My GEM Review
Just got back from the GEM (March 18th). Overall the staff was excellent and the ship was very clean. I stayed in an Interior cabin and my parents stayed in a balcony. First time on NCL having cruised on RCI twice and Carnival once. We drove the NYC and parked at the port and paid $245 for parking (ouch!) but itworth the convenience instead of the stress of flying.
Room: So my sister and I were staying in the inside room.... It was small but it was what we expected having cruised on RCI and Carnival before. There is shampoo and body wash available inside the shower. I liked the shower b/c it had a sliding door and not a curtain like on RCI. What annoyed me on the first day was that there was only 1 towel in the room after we checked in. I called 3 times throughout the day to get more towels. After 6 hours I was so angry that I called Steve the Hotel Director at 8888 (Thx Cruise critic NCL Board for this tip) and I got the towels right away. The room steward got mad at me for complaining saying that he was bringing us towels in the night b/c it was turnaround day and there was not enough towels or something. I told him there are 2 people in the room and there is 1 towel what do you expect me to do??? I never encountered a room steward like that! After that he made sure to bring us extra towels.
FOOD: The food was great in the Garden cafe buffets (more than enough choices...enjoyed the curries and stirfrys) Pizza was always fresh and Chicken was always moist (roast chicken, tandoori chicken, chicken cordon blue etc) which was good considering they were sitting out. However, the pastas did not look appetizing.
The Blue Lagoon was awesome....we loved the chicken wings and artichoke dip that was available. The MDR was hit and miss. I enjoyed the everyday always available menu on the right side. The apps were great especially the Spring roll and the desserts were excellent. I always asked for more than 1 app and or dessert just to try it and the waiters were more than happy to bring it just not always on time (not kidding). We also ate the MDR for breakfast as well which we enjoyed. Garden Cafe breakfast was great too, again lots of choice.
Do not miss the Chocolate Decadence in the MDR...that was my favourite dessert!
We ate in the MDR (Grand Pacific) every night except for 1 night when we had the "Polynesian buffet" which was really good at the Garden Cafe. However, the service was SLOW at the MDR. We went in at 8:30pm every night and didn't leave til 10pm. Even though they said no reservations required for a party of 4, insist upon it because the 2 days at the beginning when we didn't, we had to wait over 25 minutes for a table.
Poolside buffets: They had great poolside buffets almost everyday -- fried rice, noodles, bbq chicken, fish skewers. It was really good. Usually they started around 11:30am.
On a side note, don't miss the chocolate buffet. They had it on 2nd last night. It was excellent. The white hot party was on that night as well.
PORTS: The ports we stopped at were good...Port Canaveral, we rented a car and explored the area. Great Stirrup Cay was nice ...we had a BBQ lunch there. Here's a tip there are many different lines and people were all standing in 1 big line, just go around them to get your food faster! Water was a bit cool to go into so we just relaxed on the beach. We rented a clamshell for $30, we managed to squeeze in 3 lounge chairs there!
Nassau was amazing. It was beautiful during the morning so we went to Atlantis by ourselves. We paid $8 round trip by taxi (set prices). We were able to walk around the resort and explore. It rained in the afternoon so we didn't go to the beach as planned. If you are looking for the old straw market, its gone. There is a new one built. Inside is all the same souvenir stuff there is on all the other islands. On the side street they sell the knock-off purses, just ask the vendors inside the straw market where it is.
Back to the ship: The entertainment was not the greatest. The GEM singers and dancers were great (don't miss the Colorz show and World Beat) but they had a comedian (who was ok) and a young woman who was juggling and making balloon animals which was really boring. They need to jazz up the entertainment a bit more. We used the casino throughout the ship...i bought the Slot play coupons (50 worth of play for $25) and it was EASY to get the money loaded onto the card.
At the Magnum's bar, they always had bands/singers in the evenings. What was interesting on the last day they had a Q and A with the officers on the ship for 30 minutes in the Atrium, it was great b/c they were able to answer questions from the passengers, I wish the session was longer. That was one of the highlights for me. Also, the ship was really easy to navigate, we were able to get from one end to the other in 5 minutes.
So....thats all I can think of for now, if I think of anything else I will add it.I hope this helps anyone who is planning to go on the GEM in the future. Thx to the NCL board for answering my questions pre-cruise. Happy Cruising!