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Embarkation was very easy and fast. Since we were in a suite we got to go through the short line for security and there was no wait checking in and getting our key cards. We arrived at the port at 11:30, it took us approximately 15 minutes to get through security and get our cards. We waited about 10 to 15 minutes before we were cleared to board. By 12:15 we were in Cagney’s eating lunch. Cabins were ready sometime between 1:30 and 2:00. Our butler was Roshan who introduced himself within about 5 minutes of our entering the suite. Roshan always made sure we had everything we needed. He made sure I had a fresh bowl of the cracker and nut mix they serve at the bars when he found out I really liked it. My husband drinks multiple cups of green tea with honey during the day. Roshan made sure we always had plenty of green tea and honey. The steward was Aldrin. Aldrin always kept the suite looking perfect and was always friendly. The concierge was Elvina. Because I am a hyperplanner and already had all of our dining reservations and shore excursions booked before we even got on the ship, the only time we used Elvina was for priority boarding and priority disembarkation at the end of the cruise. Elvina always made herself available and made it clear that she was there if we needed her. A number of times she dropped by our table when we were at dinner just to see how things were going. The cruise director was Lorena and she was the best cruise director I have ever had on a cruise ship. She was hilarious and really seemed to love her job. Of the shows onboard, we saw Teacake (that really is the name on her birth certificate). She was an excellent singer. She sang a number of hits by Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. She did a very good job with the Aretha Franklin selections but her voice was best suited to Whitney Houston. I was very impressed with the job that she did with the acapella part of “I Will Always Love You”. We loved Blazin Boots and thought it was the best show we saw on the ship. We tried to see the 9 p.m. showing of Swing but it was cancelled because the lead singer lost his voice. We also saw Get Down Tonight – it was also pretty good although I was a little bored with the theme songs of 70’s t.v. shows. The Gem has a very talented entertainment group. We tried all of the restaurants at least once. Buffet: We ate at the buffet for one dinner (Indian night) and one lunch. Pretty typical buffet food. Cagney’s: Cagney’s was very good. I had the beet and goat cheese napoleon, petit filet minion and raspberry crème brulee. The napoleon was good although the drizzle of truffle oil added nothing for the dish and I think they probably should have left it off but I am not a fan of truffle oil, so maybe I am not the best judge. The steak was cooked perfectly. The raspberry crème brulee was the best dessert I had on the ship. Lunches for suite guests were served here also. Magenta: We ate here twice. It was a little more relaxed than the Grand Pacific. I had the French Onion Soup which was terrible. The prime rib was good and the crème brulee was good. Grand Pacific: I loved the atmosphere here. Here I had potato-leek soup, mushroom stroganoff and the crème caramel. Soup was good, the mushroom stroganoff was o.k. and the crème caramel was basically flan. Everything was o.k. Not outstanding but certainly edible. Orchid Garden: Had the egg drop soup which was basically a chicken and corn chowder – very good; kung pow chicken – not spicy enough, not enough peanuts and chicken and vegetables should have been cut smaller but the overall flavor was not bad. The green tea ice cream and chestnut and red bean squares were very good – not overly sweet. O’Sheehan’s: had one breakfast here – the corned beef hash – tasted good but the ratio of potato to corned beef was way off – probably 5 parts potato to 1 part corned beef. The reuben sandwhich was not the best reuben I have ever had but certainly not the worst – it is my go-to for O’Sheehan’s. I thought O’Sheehan’s was the weakest link of the dining venues on the Gem. The service was adequate but not the same level of friendliness I saw in the other restaurants (including the buffet). Moderno’s: I am not a huge meat eater but my husband is and he loved Moderno’s. My favorite was the Picanha and the grilled pineapple. I skipped dessert so I could have more of the pineapple. My husband had the rice pudding which he said was very good. Breakfasts for the suites were served here and they were hands down the best breakfasts. La Cucina: This was my and my son’s favorite of the restaurants although I had the worst dessert that I had the entire cruise. I had the gnocchi as an appetizer. The gnocchi was nice and tender – much better than what I usually get here in New Jersey where I think most restaurants use pre-packaged frozen gnocchi and it turns out tough when cooked. My favorite steak of the entire cruise was the gorgonzola-encrusted filet minon – delicious. My dessert was disappointing, however. I thought I was ordering a chocolate cake but what I got was a tart with some sort of gelatin-based chocolate filling that was pretty tasteless. My son and husband got the affogato which they both loved. Tepanyakki: Somewhat of a disappointment as far as the food goes. Food was o.k. but not great. The chefs were entertaining, though, and I would think this would be especially fun for kids. I had the chicken and shrimp tepanyakki combo – not bad but not memorable. My son had the chicken with udon noodles and my husband had the steak with udon noodles. My husband and I had the Fruit Sashimi – it was good but they indicate the fruits were “exotic” fruits but that was not the case. I had hoped to at least get mango. I believe I had honeydew melon, cantelope, and strawberries with 2 different sauces to dip them in. My son had the green tea cake which he said was very good. I am glad we went there but will skip this one on our next cruise. Le Bistro: Hands down this was my husband’s favorite restaurant. He and I had the steak with peppercorn sauce and he said it was the best steak he had on the ship. I had planned on getting the veal but the waiter talked me out of it. He said he had gotten a number of complaints that week about it being too tough. My son got the 4 mushroom soup – loved it and the boullabaise which he also said was excellent. I also had the French onion soup which was very good although a tad bit more salty than I like. I had some sort of napoleon for dessert which consisted of layers of chocolate and mouse in between. Good but very rich. Ports: Antigua – we did the Nelson’s Dockyard and Island Tour. We have a very informative guide – Nutiella. She gave us a lot of facts about the history of the island as we were driving to and from the locations on this tour, pointing out interesting sites along the way. Our first stop was the blockhouse ruins where we had spectacular views of the Atlantic side of the island. Out last stop was Nelson’s Dockyards where we were given a brief tour, treated to a rum punch in the tavern and had an opportunity to explore the Admiral’s House. Very good tour but I would like to have had an extra hour at Nelson’s Dockyard in order to more fully explore the area. We ate at Cutie’s near the dock before re-boarding the ship. Beautiful island. St. Lucia – it was apparent that this is the poorest of the 4 islands that we visited because the historic sites on this island were not as well restored. Sandals has 3 resorts on this island. You would think that they would donate some funding to help out with this. We did the Historical Island Tour. Our guide was Modwena and our driver was Glenn. They were both very good but I must say, I have never seen anyone drive a mini-bus up a narrow, winding mountainous road backwards before – I assume because there was no where to turn around upon leaving. We went to the La Toc Battery – an old British fort that has been somewhat restored due to the efforts of an American woman who has lived on St. Lucia for the last 40 years. We stopped at the St. Marks house – the home a colonial era wealthy merchant who lived in St. Lucia – the family graciously has opened the home up to the public. The views were spectacular. We went to Morne Fortune to see the Inniskilling monument where we were treated to more spectacular views of this beautiful, lush island. Our last stop was the fishing village of Anse la Raye. St. Kitts – my favorite of the islands we visited. Unfortunately we did not dock but had to tender in. This cut into our time on the island. We did the Best of St. Kitts and Fairview House. Our guide and driver was Winston who was excellent. We visited Fairview house which was an old 18th century home which is very well preserved – the house is opened for weddings and other special events. We went to Brimstone Hill Fortress which was very impressive. I understand why they are a UNCESCO World Heritage site. They had a visitor’s center that featured a short film that discussed the history of the fortress. Our next stop was Romney House and the Caribelle Batik factory. It is a fascinating process which produces beautiful fabrics. Our final stop was Timothy Hill in the Frigate Bay area. There were spectacular views from there and there were people there with monkeys and for a fee they would allow you to take a photo of yourself with the monkey – I declined. St. Thomas – we were only there from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. We did not do any excursions here but just walked to the downtime area – a long walk but interesting. This island is a long way from being fully up and running. The aftermath of the Hurricanes was apparent. I still felt good about coming here, though, because I felt that the island desperately is in need of tourist dollars in order to help them recover. Disembarkation was very orderly until you got past customs where it was a hot mess but that was due to the P.A. trying to funnel everyone in one line for pick up rather than letting us spread out. We just walked down a bit and climbed over the barriers to meet our driver. We hated having to leave and hope to sail the Gem again soon.

Incredibly Relaxing Cruise

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by JerseyMom

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2018
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Family Penthouse with Balcony
Embarkation was very easy and fast. Since we were in a suite we got to go through the short line for security and there was no wait checking in and getting our key cards. We arrived at the port at 11:30, it took us approximately 15 minutes to get through security and get our cards. We waited about 10 to 15 minutes before we were cleared to board. By 12:15 we were in Cagney’s eating lunch. Cabins were ready sometime between 1:30 and 2:00.

Our butler was Roshan who introduced himself within about 5 minutes of our entering the suite. Roshan always made sure we had everything we needed. He made sure I had a fresh bowl of the cracker and nut mix they serve at the bars when he found out I really liked it. My husband drinks multiple cups of green tea with honey during the day. Roshan made sure we always had plenty of green tea and honey. The steward was Aldrin. Aldrin always kept the suite looking perfect and was always friendly. The concierge was Elvina. Because I am a hyperplanner and already had all of our dining reservations and shore excursions booked before we even got on the ship, the only time we used Elvina was for priority boarding and priority disembarkation at the end of the cruise. Elvina always made herself available and made it clear that she was there if we needed her. A number of times she dropped by our table when we were at dinner just to see how things were going.

The cruise director was Lorena and she was the best cruise director I have ever had on a cruise ship. She was hilarious and really seemed to love her job.

Of the shows onboard, we saw Teacake (that really is the name on her birth certificate). She was an excellent singer. She sang a number of hits by Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. She did a very good job with the Aretha Franklin selections but her voice was best suited to Whitney Houston. I was very impressed with the job that she did with the acapella part of “I Will Always Love You”. We loved Blazin Boots and thought it was the best show we saw on the ship. We tried to see the 9 p.m. showing of Swing but it was cancelled because the lead singer lost his voice. We also saw Get Down Tonight – it was also pretty good although I was a little bored with the theme songs of 70’s t.v. shows. The Gem has a very talented entertainment group.

We tried all of the restaurants at least once.

Buffet:

We ate at the buffet for one dinner (Indian night) and one lunch. Pretty typical buffet food.

Cagney’s:

Cagney’s was very good. I had the beet and goat cheese napoleon, petit filet minion and raspberry crème brulee. The napoleon was good although the drizzle of truffle oil added nothing for the dish and I think they probably should have left it off but I am not a fan of truffle oil, so maybe I am not the best judge. The steak was cooked perfectly. The raspberry crème brulee was the best dessert I had on the ship. Lunches for suite guests were served here also.

Magenta:

We ate here twice. It was a little more relaxed than the Grand Pacific. I had the French Onion Soup which was terrible. The prime rib was good and the crème brulee was good.

Grand Pacific: I loved the atmosphere here. Here I had potato-leek soup, mushroom stroganoff and the crème caramel. Soup was good, the mushroom stroganoff was o.k. and the crème caramel was basically flan. Everything was o.k. Not outstanding but certainly edible.

Orchid Garden: Had the egg drop soup which was basically a chicken and corn chowder – very good; kung pow chicken – not spicy enough, not enough peanuts and chicken and vegetables should have been cut smaller but the overall flavor was not bad. The green tea ice cream and chestnut and red bean squares were very good – not overly sweet.

O’Sheehan’s: had one breakfast here – the corned beef hash – tasted good but the ratio of potato to corned beef was way off – probably 5 parts potato to 1 part corned beef. The reuben sandwhich was not the best reuben I have ever had but certainly not the worst – it is my go-to for O’Sheehan’s. I thought O’Sheehan’s was the weakest link of the dining venues on the Gem. The service was adequate but not the same level of friendliness I saw in the other restaurants (including the buffet).

Moderno’s: I am not a huge meat eater but my husband is and he loved Moderno’s. My favorite was the Picanha and the grilled pineapple. I skipped dessert so I could have more of the pineapple. My husband had the rice pudding which he said was very good. Breakfasts for the suites were served here and they were hands down the best breakfasts.

La Cucina: This was my and my son’s favorite of the restaurants although I had the worst dessert that I had the entire cruise. I had the gnocchi as an appetizer. The gnocchi was nice and tender – much better than what I usually get here in New Jersey where I think most restaurants use pre-packaged frozen gnocchi and it turns out tough when cooked. My favorite steak of the entire cruise was the gorgonzola-encrusted filet minon – delicious. My dessert was disappointing, however. I thought I was ordering a chocolate cake but what I got was a tart with some sort of gelatin-based chocolate filling that was pretty tasteless. My son and husband got the affogato which they both loved.

Tepanyakki: Somewhat of a disappointment as far as the food goes. Food was o.k. but not great. The chefs were entertaining, though, and I would think this would be especially fun for kids. I had the chicken and shrimp tepanyakki combo – not bad but not memorable. My son had the chicken with udon noodles and my husband had the steak with udon noodles. My husband and I had the Fruit Sashimi – it was good but they indicate the fruits were “exotic” fruits but that was not the case. I had hoped to at least get mango. I believe I had honeydew melon, cantelope, and strawberries with 2 different sauces to dip them in. My son had the green tea cake which he said was very good. I am glad we went there but will skip this one on our next cruise.

Le Bistro: Hands down this was my husband’s favorite restaurant. He and I had the steak with peppercorn sauce and he said it was the best steak he had on the ship. I had planned on getting the veal but the waiter talked me out of it. He said he had gotten a number of complaints that week about it being too tough. My son got the 4 mushroom soup – loved it and the boullabaise which he also said was excellent. I also had the French onion soup which was very good although a tad bit more salty than I like. I had some sort of napoleon for dessert which consisted of layers of chocolate and mouse in between. Good but very rich.

Ports:

Antigua – we did the Nelson’s Dockyard and Island Tour. We have a very informative guide – Nutiella. She gave us a lot of facts about the history of the island as we were driving to and from the locations on this tour, pointing out interesting sites along the way. Our first stop was the blockhouse ruins where we had spectacular views of the Atlantic side of the island. Out last stop was Nelson’s Dockyards where we were given a brief tour, treated to a rum punch in the tavern and had an opportunity to explore the Admiral’s House. Very good tour but I would like to have had an extra hour at Nelson’s Dockyard in order to more fully explore the area. We ate at Cutie’s near the dock before re-boarding the ship. Beautiful island.

St. Lucia – it was apparent that this is the poorest of the 4 islands that we visited because the historic sites on this island were not as well restored. Sandals has 3 resorts on this island. You would think that they would donate some funding to help out with this. We did the Historical Island Tour. Our guide was Modwena and our driver was Glenn. They were both very good but I must say, I have never seen anyone drive a mini-bus up a narrow, winding mountainous road backwards before – I assume because there was no where to turn around upon leaving. We went to the La Toc Battery – an old British fort that has been somewhat restored due to the efforts of an American woman who has lived on St. Lucia for the last 40 years. We stopped at the St. Marks house – the home a colonial era wealthy merchant who lived in St. Lucia – the family graciously has opened the home up to the public. The views were spectacular. We went to Morne Fortune to see the Inniskilling monument where we were treated to more spectacular views of this beautiful, lush island. Our last stop was the fishing village of Anse la Raye.

St. Kitts – my favorite of the islands we visited. Unfortunately we did not dock but had to tender in. This cut into our time on the island. We did the Best of St. Kitts and Fairview House. Our guide and driver was Winston who was excellent. We visited Fairview house which was an old 18th century home which is very well preserved – the house is opened for weddings and other special events. We went to Brimstone Hill Fortress which was very impressive. I understand why they are a UNCESCO World Heritage site. They had a visitor’s center that featured a short film that discussed the history of the fortress. Our next stop was Romney House and the Caribelle Batik factory. It is a fascinating process which produces beautiful fabrics. Our final stop was Timothy Hill in the Frigate Bay area. There were spectacular views from there and there were people there with monkeys and for a fee they would allow you to take a photo of yourself with the monkey – I declined.

St. Thomas – we were only there from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. We did not do any excursions here but just walked to the downtime area – a long walk but interesting. This island is a long way from being fully up and running. The aftermath of the Hurricanes was apparent. I still felt good about coming here, though, because I felt that the island desperately is in need of tourist dollars in order to help them recover.

Disembarkation was very orderly until you got past customs where it was a hot mess but that was due to the P.A. trying to funnel everyone in one line for pick up rather than letting us spread out. We just walked down a bit and climbed over the barriers to meet our driver.

We hated having to leave and hope to sail the Gem again soon.
JerseyMom’s Full Rating Summary
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Dining
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Cabin Review

Family Penthouse with Balcony
Cabin SC 11006
Our cabin was the Emerald Penthouse – a non-Haven suite. It was a 2 bedroom, 2 bath suite on deck 11. In the suite was my husband and I and our 22 year old son. There was plenty of space so we didn’t feel like we were on top of each other for the 10-day cruise. The 2nd bedroom was small but adequate. I believe the bathroom for the 2nd bedroom was about the same size as a bathroom in a regular cabin. The master bedroom had a king-size bed that was very comfortable. The master bath was huge. Sometimes we all wanted to watch something different on t.v. just before bed and that is where the 3 of the 4 t.v.s in the suite came in handy. We never even turned on the 4th t.v. which was over the tub. One of the best perk was getting to have breakfast in Moderno and lunch in Cagney’s. Every meal we had in these locations was excellent.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Island Tour
    We did the Nelson’s Dockyard and Island Tour. We have a very informative guide – Nutiella. She gave us a lot of facts about the history of the island as we were driving to and from the locations on this tour, pointing out interesting sites along the way. Our first stop was the blockhouse ruins where we had spectacular views of the Atlantic side of the island. Out last stop was Nelson’s Dockyards where we were given a brief tour, treated to a rum punch in the tavern and had an opportunity to explore the Admiral’s House. Very good tour but I would like to have had an extra hour at Nelson’s Dockyard in order to more fully explore the area. We ate at Cutie’s near the dock before re-boarding the ship. Beautiful island.
    View All 170 Island Tour Reviews
  • Brimstone Hill Tour
    My favorite of the islands we visited. Unfortunately we did not dock but had to tender in. This cut into our time on the island. We did the Best of St. Kitts and Fairview House. Our guide and driver was Winston who was excellent. We visited Fairview house which was an old 18th century home which is very well preserved – the house is opened for weddings and other special events. We went to Brimstone Hill Fortress which was very impressive. I understand why they are a UNCESCO World Heritage site. They had a visitor’s center that featured a short film that discussed the history of the fortress. Our next stop was Romney House and the Caribelle Batik factory. It is a fascinating process which produces beautiful fabrics. Our final stop was Timothy Hill in the Frigate Bay area. There were spectacular views from there and there were people there with monkeys and for a fee they would allow you to take a photo of yourself with the monkey – I declined.
    View All 58 Brimstone Hill Tour Reviews
  • Island Tour
    We did the Historical Island Tour. Our guide was Modwena and our driver was Glenn. They were both very good but I must say, I have never seen anyone drive a mini-bus up a narrow, winding mountainous road backwards before – I assume because there was no where to turn around upon leaving. We went to the La Toc Battery – an old British fort that has been somewhat restored due to the efforts of an American woman who has lived on St. Lucia for the last 40 years. We stopped at the St. Marks house – the home a colonial era wealthy merchant who lived in St. Lucia – the family graciously has opened the home up to the public. The views were spectacular. We went to Morne Fortune to see the Inniskilling monument where we were treated to more spectacular views of this beautiful, lush island. Our last stop was the fishing village of Anse la Raye.
    View All 261 Island Tour Reviews
  • St. Thomas
    We were only there from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. We did not do any excursions here but just walked to the downtime area – a long walk but interesting. This island is a long way from being fully up and running. The aftermath of the Hurricanes was apparent. I still felt good about coming here, though, because I felt that the island desperately is in need of tourist dollars in order to help them recover.
    View All 4,729 St. Thomas Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Thomas Cruise Port Review