We were on the May 25th sailing of the GEM out of NYC. We arrived at the terminal around 9:30. We knew that was early but I would rather wait in the waiting area than in line. Check-in was a breeze. I know lots of people have complained about the embankment process in NYC but we didn't encounter any problems. Maybe because we were early. Once on the ship we made our way to the Grand Pacific for lunch even though all the staff wanted us to go the the buffet. We were actually standing in front of the entrance to the MDR and we were still being directed to get on the elevator to the buffet. Very strange but we knew better from previous cruises and reading on Cruise Critic.
The ship itself is very well laid out. I enjoyed this ship immensely. It had lots of areas to sit outside. The Great Outdoors is a wonderful place to eat breakfast and lunch. We were on the Epic in February and overall I think I liked this ship better. On the Epic I felt there wasn't a lot of outdoor space. The GEM had plenty.
While I enjoyed the entertainment on the EPIC I think I enjoy the nightly production show concept. It felt more FREESTYLE. I didn't have to book anything ahead of time. If we felt like going to the early show we could and if that didn't fit in we still had the option of the late show. The singers and dancers are great. We didn't make it to the comedian's (Phil Tag) full show but he bit during the intro show was really funny. We are sorry we missed it. We went to most of the game show entertainment in the Spinnaker. The Spinnaker is a beautiful venue. Very large and I love all of the windows. We went to Bliss one night but it just wasn't for us. Laurie the pianist was really good in the bar area. We went to see here a couple nights. We also enjoyed Second City. We were very disappointed in them on the EPIC but this group lived up to our expectations.
We didn't really take this cruise for the ports of call so I won't comment much on them. It rained at the Bahamas and Great Stir-up Cay so we didn't really get to enjoy them.
I wouldn't say it is gourmet food but I also didn't starve. Other than the first day we had breakfast and lunch mostly at the buffet. I love the salad bar for lunch. So I can't really comment on the rest of the food. Most of it seemed a bit heavy for lunch. I did enjoy the waffle fries. For dinner we ate at both MDR, Orchid Garden and did the Chef's table. We didn't encounter any waits at the MDR as some have noted. Maybe we were always there at off times even though we ate at different times each night. Orchid Garden was very good. We got some sushi from the sushi bar and that was fabulous. The sushi rolls were huge. The Chef's Table was something I am glad I didn't but I don't think I need to do it again. It was a nine course meal with wine accompaniments. The chef introduced all the food courses. All the food was very good but there was really too much of it. By the end I was too full to really enjoy the deserts.
We had a balcony room on the deck 10 (10036). I loved the location. It was very near the spa which was great for us since we had a spa pass. It was near the front of the ship which was where most of the entertainment was. The only time it was a walk was dinner in the MDR. I thought the room had good storage and was well laid out.
We chose one of the later times to disembark. This worked well. We were out of our room at 8AM and headed to the Great Outdoors for breakfast. We then hung out there until our tags were called. There was a bit of a wait to get through customs but it wasn't bad. The worst part was we had a family member pick us up. To get picked area is across the street where there really isn't a place to stop. Not very accommodating.
Overall this was a great cruise. As always the NCL crew was amazing. I would defiantly said on the GEM again.