I just returned from spending 7 days on the Gem with several family members. I have never written a review for this site but figured now was as good a time as any. So please bare with me.
We arrived at the port at 11 and were on the ship at 12 after waiting for NCL to let us on for 15 minutes. Not bad at all.
Since I was traveling with my parents, although staying in a different room, we all went to the available agent together. My paperwork went through without a problem but when it came time to process my parents', the system shut down. Not the agents fault but he could not be more apologetic and worked on fixing the problem right away. This was a great first impression.
Thank you Cruise Critic Reviewers! We went straight to the main dining room and were able to have relaxing lunch while avoiding the madness that was the Buffet.
I had an inside room and the parents a balcony. I felt that my room was laid out better and that the bathroom definitely had more room than the balcony room. This was my first cruise without a balcony and even as a smoker, I can't say I missed it. If sea sickness is not an issue I would recommend an inside room now.
Oh boy, let me start with the positives.
Specialty: Cagney's, while there has been some debate over the new menu, was great. The food was cooked perfectly and service was personable. Orchid Garden was the best value for the money. I am very picky with Asian food but their Crab Wonton were better than some I have had in Chinatown.
Freestyle: Blue Lagoon was great. My parents enjoyed going there for breakfast more than anywhere else. The buffet was okay too. Not a lot of variety but it still worked. As long as we avoided peak eating times, our party of 7 could find tables.
MDRs were hit or miss. I love freestyle cruising. I hate being told when I have to eat especially if I am not hungry, however, a little variety would not kill them. Even with the "daily specials" everything felt repetitive.
Pool: Better spacing needs to be done on the pool deck with the chairs. It is extremely difficult to walk from one row to another.
Entertainment: Sinan and his staff should be applauded and rewarded. They worked their behinds off making sure everyone had a great time. The production cast when performing there individual cabarets in various lounges were excellent. Lisa at the piano in Magnum's was very engaging and made the audience the star.
Casino: I will admit it. I spent the most time here. The dealers were out of this world. They made me feel like they wanted me to win. I ended up meeting a fun little group of players and we ended up playing together every night.
Finally, the ports of call:
Port Canaveral: If you stop here just go to Cocoa Beach for the day. It is night worth the additional travel time and cost to go to the theme parks in Orlando.
Great Stirrup Cay: I love NCL, really love NCL but HATE this stop. For all the renovations that have been done, which are great, how could they not have figured out how to remove the rocks that block the way into the water? It really is dangerous and I am shocked that no one has been seriously hurt yet.
Nassau: Shared a cab with family and went to the Atlantis for a few hours. I have been there before and did not need any tours. In fact, one of the tours I happened to overhear was not all that accurate. If you don't want to go there, go to Senor Frog's.