This was my first cruise in many, many years and am delighted to report that overall the Gem was better than I remember cruising to be! I spent the cruise with my daughter and my grandson(aged 9)and it was the first time either of them had sailed.
First off, after looking at many of the reviews posted I can only remind the reader that we all have different tastes and on this occasion rather than giving my personal opinion, I'm going to try to report on what I felt was the general feeling onboard. Too many people seem to write that something was horrible, rather than saying that it was not to their fancy.
Food: Overall, fantastic. Many choices for different palates. I did here some people complain that they did not like the freestyle dining in that they had to pay for some of the specialty restaurants. You have as many free choices to dine as to pay, and as I mentioned to one lady, this ship has three times the restaurants on board as other ships I have experienced, and if you stay in a hotel, you don't get all the food for free! and with many of the guests looking like the only reason they came on board was for the food, I don't thing the cruise line could afford to feed everyone what they had on offer for free!
Note:I have never seen so many people walking around the buffet eating, without actually sitting down with their food. I am getting a bit old, but where have our manners gone America!
Service: Most people I talked to (although not 2800)seemed to find the service good, especially considering the hours and the salaries.
Cabin: My daughter and grandson shared with me an inside cabin and it was as we expected, new and clean with all the things we needed. Our cabin steward was very polite and hard working.
Destinations: The places we visited were quite nice. Some guests complained that they did not like this or that...as if it was the cruise lines mistake. My advise... Do your homework before you book a cruise! You can only expect so much from destinations that are only a stones throw from your own city. If you want something really exotic, you must make the effort, and travel far.
Entertainment: As mentioned, everyone has their own tastes and entertainment is no exception. For this reason I am going to report on what I saw as the general response to the shows.
Gem Production Shows (3) All the shows received a very good audience reaction, with one of the shows (I can't remember which one) receiving a standing ovation.
Comedy Troupe: Everyone laughed and had a good time.
Ross Bennett: Ross is a comedian and seemed to be a hit with all of the guests.
Duck Cameron and Nika: A dramatic and at times funny magic act that received a standing ovation.
I will mention one thing about the above act, Duck Cameron. My grandson loves magic and we went to Mr.Cameron's magic lecture where he displays small magic tricks for the children to learn. After the performance we asked for a photo and my grandson mentioned to him how he has some tricks his mother had bought for him and how much he enjoys magic. After a few minutes chatting, Mr.Cameron leaned over to me and asked for our cabin no. I thought nothing of this, until the next day upon arriving back at our cabin in the afternoon,and discovering there on our pillow (delivered by our cabin steward)a signed DVD of his show and a note with a list of recommended magic books suitable for my grandson's age.It made my grandson's cruise and highlighted how good the service of all onboard was (at least to us).
The Cruise Director: Although not meeting Julie, she had a lovely personality on stage and the couple of times I did see her out and about she was always smiling and chatting with people.
Overall: A sparkling new ship that was very comfortable for us and had all the facilities one would require for an enjoyable holiday.