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3 Cruise to Nowhere Spa Cruise Reviews

Our cruise was a 2 night cruise to nowhere out of Norfolk, Virginia. Travelers were my 12 year old daughter and I. It took us just about 2 hours from the time we arrived at the port until we were actually on the ship. We arrived at ... Read More
Our cruise was a 2 night cruise to nowhere out of Norfolk, Virginia. Travelers were my 12 year old daughter and I. It took us just about 2 hours from the time we arrived at the port until we were actually on the ship. We arrived at the port, and were directed to parking- which was a drive away (close to 2 miles away), and parking was $15/day. We finally found it, following the instructions we had been given, then we took our bag, and walked over to the bus (we got the back of the parking lot, so it was a pretty decent haul to the bus). Bags were loaded, and we hopped onto a motor coach to head over the cruise ship. So far so good- honeymooners on the bus, lots of happy people. We got off the bus, then they showed us where to go- we had to go get in line with everyone else- up the stairs, and across a bridge, (there were elevators available), and wait to get through security. We waited on the bridge about an hour and 30 minutes. Wind whipping through us, and cold. We got up to security, finally, and there were exactly 4 sets of metal detectors and scanners going. Since we all carried our bags onto the ship, this was the cause of the bottleneck. There was space for several more scanners, and frankly had they changed their setup a little bit, they could have gotten as many as 15-20 scanners in there, to eliminate the security line. I'm not sure what the "ideal" waiting time is, but frankly 1.5 hours is too much. They need to work some operations management, and get this fixed. Telling me that those people don't work for the cruise line, is a cop out I'm not likely to accept. Note to Carnival- Fix your embarkation process. I got up to the scanner, and they saw that I had a hole punch in my bag (which I carry to put a hole into my room key so I can wear it on a lanyard around my neck, and I can do the same for the kids with me).. They searched through every bit of my bags, and eventually took the hole punch. Apparently they take away all tools, since they could somehow be a hazard on duty. Uh- frankly, I could have done more damage with other things they already give me on board- can you say steak knife? Or broken glass? Or any of dozens of other items, so this just seemed, asinine, and petty. And frankly stupid. They kept it in safe keeping until the morning of embarkation until we were getting ready to get off, but still on board the ship. Uh- okay.. If it's so dangerous, do you think I should have this "dangerous" thing on me at any point during the cruise? And guys- it's a _hole_punch_. Color me really confused. So, note to self, next time I get on a carnival ship (which will be with a party of 15 people), take them all by guest services to get our key cards punched, because we need them punched to keep from losing them.. Yeah. That'll be swell. Lines- There were lines, especially for the breakfast buffet on Saturday morning. We didn't actually attempt to get into line, since it wrapped half way around the deck, and made do with rolls, cold cut meats, and cheese. Frankly they NEED to fix the lines at the buffets. Make the actual buffet lines shorter, and separate sections. Don't put every single thing on one buffet line, just the "basic" stuff. If I want an omelette, i'll go to a separate station. This is another area where they need to get their acts in gear and work with some operations management folks. The ship felt crowded, probably due to the fact that the weather was chilly and no-one was up at the pool deck. The stores were a mess. There was jumbled merchandise, pinch points in the flow of the stores, counters where there was no merchandise, just stuff stacked in the corner. The cabin- was very nice. I like that the bathrooms are fairly spacious. and that the door opens out into the room, so I don't have to play a game of twister to get into the bathroom area. The area is a single module, which contains shower, next to toilet, next to sink. It is very economical in space, but very usable, and doesn't feel cramped. I like the lay-out of the balcony stateroom we were in. The room is a peach/white/beige color scheme with peach/dark red in the carpet on the floor. There is a couch, chair, stool, and table. The bed was on the firm side. The couch was cushier. The beds are on the back half of the room, with the "living area" in the front half, next to the bathrooms. Closet space is ample, and closet doors are open-close, and very functional. I had enough space to set my bag on the desk for the 2 night cruise. our cabin steward was AMAZING. We'd go to breakfast, or to dinner, and come back to the room being made up 100% of the time. Food- overall was quite good. We had dinner in the Platinum dining room at 6:00 PM both nights. Aside from the buffet lines, all of the food was quite good. We ordered room service a couple of times (once for a snack, and once for breakfast on debarkation morning), and that came promptly both times. The first night I couldn't get through on the phone due to being on hold the entire time, despite repeated attempts. We were unable to dine at the steak house, as reservations were not available for anything before 9 PM once we got onboard. The spa was good. They layout is unusual in that the treatment rooms are directly off the salon, and there can be noise from the salon or other locations coming into the staterooms. I had a manicure, pedicure, facial, and massage done at a couple of different trips up there. They were all quite good. Circle C- My daughter found the program for the 12-14 year olds to be wanting, both in terms of the quality of programming, and the amount of programming available. It was better than Royal Caribbean's Oasis (from December), but worse than Disney's Wonder (in April). Debarkation- was very smooth. Since it was a closed loop cruise to nowhere, we didn't have to go through immigration, or customs. They were calling cabins by floor, but fairly quickly, people were just getting off the ship. The line never did get very long, and just kept moving quickly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
What a blast, rocking on the Norwegian Jewel's cruise to nowhere. Embarkation was a breeze, we got to the terminal about 11, paid $70 for 2-night parking, had priority check-in, got group #5, and we boarded and were eating lunch at ... Read More
What a blast, rocking on the Norwegian Jewel's cruise to nowhere. Embarkation was a breeze, we got to the terminal about 11, paid $70 for 2-night parking, had priority check-in, got group #5, and we boarded and were eating lunch at the buffet by 12:15! Dining: Speaking of buffets, I read all the previous negative reviews, and I just don't get it. You must be a really picky eater if you cannot find something you like. Ok, the Jewel did not have all the fancy Chef named stations as other lines have, but you could easily choose from very good pizza, hamburger, hot dog stations, to pressed sandwiches, pasta to order, chinese, indian, and american fare food. Since we boarded early, the food was hot, plentiful, and the choices were endless, our 2 buffet lunches and 2 buffet breakfast's were excellent. We booked dinner online in advance a month before the cruise, and on night #1 we ate at the excellent Braziian BBQ called Moderno's and were were not disappointed for the $20 upcharge per person. The salad bar was fresh with cold seafood, salads, soups, olives, cheeses, breads etc. The main meal came with delicious sides of garlic mashed potatoes, fluffy rice and black beans, and fried bananas which were tasteless. The highlight of course were the skewers of piping hot flavorful meats, including garlic beef, lamb chops, sirloin, filet mignon, chicken, chorizo, etc. The place was fun, it was buzzing with energy, and the desserts of flan and papaya ice cream were delicious also. Word got out the food was so good there, that it was fully booked on night #2. Dinner night #2 we ate at the French Bistro, and surprisingly, we were a little disappointed. Appetizers of escargot swimming in garlic, mussels in a cream sauce, and scallops were good. Main course of roasted duck and pork with apples, were boring, not hot, and had very little flavor. Only my filet of beef was excellent, but it had a weird tasteless potato gratin as a side. This place was not worth the $20 upcharge, and it appears it gets served out of the main kitchen so why all the fuss? Cabin: We had a mini-suite on deck 11, right below the outdoor deck, the pool, the spa the gym and Garden Cafe buffet, a perfect location. The suite was wonderful, it had a queen size bed and sofa that became a full size bed that could be separated by a curtain, gave the feeling of 2 rooms in one! We had plenty of room for the 3 of us, and we drank coffee brewed from our in suite coffee maker, and also had beer and wine on the balcony. Plenty of storage room, and a bathroom with a shower and bathtub combo, very serviceable. Pool/Spa/Gym: What a good time we had lounging in the outdoor hot tubs during a snowstorm, people were having a grand time, and the outdoors pools were heated and full of happy people, even though the temps were in the 40's and 30's. Excellent gym, which was full on day 2 sea, and the spa was worth the up charge of $45 for the 2-days. Entertainment/Activities: Ok, there were a lack of day time activities, too much bingo, the boring Deal or no Deal game, but the casino was full and fun, the comedian on night #1 was excellent, and the sail away parties or any parties led by the DJ were crowded and rocking. While there was no official disco, the Spinnaker Lounge was where the DJ had us all dancing way past midnight. We saw the Band on the Run show on night 2 which was good. The piano player who did Elton John was very entertaining, and most of the live music at the different venues were very good. Would have been nicer for few more activities during the day 2 at sea like wine tasting, ship and kitchen tours, etc. Getting off the ship: Best system of any cruise line, its hotel style, just walk off anytime after 7:30 with your carryon bags. We walked off after breakfast at 9, and were home in our driveway by 10:30. Overall: This was our 2nd cruise to nowhere, a two-nighter this time on the NCL Jewel, last year we were on the Gem. Quick comparison between the 2, the Jewel is a little dated compared to the Gem, there was no Bliss Lounge, in its place was the largest at sea store I have ever seen. In some respects I thought it was a waste of space. The Jewel like the Gem has a pay for fee Spa, but while nice, the Jewel's hydrotherapy pool was much smaller than the Gem's. Another gripe, why doesn't NCL have an indoor atrium and walkthrough decks? You can't walk across deck 6 from one end to the other, you have to go up a deck to deck 7 and back down to get to the casino? But overall, what a rocking good time for the 2 days at sea, we were never bored, the NY crowd was all into partying, we saw plenty of fun bachelor and bachelorette parties. We will take another 2 night cruise to nowhere on NCL again! Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
Took my wife and 3 of her friends on the NCL Gem on a cruise to nowhere out of Manhattan for my wife's 50th birthday celebration. I booked 2 interior adjoining staterooms on deck 11 which was just 1 deck below the Garden Cafe buffet, ... Read More
Took my wife and 3 of her friends on the NCL Gem on a cruise to nowhere out of Manhattan for my wife's 50th birthday celebration. I booked 2 interior adjoining staterooms on deck 11 which was just 1 deck below the Garden Cafe buffet, the pool and sports, deck, etc! I booked this cruise due to the convenience of hopping on in Manhattan as we are from Long Island. I read a lot of negative reviews for the NCL freestyle experience, so I had to see it for myself as we are experienced cruisers with 12 under our belt split between Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines and their set dining times which we are fan of. Here is a quick rundown of our fantastic 50th birthday celebration: Embarkation - A total disaster as 2 NCL ships were being loaded, the Gem and Jewel. We arrived at the Manhattan cruise ship terminal at 12:15, paid our $30 to park overnight, and from there the cue lines were ridiculous and we did not board till 2:30. Taking over 2 hours to check-in is unacceptable, it must go better when there is only one ship being checked in. Dembarkation - Great experience, ship docked a little after 8 AM, we ate breakfast at the garden buffet, and we could leave at our leisure from our rooms at any time no later than 10 AM. We grabbed our bags from our room at 9 AM, we easily got off and in our truck and we were out of there and out of Manhattan by 9:30, and home an hour later at 10:30! Great de-embarkation system, no calling decks, special assists, etc, just leave when you want! Dining - As soon as we boarded we dropped our bags in our rooms and headed to the buffet which appeared overcrowded. We then got seated at the Grand Pacific dining room and had a nice lunch of philly cheesesteaks, french fries, portobello mushrooms, steak, etc. Service was just ok, but the food was good. After lunch and the lifeboat drill, we hit the pool area, and saw a fantastic outdoor BBQ where the food looked amazing, I wish we ate there, and we will hit on a future NCL cruise! The best dining times for the best restaurants were already booked up by 3 PM, so I called and got the La Cucina Italian restaurant for an 8:45 dinner. Sitting in that restaurant made us feel like were at an italian eatery in town, the food was worth the $10 cover charge, we had nice meal, no crowd, nice atmosphere. Having a bad perception of the free style dining was washed away as I took a tour of all the restaurants, and they all looked worthy of their cover charges. You can make a reservation via phone in your room, on the phone in the passage ways, or at the restaurants themselves. There were TV screens area showing the times and availability of the restaurants, so that system worked well. We hit the Garden Buffet on the pool deck in the afternoon between lunch and dinner and the next morning, and we loved the layout of it. It was different and had a different nice feel compared to Carnival, again, it felt like a Las Vegas buffet with the themed dining stations. overall the food in the buffet was good. Room - Our inside suite was very nice, comfortable mattresses, great Ikea wood like decor everywhere including in the bathroom where the shower stall had a great layout and glass shower doors, soap was provided, we loved it. We peeked in the balcony rooms and hope to book a suite the next time. Entertainment - The NCL Gem had a great Las Vegas vibe, maybe it was the NY/NJ crowd who were looking to party till our eyes bled knowing we were there for only one night. The party started immediately after the lifeboat drill at 3 PM with the DJ rocking the pool deck. It was cold and windy, but people were dancing and partying for 2 hours, we had so much fun. The main show at 7:30 was cheesy but fun, the flow of the lounges, bars, public areas was a nice change from Carnival and Royal, and the Blizz lounge had a fantastic rock band from England. When the band was done at 11 PM, the DJ picked right up for the toga party, and we danced and partied till 1 AM in the ultracool Bliss lounges that had full size beds in it. Again I felt like we were in Las Vegas. There was plenty of live entertainment in multiple lounges, the bars were beautiful, we really enjoyed touring the public areas. Spa - I purchased Spa admission for the 5 of us at $30 each, and we spent 2 blissful hours in there in the hot tubs, heated chaise lounges. The Spa had separate areas for men and women with Sauna, steam and whirlpool tubs, and they had a coed area that was was pure joy. The Spa had a European feel, we relaxed sweated, took in the sites and we would buy a Spa package in the future! Summary - We were pleasantly surprised with our overall NCL Gem experience. The ship had a great vibe, people were buzzing and partying everywhere, the food was good not great, the service was good not great, but with so many dining choices you will be satisfied. We will sail on NCL again, next time for 7 days or more. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012

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