NCL not for us.
We had a package which consisted of QM2 from Southampton to New York, transfer to Norwegian Gem for a cruise around the Caribbean and back to New York, one night in New York and then back on the QM2 to return to Southampton. The contrast between the two ships could not have been greater. As expected the QM2 was brilliant at sailing through extremely rough weather (force 11 and 12 winds and high seas. There was plenty to do without going outside when it was rough, lots of excellent speakers each day, the Planetarium, quizzes, bridge, whist, board games, dancing, a good gym and spa, lots of quiet spaces to just sit and read or do the crossword etc. Good shops, good music at times in the various lounges (not always to everyones taste but most people could find something), excellent staff and good food offerings in the restaurants and bars. We tend not to do the shows but heard that other people enjoyed them. Prices are high in the bars and the shops. On to the Norwegian Gem! Peace was shattered - there was loud music almost everywhere in the ship. And although 600-700 of us had gone from the QM2 the majority of passengers were American, and some Americans can be loud which added to the overall sound levels. The small library was a place of refuge, but only for a few. The intellectual challenges available were limited to a crossword every day - obviously very American but this is the first time I have come across an ampersand in a crossword! We liked the ability to eat when and where we liked - no fixed dining, or even table, and a good selection of places to get food - both complimentary or at additional charge. However the menus did not change much in the different places - the lunch buffet had the same things each day, the outdoor grill had burgers, hot dogs, pizza and chilli, every day. Salads were pathetic with little choice. And the main dining room had similar lunch menus each day. Disappointing but the quality of food was quite good. We visited several Caribbean islands and the ship organised Port Shopping Talks. Not Port talks - just about the shopping. There was absolutely no information about the various places we visited except a map of the shopping area with a few special shops highlighted - expensive ones naturally. Every other cruise ship I had been on has provided passengers with a sheet of information about the places we visit - a map with places of interest marked, the currency used, taxi rates etc. But nothing from NCL - I suppose we were just expect to make their tours - expensive as always. We declined the offer. We had an all inclusive drinks package (this includes 1l of water per person per day - we didnt know that and bought another 6l to start us off before we embarked!). This makes it much easier to just order another drink at any time - which many people took advantage of. A pint of beer or a cocktail at 10.00 in the morning wasnt a totally usual sight but to be fair we saw very few real drunk around the ship, although I cant comment on the nightclubs or the casino (where smoking was allowed!). Another minor niggle was the size of the sheets on the beds! They were too small and couldnt be tucked in so if you turned over a couple of times in the night you often found yourself sleeping on the mattress cover. Not for us but Im sure younger people who want to party would enjoy it
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