This was our second cruise with Norwegian and we will definitely be sailing with them again. We spent a day in Old San Juan the day before our cruise. It is a beautiful city with some very interesting architecture. If you enjoy birds, check out Pigeon Park, it was a great experience. There is also a little place on Caleta de San Juan called Casa Melaza which is a rum boutique which was a neat experience. We watched a wedding at the church across the street as we sampled local rums. We stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan which was beautiful. It was a 10 minute or so cab ride to the Port. Embarkation was very easy and took a maximum of 45 minutes or so. We had no issues with our luggage making it to our room or anything of that sort. We very much enjoy the freestyle aspect of Norwegian as we don't really want to structure our day around dining. We at at Cagney's twice and both times the food was very good. The Japanese Steakhouse was also very good and very entertaining. We didn't care so much for the Brazilian Steakhouse; it was too rushed and too much food too quickly. The food was good, but we liked the other places better. We usually ate lunch in O'Sheehan's and it also was very good. The chicken wings are yummy - all the flavors. They have coney dogs too, which was a plus. Overall the service we received was excellent. We had a couple servers/bartenders that went over and above: Mark in the casino bar was very entertaining and always had a new drink for me before my old one ran out (we did have the unlimited beverage package which is a must for us as we like to drink - a lot). And Henrique in the pool area and the Martini lounge was absolutely awesome. He always had a smile on his face and suggested drinks when we were looking for something different. He also always had a new drink for us before our old ones were dry. On the entertainment front, we don't go to shows, but we fell in love with Leo, one of the lounge singers. We actually stalked him at times. He learned our names and where we were from (Michigan) the first time we saw him and every time after that, saw us and waved and said hi to his new friends from Michigan. We would go back on the Gem just for Leo. The ship itself was clean and in good shape. The public areas always seemed clean and well-stocked, if appropriate. We enjoyed the artwork throughout the ship as well. The staff was always smiling and saying good morning, etc. The adults-only pool was actually adults-only, which was great. The staff would nicely tell any children that wandered into the pool that they were to use the other pool.
We booked two excursions through Norwegian - the Dolphin Push Pull and Swim in St, Kitts and a Catamaran Champagne Snorkel Cruise in St. Thomas. Both of them were awesome. The Dolphin Push Pull and Swim is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We got to pet, kiss and swim with the dolphins. The dolphins are in a cove-type enclosure about a ten-minute ride from the port. You are not allowed to take cameras or cell phones, but you can buy pictures at the end. Well worth the money and a great experience. The Champagne Catamaran Cruise was the best part of our trip. The captain, Theresa, and the crew members, Brandon and Conner, were so informative, helpful and cute :-) On the way to the beach, they explained where we were and told us a bit about the islands we were seeing. They gave some basic snorkel instructions and let us go off on our own for an hour or so. They would even ferry you in to the beach if you didn't feel like snorkeling. After snorkeling, the fun began. They had snacks and chocolate and all the rum punch, beer and champagne we could drink. My glass was literally never empty. It was the perfect day. The ride back to the port (about 25 minutes) was much less hair-raising on the way back because of the punch. It is very hilly and steep terrain with extremely narrow roads. We took an "open" bus, which I also really enjoyed. We did two other excursions in Barbardos and St. Martin, a turtle swim and island tour, respectively, which I booked online and were also really fun. Maho Beach on St. Martin is a must-see, at least once. Disembarkation was a bit more frustrating than embarkation, but actually getting off the ship only took about 20 minutes. Customs on the other hand took about an hour and a half. There were only 4 lines which was no where near enough for the amount of people getting off the ship. This was just a minor irritation though and isn't discouraging us from booking another cruise on Norwegian next December.
Our stateroom was towards the rear of the ship and very quiet. The stateroom itself was as we expected, meaning small but sufficient for its intended use, which to us is sleeping, showering and enjoying the balcony, for the most part. The bathroom was the same size as the one we had last year on the Dawn which was a porthole room. Decent sized shower with great water pressure, and a toilet which has a door that can close it off from the rest of the bathroom. The bed was very comfortable and our steward was wonderful.
Not a whole lot to do close to the port.
Beautiful city with lots of history.