We were looking for an inexpensive getaway this month, so we started doing research and were impressed with the very inexpensive rates on the NCL Sky. We booked the 4 night cruise on 9/15/08.
We were a bit worried about the ship after reading many of the online reviews, and we were expecting the worst. In fact, I asked about canceling my cruise to book on the RCCL Enchantment of the Seas out of FLL which I saw was selling cheaper than the NCL Sky. But it was too late. We went into this expecting the worst, but hoping for the best. Boy, were we pleasantly surprised!!
Embarkation was extremely fast. I have cruised on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity as well as NCL, and I have never had a check in process as quick and efficient as NCL. After walking in the terminal, we were on the ship within 10 minutes.
We were greeted with glasses of champagne upon boarding (which we were told we could come back and have more if we would like). It was about 20 minutes to 2pm, and we were told that our rooms would be ready by 2pm. We decided to make our way to the room to see if it was ready - and sure enough, it was ready. The cabin was nice. The AC worked very well (it got very cold!) and the bathroom worked perfectly. We has no sewage smell (like some people had complained about). Our balcony was nice - I found the door a bit weird in comparison to other lines balconies, but it was still nice. The furniture seemed older, but it was just fine (in good condition). We pre-purchased the Bon Voyage gift "Anniversary Package" in advance even though it wasn't our anniversary because it was a really good deal - and better than purchasing the items individually. It included dinner at Le Bistro for 2 (and you can make reservations for any night on the first night of the cruise), a bottle of wine at dinner, a bottle of champagne in your room the first day, chocolate covered strawberries, canapes delivered to your room one day, a free photo from the photo shop and an invitation to a party for honeymooners and anniversary people (which we did not go to). The package costs $75.00 total (not per person). It's an excellent deal.
After dropping off our things, we decided to take a tour of the ship and make our way to lunch. Unfortunately, we had just missed the lunch in the main dining room, so we made our way to the buffet. The ship is in excellent condition. They keep it very clean. The staff on board was about 80% Filipino - and I found them to be extremely friendly, outgoing, and personable. Several of them spoke to us, and remembered us when they would see us each day.
Food in the buffet is okay. It wasn't fantastic, and it wasn't horrible. The one thing that I really do enjoy on NCL is the hamburgers. They are usually not on the buffet - you have to ask the cook behind the counter (there is a sign that tells you that). Their burgers are very good. The layout of the buffet is not the best, and it is small. The ship was not full on our sailing, and the buffet seemed to get very crowded. Each day, they had a nice selection of food items, they always had burgers and hot dogs available, always a carving station, and some type of curry dish (pork, chicken, lamb). The room was very small, so we made our way over to Il Adagio (the Italian restaurant) to sit and eat. This restaurant was always quiet at lunch time, and a perfect place to sit. As many people have said - the negative thing is there is no place to get beverages in this room - which is very inconvenient.
We ate breakfast every morning in one of the main restaurants. Since we were in a balcony cabin, they have the Palace restaurant open from 8am - 10am for balcony rooms only. The restaurant was relatively quiet, and the food was good each morning. They make very good eggs benedict. :-)
We had dinner in one of the main restaurants the first two nights (we ate at the Crossings). The meals were very good. On the second night, it was lobster night. They have it paired with grouper, but there was no problem asking for no grouper and extra lobster. It was cooked well, and tasted very good. We were not overly impressed with the menu on Night 3, so we made a reservation for Cagney's Steakhouse. It was a fantastic dinner, and definitely worth the $20 cover charge. We had reservations for the final night at Le Bistro (included in our package) and the food was incredible as well.
We did not get off the ship in Freeport or Nassau as we had been there many times. It was really nice being on the ship and having the ship very quiet and "empty" during the day! The pools were on the smaller side, but very nice, and they have 4 hot tubs. We spent most of the day on the upper deck of the pool area as it was extremely quiet up there and often we were the only people up there.
The private island was beautiful - and I was shocked how close it is to Cococay! You can see Cococay right next door. It's amazing how much larger the NCL island is. It's a shame they don't build it up more like Cococay.
We did the express debarkation on the final morning. We walked out of our room at 7:45am and we were outside getting a taxi at 7:55am! Super quick and efficient.
All in all, this cruise was fantastic. We are already talking about going back again. The ship was nice, the food was good, the staff was fantastic, and we really enjoyed ourselves.
We give this cruise 5 stars.... It was one of the best we have been on!