We booked this cruise a year in advance with life-long friends to celebrate our 30th anniversary and their 25th. We live about 1500 miles apart now, but we got together last year and booked the cruise on speaker phone to assure we were getting the rooms, etc we wanted for this special occasion. We booked connecting rooms with the NCL phone rep, and these were confirmed in emails, etc. When we boarded, we found out we were at opposite ends of the ship, both parties adjoining with strangers. Customer service on the ship told us there was nothing they could do to attempt to remedy the problem and after getting the run around between representatives, we were offered $100 for our “inconvenience”. This was the trip of a lifetime to Alaska for both parties, for which we paid close to $6000 per couple, before excursions. We had booked specifically with NCL and had turned down all room upgrade opportunities, so we could be together, yet we were met by a basically no one cared attitude, which we were told came from corporate.
In addition to this issue, there were others that marred this trip. We felt much of the entertainment was of poor quality, compared to other cruise lines. The Havana musical, was performed with a good deal of inappropriate language and unfortunately, the actors presented with what sounded like Russian accents, taking away from the Hispanic setting story line. The Levity Comedy duo, also had difficulty with such dry humor, and appeared to fall flat with the audience when grouped together. The Jersey Boys musical included wonderful singers, but again, the use of inappropriate language really stood out. Our stateroom also presented difficulty as there was an odd, round steel support beam directly outside our door, making entrance and egress difficult due to its poor engineering. The ship itself, although brand new, was plain and contained very little art or other decorations you would expect to see on a ship of this caliber. I point this out as this type of “eye candy” has always been a big part of the overall presentation on all our previous cruises with Royal Caribbean. This lack of visual interest made for an overall dull on board experience.
The electronics and energy saving devices on board, although commendable, such as needing to insert your room key in a slot to keep the lights on in the cabin, the manner in which to increase the water temperature and/or pressure in the shower, or even the buttons required to access the public restroom spaces around the ship, were a bit of a mystery and not at all explained. If you weren’t familiar with travel outside of the US, these aspects could be confusing. At one point, I found myself yelling directions through the door of one of the public use restrooms in order to help a gentleman who was stuck inside and could not navigate his way out. In another instance, while on the observation area, a fire alarm went off and continued to blare for at least 15 minutes. No one communicated what to do or what was happening, just the high pitched sound. When asked, we were told that this happens “all the time” by the wait staff serving drinks. In that same observation room, there were sofas and chairs that are used by everyone onboard, dirty feet/shoes, food, and drink droppings included. When we booked, we choose the beverage package that included alcholic drinks, for which we prepaid all gratuities, and yet, we were charged for beer tastings, an additional tax while in Seattle waters, and then when we asked for glasses of water with which toreturn to our cabin, had bartenders on more than a couple occasions who rolled their eyes or handed them to us with an attitude.
On Royal Caribbean, all the staff has always been engaging, friendly, and easily accessible. On the Bliss, some staff often appeared bothered or put out. The room steward did not converse with us other than hello, and in the evening would come to the room while we were getting ready for dinner and ask if we were “leaving yet”, causing us to feel rushed. The activities that were advertised, such as the go carts and laser tag, were immediately booked with no available spots open, and as a result, we were unable to participate. Also, extra onboard fees applied for these activities. Other activities with extra on board fees, such as the painting and wine tastings, also had long wait lists, making them inaccessible. Games, such as bingo and deal/no deal also required extra payment.
Perhaps the most bothersome situation we encountered was encountered second hand, and I mention it because it may help families with special needs children as they plan their vacations. In a conversation with a young military service member, traveling with his family, which included a young son with autism, the father revealed that he and his wife had not been able to use the child care on board because they were not allowed to walk their special needs son into the child care area, as was their routine at home, because that was against NCL rules. Really? An accommodation couldn’t be made to meet the needs of a child with autism so that he could feel comfortable in a new setting? All the father wanted to do was walk his child into the room, get him settled, and then leave. As a result, this young man and his wife were unable to participate in the adult activities/shows throughout their cruise vacation. These issues are just some of the things that made our first cruise with NCL, our last cruise with NCL. We have experienced at least 5 previous Royal Caribbean cruises, with the last being just three months prior to this NCL cruise. We thought we would try something new. Truly, there was no comparison. The beauty of the Royal Caribbean ships, the friendly engaging staff, the caliber of their entertainment, as well as the value of their prices and amenities, far outshine anything we experienced last week on our NCL Bliss cruise. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the shore excursions and the knowledgeable guides, as well as the opportunity to see Alaska, we were so disappointed that we did so with NCL.
This excursion provided visits to both the Mendenhall Glacier and Totem Bite State Park. The glacier and accompanying waterfall was spectacular and the totems in Totem Bite were fascination. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and provided information and history about both sites, adding to the enjoyment and
learning of this trip.View All 114 Totem Bight State Park Reviews
Enjoyable bike tour of small area of forest and flat lands. Guides were knowledgeable and we enjoyed learning the history of the area through their talk. We wished it could have been a longer ride.View All 38 Bicycle Tour Reviews
Wonderful hiking through the Tongas, with a friendly and knowledgeable guide who explained in detail about the native plant life. Thoroughly enjoyed her narrative as well as the breathtaking scenary of the hike.View All 44 Hiking Reviews
The rafting was led by a wonderful guide who was knowledgeable about the areas history as well as the surrounding botany and terrain. It was more of a raft ride, as the guide did all the paddling of the inflatable raft. River was calm, scenary was gorgeous.View All 33 Rafting Reviews