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Norwegian Gem


Overview: A multitude of choices, including many dining options, add up to a very attractive vacation package, highly suitable for families with children, in a floating leisure center that provides ample facilities for enjoyment.


Bread Pudding Heaven! by Perry-griffiths, Tamworth

Bread Pudding Heaven!

Overall Rating: 1


Cruise Line:
NCL Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Norwegian Gem

Reviewed By: on
Having recently returned from the above cruise, we thought it would only be fair to provide you with a detailed account of the holiday. A copy of this has been sent to NCL with our request fior a refund of the Service Charges we had prepaid, so you can understand our experience was not the best!

Let me start by saying that the ship was lovely and clean and the cabins were spotless (we had inside on deck 9). The majority of staff were pleasant and if you can put up with Mr Washy Washy at 7am in a morning, then you will have good time. He always a happy chap. We will say that we were disappointed with the itinerary in the fact that whilst we chose the cruise because of the places we would see, we also chose it because there were only two days at sea. However in fairness this is not the case as some days you are in port for just 4 hours and so rest of day is sea. Had we known this we may have booked something else. Some will say it is due to distance, but we spoke to few people who said they had done the same itinerary with other cruise lines and had not had the amount of time at sea as we had with NCL.

Having cruised with Island and Ocean Village before, we saw NCL as a step up from these and in terms of the money we spent on holiday we thought our expectations were justified.

It was a little off putting when we first got on the ship to be forced to walk through a stream of people who were trying to sell you things or get you to sign up for excursions. We understand NCL have to do this but you could allow people to at least settle in on the ship first.

We had booked an inside cabin on deck 9, and in fairness, the cabin was clean a decent size, and really could not be faulted. We took a wander around the ship and it was really nice ship, we really thought we had made the right choice. So what went wrong?

I know this is not NCL fault, but the guests on the ship (mainly American, German, Italian, French and Spanish) were the rudest people ever. I think they felt that food was limited the way the pushed in the queues. The had no manners, you were lucky if you got a please, thank you or excuse me. I was sat at table one day sideways because people behind wouldnt move their chair, lots of people passed by me no problem, then someone tripped over my foot. I apologised, but immediately wished I hadn;t as she stood for two minutes glaring at me. I felt like saying "Next time, look where you are going, the food will still be there when you get to it!" By end of holiday I felt myself, turning into one of them and losing my manners. Very rude indeed.

Compared to the other cruises we went on, we felt there was a distinct lack of entertainment especially during the day. This meant that days at sea went slow, unless you were lucky enough to get on deck to sunbathe.

Occasionally a film was played, though the cinema, was an open area in reception, where the jewellery sales were on so there was a lack of space, and also it was very noisy with people constantly walking past. The more sensible thing would have been to have them in the Stardust Theatre during the day.

We went to a few of the shows on the night in the Stardust Theatre, and whilst I must say the NCL singers and dancers were very good, the quality of the guest performers was diabolical. In fact if Simon, Amanda and Piers were onboard I doubt any would have avoided three red crosses, apart from the Il Divo tribute Act, who were very good. Even so, when booking two seven day cruises which most of us had, we would have expected the entertainment to have been planned a lot better so that we did not get duplicate entertainers during the period, even their own shows were duplicated.

The three guest entertainers that we saw that we thought were very poor were the Cirque Du Soleil duo, the Ventriloquist and the Illusionist.

The Cirque du Soleil act, whilst the acrobatics were good, the magic act was a joke, and just seemed to be part of the act to make it last longer.

The ventriloquist spoke 5 different languages, but most of this was just simple “mmm” and “ugh ugh” – which he said in the same way for the five different languages. He then showed us how to make a puppet, which considering the average age of guests was probably 60, we would have preferred to see him perform more.

The illusionist, well we never laughed so much, although we were not meant to do so. If Magic Circle saw is act they would ban him for giving all the secrets out, even though he probably didnt realise he was. The best part was when he “floated” a table around the audience by holding the edges of the cloth on it. It was so obvious there were two sticks he was holding and walking around with it. I have never seen so many people leave a show. It was dreadful.

Most nights we ate in the Garden Cafe, we did pay a couple of times for Cagney’s (which was lovely food and great service – although second time they denied having a booking for us). We tried to book Magento one night and they said they didnt take bookings and it was always very busy, so we didn’t manage to get into this until the last night and we were annoyed because others came down and had obviously been allowed to book tables.

The food was repetitive, unimaginative and the quality was poor. The menu was the same at lunch time as it was in the Evening. Ocean Village and Island always managed to produce different meals each day and different meals lunch and dinner, so don’t try and say it can’t be done.

There were sections for each type of food (eg Pizza, Pasta, Cooke Meat, Indian, Stir Fry, Burgers and Mexican, Salad Bar and then Deserts). Each night we would go up and apart from the odd dish, the majority would be the same as the previous night. I am sure if you sat at home and had the same meal for 14 nights, and 14 lunches you would start to get fed up with it too. We did speak to one of the staff on about day 9 and ask if the chef could possibly cook something other than Bread Pudding for the hot desert as for 9 days it. He laughed at us and said sometimes they added jam into it, although we never saw that once.

Breakfasts were aimed purely at the American Market and it was like being in a Ponderosa Buffet breakfast, not the quality of food I would expect on a Cruise ship.

Most days the food was lukewarm, and on one occasion I had a burger that was not cooked properly. The second week of the cruise I was starting to feel ill with the food, and I know that a few others mentioned to us that they had been ill. It really spoilt our holiday and our expectations of NCL.

Prices and Internet
The prices of everything on the ship were extortionate, Shore excursions and Internet being prime examples. We never booked one of your Shore excursions as the prices were too high, we managed to do our own thing in all the resorts and for a fraction of the price. On previous ships, we have checked our email every few days and kept in touch with people back home, but at 75 cents per minute, this was impossible. Even the bundles were expensive. We did pay on the Friday for an internet bundle at $12 for 30 minutes. The first week was ok as I sat in the Internet Cafe and used it, but because there were limited seats, the following week I tried to use it several times on my ipad. It allowed me to long in and then took me off the wifi, so I had to log in again. All the time it was charging me.

Customer Services
By the middle of the second week, I was counting the days until I got home. I had had enough of the Entertainment, Food and the extremely rude guests (though I won’t hold NCL responsible for them). I decided enough was enough and I wanted a refund for the service charge we had prepaid. To be honest, I wanted a refund for part of the holiday as I felt for what we received we were overcharged. When we enquired about it, the attitude we received back from the Customer Services staff was laughable. They were rude, and unhelpful. I queried about the small charges on my bill for the Internet and they refused to refund them as the Internet desk was closed. You would have thought for the sake of Customer Services, and the value involved they would have credited them, but I guess they knew they wouldn’t be getting a service charge from us, so couldn’t be bothered.

Overall, we must say the Cabin was lovely and the Housekeeping staff did work hard to keep it clean and tidy, we also visited some lovely places, but as for the overall NCL experience, this was far from the luxury holiday that we had expected. The food was poor, entertainment was laughable (but for the wrong reasons), and Customer Services were rude. When you have paid over £1500 oer person for a holiday, you expect standards above this. We certainly got them on previous cruises and for a lot less.

We for one would never sail NCL again, and I know from speaking to other guests we are not alone in our thoughts on this.

Times cruised before: 1-2
Sailed: September, 2010
Age: 36-45
Cabin: Inside
Occasion: Family holiday

Quality of Food

Poor shows: Illusionist, Cirque Du Soleil duo and Ventriloquist Best shows: Il Divo Tribute, NCL shows

Shore Excursions
Never Did any because too expensive

Best Staff: Housekeeping and Washy Washy - hard workers Worse Staff: Customer Services, Chefs

Children's Facilities

Onboard Activities
Not as much to do as other cruises.

Good Size, very Clean

Overall Rating
Simpson, High Moor Lane - Commented on this review

Did you try to get a table in the Magenta?. We sailed on the Gem for 7 days on 11th September and didn't use the Garden Cafe buffet on an evening once. We would go to the main dinning rooms whenever we where ready & collect a "buzzer" (which gave you 2 for 1 on drinks in the bar whilst you wait) & never waited for more than 20 minutes for a table to become free. The menus changed daily and there was no repitition in the 7 days. Two other points you raised were length of stays in port the itineray for both weeks was no secret you could have easily found out, we took no excursions & all ports were DIY which we planned at home using the internet. As for the rudeness of passengers in my experience a ship full of fellow countrymen is my worst mightmare maybe they can queue but they to can be very rude and obnoxious. We never once went to the theatre (too tired after action packed days) bingo & silly games etc aren't our thing so can't comment on the quality of the evening entertainment. the ship is big enough so nothing overlaps we would sit in the bars & listen to the singers on an evening oblivious to what else was going on elsewhere. NCL freestyle is like Marmite you either love it or you hate it. It would appear that you are just nit picking and could have easily resolved most of the issues with just a little research.

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Taylor, Glasgow - Commented on this review

I think you are perhaps more used to cruises which have mostly Brits on board and they tend to get quite huffy about queues and 'foreigners'(mainly American, German, Italian, French and Spanish) not knowing 'the rules' and displaying deplorable manners! How very dare they indeed! We've been on lots of cruises where all sorts of people have not behaved properly in my opinion but the same thing happens regularly here on a trip to Tesco's. Get over it!

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