Overall – Great Ship with average food and not very good service. The ports are good with excellent scenery that looks beautifully undisturbed.
Embarkation/disembarkation –Embarkation was a total mess, took over an hour. There were a large number of foreign passport holders and each passport had to be hand carried by agent to ONE officer on a laptop checking each passport to verify American and Canadian VISAs. So almost all NCL check in agents stood in a line with passports in hand to verify VISAs while the check in counter had NO agents. NCL did not tell us what was going on we were told to wait our turn. Once we got to the counter, check in was a breeze. NCL definitely needs to improve that. In all ports getting off and back on was a breeze. On disembarkation their is an optional FREE check your bags to you final destination with overweight baggage fees waived. The way it works is you fill out a form a couple of days before disembarkation and list your stateroom, airline, flight confirmation, and final destination. The night before disembarkation your luggage tags and boarding pass are delivered to your room. You put on tags and leave luggage outside door by 11pm and next time you see your luggage is at your destination airport. Fantastic FREE service.
Ship - Bliss is a beautiful ship and we had excellent weather for our cruise 16-23 June 18.
Bliss is well laid out with very nice common areas although the Atrium area can get congested. The indoor Observation deck is beautiful has some snacks and a full bar. Nice hang out area in front of the ship with excellent views. The Buffet is located right above the observation deck and same level as the outdoor pool deck. The buffet is very large with great views and excellent variety of generally tasty food. The elevators were excruciatingly slow. Half the time we took the stairs, that needs to be addressed. Atrium area is beautiful but gets very crowded during the shows and events. Overall I felt the ships common areas felt cramped, sort of like they tried to cram as many cabins on ship as possible. One tip, deck 8 has an outdoor walkway that almost goes all around the ship, it has plenty of sofas and chairs to sit, the view from the back of ship on deck 8 is incredible. Most times there was hardly anyone on this deck. It has bars on aft and port for drinks great place to take in the scenery and just chill. There is only ONE pool for adults and one for the kids. Never seen so few pools on ANY cruise ship. One day it was very nice and warm while at sea and the pool area was a zoo.The go cart race track and mini golf course are at back of ship. The go carts need reservations and get booked very fast. The kids enjoyed the carts but the service guys were horrible. The golf thingy is tiny and placed very poorly.
Dining - The food quality and service is average in the main dining, better in buffet and specialty restaurants.
The Garden Cafe buffet is big and surprisingly good. Unlike some other comments we always found place to sit and their were were 10 in our group. The three main dining rooms service and food quality needs improvement. Food was average at best so was the service. All three dining rooms had the exact same very limited menu. Three nights we ate at the Q (BBQ), La Cocina(Italian), Los Lobos(Mexican) all three had very good food and service. I found the a-la-cart prices reasonable. Major gripe NCL lowered the quality of the food in the main dinning rooms to funnel more people to the pay restaurants. This was the most disappointing thing for us.
Bars - Plentiful with generally poor service.
We had the unlimited drink package so we spent quite a bit a bit of time at the different bars. The Bliss has lots of bars, our two favorite were in the Observation deck and Atrium, the bartenders there were fast and efficient. Most bartenders on the Bliss seemed like they did not want to be there. It seemed a lot of people had the drink package so the service was very lacking. On other cruises it seems there were servers everywhere and actually cheerful. On the Bliss you needed to go to the bar and be prepared to be ignored most of the time. For beer drinkers the District is great with 20 beers on tap and another 40 in bottles. Service was indifferent. Did beer tasting here and it cost $19 and I already had THE DRINK PACKAGE.
Entertainment - mostly missed the mark needs improvement.
Most shows need a reservation and booked fast like in the first few hours on-board. We did manage to book the Havana, Jersey Boys, Comedy Act, and Beatles. The comedy act was horrible and I left early. Although the sets and voices of the actors were great the show Havana was lackluster for me. Passed on seeing the Jersey Boys. The Beatles were actually pretty good entertainment. The rest of the daily entertainment in the Atrium area was mostly a snooze.
Ports - Alaska is beautiful and we had perfect weather of high 70s in every port. The ship sailing out Juneau at 1pm was a downer until we sailed south to a glacier. The whole trip down to the glacier had incredible scenery of steep mountains and waterfalls. Truly incredible. In Ketchikan we walked around town and did a tour to see Bald Eagles, whales and bears. Only saw Bald Eagles up close but it was a great trip none the less. Juneau - Due to limited time just did the Mount Roberts Tram, beautiful views. In Skagway did the White Pass Railway. It was very hot in the non-AC train that day, again the views were fantastic. Once we reached the White Pass I wish we could have gotten out to stretch our legs and enjoy the vies instead of remaining on the train and just heading down. Kind of anti-climactic. In Victoria we walked around downtown and ate at a roof top restaurant.
Overall - Alaska is truly incredible and highly recommended. However, I would not do a NCL Bliss cruise again. There are better options out there. I just felt I was being charged for many things that should be included in the package. I feel the food quality is purposely decreased in the Main Dining rooms to funnel more people to their pay restaurants. The service was lackluster at best, most staff did not seem like they liked their job. Our cruise was only the third cruise for Bliss in Alaska. Hopefully NCL will work out the food and service issues but I am afraid the nickle and dime routine will continue.
Standard smallish room. Wife gets sea sick so I normally take the inside room due to the least amount of rocking. Very comfortable bed got great sleep, nice usable bathroom, good sound insulation. Room attendant was excellent, made room at least twice a day. Nice touch with USB charging outlets next to headboard on both sides of bed. Overall nice comfy room.