December 2015 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern
Embarking was an Odyssey in itself.It took from 8:30 to 1:00 P.M. waiting seating down in sort of kitchen chairs inside a huge pier with over 25 seats per rows facing and staring at each others for hours.
Over a 5 hours ordeal with some orange juice and soda offered about 1 hour before departure.A couple of thousand people with rowdy unruly noisy poorly behaved children that would be 24/7 running around the ship corridors at all hours of the day and night.No parental supervision ever! Hallways and corridors should have HUGE signs:NO RUNNING OR SHOUTING !!
Four days at sea to Puerto Rico! Why?Oh,I know.To sell you all sort of overpriced crap and services!!
Loud noise would be the theme for this cruise unluckily.
You will be shouted at with loud speakers and microphones constantly around the pool,theater,bars lounges and all decks always demanding you"put your hands together" or "give it up for.." Geeezzz!!!
It seems LOUD sells more raffle tickets,drinks,diamonds,watches,on shore excursions,emeralds,ugly "art",spa services etc..etc...etc.
If you want to relax and unwind THIS IS NOT THAT KIND OF A CRUISE !!You'll be hard pressed to find a place to read a book,doze off while sun bathing,chat or socialize without having to shout at each other.The only little piece of heaven is the library,a small 25' by 30' room next to the game room but alas! it is always full with people not just reading but napping or even eating!!..Woww!! those people ate and drank even in the elevators,theater ( drinks and raffles or bingo cards are hawked here too) hallways,walkways stairs and lounges!
If you want a relaxing cruise you must make sure school is IN SESSION!!.May be you'll have less kids and obnoxious careless uneducated parents.
We waited for our room for almost 1 hour after boarding.
Room was clean,neat and small but comfy.
Mr. Denis Fernandez our cabin housekeeping attendant was AWESOME . Bathroom was good except the toilet was so close to the wall that made it hard to seat down and I'm only 5'2" so if you are 5'8" to 6'3" you better use the communal toilets around the elevators areas ;-)
The food: Buffet was OK,just a lot average to average quality of food well served and presented.I must mention as very good the smoked salmon,roast beef sliced to order,pork roast,shrimp cocktail,good salad items,sugar free strawberry napoleons,fresh fruits,croissants and danishes as well as assorted breads.
Pool barbecue:Forget it!. Cold,hard and tasteless cuts of meat,pieces of chicken hard poorly cooked corn and a hideous "paella" that was more like Uncle Ben's poorly cooked rice with some okra and tiny pieces of onion thrown in but no meats or sausages anywhere in sight.
Burgers and hot dogs greasy and overcooked seating there for hours.
Pizza tasted and looked like the frozen kind good only for kids.
Grand Pacific dinning:great service,well appointed and better food just like a good catering service.To be noted were the beef Wellington,skirt steak with chimichurri,fried fish,eggplant lasagna,fried calamari southern fried chicken,and shrimp over penne pasta.
Breakfast at Grand pacific : Lox with cream cheese and bagel,omelets,eggs Benedict or eggs any stile.Forget the beacon! 97% fat,little meat to eat.Good sausages and the Grand pacific is the only place to find tomato juice.
During this cruise you'll be penny pinched to death,almost everything is extra from sodas to canned drinks or specialty restaurants.BTW avoid the Chinese restaurant! awful food poorly cooked and seasoned for someone used to China cooking Town in NYC.
Puerto Rico was a waste of time .Everything closed at 11 a.m. and no place to have a drink or eat local cooking.The tour by trolley car was painful due to the cobble stoned streets ( I might have lost a few molar fillings and a kidney in the tour to see and old fortress? and a few colonial buildings? ) I would avoid it at all cost .
Ports of call like Saint Maarten and Saint Thomas should have been an overnight stay: too much to see and do in just a few hours!
Tortola: arrived a Sunday morning for just 5 hours to see a deserted tiny town with wild chickens running around and no one in sight after walking over a mile we found $2 tee shirts sold by $10!!
Not enough time to visit Virgin Gorda which is a gorgeous area.
Return voyage was uneventful with theater shows and lounge acts that left a lot to be desired ( EXCEPT the comedian Kaminski and the ventriloquist with puppets were AWESOME! earlier on the trip)
Disembarking was another ordeal ,over 1.5 hours walking around and around the ship returning twice to the starting point.
If you think carrying your own luggage out would save you time THINK AGAIN!!
Bring enough cash with you to buy on shore,ATM's charge $3.75 to $7.50 per transaction and the ship has no ATM!!!
In general I give 4 stars because the crew is amazing,polite,well groomed,friendly,willing to help,very knowledgeable and classy.
I'll always remember: "washy washy!! happy happy!!
I would probably do it again...when school is IN SESSION!!