Norwegian Gem Reviews

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16 User Reviews of Norwegian Gem Cruise Ship

Our Dream Cruise became our Biggest Nightmare!!
Publication Date: September 23, 2016

Our dream cruise became our biggest nightmare!!

We took our 5th cruise with Norwegian last August. My mom had a reaction to a glass of wine she drank and was sent to the cruise medical center against her will. The medical center hooked her up to an IV, EKG and catheter and wouldn't let her out. They gave her tons of medicine and blood thinners that she didn't want. Then they kicked her off boat the next morning (Day 3) claiming she had a heart attack. They sent her to a third rate hospital by ambulance in Florida. We had her checked out at home. Her heart is that of a 40 year old and perfectly healthy. She never had a heart attack and has no heart damage. Then we got the medical bill from the 16 hour visit in the medical center... $11,600.00 for ONLY 16 hours in their medical center. We have never seen such charges anywhere in American hospitals. I opened a dispute with Norwegian via certified mail, email and online case submission. I was promised an answer in 10-15 business days. I finally heard today (Day

27). They have decided to do NOTHING to rectify the situation. They will not remove the medical charges for the malpractice that they performed nor are they offering any cruise discounts or credits for future cruises for my mom or any of us.

I will NEVER cruise with NORWEGIAN again!

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BEWARE Security Issues galore
Publication Date: August 2, 2016

I am currently on the Norwegian Gem, headed out of the private island, Great Stirrup Cay, to the Bahamas.

This morning an elderly passenger reported being pushed down a flight of stairs: my wife, son and I saw him on the floor, dazed.

This afternoon on the private island, my wife was attacked by a group of teen passengers and her hand was cut by a thrown rock, requiring sutures. So far, the ship denies any knowledge.

We are being billed for the medical services, my wife cannot swim for the remainder of her birthday vacation and she needs to have the sutures removed when we return home. Ship has done nothing so far. Vacation ruined, Norwegian could care less.

Life guard at private island beach did nothing. Security at private island beach did nothing. Norwegian staff on board doing nothing. If you value your life, this is probably not the ship for you.

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Remodelled Ship with LOTS of New Staff
Publication Date: December 25, 2015

I'll say at the outset that a 3 on Norwegian is often a 5 or better on a Carnival or similar. We enjoyed the cruise a lot and there were clearly some very strong high points. However, we also experienced some unusually bad service for Norwegian. I believe most of these issues will work themselves out over the next few months but they were still part of our cruise. Our Daughter got married right before the cruise so we had her and our new son-in-law along with us, but only saw them at dinner. They had a wonderful time. We had both a Balcony and a Mini-Suite this time.

What was tremendous:

1. The remodel of the ship - The ship had just come out of dry dock a few weeks before our cruise and most of the public areas and main restaurants / garden café had been completely redone. My initial reaction was simply: "Wow". They did a fantastic job on the Gem. This was our third time on the Gem and the difference was striking. The ship is absolutely gorgeous.

2. The Cruise Director - Drew was our cruise director

and had been our cruise director on a previous cruise. He was personable to everyone, very visible to the passengers as a whole, and does a wonderful job at making everyone feel at home. We were somewhat disappointed in the offerings on the ship given the number of sea days but I didn't see that as a cruise staff issue as much as a Norwegian planning issue. It was great to see him again and he did a lot toward helping many people enjoy their cruise that much more.

3. The Thermal Suites - I hesitate to say this but if there is a thermal suite available, sign up for it... it's one of the few great deals post cruise payment you'll find. It made the difference for us on those many sea days with little to do.

4. Cabin Steward - Arvin was absolutely fantastic. He was attentive without being hovering, he did his job efficiently and very effectively and used his time to advantage. He is also the best towel-animal folder we've ever seen! Given that there are about 5 days at see on a 10 day cruise, the cabin steward becomes a game changer if they know how work in between the "cracks of time" they are given and Arvin was simply amazing.

5. Garden Café - I have to make a special point to note the Garden Café which looked amazing and not "circus-y" like others we've been to and had a wonderful selection and a tremendous staff. We don't normally do a lot of the café but (see negatives) we did on this ship and found it to be a life saver. Well done to the chef's and staff; they made a big difference.

6. The Casino - This may or may not be your thing but I'm not a big gambler but like to play a bit on the ships. It's less stressful and I can admit I don't know what I'm doing and get some valuable guidance from the dealers. There were many great staff people in the casino with my favorite dealer being Sasha. He's not only a very good person, but we had nice conversations and he provided me some nice guidance from time to time. This was not an unusual experience in this casino and the I could tell the casino leadership were a bit part of it. Well done!

Neutral:

1. The Spa - We did have a couple of treatments and they ranged from very good to not so good. The spa staff was nice and the thermal spa was small, but good. Overall though, it really didn't move the needle for us; although it has in past cruises.

2. On-Board entertainment - Highs and not so highs. We had a great ventriloquist and Tim Kaminski was also on board which was a great highlight of our cruise. The "troupe" was overall talented and good but I did not find the shows they did to be a "destination event". No knocks here, just not a "wow".

Most Notable Negatives:

1. The Dining and Dining Service. Before I detail some challenges, let me say that this was the ABSOLUTE BEST Garden Café we've ever experienced. The service was very good, the food was excellent for the café. Think family casual dining at its best. That said, the other main dining rooms were no where near the Norwegian Standard. The Main Dining room was passable for dinner although the service was generally lacking. For lunch, the menu was completely unattractive (too few options, strange choices) and the service was very poor. We did go in for breakfast one morning and it was "ok" although you couldn't get a toasted bagel anywhere (new toasters perhaps?). The Pay Per restaurants were very much hit and miss. La Cucina was good enough. Le Bistro was very good. Moderno was a bit of a train wreck (Norwegian, we've been in Moderno now three times... maybe it's the wrong concept for you) and Cagney's was excellent. Seating, in general varied from a short wait to confusion with the hostesses. That said, we enjoyed things generally but having had 8 cruises before, service and quality were lacking throughout the dining experience.

2. "Enrichment Activities" - I'm not actually sure what it fully meant here, but I'm choosing to rate this based on the daily activities available while on-board. This cruise has a total of about 5 full days at sea. That's a lot of time at sea. We, thankfully, know to reserve the thermal spa and spent a lot of time there. That said, other than sitting by the pool or paying for additional things (like bingo, the Casino, paid for movies, etc), there simply wasn't a lot to do. Normally this isn't much of deal and we find some things to do, but frankly, with 5 days at sea, we need more. Yes, I can go to the daily trivia things (which take 20 - 30 minutes), I can walk, etc.... but where is the REAL enrichment. And why does anything that is remotely interesting cost so much extra. Instead of showing continual "commercials" for the photo gallery etc in the Atrium, how about providing some sessions on the "history of the Caribbean" or the pirates, or something more than kids playing Wii. it's 5 whole days at sea.... throw us a bone!

3. The Art Gallery - (Caveat: We collect art from multiple sources and ARE a VIP with Park West). One of the things we like to do on board is to attend the art presentations and the auctions. We've collected quite a bit over the years and, while we don't always buy, we enjoy the environment and seeing new works as well as the process of others collecting. This has been true for 7 of the 8 cruises. This was the exception. Perhaps we've been lucky and have never had the "pushy" group on our cruises. I'm not sure. We have always enjoyed meeting the art gallery staff, talking art, and, no question, they are initially assertive about understanding what we like, what we might be interested in etc. But, I've never felt put upon or pressured. Again, until this cruise. I don't like to use names so I will leave them out. The auctioneer seemed to love to hear himself talk, the auctions were incredibly painful to be a part of because of how long things would be drawn out just to try and pressure people to buy, and the entire staff was very, very pushy. There was also no acknowledgment or recognition of our prodigious collecting and when I did suggest some interest in a piece or two, rather than being engaging, it was like talking to used car sales people. I attended one event and tried to go to another but finally had to leave after about 20 minutes because of how poorly things were being run. So, that probably leads to the lack of enrichment activities as well.

Yes, there were some negatives. Most of these, were already recognized and were being dealt with while we were onboard. I believe by late Feb to Early March, this will be a 4 rated cruise. We happened to catch it right after it had some out of dry dock and I think we were the 3rd cruise. There were clearly many crew on board that were experience their first contract; much more than we traditionally see and I believe this contributed to the issues. I have all the confidence in the world in Norwegian and we can't wait

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Bahamas
Publication Date: March 12, 2011

I've been a some other cruises between 2001-2006, like on Royal Caribbean and NCL Norwegian Dawn (ND), both ships, smaller than Norwegian Gem (NG), but much, much nicer, like palaces, like opulent hotels, mirrors and nice entrances, elevators in glass, open space 5 or 6 floors high, magnificent. On Gem the reception area, it is like 3rd class hotel, in the beginning, I asked the reception person where is the Atrium, the Centrum. This is it, she said. wow bummer. Compare NG atrium with ND: see the links

http://www.reviewcruises.net/cruise-pics/v/norwegian-gem/NCL+Gem+Crystal+Atrium.jpg.html

http://juergen.smugmug.com/Other/Ship-Details-Dailies/5229083_e47aE/1/317627565_5EGwp#317627565_5EGwp-A-LB

Comparing with our previous experiences, the main difference is that the economic recession affected the cruise industry visibly. They are passing the buck as much as possible, charging as much as possible for anything possible.

For example, there were no trays to carry your food in the buffet lines (imagine if you had a stormy sea and have to walk to a empty table), the bottled water over $5, beer a bit under $5, no free movie channels on TV, $9.99 per movie. The food variety lower than a few years back.

Starting from the begging…it was a big plus, the embarkation was much, much

better organized than other times. Almost no wait to get on the ship, went through all the checks in probably 10 minutes. The embarkation started at midday, they would call numbers, very nicely organized. We waited much longer, lol, almost half an hour to make some specialty restaurants reservations (they hand only two persons and only one computer working). When we got on the boat, in the Atrium, the guys from the Caffe bar greeted us with nice cocktails, joyfully welcoming on board, and asking for our key card to pay for the colorful cocktails (9 bucks if I remember correctly)…warning… they are not free. Not long after that we went to our staterooms. I am a map person, so the first think was to look for the daily boat pamphlets, and the boat layout map. I found the schedule for the day, but maps? Noap, no such a thing. Even on the daily schedule, the way the info was put, the restaurants location, hours etc, were not very easy to digest.

Regarding the food, I will be more specific in the dining category below, the food was ok, not too much variety, very crowed, lines to get omelets, lines to get “orange” juice, if you could find it.

Regarding boat stops activities.

In Orlando, we went to Cocoa Beach. Nice weather, the water a bit cold. Some taxi buses had arrangements with the cruise lines to transport passengers to/from boats to the beach. In the same day it was also a Royal Caribbean boat there. At around 5 PM was the last pick up shuttle. We went at about 4 PM at the pick up spot, where it was a sign “for Norwegian Gem” and were a group of people waiting. After a while some other people came from RC ship and they formed another line, 15 feet before NG. Nobody knew if those Taxi buses will carry both parties or they were separate for NG and RC. The fact is that when the bus came at 5, the driver, (Ronald Sterling was id in the bus), stopped where the RC group was and which came there after us. Imagine the frustration when that big crowed starting pushing, trying to get on the bus, and some of the people that were among the first in line, couldn’t get on the bus. We had to travel back, standing in bus crowed like sardines and he drove us to the Royal Caribbean ship first. Very poor organization and service.

In Great Stirrup Cay, they made a lot of new improvements, be aware that the lounge chairs are free but those covers $30. The food was better, more variety. The drinks ok, except beer, I am an European beer drinker, so from 5 spots/bars, only one had Heineken and of course long line.

In Nassau was ok, you can do so many things. We went to see the aquarium in Atlantis Hotel, but now is $39 bucks and even to access parts of the outside hotel (with great water views) is not allowed anymore.

The voyage back was ok, normal.

Ship Quality Average

As I said before, the ship is bigger than what I experienced before but the Atrium is UGLY, it doesn't exist. The main eating area-Garden Caffe (Buffet) it has such an inefficient layout, it is smaller or seems smaller than Norwegian Dawn (ND). It seems that even if the ship is bigger, the extra space was used for cabins but the public areas weren't increased proportionally I guess, they are smaller, that's way it was crowded at dining, at pool, at the bowling/karaoke/disco lounge (Bliss Ultra Lounge). Good thing that they are clean, a very clean ship, EXCEPT, even if "washy washy" was the motto in the dining areas, I found to issues: 1-the close napkins that had wrapped the fork and knife were that clean at all 2-more dangerous, how the staff would clean the table after somebody else was disgusting, with some cheap blue cloth, no detergent.

Dining/Food Average

Quality food for the restaurants that we went:--Buffet areas: Garden Caffe, ok, shortage of paper napkins, tea spoons, very crowed.

Difficult to find seats, many times we will find seats all the way at the aft open area where they did not have as much food as in the middle buffet, the bar was closed at breakfast, you were lucky to find one of the the 2 or 3 Orange Juice dispenser (by the clock, they were available only during the breakfast)

Great Outdoors, ok, same like GC but much less variety. If it was not windy, it was very crowded.

The Pool Grill; I am wondering why it is called Grill, very poor offer of BBQ and grill; some chicken and ribs. The worse cruise regarding BBQ.

On most of the Buffet areas, if don’t hold on your food, the waiters will take your plate even if you did not finish, very annoying.

--Restaurants:

Summer Palace Main Restaurant; almost OK; we had steak, it was like the cow was a bodybuilder, it was medium done as requested but, the meat was so hard.

Indigo Main (Magenta on the ship); better than Palace, good food, very good service, drinks Le Bistro; very good, the Fillet Mignon was a delish, wine good, nice variety from $20-30 something to $120. The service a bit slow. Cagney Steakhouse; excellent food, drinks and service. Best Margaritas from Star Bar. La Cucina; ok, the pizza not that ok for an “Italian” restaurant, but pretty good for a cruise --Bars: Good and cheap (bet $2-$5) coffees and lattés from Java Cafe

Stateroom Quality: Good We had a balcony room 10th deck. The toilette very small, but the rest was nice, very good insulation, you barely can here the outside public announcements. Not too many times we found the towel animals; on Royal C. almost every day we will have another animal, sometimes twice a day. TV program very poor, no free movies, not even 1 channel; it was something like the preferred programs that was mostly for kids or nothing.

Ship Staff Quality: Very Good

Entertainment & Activities Good

Sinan is funny funny funny. But as I read, his nickname was the Bingo boy. Not that I am such a bingo fun, but damn it if I heard more than two times that they have Bingo games...and when I heard it, they were at not a very good time. The shows were also funny and entertaining, except much acclaimed Second City; I cannot digest at all this type of fun.

They have a casino also, which was ok.

Bottom line, I would think twice before taking a trip on this ship.

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Bahamas
Publication Date: November 13, 2010

Washy Washy does not make you Happy Happy...

Just returned from a 7 day cruise from NYC-Port Canaveral, Fl, Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas, and Nassau Paradise Island, Bahamas. We chose this cruise from NYC because we live here and didn't want to incur the flight charges to leave from Florida. This particular cruise line nickel and dimes you for every little thing, while giving you nothing in return. You pay a flat fee for the cruise and you think you have a great bargain. That's until you step on board. There is a fee on this cruise for anything remotely fun. For example, the food in the buffet on Deck 12 reminded me of school cafeteria food. BAD cafeteria food. (and they have the nerve to serve the SAME crappy food downstairs on Deck 7 at the main dining room, and same food for ROOM SERVICE!). You just get a guaranteed seat there, so the staff may bring the disgusting food to you, instead of you chasing it down in a buffet and then looking in vain for a seat. Powdered eggs for breakfast, hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, EVERYDAY for lunch

AND dinner. Each day around lunchtime they would set up a grill/wok station near the pool and make rice and chicken. EVERYDAY. So after day 2 and you're bored of the burger/fry combo, you can have chicken and rice for a few days, get bored, then back to the burgers. The free food wasn't even fast food or Applebees quality. It was gross. Pizza was laughable. Pasta dishes were tasteless and dry. This is where the money starts to add up. You have several "specialty" restaurants onboard that charge you extra to eat there. You MUST eat dinner in these specialty places (and pay extra $$), in order to have something edible on your trip. And these specialty places aren't all great. The best ones were of course, the more expensive places. Le Bistro (French , $25 pp), Cagey's (steakhouse, $25 pp), and Teppenyaki (hibachi, $25 pp). Orchid Garden has Chinese Or sushi, for a $15 pp overcharge, but the food was bland and awful. The sushi was disgusting. Tasted like plastic. I have had better sushi at the supermarket. We also tried the Italian place, La Cucina, ($10 pp), but that was atrocious. The staff had no idea which pasta was which, and no clue how to make any Italian dishes. I ordered spaghetti carbonara, and it was oily and gross without cream or any of the right ingredients in it. My boyfriend had gnocchi that was also greasy and tasteless. Never mind the fried calamari. It looked like onion rings from Burger king. Gross. Never had such bad food ever. Always an up charge for something. Cant even get a seat in the buffet if you are brave enough to try the food. Their only saving grace was their fresh baked goods. We lived on sugar for most of the week. They had great cookies, cakes, cobblers, ice cream, and crepes. If they could get their bakers to cook- the food would have a shot!! We were so disgusted with all of this, that we went to reception and told them we were planning to get off at the first port (Florida) and stay there and get a hotel and pay to fly back. The lovely people at reception smiled and asked me if I knew about the "Jones Act". Its some act from like 1916 where the ship has to bring everyone back from the port they took them from. Otherwise they get a heavy penalty that they happily pass down to you- $350 pp!!! I was fit to be tied!! We paid all the money to book the cruise (which NCL or Travelocity wouldn't refund if we got off), and then would've had had to ADD money to leave!! UNREAL!! We decided to stay and get the cruise over with and make the best of it.

Then there is the "entertainment". They have 2 clubs on board the ship- "Bliss" and the "Spinnaker". Bliss is clubby and has the lights and the whole thing but NEVER a DJ. They had an awesome DJ onboard, but they never let him work in the clubs at night. They would waste him during the DAY to play out by the pool (where it was always too cold to swim). Out by the pool you couldn't even dance- they had to do stupid line dances and electric slide like you were at someone's Sweet 16! In Bliss, they have 10 TVs around the room playing "Time Life" videos from 1990 that you're supposed to get up and dance to. NO ONE dances there. In the Spinnaker, they have hokey game shows (newlywed game) and Karaoke, so the guests have to entertain each other, rather than NCL hiring talent. Then there is a theater where they have the "Norwegian Gem dancers" put on shows. Who cares?? I'm in my mid 30's! How about a comedian? They had one comedian but he was pitiful. Nobody laughed at him at all. A cover band? They had a band called Kinnosis that played very rarely and played very outdated material. A real DJ? A Broadway play? Something!? It s like a trip for the over 65 crowd. Everyone was older than us. There was under 10 couples near our age without kids. We' d run into them walking around the ship at night- all looking for something to do. If they could run the club right, it would've been fun. We could have bought a lot of drinks and danced. They're always trying to push you to buy drinks- but I think if they had the right entertainment, you'd want to drink and buy em. We never wanted to stay anywhere for more than 1 drink- so we may have had 4 or 5 drinks the whole trip. We were never even buzzed. Sad.

The excursions...They don't tell you where you need to be, what time- what gangway to take. They also don;'t tell you that some ports don't even take cash and you need to bring your debit card. You also need to bring photo id AND your ship card to get on and off the ship at the ports. I found the excursions very disorganized. Our first excursion was Port Canaveral, Florida. You had the choice of a resort for the day with full run of it, Disney. Universal, etc. We chose the resort because you ll never have enough time at Disney/Universal. On the NCL site, they tell you they are in port from 9am-8pm or so, so you think you have all day at the port. Not so. By the time you get off the ship and to the port, its 10, 11 am and then they tell you, you have to be back on the ship at 5:30pm! The ship doesn't even leave port till 9:30pm! What the hell? Our "resort" in Port Canaveral was a joke. The ocean was rough and too cold to swim. The jacuzzi didn't work, and half the food places near the pool were closed because its off season. The heated pool was fine, but we could've stayed on board for that... The second port- Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas was great. We snorkeled for the first time and loved it. That port is NCL's private island. They brought all the gross cruise food to the island and made it there and served drinks. It was a nice day off the ship, but still the bad food followed us. Then Atlantis, Paradise Island on day 3. It was gorgeous, but over priced and over rated. I was disappointed. The way the commercials look on TV- you think the whole place is amazing with a million things to do. They had about 10 pools, 4 Jacuzzis, 6 water slides, an awesome aquarium, a real expensive mall you cant afford to shop in, and the beach. It was a lot to do- but not for more than a day. We were toying of the idea of booking a week there- which is close to $3,500- and I'm glad we didn't do that trip. We did Atlantis in 1 day. The food there was atrocious also and for half the afternoon, it rained. It may just be that NCL is a crappy cruise line, but I'm not willing to try it again. I am an officially retired cruiser. Looking forward to booking Vegas for June 2011.

There was also a teeny casino onboard that was cute. We paid extra for a spa pass- that was a Godsend. They only sell 85 passes and we were there everyday. They had gorgeous Jacuzzis, steam room, sauna, etc. Super Nice. Def recommend that! It was $99 per person for an unlimited week pass to use the spas amenities. The stateroom was tiny but ok. It was an ocean view. Very nice. Comfy bed. The room was the least of my worries. You also have the mandatory $12 per person per day charge for the room steward and tips for the various bars/restaurants onboard. That's crap. I saw the room steward maybe twice the whole week. He's supposed to clean the room, bring you ice twice a day and turn down the bed at night and leave you towel animals. My room was cleaned daily but I only got it turned down with a towel animal once. Sad. I thought that was a cute touch that they did nightly.

We tried it and that's the bottom line. We ended our "cruise curiosity" and saw Atlantis and we're done with it. We don't have to spend crazy money to stay there now. We're good. We made the best of it. The few good restaurants were very nice. 2 out of 3 excursions were good.

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Remodelled Ship with LOTS of New Crew
Publication Date: December 25, 2015

I'll say at the outset that a 3 on Norwegian is often a 5 or better on a Carnival or similar. We enjoyed the cruise a lot and there were clearly some very strong high points. However, we also experienced some unusually bad service for Norwegian. I believe most of these issues will work themselves out over the next few months but they were still part of our cruise. Our Daughter got married right before the cruise so we had her and our new son-in-law along with us, but only saw them at dinner. They had a wonderful time. We had both a Balcony and a Mini-Suite this time.

What was tremendous:

1. The remodel of the ship - The ship had just come out of dry dock a few weeks before our cruise and most of the public areas and main restaurants / garden café had been completely redone. My initial reaction was simply: "Wow". They did a fantastic job on the Gem. This was our third time on the Gem and the difference was striking. The ship is absolutely gorgeous.

2. The Cruise Director - Drew was our cruise director

and had been our cruise director on a previous cruise. He was personable to everyone, very visible to the passengers as a whole, and does a wonderful job at making everyone feel at home. We were somewhat disappointed in the offerings on the ship given the number of sea days but I didn't see that as a cruise staff issue as much as a Norwegian planning issue. It was great to see him again and he did a lot toward helping many people enjoy their cruise that much more.

3. The Thermal Suites - I hesitate to say this but if there is a thermal suite available, sign up for it... it's one of the few great deals post cruise payment you'll find. It made the difference for us on those many sea days with little to do.

4. Cabin Steward - Arvin was absolutely fantastic. He was attentive without being hovering, he did his job efficiently and very effectively and used his time to advantage. He is also the best towel-animal folder we've ever seen! Given that there are about 5 days at see on a 10 day cruise, the cabin steward becomes a game changer if they know how work in between the "cracks of time" they are given and Arvin was simply amazing.

5. Garden Café - I have to make a special point to note the Garden Café which looked amazing and not "circus-y" like others we've been to and had a wonderful selection and a tremendous staff. We don't normally do a lot of the café but (see negatives) we did on this ship and found it to be a life saver. Well done to the chef's and staff; they made a big difference.

6. The Casino - This may or may not be your thing but I'm not a big gambler but like to play a bit on the ships. It's less stressful and I can admit I don't know what I'm doing and get some valuable guidance from the dealers. There were many great staff people in the casino with my favorite dealer being Sasha. He's not only a very good person, but we had nice conversations and he provided me some nice guidance from time to time. This was not an unusual experience in this casino and the I could tell the casino leadership were a bit part of it. Well done!

Neutral:

1. The Spa - We did have a couple of treatments and they ranged from very good to not so good. The spa staff was nice and the thermal spa was small, but good. Overall though, it really didn't move the needle for us; although it has in past cruises.

2. On-Board entertainment - Highs and not so highs. We had a great ventriloquist and Tim Kaminski was also on board which was a great highlight of our cruise. The "troupe" was overall talented and good but I did not find the shows they did to be a "destination event". No knocks here, just not a "wow".

Most Notable Negatives:

1. The Dining and Dining Service. Before I detail some challenges, let me say that this was the ABSOLUTE BEST Garden Café we've ever experienced. The service was very good, the food was excellent for the café. Think family casual dining at its best. That said, the other main dining rooms were no where near the Norwegian Standard. The Main Dining room was passable for dinner although the service was generally lacking. For lunch, the menu was completely unattractive (too few options, strange choices) and the service was very poor. We did go in for breakfast one morning and it was "ok" although you couldn't get a toasted bagel anywhere (new toasters perhaps?). The Pay Per restaurants were very much hit and miss. La Cucina was good enough. Le Bistro was very good. Moderno was a bit of a train wreck (Norwegian, we've been in Moderno now three times... maybe it's the wrong concept for you) and Cagney's was excellent. Seating, in general varied from a short wait to confusion with the hostesses. That said, we enjoyed things generally but having had 8 cruises before, service and quality were lacking throughout the dining experience.

2. "Enrichment Activities" - I'm not actually sure what it fully meant here, but I'm choosing to rate this based on the daily activities available while on-board. This cruise has a total of about 5 full days at sea. That's a lot of time at sea. We, thankfully, know to reserve the thermal spa and spent a lot of time there. That said, other than sitting by the pool or paying for additional things (like bingo, the Casino, paid for movies, etc), there simply wasn't a lot to do. Normally this isn't much of deal and we find some things to do, but frankly, with 5 days at sea, we need more. Yes, I can go to the daily trivia things (which take 20 - 30 minutes), I can walk, etc.... but where is the REAL enrichment. And why does anything that is remotely interesting cost so much extra. Instead of showing continual "commercials" for the photo gallery etc in the Atrium, how about providing some sessions on the "history of the Caribbean" or the pirates, or something more than kids playing Wii. it's 5 whole days at sea.... throw us a bone!

3. The Art Gallery - (Caveat: We collect art from multiple sources and ARE a VIP with Park West). One of the things we like to do on board is to attend the art presentations and the auctions. We've collected quite a bit over the years and, while we don't always buy, we enjoy the environment and seeing new works as well as the process of others collecting. This has been true for 7 of the 8 cruises. This was the exception. Perhaps we've been lucky and have never had the "pushy" group on our cruises. I'm not sure. We have always enjoyed meeting the art gallery staff, talking art, and, no question, they are initially assertive about understanding what we like, what we might be interested in etc. But, I've never felt put upon or pressured. Again, until this cruise. I don't like to use names so I will leave them out. The auctioneer seemed to love to hear himself talk, the auctions were incredibly painful to be a part of because of how long things would be drawn out just to try and pressure people to buy, and the entire staff was very, very pushy. There was also no acknowledgment or recognition of our prodigious collecting and when I did suggest some interest in a piece or two, rather than being engaging, it was like talking to used car sales people. I attended one event and tried to go to another but finally had to leave after about 20 minutes because of how poorly things were being run. So, that probably leads to the lack of enrichment activities as well.

Yes, there were some negatives. Most of these, were already recognized and were being dealt with while we were onboard. I believe by late Feb to Early March, this will be a 4 rated cruise. We happened to catch it right after it had some out of dry dock and I think we were the 3rd cruise. There were clearly many crew on board that were experience their first contract; much more than we traditionally see and I believe this contributed to the issues. I have all the confidence in the world in Norwegian and we can't wait

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Bahamas
Publication Date: December 19, 2009

I'm with my family(6 person) were traveling on this cruise for special occasion to celebrate birthday.Since the day of arrival aboard the ship, all of us experienced terrible stomach virus with high fever and so on... When we call for a doctors help

receptionist told us it is charge $150.00..?????

Unfortunately for us every day we started feeling worth. Then on ship was announcement "Quarantine". It mean that most of the passenger got sick.I don't want wright all this situation but after all we try wright letter to NCL company to get back some reimbursement for our cruise.They send us letter that they are unable to offer any compensation in this regard and they understand that illness overshadowed the overall enjoyment of our cruise.It was the last drop of this stupidity. All of us our family and friends will never ever go with this cruise line because of such attention to people on board.

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Transatlantic Crossing
Publication Date: November 29, 2009

It was more than 24 years ago that we took our first cruise and through circumstances, we were luckily put on then the new NCL Seaward..closet sized cabins, french service and white gloved waiters. We have since cruised Premier, Dolphin, NCL Sky through their first transit of the Panama Canal, Carnival, Princess, Royal/NCL Majesty (the minimum of twelve times to Bermuda), NCL Sea (previously the Seaward) in one of it's last cruises, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We have read many pros and cons on the new Free Style Cruising and decided to try the NCL Gem on recommendation of avid cruising friends.

Since we had cruised from Barcelona previously we had stayed at the Hotel Continental on La Rambla and met up with many folks who also booked the hotel and several used our favorite taxi driver/guide. What made it our own little party was that the night before embarking more than a dozen of us met for an informal bite to eat and drink at a little pizza place next door where we all seem to bond.

EMBARKATION

Unfortunately, our driver arrived earlier than expected and we decided to let the chips fall

where they may. We were at the port much too early but our luggage was taken immediately and we were escorted to be signed in. We sat there meeting up with other cruisers or shopping at the duty free (they are always there, aren't they) shops in the terminal,

In less than an hour we were allowed to embark. Parrot Pop who now uses a rollator was directed to the elevator for the handicapped. As we were about to enter the Atrium glasses of champagne and orange juice were offered.

NCL GEM-FIRST IMPRESSION

Walking into the Atrium I was overwhelmed by the purple and blue ceiling and the moving picture wall. We were not allowed to check out our cabins in that the doors were closed off, and there was a mob scene in the atrium with all chairs being immediately filled with new cruisers and their carry on luggage and others milling around. I guess if you were familiar with the ship or a previous cruiser on the ship and there were many, you could slip off somewhere. The area is very welcoming with huge chairs and I swear somebodies idea of a joke...ugly lime green modern sculptured hassocks. Being a sculptured glass fanatic I spotted what I thought was and is a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture on the balustrade,

CLEANLINESS

Never and I repeat, never have I seen a ship kept so spotless, people cleaning baseboards on their hands and knees in the hallways at 11:30 at night, the Garden Cafe being polished up in mid-afternoon after what I observed was continual cleaning all day long, everywhere.The gentleman who greeted you at the Garden Cafe with "washie-washie", it was annoying at first but then you got into it. Automatic dispensers everywhere, bathrooms cleaned continually, the rugs in the heavily trafficked areas like the Atrium continually being vacuumed ( always special sales going on and people milling around). One of the ladies at bar in the Atrium cleaning the glass pastry case, the jewelers in Colombian Emeralds cleaning the wall cases. During the roughest of seas crossing the Atlantic with the attentive staff in the Garden Cafe not a drop or drip remained . A speck of dirt or a smudge seemed to be an insult to the staff and was promptly cleaned up.

CABIN MINI-SUITE AF 11568

Sadly, my husbands folding rollator could not fit through the doors and had to be left outside in the hallway, a handicapped cabin was not a available. The bathroom was divided by glass sliding doors next to the "throne" and the shower..leaving the sink area open.. Somebody had the foresight to install three shelves near the sink which gave extra space for toiletries.. This may seem like a strange comment, but the bathroom floor of shimmering iridescent green tile reminded me of the beautiful sea, a theme carried out in the design of rugs throughout the ship. Closet space was more than sufficient and the drawer space the best I've seen on any ship. My major complaint was as the person sleeping next to the closet there was one tiny wooden shelf to hold personal items.

It would be wonderful if little shelves such as in the bathroom could be installed on that side of the bed. Kudos to NCL for a "real" hair dryer that's one less item to bring from home. One complaint was that the ice bucket was not filled daily. Ladies bring your own shampoo.

ENTERTAINMENT

After having cruised on NCL more than 15 times I was shocked at the poor quality of entertainment provided generally. In the Atrium there was an older piano player who was so "full of himself", he only played songs from the thirties up until the 50's...and "played" to several repeat cruisers.. He claimed he lived in Paris, but when asked about a famous song writer claimed he didn't know him, and he was from the fifties I believe... his genre.

By accident we found a young new entertainer on the ship, Randon, whose guitar playing, singing and sweetness was the highlight of our trip. He is a find and deserves more. He often played in the Champagne Bar andoccasionally the Atrium.

Yes, we enjoyed the Hypnotist and the Second City Troupe and sadly missed El Divos, but the musical troupe which was definetly NOT of Jean Ryan/NCL caliber was poorly directed and produced and was an absolute disgrace to the reputation for entertainment that NCL held with us. A woman singer one of the first evenings was so bad., she sang off key.

Except for paying for a Jazz brunch in Le Bistro (we did not go and it was only offered once on a thirteen day cruise) there was no jazz heard at all.. that was a big disappointment..

The Sring Quartet played throughout and was enjoyable

FREE STYLE DINING

MAIN DINING ROOMS

MAGENTA We are early diners and found if you went to the dining room after 5:30 there was a long line waiting to get in. The first evening the food and service were very acceptable..

The second evening at the Magenta. we were at the same exact table with a different waiter and when he asked how my meal was I told him the soup was cold and he walked away.

GRAND PACIFIC A bit more formal once we found it and the handicapped entrance was the Grand Pacific, Lovely decor and on the whole, the same indifferent servers, except for one we discovered at breakfast. In other words.. these waiters in the Grand Pacific and Magenta are just "order takers" and don't seem to give a hoot and it showed.

GARDEN CAFE Not being a fan of buffets I must rave about the Garden Cafe. After entering and our washie washie routine.I would go further past the end of the buffet to find a table.. NCL has done something I'd never seen before there were at least four tables that had signs on them to be used by wheelchair/handicapped guests. They could have used a few more, but a nice touch. There were handicapped cruisers of all ages from teens to the elderly, many had walkers, canes, and I noticed several blind cruisers by their white canes.

Parrot Pop loved the station that had hot cereals was a favorite place for him and my first stop was the hot upside down pecan rolls.. NCL has decreed that guests not have trays and that there is less wastage when they have large plates.The minute a staff members spots you with two plates or even juggling one they absolutely insist upon taking your plates and taking you to your table. No shortage of staff upstairs in the buffet whether it was an officer or server, not only that they were gracious enough to get Parrot Pop a coffee or cold milk and bring it to him. There wasn't just one omelet station in the morning, but at least four.. They never ran out of juices and another juice/coffee station was placed conveniently in the next room. After two days the attractive food and displays got to me and I decided as a foodaholic, smoked salmon, fresh danish, cheeses it was enough to drive an overeater crazy, so we went to the Pan American for breakfast at least for a few days..

We never had supper there, but would stop up for a bit of lunch, i.e. salad..forget it.. so many choices, Caesar salad with anchovies, you couldn't help yourself. Best of all at the end of one section was an ice cream bar and soft serve ice cream, available all day long.. All in all the Garden Cafe was a highlight..

BLUE LAGOON. What a disaster.. The big draw here was for me the chicken wings and the tomato soup (fabulous soup),. One example.. my husband and I both ordered our lunch at the same time..and it was to come with french fries, they both came at the same time, mine dead cold fries and his hot..The second day there I ordered ten chicken wings again, and mild,....they came cold...I sent them back and they arrived hot, but only six. When I mentioned the serving problem to an Officer helping out he said..people don't want to leave the tables..WRONG, they are waiting for their food.. Yes, I did see guests walk out. Heaven forbid you ask for iced coffee...you got it at the end of your meal..maybe.. We had breakfast and lunch there.. and always,, always a problem with service. Oh yes..

I think the Hostess there felt the pressure and it must of been a punishment.. she always looked grim faced

CAGNEYS Cagneys is a STEAL. and service quite attentive..compared to the regular free style dining rooms. I ordered a rib eye steak which arrived and was larger than a salad plate, the jumbo shrimp delightful and a wedge of salad with blue cheese.. also ordered with the famous french fries in truffle oil and sprinkled with cheese. Don't remember what Parrot Pop ordered for a steak although he did order a double giant shrimp cocktail.. Neither one of us could finish our steaks... Would never hesitate to eat at their Cagneys again. The food and the service were so far superior than Magenta and Grand Pacific. On land at a fine steak house..$25.00 might cover the cost of the entree, but not the side orders.

LE BISTRO The only extra charge restaurant we went to twice.escargot, mushroom soup, veal, bouillabaisse, etc..The setting is very romantic and this may sound strange, but the charger plate is this magnificent piece of Versace china... I noticed a few guests discretely turning the dish over...absolutely beautiful.. The restaurant had a Gauguin theme, very lovely.. We were never able to make as far as the chocolate fondue.

Coincidently we had received two bottles of wine as gifts while on the ship and neither restaurant charged a corkage charge which I thought was a nice touch

LA CUCINA The evening we decided to go the restaurant there was a two for one for dining.. Great deal...NOT!!!! It seems that the more expensive items like veal, shrimp and their osso bucco are taken off the menu.. Parrot Pop complained to the Maitre de who said he was new, but promised with the group party of 84 the next evening that we were paying FULL PRICE for everything would be on the menu... and it was.. Sadly, Parrot Pop who loves pasta found his pasta with meat sauce inedible the first night.. The next evening at the special private dinner you could see the difference in the menu and the staff, including Officers who came in to check to check that things were "wonderful"... We never went back.

ORCHID GARDEN, SUSHI BAR, TEPPANYAKI - GREAT OUTDOORS--we never went to.

In general, Parrot Pop and I felt with the run of the mill food with the exception of the fabulous soups that NCL is trying to get you to go to the specialty restaurants (read that as extra $$$) for service and quality of food. We missed excellent desserts and the presentation of desserts usually at the end of the meal by our waiter. In most instances we were asked what we wanted for dessert as we were ordering our meal.. We cruise for several reasons..the experience of the ports, the food, the entertainment and the high quality and preparation of food. Food in general for the most part was nothing to write home about and far less imaginative and tasty than we are used to.

STARDUST THEATER Although the sightlines were great it was difficult for handicapped cruisers to get down to the seats and the only alternative was the back seats taken by regular cruisers.. railing are needed.. or another entrance/exit on the sixth floor

BLISS LOUNGE Guess I'm old fashioned, but the bordello atmosphere of the Bliss Lounge certainly threw me for a loop.

GREAT OUTDOORS Just as a side note on embarking I mentioned to the Food and Beverage Manager that I was looking forward to the rib barbecue.. sadly the weather did not cooperate..

DISEMBARKING What a disaster for handicapped cruisers.. We were asked to report to one of the restaurants where the handicapped cruiser would be taken down by wheelchair when their color was called. The problem was.. there was not enough wheel chairs nor helpers. When our color was called we discovered we were 8th on the list.. We decided to wing it and took off ourselves...on the way down the ramp we comandeered an empty wheel chair and steward and off we went.. Parrot Pop could never managed to get down to the terrminal in time for us to catch our transportation.

A big thanks to all the people at the NYC Pier.. they are the best, even over our home port of Boston.

MISCELLANEOUS COMMENTS At a Get Together a large representation of the Staff was present and as they introduced themselves they offered their extension number if anybody had a problem....it worked..

Not in the theatre, nor the lounges were guests bothered by the staff to buy drinks.. nice touch..

What I think is an effort to save $$ Lattitude Pins are not being given out.. sad.. I would have loved to added the NCL Gem to my large collection.

POOR TASTE--- NCL had chutzpah to have young ladies selling roses in the dining rooms and the selling of the Jazz Brunch during supper on one of the first evenings, tacky, tacky, tacky

Lectures by Colombian Emeralds should be done in the Spinnaker Lounge which certainly has more seating than the Atrium where guests seemed to ensconce themselves early in the a.m. and NEVER BUDGED it seems the entire day..

The library is in an inaccessble part of the ship.. it should be mid-ship..not on the pool deck tucked in a corner near the spa.

Guests expressed concern regarding the lack of newer movies...if you want you can rent one for $12.00 they are available. They also were upset that only FOX was available on tv for news.. the excuse is they couldn't get CNN..NOT TRUE!!!! Have been on other trans-atlantics and CNN is available as are newer movies.. I think I watched Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly movie, Singing in the Rain at least three times.. and lets not talk about the old John Wayne black and whites..

Another concern was the lack of washing machines...and another corp, answer.. sanitary, etc. NOT TRUE..there is a large cruise line if not two that provides washing machines and dryers, especially useful on two week trans-atlantics.

Sadly, the weather was not cooperative and we had a rough crossing with rain, thunder, lightening and high seas.. we were unable to use the pool or the jacuzzi. It was the roughest crossing we have had in five trans-Atlantics, rain, thunder, lightening and did I mention high rough waves.

STAFF-OFFICERS A serious problem arose with a particular officer (which I will not go into) and I reported the incident to the front desk privately. Shortly thereafter the Security Officer came to investigate the matter and later told me that the matter would be taken care of.. THANK YOU

FINAL THOUGHTS Having cruised in the past year Celebrity and Princess and now NCL...how do I feel about Free Style... It's a good deal if the ports and the price is right.. If you want TLC and those extra touches... NCL isn't for you.. The question is.. would I cruise NCL again... yes I would and I intend to.. there is an itinerary have in mind but I will also know that I had better as others have told me... put aside extra $$ for the special restaurants..

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Western Mediterranean
Publication Date: October 4, 2009

In a word - wonderfull - We traveled to Barcelona and spent a day relaxing before embarking, and 2 days after departing to rest up and see Barcelona.

(All of that arranged outside of NCL).

My wife has lots of cruises under her belt, but had not been on a cruise in the 23 years we are married, me I did all my cruises thanks to the US Navy so I was the green one.

We had a balcony stateroom, on the port side on the same deck as the bridge. The service staff cannot be commended enough in my opinion; from the people who cleaned the rooms and turned down the beds at night, right up to the head waiters and the guys down in the laundry.

We took the behind the sceens tour as well as one excursion in every port, including the Monserat excursion when the ship returned to Barcelona.

I work in Nuclear power generation as a supervisor, with more reulations and regulators then what they deal with on that ship in my opinion, but at no point during the entire cruise did the least individual of entire ships

company fail to impress me with their personal pride and professionalism, right down to the guys doing my wifes danties in the laundry.

The "Free Style" dinning expierence left us put off at first, but once we made the decision to avoid the "buffet" lines on deck 12 and the bars on deck 13, it was very very pleasurable.

The money making the ships crew has to do is a bit over the top, but its the industry standard aparently; still it did nothing to diminish our enjoyment of the entire expierence.

The Captain and the Engineering Crew where something to be proud of for NCL. You could set your watch by their work from entering port, through docking to getting under way for the next port.

Only leaving Rome did we leave late, by 45 minutes, and that was because 8 people who went off on their own out of Civittea (sp), did not return to the ship on time. We (me and the wife) actualy watched their taxi cabs pull up outside the gate from our balcony, as the ship finaly pulled away from the pier; about 20 minutes too late for the ships staff to do anything to correct the situation. Let me stress they did not use the NCL excursions!

On a very rare ocasion some item from one of the menue's failed to please; and the staff almost jumped over each other trying to make things right, despite my wife and I both telling them it was alright, the food was done perfectly, we just did not care for a particular item - (like coconut), or in the Oriental Fusion restraunt, where my wife specificaly ordered her entree without peppers. Her plate showed up with the peppers, and while my wife started to pick out the offending things, our waiteress, who was assisting at another table; saw what was happening from across the restraunt floor and FLEW to our table! Appologizing for the error in the kitchen, and took the offending dish away despite my wifes being perfectly happy with working around the peppers so as not to waste the food.

Only her Matri'D and the Chef worked harder to make it up to my wife.

The room was always smartly made up and cleaned.

The one night, with a huge cross wind was the only time we even felt the ship moving as we made our way back to Barcelona, and while it appeared to bother several of the other passengers, it was nothing to us. It did however leave the slidding glass doors and our balcony soiled to the point we could not enjoy the balcony view as we returned to the Harbor without opening the slider, which we ended up having to "lock and pin" closed so it wouldnt keep opening as the ship rolled in the high cross wind.

I am a sort of night owl, and frequently would arise in the middle of the night and go "wandering" about, only to be surprised by one of the ships staff or another doing things like wipping down the base board edges or doing the high dusting, or some other task, typicaly ignored even in the best of hotels, and almost never seen by a guest.

The Gem is due to rotate back to the U.S. soon and NCL's newest ship will take over the Barcelona run.

The Gem will then return to the med but doing the eastern med loop in 2011.

We plan on celebrating our 25th aniversary on board the GEM cruising to those new ports.

After all why change off a winnner!

Only 2 things will change with our travel arrangements:

First - I will pick a different suite, so we are not directly under the room with the video games - (long and funny sort of story which I will sapre you all). Actualy thinking about upgrading to the suites on Deck 12 or 13 with the Concierge (sp) service.

Second - I will try and remember to pick the side of the ship that gets to view the coastline this time. Port side cabins get the sunsets for a view sailing north from Malta, starboard side got to view the coastline. A Sailor like me should have thought of that; it's my only regret when it comes to the cruise portion of the vacation.

I do have some comments I will be writting to NCL management about, but they are more about how NCL does business (management suggestions for improvement) then about anything to do with the GEM specificaly.

I highly recomend this ship and this cruise. and for the most part even the excursions.

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Bahamas
Publication Date: November 29, 2008

How many things can go wrong?????

First got my reservation and then called NCL to see if an upgrade was available. Yes, ok for $400.00 get to room 9002. All was okay until we arrived to get on the ship and no one had any record of the upgrade.

I was told to go to our original room and wait. Our luggage would be delivered to our original room. Hours later there was still no luggage. We finally found it sitting outside room 9002.

Then we were asked to prove we paid for the upgrade. I contacted the credit card company and yes they had record of the charge. I contacted the travel agent and yes they too have record of the payment. I gave a copy of the statement to the "desk person," would said they would look into it.

Day 1 nothing. Day 2 still nothing, etc. Finally on day 7 we get a call from the concierge (Lisa Meyers) telling us that we will get a refund. When? Who knows.

We have taken 3 cruises on NCL in the last 15 months and are totally discouraged by the treatment we

recieved. What was said sounded like we were lying about the upgrade. We were told that NCL would determine if we would get anything back.

We paid for a better room. What happened to it?

The cruise turned out to be a tension-packed week of put-offs, no answers, lack of decision-making and an uncomfortable feeling. We did not feel right using certain facilities with the room that we had. I would like someone from NCL to contact me so that we can discuss this issue.

Thank you for reading this.

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