My wife and I cruised on the Norwegian Gem from 8/15 to 8/22/21. This review reflects our experience: we felt safe and had a fantastic time. I strongly recommend this Norwegian cruise!
This was the first NCL cruise out of Miami in over a year. We picked this cruise for several reasons. Firstly, it was our 30th wedding anniversary. We cruised NCL for our honeymoon and for our 10-year, but it had been 20 years since we had been on a cruise (so long that NCL had no record of us). Also, we needed to get out and take time out to decompress. We have never cruised any other line.
Also, we are in the medical field and deal regularly with Covid patients on a 911 ambulance (plus opioid overdoses, car wrecks, etc.), so having access to a 100% vaccinated cruise was important to us.
We had a “club balcony suite” (MA or MB, unsure) midship on deck 11, cabin 11102. We recommend it as being very quiet at all times and comfortable, though we were really only ever there to change clothes or sleep. If you plan on doing some work on a laptop or whatnot, there isn’t much room, just a small desk area next to the rather small LCD TV. There are two outlets in the desk area by the TV. We brought a “cruise power strip with no surge protector” with us; it had 3 regular sockets and 2 USB sockets and took up one outlet on the cabin wall. You cannot bring a power strip with a surge protector onto a cruise ship because it is a fire hazard. The bathroom, toilet, and tub/shower were all a good size, and we used the clothesline in the tub to air-dry our bathing suits. The bath includes wall-mounted soap and shower, to save the environment but also as a convenience; don’t bring mini-bottles of shampoo. There is a fridge. Our steward, Venier, was fantastic. It seemed he was as happy as we to be onboard. The very small TV had a few channels and a selection of movies that we were disinterested in, though we weren’t there to watch TV. The TV is important for shipboard announcements, which you can hear in the common areas of the ship but not your cabin; such announcements play on one of the TV channels. That said, announcements by the captain do play in the cabin. The cabin also had a good balcony.
In Belize, we stopped at Harvest Caye, which was very sanitized, like Disney. It was certainly very clean. We rode some Waverunners out across the bay and back, with some information about the ecosystem from the tour guides. We recommend this excursion. Then, we did snorkeling at the great barrier reef, which is very much alive, teeming with fish, and well worth the time and cost. (The rum punch was not good, though.) By the way, apply sunscreen only after snorkeling; even “reef-safe” sunscreen is bad for the reef (despite the marketing). The reef snorkeling was a blast.
In Honduras, with tour guide Elizabeth, we did a buggy ride through the jungle, which was really on dirt tracks. The buggies were fun, but ours broke down and we ended up on an ATV, which was more fun but that also broke down, so we got a second ATV and then, after another breakdown, a buggy. That sounds worse than it was. The breakdowns were handled very well, and we enjoyed ourselves massively. This was also the company’s first customers in over a year, so they were still working out some kinks. I’d do the buggy excursion again, but on an ATV.
Our last stop was Cozumel. Here we had booked what ended up being the best excursion of the entire cruise: a VIP dolphin tour at Dolphinaris. We didn’t know it when we booked, but we booked a fairly exclusive tour. And, as it happens, my wife and I were the only two booked for our time slot. We had drinks, a good lunch, our own infinity pool, but, most importantly, just the two of us for over an hour in the dolphin pool (connected to the ocean) with the dolphins and a trainer. We got to learn about conservation, the dolphins, and training. We got to pet the dolphins, dolphin “kisses,” high fives, and the highlight: grabbed the dolphin’s fins for a wild, high-speed ride across the pool. Very good. Our guide for this, more a concierge, was Lazer, and he took care of us very well. We would certainly do that again. It was brilliant. At Cozumel, we docked in a mall-like area, with lots of silver, tee-shirt, gift shops, and the like. There was even a Hooters, which we ignored, in part because we had the premium-plus beverage package onboard. This was the only place where we were pestered for our business, but it wasn’t horrible.