Overall wonderful experience! My husband & I were celebrating our 20th anniversary and left the kids at home for the first time. We arrived in Miami on Sunday evening, took a taxi ($32) and stayed in the Z-Ocean on South Beach. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant and grabbed some Coca-cola to take with us. We had a relaxing Monday morning walking the beach, too little time to explore before getting a taxi ($24) to head to the Port. We arrived at 10:30 am and quickly got through the check-in process. We were in the 6th group to embark on the Sky just after 11 am. We explored the ship just a bit and ate lunch in the Garden Cafe. We had no wait and found seats easily, but it was a little more of a wait before we were finished. We explored some more and ended up in the quiet zone on deck 12 to enjoy the sun. The announcement that our rooms were ready came at about 1pm. We took a quick trip down to #5010; left a few things behind and returned to deck 12. The muster drill was easy. We pulled out of port right at 5pm. We watched from outside Outrigger Lounge on deck 11. We were one of the last ones to remain on deck watching the ship move away from Miami. We saw a hammerhead shark, turtle, and dolphins playing around the ship. It wasn't long though before they made us all move inside due to high winds. We ate dinner in Crossings and met Bradley Lewis, who became our favorite waiter. He quickly got me gluten free bread and made sure everything went well for us. I had sent in my special diet request about 6 weeks prior, but no one gave me instructions as to how to get my gluten free needs met. Bradley told me what was safe and I enjoyed a wonderful steak. Our room steward was Kairon and we saw him frequently. He provided us with fresh ice several times a day for our cans of Coke. The towel animals were cute.
On Tuesday, we awoke to some rain. We ate breakfast in the Great Outdoor Cafe. As we were set to embark for our day on Grand Bahama Island, we discovered a note on our door that our snorkeling excursion with Pat & Diane had been cancelled. It was very windy although the rain cleared by about 9:30 am. We checked into a plan b for the day and decided on joining Jeff with his InterIsland Eco-Tour. See the review of our day with Jeff---it was great!!!!! Jeff had us from 10am to 3:30 pm and we explored more of the island in his van with 3 other couples. Very good experience!!!! We are still waiting for our refund from the snorkeling (home 2+weeks now). They are sending a check, in today's world of credit cards, I am a bit unsure as why they just didn't give us a credit on our account as we spend no more $ on board. After our tour, we grabbed a snack in the Great Outdoor Cafe and got cleaned up for dinner. After a good experience in Crossings, we headed back to join Bradley Lewis for dinner. Again,he took great care of me and my gluten free needs. He served my husband and myself at the same time and remembered that I would need gluten free meals. On Tuesday evening, I inquired at the service desk as to how to get some "safe" food in Il Adagio on Wednesday for lunch as my husband wanted to try the pasta & pizza lunch. They told me to see a maitre'd in the Garden Cafe area. We immediately went up and met with Raj. He ordered a gluten free veggie pizza and small gluten free pasta with marinara sauce for me to be ready at Noon in Il Adagio on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening, we watched the "Showdown" show. I thought it was entertaining, but it wasn't quite what my husband enjoyed. We have walked the track several times already by this time. We have finally explored most of the ship and thought we could find our way around by now.
On Wednesday, we again had breakfast in the Garden Cafe. I enjoy fresh fruit and it was easy for my husband to get his fill. We did the walking tour of Nassau in the morning. We enjoyed some great drinks at John Watling's Distillery (3 drinks for $20). We ventured back to the Sky for our lunch. As scheduled, we went to Il Adagio at noon. I inquired about my pre-ordered lunch and no one could find it. Now, when you pre-order with the maitre'd, you are required to give the room #, where you plan to eat,and approximate time. I watch Raj write it all down on Tuesday night. It took about 30 minutes of waiting, but I did get my gluten free veggie pizza and a small portion of gluten free pasta with marinara sauce. They did give us a few minutes warning that it was almost ready and told my husband to go get his lunch; but he was finished eating before my meal finally arrived. Yes, they apologized and made it right; but it is frustrating to have to wait for them to find my meal when it was pre-ordered. For the afternoon, we walked to Junkanoo beach for some relaxing time. See my review of Nassau below. We bumped into Bradley, the waiter on our walk to the beach and stopped to chat for a few minutes. I just cannot believe how much the staff get to know you and are willing to share with the guests. Since our lunch was later than we had expected, we weren't very hungry for dinner. After getting cleaned up, we hung out in Longboard's to watch some basketball and enjoy comfort food (fish & chips for my husband). After dinner, we went to the Garden Cafe to see about ordering a safe meal while on Great Stirrup Cay. We met Grace from the Phillipines as the maitre'd available. She again went through my choices while on the island and wrote down that I would like a veggie gluten free pizza for lunch with 2 slices of gluten free bread to be toasted upon request, so I could make a sandwich at some point in the day. I was very pleased with her knowledge and she even allowed me to look at the dinner menu and choose my dinner to be eaten in Crossings on Thursday.
On Thursday, we were not in a hurry to reach Great Stirrip Cay so we enjoyed a relaxing breakfast in Crossings. We were still one of the first groups to tender to the island. We did not get a tender time, we were not going to rush; but they opened it up rather quickly due to low interest and we bounced over to the island. I am not sure at what point they decide not to tender, but it was very rough. We put our towels down, but quickly discovered there was so much more to GSC. We only got to explore for about 90 minutes as the rain came and stuck around. We loved the lagoon area. About noon, we jumped on the shuttle (had been hiding under a pavilion out of the rain for about 30 minutes with a handful of people) and returned to the buffet area. It was very crowded due to the rain. I found the maitre'd, Raj from India, and he went in search of my pre-ordered gluten free pizza. Not thinking, my husband grabbed his food and stood behind me to eat. Raj returned in a few minutes with his apologies, but my pizza wasn't on the island. After a few phone calls, he discovered my pizza had been served to another guest (now it is 12:10 pm and lunch was served after 11:30 am; so I was a bit frustrated and discouraged that again, 2 days in a row my pre-ordered gluten free meal was not where I had scheduled it to be). They put the pizza and bread on the next tender to bring it over and then they had to heat it all up, about 35 minutes after they found the problem. Due to the rain and cool temperatures, we headed back to the Sky early in the afternoon. For dinner, we returned to Crossings but we were unable to be seated in Bradley's section. He did see us later & acknowledge us with a wave & smile. I reminded them that I had pre-ordered my gluten free meal and the maitre'd seemed to know what I was talking about. Within moments, my husband was served his meal but again I had to wait another 30 minutes for my meal. We were quite disappointed that my husband would be given his meal and my meal was no where in sight. After waiting for a few minutes, I did tell him to enjoy his meal while it was still warm. They did explain that they wanted my meal to be safe and yes, I agree I want a safe meal also, but when it is pre-ordered and you give them the time that you plan to eat; there was no reason to serve my husband but I had to wait an additional 30 minutes. We did go to watch the Deal or No Deal final show and "Vegas! The Show" as well. Both were entertaining and my husband enjoyed the music much more this time. We packed up and headed to bed rather early.
On Friday morning, we were planning to self-embark to enable us to get a taxi and have plenty of time for our noon flight home. We ate breakfast in the Great Outdoor Cafe. It was busier than we had seen it as everyone was trying to get off the ship. We did not rush at all. We walked off at about 8:45 am. No waiting at all and no problems. Our taxi ($24) got us to the Miami airport in about 15 minutes, traffic was a bit busy. Security line at the airport was our only real problem. We didn't have to worry about missing our flight, we knew we had plenty of time; but they would pull an entire row of people out of the line and move them forward even though they were in the back of the line. We couldn't figure out their logic at all, it is a line and apparently first come, didn't mean anything to TSA in Miami. Our flight was actually delayed about an hour due to the flight attendants being on another plane. It made us run in Chicago to catch our next flight home.
All in all, we had a great time. The food was good. We rarely had to wait for anything. The Sky was clean and showing some age but well cared for. The pools & hot tubs were always full. We didn't do any shopping on board, only bought a few shirts for the kids in Nassau. We didn't feel like we needed to pay a cover charge for food or drinks, there was plenty of good complimentary choices. Other than my complaints about getting my pre-ordered gluten free meals where they needed to be, it was great!! They do need to improve their special dining requests. The system seems to be in place but it didn't work for me on several occassions. We did not experience any motion sickness or health issues, so the food didn't bother me at all. If airfare was a bit less expensive, I could see our family enjoying a Sky cruise in the future; but we aren't in a big hurry right now. Good experience & relaxing vacation!!!