Me and boyfriend (both in our mid 20's) decided that we needed a vacation! We wanted to go out of the U.S. (since he's never been) to somewhere tropical. Through my research I feel upon cruising. This would be a vacation full of surprises since neither of us had been on a cruise before. I always thought cruising was an option for my parents and grandparents, but boy was I wrong! We had a blast and it didn't leave us broke!
We decided on the Norwegian Sky because it was inexpensive, not too many days away and a smaller ship for a first time cruiser. NCL conveniently had dates inbetween both of our birthdays, so that was an added plus. We booked the 6/1-6/5 cruise out of Miami. It was incredibly inexpensive! The cruise cost was only $310 each...I could never get 4 nights at a hotel downtown here at home for that price! We then booked our airfare through South West from Providence to Fort Lauderdale roundtrip at only $140 each. We arranged for SAS transportation (the cheapest and the best...highly recommended) to bring us to the Port of Miami roundtrip for $15 pp each way. This left us LOTS of spending money.
We flew in the same day (6/1) and arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 10am. SAS was already there and had called my phone within 10 min. of our flight's arrival. It was only about a 30 min. drive to the Port of Miami. Once we arrived at the port we could see that there were still passengers disembarking the ship! I guess we got there early. We ventured into the terminal, documents in hand, and checked in and received our ship cards as well as a waiting number. We were seated in the terminal for about 30 min. and then our number was called and we were lined up to board the ship. Only about ten or 15 minutes had past before we were on the ship searching for our deck and room. Renato was introduced to us as our room steward for our trip. He was very friendly and cheery. He informed us that our room was in fact clean and ready so we dropped off our bags and headed to get some lunch.
While wandering looking for lunch we noticed the crossings dining room and ate lunch there. It was very beautiful and decorative inside with great views of the port. I chose a seafood cocktail for my appetizer while my boyfriend had spinach balls. Both were very good. Our entrees had come out and we were very surprised by the portions. They were so small!!! Smaller than our appetizers. I had ordered the tempura cod, which consisted of one small fried strip and a side of rice. My boyfriend had ordered the goat cheese ravioli and it consisted of 3 ravioli in a brown sauce. We learned that you needed to double order if you ate normally. After lunch we unpacked and ventured out on the ship. We deposited money into our onboard account as well, since we opted out of using our credit cards. I recommend this to everyone because it is so easy to do and you will be more conscious of your spending while onboard. We laid on the pool deck for sail away enjoying our helmet of beers and our mangopolitans...eventually we were too tired to hang for the 70's groove party so we hit the hay after a long day of travel.
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island:
We woke up fairly early and found the buffet! What a miracle! They had all of the essentials for breakfast and you could portion the food out the way you wanted to! Everything was very hot and delicious. Please be aware that if you choose to eat outside that you will make friends with the local seagulls! They came very close to stealing some of my hash browns! After breakfast we went back to the room and gathered our beach gear as this was our beach day. The sun was shining and everything was perfect! We got off of the ship and waited probably 10 to 15 min. for a taxi to show up. A ride to Port Lucaya (where all of the action is) costs $4 pp each way. Very inexpensive for a 20 minute ride each way. We were pleased with our driver (Lorenzo) as we could trust him due to the fact that he was a local Reverend and everyone in town seemed to know him. We hit up the straw market first to get some trinkets for friends and family back home. Haggling is welcomed here and you can use it to your advantage since every shop sells basically the same things. After picking up a few things we went to the beach by the Sheraton Hotel. Many vendors are on the beach trying to sell banana boat rides, jet skis, jewelry and hair braiding. Just say no and they will walk on to the next tourist. I walked over to a restaurant called Prop Club and got a Kalik beer and very tasty Bahama Mama. There were lots of vendors on the beach, but none of them were selling drinks! At around 2pm the clouds started rolling in and you could feel the rain coming. We decided to head back to the market to meet Lorenzo and head back to the ship.
Once we made it back on the ship we showered and headed out to the pool deck for some drinks. The drinks of the day are delicious but I would stick to no nonsense drinks because they are cheaper and a bit stronger. For dinner we ate at the Palace dining room. It was very nice in the Palace, but to be honest I wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between her and the Crossings. Very similar in menu and service. I got the filet and my boyfriend got the grilled chicken. Both were delicious. Service was okay. The only thing that wasn't great was that the waiter knocked over 2 glasses of water onto my white pants...needless to say it looked like I had an accident. He apologized but I don't think he really cared, whatever. After dinner is when the party really started! We changed our clothes and headed to the perfect couple show. It was hilarious! The host was so into it and everyone was laughing til they were in tears! After that ended we checked out the On Broadway Show. I wanted to see it more than my boyfriend, but that's obvious. I thought that it was a great show and the performers were really impressive for a cruise ship. For putting my boyfriend through that I agreed to party at the south beach party they were holding on the pool deck. Everyone was having a blast! The music was great and everyone (all types of people) were drinking and having a riot on the dance floor! I probably downed 5+ drinks in an hour and I'm not a huge drinker! We ended the night by swimming in the pool and hitting up the hot tub before bed. We got to our room so hammered that we order room service....poor room service I am so sorry I passed out on you. :-(
I woke up early not feeling the best so I went to the bathroom, did my thing and went back to bed for an hour or so! I woke up again around 10ish and we went off to the buffet for breakfast! Again, attack of the seagulls. We then gathered our beach gear and decided that we could fit in some beach time...because I mean we are in the Bahamas, aren't we?! First on our list was to check out Atlantis at Paradise Island. We followed some taxi drivers to an area where we could be placed into cars to go over the bridge to the island. Again, super cheap. Only $4 pp each way. All of the houses and buildings in Nassau are so cute! They are all painted in pastels which is very cheesy yet adorable. It really makes you feel like your somewhere else! Once we got to Atlantis we went inside and checked out the free portion of the Digg, which was huge for being free. We saw ginormous sting rays and sharks and a bunch of beautiful colored fish. It was great. The hotel initself is so over the top, I swore it fell out of the sky from Vegas. Just walking throughout the hotel makes you feel like you are in a museum because there are sculptures and art everywhere you turn. We couldn't go onto the beach at Atlantis because you needed to be a guest but we found out it isn't hard to get on if you are willing to walk. We walked over to a hotel called Riu, which was next door, and walked down the beach over to Atlantis. Easy. No one bothered us while we were there. We decided to head over to the beach at Riu because it was significantly less crowded. There were less vendors on the beach at Riu as well. After about an hour or so we headed back to the port because we wanted to eat some local bahamian cuisine. We found a bahamian cafe (Cafe Kalik) by the port and decided to try some conch chowder and conch fritters while we were there. The servings were huge but delicious! My boyfriend loved it so much that he finished mine off for me! Definitely try this in the bahamas because it is so good! Don't try and bring it back on the ship with you because it will be confiscated/thrown out. Also, remember to bring an ID with you besides your ship card because someone at the port will ask to see it before they let you go out of the terminal at Nassau.
Once we were back on the ship we decided to make a reservation at Le Bistro. My boyfriend loves duck and I never eat French so we thought it would be fun. We were told that we could have a booth, which was great. We took showers and dressed to the nine's for our special dinner at Le Bistro. I wish I could say better things about this experience but I cannot. It really was not any better than the Crossings or the Palace. We found out that the food for the Crossing and Le Bistro are made in the same kitchen too. When we arrived at Le Bistro we did not receive the booth they had booked us. They put us at a table by the window. It put me off a little but it was nothing that would ruin my night. Well, the window we were sitting at had a great view of the ripping waves that indicated how fast we were sailing. This made my head spin immediately. We ate our foie gras and onion soup and as soon as our entrees arrived I had to leave the restaurant. I had a full blown case of seasickness. The maitre'd did not know what to do and acted frantically searching for help. I'm sure the other diners were disturbed by my exit of the restaurant, but I am certain they were shocked by the reaction of the maitre'd. All in all, it was dramatic and could have been prevented if they had placed us in the booth they had promised us instead of a table with a huge window. We had told them that we wanted to have a romantic night and they asked us if we wanted a booth and we confirmed. They tried to make it up by sending us desserts to our room...too bad I really just wanted my entree that I hadn't even touched. My boyfriend had gotten me some dramamine from the reception desk, which helped with the dizziness.
After lying down for a bit we headed out to Longboards bar so we could eat something and have a drink. My salad was very good and my boyfriend's burger was better than the one he had at the sail away party. We were happy....too bad we wasted $30 at Le Bistro when we had a better dinner at Longboards for free. Funny how things like that work! After that we went to the White Hot Party. It was so funny! Everyone dressed in angel wings with fake snow flying everywhere. They even had go-go dancers! We had a couple drinks and then watched a movie in our room and passed out.
Great Stirrup Cay:
This was our last day and probably the most relaxing. We looked back on our last couple of days and agreed that booking shore excursions was a waste because we were on that cruise to do what we wanted when we wanted! The NCL way! Another beach day seemed like a great idea to me! We ate breakfast at the buffet again, which was great! I even got some ice cream which was super tasty! The weather was especially beautiful on this day! We got our beach gear and headed for our tender. It was actually more like a ferry than a boat! The ride was only about 10 min. over to the small island. We headed over to the small straw market they had on the island and picked up some last minute gifts. There seemed to be more variety at this straw market than the other large ones. I would check it out. The bbq line was very rushed and I feel like there was a lack of quality control when it came to the food. My burger was so dry that it crumbled when I took a bite. I sticked to the bbq chicken which was delicious, as were all of the sides offered. Drinks (alcoholic) were limited on the island. Frozen drinks mainly consisted of Bahama Mamas, Strawberry Daiquiris and Pina Coladas. All were $10 and you could keep the cup. We were lucky and got some lounge chairs on the beach. We got off the ship late so I figured we wouldn't get any....well, I was wrong! I sipped my drink and tanned most of the day. My boyfriend drank and swam most of the day. The water was amazing at this island. It was crystal clear and you could walk out so far. Fish were visible everywhere you walked in the water. So beautiful. My boyfriend thought that this was the best island. The last tender leaving the island was at 4pm and we were on it! We went back to the room and changed our clothes....and sadly, we packed away most of our things for the departure the following morning. We ate dinner at the Crossings (our favorite the whole trip for dinner) and I enjoyed the pecan crusted snapper while my boyfriend had 2 orders of chicken! I had ice cream for dessert and it was delicious!! I loved the ice cream on the ship! Definitely try it. After our lovely last dinner onboard, we headed to the room and looked at the daily for fun things to do. We saw quest and we were curious.
Quest was the best!!! If you aren't shy and have a competitive nature than this is for you. We were lucky when we entered the plantation club where the game was held....a group of 20 something's were looking for young people to be part of their team! We joined in and the fun started right away. It slowly went from "I want to see a freestyle daily!" to "I want to see 2 males french kissing!"....I won't ruin it for those that have never experienced it. Let me tell you, it is not for children!!! Or the easily offended!! But it was the best way to end the trip....we didn't care how far we went because we would never see those people again! After Quest we grabbed a couple drinks to end the trip and watched a movie as we fell asleep.
This was so sad! We said goodbye to our home for the week and our room steward. He did a great job leaving us lots of towel animals and fresh towels too, so we gave him a nice tip. We chose to disembark ourselves (carry our own luggage) which allowed us to leave whenever. We ate breakfast in our room via room service. Not good at all, but that's because it's continental. Once we finished we went through customs, which was a breeze, and waited patiently for our driver at the port. He arrived about 10 minutes later and we were on our way to the airport. Our flight was at 2pm so we had a lot of time to spare. We didn't mind it though, since we had heard it was raining in Rhode Island and it was clear and beautiful in Florida!
All in all we had a great trip that was definitely worth more than we paid. The ship was very nice and clean. I would definitely go on this ship again, because even though things went wrong all of the good things were able to outshine the bad. Good job NCL!