This is LOOONG review with hundreds of pictures, so skip it if you don't like reading. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to sail on this vessel when I did. I knew I would never be able to cruise on a ship this big at full capacity, willingly. So I jumped on the chance to sail on the Bliss on a 14 day cruise from Los Angeles to Miami. Despite some party poops saying the ship would be at 60% capacity, this cruise sailed with only 1313 passengers aboard (34% capacity), and it was AMAZING!! In fact the Primary reason I was willing to sail during the pandemic was that Norwegian Holdings (which owns NCL and Regent Seven Seas) was, at the time, the ONLY cruise line allowing only fully vaccinated passengers with a negative COVID test to board their vessels. That boosted my confidence, so I wasn't worried.
This cruise was intended to give me a great start to 2022 doing two things I've always wanted: The Mexican Riviera & the Panama Canal. I had heard fairly bad things about NCL in the past, as such my 1st cruises were on Celebrity for their premium status. However, when looking for a Panama Canal, this was a perfect cruise. It was 14 days, and on a ship that had a lot to offer. Since Bliss is one of NCL's newer ship (ships less than 5 years old are still considered 'new'), there were no verifiable bad reviews, except NCL's fleet wide practice of charging for extras, and the 'so called' "Service Fees". This would be my first time on a mega-ship, however my main motivation for doing this on Bliss was the reduced capacity. This was so I could enjoy all the amenities without crowds and long lines. The longest line I stood in was about 6 people, excluding exiting the ship on port days.
Embarkation was smooth and I was onboard within an hour, as expected. This cruise had seven ports: Mexico - Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Nicaragua - San Juan del Sur, Guatemala - Puerto Quetzal, Costa Rica - Puerto Caldera (Puntarenas), Panama - The Canal (New 2016 Locks), and Columbia - Cartagena. When I looked at the itinerary I suspected that Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Columbia might close their ports, and prepared for that. In December we were informed that the Nicaraguan government closed it's ports ahead of the cruise. On the first sea day I got a notice and voicemail that my zip-line excursion in Costa Rica was canceled and the money refunded to my onboard account. I was able to book a replacement zip-line & aerotram excursion. The evening before we were to arrive in Guatemala we were informed by the Port Authority we could not dock, so we passed the port for an extra sea day. It wasn't until we docked at Costa Rica, that after 3 hours we were told the Pier Manger would not allow passengers to debark and we left port an hour later. I was getting frequent alerts for Columbia well ahead of the cruise, so I was very surprised that we were able to dock and debark. The Panama Canal, the reason I took this 14 day cruise, was awesome! It took 11 hours to get through the new 2016 locks, and it was actually cool. Now I want to cruise on a much smaller ship and go through the original Locks!
It was more comfortable than I thought it would be; space wise it was not a cramped as I feared it would be. Certainly bigger than the AquaClass/Cocierge rooms on Celebrity's Solstice class ships. Although the TV was rather small, but whatev. I actually watched a couple of movies in my room. The bathroom was way bigger, and I was grateful for that. The shower was amazing, it was a walk-in with European control knobs. It had 6 little jets that sprayed all your parts. The shower had two heads, one rainfall, and one handheld. Even the layout was nice; the toilet was opposite the shower, and the sink was very wide, and had more space than I needed. Glad I had a balcony and a bed all to myself!
The mattresses, however, were too firm for me, but I got used to it. I absolutely LOVED all four of my fluffy pillows! I was on the ship for 9 full days before I knew there was space under my couch. I only looked when I was noticing how big the couch was, and felt underneath for a roll-out bed. I never felt cramped in this "Club Suite". They even gave me free, one time, laundry bag.
The only thing I did NOT like was the power switch. You had to place a small card (that was provided) down in a slot to turn on the electrical power (power to the TV stayed on, however). This was silly, to me. With the billions they have, why cheap out on electricity. It sucks if you are charging devices, then cut the power out of habit when you leave; only to come back and find your devices aren't charged. Also, if you have something in the fridge (I did: chocolate covered strawberries) and you cut the power and come back later, well... I had to throw some stuff out. I did keep the card in at times, and while NCL say the Stewards will unplug your devices and turn off the power, mine didn't. In fact, most nights when I came back my bed headboard lights were on (like that certain hotel). Also, there were no towel animals, like I saw on other NCL Bliss cruises! Did I have to ask for them??
Why 4 stars? The bathroom floor was elevated from the cabin floor, so I tripped over it twice. I do wish the room was wider, so I could have an actual chair instead of that stool/mini table thing. Also, the A/C & heater was wonkey. It has an auto off and on feature that was annoying. When it got cold inside the cabin, I would turn the heat on. There were too many mornings I woke up to cold air, because the thermo's auto shutoff kicked in overnight while the heat was on.