My wife and I took a cruise 20 years ago on our honeymoon. We sailed on the brand new Carnival Ecstasy. We didn't hate it but we didn't love it either. The ship seemed to be always too crowded, too hot in the staterooms, too noisy with people running through the hallways each and every night, and too much chrome and neon. Needless to say we hesitated to take another cruise.
Now the children (4 girls) are all teenagers and we need a vacation that was new and different. I read a bunch of reviews and did a lot of research. We finally settled on the Norwegian Sky 4 night cruise in the Bahamas. After paying the money, I began to have buyers remorse because I happened upon several negative reviews of NCL. I thought we were in for another floating mess like we had at Carnival.
Turns out, I had nothing to worry about.
Check in for the cruise was so easy I couldn't believe it. At Carnival we had to wait in line 30 minutes just to check our bags and then wait for another hour to get on the ship. Not so with NCL. I hacked my watch when our taxi dropped us off. Four minutes to check our bags. The walk through the security station took and screenings took seven minutes. Check in for our family of six took just ten minutes including the time standing in line! After a 2 minute walk to the ship and pausing for a photo we were in the ship. From curb to onboard in just 23 minutes!
After getting in the ship and dancing with the welcoming crew members, there were no signs or staff directing where to go or what to do next. (You enter the ship into a dark bar - not a very good first impression. On the Carnival Ecstasy you enter right into the large atrium which is very impressive.) This is where NCL needs to improve. We overheard from some other passengers that as our staterooms wouldn't be ready until 2 pm we were free to go up to the pool deck for a lunch buffet.
We settled in for lunch on the fantail deck. The food was very good and the upper deck was great for taking in the view of Miami harbor. Soon our rooms were ready.
We had two outside rooms with large windows on the Oslo deck (6a). This deck in on the forward starboard side of the ship and requires you to descend a flight of stairs to get to them. My initial thought was not positive about this but as it turns out, being on a more isolated deck was very nice and quiet.
The rooms were small as we had 3 people to a room and as such had to use the pull out couch beds. But the rooms were super clean with adequate storage. Our checked luggage arrived soon there after and we unpacked.
First stop, Freeport. The port is in an industrial area of Grand Bahamas island and its not scenic at all. It's best to take an excursion in this port as there is nothing to do near the ship. It rained while we were there so we just stayed onboard and explored the ship which was a lot of fun.
Next stop, Nassau. We took the aqua adventure to Atlantis resort. Yes it's expensive but we all loved it! What a blast!
Final stop, Great Stirrup Cay. The weather started out rainy, but we went to the island anyway - so glad we did. The weather cleared up and we really enjoyed the nice sheltered cove and white sandy beaches. Lunch was good there too.
Next morning, we had breakfast and left the ship at 8:30. I had heard of long lines going through customs. Nope! Took barely 10 minutes, if that.
Here are the highlights:
- super clean ship! They staff is always cleaning, painting and maintaining it.
- excellent staff! They always seem to be wherever you need them and always smiling.
- we are huge fans of the freestyle cruising dining options. We like to eat early and that was never a problem. The dining rooms were large, the wait staff is great, the views were tremendous, and the food was excellent.
- the Sky is very well laid out. Even with two thousand people onboard, it never seemed crowded.
- really appreciated the family friendly comedy show. A class act.
- the Sky is very stable in rough water, the ride was very smooth.
- there was always something to do and something to eat.
- old folks, young folks, families with young kids, families with teens, honeymooners, the Sky had something for everybody. Not just a singles party like we had experienced at Carnival.
- don't miss the Atlantis excursion in Nassau. For family fun, it's hard to beat.
- we all agreed, best vacation ever! We loved the Norwegian Sky!