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51 New York (Manhattan) to Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

This was our 11th cruise on NCL. We chose it because we wanted to do a full transit of the canal. First off, the cruise was 20 days. We booked a port balcony cabin on deck 10 somewhat forward. This was our third time on the Gem, a ship ... Read More
This was our 11th cruise on NCL. We chose it because we wanted to do a full transit of the canal. First off, the cruise was 20 days. We booked a port balcony cabin on deck 10 somewhat forward. This was our third time on the Gem, a ship we really like because it has excellent public spaces (Spinnaker lounge, outdoor fantail dining, promenade deck) that the larger NCL ships don’t seem to have. The GEM feels bigger inside than the Breakaway class ships. The cabin was fine although 20 days tended to make it feel smaller as the cruise wore on. Normally, we expect NCL to provide consistently good dining. The complimentary restaurants were pretty decent and, occasionally, were excellent. The issue we had was with Cagneys: On both our visits, they couldn’t properly cook a filet mignon to medium rare. The results ranged from completely uncooked in the center to overcooked and dry. And, for the first time ever in a steakhouse we were asked to cut into the filet to check if it was properly cooked. Clearly, their chef was having problems. Strangely, the two meals we had in Le Bistro (we ordered the file de boeuf au cinq poivres, we like filet!) were perfect. We had one meal at the Asian restaurant, The Orchid, which was underwhelming. As for entertainment, the show band (drums, keys, sax, trumpet, bass and trombone) was outstanding. Playing in various forms (trio, quartet, etc.) they never failed to impress. Jack Brady, the piano playing songman was worked hard by the cruise director. The poor guy played three to four sets per night, night after night and it clearly was wearing him out. We saw one production show, a tribute to swing that was excellent. The first comedian was okay until he told a deeply offensive joke (that reinforced a dangerous stereotype) that made us feel very uncomfortable and we left. The staff was almost uniformly excellent. Service was solid and, often, very friendly and personal. We were disappointed that the shore excusions staff, at times, seemed to have limited knowledge about some of the ports. As for going ashore, there is no escaping the fact that many of the ports visited are in some of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and it is hard to be carefree when you see how difficult the life is for the people. Santa Marta, Colombia, for example, is overrun with Venezuelan refugees who desperately need to sell you whatever they can to survive. A sidewalk cafe meal was a non-stop effort to say no to everything from fake Cuban cigars to impromptu unwanted rap performances. We took a few low-effort shore excursions. One honorable mention goes to the Up Close Whale Watching by Zodiac in Cabo San Lucas run by Cabo Tours. Our captain Bernardo was outstanding. He was friendly and engaging and his ability to find whales bordered on the supernatural. We got over 13 sightings with some as close as 15 yards from the boat. Overall, it was a good cruise. However a few points need to be made. First, 20 days is a long time. The ship becomes a bit confining after a while. Second, some passengers could really use some lessons in common courtesy and decorum. From the guy wearing sweatpants to an elegant restaurant to the guy who thought it was funny when he placed his hand on my wife’s head to steady himself, to the scores of people who bumped, backed into or cut off others without so much as an “excuse me”, we were truly happy to escape the ship on the final day and head off into the woods to get far away from our fellow human beings. To be sure, we met many nice people and the majority of people were fine. But there was far more boorishness on this cruise than on any other that we can remember. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We just got off the Dawn today. We were in cabin 10706 balcony cabin. It was a great room. Comfortable close to the aft elevators and very quiet. A lot of people said the crew was very unfriendly. We found the opposite. The crew was ... Read More
We just got off the Dawn today. We were in cabin 10706 balcony cabin. It was a great room. Comfortable close to the aft elevators and very quiet. A lot of people said the crew was very unfriendly. We found the opposite. The crew was awesome and very helpful. We did not find a ship in disrepair. It is clean and very nice. We loved Bamboo and the Pub Osheas. Go there for breakfast. It’s quieter and much easier than looking for a table at the buffet. It’s a nice place to get a snack to watch football. NFL only and limited games. No College Football. We tried all the specialty restaurants except the Italian restaurant and they were very good. The Dining Rooms were hit or miss. Service for us was slow very slow! The food was not bad but not exceptional. We had a wonderful server in the Venetian. Her name is Kathy and she works near the windows in the back. I highly recommend asking for her. The pool was great! Plenty of lounge chairs to chose from. The chairs that are padded under the canopy went fast. The poolside food was great! Loved the hot dogs! It was a 15 day cruise and we loved it. I would sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I just took the “Norwegian Cruise Line Post Cruise Survey;” however, the survey is centerEd around positivity of the cruise in general. This was my first cruise experience with Norwegian and it was not bad; however, the Dawn needs ... Read More
I just took the “Norwegian Cruise Line Post Cruise Survey;” however, the survey is centerEd around positivity of the cruise in general. This was my first cruise experience with Norwegian and it was not bad; however, the Dawn needs TONS of improvements/enhancements. My girlfriend and I stayed in cabin # 9026. We used soooooooooo much toilet paper, because of the black sooty oily looking substance in our toilet. We didn’t want whatever it was to splash up on us. The toilet seat was so old, it was cracked, stained and no matter how much we cleaned it, it still smelled like old urine. Our friends had to use our safe, because they either had no safe or the safe did not work and had to be drilled open. Our cabin steward, Victor, was the highlight of the ship, as he always kept our room clean and tidy. Several folks missed the “White Hot Party,” as it was not listed in the Freestyle Daily. It was up on the pool deck. Blustery and cold. By Tuesday (November 12, 2019), the dining room had run out of grape jelly and began offering “sugar free” grape jelly. I never ate any pancakes or waffles, because the syrup (labeled as Maple Syrup), was just plain pancake syrup. Towards the end of the first week, we just left the Venetian alone. The food was bland and repeated nearly every day. The Garden Café had something for everyone. I have never abandoned a dining room on any ship, but The Venetian was not good. On the second day, I was turned away from The Venetian because I was wearing a velour jogging suit. When I came back and went to my table to join my friends, four (4) people had on jogging suits. Also, there was a man who wore his “Make America Great Again” T-Shirt and baseball cap. This can be more offensive than my jogging suit, to many diners. He also was allowed to wear it several times in the dining room. I just sat down and ordered my food. On Thursday (November 21, 2019), the Garden Café had run out of coffee, during breakfast. Guests were complaining and then it became and emergency to refill the coffee machines. I forgot what day it was, when a young lady on one of the lines, in The Garden Café, dropped bowls and then placed them back on top of the other bowls. My friend couldn’t stand it and went up to tell her. The supervisor made her remove them, but they still were the wrong bowls, that she removed. No care, nor concern, because of their culture. Nothing is nasty. On Friday (November 22, 2019), seafood appeared in The Garden Café. Everyone was so surprised. There was no shrimp or mussels, during the entire cruise. On Saturday (November 23, 2029) clams appeared in The Garden Café. The tender process was also a disaster. Instead of making an announcement regarding delays in the tender process, they allowed people to just jam the walkways and to create an overcrowded Stardust Lounge. We’d booked private tours and were happy that our tour guides were still waiting for us. I thought the $50 Bingo was a joke, but found out that if I wanted to play, I had to pay. I had researched the ship and read that it was an older ship, but I will not make this mistake again, because you don’t know what you’re getting when booking with an older ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I love repositioning cruises like this one. The staff was wonderful as always except for head doctor that just provided the most expensive treatment possible to make ship money. The SPA is magnificent and the food at the Speciality ... Read More
I love repositioning cruises like this one. The staff was wonderful as always except for head doctor that just provided the most expensive treatment possible to make ship money. The SPA is magnificent and the food at the Speciality restaurants was great. The main theater entertainment was spectacular while the Bliss lounge was a real downer from 4 years ago on the same ship. This time basically only dancing, music not the great acts from 4 years ago. Bingo is a scam - the Cruise only returns roughly 10% of money. Games like Deal or No Deal get Cancelled when they can not make a huge profit. I do not like that casino filled with smoke, should make non-smoking! The ports of call on Panama Cruise where outstanding. Safe in cabin did not work, and the towel animals are gone. The Garden Cafe had good food, but almost impossible to find seat at times. The staff should kick people just chatting or playing cards out so others can sit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I am very experienced cruiser, more than 20 with different companies. Almost every step or category was poor enough to regret taking this cruise. Booking through Expedia was hard sale, showing absolutely no cooperation neither ... Read More
I am very experienced cruiser, more than 20 with different companies. Almost every step or category was poor enough to regret taking this cruise. Booking through Expedia was hard sale, showing absolutely no cooperation neither from Expedia, nor from NCL side. NCL representative was unprofessional, giving wrong information about type of cabin assigned (it was at the time when it could still be corrected). When we boarded the ship and discovered that cabin is of different type than confirmed by NCL, the ship was sold out, and no cabins to correct the mistake were available. Meanwhile on the cruise I met someone, who had connections with NCL customer service, and they were upgraded from Inside cabin to Mini-suite!! Though renovated, ship is tired and still needs a lot of work: rust everywhere, inside the and outside, cracks, dirty carpets, tiny old-fashioned TV ( about 15") with very limited choice of programs, smelly toilet apparently due to frequent back-ups. The name of the ship ( huge light sign above the upper deck) had second part burnt out and just stated " Norweg……. " . Much more negative to say about cabin and public restrooms clearness. Dining almost terrible. None of the complimentary options was good. Same menue with small deviations every day for 2 weeks. 70 percent - spice or badly cooked ( the cheapest) Indian cuisine, or dry overburnt burgers. Sometimes - primitive and un-tasty cheap fish, which looked more like a scramble. However there was choice of fruits, leaf salads and teas. If you want to have good meal, go to Le Bistro, where service is perfect, choices abundant and food delicious. Be ready to pay not less than $ 130 for two persons ( appetizer, entrée and desert) without drinks or wine. Entertainment was the only highlight of the whole trip. Very festive, professional. If the same performances will be on your cruise. Excursions mostly not worth money, a lot of places have not too much to show, therefore they spend expensive tour time (like 20 minutes) gazing on the tiny sloth in the leaves that you can hardly see. Beaches are not good as well, unless you yourself do a good research and take a risk of going there. For e.g. few Honduras beaches have sand fleas, and those who went there came back all polka-dotted with red bite bumps. Belize beach has no decent swimming. Small section in the water is separated with net , maybe for safety reason, which is good, but... It is so crowded, and I saw a lot of people blowing their noses, or spitting thick saliva in the water !! The zip-line there - is 15-20 seconds flight few meters above this section of water for a lot of money. MAKE THE STORY SHORTER - CHOOSE ANOTHER COMPANY. Unfortunately, the system does not permit me to post photos Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We’ve been looking for a Panama Canal Cruise and the Dawn’s itinerary were the best that we found. We were first-timers at all the ports visited. The cruising into Panama Canal was the best part! We stayed on the ship and experienced ... Read More
We’ve been looking for a Panama Canal Cruise and the Dawn’s itinerary were the best that we found. We were first-timers at all the ports visited. The cruising into Panama Canal was the best part! We stayed on the ship and experienced going through the east and west lanes. There was a speaker on the PA the whole time who explained what was going and was very helpful and informative. My husband especially went to the different parts of the ship to see the crossing twice. They also opened the crew’s area at the bow and had beverage service for viewing. Also viewing from the promenade deck was great as you’re able to see the operations eye-level. We were at Gatun Lake for a couple of hours and turned around. It was great to see the crossing again. So worth staying at this ship instead of taking an excursion. We also liked Curaçao for its cleanliness and Dutch architecture. Our coffee plantation excursion in Costa Rica was great. We are planning on visiting Costa Rica and explore it more. What a beautiful country and people. We also went on a horseback ride (first time) at Roatán Bay. That was fun! Harvest Caye was our beach time, no excursions taken. We did the Cacchoben Mayan Ruins Deluxe excursion. Small group of 10 only and well worth the extra $ as we didn’t have to deal with the large crowd. Cartagena Old city and fort were beautiful but the vendors were just relentless. As for Aruba, wished we went straight to the beach instead of doing the Best of Aruba excursion. There was not much to see except for the beautiful beach but were only there for 30 minutes. We didn’t get off the ship at Santa Marta. This was a wonderful and relaxing cruise for us. We met some fun folks and the staff and crew were so accommodating and welcoming. Our first time on the Dawn, planning to take her again in Venice. Our mini-suite balcony was a great size for this 15-day cruise and the location near the spa, which we bought the unlimited pass, was perfect. I used the spa and it’s lap pool almost everyday (I miss my daily swim that I’m now back home). Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary being that it was going to the Panama Canal. We booked it in Feb of 2018 for what we considered a reasonable price, however the port fees were well above the normal probably due to the fees ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary being that it was going to the Panama Canal. We booked it in Feb of 2018 for what we considered a reasonable price, however the port fees were well above the normal probably due to the fees charged to go through the canal. This was our 7th NCL cruise and our 20th cruise and we have been cruising since 1995. The ship was very nice, however there was about 270 people of one particular ethnic group that made many passengers very frustrated by there lack of courtesy and disrespect to other passengers. There was constant budging into the front of long lines and even a revolt on an excursion bus forcing the bus driver to return to the port. These conditions made what could have been a wonderful experience into a nightmare at times. The entertainment was fabulous; we went to every show, our room steward was very attentive and we found a waiter in the main dinning room that we requested for the entire trip. We took shore excursions on all but one port. Half of them were very good the others not so good and we feel that we paid way to much for most of the excursions. The Garden Cafe was nice, but it seems like it served the same food every lunch and dinner. We only ate Breakfast and lunch there. By the end of the cruise we were eating breakfast at O'Sheehan's on deck 8. The service and food was very good there. The buffet seemed very crowded at most times. Disembarkation was not good. For some reason they could not get the luggage off the ship all of the disembarkation times were at least 1 hour late. Since the final port was not the same as the departure port many of the passengers had to fly back to NY. The lateness of disembarkation shortened the time we had to catch our flights. This cause tension in a lot of the ethic group and the were jumping to the front of the line, causing more frustration in the other passengers. It would have been nice to have NCL personnel assisting the transfer process, since the bus company did not want anything to do with the unruly passengers. So, like I stated in the beginning, we were a little bit disappointed overall. We hope others on the cruise had a better experience than we did. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this 15-night Cruise because of the excellent itinerary and the convenience of leaving out of New York City for us. We have been on NCL many times, but not in a few years. We booked this trip about 100 days before departure, ... Read More
We chose this 15-night Cruise because of the excellent itinerary and the convenience of leaving out of New York City for us. We have been on NCL many times, but not in a few years. We booked this trip about 100 days before departure, and we felt that the price was fair for three of us in an inside cabin. We paid in full at the time, and within two weeks the price dropped $200. Soon after the price dropped again. We contacted NCL, and they were willing to upgrade us to an outside cabin. The Price kept going down till it hit $399 plus the port charges. We were shocked, as we had never seen the price of a cruise drop like that. The ship is older but in very good condition. Our cabin steward was excellent, and the entertainment was outstanding. The food in the dining rooms was mostly served warm. Same in the buffet. The quality of the food was definitely not as good as it has been in the past. Believe me, we did not starve, and we found things that we did enjoy like the homemade crepes at the buffet in the evening. Nury in the Venetian restaurant was the best waitress that we found, and she served the food nice and hot. At her table was the only place we could find hot food and excellent service. Other nights we were in the restaurant for almost three hours!! We enjoyed all of the ports, until we had to tender in for a Panama excursion that we booked through the ship. It seemed that the staff had a lot of trouble with communicating. Many people waited in the theater for many hours for the tours to depart. We booked two tours through NCL which were not worth the money. We also booked two tours with Viator, which were both excellent. Of course on a 15 night cruise, the average age was mostly over 75. Many people with wheelchairs, scooters, and canes that could not easily get around. God bless them. We did have perfect weather and calm seas for the entire trip which made it worthwhile. The last two years we took Royal Caribbean for Mediterranean Cruises, and we found the food much better. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We have taken 21 cruises in the past 6 years. This was our first and probably our last on Carnival. First I will discuss the positive features of our cruise. We were on the 14 day cruise out of NY going to the Panama Canal. The food was ... Read More
We have taken 21 cruises in the past 6 years. This was our first and probably our last on Carnival. First I will discuss the positive features of our cruise. We were on the 14 day cruise out of NY going to the Panama Canal. The food was excellent. We had lobster tails 2 nights and filet mignon on 1 night. The dinner choices were excellent! The had a brunch several mornings where Filet Mignon was also offered! The buffet had many choices. Good burgers, Tacos, Burittos and Pizza and Delli sandwiches. Pizza was offered 24 hours a day which was a plus. As far as entertainment goes the shows were good. We also saw a couple comedy shows which were average. The plus on this cruise were the DJ Xtreme and The Flying Scotsman the cruise director. They were amazing! They were by far the best DJ and the best cruise director we ever experienced on a cruise! As far as the cabin goes we were in 7335 an inside cabin. It was spacious for an inside cabin. Plenty of closet and storage space! Great lighting. Those are our positives regarding the cruise. Now for the negatives. The room was warm. We like to always cool down the room as soon as we arrive. After a day we knew that would not be possible. The thermostat was on the coldest setting yet it was warm and stuffy. We called customer service many times. By the way most times they do not answer their phones and you need to go to from desk. They checked the room and left us a note that the temperature was in the normal range set by Carnival. (74 is normal). To us its warm! Other cruises we can get it down to 68-70. about 5 days into the cruise we complained again about the heat to a night person at the desk. She said she will send someone. Miraculously they did an adjustment and we were happy for several day as the temperature was a constant 68.2! That didnt last for too many days! The temperature rose again to 74 and of course we complained and Carnival said its normal! We then gave up. The temperature around the ship is very uneven. For example, the dining room was cool yet the comedy club would be stifling hot. Even the comedian made a joke about the heat! Obviously the ship has not corrected their air conditioning problem! . The next issue was the plumbing. Its still in bad shape. Our toilet would make loud gurgling sounds at any time of the day for no apparent reason! Once it sounded like it was going to explode! We taped the noise on our phone and showed it to customer service and they just shrugged. A few times the toilet did not flush at all for an hour or 2 nd they start working again. We heard an entire line of toilets were not working for a good part of the day one day. As for the public bathrooms, they were dirty. Carnival cut corners not cleaning bathrooms as often as needed. Locks on bathroom stalls were broken. toilets didnt flush, many times paper towels was missing to hold the door open when leaving. I wish i had a list of all the times there was no soap in the soap dispenser in the mens room! The next problem was the condtion of the ship. Its obvious they fixed the atrium and updated many areas of the ship. But many areas were left in poor condition. There was rust in many areas of the ship. On deck 9 near the pool the floor was all rusted out, there were plastic buckets collecting the water dripping from deck 10 and the grating near the bathrooms was loose and people were constantly tripping on it! On deck 11 we sat by the pool and after a rain the water was running down the rusted stairway in buckets. On deck 9 the metal moulding was being held together with masking tape! Service in the dining room was bad. We had a "senior waiter" for most of the cruise for dinner. He would forget a dish here and there til we finally gave up asking... butter was not given even though we requested it twice. I asked for a club soda with desert every night. I received it maybe 5 out of 14 nights! Courses would be served fairly fast until dessert,.Then came the lull... we would wait maybe 30 minutes for dessert. Teaspoons were not to be had. They were not in our place setting and we had to ask every night. No one ever came to clean up the crumbs on our table after the main course. We would just do it ourselves. Breakfast service was no better. you had to ask many times to receive the items ordered. The condition of the ship as bad as previously described. The entrance to the limelight club had this red carpet that curled. Trip hazard but no one cared! There were broken ice machines in the buffet, electronic door out of order to name a few other problems. Guest services was clueless. For the most part they all were pleasant and courteous. But they did NOT answer phones when you called from the room! we asked them several questions at the front desk and they rarely had the answers. Obviously they were poorly trained about the ship features and events. Norovirus. This ship is an accident waiting to happen. There is a severe lack of hand sanitizers. Soap dispensers in the bathrooms are empty many times. Lack of paper towels to open bathroom doors. The crew is NOT proactive to prevent norovirus. Also the choice of tv stations was bad. We did not have CNBC or Bloomberg. We did not have CNN or any equivalent news station. The tv did not function properly. One station you could barely hear and another station would be blasting! To sum up, the food and dj and cruise director were great. The ship was in bad shape and crew was not properly trained. The ship probably need another week or two in drydock and was taken out too soon for the sake of profits. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise because it was a newly renovated ship going on a 14 day cruise, I was very upset by some extremely negative reviews right before going on this cruise and i wish to put everyone else at ease, we have been on 3 other ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was a newly renovated ship going on a 14 day cruise, I was very upset by some extremely negative reviews right before going on this cruise and i wish to put everyone else at ease, we have been on 3 other cruises and so far, 5 days in this one is the best so far. I realize that there was a few bugs they needed to work out the first few cruises out of the renovation but things are running very smoothly on this 4th cruise of this ship, i have not seen any construction or finishing that is still not complete, so far no sewer issues. The buffet is very crowded during peak times but we knew this in advance and just worked around it. We have been eating at other venues or during non peak times. Love the blue iguana cantina, guys burger joint and the pig and anchor bbq, the bbq we did on embarkation day, it was like no one even knew it was there!! No lines, i recommend the beef, super tender!! Everything is so new and beautiful, everyone has been super helpful. Our room steward gave us a box fan for my hubby, it's been a life saver!! My advice is to ask for something, you never know if they might have it. Love the ropes course and water slides, never any lines, loving the comedy and entertainment, cruise director Chris is a blast. My daughter has trouble making friends but the youth crew has made things super fun and she had friends by the second day. I can't say enough about the great time we are having on this beautiful ship. It makes me sad that people only leave reviews when they want to complain, life is too short to be negative!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
In the past, two of my favorite things about Carnival cruises were the Deli, where I looked forward to having a great pastrami sandwich every day for lunch, and the adult entertainment, which always made us laugh out loud. On Carnival ... Read More
In the past, two of my favorite things about Carnival cruises were the Deli, where I looked forward to having a great pastrami sandwich every day for lunch, and the adult entertainment, which always made us laugh out loud. On Carnival Sunrise, the deli was average at best - went there on the first day for my pastrami sandwich but never went back. The sandwich was dry, the bread was dry, the service was blah. We did get to go to the adult entertainment, which was very good, but not because we always wanted to. Sometimes it was our only choice. The redesign of the ship, which made room for more cabins, took away a significant amount of public spaces. There is very little space in the theatre – no way it can accommodate even ¼ of the people on the ship. And despite what it says in the marketing materials, there is no internet café so you better bring your own tablet or laptop. There is no library, which is truly sad because on a 14-day cruise you will most likely read one book and head to the library for another. And there is really only one area on the ship where you can sit and read – it has about 25 seats. During our 14-day cruise, we got to see the crew talent show only once. Why? Because our late seating dinner got us to the theatre too late -- all of the seats were taken -- all of the time. And it wasn't just because of our choice of late dinner. Scheduling activities on the ship was horrendous. Often there was something (like a game show) in the theatre right before the crew show - so folks from earlier dinners went to see it and just never left. When we realized that the only way we would get to see the show was to sit on the stairs, we would rush to the Limelight Lounge to try to catch the adult comedy show. And sometimes that too was filled to capacity – no seats. Another issue with the Limelight Lounge was finding it/getting to it. If you came out of the restaurant you could walk 25 feet right into the lounge. But for some dumb reason, they would rope off the area and make you go up a flight of stairs and through the casino to get on line for the Lounge. The smoke from the casino permeated way passed the casino – you could smell smoke in the elevators and for quite a distance on the adjacent floors. They also did not offer even one night of non-smoking in the casino. On the topic of activities, there were many days when the entire afternoon was trivia after trivia after trivia. Really? That's the best you can offer? While searching in the first days for what I soon learned was the non-existent internet café, I had the chance to speak with a woman who had been on the Carnival Triumph 8 times. She hated what they did to “her” ship and agreed with me on many issues about the lack of space overall. Food: most evenings we sat with our family for the late seating dinner. Our servers were great – funny and attentive. But the service overall was erratic. Some nights everything went smoothly; other nights things were not hot or the wrong dish was served. Don’t know if that was a kitchen issue or if it was our servers.... Food in the buffet area was mediocre and the lines really, really long at just about any time of day. The bakery section needs a real overhaul. Every day they put out cookies that literally fell apart when you tried to pick them up with the serving spoon. How difficult is it to realize that the bowl is filled with broken cookies and crumbs everyday – so change the recipe!!!! Also, there were usually four or five different cakes to choose from – they all tasted the same. We would recommend going upstairs to the Italian restaurant for lunch. They don’t really advertise it, so we stumbled upon it. When you get upstairs (from the buffet area), you will be given a seat number and a form to fill out. On the form you can request specific items in your pasta and it will come to you fresh and hot. That was great. Not so great is that you had to ask for something to drink – ice tea or lemonade. And that would put the server out – “Ok, I’ll try to find some for you!” Why not include space on the form for a beverage – too logical perhaps? The Captain’s party, which was held toward the end of the cruise, was in the theatre. If you are seated anywhere other than the main floor, good luck getting a drink or any hors d’oeuvres. There is no way the servers are going to be able to get to you or climb through groups of people to do so. That’s my take on the Carnival Sunrise. I usually pick a destination and then see which cruise line will get me there within my timeframe for travel and within my budget. I definitely wanted to see the Panama Canal, and the price was right for this cruise. However, I will not take another cruise on the Carnival Sunrise. And sadly, if this ship’s redesign is the wave of the future for cruise ships, I guess I will be cruising less. 25 nights on Carnival 127 nights on Princess 60 nights on Holland America 32 nights on Norwegian Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise because it went to Costa Rica where neither of us have been, The Panama Canal which neither of us have been to either. We haven't been to Half Moon Cay either. My wife once went to Grand Cayman more than 30 ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Costa Rica where neither of us have been, The Panama Canal which neither of us have been to either. We haven't been to Half Moon Cay either. My wife once went to Grand Cayman more than 30 years ago though. My wife has mobility problems and the many sea days appealed to us. We have been on this ship before, as the Carnival Triumph three times. So this was our fourth time on this vessel although it has been remade since. The embarkation process went smoothly. Did notice that keys to staterooms are no longer given out at embarkation. Stateroom attendant leaves key at stateroom. Can be bad if wrong person gets it. They no longer take picture and use picture on passport for identification. Staterooms weren't ready so we dropped off carry on luggage and went to Lido Deck for refreshment. You will find things about our stateroom in the stateroom section below. The food in the dining room isn't as good as it used to be. The Carnival Sunrise has a new Executive Chef. He likes to cook with spices. We, wife included, do not like spicy food. Ate Salmon most nights. The Beef Wellington, had on one of the three formal nights was good. Most desserts were good. Ate two at times. My wife spread out what she had to other things. Many things were good, service didn't meet former Carnival standards although most times was acceptable. The pizzeria was very good and ate there most days after got finished playing in the casino. The food on the Lido Deck was pretty good too. Had a few burritos that were very good, some of the food at the buffett was good as was the Deli. The Deli had long lines and most times didn't want to wait on them. About Entertainment and Activities: The shows were okay. My wife liked them. We had seem them before. Missed two shows due to doing other things. The enrichment talks were good. As a veteran liked the veteran meeting, and enjoyed the veteran's table at the high tea. Like playing in the casino. Played there every night. Most times played at the craps table and at times played slot machines. My wife likes to play slot machines. Met some people that were known from other cruises. Even made a few new acquaintances, a rarity for me, in the casino. The staff at the craps table was pretty good. They were for the most part, very competent dealers, box men, and pit bosses. Hope they are there when I next go on the Carnival Sunrise in the fall. The Cruise Director was Chris "The Flying Scotsman" Williams. He is a very good Cruise Director. It is no mistake that many of his people are getting promoted. Also of note, although many passengers didn't seem to like Adam, he is very competent and will one day make a fine Cruise Director himself. Houston is a very funny guy. One day he will be a very fine comedian. However, he does many things well on the activities staff. He should be given a night at the comedy club. One day, he might even make a fine Cruise Director. Disembarkation was a complete disaster. They were slow in getting luggage set up in the terminal and that was why we had long waiting times. Had to explain to car service why it took us so long to get off the ship. Next time bring fewer clothes and use laundry room more. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I stayed on Riviera Deck Midship. No balcony but spacious except for the shower. There was a lack of storage space and Small tiny nightstands. We moved the life vests and placed them under the bed so we could use the closet space. It ... Read More
I stayed on Riviera Deck Midship. No balcony but spacious except for the shower. There was a lack of storage space and Small tiny nightstands. We moved the life vests and placed them under the bed so we could use the closet space. It had a nice size tv, we just watched ship cameras or ship location channels. Only used one electrical outlet to plug in our multiport gadget to charge our electronics. The toilet made an unusual sound of a long foghorn after flushing and since I use the toilet 4 times during the night, I thought would wake everyone on my side of the ship. There were no complaints, thankfully. And of course our stewards were courteous and friendly. There was garbage odor on some elevators and smoke throughout the Casino. Deck 3 and 4 were were a pain since at one point or another, a restaurant blocked the front to aft part of the deck. Our Time Dining we requested same waiter Camilo. He is GREAT. Sang songs and danced on some nights. Really great and funny individual. Request for a table he manages and you wont be disappointed. I selected foods I knew I liked so To me, the food was good. Im not a sun worshipper so I wont comment on the pools and chairs. The jogging track is a bit small but I enjoyed the Rope Course. It was complicated at first due to my big gut, but once I got the know how, it was a piece of cake with a bit of sweat of course. Guys Burgers are delicious, the pizza is so-so. Breakfast is same each day with no variety. Had to skip the Midnight Buffet with the Ice And food sculptures due to the mob trying to take pix and the LINE seeming endless. But Im sure it was delicious. ( I didnt gain any weight that night) Bartenders and staff introduced me to some delicious drinks. There were a couple good shows with the singing and dancers but wasnt interested in hypnotism and card tricks. The good seating area in the Liquid Lounge is small. There are poles blocking the way, lighting fixtures if youre too high up, and cant see the stage at all if youre anywhere to the side of the stage. Remodeled and all, from 1 to 5, I rate the ship a 3. Fun Factor I rate the ship a 3 as well. Friendliness I rate it a 5 There were not enough sanitizers and people were hardly using the ones available. I rate cleanliness a 4. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We got disable-room , hard to get ,we like 14 days cruise. And was done over. Our balcony was not for wheelchair or scooters ,very narrow ,and doors were old ,we also got locked out .The room was very nice ,clean,great handicap-room . ... Read More
We got disable-room , hard to get ,we like 14 days cruise. And was done over. Our balcony was not for wheelchair or scooters ,very narrow ,and doors were old ,we also got locked out .The room was very nice ,clean,great handicap-room . Spa was disappointing ,thermal loungers were in a small room ,only 6 ,no other chairs. Would not give us a refund ,waste of our money. The Flying scotsman was the Best ,the shows were great ,food was good. Room service was good. Embarking was confusing ,the staff did not know how to help. We went to the Musterstaion and were told it was on 3 deck ,not there ,hard to get back on the elevators ,when we got there ,it was over. They were bringing luggage to the rooms ,so most of the elevators were closed. Disembarking was a nightmare , we waiting over 3 hours before we got somebody to take us out with the wheelchair. Was so disorganized ,they did not have the staff to help the handicap . Everybody was so upset. SO the cruise was disappointing ,because the staff was not trained to do their job. Not going back on the Carnival . Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary - full traverse of the Panama Canal and lots of stops in countries other cruise lines don't stop in. We have travelled with other companies, Celebrity, RCI, Cunard, P&O and now NCL. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary - full traverse of the Panama Canal and lots of stops in countries other cruise lines don't stop in. We have travelled with other companies, Celebrity, RCI, Cunard, P&O and now NCL. The reason for the low score for NCL is that there were lots of little things which were not as good as other cruise companies and they added up to make a big difference. Firstly the good: The organisation of the Freedom dining is fantastic. We only had to wait (briefly) for a table on a couple of occasions - the rest of the time it worked like clockwork. This is down mainly to the ladies who work at the front desk. They do an exceptional job. The staff in the dining rooms were all fantastic. Hardworking and always cheerful. No mean feat! The chinese restaurant is included rather than the usual cover charge and we thought the food was superb. The presentation of the food in the main dining rooms was the best we have seen There were proper showers in all of the rooms (not just shower curtains) The bad: The menus in the Chinese and O'Sheehans never changes nor does it in Grand Pacific at lunch time. Not too bad if you are on a 7 day cruise but this was 19 days of the same choice. The drinks are very expensive The ship was late in to nearly every port. Sometimes just by 15-20 mins but it messed up our plans (and on two of the occassions this was when the ship was only travelling a short distance between ports) Disembarkation was a shambles with poor communication. They put on too few tenders when needed so that it took us until after 1pm to get off the ship when we had to be back on board by 4pm. We paid for an upgrade to an ocean view room and yet all we could see was a lifeboat. There was no warnings about it being a partial view. There was insufficient shade on the ship so there was always a battle to be up early enough to grab some. They have a great lounge at the front of the boat where you can sit in the shade and cool and look at the view but insisted on running bingo and other talks in there all through the day despite having other areas that would accomodate these things. They even had to draw the blinds in the room to make it dark enough to see the projector. The talks about the ports and countries we were visiting were awful. The entertainment in the bars was not to our taste and hardly varied. No gala type dinners so no lobster or other special food. Food was the worst we have had on a ship (not bad like other reviews have said - just not as good as other ships) The food in the buffet was not great and was very repetitive. All of the entertainment was geared towards Americans (even though they were in the minority on the ship). I understand that they are usually the majority so I guess it would be too much trouble to change things cruise by cruise. Guest Relations were terrible. They handled a minor complaint so badly that it ended up being a big issue. They have zero authority and a terrible attitude. One thing that isn't the ships problem but is worth mentioning is that we like to share our table with others in the evening. Clearly most people who choose NCL don't like to so it was rare that we managed to get a table with other people on it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We wanted a cruise that included the Panama Canal. The trip though the canal was amazing and more exciting than I anticipated. Overall the shore excursions were excellent and that includes the itinerary, the bus, and the guides. We ... Read More
We wanted a cruise that included the Panama Canal. The trip though the canal was amazing and more exciting than I anticipated. Overall the shore excursions were excellent and that includes the itinerary, the bus, and the guides. We hesitated to tour Nicaragua since we had to fill out a health form for that country. The entertainment was better than I expected as well. However, each entertainer sold their CD, book, etc. and I would have thought the pay by NCL sufficient. We did a couple of cruises on Royal Caribbean and did not experience this. We did not opt for the internet on principle. It should have been free. I had a phone plan but it would not work on the ship. I had to go onto the pier in order to use my iPhone. We were pleased with our cabin and out attendant, Julius. He provided great travel tips and service. However, the rest rooms in the public areas needed more attention. The one on the 12th floor in the area of the buffet smelled of urine and had trash on the floor. The corners had built up filth. I cannot say the same for some of the Guest Services personnel. They had to "check with their superior" too frequently. They apologized profusely if something went wrong and said it was because they had never been in that port before. Not an excuse. NCL should have provided orientation. I got conflicting information between them and the Shore Excursion personnel. The specialty restaurants were outstanding. However, the two main dining rooms and the buffet left a lot to be desired. We, fortunately, are not drinkers but do enjoy an occasional one. The drinks were very expensive and included a tip and another charge of some kind. Needless to say, as with the internet, we opted out. There were a lot of activities but many of the programs tried to sell special offers after a presentation. It seemed as if every time we wanted to do something extra, there was a hand holding out for more money. I even learned that we could have had the $14.50 charge pp per day removed!!!! Didn't do this because I think the crew who don't deal directly with passengers should be rewarded as well. But, why put this on if it is more or less optional. Frankly, we have been spoiled by Viking river and ocean cruises. The initial price may be higher; but, as you know, very little is extra. Free water, WiFi, included excursion at every port, free wine, beer, soda with meals, umbrellas, robes, listening devices so that all can hear the guide, etc. The personnel treat guests with kid gloves and we are never left to wander around having to ask where we should be for an excursion. I have not yet totaled up our trip but it will be equal to or more than Viking. Also, the location of the Guest Services and Shore excursions were right off of the Atrium where there were activities and music and a noisy bar. I felt I had to shout to be heard and had to ask for things to be repeated. On Viking, the staff had desks and passengers were able to sit down and have a decent discussion. On our last trip, we left an iPad at a hotel in Madrid. They bent over backwards to get it returned to us. Embarkation was speedy and rooms ready in a timely manner. However, disembarkation was not. The line to get off the ship was stalled and an announcement was made that they would not be calling any color categories for a while. Our tour of LA was supposed to start at 9 o'clock. We did not leave the terminal until 10 and our excellent guide had to cut corners to be able to see what she thought was most important. I noticed that she did not receive many tips which was a disservice to her because this was not her fault. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise because we made up our minds not to let the above get to us. But, no, I would not choose NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This was our first cruise, so most folks asked us : Why an 18 day cruise? Our answer was we're from Alaska and we want to be gone from the cold and dark, and of course to see the Panama Canal. New York to LA. was also in the mix. ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so most folks asked us : Why an 18 day cruise? Our answer was we're from Alaska and we want to be gone from the cold and dark, and of course to see the Panama Canal. New York to LA. was also in the mix. Freestyle cruising fit our plan as we didn't want to dress up every night, although we did a couple of nights. As newbie cruisers, I would say it's all about the ship and the crew and the people on board. We are in our early sixties so our expectations were folks our age and older. For the most part, that proved to be true. People who have had many cruise experiences see the cruise in many different ways comparing one to another. Food, entertainment, ports of call, etc. First off for me, I've never been surrounded by so much food. It was good. Speciality dining was fun! There is no reason to complain. Just pick something else! The crew and all the staff want you to be happy. They take their job seriously. Entertainment was all day and into the night! Something for everyone. Beautiful people who truly try to make your vacation memorable. Really enjoyed the "hot white" party. Service was excellent. They washed and folded my clothes for a fair price. The spa was superb! I would recommend it to anyone. It's expensive, but for a vacation to get ones mind off the work waiting for you at home-- a bargain. I gave my wife the 18 day spa pass and that was a bargain too! The Gem is truly a wonderful ship. I read its fact sheet. Its' crew international. Really makes it fun. Norwegian in my mind strives to be a class act. Sign me up- I'd do it again. I didn't think about work once. Therefore it was a true vacation. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I chose this cruise for the itinerary and have sailed Norwegian before and have always had a good time onboard. Service- this was hit and miss. Some of the hostesses aren't very friendly. The girl in Sheehan's never smiled ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the itinerary and have sailed Norwegian before and have always had a good time onboard. Service- this was hit and miss. Some of the hostesses aren't very friendly. The girl in Sheehan's never smiled or made me feel welcome. I'm a former hostess- so this bothers me. My cabin steward kept my room clean, but even though I'd put the "Make Up Room" sign up by 7AM (I'm an early riser)- the room was never made up until 10AM. Also, I go to bed early- and my room was never made up in the evening before 9PM. Given that it was an 18-night cruise- The cabin steward should have recognized my routine but didn't care. I had to ask for things and he wasn't friendly until the last night of the cruise- when he probably hoped for an extra tip. I didn't give him one because he hadn't gone the extra mile- like most cabin stewards do. I generally tip extra, but not this time. Ship- the ship was in very good condition- there were some places that needed repainting on the exterior and my friend's cabin (5096) had what looked like mold on the ceiling. It turned out to be paint but it was unsightly. Internet- You can pay $.99 a minute or you have to buy a package. The only way to get the 24 hour unlimited use is to buy a package for the entire voyage. Expensive. Entertainment- I was never bored. There were plenty of activities to participate in. Show that I went to were very good. I loved Brad Stevens the pianist. Food- I dined for most meals in the Grand Pacific Dining Room. We usually showed up between 5;30- 6:30 and there wasn't much of a wait. The meals were hit and miss. Meat dishes- steaks and ribs (and even the Hungarian Goulash) were inedible. Too tough. Perhaps the head chef is a vegetarian but he needs to have someone taste test the food. I'm sure there were many complaints and plates of food sent back to the kitchen. I ended up referring to this as the "bird and fish" cruise because those dishes and the vegetarian dishes were good. The bananas foster were bananas cut lengthwise and plopped into butterscotch and rum. Gross. My "key lime parfait" was really key lime mousse. Tasted good but did not resemble a "parfait". The corn fritters were flat pancakes with a kernel of corn in each one. The salads were lacking in anything other than mixed greens and they ran out of spinach midway through the cruise. Le Bistro was good- but the cost of the food was excessive- given that meals are included in the passage. The up charge shouldn't be $17.99 for a good steak. The buffet was ok. The outside burger stand was good and on sea days they did really nice bar-b-ques by the pool. The best dish was a seafood medley. Yum! Drinks- I thought the price of wine was reasonable. I noticed my chardonnay was cheaper at Magnums than other venues. Don't know why. Unless you are a full-fledged alcoholic- don't bother with a drink package. Average drink price is $10. Excursions and Ports Curacao- We pre-purchased $60 resort passes (through Resorts for a Day) for the Hilton Hotel. It was fabulous. They welcomed us- provided towels and we were free to use the beach and pool areas. Our passes included $25 food and beverage vouchers, which was enough for us to drink four drinks and split a delicious Quesadilla. Highly recommend this place. Taxis to and from the Hilton were $20 each way. Aruba- We winged it and were so glad we did. There are school buses (decorated with graffiti) offering $25 pp island tours. We went to a rock formation, a church, a lighthouse (where there are food and beverage trucks. Get a fruit smoothie for $5- delicious!). Then we were dropped off at Eagle Beach for two hours and then returned to the ship. It was awesome. The beach chairs rent for $10. Santa Marta- very poor industrial port. Our excursion to a waterfall was underwhelming and there was too much walking (and wading through streams) for some of the passengers. I'm only 53 so the mostly shaded walk didn't bother me (it's over a mile each way) but my 71 year old travel companion it was too much for- especially with wading through the streams 8 times. I should have read the fine print about shoes getting wet. The waterfall may be more impressive when there isn't a drought but it was puny. The banios (toilets) were very gross and you have to pay $1 to use them. Norwegian should drop this port IMO and do two nights in Cartegena. Cartegena- Loved this city. Very pretty architecture. The vendors are ridiculous though. My suggestion is ignore them. Someone in my group made the mistake of buying something and then was swarmed by other vendors. To get away from the them- nip into on of the Juan Valdez coffee shops (Columbia's Starbucks). The coffee is good and inexpensive. They only take pesos or credit cards. Shops took US dollars though. Panama Canal- Wow! Was a wonderful experience. I got up early and managed to score a seat at the bow in Spinnacker at 6:45. Transit started around 8AM but it was neat waiting in line for the Canal. Sailing through the lake while eating lunch at one of the aft window tables in the Grand Pacific Dining Room was one of my favorite trip experiences. Costa Rica- We went to an animal rescue with NCL where we saw many birds, moneys, and animals. We were treated to fresh fruit- which was very delicious . Highly recommend Nicaragua- We went to the Botanical Gardens and Leon with NCL. Our guide Gabriel was very good but the trip to and from was long and we were underwhelmed with the Botanical Gardens. There were no flowers at all. The only thing worth seeing was the green parrot. Guatemala- I stayed onboard. I'd had enough of long bus rides through poverty stricken areas for a lifetime at this point. Manzanilla- We went on the NCL excursion to Barcelo Karmina Resort. This was close to the ship and a very nice all-inclusive which we enjoyed. The town however is industrial and polluted. I think NCL should take it off the itinerary. Puerto Vallarta- I stayed on the ship but if you like to shop there is a big mall and a Walmart. Cabo- Great way to end our trip. Tendering was fast and easy. The town is beautiful. We went to Casa Dorada resort with NCL. Our tour group had access to a hotel suite which we could access from the pool area. We had a complimentary buffet lunch and a free beverage (any). I had a Bahama Mama which was good. Margaritas were good too. Make sure to be out on deck at sailaway to watch the whales. We saw many, many whales. This was a great way to end our trip. I'd go back to Cabo. Overall- I had a great time on the cruise and would sail NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
My wife and I have just returned from the Panama Canal cruise out of New York in January 19. We travelled with adult friends and no children. The embarkation in New York was easy to get to, well organised and very smooth - not the same ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from the Panama Canal cruise out of New York in January 19. We travelled with adult friends and no children. The embarkation in New York was easy to get to, well organised and very smooth - not the same could be said for the disembarkation in LA - what a disaster. Whilst the cruise itinerary, restaurant and bar staff were great, the food lacked variety and was very limited - one of our friends is diabetic and it was very limiting for him (NCL you have done better than this). Being on the ship for 18 days - some variation in the buffet section for lunch and supper would have been welcome, the breakfast was not much better. The fruit provided on board was generally disgusting. We basically had the same food for 18 days. The ship docked in very remote industrial ports resulting in additional costs for travel into town - almost forcing the NCL excursions on us. In one case we were to dock in Puntarenas but were taken to Puerto Caldera and advised that it would cost $15.00 per person for a bus into Puntarenas. The live bands and musical entertainment was the poorest I have experienced on a cruise ship to date. The internet service provided was expensive and slow. The positives - the cabin was clean and well serviced. The staff ( with exception of the administration) was excellent. The narrator providing us with facts and information on the Panama Canal was excellent. Overall - the ship is showing its age - not what I expect from our preferred cruise line! you can do better than this NCL - I know this because I have experienced it in the past. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Our booking agent Janet at NCL was also fantastic and always answered our questions promptly. Overall, the ship staff, amenities, and dining were great. Being new to having limited mobility I found that the ship and the staff - aside from ... Read More
Our booking agent Janet at NCL was also fantastic and always answered our questions promptly. Overall, the ship staff, amenities, and dining were great. Being new to having limited mobility I found that the ship and the staff - aside from the shore excursion team - were fantastic at managing mobility issues. Lots of disabled restrooms, staff was always eager to assist. The room was clean, and had enough room for a family of four, and our balcony was fantastic. Our steward Biency was always available, always called us by our names, consistently asked us if we needed anything and was generally accommodating. We always had what we needed in our room and it was made-up/turned-down at good times. He was a true highlight. The restaurants and bars were always well stocked and had a good selection. I would like to see the service at O'Sheehan's improve and some additional things added to the menu (a BLT or club sandwich, onion rings, guac & salsa for the nachos etc). Also the quality of the food at O'Sheehans varied dramatically every time we went in. The shore excursions and the shore excursion team were below what I would expect for the price point. I feel like that NCL should have staff that is knowledgable about the excursions because someone on the team has taken it and has done a write-up for the other members of staff & made notes that cruisers would find helpful. They were clueless with answering questions and just kept repeating what I could already read on the app. We also waiting in the theatre one day when the SE staff walked way without calling our tour. When a man asked about it they waved their hand as they walked away and said, "oh yeah, that one is ready, you can go." Also, the activity levels were useless and not at all indicative of the actual difficulty. I ended up injured on a shore excursion due to their ignorance and their attitude was "oh well." NCL needs to ramp up the ports of call for this cruise and have better timing at ports. Having to drive an hour or more at most ports just to see places of interest is a hassle. A Panama City stop would have also been a good choice for this itinerary. There were 20 kids on this cruise and I felt the Splash Academy struggled to manage this small amount even with all their staff. I don't know how they do with a boat full of kids! We kept repeating instructions to keep a certain chid away from our child but we constantly got feedback that they kept letting them interact and therefore had continued negative occurrences despite our instructions. To be quite honest, our child was harassed by this other child and the staff only reacted when my child retaliated. The staff didn't really feel like they knew much about children or how to redirect their behaviour. I would like them to get more training on conflict resolution because their solution seemed to be to throw their hands in the air. Having said all that, the ship was a great size, the Panama canal portion of the itinerary was worth it for the narration and information alone, the dining and bar staff was consistently fantastic, and some of the excursions were well worth the time and money. This was our first time on NCL (we've done two other companies in the past) and I feel that it was good enough to give it another go, should my complaint about the excursions get resolved. There were a lot of long time cruisers complaining on this cruise but we didn't feel that our experience was negative overall, just some training for Shore Excursions and the Splash Academy. Everything else was great. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
So first off, I’m the guy that brought the bike. I boarded the ship in New York on January 02nd and got off the ship February 15th 2019 in New York. This was my escape from wither in the north east and chance to explore several new ... Read More
So first off, I’m the guy that brought the bike. I boarded the ship in New York on January 02nd and got off the ship February 15th 2019 in New York. This was my escape from wither in the north east and chance to explore several new ports that I had not been to before and after this 44 day voyage I enjoyed this ship and it’s staff very much. I had a great and memorable experience from really every department onboard. Spending that much time on board the ship I think I really got to know the cruise director and recreation staff well. Some even remembered me from my previous September 2018 trip on this ship, or perhaps the bicycle helped them remember too. Security staff definitely remembered me and the bike from September. But I was really surprised with how many of the overall ships crew called me by my first name when just walking by even though I had very little interaction with them. For me, during the cruise I always kept in mind that for most of the staff on board they are here on a 6 month contract and even though they don’t have a day off and work around 10 hours or more a day, they still start every day as if their goal was to make sure that my trip was going as best as it could. I didn’t do any drinking or gambling and I think I booked a total of 0 shore excursions and purchased about the same amount of photos but I still had a great time. Yes, the bike played a huge roll too. Since there was a lot of overlap on the ports that we would be visiting, when in port, I treated the 1st leg (west bound journey) as an exploration trip and the east bound journey I applied what I learned and explored the port more efficiently. The bike also helped a lot. Regarding the bicycle, it’s a folding bike, (specifically a Citizen Miami). The bike retails new for $275.00 but I purchased off of craig’s list for $100. I upgraded the original seat to a gelled saddle and I also brought with me: a helmet with a GoPro, an air pump and lastly the padded seat underwear. I also know now that I should bring a bike tire repair kit too, however I was able to find a bike repair shop while we were in Santa Marta, Colombia that replaced the tube, tire and the shop had WiFi for a total of 16,000 Colombian Pesos (or $5.16 USD). While not in use the bike went under my bed, and I didn’t have to worry about checking in the bike at the airport as luggage since I was doing a round trip from NY. I walked the bike on board and there was no additional fee for bringing it. Yes I also received many offers from the crew about purchasing the bike from me. I can not put to words on how welcome the cruise ship staff made me feel while on this entire voyage, but it was really great. Every department did a fantastic job. I think security had the toughest roll as they get the least appreciation for keeping people safe especially as people were climbing over ropes, railings and each other during the panama canal transit which lasted about 5 hours. The cruise director staff came in a close 2nd as they have to keep everyone as happy as possible over the entire journey but in my opinion every crew member on board did a fantastic job. I enjoyed the food very much, but my problem is really with portion control. I felt that Breakfast in the grand pacific dining room was the right way to start my morning. Glen, the only female waitress on board named Glen is the best waiter on board this ship. In regards to the evening entertainment, I would try to go to both evening shows whenever possible but I would sit in 2 totally different areas in the theater which gave me a totally different perspective of the show. Special shout out from me is included to the sign language interpreter they had on board for the east bound (LA-NY) journey. While she wasn’t meant to be part of the entertainment she was both very entertaining, informative, educational and really added a layer to the show that I had never experienced before. I learned later that some times, like for the ventriloquist or comedian, a rehearsal performance is not available so the translation is just live action and there is no pause button available to look terms up. It was also really nice to talk and interact with the entertainers when they weren’t performing on stage. While the Gem’s cast performers can also be found working in places like the ship’s library, the guest performers were friendly and approachable in all areas of the ship like the gym, restaurants or even just random encounters in the elevators and hallways. Yes I also encountered people who were not enjoying the cruise, but from my perspective they were either asking for too much, just ignorant of the rules and policies, just totally missed stuff that was clearly listed in the daily schedule or just really novice cruise ship travellers (aka noobs). But yes I also had the upper had when it came to ports that we had visited before so I knew what to expect. I myself knew that I had to be a bother to the ship’s hotel director because I kept stopping by his office looking for his secretary’s signature for the ship’s scavenger hunt but kept running in to him instead. But he seemed ok with it or at least understanding and just kept telling me to keep trying to find her each time I visited. Lastly, I highly suggesting doing the behind the scenes tour for a great perspective on what goes on onboard and how and why things operate as they do. It’s free to do for platinum latitude members. Thank you very much for a very enjoyable voyage. I’m strongly considering doing this voyage again next year and I hope you next voyage on the Gem is just as enjoyable. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
My goal in life is to see as much of the world before I leave this good earth so I choose this cruise because it went to South America a place i've never been and stopped at 11 different ports which would have cost me a fortune had I ... Read More
My goal in life is to see as much of the world before I leave this good earth so I choose this cruise because it went to South America a place i've never been and stopped at 11 different ports which would have cost me a fortune had I taken these trips individually, one cruise 11 different countries; We also went thru the Panama Canal which was just place i heard and read about and wonder what that looks like, I was lucky to have experience it, it was awesome. While we were at sea going from one country to the next the ship did not disappoint they kept us quite entertained with lots of food, games, seminars, swimming, the spa, the Casino and first class live stage performances, thank you Norwegian Gem I really enjoyed myself. My state room was lovely with a king size bed and the service was impeccable, after 18 days of having being catered to I am still trying to get back to normal now that I am home. I traveled by my self because most of my friends were not able to get away for such a long period of time but I never felt alone the staff and the other guests were all very friendly and I felt very comfortable, can't wait for my next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This ship definitely due for a refurbish as evidenced by railing on top deck having been replaced by unpainted patch work 2x4 planking. First ship ever to offer splinters while leaning on railing. Theater seating uncomfortable and ... Read More
This ship definitely due for a refurbish as evidenced by railing on top deck having been replaced by unpainted patch work 2x4 planking. First ship ever to offer splinters while leaning on railing. Theater seating uncomfortable and entertainment well below prior sailings with NCL. Food was mediocre and the Big Screen TV area had seating for about 80 people on a ship transporting over 2000...go figure. Television viewing in-room was on a very small screen with one movie station, one tv station other than 3 news and 2 sports. walking deck 7 frequently had closed areas for maintenance though none was witnessed. Upper decks were often closed for high winds. given the fact the ship traveled at 23 knots I have come to expect high winds to be a given on Cruise Ships. Why else surround the deck with glass panels? Cagney Steak restaurant served my steak RARE and draining blood.... although ordered MEDIUM. Even after sending back to kitchen for additional cooking it came back medium RARE...less blood but at least warm in center...the baked potato was well cooked and delicious. I should not complain though as it was a complimentary dinner for my Platinum traveler status and it came with a very good Australian wine. The Vintage Railway shore excursion in Costa Rico was well below advertisement. After discussing with the onboard representative they offered a 30% discount...which never showed on room billing. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I chose this trip because of the timing primarily but also because of the itinerary. The longest cruise we had been on before was 7 days so at day 7 it was so nice to know we still had 11 more days. I really enjoyed the activities by ... Read More
I chose this trip because of the timing primarily but also because of the itinerary. The longest cruise we had been on before was 7 days so at day 7 it was so nice to know we still had 11 more days. I really enjoyed the activities by the pool on the "sea days" so you could enjoy the pool and sunshine! With 10 "ports of call" there was ample opportunity to enjoy shore excursions mixed in with relaxing by the pools. We had only been to Cabo San Lucas before so the other 9 ports were all new to us and real treat to discover. We especially enjoyed Guatamala. Who'da thought? And of course the Panama Canal was extra special. We added an extra day in New York City to begin and L. A. at the end and really enjoyed this addition to our trip. It really added extra relaxation and excitement to our trip. Overall, I believe our experience with Norwegian was great and I'm really happy that we upgraded to a mini suite for that little extra cabin space. I had booked a balcony and then submitted bids to upgrade and managed to get upgraded. We will forever remember this cruise for the people we met and all of the fabulous experiences on ship and on shore. In addition, we would like to thank the wonderful crew members!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
The itinerary through the Panama Canal intrigued us.We wanted a Winter get away and leaving out of New York was convenient .We have sailed with Celebrity on 4 prior cruises and wanted to try something different ..We stayed in a midship ... Read More
The itinerary through the Panama Canal intrigued us.We wanted a Winter get away and leaving out of New York was convenient .We have sailed with Celebrity on 4 prior cruises and wanted to try something different ..We stayed in a midship balcony on th 9th floor.The ship was impeccably clean and our room was cleaned regularly and efficiently.The wait staff couldn’t do enough for us.The bar tenders knew us by name and were extremely friendly and attentive.The ports of call were great and the Panama Canal was an experience of a life time , including the sites and ongoing commentary .We were graced with phenomenal weather throughout the cruise .We ate at the specialty restaurants( Le Bistro and Cagney’s steakhouse) and we’re extremely pleased with both. We enjoyed the Grand Pacific as well as The Magenta.The Garden Cafe was great for breakfast and lunch and offered great variety.The outdoor poolside bbq was equally great offering wonderful daily themed options..We had the ultimate beverage package and I would say our only disappointment was that bottled water was not included . I would highly recommend this cruise and NCL Gem will not disappoint . T & M from Montreal Read Less
Sail Date January 2019

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