Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by Hammer33: 10 Day NCL GEM Eastern Caribbean Cruise
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10 Day NCL GEM Eastern Caribbean Cruise
We arrived at the Pier at 10:15am, gave our luggage to a porter and walked right through the security gates without a problem, we went through the Latitudes line in 5 minutes,checked in and were sitting in the lounge area at 10:35am waiting for the call to enter the ship..At 12 Noon we were called by numbers we had number 10 and boarded the ship. It was an easy process, no hassle, no worry quick and efficient.
We had lunch in the Grand Pacific Dining room which was not crowded and the food was very good. We then went upstairs to the pool area where there was a BBQ going on and guests were lining up to eat. It was chilly and not windy as it was about 1:30PM. We then decided to go see the Ying and Yang, Mandara Spa as we bought the couple's Spa Pass on the Pier after check in, it was $268 couples special for the 10 day cruise and let me tell you it was well worth it, as 5/10 days you couldn't use the pool area due to the cold weather. They sell only 60 couple passes so if you More are interested check it out on the Pier before they sell out. The area is private no children permitted and there is a private ladies and Men's section, with lockers, sauna, and steam room Bathroom and showers plus a unisex section with lounge chairs and thermal heating therapeutic chairs, coffe, Tea, orange juice and cold water, towels, and bathrobes. My wife and I enjoyed it and showered there rather than our cabin as it was roomy and easier those cabin showers are tight,we spent hours there its open 8Am-10PM. We sailed exactly at 4PM as they wait for no one, as we found out later during the cruise, we went up the Hudson and the weather changed as now it was foggy and by the time we got to the Verrazzano Bridge it was snowing and visibility was poor.
The seas days were quiet there were many things to do and a number of shows and lounges with entertainment. We checked out bingo but its very expensive like $140 for daily games I'm not sure how many games you played but too expensive for us. There are Art Auctions, Trivia games, Library, card room etc..but we stayed in the lounges at the Spa and relaxed. One night we made reservations for La Cucina Italian Restaurant we ate too much and the food was very good well worth the $10 charge PP.
Finally we arrived Puerto Rico after 2-1/2 days at sea which were very calm at around 2:30Pm and we got off ship by 3 and just walked around front street in Old San Juan, you there only 6 hours and we felt it was a waste to go on any tour. Plus the fact we have been to PR about 12 times, so how many times can you see El Morro..We were back on ship by 7 and we sailed at 9PM for St. Thomas.
St. Thomas was quiet we arrived at 8AM on Sunday and we were the only ship in Port the stores opened in the Havensight Pier area. My cell phone charger broke and I found out that Verizon is not in the islands so I was out of luck, and phone was dead. I found an Asian restaurant right down at the end of the Pier with an internet cafe upstairs for $2 for an 1hr. and in the restaurant they rented cell phones and sold phone cards $2 ea. for 2 hours use to call home..So for $6 I called home had 2 hours calling time and used the internet for an hour. We asked a taxi guy where's the closest beach and for $6 he took us to a resort on Morningstar beach, chase lounge $10ea they had bar and changing bathrooms its 10 minutes from Pier and was a beautiful beach. We went last year to Meagen's bay which was long ride and cost add'l $4 ea for use of beach. We again sailed at 5PM..
Next up was St.Maarten we have been there many times this time we took the water taxi $6 ea round trip to Philipsburg to see front street and the beaches the area was crowded with tourists the beaches were jammed and all the pushy sellers along front street selling everything and anything were bothersome. They also had an internet cafe for $5 for an hour well worth it compared to the ship ripping people off for there slow minute eating internet on board. Don't waste your money every port we visited has an internet cafe just ask. Next time we visit St. Maarten we are going back to Orient beach a beautiful beach not to mention all the topless girls...We sailed at 5PM.
Next stop Antiqua, last year we just walked around the straw huts which are all the same. This year we took NCL's Antiqua Beach Escape $48 ea, it was well worth the money, the took us by small buses to a resort on Runaway Beach they had beach chairs ready and for $7 you could rent an umbrella we did, it was hot and sunny, we also were served lunch chicken and ribs and rice it was tasty and very good. we stayed until around 2:45Pm buses were waiting and we were back on ship by 3:30PM, again we sailed at 5PM but a couple with children missed the time and were left to find there way to Tortola. So be back on time they will sail without you..Be aware of the time...
Next stop Tortola we arrived 7AM and left at 1PM, not much you can do here that is worth while we did Virgin Gorda and that was wonderful last year only drawback you have to be off ship by 7:15AM and you are back on ship by 12:50PM and then they sail immediately...Its an NCL tour so they won't sail until you are back so not to worry. Its a beautiful Gorda water is magnificent its just took short and expensive. BTW we heard couple met up with ship in Tortola with there children.
The staff was very good a few problems here and there with service in the restaurants especially when its crunch time and many people are in the dining room, its forgiveable as we found out these workers work every day 10 hours , and some have as many as three jobs. We only had to wait one evening about 10 minutes for a table in either Magenta or Grand Pacific Dining rooms. We enjoyed the food we had lobster 2 nights and prime rib, and shrimp and ribs 4/10 nights in the main dining rooms. We don't do the charge restaurants except this time we did do La Cucina,which was worth the $20 the others are expensive and we heard from a number of guests not worth the money, but each to there own taste's but we enjoyed the food and service. The NCL staff and Officers are very pleasant and courteous we encountered no problems with the staff.
we had an Aft Balcony Cabin 110168 which was really nice to look out the back of the ship and was great with us backing into 3/5 ports. The main drawback was you are in the back of the ship and almost everything we did Stardust theater, Magenta Restaurant, Pool, Spa, casino and lounges are all up in the front of the ship, and its a looong walk to the front and if you forgot something a loong way back. We decided to try it one time as this was our third cruise out of NYC in the last 3 years but from now on we will book mid ship cabins and save the wear and tear, we sure did get a lot of walking.
Our sail back to NYC was uneventful and we docked at 8AM, the Pearl also docked a little before us and it took almost 2 hours before we started off the ship it was a slow process and we didn't get our luggage until around 10:45AM and get through Customs and meet my son who picked us up. It was the only downer of the cruise NCL should S..t CAN that policy of caring off your own luggage its not really a time saver, it only saves them time from carrying all the luggage off, and it jams everyone else up waiting for there color to be called..I would rather see them go back to everyone checked there luggage, especially latitudes members like myself we had white tags and when it was time for the colors to be called they called both white and orange and there was a mad crush to the doors, and it was very noticeable that officers and staff with the exception of one poor soul trying to keep everyone from crushing one another trying to get off were missing in action or were they hiding..Hmm. There was no benefit to having the white tags for latitudes members. NCL gets a "F" for there service in Disembarkation. Really a lousy lousy job. They should review this stupid policy..
Except for the last few hours waiting to get off the ship, All in all it was a very good cruise great weather, the seas were calm staff excellent. However we have had it with the Eastern Caribbean so next year we decided to drive to Miami and take NCL Sun on an 11 day cruise to the Western Caribbean, Mid Ship Cabin PLEASE !! Less
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Aft balcony 10168, great location and views, it just a long walk to everything going on in the front of the ship. If your in for walking this is your cabin, if not stay mid ship, the cabin is no bigger, tight quarters showering and using toilet.
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