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This was a fall break trip for the two of us, our two teenagers and our friends (married couple) that were experiencing their first cruise. Embarkation: Fair. Long line. But once at the counter it went quickly. They have keycards pre-printed and scan your passport photo for the photo they see when they scan your card. It took about 1.5 hours to get aboard the ship from when we got off the airport transfer. I already had a feeling that NCL doesn’t know how to handle big numbers at this stage of the cruise. Ship: Big, new and beautiful, with appropriate modern design features. Even though it’s large, it is fairly easy to navigate, with only a few dead-ends and hard-to-find places. The things that aren’t easy to find include the waterslide line locations and the mini-golf. Carpets in the hallways for cabins have fish to designate fore and aft, but the big inside areas don’t have any indicators, where I think they would be more helpful. There are many areas that have their own feel, and yet everything goes well together. The décor is beautiful and tasteful. Entertainment and pools: The pools close early (8pm!! Really?) and are very crowded on sea days. The lines for the water slides were brutal. I waited about 45 minutes for the drop slide, and that was about the shortest the line had been. It was also closed frequently, so I only got to do it once. The other waterslide had a slightly shorter line, but still at least 20 minutes wait time. There was an abundance of things to do, and we enjoyed some of the game shows and the trivia. Some of the game shows, though, were not done very well. They’re not polished, I think is the best way to explain it. Also, the trivia is done in the Atrium, and at times it was difficult to play because the Atrium Bar is loud, and some passengers found it fun to just shout out the answer while they were grabbing another drink and walking away. We didn’t get to do laser tag or the go-karts due to the reservation problems (more about this below), but our friends were able to get a reservation for two for the go-karts and they said they were a blast. I didn’t have the patience to try again to get a reservation or stand in the stand-by line. On our sailing they did the silent disco on two nights, and if you like music and/or dancing, you absolutely can’t miss this; it’s a ton of fun! The teen club got great reviews from our teens. The arcade is large and clean. Lots of games and activities for the kids and a final-night dinner in Manhattan. Cabins: I really liked the cabins. We had a standard balcony cabin, and the size was reasonable, with good storage. The bathroom is probably the best standard cabin I’ve been in. Cabin was only cleaned once a day. No turn-down service. But the cabin steward did introduce himself, and certainly worked hard. Dining: I really think that Norwegian is close to getting this right. It’s nice to have a range of restaurant choices from high-end down to buffet. Having a sports bar pub with great wings and the Q bbq restaurant is great. Teppanyaki was delicious. Unfortunately, it’s not really “freestyle” or easy to eat because of the reservations system (or even the fact that you need reservations). I guess I should mention the reservation problems. This was a systemic problem on this ship for us. It affected everything on the ship, ranging from dining to shows to laser tag. Somehow the reservation system “lost” most of our online reservations. We also made reservations from the kiosk right when we arrived on the ship, but most of the things were already booked. Further, the kiosk doesn’t print anything, so you are relying on the app to keep you informed of your reservations, but this also failed on this sailing. The lack of ability to spontaneously do something really detracts from the so-called “freestyle” cruising. This was compounded dramatically by the failures in the online reservation system, the kiosk system and the app to work together. Yes, it’s really that bad, and I’m not a person looking for something to complain about. Bars: The Bliss has a great selection of bars, and we really enjoyed them all. It’s nice that several of the bars have a selection of unique cocktails as opposed to a homogenous menu that’s the same at every single bar. The District Brewhouse craft brewery was a great place to have some good beers. The pool bar had some mediocre bartenders, but the Atrium Bar and Maltings Whiskey Bar both had excellent bartenders. All the other bartenders were at least good. The Observation Lounge is a great place to relax or to get a good drink. We enjoyed getting a light brunch (they have a small buffet selection) and a Bloody Mary more than once! Disembarkation: Bad. I know it’s difficult to get 4000 people off the ship in just a couple hours, but the bottleneck at customs creates a terribly long line. From the time our color group was called (after waiting an hour in the Atrium) to the time we boarded our transfer to LAX was just shy of 2 hours. All that time in a long, snaking line that went through Manhattan dining room to some crew areas, to finally getting off of the ship into the circus tent with 2000 of the other passengers still waiting (probably from at least an hour before..). It was straight up miserable. Service: This is a tough one to rate. Almost all of our service was very good, with nice employees really appearing to care about customer service. The difference is that in general the NCL Bliss is more casual than a Princess or Celebrity ship, so although the service is good and friendly, we found that we missed the extra class of service we are used to. Casino: Excellent. Easily the best casino at sea that I’ve been to. They have a lot of modern slot machines and a lot of table games. There is a Texas hold-em table with a real dealer and there were live money games and tournaments throughout the trip. The main portion of the casino is non-smoking, but there is also a large enclosed casino area for smokers which also had a lot of machines and table games. We didn’t get to see the Haven, nor did we do any spa days. We looked at the fitness center, and it was a bit crowded on day one, but then we decided we were walking enough to skip the gym. All in all, this cruise was a ton of fun, and we really enjoyed being on such a nice and new ship, but we found that the casual atmosphere sometimes went too far into the casual realm. It’s a little snobby but we missed things like the constantly clean cabin and turn down service. Between the casual atmosphere, the lines, the need for reservations, and the failures with the reservation system, I think we are unlikely to book another NCL cruise. I would probably recommend the cruise line for family cruising and for casual cruising if the price and itinerary are appealing.

Beautiful ship; reservations and lines detract from overall experience

Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by sandsunsurf

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2019
  • Destination: Mexican Riviera
  • Cabin Type: Family Balcony Stateroom
This was a fall break trip for the two of us, our two teenagers and our friends (married couple) that were experiencing their first cruise.

Embarkation: Fair. Long line. But once at the counter it went quickly. They have keycards pre-printed and scan your passport photo for the photo they see when they scan your card. It took about 1.5 hours to get aboard the ship from when we got off the airport transfer. I already had a feeling that NCL doesn’t know how to handle big numbers at this stage of the cruise.

Ship: Big, new and beautiful, with appropriate modern design features. Even though it’s large, it is fairly easy to navigate, with only a few dead-ends and hard-to-find places. The things that aren’t easy to find include the waterslide line locations and the mini-golf. Carpets in the hallways for cabins have fish to designate fore and aft, but the big inside areas don’t have any indicators, where I think they would be more helpful. There are many areas that have their own feel, and yet everything goes well together. The décor is beautiful and tasteful.

Entertainment and pools: The pools close early (8pm!! Really?) and are very crowded on sea days. The lines for the water slides were brutal. I waited about 45 minutes for the drop slide, and that was about the shortest the line had been. It was also closed frequently, so I only got to do it once. The other waterslide had a slightly shorter line, but still at least 20 minutes wait time. There was an abundance of things to do, and we enjoyed some of the game shows and the trivia. Some of the game shows, though, were not done very well. They’re not polished, I think is the best way to explain it. Also, the trivia is done in the Atrium, and at times it was difficult to play because the Atrium Bar is loud, and some passengers found it fun to just shout out the answer while they were grabbing another drink and walking away. We didn’t get to do laser tag or the go-karts due to the reservation problems (more about this below), but our friends were able to get a reservation for two for the go-karts and they said they were a blast. I didn’t have the patience to try again to get a reservation or stand in the stand-by line. On our sailing they did the silent disco on two nights, and if you like music and/or dancing, you absolutely can’t miss this; it’s a ton of fun!

The teen club got great reviews from our teens. The arcade is large and clean. Lots of games and activities for the kids and a final-night dinner in Manhattan.

Cabins: I really liked the cabins. We had a standard balcony cabin, and the size was reasonable, with good storage. The bathroom is probably the best standard cabin I’ve been in. Cabin was only cleaned once a day. No turn-down service. But the cabin steward did introduce himself, and certainly worked hard.

Dining: I really think that Norwegian is close to getting this right. It’s nice to have a range of restaurant choices from high-end down to buffet. Having a sports bar pub with great wings and the Q bbq restaurant is great. Teppanyaki was delicious. Unfortunately, it’s not really “freestyle” or easy to eat because of the reservations system (or even the fact that you need reservations).

I guess I should mention the reservation problems. This was a systemic problem on this ship for us. It affected everything on the ship, ranging from dining to shows to laser tag. Somehow the reservation system “lost” most of our online reservations. We also made reservations from the kiosk right when we arrived on the ship, but most of the things were already booked. Further, the kiosk doesn’t print anything, so you are relying on the app to keep you informed of your reservations, but this also failed on this sailing. The lack of ability to spontaneously do something really detracts from the so-called “freestyle” cruising. This was compounded dramatically by the failures in the online reservation system, the kiosk system and the app to work together. Yes, it’s really that bad, and I’m not a person looking for something to complain about.

Bars: The Bliss has a great selection of bars, and we really enjoyed them all. It’s nice that several of the bars have a selection of unique cocktails as opposed to a homogenous menu that’s the same at every single bar. The District Brewhouse craft brewery was a great place to have some good beers. The pool bar had some mediocre bartenders, but the Atrium Bar and Maltings Whiskey Bar both had excellent bartenders. All the other bartenders were at least good. The Observation Lounge is a great place to relax or to get a good drink. We enjoyed getting a light brunch (they have a small buffet selection) and a Bloody Mary more than once!

Disembarkation: Bad. I know it’s difficult to get 4000 people off the ship in just a couple hours, but the bottleneck at customs creates a terribly long line. From the time our color group was called (after waiting an hour in the Atrium) to the time we boarded our transfer to LAX was just shy of 2 hours. All that time in a long, snaking line that went through Manhattan dining room to some crew areas, to finally getting off of the ship into the circus tent with 2000 of the other passengers still waiting (probably from at least an hour before..). It was straight up miserable.

Service: This is a tough one to rate. Almost all of our service was very good, with nice employees really appearing to care about customer service. The difference is that in general the NCL Bliss is more casual than a Princess or Celebrity ship, so although the service is good and friendly, we found that we missed the extra class of service we are used to.

Casino: Excellent. Easily the best casino at sea that I’ve been to. They have a lot of modern slot machines and a lot of table games. There is a Texas hold-em table with a real dealer and there were live money games and tournaments throughout the trip. The main portion of the casino is non-smoking, but there is also a large enclosed casino area for smokers which also had a lot of machines and table games.

We didn’t get to see the Haven, nor did we do any spa days. We looked at the fitness center, and it was a bit crowded on day one, but then we decided we were walking enough to skip the gym.

All in all, this cruise was a ton of fun, and we really enjoyed being on such a nice and new ship, but we found that the casual atmosphere sometimes went too far into the casual realm. It’s a little snobby but we missed things like the constantly clean cabin and turn down service. Between the casual atmosphere, the lines, the need for reservations, and the failures with the reservation system, I think we are unlikely to book another NCL cruise. I would probably recommend the cruise line for family cruising and for casual cruising if the price and itinerary are appealing.
sandsunsurf’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
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Cabin Review

Family Balcony Stateroom
Cabin B8 9762
Very nice, felt spacious. Bed not on par with Princess, but still comfortable. Shower has glass doors, good water pressure and fast hot water. Plenty of storage in the room (we heard later that there is storage under the couch, also). We had an adjoining door to the kids' cabin. Cabin 9764 has a bigger balcony, so given a choice between the two cabins, go for 9764. Both were fairly quiet, other than kids running down the hallway, there were no disco, restaurant or engine noises that we noticed.
Deck 13 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins