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Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Sky

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • New

Oct 14, 2016

Bahamas

Go with an open mind. We read some of the reviews and were apprehensive, we needn't have been. The ship is a little older but immaculately kept. We booked an aft cabin 9078 and were very pleased indeed. It wasn't huge but had enough space, the bathroom was compact but adequate and the balcony was great for relaxing with lovely views. Embarkation was fine, the food was more than acceptable and the all inclusive drinks included premium brands

so all in all, great value for money. All in all, it was a chilled experience without the formality that some cruises inflict on you. Nassau was OK for a walk around and we were diverted to Key West because of Hurricane Matthew - transport was laid on free of charge to get into town so all in all, we were pleased with the alternative. I wouldn't have any worries about sailing with NCL again and wonder what on earth the moaners were going on about for the price paid. A great fun experience with people who were enjoying themselves. Food was more than adequate and plenty of it Great aft stateroom 9078. Compact but adequate and the balcony was a bonus Good fun activities all cruise We didn't do any excursions but just chilled and did our own thing I wouldn't have any worries about sailing with NCL again and wonder what on earth the moaners were going on about for the price paid. A great fun experience with people who were enjoying themselves.

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By Ron _CR

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Sep 3, 2016

Bahamas

This was our first cruise. Every aspect of this adventure exceed our expectations. I can't say enough about the amazing staff! every staff member we encountered was very helpful and very friendly. The food was excellent, there was something for everyone and available at all hours. The rooms were a good size and the beds were very comfortable. I had a great sleep every night. The entertainment was excellent. We managed to see most of the entertainment

and found it to be top notch. Cruise director J.C Sanchez is one of the best! Our family joked how he seemed to be everywhere all the time. We would watch one show with him as the announcer and walk straight to the next show in another area of the ship and he would already be there announcing the next show.We highly recommend Norwegian Sky! The food was excellent! The staff was available to clean up your dishes with in seconds of you finishing your meal. There was not one thing that I ate that I would have a complaint about. In the higher end restaurant's there was a good selection of meal chooses. All 5 in our group had different meals and everyone commented at how delicious there meal was. The stateroom's were a good size and the beds were very comfortable. I read after I booked the cruise the the extra cost of a balcony was not worth the extra cost. We found that the balcony was very enjoyable and agreed I could not imagine sailing with out one. We had our morning coffee out there every morning and watched every docking. All the activities added a great deal of enjoyment to our cruise. The only negative I would have to say about our trip was the stop at Grand Bahamas. Was a bit disappointed in this port. Found the whole island a bit run down and felt bad for the residents who worked very hard to sell you some of there goods. It would be nice if this was changed for a nicer stop. The next stop at Nassau made up for it. Nassau was everything we expected and more.

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Nov 4, 2015

Bahamas

When I boarded the Norwegian Sky ship and found my room (inside 10th floor, room #0134) we passed a fan drying the smelly carpet that smelled like dirty dish water most likely from the dishwasher backing up and flooding the hallway we had to smell the entire cruise on way to our room. Do not get a room on 10th floor below the buffets! Carts will be rolling all day and night and they tend to either drop stuff making loud noises waking you up. The ship

is old and I think it's time to retire this ship, not sure how they can keep putting band aids on everything and expect to have their special cruises in 2016 on this ship. There were cracks in glass all over the public areas and just sitting by the kids pool a pipe breaks and floods out control room behind it flooding onto the deck I was sitting on and closing the kiddie pool for the day. Took them 10 mins to realize to shut the water off! I had to walk around every person who was working on the rooms who literally rushed in front of us to get what they needed off their cart causing me to squeeze between them and the cart in passing and not one of them asked me how I was or even said hello. On day 3 of my cruise was the worst. I was woken up at 630 am by a loud machine and then found out it was routine maintenance being done which caused me to have no plumbing in my room for most of the day. When I complained to guest services they gave me a room to use the facilities until my plumbing was completed that was 2 floors down and opposite side of the ship. Later that day when I returned from the island I went out to look at my pictures after my shower and returned ten minutes later locked out of my room. I once again went down to guest services and they gave me 2 more cards to carry since they didn't have drink stickers to put on my new cards, these didn't work either. I walked down to guest services once again where the lady told me they should work and finally called 'security' to come look at my door and it turned out the batteries were dead. This was waiting around and walking for 45 mins that I was hoping to be eating before the diner rush, which I missed out on and sat in a crowded dining room after waiting 10 mins to be seated. The dining room service was horrible! The first breakfast morning we waited an hour to get our food that was undercooked. Then I asked for refill on my soda (I had the soda card) finished eating and was tired of waiting so as I was leaving and walking out the waiter asked if I still wanted it and I asked if it was ready and he said yes he will give me the can, well he handed me the can which was a regular Pepsi when I ordered a diet. Then Dinner that night I ordered medium rare steak and received rare, and then the last night I ordered steak again and had to ask for a steak knife to eat my steak with and had to ask for refills on my drinks after waiting again. The food choices were horrible in the dining rooms and we ate in the specialty restaurant one night since we couldn't find anything we liked on the menu that night and ate foods that were on most normal menus on cruises I have been on in the past. Seems like they put crappy menu items on there so more people choose the specialty restaurants. The food was better tasting in the specialty dining we ate at though. The pictures I had taken one night of the cruise were the worst pictures anyone could have taken. This was the first cruise I have ever gone on where I did not purchase a single picture. After all this and spending most of my cruise at guest services and having them keep telling us sorry and fake smiling to us after we walked away with no kind of resolvement, I decided I was not paying my full gratuity and would pay the ones I felt deserved theirs in cash after this horrible experience. This would be my first time out of 11 cruise experiences. Well I found out that you can only get reimbursed after turning in a form POST cruise in the form of a check mailed to your address. So.. They pretty much don't even have to work for their gratuities anymore? Great Stirrup Cay was okay, they best thing I ate for lunch was the watermelon and the banana nut bread. I did not see one waiter walking around to sell drinks. And you will need cash for the island as it has little shops like in Nassau with the same stuff, nothing for Norwegian. A chair with shade was $30 for the day same as a huge float for the day. Looked like there was plenty to rent at the island to do though, we did not want to give Norwegian anymore of our money at this point. After this experience and getting the impression they did not care about my poor experience every time I went to guest services I will probably not cruise Norwegian ever again.

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Apr 8, 2013

Bahamas

After reading the reviews of this ship, I was a little worried. But ended up having a wonderful time with my 2 teenagers and husband. The Sky is clean and the service was very good. The evening entertainement was very good! loved the comedy, the Sky Dancers did a wonderful job, Vegas show was awesome...Something for everyone! Buffets are ok, if you are in a hurry for breakfast, we had to use them so we could get off at the ports early. They

did offer cooked to order eggs which was nice. lots of fresh fruit, bacon, sauage, french toast, cereals...Ate a few lunches in the buffets but not too impressed. The dinner in the 2 sit down restruants were much better. My kids liked the 3 course meals there. I didnt care for the Crossings as much as the Palace. There was a terrible odor on decks 6-7 that smelled like rotten eggs....yuck! Rooms are very small for 4 and the bathroom is a lot smaller then other ships. Next time, I would get an adjoining room for my 14 and 18 year olds. We were tripping over each other trying to get dressed and the bed for the 4th person is a pull out sofa. He said it was comfortable but the problem is when they have it out in the evening you cant get around it without steppin on top of it to get to the other beds....not fun! its horrilbe if you have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night! My son loved the Teen Club. He spent all his time there. They really did an excellent job in keeping them entertained with on board activities. He made friends with kids from all over the USA and abroad. His club was 13-17 years old. I just wish they had something for my 18 year old. They really need a 18-20 year group nite so they could meet others their age and hang out too... Went to all the ports.. Freeport go to Grand Lucayan Resort. $10 cab ride round trip. $15 pp to use everything at the resort. Wonderful clean resort. Loved the beach and Pools were great. Save money and do your own tours! Nassau we hired a taxi driver for 3 hours and he took us to all the places i wanted to visit- Forts, local shopping, Queens Staircase, took us to try Conch fritters, different neighborhoods, went to Atlantis to walk around and take some pictures, and beaches.. only $30 pp...Loved the tour! Overall it was a wonderful trip.. I would recommend to anyone. Stay on deck 10 loved it!!!

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Feb 19, 2013

bahamas

I first experience NCL in 2010 and loved it. Everything about it, it as great. I booked this cruise and this was my third time on the ship. I have cruised 2010,2012 and now 2013. I got a email for the dinner special for all three restaurants. For one price for all three and I paid it over the phone. However when got on board I was told that I didn't pay. So that was a unnecessary problem. That didn't get resolved till the next day on my three night

cruise.On top of that to solve it I had to call my bank onboard to tell them that it was charged. Which was an inconvenience on my vacation. I also had a problem with my rewards, I got 2 rewards for 250 each. So I paid 500 cash up front. Then when I got the 200 on board credit I was told by the woman that if I didn't use it all on board then I would lose it.So I tried to use it all before got off board. Then on third day I found out that was not true. I was upset because I could have saved it. Which made me have to get things that I would not have gotten if I didn't have to. I really didn't like the service I got either at the restaurant the crossing was nice however the servers act like they didn't want to be there which is very surprising because I have always had a great experience onboard. Then when we went to LeBristo the server was serving us however he just stopped in the middle we didn't even know who our server was at that point. Food was great service not so much! wonderful food great cabin boring activities not really worth it..just explore yourself great would have been better if didn't have to g through the things talked about earlier

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Feb 16, 2013

bahamas

Getting off on the islands was nice, but the ship was terrible. First off, they screw up the simplest things, like cnx room keys and they asking for more money. Problems with billing and accounting, you need to babysit your account. The excursions are way overpriced for what you got, for example, the Discover atlantis with beach for $79, was a walk to a bus, then a walk from the bus to the beach with a short talk near the beach. Cab to beach, $4.

The patrons on the cruise were rude(nothing cruise line can do about that. The food selections were fair at best, buffet was better then open dining rooms, and that says a lot because it was a buffet. It just did not seem like a well run ship.took forever to eat in the dinning rooms, even when it was not crowded. I WILL NEVER TAKE THEM AGAIN. Also, have to really check bills, they over charged and even charged my debit card after I had a zero balance for $300. The accounting department lacks the ability to do a simple job of adding and subtracting. It was fair at best. Selection was poor. Also in the Steak house(which is small and intimate) took 1.5 hrs for 4 of us to eat. Poor food management. BEDS VERY HARD They kind of were lame, and the casino was fair. BUT BEWARE, NO ONE MONITORS THE GAMING BUT NCL.(what I was told) I did not see any machines pay off, makes me wonder. Stay away from beach excursions, can prob get cheaper on pier. Do do the jet ski in stirrup cay, pretty fun for the money for the most part fair, best part was not being on the ship, could not wait to get home.

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By Pico_CR

  • New

Feb 15, 2013

the Bahamas

This ship needs good maintenance: the doors to the cabin and to the :washroom needed pressure to close. The mattress was too hard and there was no softer one available while promised by the responsible officer. The ac system was defective and could not be controlled in our cabin and particularly in the dining rooms where it was too cold. The crew was attentive and well trained but generally their knowledge of english was basic. In summary it was

a short and low cost cruise and the enjoyment was also low.

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By Pico_CR

  • New

Feb 15, 2013

the Bahamas

This ship needs good maintenance: the doors to the cabin and to the :washroom needed pressure to close. The mattress was too hard and there was no softer one available while promised by the responsible officer. The ac system was defective and could not be controlled in our cabin and particularly in the dining rooms where it was too cold. The crew was attentive and well trained but generally their knowledge of english was basic. In summary it was

a short and low cost cruise and the enjoyment was also low.

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  • New

Feb 6, 2012

Bahamas

I would have to agree with all of the people that said that food was poor and the service mediocre. This was our first cruise and we were pretty surprised at the quality and appearance of the 'buffet'. It was very reminiscent of a hospital cafeteria. There was absolutely no presentation and the food was generally cold and terribly presented. The quality was pretty bad too - I read one review where the person likened it to Denny's and that is EXACTLY

correct. It's like eating at Denny's for every meal. The 2 dining rooms were the same in terms of food quality. Nothing tasted right and it was all like cheapo fish sticks and Sara Lee cake. Really bad. Even the baked potatoes were hard and dry. We didn`t even try the specialty restaurants - who wants to pay even more for the same poor quality food out of the same kitchen. I did not go on the cruise for the food - but when you`re on the boat and you are pretty much committed to eating 3 meals a day there - it`s not a beautiful thing. I would not recommend this cruise line to anyone unless they couldn't afford to go on any other vacation AT ALL. The crew were generally friendly and they do come around alot offering to bring you drinks - which are fairly expensive and have 15% added to the total! We had an inside stateroom which was fine and was cleaned twice per day. No complaints there. The Bahamas are beautiful by the way :)

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Sep 22, 2011

Bahamas

We had a great time! We will definitely be doing another cruise with NCL. Garden Cafe-We ate Breakfast at this restaurant every morning it is your typical buffet. They did have made to order waffles, omelets and eggs (which I liked). I love that you could sit outside or inside. Me and my husband wanted something sweet to eat one night and went to this buffet and they did not have a very good selection of desserts. They have ice cream in

this restaurant!! The service was great if you needed anything at all the crew members were more than happy to help. II Adagio-We ate at this restaurant for lunch on the second day of our cruise (You only have to pay extra for this restaurant for the dinner service) they had pasta and pizza. The highlight of this restaurant was that you could pick out what kind of pasta, sauce (alfredo or marinara) and vegetables that you wanted. I WOULD HAVE NOT PAID FOR DINNER SERVICE! The service was great and very speedy. The pasta and pizza were okay. Crossings Main Dining Room- We ate here on the second night of our cruise I was pleasantly surprised with the food options the food was good. The service was great however slow. Longboard Bar-We ate at this bar on the third and fourth night of our cruise they have a small menu. I had the wings one night and the chicken strips the second night both items were very good the fries were awesome and the atmosphere was relaxing. The service was great however slow. We did not go to any of the restaurants that you have to spend extra on. Our state room number was 8236. I know a lot of people would complain that the rooms were not very big but honestly how much time do you spend in your rooms? The state room was perfect size the room service was awesome. Our room was cleaned twice a day we received new towels when we asked for them. The cleaning crew members were very nice and helpful. We went to several onboard activities. -Go to the Information Show. They give you facts about the "SKY" and give you helpful hint on how to get the most out of your vacation. -Take the Tour of the Ship it is helpful! -Dancing with the Sky-This was an interactive game where the sky crew members mimicked "Dancing with the Stars". -BINGO-If you like to play BINGO then you would like this, maybe. Me and my husband love BINGO but after one night of BINGO we decided not to go back. It was priced high and they only had four full games of BINGO per night. -Art Auction-If you have never been to an Art Auction (like my husband and I) or if you're a veteran this is a great event to attend. Great Art work wonderful Auctioneer (very knowledgeable he was very passionate) and the Art staff Members were amazing. My husband and I will now be doing a lot of more Art Auctions in the future. -Comedian Show-The comedian on board was very funny and enjoyable the whole family enjoyed his show. -Liars Club Show-This was an interactive game where three sky crew members had to give a definition to a word and the audience had to decide who was telling the truth and who was not. Very Fun Show! -Verity Broadway Show-We enjoyed the entertainment that the "Sky Production" put on. My husband was very impressed by the dancing not so much with the singing. -Game Show at one of the Bars-We went to a Game Show in one of the bars. It was an adult scavenger hunt, we had a lot of fun at this. -Dance Party-The "Sky" had many dance party's but I only attended one. It was the last dance of the cruise the DJ had a nice array of music and kept the crowd dancing. -Bands, Pianist, DJ's and other Live Artist-Throughout the ship there were various Bands, Pianist, DJ's and other Live Artist playing music. We would stop and listen when we came across these artist and enjoyed all of them. -Shopping-We went to the shops on board and bought a few things. Tax free is always nice!! Grand Bahama (Freeport)-We went to the Straw Market and to the FREE public beach. Nassau-We went Snorkeling, Fish Fry and to the Beach. The Snorkeling was a little disappointing we did not get to see a lot of ocean sea life. The Fish Fry was worth the walk the food was outstanding. The Beach was FREE! Great Stirrup Cay-We went Kayaking, enjoyed the Beach BBQ and swam in the Ocean. The Kayaking was awesome we saw more ocean life here than we did snorkeling I would strongly recommend this activity. The BBQ was great and the Beach was perfect. This by far was my favorite island! We loved this trip. Our other Family members that went with us said that they had been on better cruise trips but for our first cruise it was perfect.

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Jul 16, 2011

Bahamas

I've sailed on the Carnival, Royal Carribean and Holland America. Places sailed, Mexico a few times, Alaska, Western Carribean and the most recent one, the Bahamas. The places have been wonderful. I would sail Alaska again. We sailed Mexico in the earlier days. The NCL Sky's food is pretty routine and the desserts are terrible in the buffet. The Italian restaurant is wonderful. The tiramasu is delicious. The dining room food is ok. No big deal.

The poolside barbecue is good, as was the Nacho bar. The Buffett was pretty much the same each day. Our stateroom 0067 was ok. No hot water, (warm water would have been nice). The bed is hard and the pillows were also very hard/firm. The water drained really slow. Cabin was clean. I called for a bath towel that I never received. My husband enjoyed the golf swing cage. The shows with the dancers and singers are entertaining. The comedian is not a comedian. The farewell show was nice until the last skit which included staff drinking water and spitting on each other. This was gross and needs to be removed. Everyone likes different things. We liked our excursions, snorkeling off a two decker boat. I stayed on the boat while my husband snorkeled. It was very relaxing. Atlantis is awesome. We stayed in Miami 3 days prior to the cruise we had a wonderful time in the city as well as the ports. I would not sail NCL again. Did not like free styling.

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May 1, 2011

bahamas

Absolutely loved it!!!! The staff were out of this world. Very nice indeed. Loved the freestyle dining! Very nice Excellent We just took a cab to Paradise island from NASSAU and ended up at Cable beach which was great,: Cheap and hassle free, 3 generation girls (11-70) spent 4 fantastic days on Norwegian sky!

  • New

May 1, 2011

bahamas

Absolutely loved it!!!! The staff were out of this world. Very nice indeed. Loved the freestyle dining! Very nice Excellent We just took a cab to Paradise island from NASSAU and ended up at Cable beach which was great,: Cheap and hassle free, 3 generation girls (11-70) spent 4 fantastic days on Norwegian sky!

  • New

May 1, 2011

bahamas

Absolutely loved it!!!! The staff were out of this world. Very nice indeed. Loved the freestyle dining! Very nice Excellent We just took a cab to Paradise island from NASSAU and ended up at Cable beach which was great,: Cheap and hassle free, 3 generation girls (11-70) spent 4 fantastic days on Norwegian sky!

  • New

May 1, 2011

bahamas

Absolutely loved it!!!! The staff were out of this world. Very nice indeed. Loved the freestyle dining! Very nice Excellent We just took a cab to Paradise island from NASSAU and ended up at Cable beach which was great,: Cheap and hassle free, 3 generation girls (11-70) spent 4 fantastic days on Norwegian sky!

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Dec 20, 2010

Bahamas

I have been on 2 cruises to the Bahamas with Royal Caribbean, and they were out of this world great. As for my recent first time cruise with NCL, it was such an inferior downgrade from Royal Caribbean. The food was awful, cold almost all the time. Tasteless, such little portions and most of all very Inferior cheap quality. Royal Caribbean's food was delicious and sooo gourmet. I think for NCL freestyle means = poor quality, cheap, non attentive. The

bathrooms on the boat smelled of urine all the time, and there was constantly water all over the floor. This cruise was overall out of a 10 I would give it a 2. The food was my main issue because Cagney's Steakhouse which you have to pay extra for ($25) and plus ($10) for the lobster or any house special, wasn't even all that special. The waiter did not bring out 3 of my partys side dishes he forgot, and then the garlic potatoes tasted so bland and were cold. This was not worth the $80 we wound up paying. I have had a much better filet mignon. But the Main Dining rooms Food was not good at all, really dissatisfied. Ordered a German chocolate cake for dessert wound up getting a disgusting (what tasted like a bran cereal) with cheap coconut taste. Hahaha there was literally no chocolate in the whole cake. How can you mess up a piece of chocolate cake. Terrible service, they are not interested in serving you and worst of all after the cruise is done your fees are going to include a $12 a day per person service charge. Hahaha the service was not even there. Never again!!! with NCL Terrible The shows were sooo bad. The comedian was on average like a 4 if that. Royal Caribbean's 10 x times Better. The variety show was an embarrassment, that we left. Ummmm....... they were literally spitting water on each other ( you can imagine) it was absolutely retarded. The elevators smelled of vomit on the second day, bathrooms smelled of urine and were missing toilet paper in half of the stalls. Water was on the floor practically all over the place in all of the bathrooms I have been in same thing. The service is lacking tremendously.

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Oct 26, 2010

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and was very excited to experience it. Getting checked in was easy, but the trip was not that good. I felt overwhelmed as I got on the ship and had pamplets thrown at me wanting me to sign up for things and buy things. The day we got on the ship we signed up for a beach massage for Sun. on the private island. I was really looking foward to this until I got there and the massage hut was right where the tender docked.

As I was getting a massage I could here the tenders coming in and dropping off other passengers, there was construction going on behind us and loud music playing it was very hard to relax I couldn't even hear the ocean. There were people stopping by to make appointments and beach chairs full of people just feet away. It just seems like a weird place for the massage. Upon arrival we also signed up for the murder mystery dinner and had to pay twenty dollars for it. When we arrrived we were placed in groups of six and given scripts and we sat around the table and had to read it and have the play at our table ourselves. We were informed that the play was free that we were paying for the dinner. Really? I just couldn't believe it. I was really disappointed about the food on the ship. I was really expecting something fabulous and it was just average. If you wanted good food you had to pay twenty dollars for it and even then it wasn't great. The room was small and the sheets never got changed. Our room was clean, and our stewards were friendly. I didn't feel like there was much onboard for people our age. There were lots of bars and parties, but after ten o'clock there was nothing to do if you don't drink. I was really expecting to have to pick and choose what we were going to do, but I didn't have too. I did watch the games that were played and I loved the comedian. I was just disappointed that there was nothing more to do. I would not recommend this ship to anyone. My overall experience was average at best. I am not saying that I will not ever take a cruise but I will definatly use another cruise line if I ever decide to this again. I was so bored and ready to get off of the boat on Mon. morning. This was probably the most boring trip I have ever taken, but on the bright side I got lots of rest because I napped during the day and was in bed early at night.

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Oct 5, 2010

Bahamas

We booked a cruise on Norwegian Sky and then I read this page of reviews. What are these people talking about? If you are looking for help in deciding whether or not to book on Norwegian Sky, let me help you decide. This was our first Norwegian Cruise Line trip -- always wanted to go on the flowered ship...shallow reason, but true. I'm not a real picky person, but my taste buds have not been dummied down by too much fast food, and I can tell the difference

between junky and nice. Entertainment is usually a matter of opinion. We were almost afraid to go to the buffet after reading some of the negative reviews. I was very pleased with the indoor and outdoor buffets. Great variety and everything I ate tasted great except the chilled avocado tomatillo soup. Some people might love it, but not me. I loved the chilled blueberry, strawberry, and other fruit soups. Even the chilled cucumber soup was good. There was a huge variety of things to make a salad out of. Yum! Freestyle dining turned out to be a great idea. If you love to sit at a table of strangers and chit chat, you might miss that experience. We didn't miss it a bit. Service was excellent, food was some of the best we've had on a cruise ship. How'd they do those french fries? Most ships, they are not so good. There wasn't a down side to that experience for us. They offered several choices which changed daily along with standard items like steak, chicken, etc. that you could order instead. I got a steak one night along with the vegetarian choice for the evening. That steak was my least favorite meal, but tasty just the same. We NEVER went away hungry, that's for sure. We were upgraded to a bigger room than we paid for. It was an interior room on the seventh floor right next to the teen video room. We took along ear plugs which we ended up not needing. Our room must have had extra sound proofing or something. The children's care rooms were on our hall too. There again, no noise. However, there were very few children or teens on this particular cruise in late September. It could be different at other times of the year, like summer. We are easy to please. We joined in trivia games and a few other activities. It was a lot of fun and we won quite a few ship items. They had a great little library on this ship, full of games and such. Most people probably wouldn't waste their time there, but we found it to be a relaxing alternative. ....And our main emphasis of our cruise was relaxation. We've been there, done that, to quote a trite cliche. There was a tropical storm brewing in the Atlantic which forced us to miss the little island picnic and swim. Excursions were canceled in Nassau, but the captain managed to get us another day's stay. The next day was much better with lots of sun. So I suppose those people got to take their excursions after all. We used the day to explore little known areas and get some exercise. I personally did not hear anyone complaining about needing to stay in Nassau an extra day. The captain made it very clear that we were to write him personally if we had a complaint about his decision to keep us out of harm's way. He said later that he didn't get even one complaint about missing the island picnic stop. Our trip was great. We wanted to sit back and relax for a few days, and that's just what we did. We would recommend Norwegian Sky to all our friends back home. And we'd love to get another ride on the flowered ship!

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Sep 27, 2010

Caribbean

I have been on 6 cruises in my life. 5 of them with Disney and the last one with Norwegian. IT WAS HORRIBLE!!!! The food was horrible, the service was horrible. The cabin was small. We paid a $70 cover charge to eat in their steakhouse. It was worse than golden Corral!! The steak was dry and chewy, the lobster was dry and chewy. Service people were rude and unfriendly. The only thing that made this cruise bearable was our friends that were with us.

We all feel the same way about it. there were 25 of us, 5 families. Their private island was horrible. We paid for the "super slide" and it was broken. PLEASE DON'T EVER CRUISE WITH THIS CRUISELINE!! HORRIBLE!!!!!! HORRIBLE!!!!!! HORRIBLE!!!! SMALL BAD!!! I THINK I HAVE SHARED MY FEELINGS ENOUGH

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By Ally_CR

  • New

Sep 12, 2010

Bahamas

My friends and I wanted a vacation and this is what we got. My friends, who have been on several other cruises said this is the worst cruise food they had eaten. The food was terrible if it wasn't overcooked it was way too salty. I would expect that on a cruise ship we would get good seafood, I was wrong. All the seafood was overcooked. Maybe they were concerned that people would get sick from the seafood so they overcooked everything. We tried

the mahi-mahi, salmon, shrimp and lobster, all were terrible. We tried several types of food, American, Indian, French, Asian, all were too salty. On our last night we tried the food at the sports bar, the only place with good food. Le Bistro- The food there was not bad, but it was defintely not worth being paid for. They had a limited selection of food, I was expecting a lot more. My friends said the paid restaurant food is a lot worse than on other cruise ships they've been on. The rooms are very small but I guess that's expected for a cruise ship. The beds are tiny! I haven't slept on a bed that small since I was 10. My friends said this ship is tiny in comparison to the other ships they've been on. Our rooms were clean, the staff did a good job tidying up, changing our towels etc. I dunno why they guard that ice so closely, it's like their secret weapon. The comedian was good, he definitely made us laugh. There is a newlywed game show which was fun to watch also. On the last night the staff performed a show called Fountain which was hilarious. There was a variety show with horrible singers and average dancers. You can always find music and dancing on the ship somewhere to keep you entertained. Or you can hang out in the casino, or watch newly released movies in the theater or on your tv. There is also basketball, volleyball and 'golf' which is played in an area the size of your stateroom, yes, golf-in-a-netbox. We looked for and found our own excursions when we docked instead of booking the excursions sold by the ship. Everything we did was cheaper than the ship's price. In Nassau definitely do the party boat, it's worth the price, it's fun, the staff is friendly and the food is delish. We jet-skied, parasailed, snorkeled, did the banana boat. Ahh this is what a cruise should be like. These people make us realize even more how unfriendly the cruise staff was and how bad the cruise food was. Staff: This was my first cruise but there were people in my group who had cruised several times before. The nicest, happiest, most energetic people you'll meet are the ones in the hawaiian shirts who greet you when you first set foot on the ship. Stick around, talk to them, dance with them, give them a hug. IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM THERE. The staff is not friendly, especially the staff in the sit-down restaurants (the palace and crossings). They are extremely slow, rude, seem uninterested and frankly seem depressed. They try to push you towards the buffet (Garden Cafe) as much as possible, we walked over to the front desk at the Palace and asked for a table, they told us we can eat at the buffet and the buffet has all this great food etc etc etc. We were confused so we asked if we can't eat at the Palace and they finally said yes. Don't be fooled they just don't want to serve you. The place was pretty empty (probably because the other confused folks went to the buffet) but they still took forever to bring our menus, water and take our orders. Of course none of us finished our food b/c it wasn't good so our server (Kim-male) came over gave us a nasty look and said in a very condescending way that maybe we should get pizza at the buffet. Which by the way we tried the buffet a few times and never saw any pizza ha ha! The only nice staff are the bartenders and the DJs. You might find 1 or 2 other nice staff members out of 900. Btw saying good morning or hi or any other greeting with a sour face is not friendly. You might as well not say anything. Room Service: takes forever. If you think that you could possibly be hungry in 3 hours, then order NOW! Parties: The parties are fun and the music is good. 24 hour food: A big lie The Ship Director: He has a lot of energy and says the same things over an over again. By day 2 you'll know all his sayings and will either be saying them yourself of hear other cruisers saying them. The propoganda: On the last night of the cruise he gets onstage before the variety show starts and puts on a 15 minute show/speech of convinging the audience of how GREAT he and the staff are and how we should give them great reviews b/c they take care of 2400 guests and when they dock in Miami they'll be taking on another 2400 guests etc etc etc. No the staff is terrible. Most important tip: BRING YOUR OWN WATER AND LOTS OF IT! Think about it, salty food, lots of drink specials(alcohol), terrible room service. By 2 am you'll be feeling like a shriveled up corpse. Some of us even drank the ice-bucket water, and the bathroom sink water.

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By Ally_CR

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Sep 12, 2010

bahamas

My friends and I wanted a vacation and this is what we got. My friends, who have been on several other cruises said this is the worst cruise food they had eaten. The food was terrible if it wasn't overcooked it was way too salty. I would expect that on a cruise ship we would get good seafood, I was wrong. All the seafood was overcooked. Maybe they were concerned that people would get sick from the seafood so they overcooked everything. We tried

the mahi-mahi, salmon, shrimp and lobster, all were terrible. We tried several types of food, American, Indian, French, Asian, all were too salty. On our last night we tried the food at the sports bar, the only place with good food. Le Bistro- The food there was not bad, but it was definitely not worth being paid for. They had a limited selection of food, I was expecting a lot more. The rooms are very small but I guess that's expected for a cruise ship. The beds are tiny! I haven't slept on a bed that small since I was 10. Our rooms were clean, the staff did a good job tidying up, changing our towels etc. The comedian was good, he definitely made us laugh. There is a newlywed game show which was fun to watch also. On the last night the staff performed a show called Fountain which was hilarious. There was a variety show with horrible singers and average dancers. You can always find music and dancing on the ship somewhere to keep you entertained. Or you can hang out in the casino, or watch newly released movies in the theater or on your tv. There is also basketball, volleyball and 'golf' which is played in an area the size of your stateroom, yes, golf-in-a-box. We looked for and found our own excursions when we docked instead of booking the excursions sold by the ship. Everything we did was cheaper than the ship's price. In Nassau definitely do the party boat, it’s worth the price, it’s fun, the staff is friendly and the food is delish. We jet-skied, parasailed, snorkeled, did the banana boat. Ahh this is what a cruise should be like. These people make us realize even more how unfriendly the cruise staff was and how bad the cruise food was. Staff: This was my first cruise but there were peeple in my group who had cruised several times before. The nicest, happiest, most energetic people you'll meet are the ones in the hawaiian shirts who greet you when you first set foot on the ship. Stick around, talk to them, dance with them, give them a hug. IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM THERE. The staff is not friendly, especially the staff in the sit-down restaurants (the palace and crossings). They are extremely slow, rude, seem uninterested and frankly seem depressed. They try to push you towards the buffet (Garden Cafe) as much as possible, we walked over to the front desk at the Palace and asked for a table, they told us we can eat at the buffet and the buffet has all this great food etc etc etc. We were confused so we asked if we can't eat at the Palace and they finally said yes. Don't be fooled they just don't want to serve you. The place was pretty empty (probably because the other confused folks went to the buffet) but they still took forever to bring our menus, water and take our orders. Of course none of us finished our food b/c it wasn't good so our server (Kim-male) came over gave us a nasty look and said in a very condescending way that maybe we should get pizza at the buffet. Which by the way we tried the buffet a few times and never saw any pizza ha ha! The only nice staff are the bartenders and the DJs. You might find 1 or 2 other nice staff members out of 900. Btw saying good morning or hi or any other greeting with a sour face is not friendly. You might as well not say anything. Room Service: takes forever. If you think that you could possibly be hungry in 3 hours, then order NOW! Parties: The parties are fun and the music is good. 24 hour food: A big lie The Ship Director: He has a lot of energy and says the same things over an over again. By day 2 you'll know all his sayings and will either be saying them yourself of hear other cruisers saying them. The propoganda: On the last night of the cruise he gets onstage before the variety show starts and puts on a 15 minute show/speech of convinging the audience of how GREAT he and the staff are and how we should give them great reviews b/c they take care of 2400 guests and when they dock in Miami they'll be taking on another 2400 guests etc etc etc. No the staff is terrible. Most important tip: BRING YOUR OWN WATER AND LOTS OF IT! Think about it, salty food, lots of drink specials(alcohol), terrible room service. By 2 am you'll be feeling like a shriveled up corpse. Some of us even drank the ice-bucket water, and the bathroom sink water.

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By Beth_CR

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Sep 7, 2010

bahamas

The ship was smaller than I thought it would be. I dont know if all cruise ships are like this but having the pull out bed across the room so you had to crawl over it to get to the bathroom is just poor design. There was one restaurant, one pub and the buffet to choose from. The one thing that bothered me the most was the attitude of the restaurant staff. God forbid if you asked for anything special like your eggs without yokes, or melted butter

for your cold pancakes. They looked at you like to you had two heads and could not come up with melted butter in a whole kitchen. The entertainment was cute and done by staff members. I will not take a short cruise again on a small ship in March. Not enough to choose from only one restaurant open with included food and the others were too expensive with kids. Finally found a pub that had chicken fingers. LOVE FREESTYLE DINING The pull out bed was 2 inches thick and pulled out across the room blocking access to the bathroom. The linens were like sleeping bags. Bingo, disco, casino, and staff entertainment Atlantis aquarium tour is a little pricey for just walking through. It took less than 30 minutes and was around $29 We went in March our bad, could not dock at the companies Island which was our only chance to go to the beach as we elected to visit Nassua the first day. Did not like most of the food, the restaurant wait staff was difficult and did not want to do anything extra. One pool and one jacuzzi was closed due to repairs.. yuk I wil not take a short cruise on a small ship again.

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Aug 16, 2010

Bahamas

The service was poor at best. NCl nickel and dime you to death. The food was some what ok . the entertainment was poor at best. and the service was slow when you got it . The cabins were very small and were very basic. I have been on other cruises that the service was great and the food was enjoyable but not here. They delayed you going to shore and returning was a pain. the drinks at the night clubs and louges were high price watered down and low

quality The food was like going to a cheap buffet. wasn't and real favor. Was ok if it was a restaurant in town it wouldn't make if as a real restaurant that had to rely on the general public to come back to stay in business The rooms were very small Terrible Excursions on ship bookings were over price and there really was a good selection The cruise company made it hard to use outside vender too The breaches were the high lite other than that it suck. If you were a truck driver from the back wood of mississippi or some small town I quest you would have a good time. or if you like travelling in a small rv If the entertainment had any talent it would have been a lot better. don't take me wrong the other traveler were good people. The cruise ship was crappie There wasn't any thing done on the ship that was classy then then nickel and dine fees that you got stuck with at closing made the airlines look like rookie at nickrl and diming you

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Jul 30, 2010

Freestyle Cruising

For my 1st cruise experience, sadly I am Very disappointed! First off, I was givien inaccurate info before I left for my cruise and ended up taking my computer with me to keep in touch with family since I was told I could use my wireless interet IN MY ROOM and, at no charge. Well neither was true when I arrived. Additionally, the Internet Cafe Mgr was rude! The food was ok, but, the worst was when I got food poisoning the last day of my cruise.

I've tried to contact NCL on 4 different occassions with no response. Not even an email showing concern. I will NEVER recommend this cruise line, and, because of this horrible experience, I may never cruise again! If I was single, it would have been fun. But, as a married person traveling with my best friend (my husband had no desire to cruise), the entertainment was un-entertaining. The most excitement we had was at the casino. Was below my expectations. Had rough seas on Wednesday, and the food was just ok. I got food poisoning the last day of my trip which continued for a full week after my cruise. I wrote to NCL 4 different times with no response. The WORST Customer Service EVER! As for the crew, they were great! I have NO complaints about them. All of them were very sweet!

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Jul 27, 2010

Bahamas

After reading so many negative reviews, I was apprehensive about booking this weekend cruise, but the price was too good and we needed a "girlfriend's getaway". This was my eighth cruise and first NCL cruise. Overall, we ended up having a great time on this cruise. We found the staff to be friendly and polite, the food edible, but not awe-inspiring. Okay, the food is not gourmet, but it was edible and there was a lot of it . We did book Le Bistro

for one night and the food was fabulous. My friend is a real foodie, so she was quite impressed with the offerings at Le Bistro. The food was fab, but the service was lacking. The server did comment that she was new - it was obvious, but she was very polite. The first night we just ate the buffet which was a bit lacking in originality, but the fresh fruit and salad were abundant. The last night we ate in The Palace and the food was fine, servers were very polite and friendly. We had small inside stateroom on Deck 8 by the atrium elevators. We were not in it much, but every time we came back there were fresh towels and the ice bucket was refilled. It reminded me of a Motel 6 - clean, but not inspiring. We did do some of the activities - lost in the casino, lost at bingo, lost our cabin key......... The White Hot Party was fun, The Quest was hilarious, and karaoke in the lounge was a riot! We did take advantage of the 2 for 1 Mojito specials every night! Try the Razzberry Bacardi Mojitos - yummy! We did not book any excursions. THE GOOD - food was fine, ship was clean, staff was friendly and polite, mojitos were great! THE BAD - the private island BBQ - hotdogs, hamburgers, corn, salad all served with a huge helping of flies - EWWW! There was plenty of fresh cut fruit, so we ate that. I am very happy to hear that NCL is upgrading their private island, because it is terrible. The water is beautiful, but the buildings, restrooms and walkways were rundown, beat up and dirty. It reminded me of a shanty-town. RCL and Disney's islands are FAR, FAR better. Let's hope the renovations improve this island "paradise". THE UGLY- OK, WHAT is with the TACKY plastic plants all over the ship? Get rid of them, please! Spend the extra bucks and get some real ones NCL.

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Jul 23, 2010

party

The cruise was great. A good party boat. The cruise is good for all ages. Could use some work in the menu. Not enough options. The room was small but very cozy for sleeping. The parties were very fun. The shows were great for all ages. Excursions always add fun to the cruise. Our trip was fun. The cruise director is amazing. He has very upbeat energy that just makes you want to party and have fun along with him. Their private island was

amazing, snorkleing is a must at the island too. Made many new friends also.

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Jun 30, 2010

Bahamas

I needed a relaxing weekend away and instead I got stress and frustration, this may have been because of my expectations from a cruise after reading numerous good reviews online and from our friends about the over friendly staff and amazing food so I wasn't expecting the bad service and bad food that we got on the Norwegian Sky. There were plenty of things to do on the cruise and the views and destinations were amazing, if it wasn't for my own

disappointment in the service this would have been a perfect weekend away. The food was very disappointing and limited. For three days we had the choice of burgers, hotdogs and the same small salad and fruit for lunch. The ship was supposed to be freestyle, you could eat 24 hours a day they said, but the trick was to find the restaurant and bar that was actually serving something to eat. We ended up going to the Garden Cafe as it was easy to find on the top deck but one night we paid a cover for one of the Italian restaurants (Il Adagio I think). This particular restaurant was not worth the cover (I heard after the steakhouse is good so try there!) the menu was limited and one of the plates we ordered (the risotto) was inedible. Another night we tried the 'free' dinner at the Palace but the service was tremendously slow that we nearly gave up to go to the Garden Cafe again for another burger. When the food finally did come it was not really worth the wait :( If you take this cruise then find out which restaurants are serving what (and at what times!) from receiption or have it ready before you go. You are only on the ship for three days so don't spend it eating in the wrong places like we did. The stateroom size wise was what I expected, very clean and we were delighted with the ocean view (best thing about the cruise :)) There were no facilities included like tolitries etc but again I expected that also however there were some items like a hairdryer or iron that not only were they not included but there was no indication of how to get them. There was a phone in the room but no list of numbers to call for reception or stewards etc. There was also just one plug in the bathroom which didn't work. So if these things are important to you consider bringing your own or asking to change rooms if your plug does not work. Unfortunately our steward service was awful, our dirty towels were not changed for two days and when we requested new towels from a passing steward we were were told to call the cleaners to get them and he gave us a number. The only thing the steward did twice a day was make the bed. They didn't replace the mini-bar, the dirty towels, the water, the glasses (the one thing that did come with the room was two glasses, when we misplaced one outside the room they never replaced it, we got our own glass to replace it and they took it!). I've never heard of anyone else getting service like this so hopefully it was a once off, I complained to NCL about it afterwards but I've not heard back from them. There was a dvd for sale on how to make the same towel animals that the stewards made in the rooms, when I saw this I laughed as not only did we not get the towel animals but we didn't even get clean towels! The onboard activities seemed to be very good for families and children with lots of raffles and prizes to be won. The only thing I was interested in was relaxing with a cockail on the deck, I was only disappointed by the bad drinks and grumpy barmen. The excursions were great - do them to get off the boat! My favourite day was at Nassau when we went to Aquaventure - there is so much to do and see here you will not be disappointed. The private island was also nice but get there first thing in the morning to get some amazing photos and swim while the sea is not crowed by cuiseshippers. Later in the day it turned into a bit of a party island with fun things organized. Not a place to get away from it all so be prepared to join in and have some fun! If it wasn't for the staff this could have been an excellent trip. As it was however every member of staff we encountered (barmen, stewards, the people that check you in etc.) were unfriendly and unhelpful, the looked like they really wanted to be somewhere else, not one steward actually got us our clean towels or water or ice! I think their problem is that they know they will automatically be getting a 'service charge' from each guest (it's automatically charged to your room $12 per guest per day) and gratuity is added to every bill at 15%, so they don't have to give good service to get a tip anymore - they get it anyway as it's included on every bill. The rest of the cruise I liked, as in the stops at Nassau and the private island but if you want a relaxing break away don't expect to find it here. This was my first cruise but I'm not willing to give up on them so easy, I hope to try another one some day but this time I'm not going to expect anything! And I'll bring my own bottled water....

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Jun 12, 2010

Bahamas

We are experienced cruisers ranging in age from 10 to 69 years. We have all been on at least 8 cruises - including the NCL Pearl. This was one of the best, most relaxing cruises we have ever been on. Our only complaint is that it ended too quickly, but we packed in 7 days worth of fun on our 4 day cruise! I firmly believe a cruise vacation is what you make it. We have learned over the years which activities on board are best suited for us, so we consult

the Freestyle Daily and plan out our day. This is my second trip on the NCL Sky, the first was right after it was updated and moved from Hawaii to Miami. There has been drastic improvement onboard since that sailing. We plan on trying the new Norwegian Epic and returning to the Sky next summer. The food and service on the Norwegian Sky is top notch!!! We recently took a 10 day Panama Canal Cruise on another cruise line and the food was very disappointing, so we were pleasantly surprised by the taste and selection of food onbord the Sky. We ate in the Palace Dining room for all breakfasts and most dinners. We ate in the buffet for lunches and two of us had the BBQ lunch at Great Stirrup Cay. We ate dinner at the specialty restaurant, Cagney's one evening. The lobster and filet mignon at Cagney's was succulent and well worth the additional charge. All of the meals in the main dining room were delicious and the service in every venue was outstanding. The kids bought teen passports for $15 which entitled each of them to 10 non-alcoholic beverages. They could choose soft drinks, kiddie cocktails, or smoothies. It was a real bargain! Another NCL plus is the free soft-serve ice cream poolside. I liked that a server handled all the filling of the cones so everyone's hands weren't on the machine and it was very neat and orderly. We've been on other lines that charge for ice cream. This time we booked an inside stateroom for myself, my mother, and my two children. It was fine for a 4 day sailing because we didn't have much luggage, but I suggest a balcony cabin for longer cruises if you can afford it. The cabin had two lower beds, a bed that comes down from the wall, and a pull-out couch bed. The couch bed is the problem. When it is opened it goes right up to the desk and you can not walk past it to get to the bathroom. You actually have to crawl over it. I have been in other inside cabins where both the third and fourth berth come down from the walls and that makes much more sense. The cabins was clean, cool, and otherwise comfortable. The kids enjoyed the towel animals of course. The show the first evening was a disaster. The singing was off-key, the costumes were shabby, and the dancing was ridiculous. Luckily, the entertainment the following three nights was much better. The comedian was very funny and it was a "family show" that we all could enjoy. The third night the singers and dancers redeemed themselves with a broadway style show that featured songs from Wicked, Jersey Boys, Movin On Up, The Heights, Mama Mia, and Swing. The last night was a variety show featuring the comedian and the cruise director, Rob Sugar - hilarious. We attended the Salsa dancing, 70's disco night, and the White Hot Dance Party. This was one of the highlights of our trip, our last cruise wouldn't allow my daughter in to dance. NCL doesn't switch to 18and up until midnight. It is really a great choice for multigenerational cruisers. My teenage son spent most of his time on the full size basketball court that looks over the pool. We also enjoyed the shopping and future cruise lectures, as well as trivia games. The bingo, casino, and art auctions are standard, but the pub crawl was something I've never seen on a ship and all the participants looked like they were having a blast. In Freeport, we took an airconditioned Taxi to Our Lucaya for $5 per person each way. My mom shopped while the kids and I hit the beach. Then we met up for homemade ice cream at Frank's before we went back to the ship. A great time was had by all. Our Lucaya is the resort area so there is plenty of beach,shopping, restaurants, and bars - no excursion necessary. In Nassau, we booked the Discover Atlantis and Harbour tour through NCL. The tour was through the aquariums at Atlantis, Paradise Island and was excellent. You can skip the harbour tour and take a $4 taxi to Atlantis and buy the tour there for $35 per person. It doesn't include access to the waterslides and beaches - that is more money. Other people went to Cabbage Beach and paid $10 for a beach chair and $20 to drink all day long. That is a very good deal for grown-ups. We've also done the Pirate Museum in Nassau which is small, but fun for kids, inexpensive, and walking distance from the pier. Great Stirrup Cay - if you bring your own snorkel gear, you will have to rent a life vest from NCL $5, the beach to your right when you get off the tender is more rocky, but much less crowded than the sandy beach to the left with all the families and young children. ***If your dream is to swim with stingrays please consider Grand Cayman instead where the stingrays are in their natural habitat and their barbs are left in tact. in the Bahamas the remove the barbs from the stingers. We carried our bags on and off the ship and it went very smoothly - plus if you only have 4 days worth of stuff and a bag with wheels - it isn't worth the risk of misplaced luggage. We were able to put our bags in a waiting area until our cabin was ready, so we didn't have to lug it all around. The buffet was very crowded during the first lunch in Miami, but it was fine the other days. The tips are $12 per person per day and are well worth it for all of the outstanding service. The people in the shops on the island are much less pushy than some of the more impovershed places we've been - but if you've only shopped in malls it is a quite different experience. A polite "no thank you" is all that is necessary to decline everything from hair braids to emeralds.

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May 10, 2010

Bahamas

The ship itself was dissapointing, especially the staterooms. Nice in the dinig rooms but average in the buffet Needs urgent updating The beach is very crowded. Freeport & Nassau are dissapointing.

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Apr 28, 2010

Orchios Rios and Grand Cayman

The over all cruising experience was Great!! My girlfriends and the group I was with, had the entire ship. We had a ball. The crew was friendly. The Service: that's another thing. I started calling extension 20 for the operator to ring another cabin (I did not have the cabin number, . . . .they have yet to answer) I quickly learned if I had to call "the receptionist" on #20, for an iron, additional hangers, I would be disappointed. The food

was excellent. With our group, we had musical concerts late into the night. The atmosphere and food was great. Very tidy. They were fun. But our group had on board activities from the time we arrived until the time that we left. We missed Orchios Rios because of choppy water conditions. The beach in Grand Cayman made the trip worthwhile. Overall, fun, exciting. A wonderful get away. (Until I returned to Miami) I left my raincoat in my stateroom with my car keys in the pocket. Although I called them in the shuttle on my way to the airport, 2 weeks, and 6 individuals later . . .Customer Relations has yet, to recovered my jacket OR my keys.

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Feb 16, 2010

Bahamas

I sailed with NCL's Sky on February 12, 2010. To my surprise, I noticed the majority of passengers were Latino (which was fine, I just thought it was a little odd that there were so many). I come to find out that a travel agent booked approx. 900 cabins for a Latino concert that was going to be held on the ship that weekend. I was a little upset only because we weren't told about this by our travel agent. Salsa music played all weekend on the

ship and it got a little annoying. And can we please talk about how miserable the poor employees on this cruise ship are? Each one I talked to knew exactly how many days they have been on the ship and how many days they have left in their contract. They looked sad, angry and tired. I was talking to one employee and she mentioned that she only gets one day off every two weeks. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's close to slave labor. No wonder the staff was unfriendly, sometimes snappy and unwilling to go above and beyond for the passengers. Room service was a joke. It took close to 2 hours one night to get something from room service and when I asked for a bucket of ice they didn't even bring one to my cabin. I miss the days of stellar food and customer service on the cruise.Unfortunately this cruise was full of cheesy marketing gimmicks to make an extra buck off of their passengers. Unfortunately I don't think I'll ever take a cruise again because of my poor experience on this ship. The food was below average. I yearn for the day where I am able to go on a cruise and eat wherever I want and not have to pay surcharges. Staterooms were fine, although the remote control on my TV remote didn't work. There was a lack of them. Nothing enticed me. STAY AWAY! You're better off booking at a hotel and staying there for a few days.

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Dec 7, 2009

Bahamas

A "fun" run away weekend cruise. Mix of mostly adults, fun seeking people, and not many children. The balcony cabin was very clean and just big enough for 2 people. All amenities(soap/shampoo/conditioner) provided, but if you need more than 1 bottle of any of them you need to ask. Extra towels were brought promptly. Rooms were quiet. Deck 9 Aft. About boarding - we planned on arriving at 1 and being on board by 1:30. We were wrong. This was the only

bottleneck of the entire trip. The check-in process is very slow. It appears that many people come unprepared. READ THE DIRECTIONS GIVEN TO YOU BY NCL - then it is easy and very fast when it is your turn. Suggestion to NCL - when a family or group is to board together, have a separate line. It rained one day and NCL immediately had a "rainy day" plan. Good value for the money. Saw 2 Carnival and 1 Royal Caribbean ship in the Bahamas - Sky had many balcony rooms while the others had few or none. Read my food comments if you are a foodie! Food was usually mildly seasoned, fresh lettuce and salad greens were very fresh! Omelets, carved meats or burgers cooked to order were very hot and good. Breads and pastries were fresh and a large variety for all tastes.Don't miss the specialty restaurants - we did both the French and Italian restaurants ($15 & $10 additional) - a world of difference! The Crossings and Palace food was OK, but I am a foodie and The Bistro and Il Adagio gave me a WOW experience. Food taste, service, wines - all top notch for just a few dollars more for those of us who appreciate the finer things in life. There was something for everyone in the on board activities. I enjoyed the different musicians throughout the ship. South Beach dance party, piano player in a bar, solo "folk-style" guitarist, calypso band at the pool - all very enjoyable. The comedian was great! I did not do any excursions - Norweigan did a good job. Hints to the travelers - you never get the same person to help you twice - I tipped our first room steward when we got on board. We didn't see him again till the second night. In the bar and special restaurants tip your servers - 15% is fine. They do a very good job. Spa personnel also need to be tipped. Massage was very good - a little too mechanical for my preference, but a good massage. When they try to sell you products just ask them to stop and they do. For a ship this size, there is a very small steam room and sauna. But the fitness center was very good. Equipment was well maintained and worked well. Cruise ship personnel were always very nice, smiling and wanted to please you.

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Nov 21, 2009

Bahamas

This past week my husband, myself and 10 of our family and friends sailed aboard the Norwegian Sky. I have sailed with a few different cruise lines and while my opinion varies greatly for each, Norwegian does stand out but not for positive reasons. Highlighting the biggest of the negatives: the tipping procedure is ridiculous. The main dining room is at the back of the ship. We endured some of the worst service I have ever experienced and the food

was mainly awful. The cost for various things, such as the snorkel gear at the Stir Up Cays are extremely over priced. The entertainment was not great. The dinners served in the main dining room were almost inedible. The food was either bland or extremely salty and served cold. I assume that is because we would wait sometimes more than 45 minutes for the main course to be served. The first night I ordered the Teriyaki chicken skewers. While it had decent flavor, the chicken was raw. At one breakfast, my husband ordered scrambled eggs well done. When the server brought them to us, they were runny and under cooked. The only good real meal we had was the dinner the last night of the cruise. Of all the cruises I have ever been on, Norwegian by far did not have the best entertainment. We were not the only people to complain that after 10 pm there is nothing to do. It felt as thought the ship only catered to some guests ideas of entertainment. For example, the white party started off great. There was a lot of high energy with good music. We were into it, but then there was no one to keep our attention. The cruise director talked for a few minutes and then was gone. The DJ continued playing music, but after an hour the majority of the guests cleared out. Each night a few of us would search the boat in hopes of finding something to do that fits our age range (25-35). Unfortunately, there was nothing to be found. The shows in the theater were not great either. Again, it feels that the shows catered to some guests but not all. On a lighter note, I would like to say that the comedian was hilarious. We enjoyed watching him. I wish he would have had more time with his shows. BOOK THEM PRIVATELY Each morning and night we ate breakfast and dinner in the main dining room in the back of ship. I have never before had the freestyle option. As great as it is to come and go as I please, the tipping was a serious issue. It seems that some of the dining room servers know they are already going to be tipped, so they are not concerned with quick or accurate service. We would ask for creamer and it never made it to our table. There was one dinner when my husband had to speak with the supervisor, Laura get his cup of espresso after waiting 20 minutes. I was taught the service you give determines your tip, so work hard and efficiently. We got off the boat at the Great Stir Up Cays to enjoy the day at the beach. It is a beautiful island. There are a lot of activities however none are cost effective. We spent $90.00 to snorkel and to use water floats. The snorkel gear was not worth the money. The goggles leaked water and my vest constantly leaked air. I attempted to go toward a drop off the in reefs but I had to stop and fill my vest with air. It was tough to fill the vest with air and try to stay a float with waves crashing over my head. When back on the beach, we asked a bar server to fill up our soda cup (we bought the soda card). He told us that it might take a while for the soda to come, but when he realized my husband was buying beer, he had a very different attitude. It is a great place to get off the boat and enjoy a little relaxation, but it is expensive to do the little extras.

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By Andy_CR

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Sep 12, 2009

bahamas

Being that it was our first cruise, we were absolutely pleased with it as we did not know what to expect. The Norwegian staff is very attentive and constantly striving to keeping everything clean. The best part is that you can eat any time between 12-2 or 5.30 to 10.00pm. No reservatiions needed! Although, if you have a specific time in mind, you could make the reservations. Purell stations to dis-infect your hands outside every food place is an absolute

plus especially with children. (Speaking of children, the kiddie pool with a waterfall is great). We loved he food. We tried the Palace and Crossings and loved them both. The buffet was also very good as it provides you with all options. You can always see the menu at the 2 sit down restaurants and then make up your mind. We pesonaly loved he food and did not try the specialty restaurants. I guess being the first time, we wanted to see all that is ofered. Basically, there were lots of choices. Our Oceanview was spacious. Luggage stoage can accommodate 2 large pull along bags and some possibly 1 or 2 small bags. Bathrooms are tight, but very well designed. I was surprised as to how it is designed to fit it all in a small room. We also had the balcony and it is absolutely fantasic and spacious, worth the extra money! We did not participate in most of the onboard activities as we had a small child wih us who was always in the kiddie pool 2 feet on deck 12. Overall, it appears that most were rocking on deck 11 where there are the main pools and live music. At night went around the casino and it was crowded. Folks say that drinks are expensive, but they are the same price as they are anywhere. We did not do the Nassau or Freeport excursion. Instead, we went by cab to the Atlantis. It is impressive, but from what I hear, it costs $400 per night! I personally would not stay for that much. Besides you will be couped up in the hotel. It's a personal choice. I would suggest spending your money on another Norwegian cuise instead. Went Parasailing and although I am not a heights person, absolutely LOVED it. It is smooth and at all times the boat driver is in control and you never feel the fear. Like I said, this was our first cruise. We were pleasantly surprised that everything is clean and that the food was so nice (we absolutely loved it). One piece of personal advise, do not drink too much or else you will either fall asleep or ruin your night and in either case you will kick yourself as you only get 4 nights and you just lost one!

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Aug 31, 2009

bahamas

the whole crew was very friendly. The cruise director, Matt was awesome as was his whole staff. The service in the crossings resturant was great. The buffet on deck 11 was good. Our cabin steward was outstanding we were in room 9036. It was always very clean; the steward was outstanding! He remebered our names right away was very good needs a raise. My mother could not walk very far and their was no offer of a wheel chair. I did discover

a golf cart type shuttle in nassua so my mom could go up to the street and get a taxi. The person at the desk did not tell us of this even though I had inquired. We would have taken the excursion to the dig if we had known she could have rode up to the street. Overall we enjoyed it very much. The last island trip did leave me a bit upset, but I am sure that percautions have been put in place so something like that does not happen again.

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Jul 30, 2009

Bahamas

The ship was very nice and in good condition. The crew was mostly young and pleasant and helpful. The food was the main reason I chose a cruise over a land vacation. My past cruise on Carnival was not the best due to too many children onboard and lousy ports of call at Key West and Cozumel. The food on the Norwegian Sky was skimpy and of cheap quality. The cuts of meat were thin, small and insulting. The lobster was tiny and no good. The

steaks and prime rib were cut so thin they were tasteless. However, the appetizers and bread were very good. The desserts were small and just OK. I was very disappointed with the food. The buffet was about the same.. The room was extremely comfortable and clean. The mattress was wonderfully firm and slept great. I do not like being entertained but the on board activities were OK. I prefer to spend time reading and relaxing on board. The excursions were nice. I just went onshore and walked around a bit at Freeport and Nassau. The private island on Thursday was too crowded and the sand was fake and must have been brought in to make the island have a better beach. Once all the hundreds of people got on the beach and in the water, all the fish took off and made snorkeling useless. I left and went back on the ship for lunch. I heard the hamburger cookout and water served at the barbeque on the beach was kinda crappy. I will proabably try another cruiseline next time. However, for the money you can't beat a cruise and NCL provided a very nice ship and accomodations. They need to work on the food however.

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Jul 12, 2009

Bahamas

The food at the 2 main dinning rooms was good, although small portioned, satisfying. Breakfast buffet was average. Late night snacks were average. Mixed drinks were over priced and weak, stick to beer or straight alcohol! Our stateroom was clean, well kept and balcony was amazing! Cabin steward was accommodating! Unfortunately, the bed was like sleeping on a BRICK :( Although when we requested something to add comfort, a pillow top was put

on immediately, which made the bed a BIT more comfy. After a long day in the sun, a good night sleep is needed and we had difficulty sleeping. Our room was directly across from the staff door which slammed every minute stating at 5:00 AM. Yet another reason we could not sleep. The shows were terrific, the comic Funny Man Sam was HILARIOUS! The adult game shows were funny as well. There were great poolside parties and BBQ's. There was basket ball, volley ball, ping-pong, shuffle board, walking track, gym, driving range; lot's of sports to keep you active. PARENTS KEEP YOUR KIDS AWAY FROM AND OUT OF THE ADULT AREAS AND SHOWS!!! SHIP STAFF NEEDS TO REGULATE THIS! We booked parasailing on-line for great stir-up cay, however, once on board, we double checked if they had our booking, and they did not. We could not re-book it because it was full. This ended up being a good thing because we found parasailing on our own on Cable beach in Nassau which was cheaper anyway. We did not book any excursions, and instead decided to be adventerous on our own. Plan on hearing..."Sexy lady, would you like braids!?" on the islands. If you decide to book excursions, which book up quikly, do it ASAP and double check your reservation! We left Miami under a rainbow, returned to Miami under a lightning storm... Gorgeous! The overall trip was excellent, we loved the balcony, ship was clean and always something to do, food was average, staff was accomodating. Grand Bahama, Nassau and Great Stir-up Cay were beautiful! July is HOT HOT HOT!!! We stayed in the ocean or in the shade :)

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By Andy_CR

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Jun 16, 2009

bahamas

This trip was AWFUL! They lost our luggage! The food was terrible! They didnt replace our sheets and towels for 3 days! We were the very first to check in our luggage at the ship at 9:30 that morning. After boarding the ship around 12:30, we were told we'd get our luggage around 2pm. At 2:30, when our luggage didnt show up, we inquired. They said 2pm was too early. It'll be more like 3pm. at 3:30, I asked the receptionist. They told me they didn't

know why anyone would tell us we'd get our luggage at 2 or 3pm, because we wouldn't get it until 5pm when the ship sails. At 5:30, I got back worried that we were about to sail and we still didn't have our luggage. They told me they were sorry about the delay and that we should get it at 6. At 6:30, I demanded to talk to a manager. The manager, who was obviously ticked and told that I was "impatient", admitted that they lost some pieces of luggage and gave me her word that we'd get it at 8pm. I told her I've had it! We waited the whole afternoon, no one did ANYTHING to find our luggage and wanted someone to find ours NOW! She refused!!! She said they were already looking. At 8:30, infuriated, I went back to the reception desk and make a scene! I had been patient the whole afternoon and I hadn't seen my luggage for 11 hours. I was going to make a scene until somebody got off their butt and started looking. FINALLY, someone did. The receptionist got off her desk and started looking for our luggage. We finally received 5 of the 6 checked-in pieces an hour later. My bag was damaged and they didn't find the sixth piece until the next morning! The food was really bad. The buffet food was no better than cafeteria food. To go to the fancier restaurants, you have to pay a cover charge, THEN you pay extra for many items on the menu...AND it didn't even taste good. We ended up getting up and leaving hungry many times! Also, waiters all expect you to tip on top of the $12 /day /person service charge. That's a total of $72 tip for crappy food. The room was AWFUL! They didnt replace our sheets and towels for 3 days! I even purposely dropped our sheets on the floor so they know they need to be replaced. They simpled PICKED them up and REPLACED them (dirty!) on the rack!!! Stay away from the entire SHIP! I'm NEVER booking with NCL ever again!

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Apr 26, 2009

Bahamas

We sailed on the SKY April 20-24 2009. I'll start with the summary, so the "bottom line" folks can read it and run. My wife and I were first time cruisers, we're both in our early 50's. We both thought the trip was an exceptional value. We had a balcony cabin on the deck 9. The cabin was very clean. The balcony was comfortable for two. Bed was comfortable. The cabin was small, but I had nothing to compare it to. Bathroom and shower were small, although

I'm pretty big, and had no problems. We ate at the Palace main dining room for dinner twice, and breakfast twice. I would say the Palace food is slightly better than Applebees/Bennigans, but not quite as good as Outback. Considering the cost of the cruise I was very pleased. We also ate at two different specialty restaurants. Le Bistro with a $15.00 cover, and Cagney's with a $25.00 cover. Both were outstanding. We tried the buffet for lunch. It is laid out poorly, and the food was not good. On the upside, we ate late on disembarkation, and we could only get breakfast at the buffet. Breakfast they did pretty good. By the way, the ship is going into Dry-dock this week, and the rumor is that the buffet is going to be remodeled. So maybe it will be better by the time you go. The ship was bright and clean. I saw no frayed carpeting or smelled anything bad like some others have mentioned. Every single employee I dealt with was friendly and happy to help. You can party heartily all evening, every evening. We liked NCL enough that we signed up for a promotion where we got a discount on a future sailing. If I can only afford the SKY when the time comes, I won't hesitate. Okay, for you folks who like details - might want to get some Fritos and a Beer about now..... Getting there and returning: We live in Florida, about a 3 hour drive from Miami. Everyone, and I mean everyone here uses a private bus line called Cruise connections to get to their cruise. It sounded like a relaxing way to make the trip. Well, it required me to get up at 5:30am on sailing day. That wasn't so bad, because you're pumped and you can get right on the ship and have lunch the first day. Coming back was terrible. We got off the ship at 10am, and didn't get home until about 5:30. And it's only a 3 hour drive by car. Never again. From now on I'll drive and use long term parking. Embarkation: Like everyone says, it was a snap. We sailed right through security. We had a balcony, and there was a special line set up for balcony guests at check in. I asked a worker where it was. He showed me and said even though it was a short walk, we'd be at the counter just as quick if we stayed in the main line. He wasn't kidding. We got up to the counter so quick it made my head spin. Check in clerk was very friendly, and got us right through. We went upstairs and picked up our sign and sail cards, got photographed and were heading out to the boat. From the time we walked into the terminal until we were going over the gangplank was no more than 15 minutes tops. It would have been 10, but they stop you and take souvenir photos before you board. A short ways in, you can check your carry on. I intended to, but decided against it. They said they didn't deliver the bags, that we had to come back and pick them up. Frankly, at that point I wasn't sure I could find that area again. They said rooms would be ready "after 2pm." We poked around the ship a little, gawked at the other ships around us, had lunch, then had a drink. At 2:20 we headed to our room and it was ready. By the way. On the first day, if you ask about food, the folks on the ship try their hardest to direct you to the buffet. But you don't have to eat there (and I don't recommend the buffet.) The specialty restaurant "Il Adagio" is open for lunch. It's right off the pool area, and right next to the buffet. At lunch, you can only get pasta and Pizza there, but it's all miles ahead of the buffet. There is no cover charge to eat there for lunch. One of the main dining rooms is also open, I think the Crossings. You'll be given a daily brochure when you get on, the restaurants are listed on the rear of it. Everyone I dealt with in the terminal was friendly and made me feel like they were happy to see us. I did see a couple of workers (in the terminal) who looked disgruntled, but they were not helping cruisers directly. Cabin: We had a Balcony cabin on the Fiord deck (9) aft. It wasn't a balcony at the rear, it was just slightly back of the center of the ship, so they called it aft. The cabin was kind of small. Of course, being a first time cruiser, I had nothing to compare it to. But other cruisers who have been on other lines said it was about the size of the inside cabins on some ships. The balcony was comfortably sized for two people. The deck chairs were in good shape, and comfortable. The balcony had reasonable privacy. There were solid walls between balconies, but your neighbor could easily peek around the wall if they had a mind to. The room, carpet and furnishings were all comfortable and in good shape. The room never had much of a odor from whatever cleaners they use. And there was no funky smell from scented sprays like that which hotels use to mask stale cigarette odor. The room had only 1 electrical outlet. It was in a terrible location if you are using a CPAP machine. I brought a outlet strip with a 5 foot cord. It would not reach the side of the bed where the one night stand was. So every night I had to move the coffee table close to the bed, and put the CPAP on it. Not a big deal at all. Just something for you CPAP users to think about. And do bring an extension cord. Air conditioning worked well, and you have your own thermostat. However, it didn't blow hard, so if your room heated up because you left the balcony door open, it did take a little while for the temperature to come back down. Bathroom and shower are very small. That said, I'm a pretty big guy. Wide shoulders, barrel chest, and now an expanding belt size. I had no problems using the shower or toilet. If you rearranged the toiletries in the bathroom, you get 3 or 4 small shelves to put your own toiletries on. We found that adequate. One tip I would give would be to buy some type of roll-up bag that you can hang on the bathroom door. You can put things like your curling iron, and maybe some shoes in it. The cabin gets "cluttered" quickly because it's small. We had 2 suitcases that fit well in the closet. There is good room under the bed also for your suitcases. We never met our Steward. He did leave chocolate every evening, and made towel animals for us twice. The ice bucket was always full. We saw some stewards in the hallway, and they always gave us a warm greeting. Food: "Freestyle" means you can eat on your own schedule. Just like at home, you walk up and they seat your party at your own table. There are no set dining times, and you don't eat at a table all week with other folks you're not traveling with. The main dining rooms are the Crossings and the Palace. Shorts okay at Crossings, but not at the Palace. We never did make it to the Crossings. But we had dinner twice, and breakfast twice at the Palace. As I mentioned in the beginning, I consider the Palace to be about on the level of "The Outback" restaurants. Considering the cost of the cruise, I was very pleased with that. Breakfast was very good, but the Palace only serves breakfast to those in balcony or more expensive cabins. They put out a Continental breakfast buffet, and also have a menu. If you're in a hurry, the continental is fine. If you're not, you can order off the menu and also eat from their buffet. We ate at the Garden Cafe (main buffet) for lunch twice. It has a bad reputation, and I agree. It was poorly laid out, the food was not good, and even though the steam trays were spouting steam like crazy, the food was cold. That one, I have not figured out yet. Take heart though, the ship is going into dry-dock this week, and the rumor is that the buffet is being remodeled. Hopefully, the quality of food will improve. We did eat breakfast there the last day, and the food was pretty good, and warm/hot. I'll give them credit for that. We went to two specialty restaurants. Le Bistro $15.00, and Cagney's $25.00 You should make reservations. They fill up fast, and I think if you just walk up, you will have a very long wait, maybe not even get in. Balcony guests and above can make reservations 2 days in advance. Rooms lower in cost can make reservations same day only. Funny, Cagney's menu has a picture of Al Capone on front. I was expecting James Cagney....... We both had Beef tenderloin at Le Bistro. Ordered medium rare, and it was done perfectly. Very nice cut of meat. I had French Onion soup. It was the best I've ever had, and I eat it a lot. But, I almost never eat in French restaurants either. Cagney's.... Something went wrong here, and I'm still not sure just what. I thought I ordered a T-bone medium rare. Because I eat almost all beef Medium rare. Just a couple of minutes before the steak came, I doubted myself and was wondering if I said Medium rare, or Medium well. Sure enough, the steak came medium well. In any steakhouse, if you ask for medium well, or well, the waiter double checks, and even tries to talk you out of it. That didn't happen. Anyway, the steak was still tender, juicy, and very flavorful. I let it go because it was still so good. I was so zonked from lack of sleep and snorkeling all day, that I might have gotten confused when I ordered. It was the best Med Well beef I've ever had. It was so good as it was, I didn't bother fussing about having another one brought out. I heartily recommend both of these. Every server in the Palace, Le Bistro and Cagney's was very friendly and know what they are doing. In the buffet, the workers tend to keep their head down and avoid eye contact. We later found out from Matt the Cruise director, that many of those folks came on the ship for the first time the same day we did. Besides being unaccustomed to the ship, and their new jobs, many had difficulty with English, so I think many of them were just shy/scared/overwhelmed. If you asked them something, they did try to help. We had breakfast delivered by room service one morning and ate on the balcony. The room service menu is very limited. The breakfast Danish was very small, and well on it's way to being called stale. The fruit was past its' prime too. On the other hand, they called when the waiter was on his way, and it was a few minutes early too. But we didn't want to do it again. The Danish and fruits were much-much better in the restaurants. Casino: They have a nice little casino. When I first saw it, I thought all the tables would be packed constantly. They always have one, sometimes two $5.00 blackjack tables open. Players tend to come and go, so you can get a cheap seat if you wait a little. One thing I did not like, the pit allowed folks to play 2 and 3 spots at the $5.00 table when it was obvious some of us were waiting to get on. And the players didn't seem to care that we were waiting. That happened more the first and second day, after that, there was very little of that. Roulette has a $3.00 min inside spread, with a $5.00 outside min. 0/00 just like in the states. I thought the minimums were very reasonable considering you can't go gamble anywhere else. Craps had $5.00 min. The boys were very good, and made no mistakes. Sign up for their slot club/rewards card. It's free, and they will give you coupons for a free spin to win a cruise, pay $10.00 and get a debit style card with $20.00 slot play on it, you also get 2 coupons to use with a $5.00 table bet the coupon makes the $5.00 count as $10.00. It's all on the up and up, no restrictions or loopholes as to what you can play. I bought them all. They had all the typical 3 card/joker poker games. They have slot, blackjack and Texas hold em tournaments every day. Blackjack was only a $15.00 buy in. The tournaments are early evening, and I never did get to play in one. Shows: They have four shows, and we saw each one. The first night, they gave you a little bit of everything to get you interested. Second night it was Broadway. They sing and dance selections from big hits like Mamma Mia and Hairspray. Wife liked it, I was ambivalent. Third night was the comedian Rich Purpura. He was pretty funny. I would recommend you warm up with a drink or two before you see him. Some of his stuff really started to get "out there" (bizarre.) But then he always managed to bring it home for a good laugh. One evening late night he emcees a game show in the Outrigger bar. We heard he was very raunchy. But his show in the theatre wasn't too bad. There were some families in the audience, and the parents didn't seem to think the material was too adult for their kids. Last show was the rock and roll show. Pure hokum. Wife loved it, I disliked it. I really cringed when they came out with motorcycles built on a dolly. I called them "Flintstone motorcycles." The band was very good though. I would have preferred to just listen to the band for an hour. Funny, the band played really good and tight rock, it was the same band that was playing big band music the night before in the outrigger lounge. Very talented bunch. Matt is the cruise director, and he is very entertaining. You'll see him for a few minutes at each show, and he'll make you laugh. He also plays a pretty good blues harmonica. On evenings where there is only one show, you will need to be there 1/2 hr. early to get your pick of seats. For evenings with two shows, 15 minutes early should get you a decent seat. There really are no bad seats, but the balcony railing is so high, you have to look through the bars to see the show. So, we stayed on the floor level (deck 6) part of the theatre. Parties: The only planned party we went to was the "White Hot" party. We walked up, and Matt was screaming for everyone to get close to stage. What did I know? I got close to the stage, and in a moment we were doing some line dance I'd never seen. It was easy, and after a moment I was doing it better than many of the ones half my age. Someone said they have a machine that blows real snow during the party. This night it was white scraps and confetti. It looked okay I guess. Not many cruisers were wearing the tee shirts, and I didn't see any women at all wearing white boas like I heard they all do. It's just as well, because they never turned on any black lights that I heard were supposed to make the white stuff glow. Guys will like this party for the eye candy. Things were cranking the whole time Matt was on stage, but when he left things slowed down, and folks started to trickle away. I think the most fun at the party was watching the 20somethings get stupid drunk. I was no better when I was that age, and they look just as dumb as the old folks told us we looked. I still can't believe none of them fell in the pool. There was a Monte Carlo night in the Casino. Besides putting out some snacks, I don't know what it was about. We missed the main part of it. They have a Toga party on the last night, but mamma and I were too pooped to go. That's in Dazzles nightclub. Apparently the first 150 guests the staff decks out in togas. Pools: We're not pool people. The pools were smaller than I expected. But it looked like most adults just dunked in them for a few minutes to cool off, and then got out. There were not many children on the ship, but they did hang around the pool. LOL it's impossible to keep kids away from a pool. What I did not like was the fact that the crew did not enforce policy in the Jacuzzis that were adults only. All of them were filled with kids, and they never got out. Everyone knows you don't stay in a hot Jacuzzi more than 15 minutes, so I don't know what their parents were thinking. This also applied to the Jacuzzi way out at the front of the ship, that everyone says no one knows about. I wanted to dunk in the Jacuzzi, but it wasn't worth it with the little guys around tearing up the place. While the lounges right at the pool were always taken, there were PLENTY of lounges nearby that were free, many were in the shade. Drink service is constant. You won't have to wait more than a minute for a waiter to take your order. Disembarkation: You have two choices. Express, which means you handle your own bags, or the traditional disembarkation. With express, you can walk off the ship with your bags anytime after they start disembarking, which is around 8. With traditional, you pick up color coded tags for your bag that match the time you want to disembark. You pack the night before, and put your tagged bags in the hall before midnight. The next morning when your color is announced, you leave and get your bag in the terminal. Our ride wasn't coming until 11, so we did express and packed in the morning, had breakfast, then took our bags and hung out in the shade by the pool. At 9:45 they announced everyone remaining had to disembark. Sadly, we scanned our sign and sail cards one last time to leave, and walked to customs. All we bought was about $50.00 worth of souvenirs. I don't think the customs guy really believed that. He hesitated, thought for a moment, then said "Alright" and let us pass. I don't know what that was all about. It was just a few minutes to get off the ship, through customs, and out to the street. Hat's off to NCL. They sure know how to get guests on and off their ships. We have two kids full time in college, but wanted to do something nice for our 25th anniversary despite a tight budget. I have read many disturbing reviews of the "budget" cruiselines, like NCL, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival. But we didn't want to spend more and go on a swankier line. We were very pleased with this cruise, and took advantage of an on-board discount to take another cruise with NCL within 2 1/2 years. My advice to cruisers reading reviews is to use your experience, and try to read between the lines. There are a lot of useless reviews (hope this isn't one of them) that are written by folks who just want to be angry about something, and likewise there are reviews that are written by folks who can make the nastiest experience seem Peachy keen. When reading reviews about this ship, pay attention to the dates and itinerary. She had some problems while she was in Hawaii, but I saw none of that on our cruise. First time cruisers should like this cruise. Experienced cruisers may not. Either way, we enjoyed it and recommend it.

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Mar 29, 2009

Bahamas

We took the 4 night cruise leaving from Miami. We stayed at the LaQuinta Inn near the airport and they offered a free shuttle to the port. This was very unexpected yet very much appreciated. The check in process was very easy, just make sure you have all your documents. Have what you need with you as a carry on; it took a while to get luggage and our five year old insisted on waiting in our state room for her swim suit. If you don't plan on drinking

much alcohol or soda bring your own case of water and packet mixes to have what you like. This was a great idea when going ashore. Our kids loved the programs suited for their ages 15, 5. They went to their respective groups after dinner and had a great time. We were a little disappointed that there wasn't any place to dance until later in the evening. We saw the audience participation activities and the comedian. We ate all of our day time meals at the buffet, The selections seemed to be varied at lunch with the staple of burgers and hot dogs. Breakfast seemed to be the same selections everyday although there was enough that you could have something different everyday. I had read reviews that the buffets were crowded. I did not find this to be true. The main buffet line would get about 8-10 deep but we would just start at a different location. The omlette line was the only one that seemed to take a while. The food at the buffet was good. The food at the palace dining room was very good. We had the tortelini, turkey scallopini, turf and more turf, all were very tasty. We had great service the first night (Tue) we ate there and slow service the second night (Thu). We ate at Cagney's on Wednesday night and that was fabulous food and service. We had a 15 minute wait on Tuesday night at the main dining hall. We liked the choice of free style dining so we could eat at dinner time and not too late for our kids. Our stateroom 7109 was fine. It was designed to sleep four with a bunk and a pull out sofa bed. Once the sofa bed was pulled out there was no way to get to the bathroom except over the bed. We didn't pull the bed out, our five year old fit on the couch just fine. The water in our shower varied quite a bit, be careful with the kids it doesn't get too hot. The activities on board for the kids were great. They loved to go to their clubs. There was enough to do except for dancing as I mentioned earlier. A previous cruise had a dance floor and lessons most nights. The only excursion we planned was not available: the glass bottom boat on Grand Bahama. We decided to go to Atlantis on our own. It was very difficult to see much of the resort without getting a pass. Find out a head of time what you will have access to. The resort is very large and easy to get lost in, not good if time is limited. We walked to the beach going around a few hotels. I recommend walking back to Atlantis to get a taxi. The ones at the public beach nearby may take a while to fill up. We realized we could sit there for 15 minutes or more and decided to go back to Atlantis, the taxi drivers were yelling at us to get back in, we used the five year old and the bathroom as our excuse and they were more understanding. At Great Stirrup Cay we went snorkling. We should have made sure our kids wanted to give it a try before we rented equipment. They didn't use the equipment long enough to make it worth it, The water is very shallow for most of the cay. The beach is crowded, get out there early if you want a chair close to the action. Overall we had a good trip. The staff was very friendly and helpful with any questions we had.

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Mar 28, 2009

Bahamas

Much better than expected! The first night we ate in the Palace, the large main dining room. The menu offered a good selection, the service was very good and friendly and the food quality was great and plentiful. The second night we ate in the Crossings, the second main dining room, and again, the menu, service and food was very good. It was seafood night and I had lobster tail, scallops, shrimp and fish (I can't recall what the fish was) and

also ordered a steak to make it a surf & turf. The third night we ate in Cagney's Steakhouse. 10oz Filet mignone with a 6oz lobster tail. It was a fantastic meal. There is an upcharge for this eatery, but well worth it. The fourth and final night we went to Il Adagio's, an Italian place (with a small upcharge). The food and service was great. I also stopped in for several times for lunch, getting several slices of pizza that were pretty good. We ate breakfast in the Palace every morning (except for the last morning, the only place open was the Crossings). food and service was up to par with all our other dining experiences onboard. The size of the room was fine for two people. It's not as large or as easy to get around as a hotel room, but it was fine. The bathroom is small and the shower is the smallest I have ever seen, but very functional. I have never seen a shower with water pressure as good as the shower in my stateroom, and the water was hot if you turned to to full hot, so be careful. The cabin boy took good care of us with fresh towels daily and even made sure we had extra sheets for the toga party on the last night. We asked for a couple of extra blankets, as we kept the balcony door open all night and it did get a little cool. The balcony was a great place to have morning coffee and watch the sunrise or an evening drink and watch the sunset. We didn't go to any of the shows onboard, but we did go to karoke in the Outrigger Bar and the Toga Party in Dazzles. It was fine for that type of activities. This cruise was originally booked as a Wedding cruise in August 2008, but after I ended the relationship with my fiance, some of the other people that had planned on going convinced me that we should all still go...and I'm glad we did! I read many online reviews from cruise passengers on recent cruises and one has to understand that different people look at things differently, so I read the reviews thinking that some may complain about relatively minor issues, etc. NCL does offer a discount for military, active, retired and veterans. I fall under the latter, so I saved several hundred dollars there. Thanks NCL, for recognizing our military folks! It is appreciated! I booked the cruise with one of NCL's Cruise Consultants, Adam, based in Phoenix, AZ. We were able to pick our staterooms as the trip was being booked 8 months before the cruise date. I picked a balcony stateroom on the upper deck, mid-ship, to minimize the feel of the ships movement. I had been in contact numerous times with Adam and he was always a great help. He had called several times to let me know about upgrades, and he also managed to get me (and the rest of my group) an additional $80 shipboard credit. Two weeks before the cruise, Adam called and offered an upgrade to the Owner's Suite for about $400. I decided I didn't want to do this, as I didn't want my room to be party central for the entire group, but I knew one couple in the group would love that, so it was offered to them instead and they jumped at it. When arrived in Miami on the Saturday night before departure. We stayed in one of the Marriotts on Miami Beach. In all the planning, I never considered the cost of the hotel stay for the nights prior to the cruise. Rooms are in the $250 night range, but if you sign up for the Marriott Rewards program you can save about $50 a night per room. Taxi service between Miami International and Miami Beach is about $32 per taxi. We would have needed two cabs, so we opted for the Super Shuttle service, one very large van for $55 fit our entire party. It was another $55 for the service from the hotel to the ship terminal. The terminal opens at 11am and NCL starts their boarding process at 12 noon. We planned our arrival at the terminal for 1pm, so the first mass was already onboard and we didn't have any lines. The check-in process was pretty quick and we were onboard within about 20 minutes. There's quite a bit of walking in the terminal, about the same as any airport where your gate is at the furthest possible gate, but there are moving walkways. Some reviewers mentioned service and quality issues with the staff, food and stateroom facilities. I was a little concerned about this. When we boarded the ship we were greeted with champagne by friendly staff members. We went to our staterooms, they were already cleaned and prepared, but our luggage was not delivered yet, but we knew it would take a while. I met our cabin boy and talked to him for a little while, again, very friendly. I told him thanks for having our stateroom in such great shape and gave him $10 (this goes a long way!) The ship was clean, our stateroom was clean and not as small as I expected, although it was small. We went out on our balcony for a look. Not a large balcony, but fine for two people. It had two chairs and a small table. We then went to the Owners Suite where the rest of our group was meeting. The Owners Suite was fairly large, separate bedroom, full bath, 2nd bathroom, bar, sofas, dining table and a large balcony with two lounge chairs, a table with 4 chairs and a hot tub. It also comes with a butler and the drinks are included with this suite. We would be spending quite a bit of time in this suite! After the group met, we went to the Garden Cafe on Deck 11 Aft, had a good lunch and returned to the Owners Suite. We decided where we wanted to eat dinner each night and made reservations for our group. (more about the food in the food section). Overall the ship was great, the facilities great, the staff friendly, helpful and a lot of fun to talk to. Staff members come from all over the world and it was interesting to talk with them about their home countries and their experiences onboard. I would recommend the Norwegian Sky and NCL in general to anyone looking for a great cruise. This was my first and I'd go again without hesitation, as a matter of fact, I'm already planning my next cruise with NCL.

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By Lina_CR

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Nov 4, 2008

Bahamas

I had wanted to go on a cruise for the longest time, and while it was a wish of mine, I didn't want to have spend a lot of money on something I wasn't sure if I was really going to enjoy or not. So, I opted for a short 3-night cruise sailing out of Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, on the Norwegian Sky. As we live in New Jersey, we decided to take a flight to arrive to Miami the same day as the cruise was sailing. Some of our family picked us up at the

airport, and we went to lunch, and then we were on our way. We got to the port at around 1:45pm, and the embarkation process was very easy. In a matter of 15 minutes, all pictures had been taken, credit card infomation was processed, and we were on the ship! There were a total of three in our party; all different ages - my 68-year-old widowed mother, myself (a 39-year-old mom of one), and my little 11-month-old baby boy. All employees of NCL, both in the terminal before boarding, and once we got on the ship, were very helpful and accomodating with us since I had the baby stroller, diaper bag, baby, etc. I liked that a lot. Once we boarded, we went straight to our stateroom, #6210, on the Oslo deck. Our room was an oceanview, and it was a perfect size for the three of us. The only real complaint I have is that the layout of the deck is very uncomfortable because it is not elevator-accesible. To get to the stateroom, we had to take an elevator to the seventh floor, and then, fold up the stroller, and carry everything down one flight of stairs to the deck where our stateroom was. The stateroom was not overly large, but it wasn't outrageously small, either. We had two single beds, and a pack 'n play for the baby set up in the middle between the two beds. I did not feel cramped, nor did I feel like we were knocking into one another at any time. The room was very pleasant, and very clean, with a good amount of towels, and complimentary toiletries in the bathroom. Our luggage did not take long to arrive to our room, and once it came, we put it inside, and went out to walk around, and to become acquainted with our home for the weekend. We went to the Buffet on the Pool Deck, Deck 11, to see what was going on. Lots of people were milling about at the pool, and we went to Il Adagio, where pizza and pasta were being served. The pizza was fresh out of the oven, and the pasta was being made to order. We grabbed small plates of pasta, and grabbed a table, and sat around talking, just taking everything in. At 4:30pm, we were scheduled for the obligatory muster drill, so before the drill, we were instructed to go to our stateroom, and grab the life preservers, and go to our assigned stations. When we got to our Station C, starboard, it was so hot and muggy, and no one had really arrived yet, just a handful of passengers, and the crew member in charge of leading the drill. When he saw me with the baby, he suggested that I go inside, so that we would be comfortable, and to not worry about it. So, we went inside, and sat in the Atrium, on the International Deck, by the windows, in very comfortable bamboo furniture, and patiently waited for the start and completion of the mandatory drill. One thing has to be said for NCL - this a cruise for anyone. In the Atrium, seated next to us, obviously also sitting out on the uncomfortably hot muster drill was a couple approximately in their 80's. There was another young family with four children, ourselves, and a very loud, very drunk bachelorette party. Anyway, finally, the drill was over, and we were free to do whatever (sorry, no pun intended). We returned to the Pool Deck for the Sail-A-Way, and got a table by the window in the Garden Cafe. We finally pulled out of port at around 5:30pm. At around 6:30pm, we headed back to our room to change for dinner, and I could definitely feel that the ship was moving. My baby was in his pack 'n play, and kept swaying from side to side, and not voluntarily. Needless to say, both my mother and myself got very seasick and had to get some Dramimine from the Reception Desk so that we could enjoy the rest of the trip. We went to dinner at the Palace Dining Room, but a lot of the crew members could not walk straight, even they were pitching from side to side. We half-heartedly ordered our meal, but my son was tired and cranky, so I just asked our waiter to prepare our meals to take back to our room. When we got to our room, it took all of ten minutes for my son to go to sleep, and quite honestly, I was out like a light very soon after. The next morning, we woke up bright and early, and when I looked out of the window, we were docking in Nassau, and I could see the beautiful Atlantis hotel to my left. We took showers, got dressed, and went to eat breakfast so that we could disembark as soon as possible. We had not made plans to go on any shore excursions, as we just really wanted to go shopping, and be at our leisure to come and go as we wished. Good move! We went straight to the Straw Market, and were pretty much there all morning. I found the prices to be actually even better than the prices I have found on Canal Street in Chinatown, in NYC. After an arduous morning of shopping, we went back on the ship to eat lunch, and then got off again to buy some booze and some jewelry (neither of these two items were purchased at the Straw Market). Happy with our purchases, and tired by the sun and the walking, we were back on the ship by 4:30pm, and took our Dramamine just in case. No need to worry, the seasickness that we had felt the night before did not repeat itself. We got ready, and got dressed up, and decided to go to dinner at the Palace Dining Room. We were seated immediately, and service was great. The waiter brought my son a very fancy serving of strawberry and banana yogurt, and he loved eating that, along with the very yummy rolls that were in the bread basket. I ordered the scallops appetizer, and as my entree, the lobster and grouper dish, and both were very tasty, and impeccably presented. My mother ordered the absolutely most delicious appetizer ever; watermelon with fried feta cheese. One would never think of pairing those two together, but it was DELISH!!!!! I can't recall what her main entree was, but I do remember that she was very pleased. For dessert, I had the creme brulee, and coffee, and then, since it was my birthday, I was presented with a birthday cake, along with four or five crew members singing "Happy Birthday" to me. It was a very nice way to end my birthday. After dinner, I had every intention of going out to explore the ship some more, but I went to our room to lay with my son while he fell asleep, and the next thing you knew, it was the next day. Sunday was our day to spend at Grand Stirrup Cay, NCL's private island, and I wanted to get as much sun as possible. I had made an appointment to have a hot stone massage at the Waves Spa before going ashore, so I got up at 7:00am to get going. My massage ended at 9:00am. By the time I got back to our room, both Abuelita and the baby were ready. We went to eat breakfast at the Cafe Garden buffet, and then made our way to the private island. By the time we got there, it was no later than 10:30am, and there was not an umbrella that was available, or empty lounge chair to be found. We decided to sit in a small grove of palm trees that had pretty decent shade, and that had lots of hammocks. It was a bit of a walk to the water, but that was all right. We went into the water for a while, and just hung out, but it was too hot. My mother went to make the line at the buffet once lunch was being served, but nothing looked appetizing to me. I decided that I would wait until we got back on the ship to eat. Because of the sun and the heat, we decided to head back to the ship at approximately 1:30pm. We got back to the ship, and my mother decided to take a nap while my son slept. I took the opportunity to go the lunch buffet, and go to the pool to get some sun. Boy, did I ever!!!! I was tanned to a crisp! But, it was nice that it wasn't overly crowded since everyone was at the beach. After sunning, we got ready for dinner, and decided to go to the Crossings Dining Room. We got a table with a beautiful view, and ate the most delicious meal. There is one crew member who I have to mention, Claudia Aching, originally from Peru. She is one of the most attentive, caring, nicest employees I met on this cruise. She really made the difference for me. All of the crew members were very nice, but I had the opportunity to have her services on four different occasions, and she is one of the best examples in customer service. Anyway, after dinner, we went to the Reception Desk to get our luggage tags, and went back to our room to pack, and get ready for the next day, which was our last day of the cruise. On Monday morning, when I opened my eyes and looked out of my window, I was disappointed to realize that we were back in Miami and that the cruise was over. At the same time, I felt a little relief to know that everything had gone smoothly, and that nothing bad had happened. Disembarkation was cake. We chose to get off the ship at the next-to-last group as our family would not be picking us up at the terminal until 9:00 am. Yes, the line for immigration was long, but nothing that wasn't manageable. They didn't ask one single question, and let us through right away. We got our bags from the carousel and wheeled them out and were back on "terra firma" by 9:10 am. Would I go on another cruise? Absolutely, in a heart beat. I found it to be one of the best values for your money around. I plan to do a couple of things differently: 1.) Go with more people, and hopefully someone around my age 2.) Go on a longer voyage - three nights was too short!!!

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May 12, 2004

San Francisco-Victoria-Vancouver

This was our second voyage on the Norwegian Sky. Our first was about a year ago, and my favorable review of that trip is still here at this web site for all to see. Unfortunately, a lot can happen in a year, and this latest experience was nothing short of a nightmare. The so-called 'freestyle cruising' on this trip featured the worst dining experience we have ever had anywhere, marred not only by long delays in being seated, but by slow

and inattentive service, and poor quality food in both the Four Seasons and Seven Seas restaurants. There was almost a total absence of shipboard activities, a large number of slot machines had been removed from the casino, and the inventory in the duty-free shop was very low. Few of the NCL employees aboard seemed to even care about the problems. This ship is now in the process of being re-named 'The Pride of Aloha', a U.S. flagged vessel. If the quality doesn't improve dramatically, I feel that it will be a source of embarassment for NCL, and a poor example of what a U.S. ship should be. Good luck NCL.

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Apr 4, 2004

Southern Carribbean

Overall, our vacation was great. We really enjoyed ourselves. The weather for the most part was beautiful. And since we were there with 4 other couples, it was a great time. However, we were very dissapointed with the Norwegian Sky. Although the main areas of the ship were very nice, the service was terrible. Our cabin was tiny (in comparison to my inside cabin on Celebrity), lacked storage space and the bedspread was dingy. They

were not good about cleaning the cabin, turning down the bed, changing towels. They left a bucket of ice in the room every day, but no water pitcher. We didn't get towel animals until Tim finally spoke to the room steward on our last day. We also had problems with the food service. Breakfast was a disaster almost every morning -- long lines, not enough food, runny eggs, no omlete or waffle stations until someone complained, and then when they were out, the closed earlier than listed in the daily newsletter. The 24 hour pizza service was also horrible, burnt pizza, not enough to serve so you were always waiting and when you finally got to the counter, they'd only give you half a slice in order to try and accomodate the crowd. The ice cream service was also horrible -- again, long lines, the soft serve machines rarely worked, it was only open for a short period of time each day, the ice cream was melty, and when Tim tried to get ice cream for the both of us, he had to argue with them about getting 2 cups. The outside BBQ every day was also pretty bad -- overcooked burgers and ribs, they would run out of buns, cookies, etc. The dining room experience over all was good, once we found a good waiter. The first night our friends ate at one of the dining rooms and had a great experience (we didn't board until late, so we were not there). Our second night, we chose a different dining room to discover that it had the same exact menu. We though with the free style cruising that the menus would be different. We soon discovered that the menu was only different at the three other restaurants that require additional cover charge. The two free dining rooms (those included in the price of the cruise) were identical. Anyway, the second night experience was horrible. We were there for over 3 hours and ended up missing the show that night. So the third night we decided to go back to the original dining room and try and get the same waiter as the first night. However, we were informed by the maitre'd that our waiter had been reassigned to an area where there were no large tables (we were a party of 10). So we ended up with a different waiter who was not very friendly, very slow, and once again, we were there for over 3 hours. We spoke with the maitre'd and we were promised that the next night we could have the waiter we wanted at the time we wanted. However, the next day when we called to confirm the time, no arrangements had been made, and we had to put up quite a stink to have it arranged. They did however change the arrangements to please us. So finally by the fourth night we had a pretty good experience. Dinner was still taking a bit of time, however, we started attending the earlier show performances to avoid missing them. Some good things -- - we had a great time at the casino every night, the casino staff was very friendly - bar service for the most part was also very good, although we found pricing a bit inconsistent - the shows were pretty good (although I felt that my Celebrity experience was better) - the art auction experience was fun -- Tim and I actually won a piece of art - disembarking/re-embarking at ports was seamless -- no long lines Anyway, I know this is probably more information that what you were looking for, but I hope this helps others sailing on the Sky so that they have a better experience that we did. The sad part of this whole story is that my fiance and I were planning to take the Norwegian Dawn out of New York for our honeymoon (departing November 7th) and now we have many reservations and concerns. So we are now looking at altnerative options. Norwegian would have to promise us the world at a ridiculously inexpensive price to get our business right now. NOTE: I am sending the basics of this post to Norwegian directly also.

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Mar 14, 2004

Western Caribbean

My wife and I have only sailed once before about a year ago on the Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. On that voyage we sailed from New Orleans in a sweep of the western Caribbean. Having only one prior cruise to compare to our most recent aboard the Norwegian Sky, we are amateurs in what we refer to now as our favorite style of vacationing. I hope that our comments will help someone sort through the issues that are important

to them as relates to cruising. My wife and I cruised with our son and his girlfriend in a quad on the Viking deck. On the opposite side of the ship was our daughter with her husband and 7 month old baby. We had a direct flight from Minneapolis to San Juan, which had been arranged by NCL. This means that they also arranged the transfer from the airport. We were pleasantly surprised that they put us together on the plane in adjoining rows. The NCL guides at the airport were not particularly attentive. It was not clear what we were to do with our baggage. By asking at least two people, we found that a straight truck was being loaded to follow a small coach bus. The bus ride was pleasant, and took only about 20 minutes. Arriving at the pier I was disappointed to find that our ship was on the Isla Grande side of the harbor. Old San Juan was a 20 minute cab ride away and this blew our plans to settle in the room and roam the streets of OSJ that evening. The Carnival Destiny was located across the harbor with its bow hovering over a main avenue in the old city. Instead we headed to the garden café buffet to parouse the items offered there. The food was not up to approved temperatures and they were haphazardly thrown in the pan and not presented very nicely. Milk, iced tea and coffee were available as was a dessert table. The desserts were lacking in individual flavor and were sweet, dry cake type of items. As an executive chef, you might guess that I would pay particular attention to the food. This is where I will start. I have read reviews on the Norwegian Sky on other sites that seemed to have a common thread, being that the food was substandard. We tried the buffet again the following morning and had a nice table on the aft deck with the sun shining brightly. The coffee is good as lower-end coffee goes. It is a WMF product which describes a process. Contrary to RCL’s boiled, and reconstituted coffee which was awful. However, RCL had excellent choice on the buffet for breakfast and they were presented up to temperature and served attractively. We vowed to never eat at the buffet again for the remainder of the voyage. Dinner in the Seven Seas dining room was superb. From the menu selections, to impeccable service and a convenient dinner time of 6:00 we were able to overcome the down-side of “freestyle cruising.” We simply arranged with the Maitre’ d to have a specific table, with specific servers at a specific time through the entire voyage. When we found that we would not be able to keep our reservation one night we simply called and cancelled for that evening to find that they held our reservation for the following nights. That evening we decided to dine in the Four Seasons. It was about 8:00 p.m. and the staff was obviously weary of an extended time of multiple seatings. We had two Americans serving us. We are Americans and found their service to be extremely poor. They were inattentive, botched orders, coped attitudes when we explained how the orders were wrong and we complained to the assistant Maitre’ d who was apologetic but went too far. He explained that “the Sky was being transitioned to become the Spirit of Aloha and the staff was also in transition, so we couldn’t really expect to see their normal standards of service.” He quipped briefly that there is however, no excuse. I was sitting there thinking that NCL had booked us under false pretense. They knew that we were going to get substandard service and yet charged us a full price as if we would be getting “normal” service. I expect a refund or rebate because the assistant Maitre’ d speaks for the cruise line and I think the truth was willingly withheld from us in the booking process. Aside from the one bad experience, the cuisine in the Seven Seas dining room continued to prove most excellent. Desserts were not as they were in the buffet, they were original and quite diverse and tasty. The “sail away buffets on the pool deck were okay. The food was not heated thoroughly and it was not kept at proper temperatures. Deli cuts of meat sitting under the intense Caribbean sun without refrigeration turned me off but their were ample selections. The 24 hour pizza bar was good. I found that just taking what they had was adequate. I chuckled as my fellow Americans were trying to tell the cook to specialize their pizzas, “Less sauce, extra cheese etc.” The guy was visibly disturbed by special orders. Why not just take what they have to offer and not tell the guy how to do his job? Having a baby with us presented some interesting challenges, mostly for us though. We did not want a crying baby to disturb the dinner of others who paid good money to enjoy excellent service and good food, so mommy made trips out of the dining room to nurse or change a diaper. One night she ended up taking the baby back to the cabin. Our server had arranged to have her meal delivered to the room. The staff were warm and interested in the baby and never disturbed by noises or the bulky stroller. Particularly the hostess staff and even more specific, the young Filipino ladies. Now I mention nationality for good reasons. I dumped on staff from my own homeland, and I have made reference to Filipino women in a positve light. I don’t care about “political correctness” these are realities. Case in point is that my fellow guests from Germany were loud, rude and emotionally dead. If you don’t mind being pushed out of the way for someone to get into an elevator before you then you would not notice this. If you are not grossed out by old men in Speedo’s, it wont be an issue for you. There isn’t a thing I could do about that and it is not the fault of the cruise line, just something I observed as a fairly sensitive American. The fact is that the service people of nationalities other than my own were exceptional. The only exception would be our cabin steward who provided a bare minimum of service. We used the bottle of Evian water for which we knew that we would be charged but it was never replaced with another one. Turn-down service was done each night while we were at dinner but the two Pullmans were not turned down, did not have a chocolate. At one point near the end of the cruise, the shower soap ran out. I informed our steward and she indicated that she would fill it right away. It was never filled. Freestyle cruising – It is not truly freestyle, it is simply an excuse to impose a gratuity and nothing more than that. Yes, you can go to the dining room whenever you want during the service times but it is conceivable that you could wait in a line if you come right from the Stardust lounge after a show. This is located near the seven seas restaurant. The freestyle dining also means multiples of table changes and is tiring to the staff. It also eliminates the option of a line of servers dancing or carrying flaming baked Alaska. I prefer a dining room that is two stories and more midships for ease of access and ocean views. Grandeur of the seas was great in that aspect. Speaking of the show, the stardust lounge was comfortable but the Broadway style shows were not that good. The male singers all sounded alike. You know that girlish sort of forced vibrato that you heard in A Chorus Line, for example. It got to be too much for me. This is a smoky ship. Smoke in the outdoor café, in the casino and Checker’s cabaret, the atrium and around the pool, yuck. Freestyle “debarking” a non-word used to replace “disembarking,” was not a reality. You were allowed to leave depending on the time of your flight. Having left the ship we opted out of our transfer to the airport and decided to hire a cab for a trip around Old San Juan. He also was pleased to join us for lunch before delivering us to the airport two hours before our flight time. He asked for $ 95.00 and I said I would give him $ 75 to which he said, “OK.” Ports of call and excursions: We only availed ourselves of one excursion, this was the Divi little bay excursion to a resort in St. Maarten. This was very nice and well worth the money. It included a barbecue lunch. Most of the time, the young love-birds took the party boat or beach excursions and enjoyed them, particularly the Jolly Roger pirate ship in Antigua. The grandparents and our daughter’s family were happy to browse the shops in the ports. Tortola is a boring hole in the wall. Nice beaches but really nothing of any quality to offer. Martinique was industrialized and had many shops but the locals were not interested in bargaining and refused to speak anything but French, which is fine, but not conducive to many sales or purchases. St. Thomas is well documented on this web site and we were happy with what was available. St. Maarten was by far our-hands down favorite. I really wanted to write this in such a way as to not put an overwhelmingly negative light on the Norwegian Sky. If asked the question, “would I sail NCL again?” my answer is a firm, Yes! However it would have to be an outstanding deal, to wrestle me away from other lines. For our next cruise we hope to go Celebrity because of what we hear related to the Constellation and the Millennium. Without hesitation, we will willingly cruise Royal Caribbean but I think they have spent so much money on television commercials that they are trying to recoup this in their pricing. NCL did not charge for the infant, all others made no exception. In all honesty, that was the driving force that made us choose NCL. I don’t know how the other lines get off charging for a 7 month old who will neither eat meals nor take up space by the pool-side. The Sky is a wonderful ship with a competent crew and excellent food and service is available.

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Mar 7, 2004

Eastern Caribbean

This was our 3rd cruise on the Norwegian Sky and will definitely be our last. Previous cruises were OK, if a little slipshod, but this one was possibly the worst in terms of service and facilities. We flew from Heathrow on BA to New York. This was our first mistake as the BA checking in facility at Heathrow must be the worst in the world. You don't book in for a flight at Heathrow, you book in for your airline. With 10 jumbos all going

out that morning, there were almost 4000 people in the queue. I waited over 2 hours before getting almost to the front. By this time, they began calling our flight so we had to queue jump so it was pointless getting there 3 hours early as recommended. The economy (or world traveller) class on BA is one of the worst I have ever been on. United and Delta are far superior for crossing the Atlantic. BA is on a par with the cheaper charter flights like Thomson or Airtours. Getting through New York and on to San Juan was fairly painless. The new immigration checks didn't hold us up too much but we noticed that those not on the visa waiver scheme were taking ages to get through with fingerprinting and eye-scanning which bodes badly for the future when the Brits have to do this as well. Our queue took about 20 minutes to get through whilst those with visas took almost 2 hours with less people. We were put up in the Embassy Suites in San Juan for the night which was excellent, although the price for drinks was quite extortionate ($7 for a small Budweiser plus 17% tip). Breakfast in the morning was a plus and was excellent considering it was free. This was the last decent breakfast we had for the next two weeks. Getting on the ship was also pretty painless as we were Latitude members and had a separate booking in queue but it should be noted that there were only 2 booking clerks for Latitudes and 10 for the rest so all people booking in went through fairly quickly. THE SHIP The Norwegian Sky is a really beautiful ship. It is well laid and has plenty of room around the pool and in the bars/restaurants. The cleaning staff do a magnificent job of keeping the ship up to scratch and our cabin stewards were their normal impeccable selves. We had absolutely no complains over the room service or the high standard of the ship's overall appearance. SERVICE We knew something was wrong on our first night in the Seven Seas restaurant. After being on the ship before, we knew that both main restaurants were exactly the same as the kitchen is shared. On previous cruises with this ship, the service had been brilliant although the food was rather basic. This time, we sat for over an hour and had only had our salad. The waitress apologised and said that they had run out of plates(??). My steak, when it eventually arrived, had obviously been sitting somewhere for some time before being put on a cold soup plate on which it was served. The next night, at the Four Seasons restaurant, the service was just as bad and I don't think we got out of the restaurant on any night in under 2 to 2 and a half hours. We were on the cruise for two weeks and waiting staff gradually changed from being Asian/Central American/Eastern European to Americans. We were then told that the ship was going to be renamed the Pride of Aloha and "foreigners" would have to leave due to the difficulty in getting work permits so they were training Americans. Sorry, but the service provided by these young people was absolutely atrocious. This was also evident in the bars. On our first week, we had a Nicaraguan waiter called Ramirez and a Jamaican waiter called Samuel in the Sports bar. They were excellent and remembered our drinks after our first visit. They also remembered our names and gave excellent service each afternoon we visited. They were replaced in the second week by young Americans who were more interested in chatting to each other than serving us. On two occasions, I had to go to the bar even though there were two waiters standing by the till chatting to each other. I'm sure they deliberately ignored the passengers. This attitud was the same in the Windjammer/ Churchills Cigar Lounge and other parts of the ship. One notable exception was a young American girl in the Atrium bar who tried her hardest even though this was her first time on any ship ever. However, in the first week, when I asked a Chinese waitress in the Atrium bar for a draugh beer, she went down a deck to Chequers to get me one. The second week the same request was met with "we don't serve draught beer in the Atrium bar." The poor waitresses in the restaurant were rushed off their feet each night. They did everything at the table as we didn't see a bus boy all cruise so the waitress was taking the orders, serving, clearing the tables, refilling the water glasses etc. No wonder the meals took so long. Quite a few of the passengers cancelled their compulsory tips of $10 per day per passenger and just tipped those who did give them good service (apart from the cabin steward these would have been few and far between). It was a shame that you couldn't cancel the compulsory 17 1/2% service charge on all drinks which were quite expensive in the first place ($3.60 for a beer plus service, $4.80 for a Bacardi Coke plus service. Bear in mind a litre bottle of rum costs $5 in most of ports we visited). MEALS The food in the outdoor and garden cafes was, quite frankly, appalling. The only good things were freshly cooked omelettes and eggs done by the pool. The downside to this was that the queues were generally huge for these. The remaining food at the buffets was usually greasy, cold and quite unappetising. For lunch, cold meats were curling up at the edges, unrecognisable fish dishes were congealing in milky grease and the salad were very, very basic. If we were on board for lunch, we generally had a fresh made roll/sandwich at the sandwich bar or a pizza from the pizzeria. Unfortunately, the sandwich bar was only available from 12 - 2 so if you had been out you had to rush back to get one. Luckily, the pizzeria was 24 hours and freshly made. The BBQ on the pool deck, twice a day, would have been a good idea if the food hadn't been left so long before being served. Cold hot-dogs, burgers and ribs were the order of the day. The food in the main restaurants was generally quite good if a bit uninspiring. Being on for two weeks, the menu was exactly the same in the 2nd week and got a bit boring. There are 3 speciality restaurants on board. The Ciao Chow, a mixture of Chinese and Italian, was pretty lousy unless you like things like sweet and sour pizza. It definitely wasn't worth the $10 cover charge. We didn't try the Bistro French restaurant but we did hear some good reports about it. The Horizons Italian restaurant was excellent both in terms of food quality and service. It was really like a different world compared with the main restaurants. The service was excellent and we had a waiter, a bus boy and a water boy serving us. We ate there several times during the cruise. By the way, some reviewers complained the juice machine didn't work at breakfast and had an out of order sign on it. This was the same for both weeks of the cruise and we remembered that it was the same two years ago when we went on the Norwegian Sky. You can, however, purchase drinks at breakfast (no hidden agenda here, I hope). ENTERTAINMENT Once again, the Jean Anne Ryan dancers were superb. The shows they put on were top rate and highly professional. It was just a shame that the shows were exactly the same as they were two years and 4 years ago and were identical for each of the weeks we were on board. However, the Sea Legs Cirque was well worth seeing over and over again (good job, really). The magician was exactly the same as on previous cruises with exactly the same material, even down to using his young daughter as part of the act. The only difference is that she is now 3 instead of 1 year old. The comedians were pretty bad. Even allowing for the American jokes (no, we don't all know who you were talking about)which went above the Europeans heads, their timing and delivery was really quite bad and amateurish. PORTS OF CALL This made the cruise. The fact that you stop at a different island each day with only the Saturdays being at sea was a definite bonus. Every island was different and we thoroughly enjoyed every trip ashore. One word of advice, don't book the ship excursions as they are incredibly overpriced. As a few examples, an overcrowded bus trip for a tour of St Kitts was $57 per person through the ship. A 14 seater mini bus with only 8 people was $16.50 per person or $66.00 to book a private cab with as many people as you can fit in. Excellent value and an excellent tour. A trip in Antigua, on another overcrowded bus, was $67 per person and meant that everywhere you went you did it with up to 30 people. A private taxi cab for the day cost $60.00 and we went everywhere, the only extra being the $5 entrance fee to Shirley Heights and Nelson's dockyard. We heard lots of complaints of insufficient time with the ship cruises and whilst our trips were relaxing and fun. Other examples: Martinique: Trip to beach via ferry - $45 through the ships tours. $6 return via ferry to Isla Trois Islets and $5 for a sun bed/umbrella. St Maarten: Trip to beach with chicken meal and sun beds - $63 through ships tours. Walk to beach in town, free, Sunbed $4 a day. Beautiful meal of king prawns, rice and salad plus 4 glasses of wine at beachside restuarant - $27 for two. DISEMBARKING Called "debarking" by the ships crew (I thought that that was what you did to noisy dogs) was a nightmare. Only on immigration line at San Juan for non-Americans. Three hours waiting on the ship for you colour to be called. Two hours to snake through the immigration line at San Juan. Nearly an hour queuing for the bus to the airport and then faced with a queue that stretched from the the road, into the airport, out again to the road and back into the airport before you got into your flight queue. Then an hour queue to get through security into the departure lounge. We left the ship at 0900 and got into the departure lounge at 1345, 45 minutes before our flight. The in between time was spent in queues for one thing or the other. FINAL Sorry, but with all the competition out there, NCL is kicking itself in the teeth by offering sub standard service like this. In future, we will be going with RCL or Carnival which are far superior with not much difference in price. The pros were the friendly cabin stewards, the entertainment from the dancers and the ports of call. Ishish food and poor service in all public rooms spoilt what was supposed to be a holiday to be looked forward to.

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Mar 7, 2004

Southern Caribbean

What can I say about this cruise, it was the worst I had ever taken. My husband and I booked this cruise for our 5th anniversary. It was planed from the time we took our honeymoon basically. Let me start by saying that I am travel agent but we paid full price for this cruise, as we wanted to travel at this specific time. We booked our own tickets into San Juan and hailed a cab from the airport. No problems here. Our documents were

to be a pier pick-up so I did not have NCL baggage tags for our luggage. When I entered the cruise terminal and got to the desk, the staff had no idea what I was talking about and said that the ship was sold out. After 10 minutes I finally got a supervisor to understand that we were booked on the cruise. I then received my boarding pass, cabin keys, etc. The boarding process was very easy; just walked right onto the ship. There we were greeted by the staff and asked what our cabin assignment was so they could escort us. I’m feeling better now and am looking forward to the week. My joy was short lived as the gentleman took us to the opposite side of the ship than we were on. (Not port versus starboard but aft versus bow) When we got to our cabin #5201, we were pleased with the cabin itself. Its location is at the very front of the ship down a private hallway. We originally thought it would be nice and quiet. What is also down this hallway and not reflected in any deck plan are the crew cabins. Every night I had to open the door anywhere from 1-4AM to advise the crew to be quiet. Directly above our cabin was the jogging trail on the Promenade Deck. Although there are signs prohibiting jogging from 9PM – 8AM, the notices were ignored and continuous complaints were not answered. Needless to say we had to come home to get a full night sleep. Went to dinner in the Four Seasons Dining Room. Food was OK; service was slow although it was very early in the evening. Took 1 ½ hours for dinner. When we arrived back at the cabin our bags were there and 1 was damaged. I brought the bag to the reception desk and they advised that the carpenter would repair it. Monday – St. Thomas Scheduled to be in port from 8AM – 5PM and had pre-arranged a tee time at Mahogany Run Golf Course. I am not a golfer myself but I enjoy the ride and this was one spectacular course. For those of you who are golfers, you are basically hitting blind, the whole course is quite challenging, especially Devil’s Triangle. The beverage cart is constantly coming around and you can pre-order lunch at hole #7 to pick up after hole #9. The food was good and reasonably priced for a golf course. Full pro-shop with a good selection of items. Price per golfer through the cruise line is $180.00. We paid $130.00 and $20.00 for me to ride. Cab from the pier is $9.00 each way. Tuesday – Dominica My husband specifically chose this port so he could go to some cigar factories. There were none to be had. Where we did find cigars, not only were they overpriced but not stored in humidors. Originally scheduled to be docked in town but we arrived late and were docked at another pier. Cab into town was reasonable $1-2 per person each way. Let me say that arriving later than the other ships was a common occurrence on this sailing. Since I was up during the middle of the night, I noticed that we would not be moving. All I can figure is the captain took a siesta in the middle of the night instead of sailing to our respective port. This night was also formal night. Since NCL offers Freestyle Dining, the choice to dress up is optional. I have always enjoyed formal night and look forward to having our pictures taken. This too would not happen as the cabin steward ruined the dress. I had the dress hanging on the inside of the bathroom door to steam the wrinkles out. That day while we were in town, the cabin steward cleaned the room. No problem except for the fact that he sprayed cleaning solution across the dress. So obviously I am mad at the fact that my new dress is ruined. When I take it to the reception desk they advise that they will fix it and have it delivered to my cabin by 600PM. At 630PM, my husband goes back to reception to see where the dress is while I finish getting ready. At this point we are advised that they will clean the dress but only if we release them from liability. Obviously this was not acceptable. The next morning I am called back by reception and told to claim the dress on my homeowners insurance!!! What I realize later in the week that the person who advised me to do this was none other than the first officer. Dinner that night again in Four Seasons Dining Room. Over 2 hours to be served dinner. Wednesday – Barbados Again, we arrive late and have to be shuttled to the main pier. It was raining that day so we decided just to shop. Shopping plentiful at the pier and we made a number of purchased, one of which was a print by a local artist. I’ll bring this print up again later. We had reservation this evening at Le Bistro. We had dined at Le Bistro on previous NCL cruises so we were looking forward to the experience again. This was also the evening of the Latitudes party. Now NCL is fully aware who on board is a Latitudes member, yet we had to go to another desk to receive our invitation. Basically they handwrote our name on a form letter and gave it to us. Doesn’t give the “warm fuzzy” feeling. The party was lame and the captain gave wrong information regarding the deployment to Hawaii. Before dinner I decided I would play Bingo as we had time before our reservation. The staff was more interested in playing with each other than running the game. My husband had to go to Le Bistro without me as the game was running behind. I met up with him 20 minutes later. Service at Le Bistro was the worst I had ever experienced and the food was not as good. The only highlight was a little girl from Poland who was as friendly as can be. Thursday – St. Lucia Golf again. My husband went alone on this excursion, which again, was less expensive booking directly with the course. $95.00 for a golfer versus $109.00 through the cruise line. Since they were already picking golfers from the ship, they gave him a free ride. Another beautiful course and very challenging. He had a good time. I was not feeling well and needed to see the ships doctor. $50.00 to just speak with someone. There are 2 doctors on board. After speaking with other passengers on the ship, I was treated by the good one, a female doctor from South Africa. Very nice. She gave me some antibiotics (enough to last 2 days) and some over the counter medication. Overall my 10-minute visit cost me $125.00. I did get some shopping in right at the pier and found some lovely shops. The people were very friendly and helpful. After my husband returned we went up to the pool area so he could smoke a cigar. We sat there for an hour before I finally grabbed a waiter and asked him how long we had to sit there before someone took our order. He said that we must have just sat down. When I advised him that he walked past me at least 10 times, he just walked away. This day I buy a cute souvenir cup, which is made out of a coconut in the shape of a monkey head. $9.95 for the cup and first drink and refills are $4.95 (normal price). Great little investment as the drink stayed cold much longer. I chose to eat dinner in the cabin that evening, as I was still not feeling to well. Room service was very friendly and the food was better than what I had received in the dining room. Friendly staff as well. My husband went to the dining room and actually found an area where he could eat in less than 1 hour. We asked specifically for this area the next night. Friday – St Kitts Originally we were schedule to go on the Kayaking excursion through the cruise line but decided to cancel since I was still not up to par. From those we spoke with, the excursion was a hit. We went into town and did some shopping. For the best prices for Alcohol and cigars, St Kitts is the place to go. My husband had a field day in the walk in humidor. In the center of town there is a Piccadilly like in London with shops all around. We found Tommy Bahamas shirts for $59.50 (normally around $100) and ate at the Circus Restaurant for lunch, which overlooks the center of town. I highly recommend the Seafood Kabobs. Service was good, food was excellent. My best meal on the trip. When we get back to the cabin I become enraged. My print from Barbados, which was rolled up and lying on the couch, had been knocked to the floor and stepped on by the cabin steward, thereby creating a huge crease through it. Our “monkey cup” which had a “hinged” top was obviously picked up by the top and broken. Now in 5 days my luggage has been broken, my formal dress ruined, my print crushed and a cup broken. What is so hard about cleaning a room without wrecking the contents? I immediately make a beeline to the reception desk and demand to speak to whoever is in charge. My husband and I are led back to the First Officer’s cabin where lo and behold, there is my suitcase, which was supposed to be with the carpenter. So I proceed to tell this woman al that has happened to my belongings on this ship and my demand that it be replaced. What I am told is that she will see what she can do. Now, after all that has happened I want some sort of guarantee; at a minimum I was a guaranteed time that I will be gotten back with. She refuses and tells me to go back to my cabin. I tell her I’m not leaving until I get some sort of guarantee. At this point she looks at my husband and tells him to escort me out of her office. Basically he laughs and advises her that she better start producing some answers. Finally she relents and tells me she will get to me by 6PM. Now I have a guarantee and I leave the office. At 6PM she arrives at the cabin as promised (progress). The cup is replaced (easy to do). I am advised that when the ship returns to Barbados that my print will be repurchased and sent to my home address. The dress will have to be handled by the home office. The suitcase damage is now being blamed on the Port Authority in San Juan and there is nothing they will do. I tell her that I want some written guarantee for all of this, which she states she will get me. While thinking more about the suitcase issue, I grab my brochure and look at their Terms and Conditions. There is a reimbursement for damaged luggage. I go back to her office and show her the documentation, which is issued by NCL, not me, and demand a $100 shipboard credit. I go back to the cabin where I receive a call stating that the shipboard credit will be applied. Saturday – At Sea We decide to try and sleep in, as we have received no real sleep on this cruise so far. Due to all the noise we realize that this is impossible and get ready to go to the buffet breakfast. It was pitiful. The eggs were water, the juice machine was broken (as it had been all week) and the breakfast meats were literally sitting in pools of grease. When we attempt to find a place to sit we see that there are no clean tables yet there are 3 busboys talking to each other. I take it upon myself to bus the table myself. At this point a busboy arrives and takes the linens off the table and leaves. And they expect to be tipped for this? I proceed to lead him back to the table and advise him that he may not know it but cleaning the tables is his job, not mine. I did have a massage appointment at the Spa but cancelled it the day before as I could only imagine what other bad experience I would pay for. While in the cabin early that afternoon I am watching the TV about booking a future cruise. The one that catches my eye is the Norwegian Sea traveling out of Houston. Since I am from Dallas I sell a lot of this ship. The information about the sailing is wrong. It incorrectly lists the ports of call. Now this was not a recent change, it had been done months before. I go to the Cruise Desk and advise Duncan, the Port and Cruise Consultant that the information on the Sea is incorrect. He asked me what ship that is. So I tell him and he says, “Oh yeah its doing 3 and 4 day cruises”. No Duncan, it’s doing 7 nights out of Houston. “Yeah” he says, “What ports of call?” I asked him if he was joking with me. He said he was serious. Now I’m sorry, but here is a gentleman who is paid by NCL to be an expert on their product and I have to tell him? I just walked away disgusted. When I met my husband at the pool he just laughed and said it was typical. We actually had an enjoyable afternoon in the casino. The blackjack tournament was holding its last round of qualifying sessions that afternoon with the finals at 430PM. $10.00 entry fee, free beer, glass of wine or soda and $2500 to play 7 hands. I never got into the finals but played 10 qualifying rounds anyway. $100 spent but I had 10 drinks. I did stay in the casino and won back the entry fees so I broke even for the day. Sunday – Disembark No problems this morning as I still had not received my written guarantee from the first officer regarding my print. When I reach her by phone she tells me that the Hotel Director is taking care of it. Since I trust nothing she says at this point I advise her I will not leave the ship without something in writing. 20 minutes later I receive a beverage receipt with a 2-line guarantee and a stamp of the Hotel Director. Yes, it’s in writing but not very professional. What scares me most is that the Sky is being renamed the Pride of Aloha and will be deployed to Hawaii. Not only are these cruises expensive but also a very discerning traveler purchases them. I not only will not sell this ship but also have given serious concern to selling any NCL product in the future. When speaking with other passengers on the ship, my experience was not unique. I did not find one person happy with the cruise. One gentleman had booked back-to-back cruises and was considering leaving the ship and going home versus spending another week on board. One gentleman advised me that things should get better once the ship is in Hawaii with an all American crew. Really, I said. Do you feel that strongly about the work ethic of the American youth? I have 2 children age 15 and 21. Considering I can’t get them to bring their dishes to the sink or their laundry to the washing machine I have a hard time believing that the service will be that much improved.

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Jan 25, 2004

Southern Caribbean

Nancy Ranstead Just returned from a one week cruise on the Norwegian Sky. We had a wonderful time. The ship is beautiful and immaculate. The staterooms were small but extremely clean and comfortable. The staff were very courteous and available to help in any way needed. The food was excellent. The garden cafe buffets were very good with a large variety a dishes, delicious 24 hour pizza was available. The main restaurants offered

elegent 5 course meals. We did not dine in any of the three restaurants which require a cover charge because the food was so good in the other restaurants, we did not see any reason to. The entertainment was superb. The Jean Ann Ryan group was great as well as all other entertainment provided. There is more to do than you could ever possibly manage unless you stayed awake 24 hours a day. We took 4 shore excursions. All were good. The excursion in St Lucia. "Land and Sea to Fond Doux" was the best and I recommend it. My one complaint would be that the tours were arranged on a tightly timed schedule and they usually got started late. Therefore, you spent the entire trip trying to catch up. We felt very rushed and feel we missed some sights as a result. We found that you could make your own arrangements with taxi drivers at the dock. Not only was this cheaper, but you could make your own arrangements pertaining to where you wanted to go and how long you wanted the trip to last. We hired a taxi driver in St Kitts for $16.50 per person. He drove us around the entire island. He gave us much info on the island and was able to answer any questions that we had. He took us to the Batik factory, several beaches and to the old fort. He would have taken us any where we wanted. I would definatley cruise on the Norwegian Sky again. Would like to cruise with them later in 2004 when it begins it's Hawaiian itinerary.

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Aug 9, 2003

Alaska

After returning from a cruise to Alaska on the Norwegian Sky, I felt inclined to give my opinion. For those who like things to the point, my experience on this ship was just "average". For everyone else, here's the long version. We arrived into Seattle, WA the day before to enjoy the town. There's plenty to do there! After spending the night at a hotel, we were whisked away to Pier 66 where the Norwegian Sky was docked. After

standing in a long line carrying all of our luggage, moving a foot or two every minute, we finally made it inside the building. After having our luggage taken, we waited approximately another hour and a half until we boarded the ship. It was a mad house! Not a very quick process if you ask me. Once inside the Norwegian Sky and having a chance to investigate all the places to go, I wasn't impressed very much. Yes, it was clean and the glass elevators were sparkling, but the "WOW" effect just wasn't there. The Norwegian Sky's decor is very simplistic and toned down. Almost every review you'll read about the small cabin size on the Norwegian Sky. This review is no exception. We had 4 people scrunched into one small cabin room. Even with just 2 people it would have still been rather small. Nevertheless, we had fun living in such small quarters. The shower was the best part of it all, as it didn't drain as quickly as the water came out - which meant water overflowed and covered the bathroom floor. The staff onboard the Norwegian Sky is relatively friendly. A few instances, mostly the male staff members at the bars, were silent and made no effort to smile or even pretend to enjoy their self. But on the other hand, everyone else seemed cheerful and glad to take care of you. The food on the Norwegian Sky wasn't anything spectacular. I'm a very picky eater anyways, so I didn't try anything very creative. But from other people's reactions, I could tell they weren’t thrilled with the food either. Luckily there was a 24-hour pizza service at Ciao-Chow's. You have the option of cheese, pepperoni, or veggie pizza. I did enjoy the Chocoholic Buffet where everything was chocolate. Aside from the food, the alcoholic drinks seemed expensive with a 15% gratuity added to the already expensive price. We purchased the Unlimited Soda program for everyone in our cabin, which cost $28.95. This allowed us just that, unlimited soda while on the ship. With sodas over a $1.75 a glass, this $28.95 purchase was well worth it... considering I probably had 4 sodas a day. Entertainment was very good on the ship. From singing, dancing, comedy, and magic the entertainment was very good and was something I always looked forward to! You definitely shouldn't miss the shows. The Norwegian Sky also offered an arcade room (which was pretty sad actually), some small shops, library, etc. At every port we took a shore excursion. We booked our excursions a month prior to going on the cruise. As a family we did the Totem Bight & Ketchikan City Tour, and the Skagway Street Car. My girlfriend and I also went on the Tram & Trek excursion and the Dominion Observatory excursion in Victoria, B.C. My parents went to Butchart Gardens in Victoria. Overall, the tours were very fun. The various drivers of the tour buses are what make it so fun. And finally, what you've all been waiting for! Alaska's beauty! Alaska is a very spectacular place visually. Mountains everywhere, trees everywhere. Snow capped mountains, jumping salmon, cool breezes, majestic glaciers. The scenery is just awesome! Yes, palm trees and sandy beaches are nice, but this is something even better! If you get the chance to go to Alaska, then definitely don't miss out on the adventure! The Norwegian Sky was suitable for the trip to Alaska, but I'm not sure I'd recommend taking this cruise ship. Look around with other companies, such as Princess or Carnival.

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By Anna_CR

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Jul 26, 2003

Alaska

I went on a cruise with 7 other members of my family, all of whom are very accomplished travelers. I can honestly say that from my experience (and theirs), we would not choose to cruise with NCL again. We had no problems with embarkation. It seemed to be efficient without much hassle. Debarkation was also relatively pain-free, although took a little longer than we had expected. They do let you remain in your stateroom until you are

called to debark. This was nice considering that the majority of people were crammed into the common areas prior to debarkation leaving no room to sit comfortably. It did not take us long to claim our luggage and proceed through customs. We purchased two tickets ($20 each) for the airport shuttle on board. Once we arrived at the airport, Alaska and United Airline passengers were able to check their luggage immediately upon exiting the bus without waiting in a busy terminal line. Our biggest disappointment was the food. We had read mixed reviews prior to our cruise so we didn't know what to expect. It was well-below average!! (Of course being a "foodie" from the SF Bay Area I am somewhat spoiled). It was NOT worth the extra money to eat in the two specialty restaurants on board as they offered no more reliable selections than the main dining rooms. The breakfast and lunch buffets were even worse. The buffets were very crowded with few places to sit. Service in the two main dining rooms was generally good and we had pleasant wait staff. We never had to wait to be seated, even when we ate as a large group. Personally, I don't mind freestyle or fixed seating as long as the food is decent. Our room was very small but we had expected this, so no surprises here. It was well-maintained for the duration of or cruise. We never actually saw our steward. There was no place on the ship quiet enough for reading or relaxed conversation. Everywhere we moved had music, smokers, a photographer, or someone giving a sales pitch. The only thing we purchased on the ship were photos that were taken up close of the glacier by the crew (three 8x10's for $20). They were pushing everything in their duty free shops and port-related interests ad nausea! Ketchikan was picturesque but very touristy. We had fantastic weather. We did not do any shore excursions there. Just wandered around and soaked up the sun. Juneau, being a larger port, offered a little more to do outside of the tourist realm. Newsflash...you are better off making you own arrangements for tours once you get off the ship. The shore excursions booked through NCL were far more expensive than necessary. We did book an excursion Through NCL to Mendenhall Glacier and the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. We had plenty of time at the glacier. We left promptly to go to the Salmon Bake and no sooner than we sat down, they announced that Norwegian Sky passengers would have to leave on the next shuttle bus to make it back to the ship on time!! We were very upset, as were others from our ship. We should have been better off making earlier arrangements ourselves to the glacier. A bus was only $5 from the pier with a $3 admission fee to the glacier. The Salmon Bake by itself is $29. We paid $69 for our excursion and were barely able to get all of our lunch down! Skagway was the most picturesque port. We took the White Pass Railway tour and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is very popular so booking it through the cruise may be the way to go. It was $99 through NCL and I believe it is $82 otherwise depending on the time of the year. The downtown is similar to Ketchikan from a "touristy" standpoint. By the time I had gone to these three ports, I never wanted to see a Diamonds International store again! Cruising to the Sawyer Glacier was an awesome experience. We had great weather and the scenery alone was worth the price of the cruise. Victoria was also a great port; much larger city, and more cosmopolitan with better shopping and restaurants. The breathtaking scenery alone made up for most of the on board disappointment. My recommendation...if you have to cruise to Alaska on NCL eat off of the ship when at all possible, try to schedule most of your excursions as you exit the ship in each port, and take ear plugs if you want to enjoy reading.

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Jul 19, 2003

Alaska

This was our first cruise. We went with another couple, and a father and 10 year old girl. We started in Seattle, arriving a day early and docked at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria. There was plenty to do for everyone, in fact, not enough hours in the day to get all accomplished! The ship is beautiful, the crew and staff wonderful. I enjoyed meeting the crewmembers and learning how they got to be part of the crew. They were very

friendly and fun to talk to. The side excursions were excellent. I didn't hear anyone mention any trip they wouldn't recommend. We did the whale watch (humpback's) trip in Juneau and had a wonderful guide and boat driver. (this was a jet boat, and a heck of alot of fun). We saw 40 to 50 whales and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Even the older passengers enjoyed the "jet boat". The bus driver that took us to the harbor was a lot of fun, too. She pointed out various sites and we saw about 200 juvenile bald eages! In Skagway we took the train ride, but after the whale watch trip it wasn't quite as exciting, but I know the other passengers loved it. The glacier was beautiful but not quite what I expected. There was no "calving" the day we were there, but the scenery was great. The weather was great the entire trip, with just a little rain in Ketchikan, but the shopping made up for that! I thought it was the best shopping area of all ports. Skagway, the worst. In Victoria we signed up for another whale watch excursion (the Orca's) and this was entirely different. The boat was not covered, the seas were very choppy and everyone got very, very wet. They handed out ski jackets to everyone as they boarded along with stocking caps. Those that didn't put them on initially, even though they were warned, had them on quickly after starting out. Again we saw many whales, but the captain paled in comparison to the narration to the guide in Juneau. It was definitly an experience, I haven't decided if it was good or just so/so. In regard to the ship, the only suggestions I would make is some sort of weather channel or weather update as to what was predicted. Also, there are no smoking areas of the ship, but they are discreetly marked so the smokers either didn't notice or chose not to care. The non smoking area was not enforced as far as I could tell. The food was OK. Not great. Expect a 2 hour dinner if you go to one of the restaurants. Since we had a 10 year old with us, she got a little restless. The Observations Bar was wonderful with a great view of the upcoming scenery. The entertainment was also wonderful. I especially enjoyed Sealegs Cirque in the Stardust Lounge! If I could buy a video of that production, I would! The dancers were marvelous and they really outdid themselves in all that they did. I think most of them were involved in multiple productions and I know that two of them gave dance lessons during the day that were a joy to watch! Boarding and debarking were absolutely painless. There was plenty of staff to make it a pleasurable experience, unlike an airport. One warning however. the airport in Seattle is a disaster. We were off the ship and in a cab on the way to the airport at 10:30 on Sat. am. We stood in 2 lines, one to check baggage, (30 minutes) and the other was the security line (1 hour). The line snaked on and on for what looked like forever. I heard several people say this was the only bad part of the trip. I would recommend this trip, this ship. We had an outside cabin and I would recommend spending the extra dollars. There was adequate storage and room despite what I had heard and the Freestyle Dining is great!

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Jul 12, 2003

Alaska - Inside Passage

My wife and I just returned from a 7 day cruise to Alaska on the Sky we sailed on 7/12/03 from Seattle. We are both 38 years old and have kids, but we traveled without them. The Norwegian Sky is in very good condition (it was built in 1999). Everything was working (pools, spas, elevators, etc.). The only exception I noted was that the plastic outdoor tables in the Great Outdoor cafe are looking a bit rough and should be replaced. Shaun,

our port and cruise consultant, was fun and entertaining. We ate our dinners in the Four Seasons and Seven Seas restaurants -- very good service. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Great Outdoor Cafe in the aft part of the ship. The older passengers showed up at the adjoining indoor Garden Cafe (the other buffet) before sunrise to reserve the best spots, so we didn't even try. Watch out for the crows/seabirds at the Juneau port -- you may get some extra cream in your coffee if you are eating outside! There is a cool hidden secret for food on the ship -- the Pizza buffet. It runs 24 hours a day and serves up great cheese, veggie, and pepperoni pizza! It is located next to the Sports Bar on the aft part of the ship on level 11. The staff overall does not bend over backwards to cater to you on the outset. But I noticed that those passengers who took a few minutes to exchange conversation with their servers got much more favorable service. If you are not already aware, NCL has implemented a practice they call hassle free tipping. This means that you will be charged $10.00 US per day per person to cover all tips for all crew members (the only exception to this being the luggage porters at the embarkation / debarkation points). While I found this to be easier to deal with than stuffing cash into envelopes the last night of the cruise, I have a problem with using the term tipping with this program. The term TIP or TIPS is actually an acronym for To Insure Prompt Service. If you were a service employee of NCL, it would easy to see there is not much incentive to work harder at being prompt when you know your tip is already in the bank. I think NCL should rename this program Hassle Free Yet Mandatory Gratuity, which at least would true up what the money is going for. Our room attendant stuck to a strict time schedule for making up our room in the morning and in doing the turn down service at night. Night life was boring and, to be honest, totally non-existent. However, we booked the cruise knowing that. Activity on the ship pretty much wound down at around 8:30 p.m. at night. The ship is a ghost ship at 8:30 p.m. at night. There were a couple of folk artists on the ship who played in the smaller bars, including the Windjammer. Unfortunately, I only got to listen to them as I passed through. Juneau was the best port and I wish we could have stayed there longer. Sawyer Glacier was breathtaking, not to mention a little chilly! Skagway was a tourist trap -- not much to see. I could not justify spending $80 to $100 for a train ride on the White Pass. All land tours can be booked cheaper if you do them yourself when you're in port. The only tour I would book with the cruise ship would be the White Pass train, since it will likely be sold out by time you can get to the ticket office in town. We would definitely take Norwegian again, but not to Alaska too boring at night. It is also a little frustrating for people our age to have to navigate around the more senior people who abound on these cruises. If you want to see if you have what it takes to do this, try doing a few laps around the buffet lines at Old Country Buffet on a Sunday morning at around noon time. One final note about the Norwegian Sky - I found out during a future cruise presentation that it is going to be rebadged as The Pride of Aloha in mid-2004 and redeployed as a US flagged ship in Hawaii.

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Jul 12, 2003

Alaska

My experience on the Norwegian Sky was absolutely delightful. There were activities planned from 9:00 a.m. into the early morning hours. The crew was pleasant and helpful. We were allowed to board early, and the whole process took less than 30 minutes. We also were able to get off of the ship early which made our return travel plans much easier to arrange. We were pleased with the outstanding shows. The commedians individual artists

and show band were fantastic. While the food has been criticized by some passengers, I found it to be very good. I like the freestyle idea because we were on our honeymoon, and it was nice to sit by ourselves at times. However, we also enjoyed meeting other guests while dining. The service was excellent even though I missed getting to know my waitor as I did on previous cruises. Over all I would rank this cruise line very high because of the interaction between staff and guest as well as the tremendous entertainment.

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Jul 5, 2003

Alaska

After 27 cruises, this was our first time aboard NCL. We found it a delightful experience and we would surely sail NCL again, although it would not be our line of choice. It is a lovely and exceptionally well maintained ship. I fault the design in having a surprising number of varying levels on a single deck. This means that often there are two steps or an incline, making it difficult for handicapped and elderly people to maneuver. Another

design problem is the smaller than normal staterooms. We had three people in our cabin. We expected limited space and adapted to it, thanks to the height of the beds which allowed us to store our luggage underneath. However, even with two people, the space is rather cramped. A nice surprise was that the mattresses were probably the most comfortable we have experienced. They were actually level instead of concave. In general, we enjoyed the “Free Style Cruising”, but it does have some drawbacks. We never managed to adapt our schedule so that we could eat at a convenient time and still see the shows, but that was our problem. Do tell your clients that the dress code in the brochures is mostly correct when it says “How you dress is up to you” (pg. 10, Freestyle Alaska 2003). I was turned away from the main dining room because I was wearing jeans. I don’t object to a dress code, but they should adhere to their stated policy. What if a person read this and brought nothing but jeans? The food in the main dining room was excellent; far superior to what we had expected. The dining service was courteous and usually efficient, although not always prompt. We had a delightful dinner in the Chiao Chow alternative dining room, but did not sample the other two specialty restaurants. Nor did we eat in the Garden Cafe (lido deck) except for morning smoked salmon and cream cheese. The buffet selections always looked good, but there was far less selection than other lines. While most of the crew were friendly and helpful, we found the Maitre’d and the Reception Desk personnel to be surly and unhelpful. We objected to the interminable and redundant announcements by the cruise director. I realize they have to make money on their various activities, but the constant commercialism cheapened the experience. The other major negative was the worst cabin steward we’ve ever had. Not only did he not make himself known to us, but he failed to recognize that there were three of us in the stateroom. He never left 3 glasses, rarely vacuumed, varied the number of pillows from 5 to 7, failed to refresh our ice bucket several times and was generally careless in many details. For this reason, we do not favor the tipping policy which puts it on your bill and distributes it to the entire service crew. We thought about tipping at each meal but realized that our servers would still get their share of the total billed to all passengers. Likewise, there was no way of penalizing our cabin steward without shorting the entire staff. We thoroughly enjoyed the ports of call and had wonderful experiences on shore excursions. We took a wonderful helicopter to the glaciers in Juneau, a calm but delightful ride on the Yukon and White Pass Railroad in Skagway, and a zodiac boat for whale watching in Victoria. Our guide took us a long way from the city, as he looked for a pod of 27 Orca whales. He found them and we were able to view them from two locations. Debarkation was the easiest ever. Because we took nothing but carry-on luggage, we were able to debark as soon as the ship was cleared. There was still no luggage in the terminal when we walked through, and we caught the first cab in the line. I would have no compunction recommending NCL to clients.

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Jun 21, 2003

Alaska

I had a great time on the Norwegian Sky on June 21 & have some good info for all of you lucky enough to also be going! I went with my Mom & we had a great time. We had a balcony cabin (#1011 - port side foreword), which was really nice since the scenery is spectacular the minute you leave Seattle & sail between Vancouver Island & the mainland. You can't always be on the deck, so I highly recommend a balcony so you can

get ready for dinner & not miss the dramatic forested islands & snow covered mountains everywhere. Also we saw dolphins & whales from our balcony, as well as incredible sunrises & sunsets. The cabin itself is pretty small, though, probably the smallest I've been in! Maybe a few inches bigger than a regular cabin w/o a balcony, but maybe even the same size. There is one regular closet where you could hang long dresses, but the other closet has the ONLY dresser in the cabin. It has a measly 3 small drawers, with the safe on top of it & a little space above to hang some tops & skirts, but not much else. We had read about the small cabins before going, so we did cut back on what we brought. We still brought a lot & we did okay, since we planned ahead. We brought one of those closet organizers to give us some extra shelves, which really came in handy. Also, there is only one outlet in the whole cabin & it's only a 2 pronged one. So, if you need to plug in something w/ 3 prongs, or more than one outlet, bring a converter. The ship is really not very formal, except on the one formal night when men wore suits or tuxedo's (which was at the Captain's Cocktail Party on Sunday). The other nights, people were wearing everything from skirts, pants, & even jeans in the dining room. I'll start with some shopping advice for those going to Skagway. All the shops have the same sort of stuff, but they are much more expensive. There was a store in Skagway called the Skagway Outlet Store (S.O.S.) & they had the absolute best prices on all kinds of souvenirs. $1.00 for a regular sized calendar with awesome pictures of Alaska! Plus it has a little map of the Inside Passage on the inside cover. Also they had lots of magnets for $1.00, including really cute totem poles. You could get a pack of 6 key chains from all the different cities for $2.99. Postcards were 10 for a dollar!! We had already shopped in the other ports, so I only spent about $30.00, but I came away with tons of stuff!! I only wish I bought more! The Alaska chocolate bars were $2.00 each (same price as the other places I went to) & boy are they good! A great gift would be: a magnet, chocolate bar & calendar ($4.00 total!). For kids, a chocolate bar & a teddy bear with the Alaska star pattern on it ($3.00 total). You could also get great jewelry, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, photo albums (including one really neat one with a leather type cover with a map of Alaska on the outside cover. I bought this in a different city for $10.00, but I bet it was allot less at S.O.S.! Pick up a free local color ad if you see one while walking through town. They have coupons in the back where they give you a free wooden train whistle; a fun souvenir after visiting Skagway! Also those teddy bears were buy one get one free, so they turn out to be $1.00 each! You go to the back of the store to redeem the train whistle. I didn't have a coupon, but the guy gave me one anyway and one of the ads with coupons for other stores too. They were really nice there. Everyone in town (90% of the people, seriously!) is carrying around these yellow & black bags from the store. That's how we discovered it & I wish it was the only shopping I did! My favorite excursion was the Orca by Jet Boat for $69.00 in Victoria. The ship offers two different trips & we did the jet boats with the hydrophones, so you can hear the Orcas noises over the boat's speakers. The boat went pretty fast, which was really fun! They give you a nice warm jacket & a hat, since it does get super windy. The Orcas got within about 10 feet of some of the other boats out there! There were so many in all different directions; it was really spectacular! Also in Victoria is a really neat place called Crystal Gardens. It's only about a 20 minute walk from the ship, or you can take the bus ($5.00 Round trip). Lots of endangered animals, exotic birds, plants, flowers, butterflies, etc. All inside a really neat glass domed building. It's $14.00 to get in, but well worth it. We paid with a credit card, because they can't give American currency as change. So, if you don't want Canadian money as a souvenir, bring exact change or a credit card! In Seattle, go to the Gold Rush Museum, in the Pioneer Square district. It's run by the National Park Service, so it's free to get in & they have very knowledgeable Park Rangers that gave us a great summary of the history. They have a few different short films they play and also lots of artifacts & pictures of the Klondike Gold Rush. The Chocoholics Buffet was Thursday at 3:00. They give you a tiny plate & you go through the line. Then they ask you if you want to sit in the dining room or else they'll put your goodies on a paper plate to take back to your cabin. That's what we did, because we had a big lunch that day. The chocolate covered strawberries were heaven, even the next day! They made a great snack in between our 2 excursions (Orca trip & Crystal Gardens). Don't miss the magician - Monday night & Friday morning. In the dining rooms, request a table by the window. Also if you find a waiter you like, request his station! Feel free to email me if you have any questions. Happy Cruising!

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May 31, 2003

Alaska

My wife and I just returned from our 7-day Alaska cruise aboard the Norwegian Sky. To put it short, we were impressed with almost everything about the ship, the staff and the cruise. It was our first cruise, and as such we booked our airline tickets through NCL. We were met at the baggage claim at Sea-Tac by an NCL representative. We collected our bags (make sure you tag them before flying) and began the rather long hike to the bus

to be driven to the pier. Beware, the bus area can seem chaotic – apparently, those on the bus we got on had been waiting up to an hour to depart. Serendipity was on our side, and we left right after boarding the bus. Once on the ship, you will have to go through the mandatory life-boat drill. This took approximately 45 minutes (according to other, more seasoned cruisers this was long) and its length was mainly due to people not paying attention and arriving late at their muster stations. Once the cruise was underway, all went well. The restaurants (at least the ones we visited) were excellent, the service was always top-notch. One night, they had a President’s Dinner, and the menu offered up good cuisine even more so than usual. We did not try the paying restaurants, mostly because we were satisfied with the food and service in the Four Seasons or the Seven Seas. We heard the food at Le Bistro, one of the paying restaurants, was excellent, however. We tended to avoid the Garden Café, for two reasons: one, it is a buffet, and though the food was good it simply paled compared to the other restaurants; and two, it was the eating place of choice for those with kids on board and as a result it is almost always packed, except very late at night. A tip: arrive at the restaurants around 6:15. They open at 5:30 and there is always a line, it is gone by 6:15. Seriously, we never once had to wait for a table. The maitre de will ask if you would prefer to sit by yourself or with others, we were seated immediately regardless of which format we chose. We went to three shows on the ship, one an extravagant dance routine that’s sure to impress people who like dancing; another was an award winning magician who was very entertaining. The other was a comedian, Daryl Joyce, who was very amusing. We visited the dance club Checkers a few times, mostly to watch really bad singers attempt karaoke. Beware the gift shops; of course, they are very pricey. Amazingly, I noticed more than a few people buying binoculars because they had forgotten their own. Do yourself a favor and bring your own -if you don’t own any get a good pair as the scenery is simply spectacular. We kept track of our expenses on the ship and as such it was no great shock that we had heard about in other reviews. Neither of us is a heavy drinker, but even with some cocktails, a massage and a shore excursion the bill was frankly lower than we thought it would be! The ship also has a reception desk on Deck 5 in the Atrium where they will print you an up-to-date account anytime, as well. In addition, we had hoped to take advantage of the Internet Café to email info and pics home during the trip; at $.75 per minute and a one time $3.95 log-on fee, however, we find the cost too much and elected not to use the café. The room was cozy (I suppose a polite term for small). Our advice is to unpack immediately at your first chance. Utilize the space they give you, including the drawers and there is room under the bed for your bags. We were on Deck 9 with a balcony. We highly recommend going this route. The room was VERY quiet, with minimal engineering noises, and the balcony was fantastic, well worth the price. The housekeeping staff deserves probably the biggest kudos of them all; they were all very friendly and extremely helpful. I heard an unfortunate tale of someone having a problem with their room arrangement but I am a firm believer in having a sunny disposition with help staff – it more often than not results in good service with a smile. The ports of call are wonderful. I used to live in Alaska and so I knew generally what to expect. My wife was blown away by the scenery and is in fact planning our next trip as I write this review. We will probably travel independently next time, taking advantage of the Alaska Marine Highway. The ferries ply the Inland Passage waters and allow you much more freedom in exploring the area fully and at your leisure. Ketchikan is a nice little town, the so-called “First City of Alaska.” The people were all very friendly and we ate at Annabelle’s for lunch. I thought the lunch was good, my wife disagreed, and nevertheless we then elected to eat on the ship for lunch from then on. Juneau was very nice; we took a city tour which was very interesting. We felt rushed in Juneau, however, and we were back on the ship by noon. Had we more time we would have taken the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts, but at approximately $20 per person round trip we didn’t have enough time to justify the cost. Skagway was our favorite, as the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush it is teeming with history. Much of the downtown is actually a U.S. Park maintained by the Park Service. They offer a free walking tour from their headquarters – we highly recommend it. You’ll learn all about the gold rush, Soapy Smith, Frank Reid and all of the other characters of long ago. It was here that we took our shore excursion. We hiked the Klondike Trial (only about 2 miles worth) and then floated down the Taiya River. NCL lists the trip as “Hiking and Floating the Chilkoot Trail” – it was well worth it. The hike was through beautiful country and the float was very nice. The breeze on the river is strong so bring proper gear. Our guide, Patrick, was very informative and enthusiastic, and all in all we enjoyed it. Our only concern was that we didn’t take any other shore excursions – we heard from others who saw Orcas on whale-watching trips and the like. Do as many as you can afford! Sawyer Glacier was very pretty, be sure to bring a telephoto lens for your camera (there are lots of seals on the bergs floating in the Tracy Arm). We also enjoyed Victoria, B.C. At the Parliament building downtown there is a very nice and free walking tour of the building and premises. It was very informative and be sure to look for the oak from Indiana and Kentucky! Some caution about Victoria: very expensive and it can get warm in the summer so bring shorts for this port of call! The Inland Passage was beautiful, to say the least. If you are like me, you need to know where you are all of the time, so be sure to get a good map of the area. If you find yourself without a map you can view the very detailed map outside of the observation lounge on Deck 11. The Alaska Historical Society puts out a great history and wildlife guide to the area, as well. Debarkation on the last day was hectic. They assign colored tags to everyone and your bags must be put out the night before (they’ll go over all of this some time before) you actually leave. Unfortunately, our bus was late and as they began calling colors over the PA system, they skipped ours. There was no explanation why our color was not called over the PA, so we had to inquire on the debarkation Deck (Deck 5). We waited quite a while! Try to be understanding, though -there are two thousand people on board and so things like this take time under the best of circumstances. I heard a lot of griping and moaning and I was a little embarrassed for those people, frankly. We did hear from a few people (mostly older folks who cruise often) who griped about one thing or another. Don’t worry, keep an open mind and remember that with that many people on board, not everything will be 100% perfect all of the time. Nevertheless, the staff was wonderful, the food was great and scenery alone is worth the price of admission. I guess some go for the casino and bars -my wife and I went to see Southeast Alaska, and the NCL Norwegian Sky is an excellent way to see it! Some last tips: Arrange your flights to give you at least some time in Seattle. Through NCL, there is none. We would have liked to spend more time in the Emerald City and we should have thought it through better. Bring food on the plane – Alaska gave us none save for a remarkably small bag of peanuts. Thus, we had no lunch and no time to snack once we got on the ship due to the hour of our flight and the life-boat drill. We didn’t eat until that night for dinner and by then I was ready to eat my life preserver. The no-tipping and freestyle cruising formats are very liberating and help to make everything not too “stuffy”. If you run, don’t run too much on the steel deck on Deck 6 (my knees were killing me afterwards). Use the gym on Deck 11 – at night it is very quiet and while running there on treadmills my wife and I watched a school of porpoises playing off the port side of the ship. Bring some cheap plastic hangers for the closet – they provide you with some but probably not enough! Get room service for breakfast when you have a shore excursion to catch or on the last morning – it is much more relaxing than running around and worrying about not having enough time! Sit with others for dinner, especially early in the cruise. You’ll meet many interesting folks and enjoy everything that much more. For those gear heads like me, there are NO tours of the bridge or the engine room. Drag. For soda (pop) drinkers NCL does have a reusable container that you pay one price for, $28 and you can have all of the soda you want throughout the cruise. If you choose not to do this keep in mind that you will pay $1.72 for one can of soda with gratuity included. We do not drink much soda so it was not worth while for us. There is no fan in the bathroom in your stateroom so be sure to bring air freshener. The floor of the bathroom may tend to get a little wet when showering, so bring flip flops and make sure you wipe up the water that gets on the floor or else your wife may get angry at you after getting the bottom of her pants wet when using the toilet. Be sure to bring rain gear as chances of it raining at some point on your cruise are fairly high. Bring something to combat motion sickness. My wife had a problem with this on the open ocean. We saw many people with the behind the ear patch that seemed to work very well for them. We’ve been told by a cruising veteran (29 cruises) that eating helps. If you go on deck, take your camera - each and every time. Smile a lot, talk to people, enjoy yourself and enjoy your cruise! Feel free to email if you have any questions.

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May 24, 2003

Alaska

My husband and I have taken six cruises in the past twelve years, prior to this Cruise. Three cruises were on Carnival (Hawaii, Bahamas, Southern Caribbean), one on Holland America (Alaska) and one on Norwegian (Western Caribbean). I spent some time on the Internet, researching the ports of call for this cruise. I knew just want I wanted to do at each port. The ports of call on our Alaska cruise were great and the scenery was breathtaking.

We had a medium size suite with a large window. Security personnel and equipment was abundant and tight, which eased my mind. In Ketchikan, we took a self pace walking tour of the town. The town was quaint, had small shops and a charming marina. Eight years ago, we took a tour of two totem pole parks. The totem pole parks were great but we wanted to do something different. In Juneau, we took a self pace walking tour of the town, also. We went to the state capitol, governor’s mansion, a rain forest and did some shopping. We saw many eagles flying over the town. We took an awesome floatplane tour out of Juneau, eight years ago. The cruise ship went to Sawyer Glacier, one afternoon. The approximately one hour trip (each way) down a very narrow river in a big ship to the glacier was as fascinating as seeing the glacier itself. Sawyer Glacier was at the end of the river. The cruise ship did a 180 in the small cove, which was very remarkable. Icebergs were floating in the water and seals were on many of the icebergs. It was beautiful. Eight years ago, we toured Glacier Bay, instead of Sawyer Glacier. Glacier Bay had lots of glaciers, seals and icebergs. Skagway is a small town of 800 people, but grows to 4800 when two cruise ships arrive daily during the months May through September. The Klondike gold rush trip started there in 1897. We took a scenic three and a half hour ride (round trip) on the old train to White Pass like the miners did over one hundred years ago. The train climbed nearly 3000 feet (sea level to the pass). Do not miss the train ride. The train ride cost $89 per adult at the depot or $99 on the ship. We saw one whale after we left Skagway. Our last port stop was Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. We made a quick stop at the Empress Hotel, walked around some flower gardens, Chinatown and did some shipping. Three years ago, we spent three days in Victoria and went to the Parliament Buildings, Empress Hotel, Royal British Columbia Museum, Butchart Gardens and Craigdarroch castle. Do not miss Butchart Gardens. Eight years ago, we toured Sitka instead of Victoria and Skagway. Sitka is a small Russian like town with a beautiful state park abundant with totem poles. The dining room service was very slow. Lunch and dinner took 105 to 120 minutes everyday. This service took 60 to 75 minutes on our other cruises. Two hours is just too long for me. Norwegian started Free Style cruising recently. They do not have assign dinner (evening) seating anymore. You are seated at different tables, with a different waiter, with different people each night and you can go to dinner at any time. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. At the end of the cruise, my tips are distributed to all waitpersons, not just my assigned waitperson during the cruise because I did not have an assigned waitperson. Why give great service when tips are not given based on service. Ten dollars per day per person was charged to my credit card for tips. This money was distributed to all ship staff. I believe tips should be given on based on quality of service. Service in the dining was poor compared to my other cruises. On our other cruises the waitpersons were part of the entertainment and you never had to ask for more water, tea or coffee. Cruisers can wear formal or informal (blue jeans) attire in the formal dining rooms in the evenings every night. There are no formal nights but some cruisers wore formal attire on the captain’s night and farewell dinner night. My husband and I prefer to dress up for dinner in the dining room. If we want to be more relaxed, we go to the cafeteria. Our room steward took good care of our room but we did not get any special services like our other cruises. For example, expect no towel animals. The ship was neat and clean. Safety procedures were good. The nightly shows were great. Events on the ship were not publicized like we experienced on our other cruises and there were fewer ship events to attend (things to do). Norwegian booked our air flights on Delta Airlines. I called Delta to get assigned seating for my husband and I. Delta said I had to get assigned seating at the airport when I arrived there. I did not know that Norwegian booked our air flights extremely late. After our cruise, twelve Norwegian cruisers (including my husband and I) did not have seats because our flight was over booked. Everyone on the Princess Cruise Line had assigned seating. Good for Princess cruisers. A couple people cancelled so we made our flight unlike a few other poor souls. My husband and I were not seated together but at least we were on our flight. Norwegian is my least favorite cruise line out of the four cruise lines I have experienced. My husband feels the same about that. Although, my husband and I enjoyed our cruise, we will probably avoid Norwegian Cruise Line in the future. The staff is better on the other cruise lines. For the first time, after a cruise, my husband and I were ready to go home.

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May 6, 2003

San Francisco, Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver

This was a repositioning cruise for the Norwegian Sky to begin its Alaskan cruise service for 2003. We were two of a group of eight people taking advantage of the unique opportunity to begin a cruise from the beautiful port of San Francisco. We arrived at pier 35 and our luggage was immediately handled by a courteous and professional stevedore. (Be sure and have a few dollars ready for these hard working gentlemen). This is the last

time you will see your checked luggage until the ship has left the port, so if there are items you may need in the meantime, carry them with you. There was a long line of people waiting to board the ship, and we recommend that you arrive very early to avoid the delay. Upon boarding the ship we were directed to our staterooms. Food was available at the buffet and the bars were open. We took advantage of the opportunity to explore our new surroundings and ready ourselves for the delightful experience of setting off on a voyage through the Golden Gate. Norwegian Cruise Lines has pioneered the concept of 'freestyle cruising' which means you may dine whenever and wherever you please. There are a couple of specialty restaurants on board which charge a $10.00 service charge if you want to eat there. We opted not to try them, and enjoyed most of our meals in the main dining rooms. Despite the fact that we never had the same servers twice, the quality of both the food and service was outstanding every time. An extensive wine list and a knowledgeable wine steward perfectly complemented the exceptional food and the professional dining room staff. There are many bars on board and believe me we tried them all. From our formidable bar tabs we clearly enjoyed ourselves! There are punch cards available at the bars which, when completed, entitle you to various freebies. We recommend starting immediately, as by the end of the cruise you will no doubt have joined us in the ranks of 'Official Bar Hoppers' and have a t-shirt and liter bottle of your favorite potable to prove it. Our cabin stewards, though rarely seen, did an outstanding job of keeping up our stateroom, and anticipating our every need. Even though the cruise line automatically adds a daily $10 per person gratuity to cover both the cabin and dining staff, we feel the quality of service we received was worth a bit extra, so we tipped accordingly and felt it was much appreciated. There is no point in elaborating on the ports of call. This ship stopped at three of the best destinations on the west coast. Any one of the three cities (Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver) would be worthy of a vacation on their own. Our return flight from Vancouver to San Francisco on Alaska Airlines was not until later in the afternoon (May 11th) so we opted to take a tour of the city arranged by the cruise line which dropped us off with our luggage at the Vancouver airport. The tour was interesting and informative and we recommend it. Overall, this trip was delightful both for the experienced and novice cruisers in our group. We believe cruising, like any other form of travel, is what YOU make of it. We have all booked passage again on the Norwegian Sky for 2004, and look forward to meeting you on our next voyage! All the best!

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Jan 19, 2003

Southern Caribbean

This was our first ever cruise. Not knowing what to expect, we were surprised at what we did encounter. Had a great time. We'll definitely do it again with the same cruise line. Only bad things were the size of the room, check-in in San Juan, and some of the shore excursions. We had a suite with balcony. The balcony made all the difference. The room was small

but efficient. Didn't spend allot of time there anyway so it wasn't to bad. The check-in procedure in San Juan needs improvement. While standing in line to check-in, your handed a form to fill out first before check-in. The form is small and they didn't provide a pen, pencil or place to sit and fill it out. Quite hectic. You'll need your passport / birth cert. drivers license, credit card, cruise receipt, and this form to check in. Bring a pen and be ready. The shore excursion to Martinque was a poor. Feel like I didn't get my monies worth. Didn't see or do half of what was listed. Heard same opinions from others. NCL should consider dropping Mart. from their stops. The on-board cruise consultant advised passengers that Mart. was poor. Bad shopping, poor excursions, bad attitudes of locals. If possible, either just go to a beach or stay on board. The food was top rate. The free style cruise experience was great. No complaints with service or ship. The entertainment was good not great. Staff friendly and helpful.

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Jan 12, 2003

Southern Caribbean

This was my third cruise, the 1st being a 3 day Disney, the second the NCL Sun Western Caribbean. This was my favorite, the people on the boat and the itinerary making it so. I am a 32 yo F respiratory therapist who took my 28 yo mechanic boyfriend on his first cruise. We are hippies who travel a lot but I never thought I'd get him to cruise,

he always thought he would be stuck on a boat full of stuffy rich people with nothing to do! Well, needless to say he is now hooked! -but he agrees with me that freestyle is the only way to go. I found a great deal on airfare from Northwest, 220$ rt from Pittsburgh to San Juan- whoopee! -but for this price we had to arrive Thursday, leave Monday, cruise was Sunday to Sunday. Hmmm, do I want to hang around beautiful 85 degree Puerto Rico for 4 days around my cruise when I could be home in 10 degree Pittsburgh weather? let me think, --YEP! We rented a car to explore the island, what an adventure! Puerto Ricans are very friendly until they get behind the wheel of a car! I'm a pretty aggressive driver, so I had no problem, but I know my mother would have probably been a nervous wreck driving there. It's nice to have a car to explore the out island, roads are well marked, (though signs are in Spanish) and there are some beautiful scenic drives, but to go into Old San Juan, rent a cab! We toured the Caribbean National Forest, El Yunque, the Rio Camuy Caves, and the Areico Observatory. This island is beautiful, and worth a couple days exploration. If you want a hotel pre or post cruise the Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel and Casino is a good choice right across the street from the cruise terminal. We stayed at the Wyndham Condado which is about 15 min and a $14 cab ride from the terminal, but pretty pricey, we're talking 6$ at the bar for a Budweiser! There are stores and cheaper restaurants within walking distance of both hotels. We arrived at the terminal around noon and were on the ship by 12:30. The ship was immaculate, new carpeting throughout and no sign of wear and tear that I could see. We had a room on the oslo deck 6a, where you had to get off the elevator on 7 and go down 1 flight of steps. I liked it because it was easy to get everywhere from our room without getting lost or losing sense of direction! It was also just up one flight and down two and out the door onto the Promenade deck. Our room did have a window, which was nice but not very necessary, we were never in the room! I found the staff to be very friendly, not overly so, like on the Disney ship, but I don't pay much attention to that kind of stuff, I am very down to earth and don't expect to be kowtowed to by every employee at every moment like some people. Everybody had a friendly smile and was very professional, my room was immaculate all the time, and the ship was kept very clean and well-run. For me, freestyle dining is the only way to go. I am a friendly person but I don't like eating with strangers, I want to be able to stuff my face and not have to feel like I have to converse with others! I also want to go to dinner when I'm hungry and ready, not at a prescribed time! The Maitre-d always asked us if we wanted to share a table, but we never had to wait for a private one, although we did always go to dinner before 7pm. I heard people say they had to wait a little if they ate from 7-9pm. All the waiters we had were prompt and professional, and seemed to be having a good time with each other. There were review cards on the tables that the staff asked us to fill out. Since the tipping is freestyle, they have competitions where they are rewarded for good service, so its not like they have no incentives for providing it. Each night in the main restaurants had a different theme, A chef's dinner, President's dinner, Caribbean night, etc. The day at sea formal night's Captain's dinner menu was the only night lobster was served. Every night had lots of variety, though we are very picky, so we always ordered some simple form of fish, steak or chicken, and these were always delicious, and so tender you could cut them with a fork! On Caribbean night, be sure to try the honey-yogurt dressing on the salad, yum-my! Almost every day, and some nights there were poolside buffets, two nights they set up huge grills and cooked steaks and seafood stir-fry with shrimp and clams dumped in by the bucketful. The chocoholic buffet was not to be missed! There were cakes cookies and pastries galore, lots of fruits dipped in chocolate, and a huge ice cream bar with tons of different toppings! Even if you don't like chocolate, it was worth it just to go see the beautiful setup, with huge ice sculptures and baskets of flowers made entirely of fruit. We never got to eat in any of the 10$ pp cover charge alternative restaurants this cruise, but here is a sampling of the menus: Horizons: Air-cured bresaola with arugula and parmesan cheese flakes: Thinly sliced raw tenderloin of beef sprinkled with olive oil, balsimico and parmesan cheese; Homemade forest mushroom ravioli in roast onion broth; Pureed red bean soup with broken pasta and scallions; Tomato consommé' with pesto and goats cheese ravioli and lobster medallions; Deep dish trio of risotto and long and short pasta; Shrimp scampi with forty cloves of garlic; Milanese style breast of free-range chicken, potato and Swiss chard gratin; Char-broiled veal chop on pan jus with wild mushroom ragout; Braised lamb shanks in red wine, herbs and root vegetables; Beef medallions with vegetable peperonata and pesto pizza sauce; Poached pear on warm gorgonzola, ciabatta bread; Homemade Zabaglione with seasonal fresh fruits Le Bistro: Norwegian seafood timbale; French escargots in garlic butter; Cream of forest mushroom soup in sourdough loaf; Beef consommé' with julienne of vegetables in a golden pastry dome; Seared yellow-fin tuna salad: Filet mignon with foie gras and truffled veal jus; Salmon fillet in sorrel cream sauce; Mille-Feuille of seabass with tomato concasse' and mushroom duxelles; Vegetarian four seasons; Chocolate Fondue; Apple tart ala mode; Lemon tart Ciao Chow: Sushi and Sashimi bar; New world pizzas with peeking duck and sweet plum sauce on sesame crust, goat's cheese and sun dried tomatoes with basil oil on California crust, prosciutto and artichoke hearts with arugula and parmesan-reggiano cheese; Macadamia nut crusted mahi-mahi; Druken asian spiced shrimp and squid atop caesar salad; Sirloin steak with japanese wafu sauce; Grilled kaffir lime juice and coconut milk marinated chicken breast on enoki and endive salad: Lentil and vegetable curry; Sweet pizza tarts with creme anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream with apple, pear, passion fruit or peach tart, etc, etc, etc! Also in this restaurant there was a 24 hour pizzeria, great for the 3am munchies!!! For those on a budget like me, the pool bar always had a special of buy a bucket of 5 beers, get one free! (around $16 for domestic)- and there were buy one get one free drinks in Checkers from 12-1am! And at all bars you could get a big 16 or 20 oz draft for the same price as a bottle! The entertainment was the best! The Jean-Anne Ryan troupe puts on the best shows. They did a broadway-type show, and a Cirque-type show that were outstanding. There was a singer named Joni Butler, who sang alot of Broadway-type music and had a beautiful voice, a very funny comedian and a comedy-magician. There was always something going on, a 50's and 60's party, 70's party, Caribbean deck party, Karaoke, Big Band music, intimate piano music, Who wants to be a millionaire, The weakest link game show, etc. etc. There was really something for everyone going on all the time. NCL entertainment is top-notch! I was very impressed by the talent of all the performers on this ship. The cruise director, Denny Anderson and his staff were okay, but I was so spoiled by the exceptional talent of Paul Baya and his staff on the NCL Sun that everyone else pales in comparison! The ports: St Lucia; We did not check out the port area here as we took the full day Land and Sea to the Pitons tour. We were loaded onto newer air-conditioned small buses, which took a very scenic route to the pitons. We stopped several times at scenic overlooks for pictures and a little quick shopping, then went to a small, scenic fishing village for about 30 min to shop. At each stop you kind of got swamped with locals trying to sell you trinkets, but they were very friendly and a simple "no thanks" worked! We then wound our way through some of the most beautiful scenery, banana fields as far as the eye could see, with palm tree covered hillsides behind, tropical flowers growing wild all over the place, cows, goats, horses and chickens just hanging out by the side of the road! It was kind of frustrating because I wanted to stop everywhere and take pictures, but we just drove through because we were on a schedule. We next stopped at a guesthouse for a buffet lunch of spicy chicken, cole slaw, potato salad and some fishy entrees followed by coconut ice cream. Next, we went to see the sulphur springs, I wasn't too impressed here, it stunk like rotten eggs and wasn't very scenic, but interesting if you've never seen anything like this. We then went to the Diamond Botanical Gardens that were so packed with tourists you couldn't even appreciate them! It was very pretty here, but just too many people. Finally, we went through Soufriere to a pier and boarded a big catamaran where we got good shots of the pitons as we sailed back to the ship drinking free rum punch. We stopped at Anse Cochon bay to swim for about an hour. If you brought your own snorkel gear with you, you could snorkel, but I didn't see many fish, there was no reef here, just alot of rocks. This tour was nice because you got to see a lot of the island by land and sea, but I like to take alot a pictures and wanted to stop more often to do so. We also had to wait around alot for people to get done shopping before we could move on. It is nice, though, to have someone from the island tell you of the island's history and culture. For instance, our guide told us that there are about 3 girls for every 1 man on St Lucia, and it was not uncommon for a man to have a wife and 1 or more girlfriends! It would be unheard of for a woman to say she's going to leave her husband because he was being unfaithful, she would be lucky to even have a husband! Next time, I think I would like to rent a car and take my time touring this island, there are just so many scenic areas. Renting a car would be a challenge here, the roads are very twisty-windy, with many blind curves. Careful! Barbados; I spent the morning here shopping and sightseeing around town, there is an excellent shopping plaza right where the ship docks, and downtown shopping is a 5 min cab ride away. The ship terminal is very well run, with different exits and lines for island tours, cabs downtown, car rentals, etc. Around noon I went back to the ship to collect my boyfriend and we got a private taxi for an island tour. I would DEFINITELY recommend this over one of the ship's tours. The ships tours are so expensive to see two or three places in 3-4 hours when you can hire a cab for about 80$ for 4 hours. We saw the beautiful Andromeda gardens (hardly any other people here!) the Barbados wildlife reserve, (so-so, we couldn't figure out why they would have a big pen full of bunnys and guinea pigs until we walked into the next area full of very large snakes!!!) St Johns church, Cherry tree hill, Farley Hill National Park, and drove along the East Coast Road and saw Bathsheba. It was a wonderful tour, and we got to stop wherever we wanted to take pictures. I heard Harrison's Cave wasn't anywhere near as nice as America's Luray Caverns or Carlsbad Caverns, and its always PACKED, with long lines, especially if you're not on a tour. We just researched where we wanted to go, and handed the list to the cab driver and away we went! We were going to rent a car here but heard that the roads are poorly marked and its easy to get lost, so we were glad to relax and enjoy the views. Dominica; We did not check out the port area here either, as we booked two tours. In the morning, we did the best of Dominica tour, where we were again loaded into smaller air conditioned busses. I liked this tour, we drove through some very picturesque areas, stopping at interesting points so we could take pictures out the windows. It rained on and off a lot, not surprising as Dominica gets about 360 inches of rain a year! I loved this island, it was sooo lush, everything spongy and moss covered, with ferns and tiny mushrooms growing everywhere. We went to the Trafalgar falls, where we walked about 20 min to a lookout deck with wonderful views of the falls. There were guides there that would take you right up to the falls, (about another 1/2 hour hike over rocky terrain) but we couldn't go down to the falls as time did not allow on this tour. We next stopped at a beautiful guest house and gardens for complimentary drinks and great photo opportunities, then it was on to the Emerald Pool. There was another 20 min moderate hike through awesome rainforest to the pool, a pretty grotto with a waterfall into the pool where you could swim if you wanted. There were opportunities to shop and buy local food, drinks and beer at all the stops. We tried the local Kubuli beer and liked it better than Coronas! This island is unique because of how lush it is, you definitely have to check out the interior! In the afternoon, we did the Champagne Reef snorkel. This reef is accessable from the shore, and close to where the ship docks. You can just ask the cab driver to take you there and wait for you, for around 40$ a cab, way cheaper than the ship's excursion. You just have to walk a little way down a rocky beach to get to the where the reef is. We like NCL's dive/snorkel excursions though because members of their dive staff come with you and snorkel with you. You can certainly go off on your own, but its neat to follow them around, they know the area well and show you all the best areas, and point out lots of creatures that you may not have even noticed. This reef was pretty cool, there was the area where the gasses come out of the sea floor, looking like you were snorkeling in a big bottle of champagne, then there was some pretty decent reef, and a wall that dropped about 80 feet. We saw a moray eel, a manta ray, lots of big squid and a puffed out puffer fish! St. Kitts; Went shopping and toured the port area in the morning, not much shopping here at all! There a couple cool old churches to check out, especially the Anglican church with headstones in the graveyard dating back to the 1600's. Later we hired a cab for an island tour, we stopped at the Brimstone Hill fortress, a must-see here, the views are unbelievable! You can see Nevis, Monserrrat, Saba, St Martin and St. Barts from here. Just stay away from the cats there-they bite if you try to pet them!!! We stopped at Carabelle Batik and shopped and checked out the gardens, then drove around the island. Our cab driver took us to the side of the island where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic, you can see where the two different colored waters meet, pretty cool with awesome views. St Thomas; We were here for a week 5 years ago and loved it! We had a hard time deciding what we wanted to see again- we opted for a trip over to St John to check out Trunk Bay. We took a 8$ pp taxi from the port to Red Hook, then took the $6 pp round trip ferry over to Cruz bay St John, then another $4 pp taxi ride to Trunk Bay. Still much cheaper than the ships excursion, and you can take your time and shop in town while you wait for ferries. We were kind of bummed about Trunk Bay this time, there weren't half as many fish, but its still a nice snorkel area right off a beach. The thing that kind of stinks about St. Thomas and St John is that you can't seem to get a private taxi, they load you onto open air trams with 12 other people. So you have to wait until the tram is full to go anywhere! St John is beautiful, lots of great beaches and scenic lookouts, and the whole island is a national park, so its kept pristine. You need to rent a car here to really enjoy it. Driving is on the left, but the cars are American with the steering wheel still on the left. making it easy to forget to drive on the left! St Thomas is great for shoppers, there is a huge shopping area right off the boats, and downtown is a 5 min cab ride. Dont miss the Paradise Point Gondola. It takes you up to a lookout area with a bar and restaurant with the most wonderful view of Charlotte Amalie and the ships in port. Its $15 pp, but worth it! This is within walking distance of where the ships dock. St Peters greathouse is something to see, its a beautiful house on a hill with wonderful gardens and views of the British Virgin Islands and St John from its deck that are breathtaking! St Thomas and St John are definitely my favorite islands in the Caribbean. There's just too much to do here in one day! Be prepared, US immigration mandates that EVERYONE go through immigration the morning you dock in St Thomas or you're not allowed off the ship in St Thomas, and you have to go through immigration in Puerto Rico. So don't sleep in and miss immigration or you will be sorry! There was a wide variety of people on this ship, not too many kids, though! A lot of Canadians, mostly middle aged. Most people were very friendly and seemed happy to be there. I found alot of people on the Disney ship to be snobby, especially our tablemates at dinner, which turned me off to anything but freestyle cruising. I am by no means rich, and am so happy and grateful to be on a vacation I can't be anything BUT friendly! A great site to check out for maps of the islands is www.caribline.com. You can view the maps online or order them to help you plan your trip. I would recommend this cruise because of the itinerary, the laid back people onboard, the top-notch entertainment and of course the freestyle. Any questions feel free to email me Happy cruising!

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Jun 16, 2002

Alaska Sawyer Glacier Seattle to Seattle

Patricia Martin Alaska Sawyer Glacier Seattle to Seattle My husband, teenage daughter, and I decided to choose Norwegian Sky for our third cruise to Alaska, after reading reviews from former cruisers. This was our first cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines, having cruised with Carnival and Celebrity previously. We arrived at Seattle airport with no transfer reservations, but there was an NCL representative right at the

baggage area selling them, so we took advantage of that and arrived at the ship within 45 minutes of picking up our luggage, Since we arrived at about 3:00, the check-in line was shorter than it had been, but it was still quite long, It moved quickly, though, and the actual check-in procedure was very quick. We were in our cabin by 3:30, and found there was still food to be had at the buffet area on deck 11. Our cabin was, as advertised in the reviews we read, very small, especially to people used to the much larger cabins on Carnival and Celebrity. It was attractive, with light colors and blond wood. The bed was two singles put together, and the third bed for our daughter was a small hideaway sofa (about loveseat size). There were only three small drawers in the cabin. Since we did not bring formalwear for this trip, we found the closet to be adequate, but it would not have been for long dresses and suits. Since we knew in advance that the cabin was small, we booked a category BC with a balcony. The balcony was great, not huge but perfectly adequate, and very private. It also made the room seem a little larger than it was, not to mention giving us some great views of the scenery, ports, and glaciers. The bathroom is also very small, and the shower was a problem for my husband, who is somewhat hefty. The biggest problem with the shower was that the temperature alternated between scalding hot and freezing cold several times during each shower. The sink area has some shelves on either side of the mirror, so we were able to put out our toiletries for daily use, which was nice. The cabin has a safe, a small refrigerator, and a hair dryer, which was woefully underpowered and made me glad I brought my own. The bed is very hard, but I found it very comfortable and slept quite well. The sofa bed mattress was kind of lumpy, though. Honestly, while the cabin was barely adequate in size for two, I can’t recommend having three or more in it. When both beds were down, you literally had to crawl over one of them to get to either the bathroom on one side or the balcony on the other. The ship was nicely decorated and not garish, which made a nice change from Carnival. The atrium, with its four glass-enclosed elevators, was especially nice, and had good areas for quiet sitting and/or reading. One problem was that you had to go through the casino, with all its smoke and noise, to conveniently get to the shopping mall area. Since none of us drink, we didn’t use the bars except for smoothies for our daughter, but they seemed nice and not usually crowded. The disco, Checkers, was very busy most nights, and everybody seemed to be having a good time. There was live music, not canned, which was nice. Anyone under 18 must leave Checkers before midnight, so be forewarned. There was a small but nice library, but the hours when items could be checked out were very limited. The reviews I read before the cruise made me very nervous about the food, so I was agreeably surprised by it. We ate in either the Four Seasons or the Seven Seas dining rooms for dinner every night. The service was excellent, with no sign that the staff didn’t care because their tips were assured. We did miss the feeling that our table waiter got to know our preferences that we had on the traditional cruises we had been on before, but the freedom to sit down where and when we wanted made up for it. The food, while maybe not gourmet in style or standard, was very good, and the quantities were awesome. The appetizers were particularly great, and I’m still drooling over a sturgeon pate with caviar. While not 100%, the meat entrees were better than a lot of the ships we have been on, particularly the beef dishes. Salads were pretty ho-hum, but tasty, and the desserts were fine but limited. Ice cream is available at every meal, and the quantity is good. I was concerned about long waits for a table, but we only had to wait once, and we went to dinner at times ranging from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. We had our choice of a table for just us, or being placed at one of the bigger tables with other cruisers, and we did both. People were wearing pretty much everything from nice weekend outfits or pants and tops or sweaters to jeans and t-shirts, although this was supposed to not be allowed. On the formal night, there were people in sequins and tuxes scattered among those of us in khakis and sweaters. We ate our breakfasts or lunches in the Garden Buffet, and that food was okay, but not great. There were a limited number of choices, and the quality was medium. There was a great fresh-cooked pasta station out on the deck one day, but they made the mistake of trying to barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs under an awning on another day, which sent smoke all the way to the elevator area and made the rear open deck area uninhabitable. There are no fresh-cooked stations at breakfast for omelets, etc. The pizza station is actually within the Ciao-Chow specialty restaurant, which can be a little confusing, as at some times you have to order the pizza, pick it up, and leave the restaurant or they will charge you the $10.00 cover charge. We chose not to eat in the different specialty restaurants, but some shipboard acquaintances did, and their opinions were generally good, especially of the Horizons restaurant. We attended three of the musical revue productions in the show lounge. The room is pretty good sized, but if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself with a pillar blocking a good portion of the stage. The seating is on banquettes or individual bar-style chairs, which is comfortable, but makes it awkward to let someone past to his seat. The musicals were very well done, with a higher than average pool of talent among the performers. My husband attended a performance by a magician-ventriloquist and loved it, too. We found that it was much better to attend the later show (either 9:30 or 10:30, depending on the night), since it was harder to get a seat at the earlier show and you had to arrive much earlier. We were able to get decent seats just 10 minutes before showtime at the later show. One thing which I noticed about the Norwegian Sky was that it was the smoothest cruise ship I have ever been on, with virtually no motion from the sea. Also, there was almost no noise or vibration from the engines. Our cabin, 9245, was almost amidships, which may account for some of it, but we didn’t experience much motion on other parts of the ship, either. We were fortunate that the weather was very good for almost the entire cruise, but there were days when there were whitecaps on the ocean, and we still didn’t feel much motion. The ports we visited were great, and the weather was too, but since this was our third Alaska cruise, we took only one shore excursion, in Skagway. We actually booked the excursion through Port Promotions rather than the ship, since they offered the same tour for less money. The selection of shore excursions offered by the ship seemed very broad, and the Dive In programs would appeal to the more physically adventurous cruiser. All of the ports in Alaska are easy to walk in and interesting. We felt that this cruise, probably because it’s round-trip Seattle to Seattle, had less time in port that we wanted, and the hours were sometimes awkward (i.e., Haines, a quaint little town we hadn’t visited before: 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm). The day at Sawyer Glacier was nice, with good views of the glacier and beautiful scenery. There were hundreds of Harbor seals and their pups sunning on ice floes at the foot of the glacier. The most amazing thing to me, after five previous cruises, was the ease of disembarkation. We were given colored luggage tags corresponding to our travel plans, and yes, we did have to pack and put our luggage in the hallway by 3:00 am. But we were free to sleep as long as we wished, to eat breakfast whenever and wherever we wanted, and to go back to our cabin and wait for our color to be called if we wished! This was heaven compared to the “herd you together like cattle and then wait” procedure we had experienced before. The whole ship was disembarked by 10:30, with no pain and no snarling passengers. We went through customs and immigration, picked up our luggage, and were in a taxi within 30 minutes of leaving our cabin. I started this cruise very skeptical about the Freestyle Cruising experience, but I found I liked it a lot. The pluses, not wearing dressy clothing, eating when we were ready to, and sitting in different parts of the two dining rooms, outweighed the minus of the waiters not getting to know our preferences. There were plenty of things to do during the day if you wanted to participate, and the ship itself is lovely. I am perfectly prepared to take a Norwegian cruise again, although I think this will be it for Alaska. Panama Canal, anyone?

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May 19, 2002

Alaska Inside Passage

We booked this cruise and then began to look at reviews about this ship. We were more than a little worried since all reviews were negative, no matter which cruise forum we looked at. We decided to wait and let the ship speak for itself. So, here is our account of the May 19th Inside Passage cruise. (We have sailed on RCCL, Carnival, and Celebrity. We are 40 year old parents of a 17 year old and a 13 year old, both traveling with us) We arrived

at the Seattle Pier at 11:00 and were greeted by the nicest personnel we could ask for. We were inside with our room keys by 11:30, a new record for us! Upon entering the ship we were happy to see a beautiful, clean ship with happy and efficient personnel. If only the rest of the cruise went this smoothly! We went to our room, or should I say cracker box. We had our two children with us and we had absolutely NOWHERE to put anything. You get three Barbie size drawers…period! It made for a very cramped week. We went to the buffet to grab a quick snack before dinner and were totally disgusted with the choices. The buffet was terrible the entire week! The ice cream is under lock and key, and only available from 3-5 P.M. if you want to wait in line for an hour. We went to the Seven Seas dining room and received extremely slow and unfriendly service topped off with mediocre food. The service is so slow you better plan on at least 2 hours, but expect up to three hours to finish your meal. We tried again at breakfast, and that evening for dinner with the same experience. We decided to try Le Bistro and were thrilled with white glove service and FANTASTIC food. We ate there the rest of the week for dinner at a cost of 40.00 per night, which covers the tips in alternative restaurants. The problem I have with this is that it’s obvious that NCL is capable of training great staff, and serving outstanding food. However if you want it you are forced to pay extra. No other ship we have ever sailed on has treated us this way; we have always had fantastic service and good food included in the price of the cruise. Additionally, they automatically add the tips to your bill even if you never dine in the main restaurants. ($280.00 for 4 people for 7 days) This irritated me to no end so I went to the pursers desk to complain. They told us we could take off the tips if we would fill out a form, so we did. The nightlife is nonexistent; the daily activities are nothing more than sales talks by the cruise staff. There is NOTHING to do on this cruise except sleep and wait for the port cities. My children were bored to death, truthfully so were my husband and I. This was the most disappointing vacation of our lives! We would NEVER recommend NCL to anyone. There are way too many great cruise lines out there to choose from! If you have any questions fell free to write me. Lisa

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Apr 21, 2002

Ensenada to Pier 66 in Seattle

This is the 2nd time I have had the privilege to sail with this ship in the last year. Everything is still great. I did post a review after the Alaska cruise this last summer. The only thing different this time is that I found the steam/sauna area! Feel embarrassed that it took me this long to find the facility. It is on the 11th deck, opposite the workout area. I always thought that was a pricey business for massage and attention to women’s hair.

Well it may be that, but it also does contain the sauna and steam room, along with a shower facility. Only other pearl of wisdom I wish to share with you is the secret about Eggs Benedict. If you ask your waiter, they will be able to tell you the specific morning when it will be served (and only in the dining room, probably 7 Seas, not the 11th deck breakfast area). Your waiter can also tell you which night will feature Lobster/Baked Alaska for dinner. (many times it will be the same night as the Eggs Benedict) They no longer allow passengers to view the bridge. That was a great part of the experience for us last summer. It is a shame that security concerns have eliminated that from your choices. If you have an inside cabin, be sure to bring a nightlight. The Piano/vocalist person (Rob Ellis) that we had the good fortune to experience last summer is now elsewhere. If he happens to be on your ship, appreciate him dearly. Many of the other musicians who try to fill that role don't come close to his skill level. Rob does sell CD's of his work, but I have not been able to get NCL to tell me how to obtain one. (once we are off the ship, NCL doesn't seem to want any further contact)

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Mar 23, 2002

Western Caribbean

The embarkation was terrible. Arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 1:30. Got to dock at 2:40. Didn't get on ship til 4:10. The drill was already starting. Found our room....Never ever met our steward. Didn't know his name until Tuesday when a card appeared on our desk. Had better service at the Holiday Inn! Our room was sometimes not made up 'til 1PM and not turned down til 9PM. Never had such bad service....Our room was 9231 and a couple we met was in 9218

and had Felix, too so he had quite a few rooms. Other people had wonderful service. Freestyle dining is okay if you like to eat when you want, but service was shaky. Dinner is not the "event" it is on ships where there is assigned dining. Because of the above problems I wish we had the option to do our own tipping, not being billed at the beginning the standard rate. Usually I tip according to service. On a positive note, the entertainment was the best ever experienced. Even last year with B.J. Thomas and the Coasters on the RCCL ship didn't match this. It was great. The Sky is a beautiful ship and would cruise NCL again as long as we didn't get Felix as a cabin steward.

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Nov 9, 2001

Hawaii

Steve Moore hawaii, fanning island Norwegian Sky, Hawaii and Fanning Island, November 9, 2001, ten days My wife and I wanted something a little different for our eighth cruise, having been to much of the Caribbean and Mexico, and never to Hawaii. NCL's Sky appealed to us because we were able to visit much of Hawaii included four days at sea, two each way to Fanning Island. Fanning Island was a real

treat for us, but many passengers got off the tender, took one look around at the lack of stores, and got back in line for the ship. We were surprised to see as long a line to go back when we arrived around 10:30 on the island. We hiked and took in this culture and very much appreciated the chance to have this once in a lifetime experience. Time has stopped on Fanning Island. The natives are friendly, live in grass huts, don't have phones of electricity, but did have a few tables set up to sell crafts. We bought a T-shirt. There was food from the ship and drinks, including beer, that you could just sign for. This is a beautiful, unspoiled place, just like in the movies. The ship sailed from Honolulu, with stops in Kona, Hilo, Maui, and Kauai. Fanning Island was in the middle. Maui is a beautiful town that you can walk around easily. The tenders bring you right to the middle of town. We took the bicycle ride down the "highway to Hana" and this was probably the best excursion we've ever had on any ship, ever. It takes all day, but the ship stays in Maui until 10:00 PM, so there's plenty of time to sight see after the bike trip. The trip to Volcano National park is a "must do" in Hilo. The ship offers several ways to see it, from a bus tour, to bike trip, to a fairly rigorous seven mile hike in and out of two volcano craters. It looks like the surface of the moon and the guides are knowledgeable about volcanoes, and the animal and plant life that lives in the park. In Hilo, like Kauai, the ship docks in an industrial part of the island, so you can't really walk to any shops. What's missing from a cruise in Hawaii? All the vendors constantly bugging you to buy their stuff. It's a little hard to get used to! But we did. We discovered the ABC stores on all the islands, a gift/drug/liquor store chain that has prices that beat everyone's. We bought wine, beer, and pop every couple of days, and probably saved enough money to go on the next cruise. It's also nice to have US pay phones, if you have kids at home with a baby sitter. Cell phones work in every port too. The ship. We've been on the largest, and much smaller. We like them all for different reasons, but probably lean towards large as we are active and don't spend hours and hours by the pool. This ship mid-sized, allowing us to become familiar with some of the passengers and easily figure out the layout of the ship. Pools are saltwater which only matters if you like to swim laps and aren't used to it. Service was good and we thought the food was a notch above some of the other lines. Drinks were a little skimpy. They must use specially made 4oz wine glasses. Freestyle dining was a foreign concept to us, and to those who have been around awhile, it might take some adjustment. However, we ended up loving it. For us, the early seating interferes with cocktail time, and the late seating means too much cocktail time. We had a table for two almost every meal and although we did not have the usual experience of getting to know six table mates, we found plenty of other times to meet people and dinner was more relaxed because you didn't feel the need to be social all the time. The dining room staff was good and you can ask to sit at your same table every night (you might have to wait a little) and get to know the staff. We went to the early shows some nights and the late on others. We have decided that we will always choose ships with this option. The alternative restaurants didn't interest us much. There was a $10 charge and the main dining room menus always looked too good to pass up and pay extra to boot. We did try the Italian restaurant one night and it was very good. On other ships we've tried the smaller restaurants to just to be by ourselves. On the Sky, there's not much difference in atmosphere between a table for two in the main dining room and a cozy table in one of the smaller restaurants. Shows were very good, especially NCL's own production of Cirque du Soleil and the Andrew Lloyd Weber show. The bars offered hot appetizers at different times and this was a huge treat. Not just chex mix, but real good stuff. Also, the sports bar had hot dogs and nachos. There was very little live entertainment by the pool, but there was always Hawaiian music inside in the lobby. Pizza was good and they'd make a whole custom pie to take with you. The ship was very clean and the crew does a good job trying to make everyone happy. We always marvel at the things people find to complain about, but there seem to be fewer complainers (and smokers) on the west coast cruises than those of the Caribbean. We've always found ships to have mostly good workers, always an occasional exception, but that's life. There's plenty of closet space, even in the inside cabins that we always book. Rooms have a fridge (great for chilling that Chardonnay that you bought in port) and internet access. There was no huge central, multi storied, atrium. This ship was designed a little more like a ship and less like a floating version of the MGM Grand hotel. We like both, don't get me wrong. If you like to run/jog/walk, the Sky has the biggest track I've experienced. 3.5 times around equals one mile. I've been on some where it's more like 12 times around. The track was wide enough for runners and walkers and only takes a slight incline/decline at the front of the ship. It's on one of the lower decks and was covered so you're out of the direct sun. The health club was good, more free weights than most ships and plenty of machines. The exercise classes were plentiful, especially while at sea. Boarding and departing the ship were smooth. One thing that NCL does a great job of, and they don't talk about it enough, is their Freestyle disembarkation. You can sleep in if you want to, go to breakfast at the normal time, and not get off the ship until 10:00. Most flights from Honolulu leave in the afternoon or evening, so why rush. I've always hated setting an alarm on the last morning. Why don't the other cruise lines do this, seems obvious. As I said earlier, we've liked all of our cruises, for different reasons. I would not hesitate to recommend this ship or itinerary. Mahalo

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Aug 12, 2001

Ensenada to Pier 66 in Seattle

John Mikesch Entry process was efficient, well organized, quick.  Ship is beautiful, yet not garish or neon.  Ride was very smooth, one night on the open ocean a little bumpy, but the Transderm-Scop patch was compeletly effective.  Food was great, and i was traveling with some people who might have been critical.  No complaints from anybody. Felt the ship could have offered a few more public bathrooms. The piano/vocalist

(Rob Ellis)at the Atrium on deck 7 is VERY GOOD. You don't need a nightlight, extension cord, or have to worry about the beds being too hard (things i prepared for from reading previous reviews). I would recommend you NOT sign up for shore excursions ahead of time.  Most of them can be arranged for when you arrive at each port, and usually at a lower cost.  Often when you get to a location, you might wish to use your time differently.  We were tempted to try Le Bistro and Horizon, but frankly were so happy with the normal dining rooms (4 Seasons and 7 Seas), that we ate all our major meals there. We were VERY happy to have made the decision to sail in and out of Seattle, much easier than Vancouver, B.C.

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Jun 26, 2001

Alaska

Erica Burchette "Awesome" - the very best cruise experience that I have ever had! The "Freestyle Cruising" experience was absolutely wonderful. We never had to wait for a table and we ate at a different time each night. The Dining Room staff was excellent, the food was delicious and beautiful! Entertainment, the best at sea! The morning of disembarkation, we woke up and leisurely had a delicious full breakfast in the dining

room, went back to our cabin picked up our bags and left the ship without feeling pressured to hurry off. Norwegian has a Super product in the Sky!!!!!! It's a winner!!!!

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May 27, 2001

Alaska

Jeffrey B Runyan This was our second cruise and my wife and I decided to do something special for my 50th birthday. I selected Alaska, after all it was my birthday. We fortunately were the first cruise ship of the year to do the inside passage. We selected NCL as we were very pleased with the service and the great dollar value. Mind you, this isn't the QE2, but neither is the price. The worst part of this seven day adventure

was the Port of Seattle. What a night mare for both embarkation and debarkation. We have done another line since and learned that this does not have to the 'breaking point' in ones vacation much less their marriage. Pass the bad and on to the good. The Sky was the line’s newest ship at the time and a beautiful one at that. She had app 2,200 passengers and about 13 decks. We were on the last passenger deck the 11th with a veranda. Now, being nurses we can't afford the luxury for such accommodations but NCL made our 'dream trip' much better through the Latitudes Club. This free service is for anyone that has done NCL before. When I originally booked my bottom rung cabin I got an automatic upgrade of four decks. Two months before the sail I got call from NCL with an offer to upgrade to the top deck with a veranda for $150.00--what a deal. The cabin was 145 sf with a 40sf veranda. A little small and little stow space but imagine the first morning waking up and looking out of your bed through the glass window and door at snow cap mountains. All this for $150 more just by filling out a membership card!! Let me quickly give you a quick overview: The ship--you would not want a cruise any shorter than a week due to the Sky’s massive size. She has numerous public areas all with beautiful glass windows and sky lights. The atrium is adorned with huge open areas looking right up through to the top deck. Although some class this is as a mega-liner she still plenty of private areas to relax. The food is very good and NCL offers a variety of 'alternative' dining, most which will cost an additional ten dollars a person. Save the money and enjoy the dinners in the dining rooms. If you enjoy the night life the shows in the show room are top notch. Broadway entertainment quality. Great lounge acts through out the ship. The casino is as fun as any in Vegas. The crew was great and went out of their way to make your trip more enjoyable. The sail and sign cards with your name on them were a great way for the crew to make you feel more welcome when they referred to you by name. The ports (Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan) were all fantastic. One tip--the shore excursions offered on board are very expensive. The same deals are available on the docks for half to the third of the price. The key to packing for shore in Alaska is wet weather gear and layered clothing. NCL makes this easy as the 'freestyle' mode limits the number of dress nights and allows one to me more informal. Overall, Margaret and I thoroughly enjoyed our two NCL cruises and just completed a Carnival cruise this week. Although Carnival could teach NCL a heck of a lot about moving people on and off ships, they cannot match the quality for the dollar value of Norwegian. I surely feel there will be another NCL vacation in our future. Thanks and please use my e-mail address for any additional information.

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May 6, 2001

Alaska

P & H Blackmoor We chose NCL and the Sky for the itinerary and the ship leaving from Seattle.  It was the cruise to end all cruises - on NCL! Alaska is breathtaking beautiful even during this time of the year.  Expect cool, some snow, rain and wind.  But we found that not to be a problem.  We took rain poncho's and dressed in layers and were quite comfortable.    As NCL's shore excursions are pricey, we booked

our own on www.portpromotions.com and found them to be excellent and 1/3 of the cost on NCL.  We would highly recommend them. We did know this was free-style cruising and we have done this type of cruise in Europe and had no problems.  NCL is another story!  They do not have their act together. From the beginning we encountered problems with our transfers, their "creative pricing" on cabins and their less than customer friendly staff. The transfer from Sea/Tac airport to the ship was utter chaos and totally disoraganized.  We waited after going thru the maze of lines to get "checked in" over 35 minutes for the bus that no one seemed to know where it was. When we finally arrived at the pier, our carry-on luggage, with our cameras, binoculars (a must) medicine, etc. was taken out and thrown into a bin and we hastily got off the bus to retrieve it, along with the rest of the passengers who were dismayed.  Inside the pier, the lines were long and slow.  Being "Latitude" members we finally were "ushered" to the front of the line.  The only benefit of this membership! We had an outside balcony cabin on the 10th deck.  Miniscule in size; storage space is nil and the bed......they must have received a good deal from a high security penal institution or the Army.  The mattress (?) is no more than 3" filled with who knows what and placed on a metal ripple slab.  Comfort level....zip!  If you ask on arrival, you may be one of the lucky people to get a piece of foam to put on this thing.  This put new meaning to "Sleepless in Seattle"! The food - or dining experience -was just that.  An experience!  We tried the 4 Seasons first....don't know which was the worst - the service or the food.  Toss up.  Next, 7 Seas.  Our only salvation there was we met a waiter we had on a previous transatlantic cruise who knows what service and friendless mean, despite the terrible food.  The selection is very limited.  Then.....the Cafe'....words fail me here.  Undoubtedly all the leftovers are combined into some sort of goulosh they give some strange name; pale hot dogs float in water; greasy cheeseburgers are stacked like pancakes....and no help or assistance from "staff" while you try to juggle your tray and get a beverage and find a table which has been cleared from the past person(s).  Then on to The Horizon.  The service, selection, atmosphere was excellent. The presentation was better than the food.  The $10 per person "tip" we thought was way out of line.  Then LeBistro.....food, service.....on a scale of 1 to 10 would be a 3 at best.  Again, another $10 per person tip. Room service is very basic and limited.  OK for a pot of coffee and some rolls to get you going after a sleepless night on a marble slab. The entertainment was very good.  We have always enjoyed the Jean-Ann Ryan productions and were not disappointed.  Jane L. Powell should not be missed.  The theatre however, leaves a lot to be desired.  The sofa type rows are impossible to sit comfortably in and the barrel chairs are not much better.  We did not try the balcony as looking thru grill work didn't seem feasible.  Watch out for the seating behind the posts. There are 3 gift shops on board....rather limited in selection and very pricey. As we had a late flight departure we did sign-up for the Seattle tour to the airport.  The tour was well done.  However.....we weren't told until we arrived at the far end of the airport that the bus would let us out there!  There were no porters, skycaps, NCL people or anything that resembled help in getting us and our luggage to the opposite end where our airline was.  So, like mule trains, we pulled, lugged, and balanced luggage for this trek. In conclusion, on all our previous cruises we were saddend that it was over.......not the case in this one.  We couldn't wait to get off that ship and come home. We definitely intend on cruising Alaska again........it warrants more than one trip.  However, none of our future cruises will be on NCL......and that's the truth!

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Mar 11, 2001

Western Caribbean

Murray Smith, Joanne Burns & Family & Administrative Assistant Western Caribbean After our first cruise in September 2000 with Carnival's Sensation, we decided to take another cruise with our family during March break. The reason we chose the Sky was that we had heard it was good for teens. Instead of going into a detailed account, I will just touch on some items as it pertains to TEENS. CRUISING WITH TEENS 1.

Cabin Accommodations We had 2 inside rooms (8115 & 8116) on the Viking Deck. Both could accommodate 3 people. The teens were all in one cabin and we were in another. The cabins were booked as the guys & the gals rooms since no-one under 18 can be alone in a cabin - but since we were next door to each other, we thought it would be okay, which it was). The cabins were identical in size. There were 2 twin beds and a pull-out couch with a drape separating the two sleeping areas. A small desk with shelving above it held a t.v. and phone. In the bathroom, there is a hair dryer. Unfortunately, there was not enough storage space to unpack their clothes, so they just hung up any dresses or suits in the cupboard and kept their suitcases under their beds. The room is great for 2 people, but a little tight for 3, especially when the couch is pulled out. They tried their best to keep the room neat. 2. Teen's Crew We were told that the Sky had lots of things for teens to do. They have a teen program and we did encourage our three teens (aged 16, 15 & 13-turned 14 on the cruise) to go to the first teen event and the first teen disco. This was about the only "organized" teen thing they went to. They met quite a few friends at the teen disco on the first night and they seemed happy to go off and do their own thing. 3. Cruise News Activities Teens can join in any of the activities listed in the daily Cruise News (the daily newsletter), such as trivia games & win prizes. Sometimes in the evening, you have to be 18 and over to participate, but in the day, there didn't seem to be a problem. 4. Teen Activities Outdoors: There is an enclosed basketball & volleyball area on the second level above the pool area. This was quite a popular place. Beside this are 2 shuffleboard areas. There are 4 ping pong tables (2 on either side of the ship at the pool area). And of course, there are 2 pools and 4 jacuzzis. In front of the ship, there is a separate pool for younger children with a mini waterfall as well as a hot tub (for the parents!). Aerobics & Fitness Centre: There were a lot of interesting gym activities in the Cruise News, such as yoga, kick boxing, etc. & our girls wanted to attend these sessions. However, one thing that we found out was that the gym and any of these activities were for those aged 16 and over. This could have been a problem since one of our daughters is 16 and the other is 15. We talked to one of the gym staff and they said as long as they respect the property, there wouldn't be a problem and they could participate. The gym supervisor told us that they had had problems with teen "gangs" in the past, who had destroyed some property. Sports Afloat: In the Cruise News all the sport activities marked with a running shoe are part of the Sports Afloat Program. When you collect 14 vouchers you receive a free t-shirt. Our teens wanted to participate in this program, but it is strictly for adults. Too bad, they would have liked a free t-shirt, too. My opinion is that this program should be open to everyone. After all, you want to keep the teens happy because this will be the next market segment that the cruise lines will be going after. Video Arcade: There is a small video arcade near the casino that is open to children and teens. 5. Teen Disco One of the features that was stressed to me was that teens had their own disco. This was nice; however the teens liked going to Checkers (the adult dance area), because there was karaoke there and there was dancing with a D.J. The drawback here was that teens were not permitted to be in Checkers after 11:30 p.m. and were supposed to go to their own disco. Our teens said that no-one ever went to the teen disco and everyone was at Checkers. They didn't understand why they couldn't stay in Checkers because it was more fun. At Checkers, they always had some type of contest going on, like John Travolta contests, and I guess the teens wanted to participate in these events too! Other than singing karaoke practically every night, we also went to all the evening shows in the Stardust Lounge by the Jean Ryan Company, which were excellent! Hey, Mr. Producer was extremely well done and the singing and dancing was very professional. 6. Internet Café There is an internet café on board. At first we were concerned that our teens would be on the internet all the time and charge a fortune to their room. However, we talked about this before the cruise and they said they didn't want to go on it anyway since there would be other things to do. On the first night, they have a free internet sample and we encouraged them to go (free), and later in the week we received a flyer in our Cruise News which said all guests were permitted to use the internet café for 5 free minutes. Murray & I went on and entered a NCL contest on-line and it's amazing how fast 5 minutes flies by. If you're still worried about your child or teen using the internet, you can sign a waiver form saying that they are not permitted to go on the internet. It's a safeguard that's in place. When we were on the ship, there was also a weekly special for US$89.95 for unlimited internet use. We found this quite pricey. Our teens were happy with their 5 free minutes and sent some e-mails to their friends from the Sky within that time frame. 7. Drinks Teen Passport: The drinking age is 21 on board. The Teen Passport is basically a coupon book for non-alcoholic drinks and well worth the US$30.00 (?). Our teens really liked these because they could order all types of non-alcoholic drinks like soft drinks, banana daiquiris, and pina coladas, etc. I think there were about 30 coupons. The coupons could also be used at dinner. These drinks came in a small glass. If they want to get a non-alcoholic drink in a souvenir cup, they couldn't use their coupon book - they had to pay for these types of drinks with their signing card. We bought all our teens this passport. In the Teen Program, there were two events that they got in free if they had a passport. If they didn't they had to pay a small cover charge. Our teens had the passport, but never went to these events anyway. 8. Food We did not eat at any of the alternative restaurants, such as Le Bistro, Horizons or Ciao-Chow, because there was a US$10 per person cover charge, and for 5 people, that would have cost $50! Some of the items that were featured on the menus of these alternative restaurants (such as French Onion soup at Le Bistro), were eventually served in the main dining room. I'm sorry, but you can't tell me that the food is better at these alternative dining rooms, since all the food is prepared in the same kitchen. Maybe you're paying for atmosphere -- I'm not sure. We did peek into these restaurants and they were quite nice, but not nice enough to warrant paying $50 for our family to eat there. With Freestyle Cruising, there are no assigned meal times, such as you have to eat at 6:00 p.m. in a certain restaurant. The restaurants are open during certain times for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it is more like a restaurant. Our family was quite content to eat breakfast and lunch at either the Great Outdoor Café or Garden Café (cafeteria-style food). For dinner we normally ate around 6:00 p.m. at the Four Seasons Dining Room, and did try the Seven Seas Dining Room one night. We preferred the Four Seasons Dining Room and found a wonderful waiter and we requested a table in his section every night after we first had him. The one night we tried the Seven Seas Dining Room it was a bit rough and our daughter experienced a bit of stomach trouble. We thought that because this restaurant was towards the back of the ship it tended to be rougher, whereas the Four Seasons is mid-ship. Our son took advantage of room service on several occasions and enjoyed everything he got. The 24-hour pizza was also a big hit with all the teens and they liked to go there after Checkers. 9. Dress Code During the day, anything goes. Shorts, t-shirts, and if you're around the pool area, most people are in their bathing suits. We did tell our teens to pack a bathing suit cover-up, which was an extra t-shirt. We encouraged them to wear a pair of pants twice, etc., but to pack a clean t-shirt for each day (I personally like to wear a clean t-shirt each day and not recycle one from 2 days ago). In the evening, no shorts, t-shirts, jeans or beachwear are permitted in the dining rooms. Before the cruise, we had to buy our son a few pairs of casual pants (like khaki pants) and short-sleeved shirts, as he normally lives in jeans and t-shirts. One idea for teen boys is to buy a Hawaiian type short-sleeved shirt and wear a t-shirt underneath. This way you're dressed for dinner and later you can take off the shirt and wear the t-shirt. Another idea for boys is casual pants with a golf shirt. Girls should pack a white long sleeved sweater to wear in the evenings as the air conditioning in the lounges can get a bit cool. Other than the optional formal night, the dress code in the Four Seasons Dining Room seemed more relaxed than normal. This was probably due to the fact that there were a lot of teens on board, so they didn't really say anything if a teen wore a plain t-shirt to dinner, but was otherwise dressed neatly. The only time a dress code was really in effect was on the optional formal night, and the Four Seasons Dining Room was designated as the "formal dress" restaurant. A lot of people dressed up, especially since this was also a photo night. We had decided to dress up and the girls wore long gowns and our son wore a suit. We actually saw people who were turned away from this dining room because the man was not wearing a jacket and the woman was informally dressed. For this night only, if you preferred not to dress-up, you could eat at the Seven Seas Dining room, or in the two outdoor cafes. Dive In & Shore Excursions We had looked at the shore excursion booklet we received with our tickets and sort of made up our minds of what we wanted to do before the trip. Because it was March Break we knew that the ship would be crowded and we knew we had to sign-up for our shore excursions as soon as we got on the ship to get the ones we wanted before they filled up. My advice before signing up for any tour is to talk to your kids so that they will understand what to expect and what may happen when they choose a certain tour. Sometimes, there are additional tours offered on the Shore Excursion Sheet when you get on the ship (which was the case here). On the first night, the only part we found confusing was that there are two types of tours. One is offered through the Dive-In desk (snorkelling & scuba tours) and the others are offered through the Shore Excursion desk. As we wanted to take excursions with both areas, we had to line-up in two lines. The two lines were not very well organized and people were cutting in line, etc. For any Dive-In programs, you have to fill out a form with some questions about your health. If you participate in any Dive-In programs, you also get a certificate at the end of the week. Once you sign up, your tickets are delivered to your room. We signed up for the following tours. We couldn't sign up for everything or we'd be broke! As you can see, our teens were interested in active excursions: - Grand Cayman: Murray & the kids: Dive-In: Stingray Encounter (snorkelling) Me: Shore Excursion: Stingray City Island Tour (bus) - Ocho Rios: Me & the kids: Shore Excursion: Kayak to Dunn's River Falls Murray: Shore Excursion: Best of Ocho Rios/Falls (bus) - Great Stirrup Cay: All of us Dive In: Snorkelling Equipment for the Day Even though it was chaos in the line-up, it's a good idea to do this right away as quite a few tours did sell out. The Dolphin Encounter shore excursion (3 hrs. @US$95 each) for Nassau sold out the first day. Practically all the Dive-in programs sold out during the week. One of the first was Athol Island Snorkel Tour (3 hrs. @ US$32) in the Bahamas. The water in Grand Cayman & the Bahamas is a beautiful turquoise colour and probably the best place to snorkel from all the ports. Grand Cayman - Dive-In: Stingray Encounter (3 hrs. @ US$45 each) You go ashore by tender, which is a smaller boat. Murray took our teens on the "Stingray Encounter" which is offered through the Dive-in program. However, snorkelling with stingrays is not for everyone, and , as I later found out, there is a height restriction in order to participate. Murray told me that there were quite a few adults screaming as the stingrays approached and swam by or touched them. I don't think they really understood what this tour was all about. Here's a pic of Shannon holding a stingray. Sign up for the "late" Stingray City Snorkelling. That way, you can do your shopping first and then go snorkelling. I feel that after you've been snorkelling, you'll want to take a shower. Our teens had a fantastic time and thought this was the best part of the trip! Bring an underwater camera from home to take some excellent pics! Ocho Rios, Jamaica - Shore Excursion: Sea Kayaking/Dunn's River Falls (2 ½ hrs. @ US$59 each) You just walk right off the ship at this port. This is a really early tour as you have to be on the dock by 8:00 a.m.! This time, I took our teens on the adventure tour and Murray took the island bus tour. The reason I went with our teens is because there is a weight restriction. Sea kayaking is limited to those under 200 lbs. I was a bit nervous about signing up for this as I imagined huge waves crashing over my kayak. I also had never kayaked before. There is really nothing to worry about as you stay close to shore. Each kayak is made for 2 people, you wear life jackets and you kayak as a group. We kayaked to Dunn's River Falls (not too far away -- approx. 1 hr. water time). At Dunn's River Falls, you can climb up the falls if you want to. There are long lines of people from other tours holding hands going up the falls together. It looks like a Kindergarten group on a field trip. Anyway, I decided not to climb the falls and take pictures of our teens climbing. We did pay US$5 for some water shoes for each of our teens. This is a rip-off indeed, as Murray (on his Ocho Rios tour), climbed the falls in his sport sandals and had no problems at all. If you want to climb the falls, bring your own water shoes from home. The water shoes that you rent are so old and falling apart. It's a real scam. After all the group has finished climbing, you take a party boat back to your dock. Great Stirrup Cay -- NCL'S Own Private Island: You go ashore by tender. We were lucky to find an umbrella as it tends to get extremely hot in the open sun. The water was beautiful and turquoise. We had rented snorkelling equipment for the day (US$25 each), and the Dive-in program had on-the-hour snorkelling tours that you could join. Basically they took you around a rock outcrop and also told you the names of some of the fish you saw. We went on this tour and then snorkelled on our own. There are other things you can rent for the day, such as floats, etc., but we were very happy with the snorkelling equipment. There is a free bar-b-q lunch and there is a bar where you can buy drinks. 10. Shopping With Teens Grand Cayman: This is such a beautiful island. You can't haggle for deals, but you don't get harassed the way you do in Jamaica. All of the shopping areas are conveniently located near the pier. This is a duty-free port. You can't haggle for deals too much here like you can in Jamaica & the Bahamas. You can pick-up some nice bracelets, inexpensive shells, batik beach cover-ups and t-shirts for friends back home. The Tortuga rum cakes are great and there are a lot of free samples. A small rum cake costs about $3.95. Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Having been to Montego Bay, Jamaica before, I told our daughters to wear the biggest t-shirts they could find and please don't wear little skimpy tops when going ashore in Jamaica. Unfortunately, young teens and women in general are "hit on" by Jamaican men. You can take this as a compliment, but after awhile it becomes quite irritating and some young teens may not know how to handle these advances. Another problem is being harassed to buy drugs or "ganga". Our son was approached by some people at the dock, but we had already warned him about this possibility, so he was prepared. Talk to your kids about this before you leave home. You have a take a taxi to the shopping areas (set price of $3 per person to Soni's Shopping Center or $2 per person to the Taj Mahal Shopping Center). Haggling is a way of life in Jamaica. The salespeople are quite aggressive in trying to get you to buy their products. We started at the furthest mall (Soni's), and as soon as we got out of the taxi we were asked if we wanted our hair braided. Of course, this was something our daughters wanted, but I was not going to pay US$50 (for ½ a head) to get it done. Our one daughter had US$12 in her wallet and she wanted me to give her more so she could get her hair braided. I told her to calm down and that I would get her hair braided for US$12. I think when I said this she didn't believe me. What we did was we went across the street from Soni's mall to a sort-of open-air craft market with stalls. Here, the ladies are willing to do hair braiding for less. I sort of just struck up a conversation with one of the ladies and in no time at all a deal was struck. My one daughter got her hair braided (12 braids) for US$12 and my other daughter got hers done for US$15 (15 braids). When we got back to the ship, some people had paid US$50 for 5 braids and when we told them how much we paid, they asked where we went. I think I made quite a GREAT deal and my daughters were proud of how much they saved (thanks to me!) I don't think anyone else on our ship got such a good deal. Nassau, Bahamas: You just walk right off the ship to the shopping areas. The day we were in Nassau, there were seven other cruise ships there! We basically did some shopping and went to the straw market for some great deals (go to the second set of stalls for the better deals as the people here are more willing to bargain). Again, haggle down the price. At the straw market you can get 5 t-shirts for $20 or less. We also got some deals on bracelets, necklaces and straw bags. Almost everyone has the same items for sale, so if you can't get them to accept the price you're willing to pay at one booth, you must be willing to walk away and go to another booth. If they want to lower their price, they'll call you back and ask what you want to pay. Hair braiding is more expensive here and the government runs a hair-braiding market near the pier (prices are US$100 for full head, etc.) - all are set prices, so no deals here. 11. Overall Teen Impression? Our teens had only two complaints about their cruise experience. The first was that they didn't see why they couldn't stay in Checkers after 11:30 p.m. since no teens ever went to the teen disco and second that they felt that the Sports Afloat program should be open to everyone. They loved the food, and the dress code was never a problem. And even though there were many activities they could take part in, they usually lounged around the pool area. They must have had a great time, since they are already asking about another cruise! In all, the Norwegian Sky was a great ship for everyone!

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Feb 25, 2001

Western Caribbean

Free Styling on the Norwegian Sky We were a group of 38 travel agents on a NACTA cruise seminar. Most of us were seasoned cruisers but there were a couple of first time cruisers with us. We wanted to make a determination about freestyle cruising and came to the consensus that it is wonderful for most of our clients. This consensus was arrived at by quite a bit of conversation and deliberation. Our concerns about service and quality

were decided after many separate experiences as our group went "free style" on the Sky as well. We would recommend the Norwegian Sky and freestyle cruising to clients who want to be able to make choices about when, where and with whom they want to dine. This review is broken up into four parts. First is information regarding the ship , then comes information about the cruise . Shore excursions comes next followed by frequently asked questions about the Norwegian Sky . We hope you enjoy this review. Getting to the Ship: I did not have any airline reservations and needed a reasonable airfare to get to Miami from San Diego. After checking with American Airlines, Delta and others the lowest airfare I could find was around $850.00. I found a Southwest Frequent Flyer award for sale in the San Diego Union and negotiated to buy it for $325.00 (including 10 free drink coupons worth $30.00) I made a reservation with Southwest’s reservationist and presented the flight award (that are fully transferable) and received a boarding pass. This is a great tip if you live in or near a Southwest Airlines market. I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and spent the evening in a budget hotel near the airport and made arrangements for Super Shuttle ($17.50) to take me to the Port of Miami to board the Norwegian Sky at 12 noon the following day. I was picked up at 11am sharp and arrived at the NCL terminal around 11:45. There was no line and the new terminal is outstanding. Since I carry my own luggage when boarding a ship I was in my cabin totally unpacked and ready to confirm the group’s arrangements by 12:15. It was absolutely painless. My advice for anyone sailing from Florida that lives on the West Coast is to arrive the day before to make sure there are no weather delays. This way you can board the ship totally relaxed and ready to start your vacation. The Cabin Our group was located on deck 9 with low category inside cabins. I had been on the Norwegian Sky before and actually enjoyed the opportunity to experience an inside cabin. I must tell you that the inside cabins are a bit smaller than those on other cruise ships so I have prepared some suggestions on ways to maximize your cruise experience if you are booking these cabins. They are available at quite reasonable rates and I would cruise them again as once settled they are ever as comfortable as a larger cabin would be, plus you get the advantage of being able to take a nap whenever you want as there is no daylight to keep you awake. I was in cabin 9357 that featured two twin beds (they could be pushed together to make a queen sized bed if one wanted) that had two night stand/shelves between the beds and each bed had its own reading light. Important to me, the quality of bedding was excellent which made for an wonderful night’s sleep. Next to the bed was a vanity/desk area with a single 110v outlet and enough workspace for my computer and printer. Across from the vanity was shelving that contained the remote controlled TV. that had great programming of CNN, PBS, first run movies and so on. Several shelves for storage were also there as well as a mini refrigerator that could be used for drinks, fruit and other smaller items. There are two closets, one full length and the other ½ length with drawers and a safe below it. The closet space was ample for me alone but it would have been tight with more than one person. The safe is operated with one of your credit cards and is excellent for storing wallets, passports and other valuables. The bathroom is also tight. There is a shower (with excellent hot/cold controls) toilet and sink with a small amount of storage area and a large mirror. The cabin featured a hair dryer, shampoo, body lotion and mouthwash as well. I always travel with these items but I would suggest that you acquire them and use them on your Norwegian Sky cruise to maximize your enjoyment. A 6 ft. multi-outlet extension cord: This helps so that you can plug in more than one appliance at a time. A piece of luggage also designed for storage: A simple suitcase with pockets will suffice as you can store shoes, under garments and other items under the bed in an organized manner. This will help dramatically on all cruise ships. A hanging toiletry bag: Every good luggage store has a wide variety of toiletry bags and I would strongly suggest that you obtain one for each family member, as storage space in the bathroom is limited. I always use mine whenever I cruise or stay in a hotel as it makes packing so much easier. A portable laundry kit: There is not a self-serviced laundry on the Norwegian Sky and while they do offer laundry and dry cleaning service some biodegradable laundry soap and about 8 feet of good laundry line will allow you to wash small items in your cabin and dry them during the day. There is no laundry line in the shower or bathroom on the Sky so remember to bring one along. The Ship [ Top of Page ] Norwegian Sky The Norwegian Sky is a large ship at 80,000 gross tons and she is diverse as well. Apparently, Costa Cruise Lines originally ordered the Sky and then cancelled the order after the ship’s superstructure and cabins had been constructed. NCL came in and picked the ship up (presumably at a bargain) and added the NCL finishing touches to the ship. She offers a wealth of public areas that are extremely attractive and wonderful. She is a joy to be on. However, the cabins are smaller than on other NCL ships because of the nature that NCL acquired her. Restaurants The Sky is unique as it offers 2 main restaurants, a buffet and 3 alternative dining restaurants to choose from. The intent of “freestyle cruising” is to give the Sky’s passengers a wide variety of choices for their dining pleasure and the Sky certainly accomplishes this task. The three alternative dining restaurants (Le Bistro, Ciao Chow and Horizons) all require an additional $10.00 gratuity that can be signed to your cabin. (They also require reservations as well) Following is a breakdown of the various restaurants. The Garden Café (Deck 11, aft) This is the main buffet of the Norwegian Sky. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is a fun place to take meals, as there are always separate food d carts in addition to the 2 main buffet lines. Specialty food items like waffles, various egg dishes, fruit and so on for breakfast, pasta for lunch and a separate dessert cart are always available to enjoy. The seating is both inside in the café or you make also sit outside by the pool or on the fantail of deck 11 by the Great Outdoor Café. The Great Outdoor Café (Deck 11, aft) Just aft of the Garden Café are two separate buffet lines that are open early for breakfast and sometimes lunch (primarily on sea days) It offers the same food as the Garden Café but has a larger selection of fruit in the morning. The Great Outdoor Café also has its own bar that serves the sitting area behind the café that is open during the day and into the evening. This is the place to come for coffee, juice, roils and such from 6 am and is also a great place to enjoy an early morning breakfast to enjoy the ocean when at sea and also take in the port vistas. The Seven Seas Restaurant (Deck 5, aft) This is one of two main restaurants that serve as the base of breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant dining. It is a lovely setting with attentive servers. We enjoyed a dinner in the Seven Seas restaurant and experienced excellent service and food. I had read reviews that claimed that the freestyle dining format had removed the incentive for the waiters to provide excellent service and I would have thought that this is where it would have appeared. If anything, we received better service than I have experienced in dinning rooms on NCL’s ships that offer traditional dining plans. NCL seems to have found a way to offer incentives to their waiters to get them to perform well. The food was very good and the presentation wonderful. One could cruise the Norwegian Sky and simply eat at the Four Seasons and the Seven Seas restaurants and be perfectly content with their cruise experience. The Four Seasons Restaurant (Deck 5, forward) This is the second main restaurant (along with the Seven Seas) and offers fine dining without a gratuity. We enjoyed an excellent dinner here one evening as a group of 12. It happened to be the night lobster was being served and most of us selected it. I enjoyed escargot, a mixed green salad and I have to admit to having a second lobster tail. Many ships have gone to serving lobster dishes rather than a whole lobster tail however on this cruise the lobster tails were large, succulent and tasty and there were as many as you could eat. This was a rare treat indeed. We had a great time in the restaurant and the service again, was excellent. Le Bistro (Deck 12, aft) Le Bistro is NCL’s signature fine dining alternative restaurant that is offered on all NCL ships. The restaurant is a wonderful experience and offers a complete menu of Mediterranean cuisine in a wonderful setting. A group of us enjoyed a late dinner in Le Bistro and had an excellent waiter named Oscar that was professional and efficient. I had a seafood appetizer, Caeser salad and baked salmon that was to die for. The service was impeccable and the food wonderfully prepared. The presentation even included the simultaneous uncovering of the entrée. Don’t miss the Le Bistro Restaurant on the Sky for a fine dining experience. The $10.00 gratuity is well worth it. Some in our group ate in Le Bistro several times during the cruise. Ciao Chow (Deck 11, midship) This is the classic Italian/Asian restaurant that blends food from both cultures into a meal. While the setting of the restaurant is not as glamorous as either the Le Bistro or Horizons, the service and the food make up for it. I enjoyed Ciao Chow one evening having sashimi and a shrimp and squid (calamari) Caeser salad and it was the best meal I had on the trip. If I hadn’t been so keen on trying every restaurant for this review I would have eaten there every evening after I discovered it. My waitress (a blonde woman from Romania) offered the most attentive service of the cruise. She was efficient and had a wonderful way of serving her guests. Again Ciao Chow is definitely worth the $10.00 gratuity for the food and experience. Ciao Chow also serves lunch every day and offers a specialty dish and salad that I found to be excellent. One day they offered Miso soup, the next fresh vegetarian pasta, the next a Ceaser salad made to order. It proved to be an excellent choice for a light lunch and there were never any crowds. Fresh curry and Chinese dishes with rice were offered in hot serving trays for those that wanted to dine on more traditional Asian dishes for lunch. Horizons Restaurant (Deck 5, midship) WOW! I really liked this restaurant. It is quite long and narrow taking up a good part of the starboard side of deck 5. There are large picture windows the entire length of the restaurant that takes in magnificent ocean vistas. The restaurant is made up of circular booths with seating for four looking directly out of the windows and then tables for two right in front of the windows. The menu is gourmet Italian food and it is wonderful. I had a mushroom filled ravioli appetizer followed by Caeser salad made right at the table and then scampi as an entrée. All of us had scampi and agreed it was the best we had enjoyed in a long time. Our waitress from Thailand was excellent and our wine stewardess (used to be on the Norwegian Star) was one of the best on any ship. This is a great dining experience not to be missed and well worth the $10.00 gratuity. Pizzeria (Deck 11, midship) The Pizzeria is open 24-hours a day and offers excellent pizza. It is located inside of Ciao Chow. Midnight Buffets The Norwegian Sky offered two midnight buffets on this cruise. On the first day at sea they did their signature “chocoholic” chocolate buffet where everything is made from chocolate. Cakes, pies, fruit dipped in chocolate, fudge, you name it and they offered it. On the second day at sea was the “Grand Buffet” held in the Atrium. This is the fabulous midnight buffet everyone talks about. The buffets are open for photos for a half of an hour before they are consumed. While many cruise lines have gotten away from the gala midnight buffets, you are sure to enjoy these and they are not to be missed. Entertainment Venues and Main Lounges There is always something going on somewhere on the Norwegian Sky. NCL has rearranged their entertainment so that it is very stimulating. First of all, there are 17 different bars and lounges on the Sky. Each has their own personality and many offer entertainment in the evening. There is a headline show every night, a dance venue that is active all evening and there are quiet lounges offering soothing music. There is something for everyone. The Stardust Lounge (Deck 6 and 7, aft) This is the main showroom on the Norwegian Sky. It is two levels (Deck 6 and 7, aft) and while there are a few seats with blocked views, it offers excellent vantage points to enjoy the nightly productions. NCL offers a major show twice nightly (once for early and once for late dining) and it is easy to plan your evening around dinner and the entertainment. One of the things I especially liked about freestyle dining is that you could go immediately from the show to dinner without having to mill around for 45 minutes waiting for the assigned seating to become available as you do on most ships. Checkers Cabaret (Deck 6, midship) This is the primary dance venue on the Norwegian Sky and is the site of many of the themed parties that take place on the ship. NCL does a 50s & 60s party, a 70s and 80s party and so on. There is a band playing dance music (rock and roll) here every evening until midnight or so and then a disk jockey takes over until closing. It is hopping every evening and is well done. There is a full lounge and a bar with numerous stools. The Observation Lounge and Bali Hai Lounge (Deck 11, forward) This is the other major dance venue on the Sky. They offer more traditional music for folks not really into rock and roll and it is open every evening from around 7 pm until closing. It is a huge observation lounge that offers excellent vistas during the daytime and into the evening. It is a great place to be while entering or leaving port. There is also a bar with limited bar stools. The starboard side of the Observation Lounge is known as the Bali Hai Lounge. It offers a tropical theme and serves Pupus (Hawaiian appetizers) every night before dinner. At midnight “tropical treats” are offered to those in the Observation Lounge as well. Gatsby’s Wine Bar (Dec 12, aft) Here is my favorite bar on the ship. Gatsby’s serves fine wines by the glass and offers soothing entertainment in the form of either piano music or a duet playing soft jazz and an “Enya” type of jazz. It is a great place to meet and our group found it to be our favorite meeting place. There are bar stools around a friendly bar and three separate lounge areas, one of which is great for conversation. It also serves as the main bar for Le Bistro as it resides at the entrance to the restaurant. The Atrium Bar (Deck 7, forward) Our group met at the Atrium Bar one evening and really liked it. They offer piano music during the cocktail hours and several places to meet for conversation. The Atrium Bar also has a dozen or so bar stools that are great for people watching as there is quite a bit of foot traffic traversing the Atrium area. Windjammer Bar (Deck 6, midship) The Windjammer is a great piano bar complete with over stuffed chairs and sofas and a rustic dark wood bar and decorative back bar. It reeks of tradition and comfort. Martinis are the specialty of the Windjammer and you will love the atmosphere here. My only complaint with the Windjammer was that it adjoined the cigar club and the scent of cigars was noticeable on occasion. Sports Bar, Deck 11, aft) Here is NCL’s signature sports bar. It is in a great setting and offers numerous TV screens running sporting events live and recorded to participate in. There are always sport trivia contests going on in the Sports Bar sponsored by NCL and it is a great place to simply relax and enjoy a beverage. Our group met in the Sports Bar for pre dinner cocktails one night and took over the adjoining “The Zone Disco” and it was like having our own private cocktail party. Highly recommend this setup for groups that want to meet prior to dinner in a party type of environment. Churchill’s Cigar Club (Deck 6, midship) Here is the cigar club on the Norwegian Sky. They sell a vast array of fine cigars (or you can bring your own) and also serve an excellent list of brandies and other drinks from a fully stocked bar. It is quite an attractive lounge that you get to by entering through Checkers Disco (or through the Windjammer Bar) while I don’t normally smoke cigars it made me want to try one just to sit in the atmosphere of the club. Miscellaneous Bars The Norwegian sky has a bar available whenever you require liquid refreshments. The more notable is the casino bar (in the casino), the Internet Café Bar (that also serves fine coffee drinks as well as a full bar service), Topsider’s Bar that is the main pool area bar that offers dozens of pool side bar stools, Champs Bar, on deck 12 above the pool area that is open during the day (weather permitting) and the Great Outdoor Bar on the aft fan tail of deck 11. The restaurants also have bars available as well. Other Public Areas of the Norwegian Sky The Fitness Center Great Fitness Center! The Fitness Center is broken into 2 areas, the aerobics area, which offers a very generous amount of space for aerobics and such in an excellent environment and the workout area. It offers several types of cardiovascular machines to enjoy. There are 9 stationary bikes, 4 Stairmasters, 5 Treadmills and 2 ski machines all with great views. The weight area offers several different weight benches and dumbbells to 50# (not the usual 30#) There are a couple of sit-up benches and the gym features Cybex machines. There is a leg lift, leg extension, seated chest press, lat pull down, lat extension, preachers bench biceps machine, triceps push down, butterfly chest press and a lower abs leg lift. All in all, everything you need to stay toned. The Internet Café (Deck 7, midship) The Internet Café offered two access plans. You could get on-line for a $.75 per minute charge or elect to pay a flat $89.95 for unlimited access during the cruise. The access fees are reasonable as there is no minimum time required and my sessions usually ran from three to five minutes each to check my e-mail. I set up with www.MailStart.com to access my e-mail accounts and it worked perfectly. It only costs $6.00 per year and you can access up to five different e-mail accounts simultaneously from anywhere in the world. It worked great for me and dramatically cut my time on-line. I would highly recommend their service if you intend to stay in touch via e-mail while on a cruise. The Shops The Sky has a nice assortment of shops on board. First there is a large Duty Free shop that sells all of the items usually found in the duty free shops at International airports. It offers great shopping and reasonable prices. There is also a Columbian Emeralds store (the first of its kind on a ship) where you can shop for fine jewelry and other luxurious items. The Sky also has a large store selling NCL logo items, clothing and miscellaneous toiletries should you need anything while on the cruise. The Pool Area (Deck 11, midship) The Norwegian Sky offers a large pool area that consists of two swimming pools and four Jacuzzis. There are ample lounge chairs around the pool on deck 11 and on the sun deck (deck 12, forward) for everyone but if you want a prime pool side lounge chair plan to get there early (especially on the days at sea) There is always music playing by the pool and one of the ship’s bands plays when leaving ports. The pool area is protected from the wind and is an excellent place to relax. One of the things I liked about the Sky was the ability to escape to the various enclosed areas on the sun deck. They have designed a system of windbreaks that create separate sunning areas that are somewhat private. There is also excellent bar service in the pool area that is not too invasive. The Children’s Pool Area (Deck 12, forward) The Sky offers a separate kiddies/adult pool area for youngsters and their parents so that they tend to gravitate to this area rather than the main pool area. There is a shallow kiddies pool and also a separate two Jacuzzis for the parents overlooking the kiddie’s pool. It is a great setup for both the parents and the kids and for the other passengers enjoying the main pool area where the kids would normally be running around. The Sports Deck (Deck 12, midship) The Sky offers a full sized basketball and/or volleyball court, batting cage, several enclosed golf driving ranges, ping pong (Deck 11) and a jogging track. The basketball court was always active. The Casino While I am not a gambler the casino saw lots of action. It was always busy every time I wandered through it and people seemed to be winning. There are a good number of slot machines, poker machines and lots of tables with various games. I couldn’t get a good shot of the casino to do it justice but the lighting is very stimulating. At the aft section of the casino is the Casino Bar that is a great place to people watch as it overlooks the flow of people going from one end of the ship to the other. The Atrium Area This is a very special place on the Norwegian Sky. The Atrium starts on Deck 5 and soars up to Deck 11. There are two banks of elevators that are enclosed in glass that service the decks from the Atrium. On Deck 5 resides the Registration Desk, entrance to the Four Seasons Restaurant and the Shore Excursion Desk. The registration desk is open 24 hours a day and the shore excursion desk hours are posted in the daily “Cruise News”. The next floor up (Deck 6) houses the entrance to Checker’s Cabaret, Columbian Emeralds and the NCL Logo store. There is ample seating around the Atrium for many people to simply relax and enjoy a cocktail. Deck 7 houses the Atrium Bar, a piano surrounded by comfortable chairs for lounging and the entrance to the casino. The Atrium is the place the Captain’s Cocktail Party takes place as well as the midnight buffets. The main stairway in the Atrium is where the group photo at the top of this review was taken and is also the place many of the portrait photos are shot. The Library The Norwegian Sky offers a wonderful library and offers both regular and large print books that may be checked out for the cruise. Library hours are posted in the daily “Cruise News” The Conference Center Great conference center! We had two formal seminars in the conference center and they went without a hitch. The meeting room is hidden behind the library and there is no one walking by or peeking in during a meeting. We were able to laugh loudly without fearing we were bothering anyone else. There are actually three separate breakout rooms that form one large room if all the space is needed. We met with a group size of approximately 35 in two of the breakout rooms, cleared a space for Rocky’s “Self Defense for Women” seminar and still had lots of room to spare. I would highly recommend this ship for its meeting space. They also offer all the tools speakers need to do presentations and an excellent microphone system. The Spa You deserve to be pampered. Be sure to visit the Mandara Spa while on board. The name “Mandara” comes from an ancient legend about the God’s quest to find the elixir of immortality and eternal youth. Mandara Spa, originating in Bali Indonesia, has embraced this legend. Treat yourself to services once reserved for only Kings and Queens. Body massages, scrubs, polishes and wraps as well as, facial treatments from around the world for both men and women are offered in the spa. Finishing touches for stepping out in perfection that include hair care, manicures, pedicures and make up are offered in the Mandara Spa’s salon as well. Don’t miss this opportunity to indulge yourself. (Contributed by Shirley Pate) The Kid’s Corner (Deck 7, forward) Boy, I wish I were a kid again! The entire forward section of Deck 7 is dedicated to the Kid’s Corner. It is made up of three different rooms (presumably for three different age groups) and all of them face towards the bow with fabulous ocean front views. I didn’t really check into the kids program but NCL is known for their wonderful kid’s programs and this room certainly enhances them. The Cruise [ Top of Page ] Day One, Miami, Florida I took Super Shuttle from the Ft. Lauderdale area to the port of Miami ($17.50). I boarded the ship and was unpacked and ready to finalize the group’s arrangements by 12:30. I met with Tanja Bessel, the Sky’s Group Services Coordinator who made my job the easiest in quite a long time. We reconfirmed the seminar space and cocktail party and Tanja went out of her way to take care of every detail. I would highly recommend the Sky for groups based on Tanja’s ability to make things happen behind the scenes. I spent the afternoon printing and delivering flyers to the group’s cabins and checking out the conference center and other venues our group would be using. At 3:30 we had the mandatory lifeboat drill that only took about 10 minutes to accomplish. I went back to my cabin to settle in and to get ready for our cocktail party. We had our “Welcome Aboard” cocktail party up in Gatsby’s Wine Bar at 6:30 where I met the group and we got to know one another. Gatsby’s was an excellent choice for a private cocktail party as it is an excellent setting with soothing music. After the cocktail party I had elected to have everyone dine on his or her own so I chose to eat dinner in the Garden Café (the ship’s main buffet). I found several vegetarian selections that were to my liking and enjoyed a nice quiet dinner before going to the early “Welcome Aboard” show in the Stardust Lounge. It was a good mix of a stage production by the Jean-Ann Ryan Company and comedy by comedian Gregory Carey. I took a quick tour of the Sky’s various lounges before turning in early. Day Two, Day at Sea I was up early and watched the sun come up while enjoying a cup of coffee at the Great Outdoor Café. I got ready for the seminar and went to the conference center to make sure everything was all set. The conference center was all set up with the requisite coffee, tea, juice and assorted roils and pastries. Our seminar ran from 9 am until 12 noon and we all got to know one another. I enjoyed lunch in the Garden Café and then made my way out to the pool area for a couple of hours relaxation. The pool area itself was quite crowded and there were “pool games” going on so I opted for the deck 12 sun deck. I easily found a lounge that was somewhat private and settled into my “Framework for Dummies” book. Our group had decided to form dinner groups to try the Sky’s many restaurants at a pre dinner cocktail hour at 6:30 in the evening. This seemed to work out quite well as everyone got to dine the various restaurants in the “free style” fashion. I would suggest that groups handle dining in this fashion as well. The alternative dining restaurants cannot handle seating for large groups without going to a fixed menu which seems to defeat the purpose of freestyle cruising all together. Enjoying a social hour as a group and then dining with different group members each evening accomplished the same result as group dining would have in a non-freestyle environment. This was the formal night of the cruise and we had decided to first meet in Gatsby’s at 6:30 pm and enjoy the melodies of Susannah and Pablo who played soft progressive or new age jazz. We formed dinner groups and then made our way to the Captain’s cocktail party that started in the Atrium at 7 pm. The cocktail party was wonderful with plenty of champagne and appetizers being constantly offered. The Captain was available for formal pictures and many in our group took advantage of them. The Sky does not do the usual introduction of the Captain to each passenger that creates the long lines associated with the Captain’s cocktail party but rather you simply show up in the Atrium and start enjoying the festivities and if you desire a picture with the Captain go up to deck six and get in line. It is a great way to handle the party and everyone enjoyed the freedom from long lines. A group of us had taken advantage of a table for eight at Le Bistro and had a fabulous dinner. Our waiter Oscar was as professional a waiter as I have ever experienced. The food in Le Bistro is Mediterranean and I selected a shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad and baked sea bass. The ambiance, presentation and quality of food was excellent and well worth the $10.00 gratuity to dine in Le Bistro. Our dinner conversation continued through the late show that we had intended to enjoy and lingered past midnight. By the time we departed the restaurant our table was one of the last remaining. There was never any pressure to leave so the restaurant could clean up and close. I would highly recommend Le Bistro for fine dining on the Sky. After dinner I made my way to my cabin and called it a night Day Three, Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island I had brought a substantial amount of work with me and I had been to Cayman a good number of times so I elected to stay on the ship for the day and work in my cabin. However, I would strongly recommend that everyone do the “Sting Ray City” shore excursion when visiting Grand Cayman. It is an experience that everyone treasures and remembers for their entire life. We met for our pre dinner cocktails in the Observatory Lounge. The Latitudes (NCL repeaters) party went well over its 6:15 pm time to end so our group arrived right when the party was letting out. We assembled forward of the band that was playing dance/rock and roll music and since there had been several hundred people in the lounge prior to us the volume was cranked all the way up. We stayed for a little while but one by one left for calmer environs. I made a mental note to not meet in the Observation Lounge again. I had reservations at Ciao Chow (the Asian/Italian restaurant) and enjoyed a peaceful meal of sashimi and a shrimp and squid (calamari) Caesar salad. While the setting of Ciao Chow does not have the same ambiance as Le Bistro, the food and service more than make up for the atmosphere. My waitress (a blonde lady from Romania) was unbelievably attentive and served me with an extreme amount of professionalism. If I did not want to dine in all of the Sky’s restaurants I would not have gone any further than Ciao Chow. The sashimi was super fresh and the Caesar salad to die for. I would also highly recommend Ciao Chow for wonderful food with a unique menu. After dinner I enjoyed the late show in the Stardust Lounge with singer Jane Powell. I had seen Jane before on other ships but her strong voice has a range that is almost unbelievable. She is always fun to watch and she gets the audience involved in a way that makes her so reachable. She is a great entertainer. After the show I went to the 50s and 60s sock hop in Checkers Lounge. This is a fun party that features many of the Sky’s passengers competing for prizes in twist contests, Elvis lip sync contests and so on. While I turned in about midnight, some in our group stayed with the party until 2 am or so. NCL does a great job at getting parties going and I am glad to see that they are now keeping them going after they get them started. Day Four, Ocho Rios, Jamaica It was a beautiful morning docked in Ocho Rios overlooking downtown. I needed to go to town to shop for gifts for our “Ideas for Prizes” seminar so after breakfast at the Great Outdoor Restaurant I left the ship and decided to walk into town. After clearing the fence and the dozens of taxi cab drivers trying to sell tours and miscellaneous stuff, I was on my way to town. I passed a small bar with what looked like ladies of the night hanging around it and was approached to buy drugs on several occasions and found that much hadn’t changed much in Ocho Rios since my last visit. Jamaica is so beautiful and is truly blessed with some of the most wonderful culture in existence on the planet. It is unfortunate that such a small element in their culture can taint an experience for so many visitors. Perhaps if more folks were visibly angry at being approached by this element there would be a little more hesitation. I continued into downtown Ocho Rios to the flea market and the dozens of vendors selling items of all descriptions. I had fun negotiating for the gifts that I purchased and found (like everywhere) that a little compassion won them over. Once I explained my budget and needs each shop owner went out of their way to help me meet my needs. I finished my shopping and made my way back to the ship. It is only a twenty-minute walk from the ship to downtown Ocho Rios and is completely safe to do and the shopping is actually pretty good. If you were looking for woodcarvings I would highly recommend the flea market in Ocho Rios. I spent the afternoon working in my cabin but did get an hour or so to take a Jacuzzi and get some sun late in the day. We met for our pre dinner cocktail hour in the Atrium Bar and enjoyed the wonderful piano tunes of Ariel Jacobe while enjoying a “2 for 1” happy hour. The Atrium was a wonderful place to meet as there is plenty of room to spread our. Some of our group was sitting in the bar, some at the tables by the bar, others were across the Atrium sitting around the piano and everyone was moving from table to table discussing the day’s events. We left the cocktail party to take in the magic of Master Illusionist Garry Carson. Everyone thought he was great. Garry is more of a comedian than anything else but his unique style and illusions are fun to watch….very entertaining. After the show in the Stardust Lounge we decided to eat in one of the traditional restaurants and selected the Seven Seas restaurant for dinner. There was a large amount of people entering the restaurant as the show had just finished but we were shown to a table for 10 and had a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. At one point we were immersed in conversation and the waiter patiently waited, after recognizing that it was not the appropriate time to interrupt he left and came back 4 or 5 minutes later. I thought that it was great to be treated with such respect and everyone in our group commented how nice it was not to be pressed into action based on the waiter’s desires instead of ours. This is an element of freestyle cruising that I found wonderful. We lingered in the restaurant until our table was the last to leave. Again, it was wonderful as there was no pressure to leave the restaurant so they could close down. After dinner we went up to join the “Country Night Party” taking place by the pool on deck 11. There was line-dancing lessons, Bar-B-Que and plenty of drinks to go around. Everyone was having a ball. After a few minutes I decided to call it a night and turned in. Day Five, Day at Sea I woke up early, as the second seminar was to take place starting at 9 am. We were fortunate to have some agents from Los Angeles with us who are also martial arts professionals and Rocky was going to do a “Self Defense for Women” class for the ladies in our group the first thing this morning. I made my way to the conference room and rearranged it to accommodate the class. It went great! We concluded our seminar staying after over an hour talking about computers, the travel industry and such things. I took a quick lunch in the Ciao Chow restaurant (which became my favorite place to have lunch) of Caesar salad and a vegetarian curry dish with white rice. The Caesar salad is made to order just the way you like it every time. I had decided to take a break and enjoy the pool area for the afternoon as I was beginning to feel like a mole spending most of the time in my cabin working on my computer. The day was spectacular and there were more than enough lounge chairs to accommodate those that wanted to lie out. NCL offers thick stuffed canvas pads on top of the belted lounge chairs and also plush towels to put on top of the lounges. They are quite comfortable. Because the kids have their own pool area the Jacuzzis and pool area on deck 11 are primarily adults, which is very much appreciated. I talked with lots of people in the Jacuzzis and everyone seemed quite happy with the Sky and with freestyle dining. Those that preferred the old way seemed to be the kind of people that love complete structure while on vacation. I slept on the deck chair for an hour or so and then made my way to my cabin to get ready for our pre dinner cocktail hour. We met up in the Sports Bar and took over “The Zone” disco that adjoins the bar and it turned out great. It was like having our own little private cocktail party area. By now our group had all bonded and everyone was enjoying the social environment at our nightly get-togethers. I had made dinner reservations in the Horizon Restaurant for 9 pm so we took in the early show of “Running Wild” with the Jean Ann-Ryan Company in the Stardust Lounge. The Jean-Ann Ryan productions are wonderful stage song and dance productions that are probably some of the best on any cruise ship. They do a wonderful job at finding very talented young people and producing professional shows with all of the stage effects, costumes and hoopla of a headline Las Vegas show. They should not be missed if you care for entertainment at all. I met my dinner partners in front of the restaurant at 9 pm and we were seated for what was going to be the best dinner of the entire trip. The Horizon restaurant is intimate and very well done. I ordered the calamari appetizer, Caesar salad and scampi. The calamari was wonderful, the salad (made right at our table) was fantastic and the scampi was the best I have ever eaten. The juicy plump shrimp was prepared with Chinese vegetables and thinly sliced onions….it was to die for. The service was impeccable and our waitress (from Thailand) was superb. The wine stewardess (was on the Norwegian Star for years) was probably the best wine stewardess on any ship. She is friendly, yet professional, accommodating, yet knowledgeable and has a way of presenting wines that make the experience wonderful. We finished dinner late and I joined the “70’s Groove” party already in full swing in Checker’s Lounge. While I had missed it they had a Gloria Gaynor and John Travolta lip sync contest that some in our group said was hilarious. The lounge was crowded with the dance floor packed. I stayed at the party for an hour or so and then turned in. I heard the next day that the party went on for hours. Day Six, Nassau, Bahamas Talk about a lot of people. RCI’s Explorer of the Seas and Sovereign of the Seas, Disney’s Wonder, Carnival’s Fascination and Celebrity’s Galaxy were all in port with the Norwegian Sky. I have to tell you that it was crowded. There were thousands of people in Nassau shopping, wondering around and heading to Paradise Island. I estimated the capacity of the ships at somewhere around 11,000 people. We had arranged for most of the group to visit the all-inclusive resort “Breezes” (15 minutes from the port of Nassau). Super Clubs had offered to host our group with a full-day pass that included everything so the agents could familiarize themselves with the property. After breakfast we met at the foot of the pier in Nassau and arranged to have several taxi cabs take us to the Breezes resort. Breezes had a “welcome NACTA” sign waiting for us as we individually checked into the resort. After a tour of the property we enjoyed a buffet lunch in Breeze’s main dining room. Everyone was impressed with both the quality and the diversity of the buffet. There were over 60 different dishes being served and there was something for everyone. I had a great time eating steamed vegetables and various types of salads. Wine was also included with all the meals and most of the group enjoyed it. After lunch I grabbed a cab back to the ship while the rest of the group stayed and enjoyed the afternoon at Breeze’s excellent beach and pool areas. On board the Sky I continued to work for the afternoon and set aside the late afternoon for a Jacuzzi and some sunshine. I wasn’t disappointed We met in Gatsby’s Lounge for our nightly pre dinner cocktail party and continued to enjoy the soft music and conversation. A group of us decided to dine in the Four Seasons Restaurant and made our way from the cocktail party to dinner. We were able to secure a table for 12 by adding two chairs to our table for 10 and had a wonderful dining experience. It was lobster night in the Four Seasons so we all enjoyed lobster and many of us had a second tail. Many ships have cut back on the amount of lobster they make available but I am happy to inform everyone that the Norwegian Sky has a very liberal policy. The lobster tails were large, succulent and well prepared. Dinner consisted of escargot for an appetizer, a mixed salad and lobster. I also ordered steamed vegetables, which were delicious. Our waiter was fantastic and I have to admit put up with a very rowdy table as we enjoyed our conversations and stories. A number of the group had ordered wine for the table and the bottle I had ordered was not finished at the end of the dinner and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the wine steward could store the bottle for me and it could be retrieved the following night from any restaurant on the ship. This is certainly a nice feature. We left the restaurant just in time to make the second showing of “Sea Legs Cirque” staring the Jean-Ann Ryan Company in the Stardust Lounge. This was yet another excellent stage production with elaborate staging, costumes and song and dance. Don’t miss it. After the show I made my way to the pool deck and watched the Caribbean Deck Party that was now under way. Caribbean music, limbo, conga lines and lots of other entertainment continued into the night. I watched for a while and then went up to Gatsby’s Wine Bar to watch Mark Farris the pianist/singer in the lounge. He did a great job singing soft music and playing with the audience. Then it was off to bed. Day Seven, Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas This is NCL’s own private island. The Norwegian Sky anchors off the island and a large tender makes its way over to the island loaded with passengers from the Sky. It took over an hour before tender tickets (tickets used to assign tender priority that are picked up in the morning) were no longer necessary. I went ashore to have some lunch and to take some pictures of the island. They have several lunch areas, a full bar, a straw market shopping area and lots to do on the beach and in the water. Everyone was having a great time snorkeling, sunning, shopping and generally exploring the island. Most people felt the shopping on the island was as good, or better, than in Nassau and many went back to the ship to get cash for purchases. Remember to take some cash with you in the morning if you intend to do any shopping on the island. I stayed for a couple of hours and then made my way back to the Sky to get some work done in the afternoon. I got a great shot of the Sky from the tender as we approached her. Once on board, I got some work done and then spent the late afternoon by the Jacuzzis. I noticed that a number of people had gotten a little too much sun. I suppose that since this was the last day of the cruise and everyone wanted to go home with a tan that they through caution to the wind and stayed out too long. Be sure to bring a good waterproof sunscreen with you to the island. I was using spf 30 and still got some sun in just the two hours I was on the island. We had arranged to have our final cocktail party in Gatsby’s Wine Bar, as this had become our favorite place to meet. We got together at 6:30 pm and had a wonderful time exchanging business cards, toasting our cruise and then toasting the next cruise. The cocktail party started to wind down as some of the group went to the early show; others were dining in Le Bistro or the Horizons restaurants. A group of us decided to go back to the Four Seasons Restaurant for our final dinner. We got a table for 8 and settled into the familiar pattern of wonderful service, great food and interesting conversations. I had made my decision about freestyle cruising and I loved it, as did the vast majority of our group. We left the restaurant and went to the Checker’s Cabaret and then the Observation Lounge for one last toast to the next cruise. I turned in for the evening completely satisfied with the Norwegian Sky cruise experience. Day Eight, Miami, Florida I always carry my luggage both on and off a ship as I guess I am a control freak at times so I waited until the morning to pack my bags for disembarkation. I had arranged the NCL bus transfer back to Ft. Lauderdale and was going to be in the fourth group to disembark. NCL uses colored bag tags that are assigned by activity or departure flight time. In this way those that need to get off first and those that are have a later flight time and are in no hurry can enjoy the ship all that much longer. Breakfast in the Four Seasons and Seven Seas restaurants was being served until 9 am and both the Garden and Great Outdoor Cafes were open as well. My purple bag tag group was called and we proceeded to disembark crossing the ship’s gangway into the terminal. There was a short line to clear immigration and then no line at all for customs and within ten minutes maximum I had boarded the bus for Ft. Lauderdale. NCL has certainly improved their embarkation/disembarkation process. Unfortunately, from the time I got to Ft. Lauderdale onward it turned into a disaster as there were weather fronts all up and down the east coast and traffic had been delayed and flights cancelled creating chaos in all of the terminals. After many hours of waiting I finally made it as far as New Orleans and then continued the following day to get to San Diego. It was unfortunate as Joanie was flying out Monday morning and I was going to see her at the airport in San Diego on Sunday night before she left….no such luck. It just underscores the likelihood of flight delays during the winter months and the need to plan to accommodate them. Always arrive a day early for your cruise and always connect in winter-friendly cities. Summary I had cruised the Norwegian Sky in April of 2000 to the Western Caribbean just before she converted to freestyle cruising. I had a crisis with one of the group members and disembarked the ship after only three days in San Juan, Puerto Rica to help the agent. I was luke-warm about my experience on the Sky and was a tad hesitant at the beginning of this cruise. I am happy to report that the Sky has resolved everything that impacted my opinion of the ship on the first cruise and is managed as well or better than any competitive ship. I would highly recommend the Norwegian Sky. Freestyle cruising is great! Shore Excursions (Contributed by Agents on the Cruise) [ Top of Page ] Grand Cayman Island Dive trip. 4 ½ hours $75 which included fruit, drinks and 2 dives Met dive boat at tender where we boarded the boat. The crew was excellent and the water clarity outstanding. Did a wall dive (Great Hall Wall) where we dove to 80 ft. There was a little current but not so bad that it interfered with the dive. There was an abundance of great coral and sponge life some fish. We saw turtles and rays as well. There was one dive master for every 4-6 people but you could go off on your own with your dive buddy if you chose to do so. The second dive was on the Lone Star Reef and we dove to a maximum of 50 feet for a total of 30 minutes. The visibility was about 90 ft or better. We dove in groups of 6 with a dive master or you could again go off with a dive buddy if you wanted. There were lots of tropical fish, grouper (some quite large), angelfish wrasses etc I would give it an 8 on a scale 1- 10 The only negative was the crowd of divers on the boat. Fitness walk to 7 Mile Beach I took the 2 ½-mile walks to 7-mile beach. We departed from the tender dock and it took about 40 minutes to walk it and it terminated at the beach club. After the walk was completed you are on your own. I enjoyed the beach for a while and then returned to the ship by walking. Sting Ray City Glass Bottom Boat Tour We wanted to do the Sting Ray City tour but NCL advised us of the seriousness of the risk for folks that were allergic to bee stings to be in the water with the rays. Apparently there is something emitted from the rays that could potentially have an effect on folks allergic to bee stings and we decided not to go. We elected to do the glass bottom tour of Sting Ray City instead. We got on a motor coach at the foot of the tender dock where we went to a boat that took us to another boat with a step down glass bottom. We boarded the boat and went to Sting Ray City. A diver feed the rays while we watched from the boat. The diver got the rays right up to the window where we could see everything including the ray’s mouth. From there we got back on the bus and went to Hell (a town actually name Hell!) We shopped in Hell (but there was not enough time) from there we went to a turtle farm. I really enjoyed the experience especially holding the young turtles (I should have purchased turtle oil but didn’t.) From there we went back to Georgetown where we spent time shopping. I would rate the tour a 8 on a scale of 10 simply because I felt rushed in the gift shops (I am a serious shopper) Golf at Grand Cayman Resort . We took a taxi to Grand Cayman Resort. The resort was only 15 minutes away from the ship and we arranged for the cabbie to also pick us up when we were done playing golf. The course was in excellent condition (blue tees 6600 yards, white tees 6,100 yards) The greens were in excellent condition and I would highly recommend this course. It is easy to get to but the course requires that you play with a caddy for each twosome. The caddy helped immensely as he knew the course quite well and would shag lost golf balls without any effort. On 3 separate holes the tee boxes were no more than 50 yards from the ocean. Green fees were $100 including cart. We then made our way back to town and went shopping. Sting Ray City Tour We were picked up in a bus at the tender dock and went for a 15-minute drive to a wharf where we boarded a boat. We headed towards the reef some miles away. They were serving fruit punch and water on the way over and also gave us information about the rays (history, where not to touch, etc.) We got our snorkeling equipment on the boat that we sized on the way over to the reef. Upon arrival I entered the water and was immediately approached by two large stingrays. I must admit it was a bit frightening, but they are indeed friendly. I stayed in the water about 40 minutes. There was a videographer from the ship who shot video of the entire experience that was available for purchase from the ship. They provided squid to feed the stingrays and showed us exactly how to feed them. They would also take pictures of you while you held the sting rays in your arms with your under water camera. There were all sizes of rays from tiny to huge. On the way back they served rum punch and water. There were also many collectible many items for sale on the boat the remind you of the experience. I would give this experience a strong 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. It is the perfect amount of time. We went back to town and shopped for a while before returning to the ship. Cayman Beach Experience We like to experience great beaches so we took a cab ($3.00) to Royal Palms Beach Club where the admission to get into the beach is $2.00. They offer a full bar and restaurant, a great beach with a lot of shade available and good snorkeling on the reefs right off shore. Island Tour and Snorkeling Tour We had a friend that lives on Grand Cayman and she picked us up and took us to a wharf where we boarded a boat hit and went snorkeling at three different spots. The snorkeling was good. We then did an island tour and ended up at a restaurant where we had an excellent lunch with drinks for 7 people that cost about $80.00 (including tips) The restaurant was right on the beach and I would highly recommend it. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Dunns River Bike Tour We boarded a bus at the foot of the tender dock where we visited Fern Gully and then went up to Murphyville. We met out tour guides in Murphyville, we tested the bikes to make sure the brakes worked and then took off up a hill before we started on a dirt road through the jungle where the guides pointed out lots of life like termite mounds. The ride went on for 14 miles…the guides were great. They told jokes, played reggae music and were just characters. They shared lots of Jamaican history. The bike ride ended at Dunns River Falls. Rather than climb the falls we enjoyed a beer and some rest. After a while we made our way back to the ship. We on scale of 1 –10 we would give it a 9. Caution, you should be in reasonable shape to do this tour. Golf at Sandals Resort We grabbed a taxicab at the pier and went to Sandals golf course, which is up in the hills. This is an 18-hole golf course (blue tees 6,400 yards, short tees 6,100 yards) and the course is in great condition and they have bent grass on the greens, which is excellent. Green fees were $100, which includes a cart. A personal caddy is required by the course and costs $15 per person. It is well worth it for this course as if you lose a ball the caddy will retrieve it for you. It took 3 ½ hours to play the course. When we were done we made our way back to the ship. Ocho Rios Beach Trip We would highly recommend Mahogany Beach. It is a totally free beach (no admission) with free tables, chairs and lounges. They feature a full bar and restaurant and most of the tour boats stop here to snorkel on the reef right off shore. You could easily swim to the reef from the beach. Taxi fare from the ship was only $6.00 per person. This is a great beach because there were no beach vendors hawking stuff on the beach. Frequently Asked Questions [ Top of Page ] How will I know if I am going to like “Freestyle Cruising?” The people I talked with that preferred traditional cruising did so because they liked making friends with their waiter and the folks sitting at the table they were assigned to. I suspect after meeting several of these types of people that they also like everything organized for them and enjoy fully planned and escorted tours, escorted motor coach tours and other such group activity. They did not like the idea of meeting new people every day and were uncomfortable at the idea of going to new restaurants every night. They preferred having an assigned table and waiter and were upset when they couldn’t sit with the same waiter even when they went back to the same restaurant over and over. If you do enjoy fine dining in both intimate and group surroundings and like being able to make choices about where, when and with whom you dine then you will love freestyle dining. The first day or two many of the agents in our group weren’t particularly keen on freestyle dining as they were so used to having the issue about where to dine taken care of for them. By the end of the cruise virtually all of the agents preferred freestyle cruising. Is Freestyle Cruising good for singles? While I was traveling with a group I was also traveling as a single and elected to dine on two separate nights as a single. There was absolutely no problem being accommodated in the restaurants. The Sky offers a substantial number of single’s events with ample opportunity to meet other singles to form dinner groups. I believe that freestyle cruising gives singles much more opportunity to meet a more diverse group of singles than regular cruising does. What kind of clothes should I pack? Freestyle cruising also applies to the dress policy of the ship. During the second evening (day at sea) most folks dressed formal for the Captain’s cocktail party. However, it wasn’t a requirement. The Four Season’s Restaurant imposed a formal dress policy but all the other restaurants did not. If you do not like to dress for dinner then there is absolutely no reason to even pack a tie. On the other hand, if you do like to dress for dinner then you could do so on every evening by eating in the alternative restaurants and never feel out of place. The Sky does impose the “No Shorts after 6 pm” rule however and the acceptable dress in the evening is “Country Club Casual or “Resort Casual”. Liken it to a nice resort where some of the guests are attending formal functions while others are attending informal. The mix works quite nicely on the ship as the evening progresses and no one is made to feel out-of-place. I have been on some ships during formal night where I felt out-of-place in a tux since most men are wearing sport coats (or less) and the entire meaning of formal night is lost. Why should I pay an extra $10.00 to dine in one of the restaurants after I paid so much for the cruise? This was an issue for some people. You could go the entire cruise eating in the Four Seasons, Seven Seas and Garden Café restaurants and have a wonderful dining experience. I noticed several families that preferred eating in the Garden Café the entire cruise and perfectly happy as the food is wonderful and the environment conducive to family dining. Having the choice of three additional gourmet restaurants is simply an added bonus that few other ships offer. The consensus of our group was that it was well worth the $10.00 gratuity for the level of service, quality of food and the overall dining experience. Personally, I would have paid more for the experience. I would encourage all cruise lines to consider adding alternative restaurants as an option for passengers who want fine dining selections as it adds so much to the cruise experience.

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Jun 4, 2000

Alaska

Our recent cruise on the Norwegian Sky produced mixed results.  We had a Category AA "Superior Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony", which is the top category other than the "Penthouse" and "Owner's Suite".  The biggest problem is the lack of storage space (only 3 small shallow drawers).  It was necessary to use luggage under the bed for storage.   Our biggest complaint is that NCL sprung

"Freestyle Cruising" on us.  The brochure and the documents received before departure indicated there would be two formal evenings, 3 casual evenings, etc.  "Freestyle" means dress is optional anytime.  We packed our usual formal attire and found we did not have enough casual clothes.  Also, "Freestyle" means no assigned tables or meal times.  There were occasions when it was necessary wait for dining room seating.  We missed having waiters who get to know your needs and desires.  Also missed making lasting acquaintances.  In our 15 cruises we have always had good luck meeting varied and interesting table mates  Another concept of "Freestyle" is that you are basically denied the freedom to tip as desired.  They now charge $9.75 a day per person to your shipboard account for the tip pool.  Oh, they say you can make arrangements with the purser to adjust it as you wish, but that gets complicated.  We, and most people we know, tip according to service rendered - i.e. if outstanding, tip extra.  Since the Maitre d' shares in this tip.  We seldom tip them unless they provide actual service other than to interrupt your meal with the obligatory small talk.  Besides, they are on salary.  I will admit that the dining room service was generally excellent.  This was only the second week of "Freestyle", only time will tell if this level of service continues when the lack of incentive to earn extra tips dawns on the waiters.  Our cabin stewardess was excellent and we did slip her a bonus in cash.  Since tips were now on the shipboard account, we brought way too much cash - cash that should be earning interest in the bank.  The food in the dining rooms was always good to outstanding, and presentation was generally excellent.  We dined one evening in the Le Bistro alternative restaurant.  The quality of the main course filet mignon was excellent, but the rest of the food was nothing to rave about.  And, the $5 p/p suggested gratuity did not yield any extra special service.  Unfortunately, food in the Garden Cafe buffet was pretty bad - cold eggs, dry partially toasted toast, etc.  And, general cleanliness and table clearing was often lax.   The high point of the cruise was the entertainment.  This was our third NCL cruise in a row and the Jean Ann Ryan Company production shows have always been outstanding.  The three shows on the Sky were even better.  The singers and dancers were very talented and exquisitely rehearsed.  The costumes were fabulous.  With superb sound and lighting, the shows were at least of Las Vegas or Broadway quality.  Other acts included a hilarious comic Rich Pupura, and the dynamic Jane L. Powell with a great voice, personality, and back-up band.  Even the ship's show band was unusually good - none of the members trying to out play each other and they blended well - even the drummer.  Unfortunately, the main show room is less than adequate for a ship of this size and age.  The main floor is crammed with uncomfortable bench divans and barrel chairs competing for space with those pesky drink tables, resulting in some marginal sight lines.  The balcony is even worse.  Sight lines are also bad and sometimes non-existent.  And, you have to peer through overly ornate railings giving an "in-prison" feeling.  Here, "Freestyle" can be good.  You can arrange to stand in line when the doors open in order to insure decent seats.   The itinerary was to the Sawyer Glacier and included short stops at both Haines and Skagway in a single day, as well as 1/2 day calls at Juneau and Vancouver.  While weather was cool and wet, the Alaskan Scenery is still outstanding.  Our last cruise was around the South American Cape Horn and the highly touted Chilean Fjords.  Believe me, nothing compares with our good old Alaska for spectacular scenery.  As this was our third Alaskan cruise, we did not partake of any shore excursions.  Despite ever increasing prices, many were sold out in advance.  Haines, Skagway, and Juneau are open to strolling in town for lots of shopping.  They dock at the Ballentine docks in Vancouver which are quite a distance from downtown, making it difficult to see much unless you take an organized excursion. In summary, it was mostly an enjoyable cruise.  The relaxed "Freestyle Cruising" is probably a good approach for Alaskan cruising (if you know about it in advance!).  Norwegian Sky is a adequate vessel for a 7 day cruise; but for heavens sake, the small cabins and lack of storage makes it inappropriate for any thing longer.  Opinions we heard on "Freestyle Cruising" varied.  Younger or first time cruisers seemed to like it, while veteran cruisers almost all disapproved.  I guess Carnival now has some competition for their "Fun Ships".  However, this will be our last NCL cruise!

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Cruise Line: NCL Sailing Date: December 29th, 2002 I will not go into the incredible detail that others have since it would be redundant. The only comment I want to start with is that the opinion of many about the hair dryers was not shared by me. I found it perfectly adequate but do have short hair. I also tried to find out if the space under the beds would accommodate the new fat luggage and found that it did. Though the rooms are

smaller than usual for such a new ship, we had plenty of room for our things. We travel with two medium sized bags. I was astounded to see huge and many bags outside doors the last night - where on earth did they put everything?? We were shocked to discover that ocean view means a porthole in almost all the cabins. Even the balcony cabins have a small door and porthole. We did not like this ship for many reasons and will not return. The itinerary is San Juan day at sea St Lucia Barbados Dominica St Kitts St Thomas San Juan In the airport at San Juan, Carnival and RCCL were also greeting passengers. Carnival, esp, was all over the place at every door happily finding their people. NCL passengers were wandering aimlessly, asking everyone if anyone from the ship was there. By accident, I found the trio hunkered down by the bathrooms, in a far corner of the luggage pickup, nowhere near the entrance or exit where everyone else was. Not good. Their transfer costs for a couple were twice the cost of a cab. Check-in, however, was a breeze and we anticipated possible problems since we purchased the cruise at the last minute at www.skyauction.com and had no documents. There is no special greeting in the port building, no music or anticipation. We wandered around Old San Juan that evening, departing at 10 PM, and had a great time. Lots of neon decorations for Christmas and New Year's. Live bands in the plazas, shops open, etc. We were looking forward to Freestyle Dining BUT it turned out to be a huge disappointment. The night at sea, so many wanted to eat at 7 PM that a lot were turned away with an hour wait. This happened again later as well. There are two main dining rooms and three extra fee ones. We did not eat at any of the special ones. The food was really mediocre - a lot like RCCL's Vision of the Seas. They took expensive ingredients and ruined them. I cannot believe that a White House chef is their consultant. The wait staff is mostly Filipino and quite subdued. We did have the same waiter several times and he did not smile at us until the last night! With tips automatically taken from you, little incentive to over perform. We certainly did not give extras. Because so many on the ship complained about Freestyle, it was explained by the hotel asst manager, the staff is weary from listening and dispirited. Good grief - fun is what a cruise is about and fun was missing. No Macarena through the dining room because people are coming and going. The hostess made little attempt to put people together at large tables. You would see couples strung through the dining room waiting to have others join them. Toward the end, the wine stewardess asked if we were having fun and we really unloaded on her about our wanting to share a table to get to know some fellow passengers and not ever having anyone brought to us. She went to the hostess and told her that we were so unhappy that we would never cruise with Sky or NCL again. After that, the hostess made a greater effort. However, it is not the same as sitting each night with people and really getting to know them. I only recommend Freestyle if you bring your own friends. The buffet food was really poor - reminiscent of Hometown Buffet. We ate there for a few breakfasts but that was about it. Ice cream sundaes in the afternoons were nice though. If you instruct the pizza guy, you can get a pretty good pizza in Ciao Chow. He was very stingy with sauce and did not really like to make custom pizzas but, heck, the ingredients were there. He was the surliest staff we met. St Lucia - did not take the tours. We bought a painting there years ago and wanted to find the artist. Turns out she owns a restaurant on the water so we ate at the Coal Pot - takes two water taxies. Nice veranda. Food OK. Met the artist. Happy day. One possible excursion you could take on your own is to the Hilton where you can lunch in a sandy cove with the Pitons on either side. Expensive cab ride, however. Barbados - again did not take the ship's excursions. Had been before. Took a shuttle to the beach with others - $3 each, each way. Ship has a shuttle to the same beach for $22 RT! If you go, you will be dropped at a fancy entrance where they will try to extract $10 each from you. Walk a few yards over and you can enter free! All beaches are free but this one has some "amenities" they want you to pay for: play equip for kids, etc. Dominica - rained all day. We went to the museum at the end of the dock area. Had also been there before. St Kitts - the real reason for our being on this cruise. We really wanted to try the "new" excursion on the St Kitts Scenic Railway but were appalled at the ship's price of $89 each. So we planned to take the train in the afternoon on our own. We found the office but they would not sell us tickets, protecting the revenue for the ship! So we hired a cab and toured the fort and a botanical garden. At the fort, the cab driver told us the train had derailed - AGAIN! - and all the drivers were being called to pick up passengers. No one was injured but we found out that it has only made the trip ONCE! without derailing. We saw the tipped car. Suggest you not pick that trip and not buy stock in their company either! Cab driver says the train fee is $50 if you are not on a ship. St Thomas - been there a lot! We took a cab to Morningstar Beach where, after about an hour, it began to rain. Ostensibly, you have to rent chaises there but no one cared. Beach has quite a drop off now, thanks to a hurricane. We planned to buy lunch there but one of the restaurants was closed and we took off back to the ship with the rain. It is fun to take the tram to the top of the hill for the view. It is across the street from the dock. San Juan - we did like the Freestyle departure, staying in our room until time to leave. We were independents and were happy to be among the earlier times since we were off to the Hyatt Cerromar for a day on the beach. The excursion director only showed up from 730 to 9 PM and you had to book by 4 the day before or you were out. So really, you had to book two days in advance. New Year's Eve was fun but not spectacular. Topside, there were some sparkler like fountains, the horn blew and we had noise makers. Had never done New Year's before and thought it was a bigger deal. It was the only dress up night and even that was optional. Really, our main complaint was about the poor staff attitude. It permeated the ship and affected the passengers. Whereas, on Carnival, people greet you in the halls, that did not occur here. The FUN atmosphere was missing. We have been told by Carnival Legend staff that Carnival treats its staff the best. Maybe that is the problem with NCL. It is not a happy bunch. The hotel asst manager said he had been on Star and people there were so unhappy with Freestyle that he could not wait to get off the ship. Something has got to change here. And we passengers cannot register our unhappiness with tips so is anyone listening???

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Nov 30, -0001

Alaska

S Bird   My husband and I just took our first cruise.  Before leaving we studied many cruise reviews and we were very discouraged and worried that we had chosen the wrong ship.  We decided to have fun anyway!  What a pleasant surprise to find that the Norwegian Sky was beautiful!  Remember, we have nothing to compare to, but it is a beautiful ship.  Being so recently refurbished, everything

was clean and new.  Our room seemed very adequate to us.  We had an outside cabin on the Oslo deck with a large square window.  We unpacked all our bags (six!) and did not have to store anything under the beds except the empty luggage.  I overpacked and we only needed to wear half of what I took!  We hung everything up (plenty of hangers), put our underwear, socks, etc., in the drawers.  We put some shoes and a couple of folded sweaters in the night stands.  We didn't even use the desk drawer.  We hung our jackets on the hooks by the little loveseat, and we hung our bathrobes and my nightgown on the hooks in the bathroom.  Plenty of room!  Because we could pull our bed away from the wall and use it as a seat, we spent a little more time in our room looking out the window.   From there we saw whales and eagles!  There is a small TV that kept us updated on the news and sports; a channel about nature; a movie channel which we enjoyed seeing several movies we hadn't seen, usually at night before bed.  We'd tune into the ship information channels, also.  Nothing more was needed.  If you want to watch TV, stay home.  I heard a lady complaining that she wasn't getting to see her soap operas!  The bathroom was tiny, but adequate for what you needed to do!  The shower is round, and small, and a very large person would have a difficult time.  The vanity area is plentiful and so are the shelves on either side of the mirror.  The fan runs all the time keeping the bathroom pretty much free of steam and smells.  Our ice bucket was kept full.  We did not order bottled water because the running water was good tasting.  We saw our room service person everyday, more than once, but never in our room!  Because we were in a short hallway, he was pretty much around all day.  He was pleasant, but not real out going.  He kept our room very neat and clean. There is a safe and hair dryer in each room, but no irons.  They don't have any irons in fact.  We just went without and things looked fine. Our bathroom was kept supplied with shampoo, soap, lotions, shower gel, etc.  The food was wonderful!  It was way beyond our expectations!  We sat with another couple that we knew and they knew the others at our table.  We became fast friends.  Our waiter was very dignified and took his job seriously.  He was pleasant, explaining the menu to us when we had questions.  He never blinked an eye when we asked for extras, or more.  My husband once ordered two entrees because he couldn't decide--there was not even a slight hint of annoyance!  We'd even ask for ice cream sundaes when they weren't on the menu.  Our bus boy, or assistant waiter, was really fun.  He was so sweet and our water glasses were never empty.  Our waiter did tell us the first day that if we came just as the dining room opened (we had early seating) that he'd be able to serve us faster because the food orders wouldn't get backed up.  The service was incredible!  The food was very good.  There were so many things to choose from.  The chilled soups are wonderful.  Be sure to try them.  I am a very picky eater, I don't even like seafood.  There was always something for me to eat.  If there was something I did not like, I realized that it wasn't because that food wasn't good, it was because I just didn't care for it!  But, there was very little that I didn't like!  We ate most all our meals in our dining room because we liked it so well.   We did try Le Bistro one night and the four of us were not impressed.  My filet mignon was delicious, but the servers were snooty and service was slow.  We ate in the Garden Cafe a couple of times when we were in a hurry (buffet) but still preferred our dining room.  For our first two afternoons we ate at the "outside" buffet, I am sorry, the name leaves me right now.  It is on deck 11, in the aft, and it is where they serve the lunch buffet first day.  It was very nice.  They did have hotdogs and hamburgers and cheeseburgers.  The cheeseburgers were very good the first few days.  Thereafter, we think they were using meatloaf, or soyburger meat, because the texture was different and they were over seasoned.  We enjoyed the ice cream shop several times during the cruise.  The only midnight buffet that we went to was the chocoholic.  They served it in too small of an area and I swear all 2000 people were there! (Did I say that the cruise was sold out?)  Anyway, we tasted, but did not eat much.  One of our friends went to one of the afternoon teas and said it was very nice.  We just were never hungry!!  In fact, we had a hard time being hungry for meals!! The entertainment was very good.  The troup that does the broadway acts are good, excellent singing and dancing.  They did two shows a night, for three nights.  Jane L Powell was the best!  She performed on two nights.  Her shows are wonderful and she is so personable!!  Don't miss her shows!  If you want good seats you pretty much have to be willing to stand in line beginning an hour before each performance.  The comediane was good, as was the magician. They have so many activities and everyone seemed busy.  You receive a newsletter daily telling you what is going on.  Our cruise director, a young man named Gary Anderson, was great.  The staff was quite young, but friendly and full of energy. My husband went to the gym every morning.  He was so pleased that there was a variety of equipment and that it was not crowded in the morning. We enjoyed Glacier Bay.  Park Rangers came ashore and over the loudspeakers told us all about the glaciers, etc.  It was cold and windy and we were glad that we had brought our parkas.  That was the only day we used them however.  I neglected to state that we had "miracle weather".  Beginning in Seattle and throughout the entire week, including our return to Seattle we did not have a drop of rain.  Not only that, but it was sunshine everyday!  The highs were only about mid 60's, but in the sun, it was t-shirt weather!  Anyway, in Haines we only walked around.  In Skagway we took the White Pass Railway trip.  That was so good, especially on a clear day!  It's a must!   In Juneau my husband took the fishing trip, but nobody caught anything, too early in the season maybe.  I went on the salmon bake.  It was nice, but I thought there'd be more to it.  Would not do it again only because I didn't need to pay for food (although the salmon was wonderful I'm told).  We didn't sign up for anything ahead of time in Vancouver.  We took a taxi to Gastown and there caught a Grayline tour bus.  These are little red double decker busses with a guide that takes you all over the city.  It was about a two hour trip.  We chose not to get off; however, you can get off anywhere you want, and catch the next bus.  They run about every half hour.  I think it was about $15 each.  Our friends took the seabus across the bay to West Vancouver and it only cost $1.75.  The one thing we decided is that next time we won't sign up for anything in advance.  You can pretty much get off the ship and sign up for things for less. Disembarking was the most difficult in that it just takes a long time.  Our experience was that it's way better to make all your own travel plans.  We had cheaper plane tickets; it's cheaper and faster to take taxis than go on arranged busses. I did try my hand at the internet cafe.  The computers had been down earlier in the day, due to the way the ship had to dock.  They were very slow in the afternoon and it took me quite awhile to accomplish what I needed to do.  The young man in charge took six minutes off my total time which I thought was fair. We don't gamble so cannot give you any first hand experiences with that.  If you are a non smoker, you won't find it too bad.  All dining rooms are smoke free.  It is irritating to be sitting in a lounge chair, in the open air, relaxing and enjoying the afternoon, only to have someone come and sit near you and begin blowing their smoke all over.  One lady was polite enough to ask, but got huffy when we said yes it would bother us, but that we were willing to move.  The casinos aren't smoke free and sometimes you have to walk through them to get to your destinations. I do want to say that many people said that on other cruise ships that the waiters are more outgoing and friendly, almost silly.  Our's were not.  It was as if they were requested to be a little more dignified and professional. However, three times during the cruise they all got together and performed for us.  We all loved it! I hope that you enjoy your cruise on the SKY as much as we did!

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Nov 30, -0001

Nassau, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas

Bill H PRICE: At $1,200 per person, inside cabin was perfectly acceptable; however, don't bring a steamer trunk because storage is sparse. AESTHETICS: Ship was beautiful, but I would expect this given the fact that it is a brand new ship. PUBLIC SPACES: The norm for cruise fare. Nicely decorated. Sometimes a little uncoordinated, but I

guess it's that Caribbean feel... SERVICE:  Poor, Not what I've experienced on other cruise lines.  Waite staff in restaurant tended to be disinterested.  Don't dare ask for seconds on the "pricier" food items or a manual count must be done in the galley per our waiter.  Forget wine with dinner.  Wine stewards unmotivated and it is "verboten" to ask for a glass of wine as opposed to a bottle else you get a dirty glance.  Quality of food relatively tasteless, but not as bad as the patio buffet morsels which daily consisted of hamburger discs, hot dogs and 100 ways to disguise pasta. I found it particularly amusing that coffee was free 24 hrs a day at the patio buffet (self serve), but you were charged for a good old cup of "joe" if went to the coffee bar (go figure). Cabin steward was excellent.  Bar service was abhorrent. One night in the checkers lounge I was inadvertently charged (to my onboard acct) $158.00 for 1 beer.  Thankfully I had the sense to scan my receipt (which was difficult in this darkened cave) and question the bartender.  Apparently he had hit the wrong keys on the register and had charged me for 51 bottles.  The error was remedied, but be forewarned check your receipts instead of signing in the dark.  Perhaps the potentially worse bar experience was the night I tried to access my cabin with my "onboard card" and was denied entrance. Why?  It was someone else’s card.  Apparently the bar staff in their "effort to please" or "effort to charge" had inadvertently given me someone else's card after a transaction.  I guess they were somewhat confused. Yet another situation I had to take care of at the purser's desk the next morning. Forget the pizza as well, unless you like corrugated cardboard with cheese.  In conclusion, I felt the ship was not equipped with the appropriate support personnel to deal with the volume of passengers. ENTERTAIMENT: Average cruise fare.  Not bad but been there, done that. POINTS TO NOTE: Let's face it this was a vacation.  Any vacation to me is as good as you make it and is punctuated by the other passengers you’re with.  My fellow shipmates as well as the friends that came along made this cruise an enjoyable experience for me. The other passengers were fun and decidedly ready for a good time.  So overall I enjoyed myself albeit the sometimes-fragmented problems of the cruise line itself. Would I go again?? Sure. Would I have high expectations?  No, but that's okay.. A vacation to me is to forget about the ordinary and create a good time and on this cruise I did! OVERALL RATING:   Beautiful Service: Substandard Accommodations: Good Passengers: Fun crowd Ride: Smooth as glass Embarkation/disembarkation: Effortless Special note: If I had to listen to the calypso band for yet another day of pool side music I would have gone ballistic PS thank you Gary and Chris you made this cruise all the more special!!!

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

PRICE:   Inside Cabin $1000 per person, very good considering you are never in your room except to change or sleep. STATEROOM: VERY SMALL, I have been on 12 cruises and this by far is the smallest cabin I have ever seen.  The brochure is also deceptive in telling you there is a sitting area (No couch or chair) They also did not say there is a standing area because their is no place

to stand. PUBLIC AREAS:   The LOBBY and ATRIUM are gorgeous, all bars are elegant and comfortable, The theater is a little crowded. The Two main dining rooms are quite interesting since none of the colors are coordinated. Horizons and Le Bistro are gorgeous indeed. SERVICE: Service was spotty, Horrible cruise Director, The Waiters in the Restaurant were rude and rushed did NOT like special orders. Bartenders were good but could not taste an ounce of alcohol the whole week. Lucy the hostess is an ENGISH JEM. Find her tell her your problems she will help..a real cutie. ENTERTAINMENT: Entertainment was standard cruise faire however Sybil Shephard did make an apperance for a 1 night Cabaret night. DINING: I found breakfast in bed fabulous and on-time, the Patio buffet was EXCELLENT serving evryones favorite breakfast items, ALL should be pleased.  The Dining room for breakfast was slow and felt like it was almost lunchtime before we got our food. Lunch in Ciao Chow was good Pizza in A/C out of the heat. the dining room was very heavy and slow. the patio buffet was the same each day: Burgers Hot Dogs, felt like camp. A variety would be nice. Dinner in the Dining room was good not great. the service again Horrible. Plan on having wine for dessert because you cant find a wine steward and no second orders are permitted on entrees No midnight buffets were served SHORE EXCURSIONS: HONEYMOON CRUISE TO ST. JOHN- Fabulous Catamaran to St. John, great hidden beach to relax or snorkel plus gourmet buffet and 5 hour OPEN BAR THE THRILLER Speed boat in Nassau, Very pretty views of the island, stop for pictures, Goggles they give you fog up and get wet and you cant see where you are going POSITIVES: Beautiful Ship, VERY VERY Clean, Great pool and Jacuzzi in front of ship, very stable, ship did not move once NEGATIVES: NCL Service is below standard, employees were rude and unfriendly especially the front desk. Food was boring and unimaginative. WEAK Alcoholic drinks. Le Bistro reservations are only for Outside verandah suites only, you have been forwarned all other cabins can eat there at 6:00PM or 10:00PM only.

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Nov 30, -0001

n/a

Ernest Jones Norwegian Sky Dining Experience (1/00) We were late sitting on a table for 12, in the Four Seasons, all GGCer's (Great Group Cruise) and I think they will all agree we were a delightful, diverse and compatible group who all enjoyed each others company. Firstly let me say we found the food to be superior in general to RCCL, HAL, Celebrity, Carnival and QE2. We haven’t been on Princess as yet and from what I hear

that may be the exception. The meat, fish, duck, and even lobster were all just fine in our case. As far as wines were concerned we had a bottle every night and while I have seen more complete lists there was nothing we were looking for they didn’t have. One night we even had a nice bottle of reasonably priced Meursault, quite a find on a cruise ship! The service from our waiter Ruben from Colombia was very good, and he took particularly good care of my wife Gloria who is Colombian. Harry the busboy from the Bahamas made sure I got my Espresso nightly. Incidentally there was no charge for Espresso, many lines now charge. For lunch we generally ate in the Seven Seas, once again good food and service. I particularly recall an excellent lamb shank! We also had Greek pizza one late lunch in Ciao-Chow’s! Different! Now for the really good news! We had dinner at both Le Bistro and Ciao-Chow’s! Le Bistro has its own kitchen and the food compares well with a first class onshore restaurant. We had escargot, all piping hot and bubbly, the way they should be and much better than in the main restaurant. This was followed by wild mushroom soup served in a round loaf of bread which had had it’s center scooped out! Decorative and delicious! The entree was Filet Mignon with Bernaise Sauce. Now I like my filet done "bleu"! That’s charred on the outside, rare inside. Not well known, or easy to cook. Both the waiter and the chef new what I wanted and it was cooked to perfection. Without doubt the best filet I have ever had on a cruise ship and I include upmarket Radisson and Windstar in that opinion. We gave the chocolate fondue a miss and instead had the Swiss apple tart a la mode. Exquisite! The service was outstanding almost too quick between courses. We were 2 only which may have helped in this case. The reservation was for 8 pm and was made the day before. This was an outstanding meal by any standard. We also had dinner at Ciao-Chow’s together with Ellen and Diane, the Polish girls. An unusual menu, spicy won-ton soup, a tomato/ Italian mozzarella/olive oil salad and a crispy duck/risotto entree. All very different from normal cruise fare. As an encore we spoke nicely to our maitre d’ Jean Louis from Haiti who arranged for a table for the 4 of us in the Horizon on the second formal night. The menu was the same as normal but the surroundings are so different. As far as the Garden Cafe is concerned we found it typical of cafeteria buffets poor to bad, but better decorated and located than most. We keep away as much as possible. To summarize: to be able to eat in three different assigned restaurants, and two alternates is unique in the whole cruise industry and I recommend all who go on Sky to give it a try. It requires only a modicum of planning. MAKE YOUR BOOKINGS EARLY ENJOY! Ernest Jones; Retired Music & Cruise Crazy Brit.

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Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

This is only the second cruise I had ever been on. I've just gotten back from 4 nights on the Norwegian Sky. Overall I enjoyed my trip but I think it could have been better. I went on one of the coldest weeks so we could not enjoy the full amenities because it was so cold. The food that is included in the package was decent though nothing to write home about. However, I felt that NCL is constantly trying to squeeze more money out of you. For

example, they have specialty restaurants, which they charge about $25 + and you have to be vigilant to understand which restaurant you are walking into to be sure that you are not charged more money. They charge $12 per day for gratuities plus 15% gratuity for each item you purchase on the ship including drinks. The staff seems to be trained to be very aggressive about getting more money out of you. For example, they had a liquor tasting but it was clear that when you get there that they were supposed to pressure you to buy cases of large containers of liquor that you can only get on your last day. NCL was concerned with cleanliness on the ship and they had hand sanitizers at almost every entrance including on and off of the ship. They cleaned the cabins twice a day. I felt that they were really focused on not creating epidemics as had been in the news in the past, which I liked. However, everything in the cabins and on the interior was a bit worn. The carpet and the bathroom in the cabins were a little rusty. The sheets were so old that they had little lint balls on them, which made them uncomfortable to sleep on and I had to call room service several times to get them to give me a sheet without out those things on them. We traveled on one of the coldest weeks in the Bahamas so we could not enjoy the beaches like we hoped. There is not much to do on the ship during the day. Since it was so cold, most people did not want to stay on deck to do the outdoor games like ping pong and volley ball. The waters were so choppy that we could not go ashore on day as planned at Grand Stirrup Island, which is owned by NCL. I had heard from the staff that this has happened in the past but NCL did not seem to willing to offer us many more alternative activities since we were stuck on board. There was very little to do that was not costly like bingo or the casino. All they had was a game room with a few board games and a pop culture trivia contest in which what seemed like 1/2 the ship showed up for. They did not have enough forms for everyone to play the game and only did one set of questions even though it was clear that we were all searching for something to occupy our time. We then went to bingo which is expensive and they did not give us a discount since we were stuck on the ship. They offered us 1 bingo square for free but if you pay the $20 - $35 you get 6 squares at a time. The parties at night are fun for all ages but there is a very small dance floor and you constantly have to fight off waiters who are trying to get you to buy more drinks and give you a little bit of attitude when you ask for water. I also used the spa. Don't plan a manicure / pedicure on board unless you want to be overcharged. The massage and facial were very nice, though. The pre-packaged land excursions are expensive, but enjoyed the two I took. At Grand Bahamas Island I did the beaches and caves tour, which I think is designed for warmer days because they give you time much to spend on the beach. The caves are a rather minor part of the tour. The beach was isolated and beautiful, but too cold to really enjoy. The bus driver tells you everything you ever wanted to know about living in the Bahamas - and then some, but is very friendly. I also rode on the segway in Nassau, which is advertised as a nature tour, but is really a 'lets see how fast we can go on a segway' tour. The staff is mostly Indonesian and many do not speak English very well. They also seemed bored with their jobs and there was a real sense of forced friendliness. For example, I was on the quiet deck and a Spanish speaking family came into the area and talked very loud. My guess is that since the sign was in English they did not know that it was the quiet section. The waiters more concerned with getting you to order drinks refused to intervene when I asked them to subtly let the family know that this was supposed to be the quiet section. Although it seems like I had a lot to complain about, I think these things I have listed as complaints are minor overall and would recommend this cruise to others. Be sure to bring a watch because there are a lot of things that require you to track your time and there is no clock in the cabins.

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Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

This was the first short cruise we have taken, We throughly enjoyed the ship. The entertainment was excellent, and fun. We ate in Cagneys once and the food was superb. Our steaks were soooo tender you could cut with a fork. The servers all throughout the ship were friendly and pleasant with small talk to add to the fare. We chose to have a balcony for the first time and it was heavenly. The sheets were veryyyy soft. Everything was very clean

and nice. Love the comforters very much. The room steward was so nice to us. Going out of his way to make it an enjoyable trip. Fun fun fun, I loved the ice ice baby dance up on the pool deck a lot. The entertainment staff always got everything going. Don't pack so much stuff. See as much as you can while you can. Tthe prices were right and the temperature was perfect. We would do this again in a heart beat...got to see Atlantis and Great Stirrup Cay. I asked hubby to rate this one out of 5. He gave it a 4.5

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

We found that by going shopping first thing in the morning at St. Thomas you actually miss a lot of the crowds and from shopping we ate lunch at Herve's restaurant that sits higher up and overlooks the harbor.  A Beautiful view for lunch. NCL does need to work on getting their front desk staff better training in customer service and friendliness as we found them to be highly uncooperative or informative.  They never offered 

any helpful information nor did they try and rectify problems that occurred. I did come home very pleased with the cruise and the eastern caribbean.

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Cruise Line: Norwegian Sailing Date: December 22nd, 2002 The Norwegian Sky vessel was an extremely nice ship. We felt it was just the right size and not an overload of passengers. The Freestyle dining experience was very different, but for the better. We had the choice of where and what time to eat each night. We tried two of the specialty restaurants, Le Bistro and Horizons. Both were phenomenal. The service and staff on the entire

ship were extremely polite and courteous the entire time; not one complaint there. Only downside was the casino. While the dealers were still very polite and nice, there was constantly a wait for a table and the cigarette smoke in the room was not well ventilated. That would be the only negative aspect to the vessel. Overall, we and the other families, which we met, had a very nice cruising experience and I would recommend the NCL and the Sky specifically to anyone.

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By Joy_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Alaska

Joy Cruise Line: Norwegian Sailing Date: September 21st, 2002 I just got back home from Alaska on a cruise with Norwegian Sky. Wow what a beautiful ship. I have no complaints whatsoever. There were 8 of us that cruised together. We flew to Seattle for a couple of days so that I could spend some time with my stepdaughter. She took us all over Seattle. I would highly recommend taking the extra day to see Seattle when going to Alaska.

There are so many things to do there. I would recommend the Space needle and Pikes Place Market for sure. Pikes is a neat fish market, and they throw the fish and there are the most beautiful flowers and fruits. Great prices! We ate at the crab pot which is located there and it was fun and very good. They bring you a bib and for good reason. You order this great seafood and they put a paper down on your table and bring your food in this big wash bowl, and just dump it all on the table. I would also recommend the amphibious duck ride if you don't know anyone in Seattle to show you around. It is a lot of fun and it is a land and sea tour. The next morning we took the underground tour. If you like history then you will like this tour. It is about how Seattle was started. We then were off to the boat to get on the "Sky".  Boarding was a breeze. After boarding we had a bon-voyage party. One thing I would suggest is get involved with all activities and have fun! After all this is a vacation. The freestyle cruise is just that. You can wear pretty much what you wish They have specialty restaurants for a fee of $15 but we never seen the need to do that. The food was great. We had some friends that did eat at the specialty restaurants and said the food was great. If you go hungry on the Sky then it is your own fault. If you eat in the main dining rooms plan on 1 1/2 hours because you go through all the courses of the menu starting with the appetizers to the desserts. If you are in a hurry I would suggest the buffet in the Garden Cafe.  Be sure and bring a drop cord as there are not enough outlets. The blow dryer is not very good. There was just enough drawer space, and you can put your luggage under the bed. I thought everything was sufficient. Pack light. Take my advice and pack and take out half of what you pack. I took way too many clothes. I thought we would be changing more from day to night, but some of the shore excursions are late and by the time you get back on the boat you will be tired and just want to go through the buffet line and eat which is casual. The shore excursions that we did were very good. The first was in Juneau. We had booked through coastal helicopter tour through the internet before we had left home. I am so glad we did as we arrived it was very foggy and all the flights were canceled on the boat. The reason we could go on was because coastal is very experienced and they are the ones that are called on in emergences. They are very experienced and this was great. We landed on Herbert Glacier and walked around for 20 mins. The crevasses were awesome, and the water so blue. It was truly a great experience. After our return from the helicopter tour we met at the red dog saloon with the rest of our group that went on the whale tour. The red dog has sawdust floors. You have to go in there and write your name in the wood. After that we shopped till we dropped. We was the last cruise for the season so just about everything was 1/2 price. We got some great deals. Everyone said the best shopping was in Ketchikan but I don't agree. I think Juneau or Skagway. Also if you buy a lot and afraid you won't be able to pack it all back home, I would advice shipping from the port before you get on the boat We had bought a lot during the cruise and was going to take everything on the last port which was Ketchikan and ship back UPS, but customs would not let us take all that stuff off the boat. You have to wait till you get back and take everything that was purchased throughout the cruise through customs at the end of the cruise. If we had of known that we would have shipped before we got on the boat before we boarded for the next port. My point is once you take it on the boat you can't take it off till the end of the cruise.  The next day we was in Skagway. Brr. It was very cold . The wind would cut right through you . We had had very mild weather until then. It had been in the high 50's, but that day it was 37 degrees. We rode the white pass summit. I highly recommend that. I recommend sitting on the left side. Going up the mountain there is some beautiful scenery. It goes to the top and you are in Canada. This was our narrators last day so as a tradition she jumped in the cold water 3 times. They said the water was 36 degrees. I thought she was kidding but by golly she did it. After doing some more shopping and swooping up some more of the great deals we took a ferry to Haines for our twilight excursion. The ride over you have to be on the look out for whales and other wildlife. When we arrived in Haines and go on our bus we no longer got started and we seen a bear right there in town. By the way don't blink or you'll miss town. On the way we had 2 very experienced tour guides. They were very informative. We seen Bald Eagles and I would say about 14 grizzly bears. They usually were in 3's and 4's. We would pull over and watch the salmon spawn and then the bears would come to feast on the fish. Our tour directors told us to stay close to the bus and all in one group. We were to get on the bus if they said so fast. They had bear pepper spray. They had powerful telescopes to look through. The chilikoot river was very beautiful.  The next day was Glacier Bay. Wow! This was very beautiful and cold. You will hear a roaring thunder then see the ice crashing in the water. This was truly a great experience. The next day we were in Ketchikan. This was a very rainy day. Be sure and go to creek street. The buildings are on stilts in the water and the fish are spawning upstream. We seen a seal trying to get the fish. Be sure and go to Dolly's house. This was a neat place. Everything is still the original. The girls that work there are a hoot. Be sure and ask about the Silk flowers on the shower curtain. The next day was the inside passage. We were so tired and trying to pack for the last day of our cruise that we didn't see a whole lot of it. I wish now I had spent more time just observing, but felt overwhelmed by all the packing and trying to get all the stuff that I had bought together (ha ha !). You have to have your luggage out by 3am . My friend had a broken handle on her suitcase, and the staff were so nice to replace it for her at no charge. They put a whole new handle on for her. The staff really go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. They wait on you hand and foot. One night we had lobsters, and the waiter took care of getting them out of the shell for me. Anything we asked for we got. Everyone was truly nice. They had a mint on our pillow every night and made our gown into some kind of fish. They turned our beds down and kept our room very clean. Well the last day was in Vancouver B.C. We decided to take the last bus out on quick coach so that we could spend the day there. I wish we had a extra day. This was a beautiful place. Very clean. The scenery beautiful. We had left our luggage at the holiday inn for a fee of $10 for all of our luggage. We took the double decker bus for a city tour since we didn't have very long there. That way we could see the highlights. I would have loved to spent the day at Stanly Park or the neat Gastown. Granville Island would have been nice too. Well after that we headed back to Seattle. We had to go through customs. That was the worst part. We had to get our luggage off the bus and carry it ourselves through customs then take it back to the bus. By the way we didn't know until we had already purchased bus tickets that we could have taken a limo back to Seattle for what it cost us for the bus. We headed to Seattle with beautiful scenery. I took a nap as it was a 4 hour drive. When arriving to Seattle the security was very tight as it was the whole time. I was glad as it made me feel safer. We was off to our home and very tired. I would say this is the most laid back cruise that I have ever been on. The way they had this spaced out you had your shore excursions, then you had a day of rest on the boat. I would recommend the Norwegian sky. The shows are the best from what I hear. I have never cruised on any other line other than Norwegian, but I don't have any complaints to make me go to another. I heard that the food was better on other cruise lines, but the shows were better on Norwegian. I don' t see how the food could get much better, but maybe I should try another cruise line to see. Nah. why fix it if its not broke.

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Sailing Date: November 3rd, 2002 Introduction: This was my second (and third, as we cruised back to back this time) cruise to the Caribbean. The Norwegian Sky is one of Norwegian Cruise Lines Freestyle Cruising ships, which I will describe later. The itineraries from San Juan were as follows: First Week: Day 1 - Day At Sea Second Week: Day 1 - Day At Sea Day 2 - St. Lucia Day 2 - Martinique

Day 3 - Barbados Day 3 - Antigua Day 4 - Dominica Day 4 - St. Maarten Day 5 - St. Kitts Day 5 - Tortola Day 6 - St. Thomas Day 6 - St. Thomas Getting to the ship: The Norwegian Sky sails from San Juan, and the pier is located in the heart of Old San Juan next to Carnival's pier. If you have booked your air flight with NCL, then you have no real issues and the ship will await your arrival. However, if you plan to book your own airfare, the best piece of advice I can give is for you to plan on arriving on the day before your cruise departs. There is a fine hotel (The Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel and Casino) located directly across the street from the pier, and if you can make reservations to stay there, it will make it very easy to get on the ship the next morning. It costs approximately $18 US to take a cab from the airport to the hotel/pier, and in the morning when you check out, all you have to do is cross the street with your luggage. We spent a night there prior to our cruise and we were very satisfied. The Norwegian Sky begins boarding at 1:00 PM, so if you are checking out of a hotel, try to arrange your travel time accordingly. The best time to arrive to check in was about 12:45 PM. There was no real line yet, and things moved quickly in the embarkation process. However, by 1:30 PM, there was a huge line, and things had begun to slow down. If you don't make it to the pier by 1:00 PM, and you don't want to wait in a long line, then don't arrive at the pier until later in the afternoon. There is a lull between 3:30 PM and 5:30 pm between flights at the airport. One source of aggravation was the tables they had set up to confiscate any liquor people were trying to bring on board. NCL is very strict about bringing liquor on board, and they were pulling people out of line to confiscate any alcoholic beverages they might have with them in carry-on. This seemed to just cause a bit of confusion in the line. Note: In the port of San Juan, if you really want to get a small amount of alcohol on board, just board the ship and come back out to the terminal area and ask the duty free shop personnel for tips on how best to do this... it's not difficult to sneak a bottle on board as long as you are reasonable about it. Having stayed at the Wyndham Old San Juan, we were in our room by 1:15 PM after arriving at the pier at 12:45. We then left the ship for our own walking tour of Old San Juan. The cabins: We had booked an outside cabin on Deck 4 for the first week and another on Deck 5, front of the ship in both cases. Both were very convenient for getting on and off the ship in the various ports. The Deck 4 cabin was a little better than Deck 5, only because Deck 5 is located directly beneath the walking/running track. Despite signs that asked people not to run on the track before 8:00 AM, some individuals obviously felt the need to wake people up by stomping around the track at 5:30 AM on certain days... I would suggest avoiding Deck 5 for this reason. The cabins on the Norwegian Sky are a bit smaller than other lines, and even other Norwegian ships. However, this is not a major inconvenience. The shower and bathroom are adequately sized, but temperature of the water may fluctuate for unknown reasons. However, there is a definite lack of dresser space. There are three tiny drawers in the closet under the safe, and they really weren't much help. We ended up using the nightstand shelves as additional drawer space. There is room under the beds, however, and if you choose to leave your clothes in your suitcase, you may store them under the bed. A hairdryer is provided, but you might want to bring your own. No irons are allowed. Unlike alot of ships, there is no self-service laundry area. This can be a problem if you are staying for more that one week. The Ship: The ship is rather well laid out. There is a huge atrium that runs from the top of the ship down to Deck 5 where the lobby is. In the center there are 4 glass elevators. For some reason, a lot of people preferred to wait (and wait and wait) for these, rather than use the other elevators located near the stairs in both the front and rear of the ships. Here's a hint: If you don't want to wait long for an elevator, use the normal elevators. However, at the end of a day, when people are coming back on the ship, use the atrium elevators, as the normal ones are crowded with people re-entering the ship. Deck 5 also houses the two main dining rooms, the Four Seasons, and the Seven Seas. The specialty restaurant Horizons is also squeezed in on Deck 5 between the two main dining rooms. There are small shops on Deck 6 in the atrium area (including Colombian Emeralds), as well the Atrium Lounge, Checkers Cabaret, Windjammers Bar, Churchills Cigar Bar, and the Photo Shop. The Stardust Lounge is also located on Deck 6 as well as 7 for the main shows. Deck 7 houses the main shops, and coffee bar, and the casino. Deck 11 is the pool deck, and Deck 12 is the Observation Deck. Deck 11 also contains the Observation Lounge at the front of the ship, and the Outdoor Cafe (for buffets) and the Garden Cafe (also for buffets) at the rear of the ship. The specialty restaurant Ciao Chow, and the Spa, and the gym, and the Sports Bar are also located on Deck 11. Le Bistro, the french specialty restaurant is located on Deck 12 in the rear of the ship. Restaurants: The Norwegian Sky offers 2 main restaurants, a buffet and 3 alternative dining restaurants to choose from. The intent of “freestyle cruising” is to give the Sky’s passengers a wide variety of choices for dining pleasure. The three alternative dining restaurants (Le Bistro, Ciao Chow and Horizons) all require an additional $10.00 cover charge. They also require reservations as well. The following is a breakdown of the various restaurants: Garden Café (Deck 11, aft): This is the main buffet of the Norwegian Sky. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a fun and quick place to get a meal. There are food items like waffles, various egg dishes, cereal, fruit and so on for breakfast, pasta and various poultry and meat items for lunch and a separate dessert cart are always available to enjoy. The seating is both inside in the café or you make also sit outside by the pool or on the fantail of deck 11 by the Great Outdoor Cafe. The Great Outdoor Café (Deck 11, aft): Just aft of the Garden Cafe are two separate buffet lines that are open early for breakfast and lunch (primarily on days at sea). It offers the mostly the same food as the Garden Cafe but it has a larger selection of fruit and cereals for breakfast. Also good for a quick bite before that shore excursion in the early morning. The Seven Seas Restaurant (Deck 5, aft): This is one of two main restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant dining. Of the two main dining rooms, this one offers the best views (ask for a table near the rear windows) and the best service in our experience. It is a lot less crowded, especially on the formal night as everyone seems to stay near the atrium and the Four Seasons. The Four Seasons Restaurant (Deck 5, forward): This is the other main restaurant (along with the Seven Seas) and offers the same menu as the Seven Seas. It is located just outside the atrium area of Deck 5, and being so convenient, it tends to be more crowded. Service is good, but plan on requiring at least two hours for your full dinner here. Le Bistro (Deck 12, aft): Le Bistro is the french alternative restaurant that serves mediterranean style cuisine. The restaurant is a wonderful experience and offers a complete menu in a beautiful setting. The $10.00 cover charge is well worth it. We had a wonderful dinner here. It is rather high on the ship, so if you are less tolerant of movement, be aware that you feel it a bit more up top. Ciao Chow (Deck 11, midship): This is the Italian/Asian restaurant. We did not take advantage of this restaurant. The menu seemed to be a melange of italian and asian, with a heavy dose of seafood. Horizons Restaurant (Deck 5, midship): Located on Deck 5, between the main dining rooms, this restaurant is slightly harder to find. Even on the last night, people were still asking for directions. The menu is very interesting, based mainly in continental italian cuisine. We didn't get to try it, but several people expressed that it is very good. Pizzeria (Deck 11, midship): The Pizzeria is open 24-hours a day and offers decent and varied pizza. It is located inside of Ciao Chow. Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar: The Ice Cream bar is located next to the Garden Cafe, and is open every day from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. Long lines tended to form right at 3:00 PM, but if you waited a bit until it was a bit later, you wouldn't have any wait at all at the counter. I don't know why they can't have this open more than two hours a day... it seems like it would be very popular. Midnight Buffets: The Norwegian Sky offered only one midnight buffet on this cruise. The signature “chocoholic” chocolate buffet where everything is made from chocolate was held on the 4th night. Cakes, pies, fruit dipped in chocolate, moose, cheesecake, fudge, you name it and if it was made with chocolate they offered it. I only managed to make it partially through the line before my plate was overflowing. One nice touch is that they will offer to transfer your chocolate to a "to go' plate so you may take it back to your cabin. Interestingly, there was no picture time scheduled... so if you were not first in line, it was pretty much disheveled if you wanted to take pictures. The contents were fabulous however, and very delicious. Keep in mind that even though it is held at midnight (or actually 11:30 PM) it is still in the main dining room (Four Seasons) and a dress code applies (resort casual). This means you can't go to the buffet in shorts. Many people were turned away grumbling. Fortunately, we were one of the appropriately dressed individuals. Entertainment: Entertainment on the ship is scattered throughout. Of course, there is a casino. Every night there is a sail-away party on the pool deck. The band there was a reggae style band, and was pretty good. There is live top-40 style music in the Checkers Cabaret, although the musicians were not quite as talented as the poolside band. In Windjammers, there was a piano player who also sang, but he was a bit tacky, reading lyrics off of a laptop. The main shows were adequate and located in the Stardust lounge. They ranged from magician acts, to little broadway ensemble shows, to singers. There was another "swing" type of band (Glenn Miller music) located in the Observation Lounge. They seemed to do pretty good, although that was not my cup of tea. Karaoke was also offered from time to time in the Observation Lounge. All in all, most of the entertainment was enough to keep you busy, but nothing to write home about. I think NCL could take a lesson from Carnival and improve the talent of the entertainment. Shore excursions: There were two types of shore excursions. One were the ones categorized as "Dive-In" and the regular shore excursions. There were excellent choices among each. The Dive-In excursions involved snorkeling or diving with NCL's own instructors as well as the tour operators. NCL is the only line that actually hires it's own diving and snorkeling instructors. These guys were fun to be with and made the excursions safe and fun. We did both types of excursions (shore and dive-in) and for the most part we were very satisfied. Freestyle Cruising: We were both new to the concept of Freestyle Cruising. Basically, what this allows you to do is to have the freedom of choosing who, and when, and where you want to eat every night. Basically, we choose what time we wanted to go to dinner and showed up when we felt like it. Except for the specialty restaurants, reservations are not required. You can sit with as few or as many people you like to. I would recommend that if you have a party larger than 8, make arrangements with the maitre'd of whichever main dining room you wish to be in ahead of time, as it may be hard for them to set up the proper table for you. The tipping is also automatically added in to your final bill. At a rate of $10.00 per day per person, we found this to be a bargain. It had no appreciable impact on level of service that we could decipher. Summary: We both enjoyed this two weeks immensely. We would recommend cruising on the Norwegian sky heartily. The only thing we wish could be different is that despite the freestyle cruising motif, we wished they would be a little more enthusiastic about enforcing some of the dress codes for dinner. We didn't feel it was appropriate for some people to wear denim jeans in the main dining rooms at night, regardless of freestyle cruising.

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

Overview The Norwegian Sky is a beautiful, new ship.  The public areas are well appointed and functional.  This was our 8th cruise and generally we enjoyed it. Cabin We are travel agents and were attending a seminar onboard the Sky.  Our cabin was not our pick but was assigned by the cruise line when we checked in.  The cabin was inside, located at the very stern of the ship and was the lowest

category available.  When our two beds were pushed together to make a queen bed, there was not enough room to walk on one side of the bed.  One of us would have to crawl over to stand beside it.  I understand that the hull was designed for another cruise line and that NCL purchased it because of a good negotiated price.  Since the dimensions were already established, the cabin size may not be to the NCL standard.  It will be interesting to follow the “Sky” class newbuilds.  We did not let the size of the cabin dampen our spirit. There were a few small items in the room and the bath that need to be mentioned.  The shower was round but adequate for our size.  One glaring flaw was the placement of the shelf for shampoo, soap etc.  It was a foot off the floor so that you were forced to bend over to reach anything located there.  Not really a big item, but not good planning either.  Also, the chair for the dressing table was just outside the bathroom door and to exit from the bath was impossible if anyone was seated there.  Finally we noted that storage space, particularly drawer space, was the least we have seen on any previous cruise ship, including NCL. Tour of the ship The atrium area was beautifully decorated with light colored woods and lots of plants.  Though it was small, compared to other recent ships we have toured, it was well appointed.   The glass elevators in the bow area of the atrium went all the way to the 11th floor, to the pool deck and that is nice. The pool deck was busy, particularly on “at sea” days.  There were multiple levels of deck space and several areas for sunning, away from the crowds.  Mostly, we could find empty seats every time we went to enjoy the sun.  Still the “seat saving” by leaving towels to mark your territory was a problem but that is universal around pools on ships and resorts now.  Aggravating! There were many out of the way lounges and bars.  Our favorite was the Observation Lounge, with glass completely overlooking the bow area of the ship with a panoramic view of the water.  Decoration here was excellent and nightly entertainment was provided for dancing.  Our other favorite was Gatsby’s Wine Bar at the stern of the ship, portside, 12th floor.  A great place to enjoy a nightcap before retiring. Food Food was good overall.  Our only complaint was not the dining room food or service, but the lack of imagination in food selection for breakfast and lunch.  Only a few items varied the whole week.  We said the food was good but essentially the same each day.   We tried Le Bistro, alternative dining, and were impressed.  We also enjoyed Pizza in the pizzeria and it was good.  The only problem we noted there was that drinks were not available in the pizzeria, necessitating a trip to the pool bar and waiting in line for a Coke.  Main dining food was good but second entrées were unavailable.  Even the staff grumbled about being unable to provide “seconds”. The good I loved the computer area where I could read e-mail and keep in touch with the office back home.  A nice touch that is being added to lots of ships. We thought the captain was very interested in us as guests and kept us well informed.  He spoke each morning over the PA system and kept us apprised of any happenings during the cruise.  We were late departing Miami because of an engine malfunction and we were immediately informed.  That is a comforting extra. The not so good One major complaint concerned the difficulty moving about the ship.  You could not get from bow to stern without going through the middle of a restaurant or bar.  Many times it was necessary to go up or down several floors to reach your destination, fore or aft.  Newer ships have corrected this design flaw.  We decided that the ship was not well planned but again wondered if this was necessary to fit into the hull dimensions.  Several times, activities in the Show Lounge attracting long lines of people prohibited me from going out the door to the walking track on the Promenade deck.  Also, even though there seemed to be lots of empty space, we felt crowded.  I believe there is good space to guest ratio overall, but the design makes standing in line occur often.  On one port day, we stood in line awaiting a tender for 30 minutes but our presence blocked people from exiting the elevators.  They were forced to go up a floor and then to walk down to find the end of the line.  Design flaw again! Another small complaint involved the lack of information about the ship position and weather.  Most new ships have position and navigation info available on the TV.  We did have announcements each morning giving position and forecast, but I enjoy a map with a reference point rather than longitude and latitude.  We found a map by the purser’s desk with a “stick on” ship indicating our position but it soon lost its stickiness and we found it on the floor.  Oh well, maybe it isn’t necessary to know where you are. We felt the ship was not extremely stable.  Of course with a cabin at the rear of the ship, we expected some motion but moving to the center of the ship didn’t stop it.  We are always prepared for bad weather, but we had calm seas.  The movement was unexpectedly side-to-side and I wonder if there was a problem with the stabilizers? Shore excursions Shore excursions for this Eastern Caribbean Itinerary were average.  We have been to Nassau, so we didn’t disembark.  We always enjoy San Juan so we walked to Old San Juan for shopping and a drink.  We chose a taxi to downtown St. Thomas and enjoyed shopping there.  Great Stirrup Cay was a nice rest on our last day.  It appears under construction but has great potential. Entertainment We did not attend any shows but heard from others that they were the best at sea.  I am sorry that we missed the performances. Embarkation/Debarkation Embarkation and disembarkation were very smooth, other than a small glitch when our tickets were not printed.  Not the fault of NCL however since our group ordered them. Summary Overall, we enjoyed the cruise.  We had toured the ship before and wanted to really get the feel by sailing her.  She is beautiful, but has a few design flaws.  New ships are always fun and the Sky has the feel of a typical Norwegian Cruise Line ship.  We like and recommend NCL and well sail them again.  If you have questions about the Sky, please contact me at [email protected] .

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Nov 30, -0001

Eastern Caribbean

Disembarkation: Very smooth.  They call luggage tag color which are assigned by departure flight times.  We had a 1:30 flight and we're off by 10:30 am.  No hassles (except for the half-and-half incident at breakfast!)  Overall: We had a wonderful time due to the group we were cruising with BUT I wouldn't sail NCL again given the choices of cruise lines available.  They are cutting too many corners, I think.  The ship is great,

though.  It's a shame someone else isn't sailing it.  I can't totally condemn it but think there's a better experience out there.  For us, it was the group and the terrific price we got.  If you don't have too many expectations it would be fine but if you've sailed before and had a good experience you might be disappointed.

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line Sailing Date: December 29th, 2002 All I have to about my cruise with Norwegian cruise line is WOW!! I can even write how great this Cruise was. Norwegian Sky was a beautiful boat. It had the service of a fancy five star hotel. but wasn't that expensive "hehe". I would check out this boat if I were you. and the cruise line. it has many activities onboard and some great shows. I rate Norwegian Sky *****

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Nov 30, -0001

Southern Caribbean

Cruise Line: Norwegian Sailing Date: November 17th, 2002 We were a party of six (3 couples) traveling from Toronto, Canada. We arrived in San Juan around 1:00pm local time. Transfer to the dock was included in our tickets. As we had traveled on a charter, all the passengers on this flight were cruisers and were destined to either the NCL Sky, RCL Adventure of the Seas or the Carnival Destiny. Thus the line up for the transportation

to the docks was about 200 deep. All that said, it took us about 90 minutes from touchdown until we got to the NCL terminal, really not that bad. It took us about 45 to get to the front of the line. We had pre registered via the internet and this did save us some time. I would recommend doing this. Another item of interest is the fact there is a duty free liquor store upstairs in the terminal building, same level that you board the ship on. Although they say that you cannot bring alcohol on board, we all bought a couple of bottles and put it in our carry-on with no problems. We did see passengers not conceal it and it was held on the ship until debarkation. All in all, embarkation ran very smoothly. Accommodations We had 3 outside cabins, with balconies, located on the 9th deck. The cabins were small, however if you are organized you will have enough space. However, I wouldn’t want to be traveling with a third person sharing the room, that would be a problem. The balcony was diffidently an asset. We had discussed not having a balcony when we were planning the trip as the cost was more. It was well worth the extra. We would not think twice about getting a balcony the next time. It was nice to have a drink before dinner or a night cap before bed on the balcony. No problems with anything in the room. TV had outlets to hook up the video/digital camera, fridge was always cold and the phone worked. Ship/Crew The ship as a whole was OK, but not great. These are a few of the highs and lows that we observed. The lobby area was very dull. It just didn’t jump out and grab you. As a first impression it is disappointing. Pool deck was very roomy and there were always deck chairs and towels to be found. There was always room in one of the pools, however you had to wait for a free hot tub. The photo gallery never seemed to be open when we wanted it and ended up waiting in line on the last night to make our purchases. Casino is located mid-ship, so at night you really couldn’t go to many places without going through the casino. This is not good if you are allergic to smoke, as one member of our group was. The observation lounge was nice. It was big and quite. Nice place to go after the show in the evening. You could go outside here, it is the furthest to the front of the ship the public could get, right above the bridge. Recommend going here at night or when docking, excellent views. Checkers Cabaret, on the other hand, always seemed crowded as the seats are very close together. Not one of our favorite spots. The crew, for the most part, was friendly and courteous. However there was a couple of instances worth noting. Our bed was not made one day, we had to get our own ice most days, had a coupon for a free beer but it did not include Corona and the bartender did not want to ring up the additional 50 cents for it. Restaurants and Freestyle Cruising There are pros and cons to Freestyle Cruising. First of all you may have to wait for a table in the Four Seasons or the Seven Seas. This happened to us the first night, they said they had no tables for six available, yet half the place was empty. We had to wait about 10 minutes, but again this was a first impression. The rest of the cruise was alright. Another con is that you do not get to know your waiters, in some cases this may be a pro. But I missed not being able to joke around with them after they have been serving you for a week. Food as a whole was good, I never heard any of our group complain and there was not much left on the plate at the end of the meal. The Four Seasons or the Seven Seas were pretty much your standard fair cruise ship dining rooms. We ate in Horizons of Italy two nights, this was worth the extra $10 cover charge. The only problem here is that the tables are made for four or two, so our party of six could not sit together. But the food and ambience were great. We tried to get into Le Bistro on the last night and it was fully booked. Do not wait to the last day to make the reservation, book it early on to avoid being disappointed. We ate our breakfast at the Great Outdoor Café and/or the Garden Café in the mornings. Was nice to sit out and enjoy the sun. These areas would be the busiest between 7:30am and 9:00am, but you could always find a place to sit. Selection was good for breakfast. If you enjoy fruit juices, the mornings would be the only time you would see orange juice or cranberry juice in the buffet line. Ice tea and water was the only thing to be found after 10:00am. You can pretty much forget about Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar, as it was only open for two hours in the afternoon and the line-up was always long. Ports St. Lucia: Probably the worst looking dock area that we had on the entire trip. It also rained most of the day, only did some shopping, we had not planned on doing any excursions in St. Lucia. The part of the harbor that we docked in had terrible shopping. It was dark and narrow aisles of junk. The PCO Sea Princess was docked on the other side of the harbor, so we walked around to see it (10 minute walk). We discovered a nice shopping area there. Barbados: Did the Jolly Roger excursion here, highly recommend it, had a great time. We had pre-booked this excursion via the internet a number of weeks ahead and everything worked out well, costs gets added on to your room bill. Nice large dock and harbor area. We were docked behind the Carnival Destiny so they had free shuttle buses running all the time to take you around the harbor area. Dominica: The island looked nice from the ship. It was a beautiful day so we enjoyed the pool deck and some down time. Got off the ship around 4:00pm and went to the small shopping area at the dock. Nice and open and very clean. St. Kitts: Dock was new, street lamps down the whole length of the dock. It was very pretty at dusk when we were leaving. Went on a walking tour of the town and did some shopping around the dock area. There was a lot of construction going on, it looks like they are really developing the dock area to handle more ships. St. Thomas: This was our favorite port. We went on a snorkeling excursion to Coki Beach. NCL have their own snorkeling and dive instructors on board that take you on the excursion. This was great as they stayed with us the whole time and were very informative and helpful. Coki Beach was on the other side of the island so we got a flavor of the island on the drive to the beach. We spent the morning at the beach and headed back to the ship for lunch. The afternoon was spent in Charlotte Amalie shopping. Disembarkation/Recap This ran very smooth. We were off the ship by 10:00am and at the airport by 11:00am for a 12:30pm flight. Overall the ship and the crew were OK. The company we were with made the trip great. We now have traveled on Royal Caribbean and NCL and if I had two pick one, RCL would win. We will likely try Carnival next and we are looking forward on writing that review.

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