It was a fabulous cruise! 25 of us came from the Philadelphia area via a chartered bus.
Embarkation: We arrived into the port around 11:15 and the porters helped to unload our luggage from the bus. We did have a few cases of water/ iced tea/ redbull between us and with the luggage tags on them they arrived to our cabins without a problem. We went right through in the latitudes line (a few of our group were first time cruisers but they were allowed to come check in with us rather than spilt up the group). Security point was a breeze (even though DH had a knife in his pocket and didn't realize it until after we arrive in the port so he turned it in to a guard before going through the metal detector to avoid any issues that could come from it). We were given number 12 and did not even have to take a seat. The "cash down" line was a bit long, those who chose to put credit/debit down were done about 15-20 before those who put cash on their account. We walked on to find out that most of our rooms were ready (all 10th and 11th floor but not all 4th and 5th) so we dropped our bags in some of the rooms and headed to the MDR. Even in front of the MDR the crew was trying to direct most of the traffic up to the buffet for lunch. Food was delicious, staff was very attentive and energetic. Then off to explore and settle in! Some of our bags arrived closer to 7pm other not until after 10pm (Cagney's Steakhouse was not concerned with your attire the first night because of this).
Arrival in Bermuda was quick and easy. We got off just a bit after 8a.m and the gangway was not even crowded yet. We were lucky though, we went right over to Oleander Cycles to rent scooters and although we made it in good time, a long line started forming just behind us. We explored the whole island. It was a bit windy and even rainy for a bit so we headed into Hamilton for a bite to eat.
We decided to head into Flanagan's on Front St. and could not have made a better choice. We walked in to an empty place (they had just opened) and asked if they could accommodate 15. They laughed and asked us "only 15." Then they showed us through a hall way and opened their back sports bar so that we could pull all of the table together and sit as a group. Since the sun was back out we headed around the island some more making sure to stop and take a dip at Horseshoe Bay.
The second day on the Island was my (and now DH) Wedding at Warwick Long Bay, so my activities in Bermuda may seem short.
We also went to Snorkel Park. It was much different than 2 years ago. The Slides that were out in the water are gone and the beach is separated into a pavilion and a place to rent cabanas and things. You could book a guided jet ski tour, kayak, or paddle boat right at snorkel park.
Sea days were fun. Trivia was a blast even though we did not make it to all of the sessions. Bliss lounge (bowling alley) had much of a "club" feel just about every night. There were many early 20 year olds on our cruise, so I'm sure that could change with the group of passengers. Some in our group attended the martini tasting others attended the pub crawl (fun was had by all). I took advantage of one of the deals at the spa (first time I had ever used the NCL spas). I had a mini facial, scalp, neck and shoulder massage and a foot and ankle massage. All were very relaxing and I will absolutely be going to the spa again for cruises to come (Carley was wonderful!). Blue lagoon is not to be missed, and don't forget, you can order things to go. I recommend the wings and won ton soup. However, I was not thrilled about the potato skins this year. Room service was always fast and delicious.
The only specialty restaurant we visited this cruise was Cagney's, and the food was delicious each time. Staff was very nice and willing to accommodate you in any way.
Wedding made me tired so I missed the White Hot Party but everyone said it was a blast.
Shows were fantastic. The Gem dancers were amazing as were both Man from Mars and the Farewell show (make sure you do not miss them).
Deal or no Deal was fun, but in my opinion it is much like Bingo except more than one person can win at once.
Staff on board the Gem were absolutely my favorite part of the entire cruise experience. Elwynn was the group services coordinator, she was always around to help and make sure the cruise was enjoyable for all. We met one of the Gem dancers Anthony, who was so friendly and upbeat. He even ended up doing my hair for the wedding :) Which turned out amazing. Sinan was the cruise director and he seemed to be everywhere at once. He kept everyone smiling and laughing the entire cruise long (even during debarkation which is hard to do considering everyone is sad to be ending their vacation).
This voyage on the Gem was the first time I have ever had the interactive TV. I did like having the option to check my balance and to order things from the TV. They had excursions, drinks (even though Miller Lite wasn't an option on there), Pay Movies, and Spa services. However, there are not as many regular viewing channels as there have been in the past.
Disembarkation: Because the Bus was not coming until closer to 11 we decided to take the last luggage tag that we could which was for 10pm. We waited in Blue Lagoon until our color was called and sadly departed the ship. One person from our group misplaced her card but only had to show her account work up reflecting a 0 balance and her ID and she was fine to leave.