We had been looking forward to sailing on the Norwegian Gem, having last sailed on her on her inaugural cruise in 2007. This time instead of our Mini-Suite we are Platinum Latitudes in Suite 10000 and we had booked this cruise as we wanted to sail out of New York and past the Statue of Liberty. We are quite seasoned cruisers now, and all I can really tell you is that we had a truly wonderful experience from beginning to end.
We got a taxi from our hotel and quickly passed through Check-in and were in the Star Bar by 1130. We had sailed with Carlos Zarate three times before and it was fun to watch him take a couple of steps past my wife before turning round and recognizing her, followed by our usual "man hug” greeting! Into Cagney’s for lunch and we were soon making friends with Marlon and Orlando and the rest of the delightful Cagney’s team. The rooms were announced ready early and we were soon settled in and meeting our Butler, Teodoro Barrete and our Room Steward, Miller and it was obvious that this would be an excellent cruise. We always dine in our Suite on the first and last night and Teodoro soon had a menu for us to choose from, and we enjoyed a meal from the Grand Pacific having enjoyed our departure from New York which included a display from an incoming Fire Boat, see images on our Flickr site. The following morning on our sea day we intended to go to the Meet and Greet arranged by JaJa, but my DW misheard me and went to Le Bistro while I attended the M & G at the Bliss Lounge and met Jenny Lim and Julie Valeriote and other members of the crew. Lunch at Cagney’s was followed by the first Latitudes party in the Spinnaker lounge, followed by a Meet the Senior Officers in the Haven and dinner in the Orchard Gardens. On Monday we docked at Halifax and did a couple of turns on the Hop on Hop off bus and were back on board for lunch as it was Thanksgiving Day and Halifax was shut! That evening saw another Latitudes event and following our rather poor experience on the Star in June it was great to be at a properly run party, although David Ward needs to review his jokes and stories!
Tuesday was St John and we walked ashore and had a very pleasant coffee before walking back to the pier and had a nice lunch at Paddy’s Bar. Good service and nice food.
Wednesday was in Bar Harbor and part of the fun was meeting the delightful Jenny Lim every time we got off and on the ship, always smiling and keen to chat she is just such a great ambassador for NCL, along with every other officer and crew member we met. On Wednesday evening we decided to do the Chef’s Table and had a most interesting evening with the six members of the Bartholomew family who made us most welcome. The food and wine was excellent, with Denton Laing, the Executive Chef introducing every course in detail. I have seen comments on Cruise Critic about the cost, but when you take into account the whole package from beginning to end it can be a truly great experience.
Thursday we met a very old friend who lived near Boston and we had a wonderful lunch with him and his family, a great day out and were back on board for the Meet the Senior Officers event where we managed to get Jenny to win the prize for the most questions asked for the first time ever. We had dinner in Le Bistro that night and sadly it was not as great an experience as the previous night with confusion over wine and starters and a generally lower standard of service, and as this is the only negative comment on the whole cruise, very minor in reality.
Friday saw us ashore in Newport RI and again we had a walk about and an ice cream before heading back to the ship for lunch at Cagney’s being served by the delightful Dormaleena from Nicaragua who had the most wonderful of laughs. We packed and had our last dinner in the Suite.
For us the best bit about cruising is about the people we meet on board, and special mention must go to my very good friend Carlos Zarate, who features on page 76 of my book, for which he told everyone about, to Jenny Lim, the Hotel Director, and to Julie Valeriote the Cruise Director who helped me contact someone at NCL Corporate and special thanks to Teodoro the Butler but special thanks to Miller the Room Steward who is the king of the Towel Animals, we laughed every night when we got back to the Suite, how many of you have had the Eskimo and the Teddy Bear? Images will be available on www.flickr.com/photos/magickpyggie/sets shortly, look for the Gem 121013 one.
We were so sad to leave the Gem and especially as we failed to say a proper goodbye to Carlos and Jenny. Now we just have to go back one more time!