Warning - do not wear any jewelry you are fond of keeping to the ship's spa. The spa does not provide any secure area for your belongings. Learn from my experience. I had a spa appointment, for which they were 20 minutes late (no apologies or excuses offered). The attendant led me back to the treatment room and instructed me to place the jewelry I was wearing in my pant pocket and hang my clothes on the wall hooks. At the end of the treatment, the attendant place my clothes on the treatment table and left the room. My clothes fell to the floor - scattering the contents of my pockets onto the floor. Due to an emergency, I needed to leave the room before gathering my belongings. I returned to the room a few minutes later to discover my jewelry was missing. Needless to say, the jewelry was never located. The head of the NCL Gem security assured me that NCL had zero tolerance for theft.
If you are interested in museums and/ or shopping in local stores, be sure to check whether the ship is docking on a day when these places are open. The day that the NCL Gem docked at five of the six ports was a local holiday where museums and/or stores were closed.
NCL does provide a "Port & Shopping Guide." This is generally a one - two page flyer that does little to assist in sightseeing or shopping. The flyer contains unusable maps of the area. Little or no information on products unique to the area is provided. Although given that for the most part shops were not open, the failure to provide such information does not impact your tour. The maps do not highlight the location of attractions. You are much better doing your own research.
The personnel at the reception desk need to be trained to help passengers on a first come first serve basis. Frequently, they allowed passengers to "cut" in front of others who had been patiently waiting in line.
The stores on the NCL Gem were still stocked with Caribbean merchandise. The ship never fully converted to European merchandise. Most of the merchandise was of average quality. Merchandise on sale was displayed as one would expect to find in a Wal-Mart or Target.
The tour guides for the NCL sponsored tours were in general knowledgeable and very pleasant. However, they should mention special accommodations available to the disabled. For instance, the Vatican has a special entrance for the handicapped. [We only learned of this from another tourist.] Also, the tour guide failed to indicate that the "easy ten minute walk" to the Vatican was over uneven cobblestones. Level 1 tour guides should be sensitized to the impact of such things on the disabled.
The nightly entertainment was varied and generally good. The NCL Gem had musicians, magicians, a juggler and singers. The bar areas had very entertaining lounge singers.
The ship is beautiful and well maintained. The personnel at the specialty restaurants are exceedingly pleasant. The cabin stewards do a good job cleaning the cabins. Disembarkation procedures at the various ports are well organized.