We just returned from this 3 day cruise and were very pleased with it. We embarked at the Port of Miami after flying into Ft. Lauderdale from Pittsburgh (Southwests flights on time, thankfully). We arranged ahead of time for Ft. Lauderdale Ground Tranportation ($19 one way and $22 the other). They were there on time and got us to the port within 45 minutes.
Embarkation was very easy. We are "Latitudes" members so there were lines that were just for members. After receiving our key cards we proceded to the ship but there was a very long line, probably caused by the photos being taken.
We were offered a glass of champagne or orange juice and proceeded to the pool area as rooms were not yet ready. Lunch was also provided at the buffet at the Garden Cafe or in the Palace restaurant for a sit-down lunch. We chose the Palace and had a great, leisurely lunch. About an hour after embarking an announcement was made that rooms were ready.
We had booked an outside room, 5207, in the front of the ship. The room was much roomier than our room on the Majesty and very nice. Bathroom was also roomier and soap, shampoo, body cream, shower cap were provided. There were 3 shelves on each side of the mirror and room on the vanity for items. Hooks were in both the room and on the bathroom door, which came in handy. A hair dryer is in the top desk drawer. There is a large closet with plenty of hangers, a few drawers below and a safe. There were 2 night stands with 2 shelves and lamps above the bed, which is under the window. There is also a small sofa that turns into a bed if needed. Window was large. A very small tv with CNN, FOX, sports channels and several movie channels with very current movies. A desk with ice bucket and glasses, ship directory and shopping directory also. We had no complaints about this room...until about 11 PM when we discovered a jogging track was right above us. Even though there are signs asking people not to use the track between 9 pm and 8 am, some folks don't believe this applies to them. We were awakened throughout the night and for the last time at 5:45 AM. My husband called the desk each time and the running stopped for awhile but always started again. We asked if there was any possible way we could have our room moved and they said they would have to wait until we got to Nassau to see how many folks got off and on again (I believe some folks get off to spend the week in Nassau and then rejoin the ship the next week). Later that afternoon we received a call that they did have another room for us so we packed up (not much to pack up for 3 days) and moved to....a BALCONY ROOM! Wow, were we surprised and delighted. This turned out to be our favorite spot on the ship and spoiled us for any future cruises! They also threw in a bottle of wine to apologize for our inconvenience. Perfect! The difference in the two rooms, besides the obvious: there are spa soaps and creams in this room, there is a robe in the closet and it is on deck 9. The configuration of the room is different because of the deck door and only 1 nightstand because the small sofa is against the one side of the bed. The beds are very comfortable with plenty of pillows.
Restaurants: We ate most of our breakfasts in the Palace restaurant as my husband isn't fond of buffets. But the one morning we ate at the breakfast buffet I found it to be just as good, the selection even better and the hot food was hotter.
Lunches are also either buffet or at the restaurants. We did eat one lunch at the buffet and the selection is amazing..pasta, Chinese, wraps, sandwiches, salads, cheeses, etc. One lunch was served on Great Stirrup Cay, the private island. It is a burger, hot dog, chicken buffet with fruits and salads, very good!
We ate dinner the first night in the Crossings restaurant and were seated right by the window at the rear of the ship. Just beautiful. Our dinners were wonderful, our servers were friendly and helpful. We also ate at the Palace the following night and found staff to be equally friendly and helpful. Both restaurants are included in the cruise price and serve identical food. They are similar in size and appearance so you can't go wrong at either one. We found the food to be very good (especially the appetizers and soups), the bread is amazing so don't skip it!
The last night we ate at Le Bistro as we had purchased the "anniversary package" for $79 (more on that later). We loved Le Bistro on the Majesty and loved it again. Selection is wonderful, food is, too. The service outstanding and the small setting looking over the ocean is the best. Desserts here are also something you should not skip!
Ports: Nassau - we did not opt for any excursions as we just wanted to see the town and do some shopping. For about $3 by water taxi or $4 by taxi you can be taken to Atlantis to look around, shop in their shops, etc. You will NOT be able to use the beach there unless you go on the excursion. Shopping in Nassau was like a candy store for adult women...jewelry shops at every turn. VERY expensive, but no tax or duty. I tried on a $22,000 ring, very nice! We did not hit the straw market as the folks there were a little too physical for us. I don't mind a sales pitch, but please don't grab me! We left in a hurry and continued to shop in the shops.
Great Stirrup Cay - beautiful island with tons of deck chairs, umbrellas (all free), bars, food pavillion, bathrooms, music, waiters and beautiful crystal clear water! You can rent snorkling gear, large and small rafts and para sail rides. We had glorious weather and got there very early as we needed to make sure we had an umbrella. Probably got to the island around 9 AM. I would say by 11 AM all chairs and umbrellas were taken so my advice is get there early! You are tendered there but the tenders hold over 400 people. Beware of the bottled water...$4. .50 each as I didn't ask the price. They were huge bottles but a little much for me!
We did not take part in many of the activities on the ship as this was a vacation after a vacation and all we wanted was to vegetate, but you could find as much or as little as you wanted to do on this ship. The pools are very nice sized, several hot tubs, many deck chairs located in different areas, some in a "quiet area".
Liquor could make your inexpensive cruise very expensive. "Specals" for drinks were $7. .95 which included a keepsake glass, helmets of 6 beers were around $25. Remember all beverages will have a 15% tip added to it. We had a few bottles of wine which averaged about $25 with the tip, but prices go up from there.
There are shops selling liquor, cigarettes, cosmetics, high-end jewelry along with souvenirs. There is a spa, fitness center, internet cafe (.75 per minute or they have packages) and casino (no luck).
We purchased ahead of time the anniversary package. This is $79 and includes: a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in your room when you arrive, canapes served to your room one evening, a cake and champagne party one afternoon, dinner at Le Bistro with a bottle of wine and one 8 x 10 photo of your choice. Just the dinner, 2 bottles of wine and photo add up to $100 so this is a bargain. They also sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" at Le Bistro which made us laugh! You can find info. on the packages they offer on the NCL website.
We disembarked after another wonderful breakfast. You can choose to either walk off with your luggage or pick a colored tag to put on your bags. They will then have to be put out in the hallway the night before and will be waiting for you when you disembark. Everything went smoothly and we were off the ship and in our transportation back to Ft. Lauderdale by about 9:30 AM.
Unfortunately our return flight on Southwest was not good. A storm came up through Ft. Lauderdale that completely threw that airport off. We would not be able to make our connecting flight to Tampa and then to Pittsburgh becaues of the delay. We were only 2 of 4 people who managed to get a flight out but we were routed to: Orlando, then Birmingham, Alabama, then to Chicago THEN to Pittsburgh. What a day! Just a suggestion, we would never fly to our port the same day as the cruise departs. We did it this time due to time constraints, but one delay could seriously affect your getting to the ship on time.
We loved this short cruise. For those who have never cruised, it is a great way to see if you like it. It's also a great getaway and family reunion spot. The Sky is very nice, clean and modern. It had been used to cruise Hawaii and you can still see some Hawaiian influences (shirts of staff, flowers, etc.) but it's also very tropical and fits in with the ports. The staff is the friendliest we have ever encountered. Every single staff member who meets your eye will smile, say hello, wish you a great day. We even recognized some of the staff that were on the Majesty last year. When we indicated we remembered them, from then on when they saw us they made such a fuss you thought we were long lost relatives.
Also, there were all age groups on this ship. We saw many 20 somethings having a great time and some senior citizens in wheelchairs also having a great time, as well as every age in between. There were also many families with children since it is summer time, but for the most part the kids were well-behaved.
I would do this again in a minute and have talked with some folks about doing this as a group trip.
I think I covered everything, but if you have any questions, please ask!