Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by Cruisin MarcnFran: Greek Isles/Transatlantic
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This was purchased this as a 21 day, our 30th cruise-3rd with NCL. We're retired-60 and 61.
I'll try to point out the positive and negative to reflect my ratings.
Embarkation went smoothly and the ship definitely has that WOW factor. It is a beautiful, stately vessel but the public rooms were all too small and too crowded.
The cabin was tight but the bed was very comfortable and the sheets were crisp and ironed. Fitted sheets would have worked better, the bed was a mess each morning and at times the staff pulled up the comforter, straightened it out and left the disaster underneath. There was ample storage but the closest had those horrible hangers, not the traditional.
The two person, very hard sofa, was by the balcony. When it's placed closer to the bath/closet it works far better for nightly dressing. It also presented problems when having cabin service breakfast delivered as the staff had to navigate around the bed carrying a tray in the More dark. One of us was always still sleeping. The coffee maker in the cabin ++++, it was used daily.
Our cabin steward and his assistant were at the end of their contracts and did as little as possible. I'm sure they were burned out. Only the top sheet got changed once without asking, the place desperately needed a good dusting and we left notes daily for what we needed, ....tissues, coffee, cabin service breakfast menus, ice, clean glasses, change sheets (after 8 days) etc. We finally just stopped by guest services to pick up things and helped ourselves to supplies off the carts in the hall.
What ever happened to the days when the cabin steward anticipated your every need? Is this what happens when the tips are automatically added? They never started cleaning the rooms until after 9 and were long gone by 11. You saw them again about 6 and we usually headed out about 7 so I don't know what time they wrapped things up. The room with storage and supplies was just across from our cabin and it was crazy noisy each morning that the crew met up and socialized before staring their day.
The gym was nice, great equipment and all in working order but way too small. Even with the huge senior population on board, it was a score to get any machine on sea days and no one paid attention to the 30 minute max if you saw people waiting.
The majority of the programs were just a prelude to get you to spend. There was very little offered in the way of free entertainment. Cruise critics people set up a lot of activities but if you didn't participate in these, there was not a great deal to do. We went through 8 books in 21 days and that was with excursions in every port and we sailed with another couple.
We paid a boatload of money for this vacation. It wasn't only the cruise, it was airfare, excursions, gratuities, hotel up front, etc. It was the most we've ever paid for one vacation and it was booked as a 21 day. Shame on NCL for all the repeat shows and menus. With almost 800 people staying on board (1/3 of the passengers) to do the crossing, NCL should have been more innovative with the food and entertainment. We were shocked when we saw a repeat performance from a comedienne who delivered the exact same show only the week before. It was not surprising he received some heckling from the audience. We already knew every line and joke. Entertainment doesn't have to be costly, offer some of the movies that you charge for in the staterooms or change up the show. There were 5 duplications and that's unacceptable when it's sold as it was.
While we felt the majority of the entertainment was poor, they did have a few outstanding shows over the 21 days, a group of male singers (3X), a Celine Dion tribute singer and a pianist. They also offered on 2 different sea days, a mid-day show performed by the NCL singers.
The food was pretty good and always served hot. We only wished they changed up the menu selections more often. The pay restaurants must have been slow because they offered all the people staying on for the crossing along with all Latitude members BOGO except for the Japanese. For the most part, the food in the dining rooms was just as good if not better. The Chinese was good and the French was very good. The meat in the steakhouse was not only not cooked to specifications, it was poor quality and a huge disappointment to everyone at the table.
With the exception of Dennis in Magenta, the waitstaff was a bit surly, rarely engaging and more often than not - forgetful. We're just not impressed by those that take your order without writing it down. We never sent anything back nor re-ordered what they forgot, they had attitude enough. The freestyle dining does not work here or or any ship we've tried it on so far. Unless you make a reservation, be prepared to wait from minutes - up to an hour on some nights. The bonus was if you did have to wait, the bar offered 2 for 1 drinks but it did not include wine.
We loved our shore excursions to Delos/Mykonos and Fatima/Lisbon. The rest were a costly disappointment but we chose them.
Probably the most exciting part of the vacation was the crazy nor'easter we encountered and sailed through for nearly 2 days. While it was AMAZING, I heard quite a few people got hurt. We're in good shape and we knew enough NOT to venture out of the cabin at the peak of the storm by just looking out the window. The huge waves slammed the ship as it listed deeply from side to side.
Thankfully, we do not get seasick...ever. At one point our bed slipped, the nightstand tipped and everything that wasn't secured went flying. We could hear the carts in the hall crashing over and later saw slot machines in Bliss that toppled. The captain came on regularly updating conditions and the cruise director kept in touch as well. They upped staff for cabin service delivery having to close the buffet and let everyone know that it was safest not to wander about.
Suffice to say, I don't think we'll be sailing with NCL again any time soon. We're booked on the Oasis in 3 weeks and a back-to-back on the Nieuw Amsterdam in January so we are not loyal to any line. We live by the code...the more you offer us, the more often you'll get our money. Less
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