July 2015 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Bahamas
First, let me start with saying the cruise ship business is a timed machine. The ship comes into dock, passengers leave, new passengers get on - and then the ship is off again. In between the 'swap' of passengers, and the cabin cleaning, there should be a clean scented deodorizer that is not overpowering, sprayed throughout the hallways and carpeted floors. My first experience into the boat upon arrival, was to smell a faint but present awful stench in the stateroom hallways, similar to a public overused bathroom. That smell came and went throughout the trip. I eventually got 'beyond' this and hate to say, i got used to the smell rearing its ugly head now and then. Our stateroom was kept tidy by us, however the steward did a wonderful job every day cleaning the room. The steward arranged towel animals which were left on the bed, which was very cute to see when entering the room at night. So, on to the food. The lines were long at times at both the buffet and ALL bars so patience must be had. Food was mediocre most days, some meals were good, but never exceptional. We are not foodies, nor are we cruise experts, but we do appreciate a good meal and we got very few on board the Gem.
No one from our group of 10 went into the pools once. The onboard pools were always OVERcrowded. 10-12 kids piled into the jacuzzis, adults and children alike packed into the pools. top 40 type music was blasting. The entire experience in the pool area, was terrible. We just avoided it entirely. Since the bars were set up outside on each end of the pool area, we had to wait in a crowd to order drinks, which by the way, the waiters take their time. maybe its the sea air, but i am sure it is a rule on the ship for profit purposes, since most passengers had the ultimate beverage plan as a promotion. We noticed the pool as drained at least 3 times. Not sure if that is a regular practice or someone left something gross in the pool. The ship should really manage that entire area more efficiently and effectively. We felt as though we were transported back to spring break 1980.
The first port at Cape Canaveral they offered an excursion to CoCo Beach. DO NOT waste your money going to CoCo Beach. It was not a very nice beach, the water was filled with jelly type seaweed and there is no bathroom, or restaurant of any kind in the immediate area. You had to walk to a 7-11 which was 4 blocks away to get a cold drink. Why the GEM or any ship would offer this excursion is beyond me. I am sure we should have selected the Cape Canaveral trip, however 7 hours seemed like a very long time to spend in any 1 area. The 2nd port - Stirrup Bay, was nice. The 3rd was the best - paradise island. The Aquadventure is $170 per person which is $100 more than it was worth. We reluctantly paid for it since we wanted so badly to swim in the crystal clear ocean. That was lovely.
I have to tell you the reason we selected a cruise for a vacation is because we were celebrating my mothers retirement after working since she was 16. She is now 84. When i told Norwegian that we all selected their cruise for our mom special recognition, we were told something would be in her room to express congratulations. What was there - ?? A happy anniversary card. It was pretty deflating in the least. They should have just not done anything.