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We are a 50+ couple that decided to go on this cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We had been on a cruise to the Caribbean on Carnival 10 years ago so we were familiar with cruising. The idea of Freestyle cruising attracted us because of the casual aspect when it comes to dining. I learned from the Carnival cruise you select a dining time, get dressed up and sit with the same group whether you like them or not. If you miss the time you are SOL. With Freestyle you can get dressed up or not. I would prefer to sit with just my wife and eat whenever and wherever I want. This worked out well for us. Naturally the Garden Cafe which is buffet style can get crowded and a little crazy depending when you go but I had no complaint with the variety and quality of selections offered. There was something for everyone. The "free" restaurants Magenta and Grand Pacific were fancy, had great food including "cooking light" dishes and we found the service fine. They did however get crowded because they were free. We ate at LeBistro French and Cagney's Steakhouse and they both were outstanding with service and the food. After all what's another $10 or $20 when you are on vacation. We had a porthole room on the 4th deck and loved it. Perfectly adequate for the amount of time you are in it. The only complaint I had was with the dial on the outside of the door that could rotate from "Welcome, Make up room, Do not disturb". We went on an excursion one day and set it on "make up room" and came back to a messy room because someone changed it to "do not disturb". I saw a kid playing with the dials and I also saw an adult too. After a call to guest service the room was quickly cleaned. The top nationality of people on board was Spanish followed by USA, UK, French, German Malta and all others. The ship starts in Barcelona and I think some Spanish will bring the kids for a vacation but there is not a lot for the kids to do so they will horse around. We did not care to use the pool so we don't care about that. We did find the "quiet" sunning area up past the climbing wall on the 14th deck which was really nice and quiet. It's no surprise that the cruise line makes it's money on all the extras so if you are going to complain about it then don't go. We went on one of the ship's excursions every day and loved every one. We even got the last one, a $194 value for free! The ship's excursions will always wait for you to get back. If you go on your own I can't see how you will know all the information that the tour guides tell you. Also with a group you bypass the long lines other's are waiting on, further optimizing your time. Sometimes we had to be on the excursion early but we came to see Europe, not sleep late. The excursions did seem to cost more in Europe but with 3 of them we had a great meal with wine and dessert. There was plenty of things to do on the ship and were never at a loss for something to do. The staff were always friendly even when we had a hospital charge added to our bill. It was a clerical error and was immediately corrected. We definitely going on another "Freestyle" cruise again, in fact we are planning it now.

GEMtastic!

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by skibo44

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: September 2009
  • Destination: Western Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Oceanview Porthole Window
We are a 50+ couple that decided to go on this cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We had been on a cruise to the Caribbean on Carnival 10 years ago so we were familiar with cruising. The idea of Freestyle cruising attracted us because of the casual aspect when it comes to dining. I learned from the Carnival cruise you select a dining time, get dressed up and sit with the same group whether you like them or not. If you miss the time you are SOL. With Freestyle you can get dressed up or not. I would prefer to sit with just my wife and eat whenever and wherever I want. This worked out well for us. Naturally the Garden Cafe which is buffet style can get crowded and a little crazy depending when you go but I had no complaint with the variety and quality of selections offered. There was something for everyone. The "free" restaurants Magenta and Grand Pacific were fancy, had great food including "cooking light" dishes and we found the service fine. They did however get crowded because they were free. We ate at LeBistro French and Cagney's Steakhouse and they both were outstanding with service and the food. After all what's another $10 or $20 when you are on vacation. We had a porthole room on the 4th deck and loved it. Perfectly adequate for the amount of time you are in it. The only complaint I had was with the dial on the outside of the door that could rotate from "Welcome, Make up room, Do not disturb". We went on an excursion one day and set it on "make up room" and came back to a messy room because someone changed it to "do not disturb". I saw a kid playing with the dials and I also saw an adult too. After a call to guest service the room was quickly cleaned. The top nationality of people on board was Spanish followed by USA, UK, French, German Malta and all others. The ship starts in Barcelona and I think some Spanish will bring the kids for a vacation but there is not a lot for the kids to do so they will horse around. We did not care to use the pool so we don't care about that. We did find the "quiet" sunning area up past the climbing wall on the 14th deck which was really nice and quiet. It's no surprise that the cruise line makes it's money on all the extras so if you are going to complain about it then don't go. We went on one of the ship's excursions every day and loved every one. We even got the last one, a $194 value for free! The ship's excursions will always wait for you to get back. If you go on your own I can't see how you will know all the information that the tour guides tell you. Also with a group you bypass the long lines other's are waiting on, further optimizing your time. Sometimes we had to be on the excursion early but we came to see Europe, not sleep late. The excursions did seem to cost more in Europe but with 3 of them we had a great meal with wine and dessert. There was plenty of things to do on the ship and were never at a loss for something to do. The staff were always friendly even when we had a hospital charge added to our bill. It was a clerical error and was immediately corrected. We definitely going on another "Freestyle" cruise again, in fact we are planning it now.
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Oceanview Porthole Window
Cabin OF 4586
We had a porthole on the 4th deck. It was perfectly adequate and cool to look out the porthole and watch the water go by or pull into port in the morning.
Deck 5 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barcelona
    Barcelona is where the ship starts and stops. We actually arrived a day early and visited Barcelona. It's a good idea to do this to get used to the time change also. Of course take a walk down LaRambla and the Park. We did not take a tour but you could. We ate at the Hard Rock Barcelona and it was great.
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  • Cannes
    This last tour requires an early start, hence the reason some on board decide not to take a tour but they are missing out on a great day. We have to tender over to Cannes by the small boats. Then our bus takes us on a scenic ride over to Monte Carlo where we see how the rich live and the streets where the Race is run on. We see the Casino and at one point can take a photo of three countries Monaco, France, Italy. On to see where the Prince of Monaco lives. Absolutely beautiful. No graffiti here in fact very clean. We visit the church where Princess Grace is buried. After another ride around the countryside we come to Eze which is a medieval village on top of a huge rock. After browsing the village make sure you go up to the very top. It cost 5 Euros to go the rest of the way to the top but the view is amazing and worth it in my opinion. Many films were shot here because of the view. After a little time for shopping we head back along the French Riviera. A beautiful beach which was quite busy. It was a great way to wrap up our vacation.
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  • Florence (Livorno)
    Even though seeing Florence and Pisa was a good tour, it just did not measure up to the Rome tour we took the day before. As with Rome, Florence is quite a drive from the port and there is no bathroom on the bus so be easy with the coffee this morning. You will have to pay for the bathroom near the Cathedral. The Cathedral is beautiful and it has Michelangelo and a few others buried here. I would have loved to go up to the top but it is not part of this tour. Florence is filled with art but like Rome it is filled with graffiti also. It's a shame. After a nice lunch at a beautiful catering hall we headed to the leaning tower of Pisa. The countryside is beautiful. There is not much to the old Pisa except for a church and the tower. We had to take the picture of holding up the tower of course before the Pisa security whistle us off the grass. I would have liked to climb the tower but that is a different tour that they cancelled on us because of lack of interest.
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  • Malta (Valletta)
    We did the "Ultimate Malta" and was pleasantly surprised. We did not know much about this small country but after this tour we did. About 12 of us in a comfortable van with a great tour guide took us to the 3 cities. We took a boat ride around the harbor, visited a church and a Grand Marquis home and museum. We learned from 5000 BC what a significant role this country played in history and why many people wanted to control it.
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  • Naples
    Naples is the port but the tour was "Capri, Sorrento & Pompeii". We had an excellent tour guide "Enzo" starting with Pompeii and a Cameo shop. They give you time to buy here too but we just looked. Enzo was very informative about the history of Pompeii. This is when we were introduced to the small radios that everyone gets to wear to hear the tour guide It was strange at first but really made sense instead of yelling. It keeps the group together because when the tour guide starts "breaking up" then it's a clue to catch up with the group. After that we dined at a nice place in Sorrento and had some time to do some shopping. We walked down to our boat and motored over to the Isle Of Capri. What a beautiful place! We went up in a cable car and spent about an hour wandering around this paradise.
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  • Rome (Civitavecchia)
    Rome wasn't built in a day and it's impossible to see in a day so we had a hard time deciding what was the most desirable tour. We had to give up the Sistine Chapel to go on the Eternal Rome & the Colosseum tour because we really wanted to see the inside of the Colosseum and St Clemen besides the St Peter's. This is a longer trip to get to Rome so I remind you to use the rest stop the bus will stop at because the bathrooms in some of Italy are not so nice. We had the small radios and Sabina as our guide. I like the Italian accents of the tour guides. We met up with another guide who was very knowledgeable about all we saw staring with St Clemen's Cathedral which is 3 churches built on top of each other. Then we walk past the training area for the Gladiators before we get to the Colosseum. This is a sight to see in person. Huge and old. Just imagine what went on in there. Right here is when we notice the long line for general tourists and us as a tour bypassed them and went right in. After lots of pictures then lunch and over to St Peter's. WOW! We are just taken back with this marvel. The immense size of this place. Everything is BIG! Again the tour guide is magnificent in explaining everything in St. Peter's. So much! Make sure to mail a postcard here from the Vatican City souvenir shop.
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