After months of research, looking for a vacation for a group of 11 family members that included teenagers and senior citizens, we decided on the Gem. My wife and I have sailed on Princess, RCCI and our favorite, Holland America and were a little concerned about the reviews of NCL. Here is the good and bad as honest as I can be.
GEM - Beautiful ship, we were in a AE suite(aft) and it was great. Others were in Balcony and inside cabins and not one complaint was heard. Service was friendly and generally good.
Heave on port calls so activities on board were limited, fine for us. Embarkation and Deparkation was as smooth as any cruise line we have sailed. Tender service was smooth. Casino staff friendly.
DINING ROOM - Main dining room service was SLOW, servers were friendly but I think they are overworked, some trying to wait on up to 5 tables at a time. We would sometimes sit for 15 minutes before they would even take our order and the time between courses would sometimes be as much as 30 minutes. 3 hours for dinner is too long. The food was fine, nothing special, but no complaints. Just way to slow.
We ate at 2 specially resturants, Tequilla - pretty good and La Cucinna - pretty good.
Cagneys for breakfast and lunch was very good. Buffet was fair, room service was prompt.
One thing we enjoy is watching movies on our in cabin TV but on this NCL cruise, there was none. Poor selection of shows on TV and no movie theatre.
Bingo was too expensive, went to 2 shows, the magician was horrible and 2nd City was good.
For the price and overall quality of service and the ship, we had no regrets. Would go again in a heartbeat.
MALTA - Loved it, beautiful.
Naples - Surprised, really liked walking around and took taxi to Pompeii.
Civitecchia - Easy walk to train station for nice 50 minute train ride to Rome.
Livorno - Nice town for a lunch or walking around, 20 euro for taxi to train station, the train ride to Lucca and Pisa cost less.
Cannes - Nice surprise, beautiful city, walked right off tender, to old town, outdoor market on the way and lots of sidewalk cafes and loved the bakeries, ate bread as we shopped.
Barcelona - Beautiful city, big and lots of walking but the metro is clean and modern, would like to go back someday.
Suite AE 9172, large bathroom , small balcany, quiet hallway , aft was great.