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carolmacey

Panama Canal Sky Reviews

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Home Sweet Home!

Eighteen CruiseCritics.comers spent the last 17 days on the Norwegian Sky. I am the first one hone so I am starting the topic. As we recover from travelling, we shall be gathering thoughts on this topic.

 

You will be surprised at our news! Stay tuned! Welcome home Cruise Critics!!

Carol and Jack

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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I can't wait to hear how it was. I have a son working on that ship. He was really unhappy the first few weeks but seems much happier now. I believe things are smoothing out with the crew and hopefully that translates to better service for all.

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Hi AlohaMom.

Who is your son? What area does he work in?

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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Hi to all,

Up to my knees in dirty clothes. Will be adding to this later when I get over the jet lag.

Jack, hope you are feeling better. Debbie didn't do too well on the plane yesterday. Her ears were killing her. They did clear up today though.

Well, dryer is buzzing, and I have to go see the grandkids shortly. They are waiting for their presents.

Donna

 

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Sky April 25, 2004 PANAMA CANAL

 

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Hey group,

Check out "April 18th Sky Review". Interesting comments.

I'll try to start my review tomorrow. I need to pay bills and finish the last of the unpacking.

Hope everyone is well. I think I finally caught the cold.

Carol

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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Hi Everyone,

All made it home safe and sound. Bags are unpacked but still very unorganized!! Will do a review when I get organized.

It seems like everyone is going to get their share of that famous cold. So far I am okay. Will one of you send me the e-mail from James that he gave us. I can not find mine and I need to own up to taking the dryer from our room when we left!!!! It looks just like mine and in the rush I took theirs. I would make a lousy thief...I can't even use it here!!

Hope all are well..So great to meet all of you. Keep in touch icon_eek.gif

 

Anne

 

Norwegian Sky 04/04

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I was At Hertz/SF/Fisherman's Wharf on Thurs & met two brothers from Canada 24 hrs after debarking from the Sky... what a small world.

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Hey everyone,

I didn't get the cold, thank God. I did post a little on our old site. You might want to check it out.

Anne, stealing? I can't believe it!!!! Well, your case was missing in the beginning, but Jan and Lenny's was lost on debarkation. They did find it though and they got a phone call when we reached the airport.

We all got home safely, but very tired. Have been trying to dig out. Don't forget, my husband was home alone for 18 days!!!! No more to say.

Carol, hope Jack is feeling better.

Donna

 

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Sky April 25, 2004 PANAMA CANAL

 

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Ok, I’ll get started on this. I expect I will add to it as time goes on.

 

We began our cruises in San Juan on April 18th. Ports of call included St; Kitts, St. Lucia, Dominica, Barbados, and St. Thomas. Panama Canal cruise ports included Curacao, Aruba, Costa Rica, Acapulco, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. We finished May 12th in San Fran. Yeah, I know, that’s 24 days.

 

We had a superior inside cabin on deck 7. The cabin size seemed similar to our other cruises- RCCL, Princess, and Celebrity. Drawer space was limited, but not unmanageable. We took a large over the door shoe hanger for organizing small items like sunscreen, lotion, etc. Hung that on the outside of the bathroom door. Had 2 small hanging cosmetic bags hung on the inside of bath door. Also had a tall shoe holder hanging inside the closet to keep floor uncluttered by shoes. We had taken extra clothes hangers and did use them. I know we over packed, but figured we were a bit justified for 24 days. All the suitcases fit under the beds. We had a small fold out couch if needed, and a small round coffee table.

 

Cabin stewards were great. Two stewards share responsibility for approximately 30 cabins, or at least that is what James Deering, the Hotel Director, told me. I did not hear any complaints about cabin stewards while on the ship.

 

The first 7-day cruise was busy. Our first day was at sea and the remainder port days.

We were late docking several times, but we didn’t let it bother us. Most days we walked off the ship to the sea of cab drivers and tour operators. We took some 2-4 hour tours for $15-20 per person.

 

The day we docked in Barbados we were not at the main dock, but shuttle buses were provided if you wanted to go o the port shopping area. We chose to walk into town on our own. We had been to Barbados 10 years before so had seen much of the island.

 

St. Thomas was busy and crowded. The liquor and perfume things seemed to be much the same price regardless of which store you shopped in. I did buy two perfume items but haven’t compared to local prices at home.

 

The second cruise was to be quite eventful. As I stated in the opening post, 18 of us from cruisecritics.com had arranged to meet onboard. We had been chatting since last August.

6 came from Canada, 6 from Massachusetts, 2 from California, 2 from North Carolina, and Jack and I from Arizona.

 

During the first cruise, I requested a meeting room so we could all get together. When we met the first morning, we were joined by James Deering- Hotel Director, Sterling Paulos- Asst. Hotel Director, Ray Car-Cruise Director, Tony-Food and Beverage Manager, and Al Almazon-Consierge. We were surprised and pleased as they answered questions for us about anything and everything. On couple was missing a suitcase and arrangements were made to solve that problem.

 

I was unofficially designated as group leader since I had been on the week before and had made the meeting arrangements. James Deering asked me for everyone’s cabin number as were all to be on the VIP list. None of us really knew what to expect but were surprised at the news. We are all aware we were getting special treatment because of our Cruise Critic label. The officers read cruise critic when they have time.

 

Jack and I had received a plate of appetizers the first night. We didn’t know if that was because we were back-to-backers or what. NCL had our cabin number from my request for meeting space.

 

One couple in our group asked about the soda program card. They had tried to buy them but were told they weren’t being sold. Jack and I had seen the insulated Coke glasses sold the week before. We saw them the night before with one of the bar staff. We were told at our meeting that someone would get back to us, but there shouldn’t be any problem. Our first surprise as VIP’s came later that afternoon when Coke glasses and soda stickers arrived at our cabins. We all received the soda program for the entire cruise and the program was not sold on that cruise to anyone else. We found trying to use our glasses drew attention and too many questions so we used the sticker on our ID cards instead. Bar staff took a few times to realize we were supposed to have them. We never did hear why the soda program was not sold on the 17-day cruise.

 

I’ll stop here and ad more later.

Carol

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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Carol and all, we are due to depart in just under a month and are trying to make a decision if we should stick with it or bail. We have paid, but we do not want a miserable experience aboard the ship. I have taken much of what Nina wrote with a grain of salt, but a clear understanding of the real issues with the largely American crew would be very helpful. After having sailed NCL 6 times, and Princess and X and NCL is by far our favorite. But, I work too hard to get on a ship for 19 days and haveit be a miserable experience. Please give me an update.

 

Gene

 

Aloha Hawaii from LA via San Francisco

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Carol & Donna,

I have no idea what is going on but my e-mails must not be getting through. Donna I did get the reply from you but when I tried to answer it again it was returned to me. Carol - I have e-mailed you three times and none have been returned but when you asked for my address I knew you had not received them. For some reason they are not getting through and they are not being returned to me. Still trying to get through to James but no luck. Son - in - law due home tonight maybe he can help fix what ever is wrong. In the mean time bear with. I will do a review just have not had time yet.

 

For those people asking if they should cancel?? I am glad I did not. I too read the boards you are reading and was wondering if we should bail but am glad we stuck it out. A lot of how your trip goes depends on you.(I was the one with the misplaced suitcase that was finally returned 10 days into our trip) If you look for the negatives you will find them. If you go to have a good time you will be like us and go with the flow. Yes there are some issues on this boat but NCL and their team on board are working VERY hard to make this the experience you want it to be. If you have sailed with them before and were happy you should be fine. If you have a problem go to someone that can help solve it. DO NOT ruin your vacation on something that can easily be fixed. They can not help if they do not know. I will post a full review in a few days but take it from me it will not all be NCL bashing, There was good, there was bad, but we had a great time anyway. Is that not what a holiday is for?

 

Anne icon_rolleyes.gificon_smile.gif

 

Norwegian Sky 04/04

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WOW....it is great to finally hear some different remarks other then the negitive remarks that have been written about the "Sky" lately. I can't wait to here more about your cruise.

 

OceanDreams

"Living life to the fullest"

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I totally agree. We were on her the lst week of March and had a great time. After the Nina rant I truly began to question my choices. to me and the family the time is worth far more than the mony. I just could not imagine it being as bad as some have described, but there is certainly a need for a sanity check at times.

 

Aloha Hawaii from LA via San Francisco

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Sorry if I hadn't sounded happy enough and satisfied. We had a great time and took each day as it came. Nothing in life is perfect, but I try not to let little things upset me.

 

I was planning on using Nina's Good, Bad and Ugly format. My ugly would be the rude and inconsiderate passengers, not crew. I heard people complaining about the cruise, without any specifics being mentioned. Someone actually said, "I'm removing all my tips. I haven't received ANY service on this cruise!"

 

I hope all of you can see the ridiculousness of that statement. Who cooked, cleaned, served meals, poured drinks, etc. for 17 days? I left all our tips on our account and gave extra to cabin stewards, and favorite bar tenders, and gifts to other crew members who had become friends in the 24 days we were aboard the Sky.

 

I never saw inappropriate behavior on the crew's part, but some passengers were downright nasty. Yes, many of the dissatisfied folks were "older". The average age the first week was 42, the average for the 17 day cruise was 64. We had 280 kids the first week and 13 the second cruise.

I shall continue my comments later.

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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That is very helpful. We have been concerned about the perceived deterioration of the service on the ship and was not up for someting as bad as what was presented by others. I very much appreciate your information.

 

Aloha Hawaii from LA via San Francisco

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Having read several other threads, I guess I will tackle the food issue.

 

Food in the Garden Cafe was available in different ways. The regular hot buffet items did not suit my taste, but in other areas of the cafe I could get custom made sandwiches at lunch, fresh fruits and cheeses, custom made ceasar salads at night, custom made eggs and omelets at breakfast, waffles at breakfast, etc. Pizza was available 24 hours a day and was quite good.

I thought the spacing out of areas was a very good idea. It helped alleviate the traffic at the main buffet line. On the 17 day cruise the sandwich station was moved to Ciao Chow to allow more space.

 

We never ate breakfast or lunch in the dinig rooms as we didn't want to spend our time inside when we could be outside instead. On most days there was a Barbeque on the pool deck. Items included burgers, hot dogs, sausages, nice pork ribs, and my personal favorite, flank steak. Also available were rolls, salad makings, fruit, cheese, etc.

 

Dinners in the dinig room took a bit of time, more so with groups of six or more. If we were in a hurry one night, we ate at a table for 2 instead or skipped one course, like soup.

 

Menus changed every night and were quite international in flavor. I think I had only one item I chose not to finish. It was the tuna tartare and did not have a good texture for me. I had thoroughly enjoyed the seared tuna the night before, in fact, it was my favorite for the entire cruise and I ordered seconds of tuna instead of dessert.

 

My husband commented that he thought the portions seemed a bit small, but it really worked out well as you could always order more of something if you wanted it. One night some people at our table ordered dessert first, and the waitress just took the order and served it up.

 

I thought the baked goods, breads, pastries etc. were all quite good! The soups, in general, seemed a bit thin to me as did the salad dressings. Again, this is an NCL issue as Sky has to use NCL recipes.

 

We ate in Le Bistro one night. Food was very good. The chocolate fondue and creme brulee were great. Service was excellent.

 

We ate in Ciao Chow one nihgt. We ordered a variety of items and shared them. My favorite was the sushi sampler. My least favorite was the duck pizza. Agaim, service was great.

 

Also had two special meals, one in Ciao Chow and one in Horizons. Both food and service were terrific.

We used room service just once. They called ahead to let us know they were coming. That was a good thing as they were a bit early and DH wasn't dressed yet. They had forgotten one item and went right back to get it. They returned very quickly.

 

All in all, we felt the food was just fine. It wasn't the best, and it wasn't the worst. There were choices everyday, so if a person wasn't satisfied, I feel it may have been their own fault.

 

More to follow later!

Carol

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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Again, thanks, thus no crying waitresses, no non-service. You have validated my thoughts with your insights. We are looking forward to our cruise in a few weeks, and I am glad that the experience had not gotten to the level described by some.

 

Aloha Hawaii from LA via San Francisco

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Discussing the cruise over dinner with DH...His most negative comment would be the problem with the Sky seeming to be first to leave each port, but the last to get docked the next day. Is someone not paying as much in docking fees as other cruiselines? Is the Sky going slower to conserve fuel? Don't know. The Captin always had an excuse like too much traffic in port even though we were on time.

 

DH felt overall we had better food on Princess. Entertainment was equal on NCL and Celebrity, Princess coming in third.

 

We had a few days of rough seas and most people headed inside away from the wind. That made the common areas crowded. As the weather didn't bother us we stayed out and about. The hot tub was actually great in rough seas, I didn't notice the rockin'n rollin' in the hot tub. We had some great waves in the main pool on several days. Terrific splashes which baptised several sleeping folks.

 

Probably the worst thing for us was the delay in Los Angeles. It was my birthday and we had booked the Disneyland excursion. Immigration delayed everyone which delayed the departure of all tours. We were 1 1/2 hours late leaving for Disneyland. We ended up with only 4 1/2 hours at Disneyland. We thought that was a bit stiff for $99. The next day we found out NCL credited everyone $30, which was reasonable.

 

I did think of one unreasonable crew member. He was a wine steward and not helpful at all. The passenger asked the see a manager and everything was taken care of.

 

The craft program for the 17-day cruise was a bit redundant IMHO. Having taught crafts in the past, I felt the five or so projects the special guest teacher brought aboard were too similar. She was definately the glitter and sparkle queen of the Sky. Classes were well attended, but I heard many comments similar to my own thoughts.

 

The Sports Afloat program was terrific. Lara Falquero was great as was Jeanine. Activities varied and were all well attended. DH and I tried many new things including Cardio Dance, Sit and Be Fit, and Pilates. Now you need to understand DH is hard core weights and bikes, treadmill, etc. He tried everything and had a great time, even in the stretch classes. I guess something workes as he gained only 6 pounds in 25 days and 8 pounds for me.

 

 

Well, I guess I'm done for now. If anyone has any questions, just ask. Yes, we were on the VIP list all cruise, but I'll do my best to answer any questions honestly according to our experiences. Only our group and the officers knew of the VIP status. Our room stewards and waitresses certainly didn't know.

Carol

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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Carol

 

Glad you enjoyed your trip on the Sky. Boy, 24 days, that is some trip.

 

Thanks for the review. Having been on the Sky in March, and had a great time, it is nice to hear how things are progressing with the changeover.

 

Gdries - don't cancel your trip. We had a few issues with the service on board, all well documented on various threads toa greater and lesser degree - but in no way would I let it spoil the trip. 'Deal with it and move on' would be my suggestion for any problems encountered. I don't think any are major enough to spoil your enjoyment.

 

I look forward to more comments on this cruise.

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I was on the same 17 night cruise with CarolMacey. I thought it was great!!!! Not without some problems, but as Carol said, we did not let them ruin our vacation.

Eating in the dining room definately took too long. We chose to eat upstairs at the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Next to last morning the other 4 of our group decided to go to the dining room. Took almost 2 hrs. to get out. Will this improve? Yes, I'm sure it will.

When we left San Juan, J. Deering said we picked up 120 new crew members, the same number left. This left the ship 120 short for the 1st 3 days as the new crew members had safety training. We also picked up new crew members at other ports.

In the dining room at dinner, we did notice an improvement from our beginning to the end of the cruise.

As far as the food, if there wasn't something you liked in the dining room, there was definately enough choices around the ship at different places.

We also did LeBistro one night. Excellent. We were all so pleasently surprised, and excited about the VIP treatment we all received during the cruise. There were so many surprises, from the soda cards, to robes delivered to our stateroom, to appetizers each night. Invitations to the VIP coctail parties, a special dinner in Chow Chow's, special lunch in horizons for Mother's day with preview of the chocolate buffet, and 1st to get to pick from it. First in line for immigration, and debarkation.

It was also great to meet the heads of the diffrent departments of the ship. They were great, and we learned so much from them. They are all aware of the problems from switching to an all American crew. As J. Deering said, are there problems? Yes, will they be fixed? Yes. This is not an exact quote. He explained why there were problems. The way that the American hotel,and restaurants are run are diffrent from the way the ships do it. Also, the way they cook on the ship is very diffrent from the way the American chefs cook. Everyone is having to retain!!!

Let's all give them the chance to prove that they CAN do this and get it right.

Would I do this trip again given any little problems we encountered? Yes. Even without the VIP treatment. Although this sure did add to our enjoyment.

sorry if I rambled.

Donna

 

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Sky April 25, 2004 PANAMA CANAL

 

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I'm afraid this is not going to be a popular opinion but...

While I am really happy that you all enjoyed your cruise and got nice treatment do you think it was really fair that you were the only ones who were able to get the soda cards on board?

I could understand if they comped you the cards as a special gesture and let other people buy them at the regular price but to refuse to sell them to anyone else seems very unfair. Didn't those people pay their fare too? Shouldn't they be able to benefit from what I thought was a regular program offered by NCL?

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Hey Everyone,

 

Roger and I had a wonderful 17 days with you guys. I hope that someday we can do another cruise together.

 

Our internet has been down since we got home Wednesday Night. We called our provider and they promise to have it fixed by tonight. This is my first day back at work so this report will be small but we will write more when our internet is working at home.

 

I hope everyone is Well, Roger has a cold. We had a sick person in front of us on the bus ride going over to the Airport plus a sick person beside us on the Plane.

 

Thanks to Everyone on the SKY for making this a wonderful Vacation.

 

Until later ( lets hope our internet is fixed tonight) Ruth Ann & Roger

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Hi Everyone

 

We had a long and tiring flight from Oakland to Providence with stops along the way in San Diego and Kansas City. It was the equivilent of three trips in one.

 

By the time we deplaned in Providence Jan, Len and Donna had lost most of thier hearing and had developed some sort of a upper resperatory cold. Donna I hope Debbie is feeling better.Jan is still having trouble with the hearing in one ear.

 

My misplaced luggage is still in the misplaced catagory. We were informed via cell phone that it had been found and would be shipped to us the next day. That was on 5/12. We're still waiting.

 

Two days after we got home our granddaughter was admitted to the hospital with an infection she developed after having her ear pierced.She may be there for the next four days. This has kept us running back and forth since we got home.

 

Roger, hope you feeling better.

 

Hope everyone got home safely.

 

We'll express more of our feelings of the cruise within the next few days.

 

Jan & Len

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Hi Roger, Ruth Ann, Jan, and Len,

Glad to hear from all of you. We arrived home and are still fighting the cold and/or allergies. Hope everyone gets better soon!

 

In regards to the soda card question, I don't know why the cards were not for sale. I'm sure NCL had some reason, but we never heard. We all did our best not to flaunt ours so as not to upset other passengers. I actually saw very few drinks purchased in general, soda or otherwise. Much fewer than the week before.

The bar staff were talking about the difference.

 

Carol

 

Norwegian Sky Back-to-back

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Thanks for your response re-soda cards.

I read a post on another thread that said the wine package wasn't available on that cruise I guess you shouldn't depend on any of those programs being available on any given cruise.

 

I noticed you made a comment about switching to the cards since the glasses drew too many questions so I guessed it was a bit embarassing for you to have to explain to other cruisers why you had one and they couldn't get one! It would have made me uncomfortable.

You mentioned the dinning room was a bit slow especially with groups of six. Was it slow to get seated or was service slow throughout the meal? Was the service in the dinning room good once you were seated?

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