There were some minor changes on the Gem. We still love this ship, and this was our fourth time on her. Most noticeable was the addition of O'Sheehans Pub on deck 8. This was your 24 hour food venue. Previously, this space was taken up by Moderno and the Blue Lagoon. The Lagoon was the 24 hour joint, but was removed. No big deal here. Moderno has been moved upstairs across from Cagneys. Moderno is a pure meat fest. We didn't partake this trip. We did enjoy our special offer of the restaurant package. 5 free meals, each, in any of the venues. This was a great deal. We ate at Cagneys twice, Teppanyaki, La Cuccina, and LeBistro. The only one we don't recommend is La Cuccina. Italian food can be had anywhere, and living in NY, we can get great Italian food. I would like to see this changed to a Caribbean eaterie. But that's me.
Next, the Java Cafe. Located on deck 7 right in the atrium, used to be primarily a coffee bar. You could get liquor in your coffee, or even some drinks, but it was mostly coffee. Keep in mind there are like 11 bars on the Gem already, so, whoever decided to turn this into just another bar ( but with coffee ) is , quite frankly, an idiot. Sail away day this place was PACKED!!!!! With liquor drinkers. We couldn't get coffee if we tried, and we did try. There were three bartenders making all kinds of iced and mixed drinks, but when we tried to order coffee, we were kind of rebuffed and asked to come back later. Which we did, to some excellent cappuccino with crime de banana. This is clearly one of the influences of the new CEO. Oh, and for the record, whenever we mentioned the new CEO, we got a knowing look of, Yeah, we preferred Mr Sheehan.
Our steward was great. Waiters were great too. We had a private portrait sitting done and Meda (?) of PhotoExpressions was great. She put my wife and I at ease during the shoot. We expect out 2 triptychs in a few weeks.
Overall we we had a good time.. I don't know why Norwegian gets a bad rap. The food is very good. The service is great. The restaurant options are excellent.Maybe we're biased because we sail out of NY and NCL is available year round. But, if they weren't good, we just wouldn't sail with them. There did seem to be some people on board who may have been sailing with Norwegian for the first time, and didn't understand some of the quirks of Freestyle Cruising. They didn't understand why they don't get the same waiter every night, and why you don't have a reserved time slot.
I stated elsewhere that cruising has lost some of its cache in recent years. Mainly due to the fact prices have dropped drastically. What I meant was, and I have no problem saying this, because many of you are thinking it, people who you would never go on vacation with, are now seated at the next table. You know who I mean. The type of person that hogs lounges, ignores all dress codes, etc. Well, until recently, this strata of vacationer was limited to one cruise line. Guess what ? Some of them spent the extra dollars and were on the Gem. I saw no less than three infants in the hot tubs. One with a diaper ( swear to gawd ). Grossly overweight people stacking food as if it were a contest. One kid took every box of Fruit Loops ( about 6 ) from the morning buffet. Now, I'm not sure which I am more appalled at. That he had no consideration for anyone else, or that he was getting that sugar rush at 8:00 in the morning.....As usual, there were kids running around unsupervised. Some would go around turning the cabin wheels from Do Not Disturb, to , Make up Cabin. Thankfully, no deaths this time around.
Oh, the first several days, the crew was serving our food due to an influenza outbreak during the previous week. Now THAT was a pita! You couldn't even pour your own coffee.
Anyway, we are now Platinum. Yay for us. Oh, we did get someone else's laundry by accident, but that was straightened out within an hour of reporting the error.
In short, the new CEO seems to be making decisions that everyone from staff to steady customer hate. I don't know what really happened to Kevin Sheehan, but this guy Del Rio has to understand that Norwegian is not Oceana or Regent Seven Seas.