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Norwegian Gem Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
2,530 Reviews

First time cruising, last time with NCL

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by Neophyte2020

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2019
  • Destination: Canada & New England
  • Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony

My mom, a Florida resident, wanted to see the fall foliage and thought a cruise through Canada and New England would be a good way to do it. That said, we saw the most foliage in Quebec City, which is a beautiful town; in Port Charlotte, also very nice; and on a shore excursion to Lunenberg (from Halifax). As for watching the foliage from our balcony on the ship... the weather wasn't good and we were generally too far to be able to see much.

As a first time cruiser, I think I expected more than we received. Embarkation was a bit of a cattle call. The line to reach initial passenger drop-off took 30 minutes, after which we were herded a bit like cattle on to the ship. It took a surprisingly long time to receive our luggage. Shore excursion disembarking and returning was a bit better, but not much. Arrival in Boston was also laborious. I think there has to be a much more pleasant way to handle moving people on and off-board.

Since we arrived before we could get into our room, we went to the Garden Cafe (buffet restaurant). The food in the Garden Cafe was ok, but finding seating was terrible. This proved to be even more challenging in subsequent days. My mom is a little unsteady with a moving ship and we often had to have one of us find a table while the other went through the buffet and vice-versa. It was not possible to share enjoyable meal together at the Garden Cafe.

We also ate at the Grand Pacific where you were seated by the host and ordered from a menu. The food and service here was good. And, we ate 3 or 4 times at O'Sheehans, where food and service was just average. Fortunately our cruise package included three premium dinners. Le Bistro was nice on our first night, Cagney's Steak House very nice on our last, and Cucina in the middle was just an average Italian restaurant.

We spent more time onboard than I would have liked. We had one scheduled "At Sea" day, and one unscheduled due to rough seas (the Portland ME port of call was canceled). The workout facility was nice, clean and not too busy; and it was possible to do walking laps on Deck 13, though that was possibly because the weather wasn't great. It might have been tough if the pool deck was full.

Overall, I probably won't cruise again with NCL. The staff were very friendly, but I thought the ship was nothing special and I had the sense that many of the cruisers weren't really there for the ports of call, but rather the on-ship experience. If I cruise again, I'll choose a different cruise company and experience which emphasizes the history and culture of geography it visits.

Neophyte2020's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony

To be fair, as a first time cruiser, I have no basis for comparison, but these are my impressions of the room:

The mini-syute was tight when set up as twins. The space between the bed closest to the balcony and the side wall was tight, and very tricky when the seas got rough. Received several bruises trying to get past the extension of the desk when the room was dark.

The sofa area was nice for sitting and watching the shoreline pass when the weather turned cold and rainy.

Like others have mentioned, the tub was a bit tough for anyone with balance or reduced mobility issues. I think my mom would have appreciated knowing the shower configuration when booking.

The weather the last 24 hours was poor with a lot of side to side rolling. The wall clothing drawers would open as we rolled one way, and close as we rolled the other. I was surprised there wasn't a latch.

Overall the decor was dated.

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