Monty and Cathy Harkies
Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Norwegian
Ship: Norwegian Sky
Sailing Date: November 17th, 2002
Itinerary: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.