After waiting for 5 months the big day finally arrived. My partner and I where taking my dad on his first cruise as a b-day present and he was even more excited than we where to be going. Only hold up here was my broken leg, a reminder of Tropical Storm Fay spending 4 days in Central Florida in August. I will tell you that taking a walk during a storm is not as fun as I thought it would be, but I digress. LOL
So anyway, Dec 1 arrived and we left my dad's at 7:10 to head down to Miami from Orlando. The drive was great, we only hit one small traffic snag and arrived at the port and was parked by 11:15. It turns out that people with a valid handicap tag or placard parks for free so I saved $80. I guess that was one good thing about cruising with a broken leg. LOL We parked the car in garage C and made our way to the terminal. Check in was a breeze and we made it to the waiting lounge by 11:40. After only having to wait 5 minutes they started boarding the ship at 11:45 and after being identified as a passenger that would need assistance during a possible emergency while at sea, we where actually escorted to lunch. I had read that balcony passengers get this service but by the other reviews and messages, it seemed to be a spotty service at best. I noticed many passengers throughout the day receiving the same service so I am pretty sure my current mode of transportation being crutches did not entitle me to this nice service. We dined in the Palace and will include all the info later on.
First off I'd like to share all about our cabin. We booked a Cat BB on deck 10, (room 0222 ) and where both pleasantly surprised and a little shocked. I'll tell you first that this cabin is small. It's even smaller than the cabins on RCCL and I thought nothing could be any smaller than those. LOL The bed closest to the door actually blocks half of the entrance into the room so I had to turn sideways when coming into and out of that portion of the room. This didn't bother me though, the balcony more than made up for any inconvenience this could have caused. It was awesome being able to just step out and have the open sea at my disposal. Being me and my partner's first balcony room I can say we are hooked. Going back to an inside cabin will be even worse than trying to get into the small bathroom our cabin had. LOL I can agree with a joke the comedian made saying that he had to soap the shower walls and spin around to clean up. By day 2 I was tempted to try that move myself. It isn't something that would ever make or break my cruise but just be aware that when you read someone saying the cabins and or bathrooms are small, they mean "SMALL".
On to the cabin amenities, I must say the balcony is the best. I totally enjoyed just sitting out there without having to deal with others crowding me as can happen on the main deck space. The mini fridge was stocked full of everything. So many choices of liquor where nice but the prices are a bit high. Well actually down right high, but that's expected for the convenience of having a mini ABC Liquor store right at your finger tips. The beds where nice and firm, no egg crating was needed and the linens where very soft and comfy. The opened love seat blocked our access to the balcony but by using my crutches, I was able to just vault over it and right onto my oasis at sea. No, I didn't do that. With my luck, I would have vaulted right out of the cabin and over the balcony rail into the sea. Not knowing if the crutches would have worked as floatation devices, I opted to stay in doors while my partner slept soundly on the pull out. LOL We weren't given enough bath towels as only 2 where left daily but with multiple hand towels left, we made do. Towels don't make or a break so just go with it I always say. With the deals that you can get on cabins on the Sky, none of the slight negatives could have ruined it for us and they shouldn't be too much of a bother for others hopefully.
On to the ships dining venues. We ate at both main restaurants but preferred the Palace as it was a more casual dinning experience without being a buffet. Our first meal was spent there and that made me want more. The wait staff where fantastic and the choice of meals was quite varied. I must confess that the chilled fruit soups became my favorite at each meal, with the banana being my number one choice but the apricot/peach mixed one was a close second. I enjoyed my escargot with my final meal on Thursday night and I'm wondering if the mass snail spotting on Great Stirrup Cay that last day was where they harvest them. LOL If you make it for lunch on Wednesday, try the Nagasaki Noodles. They are wonderful and I could have eaten 3 or 4 servings but I refrained as I teamed it with Skewered Mahi-Mahi that day which was equally delicious. Tuesday night I had 2 lobster tails with Grouper and I must say that the lobster is hit or miss. The first was dry and tough but the second was juicy and yummy. Both orders of Grouper where great but the Mahi-Mahi beats it. I only ate the buffet twice. Once for breakfast and then once for a cheeseburger break. My dad ate at least 2 a day so I had to try one and boy was it good. Thick and juicy, not dry or greasy as they can be. The breakfast was usual buffet fare. Nothing to brag or complain about. We ate in Cagney's one night and was surprised to find it was only a $20 cover charge as I had read they charged $25. The ambiance was so relaxing and the acoustics aren't so that you hear what every other table is talking about as the typical cruise ship low ceilings can make happen. The selection was typical for a steak house but I do wonder why they feel the need to charge an additional $10 for some entrees. The $20 should be all it takes to cover what they serve as, quite frankly, the Filets we ordered seemed to be normal cruise fare in the main dinning rooms on other ships I have cruised. The deserts where ok but where this venue really excels, is the staff. Not that they really do anything extra on a service level, but since they have less tables to tend to, they are able to spend more time chatting you up and they all are so fascinating. Cruise staff normally come from so many varied locations on the planet and each of them are more than willing to share life experiences from home. It's nice to hear all about there homelands.
Let me take a moment to share the general attitude of the staff on board as we encountered. I can honestly say they are top notch. With the exception of officers, not one staff member passed us without a greeting and generally they greeted us before we could even say hello to them. As for the officers, I can only guess that they have more important things on there minds then saying hi to us lowly passengers. Even after we greeted them they seemed troubled to speak to us and that's when they returned a curtly hello at all. The room attendants are great and even the staff that take care of the daily up keep, i.e.; painting or interior restoration folks go out of there way to smile and speak to you. Luckily these fine folks out number the officers so even that didn't slow our vacation roll. I had heard that the ships cruise director was top notch but I didn't find anything special about him. I believe his name is Matt Baker and he seemed to be like any other cruise director on any other ship. Nothing that really made him stand out in my mind with the exception of his desire to imitate Woody The Wood Pecker. I didn't like that cartoon character as a child and I can safely say that as an adult that laugh still doesn't do a thing for me. He also tried to be funny with his closing jokes after the shows. They where the same you here on other ships so basically same director, just a different ship in my humble opinion.
The ships entertainment was great. I won 2 times during trivia games, of course both times where by default as only 4 or 5 of us showed up. LOL The questions where tough at times but hey trivia is either about showing off or learning new things and I enjoy doing both. We enjoyed the ships comedian/magician although with the exception of the worlds 3rd greatest card trick, he was mostly comedian. Saying comedian is kind of loose though as most of his routine is pretty tired but his energy and attitude really make him shine. I'd see his show again if he happens to perform on any future cruises. The ship singer/dancers are pretty good too. I think a few could make it on Broadway. They performed the bits from Mamma Mia, Wicked, HairSpray, In The Heights, and a 5th one we didn't recognize quite well. Then the second show being a Rock and Roll tribute was great to see as well. They have such energy and all sang well so they can really make the shows entertaining for all I think. We didn't make it to any of the specialty night parties but I did see a bit of the White Hot Party on the tv. It looked fun and made me wish I wasn't crutches bound.
Finally, and I'm sure anyone reading is ready to see the end in sight, I would like to speak of the ports of call. We have family in Free Port so for us it's a nice day stop. Unfortunately that's all they have for us but as I heard so many people say, its more than they had. The port is a good 10 minute ride to anything and they tend to stack you in cabs like cattle so be prepared if you haven't been before. Nassau is really nice. So much to see and everything is pretty close by. We have been several times so I stayed on board but my other half took my dad on a walking tour and as usual he brought back great pictures of new sites never seen before. My dad enjoyed his time so I count this stop a success as well. I like watching the other ships dock on the piers so I had fun on board and its one of my grand trivia win days as well. LOL Great Stirrup Cay looked nice from my balcony. I spent another day on board as I'm not sure I was tender material with my crutches and didn't want to have to swim ashore after being tossed over the gangway by the choppy surf. Once again I received nice reports of the day spent ashore by my dad and partner, although apparently there is a mini trash mountain on the way to the lighthouse that could have been better concealed my partner said. It wasn't a deal breaker but just something that could be corrected easily we would think.
Well this brings our cruise to an end and I can honestly say the Sky was a great vacation. The pricing is low and the ship looks good. I enjoyed the Hawaiian themes on board but did think that all the fake plants where a bust. I bet the staff could keep some live plants aboard, especially on the pool decks as there's plenty of sun there, but even those plants are a tired old plastic assortment. I have read many negative and positive reviews over the last several months and am glad to be able to share a great one with all of you. After docking at 6am and being cleared to leave at 7:30, we where on Northbound 95 heading home by 8:10. We are already booked on a romantic cruise for 2 next November on the Pearl, sorry dad you are being left behind, but if I can get a little time before then from work, we would definitely make a mad dash back to the Sky to enjoy more fun times on board.