Just off the Bliss on 7/21 and had a great time. It was me, my wife and son who turned 17 on the cruise. We’ve cruised NCL, RCCL and Disney in the past. Overall, we loved our cabin, the ship, the crew, the food and ports. Really ... Read More
Just off the Bliss on 7/21 and had a great time. It was me, my wife and son who turned 17 on the cruise. We’ve cruised NCL, RCCL and Disney in the past. Overall, we loved our cabin, the ship, the crew, the food and ports. Really don’t have any complaints and any hiccups were handled to our satisfaction. Here are the day-to-day details (sorry for typos in advance)…
We flew in the night before and stayed at the Edgewater Hotel next to the cruise terminal. We used Aces Town Car Services from the airport to the hotel. They were on time, courteous and the price was very competitive. Great customer service all the way around. We didn’t get to the hotel until about 9:45pm, checked in and headed to the lounge for some food. We enjoyed the food and drink, but it was a bit expensive as we expected. The room was cozy with two double beds but worked fine for a good night’s sleep. On embarkation day, we had brunch at the Six Seven Restaurant at the hotel. Great selection of food and really good service. My son mentioned this was his “birthday week” so our server brought him a special desert…nice touch.
After brunch we checkout and walked to the cruise terminal which is literally next door to the hotel. Just a few minutes’ walk. We dropped out bags and headed to the check in line. My son has special needs so we had made arrangements ahead of time for a less crowded check-in experience. I’ll share the details.
We were told to use the security line marked “Haven/VIP” because the line was shorter. Since we arrived at about 10:15am all the lines were shorter so it really didn’t matter. We then proceeded upstairs to the “quiet” check in area. It was actually a bit loud, crowded and chaotic but there were plenty of chairs until they call your party to the check in desk. After about 10 or 15 minutes we were called up and check in. Very quick and efficient. We were told to head to the ship but instead entered a room that was packed and standing room only. This didn’t look good. There was an employee right there and I asked her if there was somewhere less crazy to wait and she pointed behind her and told us that was the door to the ship and she was going to open it in two minutes and we could be the first through. Sure enough, two minutes later we were walked up the ramp to the ship.
There we were, on board the beautiful Bliss. It was surreal because there was no one else on the ship (I’m assuming the Haven passengers had boarded and where up in the Haven). We went to make go kart reservations in the Social (I think) and then to Teppanyaki to adjust some dining reservations. Just like that we were ready to cruise! We just had brunch so we decided to explore the ship for a while before eating again. We really loved the ship. Everything was clean and new, well laid out and easy to navigate.
After our walkabout, we headed to the Local for lunch. Food and service were good. I told my wife we needed to check out the spa. We were given a tour and sold on just about every kind of “treatment” you could imagine, from acupuncture, to massage to hair loss treatments. No thank you. I just wanted to see the Thermal Suite. After we checked that out, our tour guide tried to sell us Thermal Suite passes. I told her no need because, surprise, I had already purchased one for my wife! She visited there just about every day and really enjoyed it.
By then the cabins were ready to we headed to our Mini-Suite with Large Balcony – 8126. I was tempted to bid on an upgrade to the Haven in the month leading up to the cruise but am so glad I didn’t. The location was perfect for us. We were steps away from the Waterfront, most specialty restaurant and plenty of bars. Most of the other things we needed to visit were just a deck or two down so no need for the elevators (which could get crowded, especially the forward ones).
I’ve sailed the NCL Pride of America before and felt our cabin was claustrophobic. Not the case on the Bliss. While the cabin wasn’t huge, we never felt like were too cramped. We had enough storage for the three of us and the balcony was huge with two chairs, a table, and two loungers. The only downside was it wasn’t covered, and since it rained just about every day, we couldn’t use it as much as we would like. The bathroom was pretty big and the shower was very spacious. Our cabin steward was excellent and always had the room ready to go at the right times. I would take this cabin again in a heartbeat.
We had dinner at Cagney’s that night and it was excellent, from the food to the service. My wife and I had the dining package for three meals but I didn’t buy one for my son. Looking at all the menus before the crews and estimating the cost I thought it would be a wash if I paid for his a la cart. That was a mistake. His tab at Cagney’s alone was about $60 so next time I will by him a dining package to match ours. It ended up working out in our favor any, but more on that later.
Day two was at sea and we had booked a double go kart ride so I could drive my son around the track. I used to race karts a bit so this was a must do for me. First, we had breakfast in the main dining room (Taste or Savor) as we ended up doing most mornings. Plenty to eat and we always had excellent service. After the first day they remembered us which was nice. And, since my son told everyone it was his birthday week, he always got special treatment. In fact, it felt like the entire crew went out of their way to make sure he had a special cruise.
On to the go karts and the experience was pretty disappointing. We were told to arrive about 15 minutes before our 9am reservation, which we did. By nine we were climbing into the kart and ready to hit the track. We would be the only ones on the track, which was actually goo, because the double karts are so wide I don’t think we could have passed anyone. We were told we would get four laps but actually only got three. So, after a few minutes (and about $15) we were done. I think we walked off at about 9:05. That was it? That was it. I wouldn’t do that again.
Later we met my wife and had lunch at Food Republic. It continued the theme of good food and service on the ship. We tried a variety of small plates and like them all. I think our total at the end was about $60.
We enjoyed the ship that afternoon and then headed for an early dinner at Teppanyaki because we had reservations for Havana at 7:30 that night. Our Teppanyaki reservation was at 5:15 and we were seated at the table by them. By 5:45 all the other tables had a chef but we did not. Since we had a show reservation my wife went to ask when we would get started. Finally, at 6:oo, we get our chef. We sat for 45 minutes with nothing. I though that was strange. Anyway, the chef was good and we enjoyed the food. My wife and I agreed that this was our least favorite meal on the ship. The good news was because of the delay, the didn’t charge us for our son’s meal, which was how not buying him a dining package ended up working out. I though that was excellent customer service. We didn’t ask for anything or make a fuss, they just took care of it. We really appreciated that.
I’ve read mixed reviews of Havana but we really enjoyed it. Plot? Who cares? The singing and dancing were really good and we all liked the show. Plus, it wasn’t too long and drawn out. Some have commented the costumes were too skimpy. We live in Hawaii, and if you’ve been to a luau, the Havana costumes were no skimpier than that. Anyway, just our experience, YMMV.
The next day we arrived in Juneau, which by far was out most disappointing day. I checked the weather forecast a week out and figured our float plane flight to Taku Glacier Lodge would be cancelled. NCL left us a voicemail in our cabin the day before saying all excursions involving flights were subject to cancellation (of course) BUT they wouldn’t tell us until we were off the ship at and at the meeting point. So, if we’re cancelled, we have little time to find something else to do. I woke up, look out the window, and it was foggy and rainy. No way we were going to fly. However, we had to get off the ship, walk to the meeting point, give the bus driver our tickets, sit on the bus for five minutes only to have the bus driver get back on the bus and tell us we were cancelled. NCL could have been more proactive here to give us better rescheduling options. I hopped off the bus and started to ask around trying to find the one NCL rep that could actually help us find something else. Finally found her. We were scheduled for a salmon bake at Taku Lodge, and my son really loves salmon, so we found another option. We had some time to kill so we walked in the rain into town, had some snack and drinks, and walked back. We didn’t really enjoy Juneau too much. Took the bus to the salmon bake and they did a great job. We all had plenty to eat, and I especially enjoyed their chowder. Our van driver back to the ship grew up where we now live in Hawaii…small world!
The next day we had an early, and long, day in Skagway. I think we had breakfast at the buffet that morning and I didn’t like it at all. Two many people and too crazy. I felt like I was always getting bumped into. I’d much rather sit down and be served…just more my speed.
We did the excursion where you take a bus to Carcross in Canada and then the White Pass Railway back to Skagway. I love trains and had done this excursion about 30 years ago. The bus ride was really loooooong but the scenery was beautiful. Carcross was our lunch stop and was disappointing. They had the restaurant for lunch, a museum and petting zoo. It was just us and about a thousand of our closest friends. My wife and son really wanted to see a sled dog puppy and got there wish. The train ride was as spectacular as I remembered it, although the rain and clouds made it a bit less scenic. It was such a long, long day that we headed straight back to the ship and didn’t bother walking around Skagway. Next time I’ll pick a shorter excursion and explore the town.
We had dinner at Taste or Savor and it was a good as always.
The next day, Glacier Bay, was a highlight (as you can imagine). We woke up early so we could be one of the first on the bow when they opened it up. It was a little after 8am when they did and we got a spot right on the rail. It was so cold!! On the way to the first glacier I saw two pods or Orca, a humpback whale, a whale I couldn’t identify, and plenty of otters and puffins. I was really cool. By the time we got to the first glacier the bow was a madhouse, just a crush of people. I realized our balcony was about 50 feet away on the same deck, so why are we with all these folks? We headed back to the cabin and had the same spectacular view all too ourselves. I mentioned we were right near the Waterfront as well, so for the rest of Glacier Bay, we headed there any walked from one side of the ship to the other to catch the best view. It was busy but not crowded at all…and they have bars!
Dinner that night was at Q. The portions were so big and the food was good BBQ. They really do a good job with the four types of sauces.
Next up Ketchikan, which ended up being our favorite port. I thought our son would enjoy the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show so I booked it on my own. We got off the ship early and made the short walk to the show. We were so early that we needed to kill some time and headed to Creek Street. We were the only ones there (nothing was open) which was fine because we avoided the cruise ship crush of people. Back to the lumberjack show and we had so much fun. Yes it was cheesy but in a good way. And the things those guys can do with saws, axes and logs. Wow! We all loved it and I’d see it again. Next was lunch next door at The Alaska Fish House. Really good fish and chips. We did some shopping and then I had the Ketchikan Historic Walking Tour app on my phone, so we decided to give it a try. It was so interesting. We didn’t have time to get through the while thing, but really saw and learned a lot. Plus, found a spot on the creek where salmon were swimming upstream. Really need to see. Great day in Ketchikan.
Another great dinner at Taste/Savor and then off to Jersey Boys. It was another great show and we all loved it. All the performers were so talented. Yes, they say a lot of ‘bad words’ but nothing my son hasn’t heard from me while watching football.
Victoria is that short, late night port stop. I had booked a carriage ride with Tally-Ho Carriage Tours. Before that we spent our last day on the ship hanging out and packing. We had dinner that night at Los Lobos. The Mexican food was pretty good, I have to say. Really enjoyed the tableside guacamole. This is where we had the worst service of the trip, very slow and forgetful server but we had time. It was warm enough that we were able to sit outside on the Waterfront which was awesome. Great views of Mt. baker and the city as we ate dinner. I wish we would have had dinner outside more often, it’s a spectacular setting.
We got off the ship and walked about 30 minutes to the carriage ride meeting point. Took about a 50-minute scenic trip about the city, very pleasant. They were able to drop us off at the port so we didn’t have to worry about the 30 minute walk back. Appreciated that. It was late, so we had a could of farewell drinks and then off to bed. Early debarkation in the morning.
We had signed up for the Port Valet service where they check you in for your flight home and take your bags to the airport for you. The night before they had delivered out boarding passes and bag tags to our cabin. We put the tags on the bags and had them out by 11pm. That morning in Seattle, we got to Taste/Savor at 6:30am, right when they opened for breakfast. I was surprised because it wasn’t crowded at all. For Port Valet, they ask you be off the ship by 8am. The ship cleared at a about 7:15, and we finished breakfast just after 7:30. We had assisted debarkation and met the access staff at the internet café. We waited a few minutes and they escorted us off the ship at the uncrowded rear gangway just before 8am. We merged into a long line with the forward gangway passengers and I thought this might take a while, but the line kept moving at walking pace. We should the customs officers our passports and that was that. Cruise over!
Our flight wasn’t until 5:30pm, so I booked a Pike Place food tour with Savor Seattle Food Tours. This was outstanding. It ran from 10am to noon and we hit about eight locations in the market. We tried everything from Greek yogurt, to cheese, to chowder, to donuts, to cherries, to crab cakes and more. Some locations at 45-minute waits for their food but we got to cut the line. Everything was so, so good and we learned about the history of the market. We had planned on eating lunch after the tour but were way too full. Instead we did a little shopping at stopped at a ginger beer bar. Then it was off to the airport. Of course, we didn’t have to check in or check out bags and there was no line at security. Had some dinner and boarded the flight. When we arrived home, our backs were there too. I highly recommend the free Port Valet service if you qualify.
We did spend a bit of time in the Observation Lounge and it’s a beautiful space. Great for Alaska, of course. It was usually crowded but we tended to go later in the evening and were able to find seating. Have a bar and (usually) some small bites was great.
We saw the Beatles tribute band twice. Once in the Cavern Club (get there 45 minutes early) and once in the main theater. They played different sets and were really good.
Also enjoyed the band Siglo many times, the piano duet, and the solo piano player. All were great to listen to over drinks.
Never tried the pool or slides…way too cold for me. But, there were die hards out there having a great time. It was fun to watch people get stuck on the looping slide! Read Less