As of January 2016, Norwegian Cruise Line will be dipping a little toe in the all inclusive pool.

Year round, dedicated Bahamas mainstay, Norwegian Sky, will be going all inclusive on the drinks front at least. The 78,000 ton, 1999 built ship will now include unlimited premium spirits, cocktails, bottled or draft beer up to the value of $11, plus wine by the glass for guests aged 21 and upwards. Guests aged from 3 to 20 will be offered unlimited free sodas and soft drinks.

Interestingly, the offer also applies to all drinks consumed on Great Stirrup Cay as well. The port of call is offered on both weekly itineraries offered by the ship.

Norwegian Sky was the first, purpose built mega ship for the company back in 1999. Originally ordered for Costa Cruises, she was purchased on the slipways and completed for Norwegian. A near sister, the 2001 built Norwegian Sun, spends summers in Alaska, and winters in Mexico and around South America.

At present, the ship sails a well practised routine of three and four night cruises, round trip from Miami, each week. Three night cruises sail each Friday, and call in at both Nassau and the ‘private’ island of Great Stirrup Cay. The four night sailings on Monday add Freeport on Grand Bahama Island to the three night roster.

Norwegian Sky offers the most comprehensive range of dining options of any ship sailing on the short Bahamas circuit out of Miami- she was, in fact, the first to introduce the popular Freestyle Dining  concept- and she also offers the largest number of standard balcony cabins of any ship sailing from Miami.

This looks very much like a test pad for the potential launch of ‘all inclusive’ drinks across the Norwegian fleet. No doubt, the company will be carefully monitoring the reactions to this new venture, perhaps the biggest thus far of the post-Sheehan era at the company.

Interesting times, indeed. As ever, stay tuned.

The Norwegian Sky off Great Stirrup Cay

The Norwegian Sky off Great Stirrup Cay


Cut loose on a weekend break to the balmy Bahamas

Cut loose on a weekend break to the balmy Bahamas

if you happen to have the great good fortune to be spending some time over winter in sunny Florida, or even if you happen to be domiciled there, there’s a whole conga line of short, three and four day cruise options that you can add on or indulge in while you’re there.

There’s no shortage of advantages to these nifty little breaks; they are a welcome chance to indulge in some warm sea breezes, with a side order of quality on board pampering and, hopefully, some hugely enjoyable wining and dining. En route you’ll be diverted by a couple of port stops. These destinations- typically Nassau, Cozumel and Key West, are mainly about shopping, sunbathing and time out in the sun (though the chance to see the Mayan ruins at Cozumel should not be missed).

The main ports for most sailings are, inevitably, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral, but Carnival also offers Florida sailings from some less obvious ports. From Jacksonville, the Fascination sails on four night itineraries to both Nassau and Freeport. This ship, one of the original Fantasy class, is one of the best party ships anywhere on the short cruise circuit, and it is brimming with bars, restaurants, show lounges and sun decks.

Sister ship, Ecstasy, offers an identical. four night cruise, starting from Port Canaveral. Another sibling, the Sensation, also offers this cruise from Port Canaveral, as well as a shorter, three night run that overnights in Nassau, and then spends a day at sea.

Royal Caribbean also offers four night Port Canaveral departures, on the recently refurbished Enchantment of The Seas. This beautiful ship runs an itinerary that takes in both Nassau, and the line’s ‘private island’ of Coco Cay. There’s also a shorter, very similar three night itinerary available on the same ship.

Sailing to the sun, Carnival style

Sailing to the sun, Carnival style

From Miami, another of Carnival’s Fantasy class sisters offers three and four day cruises. The Imagination sails for an overnight stay in Nassau on the three night sailings, And the Imagination also runs a more interesting, four night itinerary that takes in both Key West and Cozumel, in the Caribbean proper.

Also from Miami, Royal Caribbean sails the veteran Majesty of The Seas on a three night run that takes in Nassau and Coco Cay. The four night cruise features both the three day ports, plus a run down to Key West in addition.

From Miami, Norwegian Cruise Line also sails the sublime Norwegian Sky on a three night itinerary that takes in both Nassau and the company’s own island, the recently  redeveloped Great Stirrup Cay. A four night jaunt adds a call at Grand Bahama Island into the mix.

Any of these ships listed above will provide you will all the fun, facilities, comfort and frills for an invigorating few days away, and at a cost that won’t break the bank. In general, three night sailings depart on Fridays, and four nighters on a Monday.

And if you really want some enjoyable quality time, then why bother to get off the ship at all? Few things beat the sheer enjoyment of watching your fellow passengers pour ashore in a human tidal wave, while you just kick back and enjoy the space and fun on your own ‘private yacht’?

Make winter history...

Make winter history…

These trips do pass at a frantic rate of knots, and nobody could ever seriously call them a relaxing break (unless you splash out for a suite, or just spend all your time in the spa, that is), But they are something a little different, and can easily be combined with, say, Walt Disney World, a stay in Miami, or even time on the west coast at Clearwater Beach.

However you mix it up, just get out there and enjoy…..