I was nervous about the previous negative reviews, but booked the trip anyway as my family needed some sun. My wife and I brought grandpa along to help coral our 16 month old. We had a mini suite, while gramps had a interior across us. We are a very well travelled couple, who's done many backpacking trips, and a lot of all inclusives. This would be our third cruise, first with NCL.
I find the cruise population rather unique. A lot of cruisers complain about rather trivial things, or feel they should be pampered left and right, some turn off their brains as soon as they get on the ship. The worst seems to think its their given right to lambaste any staff member about anything and everything in particular. I think the worst I saw was this dolled up older lady who threw fits because she couldn't press a button continuously to get her coffee.
Let's start with the goods.
CABIN: Our mine suite was very comfortable, the balcony is bigger that we expected (important to both of us because we like to watch the sea go by). Our suite was clean tidy and had enough room for baby to run around.
FOOD: I don't know how people can complain. It was very good. No, its not your Manhattan Michelin Star restaurant, but I gained a whole lot of weight.
On a side note, there are 6 places to eat for free on the GEM, not 3 (it just seems that way, because three separate restaurants are clustered together on deck 12 (great outdoors, garden cafe, the grill)
I liked that fact that they gave you pagers for the main dining area, if there was a wait. We must have waited twice in 9 days, both time less than 30 minutes.
STAFF: Our cabin steward Danilllo was excellent. So was most of the staff. I saw they they all worked real hard and long hours, all seemed welcoming.
ENTERTAINMENT: We only saw a few shows, but thought they were way better than expected. You want entertainment, try bowling, it was a unique experience and challenge to get a strike on a swaying ship!
FACILITIES/SHIP: I liked the ship. At first I thought all the colour was rather wild. Whoever designed the interior must have been on LSD or something. Later, I learned to like its funkiness, especially spinnakers and bliss lounge.
EMBARK/DISEMBARKATION: Going on the ship was delayed due to a medical emergency. No biggie, stuff happens. It was rather smooth despite the delay. Disembarkation was super smooth and fast (we did self disembarkation, and was out by 9:30am).
Now the bad:
AUTOGRATUITY: Whoever designed this idea should be shot and made to pay an extra 15% on everything for the rest of his or her life!! I normally tip rather generously, but this turned me off.
Someone give me a switch to turn off those ship announcements, sometimes it woke up the baby, which makes mommy and daddy rather irritated!!
I think the marketing ploys for excursions and shopping just gets way too much.
OVERALL: I'd easily go again. My wife, 16 month old, and his grandpa were all happy.