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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. We are not big on attending a lot of ship entertainment. What we did go to was fine. Some of the musicians who played the lounges were good and some were not. We though Harry O was funny and the other comedian was ok. There was a magician who we enjoyed and that was about all we went to. We were very disappointed with the dining. We tend to use the main dining room and found the food there very disappointing - most meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) were mediocre at best. There were just a few nights in the main dining room where we found our meal really good. (We don't enjoy buffet style and scrounging for tables with your hands full of food. We would rather take our time and have our dinner served.) We also had trouble getting wine on our beverage package. I would order a Pino Noir and one night I would get it and then next night they would be out of it - and offer me a Chianti. It happened with Pino Grigio as well - there one night and the next they want to bring me a Chardonnay instead because they were out of Pino Grigio. Or they would offer to up sell me a wine that cost a few dollars more than my drink package would pay. I found that whole issue very maddening, We opted most night to share a table with others. It's a nice way to get to know others and we did meet some great people. The specialty restaurants were very good. We ate at Cagney's steakhouse twice, the Italian place once, the Brazilian Steak House once and the Hibachi Grill another time. In each of these places we had good food and service. It's the way I remembered the food being done in the main dining room in other cruises we have taken. We also ate at O"Sheehans a couple times and the Orchid Garden Chinese restaurant a couple of times. They both had limited menus but pretty good food. And we did eat at the buffet a few times too. Most of the food there was fine, it's always just so crazy to try and find a seat. The ship itself was a little worn. The chairs in the theatre were not good - they slanted forward and were very uncomfortable. The booths in the buffet and the lounges also had very broken down cushions and you felt like you needed a booster seat. I loved the mojitos at the Sugar Cane We really enjoyed our stop in Santa Barbara. We did zip lining in Costa Rica and that was an excellent time. Our tour in Cartagena, Columbia was fantastic as was the our tour through Antigua and the Santa Domingo Museum in Guatemala . The day through the Panama Canal was so interesting and fantastic. We enjoyed some of that day from the balcony in our stateroom, some from the Spinnaker Lounge and some from the Thermal Spa. We also enjoyed the ABC islands but didn't take any of the ships tours there - we booked our own tours and taxis and it was fine. In Santa Marta, Columbia, we booked an expensive beach tour through the shore excursions which was a big disappointment. When we returned, we complained at the shore excursion desk and they refunded 20% which helped quite a lot. (The tour wasn't worthless, it just wasn't worth what was charged). We were glad they took care of that for us. The thermal spa was nice - loved the way the lockers worked and I loved the view from the sauna - the tile lounger beds were nice as was the hot tub spa itself. The only thing I wanted was some lotion (they didn't provide any lotion anywhere in the ship). With few exceptions, the service on this ship was very good. Some times the service in the dining room was quite slow. I don't know why - was the food slow from the kitchen or the wait staff assigned too many tables. Other times it was excellent. Our cabin steward was really good. We used the gym a couple of times and the facilities there were nice too. I had trouble uploading photos to Facebook, which I really wanted to do on the internet package and rarely were we able to stream anything. BUT I was able to make internet phone calls with my cell phone connected to the internet in airplane mode. So I was able to stay in close contact with my family which was really important to me. Disembarking was TERRIBLE. We were given purple luggage tags and told we would disembark at 0930 even though the ship wasn't to get in until 10 am (how does that work??others had assignment times even earlier). We waited for hours in the public area of the ship for our color to be called - customs lines were very long...then it was a mad dash to the buses that were to transfer us to the airport. The first bus was full so we were directed to a second one, which filled up quickly leaving a lot of people standing there being told they weren't sure when the next bus would arrive. The whole thing was chaos and very stressful. This is on NCL's transfers purchased upfront. Much of this could have been prevented with better organization and communication with the passengers. We had a good time and I'm glad we went. We saw amazing sights, did some great tours and met some fun people, but in the future, I will be looking at another cruise line (most recently we have cruised Holland American, Viking and Carnival and they all had more luxury than this NCL cruise). It was kind of the Spirit Airlines of the cruising world.

Good Time - but not a luxury cruise

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by BWCW3885

Trip Details
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.

We are not big on attending a lot of ship entertainment. What we did go to was fine. Some of the musicians who played the lounges were good and some were not. We though Harry O was funny and the other comedian was ok. There was a magician who we enjoyed and that was about all we went to.

We were very disappointed with the dining. We tend to use the main dining room and found the food there very disappointing - most meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) were mediocre at best. There were just a few nights in the main dining room where we found our meal really good. (We don't enjoy buffet style and scrounging for tables with your hands full of food. We would rather take our time and have our dinner served.) We also had trouble getting wine on our beverage package. I would order a Pino Noir and one night I would get it and then next night they would be out of it - and offer me a Chianti. It happened with Pino Grigio as well - there one night and the next they want to bring me a Chardonnay instead because they were out of Pino Grigio. Or they would offer to up sell me a wine that cost a few dollars more than my drink package would pay. I found that whole issue very maddening,

We opted most night to share a table with others. It's a nice way to get to know others and we did meet some great people.

The specialty restaurants were very good. We ate at Cagney's steakhouse twice, the Italian place once, the Brazilian Steak House once and the Hibachi Grill another time. In each of these places we had good food and service. It's the way I remembered the food being done in the main dining room in other cruises we have taken. We also ate at O"Sheehans a couple times and the Orchid Garden Chinese restaurant a couple of times. They both had limited menus but pretty good food. And we did eat at the buffet a few times too. Most of the food there was fine, it's always just so crazy to try and find a seat.

The ship itself was a little worn. The chairs in the theatre were not good - they slanted forward and were very uncomfortable. The booths in the buffet and the lounges also had very broken down cushions and you felt like you needed a booster seat.

I loved the mojitos at the Sugar Cane

We really enjoyed our stop in Santa Barbara. We did zip lining in Costa Rica and that was an excellent time. Our tour in Cartagena, Columbia was fantastic as was the our tour through Antigua and the Santa Domingo Museum in Guatemala . The day through the Panama Canal was so interesting and fantastic. We enjoyed some of that day from the balcony in our stateroom, some from the Spinnaker Lounge and some from the Thermal Spa. We also enjoyed the ABC islands but didn't take any of the ships tours there - we booked our own tours and taxis and it was fine. In Santa Marta, Columbia, we booked an expensive beach tour through the shore excursions which was a big disappointment. When we returned, we complained at the shore excursion desk and they refunded 20% which helped quite a lot. (The tour wasn't worthless, it just wasn't worth what was charged). We were glad they took care of that for us.

The thermal spa was nice - loved the way the lockers worked and I loved the view from the sauna - the tile lounger beds were nice as was the hot tub spa itself. The only thing I wanted was some lotion (they didn't provide any lotion anywhere in the ship).

With few exceptions, the service on this ship was very good. Some times the service in the dining room was quite slow. I don't know why - was the food slow from the kitchen or the wait staff assigned too many tables. Other times it was excellent. Our cabin steward was really good.

We used the gym a couple of times and the facilities there were nice too.

I had trouble uploading photos to Facebook, which I really wanted to do on the internet package and rarely were we able to stream anything. BUT I was able to make internet phone calls with my cell phone connected to the internet in airplane mode. So I was able to stay in close contact with my family which was really important to me.

Disembarking was TERRIBLE. We were given purple luggage tags and told we would disembark at 0930 even though the ship wasn't to get in until 10 am (how does that work??others had assignment times even earlier). We waited for hours in the public area of the ship for our color to be called - customs lines were very long...then it was a mad dash to the buses that were to transfer us to the airport. The first bus was full so we were directed to a second one, which filled up quickly leaving a lot of people standing there being told they weren't sure when the next bus would arrive. The whole thing was chaos and very stressful. This is on NCL's transfers purchased upfront. Much of this could have been prevented with better organization and communication with the passengers.

We had a good time and I'm glad we went. We saw amazing sights, did some great tours and met some fun people, but in the future, I will be looking at another cruise line (most recently we have cruised Holland American, Viking and Carnival and they all had more luxury than this NCL cruise). It was kind of the Spirit Airlines of the cruising world.
BWCW3885’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BC
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.
Deck 9 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews