My wife (53) and I (52) just returned from Miami where we both had the pleasure of spending four days on the Norwegian Sky. Many people have spent time writing reviews on the quality of the food, how the carpet needs to be updated, the rudeness of the staff, the chipping paint on the walls, etc. etc.
Well it's time to get serious about a review of this ship and this cruise in general. I booked this cruise in December 2010 and I selected it strictly on the number of days, price ($279 pp), and room type (Balcony). Our plan was to just relax and take in some sun to get away from the cold and snow in Chicago.
We arrived at Miami International and were promptly met by a lovely lady in baggage claim who escorted us to a waiting bus. Upon arrival at the port, we waited in a very smooth running line and completed processing in about 20-25 minutes.
Once on board, I immediately noticed that all of the crew members I encountered were very welcoming and had smiles on their faces. We went up to our room and discovered a very nice balcony room with our bed made up in a queen format as I had requested through NCL. The room was in wonderful condition even though you can see a number of repairs that have taken place over the years.
This ship was built in 1999 and was originally named the Pride of Aloha and spent its first 9 years sailing the Hawaiian Islands. That answers the question why everything on this ship is Hawaii related. It adds a wonderful touch too everywhere you walk around the ship. The paintings and pictures on the walls and the carpet (fish facing toward the front of the ship) make you smile as you wander around the hallways. This ship at the time it was built was the largest in the NCL fleet and at 2002 passengers and 77,000 tons it is now the smallest in the fleet.
We did not attend any of the shows, but I spoke with some folks that did attend the Variety and the Comedy shows and they thoroughly enjoyed them.
As for the restaurants on the ship, we were extremely surprised after reading reviews on this ship. The Free-Style Dining option on NCL provided us a chance to try both restaurants (Palace and Crossings). Both of these meals were quite good and everything was served beautifully.
The best meal hands down that we had on this cruise was served at Cagney's Steakhouse. This restaurant was the single best add-on dinner we have eaten on a cruise ship. The service from the assistant waiter to the Maitre'D was at the Four Seasons level of service. The food was perfect. We had a Giant Shrimp Cocktail, Lobster Bisque, Portobello Mushroom with Crabmeat and Caesar Salad as appetizer's. Our main entrees were a 10oz Filet Mignon (cooked perfectly medium) and Broiled Salmon with Garlic Crab Legs. The deserts and coffee were just delicious. The $25.00 per person charge was easily worth the additional charge and I highly recommend eating one of your meals in this excellent restaurant.
We had all of our breakfasts and lunches upstairs on the 11th floor at the Garden Cafe. The food was excellent at all meals. For breakfast we would normally have fresh fruit, hot cereal (Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat) and Smoked Salmon with all of the sides. For lunch we tend to both eat salads and there were numerous choices on the Salad Bar. Everything was wonderfully fresh and great tasting. As for the write-ups concerning the layout of the Garden Cafe, it is laid out terribly with the drink station as soon as you walk in which causes a bottleneck to get to the main food line. The ice tea and coffee tasted just fine. There are two additional buffet stations at the Garden Cafe at the rear of the ship that were barely used and provide another option for dining outside under a shade canopy.
We did not eat at Le Bistro or Il Adagio during the cruise.
The bars on the ship was very inviting and we enjoyed the one on the 7th floor in the main hall and the Plantation Bar on the 12th floor. The Plantation Bar has a 2 for 1 Martini special each evening from 6 - 8pm. Only problem was that you could not get two separate types of Martini's and had to get two of the same type. Not a big deal, but it would be nice to have an actual 2 for 1 deal offered.
As I said earlier we paid $279.00 per person. For the money this cruise was an outstanding deal as cruises go. The staff were extremely friendly and we were met with two towels animals in our room on two separate evenings. When we did have something wrong (Remote Control stopped working) a staff member was at our room within 15 minutes and fixed our problem on the first attempt. If you are looking for perfect ship conditions and someone waiting on you hand and foot then I recommend you skip NCL, RCCL, and Princess and spend your money on a Crystal Cruise.
Getting off the ship was a breeze and from beginning to clearing customs took about 5 minutes. The buses were waiting for us and we were able to meet our 11:40am flight with no problem.