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778 Norwegian (NCL) Bermuda Cruise Reviews

For our sixth cruise, and second on NCL, my partner and I sailed Norwegian Dawn on its August 12th itinerary from Boston to Heritage Wharf, Bermuda. We wholeheartedly embrace the concept that cruises, like people, are inherently imperfect, ... Read More
For our sixth cruise, and second on NCL, my partner and I sailed Norwegian Dawn on its August 12th itinerary from Boston to Heritage Wharf, Bermuda. We wholeheartedly embrace the concept that cruises, like people, are inherently imperfect, so the expectation of a totally flawless journey is unreasonable. Park the attitude at the dock, roll with the punches, and set your sights on having a fantastic time! In comparison to Celebrity's Fort Lauderdale embarkation process, NCL's in Boston was at first glimpse an exercise in utter chaos. Somehow it all worked, however, and within 30 minutes of our arrival, we were seated comfortably in the VIP lounge -- signed, sealed and delivered. The lounge was a nice touch, affording suite guests a respite from the madness outside, not to mention a small buffet of sandwiches, snacks, cookies and juices. Let the gluttony begin! While we appreciate priority boarding for suite guests, we think NCL does its crew a disservice by allowing passengers access to their staterooms before they are ready. We were escorted to suite 10500 only to find the room in disarray and the narrow corridor littered with dirty linens, trash bags and cleaning materials. Our stateroom attendant, already hard at work, was clearly embarrassed, as we were for her. We excused ourselves and told her we would return later, and she was obviously grateful for the courtesy. We understand everyone is excited to get aboard, but allowing the crew a little extra time would cause no one any hardship and ease what is already a very stressful day. The Dawn is a beautiful ship and appears to have emerged from its recent dry dock with most of its age-related idiosyncrasies cured. There was not a drip or a bucket to be found, and while it was easy to discern the old from the new, the ship was clean and in mostly good condition. An exception was our suite on deck ten forward, tucked under the bridge. Except for two new chaise lounges on the veranda, our stateroom had not benefited from the recent refurbishment and it showed. Carpets and upholstery exhibited wear, the lamp shades were soiled, one of two small safes was inoperable and would not close, and toilet seat was stained and chipped to the point of distraction. The safe and toilet seat remained unattended all week despite our requests for repair. We might add that while storage space was abundant, it came at the expense of the bathroom, which was the smallest we have encountered in a suite at this price point. Navigating the tight bathroom/closet area demanded contortion skills neither of us possessed, particularly if we attempted entry simultaneously. On the other hand, the bed was one of the most comfortable we have experienced anywhere. Kudos to NCL for not skimping on comfort! Our suite came equipped with a small refrigerator brimming with sodas and single-serving bottles of alcohol, and a fully-stocked coffee bar with an espresso/cappuccino machine. Curiously, we were charged for every item removed from the refrigerator but countless rounds of espresso were apparently gratis. There was a clear difference in food quality and service between the specialty restaurants and other eating venues on board, but all were, at worst, acceptable. Cagney's Steakhouse performed double duty as a dedicated breakfast and lunch spot for suite guests, while serving as a reservations-only Chicago-style chop house at night. The food in Cagney's and the other specialty restaurants was exceptional and well worth the minimal up-charge. We found Venetian and Aqua, the main dining rooms, to be comparatively modest by cruise ship standards, and their menus were redundant and uninspired. We are still trying to equate with Bermuda the "chef's regional speciality" of Mexican Meatballs. Few ships afloat are known for their entertainment offerings, but in that department Dawn excelled. The young troupe of singers, dancers and aerialists were highly entertaining, and the appearance of The Second City and its offbeat humor was a great juxtaposition to the usual cruise ship fare. Yes, there were the requisite comedian and magician, both forgettable, but the lounge singers were excellent and appeared to find a loyal following. A highlight was cruise director, Paul Scally, who will undoubtedly land an entertainment career all his own in short order. We encountered two examples of crew indifference, although neither would hinder us from a future NCL cruise and, likewise, neither reflected on the crew as a whole. People have bad days, and while we were offended at the time, we offered suggestions to NCL and promptly got over it. Otherwise, we found the Dawn crew to be congenial, attentive, tireless and perpetually smiling, and we trust our fellow passengers were similarly impressed. It goes without saying that Bermuda is a gem of the Atlantic, and we encourage cruise passengers to explore her thoroughly and experience all she has to offer. To limit your experience to the Naval Dockyard, as many people did, denies you the joy of experiencing the people and culture of this beautiful island. We only scratched the surface and look forward to returning to Bermuda someday. We would certainly do so on the Dawn without hesitation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I'm hoping to save other people from booking this cabin. I did look online and one web page said this cabin is ok-no problems. That's not the case since it is right above the Lounge where music and dancing go on every night till ... Read More
I'm hoping to save other people from booking this cabin. I did look online and one web page said this cabin is ok-no problems. That's not the case since it is right above the Lounge where music and dancing go on every night till 3AM and later! Aside from that, the cruise was lots of fun. When we arrived at Black Falcon Pier, it looked kind of crazy with long lines and lots of luggage. We were processed and on board in under an hour. Happy Happy! I have to say at the outset that the staff on the Dawn are terrific. I know I read some criticism on here in previous reviews, but we have nothing but good things to say about our room steward Anton and every department we interacted with. I have to be honest and say that we still like the Constellation better, but would consider NCL again just because we were treated so well. For anyone considering this cruise, if you are from New England, going on a cruise without having to fly somewhere is totally stressless. I'd do it again without question. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our first time on the Dawn, we were not very happy with several things. The cruise itself was great. 1st of all, I give the Captain all the credit in the world. He was able to set sail and get us to Bermuda without feeling any ... Read More
This was our first time on the Dawn, we were not very happy with several things. The cruise itself was great. 1st of all, I give the Captain all the credit in the world. He was able to set sail and get us to Bermuda without feeling any of the effects from Hurricane Irene. He took us way out to see and then darted south at full speed to get us to Bermuda on schedule. Great job. What we weren't too happy about was the layout of the ship. It seemed that when you wanted to get some place, you had to go up or down a deck, then go outside, then back inside, and then back to the deck you wanted to get to. It got frustrating cuz it was easy to get lost. Another thing we didn't like was being on deck 11, we were right under the jogging track. So we were woken very early in the morning by the pitter patter of joggers above us. The only other issue we had with the ship, and they could do nothing about this, was that we had what could be described as the BANCHEE KIDS FROM HELL in cabins on both sides of us The food was phenomenal!! We went to every restaurant on board, a couple of them more than once. We were most impressed with the Modesto. More food than you could possible imagine and it was the best. The drinks were good too. We went to all 3 martini tastings. 5 martinis in 1 hour...holy crap did we walk away with a buzz. ha ha ha. We tried new drinks to. Ones that we never would have tried any where else. Entertainment was good. The 2nd City Players were funny as could be. They had some skits that were so funny and good. I would recommend that if you sail the Dawn that you don't miss their shows. I suppose that i would go again on the Dawn. The good times outweighed the problems we had. I guess the old saying applies...a bad day on a cruise is still better than a good day at work. Have fun. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
INTRODUCTION: While it is true that there's alot of hawking going on on this ship, aside from that, I thought everything was great! Yes, the pool deck can be very crowded and yes, the two main dining rooms can get backed up if you ... Read More
INTRODUCTION: While it is true that there's alot of hawking going on on this ship, aside from that, I thought everything was great! Yes, the pool deck can be very crowded and yes, the two main dining rooms can get backed up if you dine between 7 and 8:30pm, but overall, everything was smooth and the staff was almost uniformly friendly and happy. My two sons (10 & 13) said it was one of the best vacations they ever had. If you prefer the more traditional and old fashioned "elegant" style cruising, the Gem is probably not for you. But if you like lots of action, activities and options, its a blast! My sons played basketball, dodgeball, shuffle board, climbed the rock climbing wall and bowled, among other things. Also, if you like to "party," you should like this ship as the younger crowd seemed to really be living it up. ENETRTAINMENT: Overall, we thought the entertainment was very good. We liked the comedian Jeff Harms, as well as the Second City show and the Man from Mars production. We loved the comedy hypnotist Tim Triplett. My kids thought his show was the funniest thing they had ever seen. I also went to his late night "adult only show" by myself and thought it was hysterically funny, although it was rather crude and perhaps a bit too racy for some. There was always something going on somewhere and they try to offer something for all age groups. And yes, Bingo is very heavily promoted, but as I've never played, I can't comment on it.FOOD: Although the food may not win any Michelin stars, overall, I thought it was good. I had some very good meals and none that I thought were bad. The buffet was good and I could always find fresh chicken or fish when I wanted to avoid the more caloric offerings. There was also plenty of fresh fruit. I thought the menu offerings in Magenta and Grand Pacific were interesting and I had several appetizers that were superb, even by NYC restaurant standards (I grew up in the city and have been to dozens of the city's "best" restaurants over the past 40 years). We only went to one speciality restaurant and had Sushi and it was "okay" -- not bad, but not great. But my Sushi expecations are pretty high as my idea of really "fresh" fish is eating the tuna I caught earlier that day.SHIP: The Gem is a very colorful, happy and vibrant vessel! The main Dining Room - "Grand Pacific" - is a gorgeous room. If you can snag a table by the rear windows, the view is terrific. While our cabin was a tad tight, the layout is very functional. So despite the close quarters, we were comfortable. The bathroom is also well designed. I found the ship pretty easy to navigate. Its easiest to maneuver from the bow to the stern using the outside walkways on Decks 7 or 13 then on the inside decks where most of the cabins are (8 to 11) which can be a bit of a maze. I do get annoyed when seemingly able bodied people use an elevator for just one floor. It's no wonder America has an obesity epidemic! The theater is large, pretty and functional. Our only complaints were that the pool deck and pools are rather small for the number of people using them and the water slide is TOTALLY lame. My 13 year old did it once and judged it a waste of his time; my ten year old found it worthwhile only if he dove in head first (which is not permitted), but I let him do so after assuring myself, by doing it myself, there was no way he could injure himself.BERMUDA: We did not do any "shore excursions" because they all seemed overpriced, too short and most importantly, because I like to be in control of my own schedule. We bought 3 day bus/ferry passes and that made the question of how to get around easy. If I was just with my wife, we would have rented scooters. We went to Horseshoe Bay on Day 1 by bus (about a 35 to 40 min. ride) Hamilton by ferry on Day 2 in the AM (about 30 mins), then from there to Horseshoe Bay again by bus (about a 20 min. ride) and to Warwick Long Bay on Day 3 (about a 45 min ride). If you like to snorkel, BRING your own equipment!!! We didn't (even though I have multiple sets) and it was a mistake. But even with just their swim goggles, my sons saw PLENTY of fish at both beaches -- especially Parrot Fish which are large, colorful, plentiful and not at all shy! The far end of Horseshoe (all the way to the left when you're facing the beach) is gorgeous; one of the nicest spots Ive ever seen, and Ive been to dozens of famous beaches. At Warwick, just to the right, is Jobson's Cove, a great spot for younger kids. Also, the rocky cliff between Warwick and Jobson's Cove offers an IDEAL vista for picture taking. While there may be other things to see in Bermuda, I am a beach and water lover, so I was content to spend four hours in Hamilton and the rest of our time at the beaches. The snack stand at Horseshoe is near the entry point, far away from the really "nice" part of the beach. If you have a good insulated cooler bag, bring it with you, fill up water bottles on the ship, leave them in your room fridge overnight to cool, and take them with you to the beach. We did and they were still chilled 6 hours later. The last two hours of Day 3 we spent looking around Kings Wharf and frankly, there's not much to see and the shops are absurdly overpriced.SUMMARY: All in all, it was a great, fun trip with the many positives FAR outweighing any negatives. On the last night of our cruise, which was a gorgeous evening, there were Dolphins (common Dolphins I think) chasing along side the ship for a good five minutes and my sons got the biggest kick out of that!I am really surprised by the number of negative reviews. In my estimation, if you can't have a good time on the Gem, you may already have one foot in the grave! The ship was fully occupied on our trip (over 2500 passengers) and yet, for the most part, it never seemed super crowded - other than on the pool deck. We booked the trip VERY late and paid top dollar ($1000 more than if we had booked a month earlier) and it was still worth it!I would highly recommend the ship and this particular itinerary to my friends and my family. I was on a Royal Carribean cruise 18 years ago that stopped in three ports (from about 8am to 5pm) and I found that to be a grind; far too rushed for my tastes. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Where is the best place to go to miss an earthquake and hurricane all in one week? The Norwegian Gem. I had the pleasure of spending 8 wonderful nights aboard the Norwegian Gem, which, in my opinion, was spent with the most ... Read More
Where is the best place to go to miss an earthquake and hurricane all in one week? The Norwegian Gem. I had the pleasure of spending 8 wonderful nights aboard the Norwegian Gem, which, in my opinion, was spent with the most spectacular crew of any ship I've ever been on. And that's no empty statement as the crew continuously showed how professional, caring, and in control they were. If I had to complain about any person employed by NCL it would have to be those at embarkation. Embarkation was a breeze - arrived to the port at 11:45 and was on board by 12:45 with our rooms already prepared. However, the staff off the ship herding everyone around was less than pleasant. I let that slide though, after all as how else are over 3,000 people supposed to get on a ship without feeling like part of a herd. Once we were on the ship, we were all in good hands. Sail away wasn't the best weather. It down poured as soon as we passed Lady Liberty (at least everyone was able to get their pictures in before then). My only complaint (and it's not big enough to ruin the experience by any means) this cruise comes right now: Freestyle Dining. I went into this cruise expecting bland food in the main dining rooms. I was pleasantly surprised that the food was on average better than I expected. The problem, however, came with the waits. Night one, we waited two hours to eat, which we didn't anticipate. We (party of 4) tried making a reservation but were told only parties of 6 or more could do so. We went down to eat when we were hungry so by the time our buzzer buzzed, we were ready to eat the children in the Tree Top Club. We eventually got the system down that I (the guy) would shower and get ready, grab a buzzer with the average wait time of an hour and then go try my luck in the casino while the 3 girls took their time getting ready. So eventually we got to eat when we wanted but I still prefer having the same table with the same waiter. I hope NCL implements this option for those who like it - if their motto is Freestyle Cruising meaning I eat my way, I choose this way. Sea Days 1 and 2 The first sea day was very cloudy and chilly. We laid out on the deck (very easy to find a chair but that may have been because of the weather). Around noon it started to rain so we went inside. Sinan had plenty of activities planned, more than I've seen on any cruise newsletter so we were never left without anything to do (and if nothing interested us, there was always the most friendly casino on the high seas). The second sea day was beautiful. We found some comfortable chairs at the adult Quiet Zone after enjoying the reggae music by the main pool and just relaxed - typical cruising. This day was marked by no schedule at all, just laid back and when I wanted to do something else I looked at my Freestyle Daily and picked a new place to go. After some bingo, trivia, more casino we were off to dinner and The Second City. I'd say the show was funny, most of their stuff generated laughter but a lot fell flat. I enjoyed the sketches poking fun at the Gem and cruising more than the improv. The Second City cast (as well as funny comedian Jeff Harms) became mini celebrities on the ship as they were part of many activities and helped Sinan out when he had to rearrange and create an entire new sea day's worth of activities. Bermuda Day 1 Bought our transportation passes (3 day pass even though it turns out we wouldn't need the third day) and headed to Horseshoe Bay Beach. Wow, this has to be the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. The cleanest sand I have ever seen, and, even with the sun beaming down so much your face burned immediately upon laying on your towel and looking up, the sand remained a cool temperature easy to walk on. The water was a perfect blue color and cool temperature, and the waves were a perfectly fun size. Upon our arrival back from the beach, we heard that Captain Gustavsen had made an announcement that afternoon that we would leave Bermuda Thursday at 6pm, a day early, to speed back to New York in order to make it back to the port before it was closed due to Hurricane Irene. At that time, she was scheduled to hit Sunday mid afternoon so the plan was to dock in New York Saturday night and spend the last night in Manhattan before getting off early Sunday. Although upset to be missing a day in Bermuda, a majority of the ship seemed to understand. Everyone was given the option to cancel or reschedule any shore excursions made for Thursday. We also learned that the Celebrity Summit and Veendam would be leaving early as well. Bermuda Day 2 Because of the change in itinerary, we decided to visit the Crystal Caves on Day 2, which was enough to do and still get back after some shopping before the ship left at 6. We, unfortunately, didn't make it to St. Georges but I guess that is a good excuse to go back Sea Day 3, 4 and 5... yes, 5. Okay, now to the part you're all itching to read (or maybe it's just me itching as I have started to peel and am very uncomfortable). Friday started out as a typical sea day - it was cloudy but that didn't stop me from burning (how is it that I managed to prevent a tan completely the first 4 days but the one day it was cloudy EVEN WITH SUNSCREEN I burn to a crisp?). Around noon Captain Gustavsen announced that Hurricane Irene was changing paths a bit and speeds and going to have a direct hit on New York. He was waiting to hear from the New York Port Authority and US Coast Guard to make a final decision about our ship's path. He told us that the Veendam, which had past us, was going to get Saturday early but because the Carnival Glory was in our "parking spot" we would be unable to do that. He told us we had slowed down (after spending the previous night full speed ahead, we already around the Virginia/Maryland border) so that we would be a distance where we could alter our course appropriate to the information the Captain would soon receive. Our two options: be given clearance to get back early or be forced to circle the Atlantic for 3 days arriving back Monday morning. Two hours later, the Captain came on saying that the New York ports were closing Saturday afternoon and we would have to spend Saturday and Sunday at a safe distance from the storm on the sea. Captain Gustavsen apologized but explained all the reasons for it. He asked that all passengers refrain from pestering the front desk staff about the inconvenience as they had no more information than we did. He asked that he be the whipping post for all complaints and made himself and his immediate staff available for questions. I specifically saw the Captain walking around the atrium many times throughout the next few days. Additionally, Sinan hosted a Q&A session on the Saturday sea day, which was both fun and informative. The Captain also requested that we write him letters if we couldn't address him in person and he would do what he could to respond. From what I heard around the ship, he did. Lastly, all passengers (or cabins?) were given a complimentary 10 minute phone call or 10 minutes of internet use to notify home and/or rearrange travel plans. All emergency contacts were also notified by NCL. After the immediate chaos, things calmed down and everything went back to the norm - vacation. The only thing that changed was we were now on an 8 night cruise and not a 7. People seemed to enjoy themselves and no one seemed too upset that we now had 5 sea days and 2 port days. Nor did people seem too upset to learn that at last minute, the Celebrity ship stayed in Bermuda the third day also getting back late. There was an understanding that the Captain was acting with the information he had and was doing his best to accommodate everyone (even trying to include those on the next sailing. Irene just didn't want to cooperate). As I said, Sinan and his staff was fantastic and didn't miss a beat. All of the following 3 sea days was packed with activities for everyone. You would never have known that one sea day wasn't meant to happen. Comedian Jeff Harms, The Second City troupe, Man from Mars (cirque-like magic show), and the Gem Dancers all participated in providing endless evening entertainment. I do think towards the end, the acts got old but they did try to put new spins on them all. Now, I said the only difference on this trip was that it was an 8 night cruise and not a 7. I lied. I should also mention the motion and the waves that lasted all day Saturday into Sunday. After being on many cruises, I can say I never felt scared or in danger but I can say it was the most uncomfortable night I spent on the water. I myself didn't get seasick (thanks to ginger ale and proper nourishment) but unfortunately I can't say the same for many others on the ship. Every public restroom I walked past had last night's dinner somewhere in there. Bags were provided in every elevator bank for those who needed to use one. People slept in the atrium that night for more air and space (I am also guessing those were the ones in very forward or aft rooms too). It was impossible to walk straight even with the most effort. The ship made noises I had never knew a ship could make. Waves were reaching the drenching my 9th floor balcony. Captain Gustavsen made an announcement explaining to us that the clangs and rumbles had to do with the waves and the swells hitting the ship at the same time. He explained that waves come in sevens and the seventh wave is always the biggest. He also reassured everyone numerous times explaining that the Gem was made to withstand even harsher seas and we were in no danger at all. (good thing because I surely don't see how any lifeboat would do you well in these seas). For a visual, I felt I spent the night on the top row of the pirate ship ride at the local carnival. We made it through the night and by early afternoon Sunday things calmed down significantly and we all enjoyed our last night of the cruise. A few final thoughts: -The Casino - I love playing blackjack and gambling in the casino but there is something about gambling on a cruise ship that makes it like an entirely new activity. You get to know the dealers, the supervisors, and all the table players. They're all your friends and family for the week, you learn a lot about each other, and you look forward to the hours you will spend. This couldn't be more true on this ship. I always enjoy getting to know casino staff but this staff in particular is in another league. They were outstanding in every way: so kind, patient, friendly, caring, knowledgeable, sharing, and fun. You chose to sit at certain tables based on who was there at that time. You joked around and talked about home life. I never had a more pleasant time losing money. Money well spent in my opinion. I did manage to wrack up my 1500 points, which, thanks to the extra day I was able to enjoy fully. I also have to mention a certain bar waiter, Rohit, who everyone just loved. He was the sweetest, most genuine and hardworking bar waiter I have ever met on any ship. People called for him specifically, got to know him and he never disappointed. I wish there was more I could do except write a STYLE card for him and mention him in my online survey. This man needs to be recognized for outstanding work. If you are on the Gem soon, please find Rohit and just get to know him. You won't be disappointed. Lastly, I want to talk a bit more about Sinan the Cruise Director and Captain Gustavsen again. Sinan was hands down the best CD I have ever cruised with. He is funny, smart, knowledgeable, and someone who just engages you constantly. He never had that fake air about him that I see many other CDs have. He is real. I am so glad NCL was able to get him from RCCL. This is the first time I can say this as I never really judge a cruise bu its CD, but I would definitely book a cruise again knowing that he was on it. Captain Gustavsen matches Captain Rune Loekling of RCCL fame as best Captain I have sailed with. Not only did he do his job by doing what's best for his ship, but he did so in the most professional and caring way. He didn't just tell us fact but he gave reasons and explanations. He made us knowledgeable passengers, knowing that details would make us feel at ease. He was present, available, and calming. He so much as joined the Lido band in song on the final sea day to much applause by the passengers to show that this week was about fun and relaxation. I have nothing but respect for this man and thank him time and time again for his hard work this week. So as you can see, except the minor issues with the dining organization, I have nothing but the BEST things to say about this ship and cruise and for those reasons would sail with NCL again without thought. I was very very impressed by this cruise experience and I did doubt it to begin with. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Due to Hurricane Irene, our 8/28 cruise on NCL Gem left on Monday instead. We traveled with a group of 15 family members ranging in age from 11 to 71. The cruise was to Bermuda, and NCL did one sea day less on the way there. They also gave ... Read More
Due to Hurricane Irene, our 8/28 cruise on NCL Gem left on Monday instead. We traveled with a group of 15 family members ranging in age from 11 to 71. The cruise was to Bermuda, and NCL did one sea day less on the way there. They also gave small refunds which they didn't have to do. The crew was fantastic.....very outgoing, friendly and eager to please. The food was phenomenal....and they were super with honoring special requests. I felt the cabins are small compared with RCCL. However, we had less smoking on the balconies around us which was pleasant.....this is something I think the industry needs to deal with....group the smokers together so that those of us that don't enjoy smoke can enjoy our balcony. The gym was okay......functional.....but not so nice that it made you want to really go work out.....it was crowded with machines and the view was okay....it is shoved to the side of the ship. The shows were okay, and if we missed a show, we didn't feel like we were missing anything. We did hear that NCL is making all the shows "in-house" which should improve the quality. We paid the $55 (apx) for the ship tour which was great....although a bit rushed because of a group behind us. The BEST thing we did was pay the $89 per person at embarkation to use the spa facilities......this was soooooo relaxing and included indoor hot tub, thermal pool with lounge chairs with air bubbles and a very high pressure shower which was great to massage the back, shoulders, neck and head.....the spa also included steam, sauna, personal spa tubs, relaxation area and showers that were larger than the one in the cabin.....we didn't have to fight or search for chairs; there were no children, and it was quiet......the best deal on the ship! Our major complaint with this cruise (and the reason we would do RCCL next time) is that we are a family of basketball players (especially 3 teenage boys) and the ceiling on the basketball court is lousy. It is a net that droops so that you can't shoot the ball properly. This would be an easy fix for NCL by building a simply lightweight arch to support the ceiling.....and it is really really too bad that it will prevent us from choosing NCL over RCCL. .......we only got off the ship in Bermuda to purchase a baby gift.....we love staying on board when everyone else gets off the ship......and the spa was a spectacular way to relax. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I was on the August 28/29 cruise to Bermuda out of NYC on the Norwegian Gem. We were supposed to heave on the 28th, but Hurricane Irene delayed our departure by one day. Armed with tons of anti-nausea medication, we happily had smooth ... Read More
I was on the August 28/29 cruise to Bermuda out of NYC on the Norwegian Gem. We were supposed to heave on the 28th, but Hurricane Irene delayed our departure by one day. Armed with tons of anti-nausea medication, we happily had smooth sailing the entire trip. I cruised with my husband and 3.5 year old son. We had a mini suite with Balcony, which was pretty spacious and well appointed. We were very happy with our suite. The only annoying thing was that the tv was in the living room area, so we couldn't watch when my son was sleeping. We were on deck 11 which proved perfect for accessing the restaurants, pool, and kids club. our suite was beneath the library so it was quiet. Can't say enough amazing things about the kids club. It was fantastic. My son never wanted to leave. He had the best time of all of us. they had interesting activities all day and all night for him. Just wish they would have fed the kids so we wouldn't have had to tear him away for meals. They had so many wonderful activities for kids. The pool party was a big hit. Speaking of food, I found the food on the ship to be mediocre. Everything was just ok. There certainly is plenty to chose from at every meal, but nothing was particularly good at any of the main restaurants. It especially bothered me that they served powdered eggs - even at the main dining room. Gross. We tried two specialty restaurants. Teppanyaki was great for our son. He loved the chef's tricks and the food was pretty good. My husband and I went to Le Bistro one night and found the food and service to be much better than the main restaurants - so worth your money. We found drinks to be very well priced throughout, especially coming from NYers used to $14 cocktails. As for entertainment, we liked the hypnotist, second city, and the man from mars. Didn't get to make it to the big parties, as they started too late. As you might imagine, the pool area gets very crowded and the music, while great, is way too loud. Its not relaxing at all. Chairs are packed together so close that there is no feeling of relaxation. The gym is pretty nice, as are all the public areas. Overall, the gem is a great ship for families. If it had been a romantic vacation, I would have been disappointed. But, with a kid, it was fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I say surprisingly good because so many people have written horrible reviews of NCL... two of my relatives didn't want to go on an NCL cruise because of the ratings on websites like this one from other cruisers. I will keep ... Read More
I say surprisingly good because so many people have written horrible reviews of NCL... two of my relatives didn't want to go on an NCL cruise because of the ratings on websites like this one from other cruisers. I will keep this short and sweet... 1. Food. Perhaps the most negative comments were about the food. For us, we had some not-so-good, some good, and some absolutely amazing food. If you stick to the mainstream, buffet, main dining room etc to avoid the surcharges in the specialty restaurants, you will probably not be wowed but don't be dissuaded by the horrible reviews. It was on a par with Princess and RCCL. The specialty restaurants we tried (Teppanyaki, Tex-Mex, Sushi Bar and Asian Fusion) were hit and miss... Asian Fusion not so great, Teppanyaki well worth every penny, Tex-Mex hit and miss but their seared tuna appetizer was one of the best things I've ever had on a cruise ship. I will say that no dining venue on the Norwegian Gem was particularly fast... not necessarily bad, but sometimes annoyingly slow. 2. Entertainment. the Second City troupe were excellent. two comedians were good. the ship's variety show was fine if you like that sort of thing. the Cruise staff were all very good. 3. The ship. Nice! we had mini-suites on Deck 11 which are pretty roomy at 280 sq ft. Public areas all nicely furnished and decorated. lots of bar choices. spacious promenade deck. nice pool areas. bowling alleys? meh. but they were always busy. nice spa and exercise rooms, library, card room, internet cafe. (but the internet speed was frickin awful... I know it's bad on all cruise ships but this was the worst. they have wi-fi in the room but it worked poorly... the internet guy said it works better if you prop open your door because the antennas are in the corridor. really NCL?) 4. Bermuda. Awesome, awesome place. shore excursions offered by NCL were not great, but you don't need them. book on your own. Go to Bermuda if you ever get the chance, but it might ruin the Caribbean for you. 5. Overall, we had a very nice week on the Gem and will cruise NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Check in was very fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around 10:30, quickly found a place to unload the car and had a porter quickly take our luggage. We were showed where to check in and then escorted to the VIP waiting area (we ... Read More
Check in was very fast and efficient. We arrived at the pier around 10:30, quickly found a place to unload the car and had a porter quickly take our luggage. We were showed where to check in and then escorted to the VIP waiting area (we were in a suite). There were comfortable chairs and tables to wait and there were snacks and drinks provided. Our concierge Anoop greeted us. I was able to also make a reservation for the Teppanyaki Rest. at that time. About 11:00 we were escorted on board, brought to our cabin and was able to drop off our carry ons. We then went to sign the kids up a Kids Crew then head down to the pool area to sign up for the soda program. It was about Noon by then so we went off to Cagney's for lunch: DD at a hamburger (didn't like was overcooked), DS had a NY strip steak( cooked perfect), DH had scallops (which were good), I had the french dip (onions too sweet, too much bread and not enough au jus to dip in). Head back to the pool area got the kids ice cream. About 1:30 head to see if our cabin was ready and it was. ROOM:Couple rips in the wall paper, one cabinet was off its hinge, but all in all the room was clean and nice size. Great balcony had two lounge chairs, I think it would have been better with maybe one lounge chair and 1 chair, but was still great to have the balcony. We meet our room steward, Moe and Butler Jose. We were warned by our TA 2 days before we set sail that there were no pull out couches in the Penthouse to sleep the 2 kids. Our room steward set-up 2 roll aways which we kept up all week, so we were not able to use the small couch to sit at our really the table to sit at. Kids didn't have any issue sleeping on them. Was a bit hard for my DH to get out of and in to bed because of them, but we managed. Our bed was comfortable. There was no DVD, which was part of the reason we moved up to a Suite, but our butler was able to find us one. After checking out our cabin we spent some time exploring the ship. We had a friend traveling with us so we went up to her suite 10726 which had a bigger balcony we watched us leave Boston from there. Kids loved the planes flying overhead. Dinner was in the Aqua Main Dining Room. Lobster was served the first night, but we didn't have it, we live in NE was we get Maine lobster, so it was no big deal. All the food was good. Our suitcases arrived in a few stages, my husbands coming in last around 7:00, which he wasn't too happy about, but got over it quickly. Brought the kids to kids crew around 8:00 and off to the casino. Picked the kids up from camp around 10:30 and they loved it. Day 2 Cagney's for Breakfast: Crab Eggs Benedict were great, DS had pancakes did not care for them, so they brought in a waffle which he did like. Kids did not like the OJ. After breakfast kids off to kids crew. Seas were very rough that day many people were getting seasick. My son and husband were among them, so they spent most of late morning-early afternoon in the cabin. Blue Lagoon for lunch food was good. I went to the culinary demonstrations which was fun. My family was feeling better so we headed to the Venetian for dinner, again food was good. DH thought portions were small. Went to the Pub to listen to karaoke. Cocktails in the Star Bar with the Captain (suite perk) Day 3 Got off the ship after lunch around 12:30 got our 2 day bus pass quickly and jumped on a Special Bus to Horseshoe Bay, was a bit crowded but was able to find space for the 5 of us to relax on the beach. Beach was great, waves were big and water was warm. We had a great day. Took the shuttle back up the hill to the bus stop $2/person and kids under 12 were free well worth it. Had dinner at the Teppanyaki Rest. was great. $25 cover/pp, but kids were 1/2 price. Great "show" and food was great. Saw the magic show at 7:30 the kids really enjoyed it. Day 4 (Bermuda) Breakfast delivered by our Butler. Off the ship around 8:30 and got the 9:00 ferry to Hamilton about 20 minutes. Walked about 5-10 minutes to the bus station jumped on the #11 bus about 1/2 hr and about 10 minutes walk to the caves. Kids enjoyed Crystal Caves. another 10 minute walk to The Swizzle Inn, had to have our Rum Swizzle and had lunch (expensive). Took a bus back to Hamilton and got a ferry back to the dockyard. Went to the Sea Glass Beach that has been mentioned on Cruise Critic, kids enjoyed looking for the glass, but was a bit of a pain getting back to the ship you are kind of in the middle of nowhere. back on board and off to the pool. They liked the kids pool 2.5 ft deep a couple of slides, but not a lot of space for adults to sit. Big pool salt water and crowded and deep. Kids did not enjoy this pool that much. Wanted to go to the Dockyard festival, but it was cancelled. Day 5 last day in Bermuda Late breakfast, headed into the clock tower mall and did a bit of shopping. Went to the Rum Cake and glass blowing (kids like the glass blowing). Kiddie pool. Snack on our balcony as we watched us leave Bermuda. Star Bar that night with a very entertaining bartender Bong. On the return trip to Boston, we still had relatively calm seas. Which was nice compared to our trip to Bermuda. Day 7 We dined at the new specialty restaurant, The Moderno Churrascaria. We did not enjoy the dinner very much, it was fun, but not for us. There is a very elaborate salad bar with lots of interesting choices (tuna and green beans and the soup were yummy). We tried one of each meat that was served for a total of 10 and they were all OK good (Chicken and rib were the best). You need to be very hungry for this restaurant. The service was fantastic. We thought all the crew members were wonderfully at some restaurants the wait staff was cutting my son (6) food which was a break for me. My son and daughter couldn't wait to get back to the cabin to see what towel animal Moe (our room steward) made. We had 13 in total. Our butler svs was not what I thought is was going to be. We barely saw Jose. He brought chocolates maybe 4 out of the 7 days. Maybe part of this was our fault for not asking form more things, but I guess we are not high maintenance people. Asked for MDR menus never got them. Suite Perks: Early embarkation in Boston FANTASTIC Robes Great idea Slippers didn't have any, but I guess we could have asked Dinner Reservations OK we could have easily done them ourselves Cocktail with the Captain and Offices was fun DVD wasn't one in the room had to have Butler find us one Disembarkation in Boston FANTASTIC Kids Crew: Perfect hours Didn't always follow what was in the program No Wii's like NCL had in their description of the place Arcade to load not a wide variety of games Kid Pool was great just need more adult seats Food: Overall everything was good, nothing outstanding, nothing inedible. never was hungry could always find something to eat Kids loved the Kids Cafe in the Garden Cafe FANTASTIC IDEA Ship: All in all was great. A little strange set up but got use to it. Restaurants: Aqua MDR Service was good food was good Venetian MDR Service was good food was good Garden Buffet: Great choices some repetitive food items Blue Lagoon: OK Service food was good Teppanyaki: Service excellent food excellent Modero: Service was good, food was not to our liking Cagney's Breakfast/Lunch (suite Perk) Food and service was great We all enjoyed the cruise. Would I do NCL again maybe, just a few disappointments that have me on the fence. Suite life again, yes mostly because of getting on and off the ship. Bermuda was wonderful this was my second visit would we go again maybe. Wish there were more place to go out of Boston. Loved the idea of no airport hassle. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
My husband and I cruised to Bermuda in July 2011 on the Norwegian Dawn. This was a 7 day cruise out of Boston. Our cruise experience has been with Royal Caribbean (6), Celebrity (2), Norwegian (2), and Carnival (1). This was our second ... Read More
My husband and I cruised to Bermuda in July 2011 on the Norwegian Dawn. This was a 7 day cruise out of Boston. Our cruise experience has been with Royal Caribbean (6), Celebrity (2), Norwegian (2), and Carnival (1). This was our second time on Norwegian Dawn. The updates to the ship were not all that apparent to us and I would still say that the ship is beautiful, but shows signs of age. There were a lot of children on board since it was summer vacation, but the ship is large and it never seemed crowded. Embarking (getting on the ship): Very smooth! The sail departure time was 4 p.m., but we arrived at the dock at 10:00 a.m. and were allowed on the ship at 11:00 a.m. Our cabin was ready by 2 p.m. In case you have a bright idea to go for a swim when you arrive on the ship, be sure to carry a change of clothing with you. If you don't, you'll be sitting in wet clothes until your suitcase arrives which ends up being around 3 p.m. or so. Cabins: Our cabin was smaller than any we've had on our past cruises. Two twin beds were made into a king-size bed and it was very comfortable. The room was attractive and clean. There were new flat screen televisions in the cabin, but it got very few channels. We had one major complaint about this cruise and it was our cabin choice. On all previous cruises we have booked mid-ship balconies. On this cruise, we decided to try an aft balcony for the first time and it was the worst cabin decision we ever made. Our cabin, #8176, was above the Spinnaker Lounge. There was very loud music playing there every night until 3 a.m.! All the reviews I had read about this particular cabin, never mentioned how loud things would be there. The music was either a live band or a DJ. It didn't matter because it was horrible and we did not get much sleep. Unless you like to party until the wee hours, I urge you not to book an aft cabin on deck 8 of this ship. Another thing nobody mentioned about this particular cabin is that when you have an aft balcony, you do not hear the soothing sounds of ocean waves like on a mid-ship balcony. You hear the sounds of a waterfall which is the noise we decided to call the water coming from the propellers on the back of the ship. The shower in the bathroom was very large and had glass doors which was nice. On the other side of the shower was a sink. The toilet had its own enclosure. Warning to large people: do not torture yourself by booking a cabin on this ship. I do not exaggerate when I say you are a few inches of the wall on all sides of the toilet area. Buffets: There was very little change in the food choice from one day to the next. The food was not bad, but it was not great either. It was acceptable and nothing more. There were only a few dessert choices every night and it was either mousse, flan, or pie of some sort. Nothing very creative. Specialty Restaurants: We ate at the Teppanyaki restaurant one night ($25 per person) and I would not recommend it unless you have never been to that kind of restaurant before. The food was nothing special and neither was the presentation of the chefs. We also tried the Italian restaurant ($10 per person) and I can't say I would recommend that either. Not that it was bad, but nothing exceptional. Main Dining Room: We ate in the Venetian which was very nice. Because of freestyle dining, there were no assigned dinner times. We liked that. I would recommend eating in the main dining room. Tipping: Something annoying that Norwegian does is charge you $12.50 per person, per day for tips. You have no choice, but to pay it because they add it to your bill and will not remove it by request like some other cruise lines will do. Cruise Activities: There were not a lot of activities to do compared to other cruises we have been on. Ports of Call - Bermuda. We went to Horseshoe Bay Beach which was really beautiful and not crowded like I imagined it would be since everyone we talked to seemed to say they were going there. I would definitely recommend this beach since they have bathrooms, umbrella and chair rentals, as well as snacks, soda, and alcohol there. We took the bus both ways for a total cost of under $8 per person, roundtrip. You can buy bus tokens when you get off the ship. Disembarking (leaving the ship): Great! Disembarking went smoothly. We especially liked that we didn't have to leave the cabin until were were ready to disembark. No sitting in a holding area like other ships have made us do. Overall Cruise Comments: We will definitely cruise again in the future, and would consider Norwegian again. Overall, the cruise experience itself was great, but I have never been on a cruise that I didn't think was great! In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bad cruise! If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to email me at d w 3 3 3 3 (at) yahoo (dot) com. No spaces between any letters or numbers in the email address. Happy cruising! Deb Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We sailed out of Boston on July 29th to Bermuda. Cruise was very good. No complaints on food as it was generally very good, considering it is 10 "restaurants" in the ocean and not accessible to so many variations that land-based ... Read More
We sailed out of Boston on July 29th to Bermuda. Cruise was very good. No complaints on food as it was generally very good, considering it is 10 "restaurants" in the ocean and not accessible to so many variations that land-based restaurants have. All crew members were exceptionally polite, friendly, and very hard working - most seemed to be of Philippine descent which I mention only for info. If you take this cruise, the info below may help: 1) For quick good meals at most any time, the Buffet is very good. Otherwise if you wish a nice atmosphere, no entry fee, and full service - go to the Venetian or Aquos restaurants. A tip of 15% is added to any drinks if you buy them, but we usually added additional tip as they did serve us the meals in nice fashion. 2) The TV has 18 channels, mostly a waste of time. At least 8 dedicated to ship info, several movie channels with blank screen excepted at designated start times and not the latest movies. About the only thing worth watching is FOX, ESPN, MSNBC, or CNBC. No kids channel - which is unfortunate for families with kids. Don't expect a VCR or DVD player in your stateroom. 3) Everywhere you go, they try and push the expensive $~$8.50) drinks, which is understandable for profit margins - but you can easily say "no" and its OK. 4) The only free drinks are: water, coffee, juice (breakfast) , or tea. You pay for everything else, including sodas. 5) Casino is not NON-SMOKING, so if you can't stand a bit of smoke - be aware to not stay long, though it is not full of smokers. 6) Only one outlet in stateroom - so bring a multiple outlet cord if you need to connect multiple devices. 7) Internet is expensive! $0.75/minute or plans which as I recall are like $50 for 100 minutes. Time flies fast too! 8)Bingo playing is not cheap: $39.95 for 2 cards , $49.95 for 3 cards., etc 9) Photos photos photos ..a huge money maker for the ship: An 8X10 is $19.95 for a photo that would cost you $1.50 at CVS. A 5 X 7 goes for $12.95 so they make good money, though it again does help make up profits. They are always taking photos and at end of cruise you may get reduced price on left-over pics. 10) Don't expect much in the way of menu changes daily - though food is pretty good. 11) shopping on board is reasonably priced for many items - so go ahead and indulge. 12) What the cruise seems to lack is additional activities for seniors. 13) bathrooms are small and shower tight but it will be OK unless you are way overweight. There is soap and shampoo and also a hair dryer in the room. You can request an iron for your clothes if you wish. 14) You will need to take a ferry or tour in Bermuda to get anywhere useful , though a small mall exists near the dock. We went to Hamilton and one store (Brown and Company) would not let us use their restrooms after seeing we had not yet made a purchase, so we went to public restrooms and also bought my wife's fragrances an another store (clerk had initially told us where restrooms were and suddenly a nearby store associate looked at us with no bags and said "all our restrooms are out of order". Overall, cruise was very nice- no significant downsides and would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We left at end of July and cruise was pleasant insofar as water and weather. We thought the buffet food was pretty much fair and sort of a slight upscale of cafeteria food. The food in the free restaurants (Aqua and Venetian)barely ever ... Read More
We left at end of July and cruise was pleasant insofar as water and weather. We thought the buffet food was pretty much fair and sort of a slight upscale of cafeteria food. The food in the free restaurants (Aqua and Venetian)barely ever changed in menus, though somewhat understandable out at sea. But sea or not, they should try to set up a few changes in the restaurant offerings every day or so.The ship did not even provide free soda..you pay for virtually everything you drink except restaurant water, coffee, tea, and morning juice. One thing we did not find convenient was the lack of a common sit-down area where one could relax without being inundated with drink request at about $7-$8 each! Every place you go they really push drinks, even in the "theater" where getting those drinks to people is a very awkward task in trying to pass drinks in the crowd. So, watch the drinks, they add up before you know it. Our steward was good, though he never really knew our names. Most of crew is Filipino but they do work hard. The ship was very clean and cleanliness seemed to be a top priority. One thing we definitely did not like was that the casino permits smoking and people sit at machines with their ashtrays in hand. They should definitely ban smoking in that casino as they do in restaurants. Another big money-maker is photos. They are forever shooting photos and you can buy them at very inflated prices. Not much on TV for kids or even adults other than news and an occasional aged movie. Comedian was not that good. Magician was entertaining and piano player and singer in Atrium lounge were good. Getting off and on the ship was very easy both in Bermuda and Boston. Of course, don't try to bring your own wine bottles aboard unless you don't mind paying $15 each bottle for corking fee. And by all means, don't give your underage kids any alcohol- we saw one couple in big trouble on arrival back in Boston for doing that (security and police). I think the ship needs a few more "senior" activities. Forget Bingo - it's a minimum of $40 to play. Shops on board are pretty good, but again watch that "magic card" charge - you may find a huge charge bill when done cruising if you don't keep track. Ours was almost $1000 ! It adds up FAST and they depend on that happening! If you have prepaid that infamous $12/day tip, be sure you go to the counter in ship in Atrium to tell them or else they will add another $12/day to your account. Seems silly - that should be automatic, but you need to do it or argue later. As far as the pool area, we sat there but were reluctant to go in...as "public" pools can be questionable, at least for us, insofar as health issues. The one thing that bothered us was that we always felt slightly "guilty" sitting down in any area inside the ship as they would ask you if you wanted a drink and sitting without drinking was a bit awkward at times. They should really set aside an area for that. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
12 of us boarded the Norwegian Dawn July 2011 for my dad's 80th birthday celebration. I must be fair and say that my family of 4 (2 kids now 13 and 15)went on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, over a year ago. The newest, ... Read More
12 of us boarded the Norwegian Dawn July 2011 for my dad's 80th birthday celebration. I must be fair and say that my family of 4 (2 kids now 13 and 15)went on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas, over a year ago. The newest, grandest, fun family cruise and we knew not to expect the same accomodations as the Dawn is older and not the same class of ship. With that said, we loved being able to drive to Boston (30 min. away), park and board the ship with such ease. Great way to start off vacation without the hassles of flying, weight restrictions for luggage etc. For my parents, both active and in good health (70's and 80) it was an easy way to travel. Instead of choosing a family suite or larger room where we shared one bathroom, we opted for 2 inside cabins. Wouldn't recommend it as the room felt musty and the bathing suits just never dried even hanging in the bathroom. Room had a musty odor, yet the room was well appointed, clean and even the bathroom shower was larger than expected. (I'm 5'2, hubby 5'9 so take it for what it's worth). Cabin steward very nice, kept room clean and made animals out of towels every night. (My brother had 2 rooms next to us, parents across the hall in nice room with window and balcony...neither got towel animals...different cabin steward). I told them we tipped better:) Next time I'd maybe get a balcony room and one across the hall without window if adjoining rooms with balconies were too expensive). Speaking of expense, the 4 of us went on the Oasis of the Seas, a much better boat for families, for not that much more $$$ than the Dawn because we had free airfare without our air miles...That's the part that bothered my husband. Okay, so here are our pros and cons. Pros: Some of the entertainment was great. Don't miss the Second City Improv show. (The big one in the theater). Bollywood, the last night's show, don't miss. Terrific. Magician (Greg) was very good and his memory workshop was interesting but yes,always selling something $60 for his CD's.(Bingo...I don't play but I know it was $39 a card). They seem to always be selling something) Even before each show they sold raffle tickets to raffle off free cruise etc but I don't think it's guaranteed that someone from your actual cruise wins. Felt like I was in a high school show where they sell raffle tickets for scholarships etc. Also a con...the comedian was fair, at best. Some good jokes, some not so good. Band on the run show, just okay but I still liked the music. Cruise director, Johnny Cash Sanchez was terrible. Not personable at all, hard to understand and full of himself. The worst, all 12 of us agreed. The dancers were good, singers were talented and they all put on a great show around the pool. I couldn't stand people smoking but what can you do. Yes, the casino was smokey too. Back to the pros. Food was very good. Lots of selections at the Buffet and yes, you can eat healthy if you choose and food always available. Great coffee as I love my coffee so I was a happy camper. Cons: Same things offered almost daily. One chocolate buffet one night. Other than that, desserts were boring and not even tempting. Soft serve ice-cream was the favorite. No sprinkles offered. Diningrooms had one side of menu with daily specials but not that different. Everything was the same old, same old. Tasted very good but we got tired of it. Presentation of food was boring. But again, the food tasted very good so that's okay. We all agreed having been the first time with freestyle dining, that we don't like it. You never have a chance to get to know your waiters and they never get to know you. The lines to wait for a table are crazy. With our group of 12 we could make reservations but still had to wait over 40 minutes one night. Lots of people commented on this as well. Other cruises, the waiters knew what you liked etc and always added a nice personal touch to your dining experience. I will say that the waiters were all nice. The Aqua dngroom was less formal but the Venetian, the nicer of the two, was not that formal. They did allow shorts and tshirts which surprised us as the literature says it doesn't. We aren't formal people but it didn't take much to look like we were going to a nice restaurant. We dined at Cagney,the steak place ($25 pp), which was sooo worth it. Shrimp cocktails amazing and can get as much as you want. Steak fabulous too. Great dining experience. If it was only the 4 of us we would have done more specialty restaurants. My brother's family ate at the sushi place and loved it too. Okay, enough about that. The biggest issue we had on the Dawn was their lack of activities for the teenager. Our youngest in the group was 13, then 15, 17 and 2 almost 20. When we all saw the pool we laughed. Too small for the amt of people on the boat even if it wasn't full capacity, which it was, on our cruise) Don't think the basketball court was even a half court. Too hard to play with so many kids in a small area. (My son lived on the bskbll court on the Oasis and met tons of kids). They had one ping pong table on the windiest part of the ship. We think they just placed it there to say they had ping pong. One shuffleboard and that's it folks. Couldn't get a seat around the pool unless you reserved some by 7:30-8:00 am. I will say, they had a nice adult area and quiet area to read but very windy there but still nice to have. Our kids (13-17) tried the teen lounge but said it was a joke. Tried it 2-3 times and left). Fortunately they had each other. Night time they hung out in groups, some did karaoke, and wandered around the ship. A few nights we adults hung out in the lounge watching all the kids grinding on the dance floor. Felt like we were on spring break. We were too young to listen to the piano player but felt old watching the 20 year olds in the lounge. But we made it fun. I feel bad being so negative as we really did have a good time but the kids would never do this cruise again and I ran into people from our neighboring town say the same thing who had kids our age. Not enough for the teenagers to do. (The kids club for younger kids seemed to be busy and the kids seemed happy). Small area around the kids pool but it looked cute. They do have an arcade where you pay for games. Couldn't they offer a free xbox area like they do at the Beaches Resorts? Great way for kids to meet one another instead of the goofy games they play in the teen lounge. The gym was adequate and very clean. Had to wait for treadmill, elliptical the first 3 mornings but started to get less busy as the week wore on. 3-4 treadmills out of order, what's up with that? Never used the spa so can't comment on that. Bermuda was beautiful. Where you dock was just okay, not great shopping at all but Snorkel beach was nice. Pretty area. All 12 of us did the Segway tour and had a ball. Also did the boat cruise to see Millionaires Row and let's just say it was an expensive nap for the 5 kids. Staff very knowledgeable but still not worth it. Who needed another boat ride? Went to Horseshoe bay and played tennis at the Southampton Princess. By far the best day! Town of Hamilton is very pretty to see but nothing special to buy AND I am a shopper!!! I so wanted to buy my 15 year old daughter something but she didn't want or like anything, Ended up buying a few things on the boat when they had $10 beach bags etc for sale. Also sold watches, jewelry) Like I said, not great shopping but husband was happy :) Overall, like I said, we had a fabulous time as we are a fun group and had a blast with each other. The ship was clean, food was good, people were nice, shows were decent. But for the cost of the ship (7/29th was peak season, don't know why) I would pay a little more and go back to Royal Caribbean. Sorry Norwegian. Until you offer enough for teenagers, we must move on. I must add, that my single, 46 year old girlfriend, who went with a friend the week before us, said the same thing. It wasn't her first cruise, but it's her last with Norwegian. She paid extra for 3 days in an adult relaxation area which she said was so worth it. I can't comment on that as I didn't do it. If you have any specific questions that I haven't addressed, please don't hesitate to email me.... Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
After nearly 30 years of international travel, I'd never done a cruise. And probably never would have if my youngest child hadn't always dreamed of it. She white-knuckled her way through a week-long small sailboat trip, so this ... Read More
After nearly 30 years of international travel, I'd never done a cruise. And probably never would have if my youngest child hadn't always dreamed of it. She white-knuckled her way through a week-long small sailboat trip, so this was payback. I chose the Gem (over another boat that I'd already booked), because I thought the climbing wall and water-slide would push the kid-friendly buttons. It seemed a bit more lively than the other cruise line I'd zeroed in on. MOST IMPRESSED WITH: The crew and staff. Very professional, always cheerful and hard-working. Many of them went out of their way to connect with us and other passengers and that must be quite a task, considering the constant change of passengers from week to week. The Cabin--an aft mini-suite. The term "suite" may be a misnomer, but it's something the hotel industry has stretched for some time now. Still it was a great layout for two people though I wouldn't squeeze 4 into it. Loved the bed, really comfortable. Is it just me or are the ceilings on ships rather low? I'm short and so is my daughter, but I can't imagine how my husband would have managed if he'd been there. Flat-footed, I could reach up and touch the ceiling. Loved being in aft. Watching the blue wake and the waterfall sound was hypnotic. This particular balcony might be a tiny bit smaller than the one next door, but it fit 3 chairs and a small table. I spent mornings there with my coffee and evenings there with a glass of wine and the sunset. A must-have. The mini-suite bathroom was perfectly sized. Merrianne, the steward, did a great job keeping it ship-shape, fresh towels and most-importantly, towel animals. There is some noise in the early morning from the Great Outdoors, but nothing horrendous. The Food. Yes, really. I had chalked this area up to be bad to worse. From our initial lunch to the final breakfast, I'd say the ship does a remarkable job feeding that many people. I guess I would liken the quality to a large resort hotel, along the lines of a Hilton or Hyatt. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Garden Cafe buffet, largely due to its proximity. There were always healthy options, like grilled chicken breast or roasted chicken (both surprisingly moist), steamed vegetables (crisp tender, not overcooked), sugar-free desserts (better than the sugar ones, IMO) The selection was constantly being refreshed so you didn't feel like you were scraping up the dregs. If you want to eat fattening fried foods, there was certainly that option, but I didn't eat anything I regretted. That being said, I never ate in either of the MDR, but opted for specialty restaurants. Mostly the Orchid Garden, Teppanyaki and Tequila. All good with attentive service. Was anything the best thing I've ever had? No, but I wouldn't expect to find it in a place where they are trying to feed thousands and only provisioning once a week. The welcome-back after the last day in port was perfect. The cold wash-cloth, sorbet and fresh towels. In general getting off and on the boat went very smoothly. NOT SO GREAT: I found the activities for tweens a bit un-engaging--though it's a tough age to program for. It might have helped if my daughter had a sibling or buddy on board. We did the family cupcake making which was a bit lame--dip the cupcake in frosting, toss some sprinkles on top. I've been to a bunch of corporate kids activity parties and there are lots of ways to kick this up a notch. The heavily promoted Wii-wall, was only open once, maybe twice while the boat was at sea (and then only for an hour). Bowling was fun and easy to arrange. Shuffleboard was often crowded and lacking some equipment. I'm not in the Sinan-cruise director fan club. And I'd probably prefer a ship with far fewer announcements. I have no problem with people playing bingo and attending "art" auctions, but I don't need to be reminded of it so often and so gratingly. From reading the boards, I'm probably in the minority on this one, since people seem to seek out a "fun" CD. I felt like I was being sold-to again and again. The in-room entertainment system is pretty thin. We rented a kids movie one night that must have gone straight to video on release. Fortunately, we'd downloaded several movies to the laptop before we left (don't bother trying once you're on board--the bandwidth is too small. I wish NCL would allow even a single bottle of wine aboard without the $15 corkage fee. It seems petty, especially considering that their room-service offerings are basic at best. I just wanted to have a glass or two while watching our departure from NYC. Other lines allow you one bottle. The Pools. I guess there's no way around this but it's packed constantly. There should be a kid's pool and a adult pool, because the adults tend to take over both. If we stopped by the sundeck or the pool, it was in the late afternoon, when it was possible to find a seat. NCL should clarify that the Freestyle deck is adults only. I'm aware that it's clothing-optional and was trying to avoid it with my young child. It's not clear which upper deck is allocated for this. And if it's the one I think it is--it's quite visible from the lower deck. GOES WITHOUT SAYING: Bermuda is a great little island. We stayed overnight in a hotel to get the chance to explore (though the bed didn't compare to the ship's). Marvelous beaches and friendly people. Very safe. Food in restaurants was fine--though not outstanding. I organized the on-shore activities by myself and found it quite easy and more flexible. Cheaper too. On our last day in port, I organized our activities in the Dockyard so as to be close to the ship before departure. Dolphin quest is worth the money if you do the whole thing (but consider it a once-in-a-lifetime experience). The dockyard isn't a bad set up for an afternoon but it can't begin to compete with the rest of the island. Overall, I really enjoyed having the chance to just relax and have no place to be or obligations. I think having a nice cabin with a balcony made all the difference to really feeling like I had a place to retreat to. The Gem surprised me and has earned my respect. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Depature from Black Flacon was the worst I have ever seen. Very crowded and confusing. Seemed in years past it was much better organized. However once on board everything was going smoothly. Lunch at the buffet, met up with old cruise ... Read More
Depature from Black Flacon was the worst I have ever seen. Very crowded and confusing. Seemed in years past it was much better organized. However once on board everything was going smoothly. Lunch at the buffet, met up with old cruise friends. Then off to the wonderful cruise critic party. Thanks to our gracious host and organizer for a well planned event. Sorry we didn't stay for the photo but it got way too crowded. We had the easiest muster ever no taking of cabin numbers. We ate most of our dinners in the Venetian which was far superior to the service we had had in Aqua. The room was very pretty and they had a piano player every night. I do have to say however that the best meal we had was in Le Bistro service was so great that the we all tipped an extra 25% for the wonderful service. The buffet was fine for breakfast, however lunch was disappointing as items did not vary much from day to day. It was much better last year. Enjoyed drinks at Cagneys bar not far from the casino most nights and had fun at the Pub. Of course, the Bruins winning it all was extra special. We cracked a bottle of champagne in honor of the event. Had no problem finding chairs at the pool each day, and for the first time in a long time didn't feel hounded for drinks by the staff. Went to all three production shows. I felt they were very good to outstanding. Didn't make it to second city--didn't enjoy them on the Spirit so we passed. We had a BA balcony on the ninth floor, very quiet. Our sliding door however was terrible to open and the people in the room next to us stated that it sounded like an "elephant in heat"every time we opened or closed the door. Mentioned it on day one to the room steward but never fixed. Beds were comfortable, closet tight and I found the room very small. Also, it wasn't very clean for just having come out of dry dock. The Dawn is a pretty ship but very disjointed. I always seemed to be in the wrong corridor or one deck up and had to come down or one deck down and had to go up. There were no places were you could just completely walk from one end to the other. Many of the toilets in the ladies room in the public area were shut down all week and out of order. This left to scrambling from deck to deck to find an empty stall. This is our third year doing the Bermuda run and I think it will be our last for a while. NCL needs to upgrade their inclusive dining room menu as all our favorites are now in the pay restaurants only. Rack of lamb, swordfish, escargot, filet, etc. Otherwise our trip was enjoyable, made especially so by hooking up with old friends and meeting new ones. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I went on this cruise with 19 other people to celebrate the 50th birthdays of some of our friends. From the time we were dropped off at Black Falcon Terminal to sitting by the pool probably took an hour. Not too bad. I had been on this ... Read More
I went on this cruise with 19 other people to celebrate the 50th birthdays of some of our friends. From the time we were dropped off at Black Falcon Terminal to sitting by the pool probably took an hour. Not too bad. I had been on this cruise before about 15 years ago so I knew what to expect with the size of the ship and the movement in the ocean. This time the ocean was calmer so the swaying of the ship was minimal. It was my first time experiencing the free style cruise. We always made reservations for dinner and were seated right away. Unfortunately in the two main dining areas Venetian and Aqua it took way too long to finish the meal. We only went to each one of the restaurants once and both took over 3 hours from start to finish. I think that the wait staff is just totally confused about who is where. The music by the pool was great and we always found chairs together. It was great watching the Bruins win on the ship. The room was filled with Bruins' fans which made it all the more fun. Ages ranged from 18 - 80. Unfortunately for me, the Spinnaker started playing techno music around 11:30 for the young crowd. The place pretty much emptied out except for the 18 - 25 year old crowd and there was no place else to dance on the rest of the ship. One night we brought down our "boom box" to an empty bar area and had our own dance party.All in all I had a blast with all of my friends but I just don't think that NCL is up to par with Royal Caribbean. One more thing.. if you buy a drink out of the fancy cups remember that they add $2 onto your price for the cup. If you order another drink give them back the cup and they won't charge you the $2. Also if you buy beer by the bucket (6 beers for the price of 5) remember that the bucket is a rental. You may get charged $5 for the bucket. My sister in law got charge five different times but didn't know until the end when she seen her bill. Luckily she kept all of her receipts and told them that she brought all of the buckets back and they credited her card $25. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was my second cruise, first for my partner. Cruised before with NCL and was so impressed with them that I wanted to try it again. Our "obstructed view" cabin was great. It was on deck 8 and was oriented fore-aft ... Read More
This was my second cruise, first for my partner. Cruised before with NCL and was so impressed with them that I wanted to try it again. Our "obstructed view" cabin was great. It was on deck 8 and was oriented fore-aft instead of port-starboard, which made it feel roomier than the standard port-starboard oriented staterooms. We were lucky that our window was between two lifeboats, so we could actually see out the window and had something of a view. The room was well appointed with enough storage space for all our stuff, although this particular orientation had only one set of drawers for storage instead of two sets in the other obstructed staterooms. The bathroom was bigger than on the last cruise I took and felt quite roomy. It was always spotlessly clean. Our room steward was very good. We never actually saw her until the last day when we were leaving the room for the last time. But she kept the room up very nicely, beds made up, ice in the ice bucket, clean towels, towel sculptures, etc. And she always managed to get in for the "turn-down" service while we were out and about after dinner. The bed was comfy and I just love the European style bed covers. The food was fantastic. Luckily we managed to keep our weight gain down to only a few pounds by doing a lot of walking on the promenade deck and while we were on Bermuda. We found that eating in the Garden Cafe buffet enticed us to over eat, so we decided to eat all of our meals in the Grand Pacific. That way we received reasonable portions of food and didn't leave feeling overstuffed. It was very nice to have a sit-down breakfast served by the attentive wait staff and get a nice view out of the window. The entertainment was fun and varied. Something for everybody. I highly recommend this cruise and NCL ... they are friendly, well-organized and attentive. The only thing we didn't like was how long it took to check in on embarkation day .. but with 2500 people to check in, I guess there's no really easy way to do that. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
I'm sure you are wondering why we would go all the way to NYC to hop on a cruise ship when we live right here in South Florida...Well, while on a 2 night cruise on the Pearl in October 2010, we were sufficiently impressed with NCL to ... Read More
I'm sure you are wondering why we would go all the way to NYC to hop on a cruise ship when we live right here in South Florida...Well, while on a 2 night cruise on the Pearl in October 2010, we were sufficiently impressed with NCL to put a "cruise rewards" deposit on a future cruise to use within the next four years. We decided we'd better use it quickly before the economy and our client-based income got any worse. The rules are that it has to be a cruise of 6 days or longer, and there aren't any NCL cruises of that length down here in the summer (they are all in Alaska and Europe), so we chose the Gem so that both pre and post cruise we could visit a friend in Manhattan who is recovering from cancer treatments. The 3 sea days on the Bermuda run also appealed to us. PRECRUISE: We flew from West Palm Beach on Jetblue to LGA, a great (if bumpy)flight, although we hated the personal scanning process during security. We took a cab to the Westin in Times Square, expensive by all menas, but very near our friend's apartment building. She walked over and met us at the hotel. She looked great considering what she has been through. Later we ordered room service, which was very good, since we had not had dinner. It was VERY expensive, but we were exhausted and did not feel like going out. The Westin was very comfortable, great service, nicely appointed and good sized room for NYC. EMBARKATION:The next AM we met our friend for breakfast at a cute little diner nearby, and then collected our luggage, checked out, and headed for the ship about noon. The Pier was a madhouse at that time. We stood in line for 90 minutes to check in, which was very hard for my husband with his ailing back. I thought we would get aboard faster with our Latitudes status, but no one in charge seemed to know how to get to the Latitudes desks, which were clearly visible at the counter, so we had to wait the duration. THE CABIN:Finally we boarded about 1:30 and easily found our obstructed view outside cabin on deck 8(8558). We usually get a balcony, but funds are short and the travel from and to FLA ate up those "extra luxury" dollars. The cabin was very nice, lots of light from the large window. The bathroom was great, divided into 3 parts, and there was plenty of storage for everything, though I would haveliked a few more hooks for hanging things. The cabin steward introduced himself to us right away and did all kinds of nice things for us. The towel animals almost every night were a nice touch, but we did miss the pillow chocolates that we used to get. The TV was a disappointment, as a few others have mentioned. Mostly NCL ad programming, plus news and few other choices. Movies were $10. There were no free movies like there have been on most of the other cruises we've been on. Another little thing: when we ordered room service dining for breakfast, though the delivery was always timely, there was always something missing; only one of 6 tries did they bring the banana we ordered--maybe they were out of them. As to ship location, I really recommend deck 8 as it is close to lots of good things, and very reasonable as to cost, almost the same as an inside cabin.DINING: The dining throughout the trip is the area we had the most issues with. Our very first meal, in the Grand Pacific dinig room required us to hold on to a beeper for about 30 minutes waiting for our table for 2, and then when we sat down, the waiter practically slammed the two glasses of water down, did not even look at us, or greet us in any way, and did not return for 20 minutes to take our order. 20 minutes later he brought 2 of our courses at the same time, then 20 minutes after that, brought the entrees. I was so nonplussed by the situation (this has never happened on any of our 33 cruises!) that I can't even tell you what we had to eat! Another bit of time went by and he placed the desserts on the table and walked off, never to be seen again that evening, not even asking if we wanted coffee of anything. I want the readers to know that we are not normally complaining, fussy, snobby, people who expect too much from those who serve us, so I imagine that he was simply overworked trying to keep up with everything. The next night we paid extra to eat in Orchids, where we had a wonderfully prepared and served Chinese dinner, complete with lobster. The next evening we tried the Grand Pacific again, got the same waiter, but he was totally different and attended courteously (though quietly)to our every need. The food in general was mediocre except for one night when we had surf and turf, which was outstanding. One night we ate in Magenta, and the service was the best of the "free" venues. The service throughout, however, buffets included, was quite impersonal most of the time and sometimes nonexistent. Once in Blue Lagoon restaurant, they never did bring my order for lunch, so we left and I ate in the buffet. By the way, the buffalo wings at the Blue Lagoon are some of the best we have ever eaten, if you can actually get them to bring your order! Yes, there were a few staff members who flashed a sparkly smile and aimed to please, but this was the exception. Again, with the freestyle cruising and the large # of passengers, I know that they work very hard, but I still remember the old days when things were different. Well, I guess any food that is prepared and served by others is a vacation for me, in any case.BERMUDA: The island of Bermuda is absolutely beautiful, but we got to see very little of it. My husband became ill--a blood pressure issue which we resolved by cutting back his new medication (NOT a good time to try a new med, on vacation, but he neglected to tell me about it until the BP dropped too low). Then the next day his back which had been tenuous at best really began to cause a problem. The travel, and getting out of his routine were taking a toll. The only treatment really available on the ship was acupuncture, which we decided to try daily for the rest of the trip, though it was expensive. Well, we ended up getting spa passes and spending most of our days in the spa! Even though this is not what I had been expecting our trip to be, it became a spa vacation for both of us. While he took treatments, I worked out in the gym. Then together we made use of the thermal suite for several hours, soaking in the pools, hot tubs, using the steam room and sauna, as well as those great tile lounge chairs that heat up your entire body. We read our books from the ship's extensive library while relaxing on the lounges looking out over the bow to the beautiful blue water (well, after the first day the sun finally came out). The acupuncture treatments were helping him feel a little better each day, as were the supplements he was taking to go with the treatments. The staff in the spa area was outstanding, but then, we were spending a great deal of money and they couldn't do enough for us, it seemed. By the last night he was feeling agile enough that we were able to dance in Spinnaker, which made us both happy, since we love ballroom dancing. ENTERTAINMENT: Now here is where NCL excels! The shows we saw were very good, but what we really enjoyed was spending our evenings with Jeffery Spence in Magnums Lounge. The "Piano Man" was nothing short of amazing. My husband and I both have music degrees, and we found Jeffery to be probably the best piano/vocal entertainer we have ever heard. He know thousands of songs, and take requests for any style you want, and imitates performers like Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Billy Joel, Willy Nelson, Frank Sinatra, and I could go on and on. Did I mention he is from New Orleans? Oh, Yeah. I would go on an NCL cruise again just to hear him. We bought one of his CDs and invited him to visit us in FL if the ship he is on ever stops near us. He played anything we asked during the week, from Gershwin to Jerry Lee Lewis to Bernstein. DISEMBARKATION: Was a breeze--we were in no hurry, as our Amtrak Silver Meteor back to FLA would not leave until 3:15, so we ambled off the ship about 10:00 AM, where our friend was waiting for us. We got a cab back to her apartment, dumped our luggage and walked around the river area, had a picnic by the water, and then took a cab to Penn Station, where we waited in the Acela Lounge until time to board our train. The train ride home was a wild ride of bumpy tracks but we were in a nice compartment with our own bath, and found the service, attitude, and food to be better than what we had experienced on the Gem. The staff was upbeat, humorous, and fun, and the chef was excellent as well. Our steak and baked potato dinner was better than what we had ordered in the ship's dining room just the night before, to our surprise. We spent the next day working crossword puzzles until our arrival at the Amtrak station in West Palm, where friends were waiting to pick us up. On the way home we ate at Cracker Barrel, and soon our trip was over. We arrived not too terribly exhausted because of the down time on the train. Will we sail NCL again? Of course, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise", as they say where I come from. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
My biggest complaint with this cruise was the lack of cream/half-&-half for coffee every morning through the buffet lines. We had it the day we left, then nothing. I did get some in Blue Lagoon one morning, but only after stating my ... Read More
My biggest complaint with this cruise was the lack of cream/half-&-half for coffee every morning through the buffet lines. We had it the day we left, then nothing. I did get some in Blue Lagoon one morning, but only after stating my unhappiness with there being none. And there seemed to be creamers for room service coffee on the 2 mornings we ordered in. We were never given a valid reason for the lack of it (we were told by one server that it was being "saved" for the restaurants.) We were also told they would be restocking it in Bermuda but there wasn't any on the way back, either.Another complaint was no explanation or announcement was ever given for the nearly 2 1/2 hour delay leaving Boston. The Captain never gave a reason at all. A bar waiter told us there was a dispute with the union dock workers refusing to work overtime to put our luggage on-board. Another said jokingly that it wasn't dark enough. I thought that was poor judgement on the staff's part to not inform us.There were some other temporary "glitches" such as issues with water availability in some areas, (which prevented hand-washing in some public bathrooms) and elevator issues and we never did seem to get the hang of finding The Venetian without several attempts! The staff were always extremely helpful and courteous and friendly. We always sat near the pool in the shade and was taken very good card of by "our" waiter Jeffrey. While I would tip extra every now and again, he treated our group no differently with each request, and always referred to us by name!We had a mid-ship mini-suite with a balcony and our steward Allan was awesome! There was plenty of room for my husband and I but I don't think having a third (or fourth, as this cabin can hold) would be very comfortable. While there isn't much drawer space for clothes, I liked having storage space for our luggage under the bed and therefore completely out of the way. I have a bit of trouble with arthritis and would've preferred a shower instead of a tub but loved having a hand-held shower head!We enjoyed the Dawn's entertainment group, very talented dancers and singers and aerialists! The comedian, Dave Heenan, was pretty good but many of his jokes I have read online in past years. The Second City group was fabulous, really enjoyed them. The band that played at the pool during the day had the same sound/songs/beat to every single appearance and that got old very quickly.The food was decent but, as a friend who had just cruised the Dawn told me, the desserts left a little to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Here's the skinny on the first Norwegian Gem Cruise to Bermuda.Embarkation - We were staying in a suite so upon embarkation we we sent to the VIP room after checking in at counter. Check in was very quick and efficient as we spent no ... Read More
Here's the skinny on the first Norwegian Gem Cruise to Bermuda.Embarkation - We were staying in a suite so upon embarkation we we sent to the VIP room after checking in at counter. Check in was very quick and efficient as we spent no more than 10 minutes in line. While in the VIP room we were delayed boarding for about 20 minutes so the "Cruise To Nowhere," guests could be rounded up and taken off the ship.Once on the ship we were taken to our Deluxe Owners suite and introduced the the concierge Ryan. I had some dry cleaning that needed to be done and Ryan arranged for that to be taken care of.Sail Away - There was a sail away party for the suite holders up on the aft private sun deck overlooking the Courtyard which was nice. The staff was very attentive and welcoming.Room - We were staying in the Deluxe Owners Suite and overall this was a nice accommodation. The view from this room was awesome and the private sundeck and hot tub were well worth the extra expense. It should be noted that previous reviews of this suite erroneously stated that the staff will come up and fill the tub. Not true. The tub is filled and drained by the occupants using a fill / drain button. Heat is recirculated by using the pump which will keep the water warm for about 20-30 minutes. After that the water temp starts to drop and the only way to reheat is to drain and refill.This particular room (starboard side) had an annoying hum from an engine somewhere that would rev up and then rev down constantly. It was not a loud noise but a background noise that would drone on continually which made sleeping difficult at times. This is something that the staff needs to address. One additional issue was the sliding door to the deck would not remain tightly locked during the night and the whistling of the wind could be heard at night when the wind was strong. The bathroom also had a peculiar odor which persisted.(not from us)All other amenities for this room were excellent...cd player with surround sound, flat screen tv with surround, retractable shades for the floor to ceiling windows were also a nice touch.Dining - We ate in the free restaurants (Magenta) only once for dinner. The steak I ordered was not the best quality but edible. The service in Magenta was also not the best as we were seated in a corner and drink orders never taken until we asked. Drinks were then late in arriving. The remainder of meals were in either the specialty restaurants or buffet or outdoor places. All of these were good with the specialty places offering up some excellent food. We had a filet from Le Bistro that was one of the best I've ever had. Breakfast at Cagneys most morning consisted of filet and eggs or bacon and eggs which were excellent.Service Staff - We met the butler later in the afternoon of embarkation as he didn't come up to our room until after 5 PM or so to introduce himself. If we needed something we would ask and he would get it done. Our neighbors in the next suite had an incredible butler by the name of Kadek who they would see 4-5 times per day...always checking in on them and bringing them food and drinks. Word around the courtyard was that our butler had some very demanding / unreasonable guests in one of his suites that was monopolizing his time which may have affected his performance. As it was, we would see our butler twice per day. The concierge Ryan was pleasant and on the ball with our dinner reservations but there was the issue of the reserved seating at the Stardust Theatre which made my blood boil one evening. We attended the "Man From Mars' show which was excellent. As suite guests we have a few perks....reserved seating at shows is one of them. There were people who were not suite holders seated in the reserved section and I had at one time, shooed a few away by politely informing them that these suites were reserved. One individual was indignant that there were empty seats for reserved and no more seats in the rest of the theater. This person asked why they couldn't sit there until "someone told them to move." My reply was that we paid for these seats...you paid for those seats and pointed to the rest of the theatre. On our previous cruise on the Jewel the concierge Adrian was posted at the reserved seats to prevent this from happening. The staff of the Gem absolutely needs to address this issue. We paid an incredible amount of money for the extra perks and not to sound like a jerk, but my thinking is that if you didn't pay for extras, you shouldn't be getting them on someone else's dime.Bermuda - Beautiful place and good excursions. People were friendly and accommodating. Tons of history on this island which would take numerous visits to fully experience. We did one of the cab tours and also the dolphin experience which was great. Best time was had was at the Frog and Onion in the dockyard with our suite neighbors who we can't wait to cruise with again.Weather - Rough seas once in open waters as we sailed through a few low pressure fronts. Waves were 14-18 ft high coming and going. It wasn't like some of the youtube videos circulating about the horrible conditions on some ships....but you definitely knew you were at sea. The temps were in low 70's with intermittent rain. The last day was the best weather....sunny and warm.Disembarkation - For us...quick and painless as we were one of the first ones off the ship.Overall - Good cruise with a few bumps and bruises that Norwegian can fix easily. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We were upgraded to a villa suite right before the cruise and what a lovely experience! Completely worth the extra money. The Atrium with the pools, hot tubs and private deck were fantastic. The staff were wonderful too. Lots of nice ... Read More
We were upgraded to a villa suite right before the cruise and what a lovely experience! Completely worth the extra money. The Atrium with the pools, hot tubs and private deck were fantastic. The staff were wonderful too. Lots of nice little extras. I would have liked someone to show us how everything worked! It took a couple days to figure out the phone, TV, etc. Never did figure out the espresso machine in the suite. The specialty restaurants with an upcharge were overall disappointing. The food was very good, but not great. Most disappointing was the service which was lackluster. Servers did not respond quickly to requests. I often did not get what I asked for -- such as tea or a new spoon. They would offer wine immediately and when I said I wasn't ready they never came back to offer again. One meal took 2.5 hours which was silly. Everyone else was out of the dining room and we missed an event. This is the one area we all felt the ship needed to improve.I did make a suggestion for improvement at Guest Services and was offered another dinner for free which we did use. And it was better - very good. Cagneys. I was slightly disappointed in the number and types of excursions offered - not great! And I am used to a lot more help during the going ashore and coming back. NCL did not staff the tours or the dock very well. Our best excursion was one we arranged ourselves - a taxi tour of the island. Sydney was great! If you go, look for him on the dock. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I just got back from a cruise on the NCL Gem. The onboarding process was slow and once we got on the ship we were not allowed into our cabin for hours! I have cruised many times before and have NEVER been told the cabins were not ready. So ... Read More
I just got back from a cruise on the NCL Gem. The onboarding process was slow and once we got on the ship we were not allowed into our cabin for hours! I have cruised many times before and have NEVER been told the cabins were not ready. So this was a bit annoying. The Magenta dining room was open, so we enjoyed lunch there instead of sitting on the sun deck with our carryon luggage like the majority of the passengers did. Our mini suite was nice and much more spacious than a regular balcony room so I am glad we booked it. The balcony was wider also. We had plenty of drawer space to place our clothes, luggage, etc. The only thing we did not like was the tv had very limited channels- a few news channels, one that played sitcoms & dramas at regular intervals and if you want to watch a movie you need to pay $10 for it. They are free on most other cruise lines.The entertainment onboard was terrific! I am specifically talking about the comedians. NCL now has The Second City performing and they are wonderful. We went to the "Presumed Murdered" murder mystery lunch in Le Bistro. It cost $20 each and it was worth it. The food was good and the show was great. I highly recommend it. The Second City had other shows on various nights. We went to all of them and loved them all. There was another comedian onboard, Dave Heenan, who was also very good. We ate in Le Bistro and La Cuccina specialty dining restaurants and enjoyed them both. We only had dinner twice in the main dining room because of the "Freestyle Dining" everyone tries to dine around the same time and the wait is about 35-45 minutes. So to avoid missing the shows, we ate at Blue Lagoon instead. It is no charge and has a limited menu but if you just want something small it will do. The overall food quality on this ship was OK. You could get almost the same thing at the buffet as in the dining room as far as food quality goes- the dining room was nothing real special. I have had much better food on other cruiselines. The disembarkation off the ship in New York City was not run smoothly. They let everyone off that is bringing their own luggage. then they let the colored tags off. Once you get off, there really isn't anyone telling you where to get your bags. Once you find them & go thru customs, you head straight out the door, where a guy with a blow horn screams at you to go upstairs for a cab or cross the street to pick up a private car. We went across the street since a private car company was picking us up and waited in the rain with many others. We finally got ahold of our driver who was with the taxis up on the ramp looking for us, since this is where he was told to go! It was a chaotic mess and it needs to be handled better without some guy screaming through a blow horn at the passengers!Experience overall was good but could have been better. Will still recommend NCL to friends & clients Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Overview: I took this cruise as a graduation gift to myself and my mom came along with me. As a first time cruiser I was very excited with nothing to compare my cruise to. My mom's 4Th cruise her fist 3 with RCL. Stateroom: I chose ... Read More
Overview: I took this cruise as a graduation gift to myself and my mom came along with me. As a first time cruiser I was very excited with nothing to compare my cruise to. My mom's 4Th cruise her fist 3 with RCL. Stateroom: I chose an inside cabin to save money, I thought it was a fine room, they keep the beds apart for me and my mom. The closet was big enough for us two girls and LOTS of hangers for us. Lots of shelves and storage for things. Only thing lacking was drawers. Only three small drawers where we keep our underwear and other things that did not want to world to see. The bathroom was nice size lots of shelves to put things away and shower was a full size with a glass door so very easy to shower in without feeling cramped or shower curtain touching us. If you like to sleep in, inside cabins are the way to go...they are so DARK. We would wake up and have no idea what time it was or what the weather was like outside. If you are person who likes to wake up with the sun then do NOT book a room inside. Our room steward was Roberto and was a nice man but not excellent he. He did give us towel animals the first 3 night and then never again after that, even though I left tips out early so he would know he would be compensated for his extra work. Entrainment: The shows on the ship were EXCELLENT. The singers and dancers were very good and fun to watch, the comedian Dave Heenan was just okay but the Second City group was funny. The best show and a sure not to miss is the Man from Mars. Its a little like Cirque du Soleil with a bit of comedy. Both mom and me loved him. And of course can't miss the final variety show were the staff performs fountains. The cruise director and her staff were just okay. The cruse director Jill was involved and was funny but I would say she was amazing. Her staff was around at the late-night parties and did a good job getting people to participate and dance. Except on the first and last night the where there was a kick-off dance and a farewell dance. Both were a dud. The kickoff dance no dancers showed but the Next Stage band was very good. And the farewell dance was the biggest bust I have ever seen. It was held in two locations, one was COMPLETELY empty so we headed over to the other one where still very little people showed up and the cruise staff were all standing around a table sucking Helium out of the balloons that were up as decorations. We were disappointed and shocked and went to bed. The best party the ship holds is the Hot White Party which was super fun and is a do not miss event. Dinning: My least favorite part of the cruise. The food was almost always bland only found 2 dishes that were better than the rest but they were still nothing to brag about. We ate in the Main Dining rooms for dinner and sometimes lunch and breakfast that were included in the price of the cruise. It seemed that they kept the food sub-par in the dining room so guest would want to eat in the up-charge dinning options. This does not make much sense to me. I am already paying for the food on the ship why should I have to pay again. We did get soo bored of the food that one night and gave up and went to one of the cheapest up-charge restaurants for $10 a person. It was called tequila and was Mexican food. It was better but still nothing to yell about from the rooftops. We were never asked if we wanted to join another table, not that we would have objected to it. It did get boring only having one other table mate, my mom lol. And the service is okay again nothing to really comment on. Since having a different server every night I do not think they try extra hard for extra tips because I would have given it if they did extra work. We did enjoy the anytime seating though never having to worry what time it was or if we had to cut time in Bermuda to make it back to the ship for a dinner reservation. The Dress-up or not night doesn't really work on Norwegian. Me and mom were ALWAYS over dressed for dinner. I understand not having a dress requirement for some of those who do not want to dress up on their vacation but since the two restaurants serve the exact same menu I think one of the dinning rooms should be reserved for those who do want to dress up for dinner. And not have a mix of people in dresses and other in jeans. There were 2 "formal night" and again the majority of people did not dress up and those who did ended up in the up-charged restaurants. Overall: It was a good cruise and I had a lot of fun but I think I will try another cruise line and see if I like it more. Also unsure if I would sail to Bermuda again. The island was incredible but it takes 2.5 days to get there and only 1 day to return. I wish we would get there a little faster. Bermuda: It was fabulous, it was my first time out of the country and I absolutely loved the country. The people are SOOOO nice and friendly they do not hassle you to buy anything random people say hi to you. Day 1: The weather was a little cloudy so the beach really wasn't an option. So we signed up for a Segway tour that took us around historic British Naval Dockyard and 4-5 miles up the road to see other sites. Eugene was an excellent tour guide. He explained everything very well and pointed out plants for us to smell and taste and explained what different plants that could be natural remedies. Highly recommend tour for anyone. After going back to the ship for lunch we bought our 3day bus/ferry pass and jump on the #7 bus and took it over the smallest draw bridge, we got off at the Gibson Light house and climbed to the top where we had a fantastic view of the island. Then got back on another bus which took us past horseshoe bay and into Hamilton. From Hamiliton we took the ferry back to Dockyard for dinner. Since it was Wednesday after dinner we went back to Hamilton on the ferry for Harbour nights where there is food, shops and stand open and sealing things. Day 2: We started of with an excursion booked through the ship called, Famous Homes and Hideaways. Mom really wanted to do this one but I found it boring. One of the guys who worked on the boat was cute though and kept me company during the 2 hour tour, also got the most delicious rum swizzle on the boat. After lunch we headed over to horseshoe bay where we enjoyed the beaches pink sand. The water was beautiful and warm, (I only put my toes in since I was scared of the jellyfish). I did see jellyfish up on the beach and I heard others got stung. We headed back to dockyard and enjoyed the night on the ship. Day 3: The morning was JET SKIING. It was a blast and might be one of the more scary things that I have every done. It was a guided tour by a very cute local named Josh. Since there coral reefs are so abundant in Bermuda you have to go out with a tour guide so you do not bottom out and can avoid the reefs. It is called a high-speed tour and the minimum speed you go out in open waters ins 35 miles an hour but most of time we were about 50 miles an hour. It was fun and very scary. lol Josh took us to see a ship wreck and then to a private beach where we could get off and swim in the warm water. The plan was to go to crystal caves after lunch but we decided against not knowing if we had enough time to get there and back before we need to be on the ship at 430 for sail away. So we went enjoyed the sun on the empty, quiet pool deck. I absolutely plan on going back to the beautiful island of Bermuda. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Easy commute from Philly to NYC as we boarded the MegaBus at 8:45am ($5.00 each way so much cheaper than port parking!) Upon arrival we took a short cab ride to the port and VIP embarkation was a BREEZE thanks to Ryan Rabe as we were on ... Read More
Easy commute from Philly to NYC as we boarded the MegaBus at 8:45am ($5.00 each way so much cheaper than port parking!) Upon arrival we took a short cab ride to the port and VIP embarkation was a BREEZE thanks to Ryan Rabe as we were on board and having lunch at cagney's by 11:45! In stateroom by 1:30, room was ok-a bit small-nice bathroom setup but awkward toilet position...same design as the NCL Jewel. Inside rooms are dark of course, but we always leave the TV on to the ship bow cam and that becomes our "window"; very comfortable beds, nice TV. the room stewardess was nice & always made sure the room was in tip top shape. Muster drill was easy as rules have changed regarding the life jackets. We were invited to the special champagne "sail away" which was on the top deck and we met many crew member and officer staff. Very nice! One thing we like & appreciate about NCL is the FOD meetings and we met really nice people this time who we mingled with all week. Thanks NCL! The entertainment was excellent: Dave Heenan, the comedian, was hilarious and always kept us laughing as usual (we had seen him before on the NCL Pearl & Crown and were very happy he was on the Gem), Man from Mars was very entertaining, dancers and singers good, poolside band great. We enjoyed playing the new Deal or No Deal game...much more interesting than bingo! The cruise director and staff were good but have seen better on other NCL ships. They didnt seem to mingle as much and seemed to stay in their own click even when out partying at Bliss-a bit surprising to us. BERMUDAWe were both surprised how smooth the sail (and sail away) was to Bermuda as previous trips were quite rough-so we lucked out. Docking in King's Wharf was not only beautiful but convenient as you can take the water taxi or bus anywhere. We particularly liked the fact the ship stayed docked in one port so you don't feel rushed to get back for all aboard. We stayed at the Wharf the first day visiting the rum factory where you can sample different flavors, watching the glass blowers & checking out the mall...just enjoying the weather and the very nice people. On Thursday, We took the water taxi to Hamilton and walked Horseshoe bay to Warwick Long Beach-the "pink" beaches are truly a must see! After that, we stayed in Hamilton and ate dinner at a local restaurant while watching the sunset. Later, we met up with friends who were traveling on Celebrity (also docked there) at Frog and Onion for late night drinks-great entertainment there, too! FYI- You can buy a $5.00 Logic phone card that gives you 30 min Internet time at F & O!! Much cheaper than buying the package aboard the ship! We really enjoy the Jewel class ships/design and the Gem is no exception!! Always clean and the staff were generally very nice and accommodating-the "washy washy" guy was really funny not annoying as others wrote-lighten up! Isn't it better to be safe than sorry?? The food & service in the main dining rooms or anywhere we ate was very good including the Asian specialty restaurant! We particularly enjoyed Margarita Madness...the bartenders did a great job and made you feel really welcome.We always enjoy sailing NCL and had a great time on the Gem. A cruise is what you make of it... We keep coming back to NCL because of the value & Freestyle experience...who needs extra stress on your vacation? We are now planning our next NCL cruise soon!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My husband and I are 52 years old. This was our 9th cruise and we have cruised 5 different cruise lines. We cruise as cheap as you can using CruCon internet site and air miles when possible. I read lots of cruise reviews getting ready and ... Read More
My husband and I are 52 years old. This was our 9th cruise and we have cruised 5 different cruise lines. We cruise as cheap as you can using CruCon internet site and air miles when possible. I read lots of cruise reviews getting ready and read much wrong information about this cruise. Hopefully this review will be helpful and informative. *CABIN = We book an inside for saving money and great sleep. Our inside cabin on the GEM was very clean, plenty of room for clothes and a nice bathroom. We were on the 10th floor-aft. It turned out to be the perfect location. Cabin steward was okay. Towel animals only 2 nights. TV not big but not too small either. Disappointed that we had to pay for movies in room(only bought 1), also this is first ship with no movie theater. TV could of had more variety but adequate. I read in a review that FOX was the only news show available and that is not true. There are 3 NEWS channels.*FOOD = We ate in the main dining room for dinner and did not pay for any "specialty restaurants". The first day we ate lunch right after getting on the ship in the Grand Pacific and the lunch was not good and we were disappointed even more so when we learned that the lunch menu stayed the same everyday. As it turned out we opted to skip lunch and eat a good breakfast with maybe a light snack and then by dinner we could really enjoy the food without being still full from lunch. I reserved dinner at 6:00 each night and then we went to the 7:30 show. When I would call and make a reservation each night they would say "it is not necessary" but I would anyway and many times others would have to wait and we would be seated immediately. We ate at the buffet for breakfast and thought it was excellent. I had Eggs Benedict each day and the french toast was wonderful! They made special bread just for the french toast. Oh and the bread with dinner is wonderful too -fresh baked and lots of types. I don't want to complain about the food but as the years go by cruise food gets poorer in quality and service gets poorer too when you free style and have prepaid tips and different waiters each night. I remember when the choices were double or triple. Oh well it is a inexpensive way to travel the way we do. I hear the luxury cruises have great food.*BERMUDA = 3 days in beautiful Bermuda. First day we bought the ferry/bus pass for 3 days. Caught the ferry to St.George, WOW World Heritage Site- 400 years occupied by the English. St. Patrick's church, still worshiped in 400 years (give or take a year or 2). St. Catherine's Fort, yes old too. Walked the town for 4 hours and the weather was windy and mild. DAY 2 = Ferry to Hamilton and bus back to Dockyard. Shopping shopping shopping, nice perfume shop that makes their own perfume. Enjoyed walking through the town and looking at all the pretty houses. Caught the bus with lots of school children. DAY 3 = Hung around Dockyard town. Did the clay-works, glass blowing shop and demonstration and rum cake store.We brought our own snorkeling gear for Bermuda's beautiful ocean but the weather was windy-rainy-cooler than normal so didn't swim. Nice clean towns with friendly people. No begging and trying to sell you stuff. 3 ships in Bermuda but did not seem overly crowded. *ENTERTAINMENT = Man from Mars/excellent. Dave Keenan/good one night,not so good one night. Comedy Club/very good. Singers/dancers/good. *MISC = Easy on, easy off. Never trouble finding a place to sit at the buffet. Head Chef visited tables each night in Grand Pacific dining room. There was live music each day at the pool with games. Bad note you had to wait in line for alcohol purchase last evening instead of it being delivered to your room. Oh 1 more important note, Chair HOGS. We did not tolerate them. I would move the towels and sometimes it would be hours later they would show up and I would say "we have been here for hours and you have not". We encouraged others to move towels too instead of empty chairs with people wanting them.ALL AND ALL IT WAS A WONDERFUL CRUISE AND WE WOULD TAKE IT AGAIN IN A MINUTE! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
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