Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by Arponsi
- Sail Date: July 2018
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Inside Stateroom
My wife and I had a standard interior cabin. It was extremely functional but did lack storage space. There were absolutely no dresser/cabinet drawers for clothes storage, just one modest sized closet so my wife lived out of her suitcase. Make sure you don’t bring a jumbo suitcase that doesn’t fit under the bed, otherwise your space will decrease even more. There are two usb chargers by the bed that are convenient for charging phones/kindles/etc. Also included are the safe, phone and tv which were all functionally easy to navigate. The bathroom, unlike the bedroom, seemed to have a slightly better than average size feel with a glass shower that seemed slightly bigger than other showers I have had on cruises. For two people there was plenty of room for our toiletries.
Due to our specialty dining package we were able to eat at most of the restaurants on the ship:
Complimentary restaurants of Taste, Savor and Manhattan room are the Main Dining Rooms (MDRs) and are all similar in service and menus, just a little different ambiance. I found the service on par with what I have come to expect from NCL, friendly and professional but not overtly warm like other cruise lines. Unlike with a standard dining time, you end up getting different wait staff unless you specifically request someone. The freestyle dining is extremely convenient for two people but when you dine with more than 4 people I’d advise making reservations if you plan on eating during peak dinner times otherwise you could wait for 20-30 minutes for a table to open. The food at the MDRs was hit or miss, some great tasting options, some just ok and some blah. This isn’t a problem though because if you do not like a specific dish, you can always order a second option which the staff is happy to bring you.
The Local is the 24 hour complimentary restaurant that serves pub style food. The food is ok and the menu is limited but serviceable. Service is again professional and friendly.
The Garden Cafe (buffet) had plenty of food options but I didn’t find anything at the buffet that was spectacular. My favorite part of the buffet was the fact that they had multiple egg/omelet stations that would cook your eggs to order. The buffet crowds could be overwhelming during peak food times and made it difficult at times to find a seat. If you get desperate you can ask staff and they will assist you in finding a place (we needed to do this once).
Observation lounge also had a mini buffet which was usable for snacks.
We were also able to try Le Bistro, Cagneys, and La Cucina as part of the dining package. You MUST make reservations before you set sail or immediately upon arrival at the ship or you will probably get locked out. Food quality in the specialty restaurants on NCL never disappoints. It also shows that you need to pay for quality when you can taste the difference in the tiramisu from La Cucina compared to the MDRs. A few critiques for the specialty restaurants compared to my other NCL experience 2 years ago on the Escape. Service was not even close to as good. At Le Bistro the waitress actually pushed for extra gratuity (which I always give but didn’t appreciate it being forced). At Cagneys the person in charge with wine disappeared on us twice to the point I had to ask for him to be hunted down. I think one time that he disappeared it was due to the fact that he personally had to find glasses to serve dessert wine so it wasn’t necessarily his fault, but whatever the reason, they were uncommonly large wait times. Finally in La Cucina our server did actually disappear to the point I had to ask for help from someone else regarding closing out the check and storing the purchased wine during dinner. To summarize, food quality 5 out of 5, service 2 out of 5. Maybe we just had an off week with the staff.
We also tried Cocos. Espressos and desserts were both good and the servers were extremely warm and friendly. Although not an extremely busy place, if you want a quality dessert or espresso it is worth the experience.
Entertainment and Activities I find NCL does a fantastic job with quality but there can be a problem due to crowds. If you don’t make reservations when you first get on the ship (or before) you will miss out on a lot. We didn’t get to experience the racetrack or laser tag as they were booked solid after day 2. The two shows (again make reservations) of Havana and Jersey Boys were fantastic quality, just a little below broadway quality. The Beatles show I enjoyed and thought they did the band justice. When they play at the Cavern Club, get their 30 minutes early otherwise you will not get a seat. One person in our group has special needs and went to a bunch of the ship activities (trivia, dance parties, game shows) and the crew was fantastic for them. The person always felt welcomed and involved. It was a pleasure to see the person so happy. The crew and cruise director were amazing.
Although this was an Alaskan Cruise I must say during Caribbean cruises this ship will have the same problem as the Escape with deck space/pool space. With the Haven taking up a good piece of the ship, the rest of the pool deck will be overwhelmed on Caribbean sea days. I highly suggest if you find crowds and noise to be a problem to purchase a thermal suite pass.
Observation Lounge I must say was a fantastic outside the box idea that works. Bliss takes up prime cabin space to dedicate a huge area of the 15th floor to an observation lounge with food and drinks served. People play cards and board games, listen to live music, read books and fall asleep in this relaxing public area. It was always in use.
Thermal suite! My favorite part about NCL. For $200 a person pre cruise you can purchase a week pass at the thermal suite. It gives you access to a quiet area with floor to ceiling windows across the back of the ship, your own hot tub, your own heated pool, cushioned and heated chairs, sauna, steam room, salt room, cold room, etc. It makes my cruise.
As for the Casino, NCL finally solved the problem plaguing all cruise ships, the smoke emanating into the public areas. On the Bliss the smoking section is completely sealed off in its own room and even walking by the room itself the smell of smoke is minimal. Fantastic job. Truthfully the only area with a smell problem to public walking areas is in 6,7,8 by the restaurant Ocean Blue which for some reason doesn’t have a solid wall so the whole area smells like fish.
Ports - Alaskan Cruise was definitely unique with their ports and what you experience. Also you must have more clothes for this cruise then almost any other because of the different environments. You need shorts and short sleeves in Seattle, bathing suits if you want to try the pool or have a thermal suite pass, pants and short sleeve depending on the weather, long sleeve shirts and jackets for some areas in Alaska. Just something to keep in mind.
You will get wet in Ketchikan as it will always rain but it was not a heavy rain for us. More of a misty rain. We only did the lumberjack show which was fun. That said any excursion I heard was quality, just can be pricey.
Juneau was my favorite port on the trip. So many bald eagles on the trip from town to Mendenhall glacier. The glacier was pretty cool to see but the star of the trip was the waterfall which you can practically walk up to and almost touch (1-2 mile hike). The waterfall makes you feel how powerful Mother Nature can be. If you feel up to it, you can pay to be flown on top of the glacier. Everyone who did raved about the experience.
In Skagway we did the train excursion. It was an amazing experience to take a train from sea level to 3000 feet in the air to the summit. In July it was cold at the summit and it was pretty amazing to see the walking path miners took to the summit and picture how they survived.
Victoria was a pretty town. Ship gets there late (4 PM) so although the souvenir shops are open, not everything stays open for the cruise tourists. It is worth taking a walk around or going to the gardens.
To summarize my experience, I found the room small but serviceable, food quality ok to great but food service below average at the specialty restaurants, and entertainment great but you need to make reservations otherwise you will lose out on experiences.
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