My husband and I decided to leave the kids at home for this cruise (they are 20 and 24 !). It was a semi-retirement gift for my husband and he has always wanted to go to Italy. We flew over from America a week before the cruise and stayed in Madrid first before fly to Barcelona to join the ship. We are novice cruisers, so admittedly we don't have a lot to compare it to but the Norwegian Gem is an absolutely beautiful ship.
EMBARKATION: Was a breeze. They had a separate line for balconie and suites and from the time the cab dropped us off until the time we made it to the lobby it was about 15 minutes. Very smooth. As we entered we were given champagne and orange juice and a girl was playing piano. She was so good we sat and listened to her before exploring the ship. There is a huge screen TV in the lobby and it is very impressive !
CABIN: It was quite adequate and because of the balcony it felt much bigger. As the cruise went on we were hardly there any way so it really didn't matter. We had to attend a lifeboat presentation just after that and that's when the the tiredness set in ! Had to go to sleep for a while and may I say that the bed was very comfortable. Unfortunately we had very noisy neighbors, but that was not NCL's fault of course. The walls seemed kind of thin, but no different to any other hotel we have been in.