Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by tskmstr
- Sail Date: May 2019
- Destination: Alaska
- Cabin Type: The Haven Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony
It was our honeymoon cruise (in our mid-30s, professionals) and we splurged for a cabin in the Haven - and it was worth every penny! The Haven suites are generously proportioned and on a ship like the Bliss (carrying 4,000 other passengers) it was WONDERFUL to escape to a quieter, more private part of the ship with its own lounge, bar, and observation deck. Service in the Haven was beyond amazing. By day three, both bartenders knew our preferences and were serving up twists on our beloved classics with homemade bitters, infusions, etc. The private pool and hot tubs were not to busy. The Horizon Obeservation Lounge was perfect - sit on comfy sofas, take in the views, staff bring you drinks from the bar, low noise levels, and there are snacks to nibble on. And don't forget - Haven suites come with a butler - who will also bring you snacks, take care of late night room service (without a charge) and handle questions/reservations for you. We were bummed to finally get off the ship...
For dining, about 98% of our meals rocked. The cafe impressed us and the noodle bowl station was a quick go-to for lunch. The Haven restaurant was wonderful but the menu does not change for the duration of the cruise - unlike the main dining rooms. We wished there was a little more variety there but changed it up by dining in different places. Main dining rooms had a great variety of food to choose from and there were specials throughout the cruise. Bar staff rocked (everywhere!) and there were plenty of beers on tap to try throughout the ship. The wine list was ok - it is not an area that excels. We ordered a few glasses (cab, meritage, Sauternes, port) but mainly stuck with cocktails and beer.
Specialty dining was overall great. Ocean Blue (seafood) was a bit of a disappointment (off ceviche, Alaskan cruise with no crab?!) and Food Republic (which we loved) wasn't too busy but you would find some similar items (noodle station) in the cafe. We would go back to Food Republic, La Cucina, and Le Bistro. Wine on in the bars and the specialty restaurants is fine - nothing to write home about if you are a big foodie. We stuck with cocktails and beer...and by the way The District Brewhouse was a good find with plenty on tap.
Entertainment was great. We played the obligatory Bingo (had to, it's a cruise) but also took in the shows - which NCL did a great job on. The Prohibition The Musical was an extra fee but came with five cocktails scattered throughout the performance and we enjoyed it. We didn't do a lot of the game shows, but they were popular and extra seating was routinely brought in when we walked through. Good comedians and the lounge singers did a great job entertaining. Casino was fun as well - easy to spend an hour in before you head to dinner or before catching a show.
Other things: The Waterfront on deck 8 was a boardwalk inspired area to walk around on the outside of the ship. It was a little chilly to eat there at the middle of May but we found ourselves thinking we would have dined outside if the weather had been warmer. Very cool idea. Also, there is an arcade on deck 5. While the children's areas are on that floor, we saw just as many adults there if not more than children. We battled it out playing Halo and ski-ball. In future, it would be great if they had a few more retro games for the adults hanging out down there.
For the ports, the day spent in Glacier Bay with the US National Park Rangers onboard to narrate was fantastic! It was probably our favorite day. We had both done other Alaskan cruises but had not experienced this before. Bravo - we did see 5 or 6 glaciers and had time to spend watching them. At the Marjorie Glacier, you could hear it cracking and we watching pieces calve off for about an hour. We took about 300 photos in the span of an hour. By the way, if you do the Haven, you have AMAZING views from the private sundeck of the glaciers - complete with staff serving drinks and clam chowder while you watch. Juneau was fun (breweries, a distillery, a great little bookshop, and a local wood-workers artist collaborative) and Ketchikan had the 'old school' historic vibe you expect from Alaska. Skagway had some history if you sought it out - the main drag was a little touristy. The evening visit to Victoria was weird - hardly anyone seemed to get off the ship - we were there for 4 hours and at night - so hard to go do anything. Staff seemed excited, passengers less so. That being said, we heard that this evening stop was in order to maximize daytime in Glacier Bay National Park (and have almost a full day there) and if that was the trade off - it was fine with us!
We weren't to keen on: We felt that the NCL organized shore excursions were pricey for what they were. We opted to plan our own itinerary in each port and looked up things to do in each city - brewery tour, found a distillery, a little bit of tourist shipping, historic tours and districts. We would have taken the NCL excursions (we even had a credit) but didn't feel like adding on another thousand or two dollars to our trip.
Overall, we would definitely go again! And in fact, are looking at fall cruise to New England and Canada next. We think that the Haven suite might have ruined us for a regular room but it was so worth it.
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