Norwegian Gem
Norwegian Gem / NCL
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Pool deck
Pool deck / Kristen Boatright
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Atrium / NCL
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Magenta Main Dining Room
Magenta Main Dining Room / NCL
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Entourage / NCL
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Suite Bedroom
Suite Bedroom / Kristen Boatright
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Norwegian Gem Review

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Gem feels small compared to newer Norwegian Cruise Line ships, but this older vessel remains 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 (including 14 bars and lounges). Recent refurbishments have upgraded the decor in many of the common spaces, including the pool area, but some inside cabins are arguably a bit too snug at 138 square feet. Conversely, the 3-Bedroom Garden Villas in The Haven, NCL’s exclusive “ship within a ship” enclave, are a sprawling 4,252 square feet.

What We Love

O'Sheehan's Bar and Grill: This space, where you can watch sports or just sit back and enjoy bar snacks and brews while making new friends, may be the most fun hangout on board. And the food is all complimentary.

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, O’Sheehan’s, an Asian-fusion restaurant, and several casual spots for grilled favorites, 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 venues that require an additional fee. 

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, theme parties, late-night dancing, and a wide array of bars, you'll never struggle to find something to do after dark.

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 to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, New England & Canada, or Bermuda.

Anti-Planners: If you don't like to stick to a schedule — at home or at sea — Freestyle Cruising lets you relax and make decisions on a whim. There are also plenty of activities throughout the day, from tennis and basketball to card games and 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. You’ll also likely end up paying extra for specialty dining, especially if you’re a fan of specific international cuisines.