Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by FynWein
- Sail Date: December 2012
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
This was our first time cruising with Norwegian. We felt that the crew, by and large, put in effort to make sure the guests were having a good time. I actually felt bad for them when we observed people being nasty -ridiculous situations such as screaming about cold eggs (for goodness sakes you're on a cruise ship just politely ask for a new egg.) I thought the buffet was plentiful and had different items as well as standards each day.
I was very pleased that Norwegian did not push drinks constantly 24X7. In fact, they really were not pushy at all. All sales pitches for jewelry, art - the usual on ships were low key. We appreciated this. We speculate they make up the money by having the specialty restaurants but this was perfectly fine for us. We very much enjoyed Moderno - the food was excellent and more than we could eat. Even my son, the picky eater, was very happy and asked if we could go again. We also ate at the Japanese steakhouse and enjoyed the food/conversation.
The room was clean and we enjoyed the extra space afforded by the balcony. I wondered if there would be enough warm days to use it and was pleasantly surprised the answer was yes. We liked keeping the door open on warm evenings or just reading a book with the ocean flowing by. The escape from the crowds was great. The nice amenity was a great hair dryer in the room - not like the vacuum hoses on other ships.
Other nice touches that we have not seen on other ships: upon coming back from port, they distributed sanitizing hand towels which served the dual purpose of having something nice a cool and also clean. They grilled on the pool deck- large grills will mounds of rice and barbecue chicken that smelled delicious.
The entertainment was really good and the variety offered was excellent. I would rank this up there with one of the best for evening shows. They had everything from a Broadway singer to a really good cirque act. The ship's performers were OK. I thought the comedians were better than most I have seen on the ships primarily because they didn't need to be crass to be funny. As a result, our whole family could enjoy the show. Man from Mars was excellent.
The one downside was the seating in the dining room. We usually enjoy sharing a table and meeting interesting people. Norwegian does not seem to promote this interaction. Despite asking the hostess to seat us with other people or have them join us - we often sat alone. I don't know if this was a misunderstanding or if the other passengers were not interested. The other issue was asking to have the same wait staff. We asked for a particular person and was told we could be seated in the section near her. Eh??
After saying this was very important to us (ok, we pushed this issue), the hostess finally relented and seated us in our favorite wait staff's section. For us, and as the wait staff agreed, it's nice to build a relationship for the duration of the cruise where they know what you like eat, if you want coffee after dinner, etc... and you know a little about each other. If this is not your thing, then you will have no problem with the dining room (Grand Pacific) other than it runs a little slow for breakfast. (Suggest you just skip it and go to the outdoor buffet.)
Also, our kids did not enjoy the youth programs. They went the first day and refused to go back. They group 13-17 together and my older child commented that, at 17, she really has nothing in common with a 13 year old. It would have been better if they had a 15-17 or 16-18 grouping. My son just didn't get into the programming for the 10-12 youths and didn't like the 2 hour minimum to stay after checking-in. He found it easier to meet other kids around the ship and come/go to various activities as he pleased.
The last 36 hours of the trip were rough due to the weather. 25 foot waves and 67 mile/hour winds. The ship rocked and swayed leaving a good 50% of the passengers seasick. If this happens to you, I suggest hanging out around mid-ship on deck 6. It seemed to be the best place to find some steady ground - of sorts. The higher level floors were very hard to navigate and stay upright. That said, I think Norwegian did a good job to provide information and make the passengers comfortable on disembarkment day since we were we late coming into port. We were allowed to stay in the rooms until 11 and grab a leisurely breakfast. They provided coffee and juice on deck 12 after 11a.
Port Review for Semana
We chose to go to 'Cayenas del Mar.' They have a website (just Google the name) and checkout their options. I emailed them about the beach day pass with lunch. The internet reservation saved us 10% and the total cost for 4 people including transportation and lunch was 97. It's a beautiful spot. Lunch was plentiful, very good, and perfectly timed for when a little rain cloud burst opened up. It was not crowded - only 20 people or so on the day we went. Well worth it compared to the stories we heard from other people who were disappointed about the muddy trip to the falls or into town.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
San JuanWe spent about 3 hours in town on Christmas Day and were surprised by how many stores were open. We took a nice walk around and up to the fort. The fort was closed but it was a lovely warm day and families were out flying kites. Not much else to say.View All 3,137 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
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St. MaartenA friend suggested that we go to Pinel Island on the French side. We had a very nice time. Crystal clear water and the area is free of people trying to sell you something every 5 minutes. If you go, leave the ship early - by 9. Take a cab from the pier. It is about a 25 min ride and will cost about 20/pp round trip including the tip. (9/pp). You will be dropped off at the ferry dock. It costs 7/pp for the trip over - nothing on the way back. We hung out on the pretty side of the island away from the boats coming/going at Karabuni. Bring plenty of cash to pay for the fares and your lunch (one restaurant accepts credit cards, the other does not.)View All 4,169 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
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St. ThomasSt Thomas: We had way too much sun from our day in St. Maarten so we decided on a non-beach day. Warning - beware of the cab ride to downtown. It will cost 4/pp and when you get there you will be completely harassed by the hawkers trying to get you into their stores. We could not leave fast enough. Unless you plan to shop, try something else. We went to Coral World - not very up to date but something to do with the kids. It's about 15/pp. It's also right next to Cokie beach so you can spend a few hours there afterward or catch a cab elsewhere. It was very crowded when we were there so we talked to our cab driver and worked out a price for him to drive us around the island stopping for photos at some scenic spots. We had a great view at Mountain Top and also a nice banana daiquiri.View All 4,132 St. Thomas Cruise Port Reviews
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