We were on the Dec 8-15, 2018 Bliss Sailing from Miami for an Eastern Caribbean Cruise, it was myself & my adult son. For both of us, this was only our 2nd cruise ever, the first being on the Disney Dream in Dec 2015. The Dream was a great cruise, the the Bliss was OVER the top !!! LOVED it !!!!
To start off with, we were in Stateroom 8134, which was a mini suite with Large balcony. We LOVED this stateroom, the location was perfect, the room was huge, & the balcony was great for sitting on each morning & soaking in the beautiful ports. We also both added on a Thermal Suite Pass before sailing (did it online) & that was a huge plus for this cruise. We would book this room again in a heartbeat, but we have decided to book a spa mini suite for our Dec 12, 2020 sailing instead on the Encore because we do not want to risk them selling out the Thermal Spa passes, because for us, that was the highlight (of many) of this cruise !!
The embarkation process was seamless, we were told to arrive no earlier than 11:00 & time given was 12:00, we got there about 11:10 & we were on the ship within 15 mins.. VERY quick !!!! We did not use a credit card, we put down $800 cash at guest services as soon as we got on the ship & I had $140 left on the night before, which was returned to us at guest services. You can monitor your balance on the NCL App (which was GREAT) & also on your stateroom TV... I booked this trip myself, all thru the NCL App & online, & I have to say it was SO EASY to use before the trip to book our excursions, make payments to pay off the trip, book dining reservations, watch down countdown ticker, get directions to the port (from the app), & EVERYTHING !!! I highly recommend the NCL app & their website, I think it is much user friendly than some other cruise lines in booking & everything.. I checked out other websites for our next cruise & kept coming back to NCL for the food, service, ease of booking, & of course, the Thermal Spa !!!
The food was awesome !! We did not have a Dining Package or Drink Package because we just are not big drinkers & we like the ease of eating when we are hungry & not being stuck to a reservation (another reason we love NCL) & the only two dinner reservation we had were at Los Lobos, the Mexican restaurant, & Q, & both were AWESOME !!!! We are from TX, so we LOVE our Mexican food, & they did not disappoint !!! The margaritas were great, the table side guacamole was perfect, & the restaurant is beautiful. We also had a reservation at Q, the Barbecue restaurant, & it did NOT disappoint !!! I had the salmon, my son had the all meat platter (ribs, brisket, etc) & it was perfect. We topped it off with pecan pie & brownie sundae..... MMMMM !!
But the place we visited most for the lunch/dinner, was the Garden Cafe.. It was perfect !!! We went during non peak times (no breakfast-- we used room service every morning for breakfast) & the lunch/dinner options were out of this world !!! Burgers/hotdogs (grilled to perfection), grilled chicken, fish, pasta, all kinds of potatoes, breads, salads, you name it, they had it !!!! The desserts were plentiful as well. We had the soda package, but rarely used it because we LOVED the mango water available in the Garden Cafe.... Next time, we may just purchase the soda per glass, since we did not drink that much soda.
We also ate twice at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, for the $15 cover charge per person, I felt this was well justified for ALL the food you get.. You get appetizer, meal, & dessert & the service & meal was VERY good !!!!
We are also huge water drinkers.. so we ordered the 24 pack of Liter size water bottles, they were in our room when we arrived, but there were only 20 bottles, so I had to call twice to get the other 4 bottles to guest services, they finally arrived that evening.
The only complaint I had was that rooms were to be ready at 1:00-1:30, but our room was not ready until 2:30 & I had to have our room Steward come back to vacuum the floor because there were multiple hairs on the carpet in front of the desk where the hair dryer was & on the first evening after we took a shower, there must have been a hair clog or sand in the shower because the shower was almost spilling over into the floor because it would not drain hardly at all. They came out the next day & resolved the issue & even called back to ensure it was working properly.. GREAT service !!!! Our room Steward was great !! We pre-paid our gratuities before the sailing, but we still gave him $20 on the first day & $5 daily during the cruise & another $20 at the end of the cruise because he was so AWESOME !!! He always knew us by our names, worked so hard to keep our room clean, & kept us in stock on towels !! Shout out to Neil Fuentes for making our vacation so memorable !!!
We did not do the race carts (bad back & too many stories about people getting rear ended by others) & we did not do the laser tag. We did the tube slides & that was tons of fun! We went to Spice H20 area, but the smell of smoke was not pleasant. The goal of this trip for us was RELAXATION & the Thermal Spa went above & beyond for us in this area & is the primary reason we have booked our next cruise with NCL. The spa was beautiful, the chairs, the pool, & the view out the huge windows was intoxicating, we were there once to twice daily & it never seemed overly crowded to us.
We did two excursions, the Powercat Snorkel & Beach in St Thomas & it was so fun !!! NCL was top notch in gathering everyone in the theater & the woman that directed each of the excursions groups was top notch !! The captain on the Powercat was great (and not bad on the eyes either), we saw sea turtles while snorkeling (they clean the gear in bleach before/after each use) & they made the beach & excursion trip overall so MUCH fun !! We would book this again in a heartbeat !!! The ship was called the Cruzan Breeze !!
The second excursion was on Blue Lagoon Dolphin Encounter, while the dolphin encounter was the highlight, we spent a LOT of time standing in line on the ship to get off, a lot of time beside the ship waiting for the excursion leader to walk us to the boat & we barely had any time to relax on the beach after the dolphins encounter. We did enjoy it, but we would not do another excursion on the last day again, we would instead spend it in the Thermal Spa relaxing.
Thank you NCL for making memories that will last a lifetime & we can't wait until Dec 2020 for our next sailing on the NCL Encore !!!
Cabin 8134- mini suite with large balcony on deck 8.. GREAT location near Garden Cafe, the Waterfront, & the huge balcony was great to enjoy on mornings in ports. It is a bit too windy to enjoy at full sailing times, but the room was huge, the bathroom great with double sinks, huge shower, & there was plenty of space in the closet & drawers, we had plenty of space for two adults. We have booked a spa mini suite (with small balcony) for our next cruise, but just because we do not want to miss the spa passes selling out before sailing. Even though the thermal suite was at the rear of the ship & this room is at the front of the ship, we did not feel it was too long of a walk.
LOVED this excursion. We all met in the Bliss Theater, very well organized, we were walked straight to the Powercat & the crew was very professional, gear cleaned before/after in bleach & the ship was not overcrowded & very clean. The crew explained the snorkeling process, kept us all together & safe, & we got to see beautiful sea turtles. It was a beautiful day & after snorkeling you are taken to a beautiful small beach that has food, chairs, & umbrellas for a little down time & relaxing. We would book this excursion again in a heartbeat !!! Great crew !!!View All undefined undefined Reviews
Booked thru NCL, but they did not gather us in the Bliss Theater, we all had to stand for quite some time in a huge line that spanned thru the Guest Services/Atrium area, then we had to stand for a very long time outside the ship for the Dolphin Encounter Blue Lagoon crew to get organized & finally walk us to the ship. The speakers on the ship were so LOUD, it was not relaxing coming/going to the beach at all. I know the crew was trying to get everyone excited, but it was SO LOUD, it hurt our ears & the speakers are everywhere on the ship, so no where to move. The dolphin encounter where you kiss, hug, dance with the dolphins was GREAT !! We had never done a dolphins encounter before & the crew at Blue Lagoon was awesome, but we had very little time after to enjoy the beach because of all the time spent waiting outside the ship to even get walked to the ship to start the excursion. Since this was the last excursion before the day of disembarkation, I wish we would have just stayed on the ship & relaxed at the spa. But if you have never done a dolphin encounter, I feel this was reasonably priced for what you received. The Blue Lagoon was beautiful, but we just did not have any time to enjoy it.View All 158 Dolphin Encounter Reviews