This was our first time on NCL and we had a wonderful experience on he ship as well as pre-cruise to post-cruise. Where do I start...
Pre-Cruise: Last minute changes to our UK vacation plans resulted in our booking on the Gem for 7 wonderful nights in May. Got a decent deal however thanks to cruisecritic, we were advised of a last minute price drop. Called NCL and while they were unable to offer a price adjustment they did upgrade us from an inside to a family outside cabin with picture window. We also forgot about the deadline to pre-book packages (ex. beverage and slots packages) however when we called NCL, they kindly accepted our order. The NCL pre-cruise experience was exceptional - what great customer service!
Embarkation Day: Organized and friendly. We arrived at the terminal at 11am and were on the ship by noon. Got our soda package sticker and went straight to the MDR for lunch. Had wonderful service from our wait staff Erica and Noel...so much so that we requested a table in their section every time we ate in the MDR. They were so kind and attentive...always happy to accomdate our every need (ex. hot water to heat the baby bottle and ice cream to satisfy my husband's sweet tooth)! Muster drill was quick and efficient. Rooms were ready early and our luggage was delievered quickly. First night's dinner at MDR was great - elegant setting - great tables by the window - quality food and exceptional staff.
Cabins: We loved our room - family outside with picture window. Spacious, well appointed and clean. The picture window was a great place for us to relax with our 6 month old and watch the world go by. Roomy shower and the best water pressure and temperature we have ever experienced at sea! TV selection was poor though..wish there were some free movies to watch.
Dining: Food was good. We mostly dined in the MDR and were always happy with the quality and selection. Breakfast service was occassionly slow but lunch and dinner were always well paced. We had a few lunches and snacks at Blue Lagoon (good wings and a great strawberry shortcake - ask for a scoop of ice cream on the side) and enjoyed a few tasty poolside BBQ events. There is a chocolate buffet one night...huge lines and not very good desserts. Had lunch at the Orchid Garden - was just ok.
Entertainment: Second City was hilarious. Shows were ok. Comedian was good. Piano player was enjoyable. Casino was ok...they need to upgrade the loyalty system - cumbersome and requires a separate card. Walked away a winner though...so all was good.
The Ship: Clean and very well maintained. Nice deck to stroll on. Good layout. Easy to navigate. Love the Gem.
Children's program: Our daughter is only 6 mths old so we had limited exposure to the children's programs but what we did experience was great. They have a great little room set up for parents to play with their babies - toys, mats, music etc. They also had one class a day for babies as well.. with a different activity each day.story books, art, music etc. Nickelodeon meet and greets were great for the kids - Dora, Sponge Bob and friends!
Service: Sure NCL has freestyle cruising but in our opinion the greatest thing about NCL was the service. This is how NCL distinguishes themselves....through their wonderful and oh so friendly staff - full smiles each and every day. Jennie the Hotel Director is fantastic and leads by example. Each employee has the same objective...to make sure each guest has a memorable vacation. NCL, you have the best crew at sea....kudos to you!
Overall, we LOVED the Gem...had a great time. Thank you NCL we will be back again soon!