Chose this cruise because of the departure port and Caribbean tour. Enjoyed NCL cruise a couple of years ago so decided to stick with the line. Overall, the trip was meh. Had no expectations, and that was good. The folks who wrote five-star reviews of this ship were definitely sailing on a different ship.
Embarkation: The Gem got into port late that morning so it was extreme chaos and took many hours. I expected and was prepared to wait but not for as many hours as we did. Finally boarded and first impression was crazy crowd of people trying to squeeze onto the few elevators. Total madness. Hiked down to cabin; it was ready and fine. Time to dine.
Food: Lines for complimentary restaurants looked long so hiked all the way up to Garden Buffet. Food that night was poor at best - there were just two things I would eat - and there were no seats except the outside section, which was open even though it was snowing. Ate dinner standing up at perimeter like many others. Staff was working hard but was overwhelmed b/c ship is small - you can easily see out of windows on each side if you turn your head - and it was full. (Complimentary restaurants in following days were better choices.) Did not get seasick, but saw others suffering - this ship does not have the heavy stabilization system of large ships where you feel nothing, and it rocked like a manic cradle in rough seas. Something to know. (I found it hilarious but felt bad for the folks who got sick.)