This article was originally written before the pandemic in 2016 and before Norwegian moved to the Free at Sea for everyone. This was during the short period of time when the Norwegian Sky cruises were made all-inclusive for everyone so their were really no drink package it just was included in the fare. That of course later changed to the free at sea where you pay the gratuities for the drink package and meal packages added on to the cruise fare at booking.
Norwegian Sky Cruise to the Bahamas –
To celebrate my wife’s birthday we traveled to Miami as well as the Bahamas on a four-day cruise on Norwegian Sky from Miami to the Bahamas.
The trip includes one night in Miami as well as the four night cruise visiting Nassau, Grand Bahama and the cruise line’s private island Great Stirrup Cay.
The report will be organized in the following posts:
Miami and Bahamas Trip Report – Norwegian Sky Cruise to the Bahamas – Overview –
My wife and I booked a four night cruise on the Norwegian Sky a couple months prior to the sailing. We booked an interior room for approximately $900. After adding in the daily service charges ($120), specialty meal plan ($120), shore excursion ($60) and airfare ($500) the total was around $1,650 or about $410 per night.
My wife and I arrived at the Port of Miami via UBER around 11:30 AM on Monday morning.
When we arrived there was a small level of activity at the port. There were three ships departing that day.
Our cruise was the Norwegian Sky and it was assigned to Terminal C.
The UBER driver pulled up to the baggage drop off area and we were quickly greeted by a porter who welcomed us to Miami.
The porter assisted with our luggage and he placed our luggage tags on the bags and said that he would take care of getting the luggage on the ship. The colleague informed us that the service was complimentary however, he would appreciate a gratuity for good service. I provided the gratuity and the colleague thanked me sincerely and he invited us to head inside the terminal for check in. The colleague wished us a good cruise. I felt that he was polite and I felt he handled the request for a gratuity cordially.
We entered the terminal area and a security officer checked our passports and boarding documents before inviting us inside through security as well as for check in.
It took a couple minutes to go through the security area. The officers were polite and they checked out bags as well as had us walk through the metal detectors.
Once we exited the security area we were directed to a medium size line of other guests waiting to check in.
We joined the line and it moved quickly. We reached the front of the line within 15 minutes. We were invited up to one of the 20+ check in stations and a friendly colleague welcomed us. The colleague offered assistance and she asked for our identification card and boarding documents. After we presented them she thanked us and she processed our credit card for the onboard charges. The colleague provided a map of the ship and she informed us of the general area where our room was located. The colleague provided our room cards and said that they were used for onboard charges, for accessing the ship in the ports as well as our room key card. The colleague offered additional assistance before inviting us to the ship.
We exited the check in area and were directed to a waiting area where welcome aboard pictures were being offered as well as a large seating area. We were given a boarding number and said to take a seat and to wait until our group was called.
The room was filled with about 100-200 other guests who were also waiting. The room was a large seating area without food or beverage options and it appeared that the restrooms were also closed.
Fortunately, the wait was only about 15 minutes. When our group was called we proceeded to the entrance area to the ship and we found another short line while guests were scanned into the ship by the security officers. The colleagues asked guests to not take pictures until we were on the ship.
Welcome On Board
We reached the front of the line and the colleague welcomed us and he asked us to have a great vacation.
We proceeded on the ship and were greeted with several friendly colleagues that welcomed us on board and they directed us to the area where the elevators were located. The colleagues informed us that our room was not ready yet; however, we could check our bags in one of the lounges and to go up on deck to have lunch or enjoy the ships facilities.
Colleagues were present promoting the ships meal options as well as the spa.
We stopped at the spa desk to inquire about specials for the day. The colleague assisted my wife with selecting a treatment and she was offered a 75-minute treatment for the price of a 50 minute one. The colleague thanked us and she invited us to relax at for my wife to arrive about 10 minutes before the treatment.
My wife and I headed up to the pool deck where we had some welcome drinks.
All Inclusive Package
The Norwegian Sky offers all guests the beverage package which included numerous premium beverage options, beer options, a variety of wines and sodas and juices. There were some items that were not included; however, the list of covered beverages was quiet extensive and you could get everything from fancy martinis to various mixed drinks.
Bars and Pool Deck
The bars on the pool deck were busy throughout the cruise and there were lines setup to help speed the process. The bars were setup with four pre-mixed drinks in large containers as well as four frozen drink machines. The bartenders were on hand to make all the other drinks fresh when ordered. We sampled some of the pre-mixed drinks and found them to be very sweet. In addition, the pre-made frozen drinks in the daiquiri machines also were very sweet. All of the drinks we ordered that were made fresh were poured strong with premium brands and they were presented neatly. The majority of the bars served the drinks in plastic cups; however, a few of the bars and lounges offered glassware.
On a recent NCL Cruise, the bars had some drinks pre-made as well but it seemed to be mostly the frozen ones as opposed to all those containers as I saw during the cruise in the past.
We felt that all the bar colleagues that we interacted with were friendly and polite and they seemed happy to assist us. We were surprised that no-upselling was noted. Typically, on cruises the bar staff actively promote the souvenir glasses and beverages. We did not see this happening at all. Although the souvenir glass drinks were promoted in the ships programs, they were not being emphasized by the bartenders. In addition, the gratuity was included in the all-inclusive program as well as the daily service charge, so tips were not required or expected at the bars.
At approximately 1:30 PM there was an announcement made informing all guests that the staterooms were now available.
My wife and I were assigned room 0312 which was an inside room on Deck 10. The room was a standard cruise ship room that featured two beds which were made into a single queen bed.
We accessed the room with our keycard and found that the door worked. The room was clean and it featured the bed, a small bedside dresser, a desk with chair as well as a small chair. The room had a small closet with three drawers as well as area for hanging clothes. All of the hangers were the typed that were permanently installed in the room.
The room had a small refrigerator that was filled with bottled water. The water had a charge and it was not included with the beverage package.
The bathroom was small with a stand up shower, toilet and a small vanity area.
The water temperature and pressure of the shower was not very good as it was difficult to get the temperature to be comfortable and it fluctuated between hot and cold. In addition, the lower pressure made it difficult to have a comfortable shower.
The room also had a small flat screen television and there were a few movie channels as well as a few local channels in addition to the ships promotional channels.
The room felt somewhat dated; however, it was clean and kept in good condition throughout the cruise.
We were assigned a room attendant. We occasionally saw him in the hallway but he did not personally welcome us on the trip.
A couple of the evenings, he left a towel art on the bed. He also decorated the room for my wife’s birthday on one of the days during the daily service. The room attendant always seemed to know when we were out of the room because it was cleaned while we were away and we never had to wait to access the room.
We explored the ship and discovered that it was originally the Pride of Aloha ship which was a US Flagged ship that Norwegian Based in Hawaii. The ships decorations were all Hawaiian based and some of the names of the rooms were odd now that the ship was called the Norwegian Sky. For example, the sushi restaurant was called the Plantation Club and a lounge.
The crew was present throughout the ship and they kept the public areas clean and attended to.
The lobby was on multiple decks with a reception desk, excursion desk as well as a few lounges and bars. Elevators were found on both sides of the open atrium area.
The pool deck featured two pools and four small whirlpools. The whirlpools were always busy with activity; however, the pools were generally not utilized. The temperature was cooler than normal for Bahamas and Miami so that was likely why.
The deck had chairs available near the pool. There was also another deck on the level above the pool which offered additional chairs near the windows.
The windows by the pool were cloudy throughout most of the trip and it appeared that they could have used a more thorough cleaning as this took away from the view of the ocean.
At the front of the ship, there was also an observation area as well as an additional whirlpool. Again the windows in this area were cloudy and that also took away from the view of the ocean. One level below there was an open air deck which offered an excellent viewing spot for sunsets as well as uninterrupted views of the ocean.
The ship offered a fitness center with a variety of exercise machines as well as area for free weights as well as gym classes.
Cruise Director and Activity Staff
The ship featured a very energetic cruise director who led activities in the day as well as the evening. He frequently was dressed in unique costumes and he was always positive and had a high level of energy as he was trying to create a fun environment for guests to relax and enjoy their vacation.
The ship offered activities each afternoon ranging from pool games to food carvings. In the evening the cruise director hosted game shows for couples as well as comedy shows and other events.
The ship featured Norwegians White Hot Party which was located on the pool deck. The deck was outfitted all in white and the cruise staff and dancers were on hand to encourage guests to have a good time. The band and DJ were excellent and they kept the dance floor packed for a couple hours during the event. The guests were given glow sticks and other lighted items for use during the event.
This was a four-night Bahamas cruise that visited three ports in the Bahamas: Freeport in Grand Bahama, Nassau and Paradise Island as well as Norwegian’s Private Island, Great Stirrup Cay.
The first port was Freeport which offered a small shopping area next to the dock. In order to do anything else including visiting a beach, additional shopping or tours required a $5-$10 per-person shared taxi ride to the city center. My wife and I explored some of the shopping near the ship and then returned to relax on the pool deck and to enjoy the ships services that day.
The second port was Nassau. My wife and I both previously visited Nassau in the past so my wife relaxed in the spa that morning while I walked around the city on my own before again returning to the ship and joining my wife for more relaxation on the pool deck.
Before returning to the ship I sampled conch fritters which is a local street food. They were breaded well and chewy and had a good taste.
Great Stirrup Cay
The final port was Great Stirrup Cay. This was Norwegians Private Island. The port is accessed by tender or small boats that come bring passengers from the ship to shore.
When my wife and I were ready to depart the ship, we proceeded to one of the lounges where we were told we would need tender tickets. When we arrived there was a sign saying that no tickets were required to we proceeded to the lower level for boarding the tender. When we arrived there was a line of about 30-40 other guests. We waited for about 10 minutes before being asked to board the tender. The tender was large and it could seat 250+ guests. The boat was open air so we selected a seat on the top deck and watched the ship and the ocean while we waited for the boat to depart.
The tender departed after about 20 minutes. There was a short ride to the island. During the voyage we were given excellent views of the ship.
Upon arrival at the island there was a short wait while everyone departed the tender.
Once we entered the island we found it to be quite large. There were three separate large beach areas, four bars, a main restaurant that featured an Island BBQ as well as a lagoon. Plenty of beach chairs were available throughout the island.
Norwegian sells private cabanas on the island. The cabanas looked nice; however, it seemed unnecessary as the island was so spread out.
Norwegian extended the all-inclusive drink option to the island as all the food and beverages are served by staff from the ship. The bars were setup similar to the ones on the ship and they appeared to offer all of the same drinks including the premium brands.
Activities for purchase were available on the island including snorkeling, scuba diving, floating devices as well as parasailing and a few other tours. The cruise staff also hosted games and activities on the beach including a tug of war contest.
My wife and I relaxed on the beach. I ended up staying on the island a little longer than my wife so I walked around the island and did some more exploring before relaxing for a little longer.
I had lunch at the Beach BBQ and found a variety of items offered included, sandwiches, pizza, burgers, jerk chicken, hot dogs and salads as well as desserts and fruit. The food was all signed and it all looked appetizing.
When I was ready to depart the island I proceeded to the tender area and I waited in a small line. While I was in line, I was given a cool towel by the cruise staff to relax before I was invited to board the tender. The tender filled up quickly and it departed within 20 minutes of me joining the line.
It was a short journey back and it again offered great views of the island and the ship.
Princess and Royal Caribbean also have private islands near Norwegian’s so while we were in port, you could see a Princess and Royal Caribbean ship anchored nearby.
Now Royal Caribbean has a dock so the ships do not anchor; however, Princess stills uses tenders for their ships as well as the Carnival ones that visit Princess Cays.
We elected to do snorkeling on the island and we pre-paid for the tour before the trip. When we arrived we located the pickup area and a friendly colleague asked us to sign a waiver for each guest participating before they issued the snorkeling equipment. The equipment was clean and sanitized and it appeared in good condition. No instruction on how to use the equipment was given; however, we were given a brochure about where the snorkeling spots were on the island.
We spent a few minutes getting used to the equipment before going in the water. The fins were difficult to maneuver; however, I found that it was easier to walk backwards. Once in the water we found some of the locations and I saw a couple large schools of fish as well as several. Most of the fish were hiding but when I watched for a while they came out. I also saw a few jelly fish.
I felt the snorkeling was enjoyable. There were a lot of waves that day, so that probably accounted for fewer fish sightings that day. I went a couple other times during the day before returning the equipment.
My only complaint about it was the lack of instructions on the proper way to use the equipment. It took me a little time getting used to it before I got the hang of it.
My wife and I did not attend any of the large production shows on the ship. They offered two shows featuring singers and dancers. There was also a comedy show one night as well as a game show the other night. We elected to explore the ship on our own rather than go to those events.
We attended a few of the smaller couples contests while we enjoyed a drink or two at the bars. One of the contests we tried out to be a participant where Gina was asked to call out for Tarzan to come save her. I pretended to be Tarzan and I called out to her and went over and kissed her. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) other guests were better at the audition than we were so we were not picked. We felt that the games were funny and they were enjoyable to watch.
The four-night trip went by quickly and soon enough we were preparing to return to Miami. Norwegian offers luggage tags for guests and you are asked to put your bags outside the room by midnight on the last night of the cruise. They also offer the option where you can take your own bags off the ship at your leisure. My wife and I elected that option. We were informed that we could get off the ship anytime between 7:45 AM and 9:45 AM but were asked to vacate our room by 9:00 AM.
We ended up getting up around 8:00 AM and we had breakfast at the buffet before departing the room a little before 9:00 AM.
When we were ready to depart, we took the elevator down to the sixth floor and followed the signs to exit the ship. We were asked to to scan our cards one more time before several cruise staff members and officers thanked us and to invite us back next time.
Once off the ship we proceeded to the immigration and customs area. They do not offer Global Entry at the Port so we used one of the old fashion forms. There was a short line and we were through the immigration and customs interview within about 10 minutes from the time we exited the ship.
Once we were through with the process, we exited the terminal and proceeded to the waiting area where I used UBER X. A car was available within five minutes.
I will cover the dining experience on the ship in an additional post.
Overall it was an excellent quick vacation to the Bahamas. We enjoyed the all inclusive option of the Norwegian Sky. We felt that the staff overall were friendly and polite and they made us feel welcome. It would have been a little nicer if the room attendant would have been more personal; however, otherwise we enjoyed the trip. We look forward to going on another cruise again in the future. The ship was older and smaller than some other ones we were on; however, the all inclusive option really set this apart from the others as it made it easier to relax while not having to worry about the pending bar bill at the end of the cruise.