We landed in FLL the afternoon before, rented a car, had some brief South Beach time and an overpriced dinner than stayed at the downtown Miami Hilton. I've stayed at a lot of Hiltons but this one was one of the best and our junior suite offered a fantastic view of downtown and the port. Plus we got to watch all the disappointed Heat fans leave AA Arena after game 6. Also the pool was terrific, and the breakfast buffet very good. Enough about the hotel...
We returned our car to Hertz downtown and we're speedily on our way to the port thanks to a friendly shuttle driver. Embarkation around 1230 was pretty smooth, albeit a little longer than other reports about an hour total. Thanks to the CCritic peeps we found the MDR and enjoyed our first meal. Our adjoining rooms were ready just after 2 and we were pleasantly surprised. The beds were very comfy, and of course the balconies were great. Having the door between the rooms open made it more spacious too.After a tour and some pool time, we began to pull away. My son, 6, loved the splash pool and it wasn't crowded up there although the hot tub broke down for the rest of the trip. I did the pub crawl while the kids hung with grandma, and that was fun, jokes were old but the drinks/company were good. I really like the diverse, younger crowd on the Sky. Dinner in Crossings was deserted but really good. Vinod treated us really well, my Mom enjoyed the lobster tail/asparagus and I had some really good lamb. Later on my 9 yo and I enjoyed wings in Longboards. Very tasty.
Our 2nd day at Grand Bahama/Freeport was great. We rented a car again, which was nice because Hertz picked us up from the port and we had another friendly shuttle driver. First time driving on the left was a thrill, but there's little traffic so it wasn't a big deal. First we drove out to Paradise Cove for some snorkeling/beach time. This had great reviews on TripAdvisor but I'd say it was just good. The water was a little shallow and not a lot of fish unless you ventured way out.We brought our own snorkels so that saved us some $ but the lunch/conch was just ok. We then drove all the way towards Freeport, trying to find Taino beach but got lost and ended up in heaven, Fortune Beach. Almost don't want to mention it here because it was so unspoiled and vacant but what a gorgeous beach, perfect water & sand. Visiting Fortune Beach apparently was a good idea before visiting the Sky casino as I ended up having a big night at the single deck table. Tipping the dealers/servers was very well appreciated and maybe that helped karma wise.Okay I suck at making this short...sorry. Day 3 Great Stirrup Cay was great as well. Rented a clamshell to provide shade for my mom and to nurse my hangover. The snorkeling there was better than Paradise Cove. The buffet was a little bland although the rib were good. Tender rides were ok I guess. That night we went to Le Bistro which was excellent. Tricked 2 of the kids into eating the escargot, the oldest already liked it. The Duo de Canard, or duck, was fantastic and my mom enjoyed the Coq au Vin. Had another visit from the Restaurant GM, funny guy.
Day 4: Nassau. Took the girls to Atlantis while grandma shopped with the little guy (who was too small for the rides). Took a taxi and paid in person so I saved $100 but of course its still a big pricetag. But you have to go unless you're planning on returning to Paradise Island. Great day for it, no crowds, no lines; the Power Tower and not-so-lazy river were amazing. Beaches, hotel everything great. Paid for the girls to get their hair braided on the way back to the ship. They loved it. So expensive day but worth it.
Day 5: Back to Miami. Enjoyed one last great buffet and then were rushed off the ship. I would suggest a more relaxed disembarkation but have the rooms ready later for the new guests. Getting off sucked, long lines and cranky people. But then we spent the day at Hollywood Beach before heading home. All in all a great ship, great itinerary, diverse crowd and great staff.