This is our third "Spring Break" cruise on Norwegian and our first on the Gem. DH, myself and DS were once again pleasantly surprised at the level of service and comfort delivered by Norwegian on all fronts.
Embarkation was a breeze because we paid attention to our fellow Cruise Critic members who reminded us that we are now "Lattitudes" level cruisers and we took advantage of that perk. We were thrilled to breeze by the long lines of other folks waiting to check in and were in and out of the embarkation area within 20 minutes of arrival!
We headed to the Grand Pacific for our traditional sit down lunch where we sit and enjoy the view of the Hudson while enjoying a yummy club sandwich and NCL Ceasar salad waiting for the announcement that our rooms were ready. As always, the food was great.
We didn't do any of the specialty restaurants this go around, we took advantage of all the "free" venues - we were never disappointed by the Garden Cafe, Great Outdoors, Grand Pacific, Blue Lagoon or Magenta. We were very pleased with the amount of seafood options available throughout the week, and found the portions to be perfect every time. My DS enjoyed the "Surf & Turf" in the Grand Pacific and thought the steak was "awesome" in his words. I had salmon more than twice and each time it was cooked to perfection. No complaints on food or portions.
Our cabin was midship starbord side - we generally request the same cabin each time given it's convenient proximity to the stairs and elevators. We find this cabin (10098) to be perfect for the three of us and there's more than enough space for all our clothes, etc, in the cubby holes and we always store our luggage under the bed to keep the room less cluttered. Our room steward "Dedy" was phenominal. He was always pleasant and no request was too mundane or bothersome for him. A simple request for water in a pitcher was met with great enthusiasm and we never were thirsty or lacked ice or anything else on our cruise. NCL needs to "clone" Dedy! In a word he was wonderful!
We thoroughly enjoyed the "Meet & Greet" arranged by other Cruise Critic memebrs and had a wonderful time meeting all the new faces and hearing from the NCL Gem staff on Saturday morning.
We went to most of the shows at nightand thoroughly enjoyed every production. The Nickelodeon productions were great and we thoroughly enjoyed the Pajama Jam with all the characters and thought it was very well organized. In the evening we went to see the comedian's show who was hilarious and the "Man from Mars" production was also well done.
Sinan the Cruise Director was very pleasant and always stopped to say "hi" and answered any questions DS had for him. Lisabeth the Assistant Cruise director was equally as helpful and enjoyable and always managed a smile and a "hello" throughout the week.
We didn't gamble or go to any of the "parties" etc., as this was a much needed restful vacation for us all, but DS did enjoy the kids club daily and DH and I used that time to enjoy the spa whenever possible. The spa on the Gem is wonderful and I was delighted that there was less "hounding" by the spa employees on the Gem for us to use their services.
We booked two excursions thru NCL - the Champagne Catamaran and the Beach Day in Samana which we weren't really able to enjoy due to a downpour that lasted all day. We were pleasantly surprised to get a credit for this! Thank you NCL! We did our own excursion in St. Martin and just walked around San Juan given the short amount of time we were actually in port. I would have liked to have had more time in San Juan and less time in Samana.
Our only disappointment came at the very end of the cruise when it was time to disembark. We waited too late to get luggage tags and had to settle for a later time to leave the ship, despite the early arrival time into port, the GEM didn't get cleared by Customs quick enough and it took forever to disembark and get our luggage. The "easy walk off" feature needs to be tweaked a bit so that all 3,000 passengers don't walk off all at once. This created a traffic jam as there was only one door and one stairway and elevator to get down to Customs.
Overall, we are happy cruisers and could find little or no fault with anything on the ship. We've learned along the way to have low or no expectations while traveling at any time and this has always left us feeling more than satisfied any time we travel. When we encountered people who complained about something we considered the source and realized that these are the types of people who are just plain difficult to please. We love NCL and given a choice will mostly likely choose NCL again. We're really looking forward to the Breakaway in August!
The only area that needs to be tweaked IMHO is the overcrowding on the deck on sunny "sea days" and the towel hogs who insist on taking up more than their fair share of chairs. We did hear that the staff took towels off chairs after 45 minutes and were glad to hear the rule being enforced.
Additionally, it would be nice if NCL could somehow develop some time of "atrium" that could extend out over the deck on the cold blustery days coming out of and returning back to NYC and be hidden on sunny days in port etc.,
Thank you NCL for another wonderful trip!