We enjoyed getting away to the warmth of the Caribbean and overall enjoyed our cruise very much. Getting on the ship in New York was tedious since they were diligently checking all passports to see if people came from or traveled to the Corona Virus infected areas. It took over two hours to be processed and by that time the only area open for lunch was the buffet which my husband and I had already agreed to avoid. What we didn't like about the buffet area was that the crew did not serve the food as we have experienced on other cruise lines. Instead, they just had tongs out in front of all offerings and each person in line touched them, one after another. Even with the "Washy Washy" stations we found it to be too unsanitary and avoided it. The crew was efficient and very courteous and we have no complaints at all there. We were on the Gem about 6 years ago and it appears to have been upgraded in numerous areas. We had a balcony room and the bathroom and shower were new as well as the closets in the cabin. The King bed was very comfortable so we give thumbs up to our accommodations. One of our chosen perks was Specialty Dining so we had the opportunity to try 5 of them. Our favorite was La Cucina (Italian cuisine) and we ended up going there twice because it was so delicious. We had excellent entrees at Cagney's Steakhouse, but the side dishes were cold. We actually pointed this out to the person in charge so they could correct the issue, but when we spoke to other passengers later in the week who had also gone there they said the same thing. No one at our table of nine ate them and since the menu was ala carte each side had a price tag of $7.00 apiece. This was a pricey waste of money. I'd avoid the side dishes at Cagney's. Le Bistro (French) was very good also. The Creme Brulee was one of the best I've ever had and I'd actually recommend the filet mignon dish here. The Dover Sole that I happened to choose was rather bland and too pricey for what was served. The only specialty restaurant that we were disappointed in was Moderno (Brazilian). The salad bar was very nice and we really enjoyed the Parmesan encrusted pork loin and the grilled pineapple, but some of the meat offerings were very tough, such as the sirloin and the lamb.
The entertainment aboard was not particularly outstanding, but adequate. The comedian in the Stardust was funny, the country western review was great, and the juggler was talented. The rest offered in the main theater was bland. However, there would often be two or three shows in different venues offered at the same time rather than spacing them out so you could only go to one and miss all the others. Except for live music poolside once we hit the warm weather the music in lounge areas didn't really start until about 5:00 pm or so. If you weren't a person who wanted to listen to a lecture, play Bingo or participate in Trivia or Deal or No Deal there was a void in entertainment during the early afternoon hours between lunch and dinner.
We opted to take two beach excursions while in port. The best bargain and experience was The Carlise Beach Break in Barbados. We got a short bus tour of the island and upon arriving at the beach we were offered a rum punch or a bottle of cold beer, had a lounge chair and an umbrella, all for a cost of $49 per person. The other beach we visited was Magan's Bay in St. Thomas. Another lovely beach, but didn't compare with Barbados. This tour cost $59 per person and did not come with any extras. Renting a chair was an extra fee and no umbrellas were available. There were numerous picnic tables so we were able to drop our beach bags there and simply lie on our towels on the sand. We only had 2 hours to spend at the beach here because our ship was leaving port at 1:00 pm which didn't leave us much time to enjoy this pretty island.
The cabin was clean and comfortable. Our cabin steward, Corine, kept it fresh and kept us in clean towels throughout the day. The bed was extremely comfortable and we enjoyed having a balcony to enjoy, especially since we had so many warm days while in the islands. The bathroom area had newly tiled showers with pretty glass shower doors. We had excellent water pressure and nice hot water for showers.