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Sail Date: March 2019
Gem Review The Norwegian Gem—and NCL in general—have lost a lot of its sparkle. We booked this cruise because the departure and arrival out of Boston was convenient. I had another NCL cruise out of Boston booked, but I’m ... Read More
Gem Review The Norwegian Gem—and NCL in general—have lost a lot of its sparkle. We booked this cruise because the departure and arrival out of Boston was convenient. I had another NCL cruise out of Boston booked, but I’m canceling it. Our 14 day April-May 2019 cruise on the Gem put NCL on the bottom of our cruise choices. THE GOOD: • The entertainment was very good. The production shows were a notch above. The show band was superlative • The cabin shower was spacious! • “Freestyle” service in the main dining rooms was better than expected. And wait times--even during prime-time--were minimal. • The quality of NCL’s drinks is excellent. They tasted great and looked even better. And their drink cards are some of the best afloat (but come with a VERY steep price). • Like most cruise ships, there was an excellent selection of live music throughout the ship, especially at night. • Shore excursions were good without a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. THE BAD: • Many of the Oceanview staterooms have TINY portholes that are set a foot or so into the ship. Very difficult to see much through them unless you’re a contortionist. • The cabins are TINY. Most cabins have absolutely no room for a chair or sofa in them. • There was ONE closet in our cabin. • We had ONE 110 volt electrical outlet in our cabin. • Service is the specialty restaurants was only fair. It seemed the wait staff was stretched way too thin. • Food in the specialty restaurants was good, but most portions were beyond tiny and disappointing. • The main buffet was small, and the different stations often had the same food. The main salads could be seen in about three different places on the buffet. • The buffet was a huge dumping ground for leftovers—not so creatively disguised. Breakfast too often included many leftover vegetable dishes from days gone by. • Duty free liquor prices were more expensive on board than buying them at home. Do your homework. • The staff in the buffet area was sub-standard and not at all friendly. They often ran around like there was a fire in the galley. They avoided eye contact and rarely returned a smile. • It was sometimes difficult to get reservations in some of the specialty restaurants…but they were NEVER more than ½ to 2/3 full. They make you feel like there’s a huge rush or wait to get in. There isn’t. • NCL supposedly has an hour limit on reserved chairs in the pool area. I asked the pool deck staff to clear lounge chairs that had been reserved with towels and books for over two hours and they refused. I had pictures to back up my claim, but they didn’t seem to care. • The lunch menu in the main dining rooms never changes. It’s gets boring and repetitive quickly. • The NCL app is severely lacking. Only the daily activities were uploaded. Nothing else. Other cruise lines upload menus and opening and closing times for restaurants and bars. They offer a text and calling option for $10. No one seemed to use it. THE UGLY: • The outside chair cushions are threadbare and FILTHY. The plastic outdoor sun lounge chairs are way past their prime. • The main pool area is butt ugly and old. It’s flanked by 1960 style fake plastic palm trees. An enormous, unattractive bright blue slide tunnel takes up about 20% of the real estate. Hot tubs were occasionally closed with yellow caution tape. • Most bar areas have NO server. You usually have to belly-up to the bar if you want a drink. • NCL’s “perks” are costly and not competitive with other cruise lines. Internet is $25 per day and drink packages are $100 per day for unlimited. The Thermal Suite is also about $20 per day per person IF purchased for the entire cruise. • Many fares on NCL include “free” perks. The exorbitant gratuities for these “free” perks make them NOT free. The “free” internet was less than 20 minutes per day. Buyer beware. In summary, we enjoyed our cruise. There were some true vacation heroes. Our expensive “free” drink and dining package helped a lot, but I’m not sure it was worth the high cost. Some of the staff, especially in the buffet area, were not at all friendly. NCL has both new and aging ships. I was hoping that their “classic” ships would have classic service. Not the case. They need to polish their older gems. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I'll start by saying that this is my 10th NCL cruise in the last 3 years. I'll probably do this cruise again on the October 25 to Nov 08 sailing. The first person I'd like to compliment is the cruise director Ferdie! He ... Read More
I'll start by saying that this is my 10th NCL cruise in the last 3 years. I'll probably do this cruise again on the October 25 to Nov 08 sailing. The first person I'd like to compliment is the cruise director Ferdie! He is the best I've seen. He probably said hi to me three times a day. This man is always working! The people at guest services were very helpful and friendly. Cristina and the ladies at Cruise Next were friendly and informative. Aris, Camille, Millie, Josh, Zeng were some of the cruise staff that helped make the cruise great. Simone and Rose in Photography were fabulous! The restaurant staff was very accomodating with my special diet requests. Xia Lu and Afirin were a delight to see in the shops. The Ship was My destination! I spent all 14 days on the ship. I enjoyed the 7 port days in a row with most folks leaving the $700 million dollar ship to me! Lying out on the quiet sundeck listening to a book. Pure relaxation! The production show cast with excellent. I enjoyed outstanding singers Sarah and Nick. The Spinnaker lounge is awesome. It's on deck 13 forward and has 3 walls of windows for a great view. The Bliss lounge was fun for karaoke, and dancing. I was always able to find a treadmill in the fitness center. The painting classes were fun. Lastly I must say that the other guests were great. Almost everyone was cheerful and friendly! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Since I'm not a total pessimist, let me start with the positives: - The majority of the crew was fantastic (outside of some rude guest service folks at night). - The musical entertainment throughout the ship was solid, and so ... Read More
Since I'm not a total pessimist, let me start with the positives: - The majority of the crew was fantastic (outside of some rude guest service folks at night). - The musical entertainment throughout the ship was solid, and so were the magician and comedian. - Loved the ports and the shore excursions that we went on (Diamond Falls in St. Lucia, beach break in Barbados, lobster cruise in Antigua, and remote beach day in Tortola). - Embarkation was extremely efficient. - The freestyle dining option was much better than my dining experience on other cruises (Carnival and Royal Caribbean). Now onto the less appealing parts of the trip: - The ship is definitely older and a bit of a maze to get around. - I noticed the rocking more on the Dawn than on other ships I have been on. - Disembarkation was fast, but our travel service to the airport was not available since we disembarked so early, so we ended up taking a taxi to the airport. - Service on the pool decks and at some of the bars was sub-par due to a lack of staff. Some of the bartenders weren't super friendly either. - We used the laundry service, and they ruined a pair of my board shorts. Full disclosure, guest service didn't charge us for the service and provided a $25 credit. ** Now for the low-light of the trip, our horrible room. It was obvious on the first day we arrived that the AC was not working and had not been working, yet they kept us in the room (maybe hoping we wouldn't mind). Not to mention, there was an odd, almost sewage like smell in the room. We called maintenance immediately and they came to fix it the first time. We left assuming it would be better when we came back...it was not. Called again, and the same situation. Keep in mind no updates are being provided. A couple days later. we come to find out from our room steward that the room above us had overflow issues which obviously zapped the electrical service in our room since the AC, the bathroom fan and several of our lights were shot. Rather than providing us with a new room (not even asking for an upgrade). They kept going on with this circus for 4 days. Finally, I was so fed up with sweating every night in bed that i asked for a fan. Miraculously, a downgraded room had opened up that day for us to sleep in (highly unlikely that it wasn't there the whole time). Guest service did adjust our service charges for the trip to attempt to right the wrong, but it was too little much too late. In summary, this trip left such a sour taste in my mouth that I highly doubt I will ever cruise with Norwegian again. I also will not be recommending them to anymore friends or family. This trip was embarrassing enough since we suggested it to our two friends who were first time cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We actually choose this cruise because of the unbelievable price and the beautiful islands we would be visiting. The staff were so friendly even if you were just passing them in a hallway, they would always have a smile and say hi. This ... Read More
We actually choose this cruise because of the unbelievable price and the beautiful islands we would be visiting. The staff were so friendly even if you were just passing them in a hallway, they would always have a smile and say hi. This one woman at the buffet providing hand sanitizer was the happiest person I ever met. She would greet each guess by saying “washy washy, happy happy!” The cruise director Richard was awesome, he would attended every bit of entertainment and would talk to everyone and tell funny jokes. The magician PJ Whn was awesome and Max the aerialist was unbelievably talented. The buffet could have been much bigger and a whole lot better. Ninja turtle our waiter at the Venetian was awesome and the food was tasty. We felt like the drink package wasn’t worth the $ because we were visiting 5 ports but next time we will definitely purchase it. The drinks are $10-$15 USA plus 20% gratuity on-board. The NCL site says you don’t need reservations for bamboo but I would strongly suggest too, our family of 8 was unable to get a seat the whole week. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We wanted to try out Norwegian because we are trying out different cruise lines to see which we like. This was one of the largest we have been on. The shows were wonderful. The staff and crew were very customer oriented. They were always ... Read More
We wanted to try out Norwegian because we are trying out different cruise lines to see which we like. This was one of the largest we have been on. The shows were wonderful. The staff and crew were very customer oriented. They were always polite and greeted you with a smile. The ship was kept clean. The restrooms were never dirty. The food was great. We will definitely cruise with them again once we save up some money. I liked that there was as a huge area for kids to play in the pools and it had water slides. It was away from the main pools and hot tubs, but it had hot tubs for the parents/guardians who were watching them. The staff who watched the kids did a good job because any time I saw kids, they were well behaved and not disruptive, but yet were giggling and having a great cruise. Our kids are grown and when they were small, we never would have allowed the type of behavior we have seen on other cruise lines. Good job Norwegian and good job parents for keeping a close eye on your kids. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Great process for embarkation. Smooth and fast Cabins clean and spiffy. Cabin Steward was always available but did not need to have him fix any problems with cabin. Refurb of ship is quite nice. Very evident they spent ... Read More
Great process for embarkation. Smooth and fast Cabins clean and spiffy. Cabin Steward was always available but did not need to have him fix any problems with cabin. Refurb of ship is quite nice. Very evident they spent attention to making inside beautiful However carpets are showing age in cabin and hallways. Dining was excellent. Pretty much no enrichment activities Excursions went well. Once canceled by weather and ship staff was great in reschedule. Time in port could of been more. Seemed they could of left later in the day. Check-in and Out from ship was swift and efficient. Explored San Juan before and after due to airline schedules. Stayed in Old San Juan and very satisfied with hotel. No hurricane damage evident in Old San Juan except some paint on buildings seemed to have been sandblasted off. Very evident most buildings were repainted. San Juan area east of Airport near casinos saw several hotels and buildings abandoned and awaiting repair. People of Puerto Rico are great and were happy we visited!. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise for its Southern Carribbean itenarity. We visited 5 islands in 6 days with only one sea day which we liked as well. Starting in San Juan we flew in the day before to enjoy the city of Old San Juan. We stayed in the ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its Southern Carribbean itenarity. We visited 5 islands in 6 days with only one sea day which we liked as well. Starting in San Juan we flew in the day before to enjoy the city of Old San Juan. We stayed in the Sheraton OSJ which is a great location right across the street from "some" of the cruise terminals. Be advised that there are two different terminals in OSJ and our ship left from the Pan American terminal. This is across the bay from the hotel and will require a cab or uber. Embarkation was a breeze due to our late departure. This resulted in lots of free style choices to board the ship starting at 12:30pm and ending at 6:30. The ship layout is a bit confusing but after a couple days you can find your way around. The ship was very well maintained, clean, updated, and in my opinion managed. Buffet layout was a bit confusing, food was average. O'Sheenans food was great, hot and plentiful however service was lacking. We had dinner in Vinietian main dining on the back of the ship as we found less wait times and better table availability here over Aqua main dining. Entertainment was excellent, production shows were standard but enjoyable. The highlight shows were the magician, comedian, and elements. Ports of call all excellent with no tendering to get to the islands. Visiting St Lucia, Antigua, Barbados, US and British Virgin Islands. Freestyle disembarkation was a breeze as we had booked a excursion with airport transfer. I would advise that disembarkation times will adjust if customs has a back up which could lead to some stress with a tight flight schedule. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
I chose this ship because it was one of the newest and we went in the getaway and enjoyed it. We knew it was a “sister ship”but thought it would look a little different and have it’s own personality however it was exactly the same as ... Read More
I chose this ship because it was one of the newest and we went in the getaway and enjoyed it. We knew it was a “sister ship”but thought it would look a little different and have it’s own personality however it was exactly the same as the getaway. The in room decor and carpet seems old. Our carpet was stained and not cleaned well. Actually our balcony floor was filthy and our cabi steward forgot to make up our room a few nights. I actually had to leave her a note 3-4 days to remind her to bring coffee towels and ice. Actually one ,or if we didn’t even have coffee cups so we could not make our coffee. The restaurants were good overall. Forget about getting a drink at any bar during sea days. This is not an exaggeration at all.... trust me. You can’t get into the main pool area cause it’s so small and there are over 3000 people sitting around it. We sat in the adult only area quite a bit however the cooling spray area water was sooo cold no one could get in it. Too cold. Shows were good, the new rock club was awesome and we went 5 out of 7 nights. I liked the two main shows and did a few wine tastings ( not free) and were good. The new harvest caye stop in Belize was awesome!!!!! We had a good time in costa maya, there is a new adult only pool area near the dolphin area. Was awesome. You had to pay either $15 per chair or order $15 worth if food or drink from the waiter. Was worth the money and would do it again. Was quite but the view was amazing. First time gettin on a shop in New Orleans and was quick, easy and we were on the ship by 1130am. Was very cool cruising out on the Mississippi River. Took over 6 hours but the first hour was cool. Getting off the ship was awesome. They have a service that will take your bags directly from the ship and bring to airport for you and also deliver boarding passes directly to your room the day before leaving. I thought this was awesome and it allowed my husband and I to see the sights of New Orleans for a few hours before our flight home. This is a great service!!! Overall a great trip just a little aggravating with the bar service. If you don’t drink, this is the trio for you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
I had a cruise credit with NCL that was expiring. I selected this cruise for itinerary. The price was fair for two but I feel it unfair to double the rate for one person. I do not eat or require twice the food or service. The ... Read More
I had a cruise credit with NCL that was expiring. I selected this cruise for itinerary. The price was fair for two but I feel it unfair to double the rate for one person. I do not eat or require twice the food or service. The ports were good, service was very good. Shows were good since I rarely attend them, I managed to go to 4 out of the 10 and was surprised. The crew dance group were very good.. The food was good and open dining was quite easy with good selection of restaurants to choose from. The staff was very nice and always helpful. 80 countries represented. I have to comment on the room service charge ($7.95). This was a first for me, as in the past breakfast delivery has ALWAYS been free. I would recommend bringing a wrap as most of the time the public rooms were chilly. Overall it was a good cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
It was the most average of cruises... in the past NCL has wowed me but not this time. Usually, the food is my favorite part but again, I think they have begun finding new ways to cut corners and make more money and sadly for the first ... Read More
It was the most average of cruises... in the past NCL has wowed me but not this time. Usually, the food is my favorite part but again, I think they have begun finding new ways to cut corners and make more money and sadly for the first time I felt it was in the food department :/ The shows were the least amazing that I've seen from them EXCEPT the comedian... he had me rolling and especially at his uncensored show :) Will give NCL another shot (cause I have the discounted deposits) on another itinerary and hope this was a fluke... Pro's Sail Away from Miami The Itinerary of islands Room was pleasant FOUR plus beaches within walking distance from ship which worked out great with my instant pop up canopy / tent for shade = no umbrella rental required ;) Cons Lack Luster shows as compared to their newer ships Food quality was down a bit Food Service was spotty at times Read Less
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