Awesome cruise on the Gem
New York (Manhattan)
My wife and I are from Northern New Jersey and took a cruise for the first time with my wife's parents, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and their two kids.
We embarked at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York. It was fairly easy for us to be dropped off and take our luggage to the terminal. When we got to the terminal, our luggage (which was already tagged) was taken from us, not to be seen again until later in the afternoon. We arrived at the terminal around noon, and the check-in process was fairly smooth. We were able to complete the check-in process and board the ship by about 1pm.
Aboard the ship throughout our time there we were very impressed and pleased with the ship's amenities. The rooms were clean and made great use of the small space they had. The pool and hot-tubs were at comfortable temperatures. The restaurants had amazing food. (Note: we did not try any of the restaurants that had an added cover charge. We enjoyed the food in the main More
dining rooms so much that we didn't have too!)
We really enjoyed the "Freestyle" cruising that Norwegian offers. We loved just being able to eat and do whatever we wanted to whenever we wanted to do it. Less
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Cabin review: Norwegian Gem
Great location. Mid-ship, not close enough to elevators or stairs to make much disruption. Only a few inside cabins across the hallway. Picture window was great. Plenty of storage space. No public spaces above us, so no noise disruptions.
Port and Shore Excursions
Our ship tendered at Great Stirrup Cay for a day, which is Norweigan's private island in the Bahamas. The tendering process was fairly easy, although I can imagine that if we were elderly or had a stroller or something it could be difficult to transfer from the ship to the tender. The seas were a bit rough, so the tender was making me a bit queasy, but fortunately the ride was only about 6 minutes from the ship to the island.
We went to the island later in the morning. However, this meant that there weren't any "primo" spots left on the beach. That didn't really matter though, since we weren't sitting on the beach much.
We (me, my wife, my BIL, 5 y/o nephew, and my FIL) got passes for the Hippo slide. We all enjoyed it a lot. The times we weren't on the slide, we were in the water. The beach is in a cove, so the water isn't rough by any means. The bottom is a bit rocky, but the further you go out, the better it becomes.
Lunch is served on the island (included in the cruise fare). Beware of the seagulls, though. They are pretty aggressive.
My wife and I also took a walk around the island. There is a lot of freedom to walk around and not too many restricted areas.
We enjoyed the Atlantis aquarium and waterpark. the Atlantis Aquaventure gave us full access to the Atlantis resort. When we got there we were required to take a walking tour of the resort before we were set free to explore on our own. This was helpful, since we were first timers. But, if we went again, I probably would try to get out of it.
In the future we would book it on our own. There seemed to be good access to taxis at the port, and the cruise ship added quite a margin just to transport us there.
We went to Kennedy Space Center through an excursion booked with the cruise line. In the future I would probably book it on my own and rent a car to go to KSC. The amount we paid on the cruise ship was more than twice the entrance fee to KSC.
We arrived at KSC as they opened. We had some time to explore what they offered there and then took a bus over to see the Saturn V rocket and some other items of note. The bus ride is fairly long, and wasted some of our time that day.
When we got back we ate lunch and did some more exploring. We would have liked to view the IMAX movie, but we ran out of time and had to get back to the bus.