Cruising the Sky.. I struggled with how to start this review.. This was our third cruise, and our first cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines. So let me do it this way.. I'll give you my summary and then we'll look at the parts. I'm not going to go into the stops in the Bahamas.. the Bahamas were gorgeous and the weather was about as perfect as could be, so when we were on land we had a blast.
Unfortunately, that fell apart once we got back on the ship itself. Everything aboard the Sky was "adequate". It was mostly clean, there were some nice spaces aboard, like the outdoor cafe at the ship Stern, and the food was "fine". But beyond that, there was very little good to say and a fair amount of negatives.
The process of checking in and boarding the ship was incredibly smooth and fast. We did get there very early and that may have had something to do with it, but the staff in port in Miami was excellent and very efficient, moving us through the line in amazingly short time.
Our room steward was also phenomenal. Always smiling and cheerful and an absolute ninja when it came to sneaking into our room to clean in the gaps when we were out and about. We had a balcony room that was itself also pretty nice, clean and comfortable if not very big. Our only real complaint about the room is that there was ONE outlet with ONE 120v plug. ONE and only one.. in the entire room, so we had to keep a schedule for charging devices during the trip.
Dinner and dining room service on Embarkation Night. And I am going to stress that.. this part of the review was Night One. The dinner menu was steak and lobster and our server was great. We were sat at a table in the Freestyle Dining mode with another couple who, unfortunately, spoke very little English, but the food was superb and we were filled with anticipation for what the week would mean if the food the first night was that good!
The comedian on the ship was also fantastic and we really enjoyed his show!
Yep.. that quick, ran out of good things to say. After night one things went sharply down and stayed down for the rest of the trip. The crew we encountered (not counting the event staff, just the support staff, hosts and hostesses, security guards, buffet staff, etc) were outright rude. They rarely smiled and stood frowning while treating you like you were a horrible imposition. The buffet workers were the same way, dodging questions, avoiding eye contact and shouting at people that they thought might be in the "wrong line"
The buffet food was "okay" but honestly we've eaten far better at hotels on the mainland and places like Old Country Buffet. More over, despite having several buffets with multiple lines, they all had the exact same food, so if you didn't like the fair you saw, there was nowhere to go except to room service or the long waits at the dining room.
The dining room food was the same. The flavors were bland and the servers and hosts after night one were rude, always looked rushed, and yet somehow managed to be very slow. Dinner on the second night took us a little over two and a half HOURS to complete AFTER we were seated, causing us to miss the show we had wanted to attend. And, in that two and a half hours, we had refills on soda and water only twice.
The Palace dining room at the rear of the ship had such a strong smell of sewage in the foyer in front of the main doors that my wife actually became ill while trying to read the menu and we had to rush for fresh air to avoid her losing her lunch (I should clarify here, I'm 32.. she's 29, we're not prudish or picky, it was BAD). After that we avoided that dining room for the most part and only ventured back a few days later to see if the smell was still there, which it was.
The shows we attended apart from the Comedian were horribly done, poorly organized, and cheesy to the point of being hard to watch. We typically end up on stage during these shows (and have the DVDs to prove it) and like mixing it up with the other guests, but these were painful to watch, either going too far into the adult humor for the crowd, or talking to the guests like they were 12. It was just bad.. we actually walked out of the "perfect couple" show after 7 painful minutes because we just couldn't take it anymore.
The other complaint we had was the pool. There are few things better than laying in the sun and then taking a dip in a clear blue pool to cool off in the middle of a cruise.. but the pools on the Sky were ICE cold. I live in Minnesota and honestly, our outdoor unheated pools rarely get as cold in the spring or fall as the pools on the Sky were in 80 degree direct sunlight. The water actually hurt on your skin and I was shivering so hard after a few minutes that I had to get out and make for the hot-tub. This is probably why, aside from the hot-tubs, the pools were almost always 100% empty for our entire cruise.
We've cruised on the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and the Carnival Spirit previously. This cruise on the Norwegian Sky was by far the worst. Honestly.. if we didn't have such great experiences on the other two lines to compare to, and this had been our first cruise, we would probably never book another one.. as it stands we would need some pretty convincing reasons to ever go on another Norwegian Cruise.