87 New York (Manhattan) to Bermuda Norwegian Gem Cruise Reviews

We had a wonderful time on the Gem! We’ve met new friends along the way also the ship has a friendly crew. The Gem seemed like it was lacking crewmen. Service was somewhat subpar in some cases. Service at Cagneys on our second specialty ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on the Gem! We’ve met new friends along the way also the ship has a friendly crew. The Gem seemed like it was lacking crewmen. Service was somewhat subpar in some cases. Service at Cagneys on our second specialty reservation was awful. Any ways we had a great time on her. I was not impressed with the casino staff, I had requested my points to be transferred from the other ships but only one was forwarded. Gem is a beautiful ship! I’m not sure if I wanna sail on her again. It’s a maybe or maybe not... Gem had a great refurbishment. I love Osheehans it’s my go to bar lol! I’m not sure why the bar stops serving alcoholic beverages at 2am. Osheehans service could can be on a slow side during lunchtime, and around the wee hours. I would suggest the Gem to my friends and family... Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Let's just start off by saying that the customer service was awful. No one offered to assist in any way for anything, snapped my sail pass card out of my hand several times, never greeted you in passing, and the lines to even get a ... Read More
Let's just start off by saying that the customer service was awful. No one offered to assist in any way for anything, snapped my sail pass card out of my hand several times, never greeted you in passing, and the lines to even get a drink at any of the bars was too long to even bother - no waiters going around either. The food.. awful. Cafeteria food unless you go to the Specialty Dining - which is an extra cost. We did not have the drink package but each time we purchased a drink it was wrong on our account - as in, if it was a 'drink of the day' it should have been $8.95 and it would show up on the account as $14.71. I spent a lot of time at the guest service desk each day to rectify my account - great way to relax. Activities... if you don't play BINGO or Gamble, then just don't even bother. I never thought a cruise could be so disappointing - I felt nickeled and dimed the entire time. Just DON'T.. Norwegian is terrible. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We booked a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise with NCL in February 2012. This being our 5th time cruising exclusively with NCL. Scheduled to depart on October 29th. Unfortunately hurricane Sandy decided to pay us a visit and our cruise was ... Read More
We booked a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise with NCL in February 2012. This being our 5th time cruising exclusively with NCL. Scheduled to depart on October 29th. Unfortunately hurricane Sandy decided to pay us a visit and our cruise was delayed. The coast guard had closed the port of New York, and NCL had no information on when it was expected to re-open. We had lost power had no TV, internet, or cell phone access. We would charge our cell phone and call NCL up to 2-3 times a day, to see what the status of our cruise was. Sometimes the customer service rep was downright nasty, being short tempered. Finally towards the end of the week, we found out our cruise was cut to 5 days, with a day and a half in Bermuda. We had already been to Bermuda, and figured we had our vacation planned, lets go. NCL gave us pro-rated on-board credit for the 4 missed days. If we chose to cancel we could get our 4 day refund, and 5 day credit. Booking 9 months in advance I would periodically call NCL to see if there were any upgrades, always being told that we had a 4 category upgrade for a balcony. If we wanted any upgrades we needed to pay additional fees. The day of our embarkation arrived. There was no power in the Terminal, feeling cold and damp we were anxious to board the ship and find some warmth. We waited for our turn in line to check in. (having completed the on-line check in prior to Sandy.) We handed our e-ticket and passports to the agent, she looked at her computer screen and said "I'll be back", and left with our documents. Waiting for over 15 minutes I asked the supervisor if she could help us. Totally ignoring my request, "your agent will return soon". 10 minutes later the agent finally arrived and told us we were not in the computer. How can that be we asked? Having our e-ticket. I need to go and make your room keys now. We were finally able to board the ship, had some lunch and went to our stateroom. Very disappointed at the size of our room, and the balcony being "enveloped" by the ship. This was a 4 category upgrade?!?! We went to the customer service desk, finding out the ship was only half full I asked for a different stateroom. Willing to pay additional if needed I was told there was no other available rooms. And the ship was only half full???? We had 1 sea day, went to Bermuda arriving on a Sunday. (All the shops were closed), we decided to visit the zoo/aquarium on our own and not pay the $89.00 per person shore excursion fee. (cost of 2 day bus/ferry pass $40.00 for the 2 of us). We did a little shopping Monday, and needed to be back on board by 3:30 for a 4pm departure. We felt that the meals and entertainment were cut short. One comic boarding the ship while we were in Bermuda. There was also a comic hypnotist. We never had a lobster night. The dinner choices were just mediocre. Being latitude members we never received the ships pin, or discounts at the photo or gift shops. It seemed to me this cruise was done to satisfy those passengers who "demanded" a cruise vacation. I should have been one of those who cancelled if I had only known what was ahead for us. NCL should have sucked up this cruise as a loss and canceled the whole trip. As I mentioned earlier, this was our 5th cruise with NCL. Maybe it's time to try another cruise company. I would have loved to say "Wow what a trip". This cruise surely did not meet my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Embarkment: It was very easy, lines clearly marked, wonderful people directing. We arrived about 11:30 were showed to the VIP line, and we were eating lunch at Cagney's before noon. We met our special waitress Josephine on the first ... Read More
Embarkment: It was very easy, lines clearly marked, wonderful people directing. We arrived about 11:30 were showed to the VIP line, and we were eating lunch at Cagney's before noon. We met our special waitress Josephine on the first day, and had a wonderful week, seeing her smiling face, and cheerful spirit. She spoiled us, I wanted to take her home in my suitcase. They had a wheelchair to help my mom who is almost blind and has trouble walking to help her get up to the ship. We ate dinner at Magenta, and enjoyed lobster, visiting with friends and a wonderful start to the cruise. Enjoyed the show, and was looking forward to the week. Most of my dinners for the rest of the cruise was in the Grand Pacific with our favorite waitress Rezchel, she was great. Every Night she exceeded our needs and made wonderful suggestions. Don't miss the lemon ginger custard, it was the best dessert I ever tried. We ate in the Asia restaurant, and of course teppanyaki and enjoyed it very much. The shows were amazing the show around the world and the comedian was so much fun, lots of energy and laughs. Also enjoyed the piano player and music around the ship. Deal or no deal, might have been more fun if I won, the winners were happy. OUR MEET AND GREET: Met Cherry the group event coordinator on my last meet and greet I organized on the Gem. She was still there and it was wonderful to see her again. We had many staff members come to our meet and greet and they were very happy to meet us, we had a wonderful turn out, almost everyone made it. They gave us an organized card with their numbers on it. It is wonderful to see how NCL treats their employees. It is wonderful to see great workers rise in the ranks. For example I met Jenny the first time when she worked at the reception desk, now, not that many years later, she was the hotel director. It was wonderful to see her again, have a cup of coffee and talk. I told her about a wonderful room service worker who went beyond the call of duty, he set up a standing order every night for tea and pitcher of water. He called and confirmed it. She made sure to recognize him and even the Captain called him. This reminds me, fill out the style cards when someone does something for you special. They get recognized and get raises based on them. Great waitresses can go from main to specialty rest. so write those cards. I also got to see my favorite concierge Florentina, she is wonderful, not only does she do a great job, she goes beyond to make your cruise special. She will be leaving to do the most important job, a full time mom. She will be missed. We had an amazing room steward Abdul, he really was amazing, our room was spotless, he always greeted us with a smile and made our day special. He helped my mom with some special needs and I appreciated it. Bermuda was amazing. We took a tour with a taxi driver recommended on CC boards and it was excellent. Wed. it rained a little but it was OK we just shopped at the Wharf. Unfortunately all cruises must end, this was too short, missed a day. We took the last tag of the morning as we like to let the crowd get off, and take our time with breakfast and stuff. It was a wonderful cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We're 40- something couple, have enjoyed NCL freestyle and decided to try an aft penthouse suite to maximize our relaxation on our first visit to Bermuda. After reading alot on CC about the NCL suite experience, my DH and I felt ... Read More
We're 40- something couple, have enjoyed NCL freestyle and decided to try an aft penthouse suite to maximize our relaxation on our first visit to Bermuda. After reading alot on CC about the NCL suite experience, my DH and I felt well equipped to anticipate what it would be like. I guess that even with all that we read, there's still a "learning curve" to adjusting to the suite perks, but admittedly it's an easy adjustment! We were on a much needed vacation... Before mentioning anything else, I want to say that we were on the cruise where the distressed sailing ship rescue of 5 people occurred on 10/29 in the middle of the sea. What a dramatic event that was to experience (and we were just watching!), and NCL should be extremely proud of the captain and fantastic crew and their efforts!!! Way to go! OK, here's our review... NYC: we arrived 2 days early and enjoyed NYC, went to a broadway show, saw Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, the Occupy folks (quite interesting, lots of police presence), and were able to go into the 911 Memorial, which was of course very moving. Great food, both fine dining and street food. Embarkation in NYC: We purposely stayed in a hotel that was walking distance to the port, and walked there to arrive around 11 am. I knew that we'd get checked-in at the VIP lounge, so specifically mentioned to the NCL check-in attendant that we were in a suite... unfortunately, for whatever reason she directed us to the Latitudes line, where the check-in lady eventually then escorted us to the VIP lounge where we got our keys and waited to be escorted on board. While we were there, we could hear that our original group number to board had been called, so we could have boarded earlier if we just kept on going ourselves in the Latitudes line... a small thing, but then it was compounded by the fact that I needed to help show the escort to where our cabin was located (aft.... penthouse, no, that way...), so not the best embarkation experience by comparison to what we were expecting. However, we made our way to Cagneys and that's where the magic began...breakfast and lunch there every day was fantastic. Suite experience: We met Gaurav, our butler, and he answered all our questions and was great to meet, however he clearly had just come down with a cold and sounded and seemed to feel miserable, so that made us feel so sorry for him - - and I think that impacted what we asked him to do for the rest of the cruise (NCL, maybe allow for a substitute if a butler is ill??). Through the cruise he responded to our very few requests, however there were days that went by when we never saw him, so we were surprised by that (and concerned that he was feeling more ill, didn't want to bother him, etc.). The concierge David was excellent in the few times we asked him to do anything - - remarkably, early on in the cruise he recognized us in the atrium as we were killing time with our pager, waiting to get into the MDR; and he said "follow me" back to the MDR and got us seated immediately - - that felt VIP indeed! Our steward Eduardo was the highlight for us, extremely attentive, always around, and commented to us that we were so EASY - what else could he do for us?? He really went out of his way for us, and he's a Gem (no pun intended!)! Food: Cagneys for breakfast and lunch is by far the best part of suites from our perspective - we never set foot in the buffet on this cruise (this is a good thing from our perspective), and we SO enjoyed the incredible food and service, and the solitude of that space. It made us both get up earlier than usual on vacation, which is saying alot! The Cagneys team is fantastic. In MDR, it seems that NCL has definitely scaled back in food quality from our previous NCL cruises (e.g., don't offer a steak if the one you'll present is thin and disappointing); but service was always great! We scaled back our food expectations, but sadly. For room service, we ordered the $5 pizza one night and were disappointed - sure it's big (too big), but so few choices and so uninspired! NCL, please improve/expand the 'zza menu, and it will be so much better. Late night grilled cheese from the kids menu was fantastic - - definitely recommended! Blue Lagoon was great for catch-meals, and our Anniversary dinner in Teppanyaki was "the bomb". Too bad that MDR doesn't come close. Other onboard thoughts and suggestions: - fitness area was great! Well equipped, and we could always could find an available treadmill. - seas were rougher than we anticipated, be sure to bring bonine or other meds to ward off any missed fun on the ship! - on sea days, the Atrium becomes a tacky marketplace with gold-by-the-inch and watches. Please discontinue this, NCL. - we always enjoyed the captain's announcements, but oftentimes he would end with an 'advertisement' for some onboard thing like a special lunch or bingo event - - NCL, please let him focus on communicating about navigation and weather, only! We felt bad for him, and it reflects poorly on the cruiseline to have him do it. - entertainment: we went to a few shows, liked Brenda Kaye the hypnotist and Justino/magician and wife acrobat very much! Second City was good, I think improv can vary and have good days/bad days so we'll cut them some slack. Music we heard around the ship was always very good. Pub Crawl counts as entertainment, great fun as always! Beautiful Bermuda: it really is. Weather was great, snorkeling at Tobacco Bay was our highlight, and the sea-glass beach by dockyard was an unexpected cool experience, too. Ferries seemed much better than the buses, and we might take a taxi tour next time to manage our time even better. Bermudians are so friendly, and as the ship was leaving Bermuda, people were standing at the dock waving and saying "come back to see us again!" We'll be back. Disembark: due to the exciting and dramatic rescue of the day before, and the rough seas and storm, we got into NYC later on Sunday morning than expected - - the suite perk of priority disembark came in handy and allowed us to get off the crowded ship much sooner...a real blessing. All in all it was a great cruise with some unexpected ups and downs, all relative when you factor in the perspective from having been in a suite and the expectations that come along with that level of stateroom... thank you for reading my review, we highly recommend Bermuda as a cruise destination! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I traveled this time with my teen-age daughter and my husband. This was our 4th NCL cruise together. Previous sailings have been on the Dawn, The Crown (our favorite) and the Spirit. I found the Gem to be the most attractive of the 4. The ... Read More
I traveled this time with my teen-age daughter and my husband. This was our 4th NCL cruise together. Previous sailings have been on the Dawn, The Crown (our favorite) and the Spirit. I found the Gem to be the most attractive of the 4. The color scheme is jewel tones. Yellows, greens, purples,reds, blues... Bright but inviting. There is a stunning glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly adorning the stair case in the Atrium, as well as a 2 story video screen on the forward wall that plays tranquil scenes most of the day. We watched Sunday football and the World Series on this screen and even played Wii on it one afternoon at sea. The Java Cafe is located opposite the staircase and makes a nice central meeting place. There is ample seating of assorted shapes, sizes and colors in the atrium and we found it to be occupied most of the day and into the evening rather than being a showplace to simply walk through and admire. This made the ship feel more welcoming. Our stateroom was a B2 family balcony. Our cabin steward Ronald was fabulous! He knew our names from the moment he met us and used them when speaking with us in a friendly yet respectful manner. Our cabin was always clean and he worked so quickly, we never returned to find that our request for making up or turning down the room had not been met. We found plenty of room for all of our things on shelves, and in drawers and the closet. The over the door shoe bag was a tremendous idea I picked up off this site and I would highly recommend bringing one with you. We placed the water bottles, coffee mugs, sunscreen, souvenir glasses and all those little things you want handy, but don't have counter space for in it. The balcony was spacious enough for two chairs and a table and is great for adding a little extra living space to the cabin. The split bathroom is a good Idea, in theory, but unless you are under 5 feet tall, there is really no leg room in the toilet area if you close the sliding door. The bed was extremely uncomfortable which was unfortunate because the bedding was so plush. The comforter was thick and fluffy, there was an abundance of fluffy pillows and the sheets were soft. I wanted to climb in at the end of the day and sleep late, but I felt as if I were sleeping on a kitchen table with a yoga mat on it. Didn't sleep, and got up early just to be out of pain :( It didn't ruin the cruise though...! The dress code in the main dining rooms according to the NCL web site, is resort casual and the Grand Pacific is said to be the "more formal" of the two. This is apparently not enforced. We entered the Grand Pacific on the 4th night of our cruise and encountered a man wearing a red t-shirt with the Kool-aid face on it, a red baseball cap turned backward on his head, shorts, and carrying a bucket of beer. The beer I understand, but I wouldn't allow my son to walk into the local diner with a hat on, never mind backward. When I asked the hostess about it, she told me that they want to accommodate everyone. We travel on NCL because of the Freestyle cruising, We don't want to have to "dress up" for diner either, but a pair of dockers and polo shirt shouldn't be too much to ask for in such a nice eating establishment. I still believe there should be a minimal dress code in order to show respect for your fellow passengers. The decor in the restaurants was upscale and quite beautiful. The Grand pacific was in fact grand and Magenta was bright and uplifting. LeBistro was very nice, but the choice of art on this ship was odd for my taste. I was hoping for Monet but found more of a National Geographic theme throughout lol. The Orchid Garden/Sushi/Teppanyaki area was crisp and nicely done, Cagneys was masculine elegance, as was Maltings pub area. The Garden Cafe was along one side of the ship and felt a little too long of an area. Seating was a little tight in the morning, but the food throughout the ship was wonderful...the only exception was the sushi which is on par with the grocery store variety and not worth the extra $$ to purchase. The wait staff was friendly and accommodating. The bars are everywhere so you never have to walk far for something to drink. The bartenders by the pool are delightful as are most throughout the ship. The only problem we experience at all was at the Java Cafe trying to order a frozen coffee drink. after 3 days of trying and failing to get what we wanted, someone finally said to ask for a Frappuchino...which is NOT on the menu they keep putting in front of you:) Bar central (3 bars attached to each other on deck 6) was where my husband could be found most sea days because of the seating and televisions. My daughter and I got a kick out of the oddly shaped yellow chairs in the Spinaker Lounge on deck 13 and we lounged in them for an hour or so on one sea day as well. The Bliss lounge is probably the strangest area of the ship. It houses a 4 lane bowling ally, some video screens, lots of velvet chairs, and couple of red velvet beds amongst the dim lighting. It resembled a brothel more than a night club LOL. other than the movie trivia events, and bowlers, it was unoccupied. I never saw anyone in Tequilas which overlooks the atrium opposite the Blue Lagoon. BTW, the blue lagoon puts Mozzarella on the potato skins instead of cheddar which makes them quite bland, but they apparently have great wings because I saw lots of people carrying plates full of them to other areas of the ship. I found the entertainment on the ship lacking something. Perhaps it was because the regular cruise director, Sinan, was on vacation. I'm sorry I missed him because I heard he was wonderful. We had his replacement, Johnny Cash Sanchez who didn't really make the cut. He was more of an MC than a party starter. We did find out that he has an amazing voice at the farewell show, but I don't see him moving into the cruise director spot anytime soon...sorry Johnny. The hypnotist was alright, the big dance show, was OK, the magician/juggler and his hula-hooping wife were a lot of fun. The second City comedy was top notch though and I unfortunately missed what I heard was the best act on the cruise, the comedian. The music by the pool was quite good and some of the lounge singers were very good as well, but none made me want to stop walking though to sit down and listen. I found this surprising because I've always found the entertainment on NCL to be amazing. Bermuda was absolutely beautiful this time of year and would return in October in a heartbeat. The weather was perfect. 78 degrees felt like 85 to a Jersey Girl and the water, while a little cooler than summer months, was absolutely swimmable. We had a cab drop us off at the glass beach by the dockyard to pick up some of the sea glass washed ashore there, then asked him to come back for us in an hour to take us to Warwick Long Bay. From there we walked backward toward Horseshoe Bay stopping at Jobson's cove, Stonehole Bay, and Chaplin Bay on the way. Walking along the horse trails gave us the opportunity to see some beautiful views that we would not have seen otherwise. We also entered the beach at the far end away from the usual entrance. Most people don't walk the length of the beach and miss the beautiful rock formations at this end. We spent the rest of our day there then easily caught a cab back to the ship. We did two shore excursions through NCL. The first was the Rising Son catamaran cruise and snorkel which I HIGHLY recommend and the other was the glass bottom boat tour and snorkel which was very nice but not quite as invigorating as the catamaran. The pool area was very nice though I'm not a big fan of the split pool areas. It was either little kids or adults and each pool seemed smaller than it would have been had there been one central pool. The adult pool was empty. I had my teen age daughter with me who was afraid she wasn't allowed in the adult pool, but didn't want to swim with the splashing 8 year -olds either so she didn't go in at all. perhaps if the weather was warmer the pools would have been more fun. Then of course there are always the hot tub hogs...parties of 5 or 6 who have waiters bring them drinks all afternoon and spread out in the hot tubs so that no one else may enjoy them. My husband was hoping to hop in for 20 minutes to relax the kinks from the uncomfortable bed, but the adult area tubs were full all day and he preferred not to go in with unsupervised children in the kids pool area. I much preferred the pool set up on the Dawn. Large pool in the middle with 4 hot tubs on the corners. The teen club was an enjoyable experience for my daughter. Since there were only 24 teens on the ship, and they expect only 1/4 of the population to attend, they only expected 6 teens. I think they actually got 7 but my daughter did not attend until about 3 days in when she received a personal hand written note inviting her to join the Mafia game. She ended up having a wonderful time with the couselors and her new friends who were very well-behaved and didn't sit in the stairwells like I've seen teens do on other cruises. They had an organized late night hot tub party and attended the White Hot party together as well as have diner and attend shows together. It was a nice bunch of kids and I felt uncharacteristically safe allowing her to stay out with them until after mid-night! We turned around about mid-day Saturday to rescue a 39 foot sailboat that sent out an SOS...While it made the trip exciting and gave you a little boost of pride to know that the collective "we" aboard were part of a rescue operation that saved 5 people, it put us behind schedule. The captain in an attempt to make up time, really opened her up on the trip back to NYC after that so we were really feeling the movement. I have video of the wind chimes in the gift shop clattering non-stop :)I don' get seasick, so it didn't bother me or my family, but we could hear the poor people in the cabin next to us were having a rough night of it. Disembarkation was EXTREMELY slow once we got back to port. I've never seen anything like it. What is normally a very quick, easy and smooth process took hours. We had luggage tags for 9:40am departure which were delayed due to the rescue by about and hour. We anticipated, for the person coming to pick us up, that we would be outside waiting for them at about 11:00am...I think we finally got out there at 12:30pm. Again...it did not ruin the cruise. We sat comfortably in the Garden Cafe over looking the Intrepid and watching people brush snow off there vehicles while we waited for out luggage tags to be called. While it seems I've thrown a lot of negatives in, this was absolutely the best cruise ever! We wanted to relax, enjoy Bermuda and each other's company and that's exactly what we did. I would sail again on the Gem in a moment's notice. She's a beautiful ship and the crew was fabulous. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We just got back from Bermuda on NCL"S Gem this morning . We cruise to Bermuda every fall , our favorite island of them all. This was our 4th on NCL . First two were on the Crown , third on the Dawn and this was our first time on the ... Read More
We just got back from Bermuda on NCL"S Gem this morning . We cruise to Bermuda every fall , our favorite island of them all. This was our 4th on NCL . First two were on the Crown , third on the Dawn and this was our first time on the Gem. Overall we really had a great time. Embarkation in NYC was a breeze. Ship was delayed in it's return but it didn't affect our sailaway at all. We were very pleased with our mini suite on deck 11. Cabin 11112 was awesome. This deck is all mini suites. Above us was the tail end of the garden cafe. We never knew anything was above us it was so quiet. The cabin IS bigger then normal balcony cabins and the balcony definetly deeper . We had 2 chairs and a recliner plus a small table. We enjoyed our room service coffee and juice out there each morning. The mini suite also had a full bath . While I enjoyed it I have to say if you have any mobility issues the tub is high. My DH threw his back out friday morning and he was nervous getting into to shower this morning. The toilet didn't work a few times and we had to call for that. Something was also leaking by the tub and toilet daily , we got tired of calling and wiped it up ourselves. The phone needed a new cord as you couldn't hear who was on the other end but they fixed that right away. They changed our pillows as the ones on the bed were not comfortable. If you ask nicely you get anything with a smile. No need to be rude to anyone. These people work 7 days a week with a break during their days. God bless them all . I have a strong work ethic but couldn't do what they do. I admire them all. Cabin had plenty of closet space and loads of drawers. We had a flat screen tv in our room and friends we met on board ( who won the free cruise last day at bingo) had a balcony cabin on deck 8 and had a small older model tv. TV channels are horrible. We had Fox news, msnbc, espn and the cruise ship channels. We didn't do alot of the shows but our favorite was definetly Man from mars. AWESOME for everyone. Food is always subjective so let me start off by saying we didn't starve . Food was plentiful. In the past we loved the specialty restaurants on the Dawn (we didn't like their MDR"S) . We'll we were disappointed with LeBistro and La Cucinas. My escargot in Le Bistro had too much of what tasted like oregeno in them. I couldn't eat them and I was so looking forward to it. I ordered the Filet Mignon and paid the add'l $10.00 for the lobster tail. While the beef was like butter the lobster sure wasn't. It's scooped out of the shell like cauliflower and cooked in butter and returned to the shell. Doesn't look good and it was over cooked. La Cucina on the Dawn was fantastic, not on the Gem. It was good but not great. The buffets were good but I found alot of repeat foods that I got bored with. I did have their Roast turkey last night and it was GREAT ! Caeser salads at the garden buffet were the best. Some days they had fresh pulled chicken to add to it. Blue lagoon was much better on the Dawn as well. I was so looking forward to the tomato soup and on the Gem it tasted like tomato paste. Buffalo wings were still good though and that Cheesecake YUMMY. Chocolate buffet was good too. Some things were good , some great. We found service to be a bit slow in specialty restaurants BUT the service was very good. Service throughout the ship was excellent! They couldn't do enough to please you. We are not breakfast eaters BUT on our days in Bermuda we both enjoyed fresh omelets from the Great outdoors. This place is never crowded so don't wait in line at the buffet . I loved my eggwhite omelets w/ fresh spinach, bacon and cheese while DH enjoyed a regular omelet filled with everything.Only real disappointment was food at the buffet was not always hot. Great outdoors also has burgers etc... in the afternoons . It's a pretty peaceful place to enjoy the views. Theres also a bar with tv in center. Bermuda is Bermuda . Peaceful and beautiful ~ Island and their people. Horseshoe bay beach is still our favorite but I will say I was pleasantly surprised by all the new additions to snorkel park by the dockyards. We went into hamilton friday morning for our shopping and spent the rest of the day at snorkel park. They've spruced it up alot and I now am a fan We spent wednesday walking around the dockyards and spent the afternoon at their museum which we've never toured. Looks are deceiving. GREAT place to visit. They also have the dolphin discovery there. Our Cruise director Johnny Cash Sanchez was really a great guy, lots of fun and just so down to earth. We chatted with him several times throughout the cruise and really enjoyed time spent with him. We had a bit of a problem getting DH off the ship this morning as the back was really acting up. They went above and beyond to make him comfortable while exiting the ship, brought us hot chocolate etc. Again, service was outstanding. Had some final farewell pictures taken with him and also the captain before leaving. I will tell a funny story that I shared at our cruise critic meeting only with Johnny Cash Sanchez as I didn't want to freak out the other cruises. One night we walked around deck 7 (only deck you can fully walk around the ship) and DH was enjoying his cigar. I was getting quite chilly and decided to use our tub and take a hot bath. When I got out of the tub I heard noises coming from our balcony so I assumed it was DH trying to scare me. Thank God I didn't just open the balcony door as I normally would have but I pulled back the curtain , threw on the balcony light and IGOR was on my balcony. The bird looked like a hawk ! Not a parakeet a HAWK ! I knew DH would think I was drinking if I didn't catch it on pictures but luckily for me he walked in as I was sitting on the couch talking to this bird with claws I've never seen up close before. His eyes were wide looking at what I was staring at. I have some great shots I shared with the cruise director and even he was shocked. I have to post them on his Facebook (his request). When I scared the bird he scared me back with the size of his wingspan. We usually always sleep with the balcony door opened. Not this trip. Imagine waking up with Igor in the middle ! Johnny Cash Sanzhez called the head of housekeeping to come clean up Igors mess ! Not pretty . FYI.... Tips / Gratuities are now taken from any OBC"S . We had almost $400.00 in OBC"S and the $12.00 per person / per day are deducted each day from your total OBC. We got a print out each day to play it safe and on day one onboard we asked at guest services and they explained it to us. IN the past you couldn't use it for that. Now anything you give your key card to comes off your credits daily. Also , latitudes members automatically gets 10% off on your ships shopping which was a nice touch. We're home, pictures (over 300 and we go each year ! ) downloaded already , all unpacked and now I'm hungry again I did forget to mention our sailing on the way home from bermuda was a bit rocky. A full day of 21.3 ft. seas (as it said on our tv ) and 58 mile an hour winds. I even captured all that on the camera (from the tv) If I think of anything else I'll add to this. Any questions ... feel free .. Carrie Outstanding service on the Gem from top to bottom Thanks NCL Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was a first time cruise on Norwegian cruise lines by both me and my husband. We found the trip pleasant and the staff that took care of us in the restaurants and our room steward polite and friendly. The ship was clean and neat. ... Read More
This was a first time cruise on Norwegian cruise lines by both me and my husband. We found the trip pleasant and the staff that took care of us in the restaurants and our room steward polite and friendly. The ship was clean and neat. We won't travel to Bermuda in October again. The weather was too cool, windy, rainy, and unpredictable. The food in the specialty restaurants was excellent. However, there is a surcharge for dining there. We paid a little over $50 for what they call a "soda card" which is a sticker, other wise the choices for something to drink were unappealing. The bottle water in our cabin was $5.50 a bottle. We did like the coffee pot, coffee bags, and creamers in the room and used them every morning to have a cup out on the balcony. Our cabin was comfortable. We had a nice size bathroom. The free style dining was great! I hated the organized times for dining I experienced in the past. My husband and I were able to sit alone and have privacy. This time of year for travel on the ship was nice because there weren't many kids. We found parents do not control their children around other travelers. We are tired of the display of poor parenting skills. The major complaint I had was using the on board Spa. It is over priced, period. Plus, we each received and extra $20 surcharge for being put in the same room for a couple's massage. It wasn't worth it. We have had a couple massage many times before and this one was nothing special to spend over $350.00 for it. Plus, the massage therapist tried selling us expensive creams and lotions afterward. What a turn off. My suggestion is to use the spa for specials only, but be aware for any surcharges before you have the treatment. It is unacceptable to be hit with an extra cost after your treatment. I guess the staff thinks you will be too relaxed to argue about the bill. Getting off the ship stinks no matter what cruise line we have traveled. This time however they made us wait across the street for pick up. A busy 6 lane New York City highway is not a safe place to cross. We were left to wait on the street which was unsafe. I wish Norwegian would incorporate all the fees & surcharges into the price so you can enjoy your trip and truly travel "free style" as they advertise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
NCL GEM to Bermuda October, 2011 "When good is just what you had in mind for your vacation." This was cruise #34 for me, with most on RCL/Celebrity/Cunard. So, I've been on my share of ships. The only other NCL ship ... Read More
NCL GEM to Bermuda October, 2011 "When good is just what you had in mind for your vacation." This was cruise #34 for me, with most on RCL/Celebrity/Cunard. So, I've been on my share of ships. The only other NCL ship I've done was the Sky, on a full-ship charter when it was new. So, this was like trying out a new line for me. I travel single, and booked a last-minute deal on an outside (porthole window) cabin on deck 4. THE CABIN I booked cabin 4564. If you look at the deck plan, the big space to the aft side is the gangway - so for a lot of trips, that'll be a noisy location when you're in port, and you'll want to pull your curtains closed for privacy - people literally walk past your window en route to the entrance. On the plus side, the cabin has incredible storage space - a wonderful combination of drawers, hanging space and shelving.... this cabin would hold everything needed for a round-the-world cruise. Seriously - it's like the designers of the Queen Victoria (which really DOES world cruises) never looks at this layout. I'm not a fan of the 3-compartment bathroom. Those glass sliding doors might provide the illusion of privacy, but nobody's really going to be fooled. I wanted the beds put together. If the steward does that, you have no room between the desk and the bed to walk - the room is narrow enough that there is no space. I pushed the bed to one wall, which made it a little harder for the steward, but actually useful for me. Compared to other ships, basics were missing. No pen, no paper in the room, one side of the soap/shampoo dispenser was missing/empty. Bring your own soap/shampoo/conditioner from home. The TV in my cabin was 1" larger on each side than an 8.5x11 piece of paper. Literally true - I held a paper up to the screen. That means it was impossible to read the account statement from the normal lying-down position on the bed. I can't imagine they sell very many pay-per-view movies on that screen. On debarkation morning, the toilet backed up, so I felt sorry for the cabin steward. DINING Most of the folks I met chose NCL partly for the Freestyle Dining. They seemed to think that meant they could eat when they wanted, and avoid the "hassle" of an assigned dining time, like 6:30 or 8:30. In reality, if you try to get a table at 7:30 (when lots of folks want to eat) you're going to wait - I saw wait times of 30-45 minutes. So, as a practical matter, you don't need to choose between 6:30 and 8:30, but you shouldn't expect to show up at 7:15 and get a table anytime real soon. On the buffet, most evenings I visited, only 1/2 to 2/3 of the stations were attended. So it was hard to get in and out quickly, depending on your choice of food. It's the most singles-unfriendly ship I've ever been on. Without assigned tables, if you show up at the dining room without company, there is no one else who is looking to share a table. SO - unless you're traveling with all the company you want for the voyage, you're going to have a tough time. Dining room food was the equivalent of good-quality banquet food. (Emphasis on good - not great, not excellent.) As one fellow told me - the big benefit is you can be in and out in under an hour, and move on with things. I wore dockers and a polo shirt, and most nights I was well-dressed for dinner. Shorts, t-shirts, gym wear were all in evidence. So, if you don't want to dress up more than you would for a summer BBQ at home, the NCL dining room is for you. I had one specialty dining night - at Cagney's with a friend made on-board. With a martini, 1/2 bottle of wine and the cover charge, it was more than $65 for one person. The ribeye steak was tasty, but tough. The rest of the meal was excellent, though. And the staff were terrific. But again, that was an expensive upcharge. I was a fan of the Great Outdoor cafe - really terrific tea-time scones... and all the time chocolate cookies. SHIP DECOR If you're looking for understated or contemporary elegance, you're headed for the wrong ship. A visit to the Ultralounge (really - they still call it that....) made me think of a cross between a bordello and an opium den. Overall, it's loud, a little worn, but very clean. EXCURSIONS This was the Bermuda trip, and the only tour I booked thru NCL was the Island Drive Tour. It was the worst excursion I've ever done. The driver spent about 1/2 of the five hour tour explaining to us in detail all the problems of the island - the drug problem, the three gangs on the island who infest the schools, the shooting in front "of a busload of tourists", how the police station was built with integral hearing rooms and cells, so that suspects couldn't be gunned down on the street when they were going from lockup to courtroom. She went on to explain how one woman (whose kids were in boarding school elsewhere) had made it a criminal offense to spank you kids, and how she'd beat her own kid if he ever called 911. All this was LITERALLY part of the narrative. Some folks in our group admired how "she kept it real." I was horrified, and that's what I told the excursions desk. When I told Soloman at the tour desk - That's not the tour you described, half the time was spent telling us about how awful life here is, and it made me wonder why anyone came to Bermuda, the response was -- We won't give you the full amount back - because you did TAKE the tour. I eventually got 25% of the cost back. So - lesson learned - the standards for NCL excursions are almost non-existent - if you take the tour, it doesn't matter how bad it was; they feel entitled to keep most of the money. OVERALL It felt as though every design, food and service decision was made with the principle of "Good is good enough" in mind. The food on Cunard, Royal, Celebrity are superior to every meal I had on the NCL Gem. The decor on those lines was more attractive than what I had on the Gem. The staff on the Gem, though, were terrific - everyone was friendly - friendlier and kinder than required. Dining staff were all terrific, and moved at the pace of the guest; so if you wanted in and out in under an hour, they did their best. The staff overall were just amazing. I rarely say never, but it'll be awhile before NCL becomes my first choice for vacation again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We were on the October 9th Bermuda cruise from New York on the NCL Gem with our two children (young adults). Although this was the first cruise for them, this is the 5th cruise for my husband and I. Here are my comments regarding the ... Read More
We were on the October 9th Bermuda cruise from New York on the NCL Gem with our two children (young adults). Although this was the first cruise for them, this is the 5th cruise for my husband and I. Here are my comments regarding the ship : The main dining room (buffet) is way too crowded. There is hardly room to move between the tables and drinks (coffee, water, ice tea) are not served at the table. You have to get up and fight the crowd everytime you want a refill. The food is very Meat and potatoes throughout the ship, and most of the time cold. We tried two specialty restaurants and this was not better. The only place where we could get water on the ship was on the 12th floor and there was a sign on the water dispensing machine saying we could not refill water bottles, so it meant many trips from anywhere in the boat to the dining room to get something to drink. The cabins a very small. Disambarkation was a nightmare. We stood in line for 1 hour before getting to customs. We tried to make the best of it... the children had a lot of fun on the climbing wall, bowling alley, hot tub, swimming pool and bars. And we had a wonderful time in Bermuda. But no more NCL for us. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was a lovely cruise from NYC to Bermuda. My tips are: Not every extra fee restaurant was better than the free dining options but at the same time I was not ONCE disappointed or regretful I spent the extra couple of bucks. Well ... Read More
This was a lovely cruise from NYC to Bermuda. My tips are: Not every extra fee restaurant was better than the free dining options but at the same time I was not ONCE disappointed or regretful I spent the extra couple of bucks. Well worth the money was Cagney's Steak House, Sushi, the French place. Check the wine list then decide whether or not to bring your own at a $15 per bottle fee. Example...This cruise had Paraduxx for $96. I can buy Paraduxx for $40 + $15 to bring it on the ship for a total of $55 AKA a savings of $41. Don't be enticed by a "free" bottle as some reward unless you know what it is. Friends had a free bottle for booking with some agency and the free bottle was straight up gross. If you're going to get a balcony you can take pieces from the sofa that rolls out into a bed and make a nest outside. HOWEVER - be aware they spray down the windows when docked and if your neighbor spill something next door your nest might get wet too. Also be aware there may be a person in the maintenance rover that runs along the ship. If you're shy you may want to close the drapes before getting naked in your room - of if your like me you'll wait until you hear the guy outside and throw it open. Luckily the people in the maintenance rover are strapped right too it so they don't fall too far. If you can reach behind the lowest drawer in the closet unit sometimes you can find treasure from the previous guests - or as in my case a pair of granny panties and a lady's shirt. We had a bonus sock under our bed too and we were not billed for any of those items - BONUS! See the Man from Mars act - he's hot and his lady assistant is hot too. And they do all sorts of flexible sexy maneuvers that would be cool even if they were not hot. The drink is always better when you tell the bartender what kind of alcohol you want in it and "house" won't get you the best drink. Spend a minute cleaning your windows or ask some one to do it for you on the first day. When they hose them down they don't dry them so you get water spots and it can be distracting. Overall, I loved my vacation on the Gem. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
THE GOOD Cabin and balcony size, bathroom and shower, fixtures, fittings and furnishings throughout most of the ship - especially the deck furniture- modern comfortable and plenty choice, we loved the "pods" at the front; ... Read More
THE GOOD Cabin and balcony size, bathroom and shower, fixtures, fittings and furnishings throughout most of the ship - especially the deck furniture- modern comfortable and plenty choice, we loved the "pods" at the front; Choice, quality and presentation of food in the Garden Cafe, the free coffee and juice being much better than on our previous cruise line. Itinerary - good length of time in Bermuda and convenient port location. Food in Tequila, Orchid Garden and Cagneys. Smiling bar staff at the Bali Hai. Easy embarkation and disembarkation. THE INDIFFERENT Entertainment - I liked the Amar Orchestra, The Second City and Phil Tag and loved Caribbean Plus, the rest was ok but take or leave. Food in the main dining rooms and service in a few of the bars and in the speciality restaurants - trying hard but just not quite getting it right - either too much attention or too little. Fierce air conditioning in many of the public areas, have left this as indifferent not "bad" as realise coming from UK not as used to this! The activitites bulletin - badly produced, spelling mistakes and sometimes wrong information about sunset and sunrise times. THE BAD The announcements: I expect anyone who can afford to cruise was once taught to read - there is a daily bulletin through every cabin door (as mentioned above) detailing the following day's activities. No need therefore for cruise director to be interrupting snoozing, reading or conversations with hourly reminders of bingo etc or for the shopping consultants, art gallery staff etc etc to be similarly desperately touting for business. We would take part if we wanted to!! Following on from above, the desperate selling of lottery and raffle tickets, photographs etc. More on interruptions - the final morning's relaxation on sun deck marked "quiet area" being interrupted by around 10 - 15 screeching members ofthe kids club, leaping on deckchairs watched by a member of cruise staff. The (alleged) Promenade Deck: We love to walk a mile before or after breakfast, 3 laps of the deck, I tried on 6 separate occasions and it was closed for maintenance. Complained to and met with offhand response from Customer "Services". Would venture to suggest than none of their money making faciliities would ever close. Lack of atmosphere in bars and lounges - only the casino was ever full. Again coming from the UK the assumption is that Americans don't drink as much as Europeans but not sure alcohol necessary to listen to some music and socialise. We never established a favourite other than perhaps Bali Hai which had the most cheerful bar staff. The Magenta Dining Room - horrible decor, freezing temperature and below average food and service - eg steak knife arrived once I was halfway through the steak and no-one offered drinks until meal nearly over. The Atrium - most of the ship is brightly (borderline gaudily) painted and this is wonderful in the pool areas etc, the Atrium however resembled a dumping ground for all the most hideous and unwanted furnishings from elsewhere. We named it the box room as it had an air of somewhere they put "facilities" that didn't fit in anywhere else. The Cruise Director - see above re interruptions. CONCLUSIONS: We had a lovely holiday enjoying mostly great weather and the beautiful island of Bermuda. The island tour excursion was informative and good value and we loved our independent trip to the fabulous Horseshoe Bay. The ship is lovely and most of the staff do try hard. If we had never been on any other cruise line we would have almost certainly been less hyper critical about some of the irritations. It is always probably always difficult to establish relationships with crew and fellow passengers during such a short cruise and we always knew that the facilities and entertainment would be aimed at the US market. If you are looking for a well priced week away from New York with plenty of gambling and no enforced dress code this is a fab way of doing it. If however you prefer a marginally more traditional experience in terms of dressing suitably for a restaurant, enjoying relaxing peace and quiet, making friends over drinks, establishing your favourite cocktail hour space and huge choice of evening entertainment it is probably not the best choice. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Just returned from Gem's October 16th cruise to Bermuda This was our 9th cruise -â€" 3rd on the Gem and 3rd to Bermuda. We were a part of a group of 11 which included an adorable 16 month old. They called us "10 and ... Read More
Just returned from Gem's October 16th cruise to Bermuda This was our 9th cruise -â€" 3rd on the Gem and 3rd to Bermuda. We were a part of a group of 11 which included an adorable 16 month old. They called us "10 and baby" in the dining room. What a different experience it was traveling with a large group and especially a baby. The Gem is a beautiful ship and has an excellent staff and crew. We had a 9th Deck balcony stateroom. Our room steward Cheryll was superb and ranks up there at the top of my list. She immediately greeted us by name and there wasn't one time during the entire cruise that she didn't have a smile on her face and a cheerful disposition. The room was always immaculate, made up promptly and all requests were taken care of immediately. What a pleasure. Dining was interesting with such a large group (and baby). We mostly had dinner in the Grand Pacific. We were seated almost immediately all nights (without reservations). The food was very good and the service was excellent. We found that the menu had something for everyone. DH and I did go one night to see the Gombey dancers and had a late "lobster night" dinner for two in the Grand Pacific - the lobster was really good. During the day - my favorites - the Great Outdoors for breakfast and around the pool or Bali Hai for lunch -â€" and of course Blue Lagoon. We only made it to one show because our dinners were with the group and we tended to linger. We did get to see World Beat (a favorite) and DH and I snuck in late during the last night's show to see Fountains. Johnny Cash Sanchez and his staff are great. Bermuda was beautiful with beautiful weather all three days. Got a three day bus pass -â€" no line at all. Took the ferry to St. George on Wednesday. Toured King's Square, saw the wench dunking, took the Olde Town Railway Train (very good -â€" baby loved it), toured St. Peter's Church and then took the bus to Hamilton and ferry to the Dockyard. Thursday was a day at Horseshoe. It was a little windy and the water had pretty rough waves (undertow warning) so after one attempt in the water we moved over to the protected cove on the right and had a beautiful beach day in the calm water there. Friday was the sea glass beach. Several of us took the bus and had a great time at the sea glass beach. We still had plenty of time to tour the Dockyard shops and even an hour or so at Snorkel Park. On our last sea day we went to see Robbie the Mermaid in the Bridge Viewing Room and all my charms were there. Thank you Cherry and Captain Svedung. Hope the Mermaid keeps you all safe and well. Thanks to Cherry the Group Service Coordinator for all her help with the M&G, David the Concierge for his help with birthdays and lost luggage (they found it in Orange), Mohammad the Food & Beverage Director for giving me his card and listening to all my concerns about seating, Joseph the Hotel Director for all his friendly exchanges -â€" and all the staff and crew of the Gem -â€" they are wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Back from Bermuda (2 days at sea, 3days in Hamilton, 1 day at sea) on NCL Gem from Manhattan. Overall really enjoyed and needed this vacay! We are late 30's with a 3yo. We cruise annually, usually with whomever has the right price! ... Read More
Back from Bermuda (2 days at sea, 3days in Hamilton, 1 day at sea) on NCL Gem from Manhattan. Overall really enjoyed and needed this vacay! We are late 30's with a 3yo. We cruise annually, usually with whomever has the right price! Booked a balcony portside -â€" 9524 A few thoughts 1) Parking at the port is $30/day. We found a garage at W 53rd (port at 49th) and lugged our stuff over ($140 for 7 days). Embarkation smooth and easy 2) Super fun cruising out of NY harbor -â€" beautiful! 3) If you love the sun, I would recommend a starboard side balcony out of NYC. The noon and afternoon sun will be on your side for the trip down AND you face Hamilton when you are docked at the Royal Naval dockyard 4) The kids club is AWESOME. Our 3yo loved it. On sea days they have activities all day long (cupcake decorating, pirate parade, lego building, one night they take the kids to dinner, etc) -â€" no fees. From 10:30pm-1:30am, each child is $6/hr at the kids club. During this time they have activities for the first ½ hr and then pop in a movie. I guess the kids fall asleep (or don't) on the beanbags. We thought we'd take advantage of the late night but our little one was just exhausted from no naps and full days of fun! 10:30 is way past our bedtime anyway... On Port days, you could also leave your child there for a fee. Sign your child in the first day and then when you drop off throughout the week, they ask you where you will be in case they need to come find you. Our child is potty trained so she could use their childsized bathrooms. Not sure the policy on diapers. 5) We really lucked out with the weather in Bermuda. The first 2 days -â€" really perfect beach weather, the last day with scattered light showers and overcast. I would have done beach the first day if the forecast was correct! We purchased the $28 3-day pass (for ferries and buses) for the two of us. Kids under 5 free. We actually didn't even use the pass on the 3rd day but overall spent the same as if we paid for individual fares. The ferry schedule is every hour or so with the last one at 8PM (not super convenient). The buses come whenever (also not super convenient). NCL has figured out a way to avoid tendering and help the local economy! Day 1: took the ferry to Hamilton (25min) and then the bus to the aquarium/zoo (25min). Admission is $10 per adult (kids under 5 free) and our daughter enjoyed this. We spent about 1.5 hours then walked around Flatts (not much to see but the inlet) and spent 25 min waiting for the bus back to Hamilton. Walked around Hamilton then walked over to the Fairmont for tea. Tea was fair (food somewhat stale tasting)... the Fairmont is beautiful. Then back to Hamilton to catch the ferry. Unfortunately then next ferry (6pm) wasn't for 45 min so we wandered a bit more down front street. Day 2: Took the bus to Horseshoe Bay (30min). Spent a wonderful 3 hours there (this is the only beach with bathroom, umbrella rental, snackbar) and then took the bus back into Hamilton (another 30min wait). Grabbed a snack at the Hog Penny, bought some souvenirs -â€" took the 6PM ferry back again. Day 3: This was a short day (all aboard at 4:30). My daughter wanted to look for seashells since there were none at horseshoe (the sand is soooooo soft). We took her to sea glass beach (thx for the directions cruise critics) around noon -â€" high tide. All the glass comes from the upshore trash incinerator plant. Lots of glass but also.... some trash. She enjoyed herself... I was a little grossed out even though it wasn't that bad. We then walked around the Naval Dockyard. Wonderful stone bldgs with lots of history that now house -â€" clocktower mall (great for souvenirs), clayworks, glassworks, rum cake tasting. Then over to snorkel park (they actually charge $5 per person). This is probably a great place to party at night -â€" the beach is rock hard but apparently lots of fish. Of course the 3 yr old loved it... 6) I do wish NCL would dock at Hamilton -â€" definitely more centrally located. 7) There was an AIDA ship that pulled in next to us for one day. As Europeans I guess this excursion might be more popular than for us americans but.... It was biking to Horseshoe bay. Really seemed lovely!!! Now we would totally do this except for the 3 yo AND the fact that they don't have a lot of pedal bikes (as they call it) to rent in Bermuda because its not so safe to bike around on your own. It seemed like AIDA carried bikes on board, and a lot of them because as we drove by on the bus it seemed there were groups and groups and groups of bikers. I do wish an American line would offer biking excursions -â€" we don't normally go on excursions but this is something we would do in a heart beat. 8) Last day at sea was really rough. My daughter actually got sick at the kids club and they tried to come find us but didn't. They took great care of her though and as per usual we went to check on her after leaving for an hour and a half or so... It didn't help that there was a storm coming in and we also had to make up time since we added the sailboat rescue to our activities for the day! I can't imagine even in the best conditions that sailing that day is smooth but ours was extra rough 9) I thought the food was fine. Some people complain that they never change breakfast but I'm not sure what else they could provide. I mean EVERYTHING you would have on a brunch menu was provided EVERYDAY: waffles, pancakes, benedict, omelette station, hot and cold cereals, pastries, all sorts of meats and hash, bagels and lox, fruits, even rice porridge (I had this everyday and loved it!). We usu had lunch at the buffet as well. Dinner in Magenta with one night at le bistro which was lovely. They only have crepes upstairs at the buffet for dinner -â€" we were there (almost) every night for my dessert! They also have a kids café at the back of the buffet which is great! The food is standard stuff kids like (mac and cheese, hotdogs, nuggets, mashed potatoes) but I just appreciated the small tables and chairs and kids type atmosphere it provided. Most of the time it was easy enough to find a place to sit but on the last day with the wind, it was soooooo crowded for bfast and lunch. We actually just brought our stuff down to the blue lagoon and ate there. 10) Our room was smaller than our solstice balcony last cruise but it was fine. The balcony is not long enough for 2 to lay out 11) We had a great time even though I had some reservations (food, "nickel and diming" that some people talk about on NCL, rooms, even shows). All of these turned out to be not an issue at all. And the kids club really clinched it for us. Before we went on the boat I told my husband the next cruise would probably be on the oasis but now we'll have to see what kinds of deals the EPIC has to offer!! Thanks ncl - think about getting those bikes!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My wife and I sailed NCL for the first time on October 16th. From reading the reviews, we were a bit nervous, but were not new to cruising, so we knew pretty much what to expect. Leaving - The embarkation process in New York could ... Read More
My wife and I sailed NCL for the first time on October 16th. From reading the reviews, we were a bit nervous, but were not new to cruising, so we knew pretty much what to expect. Leaving - The embarkation process in New York could not have been easier. From the time we got to the port to the time we were on the boat was about 20 minutes. We got there at noon. Once on board, our room was ready. The room - The room itself, although pretty small, was very nice. The finishes were nice and it felt pretty upscale despite the size. Being a tall guy, I could have used more room in the bathroom, especially the toilet area, but it is what it is. If you want room, you have to pay. The bathroom layout was very nice as well. the separate toilet, sink and shower ares is a good idea. The shower had ample hot water, and actually had very good water pressure. Despite the fact that you can smoke in the rooms (my wife and I do not smoke), the room did not smell like smoke at all, which relieved us. It was very clean. Food - I think this was actually our biggest worry. We were pleasantly surprised. The food we had was VERY good. We found the food at the Garden Cafe to be quite tasty, with a good variety available. We also ate at Magenta and Grand Pacific, having good meals there as well. THe only "pay" restaurant we ate at was La Cucina. It was good as well, bit no better than anything else we had during the cruise, so while I did not feel it was a waste of money, we did not go there again. We were not really interested in the other restaurants, but I did hear people say Le Bistro was quite good. Staff - At Norwegian, you get a service charge per person of $12.50 per day. This pays the staff on the ship. You can tip extra if desired, but it is not necessary. Some people have issues with this charge, but I like it better than ponying up the cash at the end of the trip. I have read how some people think this makes the staff less attentive and have non-caring attitudes, but that was NOT the case on our trip. Every staff person we passed in the halls always smiled and said hello. Our room steward was exceptionally friendly, and from day one remembered our names. The wait staff in all the restaurants were very friendly, and seemed to go out of their way to insure we got the best possible service. I can not say enough about how the staff was. Entertainment - The shows were great in our opinion. The Gem Production cast and orchestra were quite good, Second City was hilarious, and Bud Andersen was very funny as well. Team RootBerry was good too, but I expected a little more from them. The show was still entertaining though. Being some of the first people to see the "Fountains" production was an honor, and wow, what a show THAT was! Cruise Director - Johnny Cash Sanchez was awesome. So full of energy! Very nice guy, and what a singing voice he has. He did a great job, and was pretty much everywhere. I don't know how they do it! The Ship - The ship itself was great. pretty typical cruise ship layout. VERY clean everywhere we went. great sport court aft, with a climbing wall too. Plenty of chairs on all the decks for lounging. the restaurants were large, with plenty of seating. The ship was rocking bad the first day and a half, but the seas were angry :(. It calmed down after that and was great for the rest of the trip. Bermuda was awesome, with it's crystal blue water and incredibly friendly residents. Had a great time in Hamilton and St. Georges as well, with stops at the caves and Aquarium too. Great shore trips, both from NCL and our own wanderings. All in all, we had a great time. I can't really think of anything that stood out as a huge negative on this trip. We had sailed with Carnival twice before, and really liked NCL's "Freestyle" approach. Sure they tried to get you to buy stuff, every cruise line does that, but we found NCL to be a little less pushy about it. We would definitely consider another NCL cruise int he future! "Washy washy! Happy Happy!!" "It's BINGO TIME!" Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Background Information: This was my first NCL cruise and my first Bermuda cruise and my first solo cruise. All three were better than I ever could have imagined. I booked very last minute--only nine days out--and honestly only chose ... Read More
Background Information: This was my first NCL cruise and my first Bermuda cruise and my first solo cruise. All three were better than I ever could have imagined. I booked very last minute--only nine days out--and honestly only chose NCL because it left from the port I wanted to leave from (NYC) and went to the place I wanted to go (Bermuda). After this accidental trip, I'm confident that I will be on many future NCL cruises. Travel To Port of Embarkation: Because I live only 70 miles outside of the city, there's very easy public transport into Manhattan. I took a $44 commuter bus to Port Authority Bus Station. I then took a $7, ten-minute cab directly to the port. I could have walked if I wanted to roll my suitcase behind me. I have never experienced a more painless way to travel. I arrived at the port at around 10:50 and was all checked in and waiting to board by 11:10. The only confusion was at the luggage check area outside the terminal--it was crowded and disorganized, but I think that's because they were just finishing up disembarkation from the previous cruise. Even so, it wasn't a major issue. We were able to board right at noon--and all of the rooms were ready at that point! What a pleasant surprise! Stateroom: Because I was traveling solo (and on a budget) I chose an inside cabin. I was in room 10007, which was on deck 10 almost all the way forward. The room was clean and well equipped. I was surprised by the efficient use of space--there would definitely have been enough storage even if I had been traveling with my husband. The wood finishes on the built-in furniture was nice and the bathroom was clean and modern. It was nicer than many NYC hotel rooms I've stayed in (and only a little smaller!) Ship Info: The Gem is a beautiful ship. I continued to marvel at the attention to details. The public rooms were lovely, the furniture was made of quality wood and fabrics. I particularly liked the chairs and pillows in the Star Bar as well as the funky velvet-covered loungers in Spinnaker Lounge. The only public space that I did not love was Bliss Ultra Lounge, but that could be because I'm really a 65-year-old living inside a 31-year-old body! I'm sure the 20-something crowd enjoys lying on a canopy bed in a public lounge (see what I mean about being an old soul?) The main dining room--the Grand Pacific--was the quintessential ship dining room--big, beautiful chandeliers, a dual staircase entryway, a baby grand piano, and huge windows spanning the entire length of the wall all the way aft. It was lovely. But more than anything else, I was shocked by how clean everything was. At one point on day four of the cruise, I sat down on the edge of the pool to put my feet in. I realized that I was somehow sitting on perfectly dry, perfectly clean wood. I don't think I've ever been to a pool anywhere that allowed for muck-free edge seating! Dining: I had very low expectations for the food on board the Gem, as I'd read that NCL is not a cruise line that you select to experience fine dining. Of course, it was not fine dining--but it was perfectly enjoyable food. In fact, I'd have to say that I had several dishes over the course of the week that were far above average. The buffet had better quality and selection than I was picturing--and I'm a person that typically hates buffets. The breakfast options were vast and varied--you could have beans and broiled tomatoes with your eggs, or bacon and sausage, or lox and cream cheese on a bagel. I very much enjoyed the chocolate croissants--I had one every day of the cruise--and the has browns were quite good, particularly when drenched in the bernaise sauce found over by the eggs benedict. For lunch, the selections became even more varied. I'm a huge fan of Indian food, and I was honestly shocked at the quality I found on the buffet--and the dishes changed each day, to prevent boredom. The only reason you'd have to eat the same thing twice is because you really liked it! The food in the main dining room wasn't gourmet, but it was tasty, well-seasoned, and beautifully presented. I tended to enjoy the appetizers and dessert more than the main courses--but then that's fine, as you can order more than one of each (though I never did.) The desserts were excellent--I can't think of one main dining room dessert that I did not absolutely love--and I'm typically not a sweets person. I visited three of the specialty restaurants--Le Bistro, La Cucina, and Tequilas. Of the three, I enjoyed Le Bistro the most. The rack of lamb that I ordered (during the 'Best of' lunch) was the entree highlight of the cruise. La Cucina offered up the best dessert--a panna cotta 'tasting' that was much (MUCH) better than the panna cotta in the main dining room (and that panna cotta wasn't bad, either!) Tequilas wins the prize for the best appetizer and the best salad--the spice rubbed ahi tuna was really, really good, and the ensalata tostada was a wonderful little salad served in a crispy fried tortilla bowl (yum!) topped with the most tasty strips of grilled beef I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying (double yum!) Activities: There was more to do on board that any one person could possibly hope to enjoy. I played trivia every day, attended an improv workshop, and enjoyed two tastings--a martini tasting and a French wine tasting. The trivia was great (even more so because my team won the week-long progressive match), the wine tasting relaxed and informative, and the improv workshop would have been fun if I'd chosen to participate rather than watch (my mistake!) I cannot recommend the first martini tasting of the sailing, however, because it was so packed with seemingly already drunk people that it was more like being in a crowded, noisy bar than anything else. However, drunk passengers are not the fault of NCL and, additionally, there were two more martini tastings later in the week. I walked by during one and there were maybe eight people present--that likely would have been more my speed. Though be warned--you will drink WAY too much vodka in WAY too short of a time. But it's almost all worth it to see the staff play around whilst mixing the drinks. At one point one of the bartenders placed a tray full of (full) glasses on his head and stood on one leg! And this was during the most rough day at sea--I was quite impressed! Service: I have never experienced this high level of service--ever. I've only cruised once before--on Celebrity--and while I wouldn't call the service on Celebrity lacking, I have to say that the staff of the Gem went way above and beyond. At times I actually felt badly--I'd like to think that I have good manners, so when someone with a tray of dishes crosses my path, I get out of their way! But the staff on the Gem won't have this--they step aside for you! I accidentally knocked over my iced tea one day at lunch, and while I tried to clean it up, a man actually took my napkin out of my hand and did it for me, saying 'you're on vacation'. My room steward learned my name and made it a point to greet me by name whenever I passed him in the hallway. And, it is important to note that I was a solo traveler in an inside cabin--yet I felt like I was being given the royal treatment. Bravo, Gem staff! Entertainment: Honestly, I'd almost cruise on the Gem again just to be able to enjoy all of the Second City performances. I attended every single one, and they only got better (and more...ahem...adult) as the week went on. In addition to all of the 'included' entertainment, I also enjoyed the for-a-fee murder mystery lunch on the last sea day. It was probably the best money I spent on board, as the food was basic yet very tasty, and the entertainment was fantastic and well-timed with the meal. Port & Shore Excursions: How can one complain about Bermuda? I certainly can't! It's beautiful, easy to navigate, and the people are warm and welcoming. While I did not book any NCL excursions, I found it simple (and cost effective) enough to tour on my own. A $28-three-day transportation pass, purchased right as soon as I got off the ship, allowed me to see the island at my own pace. I took a ferry to St. George (a MUST DO), walked to Tobacco Bay Beach ($10 for snorkel equipment for one hour was the best money I've ever spent), and took the ferry back. On day two I took the ferry to Hamilton, toured Hamilton, then used the bus system to get to the Botanical Gardens (not great) and to Horseshoe Bay Beach (the most stunning sandy beach I've ever seen!) The only time I encountered a crowded bus was that afternoon coming back to the Dockyard from the beach. The bus was full of school children and really, they could not have been more well behaved or polite. When I'm ok with being smushed onto a bus wiht lots of kids--they MUST be great kids! On my third day I thought about booking a snorkel excursion, but decided to have a leisurely breakfast instead (all of the NCL snorkel excursions left at 8:15 that morning.) After slowly wandering off the ship at around 9:30, I checked at the ticket kiosk and found a snorkel cruise just about to leave--so I bought a ticket and hopped on the boat. It was GREAT. I don't even know the name of the company, though I know that the name of the boat was Coral Princess and that it was staffed by three very nice (very cute) very personable young men (ok, they were probably my age or older, but remember--I'm an old soul!) It was an excellent way to end my visit to Bermuda. My only regret was that I didn't spend more of my in-port evenings at the Frog and Onion pub. I visited for happy hour on our last day in port, and was truly sad when I had to (and I mean HAD TO--it was less than an hour to sail away!) go back onto the ship. The Frog and Onion has great (read: STRONG) rum swizzles, and during happy hour a man plays the steel drums. It was also filled with lots of happy people that were more than happy to socialize. On my next Bermuda cruise (yes, I'll be going back) I'll be sure to spend some of my evenings off the ship and in the port. Disembarkation: Because I was only traveling with one small rolling bag--and because I really wanted to be on the 9:00 bus home from Port Authority--I chose self-disembarkation. I rolled my bag down to the atrium at 7:15 and was maybe 30th in line to exit the ship. I stood--or, rather, sat--in line (there were window seats lining the area where I waited) until around 7:50, chatting with the people around me. And then we were allowed to leave the ship. One last scan of my card and I was making my way into the terminal, through security, and onto the street. I was standing at the gate for my bus in Port Authority (after taking a taxi from the terminal) by ten after eight in the morning. I have no complaints about disembarkation whatsoever! It was as quick and painless as the embarkation process. Summary: What more can I say? This was a great cruise. I admit that I had very low expectations--so of course they were all exceeded. I also admit that I mainly chose to take this cruise as a way of getting to Bermuda--not as a cruise experience in and of itself. But life aboard the Gem surprised me, and now I understand why people love cruising. I'd like to return to Bermuda this summer, this time with my husband. And honestly, while I don't typically repeat things, I don't see why I'd try to fix something that's not broken. Thus, it is more than likely that I'll be sailing with NCL again! Dollar for dollar, it was one of the best trips I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
But I was very pleasantly surprised...so much so that I bought another future cruise certificate while on board. Some info about me...This was my 21st cruise, having cruised with Celebrity, HAL, Carnival and twice before with NCL. ... Read More
But I was very pleasantly surprised...so much so that I bought another future cruise certificate while on board. Some info about me...This was my 21st cruise, having cruised with Celebrity, HAL, Carnival and twice before with NCL. I am now a solo cruiser for the past 13 months. Several years ago, while still a couple, we bought cruise certificates while on a fabulous New Year's Eve cruise. I used one of them in 2008 on the Dawn & that was the cruise that turned me off NCL. This Gem cruise redeemed the cruise line in my eyes. :) Embarkation in NYC was a breeze. I arrived at the pier at 9:30, handed my large piece of luggage to the porter & drove out of the terminal & then turned back in to park on the upper deck. I've left from NY all but 3 times, and always arrive very early. This was the first time I wasn't permitted to park immediately. After paying the $210 parking, I was instructed to pull over & wait until 10AM when I would be allowed to proceed & park at the pier next to the Gem. No big deal, it was a gorgeous day. Once inside the terminal I sat & waited about an hour until they directed us to line up, & follow the rope barriers, to security. When we got to the security checkpoint is when NCL staff handed everyone a notice of itinerary change. No Bermuda for us! We would, instead, be heading off to Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay & Nassau because of impending Hurricane Katia. I was OK with that because I'm not a port-driven cruiser...I just love being on the ship. We could go nowhere for 7 days and I'd still be happy. Check-in continued very smoothly, I had boarding zone #5 & was completely shocked, when we boarded just before noon, that an announcement was made that the cabins were open & ready! Well, THAT was a happy first! I proceeded to my cabin, which was indeed clean & ready, and looked exactly as I had expected it to look. I dropped off my carry-on, went to the Great Outdoors (Deck 12 aft) for lunch. On the way I met my cabin steward Jose who introduced himself and who was fabulous all week. I'm always up & out fairly early, and I asked him to do my cabin very early, and he always did. The cabin had a nice-sized closet, plenty of shelving & drawers for storage, a small but perfectly adequate flat-screen TV, 2 lamps at either side of the bed for night reading, and the bonus was a full-size, full-power hairdryer (which I don't remember from the prior 2 NCL cruises). Muster was a piece of cake in the Stardust lounge, & then it was up to Bali Hai (Deck 13 Forward) for DOD's (yummy) and sailaway. Unlike the 3 prior weeks when the Gem left NYC in rain at sailaway, ours was beautiful. As we passed under the Verrazano Bridge, one could hear a huge roar of passengers cheering! My luggage was waiting outside my cabin when I returned from celebrating Sailaway. Easy-peezy! I had a quick dinner that night in Blue Lagoon because I wasn't very hungry. I had some wings which were fat & delicious! I conked out very early that night as it had been a very long day for me...I had been up since 4AM! I was so happy to be at sea again and looking forward to the rest of my vacation! My opinion about the important things: The Food: I'm something of a foodie & did not enjoy my meal in the Grand Pacific MDR on our 1st sea day. I enjoyed the company, as I was dining with fellow CC Roll Call members I had been anxious to meet. The MDR itself was very impressive, the waitstaff was fine, but the menu choices didn't appeal to me, and I ended up choosing from the "classics" side of the menu...I ordered a strip steak (very thin & tasteless) and a "baked potato" with sour cream. I put quotation marks around "baked potato" on purpose. I guess, by definition, it WAS a "baked potato"...however I feel compelled to advise you that it was a baked FINGERLING potato with a pearl-sized dollop of sour cream. Too funny. The remainder of the cruise I had dinner in the specialty restaurants. La Cuccina twice...the first time it was great, the second time my entree choice wasn't so good (Pork Saltimboca), but the antipasto, the pizza & pasta choices were very good. I had dinner in Cagney's once...the filet mignon was very good. I was surprised that the dessert choices in Cagney's weren't very notable. We had dinner in Orchid once & it was a very memorable meal...so many excellent choices. The Maitre'd at Orchid went out of her way to please our little group because she ran out of someone's dessert choice ( I guess it had been popular that night!) After my friend picked a different, & available, dessert...Maitre'd Yunjie invited us all to come back the next day, at any time, and enjoy another dessert on the house! Her efforts were much appreciated. And my favorite restaurant of all was Le Bistro, which was exceptional. The food (french onion soup, escargot, lobster, chocolate tarte) was to die for! Waitstaff in all of the specialty restaurants were sharp & attentive. I never had a problem making reservations & always got my time choice. The Activities: Without question, hands-down, Sinan is the best Cruise Director I've ever cruised with on any ship, on any cruise line. And I'm not the kind of passenger who goes from activity-to-activity and am busy-busy-busy all day...I like alot of down time, reading time, serene time...but he is the type of leader who clearly inspires his staff to be fun, upbeat, engaging... and I loved the fact that the activities I DID choose to join were over-the-top major fun! Me, and some of my fellow Roll-Callers, went on the pub crawl ($25). Pub Crawl Leader Joleen Duncan, was a master of joyfulness! We had a blast doing 6 full-sized drinks (and a zucchini pass) at 5 bars...major fun! And thereafter, at the Stardust lounge, on the Promenade Deck, at disembarkation, Joleen never failed to know me by name & stop to chat. I predict she'll be a Cruise Director herself one day. Other activities I attended were the daily Trivia (host Henry was a riot, and sooo quick with a funny response when a non-playing passenger walked by our area & shouted out the answer to a question he had just asked! I wonder if she's swam her way back to shore yet!). I went to the french wine tasting ($15) which was fun & educational. I attended the Flavored Martini clinic ($15) which was yummy AND very educational..learning who invented the concoction, where it was born, et al...and very fun. Danny the bartender presented this clinic & told us that he would ask a question at the end of his presentation & that the person with the correct answer would win a full-sized martini of one's choice. The question was completely unrelated to all the information he had just provided, but WAS related to the ship...that's all I'll tell you! But I won it & asked for a chocolate martini which became my favorite drink for the remainder of the cruise! I specified FLAVORED martini clinic here, because there was also a Classic martini clinic held earlier in the week. I didn't go to that one, but friends said it was good. I went to the Second City show which was fabulous! These comedians are extremely talented & I would recommend this show. I also recommend comedian Jeff Harms. In addition to his nighttime show, he presented a terrific discussion on the last sea day (Q&A allowed and encouraged) about comedy in general and famous comedians who we all know and love. Some of my fellow Roll Callers and I went to Quest...and we had a blast. Not for the faint-hearted or anyone even mildly repressed! Sinan did a fabulous job here as the host, as he (and his staff) did all week. I made the decision to cruise again on the Gem next year, and bought the future cruise certificate, largely because of Sinan and his staff. The other deciding factor was the fact that I loved this ship. If you're happy and you know it clap your hands....! A major (most certainly THE major) highlight of this cruise, for me, was a private tour of the bridge for our group. Captain Roger Gustavsen was incredibly compelling, as he spent about 40 minutes with us, as did his Staff Captain, explaining everything, all instruments, technology, history, planning, decisions...and the view from the bridge is nothing short of amazing, including the one panel of clear glass on the floor...so the officers can look directly DOWN upon the ocean! The cruise and ports: As mentioned above, I cruise for the ship and the ocean experience. I did not get off the ship at Port Canaveral because there was nothing I wanted to do or see there. I've done countless land vacations in Orlando at Disney, Epcot, Sea World, Universal...plus 2 of my cruises originated in Port Canaveral (and we did a post-cruise day at Kennedy Space Center)...so I felt no desire to get off in Orlando. Had a great day onboard though! At Great Stirrup Cay I did not get off the ship. I could see the small private island from my balcony &, while it looked very pretty, it clearly had no shade whatsoever. Friends who did take the tender to the island returned before the day was over. I've been to Half Moon Cay, which is a more developed island with cabanas, grown trees, much more foliage, etc. I think Great Stirrup Cay will be better in a few years when it's more fully developed. In Nassau I walked down the aft gangway, walked down the pier with the intention of shopping in town and at the straw market, and walked back up into the ship at the forward gangway instead. It was (for me) unbearably hot in Nassau...and I had just been there last year on the Miracle (Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay & Nassau). Last year we did the Atlantis Aquaventure which was so much fun. On prior cruises we did the Dolphin Encounter twice. I just enjoyed the ship that day, as I did the 2 days prior. Disembarkation: Was something of a challenge this time, but through no fault of the ship or the cruise line. Three other ships arrived within minutes of us back in NYC...the Veendam, the Miracle and an Aida ship. I think this scenario strained the resources of the port, so things moved very slowly. Sinan kept apologizing over the loudspeaker. It wasn't his fault. I think it was further complicated by the fact that we arrived back on 9/11 with tighter than usual security, high government officials in town, events going on, etc. They stopped disembarkation for moments of silence at 8:46 and 9:03 which, as a New Yorker and American, I appreciated. I expected a slower process this cruise, & wasn't upset by it at all. Some people around me, however, were unprepared for the delay, & were desperately trying to contact their car services to forestall their pickup. One constructive comment: I was in the cigar bar at one point or another every single day. There was never an attendant in there from whom to purchase cigars. A bar waiter came by infrequently. The ashtrays, if they were there at all, were often tiny little things that got filled up fast & weren't cleaned often enough. Just a note to NCL to ask that they pay more attention to this small area of the ship. All in all, this cruise, this particular ship, far exceeded expectations. I look forward to cruising again next year on the NCL Gem. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Background I have been on over 20 cruises...mostly DCL with a stop along the way to try RCCL and Carnival. This is my second NCL cruise... my first solo cruise. I choose the Gem because it was out of NYC, which meant no flying. I ... Read More
Background I have been on over 20 cruises...mostly DCL with a stop along the way to try RCCL and Carnival. This is my second NCL cruise... my first solo cruise. I choose the Gem because it was out of NYC, which meant no flying. I was in Cabin 10004 at the front of the ship. Our itinerary was to Bermuda, but due to storms we ended up in Port Canaveral, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay....bummer! We did get a port credit back due to the change. Roll Call We had a fairly active group on our roll call. There was a first day luncheon, M&G, a slot pull, a cabin crawl, a wine and cheese party. I attended everything but the first day luncheon...can't miss Cagney's! Everyone was very friendly, I always felt included (as a solo I worried), and most of us seemed to have a "let's make some fun" mentality. Our M&G could have been a bit longer, but we had a slot pull immediately afterwards for another hour so we still got time to M&G there. If you are a solo cruiser, I HIGHLY recommend joining in on your roll call...make plans and attend everything...if you don't put yourself out there, it's not going come crawling to you! Embarkation I got there early, and things were a breeze. I did hear that later arrivals had a hassle. Checked my bags, headed up to waiting area, thru security around 10:30, through check-in around 11:15, onto ship around 11:45. We found out in the terminal that we wouldn't be going to Bermuda due to weather! Bummer...but as long as I'm at sea, it's all good! Activities There's lots to do from morning till night! Games...shows...tastings...dancing...casino...spa...outside...inside...you won't be bored unless you want to be! Read your Daily every night and mark off everything you're interested in...you may not make it, but you won't miss it if it's marked! Go to all the main shows...a couple not so good, but the great more than makes up for it!! Go to the Spinnaker shows at night...always hilarious! Make it to Bliss a couple times to dance...great club! The only afternoon I felt was slow was our last day...it rained, the decks were closed, and I thought they could have made up extra activities for the outside ones cancelled. But there is always a bar serving your favorite drink! The Cruise staff is always somewhere bouncing off the walls creating fun! If you go to nighttime shows in Spinnakers, go early to get seats! They run the shows on TV later that night if you missed it. Next Stage, the band, was a definite notch above most bands on the high seas! Sinan is a fantastic Cruise Director...very high energy and funny! Wish I'd made it to the Pub Crawl...next time! Service This is a terrific crew! The Officers are extremely accessible and friendly. The bar staff (THANK YOU, ANTONIO!)was perfect. Everyone you passed always had a friendly smile, hello, how are you today? I was surprised how many people remembered my name by week's end! My concierge, Ana Maria, was superb! Restaurants were the only area I saw some hit and miss...but nothing that was horrible. Ports Can't say much here, because I didn't do any excursions. Didn't even get off in Port Canaveral...been there, done that. Nassau spent the day in Senor Frogs...been there, done that, never gets boring. Great Stirrup Cay needs a lot of work to be a place I'd want to go again. Very underdeveloped, confusing, no shade, and I really don't want to hear buzz saws while I'm sitting on the beach on vacation. Go visit Castaway Cay, NCL, and get a feel for how good it can be! Stateroom Wow...beautiful! Loved having two balconies...you can't have lights on front balcony at night (right under bridge), but you can on side balcony. Beds are SO comfy! Bathroom is a great setup, and loved the dressing area. My room steward, Pablo, was a huge treat...what a nice gentleman who took very good care of me! Do they ever sleep? One disappointment was my butler...he wasn't bad, persay, but I'd had such exceptional butler service on the Jade (THANKS, JOSE) that I had some expectations. He did his job more or less...he just didn't leave me missing him at week's end. While I enjoyed my cabin immensely, I much prefer to be on the Haven deck if you're in a suite. Oh, and if you get this cabin, there is zero privacy on the balconies...so, if you like to share any "special" moments under the stars, you'll be sharing them with the Officers on the bridge! Dining I ate in my room a couple times, which was a nice suite perk. I enjoyed dinner with the Captain and officers one evening in Grand Pacific and had incredible chicken skewers and a chocolate dessert to die for! TexMex remains my favorite restaurant! I really want to like LaCucina, but as I found on the Jade, the food was no better than 10 Italian joints around town here...and not as good as some...service is lovely, however. Teppanyaki was decent, but our chef must have been new and wasn't very good at cooking...meat wasn't done the way we asked...food was still coming when some people were already done. Blue Lagoon has good comfort food...don't look for 5 star, but for what it is it's pretty darn good. Room service pizza was a pleasant surprise...hated getting a whole pizza for just one person, but it was really good! Cagney's I felt is overpriced for what they offer...food is really good, service is great, but not the best on the ship for that price. Now Cagney's for breakfast and lunch...a suite perk...is my FAVORITE!! Didn't go to LeBistro, but heard nothing but good things about it. Buffet was decent...plenty of choices so you could definitely find something you liked. Buffet at back of boat is small but filling with a great location! Once again, I missed having Tapas at happy hour, but there's always next time! General Food Stuff Everyone complains about food. OK, I wasn't impressed in some places, and in others was very pleased. But never, ever, was there an occasion I couldn't get my fill of something that satisfied me. I mean really, people, with so many choices you can't miss! My favorite food was Mexican, my least fav was Italian, biggest pleasant surprise was pizza from room service. Best dessert was brownie from Cagneys! Best drink was the chocolate martini! Guiltiest pleasure was the chocolate croissants at breakfast...OMG!! Disembarkation Headed to Stardust to meet Ana Maria for a 9:30 escorted walk off. Tipped my butler, room steward and concierge. Picked up my luggage and was waiting at the curb for my driver by 9:45. He was a bit late, but by 10:15 we were on the road. Absolutely no problems anywhere. Final Thoughts Thinking about a solo cruise? DO IT! I am hooked...what a wonderful time! You do have to be willing to put yourself out there (unless you want to be alone, of course). I really liked the Gem. I had been on the Jade, so the setup was easy for me to learn. I felt that the Officers on the Gem were even more accesible than the Jade, and that's saying a lot. I felt the spa pass was a good buy, even though I only found the time to go twice. FYI, you can use the showers and changing rooms if you go to the gym, and there is a wet and dry sauna in there and two whirlpool tubs to use for free! Love the therapy pool! Summary This was a great experience on NCL...and a super experience as a solo cruiser! My only disappointment is that our next NCL is on the Jewel! :( Hopefully, I'll find that just as wonderful as the Jade and the Gem! Will I be back? You betcha! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I was excited about going to Bermuda as I've never gone before, unfortunately with the hurricane we were told once we arrived in NYC that we were going to Florida and the Bahamas. I was disappointed since I've been to both a few ... Read More
I was excited about going to Bermuda as I've never gone before, unfortunately with the hurricane we were told once we arrived in NYC that we were going to Florida and the Bahamas. I was disappointed since I've been to both a few times already but I'd rather not ride into a hurricane. I was travelling with my sister and she's never been to the Bahamas or on a cruise for that matter so she didn't mind the change. I've gone on Carnival a few times and had fun, this was my first time on NCL. I know it wasn't their fault that the storm came but why is Port Canaveral a stop? Does anybody know? It's depressing and there's nothing to do there. We took a taxi to Cocoa Beach, it was nice out for about an hour then it rained so we went to a few stores (which have seen better days) and then back to the ship. The next day was Great Stirrup Cay which is NCL's private island. It looked really pretty but it was super hot, there was zero shade. Also, the beach area was a giant rock formation. I banged my knee and also hurt my foot in the rock pile you had to climb over to get in the water. It was completely ridiculous. I was so stressed out that once I got out of the water I stayed on the beach (which was really just a dirt patch - no real sand). I know they said the island is under going renovations but how about closing it until it's fixed? Made no sense. So after we leave GSC at 6pm we're told there's an extremely sick passenger so we'll be in Nassau by 10pm that night (we were originally told 8am the following day). I had no problem with this but then why not let us off the boat once we arrived in Nassau? I would have rather gone out on the island then stuck on the boat with nothing to do - I swear everyone was in bed by 11pm on this ship. In Nassau we went to Paradise Island and the Atlantis, paid the $120 to go down the slides and use the pool. I thought it was kind of expensive but we both wanted to do it. Overall the food was terrible. I found nothing that I liked. In comparison to Carnival the food quality was sub par. The eggs were made of some weird powder, they tasted fake to me. I was disappointed in the food. Everything else was decent, the room was nice and the staff was friendly enough. I'm not sure I'd go back on NCL. I'm still planning on going to go to Bermuda but I think I'll do it on Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our fourth NCL cruise and our experience on the Gem was another great trip. We drove in from Connecticut, parked at the pier and checked in using the Latitudes line in NYC, very easy. Boarded at noon and had lunch at the Grand ... Read More
This was our fourth NCL cruise and our experience on the Gem was another great trip. We drove in from Connecticut, parked at the pier and checked in using the Latitudes line in NYC, very easy. Boarded at noon and had lunch at the Grand Pacific dining room. The sail away out of NYC is always enjoyable and it was very good to see the World Trade Center tower going up. The two sail days before arriving in Bermuda were so relaxing. We did "whatever"! They had a murder mystery lunch on Tuesday in Le Bistro by Second City which was great fun. Second City has been all of the NCL cruises and they never disappoint. The three days in Bermuda were great. We had been to Bermuda twice before but only for a single day each time. This time we were able to some old favorites and explore some new things. The first day in Bermuda we had contacted the Restless Native Catamaran cruises before we left and arranged a tour. It was a 3.5 hours tour which included about an hour snorkeling in a private cove with warm cookies and rum swizzles. We had done this previously through NCL and this time we booked directly with them and it was great. Thanks Tanis and Maureen! Our second day in Bermuda we bought the 2 day passes at the Dockyard and took the ferry to St Georges'. Bermuda is very easy to get around and the people are very welcoming. We saw a public dunking at noon which was fun to watch. Explored a bit, and then took the bus and stopped at Swizzle Inn. They aren't kidding when they say swizzle in, stagger out! I'm glad I wasn't driving. On to Hamilton for some more shopping, and then back to rest at the ship. It was very humid but other than that, the weather couldn't have been better. Our last day in Bermuda was spent at Horseshoe Bay Beach. Took the bus and walked down the hill. There was lots of surf and it was much quieter since the other two ships were leaving earlier than the Gem. The two dollar charge to go back up the hill was well worth it! We will definitely be back to Bermuda. The Gem was beautiful, very clean. The staff was SO attentive. I need to specifically mention a few folks. Our room steward, Christina, she greeted us by name every time we saw her. Although we didn't ask for much, she was always accommodating and we always had ice. Sinan, the cruise director was wonderful.. Very approachable. On the first night in the Grand Pacific restaurant, we met Jennifer who became our favorite wait staff person. I had learned from previous cruises that certain desserts are served on certain days,( this has since changed) so I asked when the crème Brule with the chocolate ganache was to be served since I didn't want to miss my favorite dessert! She advised that the Crème Brule was only available in Le Bistro and then she went and got me one. When she delivered it, she said she'd spoken with the chef and he would make me one with the ganache the next night. And so he did (he made me two actually) Yum! Superior service. The rest of the meals, she greeted us by name. Similar service and a divine meal at Le Bistro when I requested Shrimp cocktail and it was only available at Cagney's... they brought us 3. No problem. The maitre d was excellent. I chose a meal with an additional $10 surcharge on top of the $20 surcharge and was so glad I did. The Fruits De Mer with lobster, scallops and shrimp in light cream sauce over a puff pastry was SO good. My husband had the chateaubriand and it was also excellent. We also tried Tequila's which was very good. They had a frozen Margarita special every night and I took advantage of that many nights! Although we don't always attend all of the shows, we did see the comic, Richie Minervini, the hypnotist Brenda Kaye and the second city performers and they were excellent. My husband met up with Richie later in the week and had a good conversation with him. Nice man. We did buy the certificate on board and are discussing where to use it next year! Love Freestyle with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We arrived at the cruise terminal around 12:00. We parked at the New York Port Authority Parking lot which cost $210 for the week which was divided among two couples. It took very little time to get on board and to our surprise our ... Read More
We arrived at the cruise terminal around 12:00. We parked at the New York Port Authority Parking lot which cost $210 for the week which was divided among two couples. It took very little time to get on board and to our surprise our stateroom was ready. This is the 4th time that we have cruised out of New York and it is always an exciting time looking at the New York sky line as we cruised down the Hudson River. The first night we ate in the Grand Pacific. The food was good but the service was not. However as the week progressed the service got a lot better. Only once during our cruise did we eat in one of the specialty restaurants, the La Cucina. The service was great and the food was very good. For most of our trip breakfasts and lunches were eaten at the Garden Cafe. The food was good. Only near the end of our trip did we eat at the Blue Lagoon.It has a very limited menu. However, this was a lot more laid back. You did not have to fight the buffet crowd. It you want to get away from the crowd this is a good alternative. Overall, the food was good on most days and great on some days. For the most part the entertainment was very good. There was always something to do. Our stateroom was always clean and we very seldom saw our Stewart. I would recommend the Norwegian Gem if you are looking to cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We cruised on the Norwegian Gem our first time cruising experience, We found the whole trip excellent with a few minor critiques, The stateroom was roomy and very clean the maid service was excellent. The whole ship was clean and quite ... Read More
We cruised on the Norwegian Gem our first time cruising experience, We found the whole trip excellent with a few minor critiques, The stateroom was roomy and very clean the maid service was excellent. The whole ship was clean and quite fabulous. As it was freestyle cruising I imagined it would be like a vast Ferry, but was very pleasantly surprised with the whole experience. The downsides.. being a vegetarian although the food was good, i got bored with Pasta type dishes as most of the chefs appeared to be eastern I don't suppose the are very aware of the concept. I did get fed up with the constant suggestion that our photograph be taken. The whole cruise was restful and very good a lot of hard work was put into the entertainments, which we enjoyed very much. I would cruise again with the NCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was my husbands and my second cruise and we loved it! Staff fas amazing and I wanted to take Sinan our cruise director home with us he was so funny. The food in the Garden Cafe was very good, and even though it was mostly the same ... Read More
This was my husbands and my second cruise and we loved it! Staff fas amazing and I wanted to take Sinan our cruise director home with us he was so funny. The food in the Garden Cafe was very good, and even though it was mostly the same every day there was enough varity to keep it interesting. The food in the main dining rooms ranged from awsome to ok. We both LOVED the sushi resturaunt. The shows were amazing as well. The Man From Mars and Second City blew us away, and the evening lounge shows were always funny. Our room was small but comfortable. Our room attendant was very nice, always remembered our names and kept the room imaculate. We spend alot of time on the deck reading. They had tons of chairs and there was always a place to relax. The bar staff was always close by but not pushy. The drinks in the bar are a little expensive, but then again drinking is an option so if you don't like it don't buy it. I don't blame NCL for charging extra for the things they did (photos, shops, specialty food), afterall it is a business and everything you NEEDED to have a good time were already included in their very reasonable cruise fees (food, room, entertainment, transportation, etc). I would cruise with NCL again and would recomend my family and friends do the same. :) Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
The Norwegian Gem is a beautiful ship - layout is easy to remember, access to all of the main areas was easy, and everywhere you turned was a bathroom, an elevator, a bar, or something to do. The staff was fantastic as well, hard working ... Read More
The Norwegian Gem is a beautiful ship - layout is easy to remember, access to all of the main areas was easy, and everywhere you turned was a bathroom, an elevator, a bar, or something to do. The staff was fantastic as well, hard working and friendly, and many of them remembered our names. As first time cruisers, we picked this ship to test out the waters of cruising, and we loved it. The only "negative" thing were the people - the majority were older people who were not very friendly nor talkative, and most of the boat was cleared out by 9pm. We attended the Meet and Greet of the Cruise Critic group, and have to say that NO ONE was friendly, we sat alone to eat lunch, and no one bothered to introduce themselves (we introduced ourselves to the 2 couples there when we arrived). I had thought that it would be a more congenial atmosphere (def. not). While in Orlando, we rented a car and drove to Orlando to go to Universal. The price of the car and park wasn't too bad, and we had a great time. The park was empty and we were able to do everything we wanted at Islands of Adventure (Harry Potter!). The private island was a slump - just a hot island with $11 bottles of water and watered down drinks - we had to tell the bartenders several times to make sure our cups were full because they kept giving it to us 3/4 full. The snorkel gear was useless as that the water was clean, but not clear at all. No coral reefs to see or anything. $60 down the drain. In Nassau, we walked around downtown and the straw market and got back on the island. My worst complaint about the staff was that we called to reception to ask where we could find a public beach near Nassau - we were told there were none, we would have to pay the $150 to go to Atlantic plus the ferry. We didn't think this was fair as that we would have had free beaches (or much cheaper) in Bermuda. The food on the ship was great (only had crappy food Thursday night in the Grand Pacific) - though Cagney's was far better the first night (Bernadette at Cagney's is the greatest server on the ship, hand's down). Cagney's and La Cucina were great, Teppenyaki was fun, the buffet's were good for what they were. I wouldn't go back to the Sushi Bar - the eel came from packages (not fresh) and the fish was so so - we have better sushi weekly for the same price in NYC. We would definitely cruise NCL again - but not the Gem. The pool and hot tub closed at 11PM, and they definitely catered to an older crowd. We are both 27, and would have appreciated more music for our age range and not so "old" activities - and having to dodge motorized wheelchairs everywhere wasn't fun either. The entertainment, also - another large complaint. The 60's/70's show was tacky and boring, so was the Men from Mars and Hypnotist Act. The comedian was so-so - my partner and I both agreed that the lounge singer by the whiskey bar (female) was horrible. HORRIBLE! - Best entertainment on the boat was the band "Next Stage" - they knew how to work a crowd. Overall - 3.35 out of 5 Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
This was our 6th cruise, first with Norwegian. We arrived at the cruise terminal at about 11:45. We were handed pieces of paper indicating an itinerary change from Bermuda, to Port Canaveral, Stirrup Cay, and Nassau. It was disappointing, ... Read More
This was our 6th cruise, first with Norwegian. We arrived at the cruise terminal at about 11:45. We were handed pieces of paper indicating an itinerary change from Bermuda, to Port Canaveral, Stirrup Cay, and Nassau. It was disappointing, but probably a wise decision. There were long lines that did not seem to move. We were then rudely directed to sit in rows of chairs until called to proceed to the long lines. I'm not sure why they were not moving, if it was the terminal employees, or Norwegians fault. We got on the ship about 2:15. Our Ocean view cabin was noticeably smaller than what we are used to on our other cruises. We found the ship very nice, but missed the stunning Atrium's that we are used to. It appears that NCL used that space for their up charge dining. We spent our first day at sea and ventured into the Casino. I asked for $1000 to blow in the casino and was charged $30 as a convenience charge. Only after voicing our objection to the manager, we were assured that it if we played (lost) enough that the fee would be waived. That left a pretty sour taste in our mouth. We then went to play bingo and found out it was a minimum of $39 to play and that was for a strip of 3, for $49 you and get 6. We were accustom to $20 for a strip of 3 on our other cruises. The thing that saved the upset there was we won one game, however we were shocked at how small the jackpots were, compared to the huge amount of money they were collecting. We only ate in the Garden Buffet lunch one time, breakfast twice and found it just OK, they seem to have difficulty serving the food hot there. Most is warm at best. We went to the Magenta for dinner, and found service to be not only poor, but selections were limited and the food was also only warm and pretty much tasteless. We did not find it any different in the Grand Pacific, possibly worse. Our waiter did not say 2 works to us beyond asking us what we wanted. I have never seen such robots on a cruise ship. I can surely say that free style dining is not for me. The very worst was paying a $50 up charge to go to the Teppanyaki. Everyone was asked how they wanted their Fillet Mignon, they he proceeded to chop up 8 steaks cook them in a pile and spoon off a pile on to every one's plate. It was all well done. The fried rice was nothing more than tasteless white rice warmed on the grill and shaped into a heart. On the other hand the shrimp could have used a few more minutes on the grill. The show they put on was cute, but the quality of the food was not close to being worth a $50 up charge for 2. I came to the conclusion that they make the food in the free venues so average that you are willing to pay up charges to get what you should in the first place. I have to give the entertainers on the ship 2 thumbs up. The Man From Mars, sensational, Jeff Harms very funny, Brenda Kaye hypnotist, very entertaining, Second City, very energetic and funny. The Gem production shows were very well done as well. Sinan the director very funny and entertaining, though cruise directors seem to be everywhere on the ship, we rarely saw him except for events but that could have just been timing. Our cabin steward was very good and met all of our needs, in a very friendly manor. I would have to say the biggest disappointment is the staff in general on the Gem. I would rate the service as poor, going through the motions and unmotivated. We did find a few of the wait staff that acted like we have grown used to, but they we almost non existent, or at least that was our experience. I feel bad for people that have only cruised on NCL as they are not aware there is another cruising experience out there and in talking to other passengers on board we were not alone in our impression. Service is the reason I say "Never again NCL" and it is not the value vacation I'm accustomed to! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Norwegian Gem Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 3.5 4.1
Fitness & Recreation 3.5 N/A
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.1
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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