This is the first time my daughter and I have sailed on NCL in about 6 years. No real reason other than that price, timing and itinerary lined up better for us on other lines the past few years, but when we saw the price on this short cruise, we took advantage of it in order to refamiliarize ourselves with NCL and buy a future cruise certificate to use in booking a longer cruise for 2014.
Overall we were quite pleased with the cruise. There were some things that were really good and a few we didn't like as well. Embarkation was just okay - the agent didn't seem to really know what he was doing, somehow didn't manage to swipe my credit card even though I presented it to him not once, but twice, and while we were waiting, a family who had been through his line earlier had to come back to get their keys as he had not remembered to hand them over ... but the line wasn't too long, even at 12:30, and once we made it past this guy, the rest of the process was quick and easy. Total time from parking to stepping on the ship was less than an hour.
We did find it odd after the past few cruises on CCL that to board the Sky you walked along the outside of the vessel and then boarded into a rather nondescript area of the ship. Nobody handed us a Daily and we had to go find guest services to find out what was going on that day. We knew the dining room would be open for lunch, so opted to drop our bags in Captain Cook's lounge and go eat lunch - this is a very nice option that CCL and RCCL do not offer. It was wonderful not to have to lug our bags around until the rooms were ready.
Lunch was fantastic and we found the food to be outstanding in every restaurant we tried. Our favorite was Il Adagio, which we would highly recommend. But contrary to things I'd read on the boards, the main dining room had excellent service at all three meal times, the food was tasty and well presented, and service times were as you'd expect - not super quick, but no excessive delays either. Servers were friendly and cheerful and while they didn't go out of their way to chat you up, they were present without hovering. Very good experience at all venues - we also tried the wings at Longboards, the buffet, and pasta and pizza at lunch along with the extra-charge dinner at Il Adagio.
The beds and linens were not nearly as nice as either of the other two lines. My 18 year old even commented on how hard and uncomfortable the bed was. (this is a kid who falls asleep on the floor at home - so if she commented, it wasn't just me) It would be very nice if they'd upgrade the mattresses a bit, but we still managed to sleep. I think a longer cruise might have become very uncomfortable, but for 3 nights, we did just fine. The pool towel desk on the pool deck would not allow you to check out towels, even though the literature in the room stated you could do so if you forgot yours or wanted extras. They did exchanges only - again, RCCL and CCL have them beat in this area.
The pool, on the other hand, was a good size for the ship. It never seemed overcrowded and there were plenty of hot tubs as well. Chairs, however, were in somewhat short supply, especially on the unexpected sea day when the tenders were unable to meet up with the boat at GSC due to high seas. (it really was rough ... ) Here is another area NCL could improve, either by providing more chairs, or monitoring to see that the chair hogs stay a little better under control.
We also found the entertainment around the ship to be plentiful. We aren't big joiners, but did get a chuckle out of watching some of the things going on (the Michael Jackson dance class was particularly hysterical due to a couple of women who were always going the wrong direction). We played Deal or No Deal and didn't win anything, but it was a fun diversion and not too expensive. Drink prices were in line with other cruise lines to slightly better than other lines. NCL does allow 18 year olds to drink if parental permission is given in writing (we didn't opt for this, but thought it was interesting).
Our cabin was in great condition, well cared for, and we felt the DSC was a bargain for the amount of service we received all over the ship. The one exception to the excellent service was at Longboards where we felt like we had to hunt the staff down, first for menus and then to order, but once the order was placed, things went well. it may be that so many people bring food in from the adjacent buffet area to watch the TVs that the servers can't tell who needs them, but NCL could think up a way to solve this (it's a sports bar - how about a flag that you put up when you need/want something???).
Overall we enjoyed the trip, look forward to a longer cruise with NCL in the next year or so, and would sail the Sky again if the price and timing were right.