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Norwegian Sky

Itinerary

No city in the United States has evolved into as many disparate identities in so short a time as has Miami. A bit more than a hundred years ago this former Spanish settlement, located along the Miami River where it spills into Biscayne Bay (now the center of the city of Miami), attracted neither interest nor population. That's understandable since up until that point, the only way to reach Miami was by boat.

That changed in 1896, when financier Henry Flagler extended his new Florida East Coast Railroad south from its previous terminus at West Palm Beach. By the turn of the 20th century the first of Miami's real estate booms was underway, a pattern that continued unabated right up to the Great Depression. Miami was one of the few places on earth where someone could offer you a get-rich-quick deal on 10 acres of swampland, and there was a good chance that you could actually get rich on it. Many made their fortunes here and left monuments to their achievements in places such as the grand Mediterranean-style estates like Villa Vizcaya and the slew of privately developed islands along the causeways crossing Biscayne Bay.

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Perhaps the most famous occupant of Great Stirrup Cay -- located in the Bahamas' Berry Island chain, 130 nautical miles due east of Fort Lauderdale -- was Captain Bertram of the British Navy. But Native Americans, pirates, and members of the Spanish and American armed forces have also inhabited the cay throughout its history.

Norwegian Cruise Line purchased the 250-acre island in 1977 and has invested in several significant updates throughout the years. More recently the island has undergone a major makeover. Its restaurants, bars, cabanas and beaches have all been revamped and enlarged, with an investment of more than $1 million dedicated just to new landscaping. Other additions include an underwater sculpture garden for snorkelers, as well as a top-notch medical center. Thanks to the introduction of new (and plentiful) palm trees, there's now lots more natural shade from the Bahamian sun, a godsend in the height of summer.

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Nassau, with its blend of influences from West Africa to England and from Haiti to the United States, is one of the most popular (and often congested) cruise ports in the Caribbean and Bahamas.

The yellow and blue stripes on the Bahamian flag represent the nation's sandy beaches and surrounding ocean, while the black triangle stands for unity and the people's determination to develop the land and the sea. With endlessly developing hotels, resorts and shopping areas, it isn't hard to make this connection in Nassau, the capital of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

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No city in the United States has evolved into as many disparate identities in so short a time as has Miami. A bit more than a hundred years ago this former Spanish settlement, located along the Miami River where it spills into Biscayne Bay (now the center of the city of Miami), attracted neither interest nor population. That's understandable since up until that point, the only way to reach Miami was by boat.

That changed in 1896, when financier Henry Flagler extended his new Florida East Coast Railroad south from its previous terminus at West Palm Beach. By the turn of the 20th century the first of Miami's real estate booms was underway, a pattern that continued unabated right up to the Great Depression. Miami was one of the few places on earth where someone could offer you a get-rich-quick deal on 10 acres of swampland, and there was a good chance that you could actually get rich on it. Many made their fortunes here and left monuments to their achievements in places such as the grand Mediterranean-style estates like Villa Vizcaya and the slew of privately developed islands along the causeways crossing Biscayne Bay.

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Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
3.5
1,660 reviews
Why Choose Norwegian Sky?

Pros

Open bar included in fare; itineraries include an overnight in Havana

Cons

Ship is older, is showing wear despite refurbs; lacks modern amenities of new cruise ships

Bottom Line

Perfectly sized ship for short trips to Bahamas and Cuba, with fun, festive atmosphere

Norwegian Sky Overview

Norwegian Sky is not the newest ship at sea, but it packs a big punch with a fun slate of nonstop activities, lively lounges, a good variety of dining venues and terrific short itineraries. Built in 1999, the ship is the first -- and only -- one in Norwegian's fleet to include a beverage package in the price of the cruise. It's also the only ship in the fleet that visits Cuba, giving passengers an overnight in Havana on its four-night itineraries. When not visiting Cuba, Sky sails to the Bahamas.

Cuba is what makes this ship exciting, and Sky plays it up, with Cuban drinks, dishes and music on its sailings to Havana. And passengers love it, getting into the spirit onboard and ashore. With just over 2,000 passengers, Sky is right-sized for a visit to Havana, where too many passengers could overwhelm the city. Passengers can stay in Havana well into the night, visiting the city's famous bars and clubs.

The ship is somewhat dated, and its decor, which includes lots of Hawaiian art (a remainder from when it was Pride of Aloha) feels a bit incongruous with its current itineraries. But it's well maintained, clean and comfortable.

Norwegian's Freestyle attitude -- do what you want, when you want -- is in full force on Sky, which has a surprising number of dining options for a ship this size. Passengers can be happy eating only at the ship's complimentary options, or they can visit the specialty dining restaurants for something a little special. Sky also has lounges and bars for every taste, and they stay open late, keeping the party rolling at virtually every venue.

Structurally, there are some oddities on the ship, including Deck 6A, which houses a handful of cabins but isn't accessible by elevator. Likewise, Sky's cabins are tight but adequate for two. But the ship's structure also means it has a gorgeous atrium that spans from Deck 5 all the way to Deck 12. It also has the cool, bright Outrigger Lounge, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and an adjacent sun deck, covered in teak, that has tremendous views from the bow of the ship.

Norwegian Sky is a great option for passengers looking to let down their hair, get away from it all for a few days and just have some fun.

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Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: January 2018
What a letdown! The ship didn't have much to do, nothing for children (luckily I didnt bring mine for this trip, they would've been bored) I guess since it was open bar, they just expected everyone to be so drunk, no one would realize it ... Read More
What a letdown! The ship didn't have much to do, nothing for children (luckily I didnt bring mine for this trip, they would've been bored) I guess since it was open bar, they just expected everyone to be so drunk, no one would realize it was a boring ship. That was my first experience with Norwegian, I don't think I will go on another one. It was an all girls trip, we all work, have children and very busy lives... so to finally get on vacation just to be disappointed really sucked. The 3rd bed wasn't a bed at all, it was a sofa. A very hard sofa, laying on metal all night is not my idea of good sleep. I didn't sleep at night on the sofa, my friend did. I offered my bed but she said "you wont be able to sleep on this thing" Another thing, we were supposed to go on Norwegian's private island, which "because of the weather" we could not. I understand that, the waters were pretty choppy. However, while speaking to others, it seems like no one really ever gets to that island. My boss was on a cruise and didn't get on the island either, and that was in the summer. So why advertise it if no one ever gets to go? The one guy said hes been on 50 cruises and has never been able to get to that island. It seems like false advertising to me. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We were on a three day cruise onboard the Norwegian Sky from January 5 - 8 2018, and overall had a great time. We flew in the night before and stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites South in Miami which was a good hotel to stay at pre ... Read More
We were on a three day cruise onboard the Norwegian Sky from January 5 - 8 2018, and overall had a great time. We flew in the night before and stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites South in Miami which was a good hotel to stay at pre cruise, and had a shuttle to the port and airport. While the shuttle to the airport was free, the shuttle to the port cost $15 per person and needed to be reserved the day before. To get to the port, we took an uber around 10:30, and our ride showed up within a few minutes. The ride was good with little traffic to the Port of Miami, and the cost was around $12, so for the two of us it worked out cheaper than a cab or the hotel shuttle. When we arrived at the port, we were met by a porter, but we did not need their services since we planned to just carry our two carry on bags onboard the ship ourselves. Before we entered the terminal there was a passport and document check which took a little while, and then was security. One thing unique about Norwegian compared to other cruise lines we have been on is that Norwegian has you fill out the health questionnaire at the port, instead of before getting there. Also, with carnival for example, you enter your credit card information online during the pre cruise check in, but with norwegian that was taken care of at the check in desk. The person who checked us in was friendly, and quickly got us processed. To get through check in from the time we entered the terminal was probably only around 10 minutes. We next were guided up stairs where we did have to wait for around 20 minutes for the ship to be ready, and our group, 4, to be called. During our wait, they had water set up in the terminal, and they played a game where one of the workers stood up in the middle of the terminal and screamed asking for different objects, and the winner would get priority boarding. Once our group was called we made our way onboard, and after a short line to scan our cards we were finally onboard! One unique thing about Norwegian compared to other cruise lines was that in Captain Cook’s bar they were allowing people to leave their carry on bags there until 1:30, when the cabins were ready. We then made our way up to deck 11, and got lunch from the great outdoor where there was no line, compared to the long line inside in the garden cafe. We would have eaten outside, but because it was quite chilly that day in Miami we dined in longboards bar, which was nice and quiet during lunch that day. We were thinking that it would be challenging to get drinks from the bars due to everyone having a drink package, but we were pleasantly surprised how most of the bars we encountered had prompt, and friendly service. We especially found the outrigger bar to have friendly bartenders, and the lounge was often empty in our experience. Around 1:30 we were able to go their room, and for this cruise we had an ocean view cabin on deck 8 forward, and while there was some debris on the carpet, the room was otherwise clean. A surprising thing that we encountered compared to our other cruises on other lines was that we never actually met our cabin steward. While the room did get clean during the day, it typically was not clean until after we had lunch some days. The bathroom did look dated, and the toilet did smell some the entire time, and also the sink had some cracks on the bottom of the basin. The shower had a fabric curtain instead of a door which isn’t the greatest in our view, but it got the job done. We had dinner that night in crossings and the hostesses, and our waitress that night were very attentive to our requests. We got to the dining room around 6:00 and it was still very quiet at that time, so we were seated at a table on the back window. After dinner we walked around some and eventually made our way to the theatre for the welcome aboard show at 9:30. Another difference we saw with Norwegian compared to other lines we have been on was there was only one show each night instead of two. I don’t know if that was just because of the shorter cruises, or that is how things are like across the fleet. The welcome aboard show consisted of the cruise director and senior officers introducing themselves, a latin group playing a few songs, a comedian doing a short set, and then finished with the production cast performing a song. One comment about the cast was that when we saw them around the ship, they seemed to always be rude to the guests, and even at one point when we were walking on the promenade deck they passed us in a rude manner, and even though the deck was wide open monopolized the entire span of it while walking, blocking us and a few other guests walking around. The rest of the crew we encountered we found to be friendly though. We were supposed to be at Great Stirrup Cay the second day of the cruise, but due to high winds they were unable to safely conduct the tender operation. We were fortunate enough that the captain was able to get us into our next port, Nassau, early thanks to a dock being available. We were not supposed to dock until the next day at 8, but got in the previous day at around 4 pm. It was good that we got in early because it probably would have been rough that night at sea with how strong the winds were that night. That night at dinner the waiter spilled an entire glass of wine on me, and the assistant Maitre’d, Denis, came over to our table and handled the situation well, dry cleaning the clothes that was all soaked from the glass of wine, and sent a bottle of champagne, and chocolate covered strawberries to the room. The show that night was showdown, and while a little different than other shows we have seen the past, it was enjoyable. The next day we were still in Nassau and after having breakfast in the dining room, which each day always seemed to be uncoordinated for that meal especially, we made our way ashore. In Nassau, we walked around for a bit and then came across a business called Jetline Simulation Bahamas, where they have a full 737 cockpit simulator that you can fly along with their instructor assisting you along the way. That was a great experience, and I would recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered what it is like to fly a plane, as that is about as close as you can get to flying an actual plane. I would recommend making a reservation beforehand, as they were able to sneak us into their busy schedule that day, but otherwise have a fairly full schedule. After our time in Nassau we made our way back to the ship and got lunch from the Great Outdoors (buffet outside in the back of the ship) and had a nice lunch with a great view of Atlantis and Paradise Island. Docked next to us was the Norwegian Epic, which was chartered that cruise by Holy Ship!, a music charter cruise and it looked like they were having quite the party! We could loudly hear the bass from their music on our ship, to the degree that talking outside on our ship was a little challenging due to their loud music! We saw multiple people on the epic smoking on their balconies, and people also had numerous hammocks strung up on balconies. We also saw a drug sniffing dog board the ship shortly before it sailed, so we assumed the dog sailed with the ship. For dinner that night we were again in crossings, and seated in the same waitresses section from the first night, Agnis, who was a wonderful waitress, very attentive, and promptly took care of any requests we had. All of our food we had we felt was served warm, had good plating, and most importantly tasted delicious! Compared to food on Carnival, and even Celebrity, the food we had in the dining room and buffet was top notch. The next day the cruise was over, and after a troubled breakfast in the dining room due to extremely slow service, we made our way off the ship around 8:50 and were in the rental car bus by 9:00. Debarking the ship was quite easy, with the only line to scan off the ship. There was only two people in front of us at customs, and that process went smoothly. We would not hesitate to cruise again on the Norwegian Sky, and thought all the public areas were in great shape. The cabins and corridors could use some work, but the great lounges and overall excellent crew made up for those areas. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Please feel free to skip to the short recaps below the experience to cut to the chase: This 3 day should have been called off or give the guests an option to take a rain check...IDK, anything but what happened!! We left Miami to face ... Read More
Please feel free to skip to the short recaps below the experience to cut to the chase: This 3 day should have been called off or give the guests an option to take a rain check...IDK, anything but what happened!! We left Miami to face 15-18 foot seas with the occasional 20. Winds and rain for the duration on land. 1st port - Nassau with 4-6 ft seas and winds that would not accommodate many excursions except Atlantis:( After a night of many on board vomiting and feeling green the next day, we sailed to Great Stirrup which was canceled & being replaced by a day at sea with no plan B (imagine how the poor motion-sick guests felt!) and with no forethought into ensuring what scraps left were even remotely entertaining. We felt completely hijacked; A cruise ship should be prepared to have a very solid back up plan or some type of consolation. Instead, we were repeatedly invited to enjoy the indoors; visit the Casino, offered to attend an Art Auction, another was a "Sale" peddling $10.00 souvenir aka/ garbage. Or, OR you could purchase Bingo / Deal or No Deal game cards for later in the evening. Sensing a theme here?!!! If none of that interests you? Then come to cloth napkin folding class! Yes, this was for REAL!! I was not overly impressed by my first cruise (Carnival) about 5 years ago but in retrospect, that was a real winner compared to this one in all aspects. Positive: Embarkment / Disembarkment: No issues Crew: Was very expeditious in cleaning the piles and piles (and piles) of puke customers giveth (due to rough seas) They seemed eager to please; both happy and helpful.Our awesome room steward Edgar tended to our room 2x/day. No complaints about this. The room is what you would expect for this ship. Negatives: Food: I wish I could even say mediocre but no. Guess they hope you consume enough free liquor so you don't notice just how below average it is. I have had better food at hospital cafeterias, unfortunately. Entertainment: Just....FAIL!! I feel bad to give a poor review as the performers appeared to do the best with what they were asked to perform but the shows were just corny. Barry the (funny) piano entertainer was corny but legit funny held the entire crowd. He was the saving grace of this trip but the rest of the performances, just not great for the young ones or more experienced folks. Families: I can't speak for younger children but this ship is wildly uneventful and NOT entertaining for kids 10-15 esp the 10-12 range and it was outright remedial. There was a small arcade as well which was ala-carte. $1.50 per game which is not outrageous by any means but adds up real fast when you have kids stuck inside w/ bad weather with no entertainment available for their range. Not even one single program on the TV for kids inside the state-room. A camping trip would have been the equivalent without all the regret. In short, if there is any chance at all for poor weather where the Lido deck can't be used and you have kids, you are really up a creek without a paddle on this vessel. Total snooze-fest for active people who aren't content just sitting in your room reading or taking a napkin folding classes. Disgusted I wasted my time and money on this. Read Less