I think will be just my 2nd CC Review, and like the 1st, I try to provide the real information that prospective travellers need, a lot of facts and a few fact-based opinions! I read a lot of reviews that are just a list of complaints, several of which the Cruise Lines have a limited amount of control over anyway, e.g. long lines, other annoying passengers. I will not do this, and I hope to not see any of those reviewers in the future (since their experience was so poor, I expect them not to cruise again!).
I. Embarkation (B+) -- Perhaps we got there at the wrong time, but there was bit of confusion about getting from the porters/baggage drop-off, into the proper place to get through security, etc. Overall, a bit longer than expected, but I think they were also boarding both the 10-day Gem and the 1-night Jewel at the same time, so extra people = extra waiting ... expected.
IIa. Stateroom (A) -- As expected ... pretty much a replica of our Balcony on the Dawn. Clean, everything present in the room ... just as we expected things to be.
IIb. Stateroom Stewards (A+) -- Raj & Maria were the best stewards we have had on any of our 5 cruises to-date. Attentive to special requests, and always a nice hello when passing them in the hallways ... above & beyond performance!
III. Main Dining (B+) -- I would say average. We ate in both the Grand Pacific and Magenta dining rooms multiple times on the trip. I would say the Grand Pacific staff was a bit less attentive and personable, but the food is exactly the same. Overall food was on the average to below average, comparing the 5 cruises we have been on. My favorite main dining room dish was the Wild Mushroom Risotto ... no question.
IV. Specialty Dining (A) -- We dined at 3 of the speciality restaurants on this trip: 1) La Cucina (Italian) ... great food, great service, best desserts on the ship ... 2) Tequila (Mexican) ... same as above, food was above expectations, and service was great ... 3) Orchid Garden (Asian Fusion) ... again, as expected, good selection of food, although not as good as the other two (we thought).
V. Entertainment (B+) -- We are partial to comedians, and less than partial about musical type shows. Bud Andersen (comic, who was also featured on the Dream) was as expected (funny guy), & the Cats Pajamas lived up to their top billing as a musical group.
VI. Bars & Lounges (A) -- Great selection of places to lounge & drink. We spent time at Bliss (Go Pub Crawl!), Bali Hai, & especially Spinnaker ... which continuously provided attentive and superb service throughout the cruise! This was definitely a top destination for us while on-board. Get there early for front seats, or do as we did, and grab the stools in the back by the bar!
VII. Cruise Staff (C) -- Well, everyone can't get good grades I guess! We had most interaction with a couple of the cruise staff in particular, who were responsible for the Pub Crawl, and some of the other sports related activities. "Fish" ... who apparently was going on break or to another ship when we got back to NYC, seemed a bit dis-interested in doing his job ... not really engaging with passengers, and just a basic unemotional way about his daily activities. "Chello" was a bit more upbeat and energetic ... would be happy to see him on a future cruise. The real disappointing news was that we heard that Sidney "Chocolate Thunder" was coming onto the Gem on the next trip out ... he was on the Dawn with us in 2010, and we just missed him by 1 trip ... oh well.
VIII. Overall (A-) -- A good cruise, a nice ship, great itinerary, decent food, decent people (more positive than negative), and a great time had by us!