Both my son and myself went on a this cruise from December 23-January 1 2014. We got a deal from Montreal Canada and it was so much fun.
The moment we arrived at the port in NY City it was crazy busy. We were lined up for about an hour than after going through the security than we had to wait in another line to register that we arrived. Total time and it was just before Christmas1 hour 20 minutes,,,we got there at 1pm. This was pretty fast once we got to that point and than we went on the ship. It actually is pretty large and the lobby was decorated pretty tacky, it was Christmas and the decorations looked like dollar store, so please Gem buy some really nice stuff and use it each year the amortization is worth it. Garland with fairy lights, make it traditional it was bare, sparse would be a great word to describe it. The dining room was not even decorated at all .
We went to our room and had to wait till after 7pm till our luggage arrived it was long, so I just walked on the ship trying to explore it all, we left at 4 however before we left port there was an emergency drill which everyone needs to attend. Everything closes meaning the cafeteria while this is going on...so eat fast.
This is my third cruise and it made up for the awful time we had on the Hawaii one, same company,
The ship is large, the room was decent always kept clean, our steward was very nice and accomodating, it was a last minute deal so I could only get an inside cabin it was fine. Most of the time anyways you are outside on the deck.Day one and two are spent sailing to the destinations, day two was really really rough lots of sick people on board. I felt sorry for the clean up crew,,, I did not react nor did my son but it was rough. Take medication and or the bracelets , it will help you. The waves were really large over 26 feet,the sick bay was filled..
There are tons of activities to do while you sail for two days, and you do not have the time to do them all,,sigh. I especially loved the dancing lessons as I am social dancer and the talks they did about the shopping ports etc.Games etc lots of fun.towards end of day two it gets warmer.
The social crew are fantastic and they will get you to do things that you never thought you could do. I say no one is ever going to remember you anyways, so get out there and do it and have fun life is short!!!
At night the entertainment in the theater was ok sometimes repetitive dance and music shows...The best entertainment on board for me was the piano bar with Barry what a great entertainer!!! He had the whole crowd going getting them up to dance and new years was the best time ever with him and everyone around. Best new years ever and we were all dancing and singing!!! I even got kissed on New Years that has got to be lucky!,
All the small entertainers are great on board but this one guy Barry has a way with people, to get the best out of them, and he is polite and nice to speak to. His jokes are very funny and singing with him always beats the blues out of anyone. After that on to the stardust to dance the night away great fun with buddies that I met on board. Entertainment there was hilarious some nights the dancing contest the funniest it is a dancing with the non stars.
I went to the casino never won anything but a few bucks however that being said do not waste your time., very smelly with ciggarettes.
The food was ok in the cafeteria I am giving it three stars, it is faster and alot of choices. Dining room Pacific was far better,did not like the other dining room I did breakfast lunch and dinner there. It is classier and fantastic service. I had an issue one night with a dirty glass. One of the waiters poured a glass of wine for me but the glass had lipstick on it, than he said he would pour my glass of wine back into the bottle for me. I was surprised and so grossed out so I went to the front desk and made a complaint..I got a phone call within the hour apologizing.. I got to say the Maitre d`` Aurora Jalba was amazing that helped us. This lady knows her clients and understands the word service and she will get 10 stars for her attitude and her professionalism. Each night after the incident she came by to my table to make sure everyone and thing was ok she would follow up with me each day asking me how things were.it was a full ship, Gem never get rid of this wonderful lady she has got what it takes to be on this ship or any ship. She is the Gem!!!
The food was not consistent some nights my choice was not great and it was very salty. I found out however each day, that I can ask that no salt be put in my selection because it is cooked before hand...so note to self no salt next time,, Christmas night I ordered turkey you needed a chain saw to cut it that was a big surprise, it was terrible must of been an old turkey, the rest was ok, I could of ordered something else however that being said I did not want to wait again,,The night they did Roast beef was amazing,You can ask them to make you anything you want , they will do it. It is healthier to eat there than upstairs because you can control what you eat. The bread pudding was so nastilly good it was sinful. I did not gain weight I lost weight aboard this cruise.
I did get a new bottle of wine because of this situation which was a nice touch. She also gave me another bottle as well.
I did not do any specialty restaurants however I heard the steak one was great so was the Japanese the French got horrible reviews from many people on board.
The pool area is small very confined and you have to be careful so that you do not slip water is everywhere and they try hard ,,,to clean it but is a pool area. I even went on the slide it was a blast. I am happy to say except for one unfortunate experience with a very rude passenger who took my towel off my chair and claimed it as her own...get a towel down early or else no chairs in decent spots. I was lucky most days, and we always had someone to watch over them. I especially liked the hot tubs, pools temperature needs adjusting too cold.
Front desk always friendly I had great service except very last day we had to stand in line, I wondered about a charge that I got ,so I stood in one line, the girl that I got was so rude to me and told me I was in the wrong line, I was told that I would have wait in yet another line after waiting 20 minutes, now it is the last day, last few hours and ONLY 3 PEOPLE WERE ON THE DESK how can you possibly serve people properly? I was not happy I spoke to the Social director about it. Other people in line saw it too and wondered why she took her frustrations out on me, anyways it was solved. I was not to pleased to be spoken to like that. There is no excuse for rudeness it after a great holiday did not leave me feeling a warm and fuzzy. For the most part I had a wonderful time I would go back on this ship it was fun and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a longer get away you won't be disappointed there is always something to do. If I forgot to mention anyone forgive me still on vacation in my mind,,,,,,bon voyage!!!