Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by beckyberry822
- Sail Date: January 2015
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Mid-Ship Balcony
The Norwegian Gem was a cruise from January 12, 2015 to January 21, 2015 round trip out of New York. Port of Calls were Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, & Tortola.
We were in stateroom 10572 (Port Side with balcony).
Embarkation was simple and efficient. We were surprised to find that our stateroom was ready when we boarded. A definite plus for Norwegian! I was traveling with my sister, friend and her son. During the embarkation, my friend's son got sick and vomited. He was quarantined to the room for 8 hours. During those 8 hours he vomited again and was brought to medical where he was given a shot and 3 medications to take ($184 later). The next day he was starting to feel better and by the second day he was back to normal. This was his and his mom's first cruise. I was completely surprised that medical or anyone from the stateroom ever checked to see how he was feeling. During one of our prior cruises on Carnival, my mom got injured and they were checking on her every 2 hours to see how she was feeling and if she needed any food or anything. They even contacted after the cruise to see how she was doing. I guess this is not the Norwegian way.
My sister and I went out and toured the ship on the first night while my friend and her son were quarantined to the room. We noticed that a lot of the activities on the cruise ship required fees. There wasn't much complimentary to do. We were not impressed with the slide to the pool either. It wasn't that big and it didn't have much water flowing in it, which left the feeling that people wouldn't slide down well, which later we found out was exactly what happen. A lot of people (adults) got stuck and had to push themselves down. It didn't empty into the pool.
We went to the buffet and it was horrible. There wasn't much variety and on most days it was the same food with a very small change. The quality of the food was horrible to. A lot of the foods were very spicy and not mentioned in the description that they were spicy. There were weird combinations of food too. The buffet also wasn't open all day. It was open only certain hours and then at night to about midnight they had a small portion of the buffet open with hot dogs that looked so ill that I wouldn't even give it to a homeless person or dog. The burgers looked like they were out all day and maybe longer. There were a few other things out but everything looked old and horrible. After midnight the buffet area was blocked including the beverages. Again, this was different from Carnival.
They had Pizza onboard but it cost $5 a small pie. Really? Carnival Sunshine had a Pizzaria onboard that was complimentary and amazingly delicious. Norwegian had pizza at the buffet and it was dry and hard and disgusting.
We went to the Grand Pacific Dining Room which was full of dust and flying around. We went to have dinner and unfortunately there was not much for a child to eat. We ordered chicken fingers for him but they were so hard and dry, he didn't like them, we all tasted them and didn't like them either. Horrible. The steak was delicious. Juicy and flavorful. Service was atrocious. 2 hours for dinner? Really? I was truly surprised to find that there was no shrimp cocktail on the appetizer list at all. I had to pay $21 for a dozen of shrimp through room service and get this, it was over an hour to receive. Couldn't understand that. We had lunch at the Grand Pacific Dining room once and there really wasn't much on the menu for us. Even the desserts weren't all that. The Magenta Dining room was even worse. Needless to say, I had a lot of steak and BLT (only available from room service). My friend's poor son didn't have much to eat at all. He ate a lot of potato chips and french fries. One night they had a BBQ meal in the dining room so he had that, but there really wasn't much for kids to eat at all. We were also surprised that entrees were not served with vegetables. We had to request vegetables and they would only give broccoli and made a face at that. I unfortunately can't eat broccoli due to health reasons. Just horrible. Never experienced any of this on Carnival. We loved the food. We had something different every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day including on our 12 day cruise.
Teppanyaki is a Japanese Hibachi Restaurant which is $25/pp and 1/2 off for children 12 and under. Fun atmosphere and the food was very tasty. Second best meal we had on the ship the entire 9 days. Worth $25, no! The portion was very small and majority of it was fried rice. Our chef was great and a lot of fun. I had steak and it was delicious but not enough. We were all hungry about an hour later. I felt a $15 price would have been more adequate.
Moderno is a Brazillian Churrascaria Restaurant which is $20/pp and 1/2 off for children 12 and under. AMAZING! BEST MEAL ON THE ENTIRE CRUISE! The salad bar alone was worth $20. It was loaded with various meats, cheeses, soups, salad and toppings, olives, etc. It was fresh and delicious. Then the meat comes out and oh my goodness was it delicious. Tender and just delicious. We were rolling out of that restaurant for being so full. Definitely recommend it.
Due to weather conditions we were delayed leaving the New York Port 1 hour and instead of making up the time getting to Puerto Rico, we ended up losing another hour and arrived 2 hours late to Puerto Rico which made some people miss out on their excursions. They extended our time in Puerto Rico, but it screwed up many guests plans.
Entertainment on the cruise was horrible. There was no productions. It was basically karaoke. Horrible. Worse entertainment I have ever seen. My nieces school has better production shows. Cruise director was not very good. First 2 days we didn't even see him anywhere.
The Splash Academy for children was a bore according to my friend's son. He never wanted to go. They closed at various times of the day. Another thing that did not happen on Carnival Cruises that I have been on. I believe that it was a bore because I saw more kids roaming the boat than actually in the program. Even the description of activities sounded boring. On Carnival, the kids didn't even want to leave the program and I never saw kids roaming the ship.
As I said, I haven't cruised much, but I will definitely think twice about taking another NCL cruise. A lot of people put Carnival down, but honestly, I think they are far better and less expensive than this cruise. I wish I would have stayed with them. The staterooms are bigger and they have a lot more options of excursions at ports. Food is EXTREMELY better and the Entertainment is actually Broadway style. Lots more to do and the pools are bigger.
Disembarkation was a disaster. They did not inform us of anything. Being that I have cruised before, I had an idea of what happens. I know that you put your luggage out the night before and you have to have tags etc. Now on Carnival all this information was given in the daily schedule along with your tags and how the entire process happened. NCL does not give you information except on how to complete the Customs form and where the gangways are. I had to ask our Steward how this worked and he informed me that we had to go to Guest Services to get the tags and the Customs form. One thing I did like was that we got to choose when we wanted to depart the ship. Once you knew what was going on, then the disembarkation was done smoothly. We actually were off the ship with our bags and out of the port within 30 minutes. That was great. It was just finding out what happens with disembarkation.
My other gripe about this cruise ship is that most of the crew were foreigners and either didn't understand English well or didn't speak it well. A lot of times we would ask questions and the crew just looked at us like we had five heads. They didn't understand anything and didn't know how to assist us. My friends son went missing from the pool area, so I went over to a crew member and after 3 minutes of trying to explain my friend's son was missing, he said to look around the pool area and the arcade. He didn't offer to help us, didn't ask for a photo, and didn't direct us on who to contact to really assist us. We looked around the pool area and we had already checked the arcade area and Splash Academy. I finally said forget this let's go to Guest Services, maybe they understand English better. We found him there with some friends he made on the ship and one of the friends was there looking for his parents. It take a second for a child to disappear and for the crew member to tell us to just go off and look on our own without trying to help was horrible. I was truly surprised at the non-emergent care he took to help us. Thankfully, we found him and he was fine.
I don't know if I will cruise with Norwegian again, but I know they definitely will not be my first choice and I know I'm not alone in this from people we met onboard that complained about all the same things we had. Mostly the issue of food, the issue of lack of entertainment and no production at all, and how money hungry NCL is and charges for just about everything.
I truly feel that they have the crappy food in the complimentary areas so you will pay for the restaurants on board. Having 1 or 2 purchase restaurants is acceptable, more than that, just makes you look like a rip off cruise line and that's exactly how I feel about this cruise.
Also, remember, Eastern Caribbean is a lot more choppy. This cruise had a ton of people sea sick on it including people that have cruised several times and never got sea sick. Take meds if you get the slightest bit sea sick or have never cruised before.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
San JuanPuerto Rico Thursday, January 15, 2015 5pm - MidnightWe didn't do an excursion here. We hung our near the port which didn't have much there. It reminded me of the Grand Caymans except less shopping areas. We had dinner across from the port at Senor Frogs which was fun and delicuos. We were giving a coupon for a free Green Legs shot which was strong and delicious. We had the baby back ribs. The meat just fell off the bone. Really worth the visit. The DJ was doing such a great job get the customers hyped and ready to party, he should have been our cruise director, He was so much better. Playing fun music and just pumping everyone up. The San Sebastian festival was going on while we were there. Just a bunch of music and vendors along the streets selling stuff. We got great souvenirs cheap. Other than that, not much to do. There is a CVS a few blocks from the port which was great for some essentials cheaper than the boat prices.View All 3,767 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
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St. MaartenSt. Maarten Saturday, January 17, 2015 8am - 5pmWe did the MAHO BEACH TRANSFER excursion. This is a must see beach. The airport is across the street from the beach and the incoming planes fly about 50 feet above your head. Absolutely amazing. There are several casinos near this beach too and places to eat. The beach is rather small and very crowded on this day as there were over 6 cruise ships in the port. The water is warm and beautiful. You can see right to the bottom. For this excursion we had to sign a waiver for this beach and take matters into our own hands. The beach is literally across the street from the airports runway and there is a fence and many signs that say "DANGER! Jet Blasts! DO NOT STAND HERE!" Well, the thrill for some people is to hold onto that fence for dear life when a plane is getting ready to take off. Insel air gave the biggest blast on this day. He was there for quite a while revving up and there were people flown into the water and people on the beach in that direction were blown away along with all their belongings. There were only a few people that were able to hold on to the fence. It was definitely an experience and wild thing to see! I would highly recommend it.View All 4,728 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
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City TourSt. Thomas Friday, January 16, 2015 8am - 6pmWe did the BEST OF ST. THOMAS excursion. This is an absolute beautiful island. With this excursion we were taken to the Great Mountain Top where we were able to get a view of Magen's Bay and a delicious Banana Daiquari which was worth the $12. It was very tasty. We were also able to get some souvenirs, but they were rather pricey. We stopped at another part where we got more of a view of St. Thomas and St. John and there were vendors selling souvenirs at much better prices. We got all our souvenirs here. Then we went to the Great House and Botanical Gardens where we were given a complimentary virgin and alcoholic Rum Punch which went down great. You served yourself and were able to go back for more. The views were breathtaking. The temperature was 81 degrees and it felt great. This is basically the temperature year round. I could definitely move there. This was definitely my favorite port of call on this cruise. The tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly and very informative throughout the excursion. I would definitely recommend this excursion, especially if you don't want to do a lot of walking or sitting at the beach.View All 104 City Tour Reviews
TortolaTortola Sunday, January 18, 2015 7am - 1pmI can't say much about this port as we did not do an excursion. They were very expensive. We had to tender at this location. (Tender is a ferry type of boat you take over to land from where the cruise ship drops anchors.) There is no port. They are building one to supposedly open sometime in 2015. This was a waste of a stop and horrible for NCL to even put this on their roster. First of all, Sunday in Tortola - everything is closed. Beaches are about 20-30 minutes away. There is absolutely nothing to do. No shopping, no restaurants, nothing. They had some taxis to take you to the beach and there was an Island Tour but if you got across to land later than 9am you were screwed because the last tender was at 12:15 pm. The Island Tour was 2 1/2 hours long and the beach taxis were 2 hours. The prices weren't bad, I just wish the Norwegian Cruise Line would have told us about this and warned us to get across early. They truly screwed a lot of people on this stop. I don't know why they didn't stop somewhere else and they were aware of this because the crew even made fun of guests that went over to just use a restroom and returned.View All 1,376 Tortola Cruise Port Reviews
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