Norwegian Cruise Lines is one of our favorite cruise companies most especially for their Freestyle Cruising concept. We sailed on the Norwegian Pearl when Mama Nellie was pregnant with little Lana and this time around we sailed on the Norwegian Gem which is the same Jewel Class ship so we were very familiar with the Gem’s layout.
Norwegian does offer Kids Sail Free specials on occasion but unfortunately it was not available at our time of booking and we had to pay for our poochie mama on this trip. Norwegian does not have special kids pricing so we paid the regular third person fair for our ity bity baby.
The concept of Freestyle Cruising we absolutely love. It was a much better experience than our last cruise on the Carnival Dream. NCL seems to cater more towards families and younger children. The Carnival Dream had no fun outdoor accommodations for children who are not yet potty trained and if you dared to enter any of the kids wet zones, pools or slides you get confronted by the water police who remind you of the rules and ask you to take your child. Our NCL cruise was the polar opposite; dedicated baby area complete with a baby pool and slide and security doors to prevent babies from escaping. Nobody even bothered us when we sat in the main pool with Lana which had numerous other infants and toddlers with their parents as well.
Norwegian Cruise Lines also partners with Nickelodeon on some ships and have numerous kid and baby friendly activities and shows throughout the day. Dora and Spongebob were regulars on our ship which children loved. Currently the NCL ships offering the Nickelodeon program are the Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway
Our Itinerary for this trip was a 9 day Eastern Caribbean cruise departing from New York with stops at San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Marten, St. Thomas and Samana Dominican Republic. It was winter time here in NYC and it was just above 30F degrees when we left port mid March. By our first sea day it was still too cold to go outside. We were just outside the Carolina coast and it was still a chilly 50F degrees outside. Coming back was the same thing so we pretty much spent two sea days staying in doors. The four port of calls were amazing and we will do separate posts for each port of call soon.
The Norwegian Gem is one of the smaller ships we’ve sailed on with a tonnage of 93,530 and passenger capacity of 2384 with 1154 crew. It is a perfect balance of crew vs passengers and amenities though. We sailed on a completely booked ship and never did it feel overcrowded or never were we left unattended for prolonged periods of time during dinner or for any other entertainment.
The Main Atrium on the Gem is two stories tall and holds two restaurants, a bar, guest service desk, excursion desk, jewelry store and the large screen pictured here where they hold movie nights on occasion. The Atrium gets highly trafficked at night.
Norwegian Gem Pool Deck. There are two pools on the deck separated by a gazebo which hosts poolside entertainment and bands. On a full ship it was nearly impossible to get a chair in the sun past 8:30am
The Gem’s pool deck at night
The Grand Buffet on the Gem. Go to the furthest back omelet station if you don’t want to wait on a line. The longest I had to wait was just one person in front of me.
The Grand Buffet dining area. We sailed on a full ship so it was almost impossible to get tables on peak hours. Luckily we are early birds and always grabbed tables before 8am with no problem.
The Grand Pacific dining area is the only restaurant with a dress code. No tanks, shorts or flip flops
The Norwegian Gem’s casino is very congested with smoke. I really tried avoiding passing through here if I could. The only ATM on the ship is here as well.
The Duty Free shopping area is much larger than what I’ve seen on larger ships on my other cruises
The fitness center is also larger than the three other ships I’ve been too. It is very well equipped for a cruise ship.
For a ship under 100k tonnage The Norwegian Gem packs a ton of food, fun and entertainment. It has one of the most food options we’ve seen on a ship so far, the largest shopping center on ship and largest fitness center as well. It also had a rock climbing wall and bowling alley which we did not get a chance to take advantage of. We’re big fans of Norwegian Cruise Lines for its baby friendliness and our overall great experiences we’ve had with them. We already put a deposit down on a future cruise. Hopefully we will do the Breakaway sometime soon and post a review!