Just back from the NCL Gem 2/21/09 through 2/28/09. This was a last minute cruise for just my DH and me. This was our eighth cruise with NCL so we had a good idea of what to expect. We left New Hampshire at 6am on the morning of our cruise and arrived at the Port of NY by noon. We dropped off the bags, tipped the porter and parked above for $210.00, very easy. We walked downstairs, got in the Latitudes Line and were onboard by 1:00pm. Greeted by a glass of champagne or juice and directed to the Garden Cafe. Very smooth. We had a mini suite stateroom (AF) 11632 closer to the back of the ship. I will say here that I paid next to nothing for this cruise. We had a "balcony situation" with our former Gem transatlantic cruise last April, I wrote to NCL and they very generously gave us future cruise credits in the amount that almost covered the entire cost of this cruise. (My April cruise was about 3 times more expensive than this cruise) PLUS, surprisingly when we booked we got the $300.00 onboard credit promotion which was being offered. This was a very classy (and smart) thing for NCL to have done. We had no intention of cruising NCL again and now we cannot wait to book the next one. So, I purposely decided not have any expectations of this cruise which made it all the better. My husband and I treated it like an extended weekend away.... And it was so very nice to get away from all this cold and snow. I loved my little cabin and balcony, it would be tight for more than 2 people but perfect for us. The location was great too. At times it was a bit loud, La Cucina was directly above us, but not too bad. And my bed was so unbelievably comfy, awesome. Plenty of closet and drawer space and the bathroom had a good size tub and awesome hot water pressure. I loved the extra TV options, we could buy additional channels for $10 each or $30 for all 4. (Drama, Comedy, Tweens and Cartoons) And we could rent movies for about $12.00 or less for older movies. We could also book excursions from the TV. FYI ...The service fees were $12.00 per day per person and bowling was only $5.00. Also one day they had "an everything $10.00 sale" at the little mall like place that had all the grandparents buying toys and t shirts like crazy! Our room stewards Joey and Lito were fine. The room was very clean and I got the extra face clothes I requested and a few cute towel animals... very nice. Room service had a lot of stuff to buy in addition to the free menu. The buffet seemed to have the same food everyday. But I liked it all. Calm seas for the most part and good weather at all ports, but in my opinion a bit too cold for the beach or any water related excursions (dolphins, stingrays, snorkeling,) Ports - Port Canaveral Florida ... Historic Cocoa Beach "Village" Shopping... Kind of a rip off, we should have just taken the $10 to the beach and walked around there. Cocoa Beach "Village" was quaint but many closed shops and a bit depressing. It was cool about 72 and windy, but no snow! So I bought some earrings and art and did my bit to help the local economy. Great Stirrup Cay - It was sunny and windy and we stayed onboard and enjoyed the pool deck and read. Freeport - A wasted port in my opinion, been there done that. Only there till noon. So we passed and remained onboard. Nassau - We waited until about 3pm to drag our sorry selves away from the comfort of the Gem and took a cab ($12.00) to Atlantis. Still no poker room at Atlantis, too bad really. But I hit 3 card poker and left Atlantis about $680 ahead! Then we took another cab ($20.00) to Crystal Palace Casino about 30 minutes away with traffic. They used to have a poker room but not any more. What a dive, do not even bother going to Cable Beach, yuk. We met up with another couple from the Gem that got there via public transit for $1.25. That sounded too adventurous for us (plus by now it was too dark outside and nothing to see anyway) so we got another cab back to the Gem. Entertainment: I enjoyed Second City, the Song and Dance Shows I had already seen, so I passed. But live music is not good on the Gem. Too many String Quartets, Piano Concertos and Artsy stuff for my personal taste, but I knew this ahead of time so no surprises here. BUT there was a rock band onboard from northeastern PA called Kartune who rocked this ship. In a word they were amazing. The single best cover band I have ever heard, what a range from The Beatles to AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and beyond. Anyway it was like finding a hidden treasure and I would love to cruise with them again. I also enjoyed the cash game Texas Hold'em almost every night, a fun, lively group of multi-national players. I wish the Casino was smoke free. Some of the dealers were good, some were just awful. Poker dealers need to control the table. Lili from Bulgaria was great. I missed the Meet and Greet due to a Poker Tournament but my DH went and represented well. He told me that all staff and officers gave out their phone numbers and asked to be sure to be notified if we had any problems and concerns. They referenced the fact that most people don't complain until they get home and by that time there is nothing they can do about it. Debarkation was easy. We got a letter from the Concierge with VIP tags. Went to the Stardust Theater and got off the ship by 10:45. Oh, wait one strange thing ... during debarkation my DH was RED LINED, when he swiped his room key to get off the ship a big red line appeared under his name with the words "open balance" and the security guard held up the line. While I handed him the receipt that was left in our room. We had paid our room fees in cash the night prior and overpaid by 29cents, no kidding, they wanted me to go back in line to get my 29 cents back. I had to persuade him to keep the 29cents, there is no way I'm going back inside... after a phone call and what some might consider an embarrassing delay, we were released. I laughed but I know people who would be greatly offended by this, so it is good to know. Do not overpay. This was a fun and stress free cruise and now we have 15 inches of snow, it seems like so long ago and yet I'm not even done unpacking. Till next time, Juried
Plenty of closet and drawer space. A little too dark. Good size bath tub, excellent shower and water pressure. Awesome comfy bed. A little noisy at times with restaurant above.