Booked NCL at my in-laws request, they have cruised before on NCL, and felt departing out of NYC convenient, and no airplanes to deal with. Arrived from NJ on 1/20/14, no problems with luggage or checking in as we arrived around 1pm. the rooms were ready and we met in the buffet for lunch. The food is typically buffet style, and we availed ourselves of the salads, and more healthier choices. The selection was never wonderful, but you can always find something to eat. the staff was always pleasant and friendly.
The rooms were adequate for our balcony (9124), poor for the Handicap room 8600. Our major complaints involve lighting for a handicap room. My inlaws are 89 and 86, mildly ambulatory, but the lighting was dark, dark, dark. How do they plan a handicap cabin and not increase the light options?? Also, the steward was not readily available, something which a handicap cabin should have, better attentive service. My inlaws never even saw the steward, even to introduce himself. Our steward had just arrived for his contract and was nowhere to be seen the first day. We had no towels, bathmat, or extra pillows. The room was not properly cleaned or vacuumed. The next day the steward did inro himself and thoroughly cleaned our room , without our having to discuss the dirt, which was a good thing. We find NCL balcony rooms smaller and with less usable space than Celebrity, Princess.
the whole freestyle idea is a plus,no suits/jackets, but having to schedule meals everyday is not.. Why not freestyle the main dining room, but give the cruiser the same waitstaff for the cruise?? this allows for familiarity,and better service overall. The head waiter, Joseph, was excellent..very helpful, friendly. The waiter we arranged to keep for the duration of the cruise was excellent..John, but he is now on the Getaway. His asst., Milligras, was frinely, and extremely pleasant. Overall, the staffs dmeanor to the passengers is excellent.
The spa was nice, good massage from Mildred.
The stops were fine, despite the rain in the am at St. Maarten. We always enjoy St. Maarten, St thomas and san juan. They can keep La Samana...
Overall we had a relaxing, unstressed time on NCL Gem, but just feel our dollars are better spent on Celebrity/Royal Caribbean or Princess. I have heard that the food quality and choice has suffered on all the shiplines..