NCL Gem Cruise

December 2014

For this cruise, we traveled with neighbors Gene and Rita.  We cruised with them a couple years ago and enjoyed the company.  This cruise is basically the same as one we did a couple years ago aboard NCL Jewel with 45+ individuals from The Church of St. Benedict in Mohnton, PA.  The cruise was r/t from New York City so we had 2 sea days at the beginning with 3 sea days for the return.  In between, there were 6 port stops, we've been to all but one, St. Kitts.

Like previous cruises, we signed onto the Cruise Critic "Roll Call" for this cruise and began making contact with a bunch of fellow cruisers.  We participated in a Meet & Greet where the Captain and a number of the officers came to introduce themselves to us.  In addition, there was a "Slot Pull" and a "Cabin Crawl".

 

Be sure and click on any image for a larger view, some additional information about the image, some camera information and a satellite image of where the picture was taken.

 

New York City Departure....

Sailing from New York is always a pleasure and affords spectacular views of the Intrepid, the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline.  Our 4pm departure meant we were underway after dark.  The city at night can be pretty spectacular but taking pictures of it from a moving deck is pretty much impossible but we tried none the less.

              

 

San Juan, Puerto Rico....

This was our third time in San Juan.  Someone on the "Roll Call" came up with the idea of mailing our Christmas Cards from Old San Juan.  We thought that was a good one so we put our cards together and brought them with us.  We found the post office and dropped them off at the front desk and were pleasantly surprised when the counter worker hand stamped them for us.  Our son cruised to San Juan earlier in the year and spoke highly of the mini-bus tour he took of the city so we decided to do the same.  Tours were $10/pp for a 1 hour tour.  As luck would have it, we boarded one that Gene and Rita happened to be on.  The tour was pretty good and included a couple photo stops one of which was at the Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery.  Would have been nice to get there earlier so we could have gone inside.  We got off the bus in town so we could walk around a bit taking in the Christmas decorations and enjoy the party atmosphere.  I should mention that Royal Caribbean's new ship, "Quantum" came in behind us.  It was huge.

                                               

 

St. Thomas, USVI....

We had  purchased tickets for the tram up to Paradise Point Skyride but figured we could do that later in the day before getting back aboard the ship.  So, off we went to do some shopping.  A friend had asked Kathy to see if she could find a specific model and color Fruitz watch.  She met with success in one of the first shops she visited and bought the watch AND another for herself.  Rather than carry it around all day, I made a quick trip back aboard to drop it off in our cabin.  We caught up with Gene & Rita and decided to go off on a 3 hour island tour which turned out to be better than expected.  The tour ended in town and the four of us found a hole in the wall restaurant for lunch.  Following lunch, I went off in search of a specific jewelry store that sold Shinola watches.  These watches are made in America and I've had my eye on a "Brakeman" model for quite some time.  This time was different, I decided to buy one.  With my Shinola watch in hand, we boarded a taxi back to the pier and hiked over to the Paradise Point Skyride.  We arrived at the top, ran into our friends, captured some pictures, took the skyride back down and headed back to the ship.  Gene was on a mission to pick up some bargain priced liquor at the K-Mart up the street so he went off on his own.  Later, we captured some video of him lugging a case of 6 bottles back to the ship.  He was pleased with the deal he had gotten.....

  

                                               


 

Philipsburg, St. Maarten....

We booked an NCL excursion titled "Butterfly Farm & Island Drive".  The island drive part of the tour was interesting but, obviously, the main attraction was The Butterfly Farm.  Our guide at The Butterfly Farm was the owner himself and we found him to be very informative about the various butterflies and even injected some humor into his presentation.  Upon return to the pier, we browsed through shops that are at every port we visit, got back on board the ship, and headed to the pool for a dip.            

                                            


 

St. Lucia, Saint Lucia....

A member of the Cruise Critic Roll Call had arranged for us to spend the day aboard a Mystic Man Eco Adventure catamaran tour.   The tour included whale/dolphin watching, a snorkel stop, lunch, and a scenic cruise along the shoreline back to the pier.   We saw some dolphins but the dozen or so pilot whales we saw made this the hi-light of our trip.       

                                            

 

 

Bridgetown, Barbados....

We had not booked any excursion in advance but decided to make this a beach day so we booked an excursion called Copacabana Beach Day that got us transport to/from the beach, a couple chairs, and an umbrella for some shade.   The beach wasn't especially crowded and was very nice with some crystal clear water.  Pier to pier was 4 hours so this gave us about 3 hours on the beach which was enough for us.   There was free wi-fi in the terminal so we did a quick email check before heading back aboard the ship.    


 

Basseterre, St. Kitts....

This was our final port of call on this cruise and we had booked the Scenic Rail excursion.   The tour was very scenic, well narrated, and included enough drink to make all of us happy.  This was a narrow gage rail line with some surprisingly wide and tall cars.    
                                                           

 

The Ship....

We had sailed aboard Gem before and have had inside cabins as well so picture taking was at a minimum this time around.  We've photographed most of the ship before and posted images on this website and flickr.      
                                            


For the photographers among you:  We knew we were going to spend some time at the beach so the DSLRs stayed home.  Instead we packed our Nikon Coolpix P7700 P&S and Nikon Coolpix P7800 P&S cameras.  We found ourselves sharing these cameras so we were not able to define who took which individual image.  In addition, we also geotagged our images with a Sony GPS-CS3KA.

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