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Nick Gaspar

Age: 37

Occupation:Self-employed

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Star

Sailing Date: September 26th, 2004

Itinerary: Mexican Riviera


My family booked a penthouse on deck 11 for this cruise, the Star's first trip to the Mexican Riviera. Two days into the cruise, we were offered the chance to upgrade to the Garden Villa on deck 14, a 6,000 square foot suite which normally goes for $26,000 for eight days. While this suite was exceptional in space and design, we were stunned by certain things during this cruise:

1. The food was TERRIBLE. Carnival is several notches higher than the garbage served on this ship. The main dining rooms are awful, as it is obviously the intent of the company to push people toward the pay restaurants, where the food is still very inconsistent. And because you pay for tips ahead of time and don't ever have the same waiter, there is no incentive to receive decent service.

Passengers everywhere were seen complaining about the food, which should be a highlight of any cruise. Believe me folks, it was everything from burned bagels to mystery meat to running out of lobster in the specialty restaurants after paying the additional fees to eat it.

And the buffets? Made me long for the horrible high school cafeteria food I ate twenty years ago. Everything, I mean everything, was stale/cold/low quality.

It was awful...and I am not exaggerating one bit. The whole free-style cruise concept has evolved into a scam, and you can tell that the staff knows it.

2. If you are looking for an upbeat cruise with activities, forget it. During the sail-away party, the ship could have been mistaken for a morgue.

3. When you book a penthouse or higher, you are told you will have a butler who will cater to your every whim. The Garden Villa even comes with its own private butler. Be prepared to be frustrated by sighs and complaints when you try to order room service from a specialty restaurant (even though you will be paying extra despite already shelling out $26,000) or if you call him while he is out drinking with this crewmates.

If Carnival Cruises get a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, NCL should get a 0.

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