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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
This was the smallest ship we have ever cruised on. There was no problem doing anything on board that we wanted to do. Even with only four small elevators (sign said max capacity of 10...realistically more like six), there was never an ... Read More
This was the smallest ship we have ever cruised on. There was no problem doing anything on board that we wanted to do. Even with only four small elevators (sign said max capacity of 10...realistically more like six), there was never an unreasonable wait time. The dining experiences were all over the top...service was excellent...wait staff were knowledgeable, attentive, and efficient (even though Oceania said tipping was not necessary, we did tip at meals and the bars, and the service was even better the next time we were there). The afternoon tea service was a very nice touch...excellent selection of teas...excellent selection of tea sandwiches, scones, and petite sweets, and there were ample times for seconds (or thirds...) The string quartet playing during afternoon tea made it even better. Probably the only thing that could have gone better would have been the embarkation process. I would easily put the average age of the cruisers on this trip at 60+. At the pre-screening area, there were only a handful of chairs to be had (and a lot of unhappy looking older citizens standing around). As each boarding class was called, they had to negotiate their way through a large group standing around the starting que. Then through the x-ray screening and magnetometer (only one being used of the six available), then the medical paperwork, then the actual check-in where you got your room key card, then on to the ship. There were a lot, and I mean a lot of chairs between the check-in area and the boarding door where lots of people could have been comfortably sitting instead of being uncomfortable in the pre-embarkation area. One day at sea we were notified that the verandas were going to be washed...another day we were notified that the woodwork on the verandas was going to be varnished. Veranda not available for use during these times. Disembarkation was a hurry up and wait process, but, at least there seemed to be enough seats for people. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
I'm platinum on NCL and Carnival. I prefer not to fly so I generally cruise out of NY or Baltimore. I chose this cruise as it was my 50th bday and didn't want to do the usual 7 day cruise to the Bahamas. I took my entire ... Read More
I'm platinum on NCL and Carnival. I prefer not to fly so I generally cruise out of NY or Baltimore. I chose this cruise as it was my 50th bday and didn't want to do the usual 7 day cruise to the Bahamas. I took my entire family on this trip (8 of us) and 3 friends came as well. I upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite on the private Haven floor, room 14006. My family, friends, and I had an excellent time. The food was great. Service in the Grand Pacific dining room the 1st night didn't go so well, but we'll chuck it up to our large group and 1st cruise night issues. My only 2 complaints are: 1. They skipped the last port of St Thomas Mon 3/25/19 because they were expecting a storm on Wednesday and wanted to get ahead of it. Other passengers stated they were on this same cruise before and the same thing supposedly happened. 2. We were supposed to arrive back in NY at 10am. I had hired a limo service to pick us up at 11am. We arrived in NY at 6am and they MADE us get off the ship BY 10am (the time we were SUPPOSED to arrive) so my family and friends had to stand outside for over an hour in 40 degree cold waiting for our ride from PA because NCL didn't stick to their own itinerary & because the inside terminal was closed due to the ship not picking up any new passengers as the ship was repositioning to Boston. This was my 7th time on the NCL Gem. I enjoy this ship. I truly enjoy the Haven and have sailed in that type of room often. I did have an excellent 50th birthday, my family truly enjoyed themselves. However an otherwise perfect cruise was tainted by an inconvenient, avoidable, and frustrating debarkation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Really enjoy NCL cruises as they offer a great choice of ports, The other passengers were friendly and we enjoyed chatting over meals. I love the variety of cocktails included in the drinks package. The entertainment is 1st class ... Read More
Really enjoy NCL cruises as they offer a great choice of ports, The other passengers were friendly and we enjoyed chatting over meals. I love the variety of cocktails included in the drinks package. The entertainment is 1st class especially in piano bars were Justin kept us entertained with singalongs - very talented guy. We enjoy relaxing listening to the music after dinner or after a show. The staff throughout the ship were professional and food in all the restaurants we ate at were excellent. The pool area had enough sun beds and was well maintained although during this cruise the pool wasn’t busy due to the weather being very changeable as it was autumn. The Gem is a smaller and older ship which suits us as the bigger ships aren’t as cosy. We enjoyed it so much we’ve already booked our next cruise, heading to South America in Feb 2020. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
The overall experience was very good, but Norwegian needs to make a few changes. First, I think the Internet goes to die on the Gem. Even when docked in NYC, you can’t get a website to boot up— including their own! I think we can all ... Read More
The overall experience was very good, but Norwegian needs to make a few changes. First, I think the Internet goes to die on the Gem. Even when docked in NYC, you can’t get a website to boot up— including their own! I think we can all agree that the ship isn’t moving or too far from cellular towers at that point. If you need to do any research, it’s not going to happen. My friends paid for unlimited Internet, but were unable to use it. Embarking wasn’t so bad, but people were hungry and waited until 9 pm for their luggage to arrive. St. Maarten is signicantly damaged by the hurricane. We were unable to book a beach excursion for this stop, and ended up at Orient Beach—- lots of beach grass in the water made this less than fun with 2 young children. St. Lucia was fantastic. We booked an excursion through a tour company that made our trip. Antigua is fine. We booked a beach excursion and everyone was nice and helpful. I honestly wanted more time in St. Thomas. We were scheduled for only 6 hours (7a-1p) which made NO sense bearing in mind that this location offered the most excursions. At this point, one of my children was ill and I really wanted to go to Walgreen’s as I had in San Juan earlier in the week. (That store was very well stocked, efficient and welcoming with prices consistent with those of the continental US.) Because I was traveling alone (my husband had the children), I was told by multiple cab drivers that they “couldn’t be bothered to drive that far for one person”. There is a poorly stocked Medicine Shop near the dock that did not offer what I needed for my daughter. I was hoping for more in a US country. The food was good. For a dining room, Magenta is outstanding. The staff is very conscientious and helpful, as opposed to the Grand Pacific which is disorganized at best. The Garden Cafe’s best meal is breakfast hands down. Disembarking was AWFUL. Again, you’re docked in NYC but forget about the Internet. The colors for the luggage tickets were not called in the order listed on the nightly blurb. After disembarking FINALLY started, they stopped it to refuel the boat... for another 30+ minutes. Then, when your luggage color was called, you get to stand in a line that wraps around the entire 7th floor while your cards are scanned— one at a time, not like when you leave the ship in a port which offers 2-3 lines to be scanned. THEN, you stand in line to go down 2 single file escalators. After you locate all your luggage, you stand in line at customs. There were only 2 agents checking ID. At this point, another 300-400 people who got off the boat AFTER you, and who magically have luggage carts available to them get to bypass you to a mystical third customs inspector who finally appears. We disembarked after 1 pm. Also, don’t think you can take your child to the library to work on homework. There’s no room and other passengers just don’t care. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We arrived in NYC according to instructions. We were informed the ship would be late, and not leaving until midnight. Two hours later, they said the ship is not coming and "make other arrangements". Luckily, I was able to ... Read More
We arrived in NYC according to instructions. We were informed the ship would be late, and not leaving until midnight. Two hours later, they said the ship is not coming and "make other arrangements". Luckily, I was able to procure a hotel near by. The rest of the cruise was fine, but we missed two islands, and St Thomas was it's usual half a day. I can't imagine if anyone saw this as a cruise itinery that they would book it. High winds was the explanation for all the confusion. Have not heard a word about any sort of a refund as yet, BUT we had better get something, weather related or not we paid for an 11 day 6 island cruise and received 10 days, 4 islands. The crew was great, but the communication regarding the departure could have been better. I received countless calls, but all with old or incorrect information.. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
I was escorting a group of 41. Our first day out was delayed 1 day due to wind. We made the best of it and got a hotel in Secaucus NJ (Red Roof Plus---EXCELLENT CLEAN HOTEL). Everyone disappointed we lost 2 port stops (SanJuan and ... Read More
I was escorting a group of 41. Our first day out was delayed 1 day due to wind. We made the best of it and got a hotel in Secaucus NJ (Red Roof Plus---EXCELLENT CLEAN HOTEL). Everyone disappointed we lost 2 port stops (SanJuan and StKitts) Embarkation went very smoothly tho I think that leaving a day late left the terminal just to our ship. Disembarkation is always a crapshow in NYC and we had 5 Carts of luggage and the first 4 went out ok...the 5th was delayed like 15 minutes....BECAUSE THE WORKERS WERE ALL ON BREAK. I have been on the Gem in 2010 and was very disappointed with almost everything.But In 2019 it has definitely improved a lot. Better food, better service (in general), and I like the size of the Gem compared to the Breakaway. All in all it was a good cruise, happy to get away to 85 degrees when at home it was 0 degrees and snow. There is room for improvement and I get the feeling that the best of the NCLs staff is sent to the bigger newer ships as there is a definite difference between the Gem and Breakaway as far as service as a whole. Again, many individuals went above and beyond but there are still some service issues similar to 2010. - Osheehans for service was hit or miss. and 1 day at 11am it was CLOSED---a 24/7 restaurant....closed when all other restaurants were closed. The food is good (except the apple pie). Actually pie in general on the ship---not good at all. - The cruise director was NON-EXISTENT. I didn't even really know her name until like day 2. I saw her 4 times on an 11 day cruise. I remember TamTam from 2017 on the Breakaway and this person (I think Lorena) was just not engaging or anywhere to be found. Aris the activity staff member SHOULD BE THE CRUISE DIRECTOR. - The Bali Hai bar had the best consistent service with the most pleasant servers. Will, Nikolai & Oliver know how to service a busy crowd always with a smile and pleasantry. The Grand Pacific staff was very good. On one day 1 of our 3 tables having very slow service (I think they lost our order ticket) and many things were wrong. - Alvin in Bliss lounge was awesome. So attentive and always smiling. We chose the Gem for its size and the itinerary. I can't say it was the best cruise I've been on but it was good. Good value in cost and of course the drink package. Not sure I'd choose the Gem again unless it had a great itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We choose this cruise for the drink and dining packages. Great value. Specialty dining was awesome. Food was excellent and service was exceptional . Main dining was typical. Service was slow and wait staff unattractive. Nice variety on ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the drink and dining packages. Great value. Specialty dining was awesome. Food was excellent and service was exceptional . Main dining was typical. Service was slow and wait staff unattractive. Nice variety on buffet. It was fresh and well maintained. Norwegian does lack in late night dining options. Only one 24 hour food option for the whole ship. Hard to get into dining and entertainment options. Not enough time slots for shows for as big as ship was. Casino was not my favorite. Poor payouts and terrible service. We went out of New Orleans definitely not the best port to go out of. The embarkation was fair but debarking was a nightmare. We waited almost two hours for our prearranged pick and on the vans just gave up and left us. The one that stayed to pick us up was not able to accommodate everyone so loaded luggage and ones who could fit and the rest of party had to walk. Everyones excuse was “the parades” but they know how it is and should plan as such. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
I chose this cruise due to the itinerary from NY. I loved St Kitts, Anguilla, and St. Thomas/St. Johns. I could have passed on St. Lucia and San Juan. I would have preferred 4 full days at port rather than 3 full days and 2 half-days. ... Read More
I chose this cruise due to the itinerary from NY. I loved St Kitts, Anguilla, and St. Thomas/St. Johns. I could have passed on St. Lucia and San Juan. I would have preferred 4 full days at port rather than 3 full days and 2 half-days. Sadly, we had to tender at St. Lucia which reduced a full day to a half-day..no fault of NCL. Cabin: Selected Obstructed view due to value. I do not recommend! I wanted to keep the curtain open, but lights on the boat outside my room were on all night. The room was bigger than an inside, but for the price I would have selected an inside. Dining: Food in the dining room was good. LeBistro was excellent. Cagneys and Moderno are worth the visit. Breakfast at the buffet was great. Plenty of seating at buffet. shore. Problems: We had problems with shore excursions, dining reservations, and cruisenext. The shore excursion was cut from 4.5 hours to 2.5 hours with 2 hour waiting time at dock. NCL refunded 40%. Acceptable. One of our dining reservations was on the NCL system, but not ship system. We were not able to be accommodated in the restaurant or time of choice, but happy with the result. Sadly, I felt like I was at a car lot when meeting with the cruisenext manager and did not book my next cruise while on board. Value: I did not use the "free at sea" benefits, but paid the service charges. If I had been able to book onboard, I would be sailing NCL again, but I am not sure when I will book NCL again. I cruise about 3 times every 2 years. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We left my on-time expecting to arrive in San Juan at 4pm however dueto a medical emergency onboard we arrived at 11am at the next port they asked us to delay our arrival time by one hour overall a good cruise although we did get an ... Read More
We left my on-time expecting to arrive in San Juan at 4pm however dueto a medical emergency onboard we arrived at 11am at the next port they asked us to delay our arrival time by one hour overall a good cruise although we did get an extra sea day due to Gail force winds in the Hudson bay the beach at St Thomas was great took a tour of one of the other islands food was delicious staff was polite and friendly always happy and smiling the casino is small could use another roulette table and less cigarette smoke good music in the atrium pool area always clean lunch BBQ on deck chicken pork loin and rice with clams shrimp and mussles want to go on the bliss next year maybe their will. be more poker players onboard their were no cash games because no one wanted to play but they did have a satalite tournament Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We started out with hours long lines waiting to board the ship due to an outbreak of Norovirus on the previous cruise. After long lines snaking in and around the pier we were finally allowed to board. Then we waited on the stairs to be ... Read More
We started out with hours long lines waiting to board the ship due to an outbreak of Norovirus on the previous cruise. After long lines snaking in and around the pier we were finally allowed to board. Then we waited on the stairs to be allowed to go to our room. We found out later that it was due to disinfecting the walls and cabins. All had to climb the stairs to get something to eat in the buffet. Soon after we were herded back down to the “ mandatory muster “. Believe it or not after that horrible introduction everything got much better! Aside from restrictions on accessibility to food in the buffet, and constantly being reminded to “ washy washy”. All negative reminders disappeared. Excellent accommodations, food and smooth seas. Every port was easy to get around, and aside from Tortola bore little signs of the hurricane damage we were expecting. By the last few days everything was back to normal, and our only regret was that the cruise wasn’t longer. A definite 2 thumbs up! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We enjoyed the eight Caribbean Island stops and the ship entertainment. It was our first time on one of the huge ships, and overall, we preferred the smaller ones from our first six Norwegian cruises. The Escape just didn't seemed ... Read More
We enjoyed the eight Caribbean Island stops and the ship entertainment. It was our first time on one of the huge ships, and overall, we preferred the smaller ones from our first six Norwegian cruises. The Escape just didn't seemed designed to service that many passengers, especially when we needed to use the elevators, get into the main dining rooms, find a place out on deck on the nice weather days, or make a reservation at a specialty dining room. We also wished this ship had a forward lounge, the way all our other ships did. We missed having a quiet place to relax where we could sight-see ahead. Not having this large forward lounge, or other large lounges, also meant that all the big group activities such as trivia, dance lessons, and games had to done in the atrium, which made that three-level center part of the ship constantly noisy instead of a nice place to relax, as it was on all our other ships. The entertainment quality and choices were fabulous. The professional shows in the theater, repeated three times each, was a good way to do this rather than the standard way the theater productions were done on our other cruises. Also, we liked the Supper Club dinners with entertainment, and the Headliners Comedy Club entertainment. The piano entertainer, JR, was really good. Since we are beer drinkers, we liked having The District Brew House with its 24 beers on tap and 50 in bottles. This was our first cruise where we could get good beers, although all other bars on the ship still served only the standard lagers. This next comment applies to all our cruises, which have been only on Norwegian, so i don't know if any other cruise lines do anything differently: We wish for more information, information, information! So much about the ship and its workings and offerings could be explained in advance, or when you arrive, rather than having to learn everything by accident, experience, asking other passengers, or never learning something at all. We knew nothing about how the Box Office worked for getting reservations all week at all the many venues that required reservations; we had to learn from other passengers, and hope that we were getting to the Box Office soon enough to get what we wanted. Even then, we couldn't figure out the list of options covering all 14 days - we just had to let the agent do it for us, and hope it was what we would like (it was). We also wish Norwegian would have information sheets to explain what drinks are served at which bars, what to expect with regard to successfully getting into the main dining rooms (we almost never could get in since there were such long waiting lines), and information to help us know various rules such as No Reserving Deck Chairs. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I love NCL and the freestyle, casual cruising experience. The 14 day southern Caribbean cruise is fantastic and I have taken this cruise out of NYC for the last several years. Living in Long Island, I am less than an hour away from ... Read More
I love NCL and the freestyle, casual cruising experience. The 14 day southern Caribbean cruise is fantastic and I have taken this cruise out of NYC for the last several years. Living in Long Island, I am less than an hour away from the pier. It sure beats flying and waiting on TSA lines or having travel delays especially when leaving in the winter. It was a rough start as the previous cruise had an issue with the norovirus and although NCL told us to arrive after 10:30 AM, their communication with cruisers was very poor in not stating specifically what the issue was and because the CDC had to do a thorough inspection of the ship, most of the cruisers had to wait on long lines outside the cruise terminal in the cold for hours. Once onboard, the wait for cabins and lines for lunch were terrible with many people not being able to use their cabins until late in the evening. We were in the Haven and our room was not ready until the evening and the lines so long for lunch, we did not have lunch but instead settled for a "liquid lunch" (not so bad!). I do understand that because of the issue, their was no choice but felt that NCL should have better communicated the situation to passengers the day before. I would have arrived much later to the pier and perhaps they should have offered a $50 OBC on this cruise or a future cruise to make amends for the inconveniences. I am sure this experience soured many and perhaps will not cruise NCL again. Once the cruise was underway, it was fantastic. The ship is beautiful, the crew great and I know they had been working long hours sanitizing the ship both on the previous cruise and this one. Being in the Haven, the cruise experience is even that much better, but with the raising of Haven prices, not sure how many more Haven experiences I will have. That being said, I love sailing on NCL and the 14 day cruise out of NYC and have signed up for next year and 2021. The entertainment was good, but I actually thought the entertainment venue was better on the smaller GEM, although a few shows were very good (Cotton Club and Men's Choir). The band in the Skyliner lounge (in the casino) were also great. My Haven Aft Facing Cabin was beautiful and I always book the aft when cruising in the Haven, even though it is a long walk to the Haven and you probably do not exactly experience the Haven experience as much as those situated in the front. I think we only visited the Haven sundeck three times during the cruise and preferred to enjoy our large balcony with very comfortable lounges. The restaurants were pretty good although some of the best dishes have been eliminated from NCL's signature restaurants (Le Bistro and La Cucina) and the cold soups (one of my favorite cruise experiences) was only available in the Haven restaurant at lunch. No doubt, the Haven Restaurant offered the best dining experience and service, but that is to be expected. The ports for this cruise are the best and although I have visited them many times in my cruising career, my favorites are still Barbados, St. Marteen and St. Thomas. We did only one ship excursion in St. Thomas...Kon Tiki and it was great. I would recommend this ship excursion as it is a very happy experience with rum punch, steel drum band, dancing and a visit to a very nice beach. All had a great time. Looking forward to next year's 14 day cruise on the beautiful Bliss! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We choose this cruise of 14 days to laze. We like the ports and shore excursions. The food waz very good in every restaurants and also un the Garden Café. The service was excellent at our cabin and very good for the rest. But at the ... Read More
We choose this cruise of 14 days to laze. We like the ports and shore excursions. The food waz very good in every restaurants and also un the Garden Café. The service was excellent at our cabin and very good for the rest. But at the o'sheehan one time only the service was too fast. They put all the meals on the table at the same time. We like also the performance of the band Let's Groove and the others signers too. The shows at the theater were amazing. In spite of the big sanitize of the ship , we have great time. The crew did very well to keep every place very clean. We liked the shops but we didn't find things for kids. We wanted to buy gifts ( clothes, t-shirts earings) for our grand daughters ( 2 and 4 years old) but we found just stuffed animals. The disembarkation went very fast. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We had a wonderful cruise over Winter Break. I was cruising with my husband and 2 children (11 and 9) and whereas we have cruised a number of times together before, we have never cruised on Norwegian or the Gem previously. Overall, we had ... Read More
We had a wonderful cruise over Winter Break. I was cruising with my husband and 2 children (11 and 9) and whereas we have cruised a number of times together before, we have never cruised on Norwegian or the Gem previously. Overall, we had a terrific time and would definitely recommend the ship and itinerary. Embarkation: We were dropped off at the terminal at around 1PM. We easily got rid of our bags on the curb. We had to wait a bit at security but once through check in and were on the ship relatively quickly. We were able to get right into our rooms and up to the Garden Cafe to get something to eat. The Ship: We liked the Gem a lot. It is a smaller ship and was easy to navigate. Everything was always very clean. It doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles like some of the larger ships. We really enjoyed sitting in the Great Outdoors on the aft of the Lido Deck. I never had problems finding a place to sit even though it was a very busy holiday sailing. My daughter enjoyed trying the climbing wall. My son played basketball on the sports court. The kids both spent time in the hot tubs. The kids missed certain aspects of other ships we have been on. There was no LCD screen on deck and "Dive in Movies" was something we enjoyed on the Carnival Ships. My son watched all of the football games in the atrium but it was an awkward space to watch a movie in. Cabin: We chose to have 2 inside cabins for our family of 4. (9151 and 9155). They were always kept very clean. 9151 was a "sideways"' cabin, where you enter in the middle. It felt a little more spacious than 9155 due to the different layout. The cabin was fine but the bathroom was a little tight for my tall husband who didn't feel like he could sit comfortably in the bathroom. Dining: Dinner: We enjoyed our dinners on the ship. Cagneys was terrific both times we went and Teppanyaki was also fun. My husband had a great meal at Le Bistro. I was less enthusiastic about it. We also had some nice meals at the Grand Pacific though some dishes weren't great there. The thing about cruising is that if you don't like one dish you can always ask for another. The buffet had interesting theme nights and some nights we took the kids to eat there and then went to dinner ourselves. They LOVED the crepe station. Also on Asian night they had a sushi bar with the rolls that you have to pay for in the Asian themed restaurant. They were a big hit. Lunch: This was lackluster. The buffet served pretty much the same food every day and it didn't seem like there were a lot of choices. We did enjoy the poolside BBQ but the kids had pizza and burgers pretty much every day. We had lunch off the ship while in port. Breakfast: We usually did the buffet in the Great Outdoors and loved eating outside. They also had late night snacks there. The omelet station was popular with the family and my daughter says the hash browns were great. Also popular were the wings at O'Sheehans. Overall we could always find something to eat when we wanted to and had some wonderful meals. The service was always great. Entertainment and Activities: I would say that there was overall a relaxed vibe to the ship. We could have very easily just done nothing on this trip and I would have been fine with it. We chose this cruise for the great itinerary and the islands we were visiting. However, we really made in effort to participate in lots of activities on the ship and had a great time doing so. We got up early for Sudoku and Trivia, played lots of Games. (I won Deal or No Deal, my husband won Where in the World Trivia and my daughter won a shuffleboard tournament. ) We didn't go to a lot of shows but loved the Duo de Cirque show. We tried Karaoke in Bliss (not my best moment). The kids spent some time in Splash Academy and made some friends on the boat but they also participated in sushi demonstrations and played Bingo with us. The Splash Academy put on a circus show on the main stage and my daughter learned devil sticks. I got a spa pass and made good use of the therapy pool. At all of these activities we mostly had fun because we enjoyed the company of the other passengers and crew members on board. My favorite activity and perhaps greatest accomplishment was completing the Search for Nations Scavenger Hunt where our family hunted down staff members from around the globe. I got to speak to so many lovely crew members. Thanks to Clare, the cruise director, and Aris for putting together such a good hunt. There were a few families who got really into trying to find everyone and we would help each other out. Service: The service on the boat was excellent! Our room and public spaces were kept very clean. Whenever you walked into the buffet you would be greeted by crew members to spray your hands with disinfectant. The crew members really went out of their way to be helpful. They work incredibly hard: 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. On a few occasions I saw passengers being incredibly rude to crew members and they always handled themselves with grace, patience and good humor. Ports and Shore Excursions: This cruise left from NY at Sunset and came back into NY and Sunrise. It was absolutely breathtaking. Sailing under the Verrazano away from NYC past the Statue of Liberty. Amazing! It's slip is right next to the Intrepid. How cool is that?? Puerto Rico: Our first stop was Puerto Rico and we arrived at 4PM on Christmas Day so there wasn't much to do. Some people arranged a Pub Crawl but we didn't go. Another family we went managed to get in a couple hours at the beach. We just went to Walgreens. St. Kitts: We went to Cockleshell Beach. It was a little crowded but the view of Nevis was amazing and the drive out there was breathtaking. The water was clear and lovely. I actually brought my own beach chair from home which was great because the beaches on all the islands we went to were public. St. Lucia: We did the resort pass at Bay Gardens. AMAZING value and highly recommended. The lunch was terrific/it includes a massage or water sports/4 drinks per person. BUT we had to wait a long time for the transportation there and back. We would have had an extra hour there if we just got our own taxi. Barbados: Beautiful Island. We went to the Caves and to the Synagogue. Antigua: This was the one day without great weather but we had a great time and Darkwood Beach. The water was a little rough due to the weather. Had great fish/drinks at the beach bar there. St. Thomas: We had arranged the excursion for the champagne catamaran sail to St. John. Due to the chop we couldn't go and went to another snorkel site. The crew was great but it wasn't St. John. Also since we depart at 1 from St. Thomas it was a bit crazy getting back on the boat. The one time I really had to wait in a line. SUMMARY: Overall we all had a terrific time. We relaxed. We were well taken care of by the crew. We had good food, saw beautiful islands and made some nice new friends. There is a reason that so many people we met go on this sailing for the holidays year after year. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Family and friend cruise for Christmas. We have done a family cruise for Christmas the last four years. This was our friends first cruise. Entertainment and activities could have been better. There were times events were scheduled ... Read More
Family and friend cruise for Christmas. We have done a family cruise for Christmas the last four years. This was our friends first cruise. Entertainment and activities could have been better. There were times events were scheduled and then never happened. Of course we always make the best out of the situations. Service was top notch as always. Loved our Washy Washy lady at the buffet, so friendly and always smiling. The Park West personnel were AWESOME!!! Very knowledgeable and helpful. We bought several pieces. Only did one excursion, the Jolly Roger in Barbados and it was fantastic. We were traveling with older children but all ages had a fantastic time! Otherwise, we did our own thing at all of the other ports. As long as you stick to the timing, we have more fun exploring out on our own. Loved the itinerary, just wished the shows and activities were better. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
Holiday cruise with family. This was our second time sailing on the Gem for Christmas. The first was back in 2010 for a 7 day cruise. Ship has been refurbished (2015) but still shows outward signs of being an older boat. I must admit ... Read More
Holiday cruise with family. This was our second time sailing on the Gem for Christmas. The first was back in 2010 for a 7 day cruise. Ship has been refurbished (2015) but still shows outward signs of being an older boat. I must admit that the food quality was better now than previously. Norwegian is no Royal Caribbean however. Lobster was nowhere on the menu for any of the restaurants or dining rooms. The dining room experience was nice but the service is extremely slow. Give yourself at least 2 1/2 hours for dinner. The long unpredictable dining time makes seeing a scheduled show at the theater a challenge. One night we went to dinner at 6:30 and hand to skip the dessert portion of our meal because we didn't want to miss the 9:00 show. Speaking of shows, the production (singing, music, and dancing) is excellent. There were times while we were at sea that there wasn't anything to do. This is an old ship, so there is only a pool slide, athletic court, and rock climbing wall. We had the Carnival Sunshine in port with us in Puerto Rico and St. Kitts, and that ship seemed like it contained an adult and children playground in the back of the boat. Disembarkation was a nightmare. They need more structure with this process. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was my second cruise with Norwegian and the first on the Escape (Getaway previously). I really enjoyed the additions to the Escape from the Getaway (mainly the District Brewhouse). We went on the 12 day Eastern Caribbean cruise from ... Read More
This was my second cruise with Norwegian and the first on the Escape (Getaway previously). I really enjoyed the additions to the Escape from the Getaway (mainly the District Brewhouse). We went on the 12 day Eastern Caribbean cruise from NYC with my wife and 14 month old son. SHIP: Wow this ship is awesome. There was so much to do that I still didn't see if all over our 12 night cruise. Everything was cleaned immaculately throughout the cruise. On the last night, I took a stroll around the ship for one last look and found a whole team of crew power washing everything on the main deck and the buffet was torn apart for cleaning and sanitizing. The staff does an excellent job maintaining the ship at all times during the cruise and everything was always clean and tidy. STAFF: All of the Norwegian staff were EXCELLENT in ensuring my wife and I had all the baby's needs met. This was a 12 day cruise and many members of the staff got to know my son by name and would always be sure to stop by and say hello to him while I was chasing him around the decks. I an an Engineer and struck up a conversation with the Chief Electrical Engineer and he gave me his busines card and took about an hour out of his day to sit down with me and have a detailed 1-1 technical discussion of the ship and design. WOW! I was't expecting that but just goes to show the level of customer service across all levels of the Norwegian Staff. Additionally, my wife and I had some trouble adjusting to the mattress in the room (coming from a sleepnumber at home, no other fellow guests had issues) and the Housekeeping staff came to our room about 45 minutes after calling the front desk with two new mattresses and egg crate foam toppers for the bed. The next day the Housekeeping Manager stopped by to personally ask about the new mattress to ensure we were comfortable and comped us free laundry service for the cruise due to our issue with the mattress. This was completely unexpected and unnecessary but the Manager insisted and we were grateful for their accommodation. DINNING We were offered the Ultimate Beverage Package and Dining package as a promotion when booking. The Beverage package was great and the bartenders excellent. They consistent had bartenders at all the main entertainment venues walking around taking orders and all the drinks were well made. My only complaint about the dining would be the large gap between the quality of food and service in the main dining room and specialty restaurants. The specialty restaurants were EXCELLENT (think Ruth Chris/Morton's quality). The Main Dining room food was ok but nothing compared to the specialty restaurants. I understand Norwegian needs to make a good reason for the upcharge for the specialty restaurants but think that might be impacting the food/service in the main dining room for the worse. The service in the main dining room was not consistent and not as personal as the other venues. I got the feeling the main dining room staff was being stretched to their limits which causes the slow service and lack of personal interaction such as in the specialty restaurants. We went to the buffet for breakfast and lunch pretty consistently and always found that they had a large selection of food and the tables were always bused quickly by the staff. The buffet did get crowded at times but that is expected for a ship of this size. ENTERTAINMENT I spent one night walking around the different bars/lounges of the ship and noticed that every single bar had live entertainment. The choices in entertainment were endless with comedians, dueling pianos, Broadway style stage shows, Magicians, Bands, solo artists, etc. Several of the main performers gathered large followings throughout the ship. The ship was definitely bumping every night and had a great vibe going. KIDS CLUB The staff and facilities in the Kids Club were EXCELLENT. They have a program called Guppies for Children 6 months to under 3 years. Each sea day they had two "Mommy and Me" style classes that each lasted 30-45 minutes. The staff running these programs did an excellent job over the 12 days organizing different and unique activities for the parents and children to participate in together. We did songs, games, art and of course bubbles! My 14 month old son loved the daily classes and we were able to meet several other families from this program and ended up many of us eating together for dinner every night. We met families with children attending the Splash Academy (over 3 to 13 years old) and they all said their children loved the Splash Program as well. We went with several families to the end-of-cruise show the children in Splash put on and the staff did an awesome job engaging the kids and creating an exciting atmosphere for them. OVERALL This was my second NCL cruise and we had a blast. The crowd on the 12 day cruise was a little older however we were able to meet families in our demographic (30-40 years old). I really like that NCL runs consistent promotions for Beverage/Dining/Kids Sail Free which is one of the reasons I would keep coming back to NCL. The Specialty dining is excellent and I would be temped next cruise to buy the package for more meals. My only complaint was the quality of service and food in the main dining room. The room was fine but nothing really stood out like the specialty restaurants. The service was slow and inconsistent as well. We did have some great attentive waitstaff in the main dining room and ensured to fill out comment cards recognizing their service. The specialty restaurants, entertainment options and personable staff more than made up for this complaint and would not stop me from cruising with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
The ship was clean. The food was very good. The cabin was clean, the steward was helpful and the cabin was fare for the money paid. The entertainment part could be better. The Only one show "The chore man" or 12 days is ... Read More
The ship was clean. The food was very good. The cabin was clean, the steward was helpful and the cabin was fare for the money paid. The entertainment part could be better. The Only one show "The chore man" or 12 days is unacceptable. Rest of shows were similar, but was worth to look only for one day. Watching such shows second time with little additions was not interesting. The thermal suite was very good. However, The spa service people were afraid to do more than expected. The knowledge of time and knowledge of regular services was not adequate. In order to have spa staff The sport activities were excellent. The excursions on the ship was too expensive, parts of excursions were not interesting. Taking same service on the island was less expensive and usually had more value.Some information should be verified, because expectations from the beach given from ship was partially incorrect. Too many service charges for every order. The water should be given for free.The Internet service was very good. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
This cruise was originally supposed to have 6 ports; San Juan, st. Lucia, st. Kitts, Barbados, st. Thomas, and Roseau, Dominica. After final payment, itinerary was changed. San Juan was eliminated and Dominica was replaced with St. John, ... Read More
This cruise was originally supposed to have 6 ports; San Juan, st. Lucia, st. Kitts, Barbados, st. Thomas, and Roseau, Dominica. After final payment, itinerary was changed. San Juan was eliminated and Dominica was replaced with St. John, antigua. Overall, this was a very good cruise, but we were a little disappointed with the loss of one port and a total of 6 full days at sea. Having said that, this ship had great entertainment, friendly staff, and ultimately we had a great cruise. Specialty restaurants were excellent. The main dining rooms were good, not great, and the buffet was just okay. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly with little wait time. I would not recommend the scenic rail excursion in st. Kitts. It was very expensive and not worth it. Our mini suite had ample room and we had a great steward. The bed was awful though, and the mattress really needed to be replaced. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Chose this cruise for convenience of leaving from NYC and the dates which had no students on vacation. First time on mega ship and pleasantly surprised. Embarkation was easy. Lovely balcony cabin was under the gym but no noise from there. ... Read More
Chose this cruise for convenience of leaving from NYC and the dates which had no students on vacation. First time on mega ship and pleasantly surprised. Embarkation was easy. Lovely balcony cabin was under the gym but no noise from there. Most meals in the Manhattan Room. Service was nice and relaxed not rushed. Garden Café was fine and not a problem with seating. After the first rush of crowded elevators on day one elevators were not overcrowded. Also ate at Cagney"s,Teppanyaki, Le Bistro, O"Sheehans. Specialty restaurants as expected food was good and service nice. Enjoyed "After Midnight" but less so 'The Brat Pack". Enjoyed the lively disco on the casino floo,r.the parties at H2O, Levity comedy shows in the theater and at Headliners, and some groups in the Atrium. Had excellent help with wi-fi package (I left it on all night and used up my time!). Ports were good and happy that there were no tender stops. Problem is that most of the tours are too much for too little and much of what you see are just the market areas. I wish there were large sightseeing buses so that you could really SEE the ports .Barbados has a shuttle bus to the port marketplace and then a $2 taxi to town and back. The crew talent show was fun and the Q&A with Captain and Engineer informative. Service was generally very nice and I enjoyed talking with crew from around the world. Long line leaving the ship and took much longer than expected. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We had a wonderful time on this cruise on NCL Escape which left on December 9, 2018 from New York. We were previously on this ship in November 2017 when it departed Miami for a 7 day Western Caribbean Itinerary. This was our 3rd cruise ... Read More
We had a wonderful time on this cruise on NCL Escape which left on December 9, 2018 from New York. We were previously on this ship in November 2017 when it departed Miami for a 7 day Western Caribbean Itinerary. This was our 3rd cruise with NCL, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. My wife travels in a wheelchair with me, so we had to book this 2 years ago in order to secure one of the wheelchair accessible balcony cabins, which was wonderful as well. Embarkation of the ship was a breeze, and we arrived at our scheduled time of 10:30 AM, and were onboard with our bags dropped in the room by approximately 11:30. As soon as we got onto the ship we went for lunch which was great. Our dining experience on Escape was fantastic overall. We ate in many different venues of the ship, including the Manhattan Room, Cagney's, Le Bistro, Teppenyaki, Margaritaville, and the Garden Cafe. The majority of our dinners were eaten at the Manhattan Room which is on Deck 7, Aft. We had a wonderful waiter, Archinta Patra who looked after each and every one of our needs, and make sure nothing went wrong at all. We also had a great Maitre' D', Moises Fernandes, who ensured that nothing was missed during our dining experiences. We also had at the 4 night specialty dining package as well, and went to the specialty restaurants mentioned above, and all were great, both in service and food quality. For Port Excursions, we mainly did our own thing at each and every one of the ports. In St Thomas, we took a cab into town from the Havensight Cruise Terminal, and walked around the old town of Charlotte Amalie, which was very enjoyable. There are many interesting little shops and boutiques located there, and I would recommend it as a must if you haven't done it before. In Antigua, our second stop, I organized an Island Tour for both the Cruise Critic and Facebook cruise groups, through a local tour operator, Emelda Frank. She took us on a 5 Hour tour of the island, and we saw all the fabulous things that Antigua has offer, including the spectacular Shirley's Heights and Nelson's Dockyard. If you haven't been to Antigua before it is a must. The great thing about this tour is that she was able to accommodate my wife in her wheelchair, and we were able to experience everything that the island has to offer. Our next stop after this was Barbados, where I met up with an old high school friend, and he showed us around the island. Barbados is wonderful, and I would recommend doing an Island Tour if you have the chance. Our next stop was St Lucia, where we did a COSOL tour of the island which took the entire day. We started first thing in the morning at the ship, and saw the entire island for the most part, including the Volcano, Pitons, Sugar beach, a speed boat ride, rainforest drive, and many of the other beautiful scenery that the island has to offer. I would also highly recommend this tour as well. Our final port stop was Basseterre, St Kitts, where we went to Reggae Beach for the day. I am not a big fan of St Kitts, probably my least favourite island of the itinerary. The reason for this is, there isn't a lot to see and do if you've been there multiple times. I would recommend an Island tour the first time, but other than this, the island has some great beaches and a lot of adventure tourism, which we can't partake in, due to my wife's physical requirements. The on ship activities were very good overall. There were a couple of things that could have used a little bit of work in this department. My wife and I are big trivia fans, and we participate in pretty much all of the trivia events that are offered onboard during the sailing. The one thing that could be worked on here is repetition of questions. With exception of the Progressive Trivia and specialized theme trivia, we saw some of the questions multiple times. Perhaps they could add some more questions to the rotation perhaps so that this doesn't happen in the future. On our previous sailing on the escape last year, we were a big fan of the District Brew Pub, and the live entertainment that it would offer in the evening with a piano player. On this sailing, we tried the venue twice, and had to leave, due to the excessive volume of the piano, which drowned out the singer's voice, to the point we couldn't hear anything. Perhaps this could be improved in the future. The themed parties, ie 70's, 80's and 90's parties were OK, but not as good as the same events on the previous sailing last year. I think that this might have had to do with the cruise director's choices of music, as the director we had last year was exceptional, and the parties were unforgettable. The Service on the ship was wonderful as well. We experienced no issues at all from members of the crew, and the Hotel Directors staff including the Director, Deepak Punia, Assistant Director, Roland Schrock were both excellent, and made sure that all of our needs were looked after. Additionally, the Food and Beverage Director, Kivanc Ucar was fantastic as well. All in all they were excellent, and I would recommend the ship to anyone who asks. I would definitely book on Escape again, depending on the itinerary offered. To summarize, the cruise was very enjoyable, and we had no major issues during the sailing at all. Thanks again for a great cruise NCL. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
The time for this cruise was the best for me. I felt like the itinerary worked well for how long of a cruise it was. I don't have any specific complaints, there was no issues I had and overall it was an amazing experience! I have been ... Read More
The time for this cruise was the best for me. I felt like the itinerary worked well for how long of a cruise it was. I don't have any specific complaints, there was no issues I had and overall it was an amazing experience! I have been on numerous cruises before and I would say that they all have pros and cons. This ships pro (for me at least) was the staff, absolutely amazing! They always went above and beyond! The con would probably be dining options. I love the "freestyle" idea and actually I think they did a pretty good job with it. There should be more variety in terms of complimentary dining places. Also the food was good but I would not say great. The embarkation and disembarking process was very smooth compared to other ports I have left from. The ropes course is a must so! I wasn't sure I would want to do it but I'm so glad I did!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
The itinerary for this 12-day cruise was excellent. I liked the variety of islands. I was a little disappointed with the ship. I was on the Gem last year and felt that had better public spaces. The Escape is geared towards the Haven areas ... Read More
The itinerary for this 12-day cruise was excellent. I liked the variety of islands. I was a little disappointed with the ship. I was on the Gem last year and felt that had better public spaces. The Escape is geared towards the Haven areas and other exclusive venues. The workout room is much smaller, spa is smaller, theater seemed smaller (1 level versus 2 on the Gem), card room/library smaller. This ship has like 1000 more passengers than the Gem and smaller public areas???? Huge amounts of space were allocated to “fee extra” areas like the Haven , the Supper Club etc. I still had a Good time but the more I sail with NCL the more I feel nickel and dimed and a second class passenger since I do not book suites. I’ve been on almost 30 cruises in the last 25 years and not sure I will go any more. One plus- the entertainment was absolutely fantastic. Excellent shows. Friendly actors, singers and dancers who were friendly and nice around the ship. This is one area that NCL excels at. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Embarkation was a little confusing and takes time, but once you get on the ship it is beautiful. We were in a mini suite and feels pretty much the same as a balcony cabin. All dining is great. Service in restaurants good(Cagney's ... Read More
Embarkation was a little confusing and takes time, but once you get on the ship it is beautiful. We were in a mini suite and feels pretty much the same as a balcony cabin. All dining is great. Service in restaurants good(Cagney's Steak house - amazing and lots of choices when eating at O'Sheehans - great place to have a good and quick breakfast), rooms cleaned well, but never really saw our room steward (Usually there is more interaction with the staff), bars and lounges take great care of you (They remember you when you return and come up and say high when you are not in the same area). Ports were all fantastic. But the Highlight of our cruise was the Dinner/Show in the Supper Club "The Choir of Men" they were fantastic, amazing and very enjoyable. You had to pay extra, but I would pay again to see that show. Would definitely cruise again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Why I'm glad I paid an extra $200-ish in gratuities for the Ultimate Beverage Package promotion: You can lay on a deck chair, sit on your balcony, dine in a restaurant, chill at a bar - All while indulging in almost any beer, glass of ... Read More
Why I'm glad I paid an extra $200-ish in gratuities for the Ultimate Beverage Package promotion: You can lay on a deck chair, sit on your balcony, dine in a restaurant, chill at a bar - All while indulging in almost any beer, glass of wine, cocktail or double whiskey...As frequently as you please for $0.00. Do it. Cheers! Why I'm glad I paid an extra $400-ish for a balcony with Mandara Spa Thermal Suite access included: You get exclusive access to a large heated thermal pool and thermal beds, hot-tub, snow room, multiple saunas and rain showers. From 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM you can escape the crowds and retreat to this serene and soothing space at your leisure. I was skeptical about this splurge because the common Spa areas on other ships seem underwhelming vs. the cost. This is not the case with Escape. It's big, better and worth it. Why I could have lived without the Ultimate Dining Package: When not taking into consideration the atmosphere and uniqueness of Teppanyaki, Le Bistro or Moderno, The food itself wasn't that much of a step above the other complimentary options on board. Even though we had to pay an up-charge on top of the UDP gratuities, Bayamo was THE exception. Exquisite and delicious. Carnival Vista was our first and previous cruise, and while we loved it, Norwegian's menu overall went above and beyond theirs. Why I'm grateful I saw "The Brat Pack" and "After Midnight" even though I was again skeptical about Theater at Sea: The music, the choreography, the talent, the endurance. It brought me to tears and standing ovations. The lack of courtesy and amount of people that walked out mid-show was irritating. Jerks! Things that were Disappointing or get old quick: "When are you coming for your massage?". The "Washy-Washy" song each and every breakfast, lunch and dinner at the buffet. Lack of genuine hospitality with the exception of a wonderful cabin attendant. Pre-cruise experience with telephone representatives. Convoluted and almost deliberately confusing terms and Conditions. Erroneous charges you have to huff-and-puff down to Guest Services to get resolved and the language barriers that can come with it, (Anticipated but a nuisance nonetheless.) You'll probably encounter at least one rude or unpleasant staff member even though most are friendly enough. Bite your tongue and enjoy your vacation. The elevators. Things that were Awesome: More is just more. We never had much trouble finding deckchairs where we wanted in the common areas or seating at the buffet, despite negative reviews. Lines in the Lobby were fairly quick and almost non-existent for the water slides and rope course. Even though the main pool deck and hot tubs are often crowded - Spice H2O and decks 19 and 20 offer a less busy alternative. The buffet usually had an incredible variety with themed dinner specials each night, (Seafood, Duck, Sushi, BBQ etc.) You can eat and drink until you explode, then check your on board account the next day to find you haven't spent a dime. The ship was clean and modern with varied and tasteful design aesthetics. Overall this was a very positive first experience with Norwegian and I'm not quite sure how I'll convince myself to try another cruise line considering how much I saved and indulged with all the "Free At Sea" promotions. I also very much appreciated the tips and insights from fellow cruise critic members prior to my trip. Booking several months ahead and doing my research really paid off and prepared me for an amazing vacation. Disclaimer: We sailed before the holidays and had a considerably low amount of kids on board. Every port day was sunny and beautiful with no cancellations and we had only one rough sea day. That of course contributes to such a great experience and not every sailing will have the same good luck. Read Less

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