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Sail Date: September 2018
I had cruised Norwegian a long time ago and, having lived in Orlando for 8 years, done quite a few Carnival and Royal Caribbean trips out of Port Canaveral. My general understanding of Norwegian's quality was that it was better than ... Read More
I had cruised Norwegian a long time ago and, having lived in Orlando for 8 years, done quite a few Carnival and Royal Caribbean trips out of Port Canaveral. My general understanding of Norwegian's quality was that it was better than Carnival, but below Royal Caribbean (though their quality has not been what it once was). We picked this cruise as a backup solution. We had planned an Oregon (specifically Crater Lake) hiking trip but the smoke from the forest fires was making it a waste of time and money. About 10 days before I started looking for alternatives and found a 7 day Alaska Cruise on the Norwegian Pearl. It seemed perfect. I could get a balcony at a reasonable price and we'd get the Free at Sea package (free drink package + 3 nights of dining at their specialty restaurants and $100 to spend onboard). By the time I called, 2 days later, I was told I could no longer have the free at sea package. They would still sell me the balcony room, but there would be no drink package, dining or on board spending. I probably should've realized something was up then, but I didn't think it would be such a big deal. We're not big drinkers and you don't HAVE to pay to dine, so I booked it. Of course, it became apparent once on board that we were part of a VERY small minority without such perks and therefore started to feel like second class cruisers. The cruise mostly went smoothly. The ship itself is a nice size, not so big that you feel lost in the masses but not so small that you find yourself bored. The bowling alley is cute though it was just one more thing that cost "just a little bit" extra and all those extras add up. The itinerary was amazing. Alaska is gorgeous. The staff were ok. The room steward did his job well if without ever actually bumping into us. Our ice bucket seemed to only get filled on nights we didn't want to use it, but that's a minor thing. The bar staff varied greatly. We had a really great bar tender up in the Sugar Cane Lounge (near the fancy restaurants) but bar tenders elsewhere would refuse to make my drink of choice because they hadn't made it before, or others would oblige and then charge it as a "premium" cocktail despite using house gin. I didn't feel like we really got to know any of them which is odd for a 7 day cruise. I will say that the food was better than on a Carnival or even Royal Caribbean cruise. It was only slightly better in the free dining options (the Main dining room, O'Sheehan's and the Lotus Garden) but MUCH better in the two restaurants we tried (Cagney's and Moderno). You clearly get a discount for being on the boat (neither night cost more than $100) so I'd say they're worth it. The entertainment was good, though I felt they had one too many solo singer shows and not enough full cast broadway style numbers. As far as I can tell, it was one full production and three solo singers which seemed an odd mix. A lot of their lounge/bar entertainment was really fantastic though. Lots of truly talented people. Last, and perhaps most importantly, is the spa. We booked a couples "Bath Ritual & Swedish Massage" for the first at sea day. First, the spa staff were not at all helpful or welcoming. It was clearly an imposition on them that we wished to book something. When we arrived for our service they weren't ready. We spent 30 minutes waiting in the lobby while the staff studiously ignored us. When we finally got in to the spa itself, we both had lockers that malfunctioned. Mine wouldn't lock and my husband's wouldn't unlock (there's irony there somewhere). Next, the bath was so hot it actually burned my husband. I don't know how the two staff members could have thought it was at a reasonable temperature. As soon as we made them actually test the water, they rushed to try and drain and then cool the bath, but even they couldn't stand to put their hand in to grab the drain so it was a slow arduous process involving bowls. We spent another 20 minutes sitting around awkwardly in our swimsuits while they struggled to adjust the bath. It was a bit late at that point. I was flustered and now hot, the bath was still HOT but at least not too hot to stand and the tub itself was terribly uncomfortable. Save your money and just get the massage. I thought they might offer us some sort of discount or credit as an apology, but no compensation was offered and I wasn't going to ask. The massages themselves were great and I had almost forgotten the fiasco until the end of the cruise when I discovered the spa manager had charged us a second time for the same ritual... for no apparent reason. This brings me to the front desk/debarkation. We decided to self-assist or easy walk off. So we had all our bags with us (thank god) when we stopped at the front desk around 8am to ask about the second charge. We talk to someone at the desk, explain we went to the spa ONCE and only once and were not inclined to go again, and would like them to void/refund the second nearly $400 charge. The woman listens and then disappears to the back room. Apparently the actual decision makers are there. She's just a go-between. Fifteen minutes later she returns and says she verified that we, indeed, only have one signed receipt from the spa, she has called the spa and they will refund the money, she will print us a new statement in 10 minutes if we just wait off to the side. So we go to wait off to the side, the line balloons to huge proportions... and 35 minutes go by. Now, our flight is at 11am and SeaTac is about 25-30 minutes away so we're now within the window during which we need to leave. I make my way back into line and 10 minutes later am approached by the manager to ask about my complaint (he was clearly triaging the line). I explain that I've already had a conversation with the lady at the desk, we've already verified the charges are incorrect, and I just need my bill actually fixed.He goes to the back room again and ten minutes later comes out with a phone and has me speak to the spa manager who I have to convince AGAIN that they have charged me incorrectly and need to refund the money. NOW, seeing as I'll be lucky to make it to the airport with an hour and a half before my flight and I need to check bags (for anyone who isn't familiar, most airlines shut down checking of bags 45 minutes before the flight). So to recap, the spa bungled the service, charged me twice and then the front desk crew took THREE tries and 55 minutes to finally correct the error. At this point I'm told to wait ANOTHER five minutes and he WILL get me a corrected statement. More like 10 minutes later we're finally handed a corrected statement and allowed to at least skip PART of the debarkation line. At this point it was 9:15 and we still had to get down the gangway, through customs, find a taxi and to the airport. We rolled up to the airport at 9:50 so with less than 25 minutes to spare with respect to checking bags and only 45 minutes before boarding began. The lines were huge. If I hadn't been a United Premiere member and both of us TSA precheck approved, I'm not sure we would have made it. So, yes, the cruise was fantastic, we had a great time. But I feel like I was cheated out of the "Free at Sea" and then charged at every possible turn (in some cases twice) and it made debarkation a nightmare. I'm honestly not sure if we'll use Norwegian again. It will really depend on whether we can get the right deal. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
This cruise was a surprise anniversary gift. So I was very surprised and happy with everything. Our room was decorated when we arrived. The flowers and cake was delivered on time. The chocolate covered strawberries were delivered on the ... Read More
This cruise was a surprise anniversary gift. So I was very surprised and happy with everything. Our room was decorated when we arrived. The flowers and cake was delivered on time. The chocolate covered strawberries were delivered on the day of our anniversary. Our anniversary dinner in the Summer Palace was just like a Five star restaurant. The service was wonderful as well as the food. The entertainment was good. The shore excursions were my favorite, everything ran smoothly. We ate mostly at the buffet, garden cafe and the great outdoors. The food was amazing and the selection was wonderful. The employees in every department were always friendly. The restaurants and buffet areas were always very clean and the employees always efficient. The rooms were always stocked with clean towels and cleaned everytime we left the room. Overall I would definitly come back again, and recommend to friends and family. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
My husband and I cruised to Alaska, from Seattle, the first week of September 2018. We (well, I) splurged and booked a room in the Haven section (floor 17). This review will address both Haven and overall experience, but my rating scores ... Read More
My husband and I cruised to Alaska, from Seattle, the first week of September 2018. We (well, I) splurged and booked a room in the Haven section (floor 17). This review will address both Haven and overall experience, but my rating scores will be for Haven which did offer a priority for activities. Before the details, the most significant areas of opportunity for NCL Bliss: - Water, Seltzer, Coffee/Tea water is not included in the Unlimited Drink Package - Haven Suites are all toward the front of the boat leading to feeling a lot of movement - Buffet area (Garden Cafe) is overcrowded for every meal; overflow is sent to Observation lounge that doesn't have tables - Go-Cart track/Laser Tag have a cost associated and require a reservation. Go Cart track 'trianing' and wait time - with a reservation - was 50 minutes. After finally getting on the track, operators intentionally slow people down because so many guests are inexperienced / poor drivers. Ruins the experience for everyone. - Elevators really do take a very long time and the amount of disabled patrons with their scooters take up space. - Ports & Ship push jewelry, watches, and terrible artwork 24/7 Now to the detailed review: The Haven pricing is steep, even without the 'Spa' room option. The decor is beautiful, the bed is very comfortable, the amenities are great (high end soaps, the most comfortable bathrobe in existence, fresh flower arrangements, full-size bathtub). The lighting around the room and in the ceiling really is beautiful and, while our balcony size was standard, there were wicker-type chairs with comfortable padding. The butler & room steward were also wonderful, but I'm assuming this may be somewhat unique because we were in the Haven; bigger tips. The dedicated 'front desk' for Haven, while a great notion, was always lined up with people or - there was no one there at all. The Haven bar also was very slow and always had enough people to add to the slowness. The Haven restaurant upstairs was beautiful with huge windows. White linen tablecloths; very formal feeling. Service, while nice, was incredibly slow for every meal - and the same is true for every restaurant on the ship. The food was good - not high-end dining good, but good. Chicken was salty, food delivered at different times, charging extra for Coffee and Juice (even with purchased of the Unlimited Drink package). It felt a bit too formal for every meal, but was quiet and nice to be there without dealing with a crowd of people. The buffet area, Garden Cafe, really had a ton of food options so while you would have to deal with seating issues, the food was generally pretty good. The paid restaurants were subpar. We ate at "Q" BBQ, Cagney's Steakhouse, and Teppanyaki. Q BBQ's food was terrible and was the place we experienced the slowest service (while it was nearly empty at 6:00 p.m.). Cagney's also had very poor service and the food was sub par - don't expect a Morton's or Ruth Chris, it's more Longhorn. Teppanyaki, while slow, offered the best food. The Haven offers their own observation lounge with large windows, luxury seating, an upstairs 'library' type area and small snack area. I'm still astounded that a designer signed off on this area - the carpet patterns reflect off of the slanted windows making it impossible to take a nice photo. In addition, the metal window frames are large and block line of sight for anyone that is 5'2 to 5'8 - really poor design for an 'observation area'. The rest of the ship, while designed beautifully, didn't seem designed for Alaska cruising contrary to their marketing. The pool deck was awesome, yet even in 60F weather w/ wind, it wasn't practical. Outside seating for the restaurants also seemed odd and weren't use throughout our stay. The atrium, which was toward the center of the ship, was always overcrowded with insufficient seating. The entertainment was ok, nothing spectacular. We saw Jersey Boys & Havana - both were nice, but the waiter/bar service before the show was poor. There are no hand rails for the stairs, so older people that would get up during the show struggled to get up the stairs. The staff entertainment was poor - the cruise director was annoying, his 'sidekick' was also bizarre. The other activity leads were cocky, made rude comments to guests and just made it feel like they couldn't wait to be done with their day. The Mandarin Spa - I scheduled a 75 minute standard Swedish massage. No bathrobe offered, a thin sheet to cover, they referred to me by my middle name the entire time, and a masseuse that was unskilled. When needing to shower to remove oil from session, she became angry and challenged me; wouldn't offer me a robe or guide me to the locker area to shower, dress, etc. I've been to many spas, please save your money and research a spa in one of the ports and spend your money there. The gym - actually - was fantastic. Really big and plenty of equipment. I wish I could give a rating for the gym alone - 5 stars. The ports: Ketchikan - Juneau - Skagway - Victoria; they were beautiful, but the time in port for most were short with Victoria being the most ridiculous 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Do not book excursions through the ship; they tend to be about 20% more. If you can, book in advance through TripAdvisor or went you get off the ship. The port stores have been inundated with terrible jewelry shops, try to avoid and explore on your own if you can. Victoria, while it had a really beautiful downtown, required a paid shuttle ($13pp/round trip) if you weren't up to walking for 30 minutes from the dock. A shame that with all of the money spent you still had to pay for this. Overall, our trip to Alaska was a once in a lifetime adventure and the views of the mountain, glaciers, and wildlife were like looking at a magazine. We took full advantage of every port, met some amazing Alaskans, explored the ship, and dodged the constant flood of marketing material left in our stateroom every evening. The Haven, while comfortable and beautiful, wasn't worth the premium price. If you're a bit older and wealthy, the Haven & the Bliss will be ok for you and you'll have a great time. If you're younger and are budgeting to spend $8k on a vacation, don't spend it on a cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
It was a dream for us to go on an Alaska cruise.The personnel were very pleasant.My main complaint is that there is not enough areas for smokers.Talked to many smokers who say that other cruise lines offer smoking outdoor on one side of ... Read More
It was a dream for us to go on an Alaska cruise.The personnel were very pleasant.My main complaint is that there is not enough areas for smokers.Talked to many smokers who say that other cruise lines offer smoking outdoor on one side of the ship.Very disappointed. On that large of a ship there should have been more areas.I guess smokers are considered second class citizens,I wont use this ship again.The food at buffet was decent.The other compimentary restaurants there was an extra charge.So we did'nt go to those.Also we had ice delivered to cabin,then found out there was a 14.50 charge.So from then on we got our ice from the restaurant or bars.The drinks were great.Entertainment was hard to book,it was always booked up.The best bar was outside on the 8th floor,had a great bartender.Excellent job and very easy to talk to.All told it was a decent cruise,beautiful ship.Bed was very comfortable. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We live in Seattle with a view of Elliott Bay. We would see the beautiful NCL Bliss come and go every week. We wanted to see what it was like onboard. It was wonderful. Embarkation was a breeze - just a few minutes and we were on the ... Read More
We live in Seattle with a view of Elliott Bay. We would see the beautiful NCL Bliss come and go every week. We wanted to see what it was like onboard. It was wonderful. Embarkation was a breeze - just a few minutes and we were on the ship. We dined at Cagney's Steak House on the first night and the double pork chop was great!! So was the service. We bought the roving photographer's picture, too. After that we tried all of the comlimentary restaurants but preferred Savor on the port side of the ship for lunch and dinners. We also tried "Q" the western restaurant. It was a good try but not exactly like a real Texas Smokehouse - because, they did not start smoking the meat in the early morning and then serve it several hours later. Maybe they did not have a meat smoker on board. So it was a Scandinavian version of a Texas barb. Four good sauces. Nice deserts. We took the "insider's tour" of the ship and saw how the costumes and wigs were set up back stage - amazing. We enjoyed both shows - I Havana! and Jersey Boys. I have a new appreciation for the Atrium - it was like a family room at home with all sorts of games, and movies, and music. It was comfortable and entertaining. I mean, when did you last play charades? It is still a fun to play Charades after all these years. The Thermal Spa was really relaxing and bubbly.We rarely had to wait for an elevator and, if so, we usually got on the second one to arrive. The elevator ride was a nice way to meet folks too. We did the free activities and chose not to be drinkers so there was no sticker shock at the end of the cruise.We had a very enjoyable trip - NCL knows how to make a vacation wonderful!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We are not expert cruisers - this was only our second cruise - both to Alaska. First with Princess 12 years ago. This one was a family reunion with 14 guests, some of whom are more frequent cruisers (none with NCL). Some observations for ... Read More
We are not expert cruisers - this was only our second cruise - both to Alaska. First with Princess 12 years ago. This one was a family reunion with 14 guests, some of whom are more frequent cruisers (none with NCL). Some observations for relative newbies (like us) or first timers on the Bliss (with one big caveat - we sailed with only 4000 aboard - every week over the summer there were 5000 aboard): Embarkation: We chose the 10-1030 window. Dropped off our bags outside (except day bags). No lines inside. Waited about 45 minutes in the waiting area and then were invited to board well-before the 1130 boarding time. Easiest boarding anyone had ever experienced. Dining reservations: Make these early - before the cruise (as soon as the website allows), particularly if you want to eat at Teppanyaki, Blue, or the French or Italian restaurants. If you don't reserve before embarking - don't listen to the recommendations to wait - make them on arrival. The touch screens work well if you don't want to wait in line (you can also make reservations from your TV screen in the cabin once you get it). Activity reservations: Make these immediately when you get on board. On our cruise, you could do this at "Q" as soon as you got on board (with not much of a wait). Go carts were great - but sold out quickly. We reserved for the laser tag (which lots of folks loved), but got too busy and missed our reservation! Show reservations: Havana and Jersey Boys both "sold out" - so reserve these online before you sail (or no later than the first day). Havana was good - not great. Saw several families leave early when they decided it was not appropriate for young children. Jersey Boys was great. Several in our party had seen it on Broadway - and liked this production better. Shore excursions: We made these on our own. Loved SouthEast Sea Kayaks Orcas cove tour (in Ketchikan) and wildlife tour (Joe Ordonez) in Haines (catch the ferry to the much less crowded Haines Alaska). Mendenhall Glacier is great as well - for our group it was easier and less expensive to schedule a cab in advance and skip the lines for busses (get there early to beat the crowds). Food: We had many members of our group who are "Indian food snobs" - who absolutely loved the Taste of India section of the Garden Cafe and ate there at least once a day. Compared to other cruises, our group also rated the buffet as much better than other cruise lines. It is much less crowded if you get there early (or late), particularly on days in port. Everyone enjoyed Tepanyaki, Cagney's, Los Lobos, and Q, particularly: main courses at Teppy, TresLeches cake and fish at Los Lobos, banana pudding at Q, and steak at Cagneys. Would definitely choose a dining package if you can - all specialty dining venues were a step above the regular restaurants (taste, savor, and manhattan). Public areas: The observation lounge is great. It does get crowded, and folks stake out their spots early and stay all day. You can get nice views from inside the buffet on deck 16 (or outside/undercover around the pools). We had great weather and found deck 8 to be our favorite hang-out - fewer people and lots of fresh air. Laundry: NCL still offering a $20 special for everything you can fit in one laundry bag - throughout the cruise. We left our bag on the bed in the morning, and had clean, folded clothes by dinner. Internet: For Alaska, we could get slow verizon voice and data in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. We did share a $125 , 250 minute package amongst 4 of us and found the speed fine for light surfing and email. Consider buying a travel router so that you can all use one connection at the same time. Drinks: Read a lot of complaints about drinks- but had no issues on board. Good drinks, readily available during the whole cruise. If you have only one person in a cabin who is going to drink, you may be better off paying as you go - cocktails and wine were about $9-10 each and beer about $7-8. If you are only going to get a glass of wine with dinner, you may be better off using a package for prepaid gratuities or specialty dining. Elevators: Everyone uses the forward elevator banks. When you get back on the ship after your shore excursion, it is much faster to walk to the rear bank of elevators and then go up. Same for days at sea. Rarely waited when using the aft elevators. Workout facilities - were busy on sea days. Unfortunately NCL has limited use of the spin room - to sea days and only if you pay for a class. Most classes sell out- so if you want to spin - make reservations early. 3 spin classes are $55. You can buy access to all classes during the cruise for $95. We did have a few spaces open for "walk ins", but that is apparently unusual. Seems a bit crazy that the cycles are not available for the rest of the day. But, at least the spin classes were good. Disembarkation: Easy and fast - only wait was getting through customs, which was still only 10 minutes. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Went on Emerald Princess ship last July & wanted to try NCL's newest ship BLISS. My wife & I were definitely pleased. Just a beautiful ship with great amenities (food, entertainment, excursions, facilities, & activities). ... Read More
Went on Emerald Princess ship last July & wanted to try NCL's newest ship BLISS. My wife & I were definitely pleased. Just a beautiful ship with great amenities (food, entertainment, excursions, facilities, & activities). Service was outstanding. Best part was the Observation lounge located at the front of the ship. Beatles own Britain's Finest rock group, Prohibition comedy, and Jersey Boys were the highlights of the activites (but there were other performances as well!) on board. We ate at a specialty dining restaurant every night. 5 of them were provided by NCL's upgraded deal. The other two were comped to us because we are Platinum level guests on NCL. Cagneys, Teppanayaki, Ocean Front, Le Bistro, etc were among the specialty dining experiences we enjoyed the most. The Buffet, Savor, & Taste restaurants were just fine as well. Let's not forget The Local Pub (O'Sheehans on other NCL ships) which is 24/7 open. Loved the casino....especially poker and blackjack and craps tables. Cabin was on 9th deck aft....balcony stateroom. Very nice...very clean! Alaskan Ports. as usual, were wonderful. Paid only $45 to ride Ketchikan trolley bus to see the salmon, bears, & the bald eagles. Went on the railway system in Skagway (do not bypass this trip!). Fun & informative Highly recommend Bliss as it will soon leave Seattle/Alaska to take passengers thru the Panama Canal & end in Florida for Western & Eastern Caribbean trips this winter. Enjoy! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
This was a last minute cruise we booked 3 weeks before departure. An Alaska cruise was something we wanted to do and it was the right choice. I don't get any of the negative reviews.The Bliss is an awesome ship and everything was perfect. ... Read More
This was a last minute cruise we booked 3 weeks before departure. An Alaska cruise was something we wanted to do and it was the right choice. I don't get any of the negative reviews.The Bliss is an awesome ship and everything was perfect. The embarkation and disembarkation was quick and easy. Our cabin 9174 was perfect for the 2 of us. We NEVER had a bad meal on the ship, this includes the buffet, the complementary dining, and the specialty restaurants. Every show we saw was great especially Jersey Boys (which we saw twice). All the live music was great especially Siglo and the Beatles cover band. All the staff was polite and was able to answer any question we had. Our cabin was taken care every day sometimes twice a day. We went to the Mendenhall Glacier and whale watch and it was awesome. This is a trip I would absolutely do again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The embarkation and disembarkation was great. Went smoothly. The Room Steward was fabulous. As for the rest of the cruise I would never do NCL again. The Dining was poor, food quality was not good, barely warm, the waiters had the ... Read More
The embarkation and disembarkation was great. Went smoothly. The Room Steward was fabulous. As for the rest of the cruise I would never do NCL again. The Dining was poor, food quality was not good, barely warm, the waiters had the don't care attitude in all restaurants. We did do the LeBistro and had a nice meal. I feel the ship makes the other dining sub par so you will go to the paid dining. Bar service was not the best, I went to a bar and the bartender was admiring three other women so asked me to go to another bar. Really???? Well I did and got my drink. None to happy. Entertainment was fair. The duo dance team was good. This was the first time I have ever had so much staff give me the feeling like they didn't care if I was there or not. NCL is not on my travel list again. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this Alaskan Cruise because it was on our bucket list. We stayed in a balcony room on the 9th floor, room 9086. Our room was cared for my Marilyn, a very courteous and caring person who is from the Philippines. Our room was ... Read More
We chose this Alaskan Cruise because it was on our bucket list. We stayed in a balcony room on the 9th floor, room 9086. Our room was cared for my Marilyn, a very courteous and caring person who is from the Philippines. Our room was immaculate everyday and we had enough coffee, cream, and sugar daily. Our animal towels were very cool. We left the ship every chance we got but always came back to a clean room to relax before each meal. The activities on the ship were pretty good, especially the nighttime entertainment! The singers were spectacular and Katya and Nikolay were outstanding! Bingo was fun albeit we did not win anything. The casino staff was top notch and the food staff and table helpers were always pleasant. My wife and I were very content with everything. We also did a 75 minute couples massage. The upsell of products after the massage was not necessary. Overall, we had a great time and would do it again! Lastly my romance package for $299 blew up because there weren't any fresh red Roses in Seward the day we departed. NCL made it up to me by giving us the sparkling wine, chocolate dipped strawberries, and snacks for free along with a $100 credit. Read Less
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