Norwegian Sky Entertainment
Expect to hear music almost everywhere. You'll listen to Frank Sinatra tunes and lilting island steel drums, piano classics and hearty soul, lots of salsa and great jazz, rock and roll and romantic Andrea Boccelli. Guitar and piano and a Caribbean group are staples in various lounges. It's varied throughout the ship, but you can hum along with something wherever you go, even in the elevator. Read your Freestyle Daily for the specific lineup.
When the sun goes down, the curtains go up in the Stardust Theater. From night to night, you might find a comedian or magician performing, or dancers and singers doing their thing in a Broadway review or a concert of southern musical styling. Soul might take center stage another night. Cream-colored swivel chairs give you a great view of the gold light-studded stage background.
After-hours crowds will find no-kids-allowed comedy, adults-only karaoke and plenty of dancing. In fact, offered onboard are ship-sponsored theme nights: White Hot Night, a dance party set in a wonderland of white, and Monte Carlo Night, centered on the casino. Passengers are encouraged to wear special outfits -- such as all white to the White Hot Night bash. (Clothing suggestions are sent with your tickets.) Didn't pack anything? No problem. Staffmembers are happy to offer suggestions, such as wrapping yourself in a bed sheet for the toga party that's held on the final night of each cruise.
Trivia games, a series of liquor-tastings ($15 fee), hip-hop dance classes, health seminars and bingo games are among the activities that keep cruisers busy throughout the day. For the young and young at heart, a video arcade on Deck 7 features contemporary games like air hockey and Guitar Hero Arcade. The machines do not appear at all worn for a ship this age. And you can even get a Norwegian-themed souvenir coin stretched onto a penny for a dollar.
A top choice for sports fans -- think snack foods, like burgers, and games on seven flat-screen TV screens -- is Longboard Bar on Deck 11. The chicken wings, served six to an order with celery and ranch dressing, in Longboard's were quite tasty, the service was excellent, and you can bask in sports memorabilia or play arcade games like Big Buck Hunter (or more traditional darts) while catching up on sports scores.
Captain Cook's Bar, Deck 6 aft, still carries out the Hawaiian theme but offers piano music with global appeal and, later in the evening, sing-alongs. Two full-scale glass-enclosed model ships sit at the entrance to the bar, while various paintings featuring George Washington and American Indians decorate the wall. A row of shelves that feature cigars, old drink flasks and books separate two large seating areas.
The Atrium Bar on Deck 7 features classical music and is probably one of the best people-watching locales on the vessel because it's in a central location. In fact, it is the perfect place to get your bearings at the start of the cruise: grab a drink and a seat, and take in the crowds walking past.
Our favorite lounge is the Outrigger Lounge, Deck 11, forward. There's one hidden gem on every ship, and the tropically themed Outrigger is Sky's. It's very quiet during the day and is a good place to settle in with a book on the straw chairs and occasionally watch the wondrous seas through floor-to-ceiling windows. In the evenings, you can join friends for a drink, do some dancing or test your karaoke chops. It has a Tiki hut feel, with orange upholstery and a wooden dance floor. Cave-like drawings are situated atop the bar, and there is an array of festive plants and flowers.
A gold pineapple welcomes one to the Plantation Club on Deck 12, which offers a premium selection of Champagne and wines along green wooden swivel seats. It feels like you are on the inside of a pineapple with a decor that includes pineapple paintings, pineapple carpeting and tropical plants.
Dazzles Nightclub on Deck 6 is home to a disco, late-night "adult" comics and musical performers, dancing, Nintendo Wii tournaments, movies and art shows. The ubiquitous "Newlywed, Not So Newlywed" game, always a hit with passengers, also takes place in Dazzles, which boasts the longest Cabaret Bar at sea. New York-themed artwork and signed sports jerseys, featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and John Elway, line the walls.
Sky Club Casino, Deck 7, was added during dry-dock and features blackjack, roulette, three-card poker, Texas Hold'em and craps, plus more than 160 state-of-the art electronic slot machines (and some still with pull handles for purists). A variety of tournaments take place on each cruise, and non-traditional games like Pai-gow Poker and Mini Baccarat are available on request. Need a gambling break? The casino also offers free late-night bites like BLT sandwiches and pigs in a blanket.
You can even gamble after swimming with the smaller Pool Side Casino on Deck 11, which features two card tables.
Champs Bar offers a full selection of drinks poolside. And for those tanning on Deck 12, Breakers Bar has two flat-screen televisions, a couple tables and more drinks.
Whether you are on the three or four-day voyage, a guaranteed port of call is the cruise line's private island, Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas. Shore excursions can be booked below the atrium on Deck 5 and include snorkeling, parasailing and kayaking from as little as $19. Nassau offers more options on Paradise Island with the resort Atlantis, including swimming with dolphins (pricy at $199 for adults) and snorkeling.
Norwegian Sky Public Rooms
The public rooms are airy and relatively spacious. You don't get that "crowded" feeling often present on older ships that have been retrofitted to accommodate more modern spaces and amenities. Most public rooms are located on Decks 5, 6 and 7 and include a descending Atrium area, complete with a piano and multiple photo background choices for formal night.
Both the shore excursion and reception desks are located on Deck 5.
The cozy Mark Twain Library on Deck 6 offers a healthy selection of books (though you won't find too many new bestsellers), a pot of coffee, tea and trivia handouts. Try your hand at Monopoly or other board games available there.
Next to the library is a makeshift photo gallery, which you will see when you embark on Deck 6. The wooden panels fold in and out of the wall for pictures.
Past the library are three meeting rooms: Maui, Oahu and Kauai. They can be fused into one giant meeting room or left individually. The professional setting includes a sea view and a tropical atmosphere.
Shopping wise, on Deck 6, there is a fine jewelry store featuring Colombian Emeralds International and a duty-free store with items starting at $10. Deck 7 includes a gift shop with everything from toothpaste to candy.
An Internet Cafe with five computers and an all-in-one printer sits on Deck 7 (next to the Coffee Bar). Rates start at 95 cents per minute but packages on this ship are slightly different than any other in the fleet: 60 minutes for $39 or 100 minutes for $55. Internet speed is not particularly fast, but computers are available most of the time if needed.
There is one mistake on the cruise maps near the elevators. There is no chapel on Deck 7, but, rather, an Art Gallery that features work from Michigan-based Park West, which lines the adjacent walls leading you to the Kids Corner.
Tip: As on other NCL ships, following the fish in the carpet design will help you navigate the ship. If they are swimming forward, you're headed forward. The tails lead you aft.
Norwegian Sky Spa & Fitness
Two pools (one for families and one for adults) and four hot tubs are available on Deck 11. Splashes Kid's Pool is just right for pint-size water games and features a waterfall and a children's hot tub. At the adult pool, it was not hard to get a chair during the day.
The Mandara Spa is a full-service spa with a thalassotherapy bath and thermal suite, offering traditional treatments and salon favorites. There are 10 treatment rooms and a waiting room with hot tea and a ceiling pattern that makes you feel like you are looking up at the sky. Each room features a Buddha statue, reflecting a relaxing atmosphere. Our Hot Stone Heaven massage was absolutely wonderful; the warm stones get right to the core, baking in that good feeling without having to be manhandled. The spa also offers teeth whitening and acupuncture.
Prices for treatments are in line with those on other ships, in the $100 to $115 range for most entry-level massages and facials. The spa is well cared for and clean, and staffers are well trained, which is a testament to Steiner, the conglomerate that operates the spa facilities on most mega-ships.
The sauna and steam rooms, which are both complimentary, are tucked to one side of the spa. Each area (separate for men and women) features green lockers, three showers and a bathroom. Shower caps and cotton swabs are set out on a table for your hygiene needs.
One caveat: The fervent pitch to sell products is still a turn-off. If you have no intention of purchasing something, speak up and say so right at the onset. It'll save time for both you and your therapist or aesthetician.
The Body Waves Fitness Center includes a separate aerobics room that features spin bikes, yoga mats, and steppers -- all while overlooking the water. Mirrors complete either side of the room, making it feel like a dance studio.
The general gym area includes weights up to 75 pounds, and the treadmills and stationary bikes all have television monitors. A signup sheet is available at the front desk with classes like cycling and spinning offered for $12 on multiple days. There is even a mini-fridge with cold towels for when you really work up a sweat.
A full basketball court, shuffleboard and multiple golf driving nets are on the Sports Deck, Deck 12. Deck 11 also features two table tennis tables near the gym. Jog 3.5 laps to equal one mile around the jogging track on Deck 6, which you may not see until you disembark.