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Thoughts on NCL Pearl vs. Gem


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We are seriously considering both the fall Boston to Quebec or Boston r/trip Canada itinerary on either the GEM (2021) or the PEARL (2022).  Have already sailed on the GEM a few years back (before the most recent refurb).  Both convenient for us, since we live in MA, with Boston our home port.  Of course, if we pick the Boston-Quebec cruise, we will have a one-way flight.

 

Aware these are Jewel class ships and pretty similiar.  Any thoughts on which ship/itinerary sounds best?  We have an aft club-balcony suite in our sights, either way.  Like the mid-sized ships...the Breakaway and beyond are too big for us!

 

Of course, planning has to include what happens with Covid-19.  Hoping by late 2021 and certainly 2022, we are good to go.

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We're big fans of the Gem because it is based in NY most of the time, but if it were the Pearl I'm sure I would be just as happy...after all the ships are virtually identical.

 

If I were making your decision I'd just focus on the itinerary I preferred and the price because of the lack of substantial differences in the ships.

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you don't list any itineraries?     I actually sailed all 4 Jewel class ships last year.    Perfectly fine and extremely similar.   

 

Depends what itinerary you are looking at,  probably is the best way to choose,  along with suitable date and price.    No point in the minute differences being a factor.   

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I agree with BQ in that, it's their itins that are the major differences.  I've cruised on both Pearl & Jade (have 2 more cruises booked on Jade, Itins. major reason).  They are so similar and both so nice. Very easy to navigate, both with great layouts, and I love the Great Outdoors on both.  

 

Obviously, with the changes due to Covid 19, there's no point in referring to staff since that will change when cruising resumes.  I'd have no problem choosing a cruise on either of these lovely ships. 

 

Take care, choose well. 

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1 hour ago, njhorseman said:

We're big fans of the Gem because it is based in NY most of the time, but if it were the Pearl I'm sure I would be just as happy...after all the ships are virtually identical.

 

If I were making your decision I'd just focus on the itinerary I preferred and the price because of the lack of substantial differences in the ships.

 

Thanks!  We are going with the Pearl for 2022--will be picking up the same Canada itineraries as the Gem is doing in 2021.  Decided on the Boston R/T 7-day, so won't have to deal with flying.  We loved the Gem when we sailed on her out of NYC about 8 yrs. ago..  That size is perfect for us and I like the fact it's sister ship, the Pearl, will look "familiar", which at our age is appreciated...LOL.

 

 

12 minutes ago, Budget Queen said:

you don't list any itineraries?     I actually sailed all 4 Jewel class ships last year.    Perfectly fine and extremely similar.   

 

Depends what itinerary you are looking at,  probably is the best way to choose,  along with suitable date and price.    No point in the minute differences being a factor.   

 

Appreciate your response, thanks.  Wow--all 4 Jewel class ship in one year...good for you!  We've sailed on several NCL ships, but so far the GEM was the only Jewel-class we've been on.  Our favorite was the SS Norway, so glad we got to experience sailing on the Grand Blue Lady.

The itineraries we considered were Boston to Quebec 7-day (including Charlottetown, PEI; Sydney, NS; Halifax, NS, Portland, ME and Bar Harbor, ME.    The 2nd itinerary is Boston R/T, with the same ports, but of course not originating from Quebec.  We have chosen the round trip from Boston, which won't involve flying.

 

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5 minutes ago, All-ready2cruise said:

I agree with BQ in that, it's their itins that are the major differences.  I've cruised on both Pearl & Jade (have 2 more cruises booked on Jade, Itins. major reason).  They are so similar and both so nice. Very easy to navigate, both with great layouts, and I love the Great Outdoors on both.  

 

Obviously, with the changes due to Covid 19, there's no point in referring to staff since that will change when cruising resumes.  I'd have no problem choosing a cruise on either of these lovely ships. 

 

Take care, choose well. 

Thanks, we think either ship would have suited us, but thought it best to go for the 2022 cruise on the Pearl--hopefully, more time for the Covid situation to be less of an issue.  Your point about these ships being easy to navigate is a big plus.

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1 minute ago, Cruzinnana47 said:

Thanks, we think either ship would have suited us, but thought it best to go for the 2022 cruise on the Pearl--hopefully, more time for the Covid situation to be less of an issue.  Your point about these ships being easy to navigate is a big plus.

You're welcome 😉 It makes perfect sense to me.  Enjoy your cruise regardless of your ship choice.  Both ships will be a wonderful experience for you.  

 

Cheers, enjoy 🥂😉

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14 hours ago, All-ready2cruise said:

You're welcome 😉 It makes perfect sense to me.  Enjoy your cruise regardless of your ship choice.  Both ships will be a wonderful experience for you.  

 

Cheers, enjoy 🥂😉

Appreciate it...sure we will have a wonderful experience.  Have been to all the ports before and have also previously sailed into Sydney & Halifax, but anxious to arrive by a cruise ship to the other ports, especially Charlottetown...partial to that city as my Dad was born in P.E.I.  Been on the island many times, but never via a cruise!  

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I was on the Gem last November.  The only problem I had with the layout was that the interior design of the public decks isn't completely symmetrical which made it harder to get to some places.  

 

On 9/19/2020 at 10:35 AM, Cruzinnana47 said:

We have an aft club-balcony suite

As for the club-balcony suites, I never went in one but I did get a picture of the exterior of the stern.  Those cabins are right below the outdoor deck of the buffet.  The balconies below them bulge out so you could see people on the balconies below you.

49102555447_ee663ffd61_z.jpg

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4 hours ago, archstroke said:

I was on the Gem last November.  The only problem I had with the layout was that the interior design of the public decks isn't completely symmetrical which made it harder to get to some places.  

 

As for the club-balcony suites, I never went in one but I did get a picture of the exterior of the stern.  Those cabins are right below the outdoor deck of the buffet.  The balconies below them bulge out so you could see people on the balconies below you.

49102555447_ee663ffd61_z.jpg

Thanks for posting the pic of the Aft area.  From looking at the deck plans, I know the Great Outdoors would be right above us, but not that worried, especially as the only time that could be an issue is later in the evening, and we don't usually turn in that early.  I'd be more worried about being underneath a lounge with loud music.

 

As far as the balconies below us being visible, this is similar to the terraced balconies on some of the Princess ships we've sailed on...balconies on lower decks can be seen by those above.  We like being aft, even though there's more walking, it's a quieter area with less foot traffic, and you can't beat the view.

 

I do remember there were a few inside public areas on the GEM where we kind of got turned around & confused the 1st couple of days, but have experienced that on other ships, as well.  

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2 hours ago, Alynna715 said:

We have sailed on both and loved both ships. I would do either one again. 

Thanks,

 

We did love the Gem and expect to enjoy our time on the Pearl, as well.  Prefer this class of ship over the "behemoths".  After our cruise on the Breakaway, we knew the big ships are really not our style.

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6 hours ago, Eggs2Go said:

I'm booked on the Pearl to the Maritimes in August 2022. Only 704 days before sailing. Hopefully, covid will be a distant bad dream by then.

Are you departing Aug. 26th?  If so, I just started up a Roll Call for that sailing, if you'd like to join.🙂  It's nearly 2 yrs. out, but we need to look forward to something positive...LOL.

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We were on the Pearl to AK in 2012 and the Gem this winter(2020) from SFO to NYC via the Panama Canal. The ships are practically indentical in layout and with the recent refirbs they are very modern in decor. We also did a 14 day Boston - Quebec -Boston on the Dawn in 2016 - one of the best cruises we have ever taken. You can't go wrong with either ship.

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16 hours ago, Cruzinnana47 said:

Thanks for posting the pic of the Aft area.  From looking at the deck plans, I know the Great Outdoors would be right above us, but not that worried, especially as the only time that could be an issue is later in the evening, and we don't usually turn in that early.  I'd be more worried about being underneath a lounge with loud music.

,

As far as the balconies below us being visible, this is similar to the terraced balconies on some of the Princess ships we've sailed on...balconies on lower decks can be seen by those above.  We like being aft, even though there's more walking, it's a quieter area with less foot traffic, and you can't beat the view

 

The Gem and her sister Jewel-class ships are our favorites.  Comfortable size, easy to get around, traditional promenade deck, great public spaces. 

 

A couple of comments about the aft-facing staterooms.  We've sailed twice in aft-facing Penthouse suites on Deck 10, a great deck, because you have cabins above and below. Also, the balconies are much larger (deeper) than they are for the staterooms on the other aft-facing decks.  While it's true that you can be seen from above when you at the railing of your balcony, the rest of the balcony is covered.  It's private and I wouldn't worry about "being seen."   (The photo above is a bit misleading, since it's shot from an angle looking into the balconies, not from directly above.) 

 

As for Deck 11,  the Great Outdoors is usually hopping all day.  Don't forget, they serve breakfast out there.  Hopefully, none of that will be a problem for you.

 

Enjoy!

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On 9/19/2020 at 10:35 AM, Cruzinnana47 said:

We are seriously considering both the fall Boston to Quebec or Boston r/trip Canada itinerary on either the GEM (2021) or the PEARL (2022).  Have already sailed on the GEM a few years back (before the most recent refurb).  Both convenient for us, since we live in MA, with Boston our home port.  Of course, if we pick the Boston-Quebec cruise, we will have a one-way flight.

 

Aware these are Jewel class ships and pretty similiar.  Any thoughts on which ship/itinerary sounds best?  We have an aft club-balcony suite in our sights, either way.  Like the mid-sized ships...the Breakaway and beyond are too big for us!

 

Of course, planning has to include what happens with Covid-19.  Hoping by late 2021 and certainly 2022, we are good to go.

The Gem and Jade are our favorite NCL ships.  

Haven't been on the Pearl.

 

We did the cruise from Boston to Quebec City on the Dawn (New England, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec).  It was an excellent cruise.  We did it in mid-September and the leaves weren't turning yet.  I think early October is best for that.

Make sure you spend some days in Quebec City after the cruise.

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We sailed on the Gem and Pearl both pre/post refurb. They're both pretty similar, however the Gem refurb was definitely more extensive and reads a bit more sophisticated. This is definitely minor stuff for most cruisers, but the Gem is more my style.  For example:
 

  • Pearl's Bliss lounge still has the old bordello theming and bowling alleys. Lots of burgundy and purple with the odd naked women support columns. Bliss on the Gem is black and metallic, with the bowling alleys removed and much more of a contemporary nightclub feel. 
  • The Garden Cafe buffet on both ships originally featured a ton of fake flowers and etched glass. When they did the refurb on the Gem, they completely replaced those elements with new light fixtures and panels. The Pearl still has the glass, and the vase-like light fixtures. 
  • La Cucina on the Pearl still features the fake brick carpet and faux tuscan villa vibe. La Cucina on the Gem got a new tile floor that elevates the space. 

Again, it's minor stuff like this, but the Gem seems like a fully-fleshed out version of a refurb and the Pearl seemed a bit more half-done. If I had a choice and the itineraries were similar, I'd pick the Gem. 

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21 minutes ago, AstoriaPreppy said:

We sailed on the Gem and Pearl both pre/post refurb. They're both pretty similar, however the Gem refurb was definitely more extensive and reads a bit more sophisticated. 

 

Seems that the Pearl is scheduled for its next drydock refurb in February 2022.  Whether NCL will have money to put into new interior decor is another question.  But I've previously sailed on three of the four Jewel class ships (not on the Jade) and I've thoroughly enjoyed the comforts of all.

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16 hours ago, Cruzinnana47 said:

Are you departing Aug. 26th?  If so, I just started up a Roll Call for that sailing, 

 

I searched for your roll call but doesn't come up in the August listings, only Aug 2021 in future.

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