Prior to COVID outbreak, my wife and I have taken this 3-day (weekend) cruise on the Norwegian Sky as a quick getaway from work stress. The Norwegian Sky was refurbished in 2019 and is in immaculate condition. While the Sky does not have the bells and whistles on the larger NCL vessels, it was prefect for a quick getaway.
In general, we find the Sail for Free Promotion, where you get specialty dining, drink package, etc. for free, is deceiving since they then add 20% on the cost for these “free offerings,” so just beware when booking.
Embarkation / Debarkation: We moved to the east coast of Florida last year, so we chose to drive to West Palm Beach and take the new Brightline train, which offers a service between West Palm Beach and Miami with only one stop in Fort Lauderdale. Unlike the FL Tri-Rail, Brightline’s station and trains are immaculate with friendly service. Parking was available in a private parking garage directly across from station ($12/day if booked with ticket). A free shuttle is also available from Miami terminal to the cruise terminals.
As long-time cruisers, this was our first time to stay in an interior cabin. We chose an interior cabin to save money for upcoming travel scheduled. Well, its hard to be positive after staying previously in a balcony cabin or suites; however, interior cabin was well maintained and clean, claustrophobic. Overall, cabin seemed something like a European efficient apartment but would definitely meet the needs of cruisers that spend the majority of time outside cabin. While a short cruise I missed not being able to sit out on balcony with a glass of wine during sail away and evenings before turning in, as well as with a cup of coffee after waking up early in the morning. Yes, I’m spoiled.
Want to give a shoutout to cabin attendants, which were cheerful and welcoming, efficiently going about unsung doing these jobs.
Great Stirrup Cay (Saturday) – I first visited this island in 1987 on the Norwegian Caribbean Lines (now Norwegian Cruise Lines) Skyward, and remember the tender running up on the beach and lowering the ramp. It seemed like a remake of an island invasion from WWII, but the island was simply charming. Over the years we saw the island being slowly developed, yet maintaining its charm. With the subsequent formation of NCL Holdings Inc, that now includes Regent Seven Seas and Oceanic Cruise Lines, as well as NCL, we were worried that the development of the new luxury lagoon area and ziplines would ruin the island’s charm. To our surprise NCL has definitely improved the island’s beach areas and facilities while maintaining its charm. We were concerned that both the Sky and Breakaway would be at the island on the same day, but the island still did not feel overcrowded, of course we tend to locate as far away from main entertainment/beach areas as possible. We did not pay extra to access the luxury lagoon area and cabanas, so I can not comment on this new area.
Great Stirrup Cay does not have a pier for the ship to dock eliminating the need to tender, which exists at the adjacent RCCL Coco Cay. While this at this prohibits access to island when the seas are rough, I would hate to see the destruction of the island habitat. I can only comment on Coco Cay from a distance, but it not looks like an amusement park. Even with all the recent and planned enhancements to Great Stirrup Cay, the island still retains it beachy experience. Definitely something to consider when choosing between a NCL vs. RCCL private island adventure, but to each his/her own.
We have visited Nassau numerous times, so we decided to simply sleep in late and stay on the Sky. However, for first time visitors, while a crowded and busy island, there are numerous things to visit and see, including Paradise Island. I would recommend taking a walk or taxi up to the John Watling’s Rum Distillery. Snorkeling and beach activities are mediocre at best compared to Caribbean islands. Honestly, as someone who has frequently visited Nassau, we wished NCL would just make this a sea day.