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kifler

Going from Royal to NCL

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Redeemed a free cruise (10 day Southern) aboard Gem - I've never sailed NCL before but have a handful of cruises with RCCL under my belt.

 

Anything that I should know or be aware of? It'll also be our first time cruising out of New York.

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The main difference is NCL is all anytime dining. And if you're a drink package person the NCL one is just alcohol and soda. 

 

The rest is just nuance - for example a 24/7 pub for late night food vs sorrentos or that NCL has a MDR open for lunch embark and sometimes on port days. 

 

I haven't specifically been on the Gem though. 

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Gem is a VERY nice ship!  If you look at my expanded signature you can see we've been aboard her MANY times!  It's not as big as the newer ships so it doesn't have all of the features of those newer ships but we still think it's a great ship to cruise on!  Check out Leo!  He's a guitarist/singer who plays in the lounges & in the Atrium.

 

If you're sailing out of NYC get to the cruise ship terminal after 1230PM to avoid the initial "crush" of everyone else getting on board.  The MDR (Deck 6) may be open for lunch (I think it's open 12-2PM) so you can start your cruise with a nice leisurely meal and avoid the thundering herds up in the buffet at the Garden Cafe.

 

Hope you have a great cruise!

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Almost no difference other than all dining is anytime/freestyle.  And certainly nothing you need to be worried about or concerned about.  I'd say go in to the sailing and embrace any little differences and enjoy it.  That's part of the fun trying new things.

 

The only negative for us is that we do drink packages and the NCL one just isn't that good.  More limits on liquor and they don't include bottled water.

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Posted (edited)

The Gem is a very nice ship but its an older ship without all the new bells/whistles of the newbies especially the RCCL Oasis class ships.  Some like that while others may not.  Only bring that up to ground your expectations.  I first sailed on the Jewel class ships so I know the expectations.  Some newer cruisers have only experienced the Oasis or Breakaways and when they sail an older ship, they don't like it.  If you want a traditional and smaller ship then the Gem is definitely for you.

Edited by david_sobe

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, kifler said:

Redeemed a free cruise (10 day Southern) aboard Gem - I've never sailed NCL before but have a handful of cruises with RCCL under my belt.

 

Anything that I should know or be aware of? It'll also be our first time cruising out of New York.

MyTime dining for all. You show how hen you’re hungry. You will be given a table for 2. 
 

we show up at the terminal around 10:15 to beat the crowds at security and checkin. General boarding will start around 11:30. 
 

We head to restaurant reservations to sort out any specialty dining then go to the Main Dining Room for lunch. 
 

New York is a beautiful sail away. After muster, we head Up on deck (bundled up if it is winter months). Port views of Manhattan. They switching over to starboard for the Statue of Liberty. 
 

All of NCL ships have been amped recently. 
 

24 hour dining (mostly) is nice. Not just pizza. Even if it is coffee and a sweet. 

you’ll get a couple of chances to do the $20 fill a bag laundry special. (No self serve laundry). 

 

The Gem is a traditional cruise ship. No fancy things on the newer mega ships. It will be a great trip!  

Edited by BirdTravels

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Two of the best spots are the Great Outdoors (outdoor seating/small buffet aft) and spinnakers lounge (floor to ceiling windows large lounge/bar). 

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Also, NCL will be more casual in dress, there is no formal night per se.  You can dress up if you wish but we find it a bit more casual than RCCL.

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On 1/9/2020 at 8:31 AM, BNBR said:

Almost no difference other than all dining is anytime/freestyle.  And certainly nothing you need to be worried about or concerned about.  I'd say go in to the sailing and embrace any little differences and enjoy it.  That's part of the fun trying new things.

 

The only negative for us is that we do drink packages and the NCL one just isn't that good.  More limits on liquor and they don't include bottled water.

 

We're looking forward to it! I'm just hopeful that they've got some good beers (we're beer snobs) stocked and ready to roll. We got the free drink package thrown in (sans tips of course) so if we have to pay a buck here or there, we'll still be quite content.

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2 minutes ago, kifler said:

 

We're looking forward to it! I'm just hopeful that they've got some good beers (we're beer snobs) stocked and ready to roll. We got the free drink package thrown in (sans tips of course) so if we have to pay a buck here or there, we'll still be quite content.

 

NCL (at least Escape) had, without a doubt, the best beer selection of any cruise ship I've been on.  A really great venue just for us beer snobs (The District).  I'm sure others can chime in about Gem.

Edited by BNBR

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Will be like a slightly smaller Voyager class ship, no entertainment reservations required.

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I just returned from my first NCL cruise (Getaway) after many cruises with Royal. Hands down, NCL does a much better job with main dining room organization. Royal is far ahead in snacks and free beverages/water stations located around the ship. NCL has a lot of upcharging and restricted areas of the ship. Getaway lacks quiet spaces, not sure if that's the case on other ships. We may have just gotten a dud of a cabin steward but this is the first time I've not tipped extra beyond the daily gratuity charge. I'm used to friendly stewards and this guy was just grim, which was weird. 

 

I did appreciate that we were never kicked out of the Garden Cafe, even when they closed the buffet on that side. We could play cards and enjoy one of the few quiet places. I also liked that NCL doesn't have those flea market style table sales as you walk through the shopping area. Royal needs to copy that.

 

Unfortunately, Getaway has an open casino which reeks of stale smoke. Some passengers ignored the no-smoking rules on open deck areas which was annoying. I guess management doesn't want staff to confront anyone so it went uncorrected. The Waterfront deck is a nice quiet zone but would have been better if it was no-smoking.

 

All in all, they are more similar than not. 

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On 1/9/2020 at 6:56 AM, tomk3212 said:

 Check out Leo!  He's a guitarist/singer who plays in the lounges & in the Atrium.

Sadly, Leo has not been on the Gem in a long time.  😥 

 

As others have said, Gem is wonderful if you like smaller, more traditional/old-fashioned cruising.  I'd compare her to maybe the Adventure of the Seas?  (but better, IMO!)

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On 1/9/2020 at 7:31 AM, BNBR said:

The only negative for us is that we do drink packages and the NCL one just isn't that good.  More limits on liquor and they don't include bottled water.

Also doesn't include specialty coffee either. 😞 

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for NYC sail away, we always go to the highest point on the ship when sailing under the verrazzano bridge.  you are then supposed to jump and try to touch the bottom lol.

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Have only cruised Royal once, and that was on a small ship, but here are my observations:

 

Royal gives bottled water with beverage package, NCL does not.

NCL does a better job with food options off hours.  There is a 24 hour restaraunt (O'Sheheans on the last time we sailed the Gem) that has a menu and waiters and is a great place to get a meal or a snack anytime.

Royal made me sign slips for drinks even though I had the beverage package, NCL does not.

Royal has better soda (coke!) than NCL (Pepsi)

Royal sometimes gives you cans of soda you can take back to your room (NCL does not).

NCL does a better job welcoming you back to port:  cool wash clothes and cold drinks dockside, and sometimes if lines are long for tenders, Popsicles to help you cool down.

Royal does a better job of disembarkation.  NCL messes it up somehow every time with a long line snaking through the ship.

Royal sets up a buffet for fruit, pastries, yogurt, etc. during breakfast in the MDR, NCL does not (except for the suite breakfast).

 

Here are some Gem specific tips:

Observation room to see the bridge is really cool.

The spinnaker lounge is wonderful...too bad they use it for so many loud things like bingo.

On a cruise with good weather, the Great Outdoors is a wonderful place to enjoy a meal or just sit and watch the ocean go by.

Ask for a basket of pastries with breakfast: NCL does great chocolate croissants and other danish type pastries.

Both MDRs have the same menu each night, but they have two very different vibes.  Make sure  you check out both to see which you like better.

There is a quiet bar right outside Moderno's on the upper deck that is a great place for a before dinner cocktail.

 

 

 

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On 1/8/2020 at 8:07 PM, kifler said:

Redeemed a free cruise (10 day Southern) aboard Gem - I've never sailed NCL before but have a handful of cruises with RCCL under my belt.

 

Anything that I should know or be aware of? It'll also be our first time cruising out of New York.

We’ve been loyal to royal for years. But we enjoyed the Gem Halloween cruise 2019. Excellent activities staff. Live band Prism was outstanding. Many nights of activities. Theme parties. Food was decent. We are booked for the Bliss soon because of all the activities. Last few on RCL were boorish and worse on Celebrity Equionox and eclipse. Seems like as we’re aging the activities are most important to us. We want to move it before we loose it. We’ve enjoyed cruises out of New York City for many years on Ncl spirit and other cruises. The gem cruise was excellent.

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The entertainment on NCL is almost as good as Royal.  I think Royal has the best.

 

The dining is a little better on Royal, but NCL has nice specialty restaurants, however, NCL recently jacked up the prices to dine there.  Sometimes you can get dining as a perk.

 

The beverage package on NCL  is probably the worst in the business.  We like Cabernet wine and the one available on the package is not so good.  AlSo, the gratuities are outrageous (20% on $99 per day).  We usually decline the beverage packages and bring our own wine and pay the corkage.

 

NCL does have one thing that we haven't found on other cruise lines.  The usually have an evening bar or lounge area set up for cruisers participating in the entertainment.  It is great fun.

 

NCL has lost much of what I once liked about it, due to management decisions, but we still compare NCL before we pick a cruise.  

 

We love the Royal free Diamond Happy Hour, don't expect to see that on NCL.

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We like the entertainment and food better on Royal. 

 

We can use our OBC for gratuities on Royal. Found out the last night on our NCL cruise we couldn't. I ended up buying jewelry that I didn't need or really want.  I'm not sure why it would even matter to NCL what the OBC is used for.

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