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Just Returned From the Gem Spetember 6 to 13


Friedbergny246
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Hello all,

I just returned from the Gem sailing Spetember 6 to 13th. I have been lurking around for about a year on these boards. I decided to start writing a review in June about the process from the begining. Apparently, no one here wants to read about me sitting in my office and worrying about the pre-cruise concierge and the fact that I want the mini bar cleaned out and stocked with OJ. It was BTW, but I digress. I am going to start with a letter that I just composed to Jenny Lim, who is the hotel director on the Gem. Jenny came up to my room on the fourth day of the cruise to find out what I thought of NCL and asked many questions about how to improve the product. I will start the review proper this week after I get unpacked and get our son back to his school schedule. For those who cannot wait, the cruise was awsome. All of my requests to the PCC were followed to the letter. I cannot think of any problems except one meal that we did not care for at Le Bistro. I should note that when I returned our lobster entrees, the manager of the resturant almost did backflips to run into the kitchen to get us something else. If we had not had UPD the meal would have been comped. I will get into all that and more in the actual review......but first the letter to Jenny

 

Hi Jenny,

 

We are just catching our breath after an amazing week on the ship and I just wanted to drop you an e-mail to tell you a little bit about my thoughts as I begin the process to join you again next year.

 

I have cruised before, but did so when I was newly married many years ago. I enjoyed the cruises that I took on Celebrity. I was pretty sure, in fact that that was the best that cruising has to offer. I started researching this cruise around August of last year. I had already made a deposit after speaking with a travel agent who recommended the Haven. From what I read, the ship was falling apart, the crew was not very nice, the food would be horrible, as well as the fact that I will be nickeled and dimed to death. I had no faith in the pre-cruise concierge service as I had read that most pre-cruise requests were not followed up on.

 

From the moment we entered the pier, and were taken to a separate Haven waiting area, we were treated as visiting royalty. It was the first of many times, that I was referred to as "Sir Marc" by the staff. I was unaware that I was knighted, and thought it was fantastic. It was in the waiting room that I first had contact with Virginia, the Haven Concierge. She put me at immediate ease, advising me that she had seen all of my requests and that they were in the process of being completed. About a half an hour later, she escorted us onto the ship and to a great lunch at Cagney's. It was on the elevator up to Cagney's that I met my butler Ridsly (please forgive my spelling of his name). He also advised me that he had recieved my requests from the pre-cruise concierge and that my needs were being attended to.

 

Upon completion of lunch we were allowed to see our rooms. I thought, "this is the moment that it is all going to fall apart". I was sure that something was going to go wrong because that what cruise critic told me. When I got to the room, much to my surprise, everything was in place. I had the privilege of meeting another one of my vacation hero's Gigi, the best room steward ever, and was told that the Sponge Bob kit that I bought for my son would be taken care of by turn down that night.

 

From the moment that I got on board, to the moment that I left the ship, Ridsly, Gigi, and Virginia worked together along with other members of the Haven staff to make my cruise the best one ever. I never felt as though I was bothering them when I had a request, Everything that was asked for was brought without delay, and reservations for the speciality restaurants were moved around with ease so that we could eat with some of our new friends on the ship. Virginia also called me several times to remind me about events that I had spoken to the pre-cruise concierge about.

 

As I was doing activities around the ship, I was surprised about how accessible the senior management team was. Someone from senior management was always walking around the ship making sure everything was running well. Dan Dan, the cruise director was one of the funniest people I have ever met. I would put his assistant, Nacho in my top five as well. I spent time talking to many of the members of the production staff, the Second City talent, and the very funny comedian Jeff. I realized that you set the example, when you took time out of your busy schedule to sit with Fran and I in our cabin. Fifteen minutes later I saw you downstairs welcoming cruisers back from the Bahamas with cold towels, and warm smiles, and awesome high energy dances. We laughed when Nacho invited the cruisers from the Carnival ship next door to join in the fun.

 

Regarding the Splash Academy, were were originally nervous to put our seven year old son into the program until he told us that he wanted to stay until it closed. Ethan can be a bit of a handful at times but, the staff was super at dealing with the kids. We felt it was very secure there, as parents were not allowed into the area and each child was personally turned over to his/her parents after they gave a code word and showed their id card from the ship.

 

Norwegian likes to say that the cruise is a "vacation of a lifetime", and that theme was repeated often. I am glad to say that it was in fact true. For Fran, Ethan and I, it was the vacation of a lifetime. It was as close to perfect as it gets. The Haven is a very special experience and the people who are assigned to work there are truly the best that NCL has to offer. These crew members leave their homes, families, and children for eight months or more to work ten to twelve hour days with very little time off or personal space. I felt a vibe on the ship that the crew seemed to be very happy. In talking with many of them, they tell me that you, are the reason that morale is so good. I can see that you lead from the front, and the fact that you were outside in your white's dancing along with the washy washy girls in the Bohemian heat is one of the reasons that your are beloved.

 

On behalf of my family, that you for making my vacation so special and we look forward to sailing with you again next year, at the same time in the same suite.

 

With our warmest personal regards,

 

 

Marc, Fran and Ethan

 

PS: I forgot to mention Gary the Customer Services Director and Junior the Executive Housekeeper. Both of them were always around the ship visiting with the guests. I enjoyed talking to both of them and I am positive that if a problem did occur, they would be very helpful in solving it.

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Hey Again,

 

Forgot to mention a few things. I spent a lot of time here looking for answers to questions. If anyone has a specific question related to the Haven, butlers, concierges, tips, anything I will be willing to answer them. I do also have some insight into the whole Cruise Critic role call thing. Not sure if I would do it again although we met some very cool people including Garylev and his dad who possess an amazing amount of NCL knowledge, TRAFFIE, and an awsome couple from Holland. We spent quite a lot of time with these people and enjoyed our dinners with them. On the other hand, we wanted to spend some family time so we just ended up skipping the slot pull on the last sea day.

 

I also would like to give Haven guests some tips on how to make their vacation extra special. First tip would be that we found that afternoon snacks were delivered too early for us after the huge lunches we ate and too close to supper. The fix is to talk to your butler about giving you the snacks in the evening after the show, when food choices are limited. I will have many more tips coming up.

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I was also a first time Haven guest on that trip too! I too loved Gigi, Rizaldy, and Virginia! Joesph was also great as the Haven courtyard butler. I'm not sure how I can possibly enjoy another cruise as much as this past one......been a little depressed all day today knowing it's back to reality tomorrow!

 

Bty....wonder if we were neighbors?..... I was in 14506

 

Rachel

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I think that we might have been. I am booking the same cruise next year. The team in the Haven was super special. They made the cruise. Loved Joseph, who was telling me that the promotion from his job is Butler. Hope to see him next year in a new uniform.

 

Only thing I did not like was that they brought us too much food. I felt bad throwing a lot of the breakfast out. I got a bit wise and told him just to bring a few plates after that.

 

Were you in the cabin next to the sweet older ladies?

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Yes I think they were next to us. I was traveling with my parents and my brother. My brother and I are both in our thirties and everyone initially thought we were married.....they quickly realized we weren't after the disgust on our faces! But it was nice for all us to get together since we all have crazy busy lives!

 

We actually barely ate the snacks. It was wasteful but Rizaldy still brought them everyday. We had Cagneys delivered to our room one night and told Rizaldy he did not need to serve it course by course, he can just bring it at one shot but he insisted on serving it course by course....he wouldn't take no for an answer!

 

I thought Rizaldy was great but I would never had known I could have dinner from the specialty restaurants served in my suite unless I (like you) spent months reading these message boards. Rizaldy certainly wasn't forthcoming with that info and I completely understand, I'm just glad I did my research.

 

On the same token, I knew very well that was a big extra and he was certainly compensated for that!

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Hello all,

I just returned from the Gem sailing Spetember 6 to 13th. I have been lurking around for about a year on these boards. I decided to start writing a review in June about the process from the begining. Apparently, no one here wants to read about me sitting in my office and worrying about the pre-cruise concierge and the fact that I want the mini bar cleaned out and stocked with OJ. It was BTW, but I digress. I am going to start with a letter that I just composed to Jenny Lim, who is the hotel director on the Gem. Jenny came up to my room on the fourth day of the cruise to find out what I thought of NCL and asked many questions about how to improve the product. I will start the review proper this week after I get unpacked and get our son back to his school schedule. For those who cannot wait, the cruise was awsome. All of my requests to the PCC were followed to the letter. I cannot think of any problems except one meal that we did not care for at Le Bistro. I should note that when I returned our lobster entrees, the manager of the resturant almost did backflips to run into the kitchen to get us something else. If we had not had UPD the meal would have been comped. I will get into all that and more in the actual review......but first the letter to Jenny

 

Hi Jenny,

 

We are just catching our breath after an amazing week on the ship and I just wanted to drop you an e-mail to tell you a little bit about my thoughts as I begin the process to join you again next year.

 

I have cruised before, but did so when I was newly married many years ago. I enjoyed the cruises that I took on Celebrity. I was pretty sure, in fact that that was the best that cruising has to offer. I started researching this cruise around August of last year. I had already made a deposit after speaking with a travel agent who recommended the Haven. From what I read, the ship was falling apart, the crew was not very nice, the food would be horrible, as well as the fact that I will be nickeled and dimed to death. I had no faith in the pre-cruise concierge service as I had read that most pre-cruise requests were not followed up on.

 

From the moment we entered the pier, and were taken to a separate Haven waiting area, we were treated as visiting royalty. It was the first of many times, that I was referred to as "Sir Marc" by the staff. I was unaware that I was knighted, and thought it was fantastic. It was in the waiting room that I first had contact with Virginia, the Haven Concierge. She put me at immediate ease, advising me that she had seen all of my requests and that they were in the process of being completed. About a half an hour later, she escorted us onto the ship and to a great lunch at Cagney's. It was on the elevator up to Cagney's that I met my butler Ridsly (please forgive my spelling of his name). He also advised me that he had recieved my requests from the pre-cruise concierge and that my needs were being attended to.

 

Upon completion of lunch we were allowed to see our rooms. I thought, "this is the moment that it is all going to fall apart". I was sure that something was going to go wrong because that what cruise critic told me. When I got to the room, much to my surprise, everything was in place. I had the privilege of meeting another one of my vacation hero's Gigi, the best room steward ever, and was told that the Sponge Bob kit that I bought for my son would be taken care of by turn down that night.

 

From the moment that I got on board, to the moment that I left the ship, Ridsly, Gigi, and Virginia worked together along with other members of the Haven staff to make my cruise the best one ever. I never felt as though I was bothering them when I had a request, Everything that was asked for was brought without delay, and reservations for the speciality restaurants were moved around with ease so that we could eat with some of our new friends on the ship. Virginia also called me several times to remind me about events that I had spoken to the pre-cruise concierge about.

 

As I was doing activities around the ship, I was surprised about how accessible the senior management team was. Someone from senior management was always walking around the ship making sure everything was running well. Dan Dan, the cruise director was one of the funniest people I have ever met. I would put his assistant, Nacho in my top five as well. I spent time talking to many of the members of the production staff, the Second City talent, and the very funny comedian Jeff. I realized that you set the example, when you took time out of your busy schedule to sit with Fran and I in our cabin. Fifteen minutes later I saw you downstairs welcoming cruisers back from the Bahamas with cold towels, and warm smiles, and awesome high energy dances. We laughed when Nacho invited the cruisers from the Carnival ship next door to join in the fun.

 

Regarding the Splash Academy, were were originally nervous to put our seven year old son into the program until he told us that he wanted to stay until it closed. Ethan can be a bit of a handful at times but, the staff was super at dealing with the kids. We felt it was very secure there, as parents were not allowed into the area and each child was personally turned over to his/her parents after they gave a code word and showed their id card from the ship.

 

Norwegian likes to say that the cruise is a "vacation of a lifetime", and that theme was repeated often. I am glad to say that it was in fact true. For Fran, Ethan and I, it was the vacation of a lifetime. It was as close to perfect as it gets. The Haven is a very special experience and the people who are assigned to work there are truly the best that NCL has to offer. These crew members leave their homes, families, and children for eight months or more to work ten to twelve hour days with very little time off or personal space. I felt a vibe on the ship that the crew seemed to be very happy. In talking with many of them, they tell me that you, are the reason that morale is so good. I can see that you lead from the front, and the fact that you were outside in your white's dancing along with the washy washy girls in the Bohemian heat is one of the reasons that your are beloved.

 

On behalf of my family, that you for making my vacation so special and we look forward to sailing with you again next year, at the same time in the same suite.

 

With our warmest personal regards,

 

 

Marc, Fran and Ethan

 

PS: I forgot to mention Gary the Customer Services Director and Junior the Executive Housekeeper. Both of them were always around the ship visiting with the guests. I enjoyed talking to both of them and I am positive that if a problem did occur, they would be very helpful in solving it.

 

 

Great review. Jenny is the best HD ever and we are in love with Gigi. Glad to hear that Joseph has been promoted. The Gem is our favorite ship so glad you enjoyed it.

 

Andrea

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Indeed! Jenny is fantastic... So involved in her ship and it is reflected in her staff and crew. She definitely sets the tone and ensures all her guests have the best time! She worked so well with Sean (he is also superb) and definitely earned her promotion to HD...NCL is lucky to have them representing their company....

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Hey Again,

I am working alone tonight so I thought I might get started with Day 1. As I indicated before I published a trip report in July that was read by two people and went into the forbidden zone past page ten on the Norwegian board. I think no one really cared what I ordered to have waiting for me in the fridge. Come to think of it, I really don't care as well. Bottom line is that I can report that any request made through the pre-cruise concierge was done in a timely manner and was waiting in my suite. This included the now stylish mini bar clean out and a replacement with OJ and cold water.

So now onto the review.

A little about myself. I was married very young and went on a few cruises on Celebrity and Windstar in the early 90's. I thought that a suite on Celebrity was the best thing ever until I went on a med cruise on Windstar which was simply the best trip ever. I never thought about NCL and considered it to be Carnival like. Not that I have ever been on Carnival so I am not sure how I got that impression. Anyway, young marriage, young divorce. I was a confirmed bachelor until a few years ago when the most beautiful women in the world came into my life and swept me off my feat. Only thing is that she came with a six year old son. I learned patience and this cruise became my opportunity to give them the vacation that they both deserved and have never been on. So we have me, the beautiful Francis, and Ethan age 7. I will also let you know that I work in a very high pressure, high stress job and had been trying to get away for a few years. I wanted to take a cruise and my TA suggested the Haven on NCL. I bit and booked a two bedroom Haven suite on deck 14. Room number was 14510.

 

Prior to booking I purchased the kids soda plan, pre-paid all gratuities, bought the Ultimate Dining Plan for Fran and I, and purchased the Sponge Bob gift set for Ethan.

I will point out a few tips for people when they come up in the narrative. Please feel free to ask any questions as I spent a year lurking here and found the answers too many of my questions. I thought I might pay it forward. BTW paying it forward became an important theme of the cruise as I will explain later.

So we left our home in Yonkers New York and traveled in a limo like vehicle to the pier. First tip, don't park at the pier. If you look at the prices you could get a Hummer Limo for the same price so why not travel in style. I did not by the way get a hummer limo, I'm just saying. We were picked up at nine and I thought it was on the early side. I ended up at the pier in front of the ship by 9:30am. It was a mad house. Apparently the crowds came early. We used the suite line and went through check in and security pretty quickly. One very important tip. You need to put down a credit card to cover bills for all persons in your cabin. This means that if I had not filled out a form stating that Ethan could not charge (which takes 24 hours to process) he could have walked around the ship and gotten into all manner of problems. Make sure you sign the form for you minor children to remove their charging privileges and confirm it once you get on board. I recently read a post from the mother of an eleven year old boy who charged $950.00 in video games and was held responsible by NCL for the charges. Also they clip the corner on the kid’s charge cards to denote that they do not have charging privileges.

We were lead into the suite/VIP waiting area where we met the pen masters of the world (inside joke) Gary and David Lev. Really nice guys who are on the 500,000th NCL cruise. They possessed a ton of knowledge about all things NCL. They were a big help to us and we had dinner with them several nights.

The suite/VIP area had lots of nice snacks including sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and a nice selection of coffee, tea, OJ, and water. About 30 minutes the fantastic, beautiful Virginia the concierge came in and gave us our key cards. I was surprised to find that they were correctly labeled with the soda sticker for Ethan and the UDP for Fran and I. We were then escorted onto the ship and were the first one's onboard. We took the elevator up to Cageny's to have our first meal. Cagney's for breakfast and lunch is a perk of being in a suite. We did not use it but, it was good food. I had a double shrimp cocktail, a wedge salad, and a French dip which was a little disappointing because it was presented as a open faced sandwich. Not on a roll like it usually is. Fran got two appetizers and Ethan enjoyed his first of many cheeseburgers.

We left Cageny's as soon as the announcement was given that all rooms were ready. We met our butler Riidzaly (sp?) on the elevator and he told us to go to the room and that he would stop by as soon as he could. He seemed to be a little harried, so I did not care about the escort that we were supposed to get.

Another important tip-I wrote out a letter for both the butler and the concierge detailing the things that I had requested, activities that I was interested in doing, and what type of snacks I liked and did not like. That along with a nice tip (what can I say, I am a New Yorker) seemed to motivate both of them to go the extra mile. That is not to say that they would not have done that anyway. You are free to do what you want. I am not here to start a tipping thread war. It just made me feel better so I did it.

We went up through the mid deck elevator and went through a key card access door and we were in the Haven. They Haven complex is a small area located on deck 14. Most of the Haven suites are located there and there is a small galley as well as a room where all the Haven stuff is kept. You could always find a staff person there if you needed something. The Haven itself has a very small plunge pool, a hot tub, two steam rooms male/female and a sauna. If you walk upstairs, there is a very nice sunning area. They only complaint about the Haven is that it is very very hot. It also has a very muggy feel. It has a retractable roof which is opened when it is nice out. That tends to cool it down a bit.

Our room was cabin 14510. A two family bedroom suite. It contained all the amenities and seemed perfect for a small family of three. Ethan had the second bedroom which had a shower but, he preferred the main bathroom which had a bath with a TV. Ridzaly came in later and showed us all of the features of the room and showed Fran how to use the coffee machine. He acknowledged that he had received my requests from the PCC so all was good.

It started raining during the sail away so we were outside in the Haven area for a while. There was a couple on the sun desk who looked at us like they were going to kill us when Ethan decided to start running around so we just went to our balcony and chilled until dinner.

I received a call on the cell phone that they give you to carry around the ship. It was Virginia checking in to let us know that she changed our first night dinner reservation to a bit later as we were still full from lunch and she asked a few questions about activities that we had expressed an interest in. She was able to do most things by telephone but we enjoyed stopping down to her office in the star bar to chat with her as well.

Teppenyaki was very good. Not only was the food top rate but, the show was much more entertaining they the usual shows in New York. We watched them practicing a few days later and it is apparent that they take the shows seriously. We met a very nice couple from New York City who we would run into often but, we never really hung out except for that dinner. This seems to happen a lot. You meet great people on the cruise but there is never enough time to really socialize. BTW that green tea cake and ice cream that they serve for desert is horrible. Please NCL do something about this.

After dinner we explored the ship for a while. I won a few hundred bucks playing craps at the casino and then we went to sleep on the nice comfy beds in the Haven.

Stay tuned for day two....

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi All,

 

I will get back to this review but, to be honest it did not seem like people were too interested in it. I will get around to day 2 by the end of the week. Just to let you all know what a great time I had, I booked the same week for next year.

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Excited to read the rest of your review. We just booked for the Sept 5, 2015 cruise. My husband loves cruising, but isn't comfortable in crowds, so I think the Haven will be perfect for him -- and I'm excited to be cruising out of New York.

 

Hi Kimberly,

 

I guess that we will be meeting each other as I have booked that week as well! I will not be doing meet and greet but, will be in the Haven

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Hi All,

 

I will get back to this review but, to be honest it did not seem like people were too interested in it. I will get around to day 2 by the end of the week. Just to let you all know what a great time I had, I booked the same week for next year.

 

I usually wait until I have read a review in its entirety before commenting. Perhaps others are like me too. :) Even though I am not a Haven guest, nor am I likely to be, I am still really interested in reading about the rest of your trip. I think your review has something for everyone.

 

 

Rochelle

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Excited to read the rest of your review. We just booked for the Sept 5, 2015 cruise. My husband loves cruising, but isn't comfortable in crowds, so I think the Haven will be perfect for him -- and I'm excited to be cruising out of New York.

 

Hi, Marc & Kimberlyr22, We just got off the Gem a week after you. We are booked on the September 5, 2015 cruise, too, and look forward to meeting you. We prefer the non-Haven suites, so will be back in our 2-bedroom family suite on deck 11 next Sept., joined by two close friends from Copenhagen.

 

Loved your letter to Jenny Lim. She IS simply the best, and you captured many of the things we love about her and the Gem's crew. Only sorry you didn't get much from the Meet & Greet. I always enjoy getting an early opportunity to meet the senior officers, and then seeing them numerous times later around the ship. We also had a Cabin Crawl, and viewed 7 different cabin categories--an educational experience so useful for planning what to book for the next cruise.

 

Look forward to your continued review; it's another way to relive our fantastic trip...until we cruise the Gem again!

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Enjoying your review very much. I didn't comment earlier because I didn't want to "clog" this thread, but thank you for posting. Gigi was our room steward when we sailed on the Gem. Our butler was fair, but Gigi and the concierge were fabulous! So glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip.

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Yes please continue! Looking forward to hearing more about the Haven. I have always wondered if its worth the price to be in the Haven as opposed to just a suite. The price difference is significant! Thanks for your thoughts!

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Thank you for the review. We are taking our Grandson in Nov. we wanted to try the aft suite this time but LOVED the Haven May 2013.

Question, did they set up the Nick Sponge Bob package for your son the first night. We purchased this for Logan and want to surprise him with it the first night.

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