Overall, had an enjoyable experience on the NCL Bliss on an 8 day voyage over Christmas 2019. The Bliss is modern and clean, with plenty of activities and entertainment, and dining/drinking options and quality are good enough. However, there are also some hiccups in the design, cabin noise, children's programs and crowded nature of activities. For the cost, was a great value (especially over holidays) and would recommend for anyone who is comfortable with NCL.
* Embarkation process in NY: Baggage and embarkation process in NY is a mess and includes a mob of people pushing there way to the entry after arriving on a narrow sidewalk. Complete lack of order. (disembarkation was even worse)
* First impression of vessel: new ship, modern and clean. Significantly nicer than Jewel class. Quite large but didn't feel overwhelming; crowds were an issue occasionally with seating at Garden Cafe Buffet, lounge chairs around pool, and the entertainment.
- There is a fantastic observation lounge on deck 15 where you can also have lunch or snacks throughout the day
- nice outdoor deck on 8 with various areas to lounge. Many people used for walking rather than track on deck 17- gym was decent with lots of cardio, but limited free weights, especially only 1 cross cable machine where there was often a wait* Cabin: we had connecting balcony rooms on aft side on deck 9. Large enough. Bed ok. Nice balcony. Practical, though small bathroom and shower with strong water pressure and instant hot water. Issue was noise, we were close to a crew service door and could constantly hear door slamming throughout night. Could also hear noises from above and general boat creaking* Food / Drink:
- as can be expected quite hit or miss. Best meals were unsurprisingly specialty restaurants: Cagney's and Le Bistro were highly enjoyed and great service. Q was fun atmosphere and pretty good food with live music.- There is a Starbucks in the lobby which is VERY expensive, but is included in the premium beverage package; this package also gives access to freshly squeezed juice in Garden Cafe and higher end alcohol (we actually thought worth the extra price)
- Lots of bars and rarely much of a wait: Mustangs and Sugarcane are nice and central; Craft brewhouse was a fun place to grab a beer* Pool deck: there are 2 small pools and kiddie Aqua Park. There are also a number of hot tubs, but these were generally filled to capacity often with children or severely overweight patrons; not enjoyable in any way.
* Kids programs (Splash Academy and Guppies): major disappointment compared to other cruise lines- our group had 2 in Splash Academy who didn't even want to go after 1st day. Then the organizers on last day misrepresented kids show process and kids waited in long line to be denied participation even though on time and were at the morning practice - Guppies play area is pretty lame, small room and some of the counselors were not overly enthusiastic * Entertainment: strong point of our cruise. Only issues were getting decent seats unless showing up really early, and rude patrons constantly coming in and out of every show
- Six show was fantastic- Jersey Boys was Broadway caliber- Beatles cover band was great- other live music (Siglo, Country) pretty good
* Activities- Water slides are fun and highlight of boat; the Aqua fall is very fun, but was closed much of the cruise due to high winds. Other one a bit boring but better than nothing- Go karts fun, but a bit slow. Hard to get a reservation- we were not able to get a reservation for laser tag- 2 small bowling lanes off the Local pub- 5 hole, somewhat simple mini-golf on top deck
* We were not able to dock at Great Stirrup Caye as seas were too rough for tenders to operate. Huge disappointment and led to tense environment for the extra day at sea due to agitated masses. NCL does not operate a pier there, as opposed to RC who have one and can dock in rougher conditions* Casino is typical but at least separate, enclosed smoking area which is a huge difference. Note, for BJ, use automated shuffles and poor payouts (6/5)* Generally friendly and helpful staff* Disembarkation process a nightmare. 1.5 hour delay and then another long line through customs. The masses were strewn about throughout the ship/lobby with no order - like Penn Station on a cold day
Room was standard connecting balcony. a bit tight but as can be expected with NCL. bathroom seemed a bit smaller than other ships. Biggest issue was noise from the hallway and service entrance.