On January 11, 2023, my wife and I boarded the Norwegian Gem for a trip from Manhattan to Bermuda and back. We’d been on the Gem before, the first sailing post-pandemic out of Miami, and on the Epic in the Mediterranean. We had excellent experiences on both of those cruises and were expecting to have a really good time. (See https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=682226 and https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=687692.) However, while those previous cruises were brilliant, this cruise was just not great. Some of this was very much out of Norwegian's control, some they could have fixed with rescheduling, but, actually, an event at disembarkation ruined the entire thing. NCL burned some goodwill here.
The cruise left out of the Manhattan Cruise Port. We took the train in from Connecticut, and we overnighted in Ink 48, which is an excellent hotel just a block from NCL’s pier 88 in Hell’s Kitchen. This is a seemingly safe neighborhood that has little to do in walking distance, though the Landmark Tavern is a place for good food and drink. Ink 48 has a spectacular rooftop bar.
Unfortunately, my wife awoke feeling rather ill. She tested Covid negative, and the symptoms weren’t Covid anyway, so we figured she’d sort it out onboard and she’d be right the next day. That ended up not happening.
I would book our starboard-side club balcony cabin, again. It was a good size and in a good location, near the elevators. It was quiet except when the children were running up and down the halls. Unlike our previous cruises, we didn’t unpack our suitcases the entire trip, though the room itself has plenty of storage. There is a small desk area with an uncomfortable stool where there is a hair dryer, two outlets for U.S. plugs, and one European outlet. If you need a cpap machine or similar, you will need a 6-foot extension cord. We brought a power strip that did not have surge protector, because surge protectors are incompatible with ship wiring and can cause a fire. We had two phones and a laptop to keep charged. The small but new TV was in this area, and it’s a good idea to keep the TV on Channel 12, the bow camera, at all times so you can hear ship-wide announcements that are not broadcast in the cabins but are broadcast on channel 12 and public areas of the ship. Captain’s announcements are broadcast in the cabins, though. There was a divider built into the room between the very comfy bed and the couch, which pulls out into a bed; we didn’t notice the divider on our previous Gem cruise. There was a minifridge that included a container of water; you need a specific drink package to get containers (cardboard bottles) of water without paying extra. On the way back from Bermuda, when the seas were rough, our cabin was less rock-and-roll-y than I heard other cabins forward, aft, and/or higher were.
The bathroom had clearly been redone at a refitting the Gem had undergone since we were last on it, and it looked fresh. The shower was also a good-sized tub, but I can see that less mobile people would struggle to lift a leg over it to step into the shower. There is body wash and shampoo in containers on the wall of the shower and the toilet is in a small room off the bathroom. It’s nicely done.
All-in-all, the room was great. Upon request the first night, our room steward brought us bath robes, a mattress topper, and an extra roll of toilet paper. My wife asked for a coffee machine, but it never arrived. We saw our room steward twice the entire cruise, which was much, much less than our previous cruises and less than we preferred. He did a good job making up the room around our schedule, though, and we left a tip each day.
We docked at the Royal Naval Shipyard in Bermuda for 6 hours. There is a water taxi to Hamilton from here that you might want to use. There are lots of taxis, too. There is a quaint mall and a few restaurants. A lot of things were closed because they failed in Covid times or because it was off-season. It's worth puttering around the Naval Dockard for a bit.