Norwegian Gem Review

Panama Canal 21 day cruise

Review for the Panama Canal & Central America Cruise on Norwegian Gem
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10+ Cruises • Age 70s

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Value for Money
Public Rooms
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Additional details

Sail Date: Jan 2020
Cabin: Mid-Ship Balcony

We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the fact that it left San Francisco and ended in New York. Being from the East Coast, we only had to fly one way. This cruise had 13 port stops which was wonderful. The ship was almost all senior citizens which we expected due to the length of the cruise. We met some wonderful people from all over the world and it was so interesting talking with them. We enjoyed all the port stops although once we got to Columbia, it was hot, really hot, so it took away from our enjoyment of the city tour we took. The gentleman who boarded the ship for the narrative of the Panama Canal was terrific. He was very well informed and explained everything as it was happening. I have read many comments regarding the food on Norwegian. We have sailed with this cruise line ten times and know that the variety in the main dining room is very limited, The left side of the menu is always the same, only the right side changing daily. On previous cruises, we found the food was served warm if not cold at times. Not on this cruise. Our food always arrived hot. We went to O'Sheehan's for breakfast almost every day as it was not crowded, you could get a window seat and the service was terrific. The menu is limited, but had what we wanted. We enjoy eating in the Garden Buffet, but do not like the fact that one of you has to sit down to secure a table while the other one gets food. By the time you get back to the table, the other person is finished eating. We prefer the restaurants but when in a hurry will resort to the buffet. The main dining room serves a very nice lunch and you are able to get sandwiches as well as a full meal. Our cabin was always immaculate. Carla was our cabin steward and she was so friendly and helpful. The cabin itself was very nice. We had a balcony (the only way to go through the Canal) and there was ample room for our things. Being a 21 day cruise, we had a lot of stuff and everything fit somewhere. We have never used the laundry service prior to this cruise and this time we used it twice. The wash was returned the next day and folded so nicely. We were impressed. We are platinum members so we ate at Cagney's several times, our favorite restaurant. I have read many reviews about NCL compared to other cruise lines. And yes, some of the others have better meal selections and shows, but your have to weigh what you are willing to pay for. We cruise for the joy of seeing new places and experiencing new adventures and as long as we have a good meal to keep us going we are fine. We also cruise, not so much as to a particular cruise line, but to the destination to which it is going and since NCL sails out of New York, it cannot get any easier for us living n eastern Pennsylvania.

Cabin Review

Mid-Ship Balcony

The cabin had plenty of room. It was always immaculate. Our cabin steward, Carla, did an excellent job. We had a place for everything and even a couple of shelves left empty. The bed was comfortable and when we found the pillows to be too soft, Carla replaced them with firmer ones.

Port Reviews

Santa Barbara

We took the shuttle bus to town, $1.00 for each of us to get on and off all day. We wandered around the delightful town and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. A very, very nice town.

San Francisco

Stayed for three days touring the area prior to the cruise. A lot to see but traffic is heavy and parking is very expensive.


Went to an Equestrian show that was very nice.

Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera)

Nice tour but did not see any wild life on the river cruise.

Cartagena (Colombia)

This tour had a lot of walking and it was hot - 97 degrees. We were all ready for it to be over.

Santa Marta

I stayed on the ship and my husband took the Ecological Expedition which he enjoyed although it was very hot.


Very good tour with an exceptional guide. Very infomative.


Ostrich Farm was informative and fun. The Cave tour was a big disappointment.


Took the Tuk Tuk tour which was very informative and fun.

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