November 2015 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Eastern
Ill start by saying the ship was not quite finished being renovated when I took my trip. Therefore, the ship had many features that were unusable. The water slide didnt have a pump and was closed the entire trip and the rock climbing wall was also out of service. Additionally, the bowling alley has been removed from the ship to extend seating in the Bliss Lounge. Communication to folks who booked this ship would have been appreciated. I had been on the Breakaway before this ship and I believe I was spoiled by it. This ship is a significant downgrade. The Garden Cafe buffet if a fraction of the Breakaway's and the food/entertainment is not as good either. Also, (it may have been due to when I sailed, Nov) the avg age of the folks on board was 53. There were many senior citizens with scooters. It was a quiter vibe on this ship.
Old San Juan was unique. Lots of resturants, shops, and museums. This port also had data/voice phone coverage so we were able to use our phones as if we were in the continential US.
St Thomas and St Maarten were very similar. Their downtown areas were setup for tourism with many shops and resturants, and the locals were very friendly. The only thing I didnt like at these locations was the transportation situation. They make you wait on long taxi lines while they try to pair you up with many others going to the same locations. Then they herd you into large vans and make you pay different amount depending on how many people you say youre with. We just found small single family car taxis and paid they roughly the same. Id rather pay 5 bucks more not to have to cram into a large van. I will say that in both islands we paid about $50 round trip to Megans Bay Beach and Maho Beach. Note: We had cell service (voice) in St Thomas but our phones didnt work in St Maarten.
Tortola was extremely limited, no cell service either. This port is in the process of being built for the cruise ship tourists. I guess thats why the ship only docked for a couple of hours. We didnt do any of the bus tours of the island but it did look like that was probably the best thing to do there. I didnt really see a lot of resturants and the shops were very limited as well. This port will be completely different in a year or so.