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Norwegian Gem full review NYC to Florida/Bahamas 11/06/2011

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Cast:

Me 48

DW

DS 13

DD 8

 

A little background:

 

I originally booked a mini suite (for my family of four) for this cruise in November 2010 using our cruise rewards certificate. Then in March of 2011, I upgraded to cabin 9000 a foreward “Penthouse Suite with Large Balcony”, for around $580. Of course in the back of my mind I was hoping for an upsell, but I didn’t really expect one. I received a call from the Concierge Office in the beginning of September, so I took the opportunity to forward calls from NCL to my cell phone. Well a couple of weeks later I received a call from NCL. There was a problem the room they sold me, it could not accommodate 4 as the new sleeper sofas were only singles, so they wanted to move us to 9504, “The Haven Owners Suite with Large Balcony”. Now this was not an upsell but a free upgrade, so it was a great deal for us.

 

 

I also must say our Roll Call for this cruise was fantastic and the best I have ever been a part of. We all had the same sense of humor and hit it off right from the beginning.

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November 6th 2011 Embarkation day:

Leading up to the cruise we without power for more than 4 days due to the 19inches of snow we received, so we were way behind in packing and getting ready for this cruise, but we managed and having Saturday to get ready was a great help. We left our house and stopped to pickup some last minute items and were on our way to my parents by 11:15AM. We picked up my Dad and off to the port we went. Originally when I booked this cruise it was a toss up between the Jewel and the Gem. I originally chose the Gem because it was slightly newer, and leaving on Sunday I figured would be better for us. I thought that the extra day getting ready and packing was better than the extra day off after the cruise. Well I can honestly say this was the best idea I ever had, even though the NYC Marathon was going on, we still hit zero traffic and were at the port around 12:30PM.

We left our bags and entered the terminal, there were a lot of people there, I would say that the line would have been one and a half to two hours long. After showing our paperwork I asked about priority check in and I was directed to see a woman with a clipboard standing by the entrance. She checked our room number then proceeded to open the rope and we walked by the long line waiting for security. The security guard checked our papers directed us to the x-ray. The x-ray machine saw my 2 bottles of mixers, I showed them what they were and we were passed through. We told the woman waiting that we had priority check in and she took us to an area bypassing the next long line. When a spot opened we were directed there and checked in. We filled out more paperwork then I ever remember filling out in the past and when finished we were escorted to the Concierge Lounge. My son and daughter ate some cookies while I waited my turn to talk to David the Concierge. Once everything with David was setup he handed me an envelope with our cards and a butler escorted us to our room. Okay priority embarkation a BIG PLUS!

Upon entering our room we were impressed. We had watched youtube vidoes and seen pictures of the room, but we were still blown away. We explored the room and shortly after we met the butler, Guarav. Guarav asked if the 3 bottles of liquor we selected were okay, showed us the coffee machine, asked what types of soda we wanted to keep stocked and what mixers we wanted. After this was done we went to Cagneys for lunch.

I was unimpressed with my steak and the famous “Cagney Fries”. But we did have a nice relaxing lunch. After lunch we explored the Haven, the pool area and some other areas of the ship. Then we returned to our room. Our bags arrived a short time later and we started unpacking. Last year on the Dawn we stayed in an obstructed view stateroom, and we easily were able to store all of our clothes. Yet in this suite we were unable to find places for all of our clothes and some remained in our suitcases, which did fit nicely under the bed.

We ate dinner in Magentas at 5:30PM, it was lobster night. The half of a rock lobster tail was served with a small piece of red snapper which was very good, my wife and I felt the tail was larger than the one we had last year on the Dawn. I felt the service in Magentas was lacking, not that it was bad but just lacking, this ended up being our only meal here. This brings up a point about drinks, NCL waiters should make it a point to at least ask if guests would like a drink our wine with dinner. Not once at any meals were we asked and a few times we were made to feel that it was an inconvenience to them when we did ask. Of course if we wanted a drink or wine we ordered it, and there was no impact on our cruise but just something we noticed.

There were two Welcome Aboard shows, 7:30 PM & 9:30PM. We went to the 7:30PM and enjoyed it, my kids love the shows so we always make it to every one of them. Now with our suite we had reserved seating, this is not the best seating and for this show we picked seats in the center of the main floor area, and I suggest this over the reserved seating as you can see the whole stage.

After the show we did some shopping (they did not have the miniature ship models of the Gem which was very disappointing) and wandering around a bit. The kids wanted to swim and it was a little chilly outside so they suited up and off to the Haven we went.

 

Everyone was a little tired so we went to our room for the night. In the room was our snack which everyone sampled and then proceeded to spit out, I guess our palettes aren’t refined enough for the suite life. Whatever the “glue” is that they stick these things to the plate with is nasty tasting. Of course the room was turned down and a towel animal was there which my daughter loved to take pictures of, and guess what it was supposed to be. My son and daughter watched a movie the requested from the butler, and we pretty much called it a night.

Hits for the day:

Priority embarkation

Our suite 9504

Our Butler

The Haven

The Show

Edgar our Cabin Steward, great guy always talked to us by name, always smiling and always asking us how we were. Plus our room was well taken care of.

 

Misses for the day:

No cruise ship model

Staff at Magentas (no big deal just slow and uninterested)

Cagneys lunch (no big deal just a little underwhelmed)

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Looking forward to the rest of your review! We loved the Gem. Last October, my son and I did this same trip on the Gem and also had PH accommodations. When we arrived at the terminal at 10:30, it was total chaos.

 

I knew we had priority check-in, but not one person could tell us where it was. After 2 frustrating hours on line, we got to the check in and the woman told us we were in the wrong line; that we should have been in the priority line. When I asked where THAT was, she had no idea!

 

Nevertheless, we got on board very quickly after that but I am hoping that the system has changed, meaning that the priority check-in is clearly marked? Or did you just randomly ask someone where it was?

 

TracyE

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Looking forward to the rest of your review! We loved the Gem. Last October, my son and I did this same trip on the Gem and also had PH accommodations. When we arrived at the terminal at 10:30, it was total chaos.

 

I knew we had priority check-in, but not one person could tell us where it was. After 2 frustrating hours on line, we got to the check in and the woman told us we were in the wrong line; that we should have been in the priority line. When I asked where THAT was, she had no idea!

 

Nevertheless, we got on board very quickly after that but I am hoping that the system has changed, meaning that the priority check-in is clearly marked? Or did you just randomly ask someone where it was?

 

TracyE

 

At the NYC terminal, the VIP check-in is over to the right when you enter the terminal. There is a sign on a stand for it that says "VIP/Suite check-in. There is also a staff person there with a clipboard. One time when we arrived the line for check-in was very long and the line of people were in front of the VIP/Suite check-in. I spoke to the woman with the clipboard and gave her our cabin number. A passenger in the line gave me a dirty look and said, "Can't you see there's a line?". The woman with the clipboard looked at him and said, "Not for them." and whisked us into the check-in. I sort of felt bad, but the look on his face was priceless!

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that's great! the thought of standing in lines sounds daunting. i am traveling with my DH, his mother (who has mild dementia) and 2 16 yr. old girls, i can't imagine them patiently waiting for anything! we have done it in the past so this will be a wonderful treat. we are staying in the 2 bedroom family villa on the gem - yahoo! :p

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November 7th Day at Sea

I was up before everyone in the room, so I made a cup of coffee, grabbed a banana from the fruit bowl, put the robe on and went out on the front balcony. I was concerned that the front balcony would be useless while at sea, well today it was beautiful. There was absolutely no wind, it was quiet and a very peaceful way to start the morning. In fact the side balconies were much louder and windier today then the front was. It wasn’t too long before the rest of the family was stirring so everyone got ready for breakfast.

 

Breakfast at Cagneys:

This was our first and last breakfast at Cagneys. Not that there was anything wrong, but more for the fact that we have simple breakfast tastes. I prefer oatmeal and fruit (so does my Doctor), my wife likes grits and fruit, my daughter cereal and fruit and my son will eat anything. So we felt the MDR or the buffet would be better fit for us. David the Concierge was stationed in Cagneys during breakfast and lunch if you needed to talk to him. So after breakfast I sat down to make a reservation for Teppenyaki. I told him we would like to eat early so we can catch the early show and he suggested that Wednesday would be a good, as the Great Stirrup Cay day everyone is back on the ship early. So he set us up for 5:30PM on Wednesday. We went over a few excursion options and he agreed that the Disney/Sea World/Universal Park options are not worth it, as they had early closing times and with our family size would be expensive. He did suggest we rent a car and he could help us with that, so I told him I would let him know.

 

Meet and Greet:

Cheryl on our cruise set up our meet and greet and I don’t know how many attended (Cheryl??), but it was very full. We met in the Bliss Lounge and the heads of all departments as well as the Captain were in attendance. We got a card with everyone’s numbers on it and were told to call for anything or any problems. It is obvious that there is a lot of respect for CC and that if there is an issue that they want us to be able to come and post that it was handled correctly. I also know that they read CC because my PCC read about my upgrade from a post here before he actually knew about it. As ran into some of the officers they would recognize me and if they had time they would stop to talk.

Lunch Grand Pacific Main Dining Room:

The lunch menu was exactly the same as the one on the Dawn last year. But that was fine with us as we had no problem with it. Although we enjoyed lunch on the Dawn in the MDR we felt that the food was better on the Gem. My daughter fell in love with the Caeser Salad and at lunch always had it with shrimp.

 

 

Kathy & Mikes Party:

After lunch it was time for a party in Kathy and Mikes Deluxe Owners suite. This is a great suite for 2 people with the floor to ceiling windows, private deck and hot tub. But it is less suitable for a family and our suite fit that bill better for us. We were celebrating several birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and such so Kathy and Mike threw us all a party, and they are two of the most genuine and nicest people I have ever met. I walked in and was greeted with a shot of Patron and my whole family was made to feel like we have known everyone forever. I will admit my wife was a little taken back by everyone coming up to me as if we were long lost friends and in a way it felt that way. We were a little late to the party, but Johnny Cash Sanchez the Cruise Director had attended earlier. After the party it was time for our cabin crawl, so we headed up to the Garden Villa and worked our way on down.

 

 

We sat down to decide what excursion we wanted to take the next day in Port Canaveral and the kids wanted to do the Airboat Excursion. So I went by David and he booked it for us.

 

 

Dinner and a Show:

Dinner was in the Grand Pacific Main Dining Room and again the food in MDR was very good. The show was “World Beat” and was enjoyable.

 

 

Hits for the day:

Meet and Greet

Party at Mikes’s and Kathy’s Party

 

Misses for the day:

None

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..I knew we had priority check-in, but not one person could tell us where it was. After 2 frustrating hours on line, we got to the check in and the woman told us we were in the wrong line; that we should have been in the priority line. When I asked where THAT was, she had no idea!...

TracyE

 

I needed to ask several times before the woman at the line entrance told me that I needed to find the woman near the entrance with the clipboard. She was hard to spot because she was wearing a coat, but once I spoke to her we were whisked through to the VIP check in line.

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Thanks goldmom and darren. Last year the terminal was packed and we never would have seen the sign. Now I know where to look!

 

TracyE

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Some pictures of our room 9504:

room3.jpg

 

room1.jpg

 

room2.jpg

 

Darren, those are beautiful pictures. The suite looks a lot bigger than in the promo photos. I'm waiting for every bit of your review, yet I do respect that you have a life outside of CC :) Just 5.5 weeks for us, very excited!

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I am drooling over those photos -- beautiful!:)

 

Thanks for sharing. Look forward to reading more of your review.

 

TracyE

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My first post, as we are considering this same itinerary next year, although it will also be our very first cruise too ~ enjoying your trip report :)

 

Kat

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Thanks for your review and those photos of your Haven Owners Suite. :):):):)

 

As you can see I never posted the rest of my review. But the cruise was fantastic and I would recommend the Gem to anyone.

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