Three of us sailed on the Gem out of New York. I slept in the "crow's nest" (fold-down third bed) which I found remarkably comfortable. Excellent stateroom that accomodated three very well. We found all personnel helpful and friendly. Some were stationed at key points around the ship to answer questions and direct passengers. We stayed with eateries that didn' t charge extra. Great selections and good quality - plenty of fresh fruit. Eating in dining rooms "freestyle" not so good. We missed sitting with and meeting others each evening and getting to know them. Totally professional entertainment! The dancers were top notch and everyone knocked themselves out to please. Five stars there.
For this cruise, we avoided ship-sponsored shore excuursions. In Halifax we were able to snag a well-informed taxi driver who took us all over for a reasonable sum. In St. John, NB, we were able to walk to attractions. Ditto for lovely Bar Harbor. A relative met us in Boston for a private tour of the area! Newport is very well organized for cruisers. We were soon on a bus to the mansions - and there are plenty of shops near the pier. We had to tender in to Bar Harbor and Newport, but the crew did a good job of it.
NYC is hardly a suitable place to sail from. It was so chaotic, I felt like an immigrant at Ellis Island. Compounding it was the fact that NCL put out no signs for the Gem nor told us which pier we were sailing from. We lost a piece of luggage on the pier returning. NCL called us promptly about it, but then things bogged down. Finally received it a week later. All's well that ends well - nice cruise!