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Location and timing were the reason we booked this cruise: Timing was important as we cruised during the 3rd week of August which was after my daughters summer camp ended and before gearing up for back to school, and it was sailing out of NY so I would not need to bother with the additional expense of airfare. However I found the overall experience to be 'blah' at best. First the good - our mini suite cabin was comfortable for the three of us and the cabin steward did a wonderful job of keeping it clean and staying out of our way. Also the embarkation and self-disembarkation process went smoothly - I highly recommend self disembarkation if you are traveling relatively light and can haul off your own bags without assistance. We were back home in Central NJ within 90 minutes of starting the process of getting off the ship. We only upgraded to specialty dining one night - Cagney's the steakhouse was excellent. Most other nights we ate in either of the main dining rooms - Great Pacific and Magenta - however they obviously share the same kitchen and served the same menu so I didn't really get the point of calling them two separate dining experiences. They both did a decent job and meals were pretty good, but service was spotty which I think was a result of the free style dining approach which didn't provide any continuity of servers. The staff of the Splash Academy was generally very friendly and my daughter truly enjoyed her time with them. Now the not so good: Many rude and slovenly guests... maybe that's why the staff didn't seem overly friendly. The ship was not extremely clean - in fact the buffet dining area was pretty gross at times and the quality of the food in the buffet was rather bland. And you generally had to fight to get a table. Entertainment options for younger kids was limited - unless they were in the Splash Academy kids program which kept my 4 year old daughter entertained, otherwise once she conquered the climbing wall and did the waterslide a dozen times there was very little for her to do. The family pool was too deep for a 4 year old, and the kiddie pool was ridiculous. Pool deck was very crowded and the activities staff did nothing to discourage the annoying habit many guests have of going out early AM to reserve a lounge chair but then disappearing for many hours of the day leaving the chairs empty while other guests searched desperately to find a seat when they actually wanted to be present in the pool area. Adult entertainment was average at best - Duo Quintessa, the aerial performers were terrific, but the song and dance performers where pretty standard. The comedian was weak, the solo pianist was repetitive, and the lounge band was ok, but far from great. Most disappointing experience was the Norwegian private island Great Stirrup Cay - the tender transport was tedious, the swimming area was very rocky, and the food service was abysmal. They tell you over and over to hydrate but the buffet area had very limited hydration stations. The least they could do was give out bottled water - that's what Disney does on it's private island. Couldn't find any servers working the beach chair area either to offer drink service. We were really underwhelmed by that entire stop. Excursion time at Port Canaveral was too short. We only took the trip to Kennedy Space Center which was just a 25 minute drive from the ship - and didn't have enough time to do it justice. I can't imagine that anyone who took the excursions in to Orlando (about a 90 minute ride each way) would have had quality time at Disney or Universal. We did have a good visit to AquaAdventure at Atlantis when we got to Nassau which was a good stop and well worth the price.

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Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by mtaylor22

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2018
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Location and timing were the reason we booked this cruise: Timing was important as we cruised during the 3rd week of August which was after my daughters summer camp ended and before gearing up for back to school, and it was sailing out of NY so I would not need to bother with the additional expense of airfare. However I found the overall experience to be 'blah' at best.

First the good - our mini suite cabin was comfortable for the three of us and the cabin steward did a wonderful job of keeping it clean and staying out of our way. Also the embarkation and self-disembarkation process went smoothly - I highly recommend self disembarkation if you are traveling relatively light and can haul off your own bags without assistance. We were back home in Central NJ within 90 minutes of starting the process of getting off the ship. We only upgraded to specialty dining one night - Cagney's the steakhouse was excellent. Most other nights we ate in either of the main dining rooms - Great Pacific and Magenta - however they obviously share the same kitchen and served the same menu so I didn't really get the point of calling them two separate dining experiences. They both did a decent job and meals were pretty good, but service was spotty which I think was a result of the free style dining approach which didn't provide any continuity of servers. The staff of the Splash Academy was generally very friendly and my daughter truly enjoyed her time with them.

Now the not so good: Many rude and slovenly guests... maybe that's why the staff didn't seem overly friendly. The ship was not extremely clean - in fact the buffet dining area was pretty gross at times and the quality of the food in the buffet was rather bland. And you generally had to fight to get a table. Entertainment options for younger kids was limited - unless they were in the Splash Academy kids program which kept my 4 year old daughter entertained, otherwise once she conquered the climbing wall and did the waterslide a dozen times there was very little for her to do. The family pool was too deep for a 4 year old, and the kiddie pool was ridiculous. Pool deck was very crowded and the activities staff did nothing to discourage the annoying habit many guests have of going out early AM to reserve a lounge chair but then disappearing for many hours of the day leaving the chairs empty while other guests searched desperately to find a seat when they actually wanted to be present in the pool area.

Adult entertainment was average at best - Duo Quintessa, the aerial performers were terrific, but the song and dance performers where pretty standard. The comedian was weak, the solo pianist was repetitive, and the lounge band was ok, but far from great. Most disappointing experience was the Norwegian private island Great Stirrup Cay - the tender transport was tedious, the swimming area was very rocky, and the food service was abysmal. They tell you over and over to hydrate but the buffet area had very limited hydration stations. The least they could do was give out bottled water - that's what Disney does on it's private island. Couldn't find any servers working the beach chair area either to offer drink service. We were really underwhelmed by that entire stop. Excursion time at Port Canaveral was too short. We only took the trip to Kennedy Space Center which was just a 25 minute drive from the ship - and didn't have enough time to do it justice. I can't imagine that anyone who took the excursions in to Orlando (about a 90 minute ride each way) would have had quality time at Disney or Universal. We did have a good visit to AquaAdventure at Atlantis when we got to Nassau which was a good stop and well worth the price.
mtaylor22’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 3 to 6
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MA 11040
Excellent - Great location in mid ship, good sized and reasonably comfortable main bed, ample sized fold out bed for our daughter, good balcony, good sized bathroom, clean room with excellent service by the cabin steward. Only downside was terrible channel selection on TV.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins