Back 2 Back on the Sky: Norwegian Sky Cruise Review by Bookmarker

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Back 2 Back on the Sky

Sail Date: June 2009
Destination: Bahamas
Embarkation: Miami
I booked this cruise approximately 3 weeks before we sailed. This cruise to the Bahamas combined a 3 and 4 day cruise together as a back to back. The purpose of this trip was to have a quick relaxing getaway for very little money. My mother and I have previously cruised with Holland America, Carnival and have a cruise with Princess later this year. This was our first cruise with Norwegian. This was our first inside cabin. We normally have a balcony or mini suite. Our travel agent was able to book us the same room for both portions of this trip. I am normally the vacation planner but actually did very little planning for this trip. I will review this cruise as our overall impression for the 7 days with some specifics about each portion of the cruise.

We flew to Ft. Lauderdale the day of the cruise. We had a direct flight that was less than 2 hours so I felt safe doing this, although normally I would fly in the day before. I arranged for a Holland Limo to meet us More at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale and transport us to the Port of Miami. They were very accommodating and sent us a brand new stretch limo even though I had requested a town car and there was no additional charge for the upgrade. Our driver was very prompt in picking us up at passenger pick up and was greatly surprised at how quickly we called for him after deplaning...since we did not have to wait at the luggage carousel. We both packed light and did not check any luggage for this trip. I had requested in my booking to have the driver to stop at Publix on the way to the port as we needed a supply of Coke for the week...NCL recently switched to Pepsi and we simply are not fans.

Embarkation was a breeze and our easiest one ever. Our driver had us to wait in the car in the A/C while he tagged our luggage gave it to a porter to load on the ship. Once this had been completed we entered the terminal where we quickly passed through security and getting our boarding cards. I had completed all of the information online prior to leaving. We waited in a short line to get our embarkation photo taken and then were on board the ship where we were given a choice of champagne or orange juice. We went to check the location of our stateroom and to see if it was ready, but found that the room stewards were not finished yet. Our stateroom was located in the middle of the ship on Deck 9 close to both sets of glass elevators. I picked up the Daily paper to read at lunch and we went to the Palace dining room. Lunch was so good my mother made me call our travel agent and tell her thank you so much for choosing this particular ship over the other choices. My mom was happy with the stateroom layout as well as her first meal so we were on a positive roll that continued throughout the rest of the cruise.

After lunch I went to the casino to sign up for their Casino players card. I had read about a special on the Norwegian board about slot play...You put $10 on the card and the casino gives you an additional $10 for a a total of $20. We are not big gamblers and this was more than enough money for us to play the penny and two cent slots. By the end of the three day cruise I had earned my money back and gained $20. I bought a new $10 slot card for the four day cruise and by the end of the cruise I had won another $100. My mother thinks I should learn to play the table games next but I told her I can't do math in my head so I'll stick to the penny slots.

Breakfast was either room service or we went to the main dining room. Lunch was in the main dining room except for one day when I ordered the Fiesta salad from room service and my mother ate in the buffet. Breakfast room service was always delivered promptly and we both appreciated the phone call just moments prior to their knock on the door with our food. The salad that I ordered was very tasty but the tortilla strips on top were stale so I picked these off. We ate in the Crossing dining room only one night and noticed that service here was very erratic and slow but the food was still the same quality as in the Palace dining room. All other meals were eaten in the Palace dining room except for the nights that we dined in the specialty restaurants. Most nights we walked in around 7:00 and were promptly seated at a window table (I only asked for this the first night). Service and the quality of the food in the Palace dining room was very good and we enjoyed all our meals.

I then went to the specialty restaurant reservation table and made reservations for II Adagio that night and Le Bistro the following night. I made a reservation for Cagney's for our last night aboard.

II Adagio was good and we enjoyed our meal especially the pizza which was by far the best thing both of us ate that night. We tried the pizza with a variety of different vegetables on it and it was much so that the server offered to send another one to our room for later. We were tempted but were too full from the rest of our meal. We were both disappointed by our meal being disrupted by a ship's photographer who had us to pose together and individually for pictures...they simply would not take no for an answer. We did go and view our embarkation photos and dining photos the next day and did not like any of these so into the do not want box they went. None of the other things we ate that night were rave reviews for us. The food was tasty and the presentations were pretty but nothing spectacular.

We went to Le Bistro for dinner. There are no words to describe how delicious our dinner was in this restaurant. My mother wanted to bring our waiter, Malvin and his efficient assistant, Jane home with us. Malvin and Jane both went above and beyond our service expectations during dinner. I had the stuffed chicken and it was to die for it was so good. My mother made an offhand comment about the sauteed mushrooms that were served with the asparagus because they were so delicious. When Malvin brought her fillet...he also brought her a whole plate of these mushrooms. My mother could not believe that he had done this especially since she had not specifically asked for them but had been telling him how much she enjoyed them and how delicious they were. Needless to say I went to the purser's desk after dinner to get STYLE cards for both of them for my mother to write management about how terrific they both were. Dinner was so good here that when the specialty restaurant hostess came by during our lunch in the dining room on turnaround day to show us the menus my mom asked if we could eat in Le Bistro again that night and have Malvin and Jane as our servers again. All I can say is dinner was really good the first time and I didn't see how it would be any better but it was definitely better the second time around. When my mother ordered the asparagus appetizer, Malvin had them to add extra mushrooms. My mom couldn't decide whether to get the fillet again or to try the salmon as it is really her favorite. I did order the fillet which was perfectly cooked and so tender you could cut it with a fork. She ordered the fillet but made a mistake of telling Malvin that she had a hard time deciding which entree to get. When Malvin brought our entrees, he brought my mother an additional order of the mushrooms as a side as well as the salmon that she hadn't ordered. Malvin's reasoning was very simply: You need to try everything that you think you might like or you can't order dessert. He was quite simply telling my mother that it's okay to order more than you think you will eat simply to try something new. My mother was embarrassed to have all this extra food until I told her that she didn't have to clean each her plates but to simply enjoy the food. After this conversation, my mom stopped worry about cleaning every plate put in front of her and trying a variety of items at each meal. I had the chocolate cake creation and my mother ordered creme brulee each time we ate here.

Dinner at Cagney's was just okay. My mom had finally relaxed in her ordering/eating by this night and simply ordered one of each of the different seafood appetizers along with her porterhouse steak entree and creme brulee dessert. I am allergic to seafood so I ordered the chopped salad which was really good along with a fillet. My salad was the best thing I had ordered. My steak had been butterflied and burned to a crisp. I ordered the apple crisp for dessert and it was simply okay. Our waiter and her assistant were not very attentive or prompt in clearing finished plates or bringing the next course. Dinner took almost 2 1/2 hours which meant we missed the stage show the last night as there was only one viewing.

As far as the specialty restaurants were concerned my mother and I both agreed that Le Bistro was by far the best one on board for service and food quality. We agreed that if we did this cruise again we would eat here three times.

We went to Longboards late at night to play cards (which we got for free at the reception desk) and watch the soccer tournaments on their big screen televisions. We ordered the fish and chips and the chicken tenders as snacks on two of these nights and these were both really, really good. My mother ordered one bottle of beer and I ordered a ginger ale and the bill for this was $7.94 including the 15% gratuity. Neither of us is a drinker so I can't tell you the cost of drinks or wine as we never ordered any of these. Less

Published 08/11/09

Cabin review: IA Mid-Ship Inside

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Port and Shore Excursions

There is not a lot to do in Freeport. Either stay on board, take a ship's excursion or get a taxi to Port Lucaya to shop. Taxis are $5 per person each way. We chose to take a taxi to Port Lucaya to shop. We were both hoping to find some handmade souvenirs at the straw market for not a lot of money. I was also looking for a gold charm for my bracelet. I try to get one for my collection to add to the story of my life. We went to one of the ship recommended jewelry stores called Goldy's. This was the only jewelry store we shopped in Port Lucaya. I found a small seahorse to add to my bracelet which is really cute. My mom found several pieces of jewelry that had been made by a local. She got a black and white pearl necklace that is simply breathtaking and bought me a green jade and amethyst bracelet made by the same artist. I have had tons of compliments on my bracelet both on the ship and since I have been home. I told my mother it's a good thing that I am an only child so I don't have to bump off anyone in order to inherit the necklace. We found a lady in a small stall across the way with very reasonable costume jewelry ($4-$10 per item) that is handmade from coconut shells, conch shells and seashells. I was able to pick up several pieces for myself as well as a couple of friends for Christmas gifts. My mom found a beautiful handmade straw bag as well as some other handmade straw items at the straw market for gifts for her friends as well as herself ($40). We stopped and picked up a bottle of water and a coke at a local convience store and only spent $4. My mother couldn't get over the price difference between here and Atlantis. We took a taxi back to the ship where we dropped off our purchases and went to the dining room for lunch. After lunch we got back off and wandered through the market buildings at the port. Most of the goods sold in these buildings has been made in China. Behind these buildings were about a half a dozen women with their handmade goods displayed tables. Many of them were working on new items while they sat and sold others that were already made. We bought locally made bracelets and earrings as well as small painted pictures and note cards. We spent approximately $20 in all with these different women. We had a very fun and relaxed day in Freeport and were back on the ship well before sail away time.
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Our first port was Nassau. I had done a little research about Atlantis because our travel agent had recommended that we at least go and walk through the public areas and tour the DIG if we could. The cost to tour the DIG is $35. If you are one of the first ones off the ship at 8:00 and can get a taxi like we did to take you to Atlantis you may be able to tour this area for free. We had been told that if there was no one at the entrance then you could just walk right in which is exactly what we did. We were able to tour the DIG and see all of the aquarium spaces. My mom was stunned at how large two of the stingrays were. This was an interesting experience but we were both happy not to have paid $70.

We continued wandering around Atlantis just admiring all of the art, decorations, and sheer beauty before stopping at Murray's Deli to buy drinks. I got a bottle of water and my mother got a Snapple ice tea...cost for both $10. Atlantis is a cashless hotel, so I had gotten a prepaid VISA at our local AAA office to use while we were on their property. We continued walking through Atlantis through the Crystal Court shops where we windowed shop on our way to Beach Towers and the Earth and Fire Pottery Studio. Since we were on a back to back I had found this paint your own pottery studio while researching Nassau and Atlantis. We would be able to paint a piece and have it fired while we cruised and pick it up later in the week when we came back again. We both had a good time doing this. For $45 my mother painted a sand dollar and I painted a starfish. There were lots of different price points for a variety of items that you could paint. This was a very enjoyable way for us to spend a couple of hours together. The pottery studio provides you with the paint, apron, supplies and an instructor for the cost of your ceramic piece. They fire the ceramic pieces overnight and you can return the following day to pick them up. In our case I told the sales clerk what day we would return as we were on a back to back cruise and he said no problem. After we finished painting, we cleaned ourselves up and walked back through Atlantis to the Crystal shops where my mom was tempted by a Gucci tote bag as well as a beautiful Versace handbag. My mom decided to wait until our return later in the week before making a purchase. We continued through to Marina Village. We stopped in Doongalik Studios which is a local artist studio with a variety of arts (paintings, prints, sculptures, etc.) all done by local artists. We had a ball in this small store looking at all of the different art work for sale. They have a variety of price points from $5 up to several thousand so there really is something for everyone. We did end up buying several small prints, bookmarks, note cards, and a Christmas ornament (my mom collects one from every trip she takes as a souvenir - her tree is a yearly remembrance to all of the trips she has taken). We had lunch at Bimini Road. This was absolutely delicious. My mom got the fresh fish of the day and I tried their flat iron steak sandwich. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. It cost the two of us about $50 including tip to eat here for lunch but my mom said it was well worth it because the food was so good. We continued to wander through the other shops after lunch. The straw shop is crammed full of locally made straw items. My mom was thrilled with the quality and craftsmanship especially after see the straw market later that afternoon. I had been prepared for the straw market and I had tried to prepare my mother but she was very disappointed at the quality of the straw products...mostly made in China not locally and the overwhelming amount of knock off designer handbags as well as how aggressive the vendors were about trying to make a sale. We had taken a water taxi ($3 per person) back from Atlantis that stopped right in front of the straw market. We wandered down 3-4 rows before my mother had enough and wanted to leave. We probably would have left after the first row or so but got caught by a brief rain shower that we decided to wait out under the tent. We began heading back to the ship as it was beginning to look like a thunderstorm was moving in. We made it all the way around to the last covered area before it began lightning and pouring the rain. We ended up standing under the covered area for about 30 minutes before the rain finally let up to a light rain.

On our second return to Nassau we took a taxi over to Atlantis early to pick up our pottery pieces which turned out very beautiful. We did not linger here as my mom wanted to shop along Bay Street, so we quickly got taxi back into Nassau. Taxis cost $5 per person to and from Atlantis as you have to pay a $1 bridge toll. I had the driver to drop us off at Rawson and Parliament Square. We played tourist by doing part of the Frommer's walking tour with myself as the tour guide for my mother. I gave her the brief history of each of the squares as well as describing each of the buildings. We will do another portion of this tour the next time we are in Nassau. We then went into the Guicci store where my mother had planned to buy her new tote bag. Gucci got an ugly letter via email from my mother upon our return home and they won't be getting anymore of her business due to their lack of customer service. We were the only customers in the store for more than 30 minutes without anyone greeting us or offering to help us despite my mother making a point to talk to the sales clerks. This turned our to be our only sour note. We wandered through many stores on Bay St and picked up our free jewelry trinkets as well. We had a really good time just wandering around. When we got hungry we walked down to catch the local jitney #10. I have to thank Scubagirl on the Bahamas port of call board for her recommendation about Arawak Cay also known as Fish Fry. We had lunch at Twin Brothers and it was absolutely delicious. My mother is not known for being an adventurous eater in a foreign country but she gamely tried fried conch as well as conch fritters and declared both to be her new favorites. I wish I had a picture of her face when she was getting on and off the jitney as well. I always make her ride public transportation at least once when we travel because it grounds her in reality. The local jitney is a larger version of VW van with lots of is not a very big bus. We were some of the last people on so we rode on the jump seats that pull down in the middle of the aisle. Call out your stop to the driver and look both ways when crossing the road to get to Fish Fry. None of the local restaurants at Fish Fry have restrooms as a public restroom is located across the parking lot. It was very clean when we were there and had an attendant on duty just outside. We will definitely be eating here again the next time we are in Nassau.

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