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I chose to do a cruise out of Boston to Bermuda because we live in NH and it seemed easy - just Uber to Boston and Uber home. I don't typically love cruises, I've been on maybe 10 in my life but I have found as I have gotten older I am pickier about my vacations and cruising just always seemed like a "cattle call" to me. However, I have a 14 year old and was traveling with just him, so this seemed like the best option. I should preface this by saying that, if you are happy with Carnival or 3 Star vacations then this cruise would be right up your alley. It's all about expectations, I suppose. But for the money, I found the food to be sub par and the service to be downright horrendous. Our Embarkation was relatively painless so I had high hopes. We went to eat lunch and when they made the announcement that the rooms were ready, we headed downstairs only to find that ours was, indeed, just being started. We had to wait an additional hour to get into our room. The luggage arrived about a half an hour later. We had made reservations for Cagney's that evening as a cruise rep I talked to on the phone said it was like a 5 Star Steak restaurant that would rival Ruth's Chris. This was not the case. The service was terrible, for starters. Our server was not friendly, seemed irritated she had to do her job, and rushed us through our very expensive dinner. The steak was tasteless and I had to keep asking our server for things that she had forgotten. Service continued much the same throughout the cruise. The bartenders tended not to make any eye contact so I was often not sure if they heard my order or not. No smiling, minimal interaction. The pool bar and the Spinnaker Lounge seemed to be the worst, but I did find two good bartenders at the Martini Bar on the 6th floor. Only personable bartenders I came across the whole seven days. The service at the pool is not good. If you wanted a server to come get your drink order, you essentially had to chase them down. They spent much of their time just standing there, looking unhappy and unapproachable. One time I ordered a Rum Swizzle, the national drink of Bermuda (where we were cruising to) and he came back and said the bartender had never heard of this and they couldn't make it. I got up myself and went to the bar and was happily sipping one within 5-10 minutes (service is also not fast). My worst experience was with the Excursion Manager. I had gone up to the desk to try and cancel my night fishing excursion because my son was seasick. I was two hours past the cancellation time and when I was told I couldn't cancel, I asked to speak to the Manager. He came barreling out of the back room, didn't greet me and had absolutely no customer service skills, and proceeded to tell me that if I had a problem I could take it up with the front desk and then turned on his heals and went back to his office. I was shocked, and did complain, but I didn't really get the impression that anyone was that concerned about my negative experience. One woman who helped me make dinner reservations for the week was rude and surly. I got one word answers to my questions and she kept looking around while i was talking to her. I finally gave up and walked away with only the two reservations I had made because she was so distracted and unfriendly. We ended up dining at Moderno, La Cucina, Magenta, and the sushi bar. Moderno was ok - very overpriced and the meat wasn't that tasty and was overcooked. La Cucina was, in my opinion, the best restaurant for the money and service onboard. We ate there twice, canceling our second pre-reserved night at Cagney's after our first experience. Burratta appetizer is good, pizza is good, Osso Bucco was above average. The sushi bar was terrible and I believe we were eating previously frozen tuna. Magenta, one of the two main dining rooms, was surprisingly ok for mass produced food. The only downside about La Cucina is that it's right under the basketball court (bad planning) and you can hear the game going on right above your head, so it's a bit distracting. The buffet was the "cattle call" I was expecting. Tons of people cluelessly milling around for the feeding. Burgers were overcooked, eggs terribly runny, etc...The french fries were ok, when they were available. They were constantly running out and the "chef" in charge of them didn't seem to notice or care. The cruise director and staff were very loud, verging on obnoxious. Any interaction I had, from bingo to pool entertainment, had me gritting my teeth because of incessant chatter and commentary. They weren't personally friendly on a one on one basis, but really put on a show that went overboard when they were in front of a crowd. I had a facial at the spa, and the very young woman who performed the service opened boxes and wrappers right in my ear while I was trying to relax and enjoy the $165 50 minute facial. It was distracting and showed lack of experience. I thought the spa services were terribly overpriced. The excursions, outside of my experience with the excursion desk, were ok. Our Kayak trip got canceled due to wind; and the night fishing was average. We did the Dolphin Quest excursion but didn't book through the boat. That was the highlight of the whole week and definitely worth the money. My son spent a lot of time in the Entourage, the teen room. The person who runs this is named "A OK" and she doesn't really seemed interested in her job. She looks bored and isn't very engaging. There were some good activities that my son enjoyed, but mostly the kids play video games and she reads the paper. I got the distinct impression from every interaction I had with the staff of this ship that 90% of them were miserable and annoyed. I could have lived with the sub par food had the service been friendly and engaging. I will NEVER take another Norwegian Cruise. This is my second (first was on the EPIC). My first experience was similar, although not quite as bad, and I thought I would give it another try. If a great vacation for you includes good food and a friendly service staff, you will want to steer clear of the Gem and even Norwegian as a whole.

TERRIBLE Service, sub par food

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by 40now

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: April 2019
  • Destination: Bermuda
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
I chose to do a cruise out of Boston to Bermuda because we live in NH and it seemed easy - just Uber to Boston and Uber home. I don't typically love cruises, I've been on maybe 10 in my life but I have found as I have gotten older I am pickier about my vacations and cruising just always seemed like a "cattle call" to me. However, I have a 14 year old and was traveling with just him, so this seemed like the best option.

I should preface this by saying that, if you are happy with Carnival or 3 Star vacations then this cruise would be right up your alley. It's all about expectations, I suppose. But for the money, I found the food to be sub par and the service to be downright horrendous.

Our Embarkation was relatively painless so I had high hopes. We went to eat lunch and when they made the announcement that the rooms were ready, we headed downstairs only to find that ours was, indeed, just being started. We had to wait an additional hour to get into our room. The luggage arrived about a half an hour later.

We had made reservations for Cagney's that evening as a cruise rep I talked to on the phone said it was like a 5 Star Steak restaurant that would rival Ruth's Chris. This was not the case. The service was terrible, for starters. Our server was not friendly, seemed irritated she had to do her job, and rushed us through our very expensive dinner. The steak was tasteless and I had to keep asking our server for things that she had forgotten.

Service continued much the same throughout the cruise. The bartenders tended not to make any eye contact so I was often not sure if they heard my order or not. No smiling, minimal interaction. The pool bar and the Spinnaker Lounge seemed to be the worst, but I did find two good bartenders at the Martini Bar on the 6th floor. Only personable bartenders I came across the whole seven days.

The service at the pool is not good. If you wanted a server to come get your drink order, you essentially had to chase them down. They spent much of their time just standing there, looking unhappy and unapproachable. One time I ordered a Rum Swizzle, the national drink of Bermuda (where we were cruising to) and he came back and said the bartender had never heard of this and they couldn't make it. I got up myself and went to the bar and was happily sipping one within 5-10 minutes (service is also not fast).

My worst experience was with the Excursion Manager. I had gone up to the desk to try and cancel my night fishing excursion because my son was seasick. I was two hours past the cancellation time and when I was told I couldn't cancel, I asked to speak to the Manager. He came barreling out of the back room, didn't greet me and had absolutely no customer service skills, and proceeded to tell me that if I had a problem I could take it up with the front desk and then turned on his heals and went back to his office. I was shocked, and did complain, but I didn't really get the impression that anyone was that concerned about my negative experience.

One woman who helped me make dinner reservations for the week was rude and surly. I got one word answers to my questions and she kept looking around while i was talking to her. I finally gave up and walked away with only the two reservations I had made because she was so distracted and unfriendly.

We ended up dining at Moderno, La Cucina, Magenta, and the sushi bar. Moderno was ok - very overpriced and the meat wasn't that tasty and was overcooked. La Cucina was, in my opinion, the best restaurant for the money and service onboard. We ate there twice, canceling our second pre-reserved night at Cagney's after our first experience. Burratta appetizer is good, pizza is good, Osso Bucco was above average. The sushi bar was terrible and I believe we were eating previously frozen tuna. Magenta, one of the two main dining rooms, was surprisingly ok for mass produced food.

The only downside about La Cucina is that it's right under the basketball court (bad planning) and you can hear the game going on right above your head, so it's a bit distracting.

The buffet was the "cattle call" I was expecting. Tons of people cluelessly milling around for the feeding. Burgers were overcooked, eggs terribly runny, etc...The french fries were ok, when they were available. They were constantly running out and the "chef" in charge of them didn't seem to notice or care.

The cruise director and staff were very loud, verging on obnoxious. Any interaction I had, from bingo to pool entertainment, had me gritting my teeth because of incessant chatter and commentary. They weren't personally friendly on a one on one basis, but really put on a show that went overboard when they were in front of a crowd.

I had a facial at the spa, and the very young woman who performed the service opened boxes and wrappers right in my ear while I was trying to relax and enjoy the $165 50 minute facial. It was distracting and showed lack of experience. I thought the spa services were terribly overpriced.

The excursions, outside of my experience with the excursion desk, were ok. Our Kayak trip got canceled due to wind; and the night fishing was average. We did the Dolphin Quest excursion but didn't book through the boat. That was the highlight of the whole week and definitely worth the money.

My son spent a lot of time in the Entourage, the teen room. The person who runs this is named "A OK" and she doesn't really seemed interested in her job. She looks bored and isn't very engaging. There were some good activities that my son enjoyed, but mostly the kids play video games and she reads the paper.

I got the distinct impression from every interaction I had with the staff of this ship that 90% of them were miserable and annoyed.

I could have lived with the sub par food had the service been friendly and engaging.

I will NEVER take another Norwegian Cruise. This is my second (first was on the EPIC). My first experience was similar, although not quite as bad, and I thought I would give it another try.

If a great vacation for you includes good food and a friendly service staff, you will want to steer clear of the Gem and even Norwegian as a whole.
40now’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 13 to 15
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MB 11514
The Cabin was acceptable. Nothing extraordinary. Nice shower.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins