1999 Norwegian Sky
the first ship in the NCL fleet to incorporate the Freestyle Cruising
concept that has now proved so popular. A few days after
the ship was delivered by Lloyd Werft of Bremerhaven back
in August 1999,
traveled to Dover to stay overnight on
board the then brand new
80,000-ton, 2,002-passenger Norwegian Sky was originally ordered at Bremenís
Vulkan yard by Costa Cruises as Costa Olympia. Work on the ship began in 1996
after the delivery of sister ship Costa Victoria. Unfortunately for Costa, the
yard went into liquidation and Costa was left with one ship that was only 35%
ready. In 1997, the hull of Costa Olympia was sold to NCL, who renamed the ship
Norwegian Sky and immediately altered the building plans to be able to
incorporate their specific needs and wishes. And thus a completely new ship is
With a different funnel, a wheelhouse that was lowered one deck, thereby
creating a new observation lounge, and two whole decks of balcony cabins (Costa
Victoria has no balcony cabins). There is no doubt about it that externally, the
Norwegian Sky wins hands-down from her now estranged sister. Itís about time to
see what NCL has done with her interiors!
Embarkation at the Dover Cruise Terminal is a breeze. I park my car on a special overnight parking space within steps from the check-in area in the beautifully restored terminal building (this used to be a railway station). Here we are given personalized plastic Cruise Cards / Key Cards. Finally the use of these silly paper boarding passes has come to an end!
We enter the 853-ft (258-meter) long ship on Atlantic Deck 5 and step right into the atrium. Although relatively narrow by todayís standards, the 8-deck high glass-topped space works extremely well. No less than 4 panoramic elevators whisk passengers up to one of the upper decks, while a beautiful ornate grand staircase connects the lower levels. Arranged in a circle surrounding the base of the atrium, the marble-and-wood-clad reception and shore excursion desk handle passenger inquiries. Clocks behind the Reception Desk show the time in several world cities Ė itís just like a Grand Hotel!
Double doors and a short marble passageway with a beautiful inlaid carpet lead
directly from the atrium to the Four Seasons Dining Room, one of two formal main
restaurants on the ship. Itís drop-dead gorgeous! A slightly raised center
section in burgundy is offset by green dining areas on port and starboard side.
A large chandelier hangs in the middle of the spacious room, where tables are
not as close together as one would expect.To facilitate the passenger flow on Atlantic Deck, NCL
has created a dining area on the starboard side of the ship that runs all the
way from the Four Season Dining Room to the aft Seven Seas Dining Room.
Itís called the Horizon Restaurant and it is stunning. The architects have
successfully made use of the long, narrow space to create a visually most
attractive dining room. The Horizon Restaurant boasts a lot of tables for two
lining the windows, with 4-person banquette seating in slightly raised alcoves
on the other wall. A lot of dark wood paneling, many statues and beautiful paintings on mirrored walls make for a dramatic room. And at night, it looks even better!Moving further aft, we enter the Seven Seas Dining Room, the other formal main restaurant. Seating here, just like in the Four Seasons, is mainly at tables for 4 to 10, with just a few tables for two sprinkled in. Colors are blue and aqua, beautifully offset by the "bare" wooden wall paneling and wood-trimmed chairs. This room also boasts a slightly raised center section with chandelier and grand piano, and ample room around tables. Waiter stations are thoughtfully grouped together in their own sections, so the running around with huge trays of food should be very limited indeed.