With this being our 5th cruise I do not consider us newbies anymore. Before going on the cruise I did some research of the NCL Sky only to find some very unfavorable reviews and comments. This is the oldest ship that we had ever been on, most of the other ships have been 2-3 years old. However, last year we sailed on the RCL's Serenade of the Seas which is an older ship and it was wonderful, you could not tell that it was an older ship as it was well maintained and updated.
We arrived in Miami around 2:30pm and parked our rental car in a parking lot not far from the Port of Miami. We took a taxi from the parking lot to the NCL building - the cost was $10 for 2 people. I was very surprised how nice the NCL building was inside compared to other cruise lines which often have an old warehouse feel. The building was airconditioned and decorated nicely.
We checked in and were on our way aboard the ship in less than 5 minutes which was the fastest check-in we have ever had.
We definitely liked the red carpet once you got aboard the ship as it made you feel important and welcome. The ship was to leave Miami at 5pm so we went to our cabin and then explored the ship.
We arrived at our cabin around 3pm and it was ready. Our suitcases were not there yet, but we had noticed that others in our group had their suitcases already waiting outside their doors. We headed up to the upper pool deck to meet the rest of our group and have drinks. The service at the upper deck bar was horrible. There were 4 bartendars working, but they seemed confused and moved around the whole bar instead of staying in one place and taking care of guests in that section. I stood and waited for soda and beer for over 15 minutes... finally I told the bartendar in front of me that I had been waiting a long time and wished to be served. The problem that kept happening was that since the bartendars didn't stay in one place, they didn't know who was next and served out of order or sequence. One odd thing that I noticed on the NCL Sky was that they served Pepsi products out of 2 liter soda bottles... most ships use the bar service guns. We bought the soda card which was $21 for the 3 days which entitled us to unlimited soda and a refillable cup. The soda that was available was- pepsi, diet pepsi, mountain dew, orange crush, and sierra mist.
The ship finally sailed at 5:30pm right before the clouds started rolling into the Miami area. We made a visit to the spa and took a tour. I signed up for my first mani, pedi, and teeth whitening. I had never done this before and thought it was worth a shot doing now on the cruise since I had the time.
After the tour, we went down to the Garden Cafe Buffet but it was already closed and we had to use the Great Outdoor Buffet on the back of the ship. The buffet here was very limited. I did like the outdoor seating on the back of the ship near the buffet that was covered with a big white canopy. We went back to our cabin and changed to get ready for drinks with our group and then dinner at the Palace Dining Room. Service at the Atrium Bar was much better than it was at the upper pool deck bar. "Matty" our server was quick, friendly, and asked and remembered our names. We headed down to the Palace Dining Room and were seated immediately. The dinner service itself was very poor. The waiter could not remember who got what appetizer, entree, or dessert. Some of the items we ordered never came or other items came that we never ordered. From appetizer to dessert we were there for 3 hours. It took 25 minutes to get a cup of coffee. One of the people in our group talked about our dining experience with the dining room manager. The next thing we know is the waiter comes back to us and makes excuses telling us that he was new and has only been with NCL for 8 months and that the first night in the dining room is always long due to confusion... AWKWARD!! We could not believe this was happening. This waiter should have never come to us to try to redeem himself... plus 8 months is not new as an employee. After dinner we went to the casino which was nice, but very smoky. Later that night I went to the Longboard Cafe at 2am for a late night snack. I ordered chicken fingers and salad which took 45 minutes to receive. People came and left who had come in after me. I wanted a soda and could not find anyone to get me one... finally a server was handing out waters and I got her to get me a soda. Service here was poor and extremely slow!
Due to heavy rain, we never got off the ship at NCL's private island.
We had lunch at the Garden Cafe buffet. This has to be the worst designed buffet ever on a cruise ship. You wait in a long line which takes forever. It is a small buffet in a small space which means items are packed tight together and makes it difficult to get to the food. The offerings were limited and not very exciting at all. Overall, the food here was the same as going to an Old Country Buffet. Many of the offerings were the same as the day before with maybe only 15 new items for day 2. Seating in the buffet area is very limited and the ceilings are very low which makes you feel like you are in a cave. After lunch, I headed to the spa for my mani, pedi, and teeth whitening. Being a guy, I was very hesitant about having this done, but I decided- what the heck! The mani and pedi were actually quite relaxing and fun. The teeth whitening was more of a pain in the butt as it seemed like it took forever, but when it was done my teeth were whiter. The overall time for all three services was 2 hours and cost $317... was it worth it?... it was pricey, but since we didn't get off of the boat and spend money I thought I would treat myself for once. After the spa I went back to the room and showered and changed for drinks with our group and then dinner. Before dinner, we went to Captain Cooks bar for drinks and to play trivia. The trivia contest was fun and our team won... the prize was a bit cheesy though compared to other cruise lines - everyone got a deck of NCL playing cards.
After the trivia we headed up to the Atrium Bar for drinks with our group. Once again, service here was good with "Matty" being the star. Tonight our group decided to go to Cagney's for dinner. We had 8:30pm reservations and headed up to the restaurant. We were a bit early so we went to the Plantation Club bar which is across from Cagney's. The bar (this bar only) was having 2 for 1 drink specials so everyone ordered drinks. This bar was nice, but the service once again was slow. Finally at 9pm, Cagney's was ready for our group.
The service at Cagney's was excellent!! The service at Cagney's was like it was on Princess... excellent! We ordered several bottles of wine and had a great dinner. The staff at Palace Dining Room from the night before told us that Cagney's served escargot. When we asked about it, the server said that Cagney's did not serve it... only the French restaurant did. However, she asked her supervisor and they sent up escargot for everyone at our table from the French restaurant... that was good service right there. Dinner at Cagney's took 2 hours, but it was because we were enjoying our dinner and the company of our group. The service and food at Cagney's was excellent... it is well worth the extra price. After dinner we changed our clothes and got ready for the white party. The white party was fun with great music. When we got back to the cabin, we ordered a pizza to be delivered to our room. 90 minutes later it arrived!!!!... and cold! This is totally unacceptable! All over the ship they advertise about NCL's famous pizza and delivery. 90 minutes is just too long to wait! ... plus the pizza was cold and very bland.
Early lunch at Garden Cafe again. Once again the food offerings were the same as day 1 and seemed limited and boring. I probably ate the least on this cruise at the buffets than any other cruise we have been on. NCL needs to ramp up the food offerings and variety on this ship. The design of the buffet is really terrible, but that cannot be changed. There were only 6 dessert offerings at the buffet and they reminded me of something you would find at a school or hospital cafeteria, or low cost buffet. It rained heavy this day as well so we did not get off of the ship to go into Nassau. We stayed on the ship and relaxed. After the ship left Nassau, we went to the casino and played for awhile. Then we went to the coffee bar which had above average service and great coffee. Then we headed back to change and get ready for dinner. Before dinner, we met at the Atrium Bar which now had become our favorite hangout on the ship. We had some drinks and enjoyed the guitar music from Dave. Dave even left his designated area to come over to our group to play us a song. Tonight dinner was to be at The Crossings Dining Room. The service at the Crossings Dining Room was a complete 360 degrees from what it was the first night at the Palace Dining Room. The servers (who were twins) were on top of it and our drinks were replenished without asking, our food came out hot and to the right people, and the overall dinner experience was quite wonderful. After dinner we headed to the Atrium to get a group photo. We asked one of the ship's photographers if he could take our photo and then we would buy the copies from them. The photographer told us that he was no longer on duty and could not take our photo. Luckily, there was a cleaning person in the Atrium and we asked her if she would take our photos using our own cameras. She was very friendly and did it for us. After the group photo, we headed back to the Atrium bar to relax and have drinks. Some of the group headed to the gift shop area to buy souvenirs, liquor, and cologne. Later we headed down to Dazzles where the Wacky Adult Contest was going on. All of the ships that we have been on have had this contest where they put people in teams and make you do stuff like- make men dress up like a woman, make two women kiss... and they give out prizes for the winning teams. It is a fun contest that was very crowded. At 2am, I headed back to the Longboard Cafe for a late night snack. I ordered chicken fingers and fish and chips. Once again it took long to get my order... 35 minutes! I asked for 2 sodas when I placed my order, but never got them. Finally I flagged down a server and asked for my sodas. When he came back, he only brought 1 soda. The service at the Longboard Cafe is terrible!... FAIL!
Day 4- Disembarkation
We got dressed and left the ship at 9am with our suitcases. It was quite confusing as to where to get off of the ship since there were no signs anywhere. It was a pain in the butt having to cart our suitcases off of the ship, but it made the whole process fast. We were off the ship and through US Customs in less than 10 minutes. The taxi line at the NCL building was long... it took 20 minutes to get a taxi. Finally we got a taxi and it took us to our car at the parking lot.
"LIKES" about the NCL Sky-
- outdoor showers were convenient and we had never seen those on other ships
- the idea of pizza delivery anywhere on the ship is a good concept
"DISLIKES" about the NCL Sky-
- cabins are very small and do not look like the pictures on the NCL website
- no "real" soap or shampoo are given in the cabins... they give you liquid soap and shampoo in pumps. Our cabin had dispensers which were not marked so we had no clue which was which. I ended up washing my hair with soap by mistake!
- the bar service and dining service (except Cagney's) was VERY POOR!
- the Garden Cafe Buffet is poorly designed, congested, and has very limited and unappealing offerings.
- the ship being built in 1999, does not offer many of the amenities that newer ships now have such as an adults only area, pool area covered by a roof
- the ship was worn, furniture, carpets, etc. need to be replaced
- the ship has an identity crisis- it was once a ship that served the Hawaiian islands and had a Hawaiian theme. They took many of the Hawaiian elements out like in the lobby/atrium area which made it bland or sterile and in other areas you wonder why there is Hawaiian theming... it is confusing.
- there is no self serve ice cream 24/7 like on Princess
- The pizza delivery concept is good, but waiting 90 minutes was not.
- overall food on the NCL Sky was average. Nothing was over the top or super good like on RCL or Princess
- the crew was not very friendly as other cruise lines - they don't stop to say hello. I don't even know our cabin stewards name as he never introduced himself and he never asked us what our names were
- NCL needs to offer a pool and hottub open 24/7 like RCL does
- Dazzles, which is the disco, is very small with low ceilings and does not feel like a dance club
- the casino was very smoky
- The passengers on the ship were a younger crowd which often got rowdy or acted like they were on a high school field trip or at the prom.
was small (smallest cabin we have ever had), the carpet was worn and dirty, the room could have been cleaned better, the edges of the carpet near the walls were very dirty and dusty, the room did have a refrigerator with beverages for purchase, the hairdryer was very old and provided very little heat and power, the tv in the cabin was very old (probably from 1999), our porthole window was quite large and gave us a good view, storage is very limited in the cabin with a very small closet area and not much storage drawers for clothes, the bathroom was small, BUT the water pressure for the sink and shower were the best we ever had on any ship, the shower is somewhat small and in a circular shape, the cabin only offers one power outlet, the lounge chair in the cabin was very low and worn, the bed felt lumpy and uncomfortable and the pillows were quite flat.
Overall, I would NEVER sail the NCL Sky again ever!... nor would I recommend it to anyone. We might give NCL another chance and sail on the Epic next spring... this will be the last chance for NCL to keep our business.