Let me be transparent, I didn't know whether to trust Cruise Critic. I even searched Google and Reddit to see others' experiences on whether this was even a legit website. This is not one of those puff piece reviews. This is a real review written by a guy who went on his first cruise with no set expectations.
So here's the story: If Spirit Airlines ran a cruise ship, it would be the Norwegian Bliss. You get nickeled and dimed for literally everything. Want to play laser tag? That'll cost you. Go carts? That will cost you. Bowl in the mini bowling alley that we never saw/heard about until disembarking at the end? That will cost you. Honestly surprised the hot tubs and pool didn't cost you.
The cabin was super small. My in-laws her cruised earlier this year with Carnival and said their stateroom was double the size of these. Technology is great, but when you need to leave your room key card in a slot by the main door to get any of the lights to come on, you've gone too far. Our cabin steward was unattentive at best. My wife requested additional pillows and towels multiple times. One day he took away our extra pillow. Never did show up with the towel, so we had to grab one off the maintenance cart. And they wanted $14.95 per person per day as a room service fee to pay him to do his job! If you get bad service, go to guest services to dispute this. You can only do it Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Otherwise you're stuck with it. For a family of 4 this would get pretty pricey.
There isn't much to do onboard this ship. If you're there to get the ultimate drink package, have a blast, you'll enjoy this. If you are there to gamble, the casinos are right in the middle of the main decks, including a room for smokers that drifts into the main deck area. Wife has asthma, we tried to avoid but it was right in the middle of the ship (floors 6-8 middle). Jersey Boys was well done, but Havana was terrible - seemed like Havana cast was not synced up. So shows came out average. Theater seating also poor. Such a low grade as the seats go from balcony to the floor that you were almost assured to have someone's head in front of you, leaving you with an obstructed view. Especially if you sat in the handicapped section.
Food wasn't great. I actually stopped eating onboard mid-cruise because the repetition of the food quit agreeing with me. Lunches don't change in the dining rooms, and the buffets are self-serve, rather than staff serve like at an all inclusive resort. Great opportunity to spread germs. Specialty restaurants were meh. Cagneys was overrated, porterhouse had a funny aftertaste. Old Fashioned they brought me was WAY too sweet, tasted like syrup. Never ordered another cocktail. Craft beer bar The District had disinterested bartenders. Even beers I knew didn't taste exactly right, Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA tasted watered down. Not sure how often the tap/lines got cleaned.
Excursions were ok, but in talking with some folks I met onboard many of them found them cheaper by just signing up in town. One family did the dogsled experience in Skagway for $75/person CHEAPER than if they had booked through the cruise line. We also did not get nearly enough time in the ports. 5-6 hours most places. In the time it took to get an elevator (elderly in-laws and wife with asthma), there wasn't really enough time to truly explore these towns and excursions.
Disembarking was a clusterf*ck. All week they hype Port Valet to transfer your bags directly from the ship to the airport. The airlines will even waive baggage fees. Wife and I asked 3 different people at guest service about this and got 3 completely different answers. None of those answers stated that you have to leave Saturday when you get back to Seattle. We were to leave Sunday, so apparently we didn't qualify. They waited until after we left the ship in Victoria the night before we got back to Seattle to inform us of this. It ultimately cost us about 7 hours of our time, waiting an hour and a half extra to disembark, getting to the hotel, renting a car, and then coming back to downtown, not to mention the extra time in the lines at the airport the next day.
Guest services needs to get their story together. As I mentioned earlier, wife and I got different answers for same question when we talked to multiple people there (you start questioning it after it happens once). When my mother-in-law went down to question some items on her bill, the guest services girl called her a liar when MIL stated she had paid for gratuity and excursions up front. Terrible customer service experience with them.
I spoke with at least 2 dozen people at random on this cruise through happenstance meetings. The overwhelming majority took this cruise because it was a new ship. They were disappointed like me. Many had children and remarked that there isn't a kid's club or daycare like some other ships offer. The other reviews hit this spot on. Kids are running wild all over this ship, no parental control in sight. Basically parents expected the crew to entertain their kids without nearly enough for children to do.
Note for those who are handicapped or elderly. Hallways are very narrow outside staterooms, difficult for my mother in law to get her walker through them. Also, the gangway ramps in Skagway and Juneau, and even portions of Seattle were too steep. Who does this cruise line think takes cruises? Senior adults need better care and more options to disembark at ports with this cruise line.
Thanks for taking the time to read. You work hard for the money you do have, or if you're paying for family to cruise together, you want the best experience for them. My advice, look elsewhere. Every person who told me they took this cruise because of the ship being new said in the next breath they wished they had done this with Royal Caribbean.
Too small, too cramped, bed was terrible. Wife and I had such back pain from sleeping on this bed, even with the mattress topper, we never felt rested. Would have been better served sleeping on the balcony.