This was my first time cruising with NCL... I have been on Carnival 2 times.
The Gem was gorgeous and clean. Getting on the ship in New York was easy and our stateroom was available immediately (which was around 12pm). All of the crew members were always super nice and willing to help you. Our room steward was so sweet and introduced herself the first day. She remembered our names for the week, which was nice. The entertainment on board was great, although not as good as Carnival. Sinan, the cruise director was absolutely fabulous!!! He took the vacation to the next level. His humor was fantastic and he really works hard to entertain everyone on board!! The white hot party was super fun and entertaining!
Bermuda was beautiful and relaxing. We hit up all the major beaches and we did a shore excursion one morning. The Rising Son Snorkle and Catamaran. It was really worth the money and in my opinion, it is the best shore excursion you could do. In Bermuda, you can totally navigate the island yourself, with some help from the locals. Do not fall for the traps that NCL sets up for you with the trips to the beaches and stuff. We bough 3 day bus/ferry passes and were set to go!
The food on the ship was okay, nothing spectacular! We realized half way through that the better food was probably in the specialty places, but we did not want to pay extra considering we paid enough to get on the boat. Filet Minon and Lobster tails were never served in either of the main dining rooms, which forced your hands to find it somewhere else on the ship where it had to be paid for. The service in the dining room was okay, once again, nothing great. Larger parties could be seen waiting a long time to get a table. I was only a party of 2, so there was never an issue... in fact we always got window seating at dinner which was really nice!!
My only real complaint about my vacation was that it was cut a day shore due to hurricane Irene. We left the port of NY one day later than scheduled. The only thing that NCL offered us was: 50% of specialty restaurants on the first night of the cruise and $100 credit... for the entire stateroom!! NCL made the right decision based on the weather, but they cut my vacation short and we should have received more compensation. I paid for a 7 day vacation and only got 6!! In my opinion, it is one thing to change a port of call due to weather, but in this case, I lost out on a full day of my vacation. Families who had 3-4 children also ONLY received $100!! The main desk on the ship was not very helpful and when I called corporate when I got home, they did not care at all!
Overall, I really did have a great time on my vacation, but I do not think I will cruise NCL again because of their poor customer service. I felt like I was nickle and dimed the whole week!