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Norwegian Bliss Review

Norwegian Bliss (Photo: Cruise Critic)
Norwegian Bliss (Photo: Cruise Critic)

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Dori Saltzman
Cruise Critic Senior Editor

Norwegian Bliss Overview

Norwegian Bliss is a beautiful vessel with a refined feel you don't normally expect to find on such a megaship. Its most striking feature is the 20,000-square-foot Observation Lounge, which dominates the entire forward section of the ship on Deck 15. Originally designed to serve as a focal point for cruisers during its Alaska sailings (so far Bliss will spend every summer in Alaska and was designed with Alaskan sailing requirements in mind), its sole purpose so far is to serve as a space for cruisers to read, chat with new friends and even fall asleep (we saw plenty of napping cruisers here all day long). No games, lectures or seminars are held here. It doesn't transform into a nighttime disco. There's no stage for a small band to play. It's simply a refined indoor haven of calm, and we've never seen anything quite like it on a mainstream ship.

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About Norwegian Bliss


Pro

Gorgeous ship with excellent food and lots of live music

Con

Many of dining venues and activities cost extra

Bottom Line

A sophisticated ship that offers plenty of fun activities like go-karts and water slides


In fact, there's a lot about Norwegian Bliss that's unexpected. It feels like a big ship that's taken on the trappings of one that's smaller and more upscale.

Don't let pictures of the go-karts and water slides fool you. Consider the refined choice of fabrics and color schemes in cabins and public spaces, the excellent service and top-notch food in the restaurants, the range of educational activities during the day (language classes, guest lectures). And, family-friendly features seem less visible (the one exception being the kids splash zone on Deck 16).

In these areas, the ship more closely resembles something you'd find in one of Norwegian Cruise Line's sister upscale and luxury brands (Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises) than a fleetmate. It's an evolution that the line began with Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Joy, which serves the Asian market.

But Norwegian Bliss can only mimic a small upscale vessel to a certain extent. At 4,004 passengers at double occupancy, it is a big ship, with a robust selection of dining venues, top-deck fun and enjoyable nighttime entertainment -- particularly The Beatles cover band in The Cavern and the full-scale production of the Broadway hit musical, the "Jersey Boys."

We loved the combination of upscale and mainstream; it gave us the perfect mix of high-energy fun (laser tag and go-karts!) but plenty of spots for quiet relaxation without having to go to an adults-only solarium, which we often find too hot or too stuffy.

But we're not sure the mix works for everyone, especially families. We can't figure out what a family with small kids or teenagers would do in the evening. Will they want to see a show about a 1960s-era band? Havana, which highlights Cuban music and dance, is, in some scenes, kind of inappropriate for kids. There is plenty in the kids' clubs to keep the kiddos busy as the sun goes down, but less for families to do together (which maybe is just what parents want on their cruise vacation?!).

With that said, there is one family-friendly comedy show most nights, a hypnotist displays her talents once per cruise and laser tag and go-karts run till late. But both of those cost extra money -- not necessarily surprising on a line that pioneered extra-fee specialty dining -- so how many times are parents going to let their kids loose on the "rides"?

Overall, we enjoyed our transatlantic sailing on Norwegian Bliss and we think it can only get better once it gets to Alaska and the Caribbean, where the destination will play a bigger part in the overall experience. While we do wish there were a fewer extra charges (especially for the laser tag, which was our favorite top deck activity), there is still lots to keep you busy. And, a few hours luxuriating in a good book on a comfy chair in the Observation Lounge can't be beat.

Fellow Passengers

You'll find an international mix on Norwegian Bliss, which we expect to continue during its seasons spent sailing in Alaska. Though the line has traditionally drawn a lot of families, Bliss might be less appealing to families than other Norwegian ships, due to the larger number of for-fee activities, adult entertainment and Deck 5 kids' club location. Only time will tell how families respond but so far there are plenty of families with members under 21-years-old already booked for Alaska and the Caribbean.


Norwegian Bliss Dress Code

Norwegian Cruise Line maintains a casual atmosphere onboard and this is reflected in its dress code. During the day, casual is the name of the game, with swimsuits, shorts and tees the norm in warm-weather destinations, and warmer clothing more common in Alaska. There's not much of a formal dress code at night either; we did see shorts in the three main dining rooms. But two of the specialty restaurants (Ocean Blue and Le Bistro) do require long pants, a collared shirt and closed shoes. Generally speaking, dark jeans or khakis and collared shirts are the norm for the men, while women don blouses with slacks or skirts, or sundresses. (Bring a cardigan or a wrap for when the A/C is too high.)

Norwegian doesn't have formal nights, but passengers are urged to dress up for the line's Norwegian's Night Out, held once per cruise on weeklong sailings. You'll rarely see a tux or gown, but suits and cocktail dresses are not unheard of.

If you want to take part in all the fun the line offers, try to find out ahead of time what themed nights (glow party, '70s or '80s, etc.) will be hosted on your sailing and bring a few extra items accordingly.


Norwegian Bliss Gratuity

Norwegian charges a "service fee" of $14.99 per person, per day, for all passengers booked in standard cabins and mini-suites. Cruises staying in suites are charged $17.99 per person, per day. Anyone wishing to adjust or remove the service fees must fill out a form after the cruise requesting a refund.

Butlers and the concierge are not included in the daily service fee and Norwegian recommends that suite passengers who use their serves tip according to the level of service rendered.

An 18 percent gratuity is added to all bar purchases and services in the spa and salon.


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Deck:
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Norwegian Bliss Member Reviews

Norwegian Bliss
mj_ewing
Sail Date: Jun 2019
We had an excellent cruise on Norwegian Bliss. We were lucky enough to stay in a Haven Suite and were spoiled rotten. Most everything went smoothly from getting on the ship (ten minutes from the curb...Read More
Norwegian Bliss
keithhayden
Sail Date: Jun 2018
The professional and friendly staff aboard the Norwegian Bliss made my wife and I feel like we were totally welcome. The staff did everything with smiles and I truly believe they enjoy their jobs. Always...Read More
Norwegian Bliss
andresantos0988
Sail Date: Dec 2018
very excited however I had no idea that it was going to be that much fun. The staff on the Norwegian Bliss definitely make the difference when comes to customer service. Everyone aboard the ship most...Read More
Norwegian Bliss
Shuleran
Sail Date: Jun 2019
We chose the Norwegian Bliss at the last minute to cruise Alaska. We were granted two weeks off unexpectedly and had always wanted to see Alaska. We got a great last minute deal on a balcony and flight...Read More

Norwegian Cruise Line Fleet