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The Gem is doing interesting ports of call out of San Juan. We chose the Grenada/St Lucia/Dominica/Antigua/BVI tour. Mid-sized ship with the expected amenities for its size. Staff was very very nice and accommodating. My only complaint is that the bars generally only had one bar tender who had to run around like crazy trying to service walk-ups, multiple restaurants, etc. No time to chat, and often long waits before they could take your order. All cruise stops were docked - no tenders. Starboard had best views in ports and generally when sailing too. Rear cabins suffered other than sailing out of Tortola. - Grenada. Didn't do any tours - walked over the hill to Sails restaurant. Note that the scary prices are in Eastern Carib. dollars, not USD. Our $110EC bill was just $44USD. Nice place. Really nothing else to do in port. - St Lucia. You see the Pitons at 0600 as you sail in, not when you leave. Rainforest Zip line was fun. RAIN forest. Think long swim shirt, swim trunks, reef shoes. - Dominica (Dom-e-NEE-ka). Though you dock in an industrial port with nothing to walk to, this was a surprising highlight of the trip. We did the Trafalger Falls and Champagne Reef. Great tour - BUT - the tour company wouldn't provide flippers for the snorkeling because people have trouble getting in the water from the shore with them (walk backwards or put them on in the water). That meant a walk over sharp rocks to the water. All of us ended up with bruises and cuts. Worse, there are a lot of urchins in the water, so entering without shoes is exceedingly risky. Take reef shoes and/or insist on fins. The snorkeling was fantastic - but needlessly difficult without fins. - Antigua. We did the catamaran lobster sail. Great time and great staff on the cat. I figured the lobster would be little chunks in rice or something - but it was an entire half of a nice sized lobster (sadly with the tamale removed). They've pre-boiled the lobsters and then they grill them on the ship to heat it up - causing slightly dry, but still good, lobster. Basically a booze cruise. Stay on board at the first stop and swim from the cat, then go to beach at second stop. - Tortola. It's a nice island with good views if you drive around - but been there before so mostly stayed on board and enjoyed last day on the ship.

Interesting Ports on Gem - Penthouse Suite 10666

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by woodsman

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2016
  • Destination: Southern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Penthouse with Large Balcony
The Gem is doing interesting ports of call out of San Juan. We chose the Grenada/St Lucia/Dominica/Antigua/BVI tour. Mid-sized ship with the expected amenities for its size. Staff was very very nice and accommodating. My only complaint is that the bars generally only had one bar tender who had to run around like crazy trying to service walk-ups, multiple restaurants, etc. No time to chat, and often long waits before they could take your order. All cruise stops were docked - no tenders. Starboard had best views in ports and generally when sailing too. Rear cabins suffered other than sailing out of Tortola.

- Grenada. Didn't do any tours - walked over the hill to Sails restaurant. Note that the scary prices are in Eastern Carib. dollars, not USD. Our $110EC bill was just $44USD. Nice place. Really nothing else to do in port.

- St Lucia. You see the Pitons at 0600 as you sail in, not when you leave. Rainforest Zip line was fun. RAIN forest. Think long swim shirt, swim trunks, reef shoes.

- Dominica (Dom-e-NEE-ka). Though you dock in an industrial port with nothing to walk to, this was a surprising highlight of the trip. We did the Trafalger Falls and Champagne Reef. Great tour - BUT - the tour company wouldn't provide flippers for the snorkeling because people have trouble getting in the water from the shore with them (walk backwards or put them on in the water). That meant a walk over sharp rocks to the water. All of us ended up with bruises and cuts. Worse, there are a lot of urchins in the water, so entering without shoes is exceedingly risky. Take reef shoes and/or insist on fins. The snorkeling was fantastic - but needlessly difficult without fins.

- Antigua. We did the catamaran lobster sail. Great time and great staff on the cat. I figured the lobster would be little chunks in rice or something - but it was an entire half of a nice sized lobster (sadly with the tamale removed). They've pre-boiled the lobsters and then they grill them on the ship to heat it up - causing slightly dry, but still good, lobster. Basically a booze cruise. Stay on board at the first stop and swim from the cat, then go to beach at second stop.

- Tortola. It's a nice island with good views if you drive around - but been there before so mostly stayed on board and enjoyed last day on the ship.
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Cabin Review

Penthouse with Large Balcony
Cabin SF 10666
NCL's penthouse suites are pretty small for a suite. Furniture is a mix of Alice in Wonderland meets Ikea. Truly ugly and uncomfortable. The suite provides about five additional feet in width over a standard balcony. There's a kurig-type coffee maker vs. the standard drip in other cabins. The suite category offered all four upgrades - ultimate beverage (up to $15 per drink), specialty dining (up to $30 per person), 250 minutes of mostly worthless wifi, $75 per port for shore excursions (per cabin, not per-person). You also get a separate breakfast space (with same menu as main dining breakfast) and Cagney's for lunch. Concierge will escort your off the ship as soon as docked which is nice. Worth the extra money? Meh. I don't use the services of the butler - and while nice to have the treats delivered every afternoon, to me it was just an additional person to tip (not included in pre-paid gratuities. I left $40. Same with concierge - not sure I can say I use their services to justify the cost. Cabin was very quiet (other than people who just can't seem to catch the door and keep it from slamming shut). As with any aft-facing balcony, there is some ash from the exhaust stack. The room steward cleaned it every day, but you do need to keep it in mind when you sit on the furniture in your nice white shorts... You can't get there from the cabin. Wherever - the aft section is just hard to get to anything other than the back deck. The last two feed of the balcony are exposed to upper floors, including public deck. If you want aft, consider deck 9. Deck 11 had smaller balconies. Balcony had two lounge chairs and a chair.
HINT: there are two thermostats in the room - you must set both to the desired temp or they just work against each other.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Catamaran Sail
    cat and lobster lunch. booze cruise with two stops and half-lobsters finished on the cat's grill. We had a great time.
    View All 98 Catamaran Sail Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    really cool to snorkel where the volcanic gasses bubble up like champagne, but the tour company recklessly refused swim fins (lots of urchins in the water), and it can be a challenging swim without fins if you're not a good swimmer.
    View All 32 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Trafalgar Falls
    long hike - but worth it.
    View All 50 Trafalgar Falls Reviews
  • Grenada
    Enjoyed walking over to Sails restaurant - note that prices are in Eastern Carib dollars, not USD (about 2.5x), so don't gasp at the prices! Port area is very sad - seemed to be drugged out men passed out in several places right off the ship.
    View All 637 Grenada Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grenada Cruise Port Review
  • San Juan
    NCL docks in the East pier out by the convention center - NOT directly in Old San Juan. $21 + $1 bag from airport to port. Much better choice than NCL transfer. I didn't do a NCL tour, but did a walking food tour of the old city that was really fun. We stayed at the Hyatt Place city hotel which is really across the street from the port - though a cab to port is still recommended (and very reasonable - like $10 or so).
    View All 3,797 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's San Juan Cruise Port Review
  • Ziplining
    it's in the Rain Forest - so expect RAIN. Wear a long-sleeve swim shirt, swim trunks, and reef shoes. Although you take the tram up, once you zip line you then have to climb back up the mountain. Think 10 slippery flights or more - lots of wheezing going on at the top. If you're not fully mobile and in decent shape (bad joints, smoker, etc), don't take this tour.
    View All 30 Ziplining Reviews