I just returned from a 9 day cruise on the Norwegian Gem. This was my second cruise on NCL. I went on a cruise last November on the Jewel which also sailed from NYC. The trip was wonderful with a few hick-ups. NCL is presently expanding its' fleet. More ships require more crew members. We found a huge percentage of crew members who come from Asia. This caused language issues. For instance, I asked for additional boxes of tissues, the cabin steward brought toilet paper., I asked for a dry baked potato at dinner, the server had no clue what I requested and lastly I asked for a full cup of coffee, I don't use creamer, the server had no clue what I had asked for. I can say the crew, especially the senior officers were very friendly and accommodating. When I go on a cruise I always introduce myself to the senior officers i.e Hotel Manager, Food and Beverage Director (asst Hotel Manager), maitre D and asst Maitre D, and of course housekeeping supervisors. I also never complain angrily if there is a problem. I make the problem known and ask it be corrected. On this cruise the cabin steward was new (it was obvious) and didn't clean the room properly nor make the towel animals cruises are known for. A quick comment to the deck supervisor. It almost fixed the problem completely.
NCL still provides live music unlike other cruise lines that have gone to recorded music. On this cruise we had Guitar Music by Leo, piano by Micheal and Marc (played separately). I can't mention the shows in the big venue, I never attended one. Leo, Micheal and Marc would play in the different bar areas on the ship. Leo has quite a following. He has played aboard the Gem for 2 years. People will book cruises on the Gem to see Leo. After spending a week enjoying him, I can understand why. Leo is quite a talented young man. The food aboard NCL ships is described by me as boring. It isn't bad, it is just uninspired. Carnival offers a much better food product (variety) and a better presentation. This occurs in the dining rooms or the buffet deck.
NCL seems to appeal to an older customer, of which unfortunately I am one. We (my sister-in-law) made some nice shipboard acquaintances. It was so nice to sit and dine with people who were complete strangers. On the buffet deck, we offered people to share our table and they did likewise.
On a whole we totally enjoyed our experience aboard the NCL Gem. We have even given NCL a deposit for our next cruise.