This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited on a two night inaugural “sailing” on the Norwegian Bliss in New York City. She was handed over to NCL back in April from the shipbuilder Myer Werft in Germany. Via a couple sailings, including a 12 night transatlantic from Southampton, she has made her way to NYC on May 3rd. She would stay docked in NYC for the duration of our two night “sailing” and then depart for Miami on May 6th as soon as all guests were debarked. With brief stops in Miami and Los Angeles, she will eventually make her way to Seattle in June, where she will spend the summer doing Alaska itineraries. I would like to touch on some of the highlights from my time onboard, but since I was on for a mere 45 hours I would barely call this a full on review of the Norwegian Bliss.
I will start off by saying that she is an absolutely beautiful ship and she has some very noticeable changes from her older sister the NCL Escape. If you follow me on some of my other social media platforms you may have heard me describe the Bliss as an Escape 2.0. She has so many of the features that I loved about Escape but also has refinements to areas where she lacked. In no particular order, lets jump into the highlights!
This was by far one of the most impressive spaces I have seen on a cruise ship. The two story views on three out of four sides of the lounge will be absolutely perfect for taking in the Alaskan views. In addition to the viewing aspects the space is laid out very well and also includes a number of food and beverage options within the lounge. If I was sailing Alaska on her I could see spending A LOT of time here.
Are they going to be as good as the new carting centers they have on land? No, but the novelty of doing go carts as sea is still quite impressive. I unfortunately didn’t get a time slot booked before they filled up for the two days, but I did spend some time watching others partake. They actually were a bit faster than I assumed they would be and seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves. There currently is a cost to ride, $7, and this allots you 8 laps per session. I would imagine on a normal sailings with more days it would be a lot easier to get open time slots.
For anyone who has sailed on Breakaway, Getaway, or Escape I think everyone would agree that the pool deck layout wasn’t ideal. On Bliss, it is apparent NCL listened to the complaints. The space has a very open feel and the bars are pushed off the sides helping to achieve a less blocked off feel. I think the picture will speak for itself.
Q Texas Smokehouse
While I didn’t have the opportunity to dine at Q, I did spend some time there on night one watching the live country band play. The venue is perfect for live music and I love the addition of a country music venue. I understand it won’t be popular with everyone, but that’s the great thing about a ship this size with so many amenities. Friends of mine dined in Q on night one and had nothing but great things to say about it.
Dining was assigned to everyone onboard due to the nature of the event. Both of my nights were set to be in the main dining rooms at 6pm and since I was traveling solo I really wasn’t feeling it. Besides, 6pm was way too early for me to eat dinner. I decided on night one that I would just try to get into Food Republic. There was a little confusion when I arrived, but they were able to accommodate me at the bar area since it was just me. I was quickly reminded why this was my favorite food venue on Escape. Everything was absolutely delicious. Peruvian beef skewers, pork belly dumplings, and the rock shrimp roll would be my choices for the evening. I actually ended up coming back the second night and although I had to come back an hour later than I originally arrived, they were able to accommodate me again. It’s safe to say I’ll be dining quite often at Food Republic on the Cruise Life Group cruise in July on the Escape.
As I mentioned, I was just going to look at some of the highlights. There are many other great areas and venues on the ship. In addition to the above, I spent time in the District Brew House, the Social Nightclub, the Sugarcane bar, the Local Bar & Grill and the Cavern on the Waterfront. I really enjoyed all the aspects of the ship and feel like I need to get on a regular sailing to get her full experience. If you are booked on Bliss I would love to hear what you think of her when you get back, and if you aren’t booked on her, I would definitely put her on your short list!
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