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Sail Date: April 2019
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. SKY First, a few words about the Sky. The staff was absolutely the ... Read More
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. SKY 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. CUBA 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! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Embarkation process was wonderful, our arrival time was between 12:30 and 1:00. We arrived around 12:00 and we walked right on the ship. We had lunch on Deck 10 the lido buffet. I found the food to be limited, they have a themed ... Read More
Embarkation process was wonderful, our arrival time was between 12:30 and 1:00. We arrived around 12:00 and we walked right on the ship. We had lunch on Deck 10 the lido buffet. I found the food to be limited, they have a themed lunch/dinner every day. French, Italian, All American, Good Eats. I didn't really care for it. The deli also in the buffet was good I had the turkey wrap it was excellent, hot dogs were also good.Guys burgers were great. We forgot to eat at Blue Iguana Cantina but I heard it was good. I thought the pizza was terrible, it was paper thin and had no taste so it didn't matter that it was open 24 hrs. The ice cream was wonderful also 24 hours. The dining room was closed for lunch, I was not really used to that on the other ships I have been on. We did eat in the dining room for dinner I found the food to be very good but thought the portions were small. I had the chicken breast it was seasoned well and moist but only came with 2 pieces of broccoli or a handful of peas and carrots. My husband had the pork chop and he felt the same and usually had 2. We chose this ship because of the itinerary, Key west, Havana, and Cozumel. In Havana bring toilet paper, towels and hand sanitizer. Go to the lecture about Havana you will learn about pee-pee coins, because you need to pay to use the restroom. We did the easy havana and fusterlandia tour and it was excellent. Raciel with havanaturs was our tour guide we had an air conditioned coach with a bathroom. All ports were amazing we did the ship sponsored tours. Our room was very nice we had a outside view it was perfect for us as we were not in the room much but we wanted a view and I could sit on the ledge and look out the window and look at the water. Our steward was Jay, he introduced himself on the fist day and brought us our bathrobes, and my complimentary water as I was a repeat Carnival cruiser he cleaned our room early when we went to breakfast, our room and the ship were always very clean. Everywhere that you went that somebody was always cleaning something. The shower was small but we did fit. The shower curtain was a joke and when we showered there was a large puddle outside the shower. Found the activities to be limited but that was fine because we were off the ship or eating most of the time. We did the trivia and trivial pursuit we had a great group of people. I was very impressed with the debarkation it was extremely well organized, we were off the ship and in our car on the way home in half and hour. The elevators were inadequate, so ended up taking the stairs most of the time, so we felt less guilty about the food we ate, because we burned it off going to the next level of the ship. Overall we had the best time and we would go again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We did this cruise via a casino coupon and we upgraded to a Junior suite from an inside room . Mistake but I will talk about this in my cabin review. We were two couples in our early 40's and my single friend in her early ... Read More
We did this cruise via a casino coupon and we upgraded to a Junior suite from an inside room . Mistake but I will talk about this in my cabin review. We were two couples in our early 40's and my single friend in her early 40's. The single friend was a first time cruiser and she loved it! The rest of us have been on 5 or 6 other cruises and thought it was up there in our favorite 2. We didn't go in with huge expectations and maybe that is why we had a blast. Embarkation was a breeze. Because I upgraded to a Suite we had priority boarding which meant a really short line compared to the huge line for everyone else. They will let your non suite friends get in the short line with you. We were there at noon and on the ship by 12:20. We all bought the drink package and thank god! We like to drink and some of them got cut off by midnight because they reached their 15 drink max. But hey, drinks get warm, you set them down, you may not like one, they still count so we were glad we bought it. Lunch on the Lido deck we all chose guys burgers and fries and they were all great. We hung out all day by the pool, in the casino, walking around etc. We missed going under the sky bridge in Tampa as we were in the casino (woopsy) . Anyway this boat rocked alot more than other cruise ships I have been on. Sometimes you noticed it, but I just tried to not look out the windows as we moved and I was generally fine. I am also very sensative to sea sickness and I never heard anyone else complain about it. We met for early 6pm dinner in the main dining room Destiny. We sat the 5 of us and 3 lovely ladies from Virginia. Our two waiters were great and our drinks and apps were on the table in 5 min. All our meals in the main dining room were very good! we did all pay $20 extra one night and got the filet and lobster and it did not disappoint. Day 2- arrive in Key west at noon, I really wished we got here sooner as it is very close to Tampa???? I was confused why the itinerary didnt allow more time at this port. Anyway we had a few cocktails on board and waited for the masses to fight their way off. We walked off at 12:50 ish and no lines. It rained all day in Key West but we did a little bar hopping and had fun anyway. Irish Kevins was for sure our favorite spot with the live singer/comedian guy. Got back on the little trolly thing around 3pm and went back to the ship. I will definately be back in Key West as it wasnt nearly enough time here. Got back went to casino (after we were like 12 miles out of course) and made it to the main dining room again for dinner. I say made it because it was a long day of drinking and some people wanted to nap! Food great again! Day 3- woke up around 8am, some ate breakfast (my husband and I don't really eat breakfast) Waited for most to get off the ship in CUBA, we got off around 11 am with absolutely no one in line. Customs took 30 seconds as did money exchange. Just to give an idea of how much you will need in Cuba, most of us took our $80 US and it was too much (for what we did). First of all DO NOT get suckered into buying an excursion if you want to just walk on your own!!!! Carnival will try and tell you that you have to check off "people to people" and book an excursion. We being in Cuba last year knew to check off "support the cuban people" option and you can totally just walk off. We walked to the main square accross from the ship and you will get a few locals asking if you want to pay $1 each and they will walk you around. We said no, but one guy seemed to never leave so what the heck we let him walk us around. He took us to a local John Lennon bar (dive bar but very cool!!) we all go cubra libras (rum and cokes) and were surprised it was $10 a drink!! We had one, felt very buzzed and moved on to the next stop. We walked through beautiful streets, saw the market, other squares, local people living life. It was great. Ernest Hemingway bar right near the port was our fave as it had live cuban music and here a round of drinks for 5 people was $7.50 US. Or $7.50 CUC. Totally cheap and fun here. We danced and walked around some more. We all tipped our guy $25 US and he was more than happy I am sure. Got back on the boat and only 2 made it to dinner.... Day 4 - Cozumel- We arrived at 12:45pm to port and we chose again to wait an hour before getting off to avoid the crowd. We had booked El Cid's for the twilight day pass as our ship was here 1pm to 9pm. No other day pass resorts were offering this late day pass. It was $65 each I think?? MAKE SURE you bring the printed piece of paper with your reservation or they will make you print it at the hotel. We had drinks, food (good food) towels, pool, snokeling, all included. It was a fun day! The shopping area right a the ship is awesome, I thought it was beautiful clean and lots to do. We were back on the ship around 6 as we are wimps of the sun and apparently cannot drink too much in the sun. Day 5- day at sea, usual activities, silly games by the pool, lots of food.... I dont really know as I was burnt from Mexico and did not hang around outside. We were mostly hanging around the casino area/American bar. Now 3 of us were smokers and even as a smoker I will say that this small one side of the bar and in the casino were always VERY smoky.. The air suckers in this area seemed to not work. This was also the area that they had the trivia games which we LOVED!! So much fun. But dang do something with the smoking vents! CASINO!!!!- Ok we hung out here ALOT!!! Like every day for a long time especially at night. We usually go to Greektown Casino in our hometown near Detroit. We usually hit at greektown pretty much every time we are there so we think it is the loosest best slots in the world lol . This casino was pretty close. It is small but it pays good!!! Every single time you sat down people were hitting like crazy! My husband probably won $1000 a day on slots easily. I couldnt believe it . I loved playing roulette with our group. I won one of the pong games in the casino where they called my name and I had to throw one out of ten ping pong balls into a gift bag with money on it. I won $75 it was fun. Overall the wait staff was fantastic, you always had a drink in your hand, we never waited once at any of the bars nor in the casino. Dinner service was fast, we never waited more than 10 min for dinner. I couldn't believe we were on the same cruise that people were ripping on the slow service and crappy food. We did not think this at all. Look , don't expect Ruth's Chris style meals, expect more like outback or Texas Road House lol. Then you will not be disappointed. This boat is small and therefore you won't get lost and everything is easy to get to. Having said that it is small and can sometimes feel like there is not much to do. There is not much craziness going on near the pool, which I like sometimes. We NEVER had a problem getting a chair, there were never any big drunks partying like it was springbreak. There was no more than 20 kids on the whole ship. It was just a great cool crowd of people. Cabin review is next.... Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
I chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary; two nights in Havana. The embarkation process is one thing that NCL has down pat. We got to the pier early, breezed through the check-in and were seated in the waiting area. Once our ... Read More
I chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary; two nights in Havana. The embarkation process is one thing that NCL has down pat. We got to the pier early, breezed through the check-in and were seated in the waiting area. Once our group number was called, we boarded and went to the pool deck for a couple beers. They had a big ice bin filled with several different kinds of beer; as we all know, beer on ice is the best there is! And this sailing included an open bar. We then had lunch in the buffet, and soon our cabin was ready. More about the cabin later. After lifeboat muster, we gathered with fellow Cruise Critic members in the Spinnaker Lounge forward. This is the most beautiful lounge on the ship. And I'd like to add that being my first time aboard the Sun, and I know that she had a re-fit last year, I was very pleasantly surprised to see her condition; practically everything looked brand new! NCL held a Meet and Greet the next morning for us CC's with several of the crew members attending. They were very informative and answered many questions that we all had concerning regulations in Cuba. We found the food aboard to be a little above average. The quality was very good and the service was wonderful. The food itself was nicely presented, and quite tasty, but not particularly exceptional. Again, nothing wrong with it, but not spectacular. For the price of the cruise, we found the food to be perfectly adequate. My reason for cruising is not for the food, but for the ship, the itinerary, the ports, and simply being on the ocean. The food is less important to me. Immigration in Havana went very smoothly and very quickly. We docked at 6 PM, stood in line to get a ticket for leaving the ship, went through with our passports and visas and were on the street in Havana by 7 PM. We and another couple arranged for a 3 hour tour for the next day and then did a little exploring in the immediate area by the ship. Our tour the next day was in a 1956 "Dodgemouth" convertible! The front end was a Dodge, and the back end was a Plymouth! What fun that was! Our guide showed us many historic sites and we went to Hemingway's home as well. There are some new restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, but I hope that they are not too restrictive as I hope to go back again! Our next stop was at Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, but I stayed on the ship as the weather was a little iffy and I had just been there in Nov. of '18 while cruising on the NCL Sky. Once back in Miami, we did the "walk-off" disembarkation where we took our own bags. This began at 7:30, and after going through customs and all, we were off the ship by 7:45. A wonderful ship, a wonderful itinerary, and an exceptional value! I hope to do it again! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I've sailed several times on the Divina and Seaside and was a little hesitant to sail on the Armonia due to her age. Boy, was I wrong! What a great ship! It was absolutely in tip top shape and the staff were all so friendly and ... Read More
I've sailed several times on the Divina and Seaside and was a little hesitant to sail on the Armonia due to her age. Boy, was I wrong! What a great ship! It was absolutely in tip top shape and the staff were all so friendly and helpful. Our cabin steward Jasna seem to work none stop in keeping our cabins clean and stocked. The food was fantastic and the NY Strips were thick cooked perfect. The only thing I was disappointed in was the shrimp Cocktail's. Our waiter Rony gave us great service and made recommendations that were always right on the money. The main entertainment was mostly musical's, not really my cup of tea, but the skill of the performers was top notch!! I'm more a set in the Bar and listen to a singer or small group. That's where I spent most of my time. I went to Guest Service's several times with a question or request an they handled them all very quickly. I have sailed about 16 times and for me this size ship is what I like best. I have always enjoyed RCCL's Grandeur but this may be my new favorite. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our first cruise with MSC, had been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess before. We chose this cruise for the Itinerary, Havana. We also found this cruise less expensive than other cruises to Havana. We came with our ... Read More
This was our first cruise with MSC, had been on Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess before. We chose this cruise for the Itinerary, Havana. We also found this cruise less expensive than other cruises to Havana. We came with our children and small grandchildren, age 1 and 3. First, the Ship: It is a smaller ship to be able to get in the Cuba port. We chose the Fantastica Package which put us on the 8th floor with a Window. I liked that the window had a bay and right over the bed so nice to look out in the morning with our coffee. Room was spacious, similar to most of the cruises we were on, bed exceptionally comfortable. Had frig with mini bar. We bought the Easy Package for alcohol which is worth it, included well drinks, Heineken and Miller beer, house wines, bottled water, fruit juice and cappuccino. The pool area was very nice with plenty of chairs. They had a splash pad for the kids which was same area as pool so it worked to enjoy the pool and stay with the kids. The Food: We found the food to be very good. We ate in both the dining room and the buffet. Nice variety of options for dinner. The grill was very popular. Enjoyed the pizza, hotdogs and hamburgers. I had lobster the last night which was additional $20.00, was not that great. Would probably just stick with the regular menu next time. The Service: I found the service on the ship exceptional, everyone smiling and helpful. Our cabin steward Carlos was excellent. We did not find any wait getting drinks as I saw in previous posts. The waiters in the restaurant exceptional. The SHOWS: We saw two shows that were probably the best we have seen on any ship. In Havana, a local band and dancers came on the ship and the music and dancers were exceptional. The Itinerary: We came primarily to see Cuba. The ship arrived around 2:00 pm. We had pre-booked a tour with MSC, the Cultural Sightseeing & San Jose Market. We book in advance which saved 20% which is worth it. We chose this because we had read so much about taking the MSC tour versus on your own. You do not have to do an MSC excursion but I feel this gave us a very good view of the city. We were on a bus all through the city with several stops for picture taking. Very nice large air conditioned and well organized. After the tour we stopped at the market which is walking distance to the ship. We could have stayed out till late but chose to come back after the tour. The next day, we were pretty oriented to the area and our group of 6 got in a 1955 convertible taxi for $25.00 to the city center. We walked down Obisbo street which was loaded with shops, tourists, restaurants and found this the highlight of Havana. The people in Havana are very friendly. It is a very poor country but residents can now own businesses so we enjoyed supporting the people. Overall, this was a top rated cruise Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our 4th cruise - and 4th different cruise line. The Empress of the Seas is an older and smaller ship. If you accept that fact, you will have a great time. The service was outstanding, and the food in the main dining room was ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise - and 4th different cruise line. The Empress of the Seas is an older and smaller ship. If you accept that fact, you will have a great time. The service was outstanding, and the food in the main dining room was excellent. The Cuba cruise is too short to spend much time or place much emphasis on shows, or alternate dining venues, or activities. Hence, trying to compare those to other ships seems pointless.There are stage performances, a spa, a casino, several bars, and both adult and child activities. While all are on a smaller scale, the staff is excellent and the reduced population makes it easier to navigate. Likewise, a smaller cabin was not a problem as you are rarely in it. I recommend this cruise for those wanting a quick get-away with some new sight seeing and some quality service. If you rally want the the deluxe cruise experience or lots of on-board activities, you should look at longer cruises and larger boats. Overall, we had just as nice an experience as we have had on longer European cruises. Final note: we met a number of staff who had 15-30 years experience. It definitely showed, The staff was the key to an enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because the Norwegian Sky departs beautiful Miami, so we took the opportunity to stay in Miami several days before and after our cruise. Fun city! We liked the itinerary for this particular cruise because it enabled ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the Norwegian Sky departs beautiful Miami, so we took the opportunity to stay in Miami several days before and after our cruise. Fun city! We liked the itinerary for this particular cruise because it enabled us to be in Cuba for two days and a night. We also liked this itinerary because we went to Key West and Norwegian's island for a day. We are used to more entertainment on the ship, however, because the cruise was only for 5 days I understand that there wouldn't be as many choices. The comedian on board was funny, and the dancers were excellent. Some of the shows were too similar. I guess I am used to more variety. The service was outstanding, just as all the other Norwegian cruises we have been on. The employees work very hard pleasing everyone, and they succeed! We also thought the food was very good! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
The ship doesn't have all the bells and whistles the newer ships have, but its not the reason I chose this ship. I chose this ship because I liked the itinerary. If you are interested in the ship's activities, you will probably ... Read More
The ship doesn't have all the bells and whistles the newer ships have, but its not the reason I chose this ship. I chose this ship because I liked the itinerary. If you are interested in the ship's activities, you will probably not be too pleased...unless laying by the pool with a good book is your thing. I love the smaller ships. For some reason, the service is more attentive. Every port was great. Our OV cabin had no issues and the bed was really comfortable...truly slept well every night. I believe the bedding was new. With the promo, we tried 3 of the restaurants. Our party found Cagney's to be the best. Some dishes were bland. Maybe an investment in better cooks would be helpful. The food looked better than it tasted. Not to get it twisted, you can find/get good food, you just have to seek it out. I LOVE the fact our food and drinks were included in NCL's private island (stirrup cay). That is a marvelous idea! There are restaurants on their island. I only tried 1 (something grill). Hamburgers, hot/chili dogs, jerk chicken, etc. The food was tasty. Food, cocktails, fun in the sun...all good. Getting into the port late for Key West was problematic. Thousands of people lined up to get off the ship at the same time was not fun. NCL should have this type of issue better coordinated. Once off, all was good. I had my first key lime pie...yummy. Also, enjoyed some key lime pie martinis. I've heard good and bad about Havana. IMO, it was a good experience. I enjoyed my visit there. Some didn't like the crumbing buildings. It didn't bother me. It is what happens when the infrastructure isn't kept up. I wasn't surprised at all. They are still driving in cars from the 50's...it's like time has kinda stood still. Many places only had stairs, not elevators. You might wanna check ahead, if stairs are a problem for you. We did a classic car tour...fabulous! Some did the convertible, others the hardtop. Great tour. Definitely recommend the classic car tour! LOVED the fact the currency exchange is right at the terminal. Upon returning, we could exchange the CUC back to US dollars. Every night we did the Bliss nightclub. I believe we closed it 4 out of 5 nights. We were 1-inch from being spring breakers (we are a over 40 group). I like the smaller ship for its intimacy. You get to know the ship staff. We actually had a bar waiter...whenever he would see us, he would take our order. Our cabin steward would always greet us by name with a smile. It has been 2 weeks now and I am still smiling from the great time I had aboard the NCL Sky. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Our cabin was small but comfortable. There was a problem with the heat, it was either too hot or too cold, we finally decided on cold and slept with extra blankets. Our cabin steward Tutu kept it clean for us, and made sure we had ice ... Read More
Our cabin was small but comfortable. There was a problem with the heat, it was either too hot or too cold, we finally decided on cold and slept with extra blankets. Our cabin steward Tutu kept it clean for us, and made sure we had ice water everyday as requested. The first day of the cruise we were served drinks on the pool deck, and the waiter had his hand out for a tip. My understanding is that tipping is not required (we did the pre-tipping). I don’t mind tipping at all, but this seemed out of line for NCL. The last night of the cruise, the service in the Palace restaurant was EXTREMELY slow and our food was cold. My steak was over cooked (I requested rare and got well done) but I didn’t want to wait for another one. I have no complaints about the server himself. The shore excursions were wonderful and we really enjoyed them. The prices for the most part are reasonable. Almost every person we came in contact with was friendly. I did have one occasion where I couldn’t find my room key card and the person letting us off the boat got very impatient and rude with me. I found it stuck in my passport. We enjoyed the entertainment on the ship. We had no problems getting on or off the ship. For the most part, I really love NCL. I had a cruise planned this week but had to back out due to a severe foot injury. My roommate (who is a travel agent and also a Cruise Critic) was able to flip another friend in my place. I have a cruise planned in Oct to Russia/Estonia/Finland/Sweden/Germany for my husband and I for our 25th Anniversary. We are paying to stay in the Haven, and believe me, I will be watching everything there too and writing about it on Cruise Critics. My biggest complaint is the internet. It doesn’t work half the time, and when my roommate requested assistance, she was treated like she was an idiot, and the people were not helpful at all. That was disturbing. I want to give a shout out to Tutu, he is a hardworking man. We left money in the room and he didn’t touch it. I also accidentally left the safe open one day, and he did not touch the money in there. We left him a nice extra tip as a thank you for being honest and hardworking. Also a shout out to the entertainment director who was very pleasant when we ran into him, and the gentleman who was working in the cruise next office. He was extremely friendly and helpful. All of our wait people were awesome in the restaurant the Palace. We ate there out of convince almost every night because it was close to our room and we liked it. Other than the one night when the service was slow and the food was cold, the food was delicious and the service was excellent. The Garden Cafeteria had a nice selection of food when we were in there. We did try to book meals at the other restaurants, but they were completely booked. Overall, it was a very nice cruise. NCL does a great job with the excursions for Cuba. I was thrilled to be there as my dad was stationed there in the Navy in the early 1950’s and always talked about what a beautiful country it was before Castro. This was my 10th cruise and my 5th with NCL, it’s actually my favorite cruise line. I plan on booking more cruises over the next several years. Other than the few small complaints I had, NCL does a wonderful job. Read Less

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