This is my very first cruise aboard any cruise line. My family and I were trying to locate an inexpensive vacation for this year. We like to take a vacation every year, but the budget was extremely tight this year. So when I saw that NCL was having kids free with parents in the same stateroom, I just had to try it. I called NCL hoping they would have a stateroom big enough for my husband, me and our three children. They said that they could accommodate us in a superior oceanview category, so I went ahead and booked it. I booked the flight at the same time. I did not book a hotel because our budget was being stretched as it was.
The day came and I woke everyone up at 4 in the morning to get to the airport in time for our morning flight to Ft. Lauderdale. Thankfully, there were no problems and the plane left and arrived on time. We had transfers with NCL, so even though we only took carry-on luggage, we went immediately to the luggage pick-up. We had a little bit of a hard time trying to find the representative, but after looking around for about 5 minutes, we were finally able to locate her. We had to wait only about 10 more minutes for another flight to arrive and then we were on the bus headed for Miami.
Embarkation was very easy. There was quite a long line waiting to board, but it went very fast. We were onboard within 15 minutes.
Since we had never been on a ship this large before, my family and I decided to explore the ship and see where everything was. The deck plans right beside all the elevators was a tremendous help. After getting acquainted, we decided to go to the outdoor buffet, which is where we ate 90 percent of the time. We loved being seated outside and listening to the live entertainment that they had on an ongoing basis. We are not used to such frills, and it made the trip very enjoyable.
The food in the outdoor buffet was pretty ordinary. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, salad bar, fruit, a few desserts and drinks. It wasn't fancy, but it was definitely edible. On other occasions, we would also eat at the indoor buffet. They had some of the best stuffed peppers I have ever eaten. We also made it a point to eat at the Palace Restaurant on the day they had lobster. They had a lobster and grouper combination that was delicious. Sandra, who waited on our table, was absolutely fabulous. She made a special effort not only to accommodate us, but our kids as well. My kids thought she was the greatest.
Now those of you with children might be wondering about what there is to keep kids occupied. We originally went to the Kids Crew area to see if I could register them. Supposedly they were having an open house. There were people coming and going, but I did not see any staff members anywhere. The area only had a large screen and a few games, which I knew wasn't going to do for my group (they are 14, 11 and 7 years old). So we decided to find other things.
Across from the Kids Crew was a video game room. We didn't use it, but it is there. There is also a room called "Dazzles" that had a big Wii in it. Unfortunately, we only saw one time when even the adults were allowed to use it. Seems they are very stingy with it, almost to the point of being ridiculous.
Fortunately, on deck 12 there is a sports deck. They have golf, hockey, and basketball. On deck 11, there are also two pools and four hot tubs. I believe this deck is also where the ping pong tables are. Between this and the television in the stateroom, my kids were pretty well occupied while the ship was at sea. During days in port, our kids went with us. They loved the swimming on Great Stirrup Cay. We also took a walk to the lighthouse. Along the way, they were able to see lots of lizards. They love nature and were fascinated by them.
Our day in Nassau was very enjoyable. We took the advice on these boards and did not buy a shore excursion from NCL. Instead, we decided to find the Pirate Museum on our own. We had a map from online, but it proved to be wrong. Fortunately, while we were standing in a Hilton parking lot, a security guard came up to us and pointed us in the right direction. We weren't very far from it. The kids liked the museum and we saved a considerable amount of money by not booking a shore excursion.
On the last night of the cruise, we decided to go to see a show. We saw a sign on the Stardust Theatre for a comedian named Tim Kaminski. He was absolutely hilarious! Even my teenage son, who hates everything, loved this guy! He kept everyone in stitches the whole time. He is definitely a "must see" on this cruise.
The only real disappointment I had on this cruise is because I had heard so much about NCL's chocolate midnight buffet. I was so anxious to try it. Unfortunately, it is not offered aboard the Sky. Oh well, I guess they were being kind to my waistline.
Debarkation was a nightmare. We waited in line at least an hour before we were able to get through customs. Fortunately, I had scheduled an evening flight out, so there was no hurry to get to the airport.
Overall, I would say that we had a very enjoyable first trip. In the future, I have every intention of adding cruises to our vacation plans whenever possible.