We did the Trans-Atlantic cruise last year on the Celebrity Eclipse and wanted to try a different cruise line this time around. The Bliss was still being built when we booked last September and looked like an amazing vessel, so we thought we'd give it a try. This is our third cruise, we did the Caribbean on the Disney Magic back in 2009, which was excellent.
Boarding at Southampton was a fairly smooth, we arrived at 2:00pm and most of the passengers were already processed. Baggage drop-off signage could've been better, we had to drag our luggage about half the length of the ship to get it where it needed to be. Our bags rolled, so no big deal. I'm sure they'll get this ironed out soon. There was really no line to deal with processing in, we were in our room within ten minutes of arrival.
Our initial room was 11209 aft with a balcony, but my wife bid on an upgrade and received it a few days before while we were still in London. Our new room was a mini-suite, 11109 mid-ship with a balcony and was absolutely beautiful. The entire ship was beautiful and smelled like a brand new car, everything shiny and spotless.
We did Norwegian shore excursions in Ponta Degada, Azores and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Azores excursion was to the Furnas Valley and we had lunch at the Cozido Das Caldeiras. The area reminded us of Yellowstone National Park with all the boiling hotpots and steam coming from the ground. Our outstanding meal was cooked by being steamed for six hours in a large container placed in the ground. We highly recommend this excursion. We also stopped at a tea plantation and tested local brews. We were back at the ship by 5:00pm and heading out to sea by 6:00 pm. Beautiful countryside to enjoy.
The Halifax excursion took us to Peggy's Cove, about 40 miles away. Unfortunately the weather was not great, raining heavily at times, but Peggy's Cove was just beautiful anyway. Rain or shine it's worth checking out. We bought the hop-on hop-off bus pass but didn't end up using it because we found a nice restaurant about a 10 minute walk from the ship. The Waterfront Warehouse served the best seafood chowder and lobster I've ever had, and I grew up in New England. Friendly staff and outstanding beer to boot! Can't wait to get back there.
The food on board was a hit or miss situation. We liked the Garden Cafe Buffet, beautiful setting in the front of the ship on Deck 16. Good variety but nowhere as close to Celebrity. Ate at the following Specialty Restaurants: Ocean Blue, oysters on the half shell were great but the main meal of sauteed scallops was nothing special; Cagney's Steakhouse, Surf & Turf and the Prime Rib were excellent; Teppanyaki's, the chef chopped and cooked everything right there, excellent Oriental cuisine. Great running commentary by the chef!; Los Lobos, Some the best authentic Mexican cuisine we've ever had. Guacamole salsa made fresh at you table, the chef stopped by to make sure everything was just so. Enchilada's to die for, just amazing. Highly recommend this place.; Margaritaville on the Deck 16, if you love delicious margarita's and Cheeseburgers in Paradise, this is your place to be. When we went for lunch, the Captain and his three senior officer's were having lunch and they looked content. Loved the overhead electric heaters to keep you toasty.
The Savor and Taste had excellent atmosphere, but the food was just average. With twenty something restaurants on board, we were just a little disappointed.
The entertainment was exceptional. We saw Jersey Boy's in Las Vegas in 2011 and the group of performers on the Bliss put on a high energy version that was perfect. A must see. The Beatles cover band was very good, doing songs from their early years, the Sgt Pepper's era and the Abbey Road years. The Cavern Club was small and cozy so get there early for all shows if you want a seat and table. We arrived an hour and a half before the show, sixth in line and the line got very long. If you loved the Beatles, well worth the wait.
The highlight of the voyage for us was going under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (all lit up) into New York City at 1:00am and then passing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Most of the passengers were up and about to see this. To top off the trip, we docked at Pier 88 in downtown Manhattan next to the aircraft carrier Intrepid, with an SR-71 on it's deck. Overall a very enjoyable voyage with just a few minor gripes on our part, but I'm sure Norwegian will correct within a few sailings. Customs at the Port of Manhattan was smooth and professional, all the Customs Officer's were friendly and helpful.
The mini-suite was beautiful and well designed. Plenty of room for all our luggage and clothing. One note for the ladies, your long evening dresses will drag on the floor of the closet, just a heads up here. Fine for everything else. The bathroom's extra room was beyond sweet. Two faucets in a large sink, shower could easily fit two adults, if need be.
I especially like the adjustable reading lights on each side of the bed and usb jacks as part of the light base, very handy for charging your phone, ect. We loved having a coffee pot provided in the room. The cabin attendant did a good job of keeping the room clean and attending to our needs. Not sure if all the ship are doing this now, but to activate the room lighting you had to put your ship-card in a slot by the door, or no lights. At least you never misplaced your card! The bed headboard was padded and the sheets were excellent, extremely comfortable bed!
2cd time here, Great Port, but needs better baggage drop-off signage.
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