The nearly 2,394-passenger Norwegian Gem feels small compared to newer Norwegian Cruise Line ships, but it's wildly popular because of its intimate atmosphere and fun vibe. The ship perfectly represents what NCL fans love about the line's Freestyle Cruising, which offers flexibility as well as lots of choices for where to eat or drink. A 2015 renovation upgraded the decor in common spaces, including in the Bliss Ultra Lounge and The Haven, the exclusive ship-within-a-ship.
What We Love
O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar and Grill: This space, where you can watch sports on the two-story screen or just sit back and enjoy bar snacks and brews while making new friends, may be the most fun hangout on board.
Freestyle Dining: The Freestyle Dining concept allows you to stroll into the main dining rooms whenever you want — on your stomach's schedule, not the ship's — to be seated for dinner. And, in addition to the main dining rooms, the buffet, and O'Sheehan's, Norwegian Gem has a wide variety of specialty dining options. La Cucina is the ship's Italian restaurant, Moderno is a Brazilian churrascaria, and Le Bistro serves French cuisine. Cagney's Steakhouse, a sushi bar, and a teppanyaki grill round out the for-fee venues.
Best Known For
The Haven: The exclusive enclave at the top of the ship may be a splurge, but cabins here include access to a private lounge, pool, sundeck, fitness area, and restaurant, as well as other perks.
Plenty of Activities and Entertainment: With high-quality production shows, magic acts, theme parties, late-night dancing, and 13 bars, you'll never struggle to find something to do after dark.
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Who It's Best For
Frugal Fun Seekers and Families: Budget-conscious travelers and families flock to Norwegian Gem. It's not fancy, but it offers fun in a relaxed atmosphere as you sail from New York to the Caribbean or to New England and Canada.
Anti-Planners: If you don't like to stick to a schedule — at home or at sea — Freestyle Cruising let's you relax and make decisions at whim. There are also plenty of activities throughout the day, from rock-climbing to trivia contests.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Freestyle Dining Is Different: This is a wonderful option if you don't like to plan ahead, but you do miss out on some of the enchanting aspects of cruising that are popular among long-time aficionados, including getting to know your table mates.
John Roberts is a New Jersey-based writer for ShermansCruise who worked at The Virginian-Pilot.
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Norwegian Gem at a Glance
- Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Class: Jewel
- Number of Passengers: 2394
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2007
- Refurbish Date: 2015