Quick short getaways to the Bahamas on a smaller Norwegian ship - take life easy, enjoy the ride
Best For People Who Want
The option of lots of dining venues and nightclubs; extensive fitness facilities and a full-service spa; casual evening attire; an internet cafe; seven restaurants; above average Broadway-style musicals; casual dress policy with open seating dining
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Average to large size cabins with good closet space; high level of service; gourmet cuisine; lack of PA announcements.
This ship has quite a history though it was built in just 1999. This ship began as Norwegian Sky, but was re-fitted to become Pride of Aloha, the first NCL-America ship to sail year-round in Hawaii. To complete that task, they replaced the casino with a museum of Hawaii folklore and imbued the entire vessel with a Hawaiian theme, including renaming the Lido grill the Hukilau Café.
Now that the noble NCL-America experiment has been reduced from three to one full-time ship in Hawaii, Pride of America, the re-renamed Norwegian Sky is back, after an extensive two-month re-renovation to re-restore the casino, add a variety of night-spots and upgrade the staterooms. The ship now has all of the latest "Free-style 2.0 enhancements including new bedding, guaranteed lobster in every restaurant, welcome aboard "bubbly" and more.
Norwegian Sky now has the same lively interiors as the rest of the modern NCL fleet, which happens to be one of the youngest fleets in the cruise industry in terms of average age of their ships.
Entering the circular marble lobby of the ship your eyes go immediately to the winding stairs in the center that lead up the atrium with its glass-enclosed elevators. Intimate sitting areas with floor-to-ceiling glass walls on two levels let you comfortably enjoy the world outside. Like other NCL ships, the Norwegian Sky exudes a feeling of spaciousness throughout, while public rooms offer a sense of intimacy. The Plantation Club, a delightful wine bar, serves tapas, and the Longboard Bar features CNN and taped sports events playing all day. Have a cigar in Captain Cook's Cigar Club, or a cappuccino while you check your email or surf the web in the Coffee bar. Shop in the large gift shop or try your luck in the newly renovated Sky Club Casino.
Daily activities include the requisite bingo, aerobics classes, dance lessons, fashion shows and make-over demonstrations. For a rather hefty price you can indulge in a variety of spa treatments, including massage. I found Norwegian Sky's entertainment to be above average; at night, there is dancing, cabaret, live music in three lounges and high quality Broadway-style production shows in the Stardust Theater.
NCL has introduced freestyle cruising with multiple dining options and a casual dress policy, although you can dress to the nines if you want. Active cruisers will find a plethora of ways to keep fit, from a workout on the basketball court to the well-equipped gym or aerobics classes. Parents can securely put the children into the hands of Kids' Counselors and let them enjoy the Kids' Corner and disco, or the video arcade.
Norwegian Sky's biggest handicap is some of the smallest cabins found aboard any ship. The food, while not gourmet, is above average and the "Chocaholic" buffet is something worth staying up for. Service is uneven in the restaurants, though a major emphasis of "Free-style 2.0" is improving food quality throughout the fleet. One of the new 2.0 options is "Lobster Galore," which insures that every passenger gets a chance to order lobster at least once during the cruise, even if you only dine in the "included in the cruise fare" dining rooms, Palace and Crossings.
All of the NCL fleet has been imbued with lively blues, oranges and blonde woods that radiate a carefree, light-hearted feeling. The furniture is all contemporary, like a Danish Modern with a sense of humor. Tropical touchs are common, such as aquarium-themed carpet and wall murals.
NCL has really separated itself from the pack where cuisine is concerned. While there are still the two "included in the cruise fare" dining rooms, there are also five additional restaurants with aboce avergae food available for a fee. In the regular dining rooms, Crossings and Palace, the offerings are average cruise cuisine. Due to some criticism in the past, NCL (under the guidance of Apollo management) is trying very hard to improve the status quo. Still, there is no doubt they prefer to have you dining in the one of optional restaurants:
The two main restaurants, Palace and Crossings each have open, restaurant-style dining each evening from 5:30pm to 10:00. Free-style dining means you can come to the dining room any time you wish and sit alone, join another table or invite the Maitre D' to seat others at your table.
Cagney's Steakhouse: 32-oz porterhouse steaks or king crab legs
Le Bistro: a traditional French restuarant with Côte de Boeuf, a 32-ounce premium gold angus rib eye steak; Plateau de Fruits de Mar, a cold seafood platter including mussels, lobster tail, shrimp and raw oysters on the half shell; Cardinal of the Seas, braised lobster tails.
Il Adagio: a casual Italian trattoria
The Garden Café: the Lido café where breakfast and lunch buffets are available as well as pizza, soup and sushi.
Great Outdoors: where NCL chefs cook fresh, prepared-to-order food as guests watch.
A multi-national staff provides reasonably good service and, for the most part, a pleasant attitude. The crew at the pool keeps the towels and blankets resupplied (needed on a cloudy day at sea) and drinks delivered with a smile. On the whole the bar staff was ideally pleasant and not overly gabby.
NCL charges $10 per day per passenger to your shipboard account, the same as other cruise lines. However, on NCL the charge is referred to as a "service fee" and unlike other lines, NCL guests cannot have the charge removed.
The Stardust Theater currently features two productions, "South Rockin’ Nights," a high energy party celebrating the sounds of southern rock, R&B and pure rock 'n roll; and "On Broadway," a lively production of today's current Broadway smash hits including "Wicked," "Mama Mia" and 'Hairspray." In addition, music by three bands keeps the energy going into the evening when guests can party until the wee hours of the morning at two new themed experiences: White Hot Night, the ultimate dance party at sea set in a wonderland of white; and Monte Carlo Night, a sizzling casino party with the glitz and glam reminiscent of the French Riviera. One of the prettiest spots on the ship is the Outrigger Lounge. It reminds me a bit of Raffles in Singapore, but with a panoramic ocean view. The Longboard Bar offers video monitors with a variety of sports programs or CNN. Adjacent to this is the Zone, which morphs into a disco and karaoke spot after dark. The new Atrium Bar offers caviar, pate a fois gras.
Norwegian Sky's weakest area is cabins, among the smallest at sea. Category H inside cabins are 121 sq. ft., while F and G insides are 147 sq. ft; outside cabins in Cat. A, B, C and D are 149 sq. ft. Add to this, there is inadequate closet space for a week and several design flaws: reading lights over the bed are too low and tiny door handles that are difficult to open.
Each cabin is pleasantly decorated and has a small sitting area, TV/radio, telephone, modem connection, refrigerator, safe and individual thermostat. A daily movie program is available on the TV plus CNN and another satellite channel. All but a few outside cabins on Fjord and Norway decks have balconies. These superior deluxe suites measuring a tiny 154 sq. feet plus a 48 sq. foot balcony; they are very narrow and feel tiny. Suites have concierge service, which is a very nice touch. The penthouses and owner's suites, located fore and aft, are larger (between 311 and 398 sq. feet, depending on location) and boast teak decks and private hot tubs on the deck of the owners' suites. There are also connecting cabins for families.
The Pool Deck, Sports Deck and Sun Deck are expansive, with shelter from the wind while at sea. Located forward on the Pool Deck, the two-room Body Waves center has one room filled with up-to-date equipment and a view and another for aerobics classes.
A full-size basketball/volleyball court on the Sports Deck, two golf driving ranges, a batting cage, jogging track and aerobics classes scheduled throughout the day complete the program. The Steiner Body Waves Spa includes massage and steam rooms. Two pools and four hot tubs on the Pool Deck are well-protected from the wind and enjoyable in most weather. A children's splash pool and another hot tub are located forward on the Sports Deck. For the kids there are counselors and special programs in the Kid's Corner as well as a teen disco.
As this ship now only sails three and four-day cruises, the designated dress code is a full-time "resort casual". Passengers have the option of not dressing up for "formal" nights as only some public areas will be designated formal. Those who do enjoy dressing up, expect one formal night during a one-week cruise. Most men opt for a dark suit instead of a tux while women don dressy pants suits, cocktail dresses or long gowns.