This was our second trip on the SKY in 2 years. Last year, was our first ever cruise and we loved it. This time we took our 2 teenagers on a short 4 day trip in hopes they enjoyed themselves enough to join us for our already-booked 2015 cruise on the Getaway to St Thomas, et al.
First let me say THE BOYS LOVED IT. The Teen Center was a huge hit. And it was more than just sitting in front of video games with other kids who were bored to death. They ran around on scavenger hunts, had their own White Hot Night party, and were on the dance floor almost every night of the trip, made plenty of new friends and are still in touch with some.
But somehow the adult's expectations were left hanging.....
Since we had 4 in our party, and the teenagers are both about 5-8, 160#, we decided to splurge and get a suite. 600 sq ft was definitely a good idea, because trying to fit all of us in 200 sq ft would have been a disaster. So we had the 2nd largest suite on the ship.
We arrived at the ship and were met at the VIP desk. Checked in, took pictures, and were off to the gangplank to wait for our escort to the room...... only they never showed up. After 15 minutes, the young man who checked us in offered to take us to the suite. Nice guy. Said he was going to apply for a security job. He got us upstairs and to the suit without delay.
Within 5 minutes we met our butler. Yes a butler. It is one of the perks of having the suite. I had to be upfront with him and say, "This is 100% new to us. So what is it exactly that you are going to do for us?" Joha smiled, "I'm going to take care of anything you need in your suite. Anything at all that you need or want, just let me know." Then he handed me a business card with his contact info on it. How cool !
Within 5 minutes of that, we met our concierge, Karin from Germany. Yes, a concierge is part of the deal as well. She was a wonderful woman, extraordinarily pleasant. Took lots or notes and was on top of everything. She was pleasantly surprised when we explained that we already knew what excursions we planned to take on each stop, and what nights we planned to have dinner in the specialty restaurants. She took the notes, and said she would take care of everything... and she did because we called later and it was all arranged.
In 10 words or less : concierge? Oh my, yes ! Butler? Not so much.
Which brings me to my biggest disappointment.... We booked a suite this time around, not only because we had 4 adults (almost). But more importantly, so my wife had a private place to change in and our of swim wear, or evening wear, away from the boys, and certainly not in the bathroom. And the pictures and layout of the suite on the web site showed a separate room for the main, queen bed. Well, that was not the case. What we found was our bed in the main living area, and a small closet (about 3' x 8') with 2 bunk beds, which the boys claimed as theirs. :-) But we were able to make the arrangements work. We were not going to let it dampen our trip !
Unfortunately, just as 5:00p rolled around, the rain came. It was a Monday and the first day of the tropical depression that was floating around the east cost of Florida. So no late night swimming; no night caps on the sun deck; and certainly no basketball with the boys to work off dinner. But we did get plenty of exercise! The storm got worse and the rain started coming harder and harder. In fact, it rained to much that the glass dome in the Atrium started leaking. And when I say leaking, I don't mean " drip, drip, drip." Oh no. This was a waterfall from deck 11 all the way down every floor all the way to 5 where Guest Services is located. So much water got inside the ship, that the elevators on both ends had to be turned off. The mid-ship elevators still worked. But if you were at the front or back parts of the ship, you were walking steps with many other exhausted passengers. Exploring the ship with the boys, and letting them know where specific things were located (like the Teen Center, Cagney's, the rear buffet, or the ice cream machine) became something of an adventure up and down crowded stairways.
The next morning, Freeport. 65 mph winds and 15' seas were enough to cancel all shore excursions. :-( The weather did let up a bit around 3:00p, and we darted off the ship for a couple souvenirs. The people in the touristy stores are so nice. Very humble. Dinner at Cagney's that night was less than we expected. Maybe because the ship had a little swagger in its step, but my wife and I agreed dinner was not as good as last time. The odd thing was that I think we ordered the almost exactly the same thing. Our boys thought their steaks were great, and after dinner, they headed to the Teen Center while my wife and I were off to drinks and a show. We all met back at the suite around midnight.
Nassau and the Blue Lagoon excursion were what we were all looking forward to. We had built up the obstacle course to epic status, so the boys were expecting nirvana. The spot we chose on the beach was great, with a little shade, and definitely needed to be in a hammock again this time around. Loved it. Lunch was included again, but this time it seemed "cheap". Chicken and salad from last year may have still been set out. :-) Not sure what it was, but it just wasn't the same as we remembered it. On the upside, we told one of the lady's in the bar that we bought souvenir drink cups last year, and asked if we could get the less expensive "refill" price. She chuckled and said, "Sure, if you really brought the glasses back wit you, mon," in a seriously heavy Bahamian accent. And we did, so BONUS ! I tell you, those people make the best Pina Coladas in the world. SOOOOOO much dark rum, and they smile the whole time. By 2:00p, it was time to ride past Michael Jordan, Oprah, Tiger Wood, Eddie Murphy, and other celebrity's vacation homes on our way back to the ship. Dinner at the Italian restaurant and dessert at Cagney's (it's the best on the ship), and the family split up again; Teen Center and Deal or No Deal. Then a couple drinks at Captain Cook's and everyone made it back around midnight again.
GSC is always a fun day..... once you get past the tender ride from the ship. "Hold on loosely, but don't let go." No really; don't let go. :-) This is where my wife and I did almost all our souvenir shopping again. Fantastic people. Friendly and ready to offer a small discount if you are buying several items. We didn't even ask. Definitely order up a clam shell ahead of time because they run out quickly. While the boys played volleyball for hours with their new-found friends from the Teen Center, we grabbed some drinks and started exploring new parts of the island. The old lighthouse is very cool. Long walk, but very peaceful. Dinner at the French restaurant was so-so at best. We tried new things, but that is just not to our taste.
White Hot Party was a blast again ! Around 11:30p, the kids joined the adults and they took over the dance floor and the stage. It was a riot. Everyone was having such a great time. But when we got back to the suite at midnight, it was time to pack at least part way, so the next morning was easier. Expedited disembarkation was amazingly convenient and a nice perk.
Conclusion: we enjoyed the staff on the ship, met several new families who we have friended on f/b adn continue to Email from time to time, and appreciated the concierge very much. But the flooded ship caused delays and allot of unexpected stair climbing, the food was not as good as we remembered, and the layout of the suite was something less than we had hoped for. I suppose it's a good thing that we are already booked for 2015 and we will be on a newer, larger ship. The boys have already looked and there IS a Teen Center ! So they expect to make more new friends, and hopefully more new teen-aged female friends from Argentina. Our guys don't speak Spanish and they didn't speak English, but there was allot of smiling going on. :-)