norwegian sky - ncl norwegian cruise line - cruise ship review & photos


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Back in 1999 Norwegian Sky was 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, ShipParade traveled to Dover to stay overnight on board the then brand new Norwegian Sky

The 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 born.

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.


All photos and text: © 1999-2000 Bart de Boer -

Originally published on July 30, 2000. This version published on July 14, 2007

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