EMBARKATION: We left from New York on November 13, 2010. Arrived at the terminal at 11am. Lots of people already there. As usual we were checked in efficiently and escorted to the suite passenger waiting area. We were comfortable and provided with lots of goodies to enjoy during our wait to board. Ruth Haggar our concierge, who is WONDERFUL, arrived at about noon and explained why we would be delayed a short time. The ship had just returned from Europe and apparently there is a lot going on before we could board. We were given the option to board at 1 pm if we chose not to be escorted. Of course we took the option and got on the ship. I was a bit disappointed that Cagneys was closed. Since we were in a suite again, we should have been able to have lunch there but this time we could not. So off to the Garden Cafe we went.
Left New York 2 hours late, but is was a beautiful site. New York skyline at night was gorgeous.
CABIN: We were in an AD Romance suite on deck 10. Since this was an Aft suite the view was gorgeous. I would not hesitate to book this room again, in fact I did, for next November. The room was clean, had an ample seating area, dining table and four chairs, dressing room and bathroom with a tub. Nice room. The balcony was large enough for two loungers and two chairs and a table. Great balcony!.
BUTLER AND ROOM STEWARD: Rama was our butler and Phil was our room steward. They took excellent care of us. Very attentive and pleasant, whatever we needed or wanted they took care of. A butler makes a huge difference. If you can book a suite, do it, it is well worth the extra expense, but be warned you will get hooked.
SUITE PERKS: NCL has the suite perks that keep us coming back. Breakfast and Lunch at Cagneys alone is worth it. Priority embarkation and priority tenders to the island were nice to have. If you did not get over on the first couple of tenders, forget about getting any seat on the beach. Room service from the MDR and speciality restaurants is permitted for suite guests and makes for a nice relaxing dining experience, dessert and coffee on the balcony, with an awesome view. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR!
DINING: We ate several meals in the MDR. I found Magenta to be a little quicker but not as attractive a setting as the Grand Pacific. Our waiter in Grand Pacific apologized for our wait to receive our meals but it seemed that he was taking care of almost 30 tables! That is crazy, the poor man was trying to get food to everyone, take orders, basically keep us all happy, a daunting task I must say. But he kept his cool and we were understanding and did not give him any grief. Can't say the same for some others, however.
We had the unfortunate experience of eating lunch twice at the Garden Cafe, the day of embarkation and one other day, we were tied up at the pool, lost track of time so we missed Cagneys for lunch. At the very least I will say the Garden Cafe is chaotic. The people act like this is their last meal and run around with huge plates of food, knocking you over if you get in their way. It was amazing how rude people can be. I don't understand what happens to people when they get on a ship and arrive at the buffet. I also don't understand why people will sit at a table, reading a book or doing a puzzle while people cannot find a place to sit and eat. I guess it is just common courtesy and perhaps some concern for your fellow passenger. I think my expectations are too high. I spoke to some people at the pool who told us they eat at Blue Lagoon, at the pool or get room service rather than try to run the buffet gauntlet. Too bad.
That brings me to the Blue Lagoon. This is my third sailing on the Gem. I have eaten at the Blue Lagoon every time I sail, mostly because late at night its the only game in town other than room service. The staff is disinterested in the passengers. You will wait to be seated and generally after waiting long enough and watching them ignore you, I will go and seat myself. Then the staff become annoyed that you did not wait for them. How long I am supposed to wait I don't know. If you are busy I will wait but if you are standing in the back talking and I can see you and the tables are empty, after about 10 minutes I am done waiting. You order something and generally receive half of what you ordered. No one ever comes back and asks you if you need anything, they never come back at all. So you eat what you get and leave. I have got to avoid the Blue Lagoon next time, it is a frustrating place. The staff working there seem like they hate every minute they are working.
SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS: La Cucina-very good, ate there twice. Tequila-good, ate there once. Le Bistro- very good, ate there once. Excellent service.
I did notice the chairs in the buffet needed some good cleaning, they were stained. Some areas of the ship are ready for a refurbishment which I understand is happening in December.
The crew in general seemed to not have it all together. I don't know if it was a new crew or it had anything to do with the fact that they just came back from Europe but it did not seem as seemless as my two other sailings. I think the Gem is a beautiful ship and will sail her again next year.
PORTS: Only got off on Great Stirrup Cay. I have taken this itinerary before and did not want to get off in Nassau and Florida. The island is always fun and I enjoyed it.
Overall we had a great time and can't wait to cruise again. Next time, The Jewel to the Caribbean in May. Yeah, I'm hooked.
AD 10166. Great room. Nice location, aft, very quiet. Huge balcony, great view. Bathtub. Enormous closet, great sized dressing room. Flat screen TV. Ample dining and living room areas.