Took the Gem out of NYC on 10/19/13 for a 9 night adventure. Aft Suite #10164, Great suite!. Raymundo our cabin steward was excellent as well as Fernando our Butler. Ask for just about anything and it was yours. Carlos the concierge was nice and very helpful. Yes, the suite perks are very good.
Ship was very clean and never felt crowded. Main dining room food was good but Grand Pacific was much better then Magenta. No doubt about it! Ate is a lot of specialty restaurants, so here is the quick low down. .
Le Bistro was good not great, Tepanyaki was very good, must do, Orchid Garden was no good, don't waste your time or $, La Cuchina was alright nothing to write home about, the menu looked better than the food but Cagney's, the steak house, was Excellent. As suite guests, we had a lot of our breakfasts there as well as dinner. The Garden Buffet was very good, nice selections of good food at correct temps and not too hard to find seating. Just takes a little patients.
This was our first time on NCL and freestyle cruising. We liked it a lot and never had to wait. The only time you could wait is right after the shows. It's a stampede for the dinning rooms. Leave the shows when the cruise director begins her schpeel about upcoming things and get to the dinning room of your choice and you won't wait. BTW, other them the Tepanyaki, all specialty restaurants were empty throughout the entire cruise.
The Spa was very good with the heated loungers. Never too crowded, worth the money. Services were pricey but very good. Our first female cruise director, Julie. It was different but not so much because she was a female but she wasn't as outgoing as our other cruise directors have been on other cruise lines especially RCCL. Hwe assistant, Dan Dan was very good, outgoing and funny as hell.
Casino, liked it mainly because I left with more than I started with. Had tournaments that were fun, bad pay tables on Video Poker, 6/5 Black Jack which isn't good, mainly played $5 let it ride and did OK. There was 1 craps table which never had anyone playing the entire cruise. I kept looking because we wanted to play but with others. Never had the chance.
Shows, we caught every main show and other then the first night, all were very good. Jeff Harms was funny and he also was part of several shoes in the lounge as well as Stardust Theater. The magician, I forgot his name, he was excellent. The juggler was good and funny. Second City team were excellent and we did their murder mystery luncheon that was a blast. Their shows in the lounge were very good too.
Overall the shows and entertainment I felt was Very Good!
Never made it to Bowling or even the Bliss lounge for late nights. We were done by 1am most nights. Never ate at the Blue Lagoon either. I really wanted those wings.
1 last thing as I know this is very long, we couldn't get a decent cup of coffee on this cruise. Even the hot tea wasn't good. It must be the water but we are big coffee drinkers and all the coffee in every restaurant or anywhere was terrible! We had an expresso/capachino machine in our suite so we had to make due but it still isn't a good coffee. There were no Dunkin Donuts at any port we went to or even a Starbucks?
The closest to a decent cup of coffee was the coffee bar in the Atrium but it still wasn't like Dunkin ;-(
I really hope this review helps and I do apologize for the length of the review but 9 nights, there's a lot to say. Summary, Loved the Gem and will be cruising with NCL again in the future.