Jewel of the Big Apple- Norwegian Gem Review


Although not the biggest or newest ship in the fleet, Norwegian Gem nonetheless offers some of the better onboard activities and amenities you’ll find—making her just as perfect for a romantic holiday with your partner as for a fun-filled family vacation. The last of the four Jewel-class ships to be built, Gem first set sail back in 2007 and is without a doubt the most outstanding ship in her class.

Gem features a similar layout and design to her sister ships, making it hard to tell them apart from the outside. However, as soon as you climb up the gangplank and step aboard you’ll immediately know something is different, as Gem is without a doubt the most fully loaded ship in this class. While not offering quite as many activities and amenities as NCL’s newer ships—Epic, Breakaway and Getaway—Gem is still one of the liveliest and most entertaining ships you could sail on.

This isn’t to say that Gem is perfect, as it does have its flaws like any other ship would. Nonetheless, these are typically minor and could probably be said about any cruise ship in general, as most of the negative complaints are limited to it feeling a bit crowded or having to wait in lines at the restaurants—especially around dinner time. Still, any experienced cruiser can tell you that lines and crowds usually come with the territory and in actuality are not nearly as bad on Gem as on many others.

So, whether you want to experience the beauty of Florida and the Bahamas, Caribbean tropical paradises or a relaxing trip through spectacular Canada and New England, Norwegian Gem is sure to take you there in comfort and style.

The Freestyle Experience Aboard Gem

As with all other ships in the NCL fleet, Gem follows the freestyle cruising concept, meaning passengers can do what they want, when they want. This means a very limited dress code and no assigned dining times, while also applying to the various entertainment options. Of course, you can always make a reservation if you want to eat at a specific time, and in fact, it is recommended for the specialty restaurants. On the same token, it’s always a good idea to get tickets early if you have your heart set on seeing one of Gem’s more popular shows, as some of them do fill up quickly.

Welcome to New York

Norwegian Gem has been based year round in New York for several years now and all cruises aboard this ship both depart from and return to the Big Apple. This means you’ve got a great chance to experience some of the hustle and bustle and major sites the world’s most famous city is known for, either before or after your cruise. What could be better than taking in a Broadway show then climbing aboard for a whirlwind tour of some of the most stunning sites in the Caribbean or the Bahamas?

What To Do Onboard

With twelve restaurants, thirteen bars, an enormous theater and more onboard activities and amenities than you can shake a stick at; you’ll surely never be bored when cruising on Norwegian Gem. In fact, if you happened to miss seeing one of those Broadway shows before you left New York, you’re in luck, as the 1,000 plus seat Stardust Theater hosts both Broadway and Vegas style shows, plus a hilarious comedy routine from Chicago’s famous Second City troupe, throughout the cruise.

Or, if you’re feeling like trying your luck, you can always stop by the ship’s incredible Gem Club Casino, where players can test their skills at Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, slot machines, and more. In addition, there are always a number of different tournaments offered throughout the trip, including the always popular Texas Hold’em tournaments—some of which draw hundreds of passengers and can give you the chance to win some serious cash and prizes.

If you’re feeling restless during those long days at sea, why not stop by the Body Waves Fitness Center, where you can use the fully loaded gym facilities or attend one of the daily aerobics, spinning or other fitness classes. Of course, you could also use the pools, the jogging track or play basketball, tennis or volleyball on one of the ship’s courts. For those that are a bit more adventurous, you definitely can’t miss trying your hand at climbing the ship’s massive rock wall.

On the other hand, if you’re simply looking to relax and enjoy some serious pampering, then Gem’s Ying & Yang Spa and Beauty Salon has got you covered with a huge range of outstanding services.

For the party animals out there, your favorite night of the cruise will be when the Spinnaker Lounge is suddenly transformed into a wild night club for the ship’s famous White Hot Party. This is your chance to dance and party the night away with your fellow passengers, but be warned, these things can get out of control!

Fun For All Ages

While Norwegian Gem definitely offers up tons of excitement, action and adventure for adults, NCL definitely hasn’t forgotten about the kids, as Gem is literally packed with more kid friendly activities that you can even imagine. For starters, this is one of only five of NCL’s ships to offer the Nickelodeon program, where kids can eat breakfast with their favorite TV characters, enjoy a variety of fun arts and crafts and let it all out with a wild, kids-only dance party hosted by Dora the Explorer. Still, even without the Nickelodeon program, there’s always the Tree Top Kid’s Club, offering up a number of additional activities for kids.

While the Nickelodeon program will definitely appeal to the younger kids, there are also plenty of options for those older children as well, starting with the ship’s video arcade, where passengers can play a variety of different games for free. Of course, if video games are your thing, you surely can’t miss playing a game of Nintendo Wii on the ship’s massive two story video screen.

Staying Aboard Norwegian Gem

As far as the restaurants and staterooms are concerned, Gem is very similar to the other ships in her class, and all of the ships in Norwegian’s fleet for that matter. Guests have a huge range of choices for cabins, ranging from quite cheap interior rooms to fully loaded villas. So whatever type of vacation you’re looking for, you’ll definitely find it aboard Norwegian Gem.

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