7 Norwegian Gem Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

We chose this cruise because of the canal transit and that did not disappoint. Get a balcony state room as you get a real experience from the balcony of the locks and transit. We ate at all the specialty restaurants as we had the package. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the canal transit and that did not disappoint. Get a balcony state room as you get a real experience from the balcony of the locks and transit. We ate at all the specialty restaurants as we had the package. They were all very good with excellent service. The entertainment was top notch, with great Broadway style shows and funny comics. It was a real shame that the pool deck was a disappointment. First of all, they were scraping and painting above one pool and small flecks of paint were floating in the water?!! No effort was made to screen off the maintenance, which was above the grill and the pool! I did not swim in that pool after seeing the paint flakes floating in it. But, both pool were unheated?! According to the life guard, the pools were replaced with sea water every night?! This was to keep them clean?! They were consequently freezing even in very hot weather. Unacceptable. Also people would reserve loungers by placing items on them and then walk away. The pool deck staff did nothing about this and on at sea days it was hard to find a spot to sit in the sun and then take a quick shower as the pools were really too cold. In frustration one day I complained to one of the guys on deck and he went around and collected a few towels but basically did nothing to help me. We often went up top away from the pool to sit away from the very loud group with a terrible female lead singer who sang everything flat. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
It was my wife's 70th birthday and we wanted to do something grand and special so this fit the bill. A trip through the Panama Canal had always been on my "bucket list" and this was a chance to visit many different ... Read More
It was my wife's 70th birthday and we wanted to do something grand and special so this fit the bill. A trip through the Panama Canal had always been on my "bucket list" and this was a chance to visit many different countries. Interacting with the "locals" was wonderful. Enjoyed our hop-on hop-off bus tour in Cartegena, and the submarine excursion in Aruba was exciting ... beautiful coral and colourful fish. The ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaco) were a treat, very friend people, colourful buildings, easy to walk around. The ship itself was thoroughly enjoyable ... never a lack of things to do. Every show in the Theatre was excellent, and we especially enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil duo. We are not "formal" people, so free-style cruising suits us well. The casino was good because the "odds" on the slots were set high enough that you could enjoy some decent play time. The only drawback is that smoking is allowed. The only improvement I would suggest to the itinerary would be to include a stop in either Nassau or San Juan to break up the final three and a half days at sea. All in all, a wonderful trip and we plan on continuing to "cruise like a Norwegian". Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
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
We chose this cruise for the exciting Panama crossing and ports to visit, we were not disappointed. We have cruise 12 times or more, three times with NCL. We enjoy the buffet on cruises as there is usually a wide selection of ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the exciting Panama crossing and ports to visit, we were not disappointed. We have cruise 12 times or more, three times with NCL. We enjoy the buffet on cruises as there is usually a wide selection of healthy options to cater for most tastes. Something was very wrong on this cruise, Foid was very often warm or cold , most dishes in heavy sauces, plain fish mon existent . Salads were unpleasant. Presentation overall was simply not up to cruise standard. Speciality restaurants were a mixed experience, Le Bistro and Moderns were best. O’Sheehans’ fish and chips was horrible, not at all the same as a few years ago . Cagneys was v disappointing, salmon was uncooked inside. Mushrooms were inedible and unpleasant. Main dining rooms were ok , but very time consuming and lacking in fruit and veg, so only went a few times. Garden buffet staff are amazing, all waiting staff and room attendants were wonderful . Reception staff are doing their best, but are not v knowledgeable. We asked for a table on our balcony so we could order breakfast, they said our mini suite is too small and that we should eat breakfast in bed/- finally we were provided with a table, Excursions were well priced . The Chiva fun bus in Colombia was fantastic. Code farm in Guaramala excellent. The cruise director did not seem to be very proactive compared to our past cruise experience . Entertainment slots tended to be 45 minutes only in public areas . Captain Fafalios was wonderful and we felt safe in his hands . Our main disappointment was the strange food in the buffet , and the level of sparkle from the cruise director. Disembarkation took far too long - around 90 mins of standing in line , we feel this could have been better managed. 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 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
This was my ultimate cruise. I got to spend time in the Caribbean, South America, go through the Panama Canal, stops on Central America and Mexico..80 degree weather in January, very little train or bad weather... What's not to love? ... Read More
This was my ultimate cruise. I got to spend time in the Caribbean, South America, go through the Panama Canal, stops on Central America and Mexico..80 degree weather in January, very little train or bad weather... What's not to love? There are always a few bumps in the road but generally it was terrific. I'm disabled, traveled solo and use an electric wheelchair and had to cancel my whale watching tour in Cabo because they have to tender there and can't take the electric wheelchair but apparently no one realized that when I bought the excursion. Overall, NCL was very helpful finding me shore excursions that were accessible. I especially enjoyed the Tarcoles River excursion in Costa Rica. Food was good, buffet was a little cold from time to time but I always found something to satisfy my taste. I noticed the last day on the breakfast buffet the "Mountain of Bacon" dwindled to a small pile.. Guess that was their way of saying "We're done feeding you folks" lol. Magenta was very good, Cagney's and Moderno was excellent. The staff was always friendly and helpful. I especially enjoyed the very helpful bar staff at the Java Cafe. My cabin steward Andrean was always very helpful and smiled all the time. He would brighten every day. Entertainment was ok. I enjoyed the performance of "Swing" the most. There is a little monotony that sets in during an 18 day cruise but I always found something to do. I wish they could find a way to do a better variety of TV shows. It's very limited. I downloaded a bunch of movies and shows from Netflix and Amazon on my tablet. Be aware they are time limited so pay attention to how long you have to each them. We saw lots of whales and porpoises after we left Cabo from the ship so that was fun. There was a nice mix of people on board, quite an international group. I heard one lady complain the people Spanish too much. Apparently the fact we were in Latin America escaped her. Generally friendly, I meet some very interesting people on board. We had some nice conversations. Folks were always helpful with wheelchair of I needed a hand. In Puerto Vallarta, we did a walking tour and the sidewalks had ramps but some were step and not flat, kinda scary. They had to help me walk down one that was too steep, but the tour operator and fold on the tour were helpful. The tour operator's and bus drivers were all excellent. 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 4.2
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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