Norwegian Sky Cruise Review by ctdahlquist: A great time for the price!
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A great time for the price!
Overall, the cruise was very enjoyable, especially given the rock bottom price we paid for a balcony cabin. Having had superb weather and a virtual sea of glass didn't hurt, either.
A strong point of NCL is the well-oiled machine that comes to play during embarkation and disembarkation. We were both on and off the ship in about 10 minutes, which provides a very positive impression when beginning and ending a vacation, especially when compared to dealing with airports.
I am usually impressed with the food on NCL, and the voyage on the Sky did not change my mind. Rather than an overly pretentious menu that cannot be successfully executed for what is essentially a "banquet," NCL sacrifices some of the frills to present delicious food that is served hot, well flavored, and healthy. While we were not overly impressed with the menu on day 3, the pork loin we eventually ordered won us over. This is an example of an uncomplicated menu that is executed well (hot, juicy, More flavorful, etc.).
Other than a snack sampling or two, we did not visit the buffet, which seems to be much smaller than on other ships on which I've sailed. The venue was unpleasantly crowded and noisy the first evening; we could not wait to get through the throngs of people on our way to the Plantation Club bar for the 2 for 1 martini special (you'll need a stiff drink after fighting that crowd). Do yourself a favor and skip the buffet on the first evening; there are plenty of other excellent dining options on the ship.
Our dinner on the first night was at Il Adagio, which we very much enjoyed. Although I've read others comparing this option to dining at Olive Garden, there really is no comparison. Il Adagio is SEVERAL notches above a chain Italian restaurant.
Having been aboard two other NCL ships for a total of 4 Norwegian cruises, I thought I'd compare my impressions of the Sky with that of the Majesty and the Spirit. The Sky was overall a very comfortable ship with pleasant public rooms and expansive areas for sunning and relaxing. The cabins, while showing a bit of wear, were comfortable and quiet with tasteful decor. I would rate the ship's quality as two steps above the Majesty but perhaps one step below the Spirit. The Spirit, probably my all-time favorite, is more elegant with much nicer cabin bathrooms.
Service was excellent, for the most part. While I did not see my cabin steward for the entire voyage, very friendly and attentive staff in the bars and dining room made up for any other doubts I may have had.
Since I am writing a cruise review, I feel I must share some aspects of the journey that were less than enjoyable, some of which are certainly not the fault of NCL.
Latitudes Benefits: What happened to the Latitudes cocktail party? Was I not invited, or was there not one scheduled?
Nassau: There certainly isn't anything wrong with Nassau, but with 5 ships in port, your enthusiasm might be tempered somewhat. After a pleasant self-guided tour, we returned to the ship around noon, expecting to have lunch and a quick break before returning to sightseeing. After battling the massive crowd at the port on our way back to the ship, we decided to give up the idea of an afternoon on shore. If you aren't into crowds, and you have 5 ships in port, plan on hiring a cab to take you as far away from the port madness as you can get!
Great Stirrup Cay: The seas were like glass when we arrive at Great Stirrup. A beautiful sunrise was followed by a wonderful sighting of sea turtles and sharks swimming beneath the ship. Yes, the water was clear enough to see fish on the sea floor beneath the ship! After breakfast, we headed out to the island to enjoy the beach. The snorkeling was great, especially beyond the rocks where coral, sea urchins and many varieties of colorful fish were visible.
Having only been to one other private island (Half Moon Cay on HAL), the overall experience on Great Stirrup was not quite a positive. An artificial beach carved from the limestone is just a bit too small for passengers from a large, modern cruise ship. We did manage to find a fairly quiet spot at the very end of the beach, but we would have much preferred an opportunity to really get away from the crowds. Before lunch, we did manage to find a quiet table in the trees for lunch.
On the opposite side of the island you will find an automated lighthouse with several abandoned structures on the property and another limestone beach. On my next visit, I'll attempt to bring my snorkeling equipment to this location for a look around.
Overall, we had a memorable trip on a very nice ship with great food. If you don't like crowds, choose a sailing that is not so close to the holidays, and make sure you are in Nassau on a day with only one or two other ships. If you don't mind crowds, the you should have a wonderful time.
The best money saving tip: Check out the two for one martinis a the Plantation Club bar located on Deck 12 aft. The specials run from 6 to 8 pm. Less
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