Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by JamieLogical
- Sail Date: February 2019
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Mid-ship Balcony Stateroom
We have sailed twice on the Escape, so it was hard not to draw comparisons between the two ships. Despite being similar ships, it actually turned out to be very disorienting having the buffet (Garden Cafe) at the front of the ship. We had a cabin near the aft elevators and found it to be a lot more of a hassle to get to the Cafe than we were used to on the Escape. But once we got our bearings, it wasn't too bad and, luckily, we had nice weather so crossing the pool deck to get to the Cafe wasn't much of a hardship. Our only indoor options would have been walking through the stateroom hallways on Deck 15 or going down to the public decks on 6-7-8 and then taking the forward elevator up to the Cafe.
Navigation issues sorted, here is a list of pros and cons of the Bliss versus the Escape:
- The Observation Lounge - This is hands down the biggest advantage the Bliss has over the Escape. It is a lovely space. It is HUGE, has beautiful views, is generally quiet and serene, has comfy chairs and chaise loungers to relax and read or chat, has a full bar that was open most of the time, and has some buffet options for light snacks.
- Go Karts & Laser Tag - I know it was a controversial choice to take up so much upper deck space with these attractions, but I thoroughly enjoyed them and I am not a big fan of "fun in the sun" type activities, so I don't mind the loss of pool deck space. I have yet to do the ropes course on the Escape (though I hope to in April) and have only played a round or two of mini-golf on the Escape, so I did not feel the loss of those spaces.
- Entertainment - Both of the main theater shows were really good. Havana was high-energy and highly entertaining. Jersey Boys was the full-length musical and the performers were wonderful, though I did feel like the production value was very low. The women's wigs were downright horrid. Britain's Finest, the Beatles tribute band, was great and we saw both their early years and Abbey Road shows. But the real show-stealers of the whole cruise were Siglo, the Filipino house band. Their lead guitarist was out of this world. We made a point to see them every chance we got!
- Los Lobos - I thought I would miss Moderno, but we loved Los Lobos so much, we actually ate there twice! The food and service were both outstanding.
- Beautiful Decor - I really felt like the decor throughout the entire ship was a notch up from the Escape. I don't just mean slightly more modern, being a newer ship, but slightly higher quality and aesthetic as well. Found ourselves taking lots of photos of thinks like tile around the bars or wall art. Though I do like the Escape's chandelier better.
- Q - I had read some bad reviews beforehand, so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. I definitely didn't feel the loss of the Supper Club space, having never gone there on the Escape, so this was a welcome change.
- Casino - I definitely appreciated the separate smoking room in the Casino. It really helped reduce (though not completely eliminate) the smell of smoke. Plus, I never came back to the room at night smelling like and ashtray.
- Garden Cafe - Ugh, where to begin? I already talked about the forward location being disorienting. But the issues only BEGAN there. The stations are set up so strangely and there is just no FLOW to it at all. Many items were only available at one station, so you had to go all over to get the things you wanted, rather than duplicating the most common things on multiple stations to help manage traffic and crowds. I never once say a separate tray for "Crispy Bacon" at breakfast and that is one of my FAVORITE things about the other NCL sailings I've been on. There were only nachos ONE TIME at the late night snack bar on our entire sailing and never once did they have plain potato chips (though I did find some of those in the Observation Lounge a few times) and those are my go-to late night snack staples on NCL! At least the Tastes of India bar did not disappoint at lunch times. That's about the best thing I can say for the Garden Cafe on the Bliss.
- The Social - I never actually even managed to get in there for a show. The comedians were fully booked by the time I made it to a touch-screen on board. But the MAIN thing missing here versus the Escape is Howl at the Moon. I heard many people on the ship lamenting the fact that there is no Howl at the Moon on the Bliss. People love that show!
- Pincho Tapas - I really really missed this from the Escape. It's such great food! Really wish they hadn't eliminated it, though as dead as it always is on the Escape (why!?!?!), I'm not surprised. The expanded Sugarcane with a little stage area is kind of nice, though I felt it was under-utilized.
- Manhattan Room - They got rid of the dance floor and I never saw any live acts performing in the evenings there on the Bliss.
In all, I would sail the Bliss again for sure, but I still feel like the Escape is my "home".
I want to take the time to make a special shout-out to our Vacation Hero from the Bliss. Ramesh Naik, our assistant maitre 'd at Los Lobos. Our first night at Los Lobos was during the Super Bowl and we were nearly the only people there (definitely the only ones seated on the Waterfront). He came out and chatted with us several times and he was incredibly friendly. Later in the week, when we decided to go to Los Lobos again, we didn't have a reservation, but he was able to accommodate us still. We saw him throughout the week all over the ship and he always called us by name and was incredibly friendly. Then once, my SO spilled a full drink on the walkway in the Observation Lounge. I didn't want to leave it unattended, because I didn't want anyone to slip and fall before it was cleaned up. We waited and waited for someone to either bring a caution sign or a mop. Finally, Ramesh just happened upon us and he was all over it. He got on the walkie-talkie, and he shooed me off and guarded the spill until someone came to clean it up.
In all, we had a fantastic cruise. I cannot say enough about how friendly and accommodating the staff are. Our room steward, Arnel, acquired a lounge chair for our angled balcony by the end of the first day, always provided me with the extra bath towel I requested, had our room cleaned perfectly twice a day, left us a lovely towel animal each night, and always called us by name every time we saw him in the hall.
Our servers in all of the specialty restaurants were helpful, made great recommendations, and provided outstanding service. They never made us feel rushed, but they were quick and attentive as well. We are in Los Lobos, Q, Le Bistro, Ocean Blue, and Margaritaville. Food was good in all of them. I was worried my SO was going to actually leave me for the filet in Le Bistro, he was in such ecstasy over it. We loved Los Lobos! We were pleasantly surprised by Q. At Margaritaville they gave us WAY too much food as usual. I would say, of all of them, Ocean Blue was actually the most mediocre, even though it was an up-charge. The spicy shrimp appetizer and clam chowder were excellent, but our entrees were just okay.
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