Hello. We just returned from a New Year's cruise on the NCL Sky and wanted to share a few comments. Please contact us at DanielB3@juno.com
if you have any specific questions about this cruise or itinerary.
While this cruise was not without flaws, the biggest problem experienced by far was the incredibly high volume of rude and obnoxious passengers onboard. These people had no problem screaming at cruise staff members, barking orders to anybody within earshot and making absolute fools of themselves. We were disgusted by their behavior and it took every ounce of our patience not to respond back to those people with our own "two cents".
This being said, here is a capsule summary of our cruise.
We made our own air arrangements and flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before the cruise. We arranged for a private car to take us from our hotel to the pier on Saturday and then back to the Ft. Lauderdale airport the following Saturday. (We booked with Tri-County airport express, $129 total for 3 passengers round-trip). (Call 954-561-8888 or 800-244-8252). This was much more pleasant than dealing with the busses the cruise line uses to shuttle passengers back and forth. Our driver was on time and very efficient.
We arrived at the pier during peak time, (1pm), and made our way into the terminal, went through security and into the check-in lobby. We kept our luggage with us at all times and did not check it with the porters. This guaranteed us we would have our luggage and that we could unpack immediately upon arriving at our cabin.
We waited about 20-25 minutes in the Latitudes line before we were checked in. We had used the online registration prior to our arrival but the clerk was not sure how to confirm that the information was in their system. He was about to have us fill out the registration forms again in person when another agent showed him how to find the information we had already submitted.
We walked onboard and were greeted by a steward who showed us to our cabins. We had outside cabins on Deck 5. They were small, but had all the things we needed to be comfortable for a week. The bathroom had six built-in shelves to hold shavers, toothbrushes, etc. and functioned fine with excellent water pressure and temperature. The closet had two sections. One had a small dresser below with 3 pull out drawers and a safe placed on top. We used the dresser side of the closet to hang shirts and used the taller side for pants, etc. There were plenty of hangers provided and we had no problem putting our suitcases inside the closet. If you are a height/weight proportionate person you should not have any problems with the Sky cabins. If you are a larger person, then you might have some issues to deal with.
The ship was attractive and fairly well laid out. The ship never felt congested during the entire week and we sailed full. The one strange design flaw is that you cannot reach the aft Seven Seas dining room on deck 5 from the forward section of deck 5. You have to go up to deck 6 and walk back then take the stairs down to 5 again to reach the dining room. The Seven Seas was the only restaurant where sit-down breakfast was served.
The Freestyle dining concept is great. We loved being able to eat when we wanted, etc. However, the service has suffered a great deal with this new dining style. We never had refills on coffee, iced tea, etc. without asking at least once the entire week during breakfast, lunch or dinner. The wait time between courses was quite long and the waiters/waitresses seemed to be running and always in a hurry. There was no sense of getting to know your server. We ate around 8pm every night and only had to wait for a table one evening and that was about a 10-minute wait.
The food in the main dining rooms was good. It was always served at just the right temperature. (Salads were cold and crisp, soups just hot enough, etc.) Meats were done to order the first time and most of the desserts were good. If the service had been better, we would rate the overall dining experience even higher. We tried to get reservations for Le Bistro on three different occasions but could not. (They were booked solid all week).
We did not take in any shows but heard many favorable comments about the production numbers during the week. Many people said they were some of the best shows they had seen on board a ship. We prefer "real" Broadway style shows and tend to skip the high seas versions.
The pool area was crowded on sea days but we were able to find chairs up on deck 12. We didnít mind being away from the pools as we didnít use them and preferred to avoid to crowds and noise surrounding them. The pool bar and deck servers were efficient but not pushy.
The stop in Nassau was almost worthless. The ship was cleared around 8am and we had to be back onboard by 11:30am. 90% of the shops were closed and the ones that were open didnít offer anything other than alcohol and some tacky souvenirs. We did not venture over to Paradise Island or the Atlantis hotel.
New Yearís was a relatively quiet celebration, perhaps mainly due to the high volume of older passengers onboard. There was a deck party with several hundred people in attendance. They dispersed noisemakers, hats, etc. to the passengers before midnight and had a traditional countdown. At midnight the ships horns sounded and people kissed and sang and drank bad free champagne. The deck party was over by 12:30am and the remaining hard-core partiers headed to the Checkers Lounge for dancing late into the night.
In St. Thomas we took a cab to Magens Bay, ($6pp for the cab ride and $3pp admission to the beach). We rented lounge chairs for $5pp and spent almost the entire day at the beach. We returned to the ship, ($6pp for the cab), and did a little shopping at the Havensight mall dockside.
In San Juan we took a cab from the ship to the Isle Verde section of the city. The cab ride was $16 one-way for up to (4) adults. We were dropped off at the hotel section of the beach and rented lounge chairs for $3pp. We had access to a couple restaurants for food, drinks, restrooms, etc. The beach was very nice, clean and uncrowded. There were plenty of palm trees for shade and no vendors except for a man selling bottled water and Coke from a cooler. Our cab driver came back for us late in the afternoon and brought us back to the ship. We spent about an hour walking around old town late in the day.
Our last stop was to be the NCL private island, but 45mph winds, 54-degree air and 15-foot seas kept us from stopping. So instead we drifted at a snailís pace in the high seas for a day and a half back to Miami. Despite the seas and winds, the ship stayed relatively stable. We have been on ships that had much more pitch and roll in less turbulent seas. The cabins did creak and pop an awful lot during that evening and made sleeping a bit difficult.
Overall, we would say that NCL did some things right and has room to improve elsewhere. We enjoyed the staff at the Atrium bar very much. The waitress had our pre-dinner drink preferences memorized after just one night and was very pleasant. Our room attendant was a personable young man and we found one waitress in the Four Seasons dining room that was a real treat. Here name was Corina Shroe and if you are going to be sailing on the Sky in the near future, you should ask to be seated in her section.
Please drop us a line if you would like more information.
Ben & David