Hello, my family and I (wife, 2 daughters age 14/18) cruised on the Gem last week. Upon arrival to the terminal we were immediately annoyed by the ladies that were shouting at us where to go in line. Their wasn't any other passengers behind us, yet we were shouted at to the point where my wife told the woman to "relax, we're on vacation, their isn't anyone behind us and not to shout at us".. The check in was relatively fast and easy but again a woman checking our documents acting annoyed with having to be there. After boarding the ship we felt lost as their wasn't anyone directing us where to go, just a bunch of people kind of looking around at each other. The room (balcony w/ocean view) was relatively clean. The "queen bed" in actually two full size "butted" together. Both had a deep impression in the middle of each mattress (one side worse than the other) that was murder on my lower back. It was changed, but the "new" mattress was not much better than the first.
The buffet food was very repetitive and not many options for a vegetarian based diet. Each day at least 1 coffee machine was broken. The staff member standing at the entrance of the buffet gave passengers the option of disinfecting their hands which I found quite disgusting. (Royal Caribbean insisted on it upon entry, and rightfully so.) the sit down restaurants (free) were quite good and I was happy with the meals and service.
My main complaints with the cruise was the lack of crew members to assist in finding shows, restaurants and general information. If you did find one most didn't know which direction to send you in anyway.. Everyone always seemed "lost" and looking for assistance in finding different activities. Also, you will be "nickel and dimed" to death on this cruise which gets quite annoying.
Although I have my gripes with this cruise, myself and my family did have a good time. If you've never cruised before or went on Carnival prior to cruising aboard the Gem you might not notice all the flaws in their system. We did have a great time air boating in Florida and snorkeling in the Bahamas, but I would not book again. The ship is very small and very crowded..even finding a chair near the pool (or anywhere for that matter) after 10AM is quite a task. ( By 8AM people were placing folded pool towels on chairs to "reserve" them.. Extremely annoying as some wouldn't show up until the late afternoon).. Also, you are extremely packed in as their is only inches between the chairs.
I do enjoy cruising but will stick with Royal Caribbean for any future trips.
I hope my review will help you in choosing a ship.