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I learned something valuable on this cruise: how to remove gratuities from your account. We arrived at the port and had an easy check in experience. This was around 11 AM and there were no lines and we walked right onto the ship. They did not take our pictures but instead use the pictures from our passports. This was a first. The first thing we did was check out the Go Carts and Laser Tag area in hopes of learning about package deals. There was no one there, so we came back later that day. We learned that you need reservations for both of these activities and package deals were expensive. Fine. They were open at the time and so we asked to reserve a spot, now. The crew seemed disinterested but complied and we started off the trip with a Go Cart experience using the 2 seaters. We were asked to watch a video and then the crewmember gave us instructions (while facing away from us). We put on the balaclavas and they slapped on the helmets and we were off. It was fun, but I do not think it would’ve been fun if there were more than 2 go carts on the track. We did not do it again, thankfully. The Laser Tag was also enjoyable, but the video they made you watch had nothing to do with how you actually play the game. It rained on us and so they refunded our play. More on this later. The ship was decent. There is no grand atrium or staircase area but I did not miss it. Instead, it was replaced by the magnificent Observation Lounge. I would have spent more time up here if I could have. Watching the sea rolling forward on sea days and the ship come into the various ports was fantastic. It was crowded during the day and deserted at night. There was one bar up there and no bar service (*see below). A light buffet was provided there during the day only. The other bar areas were OK. Most of the bars have inside and outside options with the Waterfront on Deck 8. Each bar area had a unique cocktail on tap. They were interesting to try, just for the fun of it. Our children, 9 and 10, enjoyed the kids club “Splash Academy”. The kids program is exactly the same across every NCL ship we have experienced so far (4x NCL). My children actually have come to enjoy knowing what to expect. We ended up tipping the kids club staff what we took away from the general gratuities. Will not rehash the pool and lounge chair experience which was exactly as all of the reviewers have stated. We made bets as to which waterslide riders would not make it through both loops (50-50 shot). The food was mediocre, as previously stated. It is worth again stating how the food was often cold in the buffet. Truly remarkable. Fortunately I prefer breakfast and there was always piles of bacon hot and ready. All of the entertainment was painfully loud. Bring earplugs. Now the worst of it: The Service. I have never experienced such a dejected and seemingly miserable crew. There was no personality. There was no service. The bartenders did not look you in the eye. Instead of asking what you were having they just pointed at you. There was no walk around bartender service anywhere except the pool and theatre and even that was very limited. You had to go uo to a bar to get your drink. One of our daiquiris had human hair in it (not ours)! But at that point in the cruise I realized there would be no point to go back and complain. In the buffet, there were no waiters to bring drinks or ask about your day. The waiters were all used as busboys, leering, waiting to snatch your plates. They did not speak to you other than to ask you if you were done. Our experience in the specialty dining restaurant, Los Lobos, was particularly unusual. We started with one waiter who took our children’s orders and explained the dining package options and menu to my elderly in-laws and then left. Then another waiter came with the drink menu. Fine. That waiter then tried to take my children’s orders again, explained a whole different set of dining rules to the in-laws and left no time for us to review the menus before requesting our orders. The in-laws were confused and it became a big disastrous miserable experience. Our physical room itself was to be expected. An outside balcony on Deck 10. It is notable that for a party of four, we were initially only given two sets of towels. We wrote a note to our Invisible Room Steward to get the rest of them. The first night my daughter slept lightly in the upper bunk and so it appeared unslept in. The second night, our Invisible Room Steward did not pull down the upper bunk. Again, we had to write a note to ask him to pull it down. The sofa that converted to a bed was never converted back into a sofa the entire trip. We were taking bets on whether or not the liquid soap dispensers would be refilled before they ran dry (they were, but just barely). It was also notable that our trash bins were not emptied daily. The NCL app is never updated, a joke. Do not rely on it. Unfortunately, we also received spotty paper information in our room. We received the typical and expected Notification on our bed for the first Time Change. When it turned back however, there was no Notification. Fortunately, we did not miss out on anything because of this. We found it a nice surprise that the smokers were confined to a glass box in the casino. On the other hand, as another reviews have noted, there must be a lack of smoking areas on the ship (we are not smokers) and found that many were smoking on their balconies, which was unpleasant for us. Guest services: equally pathetic. Be ready, if you have a problem, they will tell you they cannot handle your problem and try to send you to the department in which the problem arose (request it happen there at Guest Services via phone). Back to the Laser Tag refund. A couple days after our rained out round we checked our account. 2 of the 4 players games were refunded but we had two new charges for games never played. Note that while charges appear, an explanation for the charges does not. Watch your account closely. My in-laws also had charges that were “mistakes”. Getting these corrected was challenging but not impossible. At the end, when I made my “Gratuity Adjustment” the guest services staff did not care to ask why (nor look me in the eye). Just a request to write the reason on the form. They seem well-versed in the Gratuity Adjustment form. We had a new experience leaving the ship and a fast, pleasant one. INS used facial recognition technology on the ship as we were leaving and so we did not have the typical walk through customs. We were not provided with a declaration form which was unusual. Fortunately, we had nothing to declare. We have been on well over 40 cruises and it is unlikely we will return to NCL anytime soon. A shame because we enjoy the NCL ships. Had it been for just one surly staff member or even a whole department we could have forgiven. But the entire crew? Bizarre. Our single excursion was to Virgin Gorda, the Baths. This is an extraordinary place, full of smooth granite boulders that seem to have dropped from the sky, carved into cave-like spaces and caverns by the ocean’s waves. We had read that this place would be a disaster if it was crowded and we concur. We went with the first group of the day and there was only one other ship in dock. It requires a ferry ride followed by a bus ride to get there. The formations were incredible and it was unlike any place we have been to in the Caribbean. It was worth it, but I am certain we would have felt otherwise if there was a larger crowd. It could become a very dangerous place with more people.

Has “Freestyle” cruising led to de-personalization of service on NCL?

Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by DragonEyePearl

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom
I learned something valuable on this cruise: how to remove gratuities from your account.

We arrived at the port and had an easy check in experience. This was around 11 AM and there were no lines and we walked right onto the ship. They did not take our pictures but instead use the pictures from our passports. This was a first.

The first thing we did was check out the Go Carts and Laser Tag area in hopes of learning about package deals. There was no one there, so we came back later that day. We learned that you need reservations for both of these activities and package deals were expensive. Fine. They were open at the time and so we asked to reserve a spot, now. The crew seemed disinterested but complied and we started off the trip with a Go Cart experience using the 2 seaters. We were asked to watch a video and then the crewmember gave us instructions (while facing away from us). We put on the balaclavas and they slapped on the helmets and we were off. It was fun, but I do not think it would’ve been fun if there were more than 2 go carts on the track. We did not do it again, thankfully.

The Laser Tag was also enjoyable, but the video they made you watch had nothing to do with how you actually play the game. It rained on us and so they refunded our play. More on this later.

The ship was decent. There is no grand atrium or staircase area but I did not miss it. Instead, it was replaced by the magnificent Observation Lounge. I would have spent more time up here if I could have. Watching the sea rolling forward on sea days and the ship come into the various ports was fantastic. It was crowded during the day and deserted at night. There was one bar up there and no bar service (*see below). A light buffet was provided there during the day only.

The other bar areas were OK. Most of the bars have inside and outside options with the Waterfront on Deck 8. Each bar area had a unique cocktail on tap. They were interesting to try, just for the fun of it.

Our children, 9 and 10, enjoyed the kids club “Splash Academy”. The kids program is exactly the same across every NCL ship we have experienced so far (4x NCL). My children actually have come to enjoy knowing what to expect. We ended up tipping the kids club staff what we took away from the general gratuities.

Will not rehash the pool and lounge chair experience which was exactly as all of the reviewers have stated. We made bets as to which waterslide riders would not make it through both loops (50-50 shot). The food was mediocre, as previously stated. It is worth again stating how the food was often cold in the buffet. Truly remarkable. Fortunately I prefer breakfast and there was always piles of bacon hot and ready. All of the entertainment was painfully loud. Bring earplugs.

Now the worst of it: The Service. I have never experienced such a dejected and seemingly miserable crew. There was no personality. There was no service.

The bartenders did not look you in the eye. Instead of asking what you were having they just pointed at you. There was no walk around bartender service anywhere except the pool and theatre and even that was very limited. You had to go uo to a bar to get your drink. One of our daiquiris had human hair in it (not ours)! But at that point in the cruise I realized there would be no point to go back and complain.

In the buffet, there were no waiters to bring drinks or ask about your day. The waiters were all used as busboys, leering, waiting to snatch your plates. They did not speak to you other than to ask you if you were done.

Our experience in the specialty dining restaurant, Los Lobos, was particularly unusual. We started with one waiter who took our children’s orders and explained the dining package options and menu to my elderly in-laws and then left. Then another waiter came with the drink menu. Fine. That waiter then tried to take my children’s orders again, explained a whole different set of dining rules to the in-laws and left no time for us to review the menus before requesting our orders. The in-laws were confused and it became a big disastrous miserable experience.

Our physical room itself was to be expected. An outside balcony on Deck 10. It is notable that for a party of four, we were initially only given two sets of towels. We wrote a note to our Invisible Room Steward to get the rest of them. The first night my daughter slept lightly in the upper bunk and so it appeared unslept in. The second night, our Invisible Room Steward did not pull down the upper bunk. Again, we had to write a note to ask him to pull it down. The sofa that converted to a bed was never converted back into a sofa the entire trip. We were taking bets on whether or not the liquid soap dispensers would be refilled before they ran dry (they were, but just barely). It was also notable that our trash bins were not emptied daily.

The NCL app is never updated, a joke. Do not rely on it. Unfortunately, we also received spotty paper information in our room. We received the typical and expected Notification on our bed for the first Time Change. When it turned back however, there was no Notification. Fortunately, we did not miss out on anything because of this.

We found it a nice surprise that the smokers were confined to a glass box in the casino. On the other hand, as another reviews have noted, there must be a lack of smoking areas on the ship (we are not smokers) and found that many were smoking on their balconies, which was unpleasant for us.

Guest services: equally pathetic. Be ready, if you have a problem, they will tell you they cannot handle your problem and try to send you to the department in which the problem arose (request it happen there at Guest Services via phone).

Back to the Laser Tag refund. A couple days after our rained out round we checked our account. 2 of the 4 players games were refunded but we had two new charges for games never played. Note that while charges appear, an explanation for the charges does not. Watch your account closely. My in-laws also had charges that were “mistakes”. Getting these corrected was challenging but not impossible.

At the end, when I made my “Gratuity Adjustment” the guest services staff did not care to ask why (nor look me in the eye). Just a request to write the reason on the form. They seem well-versed in the Gratuity Adjustment form.

We had a new experience leaving the ship and a fast, pleasant one. INS used facial recognition technology on the ship as we were leaving and so we did not have the typical walk through customs. We were not provided with a declaration form which was unusual. Fortunately, we had nothing to declare.

We have been on well over 40 cruises and it is unlikely we will return to NCL anytime soon. A shame because we enjoy the NCL ships. Had it been for just one surly staff member or even a whole department we could have forgiven. But the entire crew? Bizarre.

Our single excursion was to Virgin Gorda, the Baths. This is an extraordinary place, full of smooth granite boulders that seem to have dropped from the sky, carved into cave-like spaces and caverns by the ocean’s waves. We had read that this place would be a disaster if it was crowded and we concur. We went with the first group of the day and there was only one other ship in dock. It requires a ferry ride followed by a bus ride to get there. The formations were incredible and it was unlike any place we have been to in the Caribbean. It was worth it, but I am certain we would have felt otherwise if there was a larger crowd. It could become a very dangerous place with more people.
DragonEyePearl’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BF
Our physical room, a balcony stateroom, was typical. We did not have any noise from entertainment venues or crew areas which was nice. The doors slam violently so watch your fingers. The stool was just a solid stool versus the hollow storage cubes you find on other ships. With 4 people, we used both the convertible sofa and the bunk bed. The bed was never returned to a sofa which made the room even more difficult to get around with 4 people. It was nearly impossible to get into the closet with the bunk and sofa made up. The rug was often wet which we were told was from carpet shampooing (yes, while we were gone from the room). The bathroom was fine and functioned without need of repair. No bar soap though. The water can get scaldingly hot, so be careful if you have small children. The only thing they provide is the liquid soap dispensers. We were 2 adults and 2 children and carry everything we need in a single large suitcase and one carry on. If we brought anymore it would have been a challenge to find places to stash it.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Nassau
    There were 5 Cruise Ships in port that day. It was fascinating watching the ship come in to such a crowded port from the Observation Lounge. We got off to do a little souvenir shopping but it was very crowded.
    View All 5,971 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Nassau Cruise Port Review
  • Virgin Gorda
    This is an extraordinary place, full of smooth granite boulders that seem to This is an extraordinary place, full of smooth granite boulders that seem to have dropped from the sky, carved into cave-like spaces and caverns by the ocean’s waves. We had read that this place would be a disaster if it was crowded and we concur. We went with the first group of the day and there was only one other ship in dock. It requires a ferry ride followed by a bus ride to get there. The formations were incredible and it was unlike any place we have been to in the Caribbean. It was worth it, but I am certain we would have felt otherwise if there was a larger crowd. It could become a very dangerous place with more people.
    View All 229 Virgin Gorda Reviews