This was a first time cruise for both couples, booked as a surprise for my husband along with a few nights stay in Miami. I booked through CruiseCheap.com and got this 4 night inside cabin to the Bahamas for $189 per person. Having never cruised before and hearing good/bad I wasn't sure if I wanted to do more than a few nights...I'm glad we only did 4 nights.
The ship itself was very nice, clean is the first thing that comes to mind. I never once saw a garbage can in any common area, and felt bad if I left an empty drink glass on a table, but walk back by in a few minutes and it was picked up! Pool area is small, but never seemed crowded. There are 2 pools and 4 hot tubs, they didn't have all of them open everyday. They were 1 pool and 2 hot tubs one day and they were closed. No biggie for us. The ship also has a walking/run track that was really nice. We also used the gym and it was pretty busy in the morning.
Our first cabin 8151 was next to our traveling companions and location wise was fine. When we got into our cabin we noticed ours smelled a little musty. I wasn't to concerned with it the first day, as we've traveled a lot in the Caribbean and thought maybe it was just that ocean scent that we have dealt with on some land vacations. Our first night was fine, a little on the noisy side- engine noise for sleeping, but my husband said it lulled him to sleep. When we got up in the morning, bright and early for our excursion on my way to the bathroom my foot "squwished" into wet carpet....leak from something... Ohhhh great. Called and told housekeeping about it- wasn't going to stay there to deal with it and miss our excursion so when we returned our steward had put a HUGE industrial carpet dryer/fan in our room. When we opened the door we were greeted with a loud fan and an even stinkier room than before. Long story short I called to the reception desk and requested another room. I was told that they were not sure they could accommodate us in another room, but would get back to me soon and they would try to find something eles besides that big noisy fan.... OUr planned nap didn't happen that afternoon- ugh- they brought a dehumidifier that made our room hotter than the sun so that wasn't going to work. After a couple hours they found a room for us. Missed dinner reservation b/c I had to pack up the room and wait for someone to move us...all in all it was a very unorganized experience. We were moved towards the front of the ship the room was 6314 I think- actually on the 7th deck- no guest elevator to these rooms so hauling luggage wasn't fun up the flight of stairs, but the room was slightly bigger with a little chair and less engine noise....Although there was NOISE, it was the noise of banging around when we ported each morning. No biggie, just looked at it as our alarm clock! The positive about our cabin move was at least on our first cruise I know that I would rather be more towards the front of the ship- having a port hole or balcony I don't think would be a big deal to us since we were with friends and spent lots of time with them- no need to hang out on the balcony.
Food on the SKY was overall good....more than that there was just SO MUCH! Every time you turn around you end up eating something. The buffet and dinning rooms are also very well kept. We never ate inside at the buffet always at the aft of the ship and although it was VERY windy it was comfortable. Longboards sports bar was a nice late night hangout. Bring a sweater though b/c it was FREEZING in there! Il Adagio's was very good, we had early reservations there one night and had the place to ourselves. Fast service and good. Our last night we enjoyed dinner with a Murder Mystery- it was a lot of fun! FYI if you do not have a group of 6 you will be paired up with others or split up if you have more than 6. Food that night was served in one of the main dining rooms and was again very good.
Casino was bigger than I expected- plenty of games to pick from, as usual there are only a few $5 tables to pick from- if you are cool with $15 & $25 blackjack tables you'll be very happy! We entered some blackjack & slot tournaments. Drinks at the bars were just ok- nothing special. Guys ordered buckets (6) of beer throughout the cruise, sometimes getting a special. The first day they bought a few buckets just to have cause they were cheap $15/bucket, regular price I think was $23.
The ships entertainment was good. We played BINGO a few nights which IMO was very expensive, but fun. Comedian Tim Kominski was hilarious- we caught all 3 of his shows! The other shows- broadway style were good, but nothing fabulous. They usually had 2 for 1 drinks at that time. The theater was comfortable and had lots of seating.
Freeport: Lucayan Kayak Tour
We had a great time on the excursion. The reviews on the NCL website seem to make it out to be the best thing ever, I think they are a little overboard! Lots of driving which I was not planning on- about 60+ mins each way to and from the port. Lunch was make your own sandwhich- processed lunch meat and Velveta cheese, cookie and apple. They also had lemonade, tea and water. Our tour guide RICARDO was awesome! He made the trip very enjoyable for all of us. He went above and beyond some of the other guides. He was great with his information about the island and answered lots of pop culture questions we had about Freeport in general. He took us to see the GHOST ship and movie site where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed- not part of the tour and others who also took the tour said that they didn't get to see that. So ask for Ricardo if you book this excursion!
Naussau: Stuarts Cove- Shark Dive Experience.
2 tank dive- worth every penny! Not to be missed if you are a diver. I would for sure book through the cruise line b/c we barely made the ship on the way back. If we had not booked though NCL we may have been left behind.
NCL's Great Stirup Cay: Typical private island. They are building on the island and when it is finished I think it will be great. Not much to rave about, but a good day to relax and catch some sun. THere is a HUGE inflatable waterside for the kids ( big or small kids).
Overall we had a great time! I will however disagree with all the people that told me over the years that cruising is a great way to see different places to know where you want to come back too.... we didn't think we had enough time to have those experiences while at port to make those decisions. I felt that we stayed WAY to busy trying to enjoy all the stuff on the NCL's itinerary that it wasn't relaxing. We tend to be active vacationers, but at times I was borderline exhausted! The old "cattle herding" comment that I'd heard so much about cruising did come to mind a few times. I know that I will never do a cruise that tells me when/where to eat every night- NCL's free style cruising is nice for that reason.