6 Los Angeles to Panama Canal & Central America Norwegian Bliss Cruise Reviews

We arrived at 1pm and embarkation was smooth. However there were undisclosed problems getting some passengers from LAX to the ship, which delayed the sailaway for hours (until after dark).Disembarkation in NYC did not go well. Huge lines ... Read More
We arrived at 1pm and embarkation was smooth. However there were undisclosed problems getting some passengers from LAX to the ship, which delayed the sailaway for hours (until after dark).Disembarkation in NYC did not go well. Huge lines snaking around. I stood in line for an hour (was on a NCL bus tour/ transfer to JFK) with people coughing all around me. There was time for only one stop on the $99 tour due to the delay in us gettiing off. We were assembled at 8am in the theater and our bus didn't leave the port until 10am. Glad that our guide chose Ground Zero for the stop, though. This is another NCL ship subject to itinerary changes after final payment. It is too big to dock in Costa Rica. We were told that it had to do with silting in the harbor after a flood earlier in the year. After final payment, they dropped Costa Rica and added Acapulco. Also, they had to wait until extreme low tide to be able to pass under the Pacific side bridg of the Panama Canal. Hence the "daylight transit" started at 2am. Hygiene and illness were a problem on the ship. Early in the cruise no one was enforcing good sanitation in the buffet lines. After Guatemala (Day 11) they started with 'extra cleaning' which continued and ramped up throughout the cruise, to the point where for several days at the end they were at full-Noro levels of cleaning. They were attempting to keep the statistics below the threshold for special reporting. (We heard the intestinal illness was above 1% but less than 2%). There was also a nasty respiratory virus spreading. At nearly every port (and a few unscheduled, such as Huatulco and in the PC itself) there were medical evacuations and ambulances waiting. We usually arrived early enough in port that disembarkation wasn't delayed, but at one port we were late getting off. The Main Dining Room was mediocre with only a few menus that rotated through 20 days. Sometimes service was awful and sometimes it was okay. After we complained, we were "flagged" and then got put in the MDR sections with better servers. We also got comped a meal . The specialty restaurants were better for service and food, most of the time (we went 8 times). Cagneys was hit and miss. On the first night, the truffle fries were cold.Toward the end of the cruise during the Noro outbreak, they were full and service suffered. We were ticketed to see Jersey Boys, but our waiter didn't ask if we had a show, We sat for 15 minutes without seeing a waiter at all, and then it was another 30 minutes without even seeing the first starter. After calling over the maitre d' and explaining that we were going to miss the show if this continued, the service was rushed and we managed to gobble down 4 courses in an hour with 10 minutes to spare (we had allowed a total of two hours before show time). We found the best service (and food) at Le Bistro. We liked Los Lobos okay. Ocean Blue was good, but hard to get a seating. We didn't hear good things about Q so didn't go there. We went to Food Republic once (comp'd due to my complaining about the MDR). We noticed a lot of crew dining there (probably the only place to get sushi). Some of the plates were better than others. The scallop one was just plain strange. It isn't in the dining package. Most people don't eat at Los Lobos, but we thought the food was pretty good. Ocean Blue was good but difficult to get into, especially after the "extra cleaning" started and more people avoided the buffet. Thank goodness for the wonderful Indian food (BLD) in the buffet, at least I didn't starve. In the beginning they had pickled herring available but toward the end a lot of items went missing from the buffet. The only place you could get smoked salmon at breakfast was in the MDR. The Observation Lounge has limited hours for food service. The only 24/7 is Local, the buffet has limited late night food. Room service now has the upcharge except for limited continental breakfast. They were good about coming during the requested window (I must have been near the beginning of the rotation since the knock came a few minutes into the window). I had a midship balcony and it was fine, no problems at all. I would have liked a few drawers rather than all shelving. The cabin steward was great. Liked the single cup coffee maker. Requested my minifrig to be cleared on Day1. I kept skim milk, yogurt cups and snacks in there which came in handy during the Noro outbreak.You can find some smaller plates around the buffet and Observation Lounge (full sized plates are too big for the frig). The Observation Lounge is a nice space. Unfortunately the sheltered outdoor walking/viewing spaces are limited especially in the front of the ship which are blocked by private spaces. We also miss the public decks in the aft that you can find on other ships and cruise lines. Jersey Boys was excellent. It's easier to get into the later show. The Beatles were good. Six was okay. We only took one shore excursion (Acapulco) which went to Tres Palos and the Botanic Garden. It was advertised as "unguided" and an "Aviary visit" which was misleading. We did not visit an aviary by any English definition and there was a guide who kept tight rein on the group at the Botanic Garden. We complained and they gave us a minimal discount. I booked the NYC tour/transfer and as discussed above we only had one stop due to slow disembarkation. I would not travel on NCL Bliss again for 21 days. Maybe for 7 or 10, but 21 is too many even with 8 specialty dinners. It isn't worth putting up with the terrible dining room service. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
ship was new and beautiful. Staff seemed poorly trained, especially restaurants. 3 Main dinning rooms had very mediocre food and poor and slow service. Specialty restaurants were wonderful, great food and staff. Bars and bar staff (very ... Read More
ship was new and beautiful. Staff seemed poorly trained, especially restaurants. 3 Main dinning rooms had very mediocre food and poor and slow service. Specialty restaurants were wonderful, great food and staff. Bars and bar staff (very well trained) were wonderful. Buffet was disappointing compared to a dozen other cruises I have been on. Rooms (mini-suite) was very nice and bathroom was the best I have ever had on a cruise. Two production shows ( SIX and JERSEY BOYS) were terrific but other theatre shows were just average and the theatre was too small for the crowd (passengers were turned away at each performance). Went on 8 shore excursions and was happy with all of them. The Casino was excellent and very large with a great variety of games. I would NOT RECCOMEND this ship if you are primarily interested in food or entertainment or good service, but since the ship itself was beautiful maybe NCL will get their act together in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The Bliss will nickel and dime you to death, there is a service charge for everything, even at the Starbucks on board, never got to see a show, they were all sold out all the time. The Bliss should have left LA and went directly to the ... Read More
The Bliss will nickel and dime you to death, there is a service charge for everything, even at the Starbucks on board, never got to see a show, they were all sold out all the time. The Bliss should have left LA and went directly to the Panama Canal and did stops on the gulf side only, Mexico’s stops were really bad, will never do the Atlantic side again. The Bliss is the coldest ship I have ever been on, that being said the pay restaurants are really good, but it will cost you dearly, the casino has all the new style machines, and there is a line for everything, I felt like I was at the Magic Kindom at Disney, and the line to get off the ship, all I can say is WOW, one more thing, I am not a smoker but they should be ashamed of where they make the smokers smoke at on that ship, word of advice to the smokers, DONT GO ON THIS SHIP Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We choose this cruise because it was a new ship going through the new locks of the Panama Canal. The crew were excellent and the majority were happy and helpful. The cabin was fine, we had a mini suite which had a nice sized bathroom. ... Read More
We choose this cruise because it was a new ship going through the new locks of the Panama Canal. The crew were excellent and the majority were happy and helpful. The cabin was fine, we had a mini suite which had a nice sized bathroom. The ship is too open and very loud. The free restaurants very noisy because they are so open. The entertainment was good when you could get a seat. Having to book for shows was inconvenient. If you didn't book weeks or months before the cruise you didn't get in or you could get in a standby line. Several of the smaller venues seat less than a hundred people and when the ship hold over 4,000 your chances of getting in is nil. The no pay lunch restaurants don't change the menu so that gets old after a few days. Breakfast at the buffet is a disaster with way too many people and not enough space. The ship had to dock in commercial ports due to it's size and getting from the ship to the towns required busses and once again 4,000 people on our ship . The lines were long and the buses not up to what we are used to. We ended up being bussed to one tour destination in groups of four in taxis which took overall two hours and therefore shortened our tour considerably as we were the last to get there. They didn't utilize the theatre for enough activities and over used the atrium where there were way too many people and too much noise. If you went to a customer service desk, shore excursion desk etc which were all in the atrium area you couldn't hear anyone trying to help you because of the noise of the activity going on. Very bad planning. All in all we saw what we wanted going through the Panama Canal but I doubt Ill ever go on Norwegian again and I won't go on any of the mega ships again. Too many people, and having to book for average meals and entertainment just doesn't make for a relaxing holiday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I just returned from the Bliss 14 day Panama Canal trip. The ship was very crowded. It was impossible to get a seat in the Garden Cafe and the staff did not assist. The elevator situation on the ship was a disaster. The size, shape, ... Read More
I just returned from the Bliss 14 day Panama Canal trip. The ship was very crowded. It was impossible to get a seat in the Garden Cafe and the staff did not assist. The elevator situation on the ship was a disaster. The size, shape, quantity and programming logic of the elevators is a disaster. You will wait forever and be packed in like sardines your whole cruise. Our balcony stateroom was fine, but seemed a bit on the smaller side. The closet was hard to access on the side of the bed. The bathroom was great. Shower was roomy with good pressure and hot water. I may have been in a noisy location, but I heard more noise on this cruise than in the past. It was hard sleep at times. Whether that has something to do with the construction of the ship or bad luck I am not sure. The food in all of the main dining rooms was universally bad with bad service. The speciality restaurants were hit or miss. La Cucina, Cagneys and Los Lobos were great. Q, Food Republic and Le Bistro were average. Ocean Blue was bad. The bars around the ship were fine but the bartenders were never friendly or engaging. Quite the opposite. The District was my favorite bar but the craft beer selection seems to have been selected by somebody who has no knowledge of craft beer, and they were out of half the items on the menu. The drinks at the mojito bar were not good. A real missed opportunity. Some of the worst mojitos I have ever had. The overall crew and service in the ship was well below average. Happy crew members were few and far between. The crew neither created a welcome feeling for the guests, nor did they provide good service. I don't blame the crew for this, I blame NCL. Both waterslides were fun, as were the go karts. We booked laser tag twice and they cancelled on us twice so that was disappointing. The entertainment on the ship was fine but not great. Havana was boring with no plot with nearly nude dancers being its saving grace. Jersey Boys was fine but completely devoid of innovation. Who hasn't seen Jersey Boys yet? The show debuted over 13 years ago! Not exactly new and fresh. Finally, I must comment on the lack of bottled water being included in the beverage package. How stupid is that? We prefer to drink sparkling water for dinner and had to pay $7 each time. On top of that, the only sparkling water on board was Pellegrino with a production date of nearly one year ago. I.e. very stale. We wasted a lot of alcohol to make up for lack of water options in the beverage package. Furthermore, it is absolutely disgusting that NCL does not let you bring waater on board the ship and makes you pour it out when returning from ports. It's a very bad look to be wasting so much fresh drinking water in sometimes very poor countries who often struggle with access to clean water. The water situation on board NCL shows a certain level of arrogance and disdain for passengers, as well as the ports to which NCL travels. Absolutely appalling and I would choose NOT to cruise NCL again for this reason alone. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Avoid the NCL Bliss Spa at all costs. The manager of the spa is very rude. They quote you a price for a treatment and then charge you a much higher price. They are crooks. The observation lounge is usually a relaxing quiet retreat, however ... Read More
Avoid the NCL Bliss Spa at all costs. The manager of the spa is very rude. They quote you a price for a treatment and then charge you a much higher price. They are crooks. The observation lounge is usually a relaxing quiet retreat, however there was a day or two with ppl stretched out and sleeping on couches with all their belongings piled around them. Very tacky.. The food is okay, though not great and several of my travel mates got food poisoning. I witnessed some people throwing up in public areas. The ship is too large to dock where most other ships can so they dock in really ugly commercial container ports. Then they charge you money to transport you to town. Once there you see the other ships docked where the passengers can walk right off into town. I had major ship envy. The rooms and hallways are much narrower than other NCL ships and it’s difficult dodging all the cleaning carts. The gym is small and missing many of the machines other ships have. The go karts were fun but space needed for these new venues created cuts elsewhere and my favorite dueling pianos venue got the ax. I believe the bland boring food in the dining room is deliberate so you will spend lots of money eating in the specialty restaurants in order to get a good meal. Years ago the included dining venues served very good food, but no more. I expected to be blown away by this new ship. I was not. Had a great trip anyway because of the people I met and the fun we had. Special mention goes to the Mojito Bar bartenders. Unlike rude or indifferent staff in other bars, the staff at the Mojito Bar were all wonderful. 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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