Norwegian Gem Cruise Review to Cruise to Nowhere

Deck Hand

4-6 cruises


Helpful Votes

2 out of 5

Not as good as the competition

Sail Date: December 15, 2007

Reviewed: 6 years ago

Traveled As: Family w/young children

Room Type: Balcony

I've been on 3 other cruises. This was my first with NCL. Their "freestyle cruising" certainly has appeal in the advertisements, but it doesn't work out so well in practice. So you'd like to eat dinner whenever you choose, and sit wherever you want? Ok, but the restaurant is full when you want to do that because everybody else wants the same thing. If you have an assigned time and table, at least you know you won't have to wait. Oh, you can make a reservation ahead of time, but exactly how is that freestyle?

The poor experience started at the terminal, where people were milling about with no NCL staff to guide them or even answer questions such as "how much longer will this take?"
There wasn't even any indication of where and how to check luggage, so I toted my own onboard. That was certainly "freestyle" and there was no offer to pick up the luggage on departure either. Yes, I was "free" to leave at will and not wait for the bags, but I was also "free" to carry them on a long tour of the ship because they had blocked off certain stairwells to make the exit line longer.

Pros: the martinis

Cons: the food

Recommends Norwegian Gem? No.

Cabin / Stateroom
The cabin felt smallish but really you don't go on a cruise to stay in your cabin. The shower was nice. Cabins didn't seem to be isolated into smoking and non-smoking sections, so you could smell smoke on the way to your cabin. I don't know, but maybe that means a non-smoker could get a cabin that had a smoker in it on the previous cruise.
Food and Dining
The food was often slow to arrive. I put a lot of salt on my food but even I found most items to be way too salty. As mentioned earlier, it was difficult to get a table and the service, while friendly, was slow and not as attentive as I've seen in past cruises.
Ship Quality
The casino seemed smokier than other cruise lines'. The martini bar featured great drinks and a couple of large video screens showing silhouetted female dancers a la the titles of a James Bond movie. I wasn't offended but women in my party felt it was unnecessary. I certainly felt it was inappropriate to have those screens still showing those videos when we were routed through that area during the long walk to disembark, thereby exposing passengers with young children to the spectacle (and the smoky residue of the casino).
Ok, nobody booked this cruise to watch the Patriots game. The football season was only a few weeks old when I made my reservation, so the undefeated season wasn't on anyone's mind yet. I didn't know before we sailed if the ship would be able to receive the game. All of that, I grant. I set my Tivo to record the game so I could watch it when I got home. But then NCL said they would show the game in 2 areas of the ship. Those areas were filled with Patriot jersey-wearing fanatics 4 hours before game time. We found some seats in another unadvertised area where we were told the game would be shown. The game was never shown. If NCL had shown no games at all, fine; who goes on a cruise to watch TV? But they said they had bought the rights to the Pittsburgh game and were paying extra to get the Patriots. Huh? Why buy the Pittsburgh game for a cruise to nowhere from Boston? So it wasn't planned properly in the first place,and then they made a promise they couldn't keep.
Service and Staff
Maybe I'm used to a staff that is more in-your-face friendly, but many of the crew seemed like, while they were happy I was there, they'd have been happier to be somewhere else.

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