My family and I decided to take a cruise out of New York because it was literally right down the street to get on the ship. Let me just begin by saying, I was very skeptical for the following reasons; I get seasick and wasn't sure how my teenage children would feel and it is a very expensive vacation, especially if you have a terrible time. We sailed on the Norwegian Gem. After reading several reviews on here we decided that was the best fit for our family. We traveled with other family members, which turned out to be well worth it. The Norwegian Gem is very family oriented, so if that is not for you, I would find another ship. There were a LOT of little kids on our cruise. One of the staff told us that there were 400 more kids than any other cruise in the previous weeks. There were activities that were for teenagers and above and the staff was very good about removing those that did not belong.
We had 2 balcony staterooms on deck 9 in the aft part of the ship. My husband and I in one and our teenagers in the other. When we booked our cruise we tried to get connecting but there were none available. I'm not sure why Norwegian doesn't hold the connecting cabins together. There were so many single cabins available on deck 9 when we booked our trip. The people next to us felt bad and said they would have taken a different cabin had they known that they were taking up a connecting one. But in the end, it didn't matter because our children are old enough to be on their own.The balcony was well worth it!! I had read complaints on here about people smoking on their balcony but we never encountered this. Maybe we just had non-smoking neighbors. The cabins had plenty of closet and drawer space for the two of us. Our luggage fit under the beds with ease. Two suggestions that I found helpful was to bring more hangers and to bring a plastic shoe holder. I used powerful magnets to hold it up and placed toiletries, suntan lotion, brushes and medicines in there. It was so easy to find things and kept things neat. The hair dryer provided in the room was more than adequate. I had brought my own, but never used it. We also never used the coffee maker which is provided. I brought a bar of soap for the shower, they only provide shower gel. I also brought my own shampoo and conditioner. The ship provides a shampoo/conditioner combo. Bring a small travel size can of lysol, if you can, it comes in handy in the toilet area. The television had a few channels and also had a classic movie channel which showed movies from the 80s and 90s like Sixteen Candles, Star Wars and Groundhog Day. We never watched much television.
The location of our cabins worked well for us because the Garden Cafe was a quick 3 floors above us. We enjoyed the food there the most. You could serve yourself and have as much as you wanted. We never had trouble finding a seat and went during off times. We loved sitting in the back of the ship, outside, it was usually less crowded back there. We did dine in the dining rooms and thought they were fine. We also tried some of the specialty restaurants but was never really impressed. If you want filet mignon, Cagney's has the best but you have to pay $30 per person. We purchased 2 soda cards but you could get away with finding other things to drink, they had a decent selection. Be sure to make reservations if you have a big group, especially on sea days.
We went to a few of the shows most weren't our cup of tea. We really enjoyed the comedian and the Second City group the best. We even did the murder mystery (which was $20 per person) with Second City and found them the most fun. The deal or no deal and bingo games were pricey, but if you keep it within reason, they are fun to do as well. The poolside band and singers on the ship were enjoyable. We really liked Clara. She played the piano and sang in Magnums and was so nice and has a beautiful voice. There were club parties and the white hot party so if that is your thing, there is plenty to do. Bowling and the arcade cost money but we never felt the need to do those things.
Always crowded and the lounge chairs around them taken up by towels. I never saw people actually sitting in most of them. We went to the pool in the evening and always had fun there. Plenty of deck chairs in other parts of the ship, so if you don't need to be by the pool, you will be fine. Front of the ship has large round soft chairs that are fun to sit in as well.
We had a fantastic vacation and enjoyed the ports we visited. We did Universal Studios (not alot of time there so keep that in mind when booking). Great Stirrup Cay was fun, it does take awhile to get there with the tender boats, so be prepared to wait for your number to be called and Bahamas - Atlantis. We had never been to Atlantis and did the Dolphin Swim, which was the best part of our trip. As far as seasickness, the first night at sea it was rough. I took Bonine before we got on the ship and I was fine. One of my children had a bad headache and had to take medicine, but it made her drowsy but by the second day, she started to feel better. The crew told us that there was a bad storm and sea wasn't usually that rough, but we all did fine.
One last thing...your cabin steward is probably the hardest working person on the ship. We had a wonderful steward, his name was Patrick. He always remembered our names and when my daughter was sick, he made her laugh and gave her suggestions on how to feel better. He even made a special towel animal for her (in addition to the many others he made). He also gave us some helpful tips on how to get around the ship and reminded us what was going on. I hope Norwegian appreciates him, because he really made our trip extra special!!
Since you must be out of your cabins by 8am, we chose the easy walk off. This allows you to leave the ship first, the only catch is that you must carry all of your luggage off the ship yourself. This worked out well for us and we had no problems. The lines go quickly and you are constantly moving. You do need to cross the busy street to get a cab, and everyone is doing the same thing, so be prepared, especially if you have small children. We entered the same slip as we departed from, so if you drove, you would just walk back up to where you parked your car.