Posted March 11th, 2012, 12:10 PM
We have sailed on both, Splendor to Mexican Riviera, Gem out of NYC on a ten day southern Caribbean.
We found the entertainment to be of similar quality on each ship. The Gem has in our opinion a much nicer pool/Lido. The pool is fresh water which is nice plus the deck has daybeds as well as lounge chairs and plenty of covered space for those who don't want so much sun. The Splendor has the seaside theater but for us this isn't a plus, we find it annoying but plenty of people enjoy it.
The buffet on Gem blows the doors off Splendor with much better variety. The Gem also has a nice outdoor seating area aft which is wonderful for enjoying breakfast or dessert. Splendor has better food in the main dining room but Gem offers a variety of dining options for a charge, Splendor has the steak house.
If you like to gamble as we do but only for small stakes, the Splendor has the better casino. For high-rollers Gem might be better but I'll leave that to the gambling experts to comment. On Gem the minimums were $10 or higher for most table games. The lone blackjack table with a $5 limit only paid 6-5 for blackjack instead of the standard 3-2, that left a sour taste in my mouth so I played video blackjack instead.
We were in a standard ocean view cabin on gem so I can't help you with the suites though I know they come with extra amenities. What I can say is that the NCL cabins are noticeably smaller than Carnival cabins but they are well designed and worked fine for us but we Preferred cabins on Carnival ships. One big plus for NCL was the shower, it has a sliding door instead of the curtain common on Carnival.
We would recommend either ship, they both have pluses and minuses but both offer a nice cruise. It probably comes down to preferences like itinerary and dining options as well as price. If I can be more specific about anything in particular please ask and I'll try to help.