Back from Bermuda (2 days at sea, 3days in Hamilton, 1 day at sea) on NCL Gem from Manhattan. Overall really enjoyed and needed this vacay!
We are late 30's with a 3yo. We cruise annually, usually with whomever has the right price!
Booked a balcony portside -â€“ 9524
A few thoughts
1) Parking at the port is $30/day. We found a garage at W 53rd (port at 49th) and lugged our stuff over ($140 for 7 days). Embarkation smooth and easy
2) Super fun cruising out of NY harbor -â€“ beautiful!
3) If you love the sun, I would recommend a starboard side balcony out of NYC. The noon and afternoon sun will be on your side for the trip down AND you face Hamilton when you are docked at the Royal Naval dockyard
4) The kids club is AWESOME. Our 3yo loved it. On sea days they have activities all day long (cupcake decorating, pirate parade, lego building, one night they take the kids to dinner, etc) -â€“ no fees. From 10:30pm-1:30am, each child is $6/hr at the kids club. During this time they have activities for the first Â½ hr and then pop in a movie. I guess the kids fall asleep (or don't) on the beanbags. We thought we'd take advantage of the late night but our little one was just exhausted from no naps and full days of fun! 10:30 is way past our bedtime anyway... On Port days, you could also leave your child there for a fee. Sign your child in the first day and then when you drop off throughout the week, they ask you where you will be in case they need to come find you. Our child is potty trained so she could use their childsized bathrooms. Not sure the policy on diapers.
5) We really lucked out with the weather in Bermuda. The first 2 days -â€“ really perfect beach weather, the last day with scattered light showers and overcast. I would have done beach the first day if the forecast was correct! We purchased the $28 3-day pass (for ferries and buses) for the two of us. Kids under 5 free. We actually didn't even use the pass on the 3rd day but overall spent the same as if we paid for individual fares. The ferry schedule is every hour or so with the last one at 8PM (not super convenient). The buses come whenever (also not super convenient). NCL has figured out a way to avoid tendering and help the local economy! Day 1: took the ferry to Hamilton (25min) and then the bus to the aquarium/zoo (25min). Admission is $10 per adult (kids under 5 free) and our daughter enjoyed this. We spent about 1.5 hours then walked around Flatts (not much to see but the inlet) and spent 25 min waiting for the bus back to Hamilton. Walked around Hamilton then walked over to the Fairmont for tea. Tea was fair (food somewhat stale tasting)... the Fairmont is beautiful. Then back to Hamilton to catch the ferry. Unfortunately then next ferry (6pm) wasn't for 45 min so we wandered a bit more down front street. Day 2: Took the bus to Horseshoe Bay (30min). Spent a wonderful 3 hours there (this is the only beach with bathroom, umbrella rental, snackbar) and then took the bus back into Hamilton (another 30min wait). Grabbed a snack at the Hog Penny, bought some souvenirs -â€“ took the 6PM ferry back again. Day 3: This was a short day (all aboard at 4:30). My daughter wanted to look for seashells since there were none at horseshoe (the sand is soooooo soft). We took her to sea glass beach (thx for the directions cruise critics) around noon -â€“ high tide. All the glass comes from the upshore trash incinerator plant. Lots of glass but also.... some trash. She enjoyed herself... I was a little grossed out even though it wasn't that bad. We then walked around the Naval Dockyard. Wonderful stone bldgs with lots of history that now house -â€“ clocktower mall (great for souvenirs), clayworks, glassworks, rum cake tasting. Then over to snorkel park (they actually charge $5 per person). This is probably a great place to party at night -â€“ the beach is rock hard but apparently lots of fish. Of course the 3 yr old loved it...
6) I do wish NCL would dock at Hamilton -â€“ definitely more centrally located.
7) There was an AIDA ship that pulled in next to us for one day. As Europeans I guess this excursion might be more popular than for us americans but.... It was biking to Horseshoe bay. Really seemed lovely!!! Now we would totally do this except for the 3 yo AND the fact that they don't have a lot of pedal bikes (as they call it) to rent in Bermuda because its not so safe to bike around on your own. It seemed like AIDA carried bikes on board, and a lot of them because as we drove by on the bus it seemed there were groups and groups and groups of bikers. I do wish an American line would offer biking excursions -â€“ we don't normally go on excursions but this is something we would do in a heart beat.
8) Last day at sea was really rough. My daughter actually got sick at the kids club and they tried to come find us but didn't. They took great care of her though and as per usual we went to check on her after leaving for an hour and a half or so... It didn't help that there was a storm coming in and we also had to make up time since we added the sailboat rescue to our activities for the day! I can't imagine even in the best conditions that sailing that day is smooth but ours was extra rough
9) I thought the food was fine. Some people complain that they never change breakfast but I'm not sure what else they could provide. I mean EVERYTHING you would have on a brunch menu was provided EVERYDAY: waffles, pancakes, benedict, omelette station, hot and cold cereals, pastries, all sorts of meats and hash, bagels and lox, fruits, even rice porridge (I had this everyday and loved it!). We usu had lunch at the buffet as well. Dinner in Magenta with one night at le bistro which was lovely. They only have crepes upstairs at the buffet for dinner -â€“ we were there (almost) every night for my dessert! They also have a kids cafÃ© at the back of the buffet which is great! The food is standard stuff kids like (mac and cheese, hotdogs, nuggets, mashed potatoes) but I just appreciated the small tables and chairs and kids type atmosphere it provided. Most of the time it was easy enough to find a place to sit but on the last day with the wind, it was soooooo crowded for bfast and lunch. We actually just brought our stuff down to the blue lagoon and ate there.
10) Our room was smaller than our solstice balcony last cruise but it was fine. The balcony is not long enough for 2 to lay out
11) We had a great time even though I had some reservations (food, "nickel and diming" that some people talk about on NCL, rooms, even shows). All of these turned out to be not an issue at all. And the kids club really clinched it for us. Before we went on the boat I told my husband the next cruise would probably be on the oasis but now we'll have to see what kinds of deals the EPIC has to offer!! Thanks ncl - think about getting those bikes!!!