Mazatlan: We booked an excursion onboard that included a city tour which took us to watch some cliff divers, from there we went to a shopping district (Zona Dorada), then to a resort (Hotel Playa Mazatlan) for lunch, entertainment, and lounging on the beach. A ho-hum excursion until the resort, which would've been awesome if the weather had held up. The hawkers were very aggressive on the street and at the beach, however a simple "no gracias" always worked for me.
Puerto Vallarta: We took a Jeep Safari excursion which wasn't much of a safari at all, instead a drive through the countryside & through many poor villages. It was very educational to see how the "real Mexicans" live, however I didn't appreciate being pressured to buy stuff at the hat or tequila factory. $65 USD for a bottle of tequila is NOT a good deal! At the end of the excursion we were taken to a beach where we were only allowed 30 minutes before having to return to the ship.
Debarkation was the fastest ever. The concierge escorted the suite passengers to customs, we were off the ship in less than 30 minutes with bags in hand.
Overall: A very enjoyable cruise. Not the fanciest, not the prettiest nor most modern ship, but an organized and friendly vacation brimming with lots of great food and smiling faces.