Just got back from the GEM leaving out of NYC. This was my first ... and last ... time leaving out of NYC. The NYC traffic was absolutely, positively, incredible. BAD. It was not worth it. To top it off, parking is horrendously expensive at the port - $40 per day. I parked offsite for $175 for the week and that was bad enough. Stay away from NYC and drive to New Orleans, or Charleston. If you want to drive to Florida, go for it. Granted ... this is not NCL's fault but if I have a choice (and I do) I'll not be leaving out of NYC again ever.
The ship was fine. It was clean but beginning to show it's age. I understand it's very soon going into dry dock and will come out much refreshed. The shows were good and the dance troupe was very good too. The buffet food was very very good! Did not go to any of the a la carte restaurants. The dining room food was extremely average. We finally found a wait team (Kaylen and Orven) who were GREAT but only managed to dine with them 3 nights because of their rotating schedules. Other than that, the dining room services were HORRIBLE. They could not have cared less if we were there or not. In the Magenta, we had a large waiter from Haiti and in my 40 cruises, I have never seen anyone so indifferent. Apparently, waiting on us was a chore that he did NOT want to do ... and that was evident - no questions, no answers, no refills, no talk, no service. The Grand Pacific is the place to dine. The Magenta looked like a cheap diner. The difference between the 2 is remarkable.
Our room steward was great. Very thorough, prompt, and pleasant.