I traveled with a friend who is a travel agent for a girl’s weekend aboard Sky out of Miami for her second voyage to the Bahamas. This was my sixth cruise, her second, and we booked because of a casino promo NCL sent us. We’re local to the area and packed the morning of the cruise, waved goodbye to our husbands, and looked forward to a weekend of sunning, drinking and snorkeling. If I could live every day doing those 3 things, I’d be eternally happy. We boarded early and fairly quickly after parking our car in the garage. Went to the Latitudes line to check in, it was very quick and seemingly very orderly and friendly. We walked up the gangplank onto the ship where 2 escorts took our wheeled luggage and would take us to our cabin. En route we were offered sparking wine or orange juice. We immediately noticed the atrium was extremely hot, followed our escorts into the lift and to the cabin. Embarkation overall was an A.
Day 1 - Once inside our cabin, we chuckled at the king bed and asked our escorts who we needed to speak to about separating them. We were told “the bed cannot be separated” and one of us would have to sleep on the small sofa bed. Neither one of us replied to this ridiculous statement because it was obvious our escorts were either misinformed or lazy. We walked them to the door, said thanks and closed the door behind them. As we looked around, we found treasures on the carpet (walnuts, Cheetos and a used q-tip) and to our fright, no towels except a washcloth which didn’t look clean. The cabin was a real mess and we assumed it just wasn't ready for us. We chose to strip the beds, separate them and make them up with up as we’d toted along our own sheets. I can attest that the linens looked new, but the mattresses were not. We plopped our bags on the sofa along with the NCL linens and decided to find our room steward, make intros and requests, and then head to the pool. We found the steward 2 doors down and he followed us back into the cabin to take a look at what we needed (towels, ice, vacuum). We got a nod from our steward as he took the linens and walked off. We hit the pool by 2 PM after stopping at Great Outdoors for a plate of salad, fruit and breads, all which were good. We also made reservations for Cagney’s for the next night at 8:30. We plopped ourselves on the loungers near one the pools, swam, listened to the band, and drank adult beverages which resulted in a quasi-drunk lounger nap. At muster time, we went back to the cabin, noticed none of our requests had been fulfilled, grabbed our jackets and went outside for the drill which took forever, slowest I’d seen in 6 cruises. We went back to the room, dropped off the jackets and went straight back to the pool for a nice little sail away BBQ and more drinks.
At 7PM we went back to the cabin to shower and change for dinner. Still no towels! I cruised Deck 9 looking for a cart to raid, but it was like a ghost town. We used the beach towels we'd brought from home after our showers, and headed to dinner at Crossings. Dinner was fine and service good, but we were fairly tired from the sun and drinks so nothing was memorable except for the strawberry soufflé (yum). After dinner we went to the casino. We met the Casino Manager who assisted us in setting up our promo cards and we hit the $1 and $5 slots right away. $200 in. No free drinks (not even a bottled water or cola). $43 won. Needless to say, we called it a night.
Back at the cabin after 10 PM and there’s still crap on the carpet and no towels. I picked up the 1970's phone and called to request some towels and a vacuum. I was told “right away”. 11 PM arrives, no delivery, another call downstairs. This time I was told “turn down service is by request only”. I'm was so tired, I couldn't argue, so I asked to have turn down service as soon as possible and asked them to please bring a vacuum to boot. By 11:45, no delivery, so I hit cruised our deck again intent to find a cart or a steward. I was gone about 10 minutes, and came back empty handed. Friend is asleep. She was smart getting her z’s in as we had an early excursion the next day. I made a final call downstairs and told them that I wasn't waiting any longer, hence, cancel the deliveries.
12:30 AM. A knock on the door wakes us up. I open the door and find an attendant with a smile on his face, loads of towels in one hand and a vacuum in the other. I let him in (better late than never) and he goes into the bathroom to set up the towels and we go on the balcony so he can vacuum. About 5 minutes later, the cabin goes completely dark and the guy props the door open and leaves. The culprit seemed to be the vacuum. I tell my friend to close and lock the door and I went to Guest Services. There was a small line at the desk and while waiting about 15 minutes, I called the cabin. Friend says there's still no electric and there is no AC to boot. This night was sooooooooo long already and I just waited and waited until someone could assist me. Frankly I don’t even know what I needed at that point but the desk guy offered me an inside stateroom for the night and some OBC. He also walked me back up to the cabin so he could escort my friend and I to the new accommodation. When we arrived at the cabin, it was noticeably hot inside. The desk guy checked all the lights, the air conditioning, and the balcony door, then radioed for someone to come up. The towel guy returned, grabbed his vacuum and took off again. The good news to end this long night is that within 15 minutes our cabin was in working order again, minus the @#$%^& on the floor which at that point, we didn't care about. It was almost 2 AM when we finally got to sleep.
Day 2 - We arrived in Nassau a couple hours later. We called for room service coffee and were delighted when it arrived within 10 minutes. Note: Sky did not have coffee makers in the cabins. The coffee was actually very tasty! I went into the bathroom first to take a quick shower, and oh @#$%^. What is wrong with this ship? Now we have no water! We high tailed out of the cabin, got a breakfast of fruit and bread, and left Sky to have a great day in Nassau. We joked that we could only hope that when the room stewards came to the cabin that day, they'd note the water was not working. While in Nassau we boarded a boat to Blackbeard’s island where we snorkeled with stingrays. Wound up spending more time at the bar and caught the first boat back to the dock for some shopping. After loading up on cracked conch at a local walk up kiosk located in an alley near Senor Frogs, we bought some Cuban rums and tee shirts, then walked back to the ship around 4 PM. Got all booze through security except for one bottle which was confiscated and held till the end of the cruise. We had so much supply in our cabin from home; the taking of the rum was of no concern. We went straight to the fresh water shower near the pool bar to rinse off our snorkel gear, and then headed to the cabin to drop off our purchases. Once inside the cabin, we were delighted to find a bottle of Mumm on ice, a vacuumed floor, continued electricity and water! We made some drinks from our own supply, headed back to the pool and had a fabulous afternoon. We got some pizza around 5PM which to us, wasn’t bad, but wasn’t good, and around 6:30 went to the cabin for a much needed nap.
Cagney’s at 8:30 was a disaster. I’ve decided not to go into the play by play but let’s just say that we did not depart until after midnight due to slow service. Highlights include 1 hour for a glass of water, entrée before salads, and a table next to us who never got their food, at all. This is the second time I’ve been to Cagney’s and after the first I said I wouldn’t go back. I should have persuaded my friend that the $20 per person charge wasn’t worth it. We were given a glass of complimentary wine but I’m not sure why, because we never asked for it. Later we were told it was because something was not working or available from the kitchen. No issues with the wine, it was good when our salads arrived. Did not have desert and went straight back to the cabin after dinner. Cell phone clock said 12:25 when I finally turned off the lights.
Day 3 – We woke to order fresh brewed coffee again via room service, took quick showers, then headed to Great Outdoors for French toast and bacon, again very good. We tendered without incident to Great Stirrup of which I am very familiar since I spent many years living my summers across the inlet. Once on GS, we went to the straw market to see some vendor friends from the neighboring island then found a couple loungers on the beach closer to Coco Cay and away from the masses and snorkeled the whole day. The BBQ fit our needs for a lunchtime meal and overall, we enjoyed GS, but not as much as Princess Cay. The latter has much more scenic snorkeling. Although we did not use snorkel vests, at GS they are required unlike Princess Cay. The reason for this is that the current around GS can pick up and is extremely strong. Stay in the roped areas, use a vest and enjoy the little snorkeling scenery GS offers, including a couple wild stingrays. We returned to Sky around 3 PM thoroughly exhausted. We made a trip to the cabin, dropped off our gear, made some drinks, popped a couple waters in our bag and moved into a couple loungers at the bar pool (adults only) to soak in the people watching scene. We noticed all types of folks aboard, burned like toast families, the local Miami crowd complete with numerous gold chains and loud mouths, and a few pieces of real white trash who liked to scream their drink orders from the pool to the bar, cuss, and drink and smoke in the pool. Disgusting as they were, they were mesmerizing to watch. Never thought people like that existed unless they’d already made the Darwin Awards. Even though Sky sailings include kids sail free, we only saw well behaved kids and some who were immediately taken care of by parents when found in the adult hot tubs and pool. Overall, parental supervision was superb, except for one local who challenged his kid of about 9 years in back flips into the adult pool while mom/wife looked on. While at the pool we met a few other passengers and learned off the toilet issues on Deck 10. After hearing the tales, we were fortunate to have had the issues we did and nothing worse. We felt sorry for the families who had taken this cruise as a real vacation and had to endure the problems, and overall run around Sky was giving them. No wonder some people were at the pool just drinking their cares away. With no a/c since arrival and overflowing toilets rendering facilities useless, we thought we’d give those who we deemed as idiots the benefit of the doubt. Since both of us were working the next after upon our Miami arrival, we decided to sober up, take showers and have an early dinner around 7:30. When we returned to the cabin, a plate of chocolate covered strawberries was waiting for us and we devoured them. Dinner was at the Palace where service was very slow but the meal of chicken breast and steamed veggies were very good. We toted along our bottle of Mumm and finished it off during the duration of the meal. There has been talk on the boards of dress codes in the main dining room. We always dress for dinner as we would for dinner at our fishing club (same as country club) and don’t give a rat’s behind what people wear, but saw a table of men with baseball hats on as well as a couple seated near us, him with a wife beater tank top and Brad Pitt type hat on. It didn’t bother us but I’m writing about it so the pro-NCL folks know this wasn’t a garden party. For what some people had gone through on this voyage, I was glad they took the opportunity to leave their staterooms and get a decent meal in a/c. When we returned to the cabin, there was a note on our bed that we were getting a $50 OBC due to the problems aboard. “Problems” was not defined as I can recall.
Day 4 – We packed our bags, took showers, ordered coffee and headed through the Wheelhouse Bar to take the side exit out to the gangplank. Debarkation took less than 10 minutes as we were walk-offs. By 11 AM I was in my office an hour north of the port, attending meetings about nothing.
Conclusion – This is my second cruise with NCL. I swore I wouldn’t go back to them even after having a luxurious suite aboard Pearl last year. Freestyle isn’t for me. But you grab at opportunity sometimes, and the CAS promo and ability to get out of town for a couple days was too good to pass up. I love the concept of sailing over to the Bahamas to do some snorkeling and shopping, but this voyage was too unsettling. I saw way too many miserable people to entice me to book Sky again. Until NCL seriously takes care of the mechanical issues in all the cabins and proves delivery of the 2.0 upgrades on Sky, I’ll stick to flying over to the islands, or may consider even RCCL Majesty or Carnival, the latter of which I’ve never sailed on.