• The service on-board is really spotty in both the cabins and Dining Rooms. NCL recently took 300+/- experienced workers from the Gem (from a crew of 1,200) to work aboard their new ship coming out in January, thus leaving a big "experience” gap. Yes, they replaced the workers and added some additional trainers, but the overall service was very shotty.
• My Cabin Stewart was fired just a few days into the cruise. This was his first week. Sadly, there is only on-the-job training but he wasn’t training with anyone for unknown reasons. There was so many problems by so many passengers in our row of 15 cabins. At one point, after making four requests for something, I simply went down to the Customer Service Desk and repeated a previous request and told them I was standing there until the item was brought to me right there I wasn’t accepting any more (unfulfilled) promises for it to be delivered later.
• The NCL Latitudes Representative (whose official title is "Cruise Consultant Manager”) was very unfriendly and condescending. He didn’t seem to really care about Latitude problems, and primarily concentrated on selling future cruises. There was no welcome gift in the room, no NCL pin, nor any chocolates on the pillows. So much for the Latitudes program.
• The Port Talks mention NOTHING other than the tours they sell. Yes, I get their job is to sell tours, but they didn’t mention one drop of information about the ports that wasn’t tour related. Really?
• Room Service quality was bad. I ordered it 7 times, and it was wrong 6 times (both not getting things I ordered, and even getting things I did not order).
• I hate Free Style Dining! There are many more bad points than good. I hate the automatically charged gratuities related to Free Style Dining there is now no connection between (good / bad) service and gratuities, which is the SOLE purpose of gratuities!
• The entertainment was top notch! I don’t expect much from shipboard entertainment and was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t even get to all the things I wanted to see and participate in. Even the "review” shows were good. And I loved the passenger participation shows each evening (such as the "Newlywed and Not-So-Newlywed” show).
• The food was fine for this class of ship (I didn't say great - I wrote fine). A lot of reviews complained about the food. As someone who has been on 25+/- cruises and know what to expect / what not to expect, the food was fine in both the Dining Rooms and Garden Café. This isn’t a Seaborne cruise after all.
• The Hotel Manager, a female from Malaysia who manages 900 workers (Trip Advisor forbids mentioning her name) was top notch. She made her telephone extension known to all (X8888) for any problems, and personally answered these calls. She also practiced "walk-around” management there’s not a lot of office time for her. You don’t find out what’s going on by sitting at a desk.
• Quick and efficient embarkation ditto disembarkation.
• Very friendly staff (note that friendly doesn’t mean efficient).
• The NCL Gem is kept very clean and in tip-top condition.
• Loved the (mostly free) room service. Order the BLT without the crust yummy!
• I liked the Friends of Dorothy/LGBT nightly meetings. And they were nicely attended.
• Lobster Night, typically the last night, is actually the first night on the cruise. Remember you can ask for seconds. And thirds. And...