Norwegian Sky Review
- Pros: Open bar included in fare; itineraries include an overnight in Havana
- Cons: Ship is older, is showing wear despite refurbs; lacks modern amenities of new cruise ships
- Bottom Line: Perfectly sized ship for short trips to Bahamas and Cuba, with fun, festive atmosphere
Norwegian Sky Overview
Norwegian Sky is not the newest ship at sea, but it packs a big punch with a fun slate of nonstop activities, lively lounges, a good variety of dining venues and terrific short itineraries. Built in 1999, the ship is the first -- and only -- one in Norwegian's fleet to include a beverage package in the price of the cruise. It's also the only ship in the fleet that visits Cuba, giving passengers an overnight in Havana on its four-night itineraries. When not visiting Cuba, Sky sails to the Bahamas.
Cuba is what makes this ship exciting, and Sky plays it up, with Cuban drinks, dishes and music on its sailings to Havana. And passengers love it, getting into the spirit onboard and ashore. With just over 2,000 passengers, Sky is right-sized for a visit to Havana, where too many passengers could overwhelm the city. Passengers can stay in Havana well into the night, visiting the city's famous bars and clubs.
The ship is somewhat dated, and its decor, which includes lots of Hawaiian art (a remainder from when it was Pride of Aloha) feels a bit incongruous with its current itineraries. But it's well maintained, clean and comfortable.
Norwegian's Freestyle attitude -- do what you want, when you want -- is in full force on Sky, which has a surprising number of dining options for a ship this size. Passengers can be happy eating only at the ship's complimentary options, or they can visit the specialty dining restaurants for something a little special. Sky also has lounges and bars for every taste, and they stay open late, keeping the party rolling at virtually every venue.
Structurally, there are some oddities on the ship, including Deck 6A, which houses a handful of cabins but isn't accessible by elevator. Likewise, Sky's cabins are tight but adequate for two. But the ship's structure also means it has a gorgeous atrium that spans from Deck 5 all the way to Deck 12. It also has the cool, bright Outrigger Lounge, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and an adjacent sun deck, covered in teak, that has tremendous views from the bow of the ship.
Norwegian Sky is a great option for passengers looking to let down their hair, get away from it all for a few days and just have some fun.
Norwegian Sky Fellow Passengers
Because the ship is the only one in Norwegian's fleet that sails to Cuba and also the only one to include a drinking package in all cruise fares, passengers on Norwegian Sky tend to be younger American couples eager to explore a new country unseen by many in the U.S. Families are rare -- especially for Cuba itineraries -- though children are more common during the summer and around holidays when school is out. Additionally, the ship's three- and four-day cruises are a draw for Floridians who are looking for a fast, fun getaway out of Miami.
Norwegian Sky Dress Code
Anything goes on Norwegian Sky, which doesn't have formal nights or major dress code rules. During the day, it's swimsuits, cover-ups, shorts, dresses and comfortable clothing, both in port and onboard. At night, you don't have to dress for dinner, though a few restaurants won't allow shorts in the evening (Le Bistro and Il Adagio). On Cuban itineraries, you'll see more than the usual number of straw hats and traditional Cuban guayabera shirts. (If you don't own Cuban clothing, you can pick up new items in Havana.) Pack white clothing if you'd like to participate in the ship's "White Hot Night," a dance/glow party that takes place at night once per cruise.
Norwegian Sky Gratuity
A daily service charge of $18.99 per person per day is automatically added to the bills for passengers in standard cabins and mini-suites. The rate for suite passengers is $21.99 per person per day. (This is higher than the industry average or even what is charged on other Norwegian ships because of Sky's all-inclusive drinks package.) Passengers who aren't satisfied with service -- and their issue can't be resolved during their sailing -- can ask for a refund of those fees by contacting the line's guest relations at servicecharges@NCL.com once they return home from their cruise. Passengers, of course, can elect to tip additionally for excellent service. In fact, because the cruise includes a beverage package, a number of passengers on our sailings tipped waiters and bartenders $1 or $2 in cash. (This is not necessary, as the cruise fare and daily service fee account for tips, but staff do appreciate it and might expedite future service.)
An 18 percent gratuity also is added automatically for specialty dining and spa and salon services. Except for continental breakfast items, room service comes with a $7.95 service charge. Again, passengers can tip room service stewards an extra dollar or two, but it's not required. Passengers can pay their final bills using cash, or credit or debit cards. Because the sailings are shorter, many passengers settle up in cash, which means the line at guest services on the final day is exceptionally long.