Overall, a solid relaxing experience

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern

Cruises: 1 cruise (first)
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 16

Overall rating:

3.8 out of 5
Norwegian Gem

12 Night Southern Caribbean (New York Roundtrip)

Sail date: November 26, 2018

Ship: Norwegian Gem

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 10512

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

We had a good relaxing time. The pool could have been a bit warmer, and cleaner. The poolside waitstaff was lacking (2 or 3 max) so you often had to get your own drinks. The waterslide wasn't fast... to the point that we got stuck half way down and had to push ourselves for 20-odd feet. The casino needs doors. The whole ship and stairwells smell like cigarettes because it pours out of the casino wide open into the rest of the ship. Avoid floor 6 forward if you're a non-smoker. A non-smoking vessel would be something we would be interested in. Lorena, the cruise director, was very good and fun. Captain sailed a good ship. we relaxed and were not left wanting for anything other than more time aboard. As my first cruise, we booked our cruisenext on board and will be back. If I were to do it again and had a choice, I would avoid PR, USVI, and Antigua. An overnight in st Kitts or Barbados would have been nice. It really was annoying to have to be back on the ship by 4 or 5 every day as we felt like we were rushed and didn't get to see everything we wanted to. It was either beach OR shop/walk around down town, we couldn't do both. We were a bit disappointed in the crowd - mostly disabled/obese people and seniors who all but live on ships (1000+ cruises some of the people we met!). Being a newlywed couple, we were hoping to have some more people our age on board but I guess the time of year dictates that. Not the ship's fault at all.

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Easy cab drop off, luggage porters available right there, walk in to customs. Short enough lines as we got there early and we were on the boat looking for lunch in under an hour from drop off time.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
Buffet was hit or miss. Theme nights missed authenticity. Inlcuded restaurants like the Grand Pacific were great and we ate there most of the time. Menu did get a bit boring near the end as it doesn't change much. Specialty restaurants are superb. the steak house was on par with a 5-star in the city. With the drink package, we still had misc charges that don't make perfect sense. Sometimes $1 or 2, other times as much as $21. I don't think we had 10 drinks at 1 place. My understanding is that it's local tax when you are docked. So, drink free is truly only at sea.

Grand Pacific Main Dining Room

5 out of 5

Best 'included' food on the ship. We ate here most meals instead of the buffet.

Cagney's Steakhouse

5 out of 5

Top notch filet. on-par with Flemmings, Capital Grille, or Ruth Chris

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
Spa was great, we enjoyed a couples massage. A bit pricey, but we expected to spend some money here. Auto 20% gratuity is nice, but adds up. Gym is a bit small in the weights area. Too many treadmills, but i guess that's what people want. I didn't like that everything was a sales pitch. Measure your feet so you buy insoles, etc...

Spa

4 out of 5

had a couple's massage, hot stone. it was nice. a bit pricey, but nice.

Casino

1 out of 5

horrible smoke filled gross place. Wish it wasn't on the ship at all, or made non-smoking. Wish it also had doors to keep that stench in. It really ruined 30% of the ship.

Bridge Viewing Room

4 out of 5

Cool place, liked the gadgets. The shades weren't open the 2 times we went in to it though.

Entertainment

5 out of 5
superb shows. The band is great. The plays/shows and dancers/singers are fantastic. We went to the shows every night. The comedian was pretty good and had the whole crowd laughing and making trends for the whole cruise. "TEAM!" The magician was fun. The acrobatics duo was stellar, and sometimes scary what they were doing. I enjoyed the jazz band night - suggestion to improve is to have it in a restaurant instead of the lounge to have a nice 40's style dinner. Super talented musicians - and I'm a musician.

Spinnaker Lounge

3 out of 5

could be the star of the ship but it needs to be cleaned. all the old cloth furniture stinks of B.O.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
The wait staff was very good. I don't know how they put up with most of the passengers... I'm super disappointed in the other passengers... so rude, mean and entitled. These guys and gals busted their butts for us and always had a smile on their face. We had good service at the worst, great service most times.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Mostly clean, but the ship is showing some age. Rust is showing outside the balconies. Lack of care when painting outside (drip marks). Missing a lot of cushions outside. Many chairs are showing age. The Spinnaker was the biggest let down. Nice place, but ALL the fabric chairs just smelled like B.O. The place needs a full shampoo or a furniture and carpet replacement.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
Bed was good. I was worried about the zipped together twin mattresses to make a king but it wasn't very noticeable. Bed was 'marriot' quality and we slept well. The door to outside would leak a bit and wind squeal was annoying on a few nights. Suggest the seals be replaced soon. Room steward Errol was superb and our room was always fixed up. We napped a lot mid-day and the room would be fixed up multiple times a day without us even asking to have it made up or turned down. Always had new towels twice or 3 times a day. Shower was good, good pressure and combo shampoo/conditioner and body wash were fine for me. Toilet was tiny and crooked. I'm 6' and it was a pain to sit on the throne in a comfortable way. The tv was very lacking... 1 tv channel and 1 movie channel that just rotate stuff. No options but to watch what's on or buy a $10 movie. or 5 news channels all playing the same headlines. The biggest gripe is that they played kids stuff/cartoons late at night. What adult wants to watch that? I guess the point is to not be in the room and do other things any way. It was also super tiny. like 17".

Ship tip

Bring cash, smaller bills. wait till about half way in for laundry discounts ($20/bag). bring advil/bendryl/dramamine as it is not available to buy all the time - it's locked up in the tradewinds store at times. The speciality restaurants are not expensvie. 15-30 a meal. It might be a better bargain to use the freebie for excursions and pay cash for a few better meals if you so desire. If you drink at all, get the drink package as an offer. it's worth it just to not deal with receipts and signing for everything.

Ports of call

New York, New York

2 out of 5
Compared to all the rest, it's ugly and uninviting.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

3 out of 5
nice historic city, but there's really nothing to do here in walking distance or the time allotted off-ship.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

4 out of 5
French side is still destroyed from the hurricane. Stay dutch. nice people. we didn't get to the beach here as we didn't have a lot of time. Cab ride to Marigot took about 40 min with all the traffic and when we got there, we were in a disaster zone and a few shops on the sidewalk selling hats and shirts.

Bridgetown, Barbados

5 out of 5
of all the stops, this was our favorite. Best people and the best beach we visited all trip - Boatyard Beach. It's $25 to get in, but it includes a lot of things like a chair, umbrella, perfect pink sand beach, sea turtle expedition, a beer, bathrooms/showers and a cab ride back.

Castries, St. Lucia

2 out of 5
Scammy, scummy people at the boat taxi. Avoid. We got taken for a .8 mile $20 cab ride at the advice of the boat taxi guy who sent us to some taxi guy to bring us to the best beach on the island about 20 min away. 1.5 min later, we were there, and then hassled the whole time on the beach with 'salesmen' trying to sell their chairs, umbrellas, and aloe. The beach was not that great but not horrible either. Downtown was closed (sunday) so there was not much to do there for us so we didn't go. The brewery in port was good. $6 ipa's that were pretty delicious and free wifi.

St. John's, Antigua

3 out of 5
not much to do here either.... the same 10 gem, diamond, watch, liquor dufry stores as everywhere else. Do people really buy this stuff? It's all super over-priced.

Basseterre, St. Kitts

5 out of 5
Shop here. Best prices on shirts and liquor. Eat lunch at Mrs Moore's right inside the port. great johnnycake chicken and salt fish sandwiches. We had 6 beers and 2 sandwiches for $18 USD. don't buy the provided shuttle service. the cabs are 1/3 the price of the ship. Everyone was pretty upset about this. If the ship can't park close, they should provide the bus to the port. We didn't make it to the beach, but wanted to. We wish we had more time here. There are black-sand beaches which i've never seen. Would have been cool to see that. I hear they aren't nice though (lava rock). There are nicer white sand beaches as well on the other side.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

1 out of 5
basically like america. There was a crazy black guy screaming and walking around telling all the white people to leave his island... threatening people and getting in everyone's faces. We didn't stick around long and didn't spend any money there. It was raining anyway. Disappointed.

Disembarkation

4 out of 5
we used the bag service, tagged for the last release so we had some time to have breakfast and shower. It was about an hour ahead of schedule due to early arrival. We got called, went to deck 7, scanned out, found our bags pretty easily and then went through customs in about 30 min. Getting a cab afterwards was a bit challenging as EVERYONE is trying to get one. We walked a block and paged for an uber instead to avoid the chaos.
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