We just got back from a 3 night cruise over the weekend and had an enjoyable time. Embarkation was very easy and quick. We got there at around 12:30 pm, and sat in the waiting area for only about 10 minutes maximum before our group number was called. Crew members welcomed you aboard as you walked on. Once on board, we were directed up to the buffet for lunch. There was a line, but nothing outrageous to speak of, and we got our food within 5 minutes. The buffet food was typical buffet food (food in the complimentary two main dining rooms we found to be better in terms of both quality and presentation). My one true complaint about the buffet is that some of the serving spoon handles were unbelievably hot having been constantly under the heat lamps. Some were so hot, I could not get any food with them because I had to put them down quickly to avoid getting burned. After lunch, we walked around a bit and checked out the fitness center, pool decks, and just wandered around a bit More
to get a feel of the ship and its layout.
The ship itself is a nice ship. It's apparently been recently refurbished. It is not the largest or most grand ship you will see (some much larger were in port in Nassau with us), but it is very clean and well-kept. Staff seemed to be constantly cleaning. Our room was an interior room, and a larger one at that, as there appeared to be some interior rooms of two sizes. We had no problem with the room. Yes, it was small, but it was clean and everything seemed in proper working order. Shampoo, shower gel, and hand soap dispensers were each labeled in the bathroom. The room was cleaned twice daily, and each time had some sort of towel folding creation on the bed for when we returned. There are also many sanitizing dispensers throughout the ship, as well as crew members stationed at the entrance to the buffet who offer to spray your hands as you enter.
We had two beach towels (separate from bath towels) in our room, with clearly written instructions next to them for being responsible for the two towels, that there had to be two beach towels in the room when we disembarked, and that we'd be charged $25 for a missing towel. There were also instructions on how to exchange your beach towel for a fresh one if at any point you wanted to (there was an exchange booth on the pool deck). Fair enough - easy to follow and be responsible for towels. Whether they enforce this, I have no idea, but $25 for a towel is a lot, so it probably at a minimum, discourages theft.
The fitness center was nice. Plenty of cardio equipment and the free weights with maybe 3 or 4 benches. It also had an array of machines available for strength training. Very large aerobics areas too - but not really any aerobics classes offered. Looks like they used it for some sort of suspension training (we didn't do that). It was never too crowded when we went. I did the 7:30 am complimentary abs workout the one day. There were a total of 4 people in it, including the trainer. We had signed up for the spinning class, but unfortunately for whatever reason, it was cancelled. There were cold towels available, which was nice.
Two pools and 4 hot tubs were on the pool deck. We didn't use them, but it looked like people were having fun in them. There were plenty of lounge chairs and seats around the pool deck.
The casino was nice. We only played slots. Won a little in the beginning, but then ended up losing a little bit. The slot tournament was fun, and I came in second place and got a bottle of wine.
The Deal or No Deal show was fun, but I am not quite sure it was worth the $19.95 price. If I had to do it over, I'd probably skip it.
The Hypnosis show was very funny and I would definitely do that again. I still think it is amazing how a group of people can be mass hypnotized so that they do something on command and then when told to wake up, seem to have no idea what they were doing. This seemed to be a very popular show with the crowd.
The day at Great Stirrup Cay was relaxing. We did not do any excursions. There is not a lot of shade (no umbrellas), so there is some competition to find some spots under the palm trees. We were on the second tender to go over and found a nice spot. The barbecue lunch was very good. Spent maybe 2 hours lying on the lounge chairs and swimming, then headed back to the ship.
We did not do any of the excursions in Nassau either, primarily because we had already seen Atlantis and done Aquaventure before. They're a lot of fun, but we passed on it this time around. Instead we went looking for knock-off designer bags and watches in Nassau. These vendors and sellers are not in the straw market. Instead people outside the straw market offer to take you to where they are selling the handbags, wallets, belts, watches, etc. Apparently they get a $5 cut of what you buy (we didn't directly tip the man who took us). The shops are right up the road (a lot were on Market Street). But, they are behind closed doors, so we ended up going up a narrow flight of stairs for one shop, going through a sliding door for another. Ended up bargaining for a Gucci watch and two pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage, albeit knock offs.
The two complimentary main dining rooms were nice, and were essentially like a buffet with service. We ordered an appetizer, main dish each as well as one to share, and two desserts each (they sounded really good - especially the cheesecake). We went to the Italian specialty restaurant the first night for a $10 charge per person and got a free bottle of wine. It was nice and we had an ocean view table, but we had the same view in the complimentary main dining rooms and enjoyed the food in them just as much, so whether we would do the specialty restaurant again, I'm not so sure. We also had some of the snacks offered mid-day and late at night.
The crew overall was very friendly and polite. It's a very diverse, international crew that seems very eager to please. On an unfortunate note, I witnessed two incidents where crew members were horribly "chewed out" by a passenger. One occurred at the elevators on level 3, when we were waiting to board the tender vessel to go to Great Stirrup Cay. One of the elevator door's opened and a man began to exit. The crew member monitoring and assisting with the queue to the tender began to explain to the man that he needed to come down via the stairs because the tendering tickets were being collected on the level above, and the queue was snaking back up the stairs anyway. Seemed to me it was a reasonable assumption on the crew member's part that the man was there to tender, as there was really nothing else to do on level 3. Unfortunately, the man cut off the crew member mid-sentence, and began to first publicly berate him like he was a four year old, for about a minute, because he thought it was his job as a crew member to ask him if he needed assistance and what he could do to help him. After that cringe-worthy display, he then complained about someone not being at a desk for the excursions, and the overall service being horrendous. The second incident occurred at a ship phone at the end of a stateroom hallway by an open staircase. Apparently a man's key-card was not working and he wanted to take a nap. His attempt at a solution to this was to yell and curse to the person on the other end of the phone, loudly and obnoxiously enough that people on the other levels were peaking up and down the staircase to see what was going on. Clearly they were upset, but in both cases, in my opinion, any legitimacy to their complaints was severely overshadowed by their mean - almost cruel - approach to communicating their problem. I also did see some people blatantly, on more than one occasion, disregarding and brushing by a crew member telling them that a shirt or cover-up was required when passing through the buffet. Overall, when I think of any disruption to the fun, festive, and relaxing atmosphere of the cruise, from my experience, it came from some of the passengers, and not lack of service and helpfulness from the staff.
The disembarkation process was easy and fast. We took our luggage off and went straight to the parking garage.
This was a fun cruise. I've seen some reviews that say it is more of a younger crowd, but it seemed very mixed to me. You could basically do what you wanted, when you wanted - eat, relax, do excusions - whatever, and come away having enjoyed yourself. Less
Norwegian Sky Cruises to the Bahamas