10 Norwegian Bliss Cruise Reviews for Romantic Cruises to Panama Canal & Central America

We chose this criuse to celebrate our 50th anniversery and had a wonderful time. We chose the beverage and dining packages and could not have been happier with the choice. We are not big drinkers but it was nice to feel free to try new ... Read More
We chose this criuse to celebrate our 50th anniversery and had a wonderful time. We chose the beverage and dining packages and could not have been happier with the choice. We are not big drinkers but it was nice to feel free to try new ones that we would not have if we didn't have that package. The dining package gave use many great chioces. We chose Cagneys for our anniversery diner and loved it. The only negitves where the soup and potatoes where lukewarm. The service was great and, as it happened, our waiter was also our waiter when we sailed on the Star. We also ate at Le Bistro and Los Lobos. Le Bistro was above average and Los Lobos was so good we eat there two more times. Yessina at Los Lobos is a treasure. On our second night there she made my wife a napkin rose that she kept and admiered for the rest of the cruise. We ate at Savor and The Local alot and they were always top notch. Service on the ship was excellent with only a couple of grumpy grew members. I have a great deal of respect for the crew members. They work 12 hour days for up to 9 months without a day off and still show great attitudes. As far as the ships entertainment and activities go the entertainment was great! We mostly liked to just relax and read a good book, so I can't really review the activies, although there seemed to be something going on all the time. Embarkation was a breeze but disembarkation could be termed organized chaos. We only took one Norwiegian excursion and it was just OK. We took a Thumbs Up 10 in 1 excursion in Costa Rica and it was awsome. If you ever get to Costa Rica you should check this out and request Allie as your guide. Overall we were very happy with the Bliss and would cruise on it again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We are a working couple in our early 60s. We have sailed NCL at least a dozen times (we are Platinum). We’ve sailed other cruise lines as well. Our first cruise ever was on NCL in the early 1990’s and over the years we thought the ... Read More
We are a working couple in our early 60s. We have sailed NCL at least a dozen times (we are Platinum). We’ve sailed other cruise lines as well. Our first cruise ever was on NCL in the early 1990’s and over the years we thought the product had become stale but NCL is back and in a big way, but there are things they still need to work on. This was our first cruise on one of their new Breakaway class ships. The Bliss is considered Breakaway-Plus (not exactly sure what that means). She holds almost 5000 passengers. We had 4200 fellow passengers on our sailing with a variety of ages and nationalities and very few children. Here’s a breakdown of our cruise with grades. >Pre-Booking through Cruise Planner – B Like most cruise lines, NCL offers to book excursions before the sail date. However, what was available before embarkation was not a complete list. In fact, a couple of ports were showing only a single or no excursions. This influenced the “Free at Sea” options we chose, which probably cost us $ because we did not go with the shore excursion option. We chose the dining and the 250-minutes of internet options. Granted it was a re-positioning cruise so ports were a new itinerary, but NCL should be more on the ball with this. Plus the ports changed multiple times up until a few weeks before the sailing. >Doubletree Hotel at the Port – A We chose to go a day early and stayed at the Doubletree at the port, which is one of the closest hotels and set in a marina, resort-like area. Very nice. We used points, but did it early. Good thing we did because the hotel sold out the night we were there. >Embarkation – A- Fast and easy. Arrived after the early crush (around 1:30). No lines. They didn’t take our pictures for the on-boarding but rather scanned in our passport photos. Only negative is the industrial setting of the port, not exactly attractive. And it is too easy to get lost driving to the port or head to the wrong one (Long Beach). Which we did. >Cabin – C We had an aft-facing balcony on the 14th deck. Typical configuration with two choices; bed by balcony or couch by balcony (we had the later). My husband described cabin as functional but small. One asset was the many ports for charging electronics. Actual USB ports were by each bedside and at the desk. Balcony was over-sized but the deepest (biggest) aft balconies were lower on deck 12. You could easily fit lounge chairs on the balcony we had. If you want them, ask the room steward. The cabin was tight for storage space. If it wasn’t for the two big drawers under the couch, we would have had significant problems with storage. Bathroom was tiny, but shower was a little larger than typically found on cruise ships. The room had creaking around top of balcony door especially at higher speeds which actually woke me up several nights. This room was smaller than we usually go for, but we wanted the aft, and it was this room or the Haven suites $$$. The flat screen TV was an LG. Another post had indicated you could connect wirelessly to the TV from an iPad. We couldn’t find this option and any extra video ports were disabled. Fortunately, the optical-out for sound worked which my husband used for his hearing aid device (ComPilot). There were several free movie channels plus pay-per-view movies. There was no guide to the free movie schedule so we had to get a printout from guest services. Worked fine until several confusing time changes and NCL neglected to shift the movie schedule. NCL really needs to work on this and publish the schedule in the daily planner, through their app, or online. Unfortunately, we discovered NCL has ruined the aft cabin experience with this ship layout. Disturbing our sleep were disco-style parties that went on until well after midnight three decks above us on deck 17. This is the new Spice H2O NCL is using, and retrofitting on some ships. It serves as an outdoor disco. Problem is it uses massive stadium speakers bolted to the deck and the noise travels through several decks and also comes through balcony doors. SERIOUS design flaw. Between us were two decks, usually a safe bet, with cabins on deck 15 and the spa on deck 16. The music was blasted in this open air venue at the aft of the ship. I can only imagine how bad it was for the cabins above us on deck 15. The over-amplification of the bass caused some adjacent drinking glasses in our cabin to shimmy and clink together. My husband went up one night to try to get the DJ to turn it down and the DJ tried to defend the volume. My husband said when he got up there it was so loud it was uncomfortable. On the next to last night of the cruise we were awakened at quarter to one by the LOUD vibrating bass coming from the multi-speaker towers as well as other speakers on the multiple tall poles. This time it was a private function that went on until 2 a.m. We complained to Guest Services, but they really were unable to influence the DJ to turn it down. Found out later it was a CREW party! So much for passenger consideration! The next morning we got a call from Guest Services offering us a substantial amount of on-board credit as a “good will gesture, not compensation” for the inconvenience. Must be some legal thing. That is when we found out that the private function was the second CREW PARTY in the last seven months so they were really partying. I asked if the lower decks complained (e.g. deck 12) and the Guest Services guy said not so much but mostly the upper decks which tells me we were not the only ones complaining. Because of this I would not recommend an aft cabin on any NCL ship with Spice H2O. It is no longer sufficient to check that there is nothing noisy on the deck above you. NCL has full control to fix this by adjusting volume, but until they do I would avoid an aft location. >Food We had a total of six specialty restaurant meals. Most specialty restaurants on the Bliss have outside, café-style seating on the Promenade deck. We ate outside when we could. Really liked that. We really did not have problems making reservations, but we also like to eat earlier (5-5:30) so we beat the rush. Plenty of choices. >>Main dining rooms Savoy and Taste – A- This is one area that really stood out as a major improvement from our previous NCL cruises. I usually ordered fish dishes and all were very good to excellent. Service was adequate to excellent. We didn’t try the Manhattan room but was told that was the busiest of the three main dining venues. But also the noisiest, so we avoided it. Also tried the Savoy dining room for lunch one time. Had an excellent grouper sandwich. >>Garden Cafe – A- Great selection and nicely prepared food. As is typical, finding a seat was tough at peak times. Indian and Asian food stations were very good. They even had Middle Eastern food. They also had hard ice cream with a few of the more unique flavors rotated daily. Good traffic flow patterns and lots of space and stations so no real waiting to get your food most times. One complaint is that it took at least two go-rounds in the painfully slow toasters to get your bread/English muffins/bagels even lightly toasted. But they had multiple omelet stations and lines were very bearable. Secret for a quiet breakfast is to either get cold items (muffins, cereal, yogurt, juice, coffee) on the deck below in the Observation Lounge or get your hot items in the Garden Cafe and take them to the Observation Lounge. The Observation Lounge is huge and quiet Note: the aft cabins are a LONG walk to the Garden Cafe, probably close to a football field. >>Le Bistro – B Ate there twice. First time service was outstanding and second time not so much. Waitress seemed impatient and somewhat condescending with our questions when placing our order but seemed to have lightened up over time. Do try the highly recommended lamb chops. One of the best meals for the entire cruise. Wish they had a non-fru-fru salad on the menu but they did get me one as a special request. Husband had the onion soup and thought it was fabulous. Husband had foie gras and said it was first rate, as good as he has had in France. Wine steward was really good and made great recommendations. Very knowledgeable and down to earth. >>La Cucina – C Ate there very early in the cruise. Ordered steaks that were somewhat dry and I saw the waiter wipe his runny nose with the back of his hand which is not only gross but unacceptable. I’d be grossed out if the cashier at Macy’s did this when buying a shirt. Did mention this to a manager of a different specialty restaurant but we couldn’t remember the name of the waiter. I would think they could figure it out from our reservation. >>Los Lobos – A- Fabulous service - hands down best service on ship. My complaint was that they marinated their meats before grilling them, giving them a more stewed taste rather than a charred grill taste. So Carne Asada was not to my liking but it’s all relative. And the portions were huge...too much food. They make guacamole at the table and used two big avocados and then added tomatoes, onions, etc...which made for a mountain of guacamole. Very good though. The upbeat and attentive waitress brought us stuff to taste and drink in addition to what we ordered. I couldn’t eat more than a third of the food before me at best. We sat outside on a lovely evening so overall a really nice experience. >>Cagney’s – B I ordered the prime rib and a HUGE slab of meat was before me. Almost grossed me out. And it fell apart like bar-b-que which is not how I am used to eating prime rib. Didn’t have a nice roasted flavor either. I felt horrible about wasting so much food but barely ate any of it. My husband had the filet which he said was perfect. >>“Q” – A Our cabin neighbors loved it and thought the smoked chicken was the best ever. They were in a Haven suite and thought that was the best food on board. However a couple we met on an excursion thought it was a poor excuse for bar-b-que which turned off my husband, but I still I wanted to try it. My husband grew up in Texas and he does his own smoking of meats with fancy man-cave smokers. In addition our cabin neighbors said the place has a C/W band that added to their dining experience. My better half finally relented and we tried it late in the cruise and am so glad we did. The smoked meats, especially the brisket, were outstanding. The brisket had a smoky flavor, was tender and melted in your mouth. It had the characteristic red ring that a true smoked brisket has when properly prepared. We spoke to the manager and they do indeed have a smoker on board and use oak and mesquite woods for 6 hrs at 225 degrees and then finish in a warm oven, so the chef knows what she/he is doing. If you love good Texas style bar-b-que, don’t miss this place. Only negative was that there are no windows or outdoor seating so place feels somewhat like a cave. >>Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville – Not Rated We did not eat at this outdoor hamburger eatery on the pool deck, and rarely saw others there. Made us wonder about the food turnover. >>Oceanaire – Not Rated. We considered eating at the Oceanaire (it is an up-charge from the dining plan) but decided not. While it serves all manner of fish, its forte is oysters which neither of us are fans of. We opted to get fish in other restaurants and avoid the up-charge. >Entertainment - Bands and singers were outstanding – A- The “lounge” pianist and singer was great (Suzanne?). Familiar Strangers was a great band with a super talented lead singer. The Latin duo was also great. Tried to see the British Beatles Band but the volume was way too loud, which seemed to be a constant in a lot of ship venues. There is a comedy club that seemed to feature different comedians every night. Some required reservations. We didn’t sit in in any of these. >Theater – C This ship holds Almost 5000 guests and the theater seats 800. Do the math. If you want to see a show you need to arrive 45-60 minutes early or you won’t get it a seat. Literally. You can make reservations for some shows but arrive early or you won't get the seat you hoped for. Music in theater is very, very over amplified. Totally unnecessary – unless you’re trying to drown out bad singing. Drowns out singers and actually uncomfortably loud. I heard this complaint from other passengers as well. Saw “Havana” which was OK, but my husband could not hear the singing due to the over amplification. Also saw “Jersey Boys” which was pretty good, and better than “Havana”. But NCL has a problem on this ship with too much loudness (see Spice H2O and Beatles above) and needs to fire the sound engineer, and find another cruise director if this continues with passengers complaining, like on our cruise. >Ports >>Ensenada - B Did a winery tour. Did you know that there are over 200 wineries in that area? I didn’t. We took a bus to one of the oldest big wineries (L.A. Cetto) and got to sample some of their whites (pretty good) and reds (dreadful). The winery had a nice “Day of the Dead” altar. We stopped at a much smaller winery just for tastings. Their reds were even worse. We drove through some beautiful countryside. However, you did see the telltale signs of an improvised third world country though. >>Mazatlan – B- Mazatlan sits in one of the most crime-ridden Mexican states so we opted to simply walk around the old town. This was really easy to do and the town sets it up very well by painting a red stripe on the road guiding folks to the old town. The whole old town is only about a mile square. Nice feel. At the end we walked over to the tower to watch cliff divers, and then back to the ship. >>Guatemala- C+ The ship stopped at Guatemala City but everything to see is at least an hour bus ride away. (There is nothing except a tourist market by the cruise port.) There is a UNESCO city most go to, but we weren’t on this cruise to visit historical sites and did not want to suffer an hour bus ride each way. We’ve done these before and hate these bus rides so opted out. I stayed on board and my husband went on shore to the tourist market by the port. There was a lot there and he picked up a bag of coffee. Lots of vendors with similar stuff. Otherwise nothing special. >>Panama Canal-B+ We had cruised half way through the Panama Canal years ago in an aft cabin and loved it. On that cruise we were able to carry on a conversation with the guy working the “mule”. This influenced our cabin location on the Bliss. We did not realize until we were on board that the Bliss goes through the NEW locks that don’t use “mules”. We were told this was only the second time for the Bliss and that the Bliss was so far the only cruise ship to use the new locks. Technically, the new locks are a marvel but the experience was not as interesting as the old locks to us. There were no stops and the start was O-dark thirty. (On the half-way transit, we were able to disembark in Panama and the market adjacent to the port was incredible). It was a different experience traveling from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and fortunately the weather was overcast so we did not bake in the sun. There are a couple of bridges we went under and we went by the prison that had once held Noriega. NCL had arranged for a guest speaker who was an expert on the Panama Canal and he gave several talks. Unfortunately, his lectures were plodding and he kept talking about how great he was. At the end of one lecture, he made egotistical comments about himself and the sung ALL the verses to “It’s Hard to be Humble” acapella. Ugh... >>Costa Rica - B Did a coffee plantation tour. Beautiful drive up through the mountains of this volcanic country. Reminded me of the Hawai’ian islands. Tour was outstanding and Costa Ricans view their coffee with passion. Felt like I was on a winery tour with tastings. The guide even instructed us on how to sample the coffees by rolling it around in our mouth, noticing the color and scent. Like wine. We stopped for lunch at a buffet type place with not very good food and more than enough time in a big somewhat cheesy souvenir shop. While there, they also did a short presentation on a hydraulic power station that was very old. They did a demo and had antique woodworking equipment being run via belts. Hard to see, hear and understand the guide here but mildly interesting. Crowded with lots of tour buses hitting this stop. Money exchanged was in dollars, and right across the street where my husband went to get a local beer they only accepted local money, so obviously a this lunch/shopping stop was a tourist trap. >>Cartagena – D- Busy, crowded, hot, humid and unrelentingly aggressive street vendors that required almost constant comments of “No thank you” from me. My husband just started saying no with a very stern voice. However there is a really nice park with a zoo, gift shop and restaurant right where you catch boats to get over to the Walled City. The park is a five minute walk from the ship. I would definitely recommend the park and it’s free admission. The actual boat ride over to the Walled City takes about 10 minutes but loading and unloading takes a while. We walked around the Walled City but it really wasn’t enjoyable for me (weather and vendors) so I took an earlier boat back and spent time in the park with the zoo. My husband stayed in Cartagena and did the Inquisition museum tour ($8) which he felt was totally not worth it. Only a few replicas and was really disappointed. >Debarkation – D Long lines to leave the ship for the terminal to retrieve luggage. One of our three suitcases was not with the other two. With the help of a NCL staffer, we found it misplaced on the other side of the big terminal after a half hour of looking. Not sure why our yellow-tagged bag was with the green-tagged ones. Had to go through customs and finally made it outside to catch the shuttle to the rental car pick-up location. The first shuttle was full so waited about a half hour for the next one. The Miami port terminal, thankfully, is being renovated and enlarged. When it was built, cruise ships had about 2000 passengers and now they can have 5000 to 6000. This terminal cannot handle the increasing number of passengers. Got to the rental car place and loads of people were waiting outside for both Budget and Avis as they didn’t have enough cars. We were early so they would not even consider giving us a car until our reservation time. When our reservation time rolled around, they still didn’t have a full-sized car as reserved so they ended up giving us a small SUV. When we turned it in at the drop off near our home, we saw a sneaky upgrade charge we were not told about and thankfully the agent refunded it. In all our years renting cars for work and vacations, we’ve never been subjected to an upgrade charge when the type of car we reserved was not available and they had to substitute. >Tips 1. Have breakfast in the Observation Lounge forward on deck 16. No hot food (except some hot cereals) but nice choices including the BEST mango and strawberry yogurt ever. Coffee/tea, cereal, pastries, juices etc... Peaceful, comfortable and nice view anywhere you sit. 2. Download the NCL app. Use the app to make reservations for tours, restaurants, shows... Made restaurant reservations during the life boat drill! They are still developing the app so you can’t see everything on your phone that you can on TV staterooms such as the navigation map, but you can see what is going on at that moment. 3. Got the WiFi pkg but not sure we needed it as could easily check e-mails and text messages in ports of call. However, NCL offers a $9.95 per cruise per device setup where you can call and text each other’s phones on board. Do this! You can be anywhere on the ship and still reach your significant other or kids. 4. Husband has a hearing aid device (Compilot) that he connected with fiber optics to the back of the TV in the cabin so that it could communicate directly with his hearing aids. So he could watch TV with the sound muted and I could sleep if he watched TV in bed. 5. Many of the specialty restaurants have outdoor seating. Highly recommended. 6. We didn’t find out about the Vibe option until late in cruise. The Vibe is a separate outdoor setting with padded lounge chairs that is quiet and capacity controlled. I think it’s well worth the extra charge and will jump on it for my next NCL cruise (not all their ships have this option but I think it’s on most of the Breakaway class ships). This can only be booked once on board and is first-come, first-serve, unless you are in a Haven suite. By the way, the Haven folks also have another separate area. 7. Do the slides by the pool. They’re fun and seem safe. One is a platform drop with two loops. You are in a standing position for this one and are dropped. The other is an inner tube sluice through tubes. If you’re a lightweight you may get stuck in the stand-up one where one loop goes against gravity. Crew said this most often happens with folks wearing tee shirts. Some folks had to be “rescued” which was no big whoop. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We did the initial Panama Canal cruise on this ship. As always I will keep it simple and do a Pros and Cons section below. The biggest issue we had on this cruise was the ports and the dining room foods. The buffet foods were great. ... Read More
We did the initial Panama Canal cruise on this ship. As always I will keep it simple and do a Pros and Cons section below. The biggest issue we had on this cruise was the ports and the dining room foods. The buffet foods were great. Seated dining not so much. PROS: The ship is amazing Great layout Excellent staff and customer service (Largely Filipino...this is huge) Buffet Food was excellent Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan were both pretty nice ports. The only ones that were decent. Nice variety of entertainment Great pools Plenty of variety of places to relax and get lost Havana the show. Very nice. Laundry bag full of dirty clothes washed for $19. Good deal. The District was a fantastic Brewery. Best ever on a cruise. Food Republic was excellent but no one was ever there. Too many specialty restaurants on this ship and most were not great. CONS: The Ports (Cartegena, Puntarenas should not be spots to stop. You have to take a minimum of a 90-120min ride to get anywhere even remotely interesting. The same could actually be said for Guatamala.) You are porting at Shipping Yards. Its bad. Real bad. The Seated Dining food: Average at best. You won't get any Crab or Lobster nights in these nicer restaurants either. They don't actually announce those nights, they just make them pop up in the Buffet at nights. We missed 2 out of 3 after finding out the next day. The Beatles experience: These guys are so out of sync and so out of tune they have no business being on this ship. It's really really bad. The bands like Siglo are much better. Excursion costs: $209 per person to take a ferry out to Tortuga Island in Costa Rica. The bus ride to the boat is 30 mins. The Boat ride is 2hrs!! Each way. Thats 5hrs of your day, gone. When we asked WHY the boat was going so slow we were told to save gas. With 40 people onboard paying $200 each, use your gas. Thats absurd. Norwegian iConceirge was a big selling point. Nice to be able to text with your people you are traveling with onboard. Except it didn't work and no one knew why or how to fix it. Specialty Restaurants are EXPENSIVE. $29 for steaks, $10 for sides etc...$30 for a teppenyaki PER PERSON. Whats the purpose of going on a cruise exactly? They charge for EVERYTHING: Go Carts $7 per person, Lazer Tag $5....why not charge to use the pool and slides? Dartboards, Suffleboard etc....they had them on the Getaway and they are greatly missed. Removing the Brazilian Steakhouse in exchange for Los Lobos was a big mistake. A boat should have a brazilian steakhouse, that was an epic addition on the Getaway that the Bliss deserves. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
NCL BLISS. BEST CRUISE EVER ! Room Service better than FOUR SEASONS !!! Food outstanding, service incomparable. Ship new and Georgously decorated, encomporably appointed interiors with uncompareable attention to details! Crew and ... Read More
NCL BLISS. BEST CRUISE EVER ! Room Service better than FOUR SEASONS !!! Food outstanding, service incomparable. Ship new and Georgously decorated, encomporably appointed interiors with uncompareable attention to details! Crew and staff incomparable to any other. Ship easily handles large number of passengers with all the simultaneous events and activities to do. DINNING EXPERENCE WONDERFUL! NCL OUTDID THEMSELVES WITH DESIGN AND LAYOUT OF THE ENTIRE AREA OF THE SHIP. CONGRATULATIONS to all involved in her design and layout. Latest in THEATER DESIGN LAYOUT in audio and visual considerations for viewing and performances! The performers excel in this excellent in layout and consideration of performers challenges as the new enhancements augemented the performers experience to these enhancements!!! The observation deck with continuous food offerings enhancements felt like CONCERIGE LEVEL EXPERIENCES!!! Spa area well layed out and easily accessible elegantly stocked with all amenities!!! Totally wonderfully pampered and luxuriously!!! Every adult had smiles of approval at all times Just can’t say enough about the different dining experiences!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
THESE ARE MY OPINIONS ON MY CRUISE. We vacation a couple times a year work permitting, so we know our stuff. this is our second NCL cruise and maybe our 20th or so cruise overall. we do like the freestyle come and go as you please, and ... Read More
THESE ARE MY OPINIONS ON MY CRUISE. We vacation a couple times a year work permitting, so we know our stuff. this is our second NCL cruise and maybe our 20th or so cruise overall. we do like the freestyle come and go as you please, and find we can pack less because we dont have to pack all the fancy clothes like on silversea. we are both in our early 50's and enjoy longer cruises and sea days. longer cruises typically have less children and an older crowd (most of the time). ok, so you know who we are. we arrived to the ship at about 11am more or less we stayed just a few minutes from port and were on board in less then an hour, and in our room to drop off the bags in no time. getting off in LA we had a car service, so at 7am we went for a quick last breakfast the driver called at 7:30 we were self baggage and off the ship by 7:45am and with no one in line for customs in the car by 8:05am. we live in los angeles so we were home by 9:15am they had two doors open on disembarkation and that early in the morning it all was smooth. we had a mid ship balcony on "the bump", 9878. our balcony was not angled but the 10th floor was. on the ship map it shows the balcony at an angled but IT WAS NOT. it was... bigger then our neighbors to the right though. the balcony was 64sqft, big! the one to the right was much smaller. the couch was near the window which we like so you can sit and look out with out having to always open the slider. we quickly put the two beds together and moved the side tables making the room "feel bigger". the desk/vanity area was a good size and what a great idea to add the hair dryer under the desk and out of the way. there are small coffee makers in the room was nice to brew a quick cup in the AM while getting ready or on port days. the pods used are small paper pods not the keurig type, and you can get as many pods as you want just ask. we stored our luggage under the bed and it fit fine, we both had a 26" and 22" spinner. there was lots of storage. under the couch there are two drawers, the desk had two areas of cubbies, two bed side tables, and the closest (which is very narrow, IMO). there's also 4 shelves in the bathroom and the space under the sink. so there was plenty for us. we chose 4 specialty restaurant meals and UBP for our package. we also pre paid tips, bought the spa pass and 6 extra specialty restaurant meals on line. all were printed on our cabin key. we are not big drinkers, per se, but like to try new drinks while on vacation makes things fun and not have to worry about the bill, so it works for us. i also pre booked all the dinner reservations over the phone. we tried ALL of the restaurants and WE really liked them all. the food in the specialty rest. were MUCH BETTER the the MDR. really there was nothing to complain about. drinks flowed the food was great. people were nice, most of the time. Q was great the portions are huge... too big really. we went twice and really loved both nights. nice that they crew actually welcome you back. the first night we had the big meat platte..THE PITMASTER. a mix of all the meats with corn bread and 4 small sides. very good. the meats were very tender and full of flavor. they also have 4 different kinds of BBQ sauce on the table that were fun to try. the second time we both had the grilled salmon. very moist and the citrus honey glaze added a little tang to it. we also tried a couple of the appetizers and sides. like i said the mains were huge but we really wanted to try some of the extra sides too. THEN... the sweets, OMG! way too big, like funny too big. between the two visits we had the pecan pie, with out the sauce, much different then what is served at the buffet, banana pudding and the chocolate brownie. WELL WORTH THE COST Le bistro, super. felt like a fancy rest. for the night. everyone got a little dressy which was nice. very personal service. there is a small bar within the rest which makes service quick. the bartender brought came and served the drinks. the meal was fresh served hot and the presentation was precise. we had the Veal and loup de mer. at the end of the meal the chef and hostess came around to the tables and spoke with everyone. WELL WORTH THE COST la cucina, we were here twice also. the food was very good both times, and the portions a good size. the first we both had appetizers, mains and dessert. the first night i had the osso bucco which had been slow cooked for hours and fall off the bone tender.. the sauce was rich and very flavorful. the second time we knew better and "tried" to order lighter, lol. i had a small arugula salad, the appetizer portion of the carbonara which was VERY hot, creamy and very rich. i added a little fresh ground pepper and it was perfection. so good the lady next to me ordered it. then we both had the spicy shrimp on linguine. the portion of pasta is huge, but very good, again hot and had a deep rich flavor. not some quick sauce. all of the desserts we had were very good. WELL WORTH THE COST Los Lobos, we came hungry here! we wanted to eat and were NOT let down. we had a great young indian waiter, Duri, that was just great. the three of us had a ball. we had started at the bar with mary having what ever she served us, then moved to our table and had spicy margaritas and shots(one each) just for fun. we had the table prepared guacamole and chips...fresh and tasty. the chips had a sprinkling of seasoning which was nice. we also had the hot queso appetizer which was good but too much of a good thing. i had the shredded pork, conchinita and DH had the fish both served hot tortillas beans rice and salsa. we live in los angeles and DH is mexican so we know mexican food, though not grandmas..it was very good. i want to say we had flan for dessert but i was in food coma by then and cant remember, or was it the coffee with kahlua? WELL WORTH THE COST cagneys, this is where if you had to pay a la cart you really make a killing. we both had appetizers. i had the wedge salad, and though not as cold and crisp as a "real" land based rest a fair attempt, DH had lump crab cake.the crab cake was NOT lump. we both had steaks of course "surf and turf" filets with large shrimp. a big 8oz steak and 4, i think, large shrimp. the steak was very tender and cooked to order, unlike the MDR. the meal took about 2 hours. we had cocktails and wine. we were in no hurry, which also makes me remember one thing, the staff always asked if you had a show to see so they could gauge your dinner. with appetizers, mains, sides, and desserts the bill if you will was way over $125 but of course we used our package and the bill was $0 WELL WORTH THE COST Teppanyaki, this is fun if you get the right chef. we went here twice! GO HUNGRY if you can. no matter what you order they always served extras. they suggest the filet and shrimp, asuka, which most get, and thats what i had both times. the filets are gigantic! everyone gets edamame, soup and a good seaweed salad... then comes fried rice and your selection. all cooked right there. it does get loud with three or four chefs cooking at once but thats the magic of it all. funny the fire alarm was set off once while we were there and the fire team came to check if we were all still alive or not...the first night we had drinks with dinner the second visit we had hot green tea with dinner. served in a nice glass tea pot. after dinner if you can they serve dessert. simple green tea cake or ice cream. WELL WORTH THE COST ocean blue, the menu has changed and is different and limited compared to the other ships in NCL. we went early in the cruise so the fresh seafood like oysters would be ... FRESH. we had champagne all night, and never had an empty glass. we shared oyseters to start, very fresh and yummy. then appetizers ahi sashimi very fresh and yummy & blue crab salad. i also had clams casino, not the classic preparation not great but ok. for the mains we had rigatoni pasta w/ crab and pan seared scallops. my dish the pasta was hot and served with big chucks of crab. it was rich and creamy. DH said his scallops were moist and had just a bit spicy. IMHO with the new limited menu worth a package but NOT worth the package and an upcharge. bring back the old menu and we'll be in business. the local(complementary). good spot for a quick bite but always busy. you can sit at a high top next to the bar or actually in the rest itself. either way good food. yummy chicken wings, fish and chips and the coney dog was a big hit. people seemed to really like the idea and the food. i know we did. a couple of days we just went for wings and a drink, then played video games right next door.. so that just leaves food republic.. at first i was sticker shocked, and confused on how to order, but with a large amount of OBC from our TA, NCL credit card and a $48 refund for a port that got removed were else were we gonna spend our $$$$ the cool cucumber cocktail "only served there" is very yummy and refreshing. we actually went just for cocktails and they were very nice about giving us a table with out ordering food one afternoon. the staff here is very nice, and the hostess a tall english women is very nice, always said hi and was glad to see were were coming back. on our last visit she "bought" dessert for us. you order on a tablet and swipe your cabin card to pay we had SEVERAL different picks the three times we were here. ok, the food..all small plates and for sharing dragon roll - good rock shrimp roll - good hamachi taquitos - very good, get two orders!!! bulgogi pani puri - served on fluffy little bread puffs - very good get two!!! firecracker shrimp - good goan chorizo scotch egg - good street fries - good idea could use more toppings, good flavor though if you like tamarind korean fried chicken - tenders with a slightly spicy asian sauce - good. the dumblings were all good salmon skewers - good we had to pay for all of this, and like i said this was three different trips, but one day we just stopped in for a sushi roll and cocktails before dinner the other nights we made a meal of it and were full!! TOTALLY WORTH IT!! EVEN ONCE!! we did not buy the vibe pass not interested but there is a bar up there on the public side and one of the bartenders, mary, is great. she keep the BBC's flowing on the hot south american days. and in the evenings mary is in the a-list bar mixing up cocktails all night. we had a blast in all the ports. im not sure why people are complaining about the ports. if you planned and knew what to do they were great ports. we booked all of our excursions with viator like we always do. the ships prices are way too much, and who wants to get stuck on those big buses with 40 or 50 people? too much for me. again this is my review. we had zip lining with a crocodile safari and lunch in costa rica a volcanic thermal spa day with pre booked facials & massages and lunch in guatemala a walking taco food tour in puerto vallarta and ATV's, tequila tasting and lunch in mazatlan ports were changed due to who knows what, but we could have cared less. no matter were we went we had a great time. in fact the Puerto vallarta day was switched but by the time i emailed the tour provider they had already knew and re booked our group for the correct day. several of us had chatted on cruise critic before the trip. the staff in the thermal spa worked their asses off to keep the place clean and slip free. the jets in the thermal pool (benches) didnt work but the rest did and very nice keep at about 98'. the saunas were hot and hotter, the salt room is a waste if i may say, and the snow room was as fun as hell. i stood there til my beard and eye lashes were frozen, and had a blast. i think people talk too much and some times very loud, but what can you do. for the most part i think it was money well spent. it was time away from the big crowds. the ship is great, we would love to book her again. we gave deposits on board so we could plan for the next one. the staff was super. SHOUT OUTS!!!!! indika - casion duri - los lobos mary - alist bar/VIBE jose - cruise staff didnt like havana (Pre booked over the phone) jersey boys, OK, BUT VERY LOUD (pre booked over the phone) everything else sold out. tried to book once on board, couldnt. DH booked the exercise package for $99 so he could take all the spinning classes. he said the bikes were great and they had really good spinning shoes too.the two guys in the gym were very helpful and always available. the other two classes advertised never took place not enough interest i guess. DH loved the gym. from what i saw it was pretty big. i saw more of the spa, lol. we loved the whole trip! NO COMPLAINTS HERE! thanks NCL and staff for a great time.see you soon. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We had a beautiful 15 day cruise through the Panama Canal. The ship is gorgeous, the food delicious, and the entertainment spectacular. Our cabin steward Komang, was very helpful and polite. We found the staff to be friendly and attentive. ... Read More
We had a beautiful 15 day cruise through the Panama Canal. The ship is gorgeous, the food delicious, and the entertainment spectacular. Our cabin steward Komang, was very helpful and polite. We found the staff to be friendly and attentive. We visited Cagney’s three times and each time both the food and service was outstanding. I visited the spa and had a very relaxing facial. There was a hypnotist on board that had everyone cracking up during her shows and informative during her seminars. We enjoyed both the anthropologists talks and the one given by the Captain and Chief engineer. Our excursion in Columbia was great. Our tour guide Victoria was a wealth of knowledge, teaching us about the fort and the culture in Columbia. Bravo! However, our excursion to Costa Rica was terrible. Our tour guide Jose for everyone along with the bus driver were over 10 minutes late getting to the bus after our first stop at the store. We had a few passengers on the tour that wanted to get back on the bus early so they could sit. Some had disabilities and needed to sit. There were no seats saved for them in the front so they had to walk to the back of the bus. The tour was Scenic Costa Rica, we saw a mango tree a Brahma bull, a cashew tree, a soccer field all from our bus. We were taken to a small park where we saw children dance and look for money. They were cute but by that time we were totally discussed with the tour. Stay away from that tour! Our other issue was the transfer we booked on board the ship. We had a wonderful porter that helped us find our bus. Our bus broke down about 3 miles from the port! We were going less than 5 miles an hour on the freeway with tractor trailers blowing their horns at us, passengers yelling to the driver to get off of the freeway, passengers calling the state police. It was crazy. The driver wasn’t giving us much info. Finally he said a new bus would be there in 10 minutes. My husband and other passengers got off of the bus to unload the luggage so we could get it back on the new bus quickly. The bus never came! After about 45 minutes we called an Uber so we didn’t miss our flight. People were calling cabs and worried about standing on the side of the road with their luggage and possibly missing their flights. Some elderly folks without cell phone. I told the cab driver to radio to have more cabs come. It was a very scary experience. We loved the Bliss and would go back on in a heartbeat! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
I was on the Panama Canal cruise in May 2018 as the ship was being moved over to the Pacific side of the world in order to do Alaska cruises this summer. This was my sixth cruise with Norwegian, and my 44th cruise overall. Even though ... Read More
I was on the Panama Canal cruise in May 2018 as the ship was being moved over to the Pacific side of the world in order to do Alaska cruises this summer. This was my sixth cruise with Norwegian, and my 44th cruise overall. Even though I've done more cruises with Carnival than any other cruise line, in recent years I've come to think of Norwegian as my cruise line of choice. It really seems to be the best fit for me, for numerous reasons which I'll try to expand on here. I was really impressed with the design of the Norwegian Bliss, and noticed numerous improvements over her sisters... Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, and Norwegian Breakaway. The most important improvement was the addition of the observation lounge at the front of the ship, and moving the buffet up to the front of the ship, too. This provides two fantastic indoor spaces where you can sit and enjoy great views ahead of the ship. We spent a LOT of time at these areas at the front of the ship, enjoying drinks, food, and fantastic views, without dealing with wind or any other kind of weather. The way NCL put a variety of comfortable seating in the observation lounge was absolutely brilliant. There is everything from chairs to couches and even super-comfortable loungers. Whoever designed the observation lounge hit a grand slam home run with this one. My only suggestion for future NCL ships would be to add a staircase at the very front of the ship, between the observation lounge and the buffet dining area. We frequently could not find an available table anywhere in the entire buffet restaurant and had to either settle for a table outside near the pool or down one level in the observation lounge. A staircase at the very front of the ship, connecting the observation lounge and the buffet restaurant, would lessen the seating shortage at the buffet restaurant. Another great improvement over the previous generation of ships was the addition of the go-kart racetrack, which really was a lot of fun. Some people complain about the $7 charge to ride the go-karts, and cite it as an example of nickel-and-diming by NCL. But I completely disagree, and understand that the small fee is necessary to prevent huge long lines that would occur if the go-kart were available at no extra charge. If I were in charge, I think the fee might be $5 instead of $7, and there would be no fee for Haven guests. Speaking of The Haven, even though I wasn't staying in The Haven on this particular cruise, I did get a tour... and I like the changes they've made over the previous generation of ships. The two-level lounge with views forward is a brilliant improvement. There were also some really nice improvements made to The Haven Sun Deck, including an improved arrangement for loungers and daybeds, and a really cool set of bar stools that looks over the bow of the ship and has spectacular views. I love the waterslides on Norwegian Bliss. There's only one vertical-drop waterslide, compared to two on the previous generation of ships... but one is enough... and there is a really cool waterslide where you sit on an inner tube and get a very gentle but fun ride that won't scare anyone, but everyone will enjoy. The vertical-drop waterslide is only for thrill seekers... it will scare the heck out of you, but it's also a lot of fun. Of all 44 cruises I've been on, the food and dining on Norwegian Bliss was the best match for my tastes. I've never enjoyed cruise ship food more than I did during this cruise. Not only was the buffet excellent, especially the breakfasts, which were the best I've ever had on a cruise ship... but I also enjoyed several good dinners in the Manhattan Room (one of several main dining rooms onboard, at no extra charge)... as well as the wide variety of specialty restaurants, including a couple of new ones that the previous generation of ships did not have. The best new specialty restaurant was Q, which is the Texas smokehouse. I loved the food I had at Q, and I hope this restaurant finds its way on to other NCL ships. Fantastic idea, perfectly executed. Well done, NCL! When I first heard they eliminated the Brazilian steakhouse in favor of a whole new restaurant idea, I was disappointed. I used to love the Brazilian steakhouses on the previous generation of ships. But Q was even better. I also enjoyed my meal at Los Lobos, the new Mexican food concept. Mexican food is so popular in California, where I live, that I'm glad to see NCL is starting to embrace it. They do need to take it even further, though... adding a Mexican station in their buffet at every lunch and dinner. I don't think NCL fully understands the popularity of Mexican food, but Los Lobos is a good step in the right direction. I also had good meals in La Cucina, Cagneys, and Margaritaville. Be aware that Cagneys is the most popular and that it's nearly impossible to get a reservation there unless you make your reservation from home, before the cruise. If you expect to just board the ship and then make a reservation at Cagneys, you will be disappointed. I love the idea of Margaritaville, but I think NCL needs to make a few adjustments. The extra fee they charge to eat there is WAY too high, and therefore the restaurant is under utilized. In other words, there are an awful lot of empty tables... which is a big waste, considering how overcrowded the buffet is. I know that it would not work to have no additional charge at Margaritaville... it would get too crowded... but they need to lower the extra charge significantly until they find the price point that will fill those seats at Margaritaville. Right now, it's just a waste of potential that there are so many empty seats there. Something that really surprised me during our cruise was how good the Internet connection was for downloading and uploading files. I create videos for YouTube, and normally I have to wait until I'm home to upload cruise videos... because the upload speeds on most cruise ships are dismally slow. But on Norwegian Bliss, I was uploading gigantic video files in a matter of a couple of minutes. I had never seen anything like that, even on Royal Caribbean, which uses an entirely different (and superior) kind of satellite network than all the other cruise lines do. Royal Caribbean's use of the O3B network gives them very low ping times, which means very little latency in the Internet connection, which means that when you use the Internet it feels very fast and responsive to your clicks. The system Norwegian uses doesn't offer the low latency and responsiveness that Royal Caribbean's system uses, but what it does offer is extremely fast upload and download speeds. So as you click things, it doesn't really respond that quickly to your clicks, but once you start it doing a big upload or download, that occurs extremely fast. That's great for someone like me who uploads and downloads big files. However, in order to take advantage of that, I did have to purchase the most expensive Internet plan that NCL offered, which cost $30 per day. Other lower priced plans are available, but they are limited to having access to only certain sites. For example, on the lower priced plans you CAN post to Facebook and Instagram, but not to YouTube. Also, the speeds are throttled... so even though NCL's network has tons of bandwidth, you don't get full advantage of it on the lower priced plans. On the $30 per day plan, I was quite impressed, though! So, if you absolutely need high speed Internet during your vacation, for some business reason, the $30 per day plan is the one that offers the super fast speeds needed for video conferencing and video uploads. Another thing that really impressed me about this cruise was how experienced and competent the crew was. NCL must have cherry picked their best crew members from the rest of their fleet to staff this new ship. These folks all seemed to really know what they were doing, even though this ship had just come out of the shipyard. Earlier this year, I did a cruise on the MSC Seaside, and at the time of my cruise the MSC Seaside staff had already had something like 6 or 7 previous cruises to work out some of the kinks in the learning curve... yet I still witnessed numerous examples of things that the crew just was not good at yet, and needed more time to learn and improve upon. On Norwegian Bliss, there had basically only been one previous cruise... the transatlantic... before our Panama Canal cruise. Yet this crew was impressive in how well they did everything. If I hadn't known it was really only their second cruise on this ship, I never would have known it from the crew's behavior. They seemed to know exactly what they were doing, and they performed extremely well. After 44 cruises, I can tell when things are going well and when they are not, and this crew did everything very well. Bravo! Embarkation was among the many smooth operations I witnessed... and I was absolutely FLABBERGASTED by how smooth the self assist disembarkation went. I had never seen any disembarkation go that smoothly in all of my cruises. The only reason I can think of to explain how that happened was that perhaps, since it was a 15-day cruise and a much older-than-usual group of passengers, there must have been far fewer passengers doing self assist disembarkation than usual, and more requiring the full service disembarkation. Because when we walked off the ship with all of our luggage, it was completely un-crowded and we made the quickest disembarkation we have ever made from a cruise ship. Entertainment was also excellent on the ship. I like the shows and all the music they had. I already mentioned that cruise I did a few months earlier on the MSC Seaside. Entertainment on that ship was a joke. I hated the entertainment on that ship. It was SO much better on Norwegian Bliss. Where MSC seemed to be trying to do their entertainment the cheapest way possible, it sure looked to me like Norwegian spent a ton of money on the various musical acts and other entertainers for this ship. There was such a large variety of entertainment acts... a little something for everyone... even something you almost never see on a cruise ship... a country music band. Not a cover band from the Phillipines trying to sing country songs with an accent... a genuine American country music band that was actually pretty darned good. And there was a cover band from the Phillipines, and a soul/Motown group, and a female headliner performing with the ship's band, and a female singer/comedian that was kind of like Weird Al on estrogen, and a Beatles tribute band, and a full-length broadway-style show about the Four Seasons, and more. It was impressive... how much money and effort NCL put in to entertainment on this ship. The comparison to what I saw on MSC Seaside made me laugh... NCL did such a better job at keeping me entertained! If you ever happen to do a Panama canal cruise, be sure to spend a lot of time looking in the water when the ship is off the coast of the southern portion of Mexico. I'm not talking about the Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta part of Mexico... I'm talking about the area much further south, such as near Acapulco, and even farther south than that. When your ship is in that area, keep an eye on the water. You will see an incredible amount of sea life such as turtles and sting rays... much more than you'll ever see on a Caribbean cruise or even a Mexican Riviera cruise. For the entire day we cruised off the coast off southern Mexico, we spent time on our balcony looking at the water, and we literally saw hundreds of green sea turtles. If you've sailed on previous NCL ships, you will notice that they've continued with their tradition of building an excellent thermal suite within the spa. It's one of my favorite features on NCL ships, and I always try to book a spa cabin or a Haven Spa Suite so that I'll have full access to the thermal suite at no additional charge. On the previous generation of NCL ships, the thermal suite was at the front of the ship. On this new ship, it's at the aft end, with a beautiful view of what's behind the ship. For this particular cruise, since it was 15-days and also since it was a brand new ship, the price of a Haven Spa Suite was just out of my reach... so I booked a spa mini suite instead. I can definitely recommend it! A mini suite gives you a much large bathroom and shower than you get in a regular balcony cabin... and the difference between a cramped shower and a shower roomy enough for two people makes a huge difference to me in how much I enjoy my overall cruise experience. I hate starting the day with a shower in a tiny, cramped shower! If you can afford a Haven Spa Suite, you really should go that way, though! They've made the Haven Spa Suites much bigger on this ship than they were on the previous generation. So, I give Norwegian Bliss my highest recommendation! This is the cruise ship you should sail on, if you want to see what the state-of-the-art looks like in cruise ship design. Since it's the newest ship in the fleet, NCL is charging the highest prices for the privilege of cruising on this ship. I thought it was worth it, but if money is tight for you, you may want to consider Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, or Norwegian Breakaway instead. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Omg where to start? Every detail on this ship is handcrafted awesomeness! We had a balcony room, so we had fantastic ocean views anytime, but when your in on the interior you could totally forget you were on a boat at all! A floating ... Read More
Omg where to start? Every detail on this ship is handcrafted awesomeness! We had a balcony room, so we had fantastic ocean views anytime, but when your in on the interior you could totally forget you were on a boat at all! A floating resort, it had so many options for dining, all of which were delicious! And a mega list of all the activities (for all ages!)that were going on was delivered every evening so you could plan what you wanted to do! The service was great! So polite, and there for anything you might need! Everything was super clean, and even though we were close to fully booked it didn't really feel crowded, a major plus for us! Over all best cruise I ever had! Definitly booking with them again! Oh and the best cheesecake I ever had was at Taste or Savor, (imagine peanut butter cup crumbles, with a fluffy cloud of delight on top!) and I have eaten a lot of cheesecake in my lifetime! The excursion list was great, would have like more time in Tikal, but they treated us like royalty the whole way on every branch of that excursion! Definitly reccomend the Las Caletas Hideaway for anyone who is a fan of luxury beach services, awesome food, great beach, fancy hammocks and great landscaping! Plus it was owned by the man who played Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings,so really in my mind it was Gandalf's Hideaway, pure awesomeness! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We have done over 13 cruise on Princess but The Bliss the ship the crew and the food is over the top . The ship is so friendly you don,t even feel that you s sea the crew don,t know what to do for you .You feel like your traveling with ... Read More
We have done over 13 cruise on Princess but The Bliss the ship the crew and the food is over the top . The ship is so friendly you don,t even feel that you s sea the crew don,t know what to do for you .You feel like your traveling with family. I think princess may have loss us to NCL Bliss.We ate in 7 of the special restaurants great food. The buffet had so many different choices you didn,t know what to eat first salads Indian buffet ,orientall food , you name it it was there.The observation deck had about 4 stations were you could get small plate to eat breakfast,light lunch, light dinner.For the casino player many slots and table games also a nonsmoking area fully enclosed poor people that have to work there,i can see with the amount for players there they should make it total nonsmoking which would rather do smoke or gamble(fomer smoker) but again all I can say for NCL BLISS OMG OMG OMG Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We have just been introduced to NCL when we bid on a cruise at an American Cancer Society auction. We chose the Escape (western Caribbean) for this first experience. We enjoyed it so much that we booked our next cruise while on board. Six ... Read More
We have just been introduced to NCL when we bid on a cruise at an American Cancer Society auction. We chose the Escape (western Caribbean) for this first experience. We enjoyed it so much that we booked our next cruise while on board. Six months later we had the most marvelous cruise experience on the Bliss. There isn't anything I would have wanted to change. We took advantage of nearly EVERYTHING the ship offered. The staff is so well trained, so professional, and so personable! The size of the ship could be daunting to some people, but we have found that the restaurants and common areas are designed in such a way that you never feel like you are being 'herded' with the masses. I particularly felt the entertainment was extraordinary. We were treated to "The Jersey Boys," 'Havana' and 'Prohibition, the Musical.' The food cannot be matched...it's sumptuous, plentiful, and diversified. We have already pre-booked our next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Norwegian Bliss Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 4.0
Public Rooms 4.5 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.1
Value For Money 3.5 3.5

Find a Norwegian Bliss Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click