Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeSmall

Launched in 1999 for Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Sky was the first ever cruise ship to offer Internet service at sea. Restyled for service in Norwegian’s Hawaii division in 2004, the ship was renamed Pride of Aloha. When that venture was scaled back, the ship underwent a multimillion dollar renovation in 2008 and returned to Norwegian’s international fleet once again as Norwegian Sky.Read More

Norwegian Cruise Line hadn’t introduced many new ships in awhile at the time Norwegian Sky was launched and Norwegian Sun was on the drawing board, but it didn’t take long before they got the hang of it. With Freestyle cruising growing in popularity, the vessels moved into the forefront of the fleet with multiple restaurant choices, expansive casino, trendy spas, and more family- and kid-friendly facilities.

Rich wood tones and fabric colors prevail throughout. The Observation Lounge is a subdued spot for afternoon tea in a light, tropical setting with nothing to distract attention from the expansive views beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Internet café is large, and the nearby coffee bar is a delight. Sunshine pours into the atrium through an overhead skylight by day; at night it’s the ship’s glamorous hub of activity.

Norwegian Cruise Line set sail in 1966 with an entirely new concept—regularly scheduled Caribbean cruises from the then-obscure port of Miami. Good food and friendly service combined with value fares established the line as a winner for active adults and families. Innovative and forward-looking, Norwegian has been a cruise-industry leader for decades, and its fleet is as much at home worldwide as in the Caribbean. Several of the line’s ships cruise Alaska’s Inside Passage, including one of its newest, Norwegian Bliss.

Noted for top-quality entertainment, Norwegian combines action and high-energy activities as well as a variety of dining options in a casual, free-flowing atmosphere. Norwegian’s freestyle cruising signaled an end to rigid dining schedules and dress codes. Norwegian ships now offer a host of flexible dining options that allow passengers to eat in the main dining rooms or any of a number of à la carte and specialty restaurants at any time and with whom they please. The ships’ accommodations include some of the largest suites at sea, studio cabins for solo travelers, and a private ship-within-a-ship complex called The Haven, a more luxurious area with personalized service.

From a distance, most cruise ships look so similar that it’s often difficult to tell them apart, but Norwegian’s largest, modern ships stand out with their distinctive use of hull art. Each new ship is distinguished by murals extending from bow to midship.

  • 11 passenger decks
  • 4 specialty restaurants, 2 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
  • Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator (some), DVD (some)
  • 2 pools, children’s pool
  • fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
  • 8 bars, casino, dance club, library, showroom, video game room
  • children’s programs
  • dry-cleaning, laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • no-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
Many of the elements found in newer fleetmates have been added to these older ships
There is a hot tub exclusively for kids
Norwegian Sun has separate steam rooms and saunas for men and women
The main restaurant is not on a direct route from the main atrium
These are sister ships but not twins, and dining facilities vary
Standard accommodations are somewhat tight for more than two people

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Layout
Suites
Amenities
Accessibility

Staterooms are a bit more generous in size than on the previous vessels in the Norwegian fleet and contain adequate closet and drawer space for a one-week cruise. More than two-thirds have an ocean view, and nearly two-thirds of those have a private balcony. All have a sitting area with sofa, chair, and table. Clever use of primary colors and strategically placed mirrors achieves an open feeling. Connecting staterooms are available in several categories, including those with balconies. Oddly sandwiched in between decks 6 and 7 forward is deck 6A, which has no direct elevator access.

Suites have walk-in closets as well as whirlpool tubs and entertainment centers. Butlers and a concierge are at the service of suite occupants.

Light-wood cabinetry, mirrored accents, a small refrigerator, a tea/coffeemaker, a personal safe, broadband Internet connections, duvets on beds, a wall-mounted hair dryer over the dressing table, and bathrobes for use during the cruise are typical standard amenities. Bathrooms have shampoo and bath gel in shower-mounted dispensers, as well as limited storage.

Sixteen cabins are wheelchair accessible.

Food & Drink

Food

Two complimentary dining rooms serve open seating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Specialty restaurants on both ships that carry varying cover charges and require reservations include Norwegian’s signature French restaurant Le Bistro, steak houses, and Italian eateries; Norwegian Sun also has an extra-charge Japanese restaurant, sushi bar, and teppanyaki room, Brazilian steak house, bakery, and a complimentary tapas bar. Screens located throughout the ship illustrate the status (full to empty) and waiting time you can expect for each restaurant. Casual choices are the Lido buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the poolside grill for lunch; a pizzeria; and an ice cream bar. A coffee bar serves specialty coffees and pastries priced by item. Room service is available 24 hours with an extra charge per order except for continental breakfast and coffee.

Entertainment

You’ll find a nice selection of bars and lounges where musicians or DJs provide dance tunes; the entertainment staff hosts Norwegian’s signature late-night parties after performances by the production company; other nights, comedians or other entertainers perform in the main theater. Each ship has a top-deck lounge ideal for an intimate nightcap (Norwegian Sky) or complimentary tapas (Norwegian Sun).

Spa & Fitness

Although the facilities aren’t as extensive as on newer ships, Mandara Spa offers a lengthy menu of massages, body wraps, and facials. A Medi-Spa physician is on hand to create individualized therapies. Each ship has saunas and steam rooms that are available to all at no extra charge.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
1999
Number of Cabins
1,002
Passenger Capacity
2,004
Crew Members
917,916
Passengers to Crew Ratio
0.00
Gross Tons
77104
Width
105 feet
Length
853 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
305/436–4000 or 800/327–7030

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