We were a group of 14, my children and grandchildren in 4 cabins. I chose this cruise for its Nickelodeon activities for our young ones. Embarkation was smooth and we didn't have to wait to board the Gem.
Once aboard, we decided to try the Grand Pacific Dining Room for lunch instead of the Garden Cafe buffet. Here was the first negative experience. Once seated at 3 separate tables and orders taken, the wait was way too long and the food was served cold. It seemed as if the dining room was way understaffed.
When the cabins were ready, I was surprised that the cabin steward was nowhere to be found. On Princess, the steward introduces himself on the first day and offers his phone# in case you need something. The cabin seemed comfortable enough. There were no bathroom amenities, however. Soap is liquid from a dispenser and shampoo comes from a shower dispenser. I was glad I brought my own shampoo and planned to buy a bar of soap at the first port. I immediately missed Princess' Lotus Spa soaps, shampoo and lotion!
At the safety muster, I was surprised that we didn't have to bring our life jackets or know how to put them on.
Entertainment on the first night was great. We enjoyed the entertainment every night. The cruise director did his best . There was a funny comedian, several production shows with lively singers and dancers, a talented juggler who was a finalist on America's Got Talent, and an interesting improve group. Entertainment in the theater each evening was definitely a positive on the cruise.
The first day was a sea day and most passengers were on the pool deck. There was a BBQ for lunch on deck. Here again the pool area was seriously understaffed. Passengers left plates, cups, napkins, etc. everywhere and the place remained a huge mess. The deck became dangerously wet and several passengers fell. One had to be removed on a stretcher.
On Monday we docked at Port Canaveral. We took a local shuttle to Cocoa Beach and the mall. My daughter rented a car and went to Cape Canaveral Space Center. Since we docked at noon, I wondered why the ship offered trips to the theme parks? In my experience, you need to arrive at the park when it opens. The next day I asked several passengers who did the Disney trip and they said they only had time for 2 rides. A very expensive 2 rides!!!
We ate dinner each evening in the Grand Pacific or the Magenta. It bothered me that the Gem has 7 restaurants that require additional cost. Most evenings there was only one waiter per table and the service was extremely slow. The food was no where near the quality of the food on Princess. Ice cream? Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry. On Princess, the ice cream is made fresh each day and there are wonderful yummy flavors like tiramisu, hazelnut, mango,etc. My kids got totally annoyed with me comparing everything to Princess. But I couldn't help it!!! On Princess I feel pampered. On Norwegian I'm one in the noisy crowd.
Great Stirrup Cay was a good day. Everyone enjoyed the beach and the food that was served.
Nassau the Bahamas: My children and grandchildren took a cab/van to the Sheraton Resort. They loved it. For $25 they had use of all the facilities, including the pool. They were given towels and lounges and they loved the day. I took a cab ($4 each way) to the Atlantis. We spent a pleasant 2 hours in the Atlantis casino. We had a terrific driver on the ride back to the Gem. He gave us a narrated guided tour on the way.
If I had never cruised before, this voyage would have been more than acceptable. But I have 18 other fantastic cruises for comparison!