We were recently invited on a 2 night pre-inaugural cruise onboard the new Norwegian Bliss. This 168,028 ton ship carries only 4,004 passengers who will need more than a week to experience everything on this ship. Today’s big 3 contemporary brands are in an all-out battle to one up each another in coming out with new features and the most of everything. The Bliss might be the current hands down winner.
Let’s start with the mundane things like dining and bars. On the dining front there are 5 comp dining options and 10 specialty restaurants. While a common thought is that restaurants that are comp aren’t so good to force you to the ala carte specialty venues. Not True! Frank Del Rio has taken personal charge of the comp dining to bring it up to a higher standard, which he has done. How about a seafood buffet with all you can eat lobster and crab legs? It is lavish and very, very good! Specialty restaurants range from French, steakhouse, seafood, BBQ to a Margaritaville with a Cheese Burger in Paradise of course. There are seriously numerous great venues to choose from, most of which have ala carte pricing. As with all Getaway class ships many of these restaurants have outdoor dining. Great for the Caribbean but I am not so sure about Alaska.
Keeping Alaska in mind as this will be her summer home. The first really new feature I would like to high light is an outrageously large observation lounge. There is plenty of viewing area in a 180 degree lounge. It has food service lines for breakfast, snacks and tapas as well as numerous bars and coffee stations. This is perfect for viewing the inside passage. Now about those other bars and lounges of which there are a total of 16. Several also serve food or snack as well. You have a classy wine bar to Mojito bars to craft beer bars and many with some form of live entertainment. One of the nicest is the Cavern Club, and anyone who has any knowledge of the Beatles know this is the Club that got them started. Needless to say this night spot features some really good bands and is also an inside-outside venue. There is plenty to keep you busy and this ship including a comedy club.
The standard Veranda cabins are nice and bright and airy. Balconies are large enough to enjoy breakfast on. The bathrooms are extremely large for a standard balcony cabin with an oversized shower and sink. 2 people can be in these bathrooms at once if necessary. Lots of cabin and suite choices along with the ship within a ship the “Haven” for really an over the top experience with private restaurant, lounge, pool and sundeck area.
Entertainment, as with all big ships today there is a lot happening all the time. The Bliss features the Jersey Boys Show which is fantastic, as is NCL’s own production show Havana Nights. Both are top notch and not to be missed. Between the production shows and lounge act you could very well be in Vegas. And best of all the entertainment was all consistently good. No lounge lizards here.
The ship does have limited dedicated meeting space. For the guys, we finally have a real barber shop on a ship. In keeping with Alaska cruising, in the spa they do have a snow room. There are plenty of venues for private parties and large meetings if need be. The ship has it all. The Bliss has a 2 deck level go cart track that is a total blast. The carts can go up to 30 mph which is honestly fast enough when you see the track lay out. They are electric so no need to wear ear plugs. This can be taken over and I am betting groups will be lining up to do just that. This is a cool and fun, and most people can do this versus a rock climbing wall or some of the other off the wall ideas out there. For your millennials there is the Aqua Racer water slides hanging over the side of the ship with clear glass tubes. This will get the competitive juices going for sure. No extra charge here but the go carts do come with an extra charge. I will not be surprised to see the go cart charge being adjusted upward just to control demand. For the more mundane there is actually a pretty nice mini golf course. Of course there are all the normal attractions a kiddie water park that seems to bring out the kids in us in any ship and swimming pool and Jacuzzis etc.
For adults only is NCL’s now famous White Hot parties in its own area on the aft end of the ship. South Beach goes to sea is the best way to envision this scene.
This ship really has it ALL. The food is good with a lot of selection (suggest you buy a dining package up front) and the service was good as well. If you want action this ship gives it to you in spades. The go cart track is now my favorite new gimmick that can actually be used and enjoyed by everyone.