Previous cruise was to Alaska with the Norwegian Pearl. The cruise that was
taken a few days ago was the New England - Canada cruise on the Norwegian Gem
which is exactly like the Pearl. We took the train from Washington, D.C. to
Penn Station and then took a cab to the cruise terminal.
Tropical storm Leslie was close by so we did contend with a lot of wind and rain on our way from Halifax to Quebec. Some chop on the seas, but nothing major. Once we turned into the St. Lawrence seaway things calmed down.
Activities on the ship were numerous and if one could not find something to
partake in, then shame on you. Going up the St. Lawrence Seaway alone was
Dining was interesting. We booked every "pay" restaurant on the ship with great emphasis on doing them on sea days or days where we left port early. The best experience for us was the Le Bistro, which if you get a chance you should try the Duck Confit (wow). If I were to put them in order from best to worst experience it would be Le Bistro, Cagneys, La Cucina, Moderno, Orchid Garden, and Teppanyaki. I heard many passengers commenting on how good Tepanyaki was, but we did not have that good of an experience. The service was not good and the performance of the chef left alot to be desired. The free services such as the buffet was average and just not anything to brag about. The Moderno and Pacific restaurants were good but not consistently. The wings at the Blue Lagoon were very good. Note: Do not miss the "chocalatiers night" and make sure that you take your camera.
A must do even if you think it is pricey is the Chef's Table. This was an experience that I will never forget. One will not regret the cost. Hats off to the Chef and team for putting on such a wonderful and memorable feast.
Shows were all excellent and enjoyable. The ship captain is quite the performer himself. Great voice.
I did the behind the scenes tour of the ship and was extremely impressed on how they prepare meals and how much effort they go into protecting foods from cross contamination. It is my opinion that the quality of the dining experience has diminished on the Norwegian cruises. I am not sure if the economy has something to do with it or not, but I feel that given the cost of the cruise, the foods could have been better at the "free" venues. I found that the meats were in many cases were tough in places such as Cagneys and Teppanyaki.
The atrium was a lovely and relaxing place, the vendors took up a lot of the
space and detracted from the live entertainment. At times it was like the old
"blue light specials" where people were tromping over each other. This Venue
should be put at another location.
Shore excursions comprised of 1 in Halifax (6.5 hours), 3 in Quebec, 2 in Corner Brook, and 2 in Sydney. We had made up our mind that some of the tours might overlap the sites but just figured we would learn even more about the location.
Port 3 (Corner Brook) A quaint and beautiful small port that is nestled with beauty. First tour was Corner Brook in Focus and we visited the narrow track train
station, Captain Cook's Monument as well as the local Totem Pole. This was the first tour of the morning, allowing for some excellent photos with the clouds covering many of the mountains. We walked down this wonderful trail and did some picture snapping. Tour guide was excellent and the photographer was providing good insight to folks on the use of their camera. I also did Corner Brook City Tour later that day, knowing that some of it would be repetitive. It was good as I was able to take some of the same photos without the cloud cover and made for interesting side by side photos. Lots of the passenger did not like this port, I thought it was nice to see a small piece of Canadian beauty. It was apparent that this port had not had a lot of experience with cruise ships, but I think that experience will make them better at it. The people were nice, and we had the opportunity to meet Dave and his Newfoundland dogs. What an awesome gentleman he is.
Port 4 - Sydney, Canada Started the day with the Heart of The Island tour. The drive was long
but gorgeous scenic views. The chronological tour of the village was very
educational and have no regrets on having taken this tour. The air was so fresh and the photo opportunities were endless. Upon our return we did the Spirit of the Fiddle (right on the pier where we where we were docked). It consisted of a private showing of three Celtic musicians that gave us some history of Celtic music, played, sang and showed us some common Celtic dances. One of the musicians just returned from performing in Vegas. It was very nice and would do it again if I had the opportunity.
Internet was pricey. Being an IT professional I understand that satellite communication is pricier, and I do not have a real issue other than if you are going to charge that much, then allow for a little more bandwidth.
Recommendation is to take a light rain jacket and a small umbrella. We used the umbrella primarily to protect the camera for photo shots.
My strongest criticism of the cruise was the photos. In some stops they took
photos and in others they only took a few and their excuse was because it was
raining. First, many folks go on the early shore excursions, and there is no
reason why the photographers can't be ready to shoot the photo. I was very
disappointed in that I have a photo of embarkation, none of Halifax (because
they only shot a handful of photos and were not ready when the first excursions went out). Quebec I have a photo for one day but again they were not ready the second day. Sydney there is no photo, but they did take some later in the day after we had left on our excursion. Corner Brook we did get a picture. Additionally, they came around some of the dining areas but not all. We only saw the photographers at two of our "pay" dinners as well as the Chef's table. Additionally, there is not reason why Norwegian cannot go digital with its photographs. That would be such a plus. A note to the cruise line, if you are going to do photographs and put the fancy borders on them, at least spell the name of the city correctly such as Corner Brook and not Corneer Brook.