We were a bit concerned about picking the Gem after reading some of the online reviews, but found the ship, the food, and crew to meet or exceed most of our expectations. We enjoyed our first cruise a great deal. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze at every location- no issues!
We ate in the main or non-cover charge dining locations for the entire time, and found the food to be very enjoyable and excellent quality. The reports/reviews that they make the main dining lower quality to force you towards the cover-charge locations seems a bit over-stated. We found nothing lacking, even if we had not tried the cover-charge locations.
We had little trouble with waiting, just checking the video screens and making decisions on the fly helps! It is about FreeStyle right?
Internet is slow! 56k speeds, be warned, but that is to be expected on a ship. Still, the wireless internet on the ship seemed to cover every inch. I got to use on deck, in my room, and even in one bar.
The staff were friendly, helpful and seemed to enjoy their work. The on board shopping consultant was helpful in port ideas, even if we were avoiding the NCL excursions, and assisted beyond just shopping.
The shows were good quality, what you might expect for a casino show or a main stage in an theme park. We enjoyed our evening with the Second City Troupe a great deal!
Perhaps I keep the big picture more than some, if everything is perfect over the period of 7 days, that might be asking a lot. Two small issues occured- in one port Livorno you had to pay $5 to get a bus out of the port, or use a cab or excursion... so much for ALL the port fees being paid, but we found getting a cab to get the train was the best way to go anyway. Also, in Villefrance the tender boat right outside our window was used for tendering passengers, so at 6:30 AM they were moving a boat right outside our cabin window without warning. With all the flyers they sent us for other things, a little warning would have been nice.