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This review is from the perspective of a husband and wife, middle-aged, and "half glass full" kind of people. We sailed out of Miami and the embarkation was smooth and pretty quick, as we were in the first boarding group, from 12-12:30pm. Disembarkation was also quick and going through Customs was a breeze - all they did was check our passports. I was surprised they didn't check our luggage or that we didn't have to fill out any declaration paperwork. Maybe because of the (as of this writing) government shutdown they are not fully staffed. Anyway, it worked in our favor. Our cruise was open bar, so you could just walk up to any bar and order something with no need to show your cabin card. And the liquor was quality stuff, not some no-name, off-brand offering. Bloody Mary's were made with Tito's vodka, for example, at least when I watched them make them. Like Jack Daniel's on the rocks? No problem. My only issue - and this is admittedly minor - was that they didn't make Cuba Libre's (rum & Coke) with Coke, only Pepsi, since they have an agreement with Pepsi. Drinkers can taste the difference so if you typically order something mixed with Coke, it'll be Pepsi. The bar staff were not particularly friendly but I imagine that's because they were getting pummeled with requests and were more intent on providing fast service, than service with a smile. We understood, liked the quick service and didn't take offense. We chose to dine in one of the main dining rooms, to evaluate the food and service. I'll just say right now, guys, don't bother packing a suit. Ladies, no need to bring the fancy dresses. On the first night, I wore a suit and tie and my wife also dressed up. As it turns out, it wasn't necessary to dress up (as is typical on other cruises) since the dress code was very relaxed, according to the onboard documentation (as opposed to what we read on the NCL website). So, everyone looked at us like we were crazy and subsequent nights I wore a nice linen shirt with a pair of shorts and decent shoes and we fit right in. Some people took it to extremes and wore sweatpants and ratty t-shirts and baseball caps and they were not refused service. I'm not sure I like the casual dress in the dining rooms, but I certainly won't argue with being comfortable! The food was excellent - full of flavor and properly cooked - and the menu changed daily. All meals were served so you could start eating immediately - no waiting for your food to cool down. The "suggested" wines each night were in the $30 range and we opted for one that turned out very well, although I don't recall the name. There were additional wines one could choose from their wine list. The wait staff were friendly and accommodating and each night we got someone new. One server, Arun, was particularly good. Probably the most disappointing part of the cruise - and this is my fault for choosing it - was the excursion in Freeport. We chose the "Bahamas Adventures Beach Day" (with lunch included). The "front" staff, who got you onto the bus and dropped you off, were very nice but once you were there the employees for the most part were NOT smiling, happy people ready to provide a nice experience. It looked like they were genuinely pissed off to serve us, despite our smiles and courtesy when ordering. The only redeeming quality of the excursion was the fact that you could walk the beach and find sea glass. It was too cold to snorkel in January. Definitely not going to use any of the "Bahamas Adventures" excursions from now on, if that's an example of their staffing. Conversely, the "Blue Lagoon" excursion (which I had done before) had friendly, helpful staff and a wonderful physical environment, especially if you have kids. The lagoon is not very deep at all and is very safe for the little rodents to splash around in. Snorkeling there is okay for those of us with experience, but only at high tide. For kids learning to snorkel, it's an excellent, safe environment and they'll see plenty of little fish. The lunch was typical buffet fare and the burgers were good. Bring your credit card so you can order drinks. If you like dark beer, they have Guinness Stout, something the cruise ship didn't have. Don't bother walking around Port Lucaya (Freeport) or Nassau unless you want to get hammered by street vendors. Also, the U.S. Department of State has issued travel advisories for The Bahamas, particularly the islands that include Nassau and Freeport: "Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands." Go here for more information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Bahamas.html The Great Stirrup Cay excursion, which is NCL's private island, was easily the best excursion. There is plenty of space to find your little piece of paradise, the drinks were still at no cost & there were several bars, palm and fig trees everywhere for shade and the water was excellent. They keep the island clean. Great place to snorkel, although they no longer let you get too close to the rocks. It would have been a perfect experience had it not been for the smokers everywhere, so be prepared to move if a couple of smokers set up upwind behind you. (I smoked for 20 years and no longer care to smell someone else's.) Scope out the island and have a couple of options laid out, as there are different beaches you can occupy. I'm told the January weather was atypical and here's what we experienced: Day 1, embarkation, Miami: upper 40's. Day 2, Freeport: lower 50's, but warmed up into the 70's. Water temp too cold to snorkel. Day 3, Great Stirrup Cay: mid 60's but warmed up into the lower 80's. Day 4, Nassau: upper 60's but warmed up to almost 80. Day 5, disembarkation, Miami: upper 40's. SUMMARY: Overall it was a good cruise for the money. They kept the ship clean and the staff was friendly. Open bar was a very cool feature. Lots of people having a good time but no problems at all with overy drunk cruisers. The Bahamas are beautiful but choose your excursions carefully.

Loved the open bar cruise!

Norwegian Sky Cruise Review by JAFM

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2019
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Oceanview Picture Window
This review is from the perspective of a husband and wife, middle-aged, and "half glass full" kind of people.

We sailed out of Miami and the embarkation was smooth and pretty quick, as we were in the first boarding group, from 12-12:30pm. Disembarkation was also quick and going through Customs was a breeze - all they did was check our passports. I was surprised they didn't check our luggage or that we didn't have to fill out any declaration paperwork. Maybe because of the (as of this writing) government shutdown they are not fully staffed. Anyway, it worked in our favor.

Our cruise was open bar, so you could just walk up to any bar and order something with no need to show your cabin card. And the liquor was quality stuff, not some no-name, off-brand offering. Bloody Mary's were made with Tito's vodka, for example, at least when I watched them make them. Like Jack Daniel's on the rocks? No problem. My only issue - and this is admittedly minor - was that they didn't make Cuba Libre's (rum & Coke) with Coke, only Pepsi, since they have an agreement with Pepsi. Drinkers can taste the difference so if you typically order something mixed with Coke, it'll be Pepsi. The bar staff were not particularly friendly but I imagine that's because they were getting pummeled with requests and were more intent on providing fast service, than service with a smile. We understood, liked the quick service and didn't take offense.

We chose to dine in one of the main dining rooms, to evaluate the food and service. I'll just say right now, guys, don't bother packing a suit. Ladies, no need to bring the fancy dresses. On the first night, I wore a suit and tie and my wife also dressed up. As it turns out, it wasn't necessary to dress up (as is typical on other cruises) since the dress code was very relaxed, according to the onboard documentation (as opposed to what we read on the NCL website). So, everyone looked at us like we were crazy and subsequent nights I wore a nice linen shirt with a pair of shorts and decent shoes and we fit right in. Some people took it to extremes and wore sweatpants and ratty t-shirts and baseball caps and they were not refused service. I'm not sure I like the casual dress in the dining rooms, but I certainly won't argue with being comfortable! The food was excellent - full of flavor and properly cooked - and the menu changed daily. All meals were served so you could start eating immediately - no waiting for your food to cool down. The "suggested" wines each night were in the $30 range and we opted for one that turned out very well, although I don't recall the name. There were additional wines one could choose from their wine list. The wait staff were friendly and accommodating and each night we got someone new. One server, Arun, was particularly good.

Probably the most disappointing part of the cruise - and this is my fault for choosing it - was the excursion in Freeport. We chose the "Bahamas Adventures Beach Day" (with lunch included). The "front" staff, who got you onto the bus and dropped you off, were very nice but once you were there the employees for the most part were NOT smiling, happy people ready to provide a nice experience. It looked like they were genuinely pissed off to serve us, despite our smiles and courtesy when ordering. The only redeeming quality of the excursion was the fact that you could walk the beach and find sea glass. It was too cold to snorkel in January. Definitely not going to use any of the "Bahamas Adventures" excursions from now on, if that's an example of their staffing.

Conversely, the "Blue Lagoon" excursion (which I had done before) had friendly, helpful staff and a wonderful physical environment, especially if you have kids. The lagoon is not very deep at all and is very safe for the little rodents to splash around in. Snorkeling there is okay for those of us with experience, but only at high tide. For kids learning to snorkel, it's an excellent, safe environment and they'll see plenty of little fish. The lunch was typical buffet fare and the burgers were good. Bring your credit card so you can order drinks. If you like dark beer, they have Guinness Stout, something the cruise ship didn't have.

Don't bother walking around Port Lucaya (Freeport) or Nassau unless you want to get hammered by street vendors. Also, the U.S. Department of State has issued travel advisories for The Bahamas, particularly the islands that include Nassau and Freeport: "Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands." Go here for more information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Bahamas.html

The Great Stirrup Cay excursion, which is NCL's private island, was easily the best excursion. There is plenty of space to find your little piece of paradise, the drinks were still at no cost & there were several bars, palm and fig trees everywhere for shade and the water was excellent. They keep the island clean. Great place to snorkel, although they no longer let you get too close to the rocks. It would have been a perfect experience had it not been for the smokers everywhere, so be prepared to move if a couple of smokers set up upwind behind you. (I smoked for 20 years and no longer care to smell someone else's.) Scope out the island and have a couple of options laid out, as there are different beaches you can occupy.

I'm told the January weather was atypical and here's what we experienced:

Day 1, embarkation, Miami: upper 40's.

Day 2, Freeport: lower 50's, but warmed up into the 70's. Water temp too cold to snorkel.

Day 3, Great Stirrup Cay: mid 60's but warmed up into the lower 80's.

Day 4, Nassau: upper 60's but warmed up to almost 80.

Day 5, disembarkation, Miami: upper 40's.

SUMMARY: Overall it was a good cruise for the money. They kept the ship clean and the staff was friendly. Open bar was a very cool feature. Lots of people having a good time but no problems at all with overy drunk cruisers. The Bahamas are beautiful but choose your excursions carefully.
JAFM’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Oceanview Picture Window
Cabin OB 7203
Our cabin was a small starboard stateroom with a huge window, not a porthole. It was tight (I'm 5'10" and 210 pounds, my wife is 5'4" and 130) but clean and came with a vanity & chair and a small loveseat. The bed was not very comfortable for us and I ended up tossing and turning every few hours, although it could have been from the excitement of the upcoming new day's events (we are early risers). The bathroom was also tight, but clean and manageable, and the toilet was powerful. Ventilation from the bathroom was excellent and shower steam cleared quickly. We had plenty of space for hanging clothes and there was an in-room safe, although it was on the small side, approximately 12"x8", with a light that illuminated when opening. The hair dryer that was provided was adequate at best, so those with a lot of hair may spend a bit more time drying after their shower. The HVAC controls were responsive and we could make our room cool or warm with no issues. The TV was a small LCD type and had the bare minimum of entertainment, so in bed we didn't watch much prior to retiring for the night. Our stateroom attendant, Sandy, was excellent and fulfilled all of our requests with a smile.
International Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Beach
    Probably the most disappointing part of the cruise - and this is my fault for choosing it - was the excursion in Freeport. We chose the "Bahamas Adventures Beach Day" (with lunch included). The "front" staff, who got you onto the bus and dropped you off, were very nice but once you were there the employees for the most part were NOT smiling, happy people ready to provide a nice experience. It looked like they were genuinely pissed off to serve us, despite our smiles and courtesy when ordering. The only redeeming quality of the excursion was the fact that you could walk the beach and find sea glass. It was too cold to snorkel in January. Definitely not going to use any of the "Bahamas Adventures" excursions from now on, if that's an example of their staffing.
    View All 137 Beach Reviews
  • Great Stirrup Cay
    The Great Stirrup Cay excursion, which is NCL's private island, was easily the best excursion. There is plenty of space to find your little piece of paradise, the drinks were still at no cost & there were several bars, palm and fig trees everywhere for shade and the water was excellent. They keep the island clean. Great place to snorkel, although they no longer let you get too close to the rocks. It would have been a perfect experience had it not been for the smokers everywhere, so be prepared to move if a couple of smokers set up upwind behind you. (I smoked for 20 years and no longer care to smell someone else's.) Scope out the island and have a couple of options laid out, as there are different beaches you can occupy.
    View All 1,141 Great Stirrup Cay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Great Stirrup Cay Cruise Port Review
  • Key West
    Had a great time walking around Key West. If you are a cat lover and miss yours, go to the Hemmingway house to get your cat fix! It's $14 per person and there are lots of polydactyl cats to pet. And the house was very interesting! Go to Sunset Pier for lunch, great view and excellent craft beers!
    View All 1,788 Key West Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Key West Cruise Port Review
  • Miami
    Not much to say, we just embarked/disembarked in Miami. Didn't make time to explore.
    View All 2,406 Miami Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Miami Cruise Port Review
  • Blue Lagoon Island Beach
    The "Blue Lagoon" excursion (which I had done before) had friendly, helpful staff and a wonderful physical environment, especially if you have kids. The lagoon is not very deep at all and is very safe for the little rodents to splash around in. Snorkeling there is okay for those of us with experience, but only at high tide. For kids learning to snorkel, it's an excellent, safe environment and they'll see plenty of little fish. The lunch was typical buffet fare and the burgers were good. Bring your credit card so you can order drinks. If you like dark beer, they have Guinness Stout, something the cruise ship didn't have.
    View All 252 Blue Lagoon Island Beach Reviews