This was my daughters' first ever cruise and my first in 20 years, so perhaps I'm biased because I have nothing to compare the trip to. That said, there were some aspects of the ship that were amazing, and some that were decidedly NOT. Let's start with the good news. The entertainment is top notch. The production staff of the Norwegian Sky offers singing, dancing, and comedy, and it's all done in spectacular fashion. Russ Rivas, the comic on tour, is particularly worth 45 minutes of your time----and I guarantee you'll walk away wanting more. He does family shows and one adults-only one. You can sneak your children in, but it's at your own risk---he won't tone anything down. The restaurants are beautiful and the crew is mostly fabulous. We had a "day at sea" due to choppy water and they brought around free drinks all afternoon. The ship also has marvelous toddler, child, and teen programs, offering parents time to get away from the kids, and vice versa. There's a running track and a nicely appointed gym, as well as golfing practice and a constantly hopping basketball court. They are also very health conscious, and offer hand sanitizing stations all over the ship, as well as having a crew member sanitize your hands for you before entering any dining area. Don't bring beach towels, because the ship provides you with one complementary one per passenger in your room.
Then there's the ugly news. To start off with, we had difficulty getting on board because they had obviously never dealt with a dated birth certificate from my state. And we were not the only ones with issues. One poor man had to wait 3 hours because they double booked him rooms and needed to go to a higher power to figure out which room to stick him in. The pools are much too small for the number of passengers on board. There were three pools that together were the size of a standard hotel pool. That would be understandable if there was not any space, but there was plenty! The two foot lip around the pool area also made it difficult for children or anyone with disabilities. The crew did not leave enough time in port. A Carnival ship was taking the same route as we were, but they always had 2-4 more hours in each port. Also, they tried to get money out of you at every turn. Not all of the restaurants were complementary, in fact only half were. The food was so-so in the buffet restaurant. It was better at the traditional restaurants, but the service was awful. From what I heard, neither the food nor service was better at the restaurants that charged an extra fee ($15-$30 a head). They also charged for fitness classes, tried to get you to buy pull-tabs and raffle tickets every other minute, and promoted their Bingo more than anything else (it, too, cost a fee to participate). There was spotty housekeeping service, and only once did they make any of the famed towel animals. We were not given the room type we requested, and could not change rooms due to a booked ship. It was much smaller than the one we reserved, and did not have the necessary pull-down bed. My 13 year old daughter had to sleep on the couch. They did not have much of a "Plan B" for rainy weather. Their White Hot Party, which is advertised everywhere had to be moved indoors into a bar area that could hold 200 people in tight quarters, certainly not 2000, and the day at sea only had some free weak alcohol, nothing for the kids. The entertainment areas (theatre, bars) were so incredibly packed with barrel chairs that there was no room to move around, and when the person in front of you stood up, they knocked over the table holding your drink (at times all over your daughter). There were no trashcans anywhere to be found, and when a passenger passed out due to exhaustion, there was no quick call button or phone on deck to alert the medic in a timely manner. Guest services was very indifferent and not eager to solve any problems.
On a less important note, their television service was very limited, and they had several repeat channels. They had two outlets in the entire stateroom (including the bathroom), and the one in the bathroom was so weak the complementary hair dryer did not work there.
On another note, Norwegian has a contract with most of the excursion programs You cannot go straight to the excursion itself, like we tried to do. Norwegian charges you a 20-50% increase in price.
Freeport was beautiful. We spent time at the beach (Taino is the better white sand beach. Lucaya is rocky). You do have to take a taxi to anything worthwhile, but the drivers are great and will take you anywhere you need to go (for a fee, of course). We also visited the straw market at Lucaya, where you can buy a little bit of anything, and try dozens of different bars and restaurants.
We can't really review this, because the water was too choppy to disembark. From what one passenger told us, she had ridden on the Norwegian Sky three other times, and only once was she ever able to get to the cruise line's private island.
Quick Embarkation and Return. A few shore excursions are offered. Don't take the Norwegian shuttle to/from the airport! It's MUCH cheaper to hire a cab or private shuttle. There is public transportation as well, if you're into that.
Blue Lagoon Dolphin Swim is an amazing program. They take the time to orient everyone, whatever program they are participating in, on dolphins, wildlife, ocean conservation, and the center itself. The trainers are fun and engaging, and incredibly good at what they do. The island is beautiful and offers plenty of things to do, including a super cool obstacle course. The dolphins were great and this is an experience none of us will ever forget!
Nassau itself is a bit dirty and rundown, which surprised us.
Don't make our mistake----book at cruises.com to get around Norwegian's heavy markup.