Let me start my review by stating that I'm a first time cruiser. My Husband and I chose NCL as our first cruise line because of the freestyle cruising, we just can't really understand why we would be forced to eat at a set time while we're on vacation. Also we wanted to feel relaxed and not worry about what to wear to a formal dinner (I wore jeans every night - DH even wore shorts!).
We LOVED the fact that we ate when we felt like eating - no reservations required at all, we even walked-in on the specialty restaurants without a problem. The itinerary is so port intensive that we really appreciated the fact that we didn't have to worry about missing our dining time while on a tour - or doing whatever we felt like doing at the time.
The Sky offers an awesome itinerary with a stop at a port every single day while cruising, that gives you the opportunity to visit different places while at sea - or stay on-board and enjoy what the cruise has to offer. We got off at every port: Grand Bahama, Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau. We took a Jeep Tour at Grand Bahama which was really lots of fun, went snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Great Stirrup Cay (NCL's private island), and had a blast in Nassau at Atlantis' Aquaventure.
The ship itself looks good on the outside and it is well maintained and staffed - however the decoration is a bit tacky for our taste and looks kind of dated. This is the oldest ship in NCL's fleet and has 12 years with the company - it was originally stationed in Hawaii which is why there are lots of Hawaiian themed paintings all over.
Staterooms are among the smallest we've seen listed starting around 121 square feet. We originally booked an inside cabin but were offered an upgrade to a balcony stateroom which we accepted. Our room was around 200 square feet including the balcony - however we feel that having the balcony really opened up our room and made it look/feel bigger. The decorations were extremely tacky, pink/blue plaid curtains and watercolor paintings on the walls. The TV was probably around 15" - but it was an old school - not at all an HDTV (but who watches TV while cruising anyways...)
Here's probably were they really outdo themselves. Every single person we talked to was extremely helpful and nice. Our room's steward knew us by name and left us little notes and towel figures - which we loved. The Restaurant's staff were very accommodating and offered excellent and speedy service.
The hotel manager, Steve - is a GREAT guy, we got to meet him at a Cruise Critic M&G and also had the chance to dine with him and other NCL officers. Steve really goes out of his way to make every one's cruise a little more pleasant, he got to know us by name as well and would help us out every time he could.
The buffets offered OK-tasting food, but the restaurants offer something completely different: lots of flavor and different selections daily. Cagney's steakhouse was EXCELLENT and even though you pay a fee to eat there, it really is worth the visit.
There was ALWAYS something to do on-board, our cruise director Richard kept us up to date every morning announcing the available activities as well as the Freestyle daily schedule that was delivered every night to our stateroom. The shows at the Stardust theatre were nothing special, the dancers and singers are just average, but they do entertain. We didn't love the seats at the theatre either - they were comfortable but everyone had to get up when someone wanted to go in or out their seats.
We loved it! Had so much fun doing what we wanted - when we wanted! Will definitely cruise with NCL again - we might relive this trip with the family.