My family and I just returned from an Alaskan cruise on the NCL Star. The sights were lovely, the ports interesting but that's about all the positive things I can say about our NCL cruise. This is our 15th cruise and believe it or not the 1st was on the NCL Norway in 1981. It was a wonderful cruise and since we have sailed many NCL ships. This was the first time however, we sailed a "freestyle" ship. And may I say never will again for MANY reasons. We were a party of 15 so trying to make a "reservation" each night for dinner together was very stressful and most difficult. Not even in the main dinning rooms were we able to set a time/tables for the week. So much for the "all inclusive" idea. Most of the restraunts had what I considered to be a very unreasonable fee for dinning in them, as much as $20.00 p/p, especially if you have a large family. It could add hundreds to your bill. Now lets talk gratuity or service charge or what ever you want to call it. We were charged from day one, a $10.00 p/p "fee" on our account. This was apparently to cover "gratuities" for dinning staff and room staff. But remember for most of the dinning rooms, there was already an additonal charge that was called a "gratuity". Most of our meals were eaten in the buffet as we had such a hard time getting reservations at the FREE dinning rooms. So where were my tips going? I asked and was told "it's a very complicated issue and we can't say exactly how the fee is distributed". Well now, I suggested (not so kindly) that they remove the fee from my account and that I would "tip" accordingly. After much discussion they obliged and we tiped our room staff, and servers in the dinning room as we did eat there twice. In our paper today there is a large artical on NCL making this "fee" policy on all there ships and it will be non-refundable. Just think, I would have had an additional bill of $150.00 per day X 7 = $1,050.00. Service is severly lacking and food has been on the decline as well. Maybe the staff are not providing the same service as before beacause they have no need to "impress" the passanger to ensure a large tip. We have always looked at the dinning experience as one of the best parts of our cruise....not this time and not again with NCL. Just a friendly warning, be sure you know what and how much your NCL cruise is really costing you!