We had arranged to come to the US for a family wedding in St Michaels, Maryland, flying in to and out of New York, and as we have to travel such a long way from Perth on the west coast of Australia it was logical that we took the opportunity of a cruise, and after a not so memorable cruise on Celebrity around the Baltic in June we decided to try NCL.
So it was that we boarded the Norwegian Gem on Saturday 14th September for the seven night cruise from NY to Halifax then St John, Bar Harbour, Boston, Newport and back to NY for the flight home.
The Gem lived up to its name and sparkled, everything about the ship was colourful and vibrant, the crew and the service they provided was first class, the cabin was comfortable and had lots of cupboard space.
The food on board in the public dining rooms was good and we had a reasonable choice in the buffet, the only down side was the “Freestyle Dining” which we had never experienced before.
On the first night we arrived at the main dining room just before 6pm to find a very long queue and after a while we received our pager device but then had to wait until almost 7.30 before we were eventually seated, and again it took almost an hour on the second night despite arriving not long after 5.30pm.
After that we gave up on the main dining room and attended the other public dining areas until we discovered the Orchid Room providing “Asian Fusion” dining, which was simply outstanding food, especially for our grown up vegetarian Daughter who had accompanied us on this cruise, and who, by day 4, was suffering from “tofu withdrawal symptoms”, and our waitress, from Bali which is almost our second home, was just so wonderful, what a joy it was to dine here.
The entertainment on board was very good, and every day and night there were endless choice of different styles of music in all the public lounges that would cater for everyone’s musical tastes.
The ports of call were excellent and on the two days we had to tender in both went reasonably well and catered for those passengers with mobility problems needing wheelchairs and walkers to be transported ashore, and we were always on time or early and were kept well informed by the Cruise Director throughout the cruise.
We had booked shore excursions on line with NCL and found them to be very well done, and with none of the problems of being held up by wayward passengers that did not get back to the bus at the nominated time, as we did with Celebrity, which was mostly to do with the very friendly and considerate people on the cruise with us.
The on board shopping was well presented, and without the noise spruiking on our previous cruise, but rather left it up to the many specials and discount days to sell their products.
All in all this was a wonderful cruise and we thank NCL and the Crew of the Gem for making it so, and we have no hesitation in recommending NCL to others wishing for that more discerning cruise.