We sailed the Sky on Feb. 2-6, 2009. It was our first cruise for both me and my DH. My husband didn't want to fly so we drove to Miami over two days. We arrived at the Port around 11:30 am. The workers at the Port were quick to help us with the luggage and then sent us to park. We walked back to the terminal with our carry-on luggage and got in line. The line looked pretty long but it never stopped. It took approximately 30 minutes from parking to getting on the ship. We thought that was pretty quick but since we had never done this before I guess others could disagree.
As we walked on the ship the cruise director (I found who he was later) was there to welcome everyone. They had video cameras filming everyone's arrival. They had us stop and use hand sanitizer, which I appreciated, before we walked inside. We were immediately greeted with free champagne and juice. My DH took the champagne, but since I don't drink I chose the juice. It was a nice treat. We walked out on the deck to enjoy the view of the Port of Miami and then decided to check the ship out a little. We had too much carry-on luggage to go far. They did have an area where you could check your carry-on luggage while you explored the ship but my DH didn't want to do that, so we just took a seat in Dazzles nightclub and enjoyed watching everyone come through. We were told our rooms wouldn't be ready until 2pm so we knew we had a little bit of a wait but we didn't mind.
We decided to try and see if our rooms were ready around 1:45pm. Our room was on the Oslo deck - 6A. This deck does not have elevator access. You have to go to deck 7 then go down a flight of stairs. We had an inside cabin (6301) that was all the way forward. The Oslo deck is a very quiet deck. We never heard anyone in the hallway. On the way to our room, one of our room stewards met us in the hall and said the room wasn't quite ready (he still needed to vacuum) but that we could drop our luggage in our room if we wanted. We thought our cabin was just right for the two of us. If we had another person with us it would have been way too small. The room was well maintained and the bathroom was clean. The shower is very compact but we didn't mind. There was a decent amount of storage space. My DH used the drawers but I left most of my clothes in the suitcase and left it on the loveseat. We never used it for sitting purposes anyway. Our room stewards were very nice and efficient. We had two, Furtado and Arnel, and they were both extremely polite. They kept our ice bucket filled and the room clean and beds made. We got towel animals 3 of the 4 nights. We thought they did an excellent job.
I thought the ship was beautiful. Everything looked in great condition to me. The pools / hot tubs were open and everyone was enjoying the live band. The Atrium was very colorful and beautiful. The glass elevators give you a wonderful view. Thanks to the message board here I knew how to get to the deck at the front of the ship through the Outrigger Lounge. This is where we went for Sail-Away. We enjoyed being able to watch as we sailed out into open water.
My DH decided to go ahead and purchase the soda card. It was $5.00 for the first day and $6.25 every day after, plus they give you a Coca-Cola cup to use for refills. We originally planned to bring soda on with us but changed our mind.
We were pretty happy with the food quality. We didn't eat at any of the specialty restaurants so I can't comment on those. We ate at the Garden Cafe (buffet) two nights. The first night (right after sail-away) we really enjoyed it. There was a lot to choose from and my DH tried a few new things. The second time (Night 3) wasn't quite as good. We just couldn't really find anything we wanted. Nothing really looked very appetizing. I ended up just eating a salad and my DH ate a sandwich. Nights 2 & 4 we ate in one of the main dining rooms, Crossings. Both nights we went at 5:30 pm, right when they opened, so there was no wait. The first night was excellent. Our waiter was very efficient. The entire dinner took about 1 hour 15 minutes. We loved it all. Our 2nd trip was good but not as good as the first night. My husband got a steak and it was tough and grisly. We know you can get a bad cut of beef sometimes and our waiter did ask if my DH wanted something else. He was very nice about it. My DH was pretty full though so he didn't want anything else. The only other problem was at the very beginning they wanted us to buy some wine, which we declined, instead my DH asked for a Coke. They brought it pretty quickly but when he was ready for a refill no one ever offered. He finally asked the waiter and it was still 15 minutes before someone brought him a refill.
Lunch was good. We either ate at the buffet or Il Adagio which had pizza/pasta. I can't complain about any of it. The French fries are very good by the way.
We ate breakfast every morning in the Garden Cafe (buffet). I thought everything was really good. They did have a problem with some of their juice machines being down. The only downside was disembarkation day. I guess everyone decided to eat at the buffet and they definitely were not prepared for the onslaught of passengers all at one time. They were out of clean glasses for at least 15 minutes. We stood in the same place in line, without moving, for at least 10 minutes. When we got to the plates...they were out. We had to wait for some clean ones. There was of course no where to sit (granted it looked like a lot of people were done eating and were just sitting there). Thankfully a nice couple got finished just as we were coming down the aisle and they gave us their table. We heard a man complaining to one of the staff about how ridiculous it was that he had to wait 20 minutes for a table to be cleaned (I agree). I don't know if he put a fire under some of the staff or if it just got a little less busy because we did see more crew cleaning tables and opening up places to sit. The food was still pretty good, but my DH said they didn't cook the onions all the way in the Hash and he couldn't eat it.
We absolutely loved the comedian, Tim Kaminsky. He did a small show on the first night and a full show on Night 3. He was hilarious. We could have watched him all 4 nights. Night 2 and 4 were the "Broadway" style shows. They were okay. My DH thought they were pretty good but I am very picky about singing and a couple of the performers just weren't that great....too many times off key for me. The dancers did a good job though. There is a lounge singer named Leo who we thought was great. He sang in Captain Cook's bar in the evening and we could have listened to him all night. He liked to sing songs from yesteryear and liked for the audience to sing along. The 2nd night we caught him at the end of his set. He was supposed to stop at 10 pm but everyone kept yelling for him to keep singing. He didn't finish until 10:30. There were people packed into that small area and they had the doorways blocked. People were even dancing together in the hallways. We went to a few of the small shows - Newlywed/Not so Newlywed game (quite funny), The Perfect Couple, Battle of the Sexes, Joker's Wild (The comedian let others get up and tell their own jokes) and Quest (That was one CRAZY game and not for those easily offended). We enjoyed them all though.
Freeport - We didn't even get off the ship that day. There wasn't anything we really wanted to see so we just had a relaxing day on board. We grabbed a deck chair and just relaxed. It was a cool week in the Bahamas. I don't think it ever really made it above 70 degrees and with the wind of the ocean it felt even cooler, but we were pretty comfortable even on deck.
Great Stirrup Cay - Unfortunately our trip was cancelled. The captain said the sea was too rough to tender into so we ended up having a "Day at Sea". I'm kind of glad since it was quite cool. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed a day on the beach with it being that cool. They had a "Behind the Scenes" tour of the ship so we decided to take advantage of it. Our tour guide, Jamie, took us down to the crew areas and we saw the laundry areas, the food storage, garbage and incinerators, the kitchen/galley where the chef gave us a personal tour (very cool), and a backstage look at the theater. We also were shown a slideshow of the bridge (can't go on the bridge since 9/11). We learned a lot and really enjoyed it. We thought Jamie did a really good job.
Nassau - We took the Harbor Cruise/Atlantis tour. We met at 11 am and took a small boat to Atlantis. We then walked to Atlantis where we were separated into smaller groups and were taken through the casino and shown "The Dig". That place is absolutely Amazing. We enjoyed it and then caught our boat back to the ship. It was chilly but beautiful.
We decided to do the latest disembarkation time they had (Pink/9 am). We put our luggage out the night before and waited for them to announce our color. We heard them announce the self-disembarkation people, then the light blue. Around 9:30, they announced that all colors were now free to disembark. We now know to wait a bit before running out there. It kind of bottlenecked there in the terminal. It took us about 30 minutes just to get downstairs. Getting through customs was a breeze once we got there. There were plenty of people offering to help us with our luggage. We pulled out of the parking garage before 10:30 am.
Considering this was our first cruise I was pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed it. We definitely plan on taking another cruise and probably will do it with NCL. We enjoyed being able to eat dinner whatever time we wanted. We only had a couple of off-putting experiences and the good experiences outweighed the bad by a huge margin. Thanks NCL for giving us a wonderful vacation.