4 Norwegian Gem Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

what a disaster! Expected our first cruise to be magical and how wrong we were! The food was the same in most of the 'free' resturants, the paying ones were too expensive. We spent most of the time in the Garden cafe but this was ... Read More
what a disaster! Expected our first cruise to be magical and how wrong we were! The food was the same in most of the 'free' resturants, the paying ones were too expensive. We spent most of the time in the Garden cafe but this was horrendous at breakfast time as there were not enough seats for everyone. Breakfast was late delivered to the room on shore days and half the order missing. drinks were very expensive and 10% surcharge on each drink meant we could not let our hair down as we were on a limited budjet. The nightlife was dismal from the shows to empty bars and cabaret lounges as most Americans went to bed early and only the English were still standing, there was more staff than clients in the bars , we dreaded the evenings after a few days. The pool was on deck, hardly suitable on a Baltic cruise as the weather wasnt that kind to us and icy winds blew in from the the north sea, the 1st nice hot day we had they had drained the water from the pool! The spa was out of bounds for us for again we had to pay $18 per day to use the sauna and the steam room!( you cant get value from that as there is only a small ammount of time you can spend there) We were given an email address to use on board, we did not know that this was gonna cost us a small fortune, so again this was out of bounds, we found internet cafes on shore so much cheaper, we felt duped. On the plus side we had two brilliant cabin boys who kept our dark room clean and added some cheer to our very dull time at sea. this was a trip of a lifetime for us which went very wrong and we couldnt wait to get off, never again!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We did use the Gem one nighter from Rotterdam - Dover just to see the new ship and compare it to the pearl, which we did use in february for 9 nights . Transfer to Port of Rotterdam is very easy .. Just fly into Amsterdam and use the train ... Read More
We did use the Gem one nighter from Rotterdam - Dover just to see the new ship and compare it to the pearl, which we did use in february for 9 nights . Transfer to Port of Rotterdam is very easy .. Just fly into Amsterdam and use the train .. runs every 20 minutes and then it is a short ride by metro. As we did leave the station , the Gem was right in front of us .. only a 2 minutes walk. the Cruise terminal is a little bit older but we did check in in the first group at 11.30 am and were on the ship within 2 minutes. The cabins and layout is a 100% copy of the pearl, which is a good thing .. we booked an inside at Deck 9 which was just fine for the few hours of sleep we wanted to catch . The overall colors on board have been toned down just a little bit compared to the pearl , so it looks very sparkling and animating . It was actually the 2nd night they were running the boat for passengers and we were highly impressed with the service and stuff on board. Everything was running smoothly , bar service, casino , restaurants .. We did choose the Garden Cafe for an early lunch and the food was outstanding and presented very nicely ... We did like the indian dishes and the soup varieties best .... but naturally there were all kinds of salads, burgers, roasts ... pizza/pasta station available .. In the evening we went to Magenta and really liked the atmosphere .. a little bit more light and colors than in the sister restaurant Indigo at the pearl made the difference. The service was immaculate ... food was well prepared, my lamb rack was melting in the mouth .. We were amazed how well everything was working together .. if you did not know you would think this crew was running the boat for at least a couple of months ... not much to improve .. We booked our transfer from Dover to London by bus in advance with NCL and everything worked pretty well .. it is a 3 hours drive so be prepared .. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This is my first review. Maybe I should wait until I've had more time to digest my thoughts, but decided to write something while it's still fresh in my mind. Since I had very little sleep last night having disembarked this ... Read More
This is my first review. Maybe I should wait until I've had more time to digest my thoughts, but decided to write something while it's still fresh in my mind. Since I had very little sleep last night having disembarked this morning and driven straight to work, I do hope what I'm writing will make some sense and be useful somehow. Our cruise was the 2 nighter from Dover to Amsterdam and back to Dover on 6th Oct 2007. The Good The Ship and Crew 1. This was our first time on a new ship having been on the Jewel and Dream previously. The brand new ship was very impressive. Everything was so shiny! Loved the new dolphin carpet. However, by this morning we had already found scuffed carpeting on the stairs. Our balcony stateroom was compact but still lovely. The new partition door for the toilet was a nice useful addition. 2. Being one of the first cruises on this new ship, the friendliness and efficiency of the staff was the best we have experienced so far. Everyone was making so much effort to give the best first impression possible. One of our staterooms had a faulty heater and repair was carried out promptly. 3. The layout of the ship is much improved from the Jewel. Switching the locations of the Bliss Ultra Lounge and the Trade Routes Boutiques made much better use of both spaces. I believe it's very similar from the Pearl though. The Bliss Ultra Lounge was lovely and the velvety new furniture they've scattered at different locations was gorgeous. Provided us with plenty of funny photo opportunities! Dining 4. Being only a 2 nighter, we only ate at the Garden Cafe, the Grand Pacific Main Dining Room, La Cucina Italian Restaurant and the Blue Lagoon. There were 8 in our group, some had travelled on other cruise lines (RCI and MSC, I think) and their verdict was NCL served the best food. 5. The first night was Lobster Night at the main dining rooms and the lobster was pretty good! Our waiter was very helpful and the service was very quick. Some may not appreciate this, but for us having hardly any waiting time between courses was great! 6. On our Jewel cruise we had tried every restaurant apart from the Italian so we made a booking by phone for La Cucina as soon as we got to our stateroom! The food was good, risotto a little underdone and too salty but generally it was good. Great atmosphere in that restaurant and the large windows gave great views. 7. The new layout of the Garden Cafe meant more choice of food and having servers meant less mess and better appetite! The area is very well lit and welcoming, unlike on the Jewel. However, the actual eating area felt very cramped and was difficult to navigate through, they've tried to fit too many tables and chairs in that area. Entertainment 8. The general standard of all the different performers at the various dances and shows was very high, much higher than our previous cruises. The pool band playing at the Sailaway Party was excellent, the lead singer was so pitch perfect they could have been playing a CD! The show at the Stardust Theatre was also very good with much better singers and dancers than on the Jewel or the Dream. 9. Didn't catch his name, but the guy on the piano, who I think was the Music Director, was very good. Not only was his piano playing excellent, he was very funny and even provided music to those waiting to sort things out at reception during disembarkation. 10. On our second night we wandered into the Teen's Leopard Lounge and found "free play" in the games arcade! We spent time playing on all the machines and had a lot of fun! Disembarkation 11. We were able to disembark whenever we were ready rather than deck by deck. Some people were still sleeping by the time we left. Very quick disembarkation at Dover as usual. Now, the Not so Good… I must admit most of these are just minor teething problems… Parking 1. They really need to get their act together at Dover Cruise Terminal Parking. Customers with bookings wait in line with those without bookings. Expect at least 30 minute wait at peak times. Embarkation 2. Embarkation was chaotic. Seemed like everyone arrived at Dover at the same time! Being Latitude members didn't benefit us in any way this time. The rest of our group checked in normally waiting behind a queue of at least 70+ people and us with only 1 family before us in the Latitude check-in, we still finished at the same time! It appeared that the lady checking us in was on training… Lifeboat Drill 3. This point probably had nothing to do with the ship, but I'm still going to rant. Scheduled at 3:30pm., some passengers didn't turn up until after 4:00pm. What usually takes about 15 minutes took more than 45 minutes to complete! I suspect these late passengers had been watching the rugby and couldn't tear themselves away from the screens. If all services ceased at 3:30pm for the drill as advertised, then I'm sure the rest of us wouldn't have been held up unnecessarily. Sailaway Party 4. There was no party. There was a band, but they had been playing as soon as we embarked. There was no BBQ, although it was never advertised, but we had come to expect it due to our other 2 NCL cruises. No special food was laid out (you take the food from the Grill or the Garden Café), no games were organized, it was just an extended lunch! And so we move on to the next point… Cruise Director Clint 5. He was a no-show at the Sailaway Party. Maybe that was why nothing was organized. In the 2 days we were on the ship, we saw Clint once, for about 1 minute at the end of the Stardust Theatre show. Entertainment 6. On our 2 nighter there was only a show on one of the nights. At first we thought this was understandable, this was a shakedown cruise after all. But since reading the first Gem review we have become less understanding because they saw a different show to ours which means they had 2 shows prepared and rehearsed already! Special Request 7. A lady in our group had a birthday during this cruise and I had made a request in the booking for her stateroom. This did not materialize, but understandable since I only ticked a box indicated the birthday in the booking and didn't pay extra. At dinner I made another request for a birthday song and after much clarification and having identified the lady in our group to the staff, this also did not materialize. Well, 11 major good points against 7 minor bad points, I think that's a very good score for a shakedown cruise! I look forward to sailing on the Gem again on a full length cruise once they've perfected everything! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
This was to be my first time on a new NCL Freestyle cruising ship. I didn't know what to expect and wondered if it would suit me as I have been used to the more traditional cruise vacation. I arrived at the Port of Rotterdam at 1230 ... Read More
This was to be my first time on a new NCL Freestyle cruising ship. I didn't know what to expect and wondered if it would suit me as I have been used to the more traditional cruise vacation. I arrived at the Port of Rotterdam at 1230 midday and was given a yellow card with a number 25 on it. I was told to take a seat in the waiting area until my number was called. I was only waiting for 15 minutes and then proceeded to the check in counter. The process was quick and efficient by friendly NCL staff. Rotterdam Terminal is not the best and needs a face lift. As I boarded you couldn't help but admire the Gem. As you enter the ship you are greeted by rich colors and smiling staff. I proceeded to my stateroom which was to be a Balcony BC grade on deck 9. Cabin number 9168 which is at the back of the ship. I opened the door and right away was more than happy with the look and size. The most impressive thing that stood out to me were the bathrooms. It is the first time that I have seen the toilet with a sliding glass door to separate it from the rest of the bathroom. A great idea. The showers are hot and powerful which is what you would expect from Grohe!! These bathrooms are standard even in the lower categories and this puts NCL ahead in my opinion. All plug sockets are American 2 pin so if your from the UK/Europe you will need adapters. All staterooms have Flatscreen HDTV with a good selection of TV channels although I would have liked to have seen Sky News or BBC World available and not just Fox News !! The air conditioning system is good and has a 'quick cool' button if you want instant temperature reduction. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers are available and a easy to use safe. The beds were very comfortable with good pillows that provide good support. I decided to then go to the top of the ship and work my way down. I wanted to familiarize myself with the facilities on offer. Deck 14 and 15 had plenty of sun deck space with nice new loungers. Also the rock climbing wall is here. Then down to deck 13 for the Spinnaker lounge, the decor is quite eye opening to put it mildly but is a really nice place to chill by day and socialize by night. Cagneys Steak house is a must and did not disappoint. The meal I had there was amazing and the food exceeded all expectations. Deck 12 houses the Spa and it really is a tranquil place to come to at least a few times during your cruise. The hydro pool is very inviting and the hot ceramic loungers are most welcoming. The sauna I saw in the mens changing rooms was really nice and a good size. It looks out to sea and was the ideal temperature. The spa has all the normal facilities with Elemis treatments etc... The Library was well stocked and a nice place to come for peace and quiet. Next door is the card room very similar to other cruise lines. The Tahitian Pool is really nice and the hot tubs are a good place to spend a few hours to wind down and relax the muscles. The swimming pool is heated to a comfortable temperature. The water slide is fun and I have to admit I tried it Once! The loungers have really soft mattresses and look really well. On either side of the ship in the pool area they have these double bed like chairs where you can relax and even take a siesta. I thought they were a brilliant idea. The grill served hot dogs hamburgers and salads which were of a good standard and fresh. The Garden cafe was really nice and the amount of choice was impressive. I had the best Indian lunch there in a long time. There was always a wide choice of Chicken,Beef,Pork,Fish dishes with soups,salads,desserts and the Pecan Ice cream is a must. On a sunny day take your food to the back of the Garden Cafe 'The Great Outdoors' where you can sit outside which was really nice. All of the restaurants are impressive in design. I managed to eat in the Grand Pacific dining room,Cagneys Steak house and Lotus Garden. Grand Pacific is your traditional cruise ship main dining experience and the food was of a high standard and service was also good. Cagneys as stated above was amazing. Lotus Garden was a real gourmet experience and the Chinese dishes were all presented in a unique way. You will know what I mean when you dine there. The choice was huge and it was hard to decide what dish to go for as they all looked so good. I went for the Chicken Satays with peanut sauce for starter then the beef Szechuan strips with chicken fried rice. It was perfect and service was second to none. On this particular cruise the restaurants , especially Cagneys and Orchid got really busy between 8pm and 9pm. Best to make reservations. The Teppanyaki looked very impressive but I didn't have enough time to try it although I would love to in future. Down to Deck 8 where the Blue Lagoon is housed and offers 24 hour dining. I went one night at 11pm and decided to try the Singapore Fried rice with chicken,shrimp and pork. It was simply delicious and makes a great snack at anytime. There was also fish and chips in a basket which I thought was a great idea. The bowling alley and nightclub are impressive. The nightclub has private VIP areas with four poster beds and other such novelties. The DJ was very good and knew how to get a crowd on the dance floor. The show on both nights was 'Worldbeat' which was a mix of Greek,Irish, American and Japanese music fused into one 45 minute presentation. It was very professional and for someone that doesn't really go to alot of shows , I went to the same show on both nights so that says it all. The Java Cafe and the crystal Atrium are really nice meeting places. This area houses the reception,shore excursion desk,internet cafe and cashier. The Java Cafe does a mean cappuccino and is well worth a visit. I was lucky enough to see most types of cabins with the highlight being the Courtyard Villas. As you enter you just go 'WOW'. It is pure luxury and offers the ultimate 5 star cruise vacation experience. The facilities on offer are mind blowing and if your budget can stretch to it then why not. They are like apartments, in fact they are bigger than some apartments I have seen!! So what's my impression?? Well before I got on board I was wondering if the vibrant colors and 'different' furnishings would be to my taste and would I find it all a bit too much. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised because NCL have got it right, they know what they are doing. It really does work and creates the perfect vacation environment. Would I go on NCL again ?? Yes I really have to say I'm seriously thinking about booking the Gem for my next vacation. The FreeStyle experience has changed my opinion of what I want from my cruise vacation and has opened up a whole new world to me. I love the idea of dine when you want with whom you want and being able to choose whether to wear a suit or just go smart casual. For all of you lucky people booked on Gem prepare to be amazed!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Norwegian Gem Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.8

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