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Not a cruise line devotee - i book for itinerary - so the 10 day caribbean out of NYC fit the bill to get some warmth and a break from old man winter with no airplane travel involved - last did NCL in 1989 on the Norway (anyone remember her?) - and had gotten mixed reviews since then - but figured what the heck, let's give her a try THE SHIP: the gem is one of NCL's smallest ships - but with 2700 people onboard is probably the biggest ship i have ever been on - but most of the time nothing felt crowded - the ship is in very nice shape and she is a pretty ship - kept clean - only saw minor wear and tear ( a ripped cushion here, a broken seat there, but nothing outrageous) - with the abuse these ships take on a weekly basis it's understandable - like i said clean - with the disease scares lately there is a large push to keep the passengers from being unsanitary - but some of them are just plain slobs (trying to walk barefoot into the restaurant, leaving empty dishes on the stairs, grabbing slices of cheese with their bare hands (thats what the utensils are for) ) - so all in all we liked the ship EMBARKATION: This was one of the biggest problems and a warning for future NYC sailings - the previous cruise got in a few hours late - we heard 2/3/or/4 hours late - so naturally we had to wait extra long to board - so 2700 people jammed on a warehouse/dock - yes NYC's piers leave much to be desired - do you think the cruise line could've broke down and splurged on some sandwiches, pretzels, chips or granola bars - NOPE - this could not have been the first time this has ever happened - no preparations - there was one vendor in the area selling food and obviously sold out - so no lunch for us that day because when we finally got on board three hours late - they shut down the restaurants for an hour to prepare for and do the muster drill - not a good way to start - TWO CAVEATS to learn from this - if sailing out of NYC in winter be prepared for bad weather to screw up plans - we boarded late as the ship came in late and then later on we lost a port due to more bad weather - also - always pack a snack just in case embarkation is delayed - particularly in NYC as the piers have nothing available THE FOOD: probably our biggest complaint - it wasn't bad - but it was very unimaginative - the menu is meat-centric and geared to the "all you can eat, eat all you can" crowd - being vegetarian (and my wife a fish eater) - it was very very unimaginative - first off - they threw meat into everything - at the lunch buffets the prepared salads and pastas - all had meat thrown in - a nice pasta salad doesn't need ham - a serving of salmon doesn't need bacon sprinkled on it - if you are looking to eat healthy - it is a bit of work - and there is more to vegetarian dining than pasta, pasta and more pasta --- then of course - there was the "food descriptions" - a cherry pie would come out blueberry, bagel chips would be pita bread, arugula would be mixed greens, if you asked the servers to explain something they were baffled - i ordered a cafoutis (sp?) dessert one night but asked first what is was like - no clue - (flan-ish for those interested) - and lastly (let me get the complaints out of the way) -- no menu changes - on a ten day cruise - sit down lunches and sit down breakfasts always the same menu - so for example the only veggie option at lunch was a frittata (or ask them to take the shrimp off the pasta) - for ten days - that gets fairly boring We had the 4 free speciality dining package - so we did that - but honestly except for tepanaki i could not see paying the ala carte prices for that food - it was just as unimaginative as the main dining rooms - and don't worry about each night if grand pacific or magenta has the better choices - they are the same - just a change of scenery... THE ENTERTAINMENT - this really shone - very energetic entertainers - and very talented - the 3 shows were all good - although blazing boots was obviously geared to the "meat crowd" - the guest performers again were mostly top notch - a singer, magician, pianist, comedian and aerialists ... a good mix for the ten days - the theater was probably the best i've ever been on on a ship - it is a theater - not a re-purposed lounge - so not a bad seat/obstructed view in the house THE STAFF - mostly every one was friendly, helpful and good at their jobs (with possibly the wait staff being unknowledgable being the worst crime - a few unhappy faces at times from the wait staff but everyone is entitled to a bad day THE CABIN - if you're expecting a huge suite - you're gonna have to pay for one - we had a regular balcony cabin and it was fine - yeah it's small (yeah it's a cruise ship) - but lots of storage/shelves and once it got warm the balcony was our hangout anyway ACTIVITIES - the schedule was crammed with games/activities (I think alot geared towards kids and families as well as adult activities) - we really didn't do much of it - but it was there if you wanted it - one thing we did do which we highly recommend (it was pricey) - was the behind the scenes tour - and if you have an inquisitive kid with you take them along - it was well worth it SHORE EXCURSIONS - they are always hit & miss - but ours were mostly hits - i think i can review them elsewhere on the website - but here's a quickie - SAN JUAN - bioluminescent (sp?) kayaking - very cool to see - not as extravagant as they make it out to be but if you love natural things, it is cool (as well as the experience of kayaking in the dark) - ST KITTS - hiking to souffa stone mtn - maybe a mile round trip - straight up and straight down with some rock scrambling - watch for the ants at the top they will climb up you and bite - great home made food at the end and a chance to meet with some locals and see an abandoned sugar mill - SAN LUCIA - souffra/diamond falls - we loved the botanical garden - but it is a long drive to get there - and too many little 5 minute stops here and there that drag the drive out - we didn't bother with the hot springs as we wanted to walk the garden more - you can spend a good hour there - but it was over an hour drive each way - this excursion needs some tweaking ANTIGUA - kayak/snorkeling - great tour guide (Christal) - snorkel wasn't the best but saw some fish and coral and just enjoyed being in the water - the kayaking was fun - and the kayak center afterwards was very relaxing - one of those excursions you wish was longer because it was so good THE GYM - last but not least - not everyone's place to go on board - but it was fine - had a good mix of machines - and the scenery out the windows was inspiring

Exceeded expectations (but they were low to begin with)

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by rocknjoe

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2020
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony
Not a cruise line devotee - i book for itinerary - so the 10 day caribbean out of NYC fit the bill to get some warmth and a break from old man winter with no airplane travel involved - last did NCL in 1989 on the Norway (anyone remember her?) - and had gotten mixed reviews since then - but figured what the heck, let's give her a try

THE SHIP: the gem is one of NCL's smallest ships - but with 2700 people onboard is probably the biggest ship i have ever been on - but most of the time nothing felt crowded - the ship is in very nice shape and she is a pretty ship - kept clean - only saw minor wear and tear ( a ripped cushion here, a broken seat there, but nothing outrageous) - with the abuse these ships take on a weekly basis it's understandable - like i said clean - with the disease scares lately there is a large push to keep the passengers from being unsanitary - but some of them are just plain slobs (trying to walk barefoot into the restaurant, leaving empty dishes on the stairs, grabbing slices of cheese with their bare hands (thats what the utensils are for) ) - so all in all we liked the ship

EMBARKATION: This was one of the biggest problems and a warning for future NYC sailings - the previous cruise got in a few hours late - we heard 2/3/or/4 hours late - so naturally we had to wait extra long to board - so 2700 people jammed on a warehouse/dock - yes NYC's piers leave much to be desired - do you think the cruise line could've broke down and splurged on some sandwiches, pretzels, chips or granola bars - NOPE - this could not have been the first time this has ever happened - no preparations - there was one vendor in the area selling food and obviously sold out - so no lunch for us that day because when we finally got on board three hours late - they shut down the restaurants for an hour to prepare for and do the muster drill - not a good way to start -

TWO CAVEATS to learn from this - if sailing out of NYC in winter be prepared for bad weather to screw up plans - we boarded late as the ship came in late and then later on we lost a port due to more bad weather - also - always pack a snack just in case embarkation is delayed - particularly in NYC as the piers have nothing available

THE FOOD: probably our biggest complaint - it wasn't bad - but it was very unimaginative - the menu is meat-centric and geared to the "all you can eat, eat all you can" crowd - being vegetarian (and my wife a fish eater) - it was very very unimaginative - first off - they threw meat into everything - at the lunch buffets the prepared salads and pastas - all had meat thrown in - a nice pasta salad doesn't need ham - a serving of salmon doesn't need bacon sprinkled on it - if you are looking to eat healthy - it is a bit of work - and there is more to vegetarian dining than pasta, pasta and more pasta --- then of course - there was the "food descriptions" - a cherry pie would come out blueberry, bagel chips would be pita bread, arugula would be mixed greens, if you asked the servers to explain something they were baffled - i ordered a cafoutis (sp?) dessert one night but asked first what is was like - no clue - (flan-ish for those interested) - and lastly (let me get the complaints out of the way) -- no menu changes - on a ten day cruise - sit down lunches and sit down breakfasts always the same menu - so for example the only veggie option at lunch was a frittata (or ask them to take the shrimp off the pasta) - for ten days - that gets fairly boring

We had the 4 free speciality dining package - so we did that - but honestly except for tepanaki i could not see paying the ala carte prices for that food - it was just as unimaginative as the main dining rooms - and don't worry about each night if grand pacific or magenta has the better choices - they are the same - just a change of scenery...

THE ENTERTAINMENT - this really shone - very energetic entertainers - and very talented - the 3 shows were all good - although blazing boots was obviously geared to the "meat crowd" - the guest performers again were mostly top notch - a singer, magician, pianist, comedian and aerialists ... a good mix for the ten days - the theater was probably the best i've ever been on on a ship - it is a theater - not a re-purposed lounge - so not a bad seat/obstructed view in the house

THE STAFF - mostly every one was friendly, helpful and good at their jobs (with possibly the wait staff being unknowledgable being the worst crime - a few unhappy faces at times from the wait staff but everyone is entitled to a bad day

THE CABIN - if you're expecting a huge suite - you're gonna have to pay for one - we had a regular balcony cabin and it was fine - yeah it's small (yeah it's a cruise ship) - but lots of storage/shelves and once it got warm the balcony was our hangout anyway

ACTIVITIES - the schedule was crammed with games/activities (I think alot geared towards kids and families as well as adult activities) - we really didn't do much of it - but it was there if you wanted it - one thing we did do which we highly recommend (it was pricey) - was the behind the scenes tour - and if you have an inquisitive kid with you take them along - it was well worth it

SHORE EXCURSIONS - they are always hit & miss - but ours were mostly hits - i think i can review them elsewhere on the website - but here's a quickie - SAN JUAN - bioluminescent (sp?) kayaking - very cool to see - not as extravagant as they make it out to be but if you love natural things, it is cool (as well as the experience of kayaking in the dark) - ST KITTS - hiking to souffa stone mtn - maybe a mile round trip - straight up and straight down with some rock scrambling - watch for the ants at the top they will climb up you and bite - great home made food at the end and a chance to meet with some locals and see an abandoned sugar mill - SAN LUCIA - souffra/diamond falls - we loved the botanical garden - but it is a long drive to get there - and too many little 5 minute stops here and there that drag the drive out - we didn't bother with the hot springs as we wanted to walk the garden more - you can spend a good hour there - but it was over an hour drive each way - this excursion needs some tweaking ANTIGUA - kayak/snorkeling - great tour guide (Christal) - snorkel wasn't the best but saw some fish and coral and just enjoyed being in the water - the kayaking was fun - and the kayak center afterwards was very relaxing - one of those excursions you wish was longer because it was so good

THE GYM - last but not least - not everyone's place to go on board - but it was fine - had a good mix of machines - and the scenery out the windows was inspiring
rocknjoe’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin BB
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Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins