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Last Minute Bonus Cruise to the Bahamas: A Norwegian Sky 6/4/10 Review (with photos)!


Hollybelle

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Just about a month ago my mom and I returned from a quick 3 night weekend cruise on the Norwegian Sky. We’ve cruised Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess before, but this was our first time on Norwegian! So I’m a new poster to this subforum on the boards! However, I’m not new to “review writing” and have written three picture-laden cruise reviews thus far, all excessively long (links in my signature)!! I know I’m a bit late posting this, but I’ll have it up in its entirety within 24 hours!

 

This was a last minute bonus trip for us. We were just on the Emerald Princess the first week of May and when we returned I found out I had some work-related business to take care of in Fort Lauderdale on June 8. Fancy that! So I invited mom to tag along for a girl’s weekend. Of course, that’s when the wheels started turning and we decided the “weekend” portion of this trip should be spent on a ship. Enter: The Norwegian Sky! The dates and price were perfect, so we were sold. This was also the very first time we’d be leaving the guys behind.

 

Itinerary:

Friday, June 4: Travel/Embarkation (Miami)

Saturday, June 5: Nassau, Bahamas

Sunday, June 6: Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas

Monday, June 7: Debarkation (Miami)

Post cruise stay at Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina

 

All you really need to know about us is that we’re both very much “go with the flow” types and we LOVE OUR MARGARITAS! Our number one goal for this trip was to relax and enjoy ourselves. As far as introductory pictures go... here’s one of us taken the first week of May in St. Thomas.

 

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That’s me, Holly, on the right, and my mom, Kim (CruiseCheers), on the left! Like the donkey, we’d been bushwacked, which is a whole other story in and of itself. :D

 

To date (including this one), I’ve been on four cruises, all on different lines: Carnival, RCI, Princess, and now NCL. I continue to maintain the idea that there are more similarities than differences among the lines and if the price is right I’d be willing to book with any of these lines again.

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Day 1 – Friday, June 4: Embarkation

 

We had a 7 am flight out of CLT scheduled for Friday morning, so we booked a pre-flight stay in the area. After an extremely hellish ordeal with Travelocity’s “top secret hotels,” we ended up having to find our own accommodations and it made for a very stressful evening. Some of that stress inevitably carried over to the next morning, so let’s just say we were really glad to touch down in Fort Lauderdale at 11:30 am with plenty of time to spare.

 

We were booked with SAS Transportation to take us from FLL to the port of Miami. I highly recommend their services. It’s only $15 per person and they’re extremely friendly/timely/efficient. This isn’t the first time we’ve used them, and we’ve always had consistent and courteous service.

 

It was around 12:15 pm when we approached the port of Miami, and caught our first glimpse of the Sky awaiting us:

 

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Ahhh... we’re almost there! We dropped our luggage off with the porters and headed in to the terminal to check in. I was extremely pleased with NCL’s embarkation process... it was as smooth as could be and we were on the ship by 12:45 pm. Two thumbs up from me!

 

Looking back at the terminal after checking in (as you can see there’s hardly a line):

 

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In no way do I want to start a debate about this topic, but for those of you interested... this is the first time I’ve seen “confiscation tables” set up at the scanners. They were collecting booze from folks left and right. So if you’re going to try it, don’t put it in your carry-on. Although, depending on how creative you are, you might be able to get it through in the checked luggage! ;)

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As soon as we got on board we came across an area where you could “check” carry-on luggage and then pick it up later. I was a little nervous to hand our stuff over and afraid there’d be a super line to get it back at 2 pm when the cabins were ready, but it ended up working out great. Although, I was too untrusting to hand over all my camera gear, so I was laden with that as we made our way up to the top decks to check things out.

 

I absolutely LOVE this moment on any cruise... walking out onto the sundrenched decks and checking out the scenery for the first time.

 

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Okay, so this might sound really silly to some folks, but my biggest negative of this ship (and maybe the entire cruise itself) was the fact that there were huge glass panes stretching up above the railing all along the port and starboard sides of the upper deck. I had two major issues with this... a) it makes things so much hotter up there because it effectively kills any breeze you would have otherwise gotten and b) it absolutely and totally kills the view. I love standing at the edge of the railing, feeling the breeze, and photographing the sunset in the evenings. It made me feel so walled in. On some level, it somewhat kept me from doing one of the things I love most while cruising... taking pictures. Are all the NCL ships this way? Or is the Sky an anomaly?! Please, oh please, tell me it’s an anomaly!

 

Okay, enough with my mini-rant! Something I loved... the flags!

 

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After wandering about for a little while, we got some lunch and then it was time to check out the staterooms. Because this was a last minute bonus trip, we decided to take our chances with an inside guaranty. We were assigned stateroom # 8314 on the Viking Deck. It was the first room around the corner from the stairs so we did experience some noise. Although, if it wouldn’t have been for the children running up and down and playing on the stairs we really wouldn’t have heard much of anything. I was pleased with the stateroom layout/size and I really liked the fact that there was a mini-loveseat in the room (used as the third person bed instead of a pull down).

 

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It actually felt fairly spacious (if that word can even be used to describe an interior stateroom), but this is also the first time I’ve been in a room with two twins instead of a queen, so maybe that had something to do with it.

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After settling in a bit, we wandered around for awhile acclimating ourselves with the ship. Eventually we found ourselves back up top... the sky was starting to get a little dark, but hopefully the rain in Miami would hold off until after sailaway.

 

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I thought it was a bit odd how many tables/chairs they had around the pool and decks. I would think loungers would be more preferable to most cruisers!

 

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We stopped back by our stateroom on our way to the muster drill and found that our luggage had arrived sometime before 3:45 pm. Muster drill was at 4:30 pm and similar to the one we experienced on Carnival, where we had to line up on the deck shoulder to shoulder; we were smooshed in like sardines and by this point it was raining pretty hard! Arrrggghhhh! Although, we didn't have to carry our life jackets along, which was nice. This was the first muster drill I’ve attended where the crew actually asked for our names and checked us off on a chart.

 

Before the latecomers decided to grace us with their presence:

 

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We were underway just after they wrapped up the muster drill. Mom caught a shot of me either checking in with work or saying goodbye to Brett before we left cell phone reception behind. I have to admit, as excited as we were for our “girls’ trip,” we knew we’d miss the guys. And we definitely did... it’s just more fun with all of us there.

 

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We scurried to the upper decks to bid Miami farewell. It looked like this...

 

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Yikes! Not exactly a sunny sailaway. But that didn’t stop folks from having a good time. I thought the idea of the sailaway BBQ was great... although, it was hard for them to execute it with all that rain! People didn’t seem to mind though.

 

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And the band had a great group out dancing in the rain:

 

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Initially we were going to join in the BBQ, but instead we decided to head into the Garden Café (standard buffet) to grab some dinner. I’ve heard lots of complaints about the food on NCL. But to be perfectly honest, I don’t find that the food on any of the cruise lines is all that special. The food we had was perfectly fine. Nothing special, but certainly not the worst meal I’ve ever had! My issue was with the layout/design/organization of the buffet. It was chaos! Part of the problem was that the grill (burgers, hot dogs, etc.) was at the entrance to the buffet and it tended to have a line on a regular basis because it was “made to order.” Well, a line of people would grow, and half the people weren’t necessarily getting a burger. It just appeared that you were supposed to get in this line and there weren’t many crew members there to state otherwise. I think it makes more sense when the buffets are set up more like stations instead of one long bar.

 

After dinner we headed out to the Breakers Bar to get some margaritas. Our bartender, Joel, was excellent. We watched him mix some strong margaritas, and then he floated them with MORE tequila! He's a keeper!

 

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We grabbed some chairs out by the pool/hot tubs and made ourselves comfortable.

 

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The hot tubs were absolutely packed. One of the four had a group of college kids crammed in it; seriously, some of them were sitting on top of one another. These kids were the drunkest folks I’ve ever seen on a ship. We actually had a lot of fun watching them. At one point, later in the evening, one of the guys stumbled up out of the hot tub, like he was going to walk away and instead he found himself half stumbling/falling into one of the adjacent hot tubs. Due to the fact that he probably didn’t know where he was, he just stayed put... and started blowing bubbles:

 

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Seriously... drunkity drunk is an understatement! There were two grown men in the hot tub with him so we figured they’d pull him up if he slipped under. Eventually, he came to a bit and looked around...while doing so he saw his friends in the other hot tub and made a half-hearted attempt at waving their way while looking absolutely befuddled as to why he wasn’t with them. We got a good laugh out of it.

 

It was about this time when we realized that out of all the cruises we’ve been on this one most definitely had the highest number of “partiers,” as well as the lowest median age. I have to believe this has everything to do with the fact that it was a quick and cheap weekend getaway cruise instead of a full-blown 7+ day vacation for folks. I’d be willing to guess it’s this way across lines and not specific to NCL. It certainly made “people watching” a lot more fun!!! :D

 

Before the night was over, we got in one of the hot tubs and found ourselves talking with a young man (and his wing man), and after a bit he asked us how the two of us had hooked up with one another. Well, let’s see here, she’s my mom... soooooooooo I guess we just kinda kept in touch. ;) I’d guestimate that these guys were about 20 years old. Too young for me... and definitely too young for mom!

 

We called it a night sometime around 9 or 9:30 and headed back to our stateroom to get some sleep for our big margarita-drinkin’ day in Nassau!

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Day 2 – Saturday, June 5: Nassau, Bahamas

 

I believe we were scheduled to be in port by 8 am. But it turns out we didn’t get clearance to debark until 9 that morning. I’m guessing it had something to do with the fact that SIX ships were scheduled to be in port that day. :eek: The captain came on and apologized for Nassau’s apparent oversight and the fact that we were just barely on the dock; we were sharing a slip with the Carnival Imagination, I believe. Mom and I didn’t really care one way or the other about there being so many people in port that day, but I bet the folks headed over to the water park at Atlantis were all wishing for less crowds. I can’t imagine how packed that place was.

 

I got a less than stellar picture of the Disney Wonder backing in at the dock as she blew her “When You Wish Upon A Star” horn. Love it!

 

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Trying to find a place to take pictures without the window panes in the way, I went extremely far forward. There weren’t any panes up there, but the solid railing was extremely high. Like up to my nose. So this is the best I could do:

 

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We picked up a quick breakfast from the Outdoor Café. A really neat area:

 

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In that picture you can see two of the other five ships joining us for the day: Carnival’s Miracle and Imagination (I think).

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We did find one area (aft-above the Great Outdoor Café) with nice, open railings and stood there enjoying the sights for a while.

 

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A young lady walked by and we asked her to take a picture for us. She raised the camera up really high and pointed it down at us as she was taking it. At the time, mom and I were both thinking "What in the world is this girl doing?" Then when we looked at the picture we were so excited. She made us look slimmer by doing it this way AND she got all of Atlantis in the background. Excellent idea! We'll have to remember this approach. This is one of my favorites from the entire cruise:

 

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The only thing on the agenda for us was Senor Frogs. Seriously, we’d been talking about the deliciously reasonable $6 margaritas for days leading up to the cruise. So with that we moseyed off the ship and took our time getting to the Festival Place area. It was a good little haul to get from the last dock over there!

 

You can kinda see our ship peeking out from between the two Carnival ships:

 

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First things first though, we needed some caffeine when we hit Festival Place. What? You want $4 for a bottled soda?! SOLD! Mmmm... Diet Dr. Pepper is like crack-cocaine for the two of us... and we would’ve paid much more than $4 for it, but don’t tell the folks in Nassau that!

 

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Actually, just for reference, we bought this at the first place we came to; however, if you go all the way to the end of Festival Place, just before exiting out into Nassau, there’s a guy selling cans of coke products and water for only $1 a piece. Just FYI. :D

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Enjoying it so far, especially the pics. FYI, should you ever sail the Sky again there is an observation area all the way forward, too. You have to pass through the Outrigger Lounge to get to it.

 

Thanks for cruising along with us! Oh yes... we found the observation area a little later in the trip. It was so nice out there! And that's a very good tip.

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It was around 10 am so we wandered around Nassau, going in and out of many of the shops, mostly just browsing. However, we did pick up some really cute necklaces and earrings from one of the vendors out along the sidewalk.

 

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The straw market... which is nothing like I expected a “straw market” to be before my first visit:

 

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I have a real thing for photographing signage; I think it stems from my love of Disney and all the great signs they have around the parks/resorts.

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LOVE this one:

 

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Eventually we bailed on the beach and headed back into town. Some shots along the way:

 

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After a quick stop in one of the stores to buy some beach towels we finally found ourselves at Senor Frogs.

 

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It was approximately 12:30/12:45 when we got there and the place was already hopping! We found two seats at the main bar and grabbed our first drinks. Unfortunately, we ended up beside some guy who was traveling solo and was getting a bit too close. More than once he asked me to take his picture with my “big” camera. I’m not sure what he thought I was supposed to do with it after I took it though, so I obliged and then deleted it as we high-tailed it out of there and found a spot near the dance floor. With six ships in port, it made for a great afternoon of people-watching!

 

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If the teeny-bopper carrying the “yard” in the right of that last picture is 21, then I must be 42! It looks like she’s with her mom though, so maybe it’s a virgin drink.

 

A waitress came by and asked if we’d like another round. Yes, please!!! When she came back we noticed it was just a tiny bit more expensive for the same order. When we got them ourselves it was $12.50 (which includes the auto-grat) for two margaritas; however, when the waitress brought them to us it was $14.01 (including the auto-grat). :rolleyes: So it looks like they add an auto tip for both the bartender and server in that case. Just thought it might be useful information. From that point forward we just started getting them ourselves. Not only were we saving pennies, but it was a lot quicker this way because the server took forever to make it back around to us. There was a back bar and it was always very easy just to walk up and get a drink, we never had to wait long.

 

I love this shot of the clown... doesn’t it just look like he’s thinking “What the hell am I doing with my life?!” as he looks around at all the drunk tourists:

 

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One of his finest creations just may well have been the balloon boobs this young lady was sporting all afternoon:

 

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More...

 

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We were starting to feel a little tied down by the bags we were carrying and, for me, my camera, so we decided to take a quick jaunt back to the ship and drop off our stuff before coming right back. As we headed through the gift shop I noticed this shirt:

 

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Seriously? They market this place to families?!? :eek: Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

 

We caught a glimpse of one of the ferries marketing the Senor Frogs brand as we made our way back to the ship:

 

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It was a long trek.

 

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We quickly ran up the stairs, dropped our stuff and ran back down. On our way off the ship we noticed on the placard that we had gained another hour in port due to the one we lost that morning. Woohooo... bonus time at Senor Frogs!!!

 

On our way back through Festival Place a local man walked up to us and asked if we’d give him a dollar for four quarters. I smelled a scam... first off, when people try to make change it usually goes the other way. Secondly, what did this Bahamian man need for a dollar that he couldn’t purchase with 4 quarters? He acted all affronted when I said “NO” and then he looked to my mom for help... when I told him it was pretty obvious what he was doing he gave me an “aw shucks, you got me” shrug, smiled, and laughingly walked off. Shortly thereafter we saw him exchanging quarters for a dollar with a couple outside the building. It appears he was giving two quarters and two Bahamian coins that looked like quarters for every dollar. So, he was scamming no more than 50 cents on the dollar (depending on the value of the Bahamian coins). Not enough for people to be truly pissed when they realize what happened, but with six ships in port I’m curious to know how much he took home at the end of the day.

 

It felt a little like starting over when we got back to Senor Frogs seeing as how we’d killed our buzz by walking all the way back to the ship in the hot sun. So we were quick to grab some margaritas and play catch up!

 

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We were humored by a couple (probably in their 50s) fighting in front of us. It started out as mildly entertaining when he got mad at her for jumping up on the stage to grind with all the younguns... but it got real when the hubby decided he’d hit on mom to make his wife jealous. :eek: Ruh-roh!

 

It was so loud we couldn’t really hear the guy (and his being belligerent didn’t help matters)... it went a little something like this:

 

Drunk man: “Wherrrrr’re ya farum?”

Mom: “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you.”

Drunk man seeing this as a sign to move in closer: “I akked, wherrrrr’re ya farum?”

Mom, as she’s backing away: “I can’t hear you.”

Me, realizing her response is just encouraging him: “I’m sorry sir, we’re really not interested.”

Drunk man: “Not inneresssed in ME”

Mom and I: “No.” “Not at all.”

 

Initially the wife was shooting daggers our way... then I think she decided the hell with it she’d just continue to have her own fun and she found some more boys to dance with! 10 minutes later the husband was motioning mom to come out on the dance floor with him! This is when we a) missed our guys and b) decided we should head around to the open-air side of the restaurant and leave the dance floor to the myriad of folks who’d passed Fun Drunkville on their way to Wasted Place! :cool:

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On this side there was a group of girls dancing on the bar. I’m sure in their minds they were shooting a scene for Coyote Ugly, but what they didn’t realize is that it looked more like the kind of scene found in Girls Gone Wild Uncensored!

 

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Other than that, things were much calmer on this side of the bar. Plus the view couldn’t be beat.

 

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