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Norwegian Gem Mediterranean Cruise in November: Opal Penthouse Suite (Room #11518) – Entry 4

No, we cannot afford a penthouse suite on a cruise ship, but we somehow ended up with one for this cruise. And, wow, let me tell you: It will be tough to give up the luxury.

The Norwegian Gem only has 10 penthouses on the ship (as well as a few additional penthouses that make up an even more exclusive “private courtyard” on the ship’s top deck). So, Linda and I are one of only 10 couples on the entire ship of 2300 people that are living this large. Now I know how John and Cindy McCain probably live. We have our own butler, which basically means I have someone to go get me cokes, we have our own doorbell (I know that means nothing to non-cruisers), and we even have a cordless phone that works anywhere on the ship. That way, if we need to contact our concierge immediately, we can do so.

Actually, we did try that one out. We were interested in knowing if we could see Mt. Edna volcano one evening, and so the concierge called the Bridge for us to find out visibility. She called us right back to apologize that visibility would be poor for the viewing. She apologized for the weather! Oh, what power to have both a concierge that will call the Bridge for you.

The room itself is ridiculously huge. When I booked the trip, we were going to have a standard balcony room, which is about 180 square feet. That’s a nice room for a cruise ship, but the penthouse is 3 times the size. It has 2 bathrooms, a full-size tub(!) with a picture window overlooking the ocean, a seperatre six-head shower (plus rain-head) that overlooks the ocean, a flat-screen tv (plus 3 other tv’s), a kid’s bedroom (that we’re just using as a walk-in closet for our luggage and dirty clothes), a living/dining room space as big as most balcony cabins, an up-scale coffee and cappuccino maker – and on and on and on.

Basically, the room is so nice that we toyed with the idea of staying in the room the entire vacation. Who cares about visiting Europe? This room is too good to leave, and with a butler bringing in meals, you’d never have to.

Why did we get the penthouse? These rooms generally run $2800-3500 (or higher) per person, but two days before sailing, I received a call from Norwegian, and they asked me if I wanted to upgrade for a very small fee. Apparently they called everyone with a balcony room, but I was the one to say “yes” first. Lucky us.

Besides the room itself, the upgrades – from towels to soaps to a real king-sized bed – are all first-rate. As I noted above, the only rooms more exclusive than ours are the Courtyard rooms, and we even have an invitation to attend a private courtyard party. So, we’ll get to visit and use a part of the ship that maybe only 30 people out of 2300 have any access to.

We’ve been on nine cruises; for our first six we had interior cabins. These were fine rooms, and our cruise experience was always pleasant. Interior cabins are certainly the most economical way to go, and for as little as cruises charge for interior cabins these days, you really do feel like you’re getting a steal. The down side to an interior cabin, of course, is that there’s basically a bed and that’s it. If you’re claustrophobic in any way, then that might not be the cabin for you, and it also can hurt a marriage to have a spouse under foot all the time. One possible plus, though, depending on how you look at it, is that having an interior cabin gets you out and about on the ship more. When you have a balcony of your own, that’s one less reason to leave the cabin. And then, when you find yourself with a penthouse balcony, the rest of the ship is more or less easy to ignore entirely.

Why is it so difficult to ever see a rich person? Because they live behind walls of luxury. Why would they ever want to leave?


  1. This sounds quite a bit better than my first "cruise" on the USNS General W.H.Gordon in 1952 from San Francisco to Tokyo. But I had better Quarters than I might have had. I was in a "stateroom" with only a couple other officers rather than in the lower decks with hundreds of other men.


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