First Cruise on the GEM: Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by russelltim
Overall Member Rating
First Cruise on the GEM
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
We had thought we might find being on a ship with a lot of people claustrophobic or constrained.
No worries!, there is so much going on all the time that there is never a dull moment and there are always quiet places to go if you are looking for solitude to read a book or have a nap outside.
The cabins are not large but you are really only there to sleep at night.
Embarkation was a little tedious as we were forced to stand in lines for about 3 hours before getting on board (apparently related to Hurricane Sandy).
The food in the main dining rooms was so good we didn't care about eating in the specialty restaurants.
The decor was quite classy in the main dining rooms and comfortable and interesting in the lounges.
We only prepaid one excursion because they seemed a little pricey. Instead we scoped out the locations when we got off the boat More and got the best deal on whatever we felt like doing.
The ships entertainment was very good, a 2 page newsletter everyday packed with way more than anyone could do but something for everyone.
Great music - Rock, Reggae, lounge. Good performances of acrobatics, comedy, musicals.
The guitar player in "Centerfold" was awesome, and so was Pablo and his solo show.
The Reggae band was authentic and the other lounge players were all good.
The staff were great, especially the waiters (Judy Ong), room stewards (Patrick).
The cruise director was Paul Scally - virtually everywhere all the time.
It would take me another 9 days to finish the things I wanted to try on the ship, like the rock climbing wall and the bowling alley.
We couldn't have had a better time - thanks NCL
Looking forward to our next cruise! Less
Cabin review: OK4512 Obstructed Oceanview
We were in 4512, on the fourth floor near the bow of the boat.It is a little cramped with 3 people in the room but we were seldom there.I liked hearing the waves breaking along the side of the ship and the soothing rocking motion was nice. Others didn't appreciate the motion as much and said they would prefer something more central next time.Read All Obstructed Oceanview (OK) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
We hit Samana last with no plan at all.
We walked along the road through the many street hustlers to a beach at a hotel near by. There was an interesting beach elevator up to the hotel.
Beautiful view from the top. We walked back down to the town and paid a guy with a motorcycle powered taxi 20. to bring us to the Lemon falls. It was a fun ride as the poor 180cc engine needed to be shifted down to 2nd gear to climb the hills. We had a great time at the falls swimming in the water and jumping off the cliff face. Overall I probably enjoyed this stop the most because we spent a total of about 25.00 and had a great day of activity. We had even been considering staying on the boat after hearing other peoples reports of the place.
There is a lot of pressure to buy things there and having someone that speaks Spanish along helps a lot.
Prices are negotiable.
The approach into San Juan is very nice with the old castles and stone walls.
It is an easy place to explore on foot without any real direction.
We looked at one of the castles and just wondered around.
A nice collection of old buildings and stores.
Very popular for shopping, my wife disappeared for 4 and a half hours after planning to shop for half an hour. I enjoyed the beer and the beach in the meantime.
We paid a private taxi to drive us to Orient beach on the other side of the island. The waves were high, I tried snorkeling but the water was quite rough and opaque with sand and debris.
The nude beach was interesting in a way.
It is surprising that the people with the least to offer seem to predominate the landscape.
St. John Snorkel/Sail
We took the St John Champagne tour. This was the only excursion I pre-booked.
I have snorkelled in the BVI in the past and hoped this would be of similar quality. The crew was nice and efficient and the time went by very quickly.
Probably about a 3 hr trip when you take off the bus trip to and from the destination. Leaves about an hour in the water, I did see a turtle and various fish but the reef we went to at Caneel Bay wasn't all that great.
There was a strong current you needed to fight against all the way as well.
The snorkeling around Virgin Gorda had been much better.
We took a similar excursion in Cuba last year from Cayo Coco that was better for snorkeling. As promised there was rum punch, Champagne and beer for the return trip.
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