An honest review of the January 22 sailing
Norwegian Gem Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern
Sail Date: January 22, 2016
Ship: Norwegian Gem
Cabin Type: Inside
Cabin Number: 9577
Traveled As: Family (young children)
Reviewed: 2 years ago
12 of us including my grandchildren went on this cruise and had a great time. In this review I plan to give you both the positives and the negatives and hopefully will be a benefit to someone else.
EMBARKATION: Arrived at Manhattan cruise terminal and the only difficulty was the time it took to get through security. But being in New York City that is understandable. I do have a recommendation for parking. Parking at the Manhattan cruise terminal is expensive and costs $400 for ten days. I would suggest parking at PARK RIGHT which is a well secured covered lot just four blocks away on 43rd street and is a ten minute walk. They will also valet you on the day of embarking. The normal cost for a sedan at PARK RIGHT is $280 online. But often they have specials online. For TWO cars we only paid $460 or $230 a car. The lot is close, secure and convenient to the port.
The trip out of NYC is something special. There is something cool about sailing out of Manhattan and going by Miss Liberty.
THREE SEA DAYS: The three days at sea was quite long but a big reason for this was that we sailed during one of the biggest nor'easter storms in recent years. Later in the night and especially the next day we hit heavy snow, heavy rain, and 62 mph winds and very rough seas. Many were seasick on the trip. My advice: if you sail in winter, be prepared. Also be sure to take your seasickness pills.
PORTS OF CALL:
SAN JUAN: Beautiful historic port and the two forts and the old city are fascinating. You can also get on a free shuttle trolley that will stop at most of these places. If you are looking for a beach, there aren't many of them near or in the city. However there is one small 'secret' beach just below the Puerto Rico Capitol building. It isn't very big but is a nice respite if you are looking for a beach that is close by. One of the cool things about San Juan is entering and leaving the harbor. It is a beautiful port.
ST. THOMAS: St Thomas is nice but very crowded. We took a nice shore excursion over to St John which is much less crowded. The beauty of the national park in St John and Trunk Bay is breath taking.
ST MAARTAN/ ST MARTIN: We spent the morning at Orient beach on the French side and went in the afternoon to Maho beach on the Dutch side-a beach that sits on the end of an airport runway. Orient Beach is on the French side that has a family section and a Topless section. However, even on the family side of the beach, there were a few who did not pay attention to the two distinct sections of the beach and did not hesitate to go topless even in the family session. Maho beach is fascinating with the airplanes practically at your head while landing. However I would not spend a day there. The beach is small, crowded and traffic is contested. The beach is great for the novelty of airplanes, but is no place for the serious beach goer.
TORTOLA,BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: Of all the islands, I loved this one the most. We were the only ship in port and the island wasn't crowded. The one bummer is that we only have until 12:30 to get back to ship. Tortola is still a work in progress and the port is under construction. However if you go to the tourism info center, they will set you up with some nice tours. I would highly recommend the island tour for $25 which includes a one hour beach stop at a most beautiful beach. My grandkids went to swimming with the Dolphins and had a great time.
DISEMBARKING: We carried our own luggage and we were ready to leave by 8:30.
THE POSITIVES: Entertainment was excellent with talented musicians, acrobats, comedians, and singers. Comedian Tim was very funny and did some funny audience participation stuff. We also liked eating at O' Sheehans. The chicken wings were decent and on the last night had prime rib. The best thing about O' Sheehan's was their brownie cheese cake. Some of the meals in the main dining rooms such as the turkey sausage lasagna was good too.it was also good to see the water slide get fixed. I also liked the outdoor barbecues at the pool deck. Overall the ship was well kept and a nice vessel. We also had a very good room steward, Jeffrey who served on the ninth deck. We were in cabin 9577.
THE NEGATIVES: We had major issues with children who were unsupervised especially in the pool and jacuzzi area. Young children would be cannon balling into the jacuzzi and it seemed like the Norwegian staff did nothing to stop it. Unless Norwegian starts enforcing the rules, they are one drowning away from a law suit. However I do not want to pin this all on Norwegian. My question is where are the parents who seemed to disappear at times. We even had a six year old kid follow us around with no parent in sight. There was also an incident in which teenagers came into the restaurant without shoes and was asked to put shoes on. They rudely pushed the staff person away and kept going.
Food wise things were ok. There were some good selections and some so so. One problem was the soft ice cream machine in the buffet never seemed to work very well and came out like soup. In the dining halls, there were some good selection but some so so. The main issue in the dining halls was that service was slow and seemed disjointed at times. One night it took over two hours to get through dinner.
My one daughter was not so fortunate with her room steward. She and her kids received very few towel animals and it took time to have her room requests answered.
OVERALL ASSESSMENT: This was a very good cruise. Not the best I've been in but not the worst. It was especially fun to be with my whole family and we had a great time. I have tried to give an honest appraisal of our cruise. Hope this helps