Jim Zim's Full Cruise Review of Norwegian Bliss
I'm. On board Norwegian. Bliss and I've been on board for about a week and a half now one, thing became very, clear, practically, from day one and that is that this is a fantastic cruise. Ship one of the best I've ever been on and one, I can very highly recommend, to you I want to take you through step by step some, of the great things about the Norwegian, bliss, one. Of the most brilliant things they did in designing the ship was, adding a huge Observation. Lounge up, at the front end we. Spent a lot of time here in the Observation. Lounge enjoying. The views and having, drinks at the bar because. This area is fully, enclosed, it, didn't matter if it was hot outside or windy. It was always comfortable in the Observation. Lounge and, I really, love the way they outfitted this lounge with a variety of furniture, everything, from chairs to couches, to these little day beds with. The ship positioned, in Alaska, during the summers this, is going to be a fantastic, spot, for, viewing the beauty of Alaska without. Being exposed, to the weather, here's. A picture of my family when we visited, Alaska, a few years ago on a different, cruise ship notice, how bundled, up we were the. Observation. Lounge is going to be perfect, for viewing the scenery in Alaska, no matter what the weather does, but. Even on our cruise in the Caribbean and, through the Panama Canal and, up the west coast of Central America, we spent a lot of time, in the Observation, Lounge and really. Loved it they. Serve a light buffet, here at meal times and if, you want a big meal just, head up one flight of stairs to, the ship's big buffet restaurant, which, also has fantastic. Views out, big, picture, windows and is, another great place to sit and enjoy the scenery, the. Most talked about new feature on Norwegian bliss, is the, go-kart, racetrack at the top of the ship all. The cruise lines have a friendly competition adding. Fun new attractions, to their newest ships remember. Years ago when Royal, Caribbean, was getting all the attention for, adding things like ice skating, rinks. And Rock, Climbing, Walls, and zip. Lines to their ships now. It really seems like Norwegian. Has hit their stride with, the innovations, on Norwegian bliss, the. Go-kart racetrack was a lot, of fun I wrote it many times even, though the go-karts are electric, they're equipped, with realistic, go-kart, sounds, that really, make them feel like an old-school, gas-powered. Go-kart, back in the day they. Definitely feel fast and, responsive a, lot, of fun to drive and, if they win any faster, you'd never make it around the very tight turns on the course. Passing. Other cars, is the ultimate, challenge and if. You watch the go-karts for a while you, will almost surely witness, a crash, or two when, people try to pass but don't, quite get away with it.
I Think. Norwegians scored a big hit with the go-kart race track. There. Is definitely, no shortage of, things to keep people of all ages entertained. Right. Next to the go-karts you'll find a five hole mini golf course, inside. The ship there's a bowling, alley as well as an arcade there's. A very cool setup for a laser tag that, simulates, two opposing, security, forces, shooting. It out inside a space, station, and. There's also two, very, cool water, slides on the ship on. A lot. Of cruise ships the water slides are so basic that they're really only going to appeal to a child, and the Norwegian, bliss does have a children's, play area with a very safe, and gentle, water slide for the little ones but there are also two. Very thrilling water slides, that are perfect, for adults, I had, so much fun on these the first one is very gentle, but still good fun even for adults you, sit on a big inner tube and float, down the waterslide inside. This very colorful tube, you. Get good speed going and it's just a lot of fun without. Scaring. You. Now. The second, waterslide, will definitely. Scare. You. You. Climb up to the top of the tower get inside this cylinder and then get the scare of your life. When. The floor drops right out from under your feet. When. You're dropping down in a freefall you, will have a little moment of panic I pretty much guarantee, it. Especially. Since there's, water splashing, all around you and you're fighting just to get a breath without breathing, in the water you. Go out over the side of the ship then, you go upside down for a little while it just totally throws you for a loop pardon, the pun I love. These vertical, drop water slides they've become a standard. Feature on all, of Norwegians, newest ships and you can ride any of these water slides as many times as you want for, as long as you want without ever having to make a reservation, or pay any kind, of fee be. Sure to try both, of these water slides out if you sail on Norwegian bliss. When. I go on vacation I just love, to spend as much time in the water as possible. In port. That means a shore excursion, to a beach spending. Time in the warm waters of the Caribbean or, the tropical part of the Pacific, on board. The ship it can sometimes mean spending, time in one of the main swimming, pools but what I really, love is when, a ship has a good thermal suite, within their spa and Norwegian. Bliss, definitely. Has that that. Big indoor pool you see here is as, warm as a jacuzzi, and I visited here just about every, day to relax in the warm water and then to lie on one of these heated, tile loungers, or one of the very comfortable, padded, loungers, and enjoy, the view out the big picture windows, on, norwegian. Bliss the thermal suite is located. At the back end of the ship with fantastic, views of what's behind the ship it. Was at the front of the ship on previous, generations. Of Norwegian, ships but, by moving the spot to the back and freeing, up that space in the front it allowed, the designers, to create that fantastic, Observation. Lounge, on Norwegian, bliss. Another. Smart, bit of ship design that Norwegian has done with all of their recent ships and I'm seeing a lot of other cruise lines copy this now is extending. Out the deck, directly, above the lifeboats, this. Serves to, first. You cover up the lifeboats, so that they're hidden from view from above when. You look down from a balcony cabin, up above you just never see the bright orange lifeboats, because, they're hidden out of sight but, the other thing that's cool about this is that the extended, deck that covers the lifeboats, makes, a fantastic, outdoor dining and viewing area on Norwegian, they, call it the waterfront. And quite, a few of the specialty, restaurants, have outdoor dining on the waterfront there are also several bars, out on the waterfront and even, a little place to buy gelato. Norwegian. Has been designing the waterfront, onto their ships for several, years now MSC. Realized. How brilliant, Norwegians, idea was and copied, it on their new ship the MSC, seaside, and they, also stole, another, really, great idea that NCL pioneered, years ago the, Haven, a private, VIP area. Within the ship that's only accessible to, a small group of passengers who, pay at least two or three times the price of a regular cruise, in order, to have an uncrowded. Luxurious. Pampered. Experience. In a private, section of the ship, with. The bliss being a brand-new ship and our Panama Canal Cruise being, 15, days, NCO, was getting big, bucks for, Suites within the Haven on this cruise so I just, couldn't afford the Haven this time around and I, booked a spa, mini suite instead, to, at least have access to, that great thermal suite within the spa whenever. I wanted to get away from it all but, I did get a tour of the Haven on Norwegian bliss, and I've, stayed within the Haven on other, Norwegian ships, I was, really impressed with, the design of the Haven on Norwegian bliss, and the improvements.
That They've made over previous, generations. I. Also. Really, liked what they did with the adults-only, Sun, Deck area at the back of the ship they, call this spice, h2o. What. They improved in this area on this generation, of ships is that they added a nicer, water feature it, can get warm back here lying on a lounger, in the Sun when, you get too hot just, take a walk through the water feature it's, the adult equivalent of, how, we used to run through the sprinklers, on the front, when, we were kids I. Mentioned. MSC seaside a little earlier I sailed, on that ship a few months before my cruise on Norwegian bliss, comparing. The two ships MSC. Compares quite poorly as far as I'm concerned, my, cruise on Norwegian bliss, has been pretty much one of the best cruises, I've ever been on MSC, seaside, and not so much MSC. Is very much geared towards the Preferences, of European. Passengers. Norwegian. Is fantastic. About gearing, things towards American. Tastes, it's, especially evident in the areas of food and dining and also, in entertainment. Let's start with the entertainment, it seemed to me that MSC. Made a conscious, decision to keep their costs low as far as the entertainment went, on Norwegian bliss, I was so impressed to see how much money and effort Norwegian, had spent on offering, all sorts, of entertainment there, was a huge, variety, of entertainment offered, during our cruise and nothing. About it struck, me as being done, on the cheap, there. Were three big musical, production, shows onboard I actually, only made it to one of them Jersey. Boys which, traces the career of Frankie, Valli and the four seasons it. Was like seeing a show on Broadway the, show ran an hour and 40 minutes and while, I don't really, think of myself as a huge, fan of Frankie, Valli when I was in that theater and one song after another was a huge, hit that I grown up listening to back, in the day well. It's just a great musical, production show for anyone over the age of 50. There. Was a fantastic soul. Motown. Kind of act called, uptown that. Was so good I actually went to see them twice, and. There was a headliner, musical, show featuring, Jeanine karmiel, Oh a singer, who performed music from a wide variety of genres, once, again I enjoyed, her show so much that I went back to see her again on a second.
Night, They. Had a beatles tribute band, called the bliss beatles, that performed, throughout the cruise in the cavern, club an intimate. Little venue styled after the real thing in liverpool, as you, might expect the 20-somethings. Weren't really into it but the baby-boomers. Had a great time, there. Was a lot of stand-up, comedy throughout. The cruise, MSC, should follow Norwegians, example, here this, was so much better than the improv, comedy I saw, on MSC, seaside one, of the comedians was this singer Allison, Weber who, was really, funny and I got a real kick out of her shows she's, kind of a female, version of Weird Al doing. Parodies, of pop songs, super. Creative original, stuff I loved. It and she was, only one of many comedians. On board, like. I said Norwegian. Does not skimp, on the entertainment I was. So excited, to see a pretty, good country, music, band performing. Onboard you, almost never hear country, music on a cruise, ship I think, it was a great idea to include it on Norwegian, bliss. Like. Almost every other cruise ship I've ever been on there was a Filipino, cover, band but unlike. A lot of cruise ships these guys were only one of many, musical, acts onboard and also, they, were really good I really. Loved, that, Norwegian offered, such a big variety of entertainment so. Much that I didn't even get video of some of them like the comedian hypnotist. The, big Cuban, inspired, musical, production, show and the, musical, based on speakeasies. From the Prohibition, era. They. Had late-night parties, out on the main pool deck as well, as at the back of the ship in spice h2o, which, is what you're looking at here. And. There were all sorts of game shows in the main atrium both, during the day and at, night this. One we're looking at here was a comedic, take off on Dancing, with the Stars called. Ultimate, dance clash and it was really. Creative, and really. Funny you, know a lot of these goofy shows you see on cruise ships like, the newlywed not so newlywed, game have, been performed, on cruise ships for decades. Now but, this one looked original, to me I was, really impressed with it and all, the, entertainment, on board. Now. Let's talk about the food another. Area where MSC. Seaside, performed, poorly in that cruise that I took with them a few months before my cruise on Norwegian bliss, from. My past cruises with Norwegian, I knew that I was going to enjoy the food on Norwegian bliss, and it was even better than I expected this, was practically, a perfect, match for, my tastes, and food and my, wife seemed to enjoy the food much better on this cruise than some of our other cruises a, big.
Strength For NCL is the, variety of specialty. Restaurants, that they offer we. Didn't eat at all of them only the ones that matched up with our tastes and food like Hugh, the, new Texas, smokehouse, this. Was, some delicious. Barbecue, if you're a meat-eater, you, like barbecue. You're gonna love Hugh. And after. Dining hours it's, where the country music band performs, but, I really think they need to offer some, food while, the country music band performs. Los. Lobos, is a Mexican, restaurant that takes, over the space that on the previous generation of, ships had a Brazilian steakhouse in, it I love. Mexican. Food and I loved my meal at Los, Lobos. My. Suggestion. To NCL, on the subject of Mexican food is that, they should offer much, more of it in the buffet, I don't, think nco realizes. How big of a deal Mexican, food is to people in the United States but. Los Lobos is at, least a step in the right direction, we. Had a fantastic dinner. At Cagney's. The classic, steak house and it, is definitely the most popular of, all the specialty, restaurants, on board make. Your reservations. From home before. You get on board the ship unless, you want to end up eating your meal at Cagney's at a very late hour like 9:00 p.m.. We. Also ate, at La Cucina the Italian, restaurant and had. A fun lunch at Jimmy, Buffett's, Margaritaville, restaurant. Where my, advice is order. The volcano, nachos. When. We booked our cruise they, were running a special promotion where, we got our choice of two perks, we, chose the dining, package, so, that our dinners and the specialty restaurants, wouldn't cost a thing, and we also got the beverage package, so, we had a lot of fun trying different cocktails, throughout the cruise I always. Have my wife with me on our cruises, and this, time I also had one of my sisters, with me and she, is a lot of fun having. The beverage package, only enhanced, that and I love that having unlimited adult, beverages, all cruise long didn't, cost us an arm and a leg like, it would have on many, other cruise lines. Now. If you've read some of my previous cruise, reviews, on my website at Jim's M net you know that my wife and I tend to eat a lot of our meals in the buffet when we're on a cruise the. Specialty, restaurants, and the main dining room were so good on Norwegian bliss, that, we ate a lot less buffet, meals than we usually do, but, I've got to tell you that one of the best surprises. On Norwegian bliss, for me was. How good the breakfast, buffet was, I love. A good omelet for breakfast, with potatoes, a croissant, if I can get it and some, crispy bacon and on Norwegian bliss, it was, the best breakfast, buffet I had ever experienced. In all, 44. Of my cruises. Just. Before the cruise I bought, a new laptop for video, editing with, a solid-state, hard drive, but I didn't really expect to be able to upload videos from the ship cruise. Ship Internet is usually just too slow, to upload, gigantic, video files, but, Wow, was I surprised. After, I upgraded, to the most expensive, internet, plan that they offered on Norwegian bliss they, had a ton, of bandwidth. I uploaded. Videos, faster, on the ship than, I ever could have at home, really, it was amazing. How far they've raised the technology, bar on this, ship. Boarding. The ship in Miami was, totally, painless a very, smooth, process and, as, we sailed out of the Port of Miami we got a look at the new terminal that, Royal Caribbean, is constructing, but big, news, Norwegian. Is also having a new terminal built for them in Miami right, next door to, this Royal Caribbean, terminal and the new Norwegian terminal. Is going to be a state-of-the-art. 100. Million-dollar, terminal, that should be ready in time for the newest Norwegian, ship Norwegian. Encore, coming, in the fall of 2019. Disembarkation. In Los Angeles, at the end of our cruise was. Ridiculously. Fast, I have, no video of it so we're just gonna have to go with this shot for a minute we did self assist disembarkation. And I can only guess that everybody, else must not have because, we practically, had the gangway to ourselves as, we, walked off the ship in LA. No. Review of our cruise would, be complete without mentioning the fact that this was a Panama, Canal cruise and our, very first time through the canal since. The Norwegian, bliss is the ninth largest cruise, ship in the world and it was way too big to fit through the old locks, we, got to go through the news section of the canal which just opened up two years ago after a huge, nine-year, expansion, project, that cost billions, of dollars it. Was truly the highlight of the cruise the day we spent crossing, from the Caribbean, to the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal if you, like cruising, you're fascinated, by cruise ships like I am you, really, have to do a Panama, Canal Cruise some time and an, Alaska, cruise - and, Norwegian.
Bliss Is the perfect, cruise ship for either one they, even opened up the crew only area, at the bow of the ship the day we went through the Panama Canal it. Was crowded with passengers up, there but I got a kick out of having access to an area of the ship that passengers, usually, never set foot on, another. Cool thing about a Panama Canal cruise is the, amount of wildlife you see my. Wife and I have a thing about macaws. We, got to see free flying macaws, not, in cages on three, different occasions during, our cruise and when, the ship got into the general, of Acapulco, we, saw a ton of green. Sea, turtles, maybe, a hundred of them over. A period of a day or two at sea. So. It was a great cruise on Norwegian bliss, I really. Think that this, is one of the best cruise ships in the world one, you should definitely make. A point to sail on of course, there were a few things that I think NCL could improve upon and I'll list those in my full review on my website, at Jim's, MDOT net where you can read a lot more about Norwegian, bliss and all, the other cruise ships I've been on and see some nice still, photos that I took during my cruise.