Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by dougsheafor
- Sail Date: September 2018
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom
Embarkation: We chose the 10-1030 window. Dropped off our bags outside (except day bags). No lines inside. Waited about 45 minutes in the waiting area and then were invited to board well-before the 1130 boarding time. Easiest boarding anyone had ever experienced.
Dining reservations: Make these early - before the cruise (as soon as the website allows), particularly if you want to eat at Teppanyaki, Blue, or the French or Italian restaurants. If you don't reserve before embarking - don't listen to the recommendations to wait - make them on arrival. The touch screens work well if you don't want to wait in line (you can also make reservations from your TV screen in the cabin once you get it).
Activity reservations: Make these immediately when you get on board. On our cruise, you could do this at "Q" as soon as you got on board (with not much of a wait). Go carts were great - but sold out quickly. We reserved for the laser tag (which lots of folks loved), but got too busy and missed our reservation!
Show reservations: Havana and Jersey Boys both "sold out" - so reserve these online before you sail (or no later than the first day). Havana was good - not great. Saw several families leave early when they decided it was not appropriate for young children. Jersey Boys was great. Several in our party had seen it on Broadway - and liked this production better.
Shore excursions: We made these on our own. Loved SouthEast Sea Kayaks Orcas cove tour (in Ketchikan) and wildlife tour (Joe Ordonez) in Haines (catch the ferry to the much less crowded Haines Alaska). Mendenhall Glacier is great as well - for our group it was easier and less expensive to schedule a cab in advance and skip the lines for busses (get there early to beat the crowds).
Food: We had many members of our group who are "Indian food snobs" - who absolutely loved the Taste of India section of the Garden Cafe and ate there at least once a day. Compared to other cruises, our group also rated the buffet as much better than other cruise lines. It is much less crowded if you get there early (or late), particularly on days in port. Everyone enjoyed Tepanyaki, Cagney's, Los Lobos, and Q, particularly: main courses at Teppy, TresLeches cake and fish at Los Lobos, banana pudding at Q, and steak at Cagneys. Would definitely choose a dining package if you can - all specialty dining venues were a step above the regular restaurants (taste, savor, and manhattan).
Public areas: The observation lounge is great. It does get crowded, and folks stake out their spots early and stay all day. You can get nice views from inside the buffet on deck 16 (or outside/undercover around the pools). We had great weather and found deck 8 to be our favorite hang-out - fewer people and lots of fresh air.
Laundry: NCL still offering a $20 special for everything you can fit in one laundry bag - throughout the cruise. We left our bag on the bed in the morning, and had clean, folded clothes by dinner.
Internet: For Alaska, we could get slow verizon voice and data in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. We did share a $125 , 250 minute package amongst 4 of us and found the speed fine for light surfing and email. Consider buying a travel router so that you can all use one connection at the same time.
Drinks: Read a lot of complaints about drinks- but had no issues on board. Good drinks, readily available during the whole cruise. If you have only one person in a cabin who is going to drink, you may be better off paying as you go - cocktails and wine were about $9-10 each and beer about $7-8. If you are only going to get a glass of wine with dinner, you may be better off using a package for prepaid gratuities or specialty dining.
Elevators: Everyone uses the forward elevator banks. When you get back on the ship after your shore excursion, it is much faster to walk to the rear bank of elevators and then go up. Same for days at sea. Rarely waited when using the aft elevators.
Workout facilities - were busy on sea days. Unfortunately NCL has limited use of the spin room - to sea days and only if you pay for a class. Most classes sell out- so if you want to spin - make reservations early. 3 spin classes are $55. You can buy access to all classes during the cruise for $95. We did have a few spaces open for "walk ins", but that is apparently unusual. Seems a bit crazy that the cycles are not available for the rest of the day. But, at least the spin classes were good.
Disembarkation: Easy and fast - only wait was getting through customs, which was still only 10 minutes.
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