We are a family with young children (ages 6 and 12). My son (age 12) is special needs and we were booked in a HA stateroom (5136). This is our 15th cruise, our first time with NCL! We have mainly sailed with Disney and have done a few cruises with RCCL and Carnival.
Embarkation/Disembarkation - We arrived at the port around 1 pm and because our son is special needs and is in a wheelchair, we were attended to and take care of quite well. Both embarkation and disembarkation was a breeze for us.
Cabin - for an HA room that fits 4, you only have ONE cabin choice onboard the Bliss - a family oceanview stateroom. The room was very spacious and had lots of storage space. Beds were comfortable and our stateroom host was very attentive and friendly. This room is by the service/crew elevator and there are a lot of noise coming from that area. In general, noises here and there do NOT bother us but I can see how it can be an issue to others who are more sensitive to sound.
Entertainment - Only saw Jersey Boys and it was PHENOMENAL!!! Do not take young children to this show as it is not exactly kid friendly (due to language). The cast was outstanding and amazingly talented. It's a must see in my opinion. Live bands onboard were also very very good. We enjoyed hanging out at the atrium or at The Local listening to them perform.
Kids Club - my daughter (age 6) loved and enjoyed her time at the Splash Academy. She went almost every day - an hour or two during the day/night. Counselors were very friendly and the activities were fun and enticing.
Specialty Dining - we had a 3 meal package and dined at Cagney's, Teppanyaki, and Los Lobos - all were EXCELLENT!!! Food was great, service was great, everything was well prepared and everyone went above and beyond. Definitely one of the highlights of our cruise!
Cruise Staff - 90% were friendly, helpful, and had smiles on their faces willing to help and assist you. Out of the 15 cruises we've done, I would rank this as the 2nd most friendly staffed ship. We had a person or two here and there that never said hi but then again, you will always have that on ANY cruise you go on. For the most part, the staff was fabulous.
Laser Tag/Go Kart - AWESOME!!! If you really stop to think that you are doing these activities ON A SHIP, in the MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN - that in itself is AMAZING! While $9.95 isn't necessarily a lot of money to charge to experience it, I'm a bit disappointed that NCL decided to even charge at all. We don't pay to go ice skating, rock climbing, zip lining on any of RCCLs ships nor does Carnival charge to go on their Sky Ride. I just feel that these should have been complimentary.
Arcade - we purchased the unlimited arcade pass for 1 person. I believe it was $56 total for 7 days if purchased prior to the cruise and it was WELL WORTH IT!!! Although only valid to use on games with a GREEN slot, my daughter took advantage and played Mario Kart (by The Local) at least 25 times every day. Racing games, basketball, air hockey, and shooting games in the Arcade are also eligible under the unlimited pass (all are coded GREEN).
Now let's get on the CONS....
1. FAMILY pool (right next to the kids splash area) is 5 feet 7 inches deep! You will rarely see anyone in that pool for the simple reason that NOBODY wants to RELAX in the pool by TREADING WATER! Why NCL did not put a shallow area in that pools is crazy to me. Most people would like to take a dip in the pool and be able to stand up in it while enjoying a drink and soaking in the sun. No one wants to be treading water while trying to sip a cocktail.
2. Big screen TV by the pool - plays NCL commercials 90% of the time. On the last night of the cruise, they did play ONE movie. Why not play a movie on the screen multiple times a day?! Having NCL commercials on that big screen majority of the time is such a waste in my opinion.
3. This is our biggest complaint of all - the ELEVATORS!!! Our room was on deck 5, the buffet and pool deck (which we often go to) are both on deck 16. The climb up or down from 5 to 16 and vice versa would often take FOREVER. The elevator would practically stop at every floor!!! The elevators are always crowded and full of people!!!! There is NO A/C in the elevators so you are there cramped and sweating. This was the top complaint among majority of cruisers in our sailing. Everyone was talking about the elevators!
Yes, we would sail on NCL again. Yes, we would sail on the Bliss again. The ship is beautiful and though I am not so much into art, I was really intrigued and quite fascinated by the art displayed onboard - cool and very unique!!!
Feel free to ask any questions, I'd be happy to answer them for you =)