Bliss lives up to its name — not only quenching your thirst with excellent cocktails but also satisfing your inner child’s desire to play.
Norwegian Bliss, the latest (and currently the largest) ship from Norwegian Cruise Line, will push all your cruise pleasure buttons. The vessel boasts several firsts for both the line and the industry, including new food, drink and entertainment offerings.
I was lucky enough to participate in a two-night preview sailing on the ship out of Southampton. MMOB asked me, as a long-time gay cruiser and cruise writer, to share my observations.
Bliss’ most notable new feature is the observation lounge found at the front of the ship. The sheer size of this space, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a 180-degree view over the bow of the ship is impressive. You can appreciate how this space would be used in places like Alaska. Despite its scale, the lounge has a cosy yet chic atmosphere, providing a wonderful setting to enjoy cocktails as the sun sets, or settle into a continental breakfast at dawn.
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 enjoyed the ambience of this new space, it feels open and free, I could easily see myself enjoying some sun in the Caribbean. The for-fee Vibe sun deck also makes a return.
Norwegian Bliss’ cabins feel spacious, offering comfortable beds, well-appointed bathrooms and little touches such as USB sockets found across the room. The Studio, Norwegian’s solo cruisers area, makes a reappearance, providing a great space to meet people and socialise. Norwegian’s Haven suite complex also returns on 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.
Perhaps since this was a preview sailing, there was no LGBT happy hour. (These gatherings have been offered on my previous voyages with NCL.) However, I met many LGBT+ guests hanging out together at the bar, both solo travellers and couples. Overall, I’ve always found Norwegian to be a very supportive and friendly brand for LGBT+ activities and Bliss seems to continue that tradition.
Dining and drinking
With 27 dining options on board Norwegian Bliss you are certainly spoilt for choice. In addition to several 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.
New dining options debuting on the ship include Q and Coco’s. Q serves a new BBQ smokehouse food, offering 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. Coco’s is an à la carte dining venue celebrating everything chocolate. Indulge in the chocolatey goodness, including tasty treats and specialty coffee. Speaking of coffee, Bliss also features a Starbucks, a first for the line.
Returning on Bliss is the Waterfront, a promenade that stretches around the ship and becomes an extension of many of the restaurants and bars. This feature debuted on NCL several years ago and remains one of my favourite things about the cruise line’s ships for its feeling of connecting you with the sea.
Getting thirsty? you won’t be disappointed on Bliss. 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 options include the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Jersey Boys. Follow the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons through their expansive music career. The show has a fun vibe with performances of oldies 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. Inspired by the infamous Liverpool club where the Beatles performed frequently in the 1960’s, this indoor and outdoor lounge offers 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.
Get ready to race on the largest two-level go-kart race track at sea. Initially, I felt a little sceptical about this, but I have to say it was great fun and it’s a must if you sail this new NCL ship. Up to ten drivers at a time can race to the finish line. (Cost: $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.
Norwegian Bliss’ aqua park features two water slides. The high-speed double-loop Ocean Loops over the side of the ship. The tandem Aqua Racer invites guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes. The ship also offers a separate aqua park especially for kids with 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 hydrotherapy 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.
For more information about Bliss and Norwegian Cruise Line visit here. To find out about MMOB’s gay-group voyage to the Mexican Riviera aboard this exciting new ship, you can find more information here.
Marcus Adams is a UK-based travel writer and cruise blogger. He has had a passion for cruising since he was very young and in his spare time you can find him blogging about the travel industry for a number of years. His blog, sparkx.org aims to be a quick, simple and easy go-to place for information. He’s also very active on social media and can be found on twitter @sparkx and Instagram sparkx_a.
Photos of Norwegian Bliss courtesy of NCL