I'm fairly new to cruisinghaving spent most of my adult life knowing "for sure" without trying that I really wouldn't like cruising. Eighteen months ago I gave it a try and now I'm a huge fan...bordering on an addict. I especially like NCL for its freestyle cruising. I travel on my own and sometimes I like to meet and talk to people, but much of the time I love revelling in the chance to be silent but around others. I like watching the water, reading books, using the jym and sauna, and enjoying days when someone else cooks the food and makes up the bed. During a hectic spring and summer at work in 2009, I decided at the last minute to book NCL's 4 days to the Bahamas in mid July. In brief...I thought it a wonderful value, a fun trip, a great diversion, but decidedly a "3," compared to the newer NCL & HAL ships I've enjoyed.
HOTEL I flew into Miami the night before and had a beautiful ocean view room at the gorgeous Lowes Hotel. They are doing some contruction so rooms were highly discounted. I barely heard any noise from the constructiona great way to start my mini-vacation.
Embarkation: I got to the ship at 11AM and breezed through the embarkation process. Hats off to NCL for efficiency.
CABIN0219 My previous experience with NCL has been a fabulous minisuite on the Jewel. The sandard balcony cabins on the SKY are 1/3 smaller and half as nice as the Jewel's mini-suites. The cabins on the SKY look exactly like the pictures on the NCL website, so there was no real surprise. The substantial downside, however, is that unless you can get an aft balcony cabin (BA), you don't get the 2 panel glass door to the balcony that is conventional on newer ships. Instead, there is one side with a porthole, and the other side is a door with a glass panel insert. The result is that the tiny cabin feels even tinier because there is less light than if there were a 2-panel glass door. There was just enough storage space for my stuff (and I travel pretty light, with only 3/4 of my suitcase full)...so I can't imagine what 2 people do with their stuff. The bathroom is also tiny with a elfin shower and stick-to-your-skin shower curtin. The rug was a bit on the frayed side and the 4 foot love seat had seen better days, but the cabin decor was bright & cheerywhite walls with framed Impressionist reproductions.
SERVICE Consistently cheerful & polite. I was sorry to not get any towel animals, but happy to have clean towels and otherwise totally adequate service.
SPA I had a massage, a facial, a manicure & pedicure. The first 2 were overpriced and not very good; the last 2 were just fine. The area for the SPA is relatively small so the waiting room is crowded. Instead of the glamorous spa I've come to enjoy on newer ships, the one on the SKY is sort of like a standard shoreside local beauty parlor. Nothing special.
DINING I ate at 2 of the specialty restaurantsCagney's & Le Bistro. Both were decent and worth the cover charge. I ate in the main dining rooms a couple of times. The food was OK, though not great. But considering what I'd paid for the cruise, I thought it fine. Most of the time I ate in the Garden cafethe buffet line. It was more crowded and not as well laid out as the newer NCL ships, but adequate.
OTHER ASPECTS of This CRUISE One more downside of this older ship is that there isn't a really nice place to just sit and read. The libracy is just an inner corridor with a few not very commfortable chairs. There isn't an observation lounge with big squishy chairs and lots of windows. But there were always plenty of places to sit in the sunny atriumif you don't mind listening to elevator music all day. Finally, this was "low season" meaning the middle of summer and the Carribean is Hot as Hades (90+). This limited the time for me to enjoy being outside during the day. In the evening, when the ship was moving, there was sufficient breeze to make sitting out on the balcony nicethough not as wonderful as it is in January.
But, as noted at the startthis trip was truly an excellent value for the very small amount of money it cost me. I love NCL and will continue to cruise with them, though I'm unlikely to take this particular cruise again and wouldn't recommend the SKY unless it was the only option (for an agreeable price) that someone had.