May 2014 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Bahamas
Having sailed on Norwegian Spirit in 2011, I was confident of an equally pleasant experience on Norwegian Gem. Unfortunately, most of the crew appeared dispirited and unmotivated, possibly also overstretched. The shore excursion staff were unhelpful and uninformed. The live entertainment (in the Atrium and Magnum Champagne bar) were mournful or wacky or poor; there was a general air of unhappiness. The ship was quite crowded which meant each meal was a competitive exercise -- survival of the fittest ruled in the Garden Cafe restaurant and the ship's pools on sea days exceeded what would be hygienically recommended in terms of numbers of bodies in the pool. This last was important because four of the seven days were sea days. The shore visits were clumped together as three days in a row. Port Canaveral may have been nice for those going to Disney. If one is keen on beaches, Great Stirrup Cay was adequate but the rigid lines of loungers, nearly all of them without shade, gave the beach an almost Stalinesque appeal. Finally, when an organized outing in Nassau was cancelled at the last minute, there was literally nothing else to do in a town with no discernable attractions. The Mandara Spa was the best and only relaxing area of the ship. Spa staff were also noticeably more customer-oriented and upbeat. That said, many of the restaurant staff were also courteous and helpful but their efforts were at times offset by kitchen errors.