200 New York (Manhattan) to Bahamas Norwegian Gem Cruise Reviews

This was my second time on the Gem with a group of friends and my mom. It took a while to get on the ship on embarkation day, but that's only because the Bliss was there too. I've only been on the Gem so far, but I really ... Read More
This was my second time on the Gem with a group of friends and my mom. It took a while to get on the ship on embarkation day, but that's only because the Bliss was there too. I've only been on the Gem so far, but I really love this ship. I like the size since it's easy to get around. There are plenty of food options and places to relax. Luz was a very talented cruise director, I was impressed with her singing. However I never saw her around the ship. I was on the Gem a year before for a 12 day cruise and I saw that cruise's director, Lorena, all the time and she even remembered my name and the names of my friends in my group. I'm assuming this year's cruise had a lot going on since it was a shorter trip. The food was good in the buffet. We ate one night at Moderno and it was amazing. Other nights we ate at Grand Pacific and it was pretty ok. Most of the time we just ate in the buffet and the food there was good. The itinerary for the trip was great for the week before Christmas. We spent two days in Florida which allowed us to do multiple things. Great Stirrup Cay was beautiful and so was Nassau. I did end up catching a cold towards the end of the cruise, but this might've been do to the changes in weather. Disembarking was another story. We accidentally got off the ship with the people who were walking off with their luggage. When the lady saw we didn't have our luggage, she was very nasty with us. She yelled at us to get back on the ship, which was impossible. So she made us, along with other people, stand outside in 30 degree weather until our baggage came. This isn't Norwegian's fault, but the port in NYC needs friendlier and more understanding staff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I chose this cruise because I had to use a weeks vacation before year end and we received a very good price. Overall the cruise and ship was very nice. Cons: Embarkation in NYC was terrible. the lines were very long with 2 ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I had to use a weeks vacation before year end and we received a very good price. Overall the cruise and ship was very nice. Cons: Embarkation in NYC was terrible. the lines were very long with 2 security check points check in agents. Disappointed with NCL MDR selections, no lobster, no shrimp meals, no shrimp cocktail, no prime rib. no tenderloin etc. They have gotten very cheap. They push those pay restaurants. Casino is a disaster of smoke, you could not walk through there without gaging. I feel sorry for the workers. Cruise Director, was very hard to understand, spoke so loud and fast into mic, with English not her first language. Gave us incorrect deck information for getting off at private island. About 50 of the first tender folks were waiting on deck 7 when the real deck was 4. Buffet is smaller with limited seating. especially on sea days. Free Asian restaurant was very hard to get into long lines, they did not take reservations or serve lunch. Night club did not open until 12:15 - 12:30 every night. All other cruises I been on club opens by 11:30, I didn't need 2 hours of Karaoke every night from 10pm - 12am. Pros: MDR staff was very good and friendly. Overall food was good but missing selections as noted above, O'Sheenhans 24 hr restaurant was very good. Dining outside on back of ship was very nice. Very Nice selection of free hand dipped ice cream on buffet. Good amount of activities onboard. House band was very good with many band tributes. Piano player Jack Brady was excellent. Pool band playing Caribbean music very nice. Shinnicker lounge in the top front of ship was very nice for events, Theater Music Shows were ok, they work very hard, but some were abit silly. One Comedian put on a few shows, he was ok. A few magicians were ok, not great, And one show with two guys doing ring tricks etc. was kinda boring. But is was entertainment. Pool area was decent, always could use more space and chairs. Gym was nice was able to workout few times with no waiting for machines, Shuffle board was nice. Ports: There is nothing at Cape Canaveral Port, you have to get a shuttle to see anything. But we did see a rocket launch one night, very exciting. Great Stirrup Cay was very very nice, so relaxing, nice bbq, nice water and beach. Love the private Islands. Nassau was also nice, walked around city, got free wifi at McDonalds, and there is always the free beach Junkanoo about 15 minute walk. Debarkation: We walked off ship self assist and were off by 8:15am very good. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We chose this cruise because it has been many years since we have taken a ‘smaller’ big ship. The Florida overnight was a big draw for us so we could take our time in Orlando. We also were able to see a satellite launch, one of the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it has been many years since we have taken a ‘smaller’ big ship. The Florida overnight was a big draw for us so we could take our time in Orlando. We also were able to see a satellite launch, one of the best cruise experiences ever. We like NCL with the freestyle experience. The embarkation was chaotic because 2 NCL ships were in port. As suite guests we could avoid some of the lines. We arrived late enough that we were able to board immediately. The ride down was fairly rocky, the ride back smooth. Typical for NY trips that you never know what’s in store. The captain did a great job. The entertainment was simpler but we had fun at the dance classes and with the live music. The captain gave a fun fact during the announcements which was a nice touch. We have sailed NCL a lot and the food this time was the worst by far. We always find something in the buffet, this time it was like a school cafeteria. The highlight was the very enthusiastic hand sanitizer staff member who made sure everyone had clean hands. We ate at the Grand Pacific twice, both times the cut of meat was fatty and overcooked. Luckily you can order as many vegetables that you would like and this made it much better. Being Platinum was had two specialty meals. The one in La Cucina was good, the service was attentive as well. Cagneys was a huge disappointment. The meat was way overcooked to order and the service was poor. As suite guests the lunch service was also poor there. The suite breakfast was ok. One person working there was beyond rude, but the rest of the staff was wonderful. I do not know if it is a decline in quality, the ship etc. but it was a drastic change from previous NCL cruises. The ship itself is great. Having events at Spinnaker with lots of seating was fantastic. This type of area I miss on the bigger ships. The ships bridge viewing room is fun to see. Disembarkation was very easy. We walked off at about 9 and it was busy but the lines moved. I am hoping that the decline in food was just an off week because the rest of the cruise was good. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
My travel agent suggested it as a good first time cruise to see if we would like to go on a cruise. It was perfect. We chose to leave from New York because we live here and I didn't want to fly. Embarkation was pretty easy just ... Read More
My travel agent suggested it as a good first time cruise to see if we would like to go on a cruise. It was perfect. We chose to leave from New York because we live here and I didn't want to fly. Embarkation was pretty easy just waited in a queue for 1/2 hour. We had a snack at O'Sheehan's pure bar food. My chicken wings were just what I needed but my mother's Irish American Stew, was underwhelming. Please don't call it a stew. Even the server who took our order explained it was a soup but that was not the underwhelming part: description said it had corned beef in it. It must have been very small chunks because my mom found the potatoes but no corned beef. I really loved the cabin. We had a balcony which we enjoyed. Sitting and reading in the tropics with the warm breezes. Having a glass of wine. The stop at Great Strirrup Cay was great. The weather was perfect and the food was good. Had a lovely time sitting near the water and people watching. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My wife and I cruise at least once a year and the main attraction for us is the ship itself and its entertainment. We do not spend a lot of time in port or on excursions. NCL and Princess are the two cruise lines we keep using. WE LIKE NCL ... Read More
My wife and I cruise at least once a year and the main attraction for us is the ship itself and its entertainment. We do not spend a lot of time in port or on excursions. NCL and Princess are the two cruise lines we keep using. WE LIKE NCL very much but want to add some constructive suggestions on this latest cruise aboard the GEM. Embarking from New York is a tremendous plus for us as we will take any opportunity to spend a few days there as well..More than half of our cruises have left NYC. The GEM is a very nice middle sized ship. Embarkation was a breeze as was disembarkation. NCL and the NYC Port Authorities have this process very well timed. In the interest of full disclosure we are in our mid sixties, have very meager dining requirements and almost exclusively avoid the formal Dining Rooms. Entertainment, however, is a big plus on any cruise. We love Broadway style shows. The GEM had a very good variety of entertainment this cruise. The large stage shows were very good and entertaining. The Magician LEVENT was well beyond average, the Comedian, however, fell well short of being entertaining. In general the NCL cruises have some very good entertainment and we were not disappointed with the stage shows. The on board roaming acts were much less appealing. In some cases the sound was too loud and pitchy and in others the presentation was just too low key and unexciting. Again, keep in mind we LIKE NCL but thought this should be noted. We and a number of others that we spoke to were very surprised that the ship did not offer more movies EVERY day. The cost is negligible if at all and allows for some quiet time for those who are not pool and deck fans or those who do not go ashore on port days. The one scheduled movie most days was at 10 or 10:30 PM in the Atrium. Great for some but hardly appealing to others. The movies can be in smaller areas such as Magnums, the Theatre during the day, Bliss, etc. It would be great to have one prior to lunck, one in the afternoon and the evening one for those who are up later. It was interesting that when the decision was made NOT to take the Tenders to Great Stirrup Key THAT DAY there were 3 movies scheduled!!!! So it can be done. And YES, we still LIKE NCL and have already bought 2 new Cruise Next Deposits. PS MICHAEL was the best Cruise Next Presenter we have ever heard. He loves his job and is great at it!!! We were very surprised this cruise that our Cruise Director, Claire was very low key and we hardly felt her presence throughout the week. It may have been an off week, or a new group of assistants but we have never had such a non presence on any cruise before. NCL is still on our favorite list. The cabin, buffet etc were all of the normal very good quality for NCL. As stated earlier we generally dine in the Buffet area but did go to Magentas on 3 occasions just to have the steak. A second area that gave a change from the Buffet was O'Sheehan's. We liked the good variety of the menu and preferred that it stays the same each day. The one area that was off-putting was the general demeanor of the staff there.They were efficient but showed little or no personality or interest in waiting on us.We did not feel welcome there and this is the only area of the whole ship that exhibited such behavior..... everyone else could not do enough for you!!!! Finally, let me repeat that we like NCL and it will continue to be one of our favorite cruise lines. It would be great to see even other ports of call than just Canveral, Private Island and Nassau from the New York embarkation port. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Our recent cruise on the Gem was mix of hits and misses. The highlight for us was that we upgraded to a suite. Our cabin was a Aft Penthouse located on Deck 8. I was very nervous about noise from the wake and the Bliss Nightclub. ... Read More
Our recent cruise on the Gem was mix of hits and misses. The highlight for us was that we upgraded to a suite. Our cabin was a Aft Penthouse located on Deck 8. I was very nervous about noise from the wake and the Bliss Nightclub. Neither was ever a problem. Our Butler and Stewards were wonderful. Our cabin was always made up and turned down whenever we went out. The extra perks of having a concierge, private breakfast and lunch, priority boarding and disembarkation are priceless. If you have the chance and it makes financial sense for you, I highly recommend upgrading. One interesting note about bidding for Upgrades. We were chatting with our cabin neighbors. They shared with us that they did not bid for their cabin. They were called by the Upgrade Fairy and offered an upgrade for far less than we paid to bid!! So folks the Upgrade Fairy does exist!! It was a little sad to us that we paid $750 more than our neighbors for the same experience. Honestly we will bid again if the opportunity arises because it is so worth it to us. Just wanted to debunk the myth that the Upgrade Fairy has flown away. I had read many reviews mentioning problems with the bartenders. Sadly, I have to confirm these problems do exist. The best bartenders on the ship are located at the Atrium Bar and the worst are at O'Sheehan's. The others were a mixed bag. We were met with rude indifference at O'Sheehan's multiple times. We don't expect Disney Happy everywhere we go but we do expect polite/ interested service. It was very off putting. The private breakfast and lunch at Moderno and Cagney's were wonderful!! The quiet elegant meals were outstanding. The servers were attentive and knew who we were after the first meal. We ate at Teppanyaki, Cagney's and Le Cucina. Loved them all. The buffet had a nice selection that seemed fresh and varied. Seating however was very chaotic especially when we couldn't use the outdoors. We only ate at Magenta once. It was fine. Nothing special. The Entertainment was a little boring. This may be a phenomenon of being on a smaller ship. We've been on the Breakaway twice and I think the size differences led to less options on the Gem. We played BINGO and Deal or No Deal several times. We also did martini and wine tastings. All of those options are for a fee. I realize that they need to be and would be on any cruise line. I can see where someone travelling on a budget would be a little challenged to stay engaged. The stage shows were SoSo. The singers are outstanding!! The other performers & dancers not so much. The dancers were so out of sync it was almost embarrassing to see. Also the theater seats are so uncomfortable and many are broken. My conclusion is that we probably wouldn't sail on the Gem again. Not because we hated it, more because we found we like the larger ships. Our next cruise is on the Escape in May. Can't Wait!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Trip Report (with some tips and recommendations) Norwegian Gem, Nov 3-10, 2018, New York City to Florida/Bahamas Our goal was to just “get away.” The destination and cruise line were secondary. We wanted a 7-day cruise to ... Read More
Trip Report (with some tips and recommendations) Norwegian Gem, Nov 3-10, 2018, New York City to Florida/Bahamas Our goal was to just “get away.” The destination and cruise line were secondary. We wanted a 7-day cruise to anywhere warm, where the departure/return ports were within driving distance, and at a reasonable cost. Norwegian offers Freestyle cruising, which means you can eat whenever you want. The dining options and hours are printed on the Freestyle Daily newsletter you will receive each evening. Some restaurants are open-seating and some will take reservations. If you’re hungry, there will be some place to get food. My Travel Partner (TP) and I did not travel with children, so this report will have very little information about them. There are Splash Academy (Ages 3-12) and Entourage (Ages 13-17) for these groups. Checking in at the NY cruise terminal We arrived at noon and the place was packed! It didn’t help that Disney passengers were checking in at the same time, so it’s hard to say whether arriving earlier or later would have been better. In many reviews I read prior to the trip, passengers arrived at around 10:00am; some reviews recommended to arrive later to avoid the early rush. The cruise document says boarding begins at noon, to NOT arrive before 11:00am, but must be on board “no later than 2 hours prior to departure,” which is 1:00pm. If it helps, the buffets open at 11:30am and the dining room at noon, otherwise, we cannot recommend what to do here for lack of information. First things first It will take a few hours to receive your luggage, so go find your room, then go to the buffet. Good luck with this strategy since everyone else will be doing the same thing. The problem with the Garden Café buffet is the lack of seating. There is spill-over seating into the Great Outdoors buffet (the food is the same for both), which is fine if it is warm outside. NYC in November is not exactly warm. Sometimes, they will open La Cucina for more spill-over seating. If La Cucina is closed and it is cold and/or rainy outside, your dining experience may not be good. If you’re on the Ultimate Beverage Package (UBP), good luck with that too! Every bar will be packed with sober passengers wanting to get drunk. Recommendation: Next time, I would try the Grand Pacific dining room and order off the menu. It goes against the all-you-can-eat mantra of starting a cruise, but you can order as much as you want in the dining room and be served, as opposed to serving yourself. Ultimate Beverage Package TP and I had separate rooms and only one of us had the “free” UBP. We decided to share it. (Some cruisers have a problem with sharing the UBP. We did not have a problem sharing and will not debate it with anyone.) You are allowed to order two drinks at a time with no wait-time between orders. Be sure to read the list of drinks that do not qualify, and that includes bottled water (see below). Since sharing is not allowed, we were discreet about it. We poured drinks into travel mugs and/or drank in the rooms. It worked very well. The bartenders swipe your key card for every drink you order. A sales tax was added while docked or within 12 nautical miles of NYC and Port Canaveral. There was no tax while at-sea or at the Bahamas/GSC. If you have On-Board Credit, it can be used to pay this tax. The standard cocktails were in the $10-$12 range. They offered a Drink of the Day for $8.95. The cost did not matter to us, but it gave us a reason to try different drinks. The Long Island Iced Teas and Bahama Mamas were good. The Signature Mai Tais were not. The Moscow Mule was weird. As a side note: I was unaware of this tax until I checked my account on the room TV. There were charges of $1.23, $1.53, and $0.70 from the various bars, but the descriptions did not specify what these charges were for. To get more information, I checked with the Reception Desk. Without additional proof, we believe this is a sales tax levied by the municipalities, not by NCL, and did not deter us from drinking whenever we wanted. Recommendation: No way would we pay the $89.00 + 20% ($17.80) service charge per day, but do check your account periodically for any charges you may not recognize. Bottled Water vs Tap Water There must be something magical about the bottled water we don’t know about. Strangely, it is NOT included with the UBP. If you want it, you can order the Water Package: (6) one-liter bottles for $14.95 (12) one-liter bottles for $27.95 (24) one-liter bottles for $44.95 Prices do not include a “20% gratuity and beverage service charge…[and] applicable VAT (sales tax?) for certain ports of call.” Or you can fill your water bottles from the tap or water stations for free. The tap water tasted fine with us with no negative reactions. The tap does come from reverse osmosis of seawater. The Cruise Norwegian app You must be logged into NCL’s free wifi, otherwise this app is useless. This free wifi is different from the not-free internet package. The app allows you to review the day’s schedule; the schedule will also be in the Freestyle Daily newsletter. You could make dining room reservations through the app, but don’t trust it if it says “sold out.” The Orchid Garden and Magenta were both sold out, but we went there anyway and found out they did not accept reservations. I believe you can activate the texting function for $9.95/device, but we did not do this. Recommendation: It didn’t seem to matter. It was good to have the schedule handy at all times. One of us carried around a smartphone, the other had the paper copy, and we were both quite happy. Internet and phone calls The 250-minute internet package was sufficient for email, but we could not make VoIP calls. Once you connect to the ship’s wifi, you go to login.com, create an account, then login. Very simple. The homepage tells you how many minutes you used and have left. Just make sure you logout, otherwise the clock will keep running. Standard calling from Port Canaveral was no problem. There was no cell signal on sea days (that we were aware of), but NCL offered in-cabin calling for $4.99/min. Intra-ship calling was free. You would need to be on an international plan to call from Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay (we did see a cell tower amongst the palm trees!). Casino We walked through the casino a few times, but the smoke was bothersome so we did not play. The craps table limit was $10.00 with 3x-4x-5x odds. Port Canaveral, FL If the ship is docked on the north side, you cannot walk to the south side (this was confirmed by the Canaveral Port Authority prior to the trip). We decided to stay onboard and chill with our drinks and books. Buses and taxis were waiting at the terminal. Great Stirrup Cay You need to tender to the island and you DO need to bring your government-issued photo ID and key card. You will need to pick up a boarding ticket at 8:00am the same day to know when you will board the tender. Getting on the island first is key if you want a beach chair in the shade. There are plenty of beach chairs, but not many in the shade. Also, there are no lockers. Just bring the minimum that you need. If you want to snorkel, bring your own gear (mask, snorkel, fins, snorkel vest). There are lifeguards on duty and it was not clear if they were enforcing the vest requirement. You can rent one for $5.00, or buy one (before the trip) at Amazon for $20.00. It doesn’t hurt to have one. The Underwater Sculpture Garden is a little ways out from the main beach maybe 50 yards, marked by three buoys. The main beach is mostly sand, so not too many fish. If you want to see more fish, take a 5-10 minute walk to the west (left when facing the water on the main beach) to the last set of beach chairs near the tide pools where the signs says to stay off the rocks. (We ignored the sign and walked on the rocks to check out the little tide pools.) The fishies like the rocks! The food is a part of the cruise, so no additional cost, and available 11am-2pm. You can go to Abaco Taco or the buffet or both. If you’re on the UBP, the drinks are included as well. Recommendation: Worth getting off the ship. Water shoes/sandals are better than flip-flops. Bring a little cash if you find a souvenir you like. Nassau We were aware of the travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Dept, the Bahamas Minister of Tourism complaining that cruise passengers are not spending enough money, and the negative reviews by other cruisers. We were going to stay on the ship, but we decided to get off and limit ourselves to Bay St., between Parliament St. and Market St. There were two other ships present, so there’s safety strength in numbers, right? It was not that bad. There were locals trying to sell you stuff, but politely say “no thank you” and they will not bother you. It was our first visit to Nassau, so it was worth the walk, but there really was not much to see other than an endless array of souvenir junk. It’s the world’s largest market for shot glasses, T-shirts, hats, refrigerator magnets, and trinkets. I’ve been on an Alaskan cruise and it was funny to see the same stores (Diamonds International, Cariloha (bamboo sheets), and Del Sol (color-changing clothing)). It’s good to know I can get these “unique” items anywhere in the world! Recommendation: We can see why repeat visitors don’t bother getting off the ship Entertainment There was one main show each evening in the Stardust Theater. On most days, you had the option of attending the 7:00pm or 9:00pm show. Some shows were at 8:00pm only -- get there 30 minutes early for these. The Norwegian Gem Production Cast was very good -- high-energy singing and dancing. We enjoyed Justin Golan at Magnum’s. He’s very talented with the piano and can sing and play just about anything you want. Comedian Dylan Mandlsohn should not be missed either. Recommendation: We enjoyed the shows. Parties We were on the early schedule, more from habit than by choice, so we missed all of the 10:00pm parties at Spinnaker. Day 6 was Norwegian’s signature White Hot Dance Party. Apparently, the Norwegian Gem Production Cast was present and did their thing. Regrettably, we missed it. Other tidbits Formal night - There is no ship-wide formal night. You can choose which night(s) you want to dress up, then go to the Grand Pacific dining room. This dining room is nicer than the Magenta dining room, but the menu is the same. You can dress up every night or no nights -- it’s up to you. Binoculars - If you have a balcony room, we recommend bringing a pair of binoculars. We had them and used them a lot! Specialty Dining - We are not hardcore foodies, so the standard fare was perfectly fine with us. We both gained weight. Disembarkation Keeping with the Freestyle theme, you have the option of self-disembarking with your luggage. We recommend this! The caveat is you must do so without crew assistance. You will be the first group to disembark. The buffet opens at 6:00am, you need to vacate your room by 8:30am, and off the ship by 9:00am. You will follow the crowd through U.S. Customs, then proceed to the lower deck of 12th Street (you arrived and checked in on the upper deck). The line moves slowly, but it’s still quicker than disembarking in the after-9:00am groups. Overall, a very enjoyable and memorable trip. The service all the way around was outstanding! Although we do highly recommend the Norwegian Gem, we would be open to sailing other cruise lines and other Norwegian ships. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise to celebrate our 50th anniversary and although we have taken 12 cruises, have never been to the Bahamas. One thing I do not understand is why ships port at Port Canaveral. There is nothing to do in port, no shops, no ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate our 50th anniversary and although we have taken 12 cruises, have never been to the Bahamas. One thing I do not understand is why ships port at Port Canaveral. There is nothing to do in port, no shops, no restaurants, nothing. Excursions are offered to several Disney attractions, but between the travel time and crowds, it is hardly worth the effort. We took the shuttle ($15 per person round trip) to Coco Beach and wandered around there for a couple of hours. Great Stirrup Cay was very nice. There were plenty of chairs available both in the sun and shade. The food at the Taco place was good. In Nassau we took the land and sea tour which was a joke. The land part was a bus driver taking us to Atlantis for 25 minutes so we could wander around the high priced shops. He then returned us to the port area where we boarded a boat and took a tour. Our guide was so entertaining and made the trip fun. He pointed out all the celebrity homes and history of the area. The down size to this trip was we were left off about five blocks from the security check point and there were several people with mobility problems that had a great deal of difficulty returning to the ship. No where did it say you would have to walk that far after the water tour. The crew on the Gem was very friendly. This was our fourth cruise on the Gem and we like the size of the ship. As you may have read in other reviews, the food is mediocre at best and rarely arrives hot. I ordered pancakes and they arrived cold. I sent them back and the next ones were cold also. I will say we were pleasantly surprised on our last night when we finished dinner and three waiters came to the table to sing Let Me Call You Sweetheart" in celebration of our 50th anniversary. Our balcony cabin was fine with plenty of room to put all our clothes and articles away and room to shove the suitcases under the bed. The bed was one of the most comfortable we have ever slept on while cruising. The only thing I did not care for was our cabin steward did not make up our room between 1:00 and 2:00 in the afternoon. We often return to our cabin in the early afternoon for a nap or to read on the balcony and we could not because she hadn't cleaned it. We did not have a problem getting on line although it was slow, very slow. But we always got on and even had a few minutes left at the end of the cruise. Embarkation was very long. We are platinum members and still had to wait as the computers went down. Leaving the ship was not bad. There were lines, but they moved along. We have found that if you wait until 9:00 or 9:15 to leave, it is not so backed up. Norwegian does need to improve their embarkation service. When we have sailed on other ships, it is much, much easier. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The cruise is great, should be perfect if we spend 2 days at Nassau instead one! The Great Stirrup Cay Island is gorgeous, we love it... BUT the swimming with the pigs tour was ridiculous! You pay $109 per person to feed the pigs, they are ... Read More
The cruise is great, should be perfect if we spend 2 days at Nassau instead one! The Great Stirrup Cay Island is gorgeous, we love it... BUT the swimming with the pigs tour was ridiculous! You pay $109 per person to feed the pigs, they are NOT at the beach at all! They made a gate and space for them but it’s very commercial, they are not free... You don’t swim with them at all, this is fake add! You see them, you feed them, pad them and that’s it! Very expensive for what they offer! Beside that we like it everything else! Just wish to spend more time in Bahamas... for me FL stop wasn’t worth at all... We are there for Bahamas, and Florida was just a waste of time! ;/ It’s a great Cruise, they just have to improve somethings... How about a partnership with Atlantis as well? Could be great.... Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
First time first time cruising with Norwegian Cruise Lines. I must say I was very happily impressed. First the not-so-good stuff. I was traveling with my two sisters, sharing same room, as we have done on many Royal Caribbean and ... Read More
First time first time cruising with Norwegian Cruise Lines. I must say I was very happily impressed. First the not-so-good stuff. I was traveling with my two sisters, sharing same room, as we have done on many Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. This was the first time though that we did not have 2 lower than one upper. We were surprised to find two beds and a pull-out couch. This made it impossible to walk around the room or to get out on the balcony. The balcony, by the way, was also in disrepair. The paint was peeling off at constantly every time you spent any time out on the balcony you came back with a serious case of "paint dandruff." Our state room attendant was pretty much invisible. The food in both the dining rooms and Buffet was passable and the staff although very pleasant were very obviously understaffed. They always did everything in a run, nothing casual. The casino staff was, at best, unpleasant, in some cases kind of rude. All that being said, it was a very enjoyable trip. The cruise director was excellent. The entertainment was very good. Good Production shows, good magician, Good comic. And an excellent little Cirque du Soleil Act. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was our second cruise with NCL and really enjoyed it. Embarkation went as we thoguht it would, everyone is arriving basically at the same time, so you would expect to wait. Disembarkation went very smoothly for us. We picked the ... Read More
This was our second cruise with NCL and really enjoyed it. Embarkation went as we thoguht it would, everyone is arriving basically at the same time, so you would expect to wait. Disembarkation went very smoothly for us. We picked the smaller ship because we just wanted to relax. My only issue was since it was a smaller ship and we left at the tail end of the noreaster, you were able to feel a lot more movement than on the bigger ship (we were on the breakway last year). We enjoyed playing Deal or No Deal and Bingo. The shows were outstanding. We mostly ate at the main dining rooms or specialty restaurants (dining package). We both enjoyed all of our meals. The buffet is smaller and it was hard to get a table for breakfast (the main buffet in only open till 10:30 for breakfast) and there seemed to be several very large asian tour groups that took up most of the tables. We enjoyed the Airboat tour in Florida and Nassua by land and sea. Unfortunately, we were not able to stop at the Grea StirUp Cay because of the wind and seas, which was a bummer. We were docked in Nassau overnight but by 7:00 p.m., as didn't feel comfortable going out on our own, so we enjoyed just listening to music sitting on our balcony. The Ship overall if nice, as long as you like the smaller ship feel. The cruise director and staff were great, we enjoyed all the shows and activities that we participated in. Our room steward Julius was the best! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Let's first preface this with the following statement, this was my 8th NCL Cruise and it will not be my last. This was my partner's first cruise, he certainly enjoyed it and now that we are at home he is watching cruise ship ... Read More
Let's first preface this with the following statement, this was my 8th NCL Cruise and it will not be my last. This was my partner's first cruise, he certainly enjoyed it and now that we are at home he is watching cruise ship YouTube videos. I assume we will be going on another cruise vacation together sometime in the future. - BOOKING LAST MINUTE- As far as price is concerned NCL does offer an enticing package for a competitive price. My partner and I never know when we are going to be able to escape from work. This trip we were last minute cruisers. For the Saturday, September 1, 2018, Florida and Bahamas itinerary I called NCL on Tuesday, August 28 and booked a solo cabin for myself. The price was $699 for a solo cruiser with a "guarantee" balcony, plus taxes and port fees, with no 'free at sea' perks. No beverage package. :( They allowed me to use TWO of my $250.00 Cruise Next deposits for the balcony cabin even though I was going by myself and I was not booking 6 months in advance. On Thursday, August 30, my partner was able to block out some time for the week ahead and we added him to my room. That required some maneuvering on NCL's part. They had to refund my shore excursions and my spa package and I would have to rebook them on board. I am still not sure why this was necessary but okay. He was added to the room for another $699 plus tax and port fees. The drawback to this was my thermal spa package price was increased from $137 to $179 because it had to be booked on board. We never received our edocs because we booked less than 48 hours prior to sailing. I called NCL on Friday night and after waiting on hold whoever answered the phone transferred me over to tech support to reset my online account. Tech support was closed for the evening. I then called back and waited on hold again. When I got through to the next associate and explained my situation I was not greeted with the customer service I had learned to expect from NCL. - GETTING TO THE PORT - NCL's New York City Port is just North of where the Intrepid is docked on the west side of Manhattan. From Grand Central Station we took a cab at the cost of $12. Getting through security on a long line with two thousand + people is never easy nor fast. We did not have a problem without our edocs and just used our printed confirmation. Since we booked last minute there was a snafu and my partner's key card had a slight delay to get through another paperwork hurdle. - CABIN - Our cabin was 9644, a port side "family" balcony towards the aft of the 9th deck. The cabin was in very good condition. The only problem we experienced was two incidents of the toilet not flushing. They were both rectified immediately by the maintenance staff. My partner complained that the bed was too stiff, I personally loved it. The cabin was the perfect size for the two of us. My first time in a balcony cabin, I loved seeing the sunset over the ocean on the way down and the sunrise on the way home. At 6:30 AM on the last day we were greeted in NY by an amazing view of the Verrazano Bridge and Statue of Liberty before sunrise. Is it worth it? Maybe. If you don't spend much time in your room there's really no need for it. - CREW - Our cabin steward, Neil, was wonderful and attentive. He kept everything tidy, well stocked, and he was there when we wanted him. There were many crew members that I had seen over the years on other ships. Erick (MacLoughlin?) from Columbia at Topsiders, one of my favorite bartenders, his barback, who I recognized from Maltings on the Breakaway. I enjoyed Lorena as our Cruise director, she has an awesome demeanor and sense of humor. Her assistant cruise director hosted the Best Couple event which was hilarious. My partner chatted up an officer, Richard from France, the hotel director, who turned out to be an approachable and cordial host. He sent us a complimentary evening at a specialty restaurant. We greatly thank him for that. He's the one that looks like Daniel Craig. Our favorite waitress was Lee Ann at Grand Pacific she was the most amazing person, her eyes or so bright, her smile so wide, she was just wonderful every time we saw her. - MEET THE OFFICERS - We had three meet and greets with the officers. The first one was The Cruise Critic meeting, (thank you, Charlie, for organizing this!) the second the latitudes event, the third was a Q&A with the officers. The Officers are the cream of the crop they are all perfect for their roles and reflect wonderfully on what NCL is to me. - WINE - We attended three wine tasting events. The first one was the chocolate and wine pairing which was delicious. Juvy, the sommelier was knowledgeable and she was an excellent teacher. The second wine tasting was the black glass event where are you are presented with three wines in black glasses and you need to use your skills to determine what type of wine they are. The 3rd wine tasting was the progressive wine tasting. It was my first time at that event. You are given five different glasses of wine and learn how to pair them with food using their characteristics of sweet, dry, acidic, salty and savory. This class was phenomenal I'm glad I got to attend it. Also present at the wine tastings was Sofi the wine Steward from Cagney's. We had met him one evening at Moderno where he recommended an excellent Cabernet to go with dinner. - ENTERTAINMENT - We saw three of the shows in Stardust on deck 7; Swing - was an action-packed singing and dancing show. The costumes, the performers, the band, were all amazing. Luminescence - was a beautiful exhibition of the human body and showcased light and acrobatics. I highly recommend attending this. The final show was the 1970s dance show which was a lot of fun. Again the costumes and the props were very well done. At the end of the last show, NCL brings out their staff, the room stewards, chefs, officers, and desk staff to thank you for being part of the NCL Family. What's not to love! There was one room steward who made an owl towel animal I'm still looking for the directions to make at home - let me know if you find it. One night we enjoyed the band in Spinnaker Lounge the trumpet, trombone, saxophone, bass player, and drummer, are an excellent addition to NCL offering of an onboard entertainment package. There was also a piano player Lounge singer, a lot of people seem to enjoy his method of music and comedy. He definitely has skills. - THE SPA! - Now let's talk about the spa. I will never go on a cruise again without booking the thermal Spa. To have unfettered access to a hot tub, a hydrotherapy pool, heated mosaic loungers, fruit infused water, a sauna, a steam room, large showers, robes, fluffy towels, and the silence which comes along with these things, is the only way to travel. The spa on the Gem is not as Lush and Grand as it is on the Escape and the Breakaway but it certainly serves its purpose. Maybe they can squeeze a snow room or Himalayan Salt room into one of the many therapy rooms. - THE INTERNET - Book it before you get on board for a discount - it works, not fast, you won't be watching Netflix. - PHOTOS - The photographers were really fantastic on this trip. We had our photos taken at two dinners, two ports, and then posed at the backdrops twice. Each of the photographers assists in posing you, the result is high-quality photos which we did purchase the package of 10. What I didn't like was the fact that they print out all of the photos before you choose to buy them. It is very wasteful and does not reflect well on NCL's statement that they are an environmentally conscious company. - THE PASSENGERS - Over the years the demographic that NCL caters to has changed significantly. Nowadays there are a lot of people who enjoy the booze package a wee bit too much. There were quite a few incidents of idiots jumping from the hot tub into the pool, falling asleep drunk in a chair at Topsiders, white thong bathing suit wearing cell phone holding crowded into the hot tub twenty-somethings, tourists from faraway lands who lack manners and common sense in embarkation, disembarkation, and in the cafe. I don't believe that any of that is NCL's fault. - PORTS OF CALL - While in Port Canaveral we enjoyed a visit from my mom who retired down to FL. So I did not go on any organized excursions. In the past, we had traveled to Kennedy Space Center which is excellent and worth the trip for people of all ages. We visited Great Stirrup Cay which only gets better every year. It's a beautiful place to relax, to swim, snorkel, to drink, and listen to music. our tender had a little delay because of rough Seas, but that is to be expected when you are in the Caribbean during hurricane season. Our stop at Nassau Bahamas was probably the same thing everyone else experiences. As soon as you walk out of the terminal you are accosted by people who want to braid your hair, take you for a taxi ride, sell you a seashell, put a bracelet on your hand and tell you that you need to pay for it because it's a donation to some charity. This time my partner and I went on the beach day Excursion to Atlantis. It is such a beautiful place. The aquarium is exquisite, the Predators Lagoon is phenomenal. The casino will steal every cent you have, the food is ridiculously expensive, you can bring food and drinks off of the boat and take them into Atlantis. as you are getting on the shuttle to Atlantis there will be a guy attempting to sell you bottled water stating that it is $1 to buy a bottle of water right there, and then $5 to buy a bottle of water in Atlantis. What he does not tell you is that there are water fountains and water bottle filling stations all over Atlantis. Bring a water bottle to fill. - THE SHIP - While at Nassau we docked next to a Carnival Cruise lines ship, it was filthy and covered in rust. I felt bad for that Carnival ship and its crew. :( Looking at the Gem side by side with that Carnival ship made me realize and then pay attention to how much work the maintenance staff is constantly putting into the Gem and the NCL fleet. 24 hours a day they are cleaning, buffing, scrubbing, painting, screwing, washing, sanding, the ship - their hard work certainly shows. The Gem gleams! Another big difference was that NCL literally rolls out the red carpet, gives you water, hot towels, and greets you as you return from your day in the Bahamas. A must see on the Gem is the bridge viewing room at the bow on Deck 11 - it's awesome to see! The layout between decks 6 to 8 is bizarre. There are places where "you can't get there from here." The kitchen is somewhere in there and it interrupts the flow between the restaurants. The elevators on the Gem are fabulous - three banks of four elevators - enough for everyone, everywhere. The mega-ships have two banks of elevators - so you are walking... and walking.. and walking... Another thing that the Gem beats the mega-ships is the wider hallways and common areas in common places. (Or maybe just because there are fewer people and fewer jogs in the hallways?) The Gem does not have the 8 layers of cabin only decks which you have to through to get to any common area like the Escape. - FOOD - I've probably said this in my other reviews, skip the buffet. If you like food, take the time out of your morning and evening to go to the main dining rooms which are included in your cruise fare. We had amazing breakfasts, spinach pancakes with lox, eggs any way you want them, and on what you want. For lunch, we often went to O'Sheehans which is very good. The staff members are on top of everything. We had dinner in the main dining room, the Grand Pacific, the other main dining room, Magenta. One of the desserts was banana souffle with caramel sauce it was to die for. We had to Specialty dinners, Cagney's, and Moderno. Cagney's was fine, nothing to write home about. If you have a steakhouse anywhere around where you live it's similar in quality. Moderno is absolutely wonderful. The filet, bacon-wrapped filet, marinated chicken, grilled pineapple, the pork was so tender. This is the go-to place on the Gem. - RESCUE AT SEA - There was one crazy event while we were aboard. On Monday, Labor Day, there were two men from the Bahamas in a tiny boat out in the middle of the ocean for 3 days without food or water or a radio, who somehow managed to flag down the Gem. The Gem launched a tender to go rescue the men and take them back to the Bahamas. I even uploaded a YouTube video of it. I guess this makes it a five-star Cruise. - WHAT DID THE NEW CRUISER THINK?- What bothered my partner about the trip was the constant selling. You are bombarded with offers to spend more money. The high-pressure salespeople from the Spa and Tradewinds were tacky. The trivia even sells the next ships and ports of call! The Cruise Next push is a bit overbearing - however, this may be what keeps NCL in business and allows them to bring out the new ships. - $ - The total overall price for two people, seven days, last minute balcony "guarantee" cabin, taxes, port fees, 2 specialty restaurants, three bottles of wine, three wine tastings (for two people), six frozen drinks, Atlantis Beach Day shore excursion for two, extra cash tips for our favorite server and cabin steward, a $70.00 Pandora charm exclusive to the Bahamas, 10 photo package, two seven day thermal spa passes, the unlimited time internet package which did not include video streaming, prepaid gratuities, transportation from CT on Metro-North, $100 of souvenirs, a bottle of Sheridan coffee liquor to take home, covered private parking at the train station for 7 days, taxis from Grand Central Station to the pier and back was over $3000.00. Bringing the first time cruiser partner to experience a cruise and he loved it - PRICELESS! - FINAL THOUGHTS - Comparing the Gem to the Breakaway and the Escape is comparing grapes to watermelons. The Gem is perfect for first-time cruisers, the older demographic, the younger demographic, families .... oh.. maybe that's everyone. The Escape and the Breakaway are huge, a bit cold and impersonal. The Gem is the perfect size with a fabulous crew, meticulously maintained, big enough to cut through a storm and small enough to find your new best friend. All in all, it's my second time on the Gem and I hope it's not my last. Maybe next time I will get into the Haven. Keep it up NCL! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This cruise was to Port Canaveral, FL, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau. This was a very good cruise for me, but I'm rather unique. For me, the ship is the destination, I rarely visit the ports anymore, and if then just to stretch my ... Read More
This cruise was to Port Canaveral, FL, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau. This was a very good cruise for me, but I'm rather unique. For me, the ship is the destination, I rarely visit the ports anymore, and if then just to stretch my legs a bit. The only exception I'll make is if there is sometimes an interesting historical or natural attraction. Otherwise, I'm there to have some peace and quiet - to unplug from my busy life - to eat, read, stroll around, and sleep. The best thing about this or any cruise is sitting out on my balcony and listening to the ocean as we sail along. Bliss! I always get a balcony cabin. I experimented once with the solo cruiser cabin, but 100 square feet and no view is not for me. I find them to have just enough space for me, a single, with enough amenities to keep me happy. On this cruise I got two of the "Free at Sea" perks (which I know aren't really free): the Ultimate Beverage Package and the free Wi-Fi. I also had $100 on board credit, which was just enough to pay for two meals at specialty restaurants and get some laundry done. My cabin attendant, Alvin, was helpful and friendly. He keep my cabin clean and stocked with fresh linen and ice all the time. I'm a bit of a foodie, so the meals are important to me. Overall I'd give the food service on the Gem a B+. It's always hit-or-miss, unless there is a dish you've had many times before on Norwegian. I know a few of these, and I order them because I like them. Still, I'm willing to try new things. That's the hit-or-miss part. I found that Norwegian is still improving on its embarkation and disembarkation procedures. This trip was the best in both regards, especially the disembarkation. I purchased the airport transfer, and for $35 from the pier to La Guardia, it couldn't be beat. That was cheaper than even Uber. We had a shuttle van type of ride, and it got us there in 30 minutes. Overall, I thought the cruise was very good, and I plan to cruise on Norwegian again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Great cruise as always. A couple of things, the "house band" is made up of great jazz musicians but have they ever heard of "smooth jazz?". They play great jazz music but almost every freakin' tune there is a ... Read More
Great cruise as always. A couple of things, the "house band" is made up of great jazz musicians but have they ever heard of "smooth jazz?". They play great jazz music but almost every freakin' tune there is a saxophone solo, trumpet solo, trombone solo, etc. It gets really boring after a while. Just play smooth jazz with a nice melody. Who cares about the "solos?". Oh, and we are always encourage to "clap"...please!!! One night they were supposed to play until almost midnight. By eleven, I was the only one there! That's why the jazz club on the "Breakaway" with Charlie Love is so much better. Another suggestion, I and many other guests, usually travel "solo". We "Platinum" and above guests have a choice of two premium restaurants for two people and a bottle of wine. Could you please allow the "solo" travelers to use four premium restaurants. Keep just the one free bottle of wine. I mean, how much more could it be? It would be great for "solo" travelers to do four restaurants instead of two by themselves.Come on, don't be so cheap. What's an extra freakin' steak to you? Besides I always leave an extra tip. What else? Ah, Lorena, the cruise director. Very distant, aloof. Seems always busy, running to some stupid game or to make announcements. And always "passing the buck". Any questions, "eh, go to the front desk and ask them about that"...really?...you are so badly trained. First of all, take down my stupid name, cabin number and do lie, yes, "I'll find out that information for you, Mr So and So". The comedian "bombed" but the juggler was a riot, very funny, great show! The employees are great, very open to questions even about their personal life. Great to hear about their hopes and dreams. It's a real pleasure to come back and find many familiar faces and many that even remember me, very nice. Well, nothing major to complain about, really. Had a great time and will definitely come back soon... Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was my 13th cruise with NCL 3rd time on the Gem. I prefer the smaller ships mainly because of the amount of people, less kids and who doesn't like the Spinnaker Lounge or the outdoor Garden Cafe. Also the Dawn class has 3 banks ... Read More
This was my 13th cruise with NCL 3rd time on the Gem. I prefer the smaller ships mainly because of the amount of people, less kids and who doesn't like the Spinnaker Lounge or the outdoor Garden Cafe. Also the Dawn class has 3 banks of elevators fore, mid and aft while the Escape class has only 2, fore and aft, so if you're mid ship you have a long walk to get to an elevator. Once the Bliss comes though I think the party is over for the Gem, in NY anyway. The Ship: The ship is great, it's just the right size, easy to navigate with great open spaces (outdoor Garden Cafe') and the Spinnaker (closed space) where you can read a book, whenever bingo isn't happening, or just watch the waves through the huge windows. I was 11th deck aft which is a great spot since the Garden Cafe is one flight up. I was travelling solo so it was an inside cabin. The Cabin: Typical inside cabin with a pull down bed mounted on the wall if you have kids or a caretaker which I have neither, small kids anyway. I was able to get on each side of the bed and a decent sized TV. Big closet and the bathroom was a nice size even for my 6' 210lb. frame. Always liked the layout of the bathroom, walk-in shower, and actually mimicked it when I renovated my own. Clean and nice polish on the wood grain so plenty of light during the day but even better at night because of being inside, absolute darkness at night. With a balcony there is always a little light that comes through but here you're in total darkness which translates into very restful sleep. Dining: I ate in the Garden Cafe mostly and there is variety galore i.e. Asian Night, Italian Night etc. but since I am a Platinum member I get free dinners at Cagney's/Le Bistro and LaCucina/ Moderno so I picked the LaCucina and LeBistro. One tip as soon you get on the ship, or early as possible, book your Cagney's reservations as they load up faster than any other. The food in LaCucina I find just fine, nice variety, tasty with just the right size portions to leave you enough room for dessert. I don't expect a 5 star dining experience in these restaurants, nor should anyone else paying $20 for a meal, even though I don't pay that. What I do find is good food, tastefully presented without outstanding service. LeBistro though is on another level here you will get about as close to 5 star as you would on the outside. Impeccably dressed staff, brilliant menu that is not overstuffed with 30 varieties but a simple, well thought out variety of chicken, veal, beef and seafood, of course. I had the escargot and I would rate it right up there with the top 3 escargot dishes I've ever had. The variety of dining choices will satisfy any taste. Enetrtainment and Activities: Plenty to do there's Bingo, Deal or No Deal, Live Quiz Games in the Atrium Big Screen. There is so much going on for the whole family all ages. Library, Game Room, outdoor basketball courts, golf cages the list goes on and on you'd be pretty hard pressed to get bored. Service: This is where NCL shines, the service is top notch and to give you an example when I first boarded and went to the cabin the safe wouldn't lock, no big deal. Went downstairs and told the staff at the main desk, she made a call. By the time I went to the Garden Cafe' and had a quick bite and went back to the cabin it was fixed. This is just a small example of what is the esprit de corps of the whole staff - get it done with a smile and have a nice cruise. Ports and Shore Excursions: This is the reason for not having the 5th circle dotted. DISNEY. This was supposed to be a 12:50 gathering at the Stardust Theatre unfortunately we had a rescue at sea. All of a sudden the ship comes to a stop and a life boat is sent out, maybe 300 yards to a small craft, maybe 18-22 ft, bobbing aimlessly in the semi-rough water. Apparently, they were stranded at sea for 3 days which is all well and good, for them. This whole thing took about an hour to save them and get the life boat hoisted back into position. Now we're about 10 nautical miles out, I think, and it pushes us back an hour. By the time we get into port, get cleared, get the walkway in, assemble in the Stardust get to the bus and take the hour ride to Disney it's 3:30 p.m. Its raining, not their fault, but on the way there, being it is raining, they announce those who bought tickets to the Magic Kingdom it will be closing at 6:00 p.m. and if you want to trade in your Magic Kingdom passes for Epcot it'll be OK. Unfortunately, those who buy tickets for the Magic Kingdom actually want to go to Magic Kingdom, not a remedy. So these poor people spent I don't know how much $ to try and squeeze getting to the park, waiting for a ride, getting on rides and getting back to the lot in 3 hours, because you have to be at the bus by 6:30. My experience was I spent $125 for a Fastpass+ and made 2 appointments for "Soarin" and "Spaceship Earth". The excursion to and from Disney cost $59 so I'm up to $184. Finally, get there and being it was a rainy day there was not as many people. I get to "Soarin" and waited about 20 minutes to get on. First time at Disney and you expect to be overwhelmed, I wasn't. "Soarin" was about 8 minutes and was kind of underwhelming. You expect to be wowed by Disney but this was like a bad first date, expectations were much higher than the actual event. Left there and went to Spaceship Earth and found out I couldn't go on I was 27 minutes early so I took a walk around to German Town and had a large pretzel and a beer and decided, at 4:30 I wasn't going to go to "Spaceship Earth", so to be underwhelmed by "Soarin" it cost me $184. Had this been a regular day and I waited 1-2 hours for "Soarin" boy I would have been pissed. Stayed there till it was 5:45 and left to get the bus home My point is DISNEY should be an all day excursion precisely for the reasons that anything could happen, and it did, and if even if the Magic Kingdom people were there when the place opened, closing it at 6 wouldn't have been a problem. You could rearrange the itinerary to make a half day at Nassau or avoid Great Stirrup Cay altogether and spend one and a half days at Port Canaveral. I definitely wouldn't have minded because I would have grabbed the space center on the half day and DISNEY the full day. I would never recommend the DISNEY excursion on a half day which is not even a half day it's a quarter day. Until this changes I would never buy this excursion because you're paying for an all day pass and getting a quarter day at the park. Even if we left at 12:50 and arrived by 2 and left at 7:30 you still need a half hour to get from where you are in the park to the bus so that's 5 hours of which most of that time is waiting in line or waiting for your Fastpass+ to activate like I did. Avoid this excursion. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We booked this cruise only about 3 weeks before the sailing date - it seemed like the perfect easy family vacation. I had been on another cruise with Carnival many years ago but this was the first cruise for my hubby and daughter. The ... Read More
We booked this cruise only about 3 weeks before the sailing date - it seemed like the perfect easy family vacation. I had been on another cruise with Carnival many years ago but this was the first cruise for my hubby and daughter. The ship was very nice - it had been refurbished a couple of years ago. Overall, we had a great time, but there were definitely some shortcomings. First, I need to praise the staff - they really went above and beyond to please us in so many ways. My daughter is a very picky eater and on the first day, she found a dish she liked at the Chinese restaurant. On a few of the other nights, even though we were eating in other restaurants, we mentioned this dish and it was made and brought to her at the restaurant we were at!! Now if that isn't service, then I don't know what is. We did notice that there could have been a few more family or kid oriented activities for those kids who did not enroll in the splash academy. We also had a couple of issues with the shore excursions - definitely not worth the price we were charged. I understand that you pay a premium to book through the ship, but it was still overpriced. The original boat ride we were supposed to go on in Port Canaveral was cancelled because not enough people signed up. They let us know the day before so we had enough time to go to the shore excursion desk and find a new excursion. We found a similar boat ride and they gave us a tiny discount to make up for the inconvenience. It was a pretty disappointing boat ride. We also booked a day at Atlantis and for what we paid, we only had access to the beach and the aquarium. Our favorite day was the private island. The tender ride was a bit bumpy, but it was a short ride. My daughter had the greatest time floating in the water on a raft we rented for $16!!! It was really beautiful and relaxing there. They told us to keep hydrated, but there really was not a lot of water available. They served a very nice lunch with a theme of an island!!! We enjoyed the entertainment - the magician could have done a few more tricks, but we still enjoyed him. It was nice that there were 2 shows each night, so we didn't have to rush through dinner or anything. There seemed to be music all over the place at most times. There were also a lot of giveaways and raffle type of events. I loved being able to eat where we wanted, when we wanted. The only places we had to make reservations were at the specialty restaurants. Now on to the food - overall, we enjoyed the food - there was always something for everyone, especially at the buffet. Some of the food was a bit disappointing - the soups, and a lot of the meat was dry and not flavorful. I also expected higher quality fish at the meals. The French restaurant was a disappointment - the quality was not great and we had a little trouble with the service. Our favorite restaurant was Moderno and my daughter loved the teppenyaki place - she is still talking about it. The pools were small but it was a treat for my daughter to be able to go into a hot tub and she enjoyed the slide. We didn't really have any problems finding chairs. The cabin was not huge, but we didn't feel cramped in it. We especially loved the turn down service with the animals made out of towels. We had a family size window and it was fine. The embarkation was fine, but the welcome when we first got on the ship could have been better. Overall, it was a blast - the staff truly aimed to please and we really had quality family time together. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
So, first time to the cruise experience and from the UK. Wasn’t sure what to expect. The Gem was the right size for us and we quickly got our bearings and were able to move about the ship with ease. The balcony stateroom was ... Read More
So, first time to the cruise experience and from the UK. Wasn’t sure what to expect. The Gem was the right size for us and we quickly got our bearings and were able to move about the ship with ease. The balcony stateroom was ample in size. The bathroom small but the shower was excellent. The food options were good and of great quality. A little overwhelmed to have so much food on offer and I can’t lie. The main buffet was BRUTAL. We have stayed at many inclusive resorts and I have never known such loaded plates or such rudeness from other passengers. ( admittedly mainly one particular nationality in my experience.) The other non speciality restaurants were very good and we favoured these when our youngest was in the kids club. The kids club was where my main issue lay. My child became unwell and there was no way that the staff can page you. They leave a message on your room voicemail. But you aren’t in your room so you don’t pick this up. NCL really need to look at a pager system or tannoy you in these circumstances. The ports of call were great. We visited Kennedy Space ( we arranged ourselves and saved £150 on the NCL excursion )and did 2 beach excursions. No issues for sun loungers. The pools are SMALL. Too small. And strangely had no lifeguards until days 6/7. And these lifeguards were very strict. I’m surprised the kids were even allowed in the water. Not sure why no lifeguards on days 1-5?? Another guest mentioned there had been a port inspection. Maybe they got pulled up on the lack of safety around the pool bit there had been no issues and most parents supervised their children adequately. The housekeeping staff were amazing and work really hard. Our real disappointment was the beverage packages we had paid for up front. Definitely paid more when we booked via a NCL agent in the UK then if we had waited and despite this being all inclusive you get charged port taxes on your free drinks. Only a couple dollars each time but not really the point. It was still an added cost. And for the kids not enough selection of juices to choose from so wasted money if your kids don’t drink fizzy drinks. Overall had a great time and would cruise again. Fellow passengers suggest that Disney and Royal Caribbean provide better services so would perhaps look at one of these. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Wonderful time the drinks are expensive, the drink package was 700 dollars! WOW!!!No one drinks that much. The room was perfect for us we only slept there other times we were out. We get up shower get dressed eat breakfast, later we put ... Read More
Wonderful time the drinks are expensive, the drink package was 700 dollars! WOW!!!No one drinks that much. The room was perfect for us we only slept there other times we were out. We get up shower get dressed eat breakfast, later we put bathing suit and get in the hot tubs, so relaxing. After that we eat lunch, then go to cabin shower and get dressed for the evening. We went to the bliss club, and Osheana's. Another time we went on the glass boat. We saw. Million dollar homes. Also in the basement of boat you can see the bottom of the sea, corral reaf, fish. We also met other people on the cruise. Another time we went to a private beach called stirrup Cay that was nice plenty to eat, go swimming, lay on beach enjoy the moment. We went to shopping district in the Bahamas. Also we visited my brother and his new wife in Florida we shopped while we were there. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
A friend of ours recommended this cruise as she thought we would enjoy it. It was our first cruise and heard many good things about the GEM. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. We enjoyed the food at the main dining hall as ... Read More
A friend of ours recommended this cruise as she thought we would enjoy it. It was our first cruise and heard many good things about the GEM. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. We enjoyed the food at the main dining hall as well as the Japanese restaurant. We never missed being entertained by Justin Golan, who was very talented and personable, as well as Jonathan the trumpet player in the cruise entertainment production, as well as appearing with Justin on occasion. We enjoyed the beach area at Cocoa Beach, as well as the private island and the beach in the Bahamas. Mantombi Ndlovu, the Restaurant Steward was one of the nicest and friendliest people we have ever met. Our cabin steward was excellent as well, as he attended to all of our needs in a friendly manner. Everyone on the boat was very talented and there was always something going on that was enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our 10+ cruise on the NCL Gem, knowing she will be leaving NYC soon. We wanted to have a good send off by doing a B2B (8/11 & 8/18). As always the Gem is still beautiful and powerful. The engines still purr, the recent ... Read More
This was our 10+ cruise on the NCL Gem, knowing she will be leaving NYC soon. We wanted to have a good send off by doing a B2B (8/11 & 8/18). As always the Gem is still beautiful and powerful. The engines still purr, the recent refurbish was well done and we got our favorite cabin and no, I'm not telling. Our cabin stewart Allen was amazing. Met him the first day, made some lite requests which he filled quickly and continued during both weeks. Always greeted us by name, with a smile, how are you, do you need anything. Just awesome. Thanks Allen! We're spoiled and love having most of our dinners in Cagney's which were treated like family by the manager and the entire waitstaff. Knew us by name, check to see if dinner was going well or just stopped by the table to say "Hello." What a great team. They will be missed. Thanks so much everyone for taking care of us. We also enjoyed meals in the Garden Cafe, the Great Outdoors, O'Sheehan's and LaCucina. Food was always excellent. Very good choices. Fresh vegetables, soups, sandwiches, breakfast foods and much more. The crew kept tables, etc. very clean and were quick to offer a hand or request. Our cabin was immaculate and spacious. Plenty of storage space and lighting. Still looks new. TV offered a good selection of channels. Refrigerator worked well. Bathroom can be a challenge but we adjusted quickly. Entertainment also amazing. My favorite this cruise, the crew entertainment up by the pool. The Gem has a lot of great talent on the ship. It was a show not to be missed. The production shows we had seen already but saw them again and they are still as fresh as ever. They showed no getting stale. The performers performed as if it was the very first time and we enjoyed them just as much. SHOUTOUT to a new friend "Tony K. Irving" what a talent. We did not forget you and saw you in every show. Keep doing what you do! Much happiness to you. So much happening around the ship, so much to see and do. Thanks to Prism, Jason Galon, the guitarist singer, 876 Konnect?, the Gem Band and more. Thanks to the cruise director Lorena. You did good girl! To your team, a job well done. We will miss the Gem. Have been sailing her since 2006. If we get to homesick we may hop of to Boston for a visit. But all the best to all the hard working people who made our cruise such a great memory. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
It was our first cruise. I Was having anxiety of feeling claustrophobic for a whole week...It turned out I was so wrong! Since The minute I entered the ship I felt welcomed and comfortable. The staff is pleasant and friendly. The ship is ... Read More
It was our first cruise. I Was having anxiety of feeling claustrophobic for a whole week...It turned out I was so wrong! Since The minute I entered the ship I felt welcomed and comfortable. The staff is pleasant and friendly. The ship is beautiful and clean. There’s a variety of food to satisfy everyone’s palate. Entertainment everyday, all day! Our room was pristine and comfortable. I can’t wait to go on another cruise. And most of all housekeeping goes beyond their duties. Loved the towel animals in our bed! It made us so happy. Jomar was most attentive to us. His service was excellent! I just wished there was an indoor pool, the outdoor pools are a little too small for so many people. Also the seatings available was limited. We had to search for a table for quite a while. Other than that it was a great experience!!! I would love to go on the Bliss. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We have travelled on 9 cruises to date and this was our 5th NCL Cruise ,Our only negative on the Norwegian Gem would be the lack of waiting staff and the lack of enthusiasm from waiters. The ship is well equipped with plenty of bars ... Read More
We have travelled on 9 cruises to date and this was our 5th NCL Cruise ,Our only negative on the Norwegian Gem would be the lack of waiting staff and the lack of enthusiasm from waiters. The ship is well equipped with plenty of bars which all had entertainment to suit all ages. The best service was given in the Magnum Champagne bar from Gerlyn Aclan, She was a credit to the team and seemed to be the only waitress who had the NCL spirit, always smiling helpful and seemed to appear to greet you whenever you arrived. Throughout the ship there was a definite shortage of waiters meaning you will be queuing at bars for drinks. We found the Grand Pacific dining room had poor service again due to lack of waiting staff. We have never experienced this on other NCL ships. The orchid garden asian dining and the Magenta main didning room were the best for excellent service and delicious food. As with most ships now a lot of public space has been taken for Haven Suites. The indoor cafe was hectic with narrow gangways which made it an unpleasant experience, we used the great outdoor cafe for lunch and breakfast which was far less busy but had less choice but much more relaxed. Our balcony cabin was perfect, enough space and plenty of storage and kept very clean. We booked the kayaking excursion on Castaway Cay which was fabulous, our tour was 12.15 -2.30, not knowing that lunch on the private island was served only from 12.00 - 2.30, on our return from the trip we found there was no food available on the island, this we believed was very poor as most people wanted to spend a full day on the island. We arrived on the island for 9.30 and would have liked the opportunity to eat lunch on the island after our tour. Overall we had a wonderful cruise and will definitley cruise with NCL in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We have always been an NCL fan. The entertainment in the public areas during this cruise were well below the standards we have come to expect from NCL. The shows in the theater were good. At the beginning of the trip we waited an ... Read More
We have always been an NCL fan. The entertainment in the public areas during this cruise were well below the standards we have come to expect from NCL. The shows in the theater were good. At the beginning of the trip we waited an extended amount of time in the restuarants for our meals. Also, drink orders were not always requested by the wait staff. More than once we had to ask for someone to come and take our drink order. It almost seemed that there was a lot of new crew members starting and just learning the procedures. Crew and staff were very pleasant on board. Gerilyn, in the wine/champagne bar was especially noce and took exectional care of us. We met there each night for a before dinner drink. We are Latitudes Platnum members and tend to look toward NCL first when booking vacations. I would not let this one trip change our minds however, I am hoping the items above were isolated cases. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Recently sailed on Norwegian for the 2nd time and had another awesome family vacation on our cruise to the Bahamas and Florida. I will review the entire experience step by step, first with all of the positives, then the negatives. We ... Read More
Recently sailed on Norwegian for the 2nd time and had another awesome family vacation on our cruise to the Bahamas and Florida. I will review the entire experience step by step, first with all of the positives, then the negatives. We sailed in a Balcony cabin and would highly recommend to all sailers. Although more expensive and the argument of "there are balconies on the decks of the boat" nothing beats the privacy of drinking a cup of coffee or having a final mojito at night or in the morning on the balconies. The room had plenty of storage for the 2 of us and the extra space is an added bonus. The bathroom was small as all staterooms bathrooms are, but we did not experience any issues with this. There was a safe, TV, couch, nightstand, mini-fridge and plenty of storage in the bathroom as well. More outlets would have been very nice, there was only 2 we could find. The ship itself was beautiful. The atrium was great, there was plenty of bars and lounge space, 2 pools (one for kids, one for 18+), and the layout made the ship seem spacy but compact. There was tons of activities, dining and bar options throughout the boat. Activities often bought extra charges ($20 for a mojito tasting, $25 for deal or no deal, $40 for bingo) but were a fun way to get out of the sun. The nightly shows were awesome. The production cast was great with 3 headliner shows, the comedian was funny and appropriate in not alienating any guests, and the magician was mind-blowing. The other entertainers in the lounges throughout the night were enjoyable and entertaining, especially the piano-comedian Justin. Highly recommend stopping in to listen to him in Magnum's once or twice or every night as we did. The service throughout the week was adequate with some highs and some lows. The stewardess did everything typical, but nothing extra and was occasionally in the way. With a mandatory daily service charge of $15 a person I expected more. The bartenders were mostly good, again with some highs and some lows. The guys at the pool bar were great, as well as down by Maltings Whiskey and Beer bar, the Martini Bar and Magnums. On the other hand, up by the upper pool bar were slow and unfriendly as well as a general lack of bar runners throughout the shows and entertainment. In terms of dining, the service was average. The specialty dining brought some better service as to be expected but nothing memorable. The main dining hall and free dining options brought a lot of workers unhappy and unwilling to go the extra step. Now, the itinerary. The Private Island was amazing. Beautiful views, tons of beach and chairs, warm water (I think I saw 88 degrees listed), 2 complimentary dining options and at least 3 bars. However, I strongly felt Norwegian nickel and dimed the island. It is true the UBD is accepted on the Island, but be prepared to pay tax on every drink while there. Also, there was a fee for umbrella rental (they were already set up) and mats to float. The "included private island" cost us about $150 extra by the time the day was done. Still a great experience. Nassau was also gorgeous with even warmer water, nice beaches and transportation options. We went to Cabbage Beach, right next to Atlantis but significantly cheaper. It was fun and enjoyable with a ton of tourists like us, access to drinks and watersports and beach chairs and umbrellas for rental. Be prepared for the locals to swoop with deals for excursions and drinks but other than that it was great. Cape Canaveral is a waste of a port day. We arrived around 1 PM which means its not worth the price to go to an Orlando port, which narrows the options to some beaches. We went to the highly accredited Coco Beach. It was a warmer Jersey shore... dirty water, tons of seaweed, overcrowded, outrageously priced drinks and food options, and you have to pay to get there. Not worth the $250-300 to go, save it for Nassau. For the most part the cruise was excellent and would highly recommend Norwegian over any other cruise line. However, not everything was perfect as I alluded to above. One major issue, as often is, was in dining. We paid for a 3 meal specialty upgrade and dined at Cagney's, Moderno and La Cucina. Cagney's is always great, Moderno was a terrific experience but La Cucina was quite frankly bad. The food was not very good and the portions are outrageously small when compared to other specialty dining plates. Not worth the upgrade at all, go to Teppanyaki instead. O'Sheehans was enjoyable and about what you expect for an included dining option. Small plates, decent food. The wings were very good, everything else was average. The buffet was actually quite good. A ton of options and menu changed daily there. We went to the main dining hall once. It was terrible start to finish. Not sure if we had a particularly bad experience (it wasn't this bad in past cruises with Norwegian) but refused to return. The hostesses had no clue what they were doing, making some wait, others join a long line, turned away some and sent others right in for seemingly no reason as reservations are not allowed. We were told to wait, waited 20 minutes and then on our own joined a long line for another 20 minutes before getting a table. The staff was unfriendly and not around at all, had to leave restaurant to get drinks. The food was bad to say the least. Small portions of poor food. I had a grilled chicken breast to keep it simple and it was the worst piece of chicken I have ever had. To put it simply, avoid the main dining hall if possible. As mentioned earlier, I felt like they nickel and dimed a bit but thats to be expected. I would skip the Florida port and save money for other ports. Drink package is definitely worth it, don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Highly recommend upgraded dining package. If necessary, just purchase the wifi plan, not really worth it as upgrade. All - in-all great trip and we will be with Norwegian again soon! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Excellent room steward service. We had a very comfortable cruise due to his hard work and hospitality. Poor water delivery service. It took whole one day the bottles of waters delivered to us. We ended up picking them up by ourselves. ... Read More
Excellent room steward service. We had a very comfortable cruise due to his hard work and hospitality. Poor water delivery service. It took whole one day the bottles of waters delivered to us. We ended up picking them up by ourselves. Dining room person gave wrong information where we can pick up heavy bottles of water. The color schemes of the steps should be brighter under the dim lighting, or the light should be higher watts in steps area, and color should be alternate each step so that people can aware each step. It was dangerous especially when you are going down the steps because you really don’t see each steps in the dark blue carpeted steps. Main dining room, Not the Magenta, was excellent atmosphere and food, services. Magenta has some problems... it took long time to be seated, even though there are very little customers at 5:00pm, food was not good, hard beef, couldn’t even chew. Buffet restaurant was very convenient and easy to access. Entertainment was excellent. Circuses, comedy, Shore band are very entertaining. Good job to Lorena, the activity director! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Norwegian Gem Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

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