My thee nights on board are over and the early sunshine over the port of Seattle was a welcomed companion while I packed my belongings.
On final reflection, this ship offers some innovative ideas that will appeal to today’s cruisers. Gone are the days of inside, outside, balcony and suites. This ship has a total of 28 categories spread over 11 decks to choose from. There is a stateroom that satisfies even the most challenging needs.
Solo traveler staterooms or studios are one of the innovations on Norwegian’s new gen ships Epic, Breakaway, Getaway, and Bliss. Compact but well equipped, these single cabins offer efficient layouts with a second TV serving as the window to the outside world.
These very popular rooms sell out fast as they do not require solo travelers to caugh up the very common 200% of fare. Norwegian prices them competitively at a one person rate and throws in a dedicated lounge for solo guests to mingle. It’s a brilliant concept!
Food is always a matter of opinion with wide varieties of palates to satisfy. Not in this case as “Blown away” was the superlative I heard over and over about the meals and restaurant selection on board. I fully concur and I would not hesitate to recommend this to my foodie friends. Compared to my recent week aboard “Allure of the Seas” (read my blog on that first) Bliss exceeded all expectations for a mainstream cruise line. Every meal was outstanding, often I more than one dimension. I can clearly tell that this was a big focus of the CEO whom ran Oceania and Regent for years. It is a quantum leap that reflects today’s consumer taste. My farewell dinner last night was in the main dining room called Manhattan. From the menu above, you can see how amazing the selection was. The Oysters Rockefeller were a tasty treat, especially the addition of red pepper corns and Molton Sea Salt.
The main course, Beef Tenderloin Rossini was equally as tasty and it contained a nice sized piece of perfectly cooked Foie Gras – my favorite indulgence!
The Observation Lounge offering 180 degree views over the ocean on deck 16 is a stunning area to chill with a book, take in the midnight sun, and have conversations with friends you will make on board.
My not so Faves
As with everything in life, perfect does not exist and so it is with Norwegian Bliss. The no so faves are minor items overall that made our on-board experience more complicated than it needed to be.
Orientation – It all begins with the first photo of this blog. The Norwegian Free Style fish on the carpet swim in ship direction facing forward. While that is a very nice touch, it didn’t solve for the constant loss of direction I and many of the folks I talked to experienced. More than once, I found myself in the wrong hallway, headed the very long way around the ship to my stateroom. It is very rare that my sense of direction fails me as it did on board Bliss. After studying it, I attribute the confusion mainly to the illogical signage at the hallway entrances and the fact that for such a large ship, two elevator banks are not enough to handle the volume.
Speaking of elevators, therein lies another challenge. Not all elevators go to all decks and the request buttons (you have to push both sides of the bank to speed things up) do not take that into account. More than once, I found myself stuck on a deck I had no intention visiting. The challenge then is to find the right walkway or passage to the area intended. Note that not all decks and public spaces connect easily and finding the race track for example is an exercise in chasing through labyrinths.
Pools are also in short supply which is especially important for water lovers. Bliss only has two pools aboard neither of which is cover-able during inclement weather common in Alaska. If swimming is your thing, upgrading to the Haven is a must as that is the only way to access the private pool under a glass dome.
What the plethora of stateroom categories provides in flexibility, it takes away in space. Note that standard cabins are comparatively small (for example, my Bliss mini-suite was the same size as my standard balcony on Royal’s Allure of the Seas). I definitely recommend springing for the higher categories (Mini suite adds $50 to 100 per person to the cruise cost) to avoid claustrophobia as the decor, while contemporary and Scandinavian efficient is kept in browns and grey’s that create a muted cabin atmosphere.
Having sailed to Alaska 5 times on different cruise lines and vessels sizes, I can confirm that Norwegian Bliss is tailor made to discover The Great Land. Bliss offers plenty of public spaces to view scenery; tons of food choices that will please any foodie; lots of activities (Go Kart track, Laser tag, bowling alley, water slide, entertainment, etc.).
Arguably the best big ship to sail these waters, I have no hesitation recommending Norwegian Bliss from Seattle as a convenient choice with weekly Saturday departures this season. If Alaska is not your thing, she will be moving to Los Angeles in October 18 for Mexican Riviera sailings. All in all, a solid experience and a solid value for money.