Cruised with my mother and aunt. This was my 5th cruise, 1st on Norwegian.
Embarkation was so easy, took about 30 minutes. Once on board went to the Grand Pacific for lunch and to wait until we could get to the room.
Balcony was aft. The room was very small and while the closet was ok there was little cubby/shelf storage. Since there is no self laundry on board we had to take enough clothes for the 9 days. Also, once the love seat was folded out for my bed the room was wall to wall mattresses and we could not go on to the balcony. Did not use the balcony much because we had smokers in the next room, we even had to deal with cigar smoke a couple of nights.
The staff was wonderful and we gave extra tips. The ship is very clean.
We did have dinner one night in Moderno and it was excellent. I had breakfast twice in the Blue Lagoon, good service and food was ok.
I had read other reviews regarding the buffet and it's sub par food, but I always found something to eat. There were some things that I did not like but all in all the buffet was pretty good and the food was hot.
One night we received a free bingo card. I went to Spinnaker lounge to play and found out that I had to spend $39.00 to play the first 2 games and to activate the "free" card. Norwegian needs to be reminded that free means no charge.
Ports were San Juan, been there and done that so we just wandered around for a while and went back to the ship. St Marteen, did the island tour and the butterfly farm and I recommend this tour, thank you Dennis. We did it in 2000 and enjoyed it just as much this time around. St Thomas, we did the wheel chair accessible island tour. Tour and guide were good, thank you Toothpick. Samana DR, did not get off because it was a tender stop, stayed on ship and had a pool day.
We did some rocking and rolling the last night, waves were almost 15' but for the most part the trip was wonderful.
If you are going on the Gem I suggest getting up early at least once and watching the sunrise from the Great Outdoors.
Would like to say that there were some crew members that made the trip for us. Freddie and Lloyd our room stewards, Luis in Moderno, Boopay and King Anthony in Grand Pacific and Tanya "washy washy" who was always happy and singing while greeting us for breakfast and lunch.
Disembarkation was fairly easy, just took the usual time to get down the gangway and get luggage then get through customs.
Over all we had a good time and felt safe.
Would we go on Norwegian again, not likely based on the room size, amount of storage, lack of self laundry and the smoking policy (sorry but ex-smoker who has asthma here). The cruise lines should consider asking smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes when cruising, would reduce any chances of a fire because no one would need to have either matches of lighters, or they could make one side of the ship non-smoking.