Archive for August, 2013

My Summer Vacation has revived my faith in Cruising, Thanks Norwegian Gem!

August 20, 2013

Over the last 30 years it has been kind of fun to watch the cruise industry develop, grow and refine what was a brand new vacation alternative.  Of course, transportation on ships has been around for a very long time but offering the marketplace a variety of floating “hotel” experiences is vastly different than my Grandfather’s “cruise” across the Atlantic.  I dare say he wasn’t worried about reviewing his experience, he simply considered it a great trip because he made it to Ellis Island even if the journey was hard, long and unpleasant. 

Unlike my Grandfather who saw the ship as purely a vehicle to a desired destination, we have been witnessing an industry which seems more and more like their sole focus is becoming the vehicle as the primary destination.  Huge ships offer potential cruisers everything you might find in a “destination” with multiple food options and a wide variety of recreational experiences all while moving you from one place to another.  Sitting in a lounge chair taking in the sea air seems passé when it comes to today’s ocean voyages!  It is easy to understand why cruise lines want to create their own destination so you can happily spend a much greater portion of your discretionary vacation dollars.  The more stuff you can do and pay for, the better.  All in all, it is a pretty smart strategy particularly when you understand the amount of money being spent to plan, finance and build these amazing vessels. 

My most recent voyage wasn’t on one of those brand new mega ships, it was on a much more comfortable, smaller vessel.  The Norwegian Gem isn’t brand new, but it is newer.  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of these gigantic Royal Caribbean ships, but it also doesn’t have the extra several thousand guests jammed inside it either.  It comfortably blends the style of cruising that some of us long time cruisers are used to, with a much better range of dining options and activities.  All in all, this is about as big a ship as I like to sail on.  That is my personal preference and certainly not a condemnation of anyone who wants to ice skate or ride waves or climb rock walls at sea.  It gave me space to relax and a nice group of fellow vacationers to interface with.

A cruise isn’t just about the vessel, it is about the experience.  I was extremely happy with the staff in every capacity during my week.  They were efficient and friendly and honestly seemed happy that we were sailing with them.  The food in a word was amazing.  As I have been on many NCL ships this was the single largest improvement I experienced.  My family and I don’t eat in the restaurants that charge more, we eat in the main dining areas so this wasn’t as a result of paying more, the food was flat out better than I have had on almost every ship I have been on.  That covers many lines including some of the much more “exclusive” ones.  The only issue I had is with the casino that took my money and didn’t give me any back in return.  Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

So I spent my family vacation sailing from NYC on board the Norwegian Gem.  I received excellent value for the money I spent and I high recommend cruising for the sake of cruising.  You can enjoy it without climbing any walls, or zip lining just stay away from the casino!

 

My Summer Vacation has revived my faith in Cruising, Thanks Norwegian Gem!

August 20, 2013

Over the last 30 years it has been kind of fun to watch the cruise industry develop, grow and refine what was a brand new vacation alternative.  Of course, transportation on ships has been around for a very long time but offering the marketplace a variety of floating “hotel” experiences is vastly different than my Grandfather’s “cruise” across the Atlantic.  I dare say he wasn’t worried about reviewing his experience, he simply considered it a great trip because he made it to Ellis Island even if the journey was hard, long and unpleasant. 

Unlike my Grandfather who saw the ship as purely a vehicle to a desired destination, we have been witnessing an industry which seems more and more like their sole focus is becoming the vehicle as the primary destination.  Huge ships offer potential cruisers everything you might find in a “destination” with multiple food options and a wide variety of recreational experiences all while moving you from one place to another.  Sitting in a lounge chair taking in the sea air seems passé when it comes to today’s ocean voyages!  It is easy to understand why cruise lines want to create their own destination so you can happily spend a much greater portion of your discretionary vacation dollars.  The more stuff you can do and pay for, the better.  All in all, it is a pretty smart strategy particularly when you understand the amount of money being spent to plan, finance and build these amazing vessels. 

My most recent voyage wasn’t on one of those brand new mega ships, it was on a much more comfortable, smaller vessel.  The Norwegian Gem isn’t brand new, but it is newer.  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of these gigantic Royal Caribbean ships, but it also doesn’t have the extra several thousand guests jammed inside it either.  It comfortably blends the style of cruising that some of us long time cruisers are used to, with a much better range of dining options and activities.  All in all, this is about as big a ship as I like to sail on.  That is my personal preference and certainly not a condemnation of anyone who wants to ice skate or ride waves or climb rock walls at sea.  It gave me space to relax and a nice group of fellow vacationers to interface with.

A cruise isn’t just about the vessel, it is about the experience.  I was extremely happy with the staff in every capacity during my week.  They were efficient and friendly and honestly seemed happy that we were sailing with them.  The food in a word was amazing.  As I have been on many NCL ships this was the single largest improvement I experienced.  My family and I don’t eat in the restaurants that charge more, we eat in the main dining areas so this wasn’t as a result of paying more, the food was flat out better than I have had on almost every ship I have been on.  That covers many lines including some of the much more “exclusive” ones.  The only issue I had is with the casino that took my money and didn’t give me any back in return.  Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

So I spent my family vacation sailing from NYC on board the Norwegian Gem.  I received excellent value for the money I spent and I high recommend cruising for the sake of cruising.  You can enjoy it without climbing any walls, or zip lining just stay away from the casino!