The 2,004-passenger Norwegian Sky has flower leis painted on the outside, but don't let that fool you. While the ship, built in 1999, once cruised Hawaii, these days it's all about getting you from Miami to Cuba and to the Bahamas, on value-priced short cruises. Drinks are included (a rarity!) adding to a lively atmosphere. The four-day Cuba cruises overnight in Havana, giving you two full days to explore the island on a variety of shore excursions.
What We Love
Mojitos: The ship has more than a dozen bars, many with live entertainment, and the mojitos flow. You may wish you had more time to try all the choices at the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, but we highly recommend the Ginger Mojito with Brugal Añejo rum, fresh mint, lime juice, sugar cane, and ginger ale.
Dance Lessons: In a nod to the prime destination, the entertainment cruise schedules sessions to teach passengers a few steps — which you may actually put into good use if you're pulled onto the dance floor during a music tour of Havana.
Best Known For
Great Stirrup Cay: Both the Cuba and Bahamas itineraries include a beach day at Norwegian Cruise Line's recently updated private island in the Bahamas. Go snorkeling, hang out at the various bars, or grab a lounger and stare at the clear blue sea. A word of advice: The newly redone private villas are gorgeous and worth the splurge.
Freestyle Dining: Dine when you want in complimentary dining rooms or make reservations at three specialty restaurants (French, Italian, or steak, all with a la carte pricing). On Cuba cruises, there's the bonus of a few Cuban dishes on dining room menus and a Cuban BBQ, empanadas, suckling pig and all, out on deck.
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Who It's Best For
Curious Travelers: The Cuba itineraries in particular attract culture-vultures of all ages, looking for an affordable way to visit a fascinating island that was until recently forbidden fruit.
Younger and First-time Cruisers: With its short cruises, this value-priced ship is a great choice for first-time cruisers. The party atmosphere afforded by the free drinks is not too much to deter young families, who will appreciate the kids programming.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Smoky Casino: We're not much for gambling, but we occasionally found ourselves passing through this space to get elsewhere and we had to hold our breath.
Lounge Singers: If there is one thing that can kill the buzz of a good mojito it's sipping to a singer that sounds like someone doing karaoke. (To be fair, acoustics in the atrium just aren't great).
Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.
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Norwegian Sky at a Glance
- Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
- Class: Sun
- Number of Passengers: 2004
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 1999
- Refurbish Date: 2008