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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
NCL Dawn, March 3 to March 10. Mini-Suite Rm 11676 I’ll preface my critique noting that this was my first NCL cruise, but I’ll also add that I’ve cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. First, boarding (mainly cause our ... Read More
NCL Dawn, March 3 to March 10. Mini-Suite Rm 11676 I’ll preface my critique noting that this was my first NCL cruise, but I’ll also add that I’ve cruised on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. First, boarding (mainly cause our departure was at 9:00pm) was very quick and easy - as I boarded at 1:00pm. Food in the Garden Cafe was available, and our room became available at approximately 3:00pm. We also booked three specialty dinning options, and our reservation times were all met. Teppanyaki: By far was my favorite. Great service, outstanding food from the edamame, fried rice and sea food selection was all worth it. Cagney’s: Was a close second on favorites. Great porterhouse steak. Le Bistro: Although the least favorite, it was worth the up charge. As for other food options, the Garden Cafe was OK - but not bad. The Venetian, Aqua and Bamboo were all good options if not at the specialty dinning location. Also, classy touch to provide appetizers at the casino later in the evening. We booked a few excursions, however the one that stood out was ANUD1011 Kayak & Snorkel Adventure on Antiqua. At $70.00 per person, we believe this excursion gave the most bang for the buck. Besides a ride thru the countryside, we kayaked thru the man grooves, hiked to a mountain top to view the Atlantic Ocean, then snorkeled. After our boat back to catch a bus back to the ship, water, rum punch and snacks we available. What really stood out was the professionalism and work ethic of the staff. Never a let down throughout the cruise - always courteous, and providing great service. The other thing that stood out was the ship never felt over crowded, and lines were minimal and always moved. If there was any negatives, general announcements were very hard to hear. The smoking room which was located on the sixth floor, sometimes leaked smoke into the bar area - and can be a bit overwhelming for non-smokers. Lastly, our Cabin Steward was very good, and besides the normal gratuities, I gave him an additional tip in person - but he didn’t seem happy. Not sure if I’m reading him wrong, or he was insulted. Overall, an oddly laid out ship really became its strength and appeal. And I took advantage of almost all of the ship, from sunning and swimming, sitting on my personal deck, multiple dinning locations, bars and gambling too - With my experience being excellent. I miss it, and would book another NCL cruise again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
First time on Gem. And other than the Pride of America out of Honolulu, the first time on NCL. I’m a firm believer that all the main stream cruise lines are similar. Each has its own plusses and minuses. I’ll try to keep ... Read More
First time on Gem. And other than the Pride of America out of Honolulu, the first time on NCL. I’m a firm believer that all the main stream cruise lines are similar. Each has its own plusses and minuses. I’ll try to keep this objective. My wife and I travelled with two other couples for this cruise. One drove to NY with us from Delaware and one met us at the port, as they are from FL. We left the Sunday before and spent the night in Rahway, NJ so we’d have an easy drive in the next AM. When we arrived to pickup our friends, they asked if we’d recd the message that the ship was going to be late due to the weather. We recd nothing. They had been told it would leave at 6:00PM. So, we headed out and figured we’d just take our time the next morning. As, Murphy was present quite a bit this trip, he also made his presence known on Monday morning...there was hardly any traffic driving into the city and we arrived at the port by 10:30AM...go figure! No sweat, we checked our bags and we made ourselves comfy. Then came the announcement! The Gem would not be arriving until after 6:00PM if then, and the terminal staff recommended we leave the terminal and return between 7 and 10 PM! We just looked at each other dumbfounded. Where were we going to go, having parked the car at the terminal and in temps below freezing (considering 40+ mph winds). So, we chose to hang out longer. THEN, the next announcement...The Gem would not be in until Tuesday morning. Luckily, our friend found us hotel accommodations close by. We chose to let them keep our bags and we headed for the hotel. Can’t control Mother Nature! BUT.....the indecision among the terminal staff was unreal! Everyone you asked had a different answer or different directions. This can’t be the first time there was a delay! They really need to work on their contingency planning. The next day was really quite uneventful. The other two couple took their time heading for the term8nal. So, my wife and I told them we’d meet them on board. We were on board by approx 1130 and they joined us closer to 1:30. We then recd the announcement there would be a slight delay as there was a medical emergency that required passengers to debark. Again...stuff happens. We were also informed that, due to the late ship arrival, we would be reimbursed for a day of the cruise...but, the itinerary would be altered and San Juan and St Kitts eliminated. So, on a now 10 day cruise, 5 days would be sea days. That became monotonous on the Gem. The next bit of excitement came on our second sea day when there was a fire on Deck 13 in one of the heaters. Crew performed flawlessly and the situation was controlled quickly. But, that Murphy guy..... We found the ship layout did not flow easily and all of the public areas seemed to be overly noisy with some sort of activity or sales pitch going on at all times. Again, all lines have those ships that seemed to be hodge podged together to maximize room. It was the nois3 levels that bothered us most. With that many sea days so close together, it started to wear on us. Additionally, they had entertainment functions in the main Atrium area...it was just too congested for that. We found the Garden Buffet very chaotic! There was no orderly flow and people just went every which way. Add to that the people that were unaware of anyone but themselves....(again, those folks are on all cruises, I suppose). The food in the Buffet was mediocre. We ate our breakfasts in O’Sheehans Pub. That’s a great secret! Very few people took advantage of it. So, we had nice meals there each morning. Lunch, we braved the chaos in the buffet...needless to say, my least favorite meal. Dinners were in Magenta dining room, unless we had reservations at the specialty restaurants. Vladimir took great care of us and the environment again was not as chaotic. As as for the specialties....Carney’s and Le Bistro we our favorites. La Cucina and Modernos were flops for our whole crowd. None of us enjoyed our meals. Entertainment....we’ve been on quite a few cruises and the production cast on this ship were some of the best we’ve seen! Blazing Boots...Wow! Guys, if you have a weak heart, take a defibrillator! Read Less
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
It was best for my children winter break. The cruise was also perfect because it was from New York will did not have to fly to get to the boat. The ship was safe foe my teenagers and 8 years old. The ship was not too big but have ... Read More
It was best for my children winter break. The cruise was also perfect because it was from New York will did not have to fly to get to the boat. The ship was safe foe my teenagers and 8 years old. The ship was not too big but have everything we needed for to enjoy the cruise.Even when we have to stay extra day on the sea, we were made comfortable and felt at home. The dinning staff were very good and warm. The entertainment music should have more mixed of everything for more entertainment. ship was warm and comfortable. The embarkation and disembarkation was smooth and convenient. My children made many friends on the ship and they are looking forward to another vacation. They were excited to see all the highlands we visited. The overrate experience was Excellent and worth the money. It was a time of relation for me and my husband. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose this cruise because of 11 nites and the itinerary. Love cruising out of NYC especially since we live in New Jersey. We did have a delay in leaving NYC because of high winds the ship could not dock until the next day...but once ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of 11 nites and the itinerary. Love cruising out of NYC especially since we live in New Jersey. We did have a delay in leaving NYC because of high winds the ship could not dock until the next day...but once on the ship all that was forgotten. Better Safe than Sorry was the motto! The Gem is my favorite ship. The crew is outstanding and they cater to all your needs. It's nice to meet the same staff., like coming home. Food is excellent, bar choices are plentiful. The entertainment on this cruise was the best we have ever had. We enjoyed every show! The music in every bar was also the best. Spent many late nites in the Magnum Bar area for the musical groups. We ate in all the specialty restaurants and again Cagneys was our favorite. Teppanaki is always fun, and LaCucina has the best turimisu in the world! We will be back next year! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We were part of a business group putting on an annual thank you event. They hosted several parties that were great and they provided ultimate drink package endorsements. Overall the trip, ship and experience were undeniably fantastic. ... Read More
We were part of a business group putting on an annual thank you event. They hosted several parties that were great and they provided ultimate drink package endorsements. Overall the trip, ship and experience were undeniably fantastic. We were left with a few head scratchers at the end... the dining experiences were less than hoped for and a couple times even disappointing. We experienced a short tempered and fairly rude hostess at the Los Lobos restaurant. She was cross and insured we were well aware we needed a reservation to dine there, but it was her duty to seat us if she could. We were seated in the back but still in sight enough to complete our experience with only two other tables being sat the entire time. The food in general was good not excellent. The food service was slower than necessary even for a relaxed guest environment. A little more attention to each table and/or more prompt food delivery would have kept us personally less anxious to conclude a dinner seating. The comedian was great, Alex Ortiz. The aerialists were beautiful. The ship dance crew was energetic and smiley but the choreography was laughable and we left a few shows. The last couple days the ship started coming down with cold symptoms, myself included. Our room steward mentioned she had been in medical with a fever earlier that day... was curious as to why she was then in our room. Again, overall the experience was amazing and the crew is great and we ate and drank and played to our desire. We are unsure as to if another cruise was left to our planning if we would cruise Norwegian again or try a different line. We thank you all for a wonderful vacation nonetheless. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We've been fortunate to have sailed on Royal Caribbean (Freedom and Oasis) in the past but once we saw the deal Norwegian had (free air fare for me and my husband and $99 for our daughters, drinks, shore excursion credit and free ... Read More
We've been fortunate to have sailed on Royal Caribbean (Freedom and Oasis) in the past but once we saw the deal Norwegian had (free air fare for me and my husband and $99 for our daughters, drinks, shore excursion credit and free wifi), we decided to take a chance on this cruise line. We're happy we did. ABOUT THE BOAT: This is a smaller boat so be prepared, especially at night, to feel the sway of the ship. It apparently was updated a few years ago and it shows: the decor is modern and clean. One of the main dining rooms (Aqua) looks like an upscale New York restaurant. There was only one pool but we never felt like sardines in it - there was enough room in and around it for everyone. There is another pool in the spa but you have to pay for it. We upgraded to a family suite since we have two teenage daughters. We expected they would share the pull out couch but we were thrilled to discover the suite has a pull out couch, a murphy bed AND a king bed. It was awesome! We didn't splurge on a balcony because being on the 12th deck we could easily walk to the pool deck. Our room also came with a nespresso machine which we loved. ABOUT THE FOOD: I read numerous reviews about the poor quality of the food and I totally disagree. The quality and variety of the buffet (Garden Cafe) was outstanding (better than either RC cruise we were on). One night they even had a huge spread of peel and eat shrimp and oysters. The coffee was always fresh and strong and they had lemon for the water. The options in the main dining rooms were also very good, even for one of our picky eaters. However, if you're hoping for lobster, you'll have to buy it on one of the islands since that's one thing Norwegian doesn't have. Some things to note: they told us that shorts weren't allowed in Aqua but that's not true. The majority of men wore shorts with no issue. Also, the only place we were able to find water was at the bar (if you ask) and at the buffet. The one benefit I liked on RC ships is that they have water dispensers at the end of each bar so you can take water when you want and not have to wait in line. ABOUT THE EXCURSIONS: We took two: one to a beach in St. Lucia and one snorkeling off of St. Thomas. The beach in St. Lucia was very nice; it was adjacent to a Sandals resort. We had to pay $10 for an umbrella but the lounge chairs were "free." Snorkeling was very cool. We went out on a catamaran and saw turtles, a ray, fish, coral and a shipwreck. The only thing about this though was that it was advertised as a 3.5 hour trip and we were back at the boat in less than 3 hours. We walked into Bridgetown in Barbados which was nice. Our favorite port was St. John in Antigua since we liked the market and historic section. ABOUT THE DEALS: We live in Vermont so booking airfare to anywhere is expensive. Free air fare was incredible. We had to fly out of Boston which was fine. The only thing I didn't like at all is that they offer you choice airports to fly out of and then get back to you with your flight times. With RC, I worked with the agent together to determine the best departure and arrival times for us. The Norwegian process was clunky. The other deal was for free drinks up to $15 per drink. Totally worth it. The only disappointment was even though my husband had free wifi, it was super slow. But we were supposed to be on vacation so it wasn't a deal breaker. All in all, we were exceptionally pleased. My parents have taken 13 cruises, 12 of which were on RC. After we shared our experience, my father has been looking into a Norwegian cruise for them. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
had terrible service at bars. bar tenders worked hard, but needed help to keep up. Drink package extremely too high. traveling friend did not drink, but was forced to pay $1,700 for both if interested. I just didn't drink that ... Read More
had terrible service at bars. bar tenders worked hard, but needed help to keep up. Drink package extremely too high. traveling friend did not drink, but was forced to pay $1,700 for both if interested. I just didn't drink that much on cruise. Just ok service at restaurants, even the specialty ones (3). Both cabin beds felt like they had nails poking out of them. Had to take pain pills to get thru the night. A lot of over charges that I am having to dispute. A lot of double charges. Charged for lot of drinks I did not receive and don't have receipts for so going to have to dispute those also. Embarkation took over hour and half after we got to pier just waiting in cab. Once inside like chaos boarding. Same for disembarking. Mile long waiting lines to get off! I waited until latest point to go get final bill so it would more likely be close to accurate only to find when I got home and checking credit card bill os all the erroneous charges that even put me over my limit several thousand dollars and effect my credit rating negatively. This was fourth time on this particular ship with prior cruises OK. They just did about everything you could do wrong on this voyage and charged me dearly for it. They don't like it when you win in the casino and was told so! Everyone just suppose to act like sheep and lose a thousand or so and go home happy. Not good business and very unprofessional This is first time after about 65 cruises that I have complained. I just felt this time I had to let other cruisers know things don't always go right but this was awful. Thanks, Im getting writers cramp so will bid you farewell for now. Already have had another cruise planned for April on Symphony of the Seas. Will be first time on this ship. I sure hope things go better.. Bye 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
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