NCL GEM adjusting to life in NY. YO-YO-YO Bingo Joe & more!!: Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by Butch2099

Norwegian Gem 5
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NCL GEM adjusting to life in NY. YO-YO-YO Bingo Joe & more!!

Sail Date: January 2009
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: New York (Manhattan)
I'll start with who we are, a family of 3 with our 8 yr old daughter. We were also traveling with 2 other couples.

Embarkation: We got to the pier at about 11:30am. We were told the ship got in late and we would be boarding later than usual. The porters took our luggage quickly and we got inside where there was a huge line that moved fairly quickly leading to where you check in. All 3couples had to split up to check in because the lines separate check in by cabin type. We were given numbers to board the ship, which was fine but I found it odd that the couple in the outside cabin got number 15, the balcony couple got 28 and we on the inside got #32 even though we were the only Latitudes members in the group. We all came together, so in my opinion we all should have gotten the same number. All in all we still were all on the ship by 1:00. We were able to find our way to our room and drop off our jackets & bags we carried on without a problem. We then headed to the More buffet..1st mistake..Because of the late embarkation, EVERYONE was there. The staff was overwhelmed. The place was PACKED! I got a table for the 3 of us, catching someone as they were leaving and pushed their dishes into the 4th seat just to get the table, expecting someone to show up at some point to take away the dishes (no one showed). While I was waiting for DW & DD to come back from the buffet, some couple tried to dump dishes off their table onto mine!! WHILE I WAS SITTING THERE and without even asking!! I had to say EXCUSE ME am I invisible?? They said oh, you have people coming back? I said yes and they took the dishes back with them. I'm originally from NY but I can definitely see where someone could say people from NY are rude. Looking back I'll take some blame for not taking 1 look at the chaos and finding my way to the Grand Pacific or Magenta instead (which I found out later that they were open). However, I will throw some blame at the ship for not letting it be known that they were open.

Ship/Crew/Activities: I'll start with the ship, in a word beautiful. The public areas are very nice, clean, easy to find where you want to go. Some areas are crowded and some deserted, depending on where you wanted to be. For example Bliss was usually empty & the central atrium was usually full. The theatre & lounge areas held a decent amount of people. The sailing was a sold out cruise but I don't think too many people missed out if they wanted to do something or see a show. Which leads me into..

Activities: We were able to go to the rock climbing wall without much of a wait, play shuffleboard, WII, and go into the sports areas and play within a reasonable amount of time. There was trivia, 70's & 80'S dance party and some other parties throughout the week. Our only complaint here was the timing of some of these events, trivia at 5pm, (people are getting ready for dinner) Why not make it an afternoon event when it's a sea day instead of "Giant chess with your fellow guests"? Dance parties on port nights when we get into port at 7am and then no party on a day where you are at sea all the next day? Which leads me into....

Crew: We got to meet the CD and other officers at our meet & mingle. They were VERY gracious and answered every question we were able to throw at them. Our mingle was on the 1st sea day so we didn't have many at that point, but they were very open with us and asked us to come to them directly with any problems rather than have them posted on cruise critic (which they said they monitor) and gave us their extension numbers. There seemed to be a turnover of some crew happening with them starting this itinerary out of NY (this was only the 2nd run). It seemed a number of people who introduced themselves were either just coming onto the ship or would be leaving mid-week. The one that was most noticeable to me was the assistant CD..YO-YO-YO It's BINGO JOE. I don't know who the previous assistant CD was but I think Joe has what it takes. He, along with the Cd & other crew were energetic, helpful, funny and seemed genuinely interested in giving us a great cruise. I think that once they get a feel for the itinerary they will only improve. Like one other reviewer said the cabin stewards were always working hard cleaning rooms and they were always friendly. All the people on the ship were working hard at all times, some had more outgoing, friendlier personalities than others. I think those who were quieter than others probably get a quick judgment of having an attitude. Some people don't realize (or care) how hard/long they work or how many days they work without a day off (half day at that). Ok now I'll hit the tough one...

Food: This is a very hot topic on the ship and on the message boards. Let me start by saying I think NCL creates it's own problem by going for the extra dollars with so many specialty restaurants. By selling you on these places they create a feeling of the dining room food isn't good enough. You HAVE to try these other places for only a few dollars more is what they sell, and judging by how many people buy into it, it's working. However the monster it creates is someone who dined at Cagney's comes out from fillet mignon & colossal shrimp goes into the main dining room and says this is garbage. The one couple we went with went to every specialty place they had (and liked them all) but then was still disappointed in the main dining room on lobster night. We ate in the main dining room almost the whole cruise and found the food to be tasty, prepared right, we were able to order what we wanted (in some cases 2 dinners or multiple appetizers,desserts) and if we didn't like it the waiter would bring us something else no problem. I will throw in a few words about the buffet here too, we visited it every morning for breakfast and a couple of times for lunch and the service was very good, they cleaned up quickly and had people to help you to your seat if you were carrying a lot. However, it really doesn't change much the whole week. You would be hard pressed to tell one day from the next there. They also only had juices in the morning (OJ was hit & miss with flavor). After noon it was strictly un-sweetened iced tea or water. What happened to lemonade? On to... The room: standard inside cabin here, We try to travel cheap so we can travel more often, but I can see the attraction of a balcony. We found the shower spacious but the toilet should have been angled better. If you are an average size or larger person, you are going side saddle my friend. It seems that there is room to place it in the bathroom better but maybe it's a plumbing placement thing? Speaking of stinking rooms...

The CASINO: ABSOLUTELY the worst smelling place on the ship unless you are a heavy smoker. Ventilation is non-existent. You can smell the smoke from 1 floor down. (NO LIE) It smells smoky even when it's closed. I feel bad for all the great dealers and staff who have to breathe that in night after night. Even though it was smoky I will say I spent a lot of time at the poker & blackjack tables. I met a lot of hard working friendly dealers, some of whom were in there 14+ hours a day. One other comment here is I wish they would rate the Texas Hold Em players for the casino players club. Even if it's at a lesser level than a slot player. They take a 10% rake from each hand. That adds up to a LOT of money each night for the casino. (comparison A/C is 4%) For someone who was on the tables for 5+ hours a night (and there were people there longer than I was) They could throw us some credits or let us book through CAS. Plenty of my money went into the rake. One comment further..Every night at 11:00 they would bring out a small buffet in the casino and put it behind the Hold Em table, some finger foods, cookies ect.. Then we would get told by the dealers the house rule was no eating at the table. Even 1 cookie! But it's ok to drink & smoke at the table (much worse in my opinion) you could spill the drink, you are touching the straw with mouth, hands then the cards and smoking annoys everyone but the person smoking. But don't you come near the table with a cookie THAT THEY PUT OUT BEHIND YOU!!! If you don't want eating in the casino, here's a suggestion...Don't put food there...

Overall I would say we had a great time, we enjoyed the ports immensely (wish we were in ports longer as a matter of fact). What sells us on NCL is the freestyle, eat when you want, where you want & with who you want. The 2.0 bedding & 2 lobster nights were great. The crew is working hard, trying hard to adapt to what we want as customers. I will be going back, we took advantage of the $250 deposit where you get $100 shipboard credit. It's a deal I think was worth it. You have 2yrs to book & 2 1/2 to travel and you don't have to make any additional deposits, only final payment 90 days before you sail. Less

Published 01/26/09

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