This ship has bounced around the Norwegian Cruise Line world quite a bit. When this ship was originally built in 1999 she was known as Norwegian Sky. She was later renamed Pride of Aloha when she became a year-round Hawaii ship as part of the NCL America division of Norwegian Cruise Line. In 2008 NCL announced that Pride of Aloha would be transferred to parent company Star Cruises. A few months later, prior to the move, these plans were changed and NCL decided to keep the ship in the NCL fleet and move her to the Bahamas market. The ship then underwent a dry-dock period during which a casino was added to the ship, along with a slew of nice onboard enhancements which NCL calls Freestyle 2.0 upgrades. During this process NCL decided to give the ship back her original name, Norwegian Sky.
Throughout the ship her Hawaii-filled past is still evident, as you'll notice various colors and designs that reflect on this tropical theme. However, in 2009 NCL completed a comprehensive refurbishment that included: reupholstering all 1,000 seats in the Stardust Theater; major updates to 14 suites which received new wallpaper; new marble tiles in the showers and tubs; and refinishing all wood work including the teak around the whirlpools on the suite balconies; improvements to Dazzles Bar and Nightclub, including refinishing of the dance floor; reupholstering of the club's chairs and bar stools and removal of banquette seating creating additional room on the dance floor; new upholstery to all of the seating in the Atrium; installation of new food stations in the Garden Café, Norwegian's signature action station restaurant, along with refurbishment of Il Adagio, the ship's Italian restaurant; the addition of three new staterooms; and repainting of the colorful murals surrounding the pool area.
Norwegian Sky will be featuring cruises in the following regions (subject to change, based on the cruise line's discretion):
2012 & 2013: 3- and 4-night Bahamas (all sailing round trip from Miami, FL)
Norwegian Sky does not have the newer NCL suite options, such as Courtyard and Garden Villas, but she does offer a fairly nice variety of accommodations. Her staterooms are very colorful, reflecting the Hawaiian theme of this ship's past.
Interior Staterooms: Norwegian Sky offers a wide variety of interior stateroom categories. The main difference between them is their location on the ship. Usually, the higher the deck the room is on, the higher the price of the room. The most basic room is the category N rooms, as they are located on the lowest passenger deck of the ship. The most premium interior staterooms are the category II rooms, located much higher up on the ship than the N's. In addition to that, there is a sitting area in the most of the more premium interior staterooms. All of the interior staterooms have two lower beds that can convert into a queen-size bed, a closet, as well as a bathroom with a shower and vanity.
Oceanview Staterooms: The oceanview staterooms on this ship all have a sitting area, in addition to all of the standard features found in interior staterooms. The category H oceanview rooms are the most basic oceanviews onboard Norwegian Sky. These rooms have a large porthole window. The category C oceanviews are the most premium oceanviews on this ship, featuring a picture window.
Balcony Staterooms: Balcony staterooms (also called oceanview staterooms with a balcony) are an excellent option. These rooms have a floor-to-ceiling glass door that opens to a private balcony. They give you the option of enjoying the outdoors, and breathtaking views, in privacy. The most basic balcony staterooms are the category BE's, while the most premium are the BA's.
Suites: All suites on this ship have butler and concierge service available. Some suites can accommodate a crib if the sofa bed or pull-out bed is not being used. Norwegian Sky does not have nearly as many suite categories as the newer NCL ships; however, there are a few nice options to choose from. The most basic suites are the Penthouses. These accommodations feature a sitting area, private balcony, bedroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed, and a luxury bath with a whirlpool tub and separate shower. The most premium suites on this ship are the category AA Owner's Suites. These rooms have a living room, private balcony with hot tub, dining room, separate bedroom with two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed, and a luxury bath with a whirlpool tub and separate shower.
All Norwegian Cruise Line ships have an open dining setup (which is one of the main aspects of their Freestyle Cruising format). Open dining means that you can eat where you want, when you want. Norwegian Sky has six dining venues from which you can choose from, besides the 24-hour room service!
There are two main restaurants on this ship, Crossings and the Palace (both located on deck 5). Both of these dining rooms offer spectacular views of the sky and sea. In addition to that, both have the same five-course menu, which changes each night of the cruise. Dinner is served from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm.
The Garden Cafe is Norwegian Sky's indoor/outdoor buffet. This buffet features a wide array of options for you to choose from, depending on the time and day you dine there (including omelets, pizza, sandwiches, waffles, fruit, ethnic specialties, and pasta).
Le Bistro, located on deck 5, is one of the specialty restaurants onboard Norwegian Sky. This restaurant offers upscale French cuisine, sure to satisfy your appetites. Another specialty restaurant on this ship is Cagney's Steakhouse (on deck 12). This restaurant is a classic New York City style steakhouse. Il Adagio, located on deck 11, is another specialty restaurant (serving Italian food). It's really worth it to try one of these restaurants at least once, but keep in mind that they charge a per person cover charge (ranging in price from $10 to $30).
Reservations are highly recommended for the specialty restaurants, as they are very in demand and can book up quickly. Dining reservations cannot be made prior to your cruise. You can make a reservation 24 hours prior to the day you want to dine, unless you have a balcony or higher (in which case you can make a reservation within 48 hours). Be sure to make reservations at least the night before you want to dine, to help ensure that the time (and restaurant) you want to dine at will be available for you.
As previously mentioned,
there is now a casino onboard Norwegian Sky (the ship previously didn't have a casino onboard when it was a Hawaii-only ship, as casinos cannot be operated in US waters). Aside from the hustling and bustling casino, there are many other onboard features for those looking to do something else.
For this ship's health-minded and sport-loving guests, there is a jogging/walking track (on deck 6), a basketball/volleyball court (on deck 12), the Body Waves Fitness Center (also on deck 11), the golf driving nets (on deck 12), two large outdoor swimming pools, a children's pool, and five hot tubs. There's also plenty of outdoor lounge chairs throughout the ship, for those looking to relax.
The Body Waves Spa is a very popular choice among the guests onboard Norwegian Sky. It's located on deck 11 and has a full-service staff that is ready to pamper you with their unique and exotic treatments.
The Stardust Theatre is Norwegian Sky's Broadway and Vegas-style show theatre. It's located on deck 6 and can accommodate up to 1,000.
Are you a shopper? Well, the Galleria Shops are located on deck 7 and feature a full range of items for purchase. For example, you can buy jewelry, makeup, perfume, clothes, memorabilia, duty-free alcohol, snacks, and more.
The well-stocked Mark Twain Library is on deck 6...so is Captain Cook's Cigar Club. Also on deck 6 are the meeting rooms, for those that need a meeting space and/or boardroom. The Chapel is located on deck 7, and is available for onboard wedding ceremonies. Need internet access while on vacation? Not a problem, since the internet cafe is available on deck 7 for those that need it. It's a much less expensive way to regularly contact those at home (compared to the onboard phone charges).
Because of the Freestyle Cruising concept, the dress code is not very strict or formal on a Norwegian Cruise - it is actually quite casual, relative to other cruise lines. As far as dining goes, casual attire is preferred during the day. Examples of casual attire are: khakis, skirts, jeans, casual tops, and shorts. At the buffet and outdoor dining venues, swimwear with a cover-up is just fine.
During dinner a collared shirt and pants (or nice jeans) is fine for men. For women slacks, jeans, dresses, skirts, and tops are fine. If you'd like to dress up for dinner and wear something more formal or glamorous that is OK too, as on most NCL cruises there is usually at least one night were many people will do so (known as the "Captain's Night" or "Formal Night"). For kids 12 and under, shorts are OK in all of the restaurants.
NCL's children's program is called the Kids Crew. The Kids Crew program is run by NCL's Youth Staff and is free of charge (of course, gratuities are appreciated by the staff). Each staff member is CPR and First Aid certified. The Kids Crew program features complimentary activities that are scheduled throughout each day of your cruise. Examples of these activities are painting, pajama parties, pizza making, and shows. A parent or guardian is required to initially register 2-17 year olds for this program. Children are assigned to groups, based on age (Juniors = 2-5 years old, First Mates = 6-9 years old, Navigators = 10-12 years old, and Teens = 13-17 years old). Kids under 13 may not sign themselves out. There is not a one-on-one care program available in the Youth Program.
There is group-sitting available for kids. The "Late Night Party Zone" and "Port Play" are both programs for kids 2-12 years of age. The "Port Play" program is run from 9 am to 5 pm and is for parents that want to go on shore excursions alone, leaving their kids in the hands of qualified professionals. The "Late Night Party Zone" is available from 10 pm to 1 am. The cost of these two programs is $5 per hour, per child, and $3 per hour for each additional sibling in the same family. These charges are applied to your onboard expense account.
There is also a Teen Program available onboard Norwegian Sky. This program is for those that are 13-17 years of age. This program is a great way for teens to meet and have fun.
There's a children's pool forward on the Sports deck. A a video arcade is located midship on the International deck, featuring various video games and machines. Kid's Korner, a special kids area, is also located (forward) on the International deck.
NCL charges a fixed fee for what they call service charges on all Norwegian Sky cruises. This fee is $12 per person, per day and is charged to your onboard expense account. There is no such charge for children under 3 years of age. If while on your cruise you find that these fees are more than you'd like to pay (or if you are very unhappy with the service you've been provided with by the staff), you can adjust the service charge fees to the level you prefer (as long as you do so before you leave the ship). NCL does not consider this service charge to be the same thing as a gratuity or tip. NCL states that they do not auto-charge you for gratuities (even though the service charge does seem to be a similar fee).
If you find a few staff members that really stand out and make your vacation more enjoyable, NCL's staff is allowed to accept cash gratuities. The recommended gratuity for guests purchasing bar beverages is 15%. For those purchasing spa and salon services, please be aware that NCL automatically adds a gratuity of 18% (called a service charge on certain ships).
The official legal drinking age on a Norwegian cruise is 21 years of age. However, guests that are 18 to 20 years old with written consent from their parents or guardian are allowed to purchase beer and wine when the ship is sailing in international waters (except in Alaska & Hawaii, where you must be 21 years old to do so).
The minimum gambling age on all NCL cruise ships in 18 years of age. A valid photo ID may be required, so be sure to have one with you while in the casino. Please be aware that onboard casinos are closed on NCL ships while sailing in Hawaii.