January 2016 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern
The Gem is well designed for moving from place to place. Plenty of room for sundecks and ship had enough elevators to avoid long lines.
Food is a different story. I was very disappointed with the quality of the food served in the main dining room on at least three occasions. One night crab cakes were made with tuna fish. Really ? Service was very slow many times - until our group complained of dinner taking 2 plus hours and we had to make the 9:00 pm. headline show. I told the Matre D if he wanted to serve me three courses at once , I did not care, I did not want to be dining for two or more hours. After that service was much better and we finished our meals in a reasonable time.
The big, free dining room is much better than the small, free dining room. You have a choice of the dining rooms or a Chinese restaurant, which I did not try. Most of the name brand restaurants charge alacart, so you are talking $ 30:00 plus for dinner. The Irish pub has mediocre food, and they charged me $ 7:00 for a beer, when the menu stated $ 6:00. After I complained the tab was readjusted downward. Management blamed the corporate office who neglected to print a new menu to reflect new pricing. Really ? Norwegian charges for room service, I thought a one time $ 6:95 service charge, apparently $ 6:95 is charged each time you request room service. Any other cruise line, room service is complimentary.
Buffet food was very poor. A lot appeared to be left overs from the " fancy " restaurants of food that did not sell the day before. The head chef is from India... and I hope you like Indian Food. I do not. About the only ethnic food I never developed a taste for. Something about the curry. And the chef uses a lot of curry. Desserts were very uninspired and bland. Ice Cream was really cheap. You get the idea- if you want to eat well on this ship - you will have to pay $$$
My cabin was tiny- even for one person. Several times, I hit my head on the closed overhead berth. Once I rolled off the bed and got stuck between the bed and wall.
Several passengers I conversed with all had a underlying theme- food was mediocre, service, at times, very spotty, and Norwegian nickled and dimed you for everything they could - amenities other cruise lines offered complimentarily.
Pool water slide was not open entire cruise. Nightly entertainment was surprisingly good, compared to my last cruise with Norwegian in 2008, and compared with the offerings of other lines- comedians, magic acts, broadway reviews, name brand music acts
If you take the Gem, expect mediocre to poor food, charges for room service, not all outside venues to be open, high charges for "Name " restaurants, and at times, poor to surly customer service.
Excursions were O.K., all overpriced on all the lines, be very selective when picking an excursion, you can do it on your own at a fraction of the price.
You won't really save money with Norwegian by the time you buy the "extra's " with services that should be free. I really like Princess and Carnival cruise lines. This was my 4th cruise. In talking with people, Norwegian is the bottom of the bottom.