Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by SOOKIENY
- Sail Date: April 2009
- Destination: Transatlantic
- Cabin Type: Family Penthouse with Balcony
Cabin: We were in a Penthouse Suite (11512) on deck 11 forward right by the elevators. The cabin was very spacious and the bathroom was incredible. Double sink, bathtub with TV and window, separate shower with window as well. Since there were only two of us, my hubby used the second bedroom as his closet and dressing area. The second bathroom and shower was also a plus. Due to the strong breezes, we were rarely able to use the balcony while at sea. There are DVD players in the bedroom and living room, and they did have a DVD library, although most of the videos were old. Coffee machine used pods for both tea and coffee, which was not as good as the fresh bean machine we had on the Jade, but did the trick. It did break down during the week and it took a day to get it fixed
Ship: The Gem was just that. A beautiful and well kept ship, the crew was always cleaning and performing routine maintenance
Dinning: The biggest complaint I have is with the food. I found the dinners in the main dinning rooms rather mundane. Nothing was bad, just far from gourmet. The Garden Cafe (buffet) at dinner time was fair. We enjoyed Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. The Mexican restaurant was pretty good as well. Breakfast and lunch in Cagney's was a great perk. Blue Lagoon for a late night snack was good, although the service was rather slow
Sea Days: Our first five days were at sea. It was quite breezy and cool outside, so we were not able to enjoy much time out on deck. We had purchased a Spa Pass and spent many hours relaxing there with a good book. There were many activities and port lectures to choose from. The casino was open as well, and we did make our daily "deposit."
On our first sea day we had our Meet and Greet in the Magenta dinning room. It was attended by almost 100 of us. It was great to finally meet everyone we had been "talking" to for the past several months. Many of the officers attended as well. Our M&G organizer designed t-shirts which we were able to order before hand and wear for the M&G. They were a big hit on the ship. Great job Ron!
Day two, we held our CC Cabin Crawl. There was a large turn out for this as well. We managed to see cabin categories all over the ship. It was one long parade from one end of the ship to the other...and back again!
Our first port was Ponte Delgada, in the Azores. We arranged to tour with four of our CC friends. We got off the ship and set out to hire a taxi to take us around. There is a lack of vans on the island, so we needed two cars to take all of us. We split up three to a car, so one couple had to separate for the ride. We went to Sete Cidades, saw the blue and green crater lakes and the town. We stopped at many other wonderful points of interest as well. The island is so green it reminded us of Ireland. We had our driver drop us off in town on the way back to do some shopping and walked back to the ship along the seaport. We ate dinner that night in the Grand Pacific dinning room. Late night Quest game in the Spinnaker Lounge, always good for a laugh
Lisbon was wonderful. We joined another CC couple, hired a driver at the port and headed off for a wonderful tour. The tour company was ActionTur. Our driver Vitor was very knowledgeable and his English was good. Their web site is www.actiontur.pt. or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vitor showed us all of the highlights of Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, Belem, and the Alfama. Unfortunately, that day was a holiday and many of the museums were closed. The highlight of the day was the Belem Pastry shop, a must stop for the best pastry I have ever had. I highly recommend Vitor as a tour guide, he knew all the ins and outs of the city and we covered a lot of ground. We had Dinner in the Garden Cafe as we were exhausted after a long day of touring
Cadiz: Our day in Cadiz started out rainy. We got off the ship and headed to the Cathedral of Cadiz. By the time Mass was over, the sun started to come out and the day turned out beautiful. We followed the Cadiz walking tours around the city. They have each of the four tours marked by colored lines down the streets so that you can follow them easily. The walk along the shore was beautiful. Be sure to check out the trees along the water front, they are amazing. Being Sunday, many of the stores were closed. Dinner in the Mexican restaurant that night was pretty good
Malaga: Our stop in Malaga was terrific. We once again hired a taxi with CC friends and he took us to the wonderful town of La Ronda, a medieval village about half an hour ride from the pier. When we arrived, he set us up with a local guide who walked us through the town, telling us all the local history. As he described it, it is the "little Grand Canyon." I was amazed at the orange trees growing along the streets in the town. The area is steeped in Roman and Moorish history. We had a drink and snack in the town square before heading to the Cathedral of Malaga which is incredible. The art work there was amazing. Our driver was Jose Luis Torres. He spoke English, although not fluent. His cell number is 645 01 0608 and is taxi #1073. Dinner in the Grand Pacific was ok
The next day was a sea day. It was beautiful and sunny and the pool deck was crowded. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun. We also had a second meet and greet to catch up with each other. We ha dinner in the Magenta dinning room that night
Ajaccio: We walked around Ajaccio on our own. Many statues of Napoleon Bonaparte, as this was his birth place. There was a local market a few blocks from the pier that had local cheeses, fruit and cured meats. Walked the shopping district and then headed back to the ship. There was a cocktail party held in the courtyard for suite passengers that evening and then we ate dinner at Tepanyaki, which is always good
Rome: This was the day I had been looking forward to. We arrived in Rome and were off the ship by 8am. I had arranged a tour through RomeInLimo a few months before the trip. I had asked on our CC role call if anyone was interested in joining us and sharing the cost of the tour. (The price you are quoted is for 2-8 or 10 people for the day.) We were joined by two other couples. We were met by Duman, our driver as we got off the ship. He settled us into his Mercedes van and off we went. He was very knowledgeable and took us to so many places that the ship tours do not get to go. We walked around the Coliseum, Pantheon, threw coins into Trevi Fountain, saw the Spanish Steps and looked through the Keyhole with a view to St Peters. He also arranged a fantastic lunch at a Trattoria before we headed off to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. We had also booked a tour guide for the Vatican through RomeInLimo. I would highly recommend doing this. We had such an amazing day
Florence: The next day we arrived in Florence and found our driver Gian, also from RomeInLimo, waiting for us as we left the ship. It was a national holiday in Europe, so once again the museums were closed. We had arranged a winery tour in Tuscany with them before we left home. We headed off to Pisa and spent some time admiring the tower, and taking too many pictures before heading to Tuscany. Our first stop was at the medieval village of San Giminano. Although crowded because of the holiday, we really enjoyed strolling through the village, looking in the shops and having a gelato. Then it was off to the Torciano winery for lunch and wine tasting (drinking !!!!). I don't think I ever saw so many wine glasses on one table! We bought wine which they shipped directly to our home. We ended the day with a short stop at another village before heading back to the ship.
I highly recommend RomeInLimo for your Italy tours. They were the best tour company we have ever encountered. The Mercedes vans were clean and new, drivers knowledgeable and personable and the reservation process with Jany was a breeze. They were very easy to work with and our two days with them were stress free
Cannes: We are not too fond of ships excursions, but due to our short stay in Cannes, we chose a tour of St Paul De Vence that included a stop at a perfume factory through the cruise line. Although we enjoyed the perfume factory, our time there could have been shorter, giving more time to explore St Paul. Unfortunately, some people thought they were the only ones on the tour and had no regard for meeting times. Because of this, we got back to the pier later than expected and did not have enough time to walk around Cannes itselfBarcelona: What an incredible city. We spent two days post cruise at the NH DucDeLa Victoria Hotel, about two blocks off Las Ramblas. Our room was clean and spacious for a European hotel, with a little balcony overlooking the street in front of the hotel. We were off the ship by 9:30 and checked into our hotel by 10:30. The room was not ready, but they held our bags and off we went. We went to the Cathedral of Barcelona for the dancers at 12 pm and found many of our CC friends there as well. After the dancers, we bought tickets for the HoHo bus and spent the day touring the city. We had a great late afternoon lunch of Paella at a restaurant called Can Majo on the beach. Back on the HoHo and off to Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia. Don't miss it ! Las Ramblas was very interesting, the mimes were great, but watch your bags and wallets. Pickpockets abound! The next day we took the train to Montserrat which was beautiful. Take the cable car up and enjoy the view. Catch the choir in the cathedral at 1pm. The train ride out to Montserrat takes about an hour and very easy to do. Don't forget to have Tapas and Sangria at one of the many Tapas restaurants in Barcelona
Overall, this was an amazing cruise. The Gem is a great ship, clean and well kept. The crew was accommodating. Our Butler Jose and the Concierge Alex were always available and our room steward Antonio really went out of his way the day of the cabin crawl to have our cabin ready early.
We are looking forward to sailing on her again in October 2010!
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