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Norwegian Gem Review

4.0 / 5.0
2,542 reviews

Good Time - but not a luxury cruise

Review for the Panama Canal & Central America Cruise on Norwegian Gem
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10+ Cruises • Age 60s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Jan 2020
Cabin: Balcony

My husband and I chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Although we have cruised about 20 times (about 6 with NCL - we are latitudes silver because two of our cruises were from the 80's before they had a loyalty program), there were numerous ports on this cruise we had not seen before. And it's a great time of year to get out of the winter for three weeks. We got a good deal on the original fare. It included 5 nights in specialty restaurants, the premium beverage package, $50.00 per port shore excursion credit, airfare and 250 minutes of internet. We up graded to premium economy air - the next category balcony stateroom and unlimited internet. We also added a thermal spa package which we found saves money by eliminating the need for a massage (you can work out all the kinks in the spa). I learned a silver latitudes rating gets you a free bottle of water and a discount on photos and some gift shop items. (But not the video of the Panama Canal)

We did not spend any extra time in San Francisco, transferring directly to the ship from baggage claim at the airport. As recommended, we didn't fasten our ship luggage tags onto our luggage because we didn't want them torn off during air travel. But none of the people in the transfer process had a stapler to attach them later. Eventually we got one from another passenger. The bus driver was telling us we would have to transport our own bags because we didn't have the tags on them (a little stressful but oh well - we got it fixed and they took our bags). We arrived early and were on the ship before the huge crowds arrived.

Our cabin seemed really tight/small. I don't think it was so much the square footage, as the way it was arranged. It really was as though one of us could be up in the cabin at a time. There was an ottoman type puff to sit at and a very uncomfortable loveseat sized sofa. No good place to sit at all. The TV had the typical BBC, FOX, MSNBC news networks. To stream a movie was a charge (this was free on other cruises we have been on). There was a TV series channel (with some old sit-coms) and a movie channel with commercials and no control over when the movie or show started. There was ample storage for our clothes.

Cabin Review


The bed was fine. There was ample storage for clothes but no comfortable place to sit. The cabin was poorly arranged and felt very cramped.

Port Reviews

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Highlights - good tour - from the ship to the Peso - Presidio and the Court House and the old mission. Good tour with a new bus driver who took wrong turns numerous times throughout the tour

Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

We took a wonderful tour here - booked through the ship (tour company was Blue Planet) Tour guide Manny. The drive to Antigua was good. Great tour through that city. Wonderful lunch and the Santa Domingo Museum was great. The active volcano was amazing.


We took a tour of the old Leon ruins....it was not particularly interesting to me - then on to the New Leon and the Cathedral. Good tour, it just didn't compete with the tour from the day before.

Santa Marta

we booked a VERY EXPENSIVE tour to a beach at a private resort including lunch through the ship. enroute the tour guide told us to stay at the pool - we would be hounded by vendors on the PUBLIC beach if we swam on the beach.....what?? The way it was worded, we thought it would be a private beach. When we got there the pool was closed....there were only bathroom stalls to change clothes in. We ended up using the public beach and were hounded by vendors but made the best of it. The lunch was excellent (better food than on the ship). Upon our return, I complained at the shore excursion desk and they refunded us 20%. It was still too expensive for what the day was - but it did help. The tour wasn't worthless - it just wasn't worth what we paid for it.


took a cab to the natural bride and the beach. we had a good day there


we walked over to the shopping area and enjoyed our day


I love Bonaire - we took a cab to a beach and there was a lot of construction going on there....still the water was beautiful and we enjoyed the day.

Puerto Vallarta

we didn't want to go a shore in Puerto Vallarta. Ship no longer is in the center of town...now docks on the end of town by Walmart and didn't look too interesting

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