249 Norwegian Bliss Cruise Reviews

I love trying new ships in the first year and had a ball on the Escape so I thought I would give it a try. This was a girls trip for 3 -50 year olds that have this same experience every other year. Embarkation was the best I've ... Read More
I love trying new ships in the first year and had a ball on the Escape so I thought I would give it a try. This was a girls trip for 3 -50 year olds that have this same experience every other year. Embarkation was the best I've ever experienced. They use the pictures from passports and the info you supply at online check in so it's just a matter of swiping passports, completing the health form and getting your room keys. We arrived at 11:45 and within 10 minutes we were on the ship. Upon getting on the ship we opted not to go to the buffet and had lunch in The Local for pub fare which was good. Good decision. Our rooms were ready within an hour of boarding Ocean Balcony port side, spa floor. Adequate storage for 3 adults. Nice closets. The room was a bit small and only 2 of us could comfortably stay on the balcony at a time. I would not recommend bringing a lot of unnecessary items with you as it would just clutter the room. The bathroom was a nice size. Rooms have modern décor. Dining was above average in all locations, buffet, dining room. The buffet didn't offer much variance day to day but it was consistently good. Our specialty restaurant picks were Hibachi and the French restaurant which were superb! The extra money spent on the Spa Floor was money well spent. The Thermal suite is excellent. The Thermal pool is huge, ample heated chairs, a snow room, sauna and steam room. You will not regret it if you're a Spa kind of person. It was only crowded on the day it rained. The staff was extremely welcoming and helpful. From an entertainment perspective I saw two shows in the theater, Jersey Boys (which was great) and Havana. I was not able to get into a comedy show, but did get the opportunity to dance the night away late at night. Bingo is very expensive and not so entertaining. The Casino is more like a walkway mid ship and they've enclosed the smokers. The bands throughout were very good. There was a glow party that did not get a big turn out on this ship but was lively on the Escape. All pool bars were great. I didn't get to enjoy the race cars because they were always booked. The water slide with the drop was closed most of the trip. Not into Laser Tag. The ship's design offers bars and restaurants throughout. The décor is not traditional, it's more like modern functional. The elevators are enclosed, no views. One of the best features is the Observation Lounge. It is located on the aft portion of the ship. There are seating areas, food and entertainment. It's innovative and offers some relax and recharge time. Our room attendant was very responsive after having a bit of a conversation. Overall the staff was extremely pleasant and helpful throughout. To have an enjoyable time, plan and reserve your activities prior to your cruise. Understand what cost extra (and there are a lot of things) but if you go into it with all things taken care of you wont get dragged into the bait of the extras. I had a blast on this voyage and look forward to doing it again with different ports....is Ports, Tortola (which is naturally beautiful), St. Thomas (which is great), and Nassau (which is a hole, bating tourists stay on the ship or go far away) Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I wanted to see the new ship. It is not a ship for smokers, there is 1 area that is "free" to smoke. H2O had the smallest smoking area that I've seen on any NCL ship, it was crowded not comfortable and partially covered so ... Read More
I wanted to see the new ship. It is not a ship for smokers, there is 1 area that is "free" to smoke. H2O had the smallest smoking area that I've seen on any NCL ship, it was crowded not comfortable and partially covered so if it rained you would likely get wet. You could not use the Cigar Room, and casino for smokers you had to play to smoke. The ship and entertainment was wonderful as well as the staff but not enough staff for the number of passengers. Was in the regular casino for 3 hours and not one wait staff in sight the whole time, had to go to the bar for drinks. The food was really good in Food Republic and Cagneys was sub-par which is unusual since it typically is way above average. I'm not sure if this is due to staffing or not. Personally, I will not go on the bliss again but mainly because I am a smoker, if you are not, you will likely enjoy the ship which is a sight to to see. I'm glad I went and the ship will be awesome traveling to Alaska. I do hope that they increase their staff though which would round out the average to excellent for most on board. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I have to admit I was very nervous before we travelled as the reviews were very mixed, actually more leaning towards negative. Being in the Haven made the experience smooth sailing from beginning to end. If you are booking the haven one ... Read More
I have to admit I was very nervous before we travelled as the reviews were very mixed, actually more leaning towards negative. Being in the Haven made the experience smooth sailing from beginning to end. If you are booking the haven one tip is the balconies on the 17th floor are quite a bit larger than the ones on the 18th. A word of warning, I’m not sure who the designer was, the windows in the bathroom are really not private. In the evening when the lights are on inside you are visible from the outside and on the 17th floor the balcony extends past this window. I will add that the space getting around the bed on the wall side is a little tight. No more than 8 to 10 inches makes it a little snug getting into bed otherwise the room is lovely. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the staff on all floors were very friendly and accommodating after all the negative comments. My 8 yr old granddaughter who is not usually a fan of splash academy said that all the counsellors were so nice on this ship compared to others. Entourage provided my teenage grandson some fun group activities as well in the evening. We dined at La Cucina, Cagney’s, La Bistro and Teppanyaki with La Cucina being our least favourite. -Teppanyaki is always excellent but be prepared for a very noisy experience as this place is huge. Haven restaurant was top notch. The casino had it’s friendly moments and not so friendly ones ugh. For smokers there is a private smoking area with both table games and plenty of slots. Entertainment around the ship was pretty good. The local on the 7th floor was always hopping as the band below on 6th was really good and drew a healthy crowd. We went to see Jersey Boys with our 14-year-old grandson. I figured he wouldn’t even know any of the songs but he really enjoyed it and so did we. Fantastic production The week we sailed must not be a very popular one because it really wasn’t very crowded on the ship (Dec 8 - 15) But I can see how the elevators could be a real issue. As for the ports, in Saint Thomas we went straight to Emerald Beach as we have been there before and it’s beautiful. TAXI’s are $6 per person to get there. We did Virgin Gorda snorkeling in Tortola. Beautiful sail out there and lots of swimming/snorkeling while there. The boat guide takes you through the rocks, which might not be for everybody, as there is a lot of tight spaces, awkward stairways and low areas. In Nassau we splurged and did Dolphin interaction at Atlantis. i’m not sure it was worth $200 US per person but we have never done it before and it was an experience. It is a bit rushed so you don’t really get to enjoy everything that the Aquaventure has to offer and with four ships in port at the same time it was a real treat (not) at the pier. The Bliss itself is still a new shiny ship and quite lovely. Nice to see the muted tones instead of the garrish purple and orange on some of the older ones. The observation lounge on the 15th floor is massive and a must-see. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
This was my first time on NCL and I was surprised by how easy it was to board ship. Scanning of Passport for picture and your on! What a beautiful ship large with plenty to do. Once aboard went for food at 24 hours dining area. Really ... Read More
This was my first time on NCL and I was surprised by how easy it was to board ship. Scanning of Passport for picture and your on! What a beautiful ship large with plenty to do. Once aboard went for food at 24 hours dining area. Really great fish and chips lots of room and no waiting. Food on this ship was beyond my expectations, every meal was a pleasure from breakfast in dining room to lunch/snack (Observation Room) and dinner. Buffet was so large with plenty of options and don't forget to wash your hands there's a station right before you enter nice if you had small children. Food will not disappoint trust me. Getting off ship for excursion was easy not long wait, we did Land and Sea Tortola. Arriving back welcomed by staff with fresh towels and water. Finally please go see Jersey Boys, great show left with song in my heart. I would recommend Bliss she was an amazing ship!! Observation room get very crowded there are plenty of loungers, you will find people sleeping on couches as if they were home. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience a new ship. The ship is absolutely beautiful! The cabin was a bit smaller than I'm used to - but it was very nice. The staff on board were very nice. Lots of activities including the ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to experience a new ship. The ship is absolutely beautiful! The cabin was a bit smaller than I'm used to - but it was very nice. The staff on board were very nice. Lots of activities including the go karts and laser tag (both an extra charge) Both were lots of fun. The food in the buffet was plentiful and excellent. I did not eat in the main dining rooms as I had a specialty dining package. Food in those venues was hit or miss. Cagney's and Los Lobos were great. Le Bistro was okay and La Cucina was awful. The menu is horrible and the service is even worse! The observation lounge is beautiful and a nice place to have a drink or get a light lunch or breakfast. Embarkation and disembarkation were both very organized and quick. Plenty of lounge chairs to be had by the pool if you were there before 10:00 am. Do not miss the Jersey Boys show - it was fantastic! I would definitely go on this ship again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
So many choices! Two 20-something sons & I chose this ship primarily due to sailing date & itinerary, but discovered the ship itself was a worthy destination. The onboard entertainment was professional caliber and there was ... Read More
So many choices! Two 20-something sons & I chose this ship primarily due to sailing date & itinerary, but discovered the ship itself was a worthy destination. The onboard entertainment was professional caliber and there was something every day to scratch each of our itches, including several that we all enjoyed together—the comedy club, “Happy Hour—The Musical” had us especially in stitches, “Jersey Boys,” and the Beatles tribute band took me back—they were spot on. There was dancing under the stars every night and felt welcoming to every age (21 & up), shape & size. NCL’s activities director & staff on The Bliss were a fun & lively, attentive group. I had a balcony room that felt spacious relative to what I’d anticipated, and each of my sons had one of the beautiful single studios. They are in a secure, locked area (with key-card access) with their own lounge—perfect for meeting other solo travelers. I was concerned I was booking them “closets,” but they are efficiently designed to provide space & comfort. I will book one for myself in the future. The “virtual windows” provide a lovely “view”—I don’t feel I would be missing anything. Embarkation was well organized and ran smoothly, better than my prior experience on another cruise line. From the moment we boarded, plenty of venues were open, so there was no waiting around for luggage. We got right to the fun! The only reason I’m dinging it one star is that there was constant pressure to buy—in fact several of their “seminars” were simply high-pressure sales pitches. While I would joyfully sail this ship again, I would avoid all of those “activities.” We booked our shore excursions through NCL and were glad we did! In one port, after a fun day touring & zip lining, we came upon a vehicle accident just before reaching the port. Our driver, so familiar with his home island, took us for another whole adventure on dirt roads & through alleys finding his way to the other side of the port. We arrived before the ship sailed, but had not been worried since we’d booked through NCL and knew the ship would be held for us. No stress, just an extra adventure & another view from the island! We had so much fun and were so impressed with NCL’s Bliss, another son and I are heading to Hawaii on their Pride of America next month. The ship is smaller, but if the service, food and excursions measure up to this past trip, we’ll be satisfied cruisers again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My MIL actually booked this cruise and asked us to join her. She loves new ships! This was my 7th cruise. Silas was AWESOME! Best cruise director that I have EVER seen! Jersey Boys was the BEST show that I have ever seen on either land ... Read More
My MIL actually booked this cruise and asked us to join her. She loves new ships! This was my 7th cruise. Silas was AWESOME! Best cruise director that I have EVER seen! Jersey Boys was the BEST show that I have ever seen on either land or sea! THE BEST EVER !!!!! Cast was PERFECT! The drinks were great! Food was good--some very good. We did all complimentary dining. My MIL is used to traditional dining, so we requested the same server each night in the Manhattan Room, which worked out perfectly. Her name was Delora Ansale and she was awesome! Her helper Dave Perez was also great! The dress on the ship is nice casual. You don't even need to pack a dress if you don't want to wear one,but some people still did dress up a few nights. The ship has a fun party atmosphere--not crazy though, just fun. I love to dance! I was happy to see the Christmas decorations on the ship and that holiday music was almost always being played quietly in the background sound system. The Observation Lounge was beautiful! So nice to have a quiet, comfy place to relax on a ship. The officers and staff want you to be happy. If there is something that is not right or that you aren't happy with, send one of the managers a note to explain and they will take care of it. Don't just try to ignore it and/or complain about it without notifying the head staff people. They want to make it right. They want us to be happy so that we cruise with them again. I did miss not having a ropes course, but the ship was so pretty! I had so much fun! I did not want to leave the ship. Things to know: If the elevator makes 2 dings, it is heading down. One ding means it's going up. When trying to get soap or paper towels from automatic dispensers, be sure to cup your hand as shown on the dispenser. You can ask for the same server each night in the Manhattan Room to get that traditional dining feeling. Embarkation: We arrived at about 12:30, and it was crowded but kept moving. I prefer arriving early, but we took a bus from Tampa, which took 6 hours. Ugh. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The cruise was very enjoyable. If you opt for the dining package be sure to get reservations for the prime restaurants immediately upon initial boarding. If you wait you may not be able to experience (or even use your package) for the good ... Read More
The cruise was very enjoyable. If you opt for the dining package be sure to get reservations for the prime restaurants immediately upon initial boarding. If you wait you may not be able to experience (or even use your package) for the good food joints . We enjoyed Cagnie's and the tappanyaki tremendously. We were not able to use our third day of dining which really sucked! We also used the spa package for my wife to attend the spa area every day, It was reasonable for the services and comfort provided. We also did a couples massage which was a horrible experience. Firstly we were in a room with large windows (not a bad thing) but as we were in port, the darn window washers conducted cleaning in the middle of our massage! Loud and zero privacy! Then came the billing (unfortunate) event...we were charges an unbelievable amount and was clearly "Bait and switch" as they described the fees as "starting from" and not actually reflecting the simple costing for two people at a fixed rate (even supposedly discounted as we were still in port!!!) for 75 minutes stone work. I would highly recommend timing or filming the event as proof/evidence that they cannot tell time accurately as well. GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR is my best advice - be a smart consumer! Also to note that after our trip I compared our bill to my friends (who had a couples message with his wife at the exact same time as ours) and was charged much less for the treatment. They also force an 18% gratuity which in our case would have been closer to zero given the shorting on time and very rude interruption by the window washers. My wife did enjoy what she experienced so all was not lost in the spa realm. The room attendant was great. The room was very clean as was our balcony. a lounge chair would have been useful as the chairs were Wal-mart specials and very uncomfortable. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Overall, I had a great trip on the Bliss. This a very clean ship with attentive staff. Bring comfortable shoes becasuse you’ll be doing lots of walking. Take note that “solo cruiser” is not the same as being “single and ready to ... Read More
Overall, I had a great trip on the Bliss. This a very clean ship with attentive staff. Bring comfortable shoes becasuse you’ll be doing lots of walking. Take note that “solo cruiser” is not the same as being “single and ready to mingle”. However, they did a nice job of making sure solo cruisers had company for dinner and shows. Pros: Beautiful ship, excellent staff, very clean, great fitness room. Excellent food. Summary:The studio cabin was tiny, but very comfortable. The virtual window was a nice touch. The solo cruiser lounge was quite nice. The lounge is only accessible by stairs, so take note if you can’t do stairs. There was a solo cruise director of sorts who arranged for group dinners and shows which was a nice touch. The “freestyle” cruise experience, is a bust in my opinion. It was hard to get dinner reservations to coincide with seeing an evening show. Cons: Excursions were “eh”, freestyle cruising = no real organization, small pool and a fight for lounge chairs, speciality restaurants are a waste of money. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We just got off the Bliss after a great week in the carribean including great weather. The Bliss proved to be a ship of contrasts. Some things were great and other things not so much. We we in a basic balcony cabin near the back of the ... Read More
We just got off the Bliss after a great week in the carribean including great weather. The Bliss proved to be a ship of contrasts. Some things were great and other things not so much. We we in a basic balcony cabin near the back of the ship. Firstly the great things; the ship is new and everything seemed to work well and the ship is quiet (little engine noise and vibration). The food is on average exceptionally good, especially in the buffet. The service is also very good. The water tasted quite good and there is a number of flavoured drinks available all the time, including sugarless ones that were very good. The numerous shows were exceptional (especially Jersey Boys) but need to be booked as early as you can to ensure you will get in on the date and time you want. There are standby spots for people booked who don't show up. While only two sets of elevators for this very long ship, you could always get one quickly as they are new and fast. There is a Starbucks on board and lots of nice comfortable places to sit inside the ship and find a drink or entertainment. Now for the not so good; we could hear voices in the cabin next door pretty regularly. The bathroom is the biggest we have seen on this class of ship but for this you give up closet space. If your cabin has a large couch next to the closet you have to little space between the end of the couch and the closet. There is a couple of cabinets near the tv but only two large drawers under the couch and filled with pillows and extra comforter so maybe you can sqeeze your clothes in them but just maybe! The cabinets on each side of the bed are extremely tiny unless you get one bigger one like our friends did, we got two tiny ones. The adult pool was nice but on sea days we couldn't get near it from all the passengers sitting all around who obviously got the drink package as their free perk. The hot tubs were a better as there are five of them on the upper deck above the pools. There is a kids pool too The race track was neat (and the kids will love the laser tag facility) but does take up so much room that there are few places to find quiet spots to find a lounger unless you splurge for "the haven". We tried two specialty restaurants and Le bistro was great but Cagneys was a disappointment. There are quiet a few other specialty reastaurnts but we didn't try the others. Margaritaville seemed empty most of the time when we went by and may have been due to the cover charge. The casino was spacious but a bit too smokey in the evening for us. Embarkation and debarkation went well for us, and we did have a nice cruise on the Bliss but a few issues meant we couldn't give this ship top marks. Tip. You can't punch a hole in your card for a lanyard as the card will stop working, so bring a lanyard with the plastic casing for your card. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Good deal with drinking package and dinning package for a balcony room. Specialy dinning was lacking. Cagneys was not good and Ocean Blue was overpriced. The Hibachi was very good. The casino was large and nice. Lot's of bars and ... Read More
Good deal with drinking package and dinning package for a balcony room. Specialy dinning was lacking. Cagneys was not good and Ocean Blue was overpriced. The Hibachi was very good. The casino was large and nice. Lot's of bars and venues to socialize in. Game shows were fun but should actually be adult only. The pool area is small. Only one adult pool which kids are allowed to go in. The jacuzzis were very small and always being used. The dinning rooms were very nice and the food was overall good. Jersey Boys was outstanding. Staff was not overly friendly. Some staff were very nice and some were not. A lot of them were not personable like I've experienced on other cruise ships. The cruise directors were very friendly and got people involved. The gym was very small for the amount of passangers on the ship. Had to go in the middle of the afternoon so it wasn't as busy. Overall, enjoyable experience. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
First cruise on Norwegian, went with 2 other couples. Very large ship with many, many people. Reservations go very quickly but we knew that and reserved ahead of time and right after we boarded. Staff is very friendly and helpful. Bars are ... Read More
First cruise on Norwegian, went with 2 other couples. Very large ship with many, many people. Reservations go very quickly but we knew that and reserved ahead of time and right after we boarded. Staff is very friendly and helpful. Bars are beyond numerous. Food was excellent except for a few exceptions. Mini Suite is a suite on a cruise ship but bathroom was large with 6 separate shower jets and a double sink, NICE! Just a couple of negatives. Specialty restaurant La Cucina is nothing special, many of food items are available in main dining room, service was very slow here and subpar, disappointing. Fee for Go Carts $99.00 is not worth it at all, explanation given to me was not correct, you got no special privileges and track kept breaking down due to children using the go carts and not knowing how to operate the vehicles, wait time is sometimes in excess of 1 hour. DO NOT BUYTHE GO CART PASS! One of the Broadway Plays, “Jersey Boys” stated no one under 16 yet there were kids 7, 8 and 9 watching the play and playing games on their cellphones, embarrassing and distracting. Elevators tend to get crowded. Make sure you get a reservation for the specialty restaurant “Cagney’s“. Amazing and well worth it. Service was phenomenal here and food was superb, also the Japanese restaurant was well worth it. No reason to sit down for breakfast as the buffet has everything and I mean everything. Just one other complaint I heard was bottled water is not a part of ultimate drink package and it is expensive. Aside from just a few minor details my wife and I really enjoyed our first cruise with NCL. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Pros: Ruby was an excellent bartender. Highly recommended. Very friendly, happpy and energetic. The observation lounge is amazing, plus food and snacks. You get quite a view and a relaxing area for all to spend some time together. ... Read More
Pros: Ruby was an excellent bartender. Highly recommended. Very friendly, happpy and energetic. The observation lounge is amazing, plus food and snacks. You get quite a view and a relaxing area for all to spend some time together. Los Labos was excellent and huge food portions. You must like Mexican. Great guac and skirt steak. La Bistro was excellent. The food tasted so good. I recommend the filet or the shrimp. Ocean Blue was good but little portions. The taste was superb. Cons: Stay out of the casino the worst odds I ever saw. What are they trying to do pay the ship off in a year? Just be careful if you do gamble. Not worth it. Food service at La Carina needs work. Very slow and small portions. Don’t go hungry. They also never offered us if we wanted wine or a drink. Gave us water but little Refills. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
You need to understand that I'm probably one of the worlds pickiest eaters. No really I helped the medical community discover many thousands of adults that have the same disorder ARFID. So my wife and I chose the Bliss because of ... Read More
You need to understand that I'm probably one of the worlds pickiest eaters. No really I helped the medical community discover many thousands of adults that have the same disorder ARFID. So my wife and I chose the Bliss because of past experiences on the Breakaway and the Getaway which we had great times on and I was able to find enough food that I could tolerate at the Garden Cafe. So my review will not cover all the upscale dining on the Bliss which has many many choices. I'm going to cover the eating issues at the end of this review. Now here is the rest of the ship review first. The Casino was outstanding. The best I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Over 300 brand new slots and table games with seperate smoking and nonsmoking areas. However the smoke did leak out to the nonsmoking portion when the doors to the smoking section were opened and closed. The leaked smoke was a minor problem that did not affect most of the non smoking portion. My wife had 3 wins of $200 and one $400. Seemed to me like the machines were looser than many you play in shore based casinos. I would caution that they seemed to tighten up quite a lot on the last day. While we are discussing gaming let's talk about the Bingo game on the last day of the cruise. Bingo really is a suckers game but the Bliss took it to a new level. There were probably 250 people playing the game and the average cost per person including the additional sale of cards just before the last game was easily around $50 per person. So I would guess the revenue collected was near $14,000. The event consisted of three games. The first two were some sort of regular Bingo and the last was a cover all in 47 numbers or less for a prize of $5000. If no one got their card blacked out the prize was reduced to around $500 and continued until a blackout was completed. Of course no one blacked out their card in 47 numbers. It is ridiculous to think anyone would ever win the $5000. Look at it this way you need 24 of the first 47 numbers called to be successful blacking out your Bingo card. That would leave 28 other numbers that were not drawn yet. If you look at this in reverse. When was the last time you ever had a Bingo card go through the first 28 numbers and not have a single one of those numbers on the card? The odds of a blackout in 47 number is so small. I wonder if NCL has ever had to pay the $5000 jackpot. So at the end of the Bingo game The Bliss paid out about $1750 total which included blackout and the first two games prizes. I would guess the ship made a tidy profit of $12,000 to $13,000. I have been on cruises that each day the blackout number was raised by 1 making it slightly more possible to win the jackpot So if you love Bingo go ahead and play. Just don't expect to ever win the $5000 jackpot by blacking out in 47 numbers or less. Excursions were just OK. The Bliss is so big that many regular cruise ports can not accommodate the size of the ship. So in 4 of the 5 ports we visited we were docked in an industrial location. In those locations you either had a tour bus at dockside or if you wanted to wander on your own shuttles were provided to the port entrance. I was in the US Navy and if you were on a small destroyer port visits were lots of fun and the local populace treated us well while ashore. One thing that would always ruin a visit was the docking of an Aircraft Carrier with 5000 crewman. Well you might say the Bliss and mega ships like it are the Aircraft Carrier of the cruise ship world. My wife and I are not very mobile so the excursions we took were always on an air conditioned bus. The Bliss had all excursion passengers assemble in the Theater. Then we would be called one group at a time and hustled down 3 or 4 flights of stairs. Only to stand in long lines while waiting to board the tour busses waiting for us on the pier. This hurry up and then stand in line left our legs feeling weak. So in the next ports we timed leaving the ship to about 10 minutes before the excursion groups departed. We were able to locate our bus that had a sign on it describing what tour it was. This provided us a way to always get a great seat in the front of the bus. This could be a great tip. Seems each of our tours were accompanied by 4 or 5 other packed buses going to the same places. So it was always hurry up move along. Watch out you don't run into another traveler. Sometimes I felt like the ball in a pinball machine moving through the crowds at each location. Finding a bathroom during the tour was always a problem. Some of the other excursions for more mobile travelers might have been better. Now when you review the entertainment on the Bliss we have a great review There were so many great shows to see. I especially liked the Jersey Boys the last night of the Cruise. Wow what a great show it was. The audience was so pleased with the performance. Havana was really great also. The Beatles band put on a great show featuring the early sounds of the group. Place was packed to gills. There were other musical acts that were all great to listen too at various locations around the ship. The go kart track was just terrific. I lapped my wife twice. It is really neat that all the cars are electric powered. You would never know it. The cost was about $10 per person for about 8 to 10 laps on the course. If you like water parks the Bliss has some very interesting water slides including the one that you just get dropped straight down. I have never seen anything like it on a Cruise ship before. The internet was great once I got it working. I would advise you to create your login on one of the internet cafes terminals before trying it on your phone. You will probably save lots of time and aggravation if you do it that way. Everytime you use it make sure you enter logout.com to finish your session. A really great part of this ship is the service and the crew that provides it. Wow what a great group of dedicated people. From our steward to the food service staff including the bartenders at all the bar locations. The Bliss just has terrific people everywhere. They deserve 5 stars plus. There is so much that I did not cover. I really like this ship and my wife and I prepaid a deposit for two future cruises with NCL and we are hoping to do more on the Bliss. Now my food issues. I hope someone from the Bliss food service reads it. As I mentioned I'm the worlds pickiest eater. I have a web site called www.pickyeatingadults.com established in 2003. I have found out that the world is populated with lots of people just like me. Most of them never like to talk about it. Here is all I need to be happy regarding food and then I will grade the bliss on how they did. In the morning some toast, crispy bacon, cereal, plain pastry, and a cold glass of milk. This has been my breakfast for most of my adult life. Really it's very simple. I will give the Garden Cafe a B for breakfast. The serving line had many commercial grade toasters and lots of bread stations in the Buffet lines. It was very easy to toast your bread of choice. There was lots of cereal along with cold milk. Never had a problem with milk. I did stockpile extra milk in our cabin's now empty mini fridge. I like pastry like a plain sugar donut. Never did find a single plain donut anywhere during any meal. The reason for the B is the bacon. While it was plentiful and usually well cooked it was at times so thick and tough to chew. Many times I would start to chew a strip of bacon and ended up spitting it out because it was so tough. On our last NCL cruise started from Miami the bacon was always perfect as you would ever get on a cruise ship. Could be the west coast supplier of bacon to NCL should be changed or at least obtain bacon that is not so thick. Lunch and dinner C All I require is more of what I like for breakfast or I do like a grilled cheese sandwich made with white bread and American cheese. French fries like you would get from Mcdonalds, plain cake or donuts, Cold milk. This is really simple. How did Bliss do? Never saw a grilled cheese once. The French fries were great if you could get them hot. That was the problem. Almost always they were cold or worse. Seems the staff is making them too fast and they get a pile that is too big which results in loss of all heat before someone puts them on a plate. The wonderful toasters during breakfast are all stowed away during lunch and dinner. Also there was no plain sliced bread available. I was able to find some pound cake that was great once in awhile. There was never any milk unless you took it from the dispenser located in the coffee area. I have to admit the dispensers provided some really great cold milk. Like most ships Bliss has soft ice cream dispensers at about 6 stations in the Garden Cafe. They were almost always working and full. One small problem was the temperature of the product was always high enough to make the ice cream runny. You could not make a cone that was very tall because it would run over the sides of the cone if you tried. I tested these machine at off hours when they were not being used very much. Always runny was what I found. The staff needs to lower their set temperature probably about 5 degrees to dispense a more satisfying product. My food review could be much better if a few changes are made. I hope the Bliss staff will read this review and make their ship a place people like me would always want to visit. It's a great ship overall. I doubt any other cruise line has a better one. I highly recommend you take a cruise on the NCL Bliss. Picky eaters hopefully things will improve for you soon. It would be so simple. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Last year my husband along with friends had the opportunity to cruise on the Norwegian Eacape so that is my only point of reference for my experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience on that ship. While our overall experience aboard ... Read More
Last year my husband along with friends had the opportunity to cruise on the Norwegian Eacape so that is my only point of reference for my experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience on that ship. While our overall experience aboard the Bliss was great there were quite a few things that need attention. #1 the activities for teenage crowd was minimal except for race car, laser tag, mini golf. Each attraction was only open certain hours during the cruise and for 2 of the attractions it was pay to play each time. Music selection around the pool area was ok and there long intervals of nothing being played at all. 2) as the evening went on and all activities for teenagers were not in operation there were groups of kids running around the ship. Some were rude and disrespectful of the other guests on board cursing, walking on furniture in observation area. Some even appeared to be intoxicated. Aboard the escape there was a curfew for teenage passengers. I feel this should have been in place on Bliss as well. 3) our group did find that some of the bartenders were rude when we would ask for a specific drink to be made a certain way. And the drinks were not that great. Overall our experience was great all the ports were amazing with shopping and tours and excursions. We would definitely cruise Norwegian again although I may choose another ship over the Bliss due to my concerns listed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We are happy cruising with NCL and wanted to try the newest ship. This was a family Thanksgiving trip. We live in South Florida, about an hour from the port of Miami, so that makes it an easy cruise to get to. We encountered no issues at ... Read More
We are happy cruising with NCL and wanted to try the newest ship. This was a family Thanksgiving trip. We live in South Florida, about an hour from the port of Miami, so that makes it an easy cruise to get to. We encountered no issues at the port. We had the unlimited beverage package, and on Thanksgiving day we tried to have a drink in every bar, but there are too many and we had to give up and continue the next day. We loved the go carts, but think that everyone should get one free ride. We didn't do the lazer tag because it's nothing special, so why spend the extra money? We did the 'escape room' activity, and really enjoyed it. We didn't hang out at the pools, but they seemed really crowded any time we walked by. The buffet was huge, always crowded, and acceptable food. We really had fun at Q, but we are barbecue lovers. The portions were tremendous! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this ship because of the itinerary, going thru the Panama Canal. Also we were attracted to the ports, but were disappointed that the first port (Puerta Vallarta) was changed to Ensenada. Ensenada has nothing to see or do, except ... Read More
We chose this ship because of the itinerary, going thru the Panama Canal. Also we were attracted to the ports, but were disappointed that the first port (Puerta Vallarta) was changed to Ensenada. Ensenada has nothing to see or do, except walk the streets and be pestered by vendors. Very disappointed that several of the FREE shows, including The Jersey Boys and the comedians, required tickets! This was not clearly communicated and we ended up getting tickets to the final show of Jersey Boys at 10:30 on night before disembarking! The theater on this ship only seats 800 people, and there were 4000 guests on the ship. Only four shows by The Jersey Boys..... so do the math. 800 guests could NOT see the show!! Poor planning! Hopefully this is improved for future entertainment. The complimentary restaurants were great, but all had the same menu!? Don’t know if this is the norm on Norwegian but no point in visiting all of them except for the decor. Finally internet service was horrible! We purchased the “unlimited” internet because my husband needs to keep in touch with his research lab. Three days of NO service and on other days, connections were extremely slow.....3-5 minutes to send a two-sentence email. Trying to connect to any web sites was almost a joke. With all the free time on sea days, was excited to work on family geneology but Could not do any research on common genealogy sites such as Ancestry or Fsmily Search. The ship is beautiful and had great staff. Stateroom was very comfortable. Loved the buffet! I do wish some cruises would offer other activities on sea days rather than just jewelry sales or art auctions. How about interesting lectures on a variety of topics, or free movies, Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
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
The ship is beautiful. Overall, we had a wonderful time. I was very happy to see that smoking areas have been reduced and that smoking is now contained in the casino. On past cruises, I would not spend any time in the casino due to the ... Read More
The ship is beautiful. Overall, we had a wonderful time. I was very happy to see that smoking areas have been reduced and that smoking is now contained in the casino. On past cruises, I would not spend any time in the casino due to the smoking. I was also happy to see that the Waterfront was also non-smoking. On a previous cruise on the Getaway, I was not able to enjoy this area due to the permitted smoking. I had a spa balcony and did make use of the thermal suite. It was wonderful. However, NCL should put a policy in place regarding use of the heated beds. There were guests that reserved these loungers for nearly the entire day. A limit of 30 minutes would allow more guests to enjoy this feature. I really enjoyed all of the entertainment, especially Beatlemania, Jersey Boys, and Prohibition the Muscial. Havana, however, needs work. The food was very good. We also ate in Q, Cagney’s and Teppanyaki. My husband has allergeries and the chef in Teppanyaki did a wonderful job in handling his food. However, the desserts in the buffet were lacking good flavor for the most part. The looped water slide needs a redesign. Many people including myself got stuck. We weren’t able to enjoy the race track. Although we had closed toe and full back shoes, we were not permitted to ride because the shoes had some cut outs (Merrill water shoes). The requirements were for closed toes shoes which they were. This was disappointing, as we did not have any other shoes that could be worn on the attraction. The multiple port changes were disappointing. The excursions offered in Ensenada were not interesting. The excursion we were most looking forward to in Costa Rica (waterfall trek and zip lining was cancelled prior to even leaving home. There was not a suitable explanation. We spent considerable time at Spice H2O. The staff was terrific. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We are a working couple in our early 60s. We have sailed NCL at least a dozen times (we are Platinum). We’ve sailed other cruise lines as well. Our first cruise ever was on NCL in the early 1990’s and over the years we thought the ... Read More
We are a working couple in our early 60s. We have sailed NCL at least a dozen times (we are Platinum). We’ve sailed other cruise lines as well. Our first cruise ever was on NCL in the early 1990’s and over the years we thought the product had become stale but NCL is back and in a big way, but there are things they still need to work on. This was our first cruise on one of their new Breakaway class ships. The Bliss is considered Breakaway-Plus (not exactly sure what that means). She holds almost 5000 passengers. We had 4200 fellow passengers on our sailing with a variety of ages and nationalities and very few children. Here’s a breakdown of our cruise with grades. >Pre-Booking through Cruise Planner – B Like most cruise lines, NCL offers to book excursions before the sail date. However, what was available before embarkation was not a complete list. In fact, a couple of ports were showing only a single or no excursions. This influenced the “Free at Sea” options we chose, which probably cost us $ because we did not go with the shore excursion option. We chose the dining and the 250-minutes of internet options. Granted it was a re-positioning cruise so ports were a new itinerary, but NCL should be more on the ball with this. Plus the ports changed multiple times up until a few weeks before the sailing. >Doubletree Hotel at the Port – A We chose to go a day early and stayed at the Doubletree at the port, which is one of the closest hotels and set in a marina, resort-like area. Very nice. We used points, but did it early. Good thing we did because the hotel sold out the night we were there. >Embarkation – A- Fast and easy. Arrived after the early crush (around 1:30). No lines. They didn’t take our pictures for the on-boarding but rather scanned in our passport photos. Only negative is the industrial setting of the port, not exactly attractive. And it is too easy to get lost driving to the port or head to the wrong one (Long Beach). Which we did. >Cabin – C We had an aft-facing balcony on the 14th deck. Typical configuration with two choices; bed by balcony or couch by balcony (we had the later). My husband described cabin as functional but small. One asset was the many ports for charging electronics. Actual USB ports were by each bedside and at the desk. Balcony was over-sized but the deepest (biggest) aft balconies were lower on deck 12. You could easily fit lounge chairs on the balcony we had. If you want them, ask the room steward. The cabin was tight for storage space. If it wasn’t for the two big drawers under the couch, we would have had significant problems with storage. Bathroom was tiny, but shower was a little larger than typically found on cruise ships. The room had creaking around top of balcony door especially at higher speeds which actually woke me up several nights. This room was smaller than we usually go for, but we wanted the aft, and it was this room or the Haven suites $$$. The flat screen TV was an LG. Another post had indicated you could connect wirelessly to the TV from an iPad. We couldn’t find this option and any extra video ports were disabled. Fortunately, the optical-out for sound worked which my husband used for his hearing aid device (ComPilot). There were several free movie channels plus pay-per-view movies. There was no guide to the free movie schedule so we had to get a printout from guest services. Worked fine until several confusing time changes and NCL neglected to shift the movie schedule. NCL really needs to work on this and publish the schedule in the daily planner, through their app, or online. Unfortunately, we discovered NCL has ruined the aft cabin experience with this ship layout. Disturbing our sleep were disco-style parties that went on until well after midnight three decks above us on deck 17. This is the new Spice H2O NCL is using, and retrofitting on some ships. It serves as an outdoor disco. Problem is it uses massive stadium speakers bolted to the deck and the noise travels through several decks and also comes through balcony doors. SERIOUS design flaw. Between us were two decks, usually a safe bet, with cabins on deck 15 and the spa on deck 16. The music was blasted in this open air venue at the aft of the ship. I can only imagine how bad it was for the cabins above us on deck 15. The over-amplification of the bass caused some adjacent drinking glasses in our cabin to shimmy and clink together. My husband went up one night to try to get the DJ to turn it down and the DJ tried to defend the volume. My husband said when he got up there it was so loud it was uncomfortable. On the next to last night of the cruise we were awakened at quarter to one by the LOUD vibrating bass coming from the multi-speaker towers as well as other speakers on the multiple tall poles. This time it was a private function that went on until 2 a.m. We complained to Guest Services, but they really were unable to influence the DJ to turn it down. Found out later it was a CREW party! So much for passenger consideration! The next morning we got a call from Guest Services offering us a substantial amount of on-board credit as a “good will gesture, not compensation” for the inconvenience. Must be some legal thing. That is when we found out that the private function was the second CREW PARTY in the last seven months so they were really partying. I asked if the lower decks complained (e.g. deck 12) and the Guest Services guy said not so much but mostly the upper decks which tells me we were not the only ones complaining. Because of this I would not recommend an aft cabin on any NCL ship with Spice H2O. It is no longer sufficient to check that there is nothing noisy on the deck above you. NCL has full control to fix this by adjusting volume, but until they do I would avoid an aft location. >Food We had a total of six specialty restaurant meals. Most specialty restaurants on the Bliss have outside, café-style seating on the Promenade deck. We ate outside when we could. Really liked that. We really did not have problems making reservations, but we also like to eat earlier (5-5:30) so we beat the rush. Plenty of choices. >>Main dining rooms Savoy and Taste – A- This is one area that really stood out as a major improvement from our previous NCL cruises. I usually ordered fish dishes and all were very good to excellent. Service was adequate to excellent. We didn’t try the Manhattan room but was told that was the busiest of the three main dining venues. But also the noisiest, so we avoided it. Also tried the Savoy dining room for lunch one time. Had an excellent grouper sandwich. >>Garden Cafe – A- Great selection and nicely prepared food. As is typical, finding a seat was tough at peak times. Indian and Asian food stations were very good. They even had Middle Eastern food. They also had hard ice cream with a few of the more unique flavors rotated daily. Good traffic flow patterns and lots of space and stations so no real waiting to get your food most times. One complaint is that it took at least two go-rounds in the painfully slow toasters to get your bread/English muffins/bagels even lightly toasted. But they had multiple omelet stations and lines were very bearable. Secret for a quiet breakfast is to either get cold items (muffins, cereal, yogurt, juice, coffee) on the deck below in the Observation Lounge or get your hot items in the Garden Cafe and take them to the Observation Lounge. The Observation Lounge is huge and quiet Note: the aft cabins are a LONG walk to the Garden Cafe, probably close to a football field. >>Le Bistro – B Ate there twice. First time service was outstanding and second time not so much. Waitress seemed impatient and somewhat condescending with our questions when placing our order but seemed to have lightened up over time. Do try the highly recommended lamb chops. One of the best meals for the entire cruise. Wish they had a non-fru-fru salad on the menu but they did get me one as a special request. Husband had the onion soup and thought it was fabulous. Husband had foie gras and said it was first rate, as good as he has had in France. Wine steward was really good and made great recommendations. Very knowledgeable and down to earth. >>La Cucina – C Ate there very early in the cruise. Ordered steaks that were somewhat dry and I saw the waiter wipe his runny nose with the back of his hand which is not only gross but unacceptable. I’d be grossed out if the cashier at Macy’s did this when buying a shirt. Did mention this to a manager of a different specialty restaurant but we couldn’t remember the name of the waiter. I would think they could figure it out from our reservation. >>Los Lobos – A- Fabulous service - hands down best service on ship. My complaint was that they marinated their meats before grilling them, giving them a more stewed taste rather than a charred grill taste. So Carne Asada was not to my liking but it’s all relative. And the portions were huge...too much food. They make guacamole at the table and used two big avocados and then added tomatoes, onions, etc...which made for a mountain of guacamole. Very good though. The upbeat and attentive waitress brought us stuff to taste and drink in addition to what we ordered. I couldn’t eat more than a third of the food before me at best. We sat outside on a lovely evening so overall a really nice experience. >>Cagney’s – B I ordered the prime rib and a HUGE slab of meat was before me. Almost grossed me out. And it fell apart like bar-b-que which is not how I am used to eating prime rib. Didn’t have a nice roasted flavor either. I felt horrible about wasting so much food but barely ate any of it. My husband had the filet which he said was perfect. >>“Q” – A Our cabin neighbors loved it and thought the smoked chicken was the best ever. They were in a Haven suite and thought that was the best food on board. However a couple we met on an excursion thought it was a poor excuse for bar-b-que which turned off my husband, but I still I wanted to try it. My husband grew up in Texas and he does his own smoking of meats with fancy man-cave smokers. In addition our cabin neighbors said the place has a C/W band that added to their dining experience. My better half finally relented and we tried it late in the cruise and am so glad we did. The smoked meats, especially the brisket, were outstanding. The brisket had a smoky flavor, was tender and melted in your mouth. It had the characteristic red ring that a true smoked brisket has when properly prepared. We spoke to the manager and they do indeed have a smoker on board and use oak and mesquite woods for 6 hrs at 225 degrees and then finish in a warm oven, so the chef knows what she/he is doing. If you love good Texas style bar-b-que, don’t miss this place. Only negative was that there are no windows or outdoor seating so place feels somewhat like a cave. >>Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville – Not Rated We did not eat at this outdoor hamburger eatery on the pool deck, and rarely saw others there. Made us wonder about the food turnover. >>Oceanaire – Not Rated. We considered eating at the Oceanaire (it is an up-charge from the dining plan) but decided not. While it serves all manner of fish, its forte is oysters which neither of us are fans of. We opted to get fish in other restaurants and avoid the up-charge. >Entertainment - Bands and singers were outstanding – A- The “lounge” pianist and singer was great (Suzanne?). Familiar Strangers was a great band with a super talented lead singer. The Latin duo was also great. Tried to see the British Beatles Band but the volume was way too loud, which seemed to be a constant in a lot of ship venues. There is a comedy club that seemed to feature different comedians every night. Some required reservations. We didn’t sit in in any of these. >Theater – C This ship holds Almost 5000 guests and the theater seats 800. Do the math. If you want to see a show you need to arrive 45-60 minutes early or you won’t get it a seat. Literally. You can make reservations for some shows but arrive early or you won't get the seat you hoped for. Music in theater is very, very over amplified. Totally unnecessary – unless you’re trying to drown out bad singing. Drowns out singers and actually uncomfortably loud. I heard this complaint from other passengers as well. Saw “Havana” which was OK, but my husband could not hear the singing due to the over amplification. Also saw “Jersey Boys” which was pretty good, and better than “Havana”. But NCL has a problem on this ship with too much loudness (see Spice H2O and Beatles above) and needs to fire the sound engineer, and find another cruise director if this continues with passengers complaining, like on our cruise. >Ports >>Ensenada - B Did a winery tour. Did you know that there are over 200 wineries in that area? I didn’t. We took a bus to one of the oldest big wineries (L.A. Cetto) and got to sample some of their whites (pretty good) and reds (dreadful). The winery had a nice “Day of the Dead” altar. We stopped at a much smaller winery just for tastings. Their reds were even worse. We drove through some beautiful countryside. However, you did see the telltale signs of an improvised third world country though. >>Mazatlan – B- Mazatlan sits in one of the most crime-ridden Mexican states so we opted to simply walk around the old town. This was really easy to do and the town sets it up very well by painting a red stripe on the road guiding folks to the old town. The whole old town is only about a mile square. Nice feel. At the end we walked over to the tower to watch cliff divers, and then back to the ship. >>Guatemala- C+ The ship stopped at Guatemala City but everything to see is at least an hour bus ride away. (There is nothing except a tourist market by the cruise port.) There is a UNESCO city most go to, but we weren’t on this cruise to visit historical sites and did not want to suffer an hour bus ride each way. We’ve done these before and hate these bus rides so opted out. I stayed on board and my husband went on shore to the tourist market by the port. There was a lot there and he picked up a bag of coffee. Lots of vendors with similar stuff. Otherwise nothing special. >>Panama Canal-B+ We had cruised half way through the Panama Canal years ago in an aft cabin and loved it. On that cruise we were able to carry on a conversation with the guy working the “mule”. This influenced our cabin location on the Bliss. We did not realize until we were on board that the Bliss goes through the NEW locks that don’t use “mules”. We were told this was only the second time for the Bliss and that the Bliss was so far the only cruise ship to use the new locks. Technically, the new locks are a marvel but the experience was not as interesting as the old locks to us. There were no stops and the start was O-dark thirty. (On the half-way transit, we were able to disembark in Panama and the market adjacent to the port was incredible). It was a different experience traveling from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and fortunately the weather was overcast so we did not bake in the sun. There are a couple of bridges we went under and we went by the prison that had once held Noriega. NCL had arranged for a guest speaker who was an expert on the Panama Canal and he gave several talks. Unfortunately, his lectures were plodding and he kept talking about how great he was. At the end of one lecture, he made egotistical comments about himself and the sung ALL the verses to “It’s Hard to be Humble” acapella. Ugh... >>Costa Rica - B Did a coffee plantation tour. Beautiful drive up through the mountains of this volcanic country. Reminded me of the Hawai’ian islands. Tour was outstanding and Costa Ricans view their coffee with passion. Felt like I was on a winery tour with tastings. The guide even instructed us on how to sample the coffees by rolling it around in our mouth, noticing the color and scent. Like wine. We stopped for lunch at a buffet type place with not very good food and more than enough time in a big somewhat cheesy souvenir shop. While there, they also did a short presentation on a hydraulic power station that was very old. They did a demo and had antique woodworking equipment being run via belts. Hard to see, hear and understand the guide here but mildly interesting. Crowded with lots of tour buses hitting this stop. Money exchanged was in dollars, and right across the street where my husband went to get a local beer they only accepted local money, so obviously a this lunch/shopping stop was a tourist trap. >>Cartagena – D- Busy, crowded, hot, humid and unrelentingly aggressive street vendors that required almost constant comments of “No thank you” from me. My husband just started saying no with a very stern voice. However there is a really nice park with a zoo, gift shop and restaurant right where you catch boats to get over to the Walled City. The park is a five minute walk from the ship. I would definitely recommend the park and it’s free admission. The actual boat ride over to the Walled City takes about 10 minutes but loading and unloading takes a while. We walked around the Walled City but it really wasn’t enjoyable for me (weather and vendors) so I took an earlier boat back and spent time in the park with the zoo. My husband stayed in Cartagena and did the Inquisition museum tour ($8) which he felt was totally not worth it. Only a few replicas and was really disappointed. >Debarkation – D Long lines to leave the ship for the terminal to retrieve luggage. One of our three suitcases was not with the other two. With the help of a NCL staffer, we found it misplaced on the other side of the big terminal after a half hour of looking. Not sure why our yellow-tagged bag was with the green-tagged ones. Had to go through customs and finally made it outside to catch the shuttle to the rental car pick-up location. The first shuttle was full so waited about a half hour for the next one. The Miami port terminal, thankfully, is being renovated and enlarged. When it was built, cruise ships had about 2000 passengers and now they can have 5000 to 6000. This terminal cannot handle the increasing number of passengers. Got to the rental car place and loads of people were waiting outside for both Budget and Avis as they didn’t have enough cars. We were early so they would not even consider giving us a car until our reservation time. When our reservation time rolled around, they still didn’t have a full-sized car as reserved so they ended up giving us a small SUV. When we turned it in at the drop off near our home, we saw a sneaky upgrade charge we were not told about and thankfully the agent refunded it. In all our years renting cars for work and vacations, we’ve never been subjected to an upgrade charge when the type of car we reserved was not available and they had to substitute. >Tips 1. Have breakfast in the Observation Lounge forward on deck 16. No hot food (except some hot cereals) but nice choices including the BEST mango and strawberry yogurt ever. Coffee/tea, cereal, pastries, juices etc... Peaceful, comfortable and nice view anywhere you sit. 2. Download the NCL app. Use the app to make reservations for tours, restaurants, shows... Made restaurant reservations during the life boat drill! They are still developing the app so you can’t see everything on your phone that you can on TV staterooms such as the navigation map, but you can see what is going on at that moment. 3. Got the WiFi pkg but not sure we needed it as could easily check e-mails and text messages in ports of call. However, NCL offers a $9.95 per cruise per device setup where you can call and text each other’s phones on board. Do this! You can be anywhere on the ship and still reach your significant other or kids. 4. Husband has a hearing aid device (Compilot) that he connected with fiber optics to the back of the TV in the cabin so that it could communicate directly with his hearing aids. So he could watch TV with the sound muted and I could sleep if he watched TV in bed. 5. Many of the specialty restaurants have outdoor seating. Highly recommended. 6. We didn’t find out about the Vibe option until late in cruise. The Vibe is a separate outdoor setting with padded lounge chairs that is quiet and capacity controlled. I think it’s well worth the extra charge and will jump on it for my next NCL cruise (not all their ships have this option but I think it’s on most of the Breakaway class ships). This can only be booked once on board and is first-come, first-serve, unless you are in a Haven suite. By the way, the Haven folks also have another separate area. 7. Do the slides by the pool. They’re fun and seem safe. One is a platform drop with two loops. You are in a standing position for this one and are dropped. The other is an inner tube sluice through tubes. If you’re a lightweight you may get stuck in the stand-up one where one loop goes against gravity. Crew said this most often happens with folks wearing tee shirts. Some folks had to be “rescued” which was no big whoop. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Beautiful ship,staff awesome, great food. Panama Canal on our bucket list and it was as good as we expected. Captain said we would pass Bridge of America a 3:15 am, but they went through at 2:45am and most people missed it. Our other ports ... Read More
Beautiful ship,staff awesome, great food. Panama Canal on our bucket list and it was as good as we expected. Captain said we would pass Bridge of America a 3:15 am, but they went through at 2:45am and most people missed it. Our other ports were mostly disappointing, most excursions were 90 minutes from the port. Our Itinerary was changed three times. First Puerta Viarta to Carbo St. Lucas,then to Ensenada. Then they changed Manzanillo to Mazatlan. Our excursion in Mazatlan, an ATV beach adventure didn't start until dusk. We were too late to see the sunset or swim at the beach. We felt very rushed and frankly ,it was dangerous riding along the beach in unfamiliar territory with only our ATV headlights.Jersey Boys and Beatlemania great shows.With so many people(4000) it was difficult, if not impossible, to see all the shows we wanted. , This was our first NCL cruise and while we would use this line again,we would opt for a smaller ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
NCL Bliss - Panama Canal - November 2018 - 14 Days We recently returned from a cruise aboard the NCL Bliss traveling to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama Canal & Cartagena, Columbia. We enjoyed the cruise a lot. This being a ... Read More
NCL Bliss - Panama Canal - November 2018 - 14 Days We recently returned from a cruise aboard the NCL Bliss traveling to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama Canal & Cartagena, Columbia. We enjoyed the cruise a lot. This being a two week cruise at the beginning of November there were probably only 20 kids on the ship in total and the average traveler age was probably 60. These factors did influence our experience significantly. There were some highlights and there were some disappointments. About us: We are mid 50's, have cruises 40+ times, were traveling with a group of 14, ages ranging from 50 to 85. Had never sailed on NCL. We booked a spa balcony stateroom, our rate included the unlimited beverage package and a dining package (we dined 9 nights in dining rooms with an additional cost(Specialty Dining), with a prepaid package for 8 of those nights) Dining Venues used: Manhattan, Savor, Taste, Tepannyaki, La Cucina, Le Bistro, Ocean Blue, Q, The Local, Garden Café, Los Lobos, Food Republic, Cagneys, Coco's, Margaritaville, Starbuck, The Bake Shop, and Dolce Gelato. Activities and entertainment we participated in: Cart track, both water slides, pools, spa thermal suite, massage, bowling, Jersey Boys, Havana, Happy Hour Prohibition, Beetles show, Comedy Social, and the Cavern Club. Highlights: Service was fantastic everywhere. There were times the front desk staff seemed uniformed about ports and times but other than that service around the ship was excellent, friendly and personable. Dining was excellent. This was influenced by our decision to eat as many meal as we did in the Specialty dining venues. Our experience in the main dining room, (Manhattan, Savor and Taste) were hit or miss. Breakfast was good in Savor and Taste but sometimes very slow. Service in the main dining rooms was okay, one night GREAT! Food has very mediocre most nights in the main dining rooms. Our best meals were in #1 Le Bistro, #2 La Cucina, #3 Cagneys (We did do Cagneys and La Cucina twice) We were disappointed with Ocean Blue, didn't think it warranted the extra cost. Coco's - we went for the staff and the fantastic treats! So friendly and so good! The entertainment - both the Jersey Boys and Havana we two of the best productions I have seen on a cruise ship and with 40+ cruises we have seen a lot of shows. Great energy, production, vocals! The ship is beautiful! Doesn't feel like a ship but more like a luxury resort. There are so many smaller venues that it makes it feel now so big. This is a BIG ship with 4000+ guests but spreads out the crowds fairly well, with a few exceptions. We were always able to find several deck chairs together but the decks were often full. The spa thermal suite is beautiful and a great place to relax! There is a therapy pool, hot tub, snow room, salt room, steam room, two saunas, heated lounges, showers, locker rooms with views of the ships wake, padded lounge chairs. The space is coed and is generally full of folks but never had an issue finding a place. Some folks do drop the things on a heated lounger and then go to other spaces. That did make it difficult to find available heated loungers at times. There are signs that give a max time for the loungers but folks seem to ignore that. Overall a fantastic venue. Our room included access to the venue and a location on the ship that is close which we did enjoy. Not sure I would pay for this this way in the future. Would probably purchase a regular balcony stateroom and then pay for the weekly pass to the thermal suite. There are, however, a limited number of passes available each week so you'd have to book that early on embarkation do to ensure you could get a pass. Could have been handled better: The Garden Café - the ships buffet does become very crowded. They have done a great job of spreading out the serving stations and there were seldom lines at the serving stations. But, getting a table was always difficult! The staff was fantastic at clearing table and were very efficient in getting tables turned! It didn't help that we were often looking for seats for 6 or 8 at a time. It seldom happened that we could find two tables together. Most of the time we split up into 4's and sat where we could find a seat. It seems peak hours could be supplemented by offering a full breakfast buffet in Margaritaville or another venue. There were light breakfast items served in Margaritaville and in the Observation Lounge but some further way to lighten the load in the Garden Café at peak hours would be really helpful. Another time that was horrible was on embarkation day lunch. Two other lunch options identified at the gangway could have minimized the horrible experience that that first meal was. Ports: Our ports were changed twice from the time we first booked our cruise. The last change eliminated Cabo San Lucas and replaced it with Ensenada. This change, the second change, was made right after final payments were required and therefore cancelation would require a penalty. The cruise line did provide a $100 ship board credit for the change, but those that have been to Ensenada know that it is not a port that should be on a 14 day itinerary where many passengers have paid in excess of $3500 per person. We made the best of it and found a San Diego company that took us wine tasting in the Valle de Guadalupe and had a fantastic time. The stop was then further challenged by the port call times. We were in port from 8:00am to 3:00 pm. However, that day was the day of time change due to daylight savings time and the ship choose not to change the time forward. Therefore our port time was 7:00am to 2:00pm in Ensenada. What is there to do at 7:00 am in Ensenada? Nothing! That felt a bit like smoke and mirrors. We only had one port where we were in port during a normal 8 hour window. Mazatlan, we were in port from 12:00 to 7:00pm. However, because you have make reservations for shows and dining in advance, made before the schedule change, the evening hours conflicted with a show. So we had 4 hours for that port. Costa Rica we docked in an industrial port that required a 35 minute shuttle ride to get to town. Holland America got to dock in town. With the changes to ports, the port times, and port locations, it didn't seem like NCL had the clout to get the preferred locations, ports or times or they hadn't don't the planning necessary early enough to do so. I would not do another NCL cruise to an itinerary where they weren't working a regular schedule. This in essence was a repositioning cruise for the ship, moving from summer in Alaska to winter in the Caribbean. These were port that, for this ship, they would only be visiting twice a year and they didn't have the on the ground infrastructure to accommodate a ship of this size. This could also be seen in the excursion offerings they had. Overall they were very limited and lacked in depth of experience. We sailed on Celebrity earlier this year from Chile through the Canal to Florida and the excursion offerings were much more extensive and interesting. As a result of this we booked all but one excursion on our own with private tour operators in the ports. But, if you were not comfortable doing this the ports would not have been a very good experience. Panama Canal Schedule: We asked three days before our canal crossing what the schedule would be and the front desk staff was very uninformed. He told us that we were scheduled to arrive at the canal between 3:00am and 6:00am. When I asked if we would be entering the locks or going through the first set of locks in the dark he said we could be but not to worry because the entire crossing would be a large part of the day. This was disappointing since the cruise lines itinerary indicated it would be daylight crossing. We asked again the night before and the front desk was still very vague. We were again told we would arrive at the Bridge of the Americas at around 3:00 am but they were unclear when we would enter the first lock. With the size of the ship we had to cross under the Bridge of the Americas at low tide which I understand that cruise line cannot control but will 4000+ passenger that paid for a panama canal cruise you would think they would have more definitive information. We ended up crossing under the Bridge of the Americas at 2:40am. I did make it out on deck just prior to passing under the bridge and it looked like there was only about 15 ft to spare. We had one member of our group that needed a place to sit to watch the crossing so I went to the observation lounge to sit in a seat for him until we starting entering the first lock. At 2:50 am there was a full row of people already at the windows, many of which spent the night in a chair to get a good seat. At 5:00 am, still dark, we moved forward toward the first set of locks. I called other members of our group and the one showed up for his seat at 5:30 and the rest of us headed to the bow of the ship to watch. The canal crossing was very interesting. Given the size of the ship we transited through the new panama canal locks. By the time we entered the third lock in the pacific side set of locks the crowd had thinned out and from that time on you could find a place at a rail or anywhere around the ship. We watched from the stern on deck 8, the rail on deck 7, the rail on deck 19, the bow, the waterfront on deck 8 and the observation lounge. There was narration that was happening during the day but there where many of the deck areas where you couldn’t hear the narration. Margaritaville: This is fantastic venue but few people ate there. The most I saw during our cruise was three tables at one time. We ate here once and the food was good but didn't feel like it was worth $14.95 per person more than a meal in the buffet, the local or the dining rooms. One of us had a burger and one fish and chips. The food was good and the setting is nice but I think it just costs too much. I bet they would grow their business exponentially if they lowered the price to $7.95 Reservations: Reservations are required to soooo many things on this ship. I was very proactive and made dining and show reservations as soon as they were available in advance of our cruise. That was very difficult with a group of 14!!!! Finally got help from some in the groups department which was greatly appreciated. Even with reservations if you wanted good seats you needed to show up for shows an hour in advance. There were always standby line available and usually folks in those lines got in but you would sit in the back or have to look around a pole. I think a key reason we had a great time on this cruise is that we knew what could about what to expect or we were willing to be flexible with those things we couldn't arrange in advance. There are a lot of opportunities to spend extra money on this ship, gelato, bowling, go carts, shows (Happy Hour Prohibition, included drinks), Starbucks, chocolates, cookies..... but we knew that and did the things we wanted to...the moto was "We're on Vacation!" This is beautiful ship with more things to do and experience that you can do in a week or even two weeks. They have put together a fantastic staff that is eager to serve and are so gracious. I did say a few times, and I have 4 kids that are now in their 20's, I'm not sure I would want to be on the ship during a normal peak travel week with 1000 kids on board. You'd wait in line for the water slides, and the ice cream machine in the buffet, you'd have a hard time getting a reservation for the go carts and laser tag and the buffet would be even more congested. I liked being the Kid on the ship! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I chose this cruise as I had never been right through the Panama Canal & I wanted to experience NCL's latest ship. Leading up to the cruise we had a very active roll call which led to some of us meeting up the night before the ... Read More
I chose this cruise as I had never been right through the Panama Canal & I wanted to experience NCL's latest ship. Leading up to the cruise we had a very active roll call which led to some of us meeting up the night before the cruise at the San Pedro FIsh Market where we had a nice meal & got to know each other a bit. Some of us stayed at the Vagabond Hotel which was fine & very close to a McDonalds & a Taco place in case you couldn't get a seat for the free breakfast in the little room at the hotel. I took the free shuttle from the hotel at 10:30 & being platinum got onboard quite quickly. One thing is I didn't see where to get the boarding picture taken so couldn't do that. I did head for the space where they were signing people up for the cars, restaurants & shows. My Jersey Boys' reservation had been changed from Nov 14 to the 16th at 10:30 which wasn't going to work for me. I also booked Prohibition. I was finished early enough to meet the others at the MDR for lunch. I had my first of many tomato soup appetizers as I really love it. BTW the lunch menu is the same every day. Food: I found the meals onboard to be yummy! I tried most of the pay venues & really enjoyed them. The guac at Los Lobos was to die for! Our chef at Teppanyaki was very entertaining & the food good & plentiful. I had a lot of lunches & 1 breakfast at the Local & found the staff there to be very friendly & efficient & the food good too. I also stopped by for a late night snack of chicken wings, yum! It was a great place to sit & watch the big screen, in my case the Panama Canal passage, away from the chaos of the Observation Lounge or at the bow of the ship. Most mornings I ate at the MDR where I was "happy to share" so met lots of people. Entertainment: is great on NCL ships!! This was no different. I enjoyed Prohibition even though I'm not a drinker. I was okay with I Havana & loved Jersey Boys, which I'd seen before in Toronto & will see again there in March. The game shows are fun too but it's exasperating trying to get seating in the Atrium!! The comedians the first week I liked better than the ones at the end as I don't like the audience providing the laughs or demeaning remarks about other cruise lines which actually all performers did. I took part in the Progressive trivia which was run by Morne, a fun guy. We came in 3rd so that was nice. SIlas, the CD & Jacky his assistant were very good. I sometimes watched their morning show. The music in the Atrium by "Familiar Strangers" was very good. The Dancing with the Stars show is always a hoot & if you can't get a seat in the Atrium you can watch it on tv later. That reminds me the Panama Canal lecturer was good & also could be watched live on tv rather than trying to find a seat in the theatre. I watched for free a documentary I had wanted to see, called "Three Identical Strangers", a story of triplets separated at birth for a study!! It was so fascinating I watched it 3 times! I also paid to watch a movie called "Pick of the Litter" about training guide dogs Cabin: I had a studio cabin as usual but this one is different than those on the other new ships. The bed is a bit smaller which is fine as it gives more space to walk in & the addition of the virtual window is amazing!! So nice to see what's going on outside for a change! The solo host Rod arranged solo dinners but a bit too late (8:30) for my taste. He also reserved us great seats in the theater for shows, in front of the Haven ones! He took the group to other venues & had a schedule printed up for us to keep. The Lounge was beautiful & quite large but pretty noisy when the whole group was there. The coffee machine was great as usual & I think we had the only cookies available on the ship!! Excursions: There weren't a lot of them posted early as this cruise had 3 itinerary changes!! This led to my biggest problem on the cruise. We received a letter saying all cabins would receive $100 OBC for the disruption & when we boarded many studio people had only received $50. I went to Guest services twice about it, Stephanie, sort of the solo's leader, went to bat for me plus I emailed my TA & finally received the extra $50 during week 2. This begging for what was due me left a bad taste in my mouth but thankfully it was resolved. Don't know who came through for me in the end but if it was you Johnny, thanks! The only excursion I booked though NCL was the Easy Antigua one in Guatemala which was the only one I believe went there. It was an interesting place & the drive there long but interesting. We saw the effects of the volcano that had erupted in May killing 170 & making a mess of the countryside & the roads. We also were late getting back to the ship so I was glad to have done an NCL tour. In Ensenada I had booked through Ship Mate (SEG) for the 1st time & all went well. It was a lovely tour of 2 wineries with tasty nibbles & wine tastings & the drive there was beautiful. Mazatlan ~ here I took another SEG tour "Highlights with Lunch" which was really good too. During the free time in the city centre I got lost but the traffic policeman was helpful in me finding my van again. In the park I met a couple who had lived in a nearby city to me so it was nice to chat with them. On the bus I met another lovely couple who I ran into several times on the ship. The Cathedral there is beautiful & the market interesting. What do they do with all those chicken feet?!! The lunch by the water was yummy. In Costa Rica I joined a group formed through a CC member with Gio Tours & it was lovely too. We did the 8 in 1 tour but actually only did 7 things as traffic was bad that day, a Sunday, so skipped the tour of Puntarenas in order to be back onboard well in advance of sailing. Our guide was great as was the included meal. In beautiful Cartagena, a place I love & was there for the 3rd time, I finally got to tour with Dora the Explorer! It was a great tour that began at La Popa, a place I hadn't been the other times & offered a fantastic view of the City. It is SO HOT & humid there but the scenery is so lovely & the little zoo at the port cute. The Bliss itself is beautiful, quite like the Getaway, Breakaway, Epic etc but with the addition of the lovely Observation Lounge where there are 3 little buffet stations available, lovely seating with amazing views & some piano entertainment at night. The day of the crossing was terrible I heard but other than that it seems quite a nice, quiet spot & I imagine it's lovely for Alaska. The Cruise Critic Meet & Greet was well attended over, 200 people I believe, & the officers were well represented, we had nibbles, drinks & a band! Oh there were also 2 cakes!! It's always nice to meet people you've chatted with before the cruise. Nice job arranging that Stephanie! The group also had a slot pull & we played LCR on sea days, lots of fun!! Anyhow that's about all I remember. It was a lovely cruise & I'm so happy to have done it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We decided to try the Bliss for our first Panama cruise and are happy that we did. Some of the major key factors were that it leaves from where we live and it’s brand new. From the moment you get on the ship ( check in staff at the pier ... Read More
We decided to try the Bliss for our first Panama cruise and are happy that we did. Some of the major key factors were that it leaves from where we live and it’s brand new. From the moment you get on the ship ( check in staff at the pier was a joke ) you are in awe. She is definitely huge and beautiful. There is much to see on her. Many great photo opportunities. Our balcony on the 13th floor was perfect. Your normal balcony. Room steward Marion was excellent but we did hardly see him. The gym was a little small for the amount of us that do visit it. Visited the salon for a haircut avd had massages and a facial book that I later cancelled due to the high tension sell on unwanted products. The observation deck was nice but yes as you have read on reviews there are many folks that treat it as if they were camping. We usually just passed through it and saw what we wanted to see from our balcony. Front desk staff when we did encounter them were friendly and helpful as everyone throughout the ship was. Extremely friendly and always smiling. We took most of our meals at Savor and hostess May, server Aida and Mark were surpurb!!! Allan at the Mix bar was outstanding also. The food was pretty much food throughout just a few dishes being a little on the salty side. Pool deck area was nice and enjoyable as well as the slides and the go karts. We did not do the laser tag as I did not care for the theme of it. The entertainment was a hit or a miss. The live bands were fine. Show Havana was terrible. Talent was there but the show had no theme and was just blah. Jersey boys was ok but a little to long for me. Now the comedy was some of the worst I have seen on the open seas. I felt bad for them as the jokes were not even a tad funny. Almost everyone had the same blank is this suppose to be a joke look on there face as I did. We really did enjoy the cruise and had a great time but the reason it is not a 5 star rating is due to the lackluster itinerary. The itinerary had changed 2x by the time we got on and apparently 2 other times from the first booking. And a few of the ports that we had were terrible. Guatemala took the crown as being the worst port ever . Ncl had really dropped the ball on this one. From the long wait time to get on a bus to be taken to a shopping compound to that place having nothing at all. Other than that we will sail with Ncl again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
About me and my style of cruising: This was my 11th cruise. I am a single gay Gent and usually sail solo. I work long, hard hours and live a clean and healthy lifestyle 50 weeks of the year. But on my vacation, I like to swing from the ... Read More
About me and my style of cruising: This was my 11th cruise. I am a single gay Gent and usually sail solo. I work long, hard hours and live a clean and healthy lifestyle 50 weeks of the year. But on my vacation, I like to swing from the chandeliers and act as though there is no tomorrow as I party, dance, drink and get to know fun new people. This I did on the Bliss with extreme ease and the utmost of joy! Loved the ship, my fellow passengers, the events on board, the food, the ocean and, of course, Mexico itself (especially P.V.) and being there for dia de los muertos. I would rather do nothing else than sail the ocean on these fantastic machines. The ship is, of course, beautiful! There was a very good vibe on board, with fun passengers, lots of dancing and fun activities. The ship is decorated and laid out beautifully. Always lots to do. There were several fun deck parties at night with energized people that went on much longer than what I have experienced on other ships. The nightclub on this ship is called The Social, and I was very pleased with the overall atmosphere and layout. While small, I would call it intimate rather than over crowded. Good music and a great crowd of people that liked to party into the early hours. There was an LGBT get together every night @ 7 in the observation lounge. It was mostly well attended and very worthwhile. These always prove to be a great way for a solo traveler to meet lots of new and interesting folks. If you are shy about these things, don't be. Just go and grab yourself a seat, smile and say hi. Always plenty of couples there too. Silent disco-- Fun, fun, fun! Don’t miss this. Although you aren’t speaking to people, it is a very social event because you are moving around amongst all the people and, in order to receive the music, you are required to dance in a proximity that makes it personal, but not too. And the number of folks present was just about right. Neat! As for the pools and sun decks: Like many, I enjoy lying out in the sun and swimming. For a ship this size, the main pool area and deck above are way, way too small for this many people. Chair hogging is definitely a problem here. The aft sunning area is also small and doesn’t even have a pool. One pool?!? Yes, there are out-of-the way places where you might find a spot, but most people like to be closer to the music and fun. I liked that they provided beach balls in the pool. That got people having fun hitting them back and forth. And I personally like that the pool is too deep to stand in because I like to swim/tread water and I always had plenty of space amongst all those people to do that. Regarding the food, I take most of my meals in the buffet. Out of the 11 floating troughs I have experienced through the years, I would rate this buffet about average. The number of dishes and variety is lacking. For my taste, they could have replaced the Indian section with something much better and, thereby, improved the variety. Tastiness was overall good, but meat was usually dry, in fact I think that was the driest salmon I have ever had. Salad bar was always fresh and delicious. The buffet was never overly crowded and I never had to wait in line to serve myself some food--Very good flow. Despite what I have often read, I could always find a seat, even a very good seat in the front of the buffet which looks out onto the huge window of the observation lounge below. Most fellow sailors, having buffet bodies, just don't want to walk far from the food troughs. If you like the lido deck burger grill on most ships, you may be sadly disappointed here. Burgers are self serve inside the buffet and were the worst I have ever had on a ship. Pizza was ok. I also dined at Food Republic three times. Food was simply delicious (except for cod skewers) and, for me, well worth the price. Hostess is very good and extremely warm and friendly. Wait staff at Food Republic, however, is lacking attentiveness and are somewhat cold and unfriendly in manner. They also didn’t seem to recognize me on my third visit. And when I wanted to bring my two half rolls back to my room for later, server looked at me as though I was crazy. It was wonderful to have Margarita Ville open for buffet breakfast. Most don't know about it, so I mostly had the place to myself. Muesli was delicious. Since the elevators are often maligned, I wanted to offer my quick take: People are very impatient. This is a ship, people. I heard folks gripping more than once that, “Oh my god, we have to stop at EVERY floor????” Come on now! I actually think these elevators are above average in speed when compared to other ships I have been on. On embarkation, I didn’t wait more than a few seconds and never had to wait for more than a minute of so. I suspect most of these complaints are from people who always head for the elevator right when a show or event is let out. Here are some things that could definitely use improvement: I enjoy experiencing the live music on ships. In this department, this ship is seriously lacking. I did not experience any of the production shows, but did sample all of the live bands playing at the different venues, a there are a good number of them. Most of the singers were rather amateurish. The Beatles band was just ok, but the Cavern is a complete joke. Even if you get there early to stand, don’t plan on seeing anything. Ventilation is inadequate--Could not even breathe with the air so hot and stuffy in there. I know they played in the main theater once, but I would suggest they move the other Beatle shows to the Main Atrium, where there is a huge amount of standing and viewing space. Instead the Atrium hosted acts in the evening that left much to be desired. There were two very good live bands that deserve special mention: The Greg White Jr. Band that played at Q and Familiar Strangers that played on the pool deck. Stateroom power for A\C is weak and the shower hot water was never really hot, day or night. I don't like the upper decks of this ship. It's all about go-carts, laser tag, and exclusive haven areas-- Very poor in my book. One of the things I fell in love with on my first cruise was just being outside and having wonderful 360 degree views of the sea. Especially love having an outside forward view with no glass in front of my face. Here, there certainly is not that. In fact, there are no outside forward looking views for us non-haven peasants. There is that in the observation lounge, but it’s inside with glass in front of your face and A/c air in your lungs. Bartenders are the most unfriendly bunch I have ever experienced on my 11 cruises, especially the bartender at the outside bar that has “Oct 31” painted on the wall. Love that bar, but ended up avoiding it because of him. Very grumpy, non-sociable and more interested in completing paper work than providing prompt service. Maybe he'd be better in a loud bar that doesn't require friendliness. Most bartenders I encountered couldn't provide a smile, much less a hello. It’s more like… “what do you want, you’re bugging me?” The exception is the Serbian gentleman who works at the observation lounge bar-- very nice and efficient. It was often difficult to get a drink. I know there were the maximum bartenders possible at the night club, but the observation lounge could easily accommodate more staff. Multiple events going on in there with two bartenders and a half hour wait for a drink. I had a super duper time on this trip and would recommend it wholeheartedly. Thank you Bliss, Love you. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Norwegian Bliss Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
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 4.1
Value For Money 3.5 3.5

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