1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
Our cruise was on Sunday Dec, 11th to Monday Dec. 19th San Juan, PR to NYC. I flew to San Juan a day early as I do when I have to fly to take a cruise. Especially when the cruise is in the winter months. I do this in case the weather or ... Read More
Our cruise was on Sunday Dec, 11th to Monday Dec. 19th San Juan, PR to NYC. I flew to San Juan a day early as I do when I have to fly to take a cruise. Especially when the cruise is in the winter months. I do this in case the weather or the airlines don't fly I still have time to make the ship. The ship will not wait for you. ( Good thing I flew early as NJ-NY had a snow storm on the 11th). Flight went smoothly and arrived at noon on Saturday. I took a cab from the Airport to the TRYP Hotel and it cost $15. I went to the beach & stayed over night. The hotel was very clean and up to date. They called a cab for me and it arrived in 10 minutes. (very good cab service) the cost to the port was $24. I left for the port at 9:45 as I had a boarding appointment at 10:30 - 11:00 am. When I got to the port there was a long line waiting to get into the registration area. I ask a porter where the priority boarding line was and he replied this is for luggage drop-off and will begin shortly. All he said that the incoming cruise was delayed to disembarkation. NCL didn't say anything to us unless we ask them. We didn't get into the terminal until 11:15 am. What good was my registered time to check-in from 10:30 am to 11:00am ? Once we went through security we asked what line to go to. They said to go to the far right side and go in the priority line. We got in the priority line and the line next to us was for Casino and Special Boarding. Since my reservation was a Casino w/ priority boarding I went into the Casino Line. This line only had 1 station that took care of passengers. The priority line was handled by at least 7 stations. The priority line was moving 10 times as fast as the Casino line. We found a NCL representative and asked why we aren't moving and he graciously took us at every other person. As it was it didn't matter what line you were in except not to be in the special need / Casino line. After I registered I had to walk to the far left to get into the boarding line which began to get mixed up with the people trying to register for the cruise. This was all messed up as they did not designate any sort of lines or even mark what line was what. This was the worst boarding setup I ever have seen and I have been on 9 cruises. Once we started boarding the ship the photographers' are always taking pictures of everyone entering the ship for their embarkation photo. The photographers' where just letting passengers go by and not having the passengers take a picture. It appeared to me that they didn't care who had a picture or not. ( If I was the owner of the cruise I would want everyone to go through and have a picture taken. It would be up to the passenger if they wanted to purchase one or not. But not taking the picture NCL would never have an opportunity to sell one. Which in return would make a profit for the company. After the photo opt we boarded the NCL Gem. We were greeted by a lively bunch of crew members to welcome us aboard and we have our cards swiped to enter the ship as usual. We entered the ship on Deck 7 and was greeted and directed to where to eat lunch and an announcement would be made when our rooms would be ready. That all went smoothly. Once I boarded I went out to discover the ship and see what was where, then went up to lunch. I went up to the buffet for lunch. The selection of food is very good Hot and cold items to choose from ( the same basically as all of NCL's cruises). The seating was sparse but was able to find a seat. As for the handicap seats people just disregarded the signs for the handicap and the staff didn't kick anyone out of the seats. I would have been upset if I was handicap and required a handicap seat as they were all full of non-handicap people. After I ate lunch I headed up to my room and on my way there the announcement was made that all rooms are ready. Got to my room I had a mini suite booked. The room was clean and was a nice size to me. Bathroom had a tub/shower and separate toilet room. It also had a queen size bed. a couch that could be turned into a bed, a desk w/ a blow dryer and a magnified 10" round mirror, a safe, a stocked mini fridge, a coffee maker and a descend size balcony with 2 chairs and a little table. As in most ships only 1 electrical outlet. I always bring a power strip to take care of my charging of electronic devices. As for the TV only could watch NCL programs or purchase a movie. I didn't watch the tv at all except for the we all boarded the ship and the last day to view my bill. My room steward was great. He accommodated me with everything I asked for. The ship was in great shape. ( I believe the ship was refurbished in 2015.) The ship had many venues on board. The Gem also had a cigar room that I never saw on any other ships. It was a nice addition to what was available on the ship for the smokers. Many activities to do onboard. Sometimes had to choose what I wanted to do as 2 activities were happening at the same time. I thought the 70's show was the best on the Ship, Swing and 2nd city were also great shows. I think that NCL is losing a lot of revenue with the photographers they have on the GEM. On every other cruise I have taken the photographers were everywhere taking lots of pictures. They were in all of the restaurants, at the ports taking pictures of all the table and people leaving the ship as well around the ship on the pool deck et cetera. I didn't mind it as much since I thought the price of the pictures were too expensive. But the can't sell pictures they don't have and you never know I have purchased some if I liked them. They don't have to print them all they have to do is make a digital library of them and wouldn't have the expense of printing them. Another that I was unaware of is, If you seek out medical on the ship. NCL does not accept any medical insurance and you are required to pay in full to disembark the ship. They should make this clear to all passengers, god forbid you have a major sickness that costs 10 of thousands of dollars. My medical bill was over $3500 and they said if I didn't pay them that I couldn't leave the ship. You have to submit the medical bills to your insurance company when you return home. Fortunately I took the travel insurance was offered to me for $99 on this trip which I never have taken on any vacation I have been on. It will cover everything that my medical wont cover. It will be the one thing I'll from now on and hope I never have to use it again. I spent the last 3 days under their medical team. If I was home I would have been in the hospital. The ports we visited were great. We stopped at St Kitts, St, Maartin, St. Thomas and Tortola then a 3 day sail up to NYC. The best money for purchasing was at St Kitts. St. Thomas added a Sky lift since I was there last. It is a must to do if you go there, What a view you have from a top of the mountain. When In St Maartin a vtsit to Maho Beach ( Airport Beach) is the top to everyone to see. The beach is very crowded thou. You get to watch many people stand behind the jets taking off and watch them get sand blasted. There is also 2 bars one on either side of the runway. The 1st bar you come up to has cheaper prices than Sunset Bar and Grill. but both are good places to go. The beach isn't big enough for all of the people who go there. Swimming and snorkeling is good there. Tortola reminded me like Hawaii ( like the road to Hana) Great views on that island. and nice beaches. All in all I enjoy cruising in the fall as there aren't many children on the ship and it is easy to get a lounge chair at the pool which had an adult pool and a children pool both sides also had there own hot tubs. There was also a water slide and a kiddy area. I recommend the NCL Gem for anyone to take a cruise on. A lot to do and fun doing it. I will sail the Gem again out of NY to the Caribbean again in the near future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
It was a good cruise. The staff were noticeably friendlier than when we were on the Star last December. Almost everyone was smiling and seemed happy to be there. It made for a nice atmosphere. We just had a few concerns that kept it ... Read More
It was a good cruise. The staff were noticeably friendlier than when we were on the Star last December. Almost everyone was smiling and seemed happy to be there. It made for a nice atmosphere. We just had a few concerns that kept it from being great. One is that the service in the MDRs, while friendly, was sometimes slow and inattentive. (Our comparison here isn't to the high-end lines - it's to Carnival.) The Freestyle cruising just doesn't have the same incentives for the waiters to go that extra mile, plus we often eat late when they're preoccupied with setting up the tables for the next meal. As an example, we were rarely offered a condiment - we invariably had to ask for ketchup, sour cream, etc. Most of the food was good, with a few exceptions. This wasn't the case in O'Sheehans (the 24-hour pub) - the food and service there were always excellent. The only other restaurants we ate in were the Orchid Garden, which was good, and the buffet, which was actually quite good most of the time (the pizza was a notable exception there). Nice to have both free ice cream and soft ice cream. The second negative is in the entertainment area. There was a piano player who, while talented, wasn't a people-person in the way most cruise ship piano players usually are. And he didn't vary his routine much, so if you'd heard "New York, New York" once, you knew he was going to do a little fake-out at the beginning, then follow it with "That's Amore." The guitar player/singer was a good guitar player, but not so much IOHO on the singing side. But he was a people-person and had a big following. However, by the end of the cruise, we didn't want to hear either of them again, and they were the only two regular bar-music acts. Carnival usually has at least 3 acts in that category for greater variety. The production shows seemed to be well done although nothing special, and the showband's jazz show was great - that was a highlight of the cruise, along with a singer called Travis Cloer, late of Jersey Boys in Las Vegas. He was really good with the showband. We missed the full show of the comedy juggler which had looked to be funny. We didn't find the Second City troupe funny, although we spoke to a couple who did. Other highlights included the port calls which were all relatively easy (no tenders) and fairly interesting. We didn't do any of the ship's tours, which seemed generally available shoreside. The only other thing of note on that was that we rented a car in St. Maartin, since we wanted to explore the French side, and it was a piece of junk - beat up, door didn't lock, trunk didn't close, etc. But it was cheap! Another thing that was consistently good was the bar service - both by bartenders and bar waiters. No long wait times and very friendly, good service - especially in the Great Outdoors on 12 Aft. Lastly, the Gem is one of those ships where the senior officers are everywhere, so if you have a problem, you at least know who to talk to. There were a few other negatives - including not quite enough to do on the 3 sea days in a row since we don't play bingo or gamble, but generally things were just fine. With just a few improvements though - could have been great! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We just finished our repositioning cruise on the NCL Gem, which left out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and ended in New York City. We stopped in St. Kitts, St. Martin, St. Thomas and Tortola, then had 3 days at sea. We had a great time and I ... Read More
We just finished our repositioning cruise on the NCL Gem, which left out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and ended in New York City. We stopped in St. Kitts, St. Martin, St. Thomas and Tortola, then had 3 days at sea. We had a great time and I am here to tell you about it. But with the holidays soon upon us, I will keep it short, and provide the highlights. A little history: my DH and I have been cruising since our honeymoon in 2000. This is our 5th cruise on NCL, our 14th cruise overall. The itinerary interested us, as we live in the US Virgin Islands (St. Croix) and enjoy the repositioning, especially to NYC. Along with the low cruise price and the “unlimited beverage package”, this equaled a great value that we could not pass up. I am in my 50s and DH is in his 70s. We also sweet talked a friend into joining us; he is in his 70s and also lives in the Caribbean (St. Thomas). Friend had his own inside cabin (10509); we splurged with a balcony (I upgraded a few weeks before the cruise, price was right!). Our cabin number was 9064 and was a regular balcony cabin. Port information: San Juan was the embarkation; it was crazy outside of the terminal, with a long line. But once inside, everything went pretty smooth. Let me tell you the highlights of our stops: 1. St. Kitts Scenic Railway—this was a ship sponsored excursion and all three of us decided that it was a high point of the cruise. Very informative tour. The train cars are double decker—downstairs is AC and upstairs is open air. Everyone was upstairs. And only about a dozen people per car, never felt crowded. Great tour of the island, did last a little long (hour+). Bottled water, fruit punch and frozen drinks (with rum and without) were available and they were free. 2. Free wifi at the ports, so I never purchased internet minutes from NCL (it was pricey, like $.99 per minute). At each port, I went to a bar, ordered a local beer and checked emails and posted pictures on Facebook. Best bar was in St. Martin, in Phillipsburg. The bars name is “Blue Bitch” and not only did I use their wifi, but after lunch, I rented a chair and umbrella from them for $5. For lunch, I had fried cheese sticks, but they were made with the Dutch Gouda cheese and were great! 3. Best beach day was when the ship was in Tortola. I did the NCL sponsored excursion to Jost Van Dyke, home of the famous “Soggy Dollar Bar” and painkiller. The beach was busy, so I walked down to Ivan’s One Love Bar. Plenty of beach chairs down there! 4. Best locally made beer was in St. Thomas with Frenchtown Brewery. I drank the “86 and Sunny Every Day” ale. This was available at “The Smoking Rooster” which is located at Havensight (where the ship docked). Did I mention that I live in the US Virgin Islands? Had to plug the local brew! 5. Next best beer—Amstel Bright, only available in the Dutch Caribbean. This is the beverage choice when I am in St. Martin. Cruise ended in NYC, way too cold for us, but we live in the islands. No issues with disembarkation, but more on that later..... Now let me tell you about the top 5 for the ship, both with the good and the not so good: Good Top 5 1. Friendliness of the crew. We had unlimited drinking package and prepaid gratuities. Our cabin steward was friendly as ever (Raffy). We often had wine with our dinner, and the wine stewards were right on top of it, bringing us the 2nd glass before we had to ask. 2. Grand Pacific Dining room—enjoyed great dinners and a few breakfasts in there. Staff was attentive and food was great. All three of us agreed that this was the best place to dine. 3. Jazz night with the Showband—this was the band that performed in the Theater for the shows. They played one night in Magnums and it was a treat! 4. Swing—this was a show presented by the Gem Production Cast and Showband and was well done! 5. Sugarcane Bar--if you have the unlimited drink package and want to try something different, they have several flavored mojitos. We visited this bar the last 2 nights of our cruise, and I enjoyed 2 different mojitos each night. Bar staff was friendly as ever. Not so Good, but luckily we did not find 5! 1. Noise level in the Theater for certain productions—after Swing, we were looking forward to checking out “Blazing Boots”, but the sound volume was so loud! We commented on that to the Cruise Director (Drew) during the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet and he made it sound like the show is loud and that is the way it is presented!! Unfortunately, it was also loud for the Cirque du Solei performance. Not sure what was going on in the sound booth on those nights. 2. Second City Comedy—did not find all the skits amusing. One skit involved the actors telling an audience member to leave the room. It went on too long and other audience members joined in on the “get out” yelling. It was part of a skit, but it went on too long. I will end this with some secrets, that maybe you know and maybe you do not…. 1. Morning buffet in Garden Café to busy and you cannot find a seat? Then head over to La Cucina Italian restaurant as they will open it up for extra seating. Always found a table, and it was rarely busy. Lots of windows to watch the views. 2. Best place to watch the ship pull out of ports? Go to The Spinnaker lounge. Great views and a glass of wine in hand, this became our happy hour spot. 3. After there is no port to watch, for best sunset, go to the Great Outdoors Bar. 4. Participate in all Cruise Critic events. We had a big turnout for the Meet and Greet (thank you newcruiser07 aka Naomi and Nevil). After that, thanks to vinegarjoe aka Joe and Erin, we enjoyed a slot pull and a poker run. It was a great way to meet our fellow cruisers. 5. When we disembarked in NYC, I noted the long lines to go through for Customs. Our friend had several bags and was planning on using a porter. He found one, and our guy took us straight up to Customs, straight out and around the corner to find us cabs. We did not wait in any line. He was a true New Yorker! That is all for me. We hope to do another cruise soon. In the meantime, we will send warm thoughts from St. Croix, along with warm wishes for the holiday season!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We needed to get to NY from Florida and I saw this 1 way cruise from San Juan to NY. We got a cheap flight to San Juan and we showed up during our scheduled time to board, There were very long lines in the hot sun. We eventually boarded ... Read More
We needed to get to NY from Florida and I saw this 1 way cruise from San Juan to NY. We got a cheap flight to San Juan and we showed up during our scheduled time to board, There were very long lines in the hot sun. We eventually boarded and loved the ship. It has nice public areas and even dressed up the ship for Christmas. I wish that there was a public laundromat on the ship and the internet package was not as nice as Carnival provides. The food was good but not outstanding. The ice cream in the buffet area is outstanding. Our cabin, while small, was organized well and we rarely felt cramped and with 4 port days, we didn't spend a whole lot of time in the cabin. On sea days, the Norwegian staff provided us with such recreational activities as trivia games. I feel that this cruise was a very good value. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Having just gotten off a 10 day Regal Princess Caribbean cruise on Nov. 6th, my wife & I had no intention of taking another, only a month later! That is, until we saw the almost unbelievably low price offered for this 8 day NCL ... Read More
Having just gotten off a 10 day Regal Princess Caribbean cruise on Nov. 6th, my wife & I had no intention of taking another, only a month later! That is, until we saw the almost unbelievably low price offered for this 8 day NCL "Gem" repositioning cruise, leaving San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Dec.11th, going back to New York City! NCL must have not properly advertised this one because they were forced to offer inside cabins for only $25. per person. per day or $199. for the entire cruise, just to fill the ship. It seems that this would be an abbreviated version of the 10 day, NY to NY, for $699. per person, except it would require passengers to fly to San Juan, P.R. to get the ship. The "Gem" was decked out for Christmas, with all the decorations & ornaments in place. The shows on board were top notch & the associated singers, comedians, gymnasts, etc. were also first class. The food in the dining rooms were diversified enough as to not be repetitive & the buffets for breakfast & lunch were of the same quality, good to very good! The ports visited, e.g. St. Kitts, St. Martin, St. Thomas & Tortola were all good, but are the same ports visited by nearly every other cruise line in the industry & are routine for frequent 'cruisers' as my wife & myself! Unfortunately, with three full 'sea days' out of eight days, there was not enough games & other diversions to fill the day, especially if you encounter rain. The ships cabins are among some of the smallest in the industry, approx. 166 sq. ft. with no sofa & barely enough room to get in or out of bed. The unused third bunk caused my wife to hit her head on a number of occasions. The television only had about 6 actual channels, with 4 of them being some kind of news, weather channels, leaving only one movie station & one station showing 5-7 year sit-coms, repeated often. Lastly & most importantly, the ship only had two pools & two hot-tubs, which did not have a glass cover over them, leaving passengers unable to use them in rainy weather. I believe that all cruise ships should be required to be built with this all important feature, especially those that will sail in cooler climates! All in all, it was a good cruise, but the fantastically low price helped to make it a great bargain for the money! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
The area was beautiful this is my 9th cruise. We took a excursion at each port. we purchased these from the ship. Two of the four were awful. We did the quad adventure in st Marten, it traveled only on very busy streets though traffic, you ... Read More
The area was beautiful this is my 9th cruise. We took a excursion at each port. we purchased these from the ship. Two of the four were awful. We did the quad adventure in st Marten, it traveled only on very busy streets though traffic, you could not enjoy your tour because you spent the whole time keeping from getting killed by trucks. At st Thomas we did the snorkel beach break st johns, this was a terrible choice . you spend 1 and 1/2 hours to get there passing many great beaches, stay for an hour to travel 1 1/2 hours back. no chairs on beach nothing not worth the money. When I told the cruise ship staff I was met with rude indifference. They really need to up their customer service! The entertainment is way below par . second city is the same every cruise. same skits over and over not funny very boring. maybe they should invest in real comedians. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2016
This is a delayed post as I wanted to process the details of our trip. This was our second cruise with NCL ( first one: Getaway Jan 15 Eastern Caribbean). My husband and I were looking forward to trying a smaller, older ship that was ... Read More
This is a delayed post as I wanted to process the details of our trip. This was our second cruise with NCL ( first one: Getaway Jan 15 Eastern Caribbean). My husband and I were looking forward to trying a smaller, older ship that was recently refurbished in the south Caribbean. We had such an amazing time on our first cruise that I had really high expectations for this one. We were celebrating my husband's 40th and our 10 year anniversary. We did not have any kids traveling with us and consider ourselves to be active adults. We had a drink and burger/fries/fruit from Topsiders Bar and Grill in the pool area on our second day on the ship. That evening we both got violently sick. At first we thought it was something we ate on the island we had visit that day but after speaking to a few other passengers who got sick after eating at Topsiders Bar and Grill, we knew that must have been the cause. All we could do for the rest of the trip was lay in bed. The beds were super hard and uncomfortable. We cancelled all of our excursions and dinner reservations, and only ate at the buffet. We purchased the dinner package as we really enjoyed the specialty restaurants and the Sugar Cane Mojito bar on the Getaway. The ship also felt really small and quite crowded with long lines for any of the meals. The ships entertainment did not seem as entertaining as our previous cruise. The positives: our room steward was amazing and the group from Cruise Critic. Our room steward did a great job cleaning our room and was always super friendly. He deserved a raise! We are hesitant to book another cruise with NCL after getting so sick. If we do, it will only be on a new ship since that seems to be where they spend their money on the food and entertainment. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was my 3rd time on the Gem. I love the size of this ship. There are usually no lines or crowds like on the larger class ships. - The itinerary was really intriguing. Very port-heavy, we left out of San Juan at 9pm and hit 5 ... Read More
This was my 3rd time on the Gem. I love the size of this ship. There are usually no lines or crowds like on the larger class ships. - The itinerary was really intriguing. Very port-heavy, we left out of San Juan at 9pm and hit 5 islands in 6 days: Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts (all new ports to me), St. Maarten & St. Thomas. - Embarkation went well, but only after standing in line outside for almost an hour. I had selected to arrive between 11:00-11:30 during my online check-in, but I guess they weren't quite ready for us to actually check in then. - Once on-board, I went to O'Sheehan's for lunch. I was so happy to see my all-time favorite waiter (Domingos) was now working there. He was my waiter in the Grand Pacific Dining Room last year on the Gem, and I ate dinner in his station every night, because he was so terrific. - Cabins were ready by 1:00 and I went to check it out. I had booked a Picture Window on Deck 5, but as the sailing date approached, I had noticed the prices had dropped SUBSTANTIALLY, so I called NCL. I was so excited to be upgraded to a Mini Suite (it is actually a deluxe Balcony) on Deck 11. I had never booked one, so I was thrilled. While on the phone, I asked about the location, because it seemed to be below Splash Academy. I don't have young children, so I never looked at that area of the ship before. The rep said that it was totally insulated against noise, and that the activities ended early every day anyway. This is NOT TRUE at all! Kids screaming, running, pounding the floors, jumping, competing happened all day, every day from 9am to 10:30pm. I could actually hear the counselors screaming for the kids to get louder. I honestly couldn't hear my TV. I wasn't in the cabin all the time with all the islands and activities, but when I came back from the ports every afternoon, I wanted to relax and unwind... but it was impossible. I would have switched back to my old cabin, but nothing was available. The Guest Services Manager sent his assistant when I called about the noise level one evening, and she agreed that it was VERY LOUD. She was going to report back to him. I never heard from either one again. If I wanted to read or relax, I had to wear earplugs. If you have any desire to have a bit of rest & relaxation, DO NOT BOOK CABIN # 11580!!! If you have loud kids or don't mind loud kids, by all means, book it! There is TONS of storage and it's very close to the mid-ship stairs. It is a lovely cabin, physically. - I met some very nice Cruise Critic members at the Meet & Mingle on our first full day at sea. Since I was sailing solo, I was very happy to meet people from the Roll Call. If you sign up to attend, please do so. Many said they were coming, but didn't show up. - The food was OK. It has changed, even from my sailing last year. They have removed some of my favorites from the menus, but I don't cruise for the food. I did have the Dining bonus....dinners at 3 Specialty restaurants. All 3 were great! Cagney's the first night, Moderna the 3rd night, and Teppenyaki the 5th night. The food quality was really high at all three. I tried Grand Pacific and Magenta...just OK, in my opinion. O'Sheehan's was consistently very good. I did not eat at the buffet after I saw kids grabbing plates, patting them and putting them back on the stack on the very first day. Parents also allowed them to grab serving spoons and touch the food. I didn't want to risk getting sick. - I don't think I would sail out of San Juan again. Although I like the island and the people, HUGE groups from PR were sailing with us. They were often loud, aggressive, pushy and inconsiderate. I never sailed with so many large groups before. 40-50 people all celebrating THEIR vacation, 24 hours a day. I want to have a great time on every cruise I take, but that doesn't involve screaming, pushing, cutting in lines, or infringing on others' quiet enjoyment. I felt like I was constantly just observing their vacations. - In summary, I enjoyed the time away from work and the great weather throughout the week, but there were some things I could definitely do without. - I am curious about the double medical evacuations by 2 helicopters, simultaneously, late one afternoon. If anyone knows what happened, please let me know. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
I had just cruised the previous month and per my usual routine when I return home, I immediately look for my next one! This was my 10th cruise with NCL and 16th overall. It's still amazing to me that every cruise is different and ... Read More
I had just cruised the previous month and per my usual routine when I return home, I immediately look for my next one! This was my 10th cruise with NCL and 16th overall. It's still amazing to me that every cruise is different and how different they can be. This trip was no exception. I flew into SJU for the first time ever and was happy with the airport, ease of embarkation at the Pan American dock (not the dock at Old San Juan), and the surprise escort to the ship by the hotel director. Bypassing all the usual photographers, slow lines, and endless ramps was very welcomed after waking up at 5am to fly. I haven't heard otherwise, but I guess this is the norm for a first time cruiser when they become platinum(?) Since I arrived only 5 hours before departure, I didn't have time to explore Old San Juan this trip like I would have preferred, but I've been there before and loved it. The ship itself was fine and the obvious similarities to the Jewel (sailed 18 months prior) were convenient for getting around efficiently by day two. I had booked this only 10 days prior to leaving and there was a sizable price drop just 2 days later. I was upgraded to a balcony after expecting a OBC instead, but it was fine and I'm aware waiving the single supplement is pretty rare occurrence. Even without the upgrade, the 7-day trip was a great deal. I'm VERY glad that NCL does not use the same bathroom floor plan in the newer ships as on the Gem. It is confining in every aspect so plus size men and women should take note as I'm fairly average at 6' tall and 200 lbs. It'd be impossible for 2 people to prep at the same time in there. My cabin steward, was one of the best I've ever encountered on a cruise. He anticipated so much after telling him just several things about my preferences. I received a surprise treat and got enjoy the breakfasts in Moderno and lunches in Cagney's for the entire week with the Suite people. It is much much quieter than the buffet and main dining room(s) and service was very fast. This feature also entitled me to concierge service. I'm not a concierge type of person, so having him approach me for lengthy chats about the ports and ship life were . . . strange for lack of better words. I enjoy the personal service on cruises, but just not so much of it since I'm generally very low maintenance. I enjoyed the food as usual in the main dining rooms (and rarely the buffet) and REALLY liked the sausage tortellini in butternut squash sauce on the 6th night. My first-time as a Platinum freebie to Le Bistro was flawless and I was surprised at the good to great free bottle of wines to choose from. The food, service, speed were perfect and I wouldn't change a thing about Le Bistro. I wish the cruise director would create some new activities, or at least new trivia for the frequent cruisers. I know that's a small world problem, but it sure would be nice to see a trivia that's not already on other NCL ships. Maybe Gem specific factoids? How many people notice there are 19 windshield wipers on the bridge? For some reason, I rarely saw the cruise director out and about unless he was hosting a game or introducing someone in the main theater. Not necessarily good or bad as his staff had everything covered, just odd compared to other very public cruise directors. This trip included 3 ports that I'd never been to before. Bridgetown Barbados, St Kitts, and Martinique. Barbados was forgettable and didn't seem clean, Martinique was French with odd architecture yet clean, and St Kitts had oddly cheap liquor. The cheap liquor is very noticeable since ship prices are not much less than retail where I live. I finally went to Maho Beach in St Maarten and witnessed the madness that is the airport and beach combo. I didn't even think to check the arrival and departure schedule before going there, but I did get to see a turboprop land, 2 puddle jumper type planes take-off, and a corporate type jet take off. The jet was fairly small, yet still made hats blow off and sand fly in every direction. I can't imagine the havoc an A380 would create! I looked at the arrival departure board in the bar adjacent to the beach and decided not to wait 2 hours in the heat to see a larger Air France jet arrive from Paris. I'd definitely cruise the Gem again for another good deal, but would prefer to go with a roommate next time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was our second cruise with Norwegian and we will definitely be sailing with them again. We spent a day in Old San Juan the day before our cruise. It is a beautiful city with some very interesting architecture. If you enjoy birds, ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Norwegian and we will definitely be sailing with them again. We spent a day in Old San Juan the day before our cruise. It is a beautiful city with some very interesting architecture. If you enjoy birds, check out Pigeon Park, it was a great experience. There is also a little place on Caleta de San Juan called Casa Melaza which is a rum boutique which was a neat experience. We watched a wedding at the church across the street as we sampled local rums. We stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan which was beautiful. It was a 10 minute or so cab ride to the Port. Embarkation was very easy and took a maximum of 45 minutes or so. We had no issues with our luggage making it to our room or anything of that sort. We very much enjoy the freestyle aspect of Norwegian as we don't really want to structure our day around dining. We at at Cagney's twice and both times the food was very good. The Japanese Steakhouse was also very good and very entertaining. We didn't care so much for the Brazilian Steakhouse; it was too rushed and too much food too quickly. The food was good, but we liked the other places better. We usually ate lunch in O'Sheehan's and it also was very good. The chicken wings are yummy - all the flavors. They have coney dogs too, which was a plus. Overall the service we received was excellent. We had a couple servers/bartenders that went over and above: Mark in the casino bar was very entertaining and always had a new drink for me before my old one ran out (we did have the unlimited beverage package which is a must for us as we like to drink - a lot). And Henrique in the pool area and the Martini lounge was absolutely awesome. He always had a smile on his face and suggested drinks when we were looking for something different. He also always had a new drink for us before our old ones were dry. On the entertainment front, we don't go to shows, but we fell in love with Leo, one of the lounge singers. We actually stalked him at times. He learned our names and where we were from (Michigan) the first time we saw him and every time after that, saw us and waved and said hi to his new friends from Michigan. We would go back on the Gem just for Leo. The ship itself was clean and in good shape. The public areas always seemed clean and well-stocked, if appropriate. We enjoyed the artwork throughout the ship as well. The staff was always smiling and saying good morning, etc. The adults-only pool was actually adults-only, which was great. The staff would nicely tell any children that wandered into the pool that they were to use the other pool. We booked two excursions through Norwegian - the Dolphin Push Pull and Swim in St, Kitts and a Catamaran Champagne Snorkel Cruise in St. Thomas. Both of them were awesome. The Dolphin Push Pull and Swim is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We got to pet, kiss and swim with the dolphins. The dolphins are in a cove-type enclosure about a ten-minute ride from the port. You are not allowed to take cameras or cell phones, but you can buy pictures at the end. Well worth the money and a great experience. The Champagne Catamaran Cruise was the best part of our trip. The captain, Theresa, and the crew members, Brandon and Conner, were so informative, helpful and cute :-) On the way to the beach, they explained where we were and told us a bit about the islands we were seeing. They gave some basic snorkel instructions and let us go off on our own for an hour or so. They would even ferry you in to the beach if you didn't feel like snorkeling. After snorkeling, the fun began. They had snacks and chocolate and all the rum punch, beer and champagne we could drink. My glass was literally never empty. It was the perfect day. The ride back to the port (about 25 minutes) was much less hair-raising on the way back because of the punch. It is very hilly and steep terrain with extremely narrow roads. We took an "open" bus, which I also really enjoyed. We did two other excursions in Barbardos and St. Martin, a turtle swim and island tour, respectively, which I booked online and were also really fun. Maho Beach on St. Martin is a must-see, at least once. Disembarkation was a bit more frustrating than embarkation, but actually getting off the ship only took about 20 minutes. Customs on the other hand took about an hour and a half. There were only 4 lines which was no where near enough for the amount of people getting off the ship. This was just a minor irritation though and isn't discouraging us from booking another cruise on Norwegian next December. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
This was my 5th cruise, 3rd on NCL. We (family of 4 adults) loved this ship! Cabin was a bit small, but the balcony made it feel bigger. The gym was fairly large, lots of cardio equipment but not as many weights. The shows were great ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise, 3rd on NCL. We (family of 4 adults) loved this ship! Cabin was a bit small, but the balcony made it feel bigger. The gym was fairly large, lots of cardio equipment but not as many weights. The shows were great each night, very entertaining, not too long (but could have been longer). Dining options were great. The menus at the main dining rooms were fairly diverse, but mostly seafood, less options for those that don't eat seafood. The staff were very friendly, loved engaging in conversation. Wished there had been a midnight buffet and a little more diversity with the food options. Ate at 2 specialty restaurants- Moderno and Le Bistro. Both were over the top amazing. The ship's layout was easy to learn and was incredibly clean. Can't say enough about the great staff, especially with the rain and adjustments that needed to be rain. We did one excursion through the ship, which was short but well run. Great time and would love to cruise on the NCL Gem again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
Mandarin Spa Week Pass: First time I bought the weeklong pass and am glad I did. You will love it if you like to have an elegant calm space with just a few other passengers. The lounge chairs face the front of the ship have the best ... Read More
Mandarin Spa Week Pass: First time I bought the weeklong pass and am glad I did. You will love it if you like to have an elegant calm space with just a few other passengers. The lounge chairs face the front of the ship have the best views. The heated recliners are amazing. There is also a MALE only sauna and steam room which is much larger and comfortable than the free one at the gym. Although there are four free outdoor jacuzzis around the two outdoor swimming pools they are usually crowded and filled with children; not my idea of a relaxing soak. I also liked that the male only dry sauna and steam room in Spa were large and hardly ever crowded. There is also a co-ed jacuzzi and a spectacular co-ed Hydro Therapy pool with jets everywhere. I plan to buy the Spa pass in all future NCL cruises, especially those where there may be children or loud groups. My sailing was from San Juan after Thanksgiving and it was filled with locals traveling in large, and often very loud groups. Hardly any of them made their way to the Spa. Shhhh....! Rooms: I was on the NCL Pearl recently and the rooms as well as the common areas are identical. This time I had a large picture window and it was just fine. I traveled alone. I find that in most cruises I am hardly ever in my room, so I am not one of those that insists on a balcony or suite. Most of the fun activities in a cruise happen throughout the ship and on the ports-of-call, not in the cabin (honeymooners excepted). Restaurants: for the first time, I saw a surcharge of $20 for the steak. In recent cruises I always ordered the NY Strip and it was included among the dinner options. Not a big deal, but a change. Lobster also available in the complimentary restaurants for a $25 surcharge. I did not mind the Garden Cafe Buffet on the 12th floor especially their daily roast. One day they had freshly roasted turkeys, another day an entire roast sucking pig, another day a roast pork leg. There was always variety and the food was well presented. Dishes are constantly changed so that they always look fresh and appetizing. Their dessert choice is always excellent as well including a well sourced ice cram bar and a day hot pudding, my favorite being the traditional warm bread pudding with caramel sauce. Delicious. Not sure why so many cruisers put down the buffet. If you go at a time that is not too busy, I never had a problem finding what I liked, making sure it was fresh and delicious and ben having the opportunity to return for seconds. The two main complimentary restaurants serve the same menu, the difference appears to be that in the Grand Cafe Gentlemen cannot we shorts or jeans at dinner time but otherwise, same menu, the shorts exclusion does not apply in the Grand Cafe for lunch. Either is an excellent choice if you prefer a more relaxing served meal. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We always fly in at LEAST one day early for any cruise and it has saved us from missing a South America cruise. Two of our four other cruise mates for this cruise learned this "rule" the hard way and missed a full day in San ... Read More
We always fly in at LEAST one day early for any cruise and it has saved us from missing a South America cruise. Two of our four other cruise mates for this cruise learned this "rule" the hard way and missed a full day in San Juan and the Sea Day; picking up the ship in Grenada 4 flights later. We explored Old San Juan with a private driver, who picked us up at the airport, and stayed at Hotel Milano (reasonable rate in the middle of Old San Juan). Had we of known our hotel was right there, we would have walked and saved the money by only getting an airport transfer. Hindsight is 20/20. Live music was everywhere outside at night and we really enjoyed the vibe. We hired the same company to pick us up the following day to take us to the amazing beach at Playa Puerto Nuevo in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. Check out the videos on YouTube and you will see what I mean! It was a calm day so we didn't see much for waves but, were able to climb to the top and sit in little "craters" filled with water. We used Puerto Rico Shuttle Van Private Day Tours and had Francisco Sr. day 1 and Gabby (loved her) on day 2. To the ship by 3:30 p.m with our carry ons for a 9 p.m. departure. This was our 7th cruise; 3rd on NCL and we visited: Puerto Rico, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, and Tortola. We had rain the entire sea day and for most of the first 3 ports with small breaks throughout the day. We didn't let that ruin our days but some people were just plain cranky. We took some time to explore the ship, meet the bartenders, spent time in the hot tub, took in more shows than we normally would and even made it to the disco! The ship was recently re-furbished and it is beautiful; loved the size of our shower. We didn't do any of the a la carte restaurants but, they were always busy (except a few people told us La Cucina was terrible). They loved Cagney's the most. Many had the unlimited dining package. We opted for the drink package. We generally only take in comedy shows and some of the adult game shows and typically avoid the musicals. We've seen several on other cruise ships and they are just not for us. It is all personal preference after all. Hey it's Freestyle cruising! Dressing up on formal night is always fun and we spent most of our time in martini bar with the piano bar next to it. Loved "M' and "KK" and another sweet young lady (but, I can't recall her name off the top of my head). We were in the pool a couple of times; which is salt water. There were more kids than we'd seen on this size ship before, however, our last two cruises on NCL ships were for 2 weeks each to the Mediterranean and South America. Staff are friendly and the entertainment could be found enjoying themselves among the passengers between shows. The pillows didn't work well for me this trip but, once again, personal preference (hubby thought his were fine). We bought "Next Cruise" credits and had used one on this cruise. Why not. It really is free money?! We plan to sail NCL at least twice more in the next 3 years to use up the other two - probably Baltic Capitals and Panama Canal. Get your exercise by using the stairs wherever you go (if you are physically able of course). The elevators seemed slow on this ship so everyone waited by sitting on the stairs. We had never seen this before! Remember to smile and say hi to everyone. Happy people draw happy people to them. :) Read Less
Sail Date: November 2016
This was our first cruise, so I have really nothing to compare to. I can say however that it was exceptional value for money, and that we are planning on going on another cruise with NCL soon. We certainly hope it will be a better ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so I have really nothing to compare to. I can say however that it was exceptional value for money, and that we are planning on going on another cruise with NCL soon. We certainly hope it will be a better experience though. Embarkation and Disembarkation were timely throughout the trip. The Ship has 14 decks of which Decks 6, 7, 12, and 13 are almost entirely made up of shops, restaurants, and other entertainment venues. The shows at the theatre are pretty good, we enjoyed the Second City Theatre show and thers while onboard. Food was ok. I wouldn't go for any of the drink packages in my next trip as I didn't see much value in them (even when you get unlimited drinks its a hassle to get a drink) unless you're staying in the ship the whole trip. We went to the Churrascaria (Moderno) and the service was not only slow, but the food was just off (specifically asked for a Fraldinha (medium rare) about 4 times and when I got it it was well-done). Best food on the ship was probably at the Garden Cafe and the Topsiders Grill which was almost contrary to what we thought getting on board. The food at O'Sheehan's tasted almost stale - definitely DON'T recommend it. Service was so-so, our steward (Edwin) was awesome but the rest of the crew was hardly mention-worthy. Norwegian's "Freestyle" concept is pretty cool though, food, drink and entertainment are available almost all day, all the time. Ports were great: St Maarten (Orient Beach), St Thomas (Lindquist Beach) and St Kitts (Cockleshell Beach) have awesome beaches while Barbados has FINE rum, and great people. Try the Mount Gay Distillery tour. Very family friendly and lots of kids. Recommend it to those who need R&R and really want to "get away". Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
My husband and I chose this cruise, because, we won it in a raffle on our previous cruise. We needed to do Thanksgiving week so that my husband would have enough time off. The Gem was beautiful! It was by far the best Norwegian ship I ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise, because, we won it in a raffle on our previous cruise. We needed to do Thanksgiving week so that my husband would have enough time off. The Gem was beautiful! It was by far the best Norwegian ship I have ever been on. The decor was beautiful, the layout easy to navigate, and everything was super clean. Our room was very nice and things were being fixed before we even noticed they were broken. We dined in both main dining rooms, the buffet, the Great Outdoors, Sheehan's (sp?), the Oriental Garden (I think that is the name.), the Brazilian Steak House, and LeBistro. The food in the main dining room was good. It is not up to the standard of Princess or Celebrity, but it was good for a Norwegian ship. The buffet was good and very typical of the buffet at all of the ships that I have been on. The Great Outdoors was listed under 24-hour dining, but it was only open until 11:30 pm. It had good late night snacks, but it would have been better if it would have stayed open later. We wanted snacks after dancing at night and there was nowhere to get them except for room service (limited menu with no snacks) and Sheehan's (sp?) where you had to sit down and dine and the food was not very good, especially the nachos. The Oriental Garden was a nice complimentary offering to the main dining room, but the sushi was not very good. The Brazilian Steak House and LeBistro were our absolute favorites. They were worth the extra money. Overall, the service was amazing. Everyone was very kind and helpful. There was only one time in the main dining room where we thought it took a really long time to get to eat. Our room steward was ok, but we have had much better on other lines. We were constantly having to call and ask for things that should have automatically been replaced each day. The only disappointing part of the ship was the DJ. Each evening was billed as Latin night and it was always packed. For some reason, it was always held in Bliss instead of the larger Spinnaker. The DJ would play Latin music (salsa, bachata, etc.) for the first half hour and then it would switch to American pop/club music such as Justin Beiber. At that point, many passengers left, but the crew stayed on the dance floor. The ports were all pretty much what we expected based on our previous Caribbean cruises. I would recommend booking private tours through local guides rather than the ship excursions. You get much more of an individualized experience for less money. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
We chose this cruise as a spare of the moment thing and were not expecting anything since this is our first time cruising. We heard a lot about other cruises but we didn't know anyone who had gone in a Norwegian cruise before so we ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a spare of the moment thing and were not expecting anything since this is our first time cruising. We heard a lot about other cruises but we didn't know anyone who had gone in a Norwegian cruise before so we did not know what to expect. We got there around 4:30 pm and were allowed to go in at around 5 pm. The check in was ok and quite fast. Once we got on the ship we went directly to our room and it was nice. We had a onceanview room for three people (2 adults, 1 kid). Overall the room was very nice with a lot of space to put all your stuff but the bathroom was extremely small. Now, I am not a claustrophobic person but I could not stay in that bathroom with the door closed. Next time I will look for a room with a bigger bathroom. The beds were put together and my kid's bed was on top of our bed. I didn't like the fact that if you open the kid's bed, we could not see the TV. Since we have a kid, we are not out enjoying the night activities so they should think about changing the tv position for parents who have to stay in their rooms at night. They should also provide a few more channels to watch (they only had the ships' channels, about 4 news channels, 1 tv show channel, 1 movie channel). The day after leaving the port, was an "at sea" day. We spent the whole day by the pool. They had a few people working the pool area so we were able to ask for drinks (we had the beverage package). The pool area was always clean and they had a lot of chairs under the shades so it was perfect. They have a buffet by the pool which comes in handy when we got hungry because we didn't have to go and change before going to any restaurant. The food at the restaurants was very good. I was actually surprised by the Garden Cafe food, specially the breakfast. It was alway very good. They had a food theme every night but they still served other kinds of food, which is thoughful. We went to three of their specialties dinning: the Orchid Garden, the Magenta, and Cagney's Steakhouse. Cagney's was very affordable, even cheaper than restaurants in PR. On days at port, it was very easy to come and go. We did not pay for any excursions since we like to explore the places by ourselves. All ports were very well kept and I loved how the employees greeted people on the way back. They always had water, juice, hot towels, beach towels, and a smile. One of the days they even put a red carpet!!! We went to a few of their shows. They were amazing to say the less. Very enjoyable and entertaining. The one thing that I hated was desembarking. It was horrible!! It took us two hours in line to be able to leave the port. People were cutting in line without a care and the process was extremely slow. If you paid for someone to carry your bags (even for 1 bag) then you would go to another line (a faster one), which is not fair. I do recommend taking a cruise where the last day is at sea (we didn't do it) because we got home so tired and we didn't want to go back to school / work because needed a few days to rest. Overall, I would really really recommend this cruise ship to my friends. I will definitely start cruising more on the Norwegian ships. I already have my eye on the Breakaway. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
Flew into SJU the day before our cruise and stayed at the Marriott Stellaris & Casino in Condado and it was beautiful on the beach. Would stay again. It was just my husband and myself. We arrived at the port around 10:45am and ... Read More
Flew into SJU the day before our cruise and stayed at the Marriott Stellaris & Casino in Condado and it was beautiful on the beach. Would stay again. It was just my husband and myself. We arrived at the port around 10:45am and they allowed us to go in around 11:00am and we were on the ship by 11:30am. Was a very easy embarkment. The ship is nice, yet not real big so you don't get the feeling you get like the Getaway or other big ships. I like the smaller ships. We want to eat at O'Sheehans when we boarded, but they were not open. We ate at the Garden Café and were in our rooms to drop our carryon around 2:00pm. We had a inside cabin since we would be at port 5 of the days and had excursions through private tours. We were in cabin 9069 and it was pretty quiet. Raffy did a great job keeping us comfortable. The beds and the pillows to me were the most uncomfortable but after the 3rd day of being exhausted I slept well and would have probably been just as comfortable on the floor. The cabin had a decent size bathroom even though you felt like you sat sideways on the toilet. The shower had glass doors, so no curtain sticking to you...YAY! There were plenty of shelves, closet space and drawers for all of belongings. They have two pools and each pool had two hot tubs next to it. One of the pools and two hot tubs were adult only. The dining room food was okay. We really enjoyed the sushi at the Orchid Café (which was additional cost for the sushi, but worth it). The entertainment - we only say the two acrobats and a comedian. We went to the white hot night party and listen to a few bands throughout the ship and cruise. Our first excursion in Grenada was with JNJ Tours. We enjoyed the tour and the beach. Make sure to pickup some spice necklaces and spices. Would recommend this tour. Second excursion was in St. Lucia and really enjoyed the boat ride and beach near the Pitons. We booked this trip through Spencer Ambrose. We had drinks and lunch on the beach. Would recommend this tour. Third excursion was in Dominica through Nature Isle Exployers and say Ti Tou Gorge, Trafalgar Falls, Botanical Gardens, Champagne Reef. The Champagne Reef Snorkel was very rough to walk to due to large rocks. Wear sneakers or water shoes - not flip-flops. Was a very nice tour, but I was extremely worn out by the end of the tour. The water inside the cave was 65 degrees F and did not go well with my arthritis, but I did it. Fourth excursion was in Antigua with Lawrence of Antigua. Was a very nice tour with a stop at the beach. We did not stay at the beach - it was raining and worn out from the tours each day. Fifth excursion was in Tortola and we just did a tour through a tour operator. This was my least favorite since the people on the tour would not stop talking and we could not hear most of what the tour guide said. We stopped at Cane Beach and it was beautiful. Honestly, I don't think I would do a cruise with 5 ports in our 7 day cruise. Our only day at sea was the first day. Came home feeling like I need a vacation from our vacation, so would like more sea days and less ports. This was our 20th cruise and our first out of San Juan with all the ports to stop at. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
We chose this particular cruise because of the itinerary offered, the smaller islands in the southern Caribbean and ports we'd never been to. We arrived in San Juan the day before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan, ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise because of the itinerary offered, the smaller islands in the southern Caribbean and ports we'd never been to. We arrived in San Juan the day before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan, excellent choice! Cab ride from airport was a piece of cake, and then once at the hotel we walked to everything we wanted to see and places to dine. Another easy cab ride to the ship the next afternoon, and embarkation was easy. This was for me, the absolute best way to see each of these islands, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua and Tortola. They were even more beautiful than I imagined, cruising into port early each morning was glorious. Each island offering a different vista of lush mountains, beautiful water, and quaint ports. The shore excursions we took were great, although the Waterfall to Beach tour in Dominica was a bit more of rigorous "walk" than anticipated. When they say there may be stairs to climb, understand that these are not stairs you're used to. This is sakrete that's been dumped onto roots and ledges to give you footing to get down some steep inclines. Some steps may be a foot or more in height and you have a make-shift handrail or rope to hold to. So just word to the wise, wear sturdy shoes (I did) and understand when the tour descriptions says a "15 minute walk", it's not just a walk along your city block. I was very glad I did this tour and was up for it, and it was something I've never done before, but just keep in mind, you're walking in a rain forest in a remote region. It's not like the groomed trails in the US state and national parks. Also, if prone to motion sickness, roads on each of these islands are narrow, steep, curvy mountain roads, so if this bothers you, stick to excursions that take you by boat to your destination. But the things you see on these van/bus tours were just incredible and the pictures taken do not do justice. The ship itself was so very nice, absolutely impeccably clean in any corner or nook you looked at. As always, NCL is persistent about clean hands and are greeting you with hand sanitizer anytime you come aboard or enter an dining area. One downside to the ship is there are only 2 pools and they're located in the center of the ship, so this concentrates a lot of people in one area. They did have ample lounge chairs available, but it felt a bit tight and crowded at times. Also true to NCL, live entertainment in the theatre, pool area, and bar areas was very good. The biggest negative to comment on is you have to darn near beg for a drink. Apparently, because so many do the beverage package and it's "paid for", NCL makes little attempt to get you drinks. You'll stand 5 deep in line at one end of a bar with another line at the opposite end and the bar has maybe 2 bartenders, often only 1, and it can take 15 minutes to get a drink, it was ridiculous. They also do not have adequate wait-staff circulating the pool and public entertainment areas so you can order drinks. And this is true for just wanting a soft drink, you have to work to get a drink. As for alcoholic beverages, they measure every pour, they're not giving anything away. I personally like Carnival where even with having the beverage package you can always quickly get a drink of any kind and if it's an adult beverage, they're generous with their pours. Still, the cruise was excellent, the food was good at the buffets and in the dining room, we did not do specialty dining where you have to pay for your meal. When it's the seafood buffet night, skip the dining room and go for the buffet! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
This was absolutely one of the best itineraries we've done in all of our 21 cruises! Puerto Rico, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Tortola. We arrived in Puerto Rico a day early and stayed at the S.J. Suites in Old San ... Read More
This was absolutely one of the best itineraries we've done in all of our 21 cruises! Puerto Rico, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Tortola. We arrived in Puerto Rico a day early and stayed at the S.J. Suites in Old San Juan. We had a large comfortable room with a king size bed, window facing the street, a very nice leather chair, futon and fridge. It was a little dated but the location and being genuinely welcomed by Raymond at the front desk more than made up for that! He was helpful in every way! His recommendation for dinner at Barrachina where the Pina Colada was invented did not disappoint! My Steak Fajitas were just perfectly cooked and my husbands coconut shrimp also. Of course we both enjoyed a Pina Colada! We loved riding the free trolley that stopped throughout Old San Juan and all of the shops that were close by our hotel. A cab to the cruise port was 10 minutes and $17 plus tip and we were all checked in and on board The Gem by noon. Embarkation was a breeze. We enjoyed lunch in the Grand Pacific Dining Room and headed on deck before the muster drill. Our Mini Suite on deck 11 was spacious, comfortable and mid ship. Our cabin Steward Diego was outstanding and friendly! The balcony is always one of the best parts for me and having a full bath tub was a plus too. We enjoyed most of the restaurants including The Garden Cafe', Great Outdoors, The Grill, Teppanyaki, Orchid Garden, Le Bistro, O'Sheehan's and The Grand Pacific Dining Room. Service throughout was impeccable, accurate and friendly. We loved listening to the music at Magnum's, The Atrium, Spinnakers and Bliss throughout the cruise and there are many more bars and lounges to explore. I loved the sail away party, pool activities and line dancing! The casino called my name every night after we sailed and on our one sea day. I enjoyed the variety of machines and denominations and meeting Ralph the casino host again. He is also outstanding, welcoming, helpful and professional, always making you feel as though you sincerely mattered each time you spoke with him. The entertainment was top notch and I especially loved the Tribute To swing Dance through the years and Blazing Boots. Another outstanding staff member who truly made a difference for us was the blonde hostess at Orchid and Le Bistro. I wish I knew her name. Her genuine smile, warm greeting and professionalism made us smile each time we met. She made our day special more than once and deserves to be recognized for her outstanding interpersonal and professional skills! Visiting so many different ports on a 7 day cruise was fantastic! The thrill of seeing the mountains and volcanoes each time we pulled into port was a true highlight for me. Each one of the Islands offered those amazing views! I enjoyed shopping at the end of the dock and just sitting and interacting with the locals and other passengers while my husband stayed on board. That's another true highlight for us ~ " having the whole ship to ourselves" while the other passengers were on shore excursions since we've done most of the excursions on past cruises. My favorite port had to be Dominica because of the warm, friendly interactions I had with the staff at the straw market. It is always one of my favorite places to shop! I even had my hair braided at $2 per braid and shook a few coconuts and maracas with the locals on my way back to the ship. I wish i could say the same for shopping in Antigua. However it was such a disappointment to be hassled to make a purchase by some of the vendors at that straw market. Although I did purchase a beautiful dress and top from the one girl who left me alone to browse freely before I headed back on board. The one excursion we did do in Tortola was the ferry to Virgin Gorda and the baths in Tortola. It was amazing to walk the path to the sea and see and swim among the giant boulders! We took Speedy's Ferry service to the Baths. It was $74 for the two of us and included the taxi to the Baths once we reached Virgin Gorda which was about a 30 minute ride. Speedy's is a short walk from the pier. Disembarkation was a breeze also and the taxi to the airport super easy to get. I can't wait to go on my next cruise! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
We picked this cruise for the ports, five if you don't include PR. Grenada and Dominica were new ports for us, we had a good time drinking rum on the docks with the islanders in the straw market. Since you shouldn't cruise to the ... Read More
We picked this cruise for the ports, five if you don't include PR. Grenada and Dominica were new ports for us, we had a good time drinking rum on the docks with the islanders in the straw market. Since you shouldn't cruise to the islands and not hit the beach we did that in St. Lucia. None of the people in our group had ever been on Norwegian before, though all of us have been on many cruises. From the balcony rooms down we thought the cabins were tight, with not even enough room to round the bed without sliding between it and the drawers on one side and a dropdown bed on the other. Entertainment on the ship was good from Atrium bar to the Stardust theater, although the parties on deck didn't seem to have the energy of other lines. For my wife and I the absolute worst is the line beverage policy. Nowhere on the ship were Coke products served, and we weren't told before hand that the line policy is to confiscate ALL beverages even water. Alcohol I agree with but the Coke thing basically made it so there will never be another cruise on Norwegian for us. Oh, and there are no bathrobes, I heard about that from all the ladies in the group. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We did a BTB Nov 13-27. Ship: The Gem is a medium sized ship. We prefer this size rather than the Getaway class ships which are often filled with too many kids. Cabin:Our starboard mid ship balcony cabin was good size for us - I ... Read More
We did a BTB Nov 13-27. Ship: The Gem is a medium sized ship. We prefer this size rather than the Getaway class ships which are often filled with too many kids. Cabin:Our starboard mid ship balcony cabin was good size for us - I would not recommend it for three people. Bathroom was too small, so I used the men's rooms on the ship. Dining: We only eat in the specialty restaurants - the food always tastes better when I don't have to stand in a buffet line. For breakfast we ate in the Grand Pacific complimentary dining room, which was less than half full, between 7:15 and 8:30, while we were eating. All the appetizers were good. Cagney's steakhouse was delicious. We had, on different nights, the bone in prime rib, the NY strip, and the sesame crusted tuna. Portions were a bit too big. La Cucina (Italian) was very good. We had, on different nights, Sea Bass, T-bone steak, two different shrimp dishes, and my wife requested chicken parmesan. All were very good. Le Bistro (French) was outstanding. We had, on different nights, Sea Bass, Dover Sole, a shrimp dish, a scallop dish, and twice we shared the rib eye steak for two. Teppanyaki - standard Japanese. Entertainment - very enjoyable. Blazing Boots was the best show we have seen on a cruise. Service - excellent. Room was always cleaned early and we always had towels. Very enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Norwegian Gem Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 5.0 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.8

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