5 Norwegian Gem Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

After cruising in many ships worldwide, we decided to take our first cruise with NCL because the route with NCL Gem was fantastic; The Panama Canal! In general terms the cruise was fine. The ship is great with beautiful public areas, ... Read More
After cruising in many ships worldwide, we decided to take our first cruise with NCL because the route with NCL Gem was fantastic; The Panama Canal! In general terms the cruise was fine. The ship is great with beautiful public areas, excellent facilities and good cabins, and above all, a very good crew and staff, In terms of recreation and activities they were very good. The shows were fantastic with excellent dancers and singers. The orquestra and musical groups on the ship were also very good. Regarding the food served as "complimentary" in the main dinning rooms and swimming pool area, was not good enough to be aligned with the top quality of the ship. Food quality, variety, presentation, and flavor was really poor. Sometimes during lunch time it was really difficult to decide what to eat because the food available was really "cheap" . The current chef is from India. We took this cruise with another couple of friends and they had exactly the same opinion. After so many cruises it is very easy for us to assess the quality of ships and services aboard, Everything was great, except the food ! Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
From embarkation, tenders, excursions, food, and debarkation, it was a fabulous trip on the Gem. Even when things went wrong, which they did, the staff was always there to help you, give you guidance, and in some instances a reimbursement ... Read More
From embarkation, tenders, excursions, food, and debarkation, it was a fabulous trip on the Gem. Even when things went wrong, which they did, the staff was always there to help you, give you guidance, and in some instances a reimbursement against expenses. The food overall was good, but I felt needed a little more variety. Their specialty buffet dinners days were not up to what I feel NCL is capable of, with very little selection of the “specialty day” foods. The regular buffet were excellent with great selections. The specialty diners, Cagney’s, Moderno, Le Bistro Café, La Cucina, were all fabulous dining experiences. We took at least eight excursions on the 11 ports and all were very well organized even when things went wrong. I loved the different activities especially the trivia. Aris, sexy Sue, K, along with Claire, the cruise director, were all fabulous ambassadors for NCL. Overall had a great time on the Gem, and looking forward to my next NCL 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
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
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
Norwegian Gem Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.8

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