Norwegian Gem Review

Editor Rating:  4.5
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Norwegian Gem Ratings

  • Category
  • Dining
  • Public Rooms
  • Cabins
  • Entertainment
  • Spa & Fitness
  • Family & Children
  • Shore Excursions
  • Enrichment
  • Service
  • Value-for-Money
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Why Choose Norwegian Gem?
  • Pro: Easy layout, lots of choice, refitted Haven
  • Con: Longer itineraries make cruises less family friendly
  • Bottom Line: New York base makes Gem a convenient choice for adults and couples.

Norwegian Gem Overview

By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief; Graham Kates, Cruise Critic Contributor

Editor's Note: As of January 2016, the Nickelodeon program will no longer be offered on Norwegian Gem.

Norwegian takes a one-ship-fits-all approach to cruising with Gem, where rock climbing meets shuffleboard and hot-stone massages meet Guitar Hero and chess played with comically large game pieces.

Gem launched in 2007, and on it, Norwegian Cruise Line continues to refine its Freestyle Cruising concept, which focuses on flexibility and a casual atmosphere. On Gem, more than 2,300 passengers enjoy the freedom to dine where, when and with whom they wish (except for when reservations require otherwise). The dress code is relaxed, with an optional formal night for those looking to get all dolled up. In spring 2008, the ship underwent the company's Freestyle 2.0 upgrade program, receiving several enhancements to its menus, new beds throughout and service tweaks at all levels.

If casual is the goal, entertainment is the modus operandi. As passengers board Gem, they're greeted in the main atrium with blaring beats spun by a D.J. whose ruby red turntable is almost as flashy as the glowing space itself. Thirteen bars, an enormous 1,115-seat theater -- featuring Second City and Broadway-esque productions -- and a dozen restaurants keep the ship hopping throughout the trip.

The ship also accommodates those in need of quiet time; from the spacious and serene spa, with armchairs overlooking a vast ocean expanse, to a variety of lounges and a library, there are nooks aplenty for relaxation.

The ability to shift between active and restful, party and calm, at a moment's notice is Norwegian's calling card. With so many options, Gem ensures that you can find time to do what you want onboard -- whatever that may be.

Norwegian Gem Fellow Passengers

Passengers are predominately from the U.S. and Canada. The average age varies; on longer cruises, the ship appeals to older passengers. On seven-night trips during school holiday seasons, it's dominated by families.

Norwegian Gem Dress Code

Just about anything goes, wardrobe-wise, with most passengers wearing casual, poolside garb during the day and resort casual-style clothing -- including jeans -- at night. (Shorts and tank tops are only permitted in the Garden Cafe and Blue Lagoon after hours.) Grand Pacific is the ship's dress-up restaurant in the evenings.

Norwegian Gem Gratuity

Passengers are charged $13.50 per person(including kids ages 3 and up), per day in all cabin categories up to and including a minisuite. Suite guests will be charged $15.50 per person, per day. An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to orders for drinks (from sodas and juices to bottles of wine and cocktails). All specialty and entertainment dining carries an 18 percent auto-gratuity. The Yin & Yang Spa automatically adds an 18 percent tip on all spa and salon services and, oddly enough, on fitness programs at its Body Waves facility. There's no gratuity expected to counselors of the kids programs, but tips are gratefully accepted. (Aim for about $3 per day, per child.) Passengers in suites that come with butlers tip at their own discretion. (Plan to pay $3 to $5 per day, per person -- more if you made a lot of extra requests.)

The onboard currency is the U.S. dollar.

Next:  Norwegian Gem Cabins

By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief; Graham Kates, Cruise Critic Contributor

1,664 Norwegian Gem Reviews from our Cruise Critic Community

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Member Since 2011
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
started with a great driver to take us to the in middlesex nj. arrived about 10.3o am we were on the ship by 11.30. ate at the main dinninig room. not into buffet. waited atrium for a while till our room was ready, saw leo the ... Read more
Member Since 2009
35 reviews
68 forum posts
0 helpful votes
Sailed four weeks ago
First - let me say that I am a Pinnacle member on RCI and seldom go on NCL because as a single they usually want two FULL fares for singles, whereas RCI offers single friendly rates. Lately however, probably on soft selling itineraries, ... Read more
Member Since 2004
1 review
2 forum posts
0 helpful votes
I chose this cruise based on the "no single supplement" offer. The Gem exceeded my expectations. Embarkation was a snap and disembarkation (early walk off with bags) was amazing. The Gem is the perfect size and fit my taste ... Read more
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2,164 Professional Norwegian Gem Photos

We spent almost a full week on board the Norwegian Gem with multiple photographers and took 2,164 pictures of the ship.  When you visit our new photo galleries you can be assured that what you see is what you get!

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