This was our 14th NCL cruise but our first on the Sky. I was joined by my wife, son (21), and daughter (18). I will first review the ship and then review Cuba.
First, a few words about the Sky. The staff was absolutely the most friendly out of any of the 20 cruises we have been on. They did not just welcome us to every venue, bar, and restaurant; they emphatically thanked us for joining them for the week. Simply outstanding service. The Sky itself was in much better condition than we have read in some other reviews. It is old. But it is clean and well maintained. The Sky is the smallest ship we have cruised on (our last two cruises were on the Epic and Escape). The advantage was no lines, ever. We found deck chairs whenever we wanted, never waited for a table in the dining rooms, and walked off the ship when we were ready to leave. The entertainment venues were not as polished as other larger, newer ships. But the performers did their best with the space they had. We might have gotten bored if this was a 7-day cruise. But the Sky was just fantastic for a 4-day cruise. One tip: If you like a quiet cabin, get a room on deck 6. These cabins are isolated from the rest of the ship.
Like the Sky, Cuba was a very pleasant surprise. Part of the surprise was that ships dock right in the center of Old Havana. So you can walk on and off the ship as often as you like without any issues. As per our usual practice, we did not purchase an excursion on the ship. Instead, we had a tremendous adventure by putting together our own itinerary. Actually, all I did was spend about 1/2 hour searching the internet the night before.
1) Walking tour of Old Havana to orient ourselves
2) Found a great English-speaking driver and a beautiful restored 50's lime green Dodge convertible to take us on a 2.5 hour guided tour. The tour included detailed reviews of Old Havana, New Havana, brief visits to all three forts, a stop at the Bay of Pigs memorial, time at Revolution Square, and a photo stop at the Cristos statue.
3) Hopped on the ship for a quick lunch
4) Walked to the Almacenes San Jose Artisans market. Hundreds of booths selling mostly the same stuff at just "fair" prices. It seemed to be the Cuban equivalent of Nassau's straw market.
5) Took a cab to Santa Maria Del Mar and spent 2.5 hours on the beach. Nice sand but a bit rocky just at the waters edge. Caught a very interesting cab back to the ship: A restored 50's wagon that had been in the driver's family for 45 years. His father gave it to him when he retired as a cab driver, and he is about to give it to his son.
6) Quick shower and dinner in the dining room.
7) Walk off the ship and search for night life in Old Havana. We didn't find much. We were told the next day that a cab could have taken us to all of the hot spots. But at that point we were pretty worn out anyway.
8) Get back on the ship at 1 am and collapse in our beds, absolutely marveling at what a delightful day we had.
In conclusion, the Sky's Cuba itinerary is a tremendous value and well worth the trip. Frankly, it was a better value than we thought, since we didn't realize that drinks were included until the second day!
Small like typical NCL ships, but very clean. The room had been attended to every time we returned, and the attendant answered the phone both times we called. We book inside cabins on cruises where there is little to see out of the window and little chance that we will be in our rooms other than to sleep. We find NCL's beds to be the most comfortable afloat. We find their showers to be tiny.
See the main body of my review for details. A couple of tips:
1) You can easily put together your own itinerary. I put a sample one in my review.
2) Tip in US dollars.
3) Enjoy the people and tolerate the propaganda. They have grown up thinking that Fidel fired the shot that stopped the Bay of Pigs invasion from his personal tank and that Raul used his personal anti-aircraft gun to bring down the U2 spy plane. But they are genuine, friendly, and eager to leave a good impression.
It is amazing how different the island is when visiting in a smaller ship! No issues getting to the best beach chairs, no lines for food or drinks, plenty of space in the water. This made for a very, very relaxing experience. Be sure to walk a bit to find the food trailer. It serves great BBQ sandwiches on pretzel rolls.