The Norwegian Gem
Christened in October of 2007, The Norwegian Gem was NCL’s newest Cruise Ship until the Norwegian Epic was released in the summer of 2010. I have now sailed onboard twice, and the Gem is one of my favorite ships because of it’s great food, entertainment, and overall look and feel of the ship.
Atrium/Promenade: Deck 7
Unlike the Dawn Class Ships of Norwegian which have a similar exterior, The Gem and it’s sister ships don’t have an atrium that goes up 6 or 7 decks. That feature isn’t missed very much since a 2-Story Nintendo Wii-Wall stands in this nice little atrium area. They schedule a few hours per day for supervised “Wii Play”. The big screen is also used for presentations onboard for shopping and shore excursions. The atrium does go up one more deck, with two dining options on Deck 8, Blue Lagoon and Tequila Latin Restaurant.
The outdoor promenade walking area does go around completely on Deck 7, which, is home to the Trade Routes Boutiques, The Art and Photo Galleries, and Bliss Ultra Lounge. Bliss is a dark lounge area which features 4 Bowling Allies. You can bowl for about $5.00 each. If you want to bowl on a rough sea day, make sure to ask for the bumpers to be put up!
There are 2 main dining rooms, Magenta and Grand Pacific. Magenta is the smaller, more intimate dining room. Grand Pacific is a large, beautiful space that seats over 550 guests. It is at the aft of the ship, and has panoramic windows looking back at the ship’s wake. Magenta and Grand Pacific have the same menu. There are some classic items always available, and specials which change every night. The food is usually great in the Main Dining room, but after a few nights, the excitement goes away.
I definitely recommend trying a specialty restaurant. My personal favorite is Cagney’s Steakhouse, which serves Colossal Shrimp Cocktail, Lamb Chops, seafood entrees, and, most importantly, incredible steaks! The other specialty restaurants, which also serve mouthwatering meals include the beautiful La Cucina Italian Restaurant, the rich and delicious Le Bistro French Restaurant, Tequila Latin Restaurant which is soon to be replaced by Moderno Churascaria on the Gem, and the Orchid Garden Asian restaurant, where senior Asian Staff Members are often seen dining.
Teppanyaki must be tried at least once on a Norwegian Cruise Line Ship. The actual definition of Teppanyaki is Japanese Cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food. The word teppanyaki is derived from teppan, which means iron plate, and yaki, which means grilled, broiled or pan-fried.These talented chefs slice and dice your food in front of you. It is a great meal, and a great show to watch them prepare it!
All of the Specialty Restaurants that I just mentioned require a $10 – $25 cover charge.
The Garden Cafe (Buffet) had made to order Action Stations, a fresh salad bar, a dessert bar, and tons of options for everyone! It is the best buffet I have ever seen, and experienced on a cruise ship. There is an added Kids Cafe with options for little
Blue Lagoon is a cafe/dining area with quick breakfasts in the morning, and anything from hamburgers, sandwiches, and snacks to Comfort food and fast-wok dishes 24 hours a day.
Entertainment & Activities
I enjoy Norwegian’s fleet-wide entertainment options including the Second City comedy troupe, my fleet-wide favorite. The major production shows, World Beat, and
Get Down Tonight! are great shows, but it does depend on the lead singers. The bands, small shows, and other performances are normally in Spinnaker Lounge, the lounge area at the front of the ship with the same Panoramic views that the Captain and officers have on deck below on the bridge. There are also comedians, magicians, jugglers, and other impressive performers onboard every week.
The Cruise Director’s staff have various activities throughout the day and night including popular bingo, trivia, and various classes including Arts & Crafts, Ballroom Dancing, and Comedy/Acting classes by Second City.
At night, there are game shows in Spinnaker Lounge including the Newlywed Game, and Deal or No Deal.
There are various shipboard parties including NCL’s signature White-hot Party. The Casino is packed on most sea days, and nights too. A boatload of activities and entertainment options are available on the Norwegian Gem.
The Pool area has a ton of action. There are two pools, a popular slide, and many people lounging in the sun. There is a tropical band that plays, mainly on nice sea days. I find it hard to be unhappy while sitting at the pool on the Gem, or watching the action from up above at Bali Hai Bar and Grill.
The Cabins onboard are what you would normally find on a modern ship, with enough space for most people. They are well kept by the hardest working people on the ship, the Housekeeping Department. Besides the basic inside and ocean-view cabins, there are tons of balconies and mini suites. The special addition to the Jewel/Gem class ships is the Courtyard, a private area for guests in the two 4,252 sq. foot Garden Villas, the Deluxe Owners Suites, and Courtyard Villas.
The Norwegian Gem is currently sailing out of New York City on various itineraries to Bermuda, The Bahamas and Florida, Eastern Caribbean, and on Canada & New England Cruises.
If you have never tried Norwegian Cruise Line, I hope I have at least persuaded you to try Freestyle Cruising. If you already Cruise Like a Norwegian, I hope this review brought back some great memories of the Norwegian Gem.
NOTE FROM MIKEY: Thanks Spencer for that awesome review! You can check out more of Spencer’s great photos and more blogs at his blog right HERE.