My husband and I cruised on the Norwegian Sky for our 1st anniversary. We cruised on the Carnival Fantasy for our honeymoon last year and were very excited when we found a good deal on this trip. Overall we have few actual complaints but we agree that Freestyle just isn't us!
Pre-cruise: We booked through Expedia but we received great communication and reminder emails from the cruise line in the 2 months leading up to our trip.
Embarkation-The paperwork embarkation process was very smooth, but beware!! The luggage porters in the drop off area expect to be tipped and do not hesitate to say it more than once if you don't immediately offer up cash. Carnival luggage teams do not request or expect tips, so we were not prepared with small bills. This IS covered in the book they mail you, but its thrown in with luggage restrictions and flight information so I honestly thought it was referring to the airport or airport transfer teams. We checked in within the first hour of the check in process and didn't receive any of our luggage until just before the muster drill.... coincidence or intention I don't honestly know but plenty of others on our hall started receiving luggage before this time. IF you are taking bottled water with you, make sure you keep it in your carry on. If you pack it in your checked baggage, you will have to go through an additional inspection with security after the muster drill. It was VERY frustrating and if you aren't one of the first in line its very time consuming.
The Cruise- Overall we had a great time, but there are a few things I would like to point out...
1. Food- The buffet area's at breakfast and lunch are very packed. The Garden cafe outside at the back of deck 11 is always the fastest. There is a slightly smaller selection but it has the basics. The inside buffet has 4 sections that end up as 1 long snaking line that takes awhile. If you just want salad jump in at the middle and skip the deli and burger section. You will also notice that at the entrance to the buffet area's they have staff waiting to spray your hands with sanitize saying "washy, washy" ... this gets old and annoying since they also have hand sanitizer stands within 5 feet of them. Dinner in either of the included restaurants is good. The menus are slightly different, mostly affecting the "classics" portion. The wait staff is always friendly and helpful.
2.Freestyle... seems to =late night.... at least on our cruise the trend seemed to be to stay out till all hours of the night, so if you aren't a night owl or party person be prepared to hear people in the halls at all hours of the night.
Freestyle...seems to =lack of communication.... Once on board the instructions on how to leave and re-enter the ship in port were not given other than over the intercom just before docking so for people who are "planners" you were left with unanswered questions until just before time for an activity. We experienced the same lack of communication when it came to the last night waiting for information on disembarking. The information was not given out until the evening room cleaning, so you knew nothing until after dinner. The space in the daily freestyle newsletter could be put to much better use by providing this information instead of repeating the same information on the bar, paid restaurants and spa day after day on multiple pages....
3. Entertainment on board- The entertainment team is great and all of the activities were fun to watch and participate in, but if you are use to Carnival you should know that these activities take place during the late afternoon and night time hours, not early in the day so you really have to pick and choose what you want to do.
4. The Room- The bathroom is smaller than I have had on previous cruises but it does the job. Average storage space. The balcony is HUGE compared to what we had on the Fantasy and we really enjoyed spending our time here. We were however not very happy with the actual bedding. The mattress in our room was super hard and honestly felt like you were sleeping on a board with a thin layer of padding over it. The sleeping pillows were thin and not very comfortable. There were also 2 extra pillows in shams that were too hard and thick to use as sleeping pillows. If you are a light sleeper beware, they constantly play elevator type music quietly in the halls and at times you can hear it in your room ... which kept me awake on several occasions.
5.Disembarking-If you are able to do the walk-off disembarkation, I highly recommend it. We were docked in Miami and in our car on the way home by about 8:00. It only took us around 15 minutes to roll all of our luggage off the ship, go through customs and walk to the car in the parking deck.