My wife and I have been cruising for the past 5 years and never tried NCL until now. Well what a treat; we booked the deluxe owners suite, 15500 and could not have been more pleasantly shocked.
Everything in this review is what we were looking for before we cruised so we hope this is helpful to you.
First thing we did after seeing the room is text "holy crap" to our friends. Although we normally stay in suites, this one was very special and was so worth the money!
The room has the best views we have ever had on a cruise. And the floor plan on the NCL web site doesn't do it justice. The balcony is a huge deck with our own hot tub, table 4 chairs, 2 loungers and a couch. This room comes with soo many nice extras...Our butlers name was special k and he was fantastic!!! He showed up everyday with treats and was just so helpful throughout the entire trip. There is the use of The Haven which is a wonderful peaceful lounge for suite guests only so it was never crowded. Staying in the the haven also gives you the choice to go to Cagneys steakhouse for breakfast and lunch.. sooo good. Try the french dip for lunch- it was the best.
Room and Haven:
The suite was amazing and huge including a king bed, table and chairs, couch, bar area, walk in closet leading to the bathroom with a large tub, shower and separate toilet room. The BEST feature of this room besides the awesome deck is the floor to ceiling windows which when opened made for a fantastic view all the time, whether at sea, port or in NY.
Even though we loved our deck and spent most time there, we did visit the Haven and used the private pool, hot tub and seating areas. There were also snacks, drinks and other food there every day which was nice. (Yes, more food---food was everywhere on this ship and it was great!)
This deck was 2nd to none. We had our own private (almost 500 sf) deck which overlooked the main pool area near the slide and we were able to listen to the band all day and night, which made for very nice entertainment. The hot tub can be filled in 20 minutes and was a great treat to use anytime. The side view of the ocean was just breathtaking and we took a million pictures of the water, sunset and just so many others since it was just beautiful.
After sailing on Carnival, Queen Mary and Royal, we figured we had tried just about everything but we were wrong and NCL had some of its own cool things to offer such as a great buffet with a chocolate fountain as well as a crepe station--amazing. Try it. We tried both dining rooms and they accommodated our request to sit near the windows so we had great views of the wake in the Grand Pacific. The magenta was also nice and the menu changed each night but there was also basics that were the same every night just in case you didn't prefer the specials such as steak and chicken. Again, we were very pleased with the food here as well as Cagneys and we also tried Tempinyaki, the hibachi and what a great experience--much better than any "Benihana" type restaurant we have been to.
Another hint: The blue lagoon restaurant is AWLAYS open and we went there a few times after some late night clubbing for a snack and they have a real menu so not just pizza and pre-made sandwiches. I ate chicken fingers, won ton soup, salads and each time it was fresh---this is a first for us on any ship as if you want something LATE, you usually have to order room service.
We went to every show and all were fun. There was a great 70s show and a few other dancing shows that we enjoyed but the best was the comedian--he was hilarious. There was a juggler who did a great show but he talked too much. If he just juggled and didn't try to "sell" as much, it would have been a bit more fun but still, he was a good entertainer.
GO TO THE WHITE PARTY!!
That was soo much fun. You dance, drink and just have a good time in the club!
We went out every night to the dance clubs or to the comedy club, karaoke and the various parties on the deck and we always had a great time. This is one ship that does NOT leave you bored. We even went bowling at the Bliss night club and that is also a first for us on any ship!
Ship, Spa and Ports:
The Gem itself is a really nice ship and we were very impressed with all it had to offer. It was very easy to get around and so much to do. Event though we did a lot of activities, we also relaxed a lot on our deck and in the haven.
We did not get off the ship in Florida and spent the day in the spa which was AMAZING--get the one day pass and enjoy--on a port day, it is quiet and we always take advantage of the spa. This spa was as nice as the queen mary spa and had heated chairs, a rejuvenating pool, hot tubs, etc. Really, try this!
Great stirrup cay, the private island was just gorgeous---quiet and peaceful and great views.
Nassau was also great. Our 2nd time there, we did the water park at atlantis and personally, I think it is one of the BEST water parks ever--so worth the $150 for the day pass and easy to get to and back to the ship on the bus without worry about exploring on your own.
I LOVE taking pictures and buying the professional pictures and the Gem's pictures were GREAT--not only a bit cheaper than other ships, but they gave you deals and even the pics you purchased on disc. I have never seen that and it is a nice treat. We met some great photographers, especially Meggan.
WARNING & OUR ONLY COMPLAINT (not really NCL related?)
There is a picture place called Perspectives on the ship that offers you a FREE sitting and 2 free 8x10 pics. Being the picture lover I am, we took the sitting at the private island and this was not good. They told us to get there early and we did. Then they said they were over an hour behind but we could wait?? We are on vacation and now we have to wait for pictures--well we did and they spent about 40 minutes with us and told us they'd call to show us all pics. No one ever called so I did the day before the cruise ended and they booked us for Friday at 12. Again, we waited 20 minutes and then they took us in. After showing us every package on the wall, I finally asked for prices. For a few canvas pics, each package started at 300+ or you could buy the digital pics on CD for $799--REALLY? 40 minutes later after the pressure, we left and said we'd make a decision and be back (WE JUST WANTED OUT) so I called later on and asked just to get my 2 free 8x10 pics as promised and he said you only get them with the package and started to SELL me again. I told him forget it and said I'd warn future cruisers on this website.
This did not ruin or affect our cruise at all but be warned that IT IS A SCAM!
Overall, we HIGHLY recommend the Gem and are now spoiled by the owners suite and deck and we can't rave enough about the service, food and overall amenities that this ship has to offer.
Check out the room video on YouTube as it is the only way we had an idea of what to expect but still, the room itself is amazing! Book this room and enjoy it!!