Just arrived back from 10 day trip on Gem out of NY to southern Caribbean (5 ports). NCL does this cruise 4 times a year. Right up front I will say our last cruise was on Princess and received last minute free upgrade to mini-suite, so hard to compare with inside cabin on this trip. This trip was educational conference so wanted to try and stay within budget with inside cabin, now regret decision.
Unfortunately we got off to rocky start, any one occurrence was fairly minor and probably not worth mentioning, but as these minor occurrences starting piling up so quickly, we were becoming irritated. We are both fairly easy-going and undemanding as we understand the difficulties of catering to 2300 people in close quarters. I initially chalked this up to REALLY needing a vacation but the wondered if the fates were conspiring! Things improved second half.
1) embarkation seemed unnecessarily long. Arrived at noon, took close to one hour. Never had to stand in lines that long.
2) Walked around ship to acquaint ourselves, happened to walk past spa. Greeted by two staff, asked if we would like tour. Politely declined, one spa worker demanded in not so polite voice, "why not!!". I'm sorry, I do not owe you an explanation. Spa workers are not NCL employees, but this was not courteous and set the tone for us. Later had spa treatment which was very nice.
3) Looking for conference rooms and restaurant, misdirected 3 times by staff.
4) Sometimes had long wait times for main dining rooms. I realize that there are peak times and difficulty gauging who will go where on any given day; had to wait 45 minutes one time and 30 minutes another. Usual wait 10-15 min.
5) Hostesses at main dining rooms. A little too engaged with their headset microphones to determine available seats. Often made big production with person at other end in dining room as to what table was open. On two occasions led to table in Magenta dining room that apparently wasn't open, leading to more microphone discussion. Left circling around dining room until table could be found. Once told we had to wait because only tables for 4 available and only 2 in party; hostess then changed mind.
6) Had 15 minute break from conference and wanted speciality coffee, visited Java cafe around 3 pm day 2 and could not get waited on. Only one bartender on duty, had to give up.
7)TV in room listed 2 for 1 martini special at specific bar from 5:30-10 pm, apparently 8-10:30 in daily "Freestyle" newsletter. Since we had to wait 45 minutes for dinner, we thought we would go to bar for this special (6 pm). Told by bartender the TV was wrong, did not start until 8. When I asked what the "special" included, bartender said he would bring back menu. Walked back to bar and forgot about us. Only 3 others in bar. Generally when an error like this is made, they should honor it anyway. Not real happy at this point.
8)One night in the Grand Pacific restaurant, our waiter came to the table, said, "may I take your order?", we both momentarily glanced down at our menu and in just that split second, he walked away. We both sat with our mouths open in disbelief. He had quickly walked over to another table without saying excuse me for a moment, returned in about 30 seconds to one minute.9) Did not see much of room steward, finally ran into him in hallway on day 3. Room usually not made up until after lunch, had to ask every single day for replacement beach towels. One day hubs came to room after lunch for nap, so room never made up until bedtime, despite the fact we only occupied room that day for 3 hours in afternoon. Asked on day 3 if twin beds could be separated so there was more room, told steward he could do it next day as he had already made up room. Didn't happen for 3 more days. Bathroom always had peculiar smell (didn't matter if not used all day!)
10) St. Thomas stop was on Sunday, would have appreciated note in daily Freestyle newsletter that downtown stores close at 3. We snorkeled in morning, came back to ship to clean up. Hired taxi and in downtown by 2:15 with plans to shop until 4 or 4:30. Shops all closed up between 2:30-3. Very disappointed, wasted taxi money; would have rearranged day had we known.
11) we enjoy sitting on covered deck to get out of sun (deck 7 in this case), there were about 6 chairs total available and a few very low wicker recliners semi-caved in in the middle.
Second half of cruise went much more smoothly but first half did not make us fans of NCL. The devil is in the details.