Norwegian Gem - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Norwegian Gem


Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 369 out of 500

Accommodation: 145 out of 200

Food: 240 out of 400

Service: 272 out of 400

Entertainment: 66 out of 100

Cruise: 275 out of 400

Overall Score: 1367 out of 2000

Norwegian Gem Statistics

Size: Large Resort Ship

Tonnage: 93,530

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9355733

Builder: Meyer Werft (Germany)

Original Cost: $390 million

Entered Service: Oct 2007

Registry: Panama

Length (ft/m): 964.8/294.1

Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2

Draft (ft/m): 26.9/8.2

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric/2 azimuthing pods

Passenger Decks: 12

Total Crew: 1,126

Passengers (lower beds): 2,394

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 39.0

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.1/2.5

Cabins (total): 1,197

Size Range (sq ft/m): 142.0-4,390.0/13.2-407.8

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 540

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 27

Wheelchair accessibility: Good

Cabin Current: 110 volts

Elevators: 12

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2

Hot Tubs (on deck): 6

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: US$


A large, family-friendly ship with multiple eating venues

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.

The Ship. The design and layout of Norwegian Gem is similar to that of Norwegian Pearl, and there is a pod propulsion system for vibration-free cruising. The white hull has a colorful string of gems along its sides as a design. There are plenty of deck lounge chairs - more than the total of passengers. Water slides are included for the adult swimming pools. Children have their own pools at the ship’s stern.

Inside the ship is an entertaining mix of bright, warm colors and decor that you probably wouldn’t have in your home, and yet somehow they all work well.

The dress code is ultra-casual: no jacket and tie needed, although you are welcome to dress formally - but jeans are probably essential. Although service levels and finesse may be inconsistent, the level of hospitality aboard Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships is good. There’s plenty of lively music, constant activity, entertainment, and food that is mainstream and acceptable but nothing more - even when you pay extra to eat in the specialty dining spots.

There are 11 bars and lounges, including Bar Central, four specialty bars: a Martini bar, a Champagne and wine bar, a beer and whiskey bar, and a cigar lounge; these interconnect with the lobby, yet have distinct personalities. The lobby houses a Java Bar, plus a two-deck-high movie screen, typically used to show sports events and Wii activities. One neat room is the Bliss Ultra Lounge & Night Club, at the aft end of the ship; it houses a 24-hours-a-day V-shaped sports bar and lounge complex, including a bowling alley with four real bowling lanes - the cost is $5 per person, including special playing shoes, and it is limited to six persons per lane. The lounge doesn’t have many seats, but does have a couple of decadent beds.

The casino is typical of larger resort ship casinos, with plenty of gaming tables, slot machines, noise, and smoke. So, if you walk through the casino to get from the showlounge to other public rooms, you’ll be subject to cigarette smoke. A new twist in the onboard casino scene has appeared, with poolside blackjack now established in its own ‘open-air casino’ on the pool deck.

The ship is full of revenue centers designed to help you part with even more money than you paid for your cruise ticket. Expect to be subjected to a stream of flyers advertising art auctions, ‘designer’ watches, gold and silver chain by the inch, and other promotions - and the cruise director’s long program announcements three times a day. This pre-paid tipping has led to unmotivated service.

A per person service charge that can’t be changed is automatically added to your account daily; 15 percent is also added for bar charges, and a whopping 18 percent for spa treatments.

Families. Because NCL is all about cruising with families of all ages, much space is devoted to children’s facilities, all thoughtfully tucked well away from adult recreation areas, at the aft end of the ship. Children of all ages can play in the wet ’n’ wild space-themed water park (the Aqua Kid’s Club), complete with large pool, water slide, and paddle pool. There’s a 30ft by 19ft (9m by 6m) climbing wall at the funnel. Teens are well catered for, and have their own cinema, discotheque with dance floor, and hot tub. There’s a room full of cots for toddlers to use for sleepovers. And Nickelodeon characters are onboard, so young ones can enjoy a Pajama Jam Breakfast.

More than 250 cabins have interconnecting doors - good for families with children. That means interior cabins can connect; outside-view cabins can connect; and outside-view and balcony cabins can connect. Also for families, many cabins also have third- and fourth-person pull-down berths or trundle beds.

Accommodation. There are many, many different price grades, from small interior cabins to lavish suites in a private courtyard setting.

Although they are nicely furnished and quite well equipped, the standard outside-view and interior cabins are quite small, particularly when occupied by three or four people. A small room service menu is available - all non-food items cost extra cost, and a 15 percent service charge is automatically added to your account. Bottled water is placed in each cabin, but you will be charged if you open the bottle.

The following suites, part of The Haven, are available:

Courtyard Villas/Garden Villas. The two Garden Villa Suites, each measuring 4,390 sq ft (408 sq m), and 10 Courtyard Villas share a private courtyard with its own small pool, hot tub, and small fitness room, and have butler service. These units enjoy exclusivity - rather like accommodation in a gated community - where others cannot live unless they pay the asking price.

Deluxe Owner’s Suites. These two suites, Black Pearl and Golden Pearl, are set high atop all other accommodation, have stunning ocean views, and consist of a master bedroom with king-size bed, a dining/lounge area, a decent-size balcony, and access to the private courtyard.

Penthouse Suites. Located at the front of the ship, they have a partly private balcony under the navigation bridge.

Dining. There are two main dining rooms: the 304-seat Grand Palace, with its minimalist decor; and the 558-seat Magenta Restaurant. There are several other themed eating spots, giving a wide range of choice; some cost extra, and require advance reservations, particularly for dinner. All are part of NCL’s Freestyle Dining - there are no assigned dining rooms, tables, or seats, so you’ll need to plan your meals and times accordingly.

With 17 video screens located around the ship, you can check how busy each dining spot is and make a booking and find out whether, or how long, you’ll need to wait for a table; pagers are also available, so you can go bar-hopping while you wait for a table in your chosen venue. The system generally works well, with colored bars to indicate whether a restaurant is ‘full,’ ‘moderately busy,’ or ‘empty.’ This has cut down the frustration of waiting a long time for a table, although on formal nights, when you may want to see the production shows, congestion certainly does occur. Note that NCL’s dress code states that ‘jeans, T-shirts, tank tops, and bare feet are not permitted in restaurants.’

Other dining options. These include Cagney’s Steak House (serving steaks from 5oz to 48oz); Blue Lagoon (for trendy fast-food street snacks); Le Bistro for classic French cuisine; Orchid Garden, an Asian eatery complete with sushi bar and Teppanyaki grill (where the chef puts on a display in front of you); La Cucina, serving Italian cuisine; Latin Restaurant; the Garden Café, a large self-serve buffet-style restaurant, for casual meals; Kids’ Café; and a Java Café, which serves Lavazza coffee, in the lobby.

Entertainment. The Stardust Theater, seating 1,042, is the venue for colorful Las Vegas-style production shows and major cabaret acts. It is designed in the style of an opera house, spans three decks, and has a steeply tiered main floor and port and starboard balconies.

There are three production shows in a typical seven-day cruise, all ably performed by the Jean Ann Ryan Company. They are always colorful and high-energy shows.

Spa/Fitness. Wellness devotees should enjoy the two-deck-high Yin-Yang Health Spa complex, open until 10pm and operated by the Steiner-owned and Hawaii-based Mandara Spa. It is located in the front of the ship, with large ocean-view windows on three sides. There are many facilities and services to pamper you, and 18 treatment rooms. There’s also a 37ft (11m) indoor lap pool, hydrotherapy pool, two sit-in deep tubs, aromatherapy and wellness centers, and mud treatment room.

The Body Waves fitness and exercise rooms are within the spa and have the latest Cybex muscle-pumping equipment. Most classes, such as Pathway to Yoga, Body Cycling Class, and Body Beat Class (cardio kick-boxing), cost extra.

Recreational sports facilities include a jogging track, golf driving range, and basketball and volleyball courts, as well as several levels of sunbathing decks, plus the four bowling lanes and a funnel-mounted rock-climbing wall.