Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by EH Tommy
- Sail Date: August 2019
- Destination: Bermuda
- Cabin Type: Inside
This is my fifth Norwegian Cruise, and the Gem is my favorite ship. My first cruise with Norwegian was on the S.S. Norway in July 1993. I was also on the Gem in 2011 as I mentioned, and the Breakaway to Bermuda in 2014 and 2016. There is a reason why I come back to Norwegian. I also have done three Royal Caribbean Cruises and really enjoyed them too. However, I'm more of a fan of the Freestyle aspect of cruising with NCL. Here are some highlights of our trip to Bermuda, and what my family and I enjoyed about the cruise, in no particular order:
Food: The food overall was great as usual. My only gripe was the buffet, which I usually enjoy. We ate breakfast on our first full day onboard, and it was fine. We did a dinner there a night or two later for "American Night" and it was lackluster. I didn't go back to the buffet after that for any meal. The food that I ordered was cold, and so was my wife's, and we couldn't even finish our meal there. We ended up eating instead in the Grand Pacific Dining Room. My parents, sister, brother in law, and nephew didn't complain about their meal that night, but said on several occasions how the food was cold at times during later buffet visits throughout the trip.
Buffet aside, the food in the main dining rooms was great too. On the first night, my brother in law had a steak that was overcooked in the Grand Pacific Dining Room, which he wasn't pleased about. He also ran into another passenger on the ship who also had an overcooked steak in the Grand Pacific Dining room during our first night onboard. My brother in law is very picky with food, and with that being said, he didn't have any complaints about any other meals onboard after that evening. My wife ordered the same steak a few days later in Grand Pacific and it wasn't overcooked. The food in O'Sheehans Bar and Grill was great too, and it was a great place to go to to grab a quiet breakfast, an afternoon snack or lunch, or even a dinner. We didn't try the food in the specialty restaurants, Orchid Garden, the poolside barbecues and poolside buffet, or Great Outdoors, so I am not able to comment on the food over in those areas.
Service and staff: The bartenders were attentive and quick despite small lines that formed for drinks from time to time, particularly at the poolside bar. The cruise staff was friendly and attentive at all times. Our room stewardess Mici was awesome. Interestingly enough, we ran into the assistant Maitre'D DeRon, who was in the Manhattan Dining room on the Breakaway back during our 2016 trip, on the Norwegian Gem. He was at O'Sheehans during the late morning, and then staffed later in the evening at the Magenta Dining room. It was great running into him again. He remembered my family and I from our trip, despite seeing hundreds of thousands of passengers during the past three years. He's a great guy!
The service was slow though sometimes at O'Sheehans, and was excruciatingly slow during our second night when we ate at the Magenta Dining Room. Besides that though, the service was actually fast, and I found that service during dinner was quicker on the Gem than on the Breakaway in 2016.
The Ship: The Gem is a beautiful ship. I love how they renovated the Bliss Lounge. When I went in 2011 they had curtains, and sofas that looked more like day beds. They also had a couple of bowling lanes which was interesting. The new look is great though and it has a cool quiet vibe to it , with clear lights. It wasn't terrible before or anything like that, but the changes that they made the club were great. The ship though has some minor visible signs of wear such as in the carpet, the bottom of the closet door in our stateroom, the vent in our bathroom ceiling of the stateroom, and scratches on the elevator. That's to be expected though, as this ship has been around for a while.
Bermuda: Bermuda is beautiful and clean. I love how whenever I go there, I'm not hounded by a group of people screaming and hollering for me to ride in their taxi. I also love it how whenever I go into a store, I'm not being pestered to buy their souvenirs. There isn't any visible poverty or sketchy areas. It's safe and beautiful, and is my favorite cruise stop. I've been all over the Caribbean, and in my opinion, you just can't beat being in Bermuda for three days. My wife and I are already looking forward to going again. This was our third trip to Bermuda but there is so much of the island that we have yet to see.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Were smooth as usual Getting off the ship was the quickest and easiest disembarkation that I ever experienced. Even my brother in law who had never cruised on Norwegian was impressed.
The lifejacket drill: Kudos to Norwegian for not having passengers have to grab their lifejacket, stand shoulder to shoulder on the overcrowded deck outside, do the lifeboat drill, then fight the crowds to return back to your stateroom. Norwegian has the right idea by having people meet in their respective muster stations without their lifejacket, have the crew demonstrate how to put on the lifejacket and work the various features, and then send the passengers off to enjoy the ship. Their lifejacket drills are always quick and easy.
Activities: There was always something to do around the ship. The cruise director Luz and her staff were engaging and great. There was always an activity to participate in for anyone who was looking for something to do.
The weather and sailing conditions: There were rough seas on the way down, and on the way back. There was even a waterspout that I spotted on the horizon during day two, but it was very far from the ship and not in the direction we were heading. It was pretty cool actually. On the second to the last day, we hit an Atlantic Ocean Storm, which was also neat to experience. I'm somewhat of a weather nut, being an Earth Science Major, so events such as this are exciting to me. Besides that though, the weather was great especially for embarkation from Boston. Bermuda was mostly cloudy with showers during the first two days, but the third and final day was sunny and beautiful, perfect for hitting the beach.
Overall, this was a great vacation and there weren't any disappointments. Out of our group, I was the only one who sailed on the Gem before. Some of my family members are picky , but they had a great time too and enjoyed the cruise. It was great being able to take a cruise on my favorite ship to my favorite vacation destination. It was my first time sailing out of Boston and I enjoyed it. I have to say that I'm a big fan of sailing out of Boston on a Friday, and returning to Boston on a Friday, giving me Saturday and Sunday to relax and recover, and of course catch up on laundry!
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