NCL....going downhill

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Cruises: 4-6 cruises
Reviews: 3
Helpful Votes: 70

Overall rating:

2.6 out of 5
Norwegian Gem

11 Night Eastern Caribbean (New York Roundtrip)

Sail date: December 12, 2017

Ship: Norwegian Gem

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 11566

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 4 years ago

Review summary

We have taken 5 cruises on NCL since 2011, and each once has gotten worse. NCL is going downhill fast. More money, less services or activities; Excursions purchased from the cruise line are crazy expensive; they keep pushing the duty free shopping on board, but they have reduced the merchandise and raised the prices. Not that I buy a lot, but the liquor area has been reduced to 3/4 of a wall, when at one time it use to take up practically the whole shop. The jewelry store is made up of mostly watches and very little gem/diamond jewelry and the store selling clothing and other souvenirs has nothing. We will think long and hard regarding our next cruise with NCL.


4 out of 5
Embarking was a breeze. Once we completed registration and received our room keys, we were able to board the ship.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The buffet was good. A good variety of offerings, but pretty much the same everyday. Breakfast was decent, however they do need a few more toasters to make the lines move faster. The omelet station was very popular. The cloth napkins need to be replaced, many were frayed and edges were stringy. The main dining rooms Magento and The Grand Pacific offered the same menu daily, so basically there was only one restaurant. Both menus offered a fixed menu along with daily specials. We ate at the Magento several times and always had a good meal. As for the speciality restaurants, they were ok, but all but two have gone to ala carte. Cagney's Steakhouse never disappoints, and the double cut lamb chops were to die for! La Cucina was disappointing, as I remember several years ago the menu offered a much bigger selection of pasta and sauces. Teppanyaki was a dinner and a show, and was extremely loud with 4 cooking stations cooking at once.

Waves Bar

5 out of 5

Always a great time at this bar! The bartenders are top notch and are always smiling and having a great time with the passengers!

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5


3 out of 5
Stage shows: Stompin' Boots was good, with a good selection of music; Destiny Duo was amazing with their acrobatics; The comedian Tim Kaminski was ok, if it wasn't for the audience members on stage, he wouldn't have a show; The magician JP, was funnier then the comedian, but his whole show was based on a deck of cards; El Gaucho was entertaining.The music on the pool deck was ok, gone is the Caribbean and steel drum music from long ago. The music in the different bar areas of the ship was mediocre at best.

Service and Staff

2 out of 5
As always, our room steward was terrific. The hostesses and waiters in all the eating venues were friendly and accommodating.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
The common areas of the ship were clean, however the bathrooms were something to be desired. There were doors that had latch locks because the basic door lock didn't work, the floors in some were littered with toilet paper and paper towel pieces, some had very little or no hand soap.

Cabin / Stateroom

3 out of 5
We had a mini-suite with balcony, which was spacious and clean. The bed, was another story. The most uncomfortable bed I have ever slept on. I think its time that NCL replaces the mattresses, I would have slept better on the floor. The bath towels were descently soft, even though many were frayed and should be replaced. Several years ago you would never see a towel with frayed and worn edges.

Ship tip

Be prepared to wait and wait for elevators; don't expect to disembark in an orderly fashion; get your elbows ready if eating in the buffet, people like cut in line and push.

Ports of call

St. John's, Antigua

4 out of 5
Stayed in port, visited the shops and realized after the fact that this port had some of the best jewelry prices compared to the other ports.

Fort-De-France, Martinique

1 out of 5
We arrived in this port on a Sunday, when ALL the stores are closed. If it wasn't for the local vendors who were set up in tents on the pier this port would have been a more waste of time then it was. The locals were rude. French is the main language and if you don't speak it, they don't want anything to do with you. We asked a question and was ignored at first (we don't speak French), then was told that "they" go to school to learn English, meaning we should learn French.

Castries, St. Lucia

2 out of 5
St. Lucia was beautiful! No excursions, but we stayed in port, shopped and enjoyed the beautiful weather!

Basseterre, St. Kitts

1 out of 5
The ship docked at the commercial pier and passengers had to bus over to the shopping areas at a ridiculous price of $15.00 per adult. This is something that should have been included. Same tourist trap as the other ports. Not surprisingly, very expensive. A 12oz coke was $3.75 and a 2 scoop ice cream cone was $8.50.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

1 out of 5
Only in port for a few hours, not much to do.


1 out of 5
What a nightmare! You would think that after all the disembarking that NCL has done, they would have it down to a science by now. Those that carry their own luggage off ship are allowed to disembark first, however those that chose not to apparently never got the message. Per directions those who self-disembark would be able walk off the ship between 9 and 10am, with the others disembarking when their ticket color was called. Yeah right! We carry our own luggage off and once we got an elevator (waited nearly 20 minutes due to them being packed with people who weren't carrying their own luggage off), we encountered the nightmare. We were instructed that the disembarking would be through the Bliss Lounge at the back of the ship, and that we had to go to the back of the line which by now was at the front of the ship in the shops area heading towards the Stardust Theater. Ship crew would walk by and questions were asked about the disembarking and their only answer was a shrug. We stood in that line for an hour before we started moving. We moved to just before the Orchid Restaurant and waited another 30 minutes, before someone came from behind and told us we could disembark through the front by the Stardust Theater, where we just moved from. So after waiting 20 minutes for an elevator, over an hour in a line that was getting longer and more congested, there was light at the end of the tunnel. We disembarked within 20 minutes! As we were walking the gangway, we saw all those poor, unfortunate souls who were stuck in limbo, having to disembark through the Bliss Lounge. That line was still winding from mid-ship, through the lounge and then back outside the ship. With more and more passengers choosing the self disembarking process, disembarking is only going to get worse. Since they had 2 ways to disembark, you would think that those passengers who were in the back of the ship would disembark through Bliss Lounge, those in the front would disembark through the Stardust Theater, and those mid-ship would be alternately directed towards the Bliss and Stardust. This would not have prevented those not self disembarking from clogging up the areas, but would have made the whole process a little easier.
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