Norwegian Bliss is the latest ship from Norwegian Cruise Line. The largest ship in the fleet, she has a number of firsts for both the line and the industry. With new food, drink and entertainment offerings, she has something for every taste and budget.
Bliss has at least in part been designed for the destinations in mind. She will spend her inaugural season sailing 7-night itineraries around Alaska before moving to sail around the Caribbean from Miami.
I recently spent a couple of nights on board Bliss to see and enjoy what this new ship has to offer.
Upon walking onto Bliss you are greeted with contemporary tones throughout the ship. This fresh style is an evolution of what is found on board Norwegian Escape (see my review here) and is a very comfortable environment to find yourself in. In developing Bliss, Norwegian have taken the opportunity to redesign and update many of the features found on board its sisters. You have to remember that this is the fifth ship in this design and this continually evolves from ship-to-ship.
Of all this, the biggest change for the western market is the observation lounge found at the front of the ship. I was taken back by the sheer size of this space, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a 180-degree view over the bow of the ship – you can appreciate how this space would be used in places like Alaska. It is a cosy, yet chic space where you could easily enjoy cocktails as the sun sets, or equally settle into a continental breakfast at dawn. Above this space Haven guests have access to their own observation lounge. These spaces are very reminiscent of the lounges found on Viking Cruise Line.
To take advantage of the observation lounge’s space, the Marketplace buffet has been moved forward and benefits from the same views as the lounge. At first, I wasn’t sure about this approach, but having spent time in both spaces, I found it was a great idea. In doing so Norwegian has taken the opportunity to rethink the buffet space, with arguably more space, more variety of seating and a greater, higher-quality offering of food and drink – I think it’ll be a hit.
The main pool area has also been redesigned. The space has been opened out and feels much more expansive than on other Norwegian ships. Norwegian have also added a (very) large and impressive LED screen to play movies and stream live events. Across the ship there are now six infinity hot tubs that look out over the ship. Overall, I was impressed with this new space, it feels open and free, I could easily see myself enjoy some sun in the Caribbean. The for-fee Vibe sun deck also makes a return.
The Haven suite complex makes a return to Bliss. On top of access to high-end suites, Haven guests have access to their own concierge, an observation lounge, bar, restaurant enclosed pool area and an expanded sun deck overlooking the bow of the ship.
Food and drink
With 27 dining options on board Bliss you are certainly spoilt for choice. In addition to a number of complimentary venues, such as a supper-club style Manhattan Club, there are a plethora of for-fee choices on board including, steak, teppanyaki, Asian, and Italian. Also returning on bliss is the Waterfront, a promenade that stretches around the ship and becomes an extension of many of the restaurants and bars – despite debuting a number of years ago it is still a great feature that connects you with the sea. There are a number of new and exciting offerings on board including Q, a new BBQ smokehouse concept on board. Expect traditional BBQ fare with a tasty selection of smoked brisket, ribs, chicken, sausages and mouth-watering sides, as well as live contemporary country music across the evening.
Then there is Coco’s. This new à la carte dining venue is a celebration to everything chocolate. Indulge in the chocolatey goodness including tasty treats and speciality coffee. Speaking of coffee, Bliss also features a Starbucks, a first for the line. Also making a return on Bliss is Los Lobos. This is an upscale Mexican experience where guests can feast on classic Mexican fare.
There are 14 bars and lounges across the ship to whet your whistle, including signature venues such as the Sugarcane Mojito bar, the Mixx bar, a whiskey bar, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and a big favourite of mine, the District Brew House, which includes an onsite brewery.
Entertainment offers includes the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Jersey Boys. Follow the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons through their expansive music career. It’s a really fun show and expect hits such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What A Night,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You.”
Then there is ¡Havana! – an original musical theatre show created and produced specifically for Norwegian Bliss. This Latin extravaganza will genuinely get your hips moving in your seat.
Bliss is the second ship in the Norwegian fleet to feature a Cavern Club, after Norwegian Epic. Directly inspired by the infamous Liverpool club where the Beatles performed frequently in the 1960’s, it’s a great indoor and outdoor lounge with nightly performances and Beatles cover bands. The highlight of my evening here was a rendition of Hey Jude, where the venue came alive singing and dancing to the music.
Activities on board
Get ready to race on the largest two-level go-kart race track at sea. I was first a little sceptical about this, but I have to say it was great fun and it’s a must if you’re on board. Up to ten drivers at a time can race to the finish line. This costs $5 per session.
Once you’ve finished racing, blast off to outer space for a game of laser tag. Join your friends on an abandoned space station and save the galaxy against competing teams during both day and night. I’ve not played laser tag since I was a kid and all the memories came flooding back. I could do this over and over. This also costs $5 per session.
The aqua park makes a return on Bliss. There are two water slides including the high-speed Ocean Loops, a double loop waterslide that extends over the side of the ship and the tandem Aqua Racer, which invites guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes. Kids won’t miss out either at their very own aqua park, a watery wonderland of splash pads, water cannons, tipping buckets and slides.
The Mandara spa is located at the aft of the ship, with 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon, barber shop and a thermal suite. The large thermal suite includes a hydro-therapy pool, whirlpools, steam room, dry sauna and a cold snow room. Which sends out flurries of powdery snow throughout the day. Thermal suite passes are available for purchase for a limited number of guests each sailing.
Finally, kids and teenagers are very well catered for through the fleet’s award-winnnig complimentary youth programme. This includes Splash Academy (from ages three to 12), Guppies (six months to three years) and Entourage (13 to 17).
Due to unforeseen circumstances most of my photographic content from my journey on Norwegian Bliss was lost. Pictures are a mixture of © Norwegian Cruise Line and Marcus Adams 2018.