8 Barcelona to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Norwegian Gem Cruise Reviews

First of all. When we booked the cruise in April, we were assured that we would be getting the best possible pricing. WRONG. We noticed several price reductions. When we contacted our cruise rep we were given an upgrade to ocean view ... Read More
First of all. When we booked the cruise in April, we were assured that we would be getting the best possible pricing. WRONG. We noticed several price reductions. When we contacted our cruise rep we were given an upgrade to ocean view partially obstructed. More like lifeboat view, completely obstructed. The only time we could see the ocean was when the boats were being used as tenders. The flight over was booked through NCL at the same time. When we got our seating, all four of us were split up and given the worst seats on the plane. Fortunately the airline gave us a little better seats so it wasn't unbearable. Thank you Delta. The flight from NY to Barcelona was fine as was embarkation. Already mentioned the cabin. Other than the view it was fine and the stewards were top notch.The ship was very nice. The staff was adequate but not outstanding. It seemed that there was a lack of training in a lot of the staff. I asked for sour cream at breakfast and was pretty much told no! One of the managers in the main restaurant found out about it and got me a carton to keep in my stateroom. Very nice of him but shouldn't have been necessary. The restaurants were overcrowded and the food only average. The wait staff in the main restaurants were mostly good and the management was excellent. The shore excursions are extremely overpriced and not very good.In Cannes we just hired a taxi and were really pleased. We booked our own tours for Florence, Pisa and Rome and were very happy. Especially the Rome tour. We booked through the Internet with a company called across Rome. See acrossrome.com. They did a great job which I will detail in the port section.The crossing was very rough but nobody's fault there. The casino was the worst. They only had one poker table so a lot of people didn't get to play and the tournaments were a joke. 25% rake and unlimited re buys. Disembarkation was pretty smooth but when we got on the bus we were severely delayed because there was some unclaimed luggage beside our bus. Even so, everyone made their flight. In summary, I will never book through NCL again but will probably cruise with them again. Not what they used to be. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My husband and I decided to leave the kids at home for this cruise (they are 20 and 24 !). It was a semi-retirement gift for my husband and he has always wanted to go to Italy. We flew over from America a week before the cruise and stayed ... Read More
My husband and I decided to leave the kids at home for this cruise (they are 20 and 24 !). It was a semi-retirement gift for my husband and he has always wanted to go to Italy. We flew over from America a week before the cruise and stayed in Madrid first before fly to Barcelona to join the ship. We are novice cruisers, so admittedly we don't have a lot to compare it to but the Norwegian Gem is an absolutely beautiful ship. EMBARKATION: Was a breeze. They had a separate line for balconie and suites and from the time the cab dropped us off until the time we made it to the lobby it was about 15 minutes. Very smooth. As we entered we were given champagne and orange juice and a girl was playing piano. She was so good we sat and listened to her before exploring the ship. There is a huge screen TV in the lobby and it is very impressive ! CABIN: It was quite adequate and because of the balcony it felt much bigger. As the cruise went on we were hardly there any way so it really didn't matter. We had to attend a lifeboat presentation just after that and that's when the the tiredness set in ! Had to go to sleep for a while and may I say that the bed was very comfortable. Unfortunately we had very noisy neighbors, but that was not NCL's fault of course. The walls seemed kind of thin, but no different to any other hotel we have been in. ENTERTAINMENT: That night we went to the Welcome Aboard show and a very nice young man was the Cruise Director. I think his name was Brent and he was great. We were on a river cruise last year and the Cruise Director was annoying; not this one. He even went out of his way to make us feel welcome a few days later when we had a question. We weren't that impressed with the shows; especially the Los Locos and music show. Vegas is not our thing and a couple of the singers were just out of tune in the production shows. We loved the Second City comedy from Chicago and our favorite show was a girl called Margie Hobbs. Earlier in the cruise we heard her in one of the lounges with her partner Sam and her voice is incredible. She also sat down and played piano as well as she sang. We followed them in the daily program wherever they were. Because we love music we gave all of the shows a look and we were very impressed with the big band and even went to their jazz night. This was a highlight of our cruise. PORTS: We went ashore every day and were tired when we left but we wanted to see it all. We took an organized tour to Rome but every other day we made our own arrangements. Tip for everyone - it is cheaper and better if you just do it yourself. We researched everything really well before we joined so we were fine. Malta is especially beautiful and we caught the bus up the hill for just one euro, so it was worth it not to have to walk up there. Naples is just crazy busy but fun - be careful crossing the street as they don't obey any traffic signals ! Cannes was a bit of a disappointment and was not as pretty as we would have hoped but all of those yachts are really amazing. We went to the leaning tower of Pisa on our own. We caught the train and because it is close by (about 30 minutes) we weren't worried about getting back to the ship on time. FOOD: this is where I write WOW ! Every meal we had was wonderful and the buffet was great. Something for everyone and very well presented and prepared. CONCLUSION: This was our first NCL cruise and we were very impressed. We loved not being told that we had to eat at 8.30 and could go at any time. Once we had to wait, but we are late eaters so the restaurants were not busy later on. The ports were fantastic and the crew we WONDERFUL. We will definitely cruise this line again and maybe we'll bring the kids next time ! Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We sailed on the Gem in October. The ship was almost exactly like the Pride of American we took last year with the freestyle dining. I will cover the dining first. To give some background, my husband and I (40's) traveled with ... Read More
We sailed on the Gem in October. The ship was almost exactly like the Pride of American we took last year with the freestyle dining. I will cover the dining first. To give some background, my husband and I (40's) traveled with our in-laws (60's)and no children. We took the trip to get my father in law to take my mother in law to Europe and see as much as we could in a short time since he doesn't like to travel and probably would never go again! We all love to dine out and have high expectations of our food and service. We ate in most of the restaurants starting with the main dining room on sail away night. The food was pretty good. Service was OK. The biggest issue we had on several nights with service was getting our drink order taken and our drinks to the table before the food order is taken. Since the bar costs money the orders are taken by a different waiter. We don't like to be rushed and if someone is serving us dinner in a Tuxedo, they should know how fine dining should work. On the second night we ate in the French Restaurant and the food and service was very good. We ordered one dish, the Lobster, that was the additional up-charge on the up-charge and wouldn't do that again. Try the fondue for dessert. Don't order the salmon as it is the same in any of the restaurants. Nothing special. My steak was very good. This was our favorite on the Pride of America as well and generally we never would choose a french restaurant to go to. We ate in the Magenta one night and sent 2 of our dishes back. Had the same problem getting drinks. Once we complained management was all over us the rest of the night. We ate on "Lobster night" at the main dining room. Only new it was lobster night because a bar waiter told us and we already had a reservation somewhere else. We changed it and took advantage of this and ate before the crowds. It as pretty good food. Nice atmosphere. Go early and get a window seat. We ate at the buffet one night. It is adequate for a quick fix....burgers were pretty good after days of seafood. Latin/Mexican restaurant was one of our favorite meals. We eat a lot of tex-mex in Houston so we weren't sure about this one. I hadn't read much about this rest. in the reviews so we were flying blind. It was a great meal. The margaritas were good, the chips and salsa were OK. Dinner was tasty and the service was the best of all places we dined. A lovely girl from Romania waited on us. Breakfast - was always ate at the buffet. Earlier you go, the better. My husband and I would get fruit from inside and then head outside to the omelet station and dine outside. Less crowded and rushed and nice views. My in-laws didn't like to be outside so we never at this meal together. After trying it all we basically ate eggs and toast. Bacon was often undercooked for us. Ports of call - We used Romeinlimo for Naples, Rome and Tuscany. Our driver in Naples was Giovanni and he was the best. We went to Sorrento and Positano where we had lunch with a gorgeous view. Then we went back to Naples to visit Pompeii. We were supposed to start there, but there was a demonstration so we left for Sorrento. Giovanni organized the change in guide for us as were taking a private tour. Our tour guide for Pompeii was fantastic. Romeinlimo set it up for us. We got to tour a spa at the front of Pompeii that most people did not get to enter. Giovanni was fairly easy to understand. Giovanni drove a Mercedes minivan. It was spotless. In Rome we had Salvatore. He was very nice as well but a bit difficult to understand with his accent. He took us all over Rome quickly. We had a great lunch at a restaurant behind the Vatican with the name Giovanni in it. (sorry I gave my notes to a family member going this month) We visited St. Peter's but didn't take the Vatican tour as we had done that last year and it would take so much time. We did see the colosseum, Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, Pantheon, Holy Stairs, St. John's in Lateran, (a great church to see) and he took us to places to see great views of the forum, the entire city and we even went to the famous keyhole! We went many places that buses can't get to. He drove down some streets I was certain we wouldn't make it down. They are great drivers. We had a commercial minivan all to ourselves and it was spotless as well. Not as smooth a ride though. In Livorno we opted out of going to Florence since my husband and I had just been there. We chose to go to Sienna and San Gimignano (sp?) instead. We were nervous at first because it was VERY foggy. Who wants to look at the Tuscan country side through layers of fog. By the time we got to Sienna some of it had burned off. Our driver was Vinnie and he was very informative. Almost too informative. He talked the whole way. Hard for us in the back to catch it all but we appreciated his efforts. The scenery is breathtaking. In Sienna we visited the Duomo and then left for San Gimignano where we ate a very nice lunch at an Enoteca and had some aware winning Gelato. You can climb one of the towers here and you get a 360 degree view of the Tuscan countryside. Absolutely the highlight of our trip. My in-laws didn't climb the stairs. You can't tell from the outside how hard it will be and they were concerned about their backs. You have to pay, but it was not a bad climb. Wide stairs up until the very end. We ended the day at a wine tasting somewhere at a vineyard. Wine and food were great. Cannes was a bit of a disappointment. We didn't get off the boat early on purpose. We wanted to sleep in. We had no driver this day and by the time we figured out we had missed the trains we ended up taking a cab to Nice, had lunch, walked around and headed back. Cab for 4 was about 80E I think. That was one way. We just didn't feel like going to the beach or shopping all day so weren't sure what to do. This port really needs to be longer. I wanted to go to Eze but there just didn't see like enough time. The day we flew in for the cruise was the day if left so we checked in on the boat and then took a 2 hour taxi tour for 100E with Pepe. He showed us all over the city, let us out to take pictures and was very informative. We just picked him up at the boat terminal. That was a great way to get an idea of the city for the 2 days we would spend there upon our return. When we returned we a stayed at a very cozy hotel called the Regencia Colon. Not to be mistaken for the more expensive Hotel Colon that is next door. This hotel is right next to the Cathedral and easy walk to the water, Las Ramblas, Picasso Museum, chocolate museum etc. On Monday we had a driver that we hired through the hotel to take us on a Wine tour and to Montserrat. The company was called Autobus I think. Peter (who spoke great English) took us to the Torres Vineyard for a tour and wine tasting. What an operation that place is. We toured on a train like a Disney Ride. Tasted 5 wines for 11E I think. Montserrat was beautiful. We heard the boys choir sing at 1:30 or 2. Get there early if you want to be close enough and don't sit in the second set of pews in the front because everyone stands in the aisle separating the 2 and you can't see. All in all it was a great trip. I felt fortunate that I had been to Rome and Florence a year ago and spent several days there. These are really not cities to do in a day. There is so much to see and it takes several days. I want to go back and stay in Tuscany for a week. There is so much history, art, culture and wonderful things everywhere. I highly recommend reading about all of the places before you go so you can get so much more out of it. (that way you may know that the water in the fountain at the Spanish steps is supposedly the same aqua duct that feeds the Trevi fountain) Our guides were full of information and were very passionate about their homeland except for the taxes, drugs, and government. Not so much like us in the USA! :) Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 teenage kids. We the adults have been on a total of 3 cruises before 2 Carnivals and one Norwegian. So, we are not first time cruisers. This was quite different than going on Carnival to the Caribbean ... Read More
We are a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 teenage kids. We the adults have been on a total of 3 cruises before 2 Carnivals and one Norwegian. So, we are not first time cruisers. This was quite different than going on Carnival to the Caribbean as the passenger were really from all over the world, so lots of different cultures, languages to cater to ,tough most everything was announced in English. We were actually planning to go to Hawaii, when we found this cruise to Europe for a bit less, so we completely change our plan and choose this Mediterranean cruise. So, we started in Barcelona on the July 11th sailing, we did arrive early in the morning in Barcelona, so we went straight to the port to drop off our luggage and then back to visit Barcelona a bit before we embark . We had lunch on La Rambla, the main street in all Barcelona, where all the entertainment is at, street vendors, and performers as well as scammers and pickpocket. Watch out for the card game scammers. We had plenty of time to eat lunch leisurely, drink some Sangria, then start heading back to the port for embarkation, the weather was great. The embarkation process took about an hour which was pretty normal, the only thing I didn't quite understood, is they kept our passports until the day before we got to Rome. We had to go retrieve them at one of the bar onboard. We got onboard about 2:30PM; we took a stroll around the ship, and then went to check out our rooms. We had 2 rooms, one balcony (9668), one inside view (9627). The rooms, are pretty similar in size as what we experience with Carnival on the conquest, you do have a hairdryer, but no iron. We really enjoy the balcony for the sunset or sunrise depending which direction we were going. Since we turn when we go around Sicily, we had the sunset up to Malta, then sunrise after. I'm not sure if it's because we drop our luggage off early in the morning , but by 5:00PM , we still did not have them, so I went to inquire, and was able to get them from the room steward. We left Barcelona as scheduled 7:00PM; we went to eat at the Garden cafe (Buffet) that night. They had quite a wide array of choices pizzas, pasta, Indian food, sushi California roll, large salad bar, and many other choices. The next day was at sea, so we took time to find the fitness center, it is located at the starboard side, on the Conquest it is right at the front, and I though that was much better view as you use all the cardio equipment. Also around 6 PM it got quite busy and we had to wait for cardio equipment to be available. The spa is right next door, I did not use the spa so I wouldn't be able to comment. My kids are too old to participate in any of the kids activities. We did not prebooked any shore excursions via Norwegian. In Malta, we just took a hop on/hop off style tour of Valetta and Mdena, it was 15 euros per person, and you get the earphones, with commentary in multiple languages. At the end they drop you in downtown, and another bus comes every 15 minutes I think that will take you back to the port. We tought for the amount of time available, this was the best we could do, as you leave back at 3PM sharp. That evening we decided to try the French restaurant which was really good. In Naples, we had already prebooked ticket on the hydrofoil via SNAV to Capri island.We did not do anything at all in Naples, or Pompei.Honestly, Capri was maybe a bit expensive, but the views and sight were worth it. I believe we spend 15 euros for the hydrofoil per person, then once in Capri we took a little boat tour of the Island with a stop at the blue grotto for another total of 25 Euros per person. Considering this is an Island this was the best way to see it all, it was wonderful. We then went to Anacapri via Taxi or bus, to get on some chair lift ride(8 euros) that take you all the way to the top of the Island for the most breathtaking views. This was for us the best part of this all trip, I wish we could have spend more time there. We left back on the hydrofoil at 5:10 Pm, and made it back to the GEM around 6PM. We went to the Magenta that night, overall if you go to the restaurant that require an extra fee, all were pretty good except the Mexican one for us, as were are originally from Texas, so, it just didn't impress us. For Rome, we had prebooked a guided tour with Aldo Monti from yourtourinitaly.com.He was great, he was there on time 7:45AM sharp,he took us in an airconditioned Mercedes van from the pier via the country side to first stop the Coliseum,Roman Forum where he had prereserved our tickets, so no line. He then took us to the Pantheon, Trevi fountain , Spanish steps, and piazza Navona. He also took us to Campo Fiori where there was a market, with affordable souvenirs, and fresh fruits, great figs. We then ate at some restaurant he recommended, we ate for a very reasonable price, very good pizzas and gnocchi and bruschetta. The restaurant was nothing very fancy, but the food was a lot less and much better than what we ate in Capri, about half the price we paid in Capri. After lunch we headed toward the Vatican and visited the Sistine Chapel, once again Aldo had send me a link to prebuy the ticket for a specific time, so no line. I definitely would recommend his services, he was honest, and we definitely were able to do a lot more than we could have done on our own. We paid for the 4 of us what we would have paid through Norwegian for one of us on a bus tour not a private tour, and keep in mind his price is the same for up to I think 6 people. He also does pick up in Naples to Pompeii or Sorrento , I think, and Livorno to Florence. For us we tought, we couldn't do another full day, after Rome. So, in Livorno we just took a bus to Pisa. In Cannes, we just took the little train tour of the Croisette as we had to be back by 2PM. Overall, we enjoy the cruise, I would just have to say that it was hard to communicate with our room steward, we would just popup in the room on a regular basis. Also we fell that the food at the restaurant was a bit repetitive after a couple days, especially if you do not try any of the restaurant that require a cover charge. The pools were a bit crowded, if you did not show up early in the morning to get you seat, it was hard later in the day to get one, especially for 4. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
Once you have cruised the Gem, you will know the meaning of "happy, happy".  Those guys just made our day - no way anyone could be grumpy after meeting them!Embarking was so easy!  Due to a cancelled flight, we had a change of ... Read More
Once you have cruised the Gem, you will know the meaning of "happy, happy".  Those guys just made our day - no way anyone could be grumpy after meeting them!Embarking was so easy!  Due to a cancelled flight, we had a change of plans and ended up going straight from the airport to the ship and were there by 9:30 am.  We were able to leave our luggage then, walked around the port for a while, and then checked in and were on the ship by 11:30 - it was simple, quick and painless.  We headed straight to the buffet, hung out around the pool (pack a suit in your carry on since you won't get your luggage for a while), explored the ship and got to our room by 2:00.  Our luggage showed up by 4:00.We saved a lot of money by booking an inside stateroom - it was all we needed - a place to sleep.  However, for our next cruise we will probably go with a balcony with some more space.  A word of caution - you don't want a room on deck 4 on the Gem - most ports disembark from deck 4 and there are people walking by at all times which can get quite loud at times.We didn't feel a need to try out any of the specialty restaurants.  We were quite happy with the buffet, Magenta, Pacific and Blue Lagoon.  There was always something good being grilled by the pool and great food could be found any where at all times.  Our favorite restaurant was Magenta.  My best meal was the lobster and grouper on Monday night - soooo good.We did the spa on a day-to-day basis for $20 per day.  It was definitely worth it - so relaxing.A good tip is to use room service for breakfast as your wake-up call on port mornings.  They will call the room before they bring your breakfast so you will always be up on time and can have a pot of coffee delivered.Shows were good.  We saw the Second City comedians twice - first at the regular show and then at the lounge the next night - very entertaining.  Loved the Colorz show, missed the instrumental guy and magician.  The casino was never crowded and we actually won a little.  There was plenty to read from the library.  We ran on the treadmills a few times - very nice, never crowded.  Our daughter hung out with the teens every night and loved it - lots of activities planned even though there weren't too many teens on our cruise.  We could always get a lounge chair by the pool, even got the cool "comfy" ones a few times.  Our cruise was full yet it never seemed crowded.  Disembarking at the ports was so simple.  NCL really knows what they are doing.We did not do any tours with NCL.  We planned one with roll call members - Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento and the Almalfi Coast and it was WONDERFUL!!!  What a beautiful trip and a great experience with Carmine our driver.  The others ports we did on our own and really enjoyed just traveling on foot or hopping on a bus/train.  We loved the market in Civatevechia and were glad we didn't try to squeeze in Rome in such a short time.  We plan to return and devote a few days to Rome.  We also went to Pisa on our own using the train - it was easy!  For Malta and Cannes we just wandered around, shopped, explored the town and beach - no excursions.  If I had to do it again, I would want to visit Mdina in Malta.All in all, it was a wonderful cruise.  Everything was perfect.  We were never bored - there was always something to find to do if you wanted.  All the staff members on the ship were helpful and friendly and did a great job.  We were not disappointed in anything. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
My wife and I went on this cruise to Europe, it was out 6th cruise. We met my cousin and her husband in Ny and all 4 of us traveled together. We got to Barcelona 2 days in advance of the cruise and visited barcelona. We walked Las Ramblas ... Read More
My wife and I went on this cruise to Europe, it was out 6th cruise. We met my cousin and her husband in Ny and all 4 of us traveled together. We got to Barcelona 2 days in advance of the cruise and visited barcelona. We walked Las Ramblas and took the red and blue on and off tour bus. We stayed on the outskirts of the city and had to take the tram and metro to downtown barcelona, both seemed very safe and easy to get around. They say watch for pick pockets in Barcelona, especially Las Ramblas, it is very crowded on that street but we had no problem but just be aware of the pick pockets, we saw some people in the metro running after some guys who tried to pick pocket them.. The embarkation to the ship was smooth and fast, boom, right on the ship in 10 minutes. The ship is large and never seemed too crowded in any area. We had an inside room which was very nice, the shower even had a sliding glass door. The inside room was adequate especially for this cruise since most of the day was on shore sightseeing. FOOD....The main dining rooms were fine, nothing spectacular. If you like to eat early you didn't have to wait, otherwise later you may have to wait 10-20 mins. They'll give you a beeper. The buffet was good, lots of choices and we always could find a seat. We only ate in one PAY restaurant, that was Cagney's the steak place. On the first night you can get 2 for 1 , so it was worth the 10 dollars per person(otherwise 20). The shows were ok, the singing and dancing was nice. They had a "second city improv troupe one night which was not that good, our opinion, but other than that it was ok. WE DID NOT DO ANY EXCURSIONS THROUGH NCL EXCURSIONS: Malta: We just got off the ship and taxi's are everywhere and they will offer a 2 hour ride around town for 52 euro, maybe another hour for 20 euro, the driver waits with you. That price is for the whole taxi(not per person)That was very nice. NAPLES: We did the same here 200 Euro for SORRENTO and POMPEII, it is about a little more than an hour to Sorrento from the port, but we thought it was beautiful. We ate in a sidewalk cafe,and walked all over. Pompeii on the way back was ok, lots of rocks...Naples is right by the port so you can walk around there when you get back, very busy streets but a good experience to see. ROME: I booked a private tour with romeinlimo.com, 500 euro for the car, well worth it since there is so much to see in Rome.They pick you up at the port(another hour trip) and take you all day. We saw Colosseum, Pantheon, Forum, Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, Vatican(Sistine Chapel, Basilica)we must have spent 2-3 hrs in the Vatican and didn't see half of it and didn't have time to eat all day. Florence: Another long trip, You can take the bus at the port to the train station in Livorno and then take bus/train to Florence, but they don't run too often so we did the 400 euro for the whole van( picked up another 4 people and went all together to Florence and Pisa) It was only 50 euro each. Florence is very pretty. NICE: Here we took the train from the port(Villefrance) to NICE,(not much in Nice for us, it's more of a big city) then took the train to Monaco. Beautiful countryside. Just walking around the town at the port was great. The train was only under 10 euro each to go both ways to Nice and Monaco. The Monte Carlo casino doesn't open until 2 pm, so we just took pictures outside and walked around town. All in all a great cruise. Very friendly cruise staff. The first 3 days it felt warm on the ship, maybe Europeans like it like that? But after the 3rd day or so it cooled down, maybe a lot of people complained. Some tips: There are no washcloths in the hotels in Europe. But the cruise does have them. Also, I wouldn't do this cruise in the hot summer, it's too much walking and in and out of cars and buses to be sweating. The say the heat is very oppressive. If you need more Euros you can get them on the ship or banks at the ports, Malta had a nice one right at the port where I got some Euros, no fee and good rate. The ship charges a 10 dollar fee. If anyone has any question just email me I'll be happy to answer any questions. Vinnie2957@yahoo.com Have fun Tony Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
BACKGROUND: We are 4 couples in our late 50s to early 60s with hearts and minds of 40 yr olds! Most of us have cruised 13-15 times with this being our 3rd NCL cruise-the last one was in 2001. Only one person in our group was new to ... Read More
BACKGROUND: We are 4 couples in our late 50s to early 60s with hearts and minds of 40 yr olds! Most of us have cruised 13-15 times with this being our 3rd NCL cruise-the last one was in 2001. Only one person in our group was new to cruising We all had a pre cruise night in Barcelona at the Montblanc which is affiliated with NCL with transfers. Next time, I would book my own hotel and use a cab, would be lots cheaper. My husband and I along with another couple came in early on Saturday and did the hop on/hop off bus tour. It was well worth it. I LOVE Barcelona. The other 2 couples came in later in the afternoon. We had a wonderful dinner at REUNION on Fontella in the La Rambla area. It was a lovely restaurant with great food and so reasonable. We would eat there again. EMBARKATION: NCL picked us up at 11: 15 and we arrived at the pier within 10 min. We were on the ship before noon. Very easy and painless. SHIP: The Gem is a beauty. I loved our balcony room on the 9th floor-convenient to stairs and elevators and only a couple of floors up/down to all the action. FOOD: We ate in the 2 dining rooms. Service was very good, food was ok-some nights I didn't really like any of the selections but found something to eat. All of us had the Romance Package and ate one night in the LeBistro. It was excellent. By the way, the Romance package is well worth the $79. We had champagne in our room with chocolate covered strawberries, dinner at the LeBistro for 2 with a bottle of wine, canapes one night before dinner, a free picture taken and a champagne and cake party the last day of the cruise. It was a great deal. I would do it again. EXCURSIONS: We did the Mdina and wine tasting in Malta. We all loved Malta. What a unique island! We did Sorrento and Pompeii in Naples. It was a great trip. In Rome I had hired Romecabs for the 8 of us. Stefano was fantastic. We all loved him. He took us to a wonderful little restaurant that had fantastic food. In Florence my husband and I did the Leisurely Florence trip-too short. The other 3 couples did Cinque Terre and loved it. I wouldn't the Leisurely Florence tour again. I would do a longer tour. It was my fault for picking this short half day tour. In the afternoon, we hooked up with 4 other passengers and took a cab to Pisa. I was pleased that we could fit that in too! In France we did the Monaco and Montecarlo tour. We enjoyed it. ENTERTAINMENT:We all thought the entertainment was very good. We saw the 3 musical productions. The cast was very good and very energetic. I also enjoyed the magician-he was amazing. I found the crew to be very friendly, and the passengers we met were also very polite and fun overall. NEGATIVE: Freestyle isn't actually free! We were all frustrated with making reservations for our group of 8. We couldn't always get them when we wanted even though the dining room had open tables. Also, we encountered some discrepancy in the pricing for the Orchid Garden. We were told it was a $10 cover charge. When all 8 of us wanted to eat there we were told it was $15. They had room for us but we decided not to eat there. One of the couple in our group went back and was told there wasn't a table and then was told it would be $10 to eat at the bar. However, they were then told it would be $15 no matter where they sat. It was just very frustrating. This only happened at the Orchid Garden. POSTCRUISE: 4 of us stayed post cruise at the Hotel Continental Barcelona on La Rambla. I would call this hotel Shabby Chic! It is very old but what great service and what a great deal! All the beer was free(the men loved that) as well as water and sodas. And they kept the snacks and breakfast bar available 24 hrs. OVERALL: We loved the ship, crew, itinerary and entertainment. Food was ok but nothing special. But, hey, I didn't have to cook or clean up so I was happy! We loved our cruise on the Gem and would sail her again. It was a wonderful week! Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
We thought the ship was wonderfully clean and spacious. We worried about feeling crowded on the ship with so many people and were concerned about the size of our room. All of concerns were unfounded on the Gem. The check-in was a ... Read More
We thought the ship was wonderfully clean and spacious. We worried about feeling crowded on the ship with so many people and were concerned about the size of our room. All of concerns were unfounded on the Gem. The check-in was a breeze. Our room was available shortly after we arrived and the storage in our mini suite was more than adequate. I loved the size of the bathroom and was surprised to see there was a bathtub! We spent a lot of time on the balcony during the week as we arrived and left from different ports. The bed was extremely comfortable and we felt the linens and towels were top notch. Breakfast was usually very frantic but we learned to take our food back to our suite and ate on the balcony with a view of wherever we happened to be that day. We ate almost exclusively at the specialty restaurants and we tended to eat later in the evening after cocktails. We never had a bad experience and enjoyed the smaller size of these restaurants. We ate one night in one of the big restaurants and while the food was good, the servers were harried and our fellow dining companions were not always polite or quiet. It was certainly not a reflection on the ship but rather the quality of the patrons which is why we chose to eat in the specialty restaurants. There were fewer children in there and the late diners were most respectful and appreciative of the food and wine being offered. Special mention to the manager and staff of the Mexican restaurant who was very kind to us, especially on the last evening when I was not feeling very well. My birthday dinner at Cagney's was very special. We absolutely LOVED the freestyle dining experience! We took in the art show our first day at sea and bought two gorgeous prints for our new home. We toured every day except one (it was overcast the day we put in to Florence so we stayed on board and enjoyed the solitude) but arranged our own tours or did our research about how to get into town on our own. Our days in Rome and Nice were especially wonderful and very inexpensive. We found the cost of the ship's excursions to be very high and therefore did not take any of them. We prefer to do our own thing and read quite a bit in preparation for this special vacation. We were quite impressed with NCL, the ship and the crew. We are in the process of planning another cruise for Xmas 2009 and can't wait to get back on another NCL ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Norwegian Gem Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.8

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