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Norwegian Gem Cruise Review
Sailing From New York City
May 18, 2013

by Keith Henderson

We sailed on the Norwegian Gem leaving New York City on May 18th, 2013 and returning on the 25th after stops at Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, and Nassau, Bahamas.

It was our 14th cruise with Norwegian and 20th overall. We have sailed on Carnival 5 times and Royal Caribbean once.

This was our second cruise on the Gem. We had sailed on her 5 years previously during her inaugural season with NCL. We like the layout of Norwegian’s Jewel class ships and are comfortable with navigating around their various decks. It had been over a year and a half since our last Norwegian cruise and we were looking forward to sailing freestyle again even if it was with a very familiar itinerary.

Day 1 - Embarkation
We live near the shore in Connecticut, so we drove down to NYC and the cruise ship terminals in Manhattan. It was fun as we followed the Henry Hudson Parkway going under the George Washington Bridge and down the west side of the island anticipating our first view of the ship as we approached the terminal area. It was 11:30 am as we drove up to the parking lot above the pier. The rates were $35 a day, so we were charged $245 for our parking which we paid with one of our trusty NCL MasterCards. We then walked to the elevators with our luggage and headed down for the embarkation process.

The Gem was the only ship in port that day that started as partly sunny in the 60's and then turned overcast with light rain and a cold breeze. Across from the Gem is the aircraft carrier Intrepid with displays of jets and now the space shuttle Enterprise. I was hoping to get a view of the Enterprise, but they were erecting a hangar around the shuttle so all we could see was the top of its tail and nose.

When we first arrived inside the cruise terminal, we dropped off our two suitcases with a porter before heading to the line for security screening of all passengers. Past that, there were 3 lines. One was for Latitudes members. Another line was for Latitudes Gold, Platinum, and VIP members. The third one was for non-Latitudes members. We are Platinum Latitudes and took that line which had only one other couple in front of us. A few minutes later we were waved to an agent who registered us, took our photos, and gave us our keycards. With our keycards in hand we were pointed to the entrance ramp for the ship. We were walking onto the ship by noon. The other lines were very long, so I do not know how long their wait times were.

As we boarded, they were announcing that the cabins would not be ready until 1:30 pm. We went to the Bliss Lounge (deck 7 aft) to drop off our carry-ons with an attendant. We then went topside to the buffet for lunch. At 1:00 pm, they announced that the cabins were now ready, so we headed back to the Bliss lounge to get our bags headed down to our cabin on deck five to drop off our carry-ons which always includes a change of clothes in case our other bags arrive late. It was an oceanview cabin (room 5036) which was forward on the starboard side.

The muster drill was scheduled for 2:30 pm and everything was closed at 2:00 pm in preparation of the drill. For the muster drill, we were told to go to the Stardust Theater (without our life jackets) to watch a demonstration of how to put on life jackets and where to go in case of an emergency.

After the drill, we rushed up to deck 13 to watch the sail away under the cover of the Bali Hai bar area which overlooks the pool area midship. It was raining and cold as we pulled away from the pier at 3:00 pm and sailed down the Hudson passing by the new World Trade Center, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty before going under the Verrazano Bridge. There were a few hardy souls dancing at the poolside party as well as a few people in both the pools and hot tubs. The salt water pools were heated.

When we went back to our cabin, our luggage was waiting for us, so we quickly unpacked. We had decided to go to a trivia contest in the Bar City area before going to dinner at the Grand Pacific, one of the two main dining rooms. At 5:45 pm, there was no wait for a table there. The show for the evening was the “Welcome Aboard Show” in the Stardust Theater. The Stardust Theater has 1,042 seats and most have good views. The show was hosted by the Cruise director, Sinan who did a great job of welcoming us and introducing some of the various acts in the show that we would see later on during the cruise. They were the cast of the production shows, Nickelodeon crew, an aerial acrobat duo, a comedian, and another singer. Later on, they had a 70's Disco Groove party in the Spinnaker Lounge with a surprise visit by the Village People (not sure which village though).

Day 2 – Day at Sea
It was a partly cloudy day with calm seas as we sailed off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas today. I went upstairs at 8:00 am to get tea and as I passed by the pool area, there were only a few people up there. But, the pool hogs had already staked out their spots all around the pool deck. I guess things never change.

The pool area has two large pools with a pair of hot tubs by each one. There is a kiddie’s pool off to the side and a water slide that ends up by one of the two large pools. Around the pool are loungers that are open to the sun along with chairs and loungers under the overhang from the deck above for shade. They have a covered gazebo between the two pools where they had bands playing in the afternoon and sometimes the evenings. When we came aboard, we found that 2 beach towels were issued to our cabin and that we were responsible for them and that we would be charged $25 for each towel not returned by the end of the cruise. You could get extra towels that you had to sign out for at a room in one corner of the pool deck area. Our favorite area on the ship for this cruise was the Bali Hai Bar above the pool deck where we could sit in the shade, catch a breeze, and listen to the bands playing below us on the pool deck. 

We chose to have dinner in the Magenta Dining Room before going to the evening’s show. The evening’s entertainment in the Stardust was a production show called “World Beat” with song and dance numbers from around the world. We thought the four singers had very strong voices and the dancers were very good as they performed to a soundtrack. In the Spinnaker lounge, Sinan hosted the Newlywed Not-So-Newlywed game with four couples which were funny as he asked embarrassing questions of the spouses while their mates were taken to an area where they could not hear their responses until they returned. At 10:00 pm, they had the “Norwegian's Night Out Party” in the Spinnaker Lounge with the band “Kenosis” playing hit dance songs.

Day 3 – Port Canaveral
Waking up, we were off the coast of Georgia approaching Florida waters. By 10:30am we could see the large buildings of the Kennedy Space Center. We arrived at Port Canaveral at noon. This was our first port day and the weather was nice with partly cloudy skies and warm temps in the low 80’s. As we pulled into the channel for the port, we could see that 2 other cruise ships were in port that day. The Carnival Ecstasy and the Enchantment of the Seas were at their docks.

We had decided to stay on the ship and spend the afternoon by the pool which was very crowded all day. We guessed that a lot of people had the same idea we had, thinking that most people would be off the ship. The ship is docked at a pier area that is not close to anything. You needed a taxi or shuttle to go to a beach or shops, visit the Kennedy space center, or go over to Orlando for the afternoon and early evening. There were some car rental places a short ride away as well. Sail away was scheduled for 9:30 pm.

Talking with a few crew members, they said that they like the stop in Port Canaveral because they could catch a shuttle to the local Walmart to buy personal essentials. Around 4:00 pm, the Carnival Ecstasy sailed away followed by the Enchantment of the Seas a half hour later.

The evening’s entertainment in the Stardust Theater was two performances by the “Second City Improv” troupe. We have seen Second City shows on previous cruises, so we decided to go to dinner at Le Bistro instead. In the evening, the band "Kenosis" played rock and roll music topside between the pools. Before they came on, it was raining. But, it stopped shortly after they started playing. It was a fun time listening and dancing. Up in the Spinnaker Lounge they had a "Perfect Couple" game show hosted by Dan, the assistant CD.

Day 4 – Great Stirrup Cay
This stop was at the NCL private island, Great Stirrup Cay which is a small island found in the Berry Island chain in the Bahamas. We arrived at the island around 9:00 am on a bright sunny day with temps in the 80’s.

It had been almost 3 years since we last visited this island. We had read about all of the improvements NCL has made there, so we decided to check it out for ourselves. You have to take tenders to the island from the ship. Two of the four tenders they use from the island are from the SS Norway, which was our first cruise ship back in 1994. The Norway had to carry its own tenders for the ports because she was too big for the harbors.

You needed a tender ticket to go ashore and they started handing out tickets at 9:00 am by the pools. We had already been given VIP tender tickets beforehand, so we able to get onto any tender we wanted. They had the first tenders leaving our ship at around 10:00 am and the final one back to the ship was 5:00 pm. Across from our ship was the Enchantment of the Seas which was tendering her passengers to Cococay, the RCCL private island. You could see para-sailers and jet skis from both islands zooming around the ships.

It was a short 10 minute tender ride to reach the new dock area and channel that they carved out of the rocks to one side of the beach areas. As we walked off, they had small huts with people selling t-shirt and souvenirs. Off to the right was a large “Hippo” water slide ($5 a ride or $20 for all day). They had clam shells and cabanas for rent. The clam shells were $30 for the day. The cabanas were $250 for the day, but included a $50 drink credit and all-day passes (for 6 guests) for the Hippo water slide. At the edge of the main beach area, they had built a large pavilion offering buffet style food with covered areas to each side with picnic tables. All along the beach areas, they had bars offering drinks. They were several activities on the island such as snorkeling, volleyball, paddleboards, etc.

After a short walk around the beach area, we went back to the ship which was very quiet and peaceful as most passengers were off on the island. By 6:00 pm we were sailing off to our next stop, Nassau which is only about 60 miles away.

For dinner, we chose to go up to the Garden Café buffet before going to the shows. In the Stardust, they had two productions shows called “Pure Variety” which the singers and dancing performing a variety of songs along with the Gem Orchestra. We thought it was a good show to watch. In the Spinnaker Lounge they had "Dancing with the Stars" where guests would compete dancing with members of the production show cast.

Day 5 – Nassau, Bahamas
We arrived in Nassau and docked at the pier by 7:30 am. Going topside, I could see that the Enchantment of the Seas and the Carnival Ecstasy were already docked. It was raining lightly as I watched the Norwegian Sky pull into the harbor, turn around, and back into its dock. As she was almost finishing her docking, the sun came out and a rainbow appeared behind the Sky, which was apropos as she used to sail in Hawaii under the name of “Pride of Aloha” which her hull artwork still reflects. I was able to get a few pictures of her and the rainbow.

With so many cruise ships in port, the streets would be filled today with about 9,000 or so passengers disembarking. The local currency is the Bahamian dollar which is pegged to the U.S. dollar. All of the shops and bars accepted U.S. dollars and major credit cards.

We have been to Nassau several times before, so we just took a quick walk off of the ship to visit the nearby Pirates of Nassau Museum ($12) and the Christ Church Cathedral. On the way back, we stopped by a few shops and then visited the Hard Rock Café to see if they had any new memorabilia on display. The Nassau HRC is one of 63 I have visited so far. Also nearby is a Señor Frogs which is only a few blocks away from the cruise terminal building. As we walked back to our ship around 2:00 pm, a quick passing rain storm blew over us. It was a deluge of water coming down and street in front of the cruise terminal looked like a river. We waited out the rain under an awning for about 20 minutes before walking back to the ship under our umbrella.

We went topside to spend the rest of the afternoon at the Bali Hai bar listening to the band "Groove International" play Reggae tunes before our sail away. At 5:00 pm, the Carnival Ecstasy sailed out of the harbor. Then, at 5:30 pm, the Sky pulled away. We followed the Sky at 6:00 pm to head back to New York.

The evening’s entertainment in the Stardust was 2 shows. At 7:30 pm, they had the aerial acrobats called "Duo Volgyi" and at 9:30 pm was the comedian, Phil Tag. We had seen "Duo Volgyi" shows on previous cruises and were impressed with their abilities. But, for this cruise, we had seen the current couple perform at the "Welcome Aboard Show" and were not impressed with their displays. They did not seem to have the finesse of the previous ones. We attended a Latitudes party at 7:00 pm and then went up to the buffet for dinner before heading over to the Stardust to see Phil Tag. He was very funny as he played to a full house. They had a Caribbean Deck Party by the pool after 10:30 pm.

Day 6 – Day at Sea
As we returned to New York, we passed the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. It was a raining in the morning and early afternoon with temps in the 70’s, but the sun came out briefly in mid-afternoon.

We went to a few trivias and also attended a “Behind the Scenes” tour of the ship offered to Platinum Latitudes guests. There were ten of us that took the tour as we were given a brief glimpse of the galley, laundry room, and bridge viewing room with members of the ship’s staff.

For dinner, we went back to Le Bistro for a nice meal. They had two shows in the Stardust this evening. Both were the "Farewell Variety Shows" with the same performers as the "Welcome Aboard Show". It seemed odd to have a farewell show on the next to last day of the cruise, though. They ended the show with the Norwegian staging of "Fountains" which is always funny to watch. In the Spinnaker Lounge, they had the Second City troupe performing a scriptless show. They ended the evening up in the Spinnaker with their "White Hot Party". We went up there, but it was already packed with no place to sit, so we went back to our cabin.

Day 7 – Day at Sea
We started the day off the coast of North Carolina and had reached Delaware by the end of the day. It was overcast with occasional rain for most of the day. It was a lazy kind of day with a lot of activities having to be moved indoors or canceled due to the rain. By the late afternoon, it was very windy with colder temperatures.

Before the final trivia of the day, we packed our suitcases so that we could enjoy the evening’s activities. If you wanted them to take your luggage, you needed to have them placed outside of your cabin between 9:00 and 11:00 pm with your assigned color-coded luggage tags affixed. Trivia was over at 5:30 pm after which we went to the Magenta Dining Room. There were about 30 guests waiting for a table so we decided to head to the back of the ship and try the Grand Pacific MDR where we found that there was no line at all to get a table.

After dinner, we went to the Bliss Lounge to redeem our Onboard Activity points for NCL tchotchke items only to find that all they had to offer were decks of playing cards and Frisbees. They had run out of everything else like mugs, bags, beach balls, etc. This didn’t really matter to us as we have so much of that stuff from previous cruises, but a young boy was disappointed that there wasn’t anything fun to redeem.

The final Stardust shows were another production show called “Get Down Tonight” which had the performers singing and dancing to songs from the 70’s. At the end of the show, they brought out the captain and his staff along with crew members from various departments including Spongebob Square Pants to say good-bye and thanks. Up in the Spinnaker Lounge they had an adult game show hosted by Dan called “The Quest” which is a scavenger hunt of sorts. It was hilarious as teams rushed up to the floor with whatever was requested. You could tell people had done this before on other cruises and were prepared for the event. Dan was very funny with his comments as contestants rushed up to him. Let’s just say that you saw a lot of underwear flying around. They ended the evening in the Spinnaker with a “Second City Scriptless Show” at 10:45 pm.

Disembarkation Day – NYC
Just as the Captain stated the previous day, we were sailing past the Statue of Liberty at 6:30 am on our return to a cold and rainy day on New York. We arrived at the pier in New York at 7:30 am and saw that the Carnival Splendor was already docked at a nearby pier. We had been given VIP tags for disembarkation (yellow), which meant we could leave the ship any time after they first allowed passengers that had signed up for express “Easy walk off” disembarkation. We had been told that we had to be out of our cabins no later than 08:00 am.

We went up for breakfast in the Garden Café before going back to our cabin to get our bags. From there we went up to the Moderno and Blue Lagoon restaurant area on deck 8 midship to wait for announcements. There were plenty of empty seats there as well as toilets nearby. They started calling for the express passengers to leave the ship by 8:00 am. It was about 09:10 am when they announced that yellow tags could leave the ship. We headed down to deck 7 and got into a fast moving line of passengers getting off the ship. Once we were off, we quickly found our luggage and then had to wait in a short line to go through immigration processing and hand in our customs forms. Non-U.S. citizens had to wait in line for processing of their passports. By 9:45 am we were pulling out of the parking lot and heading home.

The ship –
Launched in 2007, the Gem is a Jewel Class ship for Norwegian with a capacity to carry 2,400 to 2,800 passengers. She is the last of the four Jewel class ships. See Cruise Diva's Norwegian Gem ship profile here.

We normally book inside cabins. For this cruise, they had a promotion that upgraded us up to an oceanview cabin. Inside cabins are 140 square feet. Oceanview and most of the balcony rooms have 160 square feet of cabin space. The extra footage gave us 3 extra drawers which we did not use. There is plenty of storage with drawers and hangars as well as shelves. There was a small fridge which we had emptied to keep our sodas and beers. The bathroom had a very comfortably sized shower with a glass door. But, we felt the rest of the bathroom was more confining than those found in the inside cabins.

We prefer the inside cabins as we like to sleep in which is easier to do in total darkness. The curtains over the window did not totally cover the window and sunlight came in. While it was interesting to have the window for views of the water, we would book an inside for our next trip.

They have upgraded the TV’s in the cabin to be flat screens that are interactive. You could check on your account, order shore excursions, and other functions. Outside of the cabin was a convenient Stateroom Service Wheel that could use to show “Make Up Room”, “Turn Down Room”, and “Do Not Disturb.”

If you are a sun worshipper, they were plenty of areas to have lounge chairs exposed to the sun. On deck 13 forward, they had huge whicker chairs that could hold 2-3 people for sun bathing/napping. It was a designated quiet spot and would be a relaxing area for those taking advantage of it.

On deck 12 midship, there are two large pools and 4 hot tubs. Both pools have heated salt water and had depths starting at just under 5 feet graduating up to 5 and ½ feet with one having a water slide that was open most of the day. That same pool has stairs so you could walk down into the pool. Two of the hot tubs and the forward pool had signs designating them to be adults only and this was never an issue even though there were kids on the cruise. Off in one corner of the pool deck was a glassed off kiddies pool area with a small slide.

In the Bliss Lounge on deck 7 aft, they had two pairs of bowling lanes. They charged $5 per person for each game to bowl.

The jogging track is found on deck 13 aft to midship. It took 5 and ½ laps to run one mile. It was much easier to run the course during the early morning before most people were up and about as the track narrows along the sides of the basketball court in two spots and a lot of people are walking along those points.

For walking, deck 7 offered a wide promenade area that went totally around the ship. It was only 2 and 2/3 laps to walk a mile. I chose to run on this deck when it was raining instead of going topside. Our favorite spot on the ship is the promenade on deck 7, but sadly there were no chairs or loungers to be found on the promenade.

On deck 14, they had a rock climbing wall if you would like to try that. The Body Waves Fitness Center on deck 12 has a large variety of equipment. They had plenty of tread mills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes as well as a free-weight room.

The Ying and Yang Spa is located on deck 12 forward. It offered steam rooms, heated mosaic lounge chairs, hot tubs, and lounge chairs with a view of the front of the ship. You could buy a week long spa pass for $139. I am not sure what they charged for a day pass.

On deck 11 forward port side was the bridge viewing room which is interesting. For those that want internet access, they have an internet Center as well as ship wide Wi-Fi. They offered 3 pricing options; 250 minutes for $100, 100 minutes for $55, and pay as you go for 75 cents a minute. The Wi-Fi connection was slow with speeds ranging from 36 to 54 Mps.

TIP – The carpets in the halls of the decks with cabins have dolphins that face forward. This helps to navigate around the ship.

In the Bar City area on deck 6, they had a room called the Corona Cigar Club where you could smoke. Thankfully, smoking is limited in public spaces to the Cigar Room and Casino and designated areas top side.

For those that like to give donations to the ship, the Gem Club Casino was on deck 6 between the Stardust Theater and the Bar City area.

Dining –
Like all of the Jewel class ships, the Gem was built for “freestyle” dining. The ship has several restaurants which include two main dining rooms (Grand Pacific and the Magenta) that are free of charge along with the buffet areas (Garden Café and the Great Outdoors), Topsider poolside grill, and the Blue Lagoon (comfort food). The Grand Pacific and the Magenta have the same menus each night and because the Grand Pacific is larger, the wait times were shorter. The other restaurants have a fee. You can find Cagney’s (Steakhouse) $30, Orchid Garden (Asian) $15, Le Bistro (French) $20, La Cucina (Italian) $15, Moderno Churasscaria $20, Sushi Bar (a la carte), and Teppanyaki $25. They also offered a 24/7 pizza delivery with a charge of $5 per pizza. There was a limited room service menu as well.

The Garden Café buffet area of the Gem is set up very well. There are separate stations offering various foods, so you do not have to wait in line passing everything to get what you want to choose. For example, they have a separate station for salads, then one for fruits & desserts, then another for hamburgers & hot dogs, etc. All of this makes it very convenient compared to the Carnival ships we have been on in the past. There are no trays, so you have to carry your plate and a drink to your table.

On day 5 in Nassau, they offered a fine dining experience with the Chef’s Table for $89 per person. On day 6 at sea, they offered a Jazz Brunch in Le Bistro for $15 per person. On day 7 at sea, they had a Murder Mystery lunch for $20 per person.

BIG TIP -The Italian restaurant (La Cucina) next to the buffet has its doors open during breakfast and lunch to handle the overflow of diners from the Garden Café and Great Outdoors. We always found at least 10 empty tables there each time we went there. It was quieter eating in there as well.

Sometimes we went to the buffet as it was faster than sitting down in the dining rooms which usually took about an hour and a half for the full meal (appetizer, entrée, and dessert).

Bar Service –
The Gem had plenty of locations offering bar service. Deck 6 has the Bar City area with Maltings Beer and Whiskey Bar, Shakers Martini and Cocktail Bar, and Magnum’s Champagne and Wine Bar. Right next door was the Gem Club Casino that has a bar. They have bar service offered in the Stardust Theater during activities being held there.

On deck 7, the Sake Bar was found next to the Sushi Bar. The Java Café in the atrium offered bar service. The Ultra Bliss Lounge is found aft. On deck 12, you could find bar service at the topsiders bar opposite the pool area and at the Great Outdoors that is located aft. On deck 13 is the Star Bar that is next to the Cagney’s Steakhouse and the Bali Hai Bar and Grill which overlooked the pool area below.

We are beer drinkers and we took advantage of the beer bucket specials where you would get 6 beers for the price of 5 that was offered throughout the cruise. They had quite a fair selection of bottles and cans of beer offered in a variety of bars around the ship. I miss the cruises in Europe where they offered a much wider selection of beers. The Maltings Beer Bar always offered a few different beers not listed on the menus. You had to ask the waiter what was available. My wife’s favorite beer on board was Bud Light, but a few times the bar we visited was all out of them. Talking with the bar staff, they said that the two most popular beers on board were Bud Light and Corona.

In the Le Bistro restaurant, we were entitled to a free bottle of wine (see Latitudes). When we explained that we do not drink wine, they allowed us to order beers of any variety we preferred.

Latitudes –
We are rated as Platinum Latitudes members with Norwegian. We received a welcome aboard package with Godiva Chocolates and a bottle of Champagne. On another day, they brought a plate of chocolate covered strawberries.

We were invited to the two Latitudes parties. The party for all of the Latitudes members was held on the afternoon of the first sea day in the Spinnaker lounge. We were greeted by the Captain, some of his staff, and the cruise consultant, Jillian. They gave away a small variety of gifts for the Latitudes guests and offered a few drinks (mixed, wine, beer) and some hors d'oeuvres. I was told that there were about 650 Latitudes members on board for our cruise. We were also invited to a separate party for Silver, Gold, and Platinum Latitudes members in the Spinnaker Lounge which was lightly attended. It was held the evening we sailed from Nassau and was for a half hour with only wine and a variety of cheese offered. We asked for beer instead of wine and we were pleasantly surprised that they accommodated us.

As platinum members, we received some additional perks. The guided tour of the ship was free. We received two invitations to Le Bistro for a free meal and bottle of wine. We were given priority tender tickets on the day we were at Great Stirrup Cay which allowed us to take any tender we chose to get to the island. We were given VIP luggage tags which allowed us to disembark at any time we wanted and have our luggage waiting in a designated area away from the other color luggage tags. They did offer laundry service that was free of charge (it was normally $25 to fill the small bag).

Activities –
There were plenty of things to do on aboard for all interests. They had bingo games and a version of Deal or No Deal. They offered art and health seminars. They had several art auctions. We enjoyed most of the trivia games as we like to learn new things. We did win a few matches on our own. One note about trivia is that they hold a lot of them in the bar city area which can get noisy with patrons at the bars. As mentioned, if you took part in organized activities, you could accumulate points to redeem NCL items.

Music & Entertainment–
They had plenty of musicians on board to entertain people at various locations and times. The Gem Orchestra was very good during some the production numbers in the Stardust. They also played Smooth Jazz a few times as well as performing big band music one evening in the Spinnaker Lounge. “Kenosis” offered a wide variety of popular music throughout the cruise in the Spinnaker, poolside, the Atrium, and Bar City. “Groove International” played poolside and in the Bar City area. We prefer hearing live bands playing versus DJ’s. We were happy to see that NCL has not cut out live bands at the poolside like Carnival has.

They had two piano players and a guitarist on board in the various lounges. Leo played guitar and sang. He is a tremendous musician. Laurie Ann was a pianist/singer who spent some of her time singing along to music tracks (isn't that called karaoke?). We did not get a chance to listen to the other pianist on board, Michael.

They had a Nickelodeon Crew on board with lots of activities and shows for kids.

Crew –
For the majority of times, we were always met by a smile and a “Hello” when we walked by any of the crew members. The wait staff in the main dining rooms always seemed glum, though. The captain, Sverre Sovdsnes from Norway, was the most informative of all the captains we have met. He spoke fondly of the S.S. Norway, so we figured he must have sailed on her on one time.

Sinan Ulucay (Turkey), the cruise director was always at the production shows and some of Spinnaker lounge acts, but we never saw him outside of those areas. He was funny and energetic. We had seen him on a previous cruise as an assistant CD. The rest of his cruise staff was very friendly and approachable. Most of them we met during the various trivia games. Dan (Philippines) has a great singing voice and a clever wit. Ricky (Philippines) aka Sean Connery was very funny. Natalie (Australia) was on her next to last cruise before her vacation. She is returning as a Cruise Consultant on the Dawn after that. Moné (South Africa) was funny as well.

Talking with Charlie, our cabin steward, we found out that he was responsible for maintaining 15 cabins twice a day by himself. Most of the crew work 10 hour days, seven days a week for the term of their contract.

Overall –
Even though there was a lot of rainy weather on this cruise, the seas were relatively calm. It was a relaxing trip with 3 days at sea. We enjoyed our cruise on the Gem and would not hesitate sailing on her again.

Here is a link to photos I took of the ship, it public rooms, our cabin, Great Stirrup Cay, Nassau, and other cruise ships. I have scanned PDF copies of the Freestyle Dailies for each day of our cruise as well as the Spa Menu. If you are interested in a copy, e-mail me with “Norwegian Gem Dailies” in the subject line so that I do not delete it as spam. My e-mail address is: .

Image Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

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