This is my ninth cruise on Norwegian and 18th overall cruise so I will try to highlight the good and the bad about our June cruise aboard the Gem. I am in my 40"s as well as my dear wife and have two teenage sons who traveled as well. We want to thank the many wonderful friends and people that we have met through cruise critic. Of all things a "cabin crawl", what a way to see the ship and share some laughs.
Anyhow I digress: Embarkation and Disembarkation was a breeze and I am glad I have family in NJ so I didn't have to pay ridiculous parking fee.
Fellow Passengers: I lived in NJ for 26 years and I think I can say that I often worry about NYC cruises. Now residing in Western PA, I know that city folk can be a little brash. Yes there were several attention seekers by the pool with some "language" issues, and why do people stop in public areas or in front of elevators to converse - "move over please." Actually I enjoyed the diverse crowd and we made friends with some wonderful people from Pittsburgh area, Ohio, Brooklyn; and my son met some nice ladies from Philly.
Service: Compared to other cruise lines and even the Jewel from last year, it was awful. Never have I gone a whole week and not been addressed by the room steward, it was as if my family did not exist. Room was filthy upon arrival, deck 10 balcony if curious. Rugs were not vacuumed, a pair of shorts were left under bed, and a blank check was in desk from a previous Brooklyn cruiser. My wife cleaned and disinfected the bathrooms for safety. It took four days for the steward to figure out we had 4 people in room, giving us three towels each day; furthermore I had to make three calls during cruise to get pool towels. No hellos, no can I help you with something, no introductions the whole week. I am an extremely sociable guy but I wasn't going out of my way. Also, front desk didn't have a clue when asking question regarding bill so I figured I would just call Norwegian to settle account discrepency.
Dining: Fair to say the least. The Main dining room menu has really been cut down as far as choices go. I
realize that economic times are tough, but cmon, I like beef wellington, filet mignon and some appetizer choices. The menu had very little to choose as far as steak selections and my wife and son's pork chops were dry and almost inedible. Even the prime rib was leathery. I don't know if Norwegian continues to push the alternative pricey options, but they really need to do better in this area. We actually ate two nights in buffet and as a family we do not like that as we enjoy the time at table and sit-down meal. Couple positives: Garden buffet has some nice choices for lunch, burgers are very good as well as the pizza. We also enjoyed all the hard ice cream and sherbets.Entertainment: Absolutely the best cruise director Sinan, that we have ever enjoyed on a cruise ship. He was so dedicated and was actively involved in everything on the ship. His staff as well were tremendous in all the trivia games, ship games, dance parties, etc. Get involved in as much as you can because the Gem staff in this area are awesome. Professional shows were okay, we only went to a couple because we have seen acrobats, singing and variety shows. The comedian was fair, Second City is getting a little old and I think Norwegian could substitute with a good magician or another show.
Kids Club: Wonderful and they often go unnoticed but I want to recognize the efforts of Booger, Dynamite, and Rebecca for helping my young son who has some special needs have a great time. Sinan even directed a circus for the kids at end of cruise and it was heartfelt and fantastic.
Overall, we love cruising and would not choose any other form of travel as a family. We enjoyed ourselves and were able to overlook some problems with the Gem service and dining. Cannot wait to go on our next one which is RCCl Freedom of the Seas. We will still cruise on Norwegian, probably trying the Breakaway next year. Hope review helps!!