Hello, everyone. I'm writing this review in the hopes it helps others decide whether or not they would like to sail on the Norwegian Sky. Remember, this review is written from MY experiences, although I have also included my cruise friend's opinion on some things. I hope you enjoy the review as I have placed as many details as I could in the review.
Flight/Hotel: Flew to Miami the day before the sailing (Saturday, May 17th) to avoid any problems with flight changes and anything else that may have come up. Stayed at a local hotel that was only 1 star to me, but my cruise friend said it was 2 stars. It was marginally okay since we booked on price point alone, but we only had to stay there one night. Not a big deal one way or the other. The hotel had a shuttle to the port for $8 per person, which we thought was a great deal. There were many others at the hotel going on different ships. The driver knew exactly which ships would be docked where, and he loaded the luggage accordingly. I found that pretty cool.
Embarkation: As the hotel shuttle arrived at the port about 12 noon, it looked like organized chaos! It was very busy as there were 2 other ships at the port, but I could tell the taxi and shuttle drivers had done this probably a million times so it wasn't a problem. I found the porters to be a bit aggressive. Instead of accepting a tip after loading our luggage, ours asked for one before our shuttle driver had unloaded our luggage! My cruise buddy gave him a good tip, but I would have reduced it just for him asking for it. Again, not a huge deal, but it rubbed me the wrong way. I tipped the shuttle driver for the safe trip and for unloading the luggage). We didn't get our luggage until after 5pm, which really unerved me since all the rooms around us had theirs. I'm convinced a big tip to the luggage porters makes no difference...haha.
We walked toward the Norwegian Sky. Security asked for my photo ID, so I presented my Passport Card. He then asked for another form of ID (although I'm not sure way because the Passport Card should be plenty good enough according to the Dept. of State's website). Luckily, I brought my birth certificate with me. If you have only a Passport Card, definitely bring several forms of ID just in case. It took about 10 minutes to get through security, which was amazing considering how long the line had gotten.
We got in line to get our key cards, which was a piece of cake. We arrived on the ship, too the obligatory (mandatory?!?) cruise photo. We were on the ship! Woo Hoo! Note: Your room key is YOU for the ship. Take it with you wherver you go, no matter where that may be.
State Room: We were in an aft room on the Viking Deck (deck 8). It was bigger than I expected based on other reviews. Huge? No! Adequate? Yes! We (two guys) had plenty of room. The bathroom as a bit small, but functional. The water was extremely hot. Be careful!
Dining: We ate at the Garden Buffet the first night for lunch and supper. The food was good. No complaints here. The lines moved fairly quickly. Some of the staff were encouraging people to cut the line if they wanted something further up, but most of us didn't do that. I didn't have a problem with it either way. No need to wait for a slice of roast beef if that's all ya want. I guess.
We ate at Cagney's Tuesday night. It was $25 extra. The steak was very good. I got a T-bone. It was cooked to perfection for my taste (medium well). While it was good, we didn't feel it was worth the extra money (based on our experience at Crossing at The Palace...see below). We felt as though we were paying for the ambiance more than the food. Our waiter was excellent, though. His name is "Ashley". Ask for him if you decide to eat there. We didn't try any other "pay to eat" restaurants based on our experience at Cagney's. I did hear some people by the pool later on raving about Cagney's.
The Palace: This is the "informal formal" dining place. Shorts are allowed here for breakfast and supper . I found the atmosphere to be the same as Cagney's without the extra $25 charge. I ordered the turkey breast for supper. Extremely good. The presentation on the plate was nice. The service was excellent. I seriously can't imagine anyone not getting good service here. They have two people to the tables.
Crossings: You can wear shorts before supper in this restaurant, but guys have to wear long pants (jeans are okay) and no halter tops for the ladies. No shorts for anyone for supper. Crossings, to me, was the same as The Palace. Service and food were excellent. We had to wait about 10 minutes Thursday night with no reservations. Never had to wait for breakfast here. There were some people really fancied up here. They looked nice, but not at all out of place. I felt way underdressed to be honest. The room is quite elegant looking. The wait staff was very attentive.
Longboard's (Sports Bar): If you are in the mood for a late night snack, this is the only place to get it (as far as I was able to tell). The food is typical sports bar stuff: burgers, wings, chicken fingers, etc. The service was hit or miss, but after a looong day and night of excursions and ship activities it tasted good!
Ship Activities: I am almost 100% sure this sailing was not sold out. There were usually always chairs available on the pool deck. The shows weren't full (but crowded). There is ALWAYS something going on on the ship. Get up early, and stay up late!
The casino was bigger than I expected, and it was buzzing with people all the time. Admittedly, I spent too much time in there!
Karaoke was always amusing. Drunk people singing off key is ALWAYS fun! Trust me!
The gym is pretty nice. I used it once...haha.
BINGO is fun. I didn't win anything (of course!), but it was a lot of fun.
Demographics: This sailing seemed to be a microchasm of America. I saw all ages from strollers to wheelchairs, but mostly it was a mid 20's to 30-ish crowd. Not a lot of kids, but some. I'm not a kid person, so I wasn't complaining about the no kids! I did notice a good number of interracial couples (of all types) and some gay couples. I'm not sure if this typical of the Sky, but definitely cool to see.
The crew of the Sky is most definitely International. I was always spoken to when passed in the hallway. The people that have complained about the service or whatever must have been on some bizarro cruise. However, as I noted earlier this review is MY experience.
Disembarking: We carried our own luggage and were off the ship by 8am. The customs guy I encountered had the personality of a rock, but I nor my cruisemate had any problems getting off the ship. Note: We both found the declaration form to be a bit confusing as this was our first time out of the country, so we went down to the reception area on deck 5 and we got help filling it out. Great staff there!