Second Mate

Hometown: Green Brook
Joined: 04/11/2011
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About tecknicole

Looking for a personal travel agent who not only finds you the best rate but also researches your interests and likes to send you the best choices possible for a fantastic vacation? Receive color brochures, maps and favorite excursions mailed directly to you. I'm an agent who goes the extra mile! One who has traveled to many destinations.. Live a lil! http://www.facebook.com/livealil


tecknicole's Past Cruises

Norwegian Gem

January 2012 - Norwegian Gem to Cruise to Nowhere

I led this group cruise...

I led this group cruise to nowhere.. my group consisted of 14 people. I have been on three nowhere cruises in the past so I know it's a great party atmosphere. Checking in this time, though, was chaotic. There were two NCL ships at port this time allowing guests on at the same time. It was a crazy large crowd with lots of lines but being my companion and I are GOLD with NCL, we only waited in one short line. Unfortunately, the rest of my group had to wait a while to board. After getting on board, we went to the pool deck as it was a warm January day! Party was in full swing with lots of great drinks and good food. The buffet, as usual, was jam packed so be sure you find a buffet on the pool or the back of the ship as well. There is also additional seating in the Italian restaurants for breakfast and lunch. In addition to all that, they had a pool side BBQ at 3:45pm. We stopped at our cabin (interior.. who cares to sleep) I would have liked ice or a fridge but the fridge was locked so I asked for ice and they came within 10 minutes. Luggage away- time to play! The day was full of dancing by the pool, then an excellent dinner at Tequila which is a specialty restaurant that serves Mexican food. The fajitas are amazing and the best I ever had. They also make an excellent premium margarita. After dinner, we went to Karaoke (my personal favorite activity) but you can also catch a show, gamble, etc. Then we had two venues to choose from for dancing the night away.. toga party in Bliss lounge and a phenominal DJ in Spinnaker lounge where we danced until 2am! Embarkation, breakfast buffet again, completely over crowded and then people waiting in lines to exit the ship. We relaxed and waited a bit then used our VIP gold status to go to the head of the line. Cruise with NCL for a while and you can become gold too. It was an awesome evening and I can't wait to do it again! Want to join me? www.facebook.com/livealil

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Norwegian Epic

October 2010 - Norwegian Epic to Caribbean - Western

My Epic review: An Epic...

My Epic review: An Epic Time in my Life! Pictures and Videos-http://nclepiccruise.shutterfly.com/ Background: I am a 41 year old female who traveled with my boyfriend and my two younger sisters. We have cruised multiple times on different lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. Since sailing with NCL a few years back, we have been loyal fans ever since and take advantage of their special onboard deal by purchasing a $250 future cruise voucher and receiving an instant $100 on board credit. Nice deal and it was how we ended up booking the Epic! As for us, we are very social and enjoy dancing, beaches, pools, good food and drinks and even relaxing! We found that we were able to experience all of this on the Epic with joyful results! Let us begin the review with: Embarkation: Took a cab from Hilton Downtown Miami. Piece of cake getting on board. Took under a half an hour. We got there around 12:30pm. Room: My boyfriend and I chose an inside stateroom. It was perfectly spacious for the two of us. I am an over-packer and still had plenty of storage for all of my belongings with space to spare. The empty suitcases and carry-ons easily fit under the bed. We had a single queen size bed and unlike other cruises I have been on, this was not two twin beds pushed together. It was one single, comfortable bed. On either side of the bed is an end table one of which holds the lighted telephone. It has a built-in auto wakeup call which is nice and it is very easy to contact any guest services department with this phone. You can shut the light off on the phone along with the two blue lights that are connected to the reading lights on the wall by pressing a button on the phone if it annoys you when retiring for the evening. The shower and toilet are separated and there is also a privacy curtain. The sink was fine and did NOT splash like other reviews have stated. The only two small suggestions I can offer regarding the room is a better light at the vanity and a larger mirror or maybe a makeup mirror on a stand. I had a hard time seeing while applying my makeup and the mirror was underneath the TV shelf so I had to bend to the side a little in order to see into the mirror. This was only a minor inconvenience though. There is a hair dryer and it worked well although the cord is a little short. Overall, it was a comfortable room that worked well for sleeping and primping. TIP: I brought along some post-its to leave on my sisters’ door whenever my boyfriend and I went somewhere so that they could meet up with us. It worked out well that way since there is no cell phone reception at sea. Another tip- you use your room key in a slot to activate the electricity. You can use any card for this. I used my library card. Ship: In my opinion, it’s a Vegas style ship. Everything is new, bright and colorful. I adored the design of each area. The ship was also very easy to navigate. One side of the ship has blue colored carpeting and the other side was orange so you could easily figure out which side your room was on. There were signs everywhere and also a digital touch screen map located throughout the ship. Speaking of the digital signage, you no longer have to keep the daily itinerary on you. You can easily bring it up on the touch screen. There is also a clock located on the bottom left which I found very convenient. The ship has 19 floors but not all areas are accessible by everyone. Some of the space is designated for villa guests.. Posh beach club, etc. As for the casino, it stretches across the 5th floor and smoking is allowed. I was not bothered by this as I normally just passed through it but it is bothersome for some non –smokers who like to gamble. NCL has installed some additional air purifiers which has made a significant difference. Staff: Absolutely amazing. I did not encounter even one rude staff member. All were very friendly and helpful. They were always smiling, offering to take photos for you.. true service with a smile. The $12 a day that is charged for tips is indeed worth it if not more. My cabin steward was incredible. (Rolando) Some people complain that they are bothered too often for drink requests. Well, I would prefer being asked if I’d like a drink than sitting there waiting for one. If you don’t want one, just say no thanks. Not a big deal! They are there to serve you. Appreciate it! Food: Where to even begin. There is so much variety. The buffet is so plentiful. If you can’t find something you like there, then you must not like food at all. I never was able to try everything. Some people say they have the same selections every day. I noticed something new added to the mix daily. And even if there wasn’t, there is so much choice to begin with! (be sure to check out my photo album for lots of food pics!) I am a true foodie! As for the Manhattan Room, O’Sheehans and Taste, the food was good but the service slower. (mushroom quesadilla was awesome!) TIP- tell them you need to catch a show and they will get it to you a little faster. Manhattan Room and Taste offer a consistent menu on one side. On the other side, there are daily additions. O’Sheehans was fast service for us. I had the grilled chicken sandwich served with a buffalo sauce mayo and skinny fries. It was really good. My boyfriend had the fish and chips with thicker fries. Other specialty restaurants we ate in were: Teppenyaki- incredible show with amazing food. I could not believe the amount of fresh lobster tail meat and filet mignon we had. It was all so good! Le Bistro- My favorite! The cream of mushroom soup is heavenly. The filet mignon in peppercorn sauce with Portobello mushrooms and au gratin potatoes was out of the world. The meat was perfectly cooked medium as requested and the outside was crispy and flavorful. The Crème Brule for desert was truly the best I ever had. Moderno- meat, meat meat.. you start with the salad bar which was amazing! Fresh cerviche and jumbo shrimp along with seafood soups, fresh salads, etc. The meats were plentiful: sirloin, filet mignon, chicken, sausage, ribs, etc. A delicious yet extremely filling meal! Noodle Bar- The absolute best fried pot stickers and spring rolls I ever had. Cirque Dreams- Filet mignon and shrimp. So delicious! They also served a salad and dessert. My sister is a vegetarian so they gave her raviolis instead. All the restaurants were very accommodating to her needs. *We never tried Cagneys because we had filet mignon at Le Bistro which is also a lower cover charge but I do hear it is fabulous! Drinks: I brought on 5 bottles of wine and paid a $15 per bottle corkage fee (.750 size only) (take note- you can NOT bring on beer or liquor. Only wine!) You can also bring on your own bottled water. We brought a case and went through it all. I found a liquor store in Miami with a very good $4 bottle of wine so I bought a few of those. Overall, the price of the wine with the additional $15 corkage fee still made the bottles less expensive than what they were on the ship. NCL also provided me with a wine cork screw which was nice but I did lack wine glasses in the room. Luckily, I asked my cabin steward, Rolando, to bring me some and he politely obliged. You can also bring your bottle with you to restaurants, etc. They put a stamp on it so they know it’s been paid for when you entered the ship. As for on board drinks, they are WONDERFUL. And they will make them stronger if you request. I ordered a perfect margarita and perfect it was! Fresh lime juice, simple syrup, Patron Tequila and Patron orange liquor. Excellent as were all of the martinis. And guess what? Look in your Freestyle Daily for happy hour specials including buy one get one free martinis from 5pm-7pm sometimes located at Moderno bar. They had plenty of drink choices and lots of beers as well. Entertainment: The best on any ship I have ever been. Here is what we experienced: Blue Man Group- We did this the first night and there were plenty of seats left. They put on quite an interesting show. (no pics allowed during show) I can’t even explain this show as it is indescribable but I will say the second half was outstanding and lots of great kid-like fun! You could pose with them for pictures after the show. Cirque Dreams- Very colorful, active and interesting. We sat up top facing down onto the show. We were able to see everything but I have a suggestion for improvement. I would have enjoyed the show much more if the audio was better. I could not make out the dialect sitting up top. It was a bit muffled and drowned out. Had the audio been clearer and louder, I know I would have enjoyed it much more. One particular aspect that I especially enjoyed was the fact that there were a lot of men in this show. Normally you find scantily clad women so I enjoyed seeing scantily clad physically fit men for a change. (especially the man in the bath tub! I will say no more but ladies, he is a must see!) ;) Legends in Concert- Performing were ‘Rod Stuart’, ‘Britney Spears’ and ‘Michael Jackson’. All were phenomenal. It was an excellent show especially Michael Jackson’s performance in my opinion. No photos during the performance but you could pose for pictures with them afterward. There is a small hitch. Only NCL can take the photos and must be purchased from them. I think this is due to copyright issues but I am guessing. Howl at the Moon: Dueling Piano Show- These guys were great. They would take audience requests and play them but they would get crowd interaction and really make it a funny, crowd pleasing show! Very entertaining! Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club: We watched a very talented Jazz band although I do not recall the name of the group. The band was composed of 4 members who were crazy talented. The lead singer also played a mean harmonica. Certainly worth seeing! Paul Scally Live and Uncensored!: hahaha! LOVED it.. not for kids or the easily offended. This is the entertainment director, Paul Scally, doing standup comedy and wow, was he funny! Check him out! The Ice Bar: Do it, do it, do it! We went in there with a rowdy, partying attitude and had a ball! There was a group of about 20 of us in there so it made for a better time! The drinks are served in ice glasses and were really tasty! You get two for $20 and can spend up to 40 minutes in there. We did about ½ hour then we were cold. Wear socks! They give you the parka and gloves. *There were a few other shows but we did not get to see them all. Activities: Parties!: We happened to be on board Halloween week so NCL put on a great party for adults on the outside area called Spice H20. So many people came dressed up and they had a costume contest. My boyfriend and I won for best couple! It was great! ‘Michael Jackson’ from Legends in Concert showed up to end the party before we all headed down to Bliss Lounge for late night dancing. Speaking of dancing, the dj on board this week (DJ Jonesy from NYC) was fantastic!! NCL also had their signature White hot party but it was pink instead for breast cancer awareness month! Another amazing party! In addition to great dancing every night, we did karaoke every evening but the song selection is slim pickings! I am told they are updating the song book weekly which is needed since they have 2 hours of karaoke just about every night. Tastings!: Another wonderful day time activity (because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere) are the liquor tastings. They have martini, French and Italian wine and beer tastings. We did the martini tasting twice and it was nice because they made a different batch of martinis the second time around. You get 4 of them for $15 made with top shelf liquors! FUN! Pools and slides: The pools are too small. It’s been said in every review but it did not bother me in the slightest as I don’t normally go in ship pools. There seemed to be enough hot tubs around. I always saw room in them. The slides were great according to my boyfriend. The lines moved quickly as well. Lots of seating and an adult pool at Spice H20. I do not like when people save seats with their towel, though, so if I see it there longer than 20 minutes, I move it. And you seat hogs out there.. you should know that if your towel ‘disappears’ you can be charged $20 for a replacement! ;) Bowling: $5.00 a game.. we played and had a blast even though I lost. Wall climbing and other outdoor sports: My boyfriend climbed the wall and did the expert level. They have another wall that is for descending only. They have basketball courts and some spider web climbing but the weight limit is 125lbs. I could have done that but it was filled with children. ;p Shopping: lots of stores and even one on the pool deck that had the best specials. TIP: shop the last day. You can find the best deals. Spa and gym: We took a spa tour the first day. I recommend you book the first day because time slots fill up fast. The spa and gym were the best I have ever seen at sea. Take the tour but be prepared for some sales pitches although never any pressure. They really do offer some nice services and it’s just a beautiful environment. The gym has everything you need. It’s so nice to workout overlooking the sea. Games, etc.- Lots of pool games, also some games at Spice H20 and in Bliss Lounge. My boyfriend won one of the game shows. (check out the videos on my picture site) *There is so much more.. movies, pool tables, dart boards, etc. Oh and Bingo… art auctions.. Internet café..on and on the list goes! Let’s talk Ports of Call in the Western Caribbean: Costa Maya: We chose our own excursion set up months before the cruise. We planned to go to Maya Chan which is a private resort about 40 minutes from the port. There were about 20 of us from Cruise Critic who booked this. The group rate was $49pp (I think) which included drinks and lunch. Once we arrived though, my boyfriend, sisters and I plus one other cruise critic member decided the place was a bit too rustic and natural for us. It was turtle egg laying season so certain areas could not be disturbed and it made the water a little murky-like. The owner of Maya Chan was very gracious and accommodating and gave us a full refund minus some cab fare. We ended up heading back to port where there is a free, beautiful and huge swimming pool with a swim up bar, hammocks and restaurants for food and drinks. We enjoyed a beautiful day there. Roatan: It was my sister’s birthday so we wanted a nice beach with a pool, lots of drinks flowing and some good food. We found all of that and what I call a slice of paradise at Infinity Bay resort. It was a 20 minute cab ride away from the port. They will charge you $20pp round trip to get there. The cost of Infinity Bay for a day pass was $15pp which gave you use of the pool and lounge chairs on the beach. No reservation is needed. Just ask your cab driver to bring you there. It is located in the West end. We had the royal treatment at this resort. It was the most amazing infinity pool I had ever used. The beach was excellent. Pure white sand and crystal blue calm waters. Take note that there are beach vendors but if you give them a polite no thanks, they will let you be. We were not bothered at the pool by the vendors at all. We had bar service on the beach and at the pool. They even have a swim up bar. There is also a restaurant where we ordered some good food. Best of all, prices were very reasonable! We had a most excellent day here and it was not crowded in the slightest. Check out my photos for the gem of a place! I also posted a review on Trip Advisor. Cozumel: We had a fantastic tour in Cozumel and I highly recommend it! This was another tour we set up in advance. It’s the Cozumel Bus Bar Hop. It’s not just a bar hop. The bus tour circles the island and provides 40-45 minutes at each beach bar along with a shot drink at each stop all for the low price of $49 per person. We met our group which ended up being a group of 20 at the Star Bucks in port. We ended up visiting 4 beautiful beaches/bar/restaurants including: Punta Morena, Coconuts, Playa Bonita and Rastas. (we ended up at Carlos and Charlies to end the day!) Along the route, our awesome tour guide named Greg filled us in on facts and other information about the island and pointed out sites along the way. I recommend this tour even if you are not a big drinker. The island is very pretty and it’s a great way to see it. The food and drinks at all the stops were excellent and inexpensive as well. I have an in-depth review if this Cozumel Bar Hop also on Trip Advisor. Disembarkation: I believe that getting off the ship is normally an easy and fast process. Unfortunately, we had a little trouble and in no way was it NCL’s fault. Our last stop was Cozumel and we were supposed to leave there in the evening and head back to the port of Miami. An unexpected cold front moved in which brought 50mph winds and caused huge waves. The way the ship was docked, we were unable to leave Cozumel. We did not leave the port until early morning. The captain announced that anyone who had flights earlier than 3pm should change them. Naturally, that caused some chaos as many people scrambled to call airlines and use the free Internet provided by NCL for this purpose. The captain said we should arrive around 10am. Our flight was set to leave at 11:50am. Because it would cost an additional good deal of money to get a new plane ticket, my boyfriend and I decided to chance it. Luckily, we arrive at 8:30am. We were off the ship at 9:30am and had plenty of time to catch our flight home. I’m sure there were some disgruntled people who changed their flights so I am unsure how all of that was handled but regardless, NCL handled it to the best of their ability. Mother Nature plays strange tricks sometime and even with all the modern technology, it’s still not mastered. Conclusion: Having a wonderful vacation starts with having a wonderful attitude. I went on this ship with the intention of having fun, meeting great people and even doing some relaxing. I did not have unrealistic expectations as some do. Nothing in the world is going to be perfect. There are some design flaws as mentioned in other reviews. Also, this is a new ship. There will be some kinks to work out but overall, I think NCL did a MARVELOUS job and I would, without hesitation, recommend this ship especially if you like to party and have a good time! Food was great, entertainment amazing, activities plentiful, ship just beautiful, ports of call fantastic! It was an EPIC vacation! Enjoy!! **Click on the Pictures Videos Tab on this page: http://nclepiccruise.shutterfly.com/

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Norwegian Gem

March 2010 - Norwegian Gem to Caribbean - Bahamas

This is my review of...

This is my review of the NCL Gem that left from NYC for a 7 night cruise to Port Canaveral, FL., Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau, Bahamas. My Background: I am a female age 40 traveling with my 40 year old boyfriend but we act more like 30 (young in mind, active and fit). We are from central NJ. This was our 9th cruise and my 6th with NCL. Our interests include singing, club dancing, beaches, wine and liquor tastings, and fine dining. We were on the Gem for the one night cruise to nowhere on Jan. 23rd 2010 and were not initially impressed with the food or activities. The one night cruise to nowhere does not compare with a regular 7 night cruise thus I will review this ship and itinerary based solely on our March 20th 7 night cruise. Embarkation- We arrived at 12:30pm and waited a total of 40 minutes to board the ship after getting through the lines, etc. Certainly not a bad deal considering we did not have to fly in to board the ship. I checked in my wine (3 bottles with a corkage fee of $15 each) I chose to do this rather than ordering bottles from the ship. After that, we headed aboard and went straight to the pool deck. *tip- If you want to get right into the hot tub or pool, wear your bathing suit under your clothes because there is a wait for your luggage. The weather this day was a wonderful 72 degrees. The sail away party was in full spirit. There were plenty of cushioned lounge chairs by the pool (adult pool and children's pool) along with scattered round lounge chairs and day beds on the higher decks above the pools. Entertainment- Plenty of it. Wonderful piano players, singers, dancers, bands, hypnotists, karaoke, wide assortment of different genre music.. Since I like to sing, not only did I get to enjoy plenty of karaoke nights in Spinaker Lounge set up with a very nice sound system but I also got to sing at the piano with one of NCL's entertainers on deck 7. During the day, there was a lot of club music at the pool. This may appeal to some (like myself) but I did wonder if it annoyed some of the older generation aboard. Speaking of club music, Bliss Lounge provided plenty for the late night dancing along with a dance show behind a screen. The dj was great as was the club vibe. Lot's of dancing and fun to be found. What made this club extra special were the beds and lounges scattered throughout and the two bowling lanes on each side of the club. As for the shows, we saw a few. The dancing and singing acts were all very good. The magician show done by the assistant cruise director needed some work as did Second City improv but the Hypnotist show was hysterical and very crowd interactive as were a few of the other shows including The Quest game show. Along with these shows, they also featured pub crawls, wine, martini, beer and mojito tastings all with a nominal fee starting at $15 but well worth it. On this cruise, we were also invited to participate in the Latitudes guest party where we were served free wine and other drinks and served cheese and crackers. The ship employees walked around and greeted us. We also met up at the cruise critic meet and greet where we met fellow guests from the roll call boards. The staff gave us a very warm welcome and offered their services to us even including numbers to reach them if we had any service requests or issues. Quite nice. Food- Plenty of it! The buffet hosted a huge assortment. Now, since I am on the subject of the buffet, I will mention this.. the design of it for this particular ship is all wrong. It's much too small to properly accommodate the amount of guests on the ship. It was hustle and bustle in there at the prime times. Getting a cup of coffee in the morning was like fighting a New Yorker for a cab. The order was all wrong. There was not enough seating in the main room and they could really use another buffet. In the back of the buffet room to the right is the Italian restaurant. They should consider remodeling that room to accommodate another buffet line. Speaking of the Italian restaurant- *tip- Get your food and walk to the back of the ship.. make a right and head into the Italian restaurant.. there are plenty of seats to sit. Other restaurants we ate at included both main dining rooms (free of charge) Magenta and Grand Pacific. They were ok. Not bad but just ok. The service was not great nor were the servers overly friendly. They were too busy. But you shouldn't leave hungry. Ask for two entrees or order a few appetizers. Since my boyfriend and I appreciate dining out ( we eat out at least 3-4 times a week), we tried some of the pay restaurants. Le Bistro was one of them. Not only was the service great but the mushroom soup and the filet mignon get special mentioning. I've never had a better soup before and the filet was very tender and the peppercorn sauce savory and delicious. $20 cover. We did not bother with Cagneys ($25) as this filet at Le Bistro satisfied our red meat need. Next, was the sushi bar. We had a great time talking with the bartender who served us sake and then with the sushi chefs. We chose to sit at the sushi bar so we could watch them prepare their art. The sushi was good and the presentation excellent. $15 cover. On to Teppanyaki.. Hibachi.. wow!! !! A must have. $25 cover. Not only a great show and a good way to meet fellow passengers but the food was excellent. I chose to have to have the lobster (request it), filet mignon and shrimp.. fried rice, salad and soup. $25 cover. Finally, we ate at the Mexican restaurant called Tequila. They start you off with a free margarita. We had the shrimp and swordfish skewers and the lobster tacos. $15 cover. Very good! We did not get a chance to eat at the Italian or Asian restaurants nor Cagney's steakhouse. Drinks- Wonderful selection of wines, beer and mixed cocktails. If you want a strong drink, just ask! They will make it for you. We did the martini tasting and they made us 4 grey goose martinis each! Note that tips for drinks are automatically added onto the check. *Tip- we brought on our own water bottles packed in a separate bag then stored them in the room refrigerator. No problem. As for the wine I brought on, after you pay the fee you can have it served at each restaurant you visit or you can carry it with you. Excursions- We did not book any ship excursions. In Florida, we started by taking a tour-type bus that was waiting right outside the ship. It cost $10 a person but you could use it all day. We asked to go to a public beach (cocoa beach behind Ron Jon surf shop) The water was cold and the air temp was only 72 but it was still nice enough to hang out. Unfortunately, they didn't have any drinks or entertainment.. just beach.. so we then took a local bus down the road to a place called Coconuts. Tiki type bar with a wonderful local band right on the beach. It was great. Bus there was only $1.25 pp Tip for Great Stirrup Cay.. get down in line to get your color tag to get off the boat on the first tender. They take out the first 350 people. Get down in line at 8:45am.. otherwise you will not get a chair. Very pretty beach even though we came after a heavy rain so the waves were a little rough and there was a lot of seaweed washed up. I don't think it is normally like that. The beach was crowded but since we arrived on the first boat, we were able to get chairs. There were some local market stands set up (they do NOT bargain) and NCL had a huge bbq going on. We were one of the first to get food.. all was good. Huge bbq roast beef, burgers, hot dogs, salads, etc. Plenty of drink waiters and bars around.. If facing the water, take a walk to your left.. there is a path to follow to another part of the beach. Very pretty and secluded. Over all, the beach is too small for the amount of people on the ship but I hear they are doing some construction in the fall to enlarge it. It's needed. We still thoroughly enjoyed ourselves there regardless of the crowd. Bahamas.. we rented a scooter to check out the island. I wish we instead bought a day pass at either Breezes for $55 (includes all amenities including booze) or the Wyndham resort pass for $40. Atlantis is just not something we wanted to spend $150 each on. Renting scooters is a great way to explore (we do this in Bermuda) but there are not enough public beaches available in Bahamas. One in Paradise Island, one next to the ship called Junkanoo (name that for a good reason) and one on Cable beach. They are not the nicest beaches like the resorts maintain. Overall, though, air temp was perfect.. water too cold for my taste but people were still in it. Disembarkation- You can choose to walk off with your luggage or choose a color associated with a time to leave. Take your time! Avoid the rush.. have some coffee, breakfast and time to reflect on your trip. It will take time to get off the ship because you have to go through customs. Be patient and remember that. ;) Overall, we had an excellent vacation despite only minor complaints.. one of the being the Free Style Daily.. very hard to read. I recommend a high lighter.. also, they printed the wrong times for some of the events. Example- the liquor raffle. (you get a ticket if you purchase liquor from the gift shop.) The paper stated it would start at 9:15 but they called it 15 minutes earlier. Not cool. *Tip- if you plan to buy liquor from the liquor shop to bring home, do it right away! We waited and almost everything we wanted was sold out! They hold it for you until the last night at sea. Anyway, we genuinely loved the Gem and have booked her for two cruises next year to Bermuda. :) Finally, to get a better understanding of this review, please feel free to look at my public photo album located at- http://nclgemmarch202010.shutterfly.com/pictures/8 Captions are located underneath each photo.. you can find menus, food shots, ports of call, ship pics, etc. Any questions, feel free to comment under each photo and I will respond back.

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Explorer of the Seas

May 2009 - Explorer of the Seas to Bermuda

Carnival Sensation

September 2008 - Carnival Sensation to Caribbean - Bahamas

Norwegian Crown (RETIRED) 135

September 2007 - Norwegian Crown (RETIRED) 135 to Bermuda

"met my soul mate on this cruise.."

Norwegian Spirit

September 2006 - Norwegian Spirit to Caribbean

Norwegian Dawn

May 2005 - Norwegian Dawn to Caribbean - Eastern

Voyager of the Seas

September 2004 - Voyager of the Seas to Caribbean

Take Note- old review..

Take Note- old review.. This was my first cruise. My husband surprised me for my 35th birthday. It was a 9 night cruise that was supposed to be going to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Labadee and the Bahamas. Because of the damage from the hurricanes, we went to Labadee, Puerto Rico, St. Martin and St. Thomas. Accompanying my husband and I was our 13 year old daughter and my 14 year old brother. My husband chose the Voyager of the Seas based on the recommendation of the agent. She told him that it is an active ship with lots to do. We were supposed to be at the port, Hoboken, NJ at 2:30pm. We arrived at 12:30pm. There were no lines at all and we were on the ship within 15 minutes. The ship was huge and absolutely beautiful. ROOM - Our room, on the other hand, was clean but extremely small. I was prepared for this by research on the internet. We had an interior stateroom with 4 bunk beds. I must say, the beds were extremely comfortable. The shower was not. I am not a big person, luckily, but I could not shave and had a hard time reaching my feet in there. Oh, FYI, the toilet water is salt water. (a little info given by the cruise director..haha) They also supply a small refrigerator stocked with soda and water (NOT free), a small sofa, coffee table and TV. There is also a vanity with drawers and the lighting is the best. We had 6 huge suitcases that all fit under the bed after we unpacked. The closet was plenty big enough. The coffee table took up too much room so our stateroom attendant removed it. He was the best! We were not the neatest and he always had our room sparkling. POOLS - The ship had 3 pools on deck 11; 2 main pools and an adult pool. There were also a number of hot tubs. There is a kids pool on deck 12. The water is salt water, which I was also prepared for. The temperature was perfect in each pool and hot tub. I was not prepared for the amount of wind the entire trip. It was constantly very windy. I did not mind as it would have been too hot without it. As for pool chairs, we always found a chair with no problem. Even though there were many people on board, we rarely felt crowded. They supplied plenty of pool chairs. There were 2 bars by the pools and bar service was given by plenty of waiters walking around. DRINKS - They are expensive and they tack on a 15% gratuity for every drink. They charge for soda and bottled water as well. I purchased soda cards for my husband and myself and the 2 kids. It was $4.00 for the kids and $6.00 a day for us. I think it should be the other way around since kids tend to drink more but that#39;s what it was. They also tacked on a 15% gratuity for the cards. With these soda cards, you get bottle pored soda. If you buy it individually, you get a can of soda. Getting these cards was worth it for the kids but not for us. I did not drink $6.00 worth of soda per day. (I also brought my own bottled water aboard and stored it in my room refrigerator). They only serve Evian spring water and it is expensive. All of the mixed and frozen drinks were excellent and they were NOT cheap on the amount of booze in them. FOOD - The first day, we ate at the Windjammer- buffet style. The food was like eating at the Old Country Buffet. It wasn't the best. We decided to try the dining room for dinner. It was awesome. You can order as much as you want and the service was fast. You did not have to wait long between each course. (our family hates to sit around long in a restaurant). Our table companions were 2 foreign couples who eventually asked to be seated elsewhere since they did not speak English, and another English speaking couple who were near our age. We enjoyed their company in and out of the dining room. The kids NEVER came to the dining room with us the entire trip. They ate with friends that they made every night, usually at Johnny Rockets. Johnny Rockets was excellent. They had the best onion rings I have ever had. Great chili fries too. You have to pay for shakes but not for apple pie ala mode. You also cannot use your soda card in there. The Island Grill was in the back of the Windjammer. It was buffet too. They served lunch and dinner. It was delicious. You could often find the same food that they served in the dining rooms but buffet style. We ate breakfast every day at the buffets. (Windjammer-Island Grill) It was all good. Sometimes some of the food was not piping hot but you have to remember that it is buffet and they are serving over 3,000 people. I was pleased with the coffee. It was a tad too strong but a splash of hot water made it good. One thing I did not like was the creamers. They use the individual kind. The tops were always wet so it was hard to peel back the paper to pour them in (no big deal). Lobster night was my favorite. The tails were huge and it also came with garlic shrimp. All the deserts were fabulous. The Cregrave;me Brule is a must have. They had a couple of midnight buffets but we had the late dinner seating (8:30) so we were never hungry for them. They sure looked beautiful. They also have room service which my daughter used consistently and they have the Cafe Promenade with 24 hour sandwiches, pizza, cookies and deserts. They have a free ice-cream machine but also sell Ben and Jerrys. (Come on now.) Then, you have Portfinos which you have to pay extra for but the service was excellent as was the decor and the food. Overall, food is plentiful and quite good. I was pleased with it. SHOPPING - They had a few on-board stores. They were overpriced compared to the islands we visited but good if you did not leave the boat. They had specials on jewelry but it was all cheap stuff- 18k overlay and gaudy rings. The last day at sea is the best time to buy anything. I bought a couple T-shirts that were 2 for $20. Photographers were set up outside of each dining room (it is one huge dining room 3 stories high with an entrance on deck 3, 4 and 5.) There were also photographers set up outside of the ship for each island we visited. The 8x10 was $20 and a 5x7 was $10. You can go broke buying photos but they do a nice job. DO NOT waste your money buying the video or dvd of your "Cruise week". I paid $30 for the DVD and it was about 20 minutes long. No sound, only corny music focusing mainly on the ship decor. Very little of the actual people on board. It reminded me of an infomercial. Last, there is art.. and art.. and art. They have art auctions and art set up all over. Now I know why they don't keep fish in the aquarium bar. They cover up all the tanks with art for sale. If you like art, buy it here. The prices are good GAMBLING - I am not a gambler but my husband played a little in the casino. He lost but our dinner friends won $700. I did get in on the last game of bingo. ($35 for a six pack of cards, $15 for the jackpot card.) I watched some lady win over $11,000. I think she hospitalized her grey haired mother. hehe SERVICE - It's funny. Some of the employees were so awesome, helpful and over the top. They loved their jobs and had fun doing them. Other employees acted like they were being tortured. No one was ever rude but you could tell they did not want to be there. Oh well. I did not let that bother me at all. I used to be a waitress so I can understand that some people can make you nuts. ;) ENTERTAINMENT - I absolutely loved it. The cruise director is so funny yet professional and you can tell he loves what he does (also, check him out by the pool.. great body on him..hehe). Anyway, all the shows were great. We saw the Platters and some excellent comedians. The ice show is a MUST SEE. The Love and Marriage game is a riot and so is THE QUEST. I happened to participate in Karaoke and made it to the finals where we preformed in the ice skating rink in front of 650 people. Ahhhh! They also had lots of pool entertainment like the belly flop contest, volley ball games, dancing, etc. You never get bored. FITNESS - Great workout equipment but only did it once. I pulled a calf muscle. haha. They had classes too and they have a spa but it was expensive. INTERNET - Forget about it. Slower than slow at 50 cents a minute. Read a book instead in the free library. KIDS - I was not bothered by any little kids on this trip. My two stayed in the adventure program all the time as did most. They have lots of planned activities for all ages. It is great! My 14 year old brother made a girlfriend and even shed a tear when we left. (hahahaha) BARS - There are so many I can't even list them all. The sports bar was great and I liked the Pig and Whistle.. great Stout and bottled hard cider. Grab a chair in front of the pub and people watch on the Promenade. The disco was also awesome for late nighters. PORTS OF CALL - Do yourself a favor. Don't book any of the ship excursions. You can do what you want for half the price once you get on the island. There are taxis (mini-buses and vans) outside on every island waiting for to take you on tours. Find a few people who want to do the same thing as you and the price gets lower for the more people you find. Make Labadee your beach day. And bring a blow up water mat in your suitcase so you don't have to pay $10 to rent one. St. Martin- Go shopping and then take the taxi to Orient beach. It is great!! (booze is the best price here). We got 3 bottles Absolute, 1 Jose Cuervo, 1 Myers Rum, 1 Vanilla Sky Vodka, 1 Captain Morgans for $50.00 total. WE HAD NO PROBLEM WITH CUSTOMS. St. Thomas- We did the Kon-tiki party boat (ship excursion) $137 for the 4 of us. The boat was fun but they took us to the worst beach in St. Thomas. My brother got stung by a jelly fish too. Puerto Rico- Do the Rain Forest by Taxi. get a group together- cost us $32. It is 1 hour and 20 minutes away but worth it! DEPARTURE - Was long. They go by color of luggage tag. We were last. Eat a big breakfast. We got off at around 2:30pm. They started letting people off at 11:30pm. You have to be out of your room at 11:00am. Just prepare yourself in case you have to wait. It isn't a big deal if you have some patience. They have to do it this way because of customs, etc. Better to be safe than sorry. OVERALL - It was an excellent vacation. We spent a total of $1467 on our ship charge card (seapass card) and $700 cash (to me, that is a lot in addition to the ship cost). But hey, it is vacation and we had a great time. I think it would be even more fun to go with a group of friends or family although we met some fun people too. Go for it! You only live once! Cheers to Voyager of the Seas!

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Voyager of the Seas

September 2004 - Voyager of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern

"1st cruise!"

tecknicole's Tips

Norwegian Gem Norwegian Gem - Buffet: head to the aft and turn right for extra seating and for your coffee and drinks Duty Free Shop: Get there 10 minutes before it opens. It's a mad rush like a K-Mart blue light special! Dinner reservations: Make them asap! Specialty restaurants sell out quick
Norwegian Gem Norwegian Gem - -Buffet- head straight to the back and make a right... you can sit in the Italian restaurant where they have an extra beverage station set up.. it's not as crowded. -When getting tender tickets for Great Stirrup Cay, get down there early as the line wraps around the ship.

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