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This was a retirement gift to myself. I took my husband along. We are platinum on NCL so I chose Sail Away balcony without the perks and it worked out just fine for this 7 day cruise. We get two specialty dinners and WiFi minutes. We never drink enough to justify a drink package and usually arrange for shore excursions on our own. My favorite parts of the ship are the Spinnaker Lounge with its 180º forward view and the Great Outdoors with its 180º aft view. We also like the smaller ships. It was too chilly to make use of the pool area. DINING We generally avoid the buffet. Our friends refer to it as the trough. I did grab some wonderful noodle soup there for lunch, however. Since we were on deck 8 we went to O'Sheenans for breakfast or walked all the way aft to the main dining room. No complaints on the food or service. We often skip lunch or try something local on a shore excursion. We got the 6 bottle wine package they only offer once you are on the ship. (Our son tried to buy it for us as a gift, but couldn't. He gave us shipboard credit instead) We like to go to the main dining room for dinner and say we will share a table. That way, if it is crowded one may get a table sooner and we've gotten to meet some great people. Mostly we order one of the daily specials from the right side of the menu. This cruise, there were times when none of the specials appealed to us and we ordered off of the left side of the menu that stays the same the whole cruise. Becoming tired of fancy food, I ordered rotisserie chicken thinking it would be comfort food like we get in the grocery store, Nope. Then there was this Indian lamb dish that was so spicy I couldn't get past two bites. No worries appetizer and dessert was great. TEPANAKE - ALways a favorite. Great food with entertainment from the chef. LE BISTRO - Another favorite. Love the escargot. This time they were charging $1 extra if you ordered the Dover sole or lamb. Really? $1? MODERNO - Definitely a time to skip lunch if you are dining here at night. So much great food! ENTERTAINMENT "SWING" in the Stardust was amazing! Probably the best show we have seen on a cruise ship. The ensemble was talented, costume were good and there was even somewhat of a storyline. So we went to "Blazing Boots" with great anticipation. Meh. Each number seemed just like the on before and nothing to draw them together. Comedian, Jason Love needs to work on his act. Musical comedian, Harry O'Donoghue is great. A few of his bits were old, but so are we. Other choices for entertainment took into consideration the generalize range of the cruisers: Motown, Beatles, 70s & 80s music, easy listening, as well as Karaoke, game shows, trivia, dance classes and or course, Bingo. No hard rock or rap. SHOPS - Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine. I'd like to see more things with the NCL logo on it. I wanted to buy shirts for the grandkids and nice shirts(like polo or long sleeve), not just T-Shirts for ourselves. There were general cruise and cruising the Caribbean shirts. We were NOT in The Caribbean, nor were we in the Caribbean when we did 2 South American cruises. Get with it NCL. We like your brand and would wear the shirts back home and tell people who saw them just why we like NCL.

Good ship, Great crew, Nice Itinerary

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by JsEscape2

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Trip Details
This was a retirement gift to myself. I took my husband along. We are platinum on NCL so I chose Sail Away balcony without the perks and it worked out just fine for this 7 day cruise. We get two specialty dinners and WiFi minutes. We never drink enough to justify a drink package and usually arrange for shore excursions on our own.

My favorite parts of the ship are the Spinnaker Lounge with its 180º forward view and the Great Outdoors with its 180º aft view. We also like the smaller ships. It was too chilly to make use of the pool area.

DINING

We generally avoid the buffet. Our friends refer to it as the trough. I did grab some wonderful noodle soup there for lunch, however.

Since we were on deck 8 we went to O'Sheenans for breakfast or walked all the way aft to the main dining room. No complaints on the food or service.

We often skip lunch or try something local on a shore excursion.

We got the 6 bottle wine package they only offer once you are on the ship. (Our son tried to buy it for us as a gift, but couldn't. He gave us shipboard credit instead)

We like to go to the main dining room for dinner and say we will share a table. That way, if it is crowded one may get a table sooner and we've gotten to meet some great people. Mostly we order one of the daily specials from the right side of the menu. This cruise, there were times when none of the specials appealed to us and we ordered off of the left side of the menu that stays the same the whole cruise. Becoming tired of fancy food, I ordered rotisserie chicken thinking it would be comfort food like we get in the grocery store, Nope. Then there was this Indian lamb dish that was so spicy I couldn't get past two bites. No worries appetizer and dessert was great.

TEPANAKE - ALways a favorite. Great food with entertainment from the chef.

LE BISTRO - Another favorite. Love the escargot. This time they were charging $1 extra if you ordered the Dover sole or lamb. Really? $1?

MODERNO - Definitely a time to skip lunch if you are dining here at night. So much great food!

ENTERTAINMENT

"SWING" in the Stardust was amazing! Probably the best show we have seen on a cruise ship. The ensemble was talented, costume were good and there was even somewhat of a storyline. So we went to "Blazing Boots" with great anticipation. Meh. Each number seemed just like the on before and nothing to draw them together.

Comedian, Jason Love needs to work on his act.

Musical comedian, Harry O'Donoghue is great. A few of his bits were old, but so are we.

Other choices for entertainment took into consideration the generalize range of the cruisers: Motown, Beatles, 70s & 80s music, easy listening, as well as Karaoke, game shows, trivia, dance classes and or course, Bingo. No hard rock or rap.

SHOPS - Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine. I'd like to see more things with the NCL logo on it. I wanted to buy shirts for the grandkids and nice shirts(like polo or long sleeve), not just T-Shirts for ourselves. There were general cruise and cruising the Caribbean shirts. We were NOT in The Caribbean, nor were we in the Caribbean when we did 2 South American cruises. Get with it NCL. We like your brand and would wear the shirts back home and tell people who saw them just why we like NCL.
JsEscape2’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BX
This was a Sail Away balcony forward on the starboard side. The balcony is in the bulkhead, but it is not much of an obstruction. There is clear plexiglass under the railing, however when we sat down the railing hit exactly at the horizon. You had to sit up very straight or scrunch down to see land. Love watching them load the ship.
The cabin was fine. Clean and quiet. Adequate storage. The vanity with the hair dryer was next to the balcony doors and didn't have the shelves above it. We always put our binoculars on those shelves to grab as we go out onto the balcony. Then, the stool to sit on while drying hair or using the mirror for make up was on the other side of the bed by the "desk". Little inconvenient, but not a big deal.
Deck 8 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island)
    We caught the Prince Edward Island tour bus at the Founders Hall a short walking distance from the port. We had booked ahead of time to make sure we had a spot, but others just walked up and paid that day. It was a big bus tour of parts of the island and the Anne of Green Gables home. Our tour guide, Joan, was pleasant and informative. After the tour we walked along. the waterfront. We stopped at a local place and I tried muscles for the first time. The cruise ship terminal had some souvenir venders and a good WiFi spot.
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  • Halifax
    We had arranged a tour "Best of Halifax and Peggy's Cove" through Shore Excursions before we left on the cruise. Good tour with historical and present day information about Halifax that included the great explosion of 1917 that killed 2,000 and about their lobster catching season. After the tour we walked through the Halifax Farmers Market on the water front near the port. We found a booth with yummy fish soup. Good WiFi there.
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  • Portland (Maine)
    Here we had booked this ahead of time, also. We enjoyed and hour and a half tour with realportlandtour.com. This was a van with about 8 people. Our guide and owner, Derek, really knows his Portland. We toured the area and stopped a a few light houses for pictures. We then looked in some shops along the water front and bought some nice souvenirs for family. Had to have some lobster, so we stopped at DiMillos for a delicious lobster stew and a local beer.
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  • Quebec City
    We had one day before the cruise and, wouldn't you know it, it rained the whole day. We did the hop on/hop off tour bus and saw Quebec from rain streaked, foggy windows. We went through the Museo de la Civilization which presented a history of the area and walked through the Old Town and took the Funiculaire (cable car) up to our hotel. Lovely city. We would like to come back someday.
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  • Sydney (Nova Scotia)
    We wanted to see the Louisbourg Fort, so we rented a car with another couple we met on Cruise Critic to drive to the fort. The rental car agencies send someone to pick you up at the port.
    When we got there we had just missed the 10:30 tour so we walked around on our own. Great reconstruction with costumed guides at some areas. It was chilly so we found a place to get a hot chocolate.
    There were venders and good Wi Fi at this port terminal, too.
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