Sky 3 day Feb 24th- 27th 2012- the good, the bad, and the ugly
Just returned from a three day sail on Norwegian Sky out of Miami. There was the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good: We loved the two ports, Stirrup Cay again and the Bahamas in general (we scuba dove Stuart's Cove, highly recommend). We just love getting away and always make sure we have a great time, as we are the type to never let anything bother us, but there were several things that just did not compare to the Jewel on which we sailed in December. The ship's entertainment and shows were somewhat better than our last Jewel trip, better singing and dancing, but not enough in the atrium or other areas which were left boring. The signature White Hot Party (pink hot in this ship) was outdoors and was real fun. The French restaurant was very nice and we really enjoyed it. We chose an inside cabin again, and it was a good value when considering the costs for a quick trip. There were lots of people having the time of their life and enjoying themselves. Cruise Director Johnny "Cash" was fun but not in a overly so way. The wine package 20% off when you buy 4 bottles or more is a good deal and convenient.
The bad: The ship was worn and tired. Many of the crew acted grumpy or just bored often, no excitement, no rush to please. Not one made a real effort to learn our names like on the jewel, where everyone did. When we wanted a soda or our son did, we would stand there and be ignored or more often just served with not a hello or thank you, as though having soda cards was 2nd class, but even when we were paying for drinks many were really not happy to see us, seemed like the were to busy or if wanting soda didn't want to be bothered. If anyone had the gumption to check out our rather substantial bar bill on the last cruise, they would have known that we were ready to spend money, but many did not offer us the chance to, only one who did, was our roaming bar service dude on the pool deck, and often one of the two bars was randomly closed, making a bottleneck at the only open one. The ship's decor is still Â½ Hawaiian, pretty sad that the cheap Hawaiian photos have not even been changed and this ship was moved to the east coast quite a while ago.
Our muster drill was TOTALLY different than the last one. This time, the muster stations were where they actually are, outside, but the sun was so hot and it was over 85 degrees, no breeze. The instructor, a small woman, proceeded to yell at us to get into lines, with the shortest at the front. Not everyone appeared at the muster, of course, and she said we were not leaving until everyone was there. The poor old ladies, had to be in their 80's, were fainting in the hot sun, telling her that they were overheating, and she told them she could do nothing about it, they had to stay there until everyone arrived, and they were not to consume any food or water while we stood there, so they put their water botles back into their bags. I assume the reason for the harshness was the Concordia disaster, but they needed to have compassion for the age of the people on that deck and give them the opportunity of mustering inside in one of the bars. There was no use of the lifeboats, just life jacket instructions, so why would you force these people to stand there when they were asking to go inside where it was cool? I then watched as the instructor grabbed someone who had arrived late from the back on the line (didn't know better) and push them to the front and told them to "STAY THERE". Upon this, a lovely older lady asked NICELY, God love her, where her life jackets were located, and she was asked if she had been listening! Then the girl told her they were on the top of her "wardrobe". The woman at that point was so confused she was in tears. It was then that my wife leaned over and told her where she could find them and offered our son (tall) to get them down for her. The woman wasn't even 5 feet tall, walking with a walker, and terrified that she was not going to be able to find her life jacket, much less get it down. Her concerns, ignored. The entire time the muster participants were treated with total disrespect by the one woman trainer because others had not arrived on time, or at all. Why take it out on the people who actually came and stood in the hot sun, waiting? Why not move it inside? If we are not getting on a lifeboat, there is no reason to stand there. We could have come to the muster station, saw where it was, and then been moved to a cool area to be instructed on how to use the life vest. Epic fail Norwegian. That old lady was rather wealthy, and not only did you scare her and her 3 traveling companions, you most definitely lost her future cruise business that day.
The food was often bland and boring in the MDR, but that was to be expected. Not looking forward to doing 9 days of this menu with little change. The buffet ranged from ok- awful, and only half of it was open at some points. Surprising no pizza, at all, on the buffet. After scuba diving and returning to the ship, we were famished, only to find them pulling the dishes on the buffet. When asked why, I was told they needed to get ready for dinner. The picnic that was on the pool deck that afternoon was down, so we had little to eat unless we went to long boards or great outdoors both filled to the brim, as it was the only place for anyone to eat, definitely no where to sit. On the 2nd and 3rd nights Cpt Cooks, Plantation Club and the Outrigger Lounge were all closed at the same time for private events. We could not sit and have a quiet drink before dinner and look out or relax and no notice was given as to what was closed beforehand, they all listed live entertainment and forget the two for one martinis, that did not happened. On deck six, they no longer had chairs to sit on quietly away from the large parties. Our bathroom door was rusting out on the bottom and the metal grate was sticking up on all four corners. The cigarette smoke from the casino filtered out and filled the atrium which was just outside, and they had table of shirts sitting there to sell that then smelled like smoke, no thanks. But, the thing that bothered me the most was the dirty windows. Every area of this ship has windows well over your head, unlike the Jewel where you could go virtually anywhere and look out with an unobstructed view. You literally could not see out the windows (on pool deck or from restaurants) clearly as they had ALL had streaks and were so dirty and cloudy, even before we left port, so forget seeing anything clearly from the front when coming in and out of port.On the Jewel, the windows they did have, which weren't as many, and in all the restaurants and bars, you could see outside perfectly, and cleaning was daily thing. I asked two officers when they had been cleaned last time (from outside) and were told all the time when I asked the actual time frame they could not answer. Looked like weeks or months. Main large pool was not open the first day, temp was 87 degrees in Miami, and the whole ship sat baking in the sun with nothing other than the kids pool to cool down in. The Jewel left NYC on Christmas Eve, and all pools were filled and ready to rock, even though the temp was not quite 50 degrees. This is Miami guys, fill the pool up!
After our first cruise in December, we thought we were Norwegian's for life. Now, unfortunately, we are exploring other lines and thinking we may cancel our Dec. 22nd 9 day Gem booking of 2 cabins. If this was our first trip with NCL we would not have booked the 2 more we did. We also did not buy FCC this time, as this cruise was NOT what we expected from NCL. Seriously thought about removing the DSC this time and should have at least reduced it; we did not leave an extra tip or fill out style card this trip. Even my 16 year old said this was fun, but nowhere as nice as our Jewel trip, his comment "not up to what I expected, doesn't meet my standards" as if a 16 year old should have any standards, but he does, and he noticed the lack of service, excitement, enthusiasm.
Final view- We had decided to do this trip on a whim, and went down to Miami from NY on Wednesday to have a couple of days to explore, well worth it. Stayed at the Holiday Inn on Miami Beach which was beautiful We walked south beach the first day, and on Thursday rented road bikes and toured the whole area, did about 6 hours and 40 miles, Miami Beach is a very bike--friendly city, and we had great time at Monty's bar south beach. Great drink prices, oysters, and a pool placed in the middle between the two bars, not a small one either,very cool, first I have seen at a bar only place. Getting on and off was easy and simple could not improve there. Overall, we had great trip for a quick 5 days and decided we will do the trip again, but I doubt we will ever do the Sky again. We met several other couples who said the same, they enjoyed themselves but Sky was not their favorite NCL ship, and the staff often seemed worn out. I guess turning a ship around every 3-4 days does that to you.