We are a family of four from Montreal Canada, and have been cruising for over 25 years now. We have cruised on NCL ships three times previously. Let me preface this by saying that this is from a personal perspective. You may experience ... Read More
We are a family of four from Montreal Canada, and have been cruising for over 25 years now. We have cruised on NCL ships three times previously. Let me preface this by saying that this is from a personal perspective. You may experience things differently, depending on what you want to get from your cruise experience.
EMBARKATION was a breeze. We arrived at 1pm and were onboard at 1:20pm. No crowds, no waiting. Perfection.
OUR CABIN was as expected, and ready for us. We had cabin 9700, a “cruise ship secret” (there are only 5 of this type of cabin on the ship). The room was enormous, easily more than DOUBLE the size of a standard (more expensive) balcony cabin. There were two sinks and a bathtub in the bathroom, and tons of space for our teenagers to spread out in. Lots of AC and USB plugs scattered around, and TONS of closet and storage space. Category was Large Outside, category O1. No balcony, but who cares? We had a large round window facing the bow of the ship. Perfect score on the cabin as well. The drawback? - a very long walk to everything on the ship except for the buffet and the theatre.
THE FOOD: NCL did their usual excellent job in the buffet. Everything was consistently fresh and tons of choice for lunch. Lots of tasty food, and the Prime Rib is a standout, simply because they will grill it for you on request. This is the absolute BEST! Dinner selections in the buffet were scaled back significantly though, so were a bit disappointing. Half the counters were closed. The dining rooms were a different story: mediocre dishes served on the cold side, by wait staff that lacked polish. Nothing really stood out as noteworthy. However, it was the specialty (for fee) restaurants that totally dropped the ball for us. We had Teppanyaki and Cagney’s for dinner and Margaritaville for lunch. All failed miserably. Teppanyaki seated us at a huge table, where the chef had to serve 15 people… For those in the know, most Japanese steakhouses have their chefs cooking for 6-8 patrons maximum. As a result, dinner was long, and somewhat cold, with long pauses in between servings. The chef forgot a lot of orders, and had to be reminded. Cagney’s was a complete mess. The steaks were fine, but the sides, and what they call “sauce” for the steaks were a complete fail. The “House” steak sauce was just HP Sauce in disguise. Wait service was somewhat inattentive here as well. Margaritaville served an excellent nachos plate, but the Margarita I got was not served in the proper glassware (a highball), and the rest of the food was just ok. Not at all worth the upcharge, and no wonder it was always deserted.
ENTERTAINMENT AND SHOWS: It was 2:30pm or so before we could start looking at booking our entertainment on the TV in our cabin, and the Comedy shows, and Prohibition the Musical, were fully booked by then. NCL needs to fix this. I don’t want to spend my first hours on a ship booking my entertainment. Maybe make them available prior to the sail date, online. Laser Tag was also fully booked, so my kids were disappointed. We did manage to book the Go-Karts though, which turned out to be pretty cool. My wife went to see Havana! And said it was just ok (and she loves those type of shows). However, the Jersey Boys were, in a word; spectacular. The cast received a well-deserved 5-minute standing ovation at the end. The comedy shows we managed to sneak into at the last minute were average. All-in-all, NCL needs to schedule MORE shows, if the venues are so small, and demand is so large.
BEVERAGE SERVICE: Waiters were inattentive, for the most part. They circulated in the wrong directions (back to the front), and needed to pay more attention, maybe face the clients more. I waved, I stood, to no avail. When I finally got a hold of a server, then it took 30 minutes for them to return with my drink (and my room card, or else I would have just left). I guess that’s how they keep the clients from leaving: take their room cards hostage. Beverage service by the pool was equally spotty, and the servings in plastic cups were a complete joke. But I guess that’s to keep the drunks from tossing the glassware around. Safety first….
BEVERAGE QUALITY: My go-to drink while cruising is the classic Mai Tai, and I ordered several on the Bliss. They ranged from excellent to totally spit-worthy. NCL needs some more training on basic drink assembly, and consistency from bar to bar. If I’m paying $11.99 for a drink, it had BETTER be good. And from ANY bar on the ship, for that matter.
THE ULTIMATE BEVERAGE PACKAGE: Here was the single biggest problem with this cruise: passengers were blind stinking drunk. All the time. And not just a few. As the day, and evening wore on, the staggering and obnoxious behaviour got worse and worse. It was borderline disgusting. Drunks were literally falling into elevators when the doors opened, sometimes caught by those inside, sometimes not. The Local Bar was the hangout of choice, and often the events in the atrium below were drowned out by obnoxious drunks bellowing at the top of their lungs at the bar, egged on by the service staff, who banged metal plates repeatedly in an equally-annoying manner. A quick bite at The Local restaurant was also quite unpleasant by consequence. Some passengers were clearly over-served, and the vomit in the passageways on a completely calm, waveless night was beyond unnecessary. I have NEVER seen a more active ship’s security staff as on the Bliss. If this is the “future” of cruising, then the shine of a very nice ship just got sucked down a very loud cruise ship toilet. They need to go back to the charge-for-drink system, which seemed to control passenger comportment on cruises for the last 25 years. However, the current NCL TV advertising only screams FREE BOOZE!!! “Feel Free” to get hammered!!! Hallelujah!!!! Not good. I guess a few more drunks have to fall off their ships…. And I suppose I will choose my next cruise with this fact firmly in mind. I don’t know why this ship is marketed with all the “family” stuff (Laser Tag, water slides and Karts, etc) and then they decide to go All-Inclusive. It’s just completely contradictory to a family-friendly atmosphere. However, if you want to get drunk for cheap, then this is definitely the ship for you!
DISEMBARKATION was as tedious as embarkation was a breeze. Being less-desirable foreigners, we had to wait in the extra long line-up. Always a joy. We lined up at 9:15am and were off the ship at 10am
CONCLUSION: This was an average cruise overall (WAY better than our abysmal first time on MSC last year) but it could have been so much better. The potential is there. The fellow passengers make or break the cruise experience for us, and the drinking was way out-of-control on this ship. NCL also needs to fix their sub-par specialty restaurants, and markedly improve their dining room food quality. We will be considering other lines for our next cruise, as a result. Read Less