My husband and I needed a quick weekend getaway and this cruise was just what we needed. Our sailing date was Friday, June 29th out of Miami.
We are in our early 30s. I began cruising in 2006 when I was 25, and have been hooked ever since.
My cruise background: this was my 14th cruise, sixth with NCL, and second time on NCL Sky. All of my cruises with NCL have been short cruises from 1-3 nights (NCL Gem, NCL Sun, and twice on NCL Sky). I tend to take my longer cruises on Celebrity (12 night Mediterranean cruise and 5 night Caribbean cruise), Princess (7 night Alaska and 7 night Caribbean), and RCCL (numerous 4-7 night Caribbean cruises). However, June 29th's cruise on the NCL Sky was my most favorite cruise with NCL and I have decided that my next longer cruise will be with NCL. NCL Epic is the next ship I have my eyes on for my next week-long cruise vacation.
The purpose of this cruise was to relax. My husband and I have busy schedules, so we find it nice to get away from our cell phone's, internet, and the daily routine sometimes. We enjoy cruising for the opportunities to sunbathe at the pool, dance, and walk around on the open decks of the ship, while admiring the moonlight over the ocean. This cruise had a nice mix of passengers of different ages. I found fellow passengers to be diverse mix in age (there were a lot of couples, friends traveling together for girls/guys weekends, and families on our sailing). This 3-day cruise very much had the relaxed vibe of the longer cruises I have taken: great service in the main dining room (we always got a table for two when requested), a lot of entertainment options (dancing under the stars, comedy shows, karaoke, live band performances throughout the ship, and even a mini-skit performed by some of the ship's staff), and friendly service by the cruise staff who work so hard, yet always find time to say hello and smile.
Embarkation: since we live in South Florida, our travel time to the Port of Miami was only 30 minutes. We parked at the port, walked into the cruise terminal at 1 p.m., and were onboard by 1:30 p.m. (apparently, this was a popular time to arrive, as we usually can get onboard in less time). But, that's okay...we were going on vacation. Our room was ready once we got onboard, so we dropped off our carry-on bags and headed for the dining room for lunch on deck 5. Since most people opt for the lunch buffet on deck 11, we found only few people in the dining room on embarkation day. This turned out to be a benefit to us because all the food came out fresh and hot, as if it was cooked to order. My husband and I shared the fried calamari and hummus with pita chips as an appetizer and I had a black bean veggie burger as my entree and my husband the chicken Milanese.
Food: one of the main topics here on Cruise Critic is cruiseline food. When you consider how many people the kitchen cooks for, everyday, I find the food to be pretty good. At dinner, in the dining room, the food was never hot, but I didn't let that bother me because it was still warm and delicious. But, breakfast and lunch were another ballgame...that's when I found the food to be hot because I think it was cooked to order and not sitting in warmers like at dinner. I believe this is because there is a larger amount of people to serve at dinner in the dining room (as I find that most people eat at the buffet for breakfast and lunch), therefore the dining room kitchen only prepares food as needed for breakfast and lunch orders.
Ship condition: many reviews of this ship state that the ship shows its age. I highly disagree. It is well maintained, elegant, and very clean (I even saw staff in the buffet seating area cleaning and brushing the seats...I have never seen that before...I was highly impressed). The NCL Sky is a great mid-size ship.
Great Stirrup Cay (first port): this port requires tendering in order to get to the island. In order to accommodate the number of passengers wishing to go to shore, passengers are directed to retrieve a tender ticket from ship staff. In our case, we picked up our tickets in the Captain Cook lounge and sat until the staff directed us to head to the boat that would tender us to shore. We went ashore probably around noon and were able to find lounge chairs to sunbathe. We also enjoyed taking a dip in the beautiful ocean before heading back to the ship for lunch. For those who are interested, a complimentary BBQ lunch is served on the island by the ship's staff. I saw typical BBQ fare, including grilled hamburgers, chicken, and even garden/vegetarian burgers. For the garden/vegetarian burgers, you must ask the ship staff to grill one for you, as these are not readily available on the buffet line.
Nassau (second port): since we've been to Nassau many times, we chose to stay onboard today. It's always nice to get the ship to ourselves, while most people go onshore. We went to the pool and relaxed.
Disembarkation: we selected anytime walk-off. With this option, you walk off with all of your bags (instead of having it packed and left outside your stateroom the night before for pick-up in the baggage claim area in the cruise terminal). Anytime walk-off was scheduled for 7:45 -- 9 a.m. I believe. We disembarked at about 8:30 a.m. and were lucky to find no line at the gangway. Even customs was quick with no line. Usually, I allow for at least half an hour to disembark and go through customs. This time, it tooks 10 minutes. I think it all depends on how many ships are in port for disembarkation that day. This was a great way to end our cruise. Off we went to work...relaxed and recharged.
If you have any doubts about the NCL Sky, I would highly recommend it. For what it costs, it is a great way to get away for a few days. Is NCL luxurious? No, luxury would be reserved for premium lines like Crystal Cruises where the cruise fare reflects it to be the Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons of cruising. Is NCL Sky basic? Not at all. My husband and I found the ship to be beautiful, very clean, and elegant. I would compare it to a Hilton or Marriot. In essence, the NCL Sky is a wonderful way to get away for the weekend. The value is unbelievable, especially when you consider that your fare includes room, transportation to beautiful islands, most food, and most entertainment. I believe people tend to write reviews when they have something negative to say and/or when they don't go into the cruise having done research on how the cruise works and what is typically included in the fare. That is the only explanation I can come up with as to why this ship has poor reviews. My experience was very positive, which is why, after 14 cruises, this is the first time I have decided to write a review. Yes, everyone's cruise experience may be different, but I believe it has a lot to do with attitude and expectations. My husband and I went in with a positive attitude (we love going on cruises and always get so excited) and our expectation was to have a relaxing weekend filled with fun, entertainment, and relaxation. The NCL Sky did just that for us.