So this was our first cruise. Everyone told us how much fun we would have, but overall... the ship was pretty boring. We got an inside cabin... big mistake! No ventilation whatsoever. Our clothes and shoes got wet on an excursion & the shoes had to be thrown out because they would not dry even after 4 days and started to stink up the whole cabin! No matter what ship you choose, pay for the balcony. The extra space & fresh air is totally worth it!
We went on this cruise for our honeymoon & had a hard time deciding between this and carnival because we would have to pay to fly to florida to do carnival vs. drive to NYC (We are near cleveland ohio). We opted to drive & spend a few days in NYC before leaving. Big MISTAKE!
The first day was great & we thought we had made a great decision. Well, it didnt take long before we were in rocky seas & seasick the first 2 and a half days. Dramamine eventually helped (except on the way home when we hit 50mph winds & 15 foot waves).
The extra 3 days of crusing for the travel to and from New York were really no fun at all. We thought it would be great to have extra vacation time, but the activities available on board were leaving us just that... bored! They had things to do, but all were silly and pretty boring summer camp style games/activities with no winners & many of the things people most looked forward to only allowed for 3-6 people to participate while everyone else watched, which isnt much fun when there are thousands of people on board.
The food options were okay, but we ate at the buffet more than anything. We tried magenta and had a crappy experience. I had a dress & sunhat on while people around us wore ratty flip flops & bathing suits with their boobs falling out & the staff actually asked me to remove my sunhat (after being on an excursion in the ocean & having the hat on my head for the day (AKA horrible hat head). I refused & we had to wait much longer than the guests around us to be fed our food & the food was not very good or worth the headache. Grand Pacific wasnt as bad, but it took almost an hour and forty five minutes to be seated, eat and get on our way. The waitress gave us the wrong plates & insisted what we got was the right steaks when we asked & only when we were leaving and rechecked the menu did we verify that she was indeed wrong. The food was good in Grand Pacific but not worth the wait so that was the only meal there. We could be in and out of the buffet in 25 minutes with no waiting & lots of options that changed daily. Definitely not the 5 star dining options they promise unless you are willing to pay more out of pocket.
My husbands bed frame squeaked the ENTIRE trip! We requested it to be fixed & our requests were completely ignored! The queen bed was too small & uncomfortable, so we separated it into two twin beds.
Our room was next to the pool room & a heavy door slamming at all hours was not our idea of fun or a good nights sleep.
The water slide.... WHAT A NIGHTMARE! They hardly had any water going down it at all to the point where kids were even getting stuck (we didn't notice that until after we went down & watched). My husband and I both had to push ourselves down the slide inch by inch from the first turn & I almost had a damn heart attack by the time we got down and I am only 30! Dangerous to say the least. OH, and the idiot they had watching the slide told me to go down before my husband even hit the first turn. Not paying attention at all clearly!
We were excited to see a large over-sized checkers & chess set on the deck & were extremely disappointed to find that after digging out all the pieces, almost half were missing!
The rock wall looked like fun, but it was only open for a set amount of time & closed when at sea, so we never made it up the wall.
We booked 2 excursions on our own (Samana and St. Thomas)
We booked 2 excursions through the cruise line. We did atv's in Puerto Rico and had a BLAST! We did atv's in St. Maarten & it was a HORRIBLE experience. We paid tons of money and expected a similar experience to San Juan, since the descriptions were the same. We paid all that money and EVERYONE on the tour complained & wanted a refund! They only gave half refunds which was very irritating! The whole trip was driving down the streets on an ATV, driving through the guides neighborhood which was clearly the ghetto of the island so he could wave to his friends & then we went to the beach. If I hadnt spoken up, the guide didn't even pay attention to time and we would have been late getting back. He was too busy talking with friends. What a waste of time & money and the customer service from Norwegian regarding this crappy experience was completely unfortunate! We had two staff members saying two different things & basically told all of us on the tour "too bad"... here's half your money back. Everyone was very upset & some people were even going to fight the charge on their credit card for the other half. We got screwed because we paid with debit.
The shows were okay, but in the front of the ship where you felt the most movement. They were similar to shows at an amusement park.
Dont book this trip if you are looking to have fun. This ship may be fun for an older crowd who thinks paying a fortune for bingo or taking naps is fun.
We really regret not choosing carnival and will definitely not cruise with Norwegian again. Their customer service was appalling and their idea of fun aboard Norwegian Gem is definitely geared toward the 50-60 and older crowd. It was funny because we talked with 50 year olds who said "wow this boat has a lot of old people on it lol". We also met an avid cruiser who gave us this advice.... (He goes on 1-2 cruises EVERY MONTH - yeah he was loaded). He said Carnival is definitely the FUN cruise line and is geared toward a younger more hip crowd. Royal Caribbean is more family oriented like Disney and has many more kids aboard. Princess & Celebrity are a little older and more formal (kind of boring). Norwegian is leaned toward the older cruiser and doesn't offer much of anything in the way of "fun". He also said each day over 7 days on the length of the cruise adds 10 years per day. So 20's - 40's (7 day cruise) 40's-60's (8-9 day cruise) and its usually the 60+ group that takes long term cruises. You are better off taking back to back 7 day cruises & sticking with Carnival if you really want to have fun & make the most of your trip!
We are very excited to book our next cruise in about 2 years aboard one of the newest carnival ships. The trip to Florida is definitely worth the extra time/money!