Norwegian Gem January 18-January 28 2012
This was our first cruise as "Platinum" members.We've also cruised on Princess and RCI. a total of 17 cruises. There was a woman on board who has cruised 110 time on NCL and another gentleman and his wife who've had 50 cruises in the past 5 years.
Embarkation was a breeze. Stevedores at the pier took our bags and it was off to the latitudes line. We were on the ship in less than a half hour. The cabins weren't ready so we went to lunch in the Grand Pacific Dining room. Service was attentive and quick. Others on this board have found service in the dining room to be less than good. This wasn't our experience. We did have only one "Bad" experience, I had to wait for my breakfast for almost twenty minutes one morning.Leaving NYC we were treated to An FDNY fire Boat Tribute to one of their own who was aboard celebrating hi 30th anniversary. I got a photo of the display So Steve T. if you're reading this get in touch with me so I send you a copy of the picture.
We tended to avoid the feeding frenzies in the buffets.
2nd at sea day we attended the Cruise Critic Meet and greet in the Bliss Lounge. It was a well attended event with Herb even remarking about how gratified he was that so many chose to attend. The cruise director "Big Ken" was there as were the Captain and several other officers. Juice and finger food (Pastries etc) were available.
First stop Was San Juan P.R. We took the City Tour and a tour of Fort San Cristobal. A good tour with an unannounced beach stop. I was a little disappointed in this as had we know about the beach I would've dressed in a bathing suit. The driver was knowledgable and obviously proud of where he lived showing us what he had time for of the "old city" and the new city. The old city is much more interesting for tourists. The new city is much like any big city in the states.Lots of skyscrapers and tall hotels and casinos.
Next Stop was St. Thomas U.S.V.I. We booked a Catamaran/Snorkel tour to Turtle cove. I can't recommend this tour highly enough! The crew and tour guides were terrific. It's a quick sail/motor across to the island and you're "Entertained" by Conor, Grady, And Joe with a safety talk when the boat arrives, seriously it's entertaining, who knew safety talks could be fun? Conor is a good snorkeling instructor and a good in water guide. We saw myriads of fish and a few Green Sea Turtles. The only negative about this tour is the Gem only stays in port for a few hours so it was a bit rushed. Do it,this tour is a gas.
Next was St. John's Antigua The tour we booked was the Black Swan "Pirate" Ship. Once we got to Deep Bay you could snorkel a wreck, visit the beach or stay on the boat and swim off the "Plank" or rope swing. A really fun tour.The crew is really good with children and it's a laid back trip. In the afternoon I took a taxi tour around the northeast side of the island with a driver/guide named Charles Siboy (? spelling) Charles is a very dignified gentleman and is obviously proud of his home and gives a good tour.
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten We didn't do any of the excursions offered here, we've been to St. Maarten many times and opted to do some walking around on our own in town.
We then called at Tortola The tour we had booked to the Baths at Virgin Gorda was scheduled to assemble at 7:20 AM. Two days before we had cancelled because getting up that early is just not my idea of a vacation, besides we'd been to the baths several times on previous visits to the island.
A few notes on the ship. The musical production shows were marred by the production company They tried they really did. It's not "Jean Ann Ryan" and it shows. The cruise director told me NCL decided to go completely "In house". The shows were just OK.One notable exception being "Second City" and Nadeen the Queen of Hypnosis. Her "Adults only show was a hoot.I was hypnotized at the first show but she didn't use me for anything. Most of the productions used canned music. There is a band on board but they're underutilized. They've stopped unveiling food with the "AND VOILA!" ritual in the Bistro, I'm so relieved. I don't think I've ever been to a fine restaurant where they'd done that. Most of the lounge chairs on the promenade have been moved up to the sun decks and replaced with a few standard chairs that recline but no leg extensions. I like this. The pools were cold most of the time and the hot tubs were hot, consequently they were used a great deal.
Dis-embarkation Was equally easy because we're platinum latitudes members we were entitled to priority dis-embarkation. We were off the ship in fifteen minutes once custom cleared the ship. A word about waiting, I know it sucks that the cruise is done and it's probably earlier in the morning than you've seen in ten days but c'mon guys grumpy, rude, complaining to your fellow passengers That's no way to end a cruise.
It was worth getting up early on debarkation day, the light coming into NYC was beautiful, a photographers dream . The Statue of liberty, the East River Bridges, Lower Manhattan Skyline all glowed in the light. All-in all a really nice get-away for 10 days