Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by ariesmom: Norwegian Gem - the good and the bad
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Norwegian Gem - the good and the bad
I wasn't quite sure how this cruise was going to go since there were a few hiccups at the start....I had previously sailed on NCL years ago and was surprised how much grief that was going to cause during the online check in proccess! When I tried to check in for both cabins (1 minisuite - my mother and I (11032) and 1 inside - my kids, ages 18(son) and 20 (daughter) (11037). Unfortunetly NCL has never considered things like name changes, or address changes when trying to find previous passengers. I was frustrated by being unable to get past the first screen on either reservation and met with a brick wall at their help line! I even requested a call back from a supervisor, which has yet to be returned! (we returned home earlier today...they had time!) After two subsequent calls, finally someone who understood that the registration proccess had to be completed - my sailing was now less than 2 weeks away.
Got to Pier 88 about 11:00 on the morning of sailing and was expecting a More real headach from all that I'd read online. It was a pleasant surprise that we sailed right thru and were given a number to board, and just moments later that number was called. A quick bite at the Garden Cafe and we walked around the ship til given the all clear to head to the cabins.
The cabins were clean and pleasant (though the inside cabins is SMALL, but with a bathroom twice the size of Carnival's!) The cabin steward for the inside cabin (the kids) was friendly and kept their cabin in great shape, not an easy task considering their age, and the available space. The minisuite was made up with a queen bed, even though multiple requests had been made for twins. Over the next 6 hours we made a total of 4 requests that the beds be split, til we finallt did it ourselves. (Not an easy task!) And FYI, the beds in the minisuites are unbearable! They are standard mattresses with a folded foam piece, and a folded egg carton pad which had me leaning to starboard for the whole cruise. My granite counter top has more give than either mattress or pillows. (oddly, the beds in the inside were more comfortable). The bathroom was a good size, even had a bathtub.
Cabin kept clean, our cabin steward never introduced himself, and early on scolded me that if I wanted clean pool towels (we were going on a shore excursion Monday am) I needed to swap them out up on the pool deck!
As for the shore excursion, The Ron Jon Surf School in Cocoa Beach???? I can't say enough about the friendly, helpful, warm instructors!!! (mom and I went alon for the ride, just the kids took lessons). After 3 successful rides my daughter asked if she could try to surf in a handstand position (former gymnast) and they had her trying in nothing flat. They made the experience so much fun both kids want to take up surfing now at home. Can't say enough about the experince they had. Also, if you need any supplies for the cabins there are 7-11, Walgreen's and other shops near by. (We had water and Gatorade from home in both cabins, but I wanted diet coke, also).
Thanks to the online registratin snafu the only option on the Private Island was paddle boarding for the kids...they had some fun, saw a huge sting ray, and basically hung out the rest of the day. We had been on one of the first tenders, and no sooner than moving away from the Gem a massive storm with high winds (palm trees bending in the wind!) sky to ground lightening and torrential rain hit. You had the option of getting off the tender or staying on - the advice given by an NCL employee from Australia???? Go seek shelter under a plam tree - they had none!
We were fortunate, by the time we went back to the ship, unloaded some passengers, reloaded some more, the weather took a turn for the better. However, the one serious complain is the number of huge rocks, and other painful items, all over the walking paths. (NCL - send someone to Carnival's island...they have powder soft sand and no painful rocks!!!!!!)
The Seahorse snorkle and sail in Nassau was a blast!! You sail for about 30 minutes to a reef, the snorkling lasted about 70 minutes and they even allowed my kids and a few others to jump and dive off the catamaran in to crystal clear water. Even one of the guides got into it, and they were energy filled, happy (why not) and fun for the passengers. They even thru some pasta into the water to attract the fish...it really worked!
As for the dining, on the 1st night we went to the Grand Pacific and my son was turned away since his shirt was sleeveless (I think his luggage was the last piece matched up with it's owner) and he went to the cabin to put on the tee shirt that he'd packed in his "carry on." Ironic, since the sleeveless shirt was pricey and matched his shorts and shoes. My daughter and I were alloed in in tanks. Dinner was pleasant with a killer view (glass walls on the aft) but there seems to be a serious lack of english language skills in the 2 main dining rooms as well as the bars. We had dinner the following night at Cagney's and it was excellent, and the staff's english was as good as any of ours. Meal definetly worth the extra fee!!! Not so Le Bistro, or La Cucina which I saved for the last night so the kids could have what for them is "comfort food"...it was ok, and the request for gnocchi in place of penne for both of the kids was gladly done.
The pace and space of Magenta is frenetic! We only ate there once, since it was crowded, noisy and cramped, however the service far surpassed the Grand Pacific.
Breakfast was always the buffet upstairs, with seating out back in the open. Good selection, eggs made to order, pastries, fruit. But skip the waffles they are flat and have a consistancy similar to an old sponge.
A couple of serious complaints:
1) made a $550.00 payment (cash) to the account on Friday - I didn't want to come home to a killer credit card bill. 4 hours later up at the pool bar we find out that there is a hold on the account - this sfter several drinks are ordered and 2 taken away! The bartender was cool, and said not to worry, just go down to the service desk and not to worry about the drinks, just pay when all is straighteded out. This meant heading down to the desk in a damp bathingsuit, towel and barefooted. The line was at least 20 deep and since I had already stto in line, and had my receipt in hand there was NO WAY I was going to stand there for an hour1 The girl I appraoached at the desk, who I requested a supervisor from, said "oh, you need to stand in line, they help you". I explained that I had already stood in line, had a receipt, and wanted the problemstraighted out. The bald asian man by her at the desk said to her "just tell her to stand in line"...I'm guessing that he didn't expect me to say NO, but eventually a supervisor was found. She took my receipt, came back 5 minutes later and said, "oh, they credited someone elses account, these things happen". SERIOUSLY bad customer service!!!!!!!!!!
Found out that YOU had to pick up your alcohol purchases between 7 and 9 am on the day of disembarkation - what a headache. Never had to do this on any other cruise line and would think twice about making these purchases agin on NCL.
So would I sail NCL again??? Yeah. The ship was clean, freestyle dining worked well with the schedule, and the kids could get sushi, wings, pizza or room service when they wanted. Food by and large was good. And service generally pleasant. Cabins kept clean. And unlike when they said they had 2 pools they were two separate pools and not one with a divider. The kids were kept out of the adult only pool and hot tubs, always politely done, so no hard feelings.
Also, unlike Carnival, during the muster drill they actually did a head count and verified names of those in attendance.
Entertainment, and casino were good. And love the Purell dispensers everywhere and the purell spraying staff members wherever you are. Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Gem 11032
Inside cabin 11037 - The noisiest cabin I have ever seen!!! I have no idea what is surrounding it, but frankly it sounds like steerage on Titanic AFTER hitting the iceberg! Creaking, groaning, and banging 24/7. Minisuite 11032 - lovely cabin, ample balcony....however the airtight seal on the doors is gone, which meant that you got to hear the crash of the waves thru the night, as well as the ridiculously loud party on deck pulling out of Port Canaveral.