I was pleasantly surprised by the SKY and NCL. I had heard horror stories about NCL from past passengers, this board, and more importantly, travel agencies who refuse to book NCL anymore. I have sailed Disney, RCL, and Carnival, so was a little worried about NCL as I was under the impression that it was an "inferior" product. This was my 40th birthday cruise, and in order for my 3 best friends to be able to go, our cruise had to be affordable. So the SKY won out....I'm glad it did! We had a wonderful time and alot of that had to do with the ship and her crew. The ship itself is still done in the Hawaiian motif and showed signs of wear but nothing was dirty looking. It is also very convoluted. You have to use certain floors to get from one end of the ship to the other. Same with the elevators. Some only go to certain floors. Because the SKY is not very large, we figured all of this out rather quickly.
I had a horrendous time getting to Miami because I have to go through Atlanta. My morning started at 4:00 am with a call from Delta telling me my flights had been changed and I MIGHT arrive in Miami by 2:00. Apparently storms took out a tower at the airport and it was totally shut down for several hours. I frantically began searching for alternate routes and ended up having to purchase new tics on US airways. Anyways, I arrived in Miami with no one to meet me for transfers because they still thought I was coming in on Delta. I had tried calling to inform them, but their transfer desk doesn't open until 9:00 am which was when I was in the air. No big deal....I just got my luggage and walked over to the NCL desk in the next terminal. I waited about 20 minutes for a bus and went to the port.
Embarkation was great. The whole process took about 15 minutes. I arrived during the busy time, around 1:00, and had no waits. I met my friends in the waiting area. Then I set foot on the boat and was given a glass of cold champagne...AHHHH! We immediately went to the buffet. It was crowded, like all of the other ships I've been on, but we were able to get a table and then tried to fight our way for food. This was one of the negatives of the trip. There was no line or order about getting food. People just walked right in front of you to get what they wanted. The buffet was typical...salad bar, cold cuts, hot dogs/hamburgers, fries, assorted hot entrees, desserts. Drinks are the same as well. All were pretty good for buffet food.
We went to our rooms. This was the biggest shock. They are TINY!! We had a connecting room, and with the door open there was no room whatsoever to walk to the bathroom without climbing over the bed. There is also minimal amounts of storage for your clothes. Maybe 3 skinny drawers in the closet, but plenty of hangars. This is a big deal even if you are only on the ship for 4 days when you are traveling with my friends who overpack! I ended up keeping my clothes in my suitcase under the bed. The bathroom and balcony, however, were nice sized. Plenty of room. We even pulled my friends 2 chairs from the neighboring room onto our balcony so that we could all 4 sit together. The beds were fine, too. No complaints. Our room steward came twice everyday and always greeted us in the hallway.
We chose to eat in the MDR the whole time. The "freestyle" dining was wonderful. We loved being able to eat whenever we wanted. The service was really good at all our meals except one, but that was because he was overbooked. In my opinion, NCL's food was good, but I'm not a picky eater. I think it is actually better than RCL's. My friends, who ARE picky eaters, always found something they liked, and it was never a problem to have something omitted or substituted. We ate breakfast in the MDR, too. The buffet was too crowded for our tastes, but the food looked pretty much the same as what we were having.
We did not hang out at the pool since we were off of the ship both days. In Nassau, we went to the Hilton for the day. For $40, we got a towel, lounge chair, and a $30 meal voucher. It is within walking distance of the pier so no taxi fare. Really a beautiful hotel...GSC was wonderful, too. After reading the boards on CC, I was a little concerned. All that worry for nothing. We went over around 11:00 and walked to the "rockier" beach, found 4 chairs together, and enjoyed the beautiful day. The bar-b-que was great, too. My burger and potato salad were very tasty. They also had veggie burgers, chicken, hotdogs, coleslaw, and pasta salad.
We did not see any of the shows as we enjoyed just catching up with one another. We went to the CC meet and greet. NCL provided water and coffee and finger sandwiches and other nibbles. We got to meet the Hotel Manager and F & B Manager which was very nice. I also did the spa. I had a foot and ankle massage, head, neck and shoulder massage, and an eye treatment. Was not very pleased with these services. I was seated in the hair salon with my feet propped on a table covered in a towel instead of being given a spa room. My head was tilted back over the chair with a neck roll. Very uncomfortable and disappointing and definitely NOT relaxing.
Getting off of the boat was no problem either, though we were a little disappointed that we had to be off by 8:30 for transfers back to the airport. It was only a 15 minute drive and our flights were at 1:00, 3:00 and 5:30. Next time we will do a taxi and stay the extra hour on the ship. Everyone had to be off by 10:00. Customs was fast and we breezed right through....back to reality!