June 2015 - Norwegian Sky to Caribbean - Bahamas
The cruise was very enjoyable. If you've been on other cruises, you might notice that it doesn't have a rock climbing wall, or water slide, or whatever else you might be familiar with. But, the customer service was phenomenal. A couple of less than favorable interactions notwithstanding, the staff on the cruise was a pleasure to interact with. Their private island at the end of the trip was fantastic.
Things to know:
They charge about $14 per night for housekeeping, so if you're cheap like me, bear that in mind.
Parking is $20/night, totaling $80
Internet is expensive, but in the Bahamas was smoother than expected. I was able to have a smooth hour-long skype conversation with just a couple few-second hiccups. Details for the pricing can be found on the ncl website.
If you're interested in attending the art auctions, do your research on Park West beforehand. Based off of what I read, I am confident that they overcharged for the work I bought. The staff and their presentations were exceedingly informative and at the very least you can learn a lot by going to the auction, at best you can win some free artwork with their raffles.
Shore excursions are overpriced, and I think you can do mostly the same stuff independently or through some other company. Snorkeling, for example, as a shore excursion was about $40-50, but bring your own goggles, rent a $5 life vest, and you can go do it on your own. This way might not be as world-class, but on their private island, you can easily swim out (very close) to some interesting coral and see some beautiful fish. I saw a stingray and a barracuda (I think) as well.
Doing the shore excursion will guarantee you: 1) you will definitely get what you pay for 2) you don't have to worry about other variables (i.e., taxi drivers, bargaining with Bahamians, etc.) 3) give you access to otherwise inaccessible things (like dolphin swimming, stingray city, etc.)
Speaking of bargaining with Bahamians, I easily found jet skiing on Nassau near the cruise for much cheaper than the shore excursion, but they said they'd give me 30 minutes, and wave me in when my time was up. They gave me just under 20 minutes. So again, that's something you won't have to worry about with the shore excursion, if you choose to do that.
In conclusion, if you are looking to travel on a budget, I think it can be done, but understand the aforementioned. I was expecting a roundtrip cost of $700 (~$450 for the cruise, plus some activities/souvenirs). For whatever reason, I think it was closer to $1,500. The internet for the trip was $100, the housekeeping an extra $50, parking was $80, unlimited soda was about $50, expensive taxi ride the most beautiful beach I've ever seen (Gold Rock Beach) for 5 people was $150, art work was $200, gambling was $150, plus gas driving to Miami, plus on island purchases, and so on... Surely, you won't incur all the same expenses, but be aware that it piles up quickly and quietly...