We chose this cruise as we have never cruised "north" and have never been to Canada. It is a good mix of ports with some beautiful sights to see.
Embarkation: We got through security quickly and right online to check in. As we got online a person handed us a Canadian Customs form...with no instructions or even if we had to fill it out right then (you did). People were filling them out wrong and having to redo them. Many people didn't have a pen as you're not expecting to fill out a form while waiting online to check in. This delayed the check-in process for many people and the lack of instruction on what to do with the form we were given compounded the problem. That being said once we started the actual check in process it went smoothly. We got out pictures taken and room keys issued. They were no longer calling people to board by groups, you could go right on board once you got your keys, which we did. We were onboard by just after noon. We went to the pool area and got a table and had some lunch there (burgers, dogs, grilled chicken, salads, etc.). They called all rooms ready about 1:30 and we went to and dropped off our carry ons. Our luggage was all delivered around 5:30. Aside from the Canadian customs form issue boarding was very smooth.
Food: The food ranged from incredible (Le Bistro) to excellent (La Cucina & Cagneys) to some downright inedible things at the Garden Café (French toast was exceptionally bad and the scrambled eggs were like soup and barely firm many times). Also the coffee in the Garden Café is just plain bad! It was good at the specialty restaurants and coffee bar, but not at the buffet! For the most part though the Garden Café had a good variety of good food. Whole roast turkey for "American" night was excellent. They had whole roasted suckling pig another night which was also very good. We had the three meal specialty dining package (We did Le Bistro, La Cucina, and Cagneys....all excellent). We ate in the Magenta main dining room the first night and the food was also really good with a good variety of things to choose from. We had lunch in O'Sheehans one afternoon and that was also fine for bar type food. Also most afternoons they had charcoal grills set up in the pool area and grilled a wide variety of things. Our favorite being a seafood/rice dish with grilled veggies. Really good! Unless you're really a snob the food is more than adequate and delicious.
Entertainment: Our favorite was Nadeen the hypnotist. Very entertaining and put on a great show! Second City comics also did some good improv. We participated in some "game shows" - Last Man Standing for example and also music trivia. The cruise directors were very engaging and entertaining and did a good job of keeping people busy. There was always something to do if you wanted too. A small downside of cruising to the north...the pools were very cool, most people didn't go swimming and just sat out on the lounge chairs.
Getting off the ship: Our bus was not picking us up until about 10:30 so we did not rush off the ship. We had breakfast then walked our own luggage off so we didn't have to try to find it in a sea of luggage at customs. We got right off the ship with no lines and got right through customs.
All in all it was a great cruise. This is our second time on the Gem and it's a fine ship with a great crew that, in our experience, goes out of their way to be helpful and make sure you enjoy yourselves. Highly recommended.
Ours was a standard family balcony. The room was kept very neat and clean by our cabin steward Michael, who was always very friendly and helpful when we ran into him. He also remembered our names right from day one. The bathroom is the same size as what's in the Oceanview rooms but was fine. We had our daughter with us on this cruise and she slept on the pull out couch. She said it was kinda hard but she is a sound sleeper and it wasn't a problem. The only slightly annoying thing was that when the couch bed was pulled out you had to climb over it to get out to the balcony. Three people was doable and they say you can add a fourth person, who would sleep in a bed that drops down from the ceiling but I personally feel that would be pushing it. The room is really most comfortable for two people. There is the usual small TV which we only used to see our location on the map and to check our account balance. There is also a small safe and fridge, which worked well. A little over halfway through the cruise we got a notice they were doing "renovations" on our room. They ended up putting in new carpet in our cabin and in many others. They put the furniture out on the balcony and our luggage in the bathroom. The job was done pretty quickly and neatly and with no inconvenience to us as we were out of the cabin and doing activities on the ship. We also all received an unknown $27 onboard credit which I am guessing was for the carpet replacement. Cabin 10148 is a starboard/aft cabin near the stairs and elevators. It was easy to just go down three decks for breakfast or to sit out on the fantail.
We did the Peggy's Cove & Titanic Cemetery excursion through NCL. Well worth it. We had a knowledgeable guide and saw some awesome sights!View All 245 Peggy's Cove Reviews
Standard port, not much to do at the terminal but they are efficient in moving people!
We just walked around the dock area and did some shopping and had lunch at the Portland Lobster Company. Cute city.
We did the Fundy Fun Race through NCL. Kind of a Scavenger Hunt through the city. Fun and we saw a good amount of local sites. Lots of walking though, not meant for people with limited mobility.View All 35 City Tour Reviews
We did the "Intimate Look at Acadia National Park", booked through NCL. We drove around a lot and only had two stops of about 20 minutes each. One at the top of Cadillac Mountain, which was breathtaking, but it felt rushed and I ended up running around just trying to snap pictures instead of enjoying the sights. The other stop was at Thunderhole. Not enough time there either and the tide was low so no thunder from the hole, lol. Not sure if I'd recommend this excursion.View All 236 Acadia National Park Reviews