Seattle and Alaska were on my wife’s bucket list so we combined the two with one trip. We made the trip with two other couples who are close friends and fellow cruisers. We arrived on Friday and stayed at the Westin downtown. We tried to book the Marriott Waterfront, next to pier 66 where NCL Bliss is, but it was booked. This hotel is really a short walk to the pier so we were disappointed. However, the Westin didn’t disappoint us either. We took several days to explore Seattle and that allowed us to relax prior to our cruise.
On Sunday, our check-in time was from 11-11:30am. We arrived at 11 and breezed right through the process. We were advised our rooms were immediately available. This is the quickest we have ever accessed our room. Our bags arrived at varying times over the next several hours.
I think it would be helpful to divide my review into pros and cons so you can see what we liked and disliked.
We selected a mid-ship mini-suite (14180). This was essentially a balcony cabin with an over sized bathroom. It was well appointed and close to the elevators.
We found the food and the service to be above average in the complimentary dining rooms. We visited Q Smokehouse, Le Bistro, and Cagneys for our speciality restaurants and all were above average.
The entertainment was very good on the Bliss. We attended Havana, which was very good. Then we attended Jersey Boys, which was fabulous. I highly recommend it! We also attended Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical which was good but cheesy.
The musical groups were also very good on this ship. We especially spent many nights at the Sugarcane Mojito bar to listen to Latin music played by Duo Rika. They were very good. Prelude Duo played a variety of music in the atrium bar and they were also good. At the end of the evening we enjoyed going to the Observation lounge to listen to Suzanne playing piano and singing. She was also very good.
We signed up for 3 excursions. At Juneau we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watch. Mendenhall Glacier was good but you have such a short time here you really can’t walk down to the glacier. The whale watch tour was amazing and I highly recommend it. Another in our group did the Mendenhall Glacier and Salmon bake and they said it was great. We then went to Skagway and did the basic White Pass and Yukon Railway. This was very educational. Again, I would recommend it. We then went to Ketchikan and took the Duck Boat tour. This was an educational tour but I must say you have to climb up a 9 step ladder to get into the boat and the seats are so close together they have less leg room than an airline. They also had most of the plexiglass windows closed and on this hot day many were getting overheated.
Seattle Port Authority has a new program Port Valet. With this program, our bags were pre-checked through American. We were given bag tags and boarding passes Saturday and they took our bags to the airport and put them on our plane. This was an AWESOME program and saved us a lot of hassle! I wish more ports did this.
Additionally, now that Customs no longer requires written declarations for lower levels of items being brought into the country, this process went very smoothly.
This ship has over 4,000 guests. As such the elevators were usually crowed and it was not unusual to have long waits to access an elevator. Sometimes it was easier to take an elevator in the opposite direction than you intended because it was quicker.
We loved our cabin but I must say, for a relatively new ship this was the most uncomfortable bed I have ever slept on. It felt like sleeping on a board. I talked to several other people on the ship who experienced the same thing.
My wife has trouble sleeping so she must take a portable fan with us for the noise and wind. We have taken this on every cruise without any issue. When her bag with the fan arrived in our room, the fan had been confiscated by NCL and they left us a note it was on the list of prohibited items. The note said it would remain confiscated until the end of our trip. We had read the prohibited items list prior to departure and knew this was not on it. As such, we went to Customer Relations and politely asked about why this fan was confiscated. We were told the same thing about the prohibited item list. When we politely pointed out the discrepancy, we were then told the fan was confiscated due to a concern with wattage. Because the reason for the confiscation changed we then took our appeal to a higher officer. Eventually, the fan was returned to us but not after losing an hour and a half of our time. I don’t mind rules but they just need to be applied consistently. Thank goodness for the levelheadedness of the supervisor who rectified this.
We tried using the Garden Cafe several times but it was just too overcrowded. Both times we were unable to get a seat. As a result, we quit going there.
We loved the Observation Lounge but beware that on rougher water days, which we had a few, the movement at the front of the deck on this floor can be pretty significant.
As mentioned previously, the Port Valet program is excellent. However, it requires you exit the ship between 7-8 am. We didn’t find this to be a problem.However, we found the disembarkation process to be quite different than the embarkation procedure. We found very long lines throughout the ship that moved very slowly. This was an unfortunate experience to an otherwise great cruise.
Overall, we had a great time on the Bliss and highly recommend it!
Great room with over sized bathroom. We loved everything but thought the bed was way too hard. It was like sleeping on a board.