I cruised with my husband (both new cruisers, single age 30 daughter (new cruiser); married, age 28 and pregnant, daughter and her husband (one prior cruise); and one other couple (our friends)(several cruises).
What a wonderful time we had on the Gem. This is despite a week of pretty lousy weather.
Three of us were in the Haven area, two were in an inside room on the 11th deck and two had a mini-suite on the 11th deck. Kids in the inside and friends in the mini-suite had no complaints about the rooms. Both couples thought their rooms and stewards were very acceptable.
Daughter #1, husband and I, however, really lived the good life in the Haven area. What a great room (actually 2 rooms)! We had a good-sized bedroom with king bed (most comfortable bed I have EVER slept in!) separated by curtains from an amazing bath with tub, separate shower and separate toilet. Tub and shower had windows - what a view on sea days! Adjacent to the bedroom was an equal sized room that held a living area with couch/bed (slightly smaller than a twin when made up), 2 chairs, dining table with 4 chairs, plus a bar area with fridge, counter, glassware and dishes. There was also a smallish balcony with 2 upscale chairs and a small table. The two room were separated by a solid sliding door. Storage was everywhere and plentiful. A fresh flower arrangement, bottle of champagne and bowl of fruit were in the room on our arrival, compliments of NCL. Very nice! Our staff included Roel, our butler, Florentina, our concierge, and Michael, our steward. I can't say enough about all of them. We used their services many times each day and their willingness to help never diminished! Wonderful people.
The Haven area itself is very nice, with cushy lounges, sofas and tables and chairs. There was a continental breakfast there every day at 6 a.m. with coffee, juice and pastries; and snacks later in the day. We also had a Haven cocktail party on day 2 with passed appetizers, champagne, wine and soda. The captain and several top crew were present to talk with passengers. Elegant start to the cruise. The Haven pool is very small - really just a plunge pool and heated a little too warm. There is also a hot tub, steam room, bathroom and small gym in the area. Plus a private sun deck with double-sized hammocks and double-sized lounges. Very quiet and private. Of course, there's also a butler just for this area in case you want a meal or beverage! Overall, I would sail the Gem again just to stay in the Haven.
Embarkation and debarkation: a breeze if you stay in the Haven. Priorty all the way. It took a little longer for everyone else, but it wasn't too bad I'm told. In NYC, before we left, we were kept waiting a short time in a special VIP room with coffee, juice, and breakfast items and snacks. I couldn't complain! Got on the boat at noon, had our bags in our room by 2.
Entertainment on the ship: Did not get to see it all (lots of options), but I must say any and all the musical entertainment was excellent - a lot of very talented musicians on that boat! Heard everything from reggae, show tunes, sock-hop, jazz, blues, singer-songwriter stuff, etc. - something for everyone. Sinan was our cruise director - hysterically funny man! Always looked for a show he was in!
Restaurants: Food on the Gem is incredibly varied, sometimes you just have to search for just the right venue for your craving of the moment. Food is general is good - not great or memorable, but good. We ate at Cagney's (fee - elegant, but not worth the $25) and Tepanyaki (fee - too small and very loud);Magenta (most popular I think because it's midship); Grand Pacific (lovely, but not good on stormy days unless you have an iron stomach!); the Great Outdoors (our favorite place for breakfast - what a few from the back of the ship - and never crowded); and the buffet (great for desserts); plus a few other smaller venues, some of which are great places to get away from the crowds.
The four main entertainment venues: casino, Stardust theater, Spinaker Lounge and Bliss Nightclub are at the very front or back of the ship. I couldn't stay in these on the 1st rough sea days.
Bars/lounges: lots of them, most are right next to each other in the atrium - not really separate spaces. Bartenders were great. I gave one a slightly larger tip than usual - he remembered me by name the next day when I saw him at a different bar!
Overall service was superior everywhere on the ship.
Pool area: very nice - a little crowded close to the pool, but there are tables/lounge chairs EVERYWHERE on the pool deck and two decks overlooking the pool. Live music every afternoon. Never had to look far or wait long for food or beverage service.
Port reviews are below.
Overall - a very nice time on the Gem. Would love to sail on her again!
p.s. Should mention that I was only one in my party bothered by sea-sickness. I chewed a lot of ginger gum and wore acupressure bracelets the first 2 days; then I was fine until the last day when I chewed the gum again. Never got nauseous, but was a little lightheaded. Just ate carefully and kept alcohol to a minimum. I was fine. Actually felt the best in my room (center of ship).