Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by Jc3165: Attention to detail SERIOUSLY lacking
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Attention to detail SERIOUSLY lacking
We sailed 7/4 out of New York. This was our 2nd NCL cruise and 11th cruise overall.
We were a total party of 15 people with 6 separate cabins; it was my Mom and us, her three children, with our families, celebrating her 70th birthday. Overall, the cruise was OK but we had some serious issues. We do cruise 1-2 times per year and this is the worst one in a long time! I will try to articulate but my summary is "don't do this cruise in July out of NY. It's too crowded and NCL is simply NOT equipped to handle the volume at the port, or on the boat".
The Bright Side!
THE KIDS CAMP IS AWESOME! We had kids 3-10 who loved it. They would cry at night to have to leave and my kids always wanted to go! They put on an adorable Circus on the last day which was just too sweet! The staff was fantastic and really did a great job with the kids.
The shows were good. Deal or No Deal was great and worth it if you played or didn't.
The family crafts were fun, the More kids had a blast and the staff was lovely.
My family of 4 did eat at The Orchid Garden one night. We had a 5:30 reservation and missed the 7pm show but the food was very good, and with the upgrade. The Italian restaurant food was also good, despite taking 3 hours.
Our room stewardess was lovely and kept our room in perfect shape.
There was a lovely piano player, Tatiana who I took my kids to see up close in the atrium to see how beautiful she could make the piano sound. Tatiana played Let It Go from Frozen for them, Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid and the theme to Beauty and the Beast. My kids were delighted!
We did the Nickolodean breakfast, and aside from the awful food options, I thought it was fun; it was $20 per person for anyone 2 and older which was great because I think the price kept it from being too crowded and my kids had fun (more on kids menu later).
The Dark Side!
Since we were less than 8 cabins we not treated as a large group. We also got some great "on board" credits, so we didn't book with NCL directly. This was an issue from the get go. If you don't book with NCL, every time you call or need something, no one on their main telephone lines can handle you and you often have to wait 30+ minutes to discuss your issue with someone who has "access to your booking". We were told that NCL is happy for you to book with their partners, but their actions did not match these words. One example, we wanted to book our dinner reservations for the whole cruise before we got on the boat because there were 15 of us. I called and was transferred 3 times, and after 37 minutes was left with "email this person with your request". I was able to book dinners via email and booked a special dinner at the "specialty" Italian restaurant for one night but had to pay in advance, which was OK but it was a hassle (more on dinning later).
My sister-in-law requested a crib and the pack n'play was not set up until 9 PM on the 1st night and took several calls to the room steward. There just seemed to be a lack of attention to detail and the overall attitude of most staff is "it is what it is", which, as a frequent cruiser, I am not used to.
I felt that I had to wait on line for EVERYTHING. It felt like there was always a line for guest services; on 2 separate occasions, I saw 2 people assisting guests but up to 7 people passing behind the desks from one office to another and one person on the floor just asking what your issue is, and no matter what, he'd always say "yes, please wait on line here". There was always a line to be helped/pay in the photo gallery, lines to get into the Grand Pacific dinning room DESPITE having reservations, and the buffet had about 1/2 the number seats it needed. One morning, I actually got up and moved my toddlers back to our stateroom to eat their breakfast so an elderly man with a cane could sit at breakfast one day. There's no staff to help or coordinate, it's a big free for all, and for breakfast the buffet was a total disaster.
Dinning Issues - if you are 14+ people...
Once we arrived for dinner on the Gem on the first night, we were split over 2 tables. We basically put the kids, aged 3 to 14 at the small table and the adults sat at a different table. The 2 tables had different waiters so the kids were done about an hour before us and before our dessert was served the kids had gotten up to go see us or the bathroom, the table was reset for a different group so they had no where to go. I asked the matre'd to sit us together going forward but he said that is against NCL policy that limits tables to 13. No one told me that until that point. So we struggled the whole week trying to keep eating on the same schedule and dinner took 2 hours on a good night. Service in the Grand Pacific was TERRIBLY SLOW! One night just my family of 4 had a table alone and it still took over 2 hours! The waiters were nice, for the most part, but the food takes forever to come out. Finally we had our family dinner in the specialty Italian restaurant. They did NOT want us to sit at one table but I literally kept asking for management until they let us do it; we paid an extra $150+ for dinner to celebrate my Mom and spent thousands to sail with NCL - I was having ONE meal at the same table! My credit card was charged weeks in advance and no one said we could not eat together, and so we agreed to stuff 1 kid in a high chair, keep one in a stroller and they allowed us to sit at one table. As a somewhat frequent cruiser, I found this awful. I have never had to work so hard to get a request like this approved!
The casino was ok, there's no "non-smoking" tables so take that for what it's worth. You can NOT get a drink, and we had to go to the Magnum's bar outside the casino to get a drink as table service was slow to non-existent. One night they had a promo where you buy $20 in chips and they give you an extra $20. The dealer tells me this AFTER he deals me in and sends me to the cashier. He DID hold my seat, which was nice, and after waiting on line at the cashier, I was told that I needed a "players club" card, and they sent me across the casino to another line the Guest Services desk. Really guys! I felt like it was just attention to detail that made everything so unnecessarily complicated.
Kids Meals Options are SHAMEFUL!
The kids meals are ALL junk food. Now, I get that kids eat Mac N Cheese but the serving size should feed 2 adults and there's no healthy options. It was all pizza, hot dogs, burgers and PB&J which was the healthiest option but was made "double decker" and therefore served with twice the amount of bread. Now I am not judging - feed your kid pizza week, but just ONE healthy option would have been awesome. I was seriously disappointed that there were no "grilled chicken with applesauce" or even "fresh fruit platter" or "scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast" as an option. Something not fried and carb overload! The Nickolodean breakfast served doughnuts, cakes, pigs in a blanket, waffles, pancakes, etc. it was all junk. No eggs, no fruit, no yogurt. I get it, it's what kids like but I really was disappointed that there was ZERO balanced options for the kids.
I Hope this helps. I would not do NCL during peak season again and absolutely would not do it again with a large group. Less
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