2 Norwegian Bliss Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America from Los Angeles

Experiencing the Panama Canal with NCL seemed like a great idea, since NCL is my favored cruise line and the Canal was on my bucket list. My groups experience was mixed. This new ship is beautiful. Gone are the garish days of purple ... Read More
Experiencing the Panama Canal with NCL seemed like a great idea, since NCL is my favored cruise line and the Canal was on my bucket list. My groups experience was mixed. This new ship is beautiful. Gone are the garish days of purple and red; now is a feeling of sophistication. Most of the regular NCL line up of restaurants and bars is present, built in a purposeful way rather than looking like an add-on. Plus the addition of an observation deck was a plus for this cruise as the weather wasn’t always great. This new ship is “tender”. My sailing-captain friend used this term to describe how you could feel the waves. We liked that it felt like you were on the o unlike most large ships. We did notice that most of the specialty restaurants were mostly empty, especially Jimmy Buffet and Food Republic. Perhaps this is because NCL now does al la cart pricing for all but two of their Specialty restaurants. Some pricing isn’t a small up-charge from the cost of free meal (i.e. which are included in the fare). This is a large boat with lots of people, while you can usually find a spot to hide-out, some parts of the ship couldn’t handle the crowd, e.g. the theater, the buffet. Also by day 10 I was definitely feeling that the need to get-away. This was a 2 week itinerary. NCL changed the Mexico ports twice. And, time was very limited in a couple of the ports. The good: • There are new eating options. The BBQ place was tasty (we ate there twice (though the al la cart cost was over $50 for just me). Always like Teppanyaki, also went there twice. The chefs there were very entertaining. • Continue to like the Studios. This allows me to have my own cabin without a single supplement. The common area is beautiful. • Experiencing the canal. This was fascinating and beautiful, though it was very difficult to see through the crowd. • The new Observation Lounge is a great place to hang out during the day. They even offer food if you want a break from the buffet. What is up with people sleeping on all the couches though? • Breakfast in the dining rooms was tasty. They varied the menus each day. In the buffet area, there were lots of egg stations. • The service in dining rooms was outstanding (though sometimes slow in Manhattan). They accommodated all our various “custom” requests and acknowledged us on our return visits. The not-so-good: • In most of the restaurants, there were food warmth issues. All food from the Local pub was lukewarm. Even at Cagneys, some of the sides were not well heated. Why are all dips, dressings and sauces watery? Why did Ocean Blue smell so badly? Most of the fish we had in other places had a fishy taste (which has not been my experience on other ships). And, Food Republic was a huge disappointment, having the oddest sushi I have ever eaten. Everything there seemed pre-prepared and reheated. Finally, what happened to serving lobster? The shrimp served as part of my surf and turf at Cagneys was sad. • As with most large ships, the availability of elevators was not sufficient. It seemed at time that some were not running, i.e. staying on one floor (15 or 16). There were lots of scooters, which would fill an elevator. • All the bartenders, but a few, were very cranky and unhappy. There were no smiles, thank you or any other chatter. In week two, I started asking him or her if they were happy to be on the ship. I miss the days when we used to sign a ticket and set the tip. • The drink package is more limited than other cruise lines. It doesn’t include water, espresso or other specialty drinks. It was odd that I could drink vodka for free but had to buy bottled water for my cabin. • Shows were sold out on first day. Clearly the large crowd was not accommodated. • Although touted as having lots of on-board shopping options, there was no boutique with suits, sandals, shirts, etc. However there were lots of unpurchased watches and jewelry. • The time in Columbia was very short. Because of a broken down shuttle we only got to spend three hours there. Having already been to Mexico ports, this was an important stop. • While the race cars were fun, they seemed out of place and weren’t available most of the time. Plus the staff seemed overly cautious in taking control of all the cars several times during the race. I think the real estate could have been used as more outdoor or pool space which was tight on sea days. • CAUTION! When using a computer in the Internet Café, I was logged into someone else’s email account. The security of these workstations needs to be improved, e.g. it needs to clear pages, cache and cookies when you log out. And sadly, the Internet is still not great. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
5 of us traveling. Embarkation in LA went very smoothly. We headed to Savor restaurant and had a great lunch. This is always the moment I feel "Now I'm on vacation". We proceeded to explore all of the decks and were very ... Read More
5 of us traveling. Embarkation in LA went very smoothly. We headed to Savor restaurant and had a great lunch. This is always the moment I feel "Now I'm on vacation". We proceeded to explore all of the decks and were very pleased with the decor as well as the lay-out. On to our cabins which were definitely a step above those on the smaller ships we have sailed. Again the design was great and the bed very comfortable. Our Steward kept us very clean and all essentials were provided promptly. We ate our dinners in the Manhattan room, Cagney's , Ocean Blue, and Bistro. All gave us great experiences in food , drinks as well as service. We had several of the wait staff at different venues and really enjoyed conversations and laughter with them. We only used the Garden Cafe for quick snacks so can't really comment on it but seemed like good food there as well. We enjoyed the bands on board as well as the comedians in the Comedy club the first week. Did not attend the second. The Cavern performances of Beatlemania were also good. Did not like Havana at all. We actually walked out before it was over. Jersey Boys show was awesome! We enjoyed the pool everyday as well as the slides. Had quiet times in the District bar where we could overlook the ocean and play cards with great beer! We didn't spend as much time in the Observation deck as we expected. Grand and lovely place but we just didn't gravitate to it too much. The elevators seemed to be always packed and stopping on most levels which made going slow so we avoided them as much as we could. The ports were not on the original itinerary and we were disappointed with Ensenada and Guatemala . We took a walking tour in Matzalan which we enjoyed but could have done with less steering towards shopping. (stopping in jewelry store for a "free drink") We took the Skywalk and Eco cruise in Costa Rica which would have been great if it had not been pouring rain. Did not see much wildlife because of the weather but guides cannot be held responsible for that. It was after all a rain forest. Panama Canal day was very interesting and well narrated. Our favorite port was Cartagena. Beautiful City though very warm and humid. Overall A wonderful cruise on an awesome ship! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Norwegian Bliss Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.0
Value For Money 3.5 3.5

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Reviews of Norwegian Bliss Family Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America from Other Departure Ports

Norwegian Bliss Cruise Reviews to Panama Canal & Central America from Other Departure Ports