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Panama Canal was on our Bucket list and with 19 days aboard the Gem, we couldn't resist. First a little information about us, I would consider us Newbies to cruising since we only sailed on NCL ( this was our 13th cruise ). NCL makes sense for us since they offer different ships/types and itineraries out of NYC. This was our 6th time aboard the Gem. Here are my random observations. We flew out to Vegas for a few days before the cruise, then an early Sunday morning flight into LAX. We took the NCL shuttle to the pier, had no issues in locating the reps. Short wait for the bus. Since it was Sunday morning the ride to the pier took about 30 mins. From the time we got off the bus to board the ship, it was less than 45 mins. Our cabin, 8604 ( type OA, ocean view ) was right down the hall from O'Sheehan's was available around 2 PM. We had issues with the shower drain backing up into the drain under the sink but it was finally corrected on the second day. Cabin Steward was excellent ( first cruise back from vacation ), and by the third day knew our routine. The ship was in great shape ( last dry dock 2015 ), all public areas were well kept. Maintenance and painting was observed daily. Only negative comment is for the railing on deck #13 near the basketball court. They used a 2x4 to replace the rail and it was a rough finish that could cause a splinter. We purchased a 6 meal plan and along with our 2 free meals ( Platinum perk ) we spent several nights at Cagney's. It was strange that on most nights it was almost empty. Our only complaint was that they changed the mac n cheese to Kraft, it was terrible. Food and service was top notch. We had two meals in LeBristo, service was exceptional but the food seemed to be off compared to our last cruise aboard the Breakaway. Taste was bland to me. We also had one meal in La Cucina, food was OK but I kept feeling like we are eating in the Buffet. Other nights were spent in Magenta, had no issues in getting a table if you arrived before 6pm. Had to laugh at the folks standing in line at the Grand Pacific, while there was none at Magenta. Can a guy get a hamburger? O'Sheehan's - burnt, every time. Topsiders - raw, most of the time. Before I forget, the crew, from the captain to washy washy girls, fantastic, one of the best if not the best. Bars - Great time, great bartenders ( Sherwin - Boom Boom at Spinnaker and Lennie \ crew at Shakers ). Never had to wait more than a few minutes before getting served. PAX, I was told the average age was 64 but some nights up in Spinnaker I thought it was a Holland America cruise. The entertainment at bar central ( Shakers ) was exceptional, from Leo to Vibe quartet to the Gem band. Only two main shows standout for me, the piano guy and that checkerboard guy. Everything else was average Cruise Director staff, have to say it, bad. Poor attendance / cancelled Bingo sessions. Announced that they had a $2000 dollar pull tab winner but kept selling out of the same box. Morning show was a joke, stopped watching by the third day. The cruise director was OK but the staff is a reflection of her. Ports of call. Mexico - Tender in on our first two stops, tender process was real slow on the first stop, Cabo. The second stop, Puerto Vallarta had a dock issue. Almost a two foot drop from the tender to the dock, those who had a mobility issues had problems. These two stops felt safe in both, just wander around. Manzanillo, stayed close to the ship. Puerto Quetzal - Guatemala and Corinto - Nicaragua as per the State Department warnings stayed real close to the ship. The visitor center ( new cruise terminal ? ) in Guatemala even had a guard tower, manned. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Walked around the town in the morning and took an NCL excursion in the afternoon. Panama Canal, Transit - Exceptional performance by NCL. Cartagena, Columbia - Great place to visit except for the hawkers. Made it almost impossible to enjoy the city. Very pushing and relentless. Santa Marta, Columbia - container port, they could have skipped this port too. ABC islands - always a great, safe place to visit. Finally, Thank you to the CC members who attended the meet and mingle, slot pull, pub crawl, to the members who arranged shore excursions and the cruise T shirt

Panama Canal was on our bucket list .

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by JIMESOPUS

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Trip Details
Panama Canal was on our Bucket list and with 19 days aboard the Gem, we couldn't resist.

First a little information about us, I would consider us Newbies to cruising since we only sailed on NCL ( this was our 13th cruise ). NCL makes sense for us since they offer different ships/types and itineraries out of NYC. This was our 6th time aboard the Gem.

Here are my random observations.

We flew out to Vegas for a few days before the cruise, then an early Sunday morning flight into LAX. We took the NCL shuttle to the pier, had no issues in locating the reps. Short wait for the bus. Since it was Sunday morning the ride to the pier took about 30 mins. From the time we got off the bus to board the ship, it was less than 45 mins.

Our cabin, 8604 ( type OA, ocean view ) was right down the hall from O'Sheehan's was available around 2 PM. We had issues with the shower drain backing up into the drain under the sink but it was finally corrected on the second day. Cabin Steward was excellent ( first cruise back from vacation ), and by the third day knew our routine.

The ship was in great shape ( last dry dock 2015 ), all public areas were well kept. Maintenance and painting was observed daily. Only negative comment is for the railing on deck #13 near the basketball court. They used a 2x4 to replace the rail and it was a rough finish that could cause a splinter.

We purchased a 6 meal plan and along with our 2 free meals ( Platinum perk ) we spent several nights at Cagney's. It was strange that on most nights it was almost empty. Our only complaint was that they changed the mac n cheese to Kraft, it was terrible. Food and service was top notch. We had two meals in LeBristo, service was exceptional but the food seemed to be off compared to our last cruise aboard the Breakaway. Taste was bland to me. We also had one meal in La Cucina, food was OK but I kept feeling like we are eating in the Buffet.

Other nights were spent in Magenta, had no issues in getting a table if you arrived before 6pm. Had to laugh at the folks standing in line at the Grand Pacific, while there was none at Magenta.

Can a guy get a hamburger? O'Sheehan's - burnt, every time. Topsiders - raw, most of the time.

Before I forget, the crew, from the captain to washy washy girls, fantastic, one of the best if not the best.

Bars - Great time, great bartenders ( Sherwin - Boom Boom at Spinnaker and Lennie \ crew at Shakers ). Never had to wait more than a few minutes before getting served.

PAX, I was told the average age was 64 but some nights up in Spinnaker I thought it was a Holland America cruise.

The entertainment at bar central ( Shakers ) was exceptional, from Leo to Vibe quartet to the Gem band.

Only two main shows standout for me, the piano guy and that checkerboard guy. Everything else was average

Cruise Director staff, have to say it, bad. Poor attendance / cancelled Bingo sessions. Announced that they had a $2000 dollar pull tab winner but kept selling out of the same box. Morning show was a joke, stopped watching by the third day. The cruise director was OK but the staff is a reflection of her.

Ports of call.

Mexico - Tender in on our first two stops, tender process was real slow on the first stop, Cabo. The second stop, Puerto Vallarta had a dock issue. Almost a two foot drop from the tender to the dock, those who had a mobility issues had problems. These two stops felt safe in both, just wander around. Manzanillo, stayed close to the ship.

Puerto Quetzal - Guatemala and Corinto - Nicaragua as per the State Department warnings stayed real close to the ship. The visitor center ( new cruise terminal ? ) in Guatemala even had a guard tower, manned.

Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Walked around the town in the morning and took an NCL excursion in the afternoon.

Panama Canal, Transit - Exceptional performance by NCL.

Cartagena, Columbia - Great place to visit except for the hawkers. Made it almost impossible to enjoy the city. Very pushing and relentless. Santa Marta, Columbia - container port, they could have skipped this port too.

ABC islands - always a great, safe place to visit.

Finally, Thank you to the CC members who attended the meet and mingle, slot pull, pub crawl, to the members who arranged shore excursions and the cruise T shirt
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Cabin Review

Oceanview Picture Window
Cabin OA 8604
One issue with the drain in the shower, which was corrected by the second day. Cabin Steward attempted to fix it but they had to call in a plumber to snake out the lines. Furniture was in good shape, rug a little worn in places. The safe had issues with the lock button and some numbers, keypad needs replacement.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews