We were a little hesitant to book this cruise given the low percentage of people who liked their experience on this ship, but are glad we went with our gut and booked it. Overall, this was a great experience for a first-time cruiser. We loved it and would definitely consider going with Norwegian again.
What we loved:
- The food was fantastic. The buffet was what one would expect of a buffet, but the omelet bar in the morning was a nice touch. Dinners were great. However, we found the options at the Crossings restaurant were much better both in terms of variety and taste. Cagney's is worth the extra money. We both thought it was among the top 3 steaks we ever had. One thing they don't tell you for the specialty restaurants is that there is no limit on the number of appetizers, entrees, etc. that you can order.
- On a similar note, the restaurant and bar staff was excellent. They were very friendly and attentive and as far as the restaurants go, they anticipated our every need.
- It's pretty well-known that alcohol is where cruise lines make their money back. However, one of the great things we found on the Sky is that the Plantation Bar has a 2 for 1 martini special at their bar from 6-8pm every night. It proved to be a great savings for us.
- The embarking and disembarking processes were very easy.
- We were glad we boarded early because the pool was open and the buffet and bars were too. One word of advice - wear or carry your swimsuit with you so you can take advantage of the pool and sundeck while they're preparing your room.
- With the one exception I mention below, the activities on the ship were great. Lots to do all the time.
- The bands and djs were excellent. We both love music and there was always somebody playing something somewhere.
- The live shows were good. The comedian was okay, but a bit corny for our tastes. I enjoy Broadway shows, so I'm a little more particular than most on this. If you don't see live theater a lot then you will likely be very impressed by the quality of the shows. I will say though that I appreciated that the Broadway revue used more modern musicals such as Wicked, Jersey Boys and In The Heights. I was expecting Rogers and Hammerstein-type stuff and was pleasantly surprised.
- We are glad we went with a freestyle cruise. It was nice to be able to go to a restaurant at whatever time you wanted and eat. It definitely took the stress of having to watch a clock away. We also liked that we didn't have to bother to bring formal wear with us.
And what we didn't love (These weren't huge deal-breakers, but if it weren't for the first two items we would have given the cruise a 5):
- The captain had to cancel our trip to the cruise line's private island due to choppy weather. Totally understandable. However, it appears that the activities team was grossly unprepared. I'm sure this isn't the first time they've had to skip a trip and spend the day at sea, so one would expect that they would already have a Plan B ready to go for such cases. First of all, they issued two itineraries - preliminary and final. There was a lot of confusion as to which was which. They cancelled quite a few of the day activities that were originally planned for those who stayed on the ship and instead went with things that seemed more "slapped-together". Not to mention the bulk of activities were geared towards kids/families. There was also confusion among the staff as to what they were doing. Kitchen staff was putting out equipment for a pool-side grill, only to change their minds and put them away an hour later while the social director was announcing that there would be a pool side cookout, which didn't happen. So basically we spent the day sitting by the pool because there wasn't much else going on.
- The room staff was just okay. While our room was clean every day, we did have a couple of issues. First, we borrowed an ironing board and iron (would have been great if they were in the room as a standard). One of the stewards came to the door to reclaim it as I had just gotten out of the shower. I told him as such and he continued to hassle me about it. Not cool. And while this may be nitpicky, we only had one day where we got a towel animal left on the bed, and it case across as we were lucky to get that. The animal had a note attached to it that someone had lost a suitcase and if anyone had it to please return it. So it basically seemed like the only reason we got the towel animal is because they wanted something in return.
- I'm a bit of a karaoke fan, so this is geared towards others who are as well. Their "book" (aka song selection) was sorely lacking. It was out of order and many songs weren't properly cataloged (wrong artist, etc.). The book was also dated - no Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon, Bruno Mars, etc., (the most recent artist seemed to be Amy Winehouse) and was missing standard songs/artists such as Journey, Patsy Cline's Crazy, etc. While I certainly wouldn't let this dissuade me in going with Norwegian, there are probably better activities on board. However, if you rarely do karaoke, then you probably won't care about these things.