Cruise Director

Hometown: NYC area
Joined: 04/10/2014
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About jleslie48

50years old, empty nesters, hail from NYC area. We like luxury and will always dress up for dinner even with casual dining.


Ships: Norwegian Gem


jleslie48's Past Cruises

Norwegian Gem

November 2015 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern

Just back from its re-fit, and the Gem is as spectacular as ever.

Well fans of the Gem here is what you care about most: The Gem has come out of the re-fit looking and feeling great.   I was worried that the re-fit would have turned the gem into a plastic shopping mall that Norwegian seems to think is appropriate for their mega-ships, but I'm happy to report that the Gem has retained all of its splendor and style and in fact, has updated itself rather nicely.   All of its woodwork and great views of the ocean are still there in all public areas of the ship and all of the venues are still there.  The only significant change is the removal of the bowling alleys in Bliss.   


In so far as what has changed, basically the ship have what I like to refer to as "de-trumped".  If you have ever gone into a donald trump building you know what I'm talking about.  Gone are the purple and bright flashy carpeting and loud decorations and replaced with more conservative and complimentary coloring and style that compliments the style of the ship.   What I was most pleased with was the removal of the annoying gaming machines in the spinnaker. The whole spinnaker has been re-carpeted and new furniture to give is added seating and is in color tones much more relaxing as subtle rather than loud.  It feels much more than like a luxury ship.  


The main atrium has also been updated similarly. The sweeping staircase is still there with a wonderful parquet tile flooring in a rich mahogany stain.  The main "gem" ceiling has been replaced with a nice led lighting system chandelier, Its OK, although I really did like the old one better.   


With the removal of the bowling alley Bliss has been greatly expanded and totally updated with less trumpish-bordello look and is now a more modern looking setting although the side rooms are still there albeit with new couches and seating.   


The Grand Pacific is unchanged.   


All in all I was very happy with the updates on the ship.  This is my third cruise on the Gem and it won't be the last.  The gem just seems to be able to absorb the guests perfectly.  None of the venues or public areas feel crowded and yet none empty.  This cruise has 2600 passengers on it and even on he last day of the cruise, it poured so no-one was on deck, you could still move about and do things without feeling like you were in a cattle car.   


This pictures are thumbnails.  If your right click on them and open them in a new tab you can see them better:




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Norwegian Gem

March 2015 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern

Out of NY the GEM is far superior to the Breakaway.

Well this is my third cruise. the first being on the gem, the second being on the Breakaway.  We loved the gem on our first ever cruise and were very disappointed with Breakaway on the second, so we went back to the Gem to see if it was just the new experience of cruising that was so attractive or was it the ship.  It was the ship that was all the difference. 

The level of luxury on the Gem far exceeds that of the Breakaway in just about every character that is not listed on any of the brochures or media.  I'm talking about the little attention to details that make the Gem a grand experience and spectacle in itself, a destination a grandeur and sophistication rather than just an ordinary run of the mill experience.   The first thing that grabs your attention is the theater with looks and feels like a grand opera house and not a movie theater.  Complete with balconies, not just one, but FOUR (yes 4!) grand entrances complete with murals and statues.  I bring attention to this no so much as a must see but as an example of the attention to detail that exists in the ship throughout that I sorely missed in the breakaway.  

The main dining room was of similar grandness, complete with curved staircases and statues on its entranceway, Fine mahagony chairs overlooking the seas and even booths with full luxury sofa seating vs benches for tables of 8 or more. The bars had quiet nooks with huge sofas and laydown areas for private informal groups, just the thing for friends to get together.  

The other thing that I noticed as an engineer is how much better the Gem was able to distribute the 2000+ guests throughout the ship without ever feeling crowded.   I was pleasantly surprised about this on my first experience on the Gem with some 2200 guests, Was VERY aware of the crowds on the Breakaway (reservations for everything are required) and on this cruise I was again treated to open spaces wonderful ocean views, pocket sitting areas for ocean views all over the ship and never a need for a reservation and always open seating in the grand theater.   Imagine my surprise when I found out that this cruise didn't have 2200 passengers but 2800!!!!   This ship is just laid out so well it naturally sends different groups of people to different areas of the ship so they are not tripping all over each other.   With 3 banks of elevators servicing some 10 levels, there was never a crowded elevator or a wait for one. On the Breakaway they had 2 banks of elevators to service 14 levels with twice as many people. the result of the 4 extra decks and 1/3 less boarding areas of  elevators was horrible on the Breakaway.  

In conclusion on returning on our 3rd cruise back to the Gem after a disappointing cruise on the Breakaway, I am happy to report that the Gem is everything a luxury cruise should be.    



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Norwegian Breakaway

December 2014 - Norwegian Breakaway to Caribbean - Bahamas

disapointed with the ship. people and cruise were fine.

My biggest disappointment with this cruise was with the ship the breakaway.   its just not the level of luxury that I'm used too.  The ship's public areas are not big enough for the 4000 guests it packs into the ship, all the finishing touches on the ship are pretty plain and inelegant.  I was very aware of waiting for elevators, and the staircases were rather industrial rather than majestic.   Even the grand circular staircase in the 3 level open atrium was not impressive when you were on it. The stair case is less than 6 feet wide, the atrium is very small, and there are no windows. 

The biggest problem with the ship is the placement of the casino in the middle of the public areas.  Lets face facts, casinos are ugly, the people that hang out in them are generally low class, and the worst part of all: they allow smoking.  As the casino was center to the ship, in the middle deck of the the 3 deck open area, the cigarette smoke permeated all parts of the ship.   Totally gross. Then when I was forced to walk through the casino, I've got to walk past rows and rows of overweight senor citizens with blank stares at their slot machines.  

The other issue I had with the ship was the lack of big windows looking out.  For whatever reason, this ship does not afford beautiful views from inside the ship.   This may have been better in the front half of the ship, but that part of the ship was closed off unless you had a haven suite.   There was no view anywhere on the ship forward from inside the ship without paying for the view. 

My rating is based on my comparison of this ship to the norwegian gem, IMO a much better ship. Simple math should of been my first clue:  The gem has 3 banks of elevators, for 2000 guests. The breakaway has 2 banks of elevators for 4000 guests and 3 more decks to have to service. There is absolutely no way that was going to work.  

To show off the differences in elegance of the ships lets look at the theaters on both ships:  the gem sat 1100 people with a balcony and side booths: no reservations, no sold out shows.   the breakaway (with double the number of guest remember,) 800 seats, you must make reservations and constantly sold out shows.  Now look at the two theaters:  which one impresses you?  Mind you the theater is just an example, but the rest of the trim levels on both ships were similar. 


the Gem theater: 


the breakaway theater: 

I found it ironic that the breakaway prides itself on modeling itself after Manhattan, but has a mall style movie screen, whereas the Gem which makes no claim to Manhattan chic has a Old style NY Broadway theater complete with balcony and side booths.  


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Norwegian Gem

March 2014 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern

First cruise ever, it was everything I expected

I really wasn't sure what to expect on my first cruise ever, but this one met my every expectation.   Actually it was better than I expected.  When I saw that there were "specialty" resturants on the cruise I feared that the included dining was sub-par.  It was not the case, In fact we ate at the 5 complimentary venues every meal and were delighted every time.   The items that stuck out in my mind were: 


Everything was spotless - I was never aware of the staff cleaning, or taking out the trash in the public places, but I never saw a bathroom in dissarray, a trash can overflowing, or so much as a spill on the floor. 


Never aware of the Staff moving about.  - All elevators and stairways for the passengers never had staff in them.  This gave the whole trip a feeling of extravagance that I really appreciated.   


Glasses instead of Plastic cups, linens instead of paper napkins.   - again made me feel special. 


Never a wait for dinner, or a lounge chair on deck.  -  I was especially gratefully surprised how well the Gem absorbed 2300 guests without anywhere seeming crowded.   


Staff remembered my name. -  All I had to do was meet them once, and it was always "hello jonathan" right down to the waiter, bartender, or maid.   


Sure these things seem like small things, but I've been on enough vacations where places cut these corners, and when a resort doesn't I appreaciate it.   



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jleslie48's Tips

Tortola, British Virgin Islands - The hike and beach at the Baths is the highlight of the trip. Be warned though: the hike is more than a walk in the park, you'll be climbing on rocks, crawling on all fours, and getting wet. We had hiking water shoes that were great. Also bring a mask and snorkel to see the fish in the grotto's. This is a wet, challenging hike in the most beautiful spot in the world I have ever seen.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - Meegan's bay is 15 min away and the taxi's are always running. Snorkeling at turtle and shipwreck cove will not disappoint.
Norwegian Gem Norwegian Gem - Different bars are stocked differently. For example the atrium bar does not have Beefeater gin but the spinnaker does. If you have preferred labels, check the different bars.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands - the hi-light of the trip: the baths caves. only regret too short a stop wish we had 2 days here alone instead of 1/2 a day.
New York, New York - 40 minutes from my kitchen vacation starts. NO flights, transfers issues. Will always sail from NY
Norwegian Gem Norwegian Gem - Spinnaker lounge gives you beautiful views of the ocean and a great place for drinks, seating, lying down and snoozing indoors if its cold. The garden cafe is the only buffet style dining we used on the back of the ship. Great for lunches
Norwegian Breakaway Norwegian Breakaway - the elevators are horrendous. when you click the call button it only calls half the elevators. you must click another call button to get the other half to respond. watch the lights on the call button carefully.
Norwegian Gem Norwegian Gem - Blue lagoon chicken wings and brownie sundae for lunch were great. Main Dining room stripped steak was about the best steak I've every had (get the butternut squash with it.) don't be afraid to special order dinners as well, I mixed and matched parts of the different dinners

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received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Breakaway cruise review - disapointed with the ship. people and cruise were fine.

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Breakaway cruise review - disapointed with the ship. people and cruise were fine.

commented on a Norwegian Gem cruise review. - "I hear that a lot that disembarking in NYC is a problem. Personally after 5 years of sailing on the Gem I have never had a problem. That's because o..." read more

commented on a Norwegian Gem cruise review. - "been cruising on the gem for 5 years now and have yet to eat at the buffet, or as week call it the food trough. Why anyone would take a cruise to ea..." read more

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Gem cruise review - Just back from its re-fit, and the Gem is as spectacular as ever.

commented on a Norwegian Gem cruise review. - "Wow! that really sucks. It would definitely ruin my vacation. I've been cruising on the Gem for 5 years now with not so much as a backed up toilet..." read more

commented on a Norwegian Gem cruise review. - "Canceling ports of call is not NCL's decision. Any cruise line with the same itinerary will cancel those same stops on those dates. The price of the..." read more

commented on a Norwegian Gem cruise review. - "interesting view for a first timer. All I can say is my first cruise was on the GEM and I absolutely loved it. Then again I am a reader and having s..." read more

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Gem cruise review - Just back from its re-fit, and the Gem is as spectacular as ever.

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Gem cruise review - First cruise ever, it was everything I expected