New Year's Eve on the Gem 12/29/07 - 01/05/08
We are from NYC and both in our mid 40s. This is our second cruise with NCL.
We did not arrive to the port until 2:30 p.m. but upon arrival it was easier to get the bags checked-in as there were plenty of bag handlers available and the pier was not congested at all. There was really no one directing us to the correct line, we basically just followed a sign that said "Latitudes." After going through the metal detector we went on another line and this time we did not see the "Latitudes" sign and we were waiting on a long line until we realized we did not have a number (apparently everyone had these numbers, which allowed you to embark once that number was called through a loud speaker) I decided to go back and obtain the number and then saw the "Latitudes" line and got on that one instead. We were on line for approximately 10 to 15 minutes and we were checked in within 5 minutes and boarded thereafter. So in all the embarkation process was probably approximately 30 minutes.
Our cabin was already made up and it was big enough with plenty of storage space for the both of us. Our cabin steward Nestor was pleasant and kept our room very orderly.
We had lunch at the Garden Cafe and YES it seemed always to be crowed and not enough seats available. You would end up carrying your food all the way to other side and sometimes not finding any seating. This was a little frustrating.
Reservations were not a problem. Although when you called the number was always busy but if you kept trying you would get through and reservations were taken by a very friendly voice on the other side. We were able to make reservations two days in advance. We had dinner at Tequila's the first night and the menu was identical to the one in the Pearl, but the food was good and the waitress was personable and accommodating. New Year's Eve we had dinner at Cagney's and it was delicious. The waiter actually waited until we tasted our steaks before leaving (just in case it was not to our liking) but it was!
We also had dinner at La Cucina, Magenta and Grand Pacific. The food was very good and the presentation of each dish was always a work of art.
There were parties all over the ship for New Year's Eve and everyone seemed to be in very Happy moods and in Good spirits. They had the usual hats and noise-makers available for everyone throughout the ship.
On New Year's Day when we arrived at NCL's private island I would have thought that due to the heavy partying the night before there wouldn't be a lot of people on the island, but there were. There were people in the water on the beach everywhere specially if you stayed were the tender docked, but it you walked a little you would find empty chairs and plenty of room, which is what we did and enjoyed. It was a beautiful sunny day but the water was very cold.
The next day we arrived in Nassau and it was cloudy, breezy and cold. The same goes for Freeport. We did walk around Nassau, visited the straw market and some of the shops. It was a little dirty and congested. We wanted to visit Atlantis but the water was too choppy to take a water taxi. I did hear that taxis charge $20.00 to drive over but we decided not to take it. Freeport was the same and once we left Freeport we ran into bad weather and I was sea sick I didn't even make the midnight chocolate buffet ?.
We did see children but I did not find them to be annoying. We arrived at the Spinnaker lounge when they were being entertained by the juggler/magician, and only then did I realize how many children there were onboard. I did see teenagers in the jacuzzi plenty of times and at night. For a Holiday cruise it would be expected to see many children and teenagers.
Since we did not have nice weather many of the onboard activities were cancelled (since some of them were outside by the pool) I do believe that this should have been something the staff should have been ready for specially since we were traveling in January. There were just not enough activities in-doors.
The library is small and we always found it to be crowded and since it had operating hours we always seemed to be there at the wrong time and while they were closed.
The Bliss lounge was just the like one on the Pearl with the bowling alley and the comfy couches. They were very strict about admitting any one under 21 after 9:00 pm. They were not allowed not matter what.
Disembarkation was quick and painless. We chose to carry our luggage off the ship. We were allowed to leave at approximately 10:00, which they said it was ahead of time. They had actually stated the night before that we would be disembarking, after clearing customs, around 10:30 a.m. Customs was set up in the port just like at the airport where they separate you from US Citizens to Others; they scan you passport and welcome you back. It took approximately 20 minutes. We left our stateroom at around 10:20 and we were home at around noon.
In all the ship is kept very clean (of course it's new) they maintain it that way and it was nice to see. The crew was always pleasant and accommodating. The captain always gave a speech before we left any port advising us of the weather in the next port and how long it would take to arrive there.
We will cruise with NCl again....I enjoyed the freestyle of everything!