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Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,207 Reviews

Crowded ship, terrible customer service for itinerary change, slow food service

Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by donnieblasko

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Oct 2018
  • Destination: the Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: The Haven Forward-facing Penthouse with Balcony

Dealbreaker - Zero compensation for massively changed itinerary:

Due to Hurricane Willa, our itinerary changed from the Mexican Riviea to San Francisco, San Diego, and Ensenda. This, of course, is a normal risk for any cruise ship vacation, and my family have been lucky to not yet experience a weather-related issue on a cruise. However, this change happened mere hours after our ship embarked, leading many to feel trapped without the option to potentially cancel or change dates before leaving. It was likely that the tropical storm should have pushed them to announce a potential itinerary change beforehand, perhaps 24/48 hours before the trip. Even worse, once the changed happened, NCL did absolutely nothing for any of the 4000 passengers to even minorly compensate the massive change in destinations. No on-board credit, no future cruise credit, nothing. Nobody on the ship provided could do anything but say "tough luck, should have had travel insurance" to anybody, including those who spent upwards of 8-10k+ on Haven suites, which are the most profitable type of room for the ship. This is a good way to lose customers like myself.

Crowded/slow elevators:

The elevators on this ship are not properly configured for the number of passengers that can fit on the Bliss. Our previous experiences on multiple Disney (large and small ship) and Princess cruises have not had the same issues with elevators. We would sometimes wait a full 10 minutes for an elevator during busy times. The bliss cannot handle this number of passengers, and it shows in the elevator usage, as well as the general crowded nature of the common spaces. Fortunately, the Haven facilities are not crowded, so we spent much of our time there. In addition, there are only two elevator groups, one in the back, and the other slightly ahead of mid-ship. The result is that everybody from the front and middle of the ship crowd into one elevator shaft/group, making traffic in those areas even worse.

Slow and inflexible food service

Food quality was generally very good or great, depending on the kind of food you like, but getting the food was often slow, even in the Haven restaurant. Again - it seems like the kitchens may not handle the passenger count correctly. In addition, doing any substitutions, like vegetarian or shrimp/chicken substitutions, were met with either denial or refusal. We never had this issue on Disney or Princess, but NCL's wait staff and kitchen seemed to be inflexible.

"Warm" not hot Hot Tubs:

For some reason, all the Hot Tubs were only warm, and staff said this was due to some kind of regulations. Princess and Disney did not have this issue, so we were perplexed.

The Good:

Steward and Butler were extremely helpful and friendly, and restaurant staff were all friendly, even when the food was slow to appear. The Penthouse stateroom was VERY good - lots of space, very clean, and a lovely bathroom and lots of closet space. All Haven locations were uncrowded, clean, and full of helpful staff. The Thermal Suite was AMAZING. The pool and jacuzzi were plenty large and full of bubbles, and the saunas/cold room/salt room were all well kept. The new shore excursion we took in Ensenada was also good - with very friendly staff. Go Karts, arcade/gaming, and onboard live entertainment were all top notch.

Overall: Our experience with NCL having zero even minor compensation for a massive itinerary change will keep us away from Norwegian in the future. It's a shame, because if they work on elevator scheduling (possibly with on-demand touch screen floor destinations like competitors do), improved food service speed and flexibility, and some uncrowding through better activity layout, the ship would be great, especially with all the activities to do onbard. However, they lost a future high-paying Haven customer who would have spent a lot more money with them in the future, if they had even offered a small amount of apology and minor compensation for the trip changes. Too bad.

donnieblasko's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

The Haven Forward-facing Penthouse with Balcony
Cabin H7 10106

Excellent cabin - multiple rooms are great for keeping quiet if somebody is sleeping. The shower is amazing, and the bathroom has plenty of room. The toilet area is a little narrow due to the frosted glass around it, which may be tight for larger guests, and does not provide full privacy if your family members want to use the bathroom while you are in the toilet area. The balcony is a normal size, but you also get a front-facing window in the bedroom, which is great for having multiple views of where the ship is. Haven access is of course amazing, Butler service is great, and you always have coffee and snacks available.

I recommend floors 10 or above for the front-facing penthouse, since deck 9's view may be partially obstructed by the front of the ship.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

San Francisco

A bit cold in October, but plenty to do along the waterfront areas.

San Diego

Warm weather, beautiful city, but the major attractions require a car or bus trip (zoo, wild animal park, coronado, etc)

City Tour

Amazing tour host, and some fun shopping with lots of hecklers trying to get your money.

View All 26 City Tour Reviews

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