This is the second time I've sailed on an NCL ship. The first really doesn't count because it was a Hawaii cruise and all I did on the ship was sleep after exhausting myself exploring Hawaii, no ship can compete with Hawaii and NCL offers the best Hawaii itinerary. With that said, I was a little apprehensive of sailing on the Gem, the reviews offered here were so so. But, the price was great and sailing from my hometown to sunny Bahamas was too sweet a deal to pass up on and I'm so happy I didn't!
Embarking was a breeze took less then 20 minutes and our induction to "washy washy" began.
The first step on board was met with smiling cheerful crew and a party atmosphere. My friend and I had an inside cabin on deck 4, neat, small, good storage, nice shower, comfy beds for sleeping. Not a place to spend a lot of time in. Erik and Lindo our cabin stewards were awesome, kept those clean towels, towel animals, and information coming. It is truly a good feeling to not have to clean up after yourself for a week.
At sea, cruise director Sinan and his assistants Megan and Sydney are hysterically funny and fun. I've done 7 cruises and this was the only time the cruise director ever stood out. They crew really participated in all the games, the entire staff were friendly, cheerful and very very helpful. Solomon the bartender at Sake Bar is so sweet and full of the craziest stories. The Joy Band, were great smooth calypso sound, they knew requested songs and let passengers join in. Laurie the singer is amazing, unfortunately her contract ended with our cruise. Her replacement Randy is cool, thoroughly enjoyed his rendition of "chicken fried" the Piano bar late nights was a lovely mellow hang out spot.
The ship is awesome, from the bright yellow lounges in the Spinnaker Lounge, which are deliciously comfortable to the bordello feel of the Bliss lounge. The ship was full of Spring breakers, they monopolized the hot tubs but the spa offers an private retreat for $119. They only have 84 passes and it is worth it: thelossaltherapy pool, heated stone loungers, single whirlpool baths, wet sauna and a dry sauna with a spectacular view.
My friend and I really enjoyed the speciality restaurants, Tequila & the Bistro, the buffet provided nice healthy choices. The one thing I don't like about cruises is that there is just too much food and I was happy to see the buffet offer many stir fry and salad options on this cruise.
My favorite part, the ports!!!
Port Canavaral - did the Universal Studios Island of Adventure just to see the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter! Worth every dime of the $149. Off the ship by 12 at universal by 1:15. The theme park is FUN! Getting there on a Monday has it's advantages, no lines at least until 2:30 pm. Wizard world looks just as I imagined it would, there are lines to buy Butter Beer and Pumpkin Juice, which really surprised me. Both are really too sweet but butter beer has an unusual flavor I couldn't pinpoint. Zonko's and Honeydukes are fun shopping, take pictures, the displays are like a fantasy.
Private island- epitome of perfect beach day, clear blue water where the fish with yellow zebra stripes swim up to you. No snorkeling equipment needed to view the marine life. Slightly chilly light blue water with gentle laps and soft sand underfoot. The lounge chair, hammock and a bucket of beer chilling in ice, I couldn't ask for a lovelier day.
Nassua- great day weather wise but please don't waste your money on $149 shore excursions like I did. Aquaventure is not worth it, Atlantis is too crowded, they charge you for everything, and the rides aren't worth that exorbitant fee. You can take a ferry to paradise island for $6 r/t, enter the beach and resort for free. Plenty of people did that though they claimed security heavily monitored the place. What a joke, I was ripped off. Even the beach was annoying because vendors kept pestering us to buy their goods, get our hair braided, or rent jet skis. Next time I'm taking the ten bus for $1 and going to cable beach, Paradise island is a joke. Their aquariums are lovely though, saw several sharks snoozing in a lagoon but for $149 + $7 locker rental + $11 ceasar salad, a joke!
Despite Nassau, the vacation was wonderful in large part to the cruise. The show man from mars is a must see with great aerial stunts and comedy, the improv group was a hoot, and the crew performing fountains was a riot. Enjoyed myself immensely and definitely want to travel on the Gem again. The crew really handled the spring breakers well, not chaotic there were only 300 kids onboard, which was lovely. Dealing with rough seas sailing too and from NY may be worth sailing with more mature adults and less children.