My wife and I are both in the travel industry and have seen many ships, new and old. Yet we had not yet been on ship while it's out to sea, so we decided to take our first cruise for our honeymoon. We really liked The Sky when we saw it a few years back and since time and money were short this was the perfect fit.
We live only about an hour north of Miami, the drive down was probably the most stressful part of the whole experience. We used an offsite parking company, Premiere Parking. It was less than $40 for all 4 days. The parking lot was right off I-95 and very easy to find. We did not wait more than 5 minutes before we got shuttled to the ship, it's about a 5 min. drive. They dropped us right in front of the ship and we dropped our bags.
Check in was also very fast, as long as you do all the registration online before hand. 1 thing I do recommend is bring a pen with you. There were none to fill out the health questionnaire before check in. We got our room keys and were on the ship all within 10 mins. Cabins weren't ready yet but it was only 12:30. We grabbed some lunch at the garden cafe, aft end of the ship. We grabbed a chair and people watched for a bit. The pool was open and the music was playing, everyone was taking full advantage of the bar being open.
Once we ate we decided to explore the ship. This is not the newest ship at sea, but the layout is very easy to get once you walk it once. It is also not the largest ship, so it made for short walks to get anywhere. The ships decoration might need to be updated soon, it is still decorated when she was sailing around the Hawaiian Islands. I did not mind it, Hawaii is on my bucket list so it just got me excited about it!
Our cabin was ready before the normal time, so we went and dropped our back packs. We had a porthole cabin towards the front of the ship on deck 4. To all the people who think that's "The Bottom of The Boat", it's still very high above the water line. We had no complaints with the location and movement was minimal.
The cabin was clean and a lot more spacious that expected. Since we knew it was older we were ready for something very small. We had enough storage space for everything, granted we didn't bring much. Again I would recommend bringing a pen or two, there were none in the cabin. For the bathroom I would recommend bringing your own soap and shampoo. They do supply it but I found it a little weak when it came to tackling the sun screen we had used all day.
Muster was quick and easy. The sail away party was great, the music was playing and the drinks were flowing. We even had a dolphin follow us out of the port. We ended up seeing a number of them through out the trip. As soon as we hit the open ocean everyone started to settle into their own rhythm. We went and got changed and hit the main dinning room.
First night was in The Palace, one of the main dinning rooms. They serve lobster on the first night in the main dinning rooms, no extra charge. So don't miss out and go to the buffet on the first night! Service was great and so was the food.
We walked around again and by that time we got the lay of the ship. There were a number of things going on and we sat in on a number of events. The staff was eager to welcome everyone to every event and you always felt included. We stuck with watching everyone attempt karaoke, always the best entertainment.
The first port was Freeport. Not much to say about Freeport, I would recommend doing an excursion here. Or take a cab to one of the beaches, it's about a 20 min. drive. There is nothing in walking distance from the ship except the straw market. We just hung out on the ship and it was perfect. Most folks went out and did their own thing, we had the ship to ourselves! We did a few of the events they had during the day and won a few prizes. We really got to bond with most of the staff which is always in your benefit.
We booked a night in Cagney's because it was our honeymoon and always wanted to experience it. Totally worth the additional charge. The quality of food you get there is worth more than what you pay. That was the only specialty we did, all other nights were in the main dinning rooms.
Nassau was a lot more interesting than Freeport. Unless you have a scheduled tour and know the time of your tour, take your time getting off the ship. We got off right away and nothing is really opened, so you are walking around a ghost town. There are beaches you can walk to or if you booked the pass to Atlantis you can use their beach and pools. As much as you might want to, don't book a scooter. They drive on the opposite side of the road and you're just asking for trouble!
Great Stirrup Cay was our last stop, this is NCL's private island. This is a great beach day! The ship has a number of tenders going back and forth so you can take your time to get breakfast and get to the island. The beach has a wealth of lounge chairs so don't worry about not getting one. All the pavilions and facilities are brand new. If you're tired of laying out they have a ton of different things to get you on your feet. We even got to see a few wild sting rays that swam right up to the beach.
For disembarkation we decided to do the walk off, since we packed small bags. We were able to get off the ship a little after 7:40 am and we were at our car by 8:00 am. If you have an early flight I recommend going this route, just know that you have to carry your own bags off.
All in all The Sky is perfect for a quick getaway. The cost is low and you can't beat the value of food and entertainment. Like I said she isn't the newest ship but that's what I loved about it. It brings you back to a time where cruising was simpler. It wasn't all about the the new and flashy amenities, which can be a fun experience, but not what every vacation is about. This brought you in touch with yourself and you got to experience the true heart of a cruise vacation. Relaxation. The ship is going to be going into dry dock in the near future and I can't wait to see what they do to her after that!