Sail Date: July 03, 2011 Ship: Norwegian Gem Cabin Type: Oceanview Traveled As: Large Group Reviewed: 6 years ago
Overall, this was a great cruise!
We're new to cruising, so not sure if we just got lucky with this particular vessel, destination and itinerary. Here are some thoughts:
1) Destination: Bermuda is VERY expensive (avg. hotel is like $300-$400 per night and a basic lunch is 2x NYC prices). So, if there's any place to visit via a cruise this is it, since you're essentially using the ship as your hotel and restaurant for the time there. We paid ~$2k all-in for both of us for a week on the cruise (all you can eat, etc.), plus extra for spa treatments and alcohol (not included). Also, its such a small island that no matter what port you dock at its not to far to get around. The public transport system is fantastic - we bought a 3-day bus/ferry pass ($28) and used the hell out of it for the time there.... we even went back to the ship for lunch 2 of the days. We averaged 2 to 3 beaches per day, plus a few other sights.
2) Itinerary: A good pace cruise to start off on. It was 7 days total (2 days @ Sea there, 3 days docked in Bermuda and 1.5 days @ Sea back). The typical cruise stops at a port each day, so you're pretty rushed and its like a cattle-call getting on-and-off the ship each day. This was more relaxing and gives you time to chill out. We liked this because we could hit the gym in the mornings, have a leisurely breakfast, then take off by 10am to the sites / beaches.
3) Vessel: We got a bit lucky on this one. After talking to a few agents they spoke very highly of Norwegian and this particular vessel: Norwegian GEM - its a newer/larger vessel (built in 2007) and decked out with a ton of entertainment and amenities, including "quiet zones" if you want to chill out.... this is actually important because the pool decks especially get noisy (we spent allot of time in the Spa and on the quiet decks during sunset). Norwegian is also know for "free-style" cruising.... this means your not set to a schedule like on some other ships (you eat when you want vs. other ships that have 2 set times for dinner 6pm or 8pm ..... that could be annoying if you're enjoying yourself in the town / beach and don't want to rush back). Celebrity is a higher-end line and was on the same itinerary as ours, but that ship sailed from NJ and was a bit dated (built in 1999 I think).
4) Dis/Embarkation: the fact that the cruise port is right here in Manhattan and you don't have to worry about baggage and fluid restrictions makes it a breeze. We ordered snorkel gear off Amazon and carried a whole suitcase full of beach accessories (we even brought tennis rackets - yes, they have a tennis court on the ship).
If you live in NYC then it makes sense to try a cruise at some point.... its just way too convenient. Our only issue was the number of families/kids, which is due to the time of year (avoid July/Aug and other school breaks); that said, the only good time to go the Bermuda is June-Sept. due to the water temperatures in the Fall-thru.-Spring ( ( sdf
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