Norwegian Gem Review

Mostly pretty good.

Review for the Eastern Mediterranean Cruise on Norwegian Gem
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kb9mu
2-5 Cruises • Age 70s

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Sail Date: Oct 2023

Embarkation in Istanbul was long with a lot of waiting in line. I wish that had gone faster.

Our Ocean View cabin was the last one down the hall and butted up against an equipment room, yet we were not bothered by noise. It was clean and comfortable and there were no mechanical issues of any kind.

Food quality ranged from just OK to pretty good with the exception of Le Bistro which was excellent. We ate most often at the Grand Pacific Main dining room. At breakfast, eggs made to order were fresh and served hot. I particularly liked the Eggs Benedict. The eggs at the Garden Cafe, unless made fresh at the omelet station, were as expected, not so great. We also gave O'Sheehans a try and got a totally fine order of Fish & Chips.

Cabin Review

Our Ocean View cabin was the last one down the hall and butted up against an equipment room, yet we were not bothered by noise. It was clean and comfortable and there were no mechanical issues of any kind.

Port Reviews

Santorini

We visited Santorini when there were 4 cruise ships in port. As I had read, when the port at Fira is busy you can expect long lines for the cable car. I followed the suggestion to take a water taxi to Oia and it worked out well. The port area was so busy, it was hard to tell if people were in line for the cable car or something else, or if they were just lost trying to find their way around. I located the vendor for the water taxi and bought our tickets (30 Euro each) for the water taxi. We left in 10 minutes and landed near Oia. Be advised, you need to walk up a steep incline to get to the shuttle bus that will take you up to Oia; about a 7-minute ride. Included in the water taxi fare is a return ride on the bus to Fira. Oia was very busy and crowded with long single-file lines of visitors walking in the small alleyways. It is still a picturesque place, but was very busy with visitors.

We made our way back to Fira on the bus which left every hour. Once in Fira, we walked down the 700+ steps to the tender port, avoiding both donkeys and dung on the walk down.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik was a fun port to visit. Enjoy walking the city walls, and walking around and perhaps buy something to eat there. Thtat's what we did and we had a nice visit. The best tip we got was to buy a Dubrovnik pass on-line before visiting. We bought ours the night before and had the QR code on our phone. The pass is 35 Euro which is the same price as the city wall admission, but it includes the bus ride to the Pile Gate and other museums as well. We just showed the bus driver our cell phone with the code and we got on the bus. We used the code again to gain entry to the city walls, the Maritime Museum and the Fort. For the return trip to the port, the bus boarded at the same location where we were dropped off, so it was easy to manage. The bus ride was perhaps 15 minutes or so.

Trieste

Even though I asked NCL several times before we cruised, if there was a free bus to Venice, they always said no. But there was a free bus, so we canceled our pricey excursion and took the free bus to Venice. The bus takes two hours from Trieste to Venice. Once we arrived there was a long line to buy tickets for the People Mover Tram. There were two automatic vending machines available for us to purchase tickets. The process is not that easy and most people push a wrong button somewhere during the process. It takes about one minute to complete the transaction. Image 100 people or more all needing to take one minute at the machine and there are only two vending machines. It causes a long line. The tickets cost 3 Euro for a round trip and credit cards are accepted. I don't know if cash was accepted as well.

Once in Venice, it was very, very busy with lots of visitors. If you are trying to see something or photograph a site, plan on dozens or hundreds of others vying for the same space as you.

I have visited Venice in the past and it wasn't busy to this level. To make matters worse, the rising water level in St. Marks Square means that part of the square is blocked off or under water. That leaves even less real estate for people to stand or walk. The waiters working at the cafes that surround St. Marks Square now wear boots so they can traverse the many puddles on the way to their customers' table. It's a sad fact that Venice is not what it once was.

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