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Where should I start on that. I'm normally not someone who easily complaints about issues and who is willing to overlook things but this cruise was the worst cruise I have ever done. I mean we spend over $10K just for the cruise which was nothing what came close to what NCL is promising in their advertisements. But from the Beginning: Embarkation: We had chosen (My parents, my Fiance and my two boys) that we will take the 10am time slot as the ship were supposed to leave at 4pm and the Intrepid Museum is next door of the cruise terminal. Then we arrived there was already a huge line in front of the security control and announcements were made that the computer system isn't working and they will open the check in soon (I don't want to even know how people felt who had the 8am check in time). After about 15min wait the line actually started to move and we were all still in a good mood. Check in was quite easy and it didn't was anything different from any other American Cruise line we have sailed on (the European ones are much better organized and faster (AIDA, TuiCruises)). We were told not to leave the waiting area as boarding would start at 12pm anyways which we didn't really like as we wanted to go to the Museum with our boys but which we accepted. So at around 11.45 we found a seat and started to wait. Till 1pm nothing happened until an NCL crew member made the announcement that the ship has arrived late and they have to go through the procedure with the Port Authority which will take till 2.30pm. Uff. I mean our boys are easy to entertain but 2 1/2 hours in a waiting hall where nothing was is quite interesting. In between where were more announcements made that maybe it will be a little bit earlier and they will try everything to get us on board as soon as possible. At 2.30pm the next announcement was made that they will start any minute with the boarding. We had to wait till nearly 4pm to finally get on board of the ship (just a reminder 6 hours from arrival with two little boys (5 and 8)). Cabin: Okay at least we were on board now and could start enjoying our vacation. As we arrived in our cabin it was obvious that it wasn't really cleaned. We found the trash and the room card from the ones who were traveling in that cabin the cruise before. The mirrors had finger prints (and then I say fingerprint I mean dirt) and the tables were all sticky. I have slept in hotels in China which were below the 1 star rating and I didn't had any issues. But I knew what I paid for and what I had to expect. This stateroom wasn't anything near what I would expect for that amount of money spend. The good thing about the room was that the toilet was separate from the shower and the sink in its little own "room". Dining/Food/Crew: Exhausted from this start we just wanted to have some dinner so we thought it would be a good idea to go to the dinner restaurant so that we don't have to get our food from the buffet. We didn't have to wait at all to get seated and were really surprised that we had a table that fast. The waiter greeted us and asked what we would like to drink. As we had the Ultimate Beverage Package (includes Alcohol and sodas/juices and so on, but don't include coffee or sparkling water (to get that you have to buy another package for an additional $39 per day(!)). So we asked for a few sodas and apple juice for the boys. This was the first time we got eyed rolled on us (and not the last time). It took just 15-20 minutes to get our drinks, which means our waiter wasn't seen for the same amount of time. Her back we started with ordering food and I did the mistake and asked for a 2nd starter which made me earn the next comment in Chinese and rolled eyes. By the time then the starters arrived (another 15 minutes later) we had drunk our sodas and juices but our waiter ignored that we had either water nor any thing else left in our glasses and just didn't asked if we would like to have anything. So I asked if we could get refills and earned the next pair of rolled eyes and rudeness. I think I have never been treated like that before. Unfortunately this attitude stayed the same the whole cruise with one exception. After we had complaint to the customer service the next evening dinning we had the restaurant manager and his staff at our table every 5 minutes so that it didn’t feel genuine as more as a thing they had to do. I didn't feel any better with that and honestly the interaction with our kids was quite creepy. Overall the service was very slow (one exception was the Moderno were the bar is right around the corner), inattentive and most of the times not friendly at all. They gave us the feeling we were just a burden and they have to do their job. By the way, I haven’t seen the Captain or his first officer or the hotel manager or the entertainment manager once during the whole cruise. This is not really a good thing. On top of that the food was nothing close to anything we had on different other cruise ships. I mean I can taste the difference between fresh mashed potatoes and instant ones. These were definitely not fresh ones. And when you bite on clumps of instant powder in a soup then you know that this one isn't made fresh either. The breakfast buffet didn't have had any variation (the same cheese every day, two types of ham, no honey, the same baked beans, the same pancakes, waffles and so on). I mean no variation at all. It was quite similar with the lunch and the dinner buffet but not as bad as the breakfast. This food was hardly enjoyable and had nothing from premium concept NCL is advertising. Entertainment: If you have kids stay away from the Norwegian Gem. There was nearly nothing to do for kids and we got most of the times the feeling they are just annoying and in the wrong place. I never had that my kids were treated with such a small amount of attention. Yes there were two exceptions who were awesome and super nice but unfortunately it were only two crew members. Other than that the entertainment was okay but nothing really exciting nor was it so much that we couldn’t decide. Money: Money is a big thing for Norwegian because as soon as you enter the ship it feels like they want to rip you off. I mean the Arcades for the kids were $1 (!!!) per minute. Yes you could buy a game pass for unlimited games for $175 for the cruise per kid (!). Before nearly every show they tried to sell their "awesome" offer to buy the next cruise and make the down payment and you get up to $500 on board credit for “free” (if you made a down payment for $1,000 at the same time). The photographer were rude and very pushy and in general we got the feeling they had to reach a certain amount of sales. During our specialty dinners the photographer pushed us to make a photo with him just to show us the result at the end of our dinner where we just wanted to enjoy our desert. The price tag for that picture was a cheap $25 for one (!) picture which wasn’t even really good. And then you say friendly “no thank you” you get either “Why? Isn’t it a good picture?” or “Are you really sure?” or they rip the photo out of your hand and just leave without any comment. As written before, having certain packages doesn't mean it is for free as they try to get still things paid on top. For example we had the dinning package (4 times special dinning for the 1st and 2nd person in our cabin but due to corporate policy (which is not written or shown on the website) we weren’t allowed to share this dinning package with our children who were cruising in the same cabin. There wasn’t even the possibility to buy these packages for the 3rd and 4th person cruising in the same stateroom. It wasn’t like I wanted to give it to another person on the ship to invite them. It was for our own children in the same stateroom. The restaurant manager just answered to our complaint that this is normal and they have the same complaints at least a few times per cruise. Why doesn’t NCL change it if this is such a big complaint or at least mention it on their website or somewhere. Ports/ Excursions: When we booked our cruise we had Saint Kitts in our itinerary but do to schedule issues NCL changed the itinerary to St. Marteen/St. Martin which was fine with me as I always wanted to see the famous beach where the planes land just a couple of feet above your head. But in general the planning of NCL for their ports is horrible. I mean then they say you will be at 4pm in the Port they are either early or late. I never have made such experiences with any other cruise line. I mean being early by half an hour or having some issues with clearing the boat so that it is a little bit later (half an hour) but most of the ports I have visited with other cruise lines were on time. Not with NCL. One port we arrived like 4 hours early another port late and none of the ports on time. I mean I stopped to look in to the cruise journal as it didn’t matter at all what was written for the arrival time. It wouldn’t work anyways so it was easier just to accept that we will be there then we are there. And it isn’t such a big issue as we still had our fun on the different islands but what was really annoying that NCL canceled our last port because of a “storm” on our route and they want to make up the time they will lose in the storm so that we can be “safer”. Sounds at the beginning right and good that the company is taking that good care of us. But then you find out that you are back in the NY port by 3am docked while it was planned to dock at 10am and you miss going by the Statue of Liberty in daylight which was one of the main reasons why we booked this cruise when you get the first questions. When you then hear that this was the last cruise on this route and the ship goes without passengers to Boston afterwards then this is getting even more irritating. Especially then I let you know how the disembarkation worked. Disembarkation: Two days before the arrival you had the choice to get tags for your suitcases for either going from board with your luggage or at a certain time. We decided to take the latest possible time which was 12pm for going of board. The evening before we arrived we got the information from our steward that we have to leave the cabin no later than 8am. Okay, but we thought okay we will find a place in the restaurant or on deck. No big issue. Next morning we got ready so that we could leave the cabin by 8am as we were told to do so. At 7.30am the first announcement came that now all individuals with luggage can leave the boat. We thought wow they are starting early with disembarkation especially as we were not planned to be back in port before 10am. But we didn’t thought anything bad and went for breakfast. At 8.30 they called the first passengers with luggage tags and only 15 minutes the next group. Our group was called at 9am. Again we were supposed to be not from board before 12pm and made our travel arrangements accordingly. So we thought okay it is just a nice information that our luggage is now available. And again we were so wrong. At 9.15am they called again all groups and at 9.30am they made the last call for all passengers. 9.30am (!). Half an hour before we were even supposed to arrive back in New York. So we made our way to the check out where the next surprise was waiting for us. While everyone out of my family was allowed to leave the ship I was quite rude informed that I have to go back to the customer service because there is an account issue. Not that we were waiting already in line for getting off board for 20 minutes and not that this was the time to inform passengers about another corporate policy no you wait till check out and then you have one of your big security guards moving you out of the line. As I got to know afterwards the security was even more rude to my children and my family as the wanted to either go with me or at least wait for me as they didn’t know anything of what was going on. Nevertheless, I went back to the customer service where the customer manager informed me that I have some board credit left on my account. When I asked him what the problem is as they have my Credit Card on file where they could have easily booked the money to I just got the answer it is corporate policy to pay it out cash. I never had any issues with board credit not being able to get it back in my account but it seems like all what NCL can do is charging. So all of this trouble only for paying my board credit in cash and this as rude as possible. Fun fact about safety with NCL: We had to use an escalator for going down to our luggage. When my son (5 years) stepped onto the escalator I wanted to follow immediately as how it is done by good parents not expecting what would come next. Instead of making my way on the escalator I got stopped very rudely from another NCL employee with a stick until my son was already a few steps down. Then the stick was lifted and I was allowed to enter the escalator. The same with the rest of my family and other passengers behind us. As I wanted to get to my son as he has sometimes trouble to get of the escalator I moved forward which earned me a again a very rude: “Sir, don’t move on the escalator”. Just in case you don’t know how to use the escalator just ask NCL. They will tell you! In general the employees at the check out and in the terminal were very rude. Waiting for family members where answered with: “SIR, KEEP moving!”. I mean we were within the last passengers going of the boat so that there not really more masses on people to expect but yeah the nearly empty arrival hall was still to small to make it possible for me to wait for my children and my family. Overall Yeah, I think you know my conclusion and what I want to say. But another fun fact before I come to the conclusion everyone is expecting. It was a lucky coincident that my son was chosen to draw the lucky winner of a future cruise with NCL and he drew the couple sitting next to us. After the draw then a person from NCL had explained everything to the couple I asked them if I could get to know what kind of cruise it is. They answered that it is a 5 day Caribbean cruise but that all the taxes, port fees, gratuities and so on aren’t included in the “free” cruise. Just to let you know if you get a “free” cruise from NCL be careful, it might not be for free. Okay but now to my conclusion. If you are a foody or you are travelling with your family or your taste buds are still working in a good way or you like to relax and have a friendly atmosphere, then run and don’t book with NCL. If you don’t know what to do with your money, and you like instant and frozen food, and you want to get bothered by employees trying to sell you what you have already bought then NCL is the right cruise line for you. For me I can say that I will NEVER ever cruise with NCL again because if I would have the feeling it was just this ship then I would be like “meah” lets try another ship but this experience has shown pretty much that this is a corporate issue and not a ship or crew issue.

Gem out of NY on March18th

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by FelixFreymann

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
Where should I start on that. I'm normally not someone who easily complaints about issues and who is willing to overlook things but this cruise was the worst cruise I have ever done. I mean we spend over $10K just for the cruise which was nothing what came close to what NCL is promising in their advertisements. But from the Beginning:

Embarkation:

We had chosen (My parents, my Fiance and my two boys) that we will take the 10am time slot as the ship were supposed to leave at 4pm and the Intrepid Museum is next door of the cruise terminal. Then we arrived there was already a huge line in front of the security control and announcements were made that the computer system isn't working and they will open the check in soon (I don't want to even know how people felt who had the 8am check in time). After about 15min wait the line actually started to move and we were all still in a good mood. Check in was quite easy and it didn't was anything different from any other American Cruise line we have sailed on (the European ones are much better organized and faster (AIDA, TuiCruises)). We were told not to leave the waiting area as boarding would start at 12pm anyways which we didn't really like as we wanted to go to the Museum with our boys but which we accepted. So at around 11.45 we found a seat and started to wait. Till 1pm nothing happened until an NCL crew member made the announcement that the ship has arrived late and they have to go through the procedure with the Port Authority which will take till 2.30pm. Uff. I mean our boys are easy to entertain but 2 1/2 hours in a waiting hall where nothing was is quite interesting. In between where were more announcements made that maybe it will be a little bit earlier and they will try everything to get us on board as soon as possible. At 2.30pm the next announcement was made that they will start any minute with the boarding. We had to wait till nearly 4pm to finally get on board of the ship (just a reminder 6 hours from arrival with two little boys (5 and 8)).

Cabin:

Okay at least we were on board now and could start enjoying our vacation. As we arrived in our cabin it was obvious that it wasn't really cleaned. We found the trash and the room card from the ones who were traveling in that cabin the cruise before. The mirrors had finger prints (and then I say fingerprint I mean dirt) and the tables were all sticky. I have slept in hotels in China which were below the 1 star rating and I didn't had any issues. But I knew what I paid for and what I had to expect. This stateroom wasn't anything near what I would expect for that amount of money spend. The good thing about the room was that the toilet was separate from the shower and the sink in its little own "room".

Dining/Food/Crew:

Exhausted from this start we just wanted to have some dinner so we thought it would be a good idea to go to the dinner restaurant so that we don't have to get our food from the buffet. We didn't have to wait at all to get seated and were really surprised that we had a table that fast. The waiter greeted us and asked what we would like to drink. As we had the Ultimate Beverage Package (includes Alcohol and sodas/juices and so on, but don't include coffee or sparkling water (to get that you have to buy another package for an additional $39 per day(!)). So we asked for a few sodas and apple juice for the boys. This was the first time we got eyed rolled on us (and not the last time). It took just 15-20 minutes to get our drinks, which means our waiter wasn't seen for the same amount of time. Her back we started with ordering food and I did the mistake and asked for a 2nd starter which made me earn the next comment in Chinese and rolled eyes. By the time then the starters arrived (another 15 minutes later) we had drunk our sodas and juices but our waiter ignored that we had either water nor any thing else left in our glasses and just didn't asked if we would like to have anything. So I asked if we could get refills and earned the next pair of rolled eyes and rudeness. I think I have never been treated like that before. Unfortunately this attitude stayed the same the whole cruise with one exception. After we had complaint to the customer service the next evening dinning we had the restaurant manager and his staff at our table every 5 minutes so that it didn’t feel genuine as more as a thing they had to do. I didn't feel any better with that and honestly the interaction with our kids was quite creepy. Overall the service was very slow (one exception was the Moderno were the bar is right around the corner), inattentive and most of the times not friendly at all. They gave us the feeling we were just a burden and they have to do their job. By the way, I haven’t seen the Captain or his first officer or the hotel manager or the entertainment manager once during the whole cruise. This is not really a good thing.

On top of that the food was nothing close to anything we had on different other cruise ships. I mean I can taste the difference between fresh mashed potatoes and instant ones. These were definitely not fresh ones. And when you bite on clumps of instant powder in a soup then you know that this one isn't made fresh either. The breakfast buffet didn't have had any variation (the same cheese every day, two types of ham, no honey, the same baked beans, the same pancakes, waffles and so on). I mean no variation at all. It was quite similar with the lunch and the dinner buffet but not as bad as the breakfast. This food was hardly enjoyable and had nothing from premium concept NCL is advertising.

Entertainment:

If you have kids stay away from the Norwegian Gem. There was nearly nothing to do for kids and we got most of the times the feeling they are just annoying and in the wrong place. I never had that my kids were treated with such a small amount of attention. Yes there were two exceptions who were awesome and super nice but unfortunately it were only two crew members. Other than that the entertainment was okay but nothing really exciting nor was it so much that we couldn’t decide.

Money:

Money is a big thing for Norwegian because as soon as you enter the ship it feels like they want to rip you off. I mean the Arcades for the kids were $1 (!!!) per minute. Yes you could buy a game pass for unlimited games for $175 for the cruise per kid (!). Before nearly every show they tried to sell their "awesome" offer to buy the next cruise and make the down payment and you get up to $500 on board credit for “free” (if you made a down payment for $1,000 at the same time). The photographer were rude and very pushy and in general we got the feeling they had to reach a certain amount of sales. During our specialty dinners the photographer pushed us to make a photo with him just to show us the result at the end of our dinner where we just wanted to enjoy our desert. The price tag for that picture was a cheap $25 for one (!) picture which wasn’t even really good. And then you say friendly “no thank you” you get either “Why? Isn’t it a good picture?” or “Are you really sure?” or they rip the photo out of your hand and just leave without any comment.

As written before, having certain packages doesn't mean it is for free as they try to get still things paid on top. For example we had the dinning package (4 times special dinning for the 1st and 2nd person in our cabin but due to corporate policy (which is not written or shown on the website) we weren’t allowed to share this dinning package with our children who were cruising in the same cabin. There wasn’t even the possibility to buy these packages for the 3rd and 4th person cruising in the same stateroom. It wasn’t like I wanted to give it to another person on the ship to invite them. It was for our own children in the same stateroom. The restaurant manager just answered to our complaint that this is normal and they have the same complaints at least a few times per cruise. Why doesn’t NCL change it if this is such a big complaint or at least mention it on their website or somewhere.

Ports/ Excursions:

When we booked our cruise we had Saint Kitts in our itinerary but do to schedule issues NCL changed the itinerary to St. Marteen/St. Martin which was fine with me as I always wanted to see the famous beach where the planes land just a couple of feet above your head. But in general the planning of NCL for their ports is horrible. I mean then they say you will be at 4pm in the Port they are either early or late. I never have made such experiences with any other cruise line. I mean being early by half an hour or having some issues with clearing the boat so that it is a little bit later (half an hour) but most of the ports I have visited with other cruise lines were on time. Not with NCL. One port we arrived like 4 hours early another port late and none of the ports on time. I mean I stopped to look in to the cruise journal as it didn’t matter at all what was written for the arrival time. It wouldn’t work anyways so it was easier just to accept that we will be there then we are there. And it isn’t such a big issue as we still had our fun on the different islands but what was really annoying that NCL canceled our last port because of a “storm” on our route and they want to make up the time they will lose in the storm so that we can be “safer”. Sounds at the beginning right and good that the company is taking that good care of us. But then you find out that you are back in the NY port by 3am docked while it was planned to dock at 10am and you miss going by the Statue of Liberty in daylight which was one of the main reasons why we booked this cruise when you get the first questions. When you then hear that this was the last cruise on this route and the ship goes without passengers to Boston afterwards then this is getting even more irritating. Especially then I let you know how the disembarkation worked.

Disembarkation:

Two days before the arrival you had the choice to get tags for your suitcases for either going from board with your luggage or at a certain time. We decided to take the latest possible time which was 12pm for going of board. The evening before we arrived we got the information from our steward that we have to leave the cabin no later than 8am. Okay, but we thought okay we will find a place in the restaurant or on deck. No big issue. Next morning we got ready so that we could leave the cabin by 8am as we were told to do so. At 7.30am the first announcement came that now all individuals with luggage can leave the boat. We thought wow they are starting early with disembarkation especially as we were not planned to be back in port before 10am. But we didn’t thought anything bad and went for breakfast. At 8.30 they called the first passengers with luggage tags and only 15 minutes the next group. Our group was called at 9am. Again we were supposed to be not from board before 12pm and made our travel arrangements accordingly. So we thought okay it is just a nice information that our luggage is now available. And again we were so wrong. At 9.15am they called again all groups and at 9.30am they made the last call for all passengers. 9.30am (!). Half an hour before we were even supposed to arrive back in New York. So we made our way to the check out where the next surprise was waiting for us. While everyone out of my family was allowed to leave the ship I was quite rude informed that I have to go back to the customer service because there is an account issue. Not that we were waiting already in line for getting off board for 20 minutes and not that this was the time to inform passengers about another corporate policy no you wait till check out and then you have one of your big security guards moving you out of the line. As I got to know afterwards the security was even more rude to my children and my family as the wanted to either go with me or at least wait for me as they didn’t know anything of what was going on. Nevertheless, I went back to the customer service where the customer manager informed me that I have some board credit left on my account. When I asked him what the problem is as they have my Credit Card on file where they could have easily booked the money to I just got the answer it is corporate policy to pay it out cash. I never had any issues with board credit not being able to get it back in my account but it seems like all what NCL can do is charging. So all of this trouble only for paying my board credit in cash and this as rude as possible. Fun fact about safety with NCL: We had to use an escalator for going down to our luggage. When my son (5 years) stepped onto the escalator I wanted to follow immediately as how it is done by good parents not expecting what would come next. Instead of making my way on the escalator I got stopped very rudely from another NCL employee with a stick until my son was already a few steps down. Then the stick was lifted and I was allowed to enter the escalator. The same with the rest of my family and other passengers behind us. As I wanted to get to my son as he has sometimes trouble to get of the escalator I moved forward which earned me a again a very rude: “Sir, don’t move on the escalator”. Just in case you don’t know how to use the escalator just ask NCL. They will tell you! In general the employees at the check out and in the terminal were very rude. Waiting for family members where answered with: “SIR, KEEP moving!”. I mean we were within the last passengers going of the boat so that there not really more masses on people to expect but yeah the nearly empty arrival hall was still to small to make it possible for me to wait for my children and my family.

Overall

Yeah, I think you know my conclusion and what I want to say. But another fun fact before I come to the conclusion everyone is expecting. It was a lucky coincident that my son was chosen to draw the lucky winner of a future cruise with NCL and he drew the couple sitting next to us. After the draw then a person from NCL had explained everything to the couple I asked them if I could get to know what kind of cruise it is. They answered that it is a 5 day Caribbean cruise but that all the taxes, port fees, gratuities and so on aren’t included in the “free” cruise. Just to let you know if you get a “free” cruise from NCL be careful, it might not be for free.

Okay but now to my conclusion. If you are a foody or you are travelling with your family or your taste buds are still working in a good way or you like to relax and have a friendly atmosphere, then run and don’t book with NCL. If you don’t know what to do with your money, and you like instant and frozen food, and you want to get bothered by employees trying to sell you what you have already bought then NCL is the right cruise line for you. For me I can say that I will NEVER ever cruise with NCL again because if I would have the feeling it was just this ship then I would be like “meah” lets try another ship but this experience has shown pretty much that this is a corporate issue and not a ship or crew issue.
FelixFreymann’s Full Rating Summary
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