Cruised on November 28 to December 2. Arrived at Port of Miami from FLL courtesy of SAS transfers which worked out great and good value at $15 pp. Embarkation was easy, got on around 1pm, checked our 2 bags at the gate and went up to deck 11 for some lunch. Room was ready at 2pm, found that only 1 of our bags was delivered. Received a notice later that day informing us that the other bag was being held downstairs as they found bottles of alcohol in it through their x-ray screening. To claim, I had to join other 'offenders' on level 5 to collect the bag and pay their $15 corkage fee for both bottles of wine that I had in the bag. So keep in mind that you run the risk of this when bringing alcohol in your checked bags. They must not screen every bag as our other bag was delivered no problems and it had 17 cans of beer in it! ;)
We had a cabin on deck 10, right below the main outdoor deck 11. We were initially worried hat we would hear all the noise of deck 11 from our room but it was very quiet. You could hear the band playing if you were on the balcony, but wasn't bad. Cabin compact but comfortable and came with a mini fridge, which was handy to chill my beers! We never were welcomed by a steward or showed the features of our cabin, pretty much it was like checking into a regular hotel. Our room was made up each morning after we left and turned down each evening. Our ice was filled twice a day and our dirty towels always replaced.
OK, this is probably the most important part of the cruise right? I have to say that we were pretty disappointed with the quality of the food but given the type of cruise and the price we paid, we weren't that surprised. The buffets on deck 11 weren't bad. There was always something that we could find that we liked, e.g. grilled/roasted chicken, rice (jambalaya, spanish rice, etc.), good bread and rolls, salads. They also had on occasion a wok station and a crepe station, also an ice cream machine, but no sushi. The disappointment came from the sit down restaurants. FYI, we never tried either of the 3 restaurants that required extra payment. No complaints about the service, presentation of the dishes as well as the staff, it was just that the food was mediocre. For example, fish would come out overcooked and dry, sauces would be lacking in flavor, pasta would be finished with what looked to be cheese wizz or singles, and potatoes would be undercooked. They did a better job for breakfast, eggs were cooked to order, bread was toasted and hot, smoked salmon was tasty and country-style potatoes were well cooked and seasoned. Also, fresh fruit onboard was very good, especially the pineapple.
We didn't order room service as the menu looked pretty limited and not very exciting, essentially just a few choices of sandwiches, soup and fruit.
My biggest annoyance with cruises is the underwhelming selection of beers. I was actually surprised that there wee some decent choices on the Sky, besides the usual mega-swill options. Bass, Newcastle, Sam Adams and Stella were available on tap at most of the bars, and for $5.50 for a 16oz serve, not too bad value. Remember that a 15% gratuity is added t every drink order. The wine selection wasn't that exciting but Matua Sav Blanc from NZ was available which made my wife happy. Also, my wife was impressed with the quality of mojitos that she ordered. We steered clear of the syrupy concoctions served in the ubiquitous plastic 'souvenir' cups.
Ports of Call:
Freeport. Nothing to do at the port, so we shared a van-taxi ride with 3 other couples to Paradise Cove, which is a small beach resort serviced by a bar, grill and restrooms. Entrance was $3pp, and chair rental was also $3pp. They also rented out snorkeling gear and kayaks. Beers were $3.50 and tthy had some drink specials posted. Since there were only about 10 people there that day, it was nice and quiet and we enjoyed relaxing on the beach.
Nassau. We bit he bullet and paid for the $119 trip to Atlantis and booked through the ship. This included transfers, but did not include meals or drinks. Even though it is expensive. Atlantis is pretty impressive. The expansive grounds, pools and abundant aquatic life provides a lot to look at and the waterpark is fun with lots of rides, including a long lazy river tube ride. The best part was that it was a quiet day and we never had to wait long for any of the rides or to find a chair by one of the pools/lagoons. The resort also has a good-sized casino and high-end shops. It was too windy and cool to enjoy the beach so we mainly enjoyed the rides and the pools.
We took an early tender out to the island so didn't have to wait to get onboard. The later you go, the more people will be inline to get on a tender. The island was well set out, lots of facilities, like bathrooms, bars, even shops. Plenty of recliner chairs and we had no problems finding one in the shade of a palm tree. The food served at the open-air cafeteria on the island was good as well. Plenty of cold and hot food choices. Unfortunately we couldn't stay long. By 11am, we had to evacuate the island as rough sees made the trip by tender too dangerous. If conditions worsened they may not have been able to get us off the island. The rough water made for a rocky trip back to the boat and some tense moments boarding as the tender was thrown up against the ship. I have to give the crew credit for ensuring that everyone made the trip safely.
There was some construction going on the island, but none of it was in the way or near the beach or eating areas.
Not bad. There were plenty of shows to go to, comedy by Rich Purpura (sp?) was good, and the entertainment crew worked hard at helping people enjoy themselves. We missed the opening night show, but saw the musical-themed production on the second night which was pretty good, if you are into that sort of thing. The bands on the main deck were good and they had the usual audience-involved events, eg. Belly flop competition, dancing, etc. We partook in the opening night pubcrawl, 5 drinks at 5 different bars in 1hr. This was a fun way to meet people, but note that you are handed a drink at each bar, you don't get to choose what you want.
The gym was decent, plenty of cardio equipment available and also weight machines and free weights. They also had a room for classes that were extra, e.g. spin and yoga.
All in all, not a bad trip for the price. We enjoyed our getaway even though we were unimpressed with the food. I was impressed by the staff, found them to be pleasant, always quick with a greeting and friendly. Most folks seemed to be enjoying themselves and we saw all kinds of demographics represented so this is a cruise for pretty much anyone. Unless there was another great deal, I probably wouldn't cruise Norwegian again, at least not this ship as I wasn't really wowed by anything. We had a better time on our last carnival cruise, found the food and entertainment to be better and the cabin a bit more spacious.