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! 😉. The lead female singer was amazing...lead male...not so much. But, he left the ship after this cruise. So, not sure who will replace him.
The other non production shows .....Yulia and Alan Reva....Amazing! YouTube them! Flip, the comedian was entertaining. The other three I could do without (singer, juggler and hypnotist).
Entertainments staff...we had great fun playing trivia with Zee and Aris. The two girls from China had such thick accents it was difficult to understand them.
our room Steward, Ricardo was very good!
overall, we enjoyed ourselves. But, honestly, we can get to Baltimore a lot easier and since we are Platinum on Carnival, it will likely be our go to line. We like to try others every now and then and who knows...if NCL puts a boat close by (other than NY) we might try again. But, right now, I didn’t see enough to sway us away.
I should also add that, you have to WORK to make me mad on a cruise! So, was I upset...not at all. We enjoyed ourselves. But, we’ll have to weigh future cruises.