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danceman

Gem review - very good and really bad!

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I've been on a lot of cruises...and i mean a lot...over 100 and have worked as an entertainer for some years on crystal, seabourne and ncl...so hopefully I've got a balanced view of things by now. NCL doesn't pretend to be a 5* cruise line and it isn't. Myself, my wife and our 3 kids booked a cheap holiday in peak season...only about £500 each and got a flight for only £25.00! Overall, it was quite good value for money but with hindsight, i would have preferred to pay more and get a bit more class.

 

THE GOOD POINTS:

1. Very quick embarkation for latitudes members.

2. The quickest disembarkation I've ever had...straight off, no queues at all!

3. Ice cream was free.

4. The gym was open 24 hours...i went at 1.00am which was great for me.

5. Cabin was cleverly designed...it had a lot of extra storage space.

6. Cabin steward was excellent in every way.

7. Kids club was open all day from 9am to 10.30pm and then baby sitting till 1.30am....this is the best times I've seen from a kids club on any ship. 8. Pool musicians were very good quality...played some lovely music...also a spanish singer with a guitar...loved him.

9. Selection of food at buffet was generally good.

10. Sun loungers around the pool were very comfy and well padded although the ones on the upper decks were more basic.

11. I liked the double beds around the shady area by the pool...pity there wasn't space for more of them!

12. Furniture around the ship was imaginative and unusual.

13. The theatre was great...really well set out with great views all around...one of the very best.

14. The shows were generally good.

15. The overall cruise price was cheap.

16. The organized 'star gazing' seemed an interesting idea...had it not been cloudy!!...i like the idea though.

17. There were NO pool games!!!...no belly flop or sexy knees etc!

18. The open air buffet at the back of the ship was a nice touch...nice to sit out at night after the show and have a snack in the breeze!

19. The lift doors were quick and efficient to open and close...no messing about.

20. This is the first ship I've seen have reduced tipping rates for kids...half price....therefore it was the first time I've left the kids tips on our account as i usually have them taken off.

21. Nice view from Grand Pacific dining room over the sea and sunset.

22. Nice seating in theme rooms like Bliss and Spinnaker Lounge...double beds and 4 posters...i thought it was great fun.

23. Bowling alley seemed to work well and our kids liked it.

24. The cool air misting over the sunbeds was a nice idea.

 

THE BAD POINTS:

1. It was way too crowded around the pools...just not enough sun beds or space. We walked around all day on the first sea day and couldn't get a sun bed for love nor money! I hated this and it was a major point for the whole cruise. You had to be out at 9.00am on the sunbeds to stand any chance. Lots of arguments seen with disputes over who had this or that sun bed first.

2. The sun bed 30 minute rule was not enforced so people just left their clothes and towels on the beds all day. By the end of the cruise i had resulted to the same...put my stuff on the bed in the morning, went out on tour, came back mid afternoon and it was still there!

3. The two pools were way too crowded....i counted 40 people in the pool at one point...my idea of a cool, relaxing swim is not being shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of big hairy Spaniards jostling you for space....and the men weren't very respectful either!! I felt like i was in one of those communal football pools that the players bath in together after a match! 4. Not enough seating in the buffet....it was bedlem and close to a riot at times!

5. Over 600 kids on board!! Need i say more? I know, 3 of them were mine....but i hadn't wanted another 597 to add to the ambiance!

6. Multilanguage announcements! All the time and usually in 3 or 4 languages....it was the Costa ships all over again!

7. Constant revenue touting over the speakers....all day, every day!

8. No free Sauna ...you had to pay to go into the spa to use a sauna.

9. Salt water swimming pools....our kids don't like them as makes their eyes sore.

10. The ship needs another pool.

11. Needs either more deck space or less passengers.

12. Gaudy carpets...especially in cabins...3 shades of blue with orange and red shells and starfish on them. The designers must have had their work cut out to blend that with the wood paneling, yellow cabin door and cerise pink headboards!

13. The ship was 2/3 full of Spanish...nothing wrong with them except i don't feel the ship knows who its catering for...spanish, english, american, german, french and maltese who got on at Malta. It was hard to make friends with anyone as hardly anyone spoke the same language....and to be honest...the cultures are very different and i don't feel it works that well.

14. Dancing with the Stars competition...the ships own professionals turned out to be anyone the ships staff could cajole into it...we had the ships Nurse, tours office staff, shop assistants, fitness staff etc...some of which couldn't dance at all...i'd have thought the ships own dancers would have had more idea and would have been a more logical choice.

15. Sick of revenue touting....even selling bingo tickets in the theatre just before the curtain went up. There was a 'pool casino' so you could even gamble by the pool, yoga, pilates, abs , cycling classes...all chargeable. 16.If you booked a massage you got free use of the spa...but only for 30 mins...should have been for the whole day as all the treatments were expensive.

17. Dance production shows need more imagination & storyline as it was really just a load of singing and dancing with little or no connection to anything. The individual dancers, singers and lighting were all of a very good standard though.

18. The huge tv screen in the reception lounge was very glaring...no one could watch it with its glaring neon psychedelic colors, heat images and electro funk clips...how this added to the ambiance of the room i'll never know. And to top it, they put the classical quartet playing in front of it. It needs something more relaxing and beautiful to watch to match the music and purpose of the room. It was so bright, people were having epileptic fits looking at it!

 

To sum up, the ship has a lot of good ideas and good points that i liked. The food wasn't too bad but neither was it memorable. I preferred the ship to the Costa ships but it was also similar in many of the negative ways. If it hadn't been so crowded around the pools and buffet...i would be recommending it as very good value for money....but as it was, im more in the middle on it. I overheard two couples talking saying the ship was vulgar.....i did know what they meant when i looked at the sea of sprawling bodies around the pool, kids and burgers. And yet the ship does have some charm and innovative ideas that did impress me. Would i go again...yes for the right price but with an itinerary that attracted less of a cocktail of nationalities.

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thanks for the objective review, but I do question a couple of things: 600 kids, it is just before school starts, you said it yourself: you had 3 of them, I am not sure as a parent of 3 kids you should list the number of kids as a negative: and the number of people from Spain or are you actually referring to Hispanics? Regardless, that also should not be listed as a negative: they could list you as a negative on their next cruise. Every nationality has every right to cruise. On our last Princess cuise there must have been 500 or close, maybe more, gruop of Japanese, they spoke no English or very litte and some were quite rude, but they had as much right to cruise on the ship as we did. I did do a review, listing some negatives as it wasn't the best cruise of our lives, never would I have thought to mention the number of Japanese on the ship.

 

Nita

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Appreciate the review.

 

Anyone who travels Europe July & August must know this is when the Europeans have their vacation as well. I can imagine there were many Spainards sailing out of Spain...;)

 

I take this cruise in 2 weeks. We do hope the kiddies are all back in school.:)

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Well written but your negatives are somewhat redundant.....several different ways to complain about the pool

While I agree 100% that the pool is the single worst feature on

NCL ( and others)....I don't go for the pool only.

Your positives were well thought out and I hope over all it was a

fun vacation.

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I highly recommend skipping the buffets. I usually order a light breakfast from room service, fruit, roll and tea. DH LOVES BUFFETS so he goes off to stand on line but to me they have no appeal. I prefer going to a dining room for lunch and dinner, I get a seat and don't have to carry my plate, while juggling my iced tea. I don't particularly like buffet restaurants at home and I

like to be pampered on vacation.

 

As far as the kids, what are you going to do? If you take a vacation during school holidays you are going to see more kids on the ship, it's a given. I went on a cruise once on Spring break and the ship was jammed with high school and college kids- Noisy but fun.

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danceman~ thanks for your informative review but...seems you did not do your homework BEFORE your cruised...

 

1) check out the school break times before you cruise.

2) you are correct. the pool rules are NOT enforced.

3) I don't know about "hairy Spaniards"..I don't do public pools.

4) I don't do buffets...land or sea.

5) Kids on board...I cruise when the kids are in school

6) Multilanguage...welcome to the USA

7) revenue announcements...turn down your volume...I do;)

8) I don't use the Sauna

9) Salt water swimming pools...should have checked this out before

you booked:confused:

10)good idea:)

11)plenty of deck space on our cruises plus our balcony...we do not cruise

when children are on vacation...you may HAVE to....remember..your

children are part of the group on board.

12)I couldn't care less about the carpeting....I'm cruising...not decorating!

13)I don't care what language they speak...I still make friends with all who

board!

14)Perhaps you should have gotten up and showed them how to dance?!?

seems you need to relax and enjoy an evening:confused:

15) Did anyone twist your arm to gamble anywhere?

16) We don't do massages...seems you can afford them!

17) You can always skip the shows...plenty of other things to do on the

ship.

18) We sure enjoyed the superbowl on the screen. A shame you missed

it...but not sure you would have enjoyed it. Never viewed an

epileptic fit on the ship...and we have an epileptic daughter:(

 

Just to inform you...the US is a "cocktail of nationalities" God Bless the USA!

If you do not enjoy/embrace the diversity....you may have to leave the USA.

My European grandparents came to the US many years ago and we were brought up to embrace every nationality, creed or color.

I thank God everyday for the way I was brought up..I judge no-one by their nationality, creed, color or accent.

 

Guess that's why I enjoy ALL of my cruises:)

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Just to inform you...the US is a "cocktail of nationalities" God Bless the USA!

If you do not enjoy/embrace the diversity....you may have to leave the USA.

My European grandparents came to the US many years ago and we were brought up to embrace every nationality, creed or color.

I thank God everyday for the way I was brought up..I judge no-one by their nationality, creed, color or accent.

 

Guess that's why I enjoy ALL of my cruises:)

 

The OP is English. The cruise was in the Mediterranean.

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thanks for the objective review, but I do question a couple of things: 600 kids, it is just before school starts, you said it yourself: you had 3 of them, I am not sure as a parent of 3 kids you should list the number of kids as a negative: and the number of people from Spain or are you actually referring to Hispanics? Regardless, that also should not be listed as a negative: they could list you as a negative on their next cruise. Every nationality has every right to cruise. On our last Princess cuise there must have been 500 or close, maybe more, gruop of Japanese, they spoke no English or very litte and some were quite rude, but they had as much right to cruise on the ship as we did. I did do a review, listing some negatives as it wasn't the best cruise of our lives, never would I have thought to mention the number of Japanese on the ship.

 

Nita

 

The OP is a Brit and the cruise was a Mediterranean out of Barcelona, Spain.

 

We are going on JADE this coming December out of Barcelona for 14 days - we are well prepared for a FULL ship and expect the ship to have HUNDREDS of kids and Spanairds, but we'll ENJOY ourselves regardless - this cruise has an excellent itinerary.

 

We can only cruise when the schools are out because of our DS who is still school age - we have been stuck with FULL ships each time! So, OP shouldn't complain for he has 3 kids!

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THE BAD POINTS:

1. It was way too crowded around the pools...just not enough sun beds or space. We walked around all day on the first sea day and couldn't get a sun bed for love nor money! I hated this and it was a major point for the whole cruise. You had to be out at 9.00am on the sunbeds to stand any chance. Lots of arguments seen with disputes over who had this or that sun bed first. I just move the stuff off sunbed and settled myself on one. Anyway, I do not cruise to lay on sun bed all day - there are plenty of things to do on sea days.

2. The sun bed 30 minute rule was not enforced so people just left their clothes and towels on the beds all day. By the end of the cruise i had resulted to the same...put my stuff on the bed in the morning, went out on tour, came back mid afternoon and it was still there! Shame on you - you've become a chair hog! :rolleyes:

3. The two pools were way too crowded....i counted 40 people in the pool at one point...my idea of a cool, relaxing swim is not being shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of big hairy Spaniards jostling you for space....and the men weren't very respectful either!! I felt like i was in one of those communal football pools that the players bath in together after a match! There are other things to do on ship. Also the Med men are more macho than the Northern Europeans/Americans/Caribbean, etc. Chalk this up as an experience and a conversation topic.

4. Not enough seating in the buffet....it was bedlem and close to a riot at times! Appparently 1000 other people had the same timing idea as you! After the first day, we would scout for a free table first and one member in party would stay there until the rest of party go and get the food. Or go earlier or at different time. You learn to adapt.

5. Over 600 kids on board!! Need i say more? I know, 3 of them were mine....but i hadn't wanted another 597 to add to the ambiance! Aawww - violins everyone please! You have 3 kids and it's during the school break! You're not the only one! Also, the reason there are more kids on the ship is because families can afford to go on NCL - just as you said so.

6. Multilanguage announcements! All the time and usually in 3 or 4 languages....it was the Costa ships all over again! Do you expect for EVERYONE to be fluent in English? The pax come from a wide variety of countries!

7. Constant revenue touting over the speakers....all day, every day!

8. No free Sauna ...you had to pay to go into the spa to use a sauna. We'd rather pay lower prices for cruises and then PAY what we use.

9. Salt water swimming pools....our kids don't like them as makes their eyes sore. These are more environment friendly - we prefer saltwater pools - it's like swimming in sea and we're out at sea!

10. The ship needs another pool. Not really when it's off-peak.

11. Needs either more deck space or less passengers. Not really when it's off-peak.

12. Gaudy carpets...especially in cabins...3 shades of blue with orange and red shells and starfish on them. The designers must have had their work cut out to blend that with the wood paneling, yellow cabin door and cerise pink headboards! So what? I heard that our ship JADE (which used to be called Pride of Hawaii) still has its Hawaiian decor - and I'm wondering if they will serve Hawaiian Xmas dinner ;) :D .

13. The ship was 2/3 full of Spanish...nothing wrong with them except i don't feel the ship knows who its catering for...spanish, english, american, german, french and maltese who got on at Malta. It was hard to make friends with anyone as hardly anyone spoke the same language....and to be honest...the cultures are very different and i don't feel it works that well. THEY are on holiday so THEY wouldn't expect to be able to eat their own country's foodstuff. I wouldn't worry about this.

14. Dancing with the Stars competition...the ships own professionals turned out to be anyone the ships staff could cajole into it...we had the ships Nurse, tours office staff, shop assistants, fitness staff etc...some of which couldn't dance at all...i'd have thought the ships own dancers would have had more idea and would have been a more logical choice.

15. Sick of revenue touting....even selling bingo tickets in the theatre just before the curtain went up. There was a 'pool casino' so you could even gamble by the pool (I loved this), yoga, pilates, abs , cycling classes...all chargeable.

16.If you booked a massage you got free use of the spa...but only for 30 mins...should have been for the whole day as all the treatments were expensive.

17. Dance production shows need more imagination & storyline as it was really just a load of singing and dancing with little or no connection to anything. The individual dancers, singers and lighting were all of a very good standard though.

18. The huge tv screen in the reception lounge was very glaring...no one could watch it with its glaring neon psychedelic colors, heat images and electro funk clips...how this added to the ambiance of the room i'll never know. And to top it, they put the classical quartet playing in front of it. It needs something more relaxing and beautiful to watch to match the music and purpose of the room. It was so bright, people were having epileptic fits looking at it! Just look away from the screen.

 

To sum up, the ship has a lot of good ideas and good points that i liked. The food wasn't too bad but neither was it memorable. I preferred the ship to the Costa ships but it was also similar in many of the negative ways. Nice of you to say this but I think you scared people too much with the bad points which is numerous and looked enough to outweigh the good points. Also you should have done your homework prior to the cruise.

 

You did say you went on 100+ other cruises??? Really! :rolleyes: I'm surprised about your complaint about "too many kids/Spanairds".

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Ive just arrived home from doing the GEM around the med last week, and I have to admit I agree with most of Dancemans points here.

 

Its a wonderful value cruise, its hard to find anything this good for this price range - but ... you get what you pay for, I really enjoyed myself, my daughter wants to go back to tree tops to live - yeah the cruise had its staff issues, but Im not the sort of person to let these things ruin my holiday, Im better than that.

 

Thank you for your review Danceman - and for those who cant take any bad comments about the Gem, whats the point having reviews if you are going to pull them apart when you read something you dont agree with. :eek:

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20. This is the first ship I've seen have reduced tipping rates for kids...half price....therefore it was the first time I've left the kids tips on our account as i usually have them taken off.

 

At this point, I could predict how the rest of his review proceed. :rolleyes:

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The OP is a Brit and the cruise was a Mediterranean out of Barcelona, Spain.

 

We are going on JADE this coming December out of Barcelona for 14 days - we are well prepared for a FULL ship and expect the ship to have HUNDREDS of kids and Spanairds, but we'll ENJOY ourselves regardless - this cruise has an excellent itinerary.

 

We can only cruise when the schools are out because of our DS who is still school age - we have been stuck with FULL ships each time! So, OP shouldn't complain for he has 3 kids!

I very much realize that, the comment about Spanish people was what I was referring to. I guess because I mentioned Spanish versus Hispanic you thought I didn't realize she was sailing in Europe.

Nita

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Ive just arrived home from doing the GEM around the med last week, and I have to admit I agree with most of Dancemans points here.

 

Its a wonderful value cruise, its hard to find anything this good for this price range - but ... you get what you pay for, I really enjoyed myself, my daughter wants to go back to tree tops to live - yeah the cruise had its staff issues, but Im not the sort of person to let these things ruin my holiday, Im better than that.

 

Thank you for your review Danceman - and for those who cant take any bad comments about the Gem, whats the point having reviews if you are going to pull them apart when you read something you dont agree with. :eek:

OTOH what's the point in having only "yes men" on the board? I appreciate both the positive and negative points that OP brought up. But, some of the negatives should have been anticipated.

 

  • Lot's of children on a summer cruise.
  • Lot's of Spanish speaking people on a cruise that embarks in Spain.
  • Multi-language announcements on a European cruise. (Maybe they should have had them only in the predominate language of the cruise which might have been Spanish:D )

 

JMHO

 

Charlie

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I very much realize that, the comment about Spanish people was what I was referring to. I guess because I mentioned Spanish versus Hispanic you thought I didn't realize she was sailing in Europe.

Nita

 

No problem, Nita. We've been on a few Caribbean cruises and tend to see that the ships get filled up with locals (i.e. people from or near homeport), so if a cruise leaves from San Juan you'll see more Hispanics.

 

We hope the Spanairds are good sport during our Xmas/New Year cruise - it will be interesting FOR US to be among passengers from different European countries and having free piped foreign language lessons :D

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Seriously, how you gonna complain about people taking their kids on a cruise when you took yours and want to blame NCL for it?huh.gif

 

 

Also, was NCL supposed to tell the Spaniards. "Sorry, this is a engrish only cruise. Y'all can't come"? ticking.gif

 

Lookie here, if you just don't want to cruise with a lot of Spaniards, then choose another location. Spaniards also like to cruise, and when its a Mediteranian cruise, be sure you'll be getting plenty.

 

If you don't want to cruise with alot of kids, cruise off season when the little darlings are in school. That cuts the kid count exponentially.

 

To the garishness of the ship, well sounds to me like you need a more subdued elegant and relaxing environment because this boat was just too much for you. I recommend Carnival next time.:D

 

Tiny violins are playing for you....somewhere.violin.gif

 

-Q

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Seriously, how you gonna complain about people taking their kids on a cruise when you took yours and want to blame NCL for it?huh.gif

 

 

Also, was NCL supposed to tell the Spaniards. "Sorry, this is a engrish only cruise. Y'all can't come"? ticking.gif

 

Lookie here, if you just don't want to cruise with a lot of Spaniards, then choose another location. Spaniards also like to cruise, and when its a Mediteranian cruise, be sure you'll be getting plenty.

 

If you don't want to cruise with alot of kids, cruise off season when the little darlings are in school. That cuts the kid count exponentially.

 

To the garishness of the ship, well sounds to me like you need a more subdued elegant and relaxing environment because this boat was just too much for you. I recommend Carnival next time.:D

 

Tiny violins are playing for you....somewhere.violin.gif

 

-Q

 

Amen ;) :D

 

Love your icons - how can I get them esp. the violin one?

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Amen ;) :D

 

Love your icons - how can I get them esp. the violin one?

 

I've got tons over the years of being an internet junky:D

 

If you got a place to host them, right click on it and save. Works for me :p

 

Alot of people use smileycentraldotcom but lots of those are talkers.

 

-Q

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I think the whole point of Dancemans post was to let us know what the cruise was like from his point of view, and from his perspective - as he was there - as I said in a previous post I was there last week and felt that his comments were true - as I was there with my family and lived the experiance first hand.

 

I have a child, so I have to travel during school vacations, I am also European with both British and Spanish nationality, so I see his comments from inside and outside of the box - the bottom line is that 600 children on board the NCL gem was too many - there were just not enough facilities for so many. Most of the Spanish children were running wild around the ship, jumping in and out of the jacuzzis, adult pool ect, and not one of NCL´s representatives said anything to control the situation.

 

I actually saw 2 children aged 5 and 3 run down the atrium stairway, climb onto a stool at the Java cafe and ask for 2 glasses of iced water - the waitress served them, they drank, climbed down and ran towards the gift shops all by themselves, not an adult in sight. This was so wrong on so many levels.

 

 

Once more - I was there and lived the situation first hand. I had a great vacation and loved the Gem. I just felt that NCL could have more staff and less passangers maybe - but what do I know. Im a novice when it comes to cruising - but experienced at knowing what I like and what I dont like.

 

I will definately travel with the GEM again, I never say never - but I think for a more sophisicated, calm holiday, a different cruise line is definately needed.

 

The company P & O, who are at the top end of the cruise market in the UK, apart from Cunard, are not cheap, but they do have plenty of restrictions when it comes to children, for example it is controlled how many children of each age category can travel at any one time, so that they can be catered for, and that the facilities are plentyful. Their latest ship Ventura has facilities for over 800 children at any one time, but they cant cater for 799 4 year olds and only 1 10 year old - this idea I think is fantastic.

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I think the whole point of Dancemans post was to let us know what the cruise was like from his point of view, and from his perspective - as he was there - as I said in a previous post I was there last week and felt that his comments were true - as I was there with my family and lived the experiance first hand.

 

I have a child, so I have to travel during school vacations, I am also European with both British and Spanish nationality, so I see his comments from inside and outside of the box - the bottom line is that 600 children on board the NCL gem was too many - there were just not enough facilities for so many. Most of the Spanish children were running wild around the ship, jumping in and out of the jacuzzis, adult pool ect, and not one of NCL´s representatives said anything to control the situation.

 

I actually saw 2 children aged 5 and 3 run down the atrium stairway, climb onto a stool at the Java cafe and ask for 2 glasses of iced water - the waitress served them, they drank, climbed down and ran towards the gift shops all by themselves, not an adult in sight. This was so wrong on so many levels.

 

 

Once more - I was there and lived the situation first hand. I had a great vacation and loved the Gem. I just felt that NCL could have more staff and less passangers maybe - but what do I know. Im a novice when it comes to cruising - but experienced at knowing what I like and what I dont like.

 

I will definately travel with the GEM again, I never say never - but I think for a more sophisicated, calm holiday, a different cruise line is definately needed.

 

The company P & O, who are at the top end of the cruise market in the UK, apart from Cunard, are not cheap, but they do have plenty of restrictions when it comes to children, for example it is controlled how many children of each age category can travel at any one time, so that they can be catered for, and that the facilities are plentyful. Their latest ship Ventura has facilities for over 800 children at any one time, but they cant cater for 799 4 year olds and only 1 10 year old - this idea I think is fantastic.

you know you just said something that does somewhat explain the situation: you mentioned P & O, what about the prices? The upper end lines do not always attract families because of the cost per person. When cruising RCI, NCL< Carnival, etc during summer vacation one should be prepared for kids and lots of them.

 

NIta

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The company P & O, who are at the top end of the cruise market in the UK, apart from Cunard, are not cheap, but they do have plenty of restrictions when it comes to children, for example it is controlled how many children of each age category can travel at any one time, so that they can be catered for, and that the facilities are plentyful. Their latest ship Ventura has facilities for over 800 children at any one time, but they cant cater for 799 4 year olds and only 1 10 year old - this idea I think is fantastic.

 

If NCL had restrictions on the number of children then we may not have been reading any review from the OP as her 3 may have not been allowed

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If NCL had restrictions on the number of children then we may not have been reading any review from the OP as her 3 may have not been allowed

 

John, you need to stop making sense mate!:D

 

-Q

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Thanks for the comments JackieIan.....you are completely right....the review was from my own point of view and my own experience and about what was right for me and my family. I listed both good and bad points as i found them. We did enjoy our cruise overall and did make friends. I think the bottom line is...you get what you pay for!

 

I have to say, i have laughed at some of the replies and how cross some of you have got...its really made me giggle! I howled laughing at how bluesea777 said i should 'chalk it down to experience and a conversation topic'....the bit about hairy spaniards rubbing shoulders with me in the pool....well, might be ok if you are a woman but im a man....and i aint going bragging to my mates and making conversation topics about it with them!!!

I dont mind the Spanish, ive been on ships which have been all one nationality before....but the Gem is attracting quite a lot of the budget end if you know what i mean.....ie...noisy and pushy people that seem to have little control over their kids.

 

We have 8 year old triplets....we have to go in school holidays. Just because we took our kids doesnt mean i cant moan about others on the ship.....there were too many for the amount of staff to cope with.

I usually deduct my kids tips as $50 - $60 per day (depending on which cruise line you are on) is just too much.

 

Announcements only in Spanish...now there's an idea!.....i wouldn't have understood them but at least it would have been over and done with in about 3 minutes rather than taking 15 minutes!....and hey, i wouldnt have missed anything...they were only about bingo, art auction, casino etc.

 

Funny hardly anyone has picked up on all the good points i listed!! Maybe its just an NCL fan club that dont like to hear any negatives about their favourite cruise line?

 

Two weeks later, and ive just come off Oriana....a P&O ship. Its been quite a stark contrast to be on two ships so close together.....although it was still school holidays the ship was never overrun with kids, or crowded, ....it was sophisticated and elegant. However, it didnt have the excitement of the Gem or the imagination and the shows were rather poor but there was a clear difference in service, food and management of the ship.......see, im not one sided or biased....like some that write on here! ....simply saying how i found it all.

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......children were running wild around the ship, jumping in and out of the jacuzzis, adult pool ect, and not one of NCL´s representatives said anything to control the situation.

 

I actually saw 2 children aged 5 and 3 run down the atrium stairway, climb onto a stool at the Java cafe and ask for 2 glasses of iced water - the waitress served them, they drank, climbed down and ran towards the gift shops all by themselves, not an adult in sight. This was so wrong on so many levels.

See, that is a very valid complaint. Not that there were too many children but that there were too many unsupervised children.

 

Charlie

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Funny hardly anyone has picked up on all the good points i listed!!

Maybe you missed some of these comments:D

 

thanks for the objective review

 

Appreciate the review.

 

Well written ......

While I agree 100% that the pool is the single worst feature on

NCL ( and others)....I don't go for the pool only.

Your positives were well thought out and I hope over all it was a

fun vacation.

 

danceman~ thanks for your informative review

 

Ive just arrived home from doing the GEM around the med last week, and I have to admit I agree with most of Dancemans points here.

 

.......................

 

Thank you for your review Danceman

 

 

I appreciate both the positive and negative points that OP brought up.

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Maybe you missed some of these comments:D

 

98Charlie . . . I don't think the OP missed them, but they all seemed to be followed up with what could be considered "cross" remarks. (save for one bolded below). The gentleman listed what he thought were good and bad highlights of HIS cruise. I have said it before, but will repeat it here . . . . I can't imagine why anybody would want to come on these boards and say anything negative . . . they usually come to grief from the same set of folks who "dont like to hear any negatives about their favourite cruise line"

 

 

 

Originally Posted by newmexcoNita

thanks for the objective review

but I do question a couple of things

 

Appreciate the review.

Anyone who travels Europe July & August must know this is when the Europeans have their vacation as well. I can imagine there were many Spainards sailing out of Spain..

 

Well written ......
but your negatives are somewhat redundant.....several different ways to complain about the pool

 

Originally Posted by Cosmopolitan View Post

danceman~ thanks for your informative review

Petty much just chopped away at the OP's whole post.

 

Ive just arrived home from doing the GEM around the med last week, and I have to admit I agree with most of Dancemans points here.

 

.......................

 

Thank you for your review Danceman

and he/she truly did without countering point by point.

 

And even yourself:

Originally Posted by 98Charlie

I appreciate both the positive and negative points that OP brought up.

# Lot's of children on a summer cruise.

# Lot's of Spanish speaking people on a cruise that embarks in Spain.

# Multi-language announcements on a European cruise. (Maybe they should have had them only in the predominate language of the cruise which might have been Spanish

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98Charlie . . . I don't think the OP missed them, but they all seemed to be followed up with what could be considered "cross" remarks. (save for one bolded below). The gentleman listed what he thought were good and bad highlights of HIS cruise. I have said it before, but will repeat it here . . . . I can't imagine why anybody would want to come on these boards and say anything negative . . . they usually come to grief from the same set of folks who "dont like to hear any negatives about their favourite cruise line"

 

 

 

but I do question a couple of things

 

Appreciate the review.

Anyone who travels Europe July & August must know this is when the Europeans have their vacation as well. I can imagine there were many Spainards sailing out of Spain..

 

but your negatives are somewhat redundant.....several different ways to complain about the pool

 

Petty much just chopped away at the OP's whole post.

 

and he/she truly did without countering point by point.

 

And even yourself: # Lot's of children on a summer cruise.

# Lot's of Spanish speaking people on a cruise that embarks in Spain.

# Multi-language announcements on a European cruise. (Maybe they should have had them only in the predominate language of the cruise which might have been Spanish

No problem. And I do realize that most of the posters took umbrage at some of OP's comments.

 

But, OP was indicating that "few" acknowledged the good points that he laid out in balance with the bad. In the same respect, the responses were balanced also which OP seemed to be ignoring.

 

Just my 2¢

 

Charlie

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I am new to posting on these boards. But I was on this cruise only last week.

 

I fully agree with the OP. He just phrased things wrong. Or more to the point he phrased them with humor in mind. Americans dont get humor unless its jumps up and bites them in the ass :eek:

 

Now that I've alienated half of the readership of this site let me continue...

 

The Ship was nothing short of stunning in its presentation and layout (minus the big screen which was God awful).

 

The childrens services were AMAZING but simply were not able to cater for so many of the children at once. And this was largley due to a huge imbalance in age groups. Something as simple as only allowing for X amount of age group with a buffer of Y to adjust would solve this. Not rocket science. Just bad planning.

 

Staff simply did not CARE about their roles onboard. I suspect they are highly under paid or morale was low or whatever. Bottom line was customer service really was awful by enlarge. Some were openly hostile, other groups were jouvinile and just s******ed at passengers. This isn't an exageration, I was there those commenting and were not present really cannot challange this fact.

 

Kids were indeed running around unsupervised. Can you imagine the same scenario on MSC, P&O or any other cruiseline for that matter? It just would not happen without a ship-wide intercom demanding the parents collect the children and the parents doing the walk of shame :D

 

The cruise it self was incredibly money grabbing. To the point of it being ludicrous. Some examples. Water being $4 dollars. Beer being $4. Selling Bingo tickets pre-show in a cheesy touting manner. The constant spam of "special" offers, which were just a rip off start to finish. Any Spa service had you at the butt end of a barage of sales spam blasted at you. I had a shave and beard trim. I thought it'd be relaxing.. oh how wrong was I. In the end I agreed with the girl that I'd give her $20 tip if she just stopped trying to sell me her "wares". Strangley enough the shave was supposed to last 45mins .. it lasted 20mins or just over and I could not get out of there fast enough :p

 

My solution to all these niggly things are .. charge a bit more for the ticket and allow people to RELAX and enjoy their holiday. The point of cruises is after all to relax, its plus points have always been you can budget better for what you will spend too. All the "added" extras were simply too much.

 

I may be painting a bleak picture here, I dont mean it to be entirley negative. some good points were Main meals at the pay restaurants were exceptional in some locations (Cagney's). The cabin crew were nice enough and shows were mostly great. Second City is a must see.

 

But the negative points are why we write these reviews, if they are not aired.. they wont be solved. It's ok to be a "fanboy" / supporter of a cruise line. It's a little strange, yes. But it's fine. But be objective here, If you harass your reviewers.. they wont come back and give you great information.

 

I for one read everything I could before I went on the cruise about the ship / line and had I read the staff was nearly as rude as they are, I might not have gone. Id have missed out on a great cruise though because the kids facilities/staff are wonderful.

 

But for people without kids I could not see why you would want to be abused for no advantage! (unless your into that sort of thing :confused:)

 

Ps. Spelling and grammer mistakes are yours to keep. See. I did bring you a present back from the trip.

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Dear friends:

 

Greetings from Malta, live from the Gem. We are having a marvelous time this week. The ship is beautiful -- just ask any questions and I will be glad to answer.

 

Most of what the OP says is correct, in my opinion. However, that just brings us to what the reality of mass market cruising is nowadays. On every mass market ship (NCL, RCCL, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, etc.) during peak travel season, you find:

 

Ship full to the brim -- no room at the pool;

Lots of children;

Lots of passengers residents of the embarkation port;

Lots of lines;

Crowds everywhere;

Announcements in predominant language of passengers (right now there are 1,500 Spaniards aboard)

Push to sell drinks and other items on board due to low base fare

 

The above is not unique to NCL -- it is the same on every line aimed at the mass market. In order to have a different experience, it is necessary to sail Silversea, Crystal, Seabourn, Regent, or NCL Garden Villa.

 

Perhaps the cruise lines are at fault. They still promote their cruises as quiet, romantic, luxury experiences, when the true comparison should probably be an all-inclusive holiday at a mid-range hotel in the Canaries, Palma, Cancun or the Dominican Republic.

 

There are passengers onboard who paid 300 euros per person for their cruise. For that kind of money, it is a marvelous vacation.

 

For the passengers who paid $10,000 per person for the Garden Villas, it is also a marvelous vacation from a very different perspective of accommodations and service.

 

On the Gem (and comparable ships) there is something for everyone and at every price range.

 

Again, please feel free to ask any questions about the Gem and I will answer them from onboard.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

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Hi Danceman!

 

Thanks for your review. I do appreciate the whole thing of it. Reading all the reviews, good, bad and ugly, makes me prepare well for my cruise. Then I will KNOW what to expect and hopefully have a positive experience.

 

I am VERY curious with your rap-sheet (is that correctly spelled, sorry!) of many cruises: What is your ultimate favourite line/ship and why??

 

 

GUNTER and UTA live from the Gem. Have a wonderful day in malta! And the rest of your cruise. Please bring us a detailed review with everything you find positive and negative. we all learn from it. Would like to know what YOU think about the extra costs: did you expect this or is it really outrageous?

 

love from Holland

Carina

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"Kids were indeed running around unsupervised. Can you imagine the same scenario on MSC, P&O or any other cruiseline for that matter? It just would not happen without a ship-wide intercom demanding the parents collect the children and the parents doing the walk of shame :D"

 

I would pay extra for my cruise fare to see that happen. But it almost never does, on any mass market line. Go check every message board for the mass market lines here at CC -- it's a universal complaint. The Eurodam's debut cruise was marked by herds of unsupervised children running amok -- nothing was done. Occasionally on various boards you will read about one family or group of kids that was so over the top the captain put them off the ship. But it doesn't happen often.

 

To the OP, I appreciated the time you took to write your review. I tend to agree that many of the negatives you listed are less a criticism of NCL in particular, and more a comment about sailing on any cruiseline (especially one with family-friendly fares) during holiday periods, so perhaps it's not surprising that folks would point out that at least some of your comments aren't the "really bad" about the Gem as much as they are the "really bad" about sailing a jam-packed ship of any line.

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Dear friends:

 

I don't find the prices outrageous. $4.00 for a beer may sound like a lot in dollars -- in euros it's not so bad. When you go out on a Saturday night to a nice bar or other venue, what do you expect to pay?

 

There are things I find an excellent value. For example, a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne costs $66 dollars on board. That comes to about 40 euros. Considering that the same champagne costs 30 euros in a local supermarket here, I don't find a 10 euro mark-up to be outrageous at all. Most decent restaurants worldwide mark-up their wines and champagnes about four to five times supermarket cost.

 

I can't comment on the $4.00 bottle of water because in our room category we are not paying for those items.

 

If you come on with the attitude that you've already paid your fare and you should be able to eat and drink for free you probably won't have a good time. If you come on with the attitude that you've paid a low fare and that certain things onboard cost more money (which you can choose whether to partake or forego) you will have a good time.

 

For example, we really like not being confined to one huge dining room set up for 2,000 people and, instead, to be able to eat in a different venue and different style food every night, even if it costs $10 - $25 per person surcharge.

 

We find that there is something for everyone aboard this ship, and that is why we like it.

 

Leaving Malta in two hours .......

 

Kind regards,

 

Gunther and Uta

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I. too, was on the Gem last week with my family - hubby, 15 and 9 year old daughters and we had a great time!

 

Having cruised with RCI and Carnival in the past I was curious to see how NCL measured up! I feel the ship's facilities and layout to be equal, if not superior, to that of RCI - I will not discuss our Carnival experience other than to say that it was one that we would not care to repeat again!!

 

My husband felt that the lack of a central atrium on the ship meant that there was no focal point. I did not find this a problem and thought that the many communal areas meant that passengers were more well spaced around the ship.

 

I would not have classed my cruise as a "Budget" one at all - but then I did book through a UK agent and had air fares included too. We were in a Mini Suite on Deck 11 - but I guess you get what you pay for? Please feel free to tell me where you get these fantastic budget rates from - I intend to do more NCL cruising and want the best price. Ohh and we had great Cabin Stewards too.

 

My youngest went to the Kids Club once and was not too fussed about it. She said that there were too many in the 6 - 9 age group and that there were only a couple of English speaking children in the group. But, with this cruise being so port intensive she was not too bothered. She loved the Kids Cafe idea too. My eldest now feels too old to do the organised thing but fully appreciated her free Teen Passport for drinks.

 

We ate at Grand Pacific, Cagneys, Magenta, Tequila, Garden Cafe, Great Outdoors and Le Bisto and loved the lot. The steak in Le Bisto was truly one of the best I have ever had. Felt the food overall to be on par with RCI and the buffet to be superior in choice and quality - but the layout of the Garden Cafe was not condusive to the numbers of passengers on the ship who do not understand the etiquiette of waiting in line!!!!

 

Our CC Meet and Greet on the sea day went off well with around 18 attending. We were met with a light refreshment set up and also had several of the ships officers visit with us. They said that they do spend time reading these boards and value and try to act upon the comments posted on them too.

 

Prem - the Hotel Director has to be thanked for the marvellous job he did for us in arranging our little CCCClub meal - more of that to follow in Kgs's review when she returns home!!!!

 

Thanks to all who attended the Cruise Critic Meet and Greet and for those that took part in the gift exchange which went well.

 

Whenever I went past the adult pool or hot tubs I saw no children in them - perhaps I was just lucky. I did not use the pools but purchased the spa pass and got my money's worth out of it. I felt that the Thermal Suite area was one of the best I have seen at sea and on three of my visits I was the only one in the suite and the luxury of having the area all to myself was fab!! Having cruised several times before I am well aware of the hard sell that Steiner (the spa company on most cruise lines) inflict on those having treatments and I now state at the start of a treatment that I do not want to purchase any of the products - I am from the UK and can get them at half the price at home!! This usually does the trick!

 

I too can only cruise in school holidays as I work in education and have two school age children of my own. I also "Google" to check out other nations school holiday dates so I know what to expect. With the cruise departing from Barcelona it has to be expected that there would have been a large number of Spanish children on board. It was a shame that supervision of them overall was sorely lacking by their parents.

 

The only niggle that we had was concerning the gym. Notices allowed children from 13 - 16 years access if accompanied by an adult. My 15 year old went in many times with her father and they were both horrified to see 7 - 10 year old children playing with the free weights totally unsupervised. Those underage but with parents were not being supervised by parents either. Not only was this a danger to the children but to any other person who was legitimately wishing to use the gym. The children were actively breaking the equipment or putting in back incorrectly and this could have caused serious injury to gym users with all the consequences attached.

 

My husband searched in vain for someone from the gym to mention this too - but no one was around!!

 

I found, contrary to some posters experiences, that the customer service on board was very good. From waiters and waitresses to cabin staff to officers - all offered a greeting or a smile. A million miles away from our Carnival experience and, again, comparable with RCI.

 

The shows got progressively better as the week went on - we loved Bob Trunell and Second City (went to all three of their activities). My daughter is a dancer and thought the production shows to be slightly lower in standard that those on RCI - although she loved the costumes and took many notes!!

 

Star Gazing with Andrea the Cruise Director was fun - the sky remained clear for us to see him pointing out constellations with his lazer pointer. He also conducted a few seminars on the trip.

 

We did our own trips and excursions and generally took things easy.

 

We also appreciated the reduced service charge for children but did hear of people taking the whole of the service charge off of their bill - I assume they wanted to tip individually?

 

I would not hesitate to book another NCL trip today - shame I did not take advantage of the Future Cruiise discount!! My whole family had a great time and would do it all again in a moment!!

 

Thanks to the crew and staff of the Norwegian Gem - we will be back to see you again just a soon as we have saved enough money.

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"Kids were indeed running around unsupervised. Can you imagine the same scenario on MSC, P&O or any other cruiseline for that matter? It just would not happen without a ship-wide intercom demanding the parents collect the children and the parents doing the walk of shame :D"

 

I would pay extra for my cruise fare to see that happen. But it almost never does, on any mass market line. Go check every message board for the mass market lines here at CC -- it's a universal complaint. The Eurodam's debut cruise was marked by herds of unsupervised children running amok -- nothing was done. Occasionally on various boards you will read about one family or group of kids that was so over the top the captain put them off the ship. But it doesn't happen often.

 

To the OP, I appreciated the time you took to write your review. I tend to agree that many of the negatives you listed are less a criticism of NCL in particular, and more a comment about sailing on any cruiseline (especially one with family-friendly fares) during holiday periods, so perhaps it's not surprising that folks would point out that at least some of your comments aren't the "really bad" about the Gem as much as they are the "really bad" about sailing a jam-packed ship of any line.

Michelle,

 

That is an excellent observation.

 

Charlie

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I am new to posting on these boards. But I was on this cruise only last week.

 

I fully agree with the OP. He just phrased things wrong. Or more to the point he phrased them with humor in mind. Americans dont get humor unless its jumps up and bites them in the ass :eek:

 

Now that I've alienated half of the readership of this site let me continue...

 

The Ship was nothing short of stunning in its presentation and layout (minus the big screen which was God awful).

 

The childrens services were AMAZING but simply were not able to cater for so many of the children at once. And this was largley due to a huge imbalance in age groups. Something as simple as only allowing for X amount of age group with a buffer of Y to adjust would solve this. Not rocket science. Just bad planning.

 

Staff simply did not CARE about their roles onboard. I suspect they are highly under paid or morale was low or whatever. Bottom line was customer service really was awful by enlarge. Some were openly hostile, other groups were jouvinile and just s******ed at passengers. This isn't an exageration, I was there those commenting and were not present really cannot challange this fact.

 

Kids were indeed running around unsupervised. Can you imagine the same scenario on MSC, P&O or any other cruiseline for that matter? It just would not happen without a ship-wide intercom demanding the parents collect the children and the parents doing the walk of shame :D

 

The cruise it self was incredibly money grabbing. To the point of it being ludicrous. Some examples. Water being $4 dollars. Beer being $4. Selling Bingo tickets pre-show in a cheesy touting manner. The constant spam of "special" offers, which were just a rip off start to finish. Any Spa service had you at the butt end of a barage of sales spam blasted at you. I had a shave and beard trim. I thought it'd be relaxing.. oh how wrong was I. In the end I agreed with the girl that I'd give her $20 tip if she just stopped trying to sell me her "wares". Strangley enough the shave was supposed to last 45mins .. it lasted 20mins or just over and I could not get out of there fast enough :p

 

My solution to all these niggly things are .. charge a bit more for the ticket and allow people to RELAX and enjoy their holiday. The point of cruises is after all to relax, its plus points have always been you can budget better for what you will spend too. All the "added" extras were simply too much.

 

I may be painting a bleak picture here, I dont mean it to be entirley negative. some good points were Main meals at the pay restaurants were exceptional in some locations (Cagney's). The cabin crew were nice enough and shows were mostly great. Second City is a must see.

 

But the negative points are why we write these reviews, if they are not aired.. they wont be solved. It's ok to be a "fanboy" / supporter of a cruise line. It's a little strange, yes. But it's fine. But be objective here, If you harass your reviewers.. they wont come back and give you great information.

 

I for one read everything I could before I went on the cruise about the ship / line and had I read the staff was nearly as rude as they are, I might not have gone. Id have missed out on a great cruise though because the kids facilities/staff are wonderful.

 

But for people without kids I could not see why you would want to be abused for no advantage! (unless your into that sort of thing :confused:)

 

Ps. Spelling and grammer mistakes are yours to keep. See. I did bring you a present back from the trip.

I don't think the OP meant anything in a humoreous say, we Americans do get humor. As for $4 for water, you haven't been many places I would gather, certainly in the USA. Water at our sporting events is $5 per bottle, water on most ships $4 to $5 and in hotels. NCL does not charge more or less than other places and ships, same with beer.

 

I have visited spas on many lines (not often) and they always try to sell you something, that is why I usually just don't bother anymore. I agree it is annoying, but it is what they do. We can always say no, I really do not want to buy anything. Usually that will end the conversation or certainly get them to calm down a little. As for too many kids, are you forgetting the Op had 3 kids. How can anyone with kids gripe about too many kids? If I were cruising as an adult without kids I am sure it would have driven me crazy as well, but

his remarks are like saying, "when I was in the bar having my 5th martini I was amazed at how many drunks were in there, someone should do something about that".

 

No one objects to reviews that are negative, especially when they are balanced and this one was to a degree, but his complaints were either minor or things we have to expect when cruising certain times of the year.

 

NIta

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To put this post back on track.

 

Danceman, thank you for the review. I enjoy seeing good and bad. As we are traveling on the Gem in 2 weeks, I will keep in mind what you said. (good and bad)

 

Thank you!

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I always find it very useful to be able to read reviews both good and bad. I hope by now I can distinguish between the gripers and those with some valid complaints.

 

For me, it also helps to hear from a second opinion on board, either to the good or bad, but I do get tired of having to wade through the cheerleaders who insist on 'balancing' anything that might have a hint of a tone of negativity. You can bet it's then only a matter of time before the thread disappears downhill and dies.

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yes, as a veteran traveling for 40 years, throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas I guess I should travel more. Thank you for reminding me.

 

Nita

 

Being a world traveler is not the same as being an insightful world traveler . . and believe me, Nita, there is a huge difference.

 

No one objects to reviews that are negative, especially when they are balanced and this one was to a degree,
Surely, Nita, you jest. Of course people object to them and they do so frequently . . . on all the forums.

 

but his complaints were either minor or things we have to expect when cruising certain times of the year.
What his complaints were are items that concerned HIM on HIS cruise.

 

I appreciate reviews like the OP's much more than all the "sugar coated", "all was absolutely perfect", etc. reviews, or the absolutely "negative" ones where the reviewer wouldn't be satisfied if the the cruise line gave them triple their money back and guaranteed them the best suite free for the rest of their cruising days. Both are inane and just not worth commenting on.

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Being a world traveler is not the same as being an insightful world traveler . . and believe me, Nita, there is a huge difference.

 

Surely, Nita, you jest. Of course people object to them and they do so frequently . . . on all the forums.

 

What his complaints were are items that concerned HIM on HIS cruise.

 

I appreciate reviews like the OP's much more than all the "sugar coated", "all was absolutely perfect", etc. reviews, or the absolutely "negative" ones where the reviewer wouldn't be satisfied if the the cruise line gave them triple their money back and guaranteed them the best suite free for the rest of their cruising days. Both are inane and just not worth commenting on.

It was opinion and you are correct, my point is still:1-if you travel during the summer and with kids of your own, how can you complain about too many kids on the ship? Many complaints get to me as they do seem petty.

 

As for balanced reviews, I differ with you on this one, I think most people accept balanced reviews whether they agree or not, even if 2 people on the same ship have different views. Let's face it, the way something is worded is what determine's peoples reaction to a review. Everyone knows I am an NCL loyalist and yet, I have never come back and claimed the cruise was perfect, nor have I even picked another cruise line apart. When I do post negatives, regardless of the line I usually preface it by saying, my experience, but certainly not everyones.

 

As for the world traveler comment, I beleive that was an insult and totally uncalled for on your part........!!!! end of comments,,,

 

Nita

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Nita,

 

As for the world traveler comment, I beleive that was an insult and totally uncalled for on your part........!!!! end of comments,,,

 

Let me get to the "insult" first. I truly never intended it that way and am sorry that you did so. In that you took it as such, I apologize. Unfortunately, the exchange between you and Ravjack has been deleted by the moderator, so whatever I say about context is pretty moot. The point I was trying to make that just because someone has cruised 40 times or so, traveled to dozens of ports, etc., does not, in and of itself, make one an insightful traveler. During my career in the Navy, I met many a sailor who would brag that they had visited 50, 60 plus ports during their career. However when one questioned them, the only thing they knew about any of those ports was the name of the closest bar to the "Fleet Landing". Never took the time to see what a port had to offer.

 

Again, I did not mean my comment as an insult to you. I am sorry that you were offended and took it as such.

 

my point is still:1-if you travel during the summer and with kids of your own, how can you complain about too many kids on the ship?
Agree. I would never travel during the peak "kiddie" season, take my kids, then complain that the ship was overrun with kids. Silly complaint at best.

 

As for balanced reviews, I differ with you on this one,
I am not sure how we differ on this point, with the possible exception that, IMO, a totally positive or a totally negative review cannot, by definition, be considered a balanced review. I much prefer one like the OP's where I can see both the pluses and minuses . . . . . ignore the chaff and make an informed opinion/decision of my own

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