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Sail Date: February 2010
NCL Gem Review 2/20/10 through 2/27/10 7 of us in the Garden Villa Suite 14000. Kids ages 16, 21, 22, 22, 23 and me and dad this was our ninth cruise with NCL so we are now gold members. We had a good idea of what to expect. We took 2 ... Read More
NCL Gem Review 2/20/10 through 2/27/10 7 of us in the Garden Villa Suite 14000. Kids ages 16, 21, 22, 22, 23 and me and dad this was our ninth cruise with NCL so we are now gold members. We had a good idea of what to expect. We took 2 vehicles. We left New Hampshire at 5:30 on the morning of our cruise and arrived at the Port of NY by noon. We dropped off the bags, tipped the porter and parked above for $210.00 each, very easy. FYI ... They changed the parking access since our last cruise. This time after dropping our bags, the driver's had to make a U turn (left on onto 9A) and drive back to the new entrance to park. We got in the Latitudes-Villas Line, but because we had a non US Citizen (exchange student from Switzerland) it took a little bit longer than usual. We were escorted onboard by 1:00PM by our butler Kadek. We went directly to the Garden Villa 14000. The Garden Villa is huge. The colors of the 14000 were vibrant green and gold, perhaps a bit loud for everyday, but absolutely perfect for this cruise vacation. 3 bedrooms all with their own bathroom. One is definitely the master with an enormous soaking tub. A cool note here ... the master bathroom has a sliding glass door out to the private courtyard, but the sheer curtains (the same as the Jewel) were just not practical. So I asked for some kind of drapes for privacy. And guess what? They came and measured and returned with light blocking orange drapes! I think they actually sewed them onsite. Wow! Now that was service! What do you tip someone for making you drapes? I will not bore you with all the details of Garden Villa, it is as awesome as you think. But I will tell you that it is an apartment which takes a lot of maintenance. One of the bedroom side lights (stationary glass next to the sliding door) was smashed and covered in tape. It was unattractive but not dangerous. I was told the part was on order. No big problem as the drapes covered it. We had amazing service on this cruise. Kadek took wonderful care of us. We had a standing order for nightly blt's, chips, veggies and fruit and bread. We were kept well hydrated with 6 bottles of alcohol, and all the bottled water, soda (pepsi products only) juice and Red Bull we could want. Our room stewards were named Eric and Michael. While Eric kept the Villa clean, Michael kept the private courtyard and sundeck in tip top shape, taking in cushions, hammock, scrubbing up the sauna and hot tub. It was all very nice. Our concierge Ruth (she remembered us from the Dawn) made all of our reservations, often at the last minute for dining. She also ordered local flowers for me on behalf of my husband, with the instructions "something made locally and funky" She did not disappoint us at all! The flowers from Port Canaveral had a miniature astronaut and the arrangement from Nassau had a Bahama Mama Doll and cool bracelets for the kids. Very funky indeed. Dining: I am not a particularly fussy eater, it all tasted great to me. Le Bistro ... the best meal for me was the roasted pork with pear, YUM. Cagneys ... We had breakfast there a couple of times and met a wonderful waitress Marina, but when 5 of us went for dinner at Cagney's (excellent filet mignon) we had a very sour waitress. She treated us as a nuisance. When my daughter asked for assistance in choosing a complimenting wine, she just rolled her eyes and said any wine would do. So at the end of the meal I only tipped her $20 with a note letting her know she blew it. I told her my husband is an incredibly generous tipper and had to leave because he was not comfortable with my cheap tip. But I saved myself by calling over Marina and giving her the much more generous tip, just for being friendly and attentive. La Cucina ... Bread sticks are the best part of the meal, it just took too long. Tapenyaki ... Awesome 21st birthday celebration, we had a party crasher! And they sang Happy Birthday and brought out a cake! I also enjoyed the Main Dining Room ... but the Blue Lagoon was not so good this time. Ports: Port Canaveral (Orlando), Florida: Weather: Party Sunny 65-70 Excursion booked through NCL: Universal Islands of Adventure $148 each, 8 Hours, Activity Level 1 3 in our party did this excursion and loved it. They upgraded to "Express Pass" at the Park for an additional $63.00 each. But this was unnecessary because with showers in the forecast the park was not crowded. Excursion booked through NCL: Kayak On The Indian River Lagoon $75 Each, 3.5 Hours, Activity Level 2 Kayaking was great fun but the area they went to was dirty with graffiti and empty beer cans. The operator apologized for the mess explaining it is public land and kids party there at night. I think this tour operator should bring some trash bags along. I think some people on the tour (my 2 included) wanted to help clean the beach up a bit. Also, my daughter brought binoculars and was able to see some interesting wildlife and lots of birds. Great Stirrup Cay - Sunny 75 Excursion booked through NCL: Parasail $84 each, 1 Hour*, Activity Level 1 4 in my family did this while I lazed about my own private paradise (courtyard) and listened for the screams from parasailing .... They all loved it. *Note; You have to tender off the Gem to the Island and go to the Hut. When they got there, my group was taken immediately. Because we had VIP Tender Tickets we did not have to wait for our color or group to be called. They kids got off around 11AM. And because I had set this up with Jose, my kids were taken up upon arrival. I did not want them to get off the Gem just to have to wait all day and maybe lose their chance if the weather turned. After parasailing they did the hippo slide ($5 each) and swam the beach and explored the island. Nassau Bahamas- Cloudy then rainy 70 We got off the Gem and hired a driver who had the loudest, crappiest vehicle in the line, so we could not resist. The rate he offered was $35 per person for the day ... my husband renegotiated to $50 per person for the day ( Jeesh, a member of MENSA, he is NOT) I wish I could remember the driver's name.... I feel bad cuz he was great .. he drove around, provided tons of information. We did the fort and small marketplace, ate lunch at local Goldie's conch house, seriously best conch fritters. An interesting note here: My daughter had a small cut on her toe and wanted to stop at a drug store for antibiotic ointment and band aids. So our driver brought us to a local pharmacy that had tables set up outside. They were closed temporarily for renovations. But many locals were buying shampoo and stuff right off the table. We waited in the van while our driver spoke with a man and within just a few minutes this man was handing me a box of band aids and triple antibiotic cream. He asked where we were from and I said New Hampshire, He said "My boss said anybody from New Hampshire gets free band aids and antibiotic cream today." I tried to slip him some money but he refused and said enjoy Nassau. It was very nice and heartfelt. It started to rain heavily so we passed on Atlantis and were back onboard by 2pm. Onboard "Behind the Scenes" tour cost $55 each took about 3 hours, the kids said it was well worth it and fascinating. My group bowled every day. It is great fun, My husband actually won the bowling tournament, truth be told he had to beat his daughter to do it! But the trophy (his first ever!) sits proudly on my mantle. Spa, I had a pedicure from a lovely young lady from Japan, the only Japanese staff member onboard, for about $100.00 Entertainment seemed lacking, sedate at times. We liked Second City and a Jane L Powell the blues/jazz singer was great. We got tons of invites for "free drink" parties (latitudes, captains, villa, etc. The kids did not miss a single one. One thing I noticed is that everyone knew my husband ... the greeted him by name, Good Day Mr, M., Good Evening Mr. M, etc. I mean everybody from the guys with suits and gold bars on the shoulders to the waiters .... He kept getting free Guinness wherever we went, it was a little strange. Photography seemed especially outstanding on this cruise and we bought tons of memories. We hosted one small poker tournament in the villa but it was on the first sea day coming back and the seas were very rough. I enjoyed playing at the Texas Hold'em cash game in the casino. But the rake is very high (10%!) and some of the dealers are awful. They are fine for black jack or roulette but poker has many more rules and these dealers need a schooling, nuff said. Missing: No more welcome aboard champagne or sparking water ... no more night chocolates on bed pillows, no more custom stationary in the Garden Villa... No more charge for extra TV options, new movies rented through the TV could be saved for the entire cruise and watched on any TV. So that was good. What I remember most was the group of adults with special needs dancing their hearts out at the pool, these folks were having the time of their lives. Till next time, Read Less

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