The Mixed Bag We've Learned to Expect
This was our 3rd cruise with NCL and 2nd on the Gem. The trip started with a 90 minute wait on line in the terminal to check in. Cruise documents had said check in would start at 9:30 and embarkation at 12 noon for a 3 p.m. departure. We arrived at the pier at noon and finally snaked our way to boarding at 1:30. We did sail pretty close to on time. Our balcony room was ready, bathroom clean, tabletops not so much. Breakfast on the open rear deck is our favorite meal, except for the fact that crew can't seem to keep up with the demand for coffee; more coffee stations are needed. Lunch and dinner in the buffet are noisy chaos, so we try to do a late lunch and use the main dining rooms for dinner. Once my husband learned two trips ago that he could ask for double portions, the quantity of food in the main dining rooms is fine but we wish that the two different rooms offered two different menus for more variety. We ate in La Cucina one night, just for a change ( which I guess is exactly the objective). Stirrup Cay is a nice beach day but the traffic flow at buffet there needs to be reorganized. Two lines are formed to the two identical serving areas. However, within those areas, food choices also repeat. As we approached, we were handed plates by staff and told to enter the line half way down, since the food choices would repeat. However, when we tried to do that, other passengers already there reacted as if we were cutting the line. If there are actually four sets of choices, there need to be four lines. We found the evening theater entertainment to be the least varied of all our NCL cruises- we had a magician (OK), a comedian (hilarious!), and the rest of the week relied upon the ship's own singers/dancers for a collection of themed musical performances. They were very good, however, and we especially liked the choreography and execution of the dance numbers. The excursions on this itinerary were, for us, not particularly attractive but the beautiful weather we had left us happy to spend most of the week up on the sundeck- always plenty of lounge chairs. From what we observed, the pools are on the small side for a ship this size. Our interactions with staff were pleasant although communication of information was not as complete as past trips. We found ourselves stumbling upon or missing out on things it would have been helpful to have been told and despite the constant crawl across one of the in-room TV channels, the weather information and forecast was N/A for the entire week- information that was constantly available on our other NCL trips and should have been here since its spot was there crawling across the screen. On average, this trip was comparable to our other NCL trips. Would we go again? Probably- but we may try another line first for comparison.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
carry a sweater in the evening- parts of the ship (theater and stores) were FREEZING!