Norwegian Bliss Review
Norwegian Bliss Overview
When it emerges from construction at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, in April 2018, the 167,800-ton, 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss will be the third member of Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway Plus Class. It will be the first new ship that Norwegian has ever debuted in Alaska (technically Seattle, but doing Alaska cruises). While Norwegian Bliss is a sister ship to Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Cruise Line seems to be bucking the trend of making all ships in a class identical. The second Breakaway Plus Class ship, Norwegian Joy, was built for the Chinese cruise market and has different features than Escape, as well as fewer passengers. Norwegian Bliss will have popular features from both sister ships as well as a few all-new attractions.
A few quick highlights:
- The Waterfront will feature 13 restaurants and bars
- Top deck attractions will include the largest go-kart racetrack at sea, a laser tag court and two adrenaline-pumping water slides
- A new cabin category for solo travelers will feature virtual ocean views
- A massive 20,000-square-foot Observation Lounge with 180-degree views will span the entire forward section of the ship to offer unparalleled views in Alaska and the Caribbean
Top Deck Excitement
Most of Norwegian Bliss' attractions for thrill-seekers will be located on its outdoor decks. Borrowing directly from the China-based Norwegian Joy, Bliss will feature a two-level, nearly 1,000-foot-long (40 percent larger than on Joy) electric Go-Kart racetrack. It will offer four speeds (up to 30 miles an hour at the fasted) to accommodate novice, intermediate and advanced drivers. The electric cars run silently so as not to disturb other passengers, but speakers near the driver's headrest pipe in the sounds of a race car engine so drivers get the full experience. The racetrack can be used in damp conditions, so even in Alaska cruisers can try their luck behind the wheel -- even if it's a bit rainy outside.
Also straight off Norwegian Joy is an open-air laser tag course. On Bliss, the course is themed as an abandoned space station and will be open during the day and into the evening. Groups can reserve the space for private play or open session will allow teams of strangers to square off against each other.
Also on the upper decks will be a large Aqua Park featuring two multi-water slides and a kids' splash area. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Ocean Loops free-fall water slide drops riders into two heart-pounding loops: one that extends well over the side of the ship and the second a see-through loop that stretches over the ship and down to the deck below. The tandem Aqua Racer slide allows riders to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet. The splash area includes splash pads, water cannons, tipping buckets and junior-sized water slides.
Additionally, Norwegian Bliss will have two pools and six hot tubs on its pool deck.
Restaurants and Bars
When it comes the ship's dining and drinking options, Norwegian Bliss will feature a mix of Norwegian favorites (though some popular spots, like Moderno's, will not be onboard) and new options.
As with other Breakaway and Breakaway-Plus class ships, Norwegian Bliss will also feature The Waterfront with alfresco seating for Los Lobos, Cagney's Steakhouse, Ocean Blue and La Cucina, as well as for Sugarcane Mojito Bar.
The Manhattan Room (Deck 7), Taste (Deck 6) and Savor (Deck 6): Norwegian Bliss will have three included-in-the-cruise-fare main dining rooms.
Garden Cafe (Deck 16): Norwegian's buffet will offer both indoor and outdoor seating.
The Local Bar & Grill (Deck 7): Norwegian Cruise Line's signature O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill will be replaced on Norwegian Bliss with The Local Bar & Grill. The menu will be much the same as what Norwegian cruisers are used to with pub food offered 24 hours a day.
Texas Smokehouse Q (Deck 6 ); a la carte: Called "Q" for short, this new-to-Norwegian eatery will offer authentic Texas barbecue in an upscale, sleek setting (no sawdust at the floor of this barbecue joint the line says!), where live, pop-country music will be played every night. The a la carte menu will include brisket, ribs, chicken and sausages cooked over freshly-smoked hickory, oak and pecan woods. Also on the menu will be a variety of starters and sides including deviled eggs with natural air-cured ham, pickled jalapenos, fresh cheddar and breadcrumb-crusted mac-n-cheese, and baked sweet potatoes smothered in pecan honey butter and cinnamon.
Los Lobos (Deck 8); a la carte: This upscale Mexican restaurant, which first debuted in 2016 on Norwegian Dawn, shows hints of its Mexican cantina-heritage with colorful serape upholstery on the chairs and serape-style carpeting. The menu features fresh guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole and handcrafted margaritas featuring private-label Patron Barrel Select, Norwegian's own tequila blend and more. Los Lobos will offer both indoor seating and alfresco seating on The Waterfront.
Cagney's Steakhouse (Deck 8); a la carte: Norwegian Cruise Line's popular fine dining steakhouse will offer both indoor and alfresco seating on The Waterfront.
Ocean Blue (Deck 8); a la carte: Seafood lovers will want to visit this fine dining venue, which makes its return to a Norwegian ship after not being included in the lineup of the line's last two ships. Ocean Blue will offer both indoor and alfresco seating on The Waterfront.
La Cucina (Deck 8); a la carte: Another of Norwegian Cruise Line's signature restaurants, La Cucina will offer Italian fare both indoors and outdoors on The Waterfront.
Food Republic (Deck 8); a la carte: The result of a partnership with The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, this dining venue made its debut on Norwegian Escape and was a big hit, serving up foods in sharing style from across the world, though the emphasis is on Asian cuisine. Portions are tapas sized.
Teppanyaki (Deck 6); cover charge: Another of the line's signature restaurants, Teppanyaki is the place for Japanese hibachi meals cooked in front of you by chef's performing tricks with the food and their cooking utensils.
Le Bistro (Deck 17); a la carte: Norwegian's popular, fine dining French bistro will be located all the way up on Deck 17 on Bliss, giving diners beautiful views of the surrounding area, especially when the ship sails in Alaska.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Sea (Deck 17); a la carte: Norwegian's partnership with Jimmy Buffett continues onboard Bliss with a second outpost of the musician's Margaritaville at Sea. It's here where you can get the famed Cheeseburger in Paradise.
Coco's (Deck 6); a la carte: You won't be able to miss this a la carte dessert "restaurant," with its entryway dominated by a liquid chocolate fountain that beckons cruisers with a sweet tooth to enter and indulge. Located in the heart of 678 Ocean Place, Coco's will offer a decadent selection of pralines, truffles, crepes, cakes and other treats paired with specialty coffees and teas.
The Bake Shop (Deck 8); a la carte: As if there weren't enough of a selection of cakes at Coco's, cruisers can also hit The Bake Shop for their sweet tooth fix.
Dolce Gelato (Deck 8); a la carte: Located right next to The Bake Shop is the ship's gelato shop, with a range of flavors that hit the spot on a hot day in the Caribbean.
Starbucks (Deck 6); a la carte: For those who need a larger selection of fancy coffees and teas than what they'll find at Coco's, the line's first ever Starbucks outpost will offer the coffee company's full range of beverages and pastries, with dedicated seating.
The A-List Bar (Deck 8): Named after Norwegian Cruise Line's president and CEO, Andy Stuart, who will be celebrating his 30th anniversary with the company in 2018, the new-to-Norwegian A-List Bar will feature a variety of cocktails. Stuart told Cruise Critic his signature drink will most likely be some type of British cocktail and won't be very sweet. (The "A" doesn't just stand for Andy Stuart; his sisters, wife and children all have names that start with A.)
Sugarcane Mojito Bar (Deck 8): With indoor and outdoor seating on The Waterfront, this bar is the place to grab a flight of six sweet and savory mojitos, or just pick your favorite and watch the world go by.
Humidor Cigar Lounge (Deck 8): The only place onboard to relax with a cigar.
The Cellars Wine Bar (Deck 8): Wine lovers will want to stop by The Cellars Wine Bar for a glass of their favorite Michael Mondavi vintage and a light bite from La Cucina. Daily interactive educational wine seminars and tastings will be offered here.
Maltings Whiskey Bar (Deck 8): For those who like something a little stronger, the Maltings Whiskey Bar has a large selection available.
The District Brew House (Deck 8): Beer lovers will find 24 beers on tap and 50 bottled beers to choose from, including craft beers from Redhook Brewery and Elysian Brewery in Seattle, as well as from Wynwood Brewing Company and M.I.A. Beer Company in Miami.
Skyline Bar (Deck 7): Where casino players go when they want something to drink.
Mixx (Deck 6): Located in between the Taste and Savor main dining rooms, Mixx is the place for pre- and post-dinner drinks.
Atrium Bar (Deck 6): A central location to grab a drink on the way to somewhere else.
Waves (Deck 16): A poolside bar located nearest to the pool by the water slides.
Entertainment, Public & Spa Spaces
The Bliss Theater (Decks 6 & &) will offer cruisers a big-stage production of the Broadway hit, "Jersey Boys"; a show called "Prohibition, the Musical"; as well as an original musical being produced exclusively for Norwegian by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle, which will focus on Cuban dance and music.
Also onboard will be The Cavern Club (Deck 8), a popular spot that debuted on Norwegian Epic and features a Beatles cover band. This version of the Cavern Club will have some alfresco seating on The Waterfront.
A highlight of Norwegian Bliss will be its massive, 20,000-square-foot Observation Lounge with 180-degree views. The lounge will span the entire forward section of the ship and will feature a centerpiece bar.
For those who like to laugh or dance the late night away, the Social Comedy & Night Club on Deck 6 will be the place to be.
The ship's casino will stretch much of the length of Deck 7 and will also feature a VIP room for high rollers.
Mandara Spa (Deck 16) will have 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon and barber shop, fitness center with TechnoGym equipment and thermal suite. Fitness staff will offer personal training and group fitness classes including TRX, Norwegian Fight Club, RYDE Cycle and others. The thermal suite will have a vitality pool with heated whirlpool, special experience showers, a salt room, steam room and saunas, a snow room and 17 heated stone loungers.
The free adults-only Spice H20 will be located on Deck 17 and feature two hot tubs and a bar, while the extra-fee adults-only Vibe Beach Club will be on Deck 19, and will also feature two hot tubs and a bar.
The Tradewinds boutiques will be on Deck 8.
Brand new to Norwegian Cruise Line will be a category of 82 inside cabins designed and priced for solo travelers that feature virtual ocean views. As on other Norwegian ships with solo cabins, these cabins will be part of a dedicated space for solo cruisers that is keycard accessible only and features a private lounge.
Also onboard will be a series of interconnecting rooms designed for groups traveling together.
The exclusive suites-only The Haven on Norwegian Bliss will be double the size of The Haven complex on Norwegian Escape with three stories and featuring: 80 suites, a private restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining, lounge with dedicated mixologist, two-story Observation Lounge, plus a courtyard with retractable roof, a private pool, four whirlpools, a sauna and single spa treatment room.
The rest of the ship will feature a standard mix of inside, oceanview, balcony, mini-suite and spa balcony cabins.
All of Norwegian Bliss' family programming will be located on Deck 5. The Splash Academy Youth program will feature separate spaces for kids ages 3 to 12, while the Entourage Teen Club, with its plush lounge furniture, gaming stations, dance floor and foosball/air hockey will be for the teen set (13 to 17). The ship's arcade will be located in between the two spaces. Norwegian Bliss will also have the largest Guppies playroom in the Norwegian fleet, where Early Years Coordinators will host sensory-play activities for parents and their babies (ages 6 months to just under 3 years).
Norwegian Bliss will depart its European shipyard in April, sailing a series of cruises that will get it to its summer homeport of Seattle by June. Purpose-built for Alaska cruises, Norwegian Bliss will spend its first summer sailing weeklong Alaska itineraries from Seattle. Port stops will include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria (British Columbia).
To tie in with the Alaska theme, the ship's hull will boast a marine life design, painted by Wyland, an artist known for his whale murals.
In fall 2018, the ship will feature a series of three Pacific Coastal, Mexico and Panama Canal voyages before arriving at its winter homeport of Miami, from which it will offer seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruises.