I have been round and round the internet reading all sorts of posts about the NCL Gem. Some ok, some not at all ok.
I have never been on a cruise before and our travel agent has suggested we take the Gem from Venice to the Greek Isles. We fly from Canada to Athens, then to Venice to catch the ship.
It seems to me from all that I've read, that everything on the NCL Gem is extra. Extra (or not available at all) if you want water at dinner; extra for coffee or heaven forbid, orange juice; all entertainment is extra; things like rock wall or bowling is extra; I've ready about cruisers getting ugly looks if you don't drink liquor; lousy service; dirty interiors; poor service if you don't want to take their shore excursions but prefer to go it alone.
Just what is the deal here? What are we paying for if darn near everything is extra? Why are the meals in the few "free" restaurants sub-par in order to force us to to pay yet even more for better food on the same ship?
It would be appreciate if I got some feedback about this please, I'm really confused.
I'D urge you to read my review just posted on this site for the NCL Gem..much of the information you have is completely wrong..Drinks are not "pushed" as on other ships, you don't pay for entertainment and the ship is immaculate.
This is a link for Parrot Mom's review. She just got off and it is very comprehensive.
Don't believe everything you read - most posts on the web are from disgruntled people. NCL has basically lower cruise fares, so yes, there are more options for better food in the "specialty restaurants" but the lower cruise fare allows you to budget this. The "included food" is not bad, but you will get excellent food in the specialty restaurants.
Yes, you pay for bowling, but you don't pay for most entertainment such as shows, nightclubs, etc. There may be a charge for certain entertainment, but certainly not 90% of it. The "free food" is offered in about 1/2 the restaurants onboard.
Parrot Mom says the ship was immaculate.
Keep in mind you porbably paid less for the cruise. I am guessing she booked you in the ship because it has the itnerary you wanted.
To see Europe by cruise ship you should be prepared to spend extra money beyond the cruise fare for tours. You decide what is more important to you - special food onboard, or a better tour. That is an advantage of NCL if you are one a budget, there are more cost options and less pre-paid in the cruise fare. You have more control over your budget.
I urge you NOT to be too cheap about what you spend on your vacation. You only get to Europe a few times in your lifetime, so make the most of it while you are there. Focus on the destinations first, and the ship second. You will enjoy the ship, however, I guarantee it.
I have not been on the Gem but I have sailed the Jewel, Sky, Dawn, Star and the old Norway. In February of 2009 my wife and I sailed the Jade on a Mediterranean itinerary and LOVED it.
We almost always do our own tours and never received a dirty look. On a Baltic tour on Jewel they did give out incorrect information, for Russia, that unless you booked their tour and did not have a visa you would not be allowed through customs. This is not right. If you have a tour with a registered guide/tour service you are allowed into the country for 72 hours, as long as you stay with the tour/guide.
I am a big fan of the specialty restaurants, and yes a number of them have a surcharge, but the overall cruise fare is usually less and the "choices" this allows you are perfect for a port intensive itinerary such as Europe.
The main dining rooms, buffet, Blue Lagoon and pool grill are no charge and I have usually found the food very good in these areas. The exception was a few days on Jewel when the buffet area was not too good but they did resolve it later in the cruise.
I do urge you to put $100 - $200 in your cruise budget and try the specialty restaurants. If you do you will enjoy some of the best dining at sea. However, if you don't wish to then the included alternatives will definitely be more than adequate.
I have never had bad service on any NCL cruise nor have found any ship dirty or unkempt. The Norway was showing her age but it was always clean. I also have never received a "dirty look" when not buying a drink. I have found that the most aggressive the bar staff will be is on sail-away day. After that they are not pushy in the least bit.
I really believe you have made a good choice in going with NCL for this cruise. You will not have to worry about rushing back to the ship just to have dinner. The shows and entertainers are very good. I found them better than the last two Carnival cruises I have been on and you will be able to stay on the ship later (around 10:30 a.m.) on the last day if you have a later flight.
Everything may not be perfect but in all my cruises I have never found a cruise ship that is but almost all of them come close. If there is something major wrong then address it with your steward or Purser's desk as soon as possible and if it isn't taken care of then take it to the Hotel Manager. That is how issues are resolved instead of leaving you with a bad feeling after you leave the cruise.
I have only addressed a problem with the Purser's desk one time and it was quickly resolved.
Enjoy your cruise!!!
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Several of our friends who are avid cruisers highly recommended we try Freestyle and one in particular swears by the Gem..is the reason we cancelled our Equinox for the Gem and the fact the ports were more attractive to us...oh yes,not to mention the price.. We did go with an open mind and my experience is "my experience"..and yes, I would cruise with NCL again...and will be. Only YOU can decide if the experience, food, service and entertainment are up to your expectations. We were on the ship for thirteen day and that is what my report/review is based on.. Yes, definetely try Cagneys and Le Bistro..they are part of the cruising experience and Le Bisto is a very romantic and rich atmosphere to share with your loved one.
It seems to me from all that I've read, that everything on the NCL Gem is extra. Extra (or not available at all) if you want water at dinner; extra for coffee or heaven forbid, orange juice; all entertainment is extra; things like rock wall or bowling is extra;
I just wanted to add - this is very misleading. if you order a special coffee (Caffe mocha or espresso) then you pay extra, but regular coffee is always included with every meal. Orange juice should be free with breakfast in the buffet. If you order it at a bar then they will charge you, like any bar anywhere would.
The phrase "all entertainment is extra" is flat out wrong. I actually don't know if they charge for any entertainment on your cruise, but I guarantee you there will be plenty of it every night at no cost.
The rock wall - I don't know if they charge. Bowling, yes they do charge per frame.
In the a.m.Paul there was a juice station at the end of the buffet... I never checked to see if there was a charge, nor did I get any.. They did have a mini-bar when you walked in to buy a mimosa or bloody mary in the a.m. The drink stations had two or three kinds of juice in the a.m., plus iced tea.. The ice cream/sorbets/soft serve were free. There was a charge for the jazz brunch in Le Bistro and a classical brunch.. $15.00.. I cannot remember if there was any entertainment venue that there was a charge for.