We had planned this Cruise for over a year and NCL did not disappoint us. We had spent some time in wonderful Venice. We got near the port and we found out that there was a "secret NCL" bus that would take us directly to the ship. The only markings on the bus was a small handwritten note saying "NCL". Word to the wise-do not overpack-shlepping heavy suitcases on trains, busses & water taxis is not a fun thing. I was so grateful when we were able to drop off our bags before we went into the terminal. Once we went inside the terminal, everything went very smoothly. Before we knew it, we were on the ship and in one of the Main Dining Rooms eating lunch. Shortly thereafter we were allowed into our cabin. We had a pretty balcony room. A bit compact, but very adequate. After the very easy Muster Drill, we met on the 13th deck for the sail away party with our Cruise Critic Group (more on the group later).
I had been on a very nice cruise on the Dawn a while back so I knew that I was in for a nice time. I have to say that the Gem exceeded my expectations. Every crew member was pleasant and very attentive. I sincerely cannot think of anyone who did not try to go the extra mile for us.
Food-it was just fine! I am not a food snob-if I wanted ultra gourmet, I know that I would have to pay a much higher price than I did! The food was very good. Remember, if you don't like something, you can always get something else. I don't like buffets, but I have to admit that the one on the Gem was wonderful. The food was very fresh & varied and the presentation was beautiful. The first night we ate in the Tex Mex Rest. with some of the folks from our CC Roll Call. We had a blast. The food was good & the staff was wonderful. On Sunday night the group of 16 that I traveled with ate together at Cagneys. It was awesome. I had the lamb-the best that I have ever had. I would definitely go back. Another night we went to the Italian Rest. What a nicely decorated dining room. The food was very good & the staff was very attentive. The food in the Grand Pacific & Magenta was fine as was the Blue Lagoon. I was a little sad that the Blue Lagoon didn't look like a diner as it did on the Dawn. The chocolate buffet was beautiful.
A little about our Cruise Critic Meet & Greet Group. We had all been writing on our roll call for quite a long time. I had set up a Meet & Greet for Tue. morning. We decided to meet in Venice at the Baccaro Jazz Club the night before the cruise. There was 14 of us there. It was like an instant family. We also met at sailaway. We share many dinners together. We had 54 in attendance at our Meet & Greet. Pat S. set up a very fun gift exchange for us which was an excellent ice-breaker. "Eloise 4 Ever" ran a slot pull after the M + G. NCL did a wonderful job with the M + G. Many of the Roll call members ended up sharing excursions. Miss Pupule (Marion) organized a Wild & Crazy Cabin Crawl for us. We had 23 Roll call members traipsing thru the ship. The last night a group of us got together for the "Quest" game-NOT to be missed!
Excursions-Nice & Interesting, although I probably won't do them again. I like to poke around the shops & just talk to the people. We took an excursion in Iraklion, Crete & we found out to late that we could have had free transportation to the town.
Entertainment-there was a "Beatles" group who was exceptional. Everyone said that if you closed your eyes, you really felt that the Beatles were there. It is difficult to explain the entertainment on one of the last nights-3 Mexican Guitarists who were funnier than you could imagine. So many things to do & not enough time
Most of our group purchased Cruise Reward Certificates-we can't wait to do it again. Bonni