Norwegian Gem of a Cruise for a 3 War WWI Korea & Vietnam Vet
Norwegian Gem Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern
Sail Date: February 27, 2015
Ship: Norwegian Gem
Cabin Type: Inside
Traveled As: Family (older children)
Reviewed: 3 years ago
We drove 9 hours to Jersey City to the Sip Avenue Parking garage. I have been parking there for over 25 years and it is the safest and cheapest garage in town. A normal 4 1/2 hour drive took double that because of a thermostat that blew along the way. This caused us to stop every half hour and let the car cool down. What else could we do? It was snowing and there was no heat, so my Father gets a lot of credit for being a tough guy.
The day of the embarkation we arrived at the Jersey City garage at 9 am instead of 4:30 am, we rested until noon. The Ships terminal did not open until then so there was no reason to get there early and freeze outside. A taxi there 5 years ago cost $30-40 now it is $60 PLUS the $14 Holland Tunnel toll! How can people survive there?
The embarkation process was smooth except for the rude passengers that got annoyed about my Father being bumped ahead of them. There were over 65% French Canadians on the ship, not all of them rude, but a group was not happy with us.' What is so hard to understand that a 96 year old in a wheelchair is giving priority. We literally had to ask over 15 people all in one, one at a time, who were in line to move over and got some very nasty looks. Well after we reached the front of the line, everything went smooth, sort of.
It was Spring Break from Canada and that is fine with me, but please people respect others. Later on on the ship and during excursions, when announcements were made in English, no courtesy was made by being silent. In other words, they kept talking. Not all French were like that but I would like to hear what the announcements are about.
It also seemed whenever we had to maneuver the wheelchair people were oblivious to the fact that there needed to be a pathway for others to walk through. We have never had that sort of problem before on any cruise. We did meet some very pleasant Canadians and I learned some history and a few men bought my Father drinks.
When we got to the room, I remembered why it was better to drive to New Jersey rather than fly. We can each take 2 bags on a domestic flight before they charge $100 and up for more. We took 12 bags with us, 10 of them filled with beads. We left with exactly 2.' We gave the room attendant 2 bags of clothes and some fine Sport jackets. They work hard and are not thanked enough. They appreciate the clothes as at the ports the clothes cost a lot and they are away from home 6-9 monhts of the year.
The muster drill was wisely done inside.
After it was over we were able to sail by the Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island. We saw large frozen chunks of ice on the Hudson river. A nice man from Vermont snapped a photo of me and my Father by the Statue Of Liberty and it is a nice souvenir.
Our room was easy to find as I plastered my Fathers cards and broken beads all over our door.
We got many comments from this and even scored some new friends on Facebook as well as in person.
We like the freestyle dining as we do not have to sit at the same table each night.
We meet more people that way and enjoy sharing our table.
Nice way for folks to meet and share stories.
We enjoyed the Grand Pacific dining room for many nights.
The first night the manager told us that when we came, regardless of the line he would help.
We went each night up to the front of the line, I pointed to my Father in his wheelchair and they got to us first.
We strolled through the Art Gallery and while we missed the auction due to my Father being too ill, the staff there was courteous and professional.
They were not pushy in any way to buy art.
The first night I ordered room service and like the Norwegian Sun, they need a lot of improvement.
The coffee is not as fresh as the buffet.
Each night the chicken soup had absolutely no flavor and the carrots were rock hard.
The cookies each night were hard.
About the only thing good was the fruit plates.
Norwegian Gem Day 2 At Sea 2-28-15
The buffet is not a place to mingle in the aisles or walk from side to side without looking out for others. Another French Canadian lady turned around a little too sudden and without looking tripped over my Fathers wheelchair.
She spilled her food everywhere including on him.
I do not understand why it is so difficult to stop and look before you walk.
Later that same day I was getting coffee and another smart lady stopped dead in her tracks and turned around without looking and slammed right into my coffee.
I am sure it did not feel good, if she was careful, this would not have happened.
Each day I would go to the dining room and I cannot understand the rush people have for food.
The food is there 24 hours a day, why rush and injure others?
I met 4 nice people from New Jersey and one couple is moving to West Virginia to become Missionaries!
One of the gentleman had some incredible tattoos showing his love of the Lord.
One complaint against the Gem, the sauna is not free.
I was offered a package of nearly $200 for the use of the sauna, I opted out of that.
Too much money for something I sparsely use.
In the casino I was amazed that they would not only let me give the dealers beads, but I was able to take their photo.
I like this as although I do not gamble it shows that you can appreciate a persons hard work giving them a gift.
On deck eight, there was a lot of Celtic art and I loved that.
Each night the wait staff got a new set of nice beads.
It is easy to see where the beadman has been, just look around at the servers who wear their beads.
The staff that took care of the "Wee Ones" was fantastic.
We saw kiddie parades throughout the cruise having pirate parades.
After dinner and the show, each night after I tucked Pops into bed, I journeyed to the buffet.
I gave out as many beads as I could.
No one got tired of me giving them beads.
One lady said that they kept her up at night because they rattled.
She hung them on her wall and they scraped the walls with every twist and turn the ship made.
Each night Kalut Resitka (Indonesia) my Stateroom Steward not only made an animals out of towels, but he adorned them with beads.
I loved that because he was a character and I admired his creativity.
On the last day of the cruise I gave him 7 empty suitcases and two full of clothes.
I also gave him 3 fine sport jackets as a tip.
When these hard workers come aboard, it is for 6-9 months.
The only clothes they have are what they bring or what they buy at ports.
The port are notorious for gouging and it is my way of saying thanks.
Try that next time, give them some clothes.
Norwegian Gem Day 3 At Sea 3-1-15
A Veterans Get together was done at 10:30 and all who attended got a free copy of my Fathers book as well as Patriotic beads.
Also unlike the Norwegian Sun, they had coffee and pastries for the Vets as well as a rep who moderated for a short time.
I forgot her name but she was incredibly Nice!
After the get together we had an invitation to The Spinnaker lounge and met the captain and his staff.
Free champagne and drinks as well as snacks were a nice touch.
After Captain Lars from Sweden shook my Fathers hand, he asked me to bring him to the Bridge near the end of the cruise.
I did that and it was an awesome honor.
More on that later.
After the Champagne reception, we met a nice couple in the dining room.
She lost her entire family except her Father in the holocaust and he was an Iranian Jew who can never return to Iran.
An interesting talk we had.
At dinner that night upon giving out more beads, I realized something.
The entire wait staff were very nice and appreciated my gesture.
They were not snotty waiters none of them nor their bosses.
The Showtime that night was Scotty Cavanaugh, juggler was amazing we saw him on the Norwegian Sun a month earlier and his show does not disappoint.
Norwegian Gem Day 4 At Sea 3-2-15
The weather was warmer so we went poolside and gave out beads to everyone that wanted them.
We do not usually go around and annoy people but if people spot us with beads we hold them up and give them some.
It is easier for my father to give them to children because of his age.
Some folks did not want me giving them to their children, but did not mind my Father doing so.
What a society we have now.
A stranger bought us a bucket of Heinekens!
Another man bought us a Heineken and a soft drink.
We do not give beads out for that reason, but it was nice gestures on their behalf.
There was a band outside near the pool playing some great Dixieland jazz.
I think 5 of the 6 were from Poland and they played great.
Later on in the cruise they played Glenn Miller for an hour and that was a fantastic show!
My Father could have won the sexy leg contest, but we opted out of that because we did not want to hurt anyones little feelings.
Whomever trained the ships staff, the Gem, did a fine job as nearly everyone was friendly.
They often cleared the way from the hungry ravenous throngs helping my Father find his way to his dining room seat.
They would assist in seating him and get us coffee and at times dessert and ice cream.
One complaint about the shows, people would always arrive late.
They should shut the doors or at least tell the people there to be quiet.
Upon arriving late, they spoke very loud and would walk in front of others up to 15 minutes and later after the show started.
Talking is annoying and so is taking photos and videos.
Since when did it become fashionable to video with a large ipad?
Is that cool that annoying light that interrupts my viewing area watching the show?
The first 5 nights no one did anything.
That is until Alison Derek from Australia Cruise Staff who helped tell the annoying people snapping videos to stop.
Norwegian Gem Day 5 San Juan Puerto Rico 3-3-15
Showtime: The Second City comedy show was funny but my father without his hearing aid did not really enjoy it.
Then again, he NEVER wears his hearing aid anyway.
Another French kid got injured today by the wheelchair.
I ask everyone... why do people have to congregate in front of the elevators when people need to get on and off.
A group of 10-20 French Canadian teenagers seemed to congregate in places that should have been cleared for others.
They simply did not seem to care.
This one teenager was showing off to his friends and kept walking backwards, twisted his foot under the wheelchair and I know he hurt himself.
But his friends asked him to stop and be careful but he did not.
The weight of a man and the wheelchair are no match for toe less sandals.
The young lad cringed in pain after his big toe got ran over.
Of course this and the eventual falling off of his now bloody toe could have been prevented by some common sense.
After dinner and the usual dining room bead giveaway we enjoyed an hour of Glenn Miller music in the Spinnaker lounge.
Norwegian Gem Day 6 St. Thomas British Virgin Islands 3-4-15
Showtime: Variety Act was really nice.
Lots of singing and dancing.
Coming back from dinner, turning a corner, another French Canadian lady with a glass of white wine did not look ahead and fell into my Father's lap.
He was hurt a little but not enough to make an issue of.
I could not back up as there were elderly people behind me and I could not avoid her because their people were beside me, and people did yell in English and
French for her to stop, but she just did not listen.
What annoys me the most was her total lack of manners as she did see the need to apologize to us.
Upon entering our room however, my bad day became better as the Restaurant Manager, Loredana Moldovan had dropped off some nice chocolates.
I gave beads out to the Italian restaurant to end my evening.
Norwegian Gem Day 7 St. Maarten 3-5-15
Showtime: World Beat was a very good show with a lot of dancing and international music.
Norwegian Gem Day 8 Tortola 3-6-15
I took a 2 hour and 45 minute tour for $20 outside the ship with Michael.
Just call it a 3 hour tour for crying out loud!
The best part of this trip was an all too short 45 minute beach break at Cane Garden Bay.
The Beach Bar at Cane Garden Bay is run by a lady named Angie.
I had 2 "Painkillers" for $10 and it was worth it.
It is a very strong drink and Angie is a very nice and personable lady who works hard to make everyone happy.
I want to clarify something to all out there especially my Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
That is I have a pinched nerve in my back, suffer from sciatica and "Yobamacare" does NOT cover an operation for me.
In addition to that, I suffer from 2 feet operations.
So sometimes when walking a long time or just in general it is difficult to sleep or relax, so a coule of drinks help me.
You wil not find me drunk and I cannot afford narcotics for my back damage.
It is something I suffer with.
So if you want to judge me and lecture me, feel free.
Showtime: Duo Balskatt
I have been on a lot of cruises now and by far, this was the most entertaining and beautiful show I have ever seen.
This married duo do amazing things.
A unique husband and wife duo. Witness breathtaking hand to hand balancing.
From England and France, Rebecca and Philippe combine strength lifts with the beauty of classical ballet.
In addition to their beautiful adagio act they can also perform an exquisite flying or static silk act.
This gifted duo can also perform some dazzling acts on their own such as a sensational lyra act for Rebecca or a head spinning cyr wheel act for Philippe.
Norwegian Gem Day 9 At Sea 3-7-15
We had a private tour in the Captain's Bridge at 10 am.
At the Champagne reception on the Third Day, Captain Lars Bengtsson from Sweden invited my Father and me to his bridge.
We were joined by one other VIP and given a nice tour of how the ship operates.
My Father had the controls of the ship for a few minutes and that was enough.
Any longer, he might have hit an iceberg, even in the Caribbean Sea, he would have found one.
At the pool deck that day, we gave out hundreds of beads.
There was no place to sit at so we enjoyed the warm Caribbean Sun near a jacuzzi owned by kids.
There must have been a dozen kids in one jacuzzi.
Each one of them took home several strands of beads.
As I sat behind my Father eating a cheeseburger, the Restaurant Manager, Loredana Moldovan came over and asked me if I anted to sit somewhere.
There were no seats but she was getting ready to help us get one and I said it was ok, we were fine.
My Father wears long sleeve shirts even in the summer due to his frostbite.
I assured her that he was warm and fine and I was ok squatting behind his chair.
She must have felt bad because she comped us a dinner that night at Moderno Churrascaria Restaurant
Christopher Davis (St. Vincent & The Grenardines) Assistant Waiter was fantastic as were all the staff that served us every 5 minutes it seemed.
Showtime: Get Down Tonight was a 70's themed show and a great tie was had by all.
Thanks to Loredana Moldovan Restaurant Manager for the comp meal at Moderno Churrascaria
They came over and fed us from skewers every 5 minutes.
They even comped me with a bottle of wine.
I normally do not opt for the "Specialty" dining packages, but I can see it is worth it.
Norwegian Gem Day 10 Final Day At Sea 3-8-15
At 10:30 am, there was a second Veterans get Together.
A gentleman from Canada who is active in the Infantry gave my Father a pin from his unit.
His unit being "22 Regiment Canadian Francais".
A very nice gift indeed.
He is a sniper and his family were very kind to him.
He apologized at the Veteran's Get together for not doing what my Father and others had done.
He did not have to do that as he serves with pride and honor.
At the get together, all Vets got an autographed copy of my Fathers book and special Patriotic beads.
That afternoon not wanting to fight the madness of the buffet, we at at O'Sheehan's.
I like this place as it is quieter than the buffet room and the food good.
The place is loaded with neat Irish and Sports memorabilia.
We were joined by another couple and ended up staying there nearly 2 hours.
Again, people are so nice to my father.
I enjoyed watching several soccer matches there.
After that not wanting to go back to the room and watch the "Bridge Cam", MSNBC, The Fox Channel or 2 sports channels, we stayed at the buffet area.
We gave out the last of the Red White and Blue beads to everyone's delight.
A couple of ladies from Montreal gave my Father a Canada pin for his collection.
When I snapped their photo, my Father got a kiss from one of them!
Later that afternoon we went to the Spinnaker lounge and did not win the Grand Prize cruise for 2.
Instead I got to see Barcelona FC and Lionel Messi destroy Rayo 6-1.
Too bad he did not win the cup for Argentina last year.
My Father met a couple from Massachusetts and he spoke to them for over an hour.
Again an honor for strangers to honor him.
Showtime: Farewell Variety Show
Thanks to Mohmad Hasan Food & Beverage Director for the Comp dinner at Le Bistro.
I have been to a lot of restaurants before, but this one was very elegant.
They sat us at a table in the middle but my Father asked them for the ocean view table and Eden Tolentinno our server obliged!
The Filipino staff on the ship were awesome!
It was a very beautiful setting seeing the sea waves turn to foam.
My Father mentioned he saw little birds skipping on the water.
I told him I saw Jimmy Hoffa!
He had lobster and chocolate ice cream.
I had the 32 ounce steak for two which I ate all of it.
The peppercorn sauce was superb, the best I have ever had.
Eden even carved it up for me.
Shame on me!
I did not feel bad as I skipped the dessert.
And they comped us with a bottle of fine white wine.
I normally eat at one of the restaurants but never one of the "specialty" restaurants, but I have changed my mind now.
The restaurants that cost money are really worth every penny.
Not being a hypocrite but in the future I will go to these more often.
Billy Pando played all week long on his piano and it was really cool he being from El Paso Texas.
We got a Red tag for our 2 bags and was told we could leave at 10, it was later than that however and a lot of people were not happy.
It went smoothly as far as I was concerned.
Once again the French Canadians irked us with their lack of manners.
In the lobby a lady had 5 different bags on the plush seats making it impossible for anyone to sit down.
Chairs are for people not bags, especially when crowded.
A VERY SPECIAL THANKS to all the people who came up and recognized my 96 year old Father.
He is a WWII Korea & Vietnam Veteran and it is very heartwarming for total strangers to tell my Father "Thank You" as well as speak to him with kindness.
The Norwegian Gem staff were by far the kindest to us.
Thanks to whomever trained this fine staff, not one person was rude and all were very friendly.
Ayu Anggi Dewi (Indonesia) the BEST Server in The Pacific Garden Dining Room
Bayesh Baikar (India), Coletta Seraphin and Sharlene Lopez (Nicaragua).
Loredana Moldovan Restaurant Manager for the chocolate covered strawberries and other assorted chocolates nd the comp dinner at
Vicenta Lumonted & Dwen Alfamivano (Nicaragua).
My favorite twins Sherlyn Emmanuel and Sheryl Emmanuel (St. Lucia).
Alison Derek (Australia) Cruise Staff who helped tell the annoying people snapping videos.
Bodan Kjurchinski (Macedonia) at the Magenta Dining room Server
Jerry Fernandes (India) works at Garden Cafe.
Kalut Resitka (Indonesia) our Stateroom Steward
Mohmad Hasan Food & Beverage Director
Jeff Harms comedian
David Butler Beverage Manager
Sallan Castello (St. Lucia) is a very nice waitress who always brought us our "Diet water".
Jalyme Castro, Jacinth Tan, Ritchie Rondario, Michael Lna all from the Philippines.
Over 50% of the staff is from there or Indonesia. they were ALL friendly!
All the "washy washy" girls from the Philippines.
They are there to make sure your hands are sanitized.
Nehemiah Hooks is an amazing dancer.
Eden Tolentinno our server at El Bistro
Riyaz Barmare Assistant Manager El Bistro
The art department staff of Ashley Waterhouse (UK), Rick Rubin (USA and NOT "THAT" Rick Rubin), Andre (Romania) and Ian Blunt (South Africa & UK)
Christopher Davis (St. Vincent & The Grenardines) Assistant Waiter at Moderno Restaurant