Embarkation- The embarkation process did have long lines but they all did move very quickly for the amount of people who were in line.
General ship- The Gem was very clean and festive. The layout was different from any other ship I had been on but really liked it.
Our stateroom was always very clean and a great size. The balcony was always clean and the chairs were nice. Our room steward was good but not great, little things missing. No coffee set up for the coffee maker. He told us he couldn't get us wine glasses that we would have to call room service. We called for a few hours on embarkation day and never got a hold of them. I know they are busy then but we were hoping to have some wine when we got in that we paid the corkage on. (On the Spirt our room steward got us clean glasses every day). We finally got some at one of the bars. We had an extra blanket in our room and we used it one night and the next evening when we went to bed we found that he had taken More
it. (I was still using it). On quite a few days we would come back to our room and the toilet paper was missing from the holder. Not a big deal to unwrap a new one. Other than those few things the room was always spotless and well taken care of. Always a fan of the towel animals.
There seemed to be a lot of cranky crew. Not sure if they are just overworked? The cruise consultant was very short with us like we were bothering him. Our cruise agent told us to got see him when we got on the ship to work out our Latitudes status as there needed to be somethings corrected with it. It was only a 5 minute quick visit. I had a run in with one of the Hostesses in Magenta over being referred to her by another staff member and her arguing with me about it. Also we had a knock at our door at 1:30 am one night. It was room service (which we did not order and had our do not disturb sign out). The man who brought it up had the wrong room number and we kept telling him we didn't order it and he kept insisting we did. I couldn't believe we were actually arguing over a BLT at this hour. It got to the point we almost took it so we wouldn't have to fight anymore. He said we was going to go downstairs to verify it was us. Like it was a threat. Lizabeth the assistant cruise director was very rude. We were trying to get on the tender in D.R. we swiped our card moved ahead and there were a bunch of security and deck guys on the ramp to go down to the tender and we were just waiting so they finished what they needed to do. She came over to us in a very condescending voice and smirking at us telling us we needed to move along and get on the tender. I know she was just trying to move the line along but we had no place to go at that point. She could have been a bit nicer about it.
Production cast- I was not impressed with them at all. Anytime they were at any functions they did not look like they wanted to be there. Everything they did was half hearted at parties and gatherings. Not speaking with guests or engaging with them just hanging out with themselves.
Dr. Scott Lewis- He was a wonderful speaker enjoyed his sessions.
Centerfold- They were amazing!! What a great band...there wasn't a song they didn't know. We really enjoyed listening to them and bandyokey.
Moderno-Very fun and different!
La Cucina-Loved our time here. Food was the best! Wish I could have eaten more. Well worth the cover.
Blue lagoon- This was set up much differently than the Spirit. They should a quicker way of ordering food to go. Sometimes you don't want to wait for room service. Also add some more healthy options like fruit and a salad. Keep the chicken fingers!! It is very confusing as there are some many different menus and the timing of when everything is available. Maybe having a set 24 hour menu with specials for time of day.
KoMango-He was on the pool deck this cruise. What a great guy! Knew our name right off the bat and really did a great job! We got the best personalized service from him.
Cruise Critic Meet and Greet- It was nice, large turn out. There were snack and coffee. Many of the officers were there and they spoke to us for a bit. Thank you NCL for having this for us.
Latitudes cocktail party- what a fun time! Got to listen to some music, drink some rum punch, chance to win some prizes.
Pool Deck-It was always kept very clean. Though I am always disappointed when we go to eat in the buffet and go outside only to find out there is a BBQ going and we missed it. The only place it is listed is on the back of the freestyle in one line. Why don't they put it on the front page. It makes me so frustrated!! But they did a great job making sure the kids were not in the adult pool. I don't want to be around other people's kids all the time. They do need to do something about saving chairs. People were going out leaving their stuff and hours later never returning.
Disembarkation- We were told in our packet to be out of our rooms by 9 but you could tell the room stewards wanted us out earlier so we got out about 8:30. There were staff everywhere telling us to line up in the halls single file and keep our bags together if we were walking off the ship. Then there were a bunch of announcements saying not to do that. I know the staff was upset with all of us in the hall but there was no place to go. Couldn't be in our rooms and the public areas that we could be in were packed. Once through immigration it was easy off!
I am not one to normally complain but I felt these things can really color your vacation that you have been looking forward too. Especially when we had such a great experience on the Spirit six months ago.
The Bigger Picture-It was a great trip, great food, fun times! Loved the 2 for 1 happy hour and the whiskey/bourbon tasting in Maltings. Hanging out on deck was very entertaining loved watching the games and listening to the music. There was always something to do! Trivia was a big hit! We loved the America's cup shore excursion! Well worth the price! Everything was always very clean and well taken care of. Less
Bacardi factory -puerto Rico closes at 430pm
From pier 2 you can take a water taxi/ferry (commuter) to the other side of the bay. This will cost $1 pp round trip per pay for the round trip. Then turn right walk about a block to a garage/bus station where shuttles are waiting to take you to Bacardi this will cost $3pp each way ( no pre pay). This is the most economical way to do it. Then when you arrive go right the the desk and get your tour color. You might have to wait for your tour. You get two drink tickets. Try the ones you have never had...also the staff always appreciate a tip $1 or so. The gift shop was the best place to buy the high end stuff..best price I saw. The tour is about 45 minutes. There are mojitos available for purchase and also available in a souvenir glass for $10. The. After you are done to back to the shuttle station...find others to go back with you...the more the better...cheaper...less people more per person to get back to the ferry.
Punto de vista - Puerto Rico
This place was suggested by a friend of a friend. Small dive bar/restaurant right across from pier 4. It was out of this world. If you are in Puerto Rico and want to try some local food, this is the place. The prices were reasonable and two for one mojitos that evening. We would go out of our way to go back to this place if we were to return to Puerto Rico.
We did the America's Cup Racing through the ship. Wow so much fun!! My husband grew up sailing and I am very new to it. We both had a blast! All of us were given jobs based on how much we wanted to work. It was just over 2 hours and they would either bring you back to the ship or drop you in town. Well worth it.
Then it was on to these two places
Toloula Mangos- St. Maarten
This place was suggested by a friend who lives on the island. The prices are a bit high because it is right on the boardwalk. The food was good. We had big ribs and conch fritters. The drinks were made well and the view cannot be beat.
Green house St Maarten
We stopped in here as a recommendation from a friend who,lives on the island just for a drink. This is a place for a nice strong drink! Everyone was friendly.
What a great time! We were with one other couple on our tour. $25 each. W got a wonderful tour off the entire island. Seek out Joe he was wonderful and not pushy. We were so glad wee took this last minute tour. He is located right outside little Switzerland in downtown. He is a tall guy and had a red shirt on the day we saw him. Thumbs up!!