After reading earlier reviews, I was rather apprehensive about my 8/22 sailing on the Sky. Luckily, the A/C and toilet issues seemed to be completely resolved.
Background: I'm a grad student in a year-round program that wanted a cheap, quick break for a weekend with my boyfriend. We were not expecting 5 star service or food for the price we paid, just a relaxing, quick getaway. Neither of us are terribly picky in our tastes for food or a room, though we do like clean, well-run vacations. This was his first cruise and my second (sailed in March 06 on Carnival Valor).
Hotel info: N/A. We took a dawn launch flight from Baltimore and used Steve/rideSAS to get us to the pier.
Embarkation: Very smooth.
Ship info/Stateroom: The Sky seemed to be in reasonably ok condition. The decor is still very Hawaii. The hallway outside our cabin (deck 8 forward) had a noticeable mildew smell, as well as the Crossings dining room and the aft stairwell. The cabin itself had no mildew odor. I suspect the carpets in those areas need to be ripped out and replaced, rather than just cleaned. The bathroom in our cabin showed some wear and tear, but everything was functional and clean. We had an outside cabin configured with a double bed. Bed was firm, but not impossible to sleep on. I've certainly slept on worse. ;)
Activities: I liked that although they certainly had as much to do as Carnival, they weren't telling you about it in your cabin every 5 minutes. The quiet was blissful in comparison to my Carnival experience. We enjoyed the Karaoke the most.
Service: Mostly good. There was only one person who was outright rude, and a few others who just haven't been trained in good customer service. "Why should I?" should NEVER be a phrase spoken to a guest, in my opinion, especially in response to a simple question. There seemed to be a lot of passing the buck-For example, we asked a cabin steward about getting ice in our bucket, and instead of offering to communicate our need or take care of the problem, we were pointed down the hall. Our cabin steward never introduced himself or let us know how to reach him. I'm not sure if this is part of "Freestyle" or not, but it was a bit confusing.
Travel to/From port: no problems. RideSAS provided good service.
Dining: I'd say this cruise is not a "Food cruise"- we only had one bad food experience (breakfast in Crossings the last morning made both of us have indigestion), but nothing stood out either. The buffet food was fresh and plentiful, with some unusual choices like vegetable curry. If you are expecting Old Country Buffet variety, you'll be disappointed. We tried Le Bistro the first night; food was ok, desserts excellent. We didn't get a chance to try the other cover charge restaurants. We tried Crossings for dinner one night and were not impressed. Food was barely adequate; I've had better at Longhorn. Service is definitely "european"- a leisurely pace. Don't expect to get out of any of the restaurants (Except buffet) before 90 mins. Mixed drinks were INCREDIBLY weak. I'm a lightweight and after 3 drinks felt not even a bit of warmth.
Entertainment: N/A- Karaoke was more than enough for us.
Disembarkation: nightmare due to Customs, not the ship. We ended up hanging out almost an hour past our time in the stateroom as the line had to be held. Having a noon flight would have made us really nervous... I wouldn't book a flight earlier than 3 pm.
Summary: For what we paid (around $100/person per day), it was a pretty good value. We enjoyed a nice getaway, our meals and room were taken care of, and our expectations were low. If you need a more gourmet experience, this is not your ship.