This is my broad brushstroke review (with videos) of Norweigan Cruise lines brand new Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Cruise Lines builds on what it does so well and introduces some spectacular innovations. They just keep raising the bar when it comes to affordable cruise vacations with luxury details.
When Bliss arrived in New York City, I had the chance to spend two days on board. There is a lot that is familiar, and a lot that’s different, too. Bliss isn’t just a standard cruise ship, It’s a floating resort that can take you to destinations around the world (for Bliss, first, it’s Alaska, then it goes to Miami and the Caribbean).
Tried & New!
The Norwegian Bliss follows along the same basic lines as the NCL Escape, but it is even larger and has some incredible new features.
NCL offers action and entertainment with something for the entire family. There’s a genuine go-kart race that guest can race each other on, and it’s as exciting to watch from high atop the ship, it is to participate (go-kart video)
There bigger and better water slides (really it’s a water park). For shoppers, there’s a large shopping area and a computerized photo area. No need to waste time searching for that special moment. Prices are reasonable.
The standout on the Norwegian Bliss is the open-air laser tag (laser tag video) arena on deck 20 that will make you think you’re in a spaceships’ holodeck.
The Mandara Spa, the extra-charge sundeck club, and plenty of lounge areas make this large ship feel more intimate. People do gravitate to the areas that suit them which spreads out the passengers, even on sea days.
Fans of Norwegian Cruise Lines will recognize the familiar comfortable, cozy and well-appointed accommodations.
Media didn’t really have access to The Haven. However, this Haven is a different experience since I sailed on NCL in top of the ship accommodations such as the Courtyard Villas and Owners Suites. Along with the stunning suites with spectacular ocean views, the Haven offers a private lounge, restaurant and pool area,
For Alaska, perhaps the most important part of the Haven is the private pool area with a domed roof for inclement weather. One might not ever want to leave the Haven except for land tours or entertainment.
There is also an expanded solo travelers section with private lounge. These cabins are inside, small and there’s not much storage space. However, they’re a great option for solo travelers. The lounge also gives solo travelers a chance to meet each other and make new friends.
The rest of the cabins are fairly standard with flat-screen TVs and enough closet space, depending upon how many suitcases you arrive with. Bathrooms in higher accommodations offer upgraded facilities (mini suite video) but otherwise, they’re pretty much the same.
When it comes to navigating a large cruise ship line the Bliss, NCL makes it easy to find your way around with touch screens located around the public decks. You can find your way around and also access dining and entertainment options. You can access these plus make reservations for shore excursions, etc. from your tv in your cabin as well.
Food and Drinks:
You’ll never lack for a place to eat on NCL and for the most part, it’s a joy. From the Buffet to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville there are options for families. For fine dining, there are plenty of options including Ocean Blue and the popular standards Teppanyaki (expanded on the Bliss) and the French restaurant, Le Bistro.
During the press preview, we dined at La Cucina, the popular Italian restaurant that is on all the NCL ships. It was excellent. Two main dining rooms (Taste and Savour) are good choices, especially when you don’t have a reservation elsewhere or just feel like dining whenever you want (NCL still says “you’re free to do whatever you want).
For a sweet snack, Miss Coco’s hasover-the-top ice cream confections. You’ll pay extra but these treats will put a priceless smile on your face. Gelato and the Bake Shop are a hit with the kids and the adults.
Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to try Q the new Texas Smokehouse Barbecue restaurant on Norwegian Bliss. as it was booked up. When you are on a longer cruise, for the most part, getting around, making reservations and so forth is easy enough. I recommend making at least some of your dining and entertainment plans prior to your cruise if there’s something you really feel you must experience.
Not To Be Missed:
NCL is excellent in keeping passengers occupied no matter what their age. The youth programs are stellar. For family fun, the race track is truly exciting, even if you’re just a spectator.
The laser tag venue up on Deck 20 was spectacular. We saw it during the day, but at night when the interior of this venue is lit up it’s got to be mind-blowing.
The pool deck water park has been expanded (video of pool deck) and kids area is spectacular and the slides are more exciting than ever.
For the younger set, night-time entertainment includes the kids’ clubs, bowling alley, and video game area.
There are so many places to eat, and to drink, I can’t mention them all. For me, the standouts are the lovely Cellars wine bar where you can taste and learn about wine. The Sugarcane Mojito bar has bartenders that serve a variety of mojitos while entertaining you with cocktail shaker antics. This was a huge hit with passengers on the preview.
There is a nicely appointed casino, and adult entertainment includes smaller venues for comedy and music including a re-creation of “The AAvern Club” (where the Beatles got their start). Theatrical offerings are shows of professional quality in a theater that has fabulous sight lines.
The Norwegian Cruise Line original musical theater show – ¡HAVANA! – seems like a strange choice for a ship that’s going to debut in Alaska, but the lighting and performers were excellent. Jersey Boys literally brought the entire Bliss Theater to stand and applaud, Oh! What a Night! it was!
Throughout the day and night there are two stunning observation lounges for guests offer wall to wall glass windows to offer a huge vista of the sea, and in Alaska, it will be the place to be to enjoy views of the glacier and any wildlife along the way. Of course, there are bars plus coffee for those who want to read a book and relax. The observation lounges will be a plus for cold weather in Alaska.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss brings a stellar experience to passengers at every price point. There’s something for everyone, but particularly for families and groups who want to have a great time, dawn till dusk…and beyond:
Passengers can sail on the Norwegian Bliss on seven-day voyages to Alaska from Seattle with featured calls in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia. She will then cruise select voyages to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles and for her Fall/winter season. Then, she will sail to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami.
In 2019, she will return to New York City and sail seven-day voyages to the Bahamas and Florida, the Southern and Western Caribbean. Norwegian will introduce an additional new “Breakaway Plus” Class cruise ship in 2019 and has four additional ships on order for delivery beginning in 2022, with an option to introduce two more ships in 2026 and 2027. I can’t wait to see what’s next.