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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.

The Gem has lost its sparkle

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by TongueTwister

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2019
  • Destination: Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Porthole Window
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.
TongueTwister’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Oceanview Porthole Window
Cabin OG 5502
Very small cabin.
ONE closet
No room for a chair or sofa.
Port hole was inset into the ship by a foot and difficult to see out of
Only 1 110V outlet
GREAT shower
Deck 5 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Kayaking
    A great, active shore excursion. The kayaking was fun and informative, but we had a malfunctioning seat in the kayak that wasn't fun. The snorkeling was only okay. A lot of dead coral and not a lot of fish. LOVED the gardens in the departure/arrival area.
    View All 36 Kayaking Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    A great crew, but the snorkeling in the two locations wasn't great . The caves were interesting, but not extraordinary. There weren't a lot of coral or fish. They wanted it to be great, but it wasn't.
    View All 66 Snorkeling Reviews