This is my fourth cruise, first time on Norwegian. I'm a late 20's male travelling with my girlfriend, for whom it's her second cruise. We were thoroughly disappointed with this cruise, and will not be considering the Gem as a future option.
The trip started out well enough. We arrived at the port terminal a tad early, around noon, and the lines were minimal. Our luggage were promptly handled and our wait time until boarding was about around 30 minutes. Around 1:30PM, our cabins were ready and we were ready to go.
We booked a cheapo interior cabin, and we got what we expected. We had two 110V outlets to charge all our cameras and cell phones. Our housekeeping staff was helpful and sincere, which was the only positive service experience we had.
Oh boy, how to begin? The Gem's dining was by far the worst out of the 4 cruises I've been on. Right from the first day to the last, there were service problems, kitchen problems, and everything in between. Lunch at the Grand Pacific is a complete crapshoot. We sat and waited 15 minutes before getting our water filled. Service was generally slow from getting our orders in to getting the desert menu. We actually gave up most of the time in getting the desert menu and just leaving. On our second to last day at sea, we met another couple who were waiting over 40 minutes after their appetizer before getting their entree. The Dinner service was slightly better, but that's not saying much. The kitchen started out the cruise okay - they don't seem to understand medium rare steak and everything comes out medium well, but at least the food was tasty. However, as the days went on and we were nearing the end of the cruise, the kitchen staff seemed more and more heavy handed with seasoning and everything came out extremely salty. We ate at Le Bistro ($20 per person cover) which was fantastic, but you have to pay additional for it. We also ate at the sushi counter, which is probably the worst sushi I've ever had (I think our Korean supermarket has better sushi in to-go boxes). The Garden Cafe was okay, but the lines and the lack of tables really didn't allow us to eat on there. Besides, the food at the buffet was mediocre at best. The Blue Lagoon (24-hour dining) was probably the worst experience ever. When the buffet closes, we only have Blue Lagoon as a dining option. There were only 1 other table seated, and we could not get seated at all. There were personnel walking around, but none of them would seat us. We stood there for 30 minutes before just calling it quits. Other nights, we might get seated, but we could wait up to 30 minutes before our orders are taken. Room service from midnight - 5AM incurred an additional charge, and their selection were very limited. Pizza is also an additional charge, I have never heard of additional charge for pizza on a cruise before. I actually felt hungry for once on a cruise....
The cruise director Matt and asst cruise director Dan-Dan were great, and they did a good job with the activities on the ship. There were generally something to do at all times before midnight. The StarDust threater productions were enjoyable as well, but nothing that special.
By the time we were disembarking, we've already had enough of the crummy service. We were required to leave our cabins by 8AM even though the ship won't be ready to disembark until 9??? The disembarkation process was pretty hectic as well. The entire 7th deck was filled with people lining up to leave. We decided to get some last minute breakfast (hey why not, we paid for it). By the time we left at around 10, the lines for customs was way backed up. It wasn't until noon before we finally got out of the terminal building.
Overall, our first time Norwegian cruise was a flop. The service was terrible and we would be hard pressed to consider NCL in the future.