Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by TravelFan3
- Sail Date: September 2018
- Destination: Canada & New England
- Cabin Type: Mini-Suite with Balcony
Embarkation at the Manhattan cruise terminal was the smoothest and quickest we’ve ever had. We arrived at the terminal about 11:30 am and were through security, checked in and on board in 25 minutes. Amazing. Disembarkation in Quebec was also fine. We paid to take the ship’s bus to the train station as we went on to Montreal for a couple of days, but there were plenty of taxis so in retrospect should have just taken a cab or walked because it was very close.
Food was generally good. Really appreciated the omelette stations at the Garden Cafe. Main dining rooms were fine but not exceptional. First evening at the Grand Pacific was very crowded and the staff seemed overwhelmed, probably because there was only one show in the theater that evening so most passengers were eating about the same time. The upside was we shared a table with several other wonderful people who we got to know better over the course of the cruise. We received a promotion for four free specialty restaurants when I booked, so tried Moderno, Teppanyaki, Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro. All very, very good. The highlight for me was Cagney’s; my husband really enjoyed Le Bistro.
We went to most of the shows at the Stardust Theater. Performances were very good, especially the comedian and the acrobats. We skipped the juggler. Musical shows in the theater were good but the music was so loud it drowned out the vocalists. My husband actually put earplugs in his ears one evening. We really enjoyed the music in the various bars in the evening. Didn’t use the fitness center or the casino but enjoyed the trivia matches and some of the other activities, especially on sea days.
We took ship’s excursions in St. John and Halifax. Big buses, not a lot of time to wander around at each stop, as you would expect, but the tour guides on each excursion were fabulous. Very knowledgeable and really went the extra mile to provide lots of information and a sense of the local culture.
The only real negative was the tender process at two of the ports (Bar Harbor and Sydney) which was disorganized, slow and exceptionally frustrating. Very few announcements over the PA system; very poor communication. Although we took two ship’s excursions (noted above), we had private ones booked for those two ports and despite my best efforts, which included lining up very early to get group 1 tender tickets for Sydney, we were over 30 minutes late for both of them. The companies kindly accommodated us on later tours so it worked out okay in the end but it added a great deal of unnecessary stress to an otherwise nice cruise. If you’re not on a ship’s excursion at a tender port, it will take you at least 3 hours to get off the ship under the best of circumstances.
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