The ship's Tahitian-inspired pool area on Deck 12 is vivacious and exuberant with vivid colors and decor. There are two pools and four whirlpools -- a pair of which are adult-only and seemed to stay that way even on my family-oriented voyage. There's also a twisty, corkscrew slide. Lounge chairs, which most definitely were at a premium on sunny days, are made of wicker-like material and have elegant, plush cushions atop. The younger set can chill in the indoor kids pool, with its pint-sized slide and ample padding.
Body Waves, Norwegian Gem's health club, is one of the most comprehensive we've seen at sea. Its main room features treadmills, stationary bikes and StairMasters, all with individual mini-flat-screen televisions. There is the usual array of weight machines, as well as a separate weight room. Also carved out of a separate space is the facility's aerobics studio, which is cordoned off from the noisy fitness area by glass doors. Some classes held there, such as "early morning stretch," "fab abs" and body-conditioning, are fee-free. Other workouts, such as yoga, Pilates and spinning, cost $12 per session, plus an additional 18 percent gratuity. You can buy a package of four Pilates and yoga workouts for $40, which offers a slight discount. Personal training is available; the cost is $85 per session, and a three-session package is $209.
Yin & Yang, the ship's spa, continues the Norwegian tradition of really terrific onboard spa services and facilities. This one, operated by Steiner, as most in the cruise industry are, includes a beauty salon for hair-styling, manicures and pedicures, and also a treatment area for both the usual -- Swedish massage and facials -- and more exotic options, like hot-stone massages and a Quartz life facial with an advanced anti-aging focus. Prices seem a little higher than average; a 50-minute Swedish massage is $119. (On other lines, I've seen prices more commonly in the $99 to $109 range.) Do keep an eye out for port-day specials.
The hottest trend today in onboard treatments is medi-spa services, and Gem's spa has several options, including Botox, Restylane and other types of facial rejuvenation. Treatments are overseen by a licensed medical doctor. The spa also offers teetth-whitening and acupuncture.
Where Yin & Yang excels is in its "chill out" lounge. It's available to those who purchase spa treatments (on the day of visit), but you can also buy a cruise pass to the facility, which includes separate areas for men and women (with small whirlpools, sunbeds looking out to sea, saunas and steam rooms) and a coed central room with a thalassotherapy pool and heated tiled loungers. The cost for a cruise pass is $199 for the length of the cruise. Day passes are $20 per day.
Let's not forget that the Bliss Ultra Club on Deck 7 is more than a bar -- it's also a four-lane bowling alley. Play 10 frames on fairly state-of-the-art lanes (though slightly smaller than those you'll find in on-land facilities); it's a fun way to spend an hour. The cost is $5 per person and that includes bowling shoes (wear your own socks).
The ship has a rock-climbing wall and a sports court -- a full-length basketball court -- that can also be used for volleyball, tennis and soccer. A running track can be found on Deck 13. Other diversions include open Wii play in the Crystal Atrium and Ping-Pong on the pool deck.