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The Norwegian Bliss is a beautiful new ship that really stands out for the broad number of bars/lounges/common areas that make a very big ship feel smaller. They have separate bars that cater to almost* any type of appetite, from dedicated bars for whiskey (Maltings), mojitos (Sugar Cane), beer (District), wine (The Cellars) and much more. Most of these on deck 8 also had an outward facing prescence on the Waterfront (a path around most of the ship), which was very cool. However, a key concern for me is the wine -- hence my screen name -- and while most of these bars were quite good at what they did, the wine program across the ship was quite poor, I'd rate it only 2 of 5 stars. Wine Program: -- Limited Wines in the Package -- A first problem is that the wines by the glass were extremely limited. There were 30 of them that were available in virtually all bars and restaurants and of those 18 were available within the Premium Beverage Package (i.e., under 15). The remaining wines -- as well as a few that were more expensive and available only in The Cellars or at the steakhouse specialty restaurant, Cagney's. The upside here is that you could get an credit of $15 toward any of the wines above your limit, so a $20 wine would cost you $5 out of pocket. My concern here, though was that the # of wines by the glass were quite limited and really were pretty standard (e.g., chardonnay, white zinfandel, cabernet). There were a number of other bottles that were under $50, which is the price that should be "within" the package by the glass, that were not available. One example was a Gruner Veltliner from Pfaffl that was very nice and given the bottle price of only $33, would have been a no-brainer within the package. -- Wine Service was limited -- The knowledge level of most wait staff for wine, including the bartender in The Cellars, was quite low. On several occasions we asked about ordering a Zinfandel (a red wine) and were asked if we meant a White Zinfandel. More disappointing was that the time to take a wine order and bring it to the table was very long. For example, at La Cucina (a specialty Italian restaurant) we were seated at 7:20pm and after we didn't get a wine list asked for it (2x) before they brought it and took our order for a bottle of wine. We didn't actually have the wine in our glasses until 8pm -- after which we had already been served our appetizers. Happily, we did meet a very nice Wine Steward, Prince, in the main dining room who made the experience there quite nice by providing recommendations and even allowing us to sample a wine or 2 that were already open to see if we might like it. Unfortunately, this was the last night of the cruise. Overall, the wine program left a lot to be desired relative to other cruise lines. It seems that NCL takes drinking very seriously for everything except wines. The District had 24 beers on tap as well as many, many more by the bottle. All of those were in the package. Wine, on the other hand, appeared to be an after thought. I can only figure this reflects the preferences of the guests, but if so I means I won't be eager to return to NCL. Entertainment: A true highlight of the Bliss was the sheer amount and quality of musical entertainment. From the main stage show of Jersey Boys (that was as high of quality as what we paid to see in Chicago) to the incredible Beatles impersonators in The Cavern, it was top notch. There were also a number of acts that were performing around the ship so that one always had about 3 options to choose from. The only real complaint about the music was that the pool band, which played from about 1pm to 4pm every day, was so incredibly loud that it drove us away from the pool. The music was well done, but when your stomach shakes from bass while reading, it is a bit much. Pool Scene: -- A rowdy, hard-drinking crowd, that got a bit over the top by the end of the day. There are only 2 pools on the Bliss and both are on the main deck. One for the kids and one for adults. The entire deck was VERY crowded and typically all chairs were taken by 7:30am. The crowd on the adult pool hovered between 45 and 60 years old and were a rowdy, fun loving bunch. This was entertaining, but at times it became a bit much and we had to divert our kids attention away from them. Quite frankly, it felt more like a Carnival ship. Maybe that was atypical for NCL, but we were surprised. The Bliss would have been infinitely better if there had been a pool in the Spice H2O "beach club" in the back of the ship. We visited one day and saw people taking multiple shots at the bar and more than 1 person had to be escorted back to their room by security. It would have been great had that facility had room for all the "adult-only" pool guests. Kids Programming: -- A real highlight -- The kids program Splash Academy was a very nice option and our kids couldn't get enough of it. They felt the organized programming was a real nice feature -- even compared it to a Disney cruise -- a very high compliment! Other Options: --Nickel and Dimed -- There were lots of fun options to do on the ship, such as laser tag and go karts. Both were a neat feature and priced at 9.95 were a reasonable value. However, there were so many upcharges for specialty restaurants, games, bowling, that one began to feel that the entire focus of the staff was on the upsell. When you've already paid for an all incusive vacation (with the drink package) this does get old. Overall, we had a fine time on the Bliss and felt there were a number of real assets to its design. The number of clubs/bars/lounges was impressive and the entertaining was tremendous. But the ship did feel crowded, particularly at the pool deck and buffet, and it was clear that NCL does not take its wine program seriously enough.

Incredible Entertainment and Nice Lounges; Very Disappointing Wine Program

Norwegian Bliss Cruise Review by WinesAtSea

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: February 2019
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Balcony Stateroom
The Norwegian Bliss is a beautiful new ship that really stands out for the broad number of bars/lounges/common areas that make a very big ship feel smaller. They have separate bars that cater to almost* any type of appetite, from dedicated bars for whiskey (Maltings), mojitos (Sugar Cane), beer (District), wine (The Cellars) and much more. Most of these on deck 8 also had an outward facing prescence on the Waterfront (a path around most of the ship), which was very cool. However, a key concern for me is the wine -- hence my screen name -- and while most of these bars were quite good at what they did, the wine program across the ship was quite poor, I'd rate it only 2 of 5 stars.

Wine Program:

-- Limited Wines in the Package --

A first problem is that the wines by the glass were extremely limited. There were 30 of them that were available in virtually all bars and restaurants and of those 18 were available within the Premium Beverage Package (i.e., under 15). The remaining wines -- as well as a few that were more expensive and available only in The Cellars or at the steakhouse specialty restaurant, Cagney's. The upside here is that you could get an credit of $15 toward any of the wines above your limit, so a $20 wine would cost you $5 out of pocket. My concern here, though was that the # of wines by the glass were quite limited and really were pretty standard (e.g., chardonnay, white zinfandel, cabernet). There were a number of other bottles that were under $50, which is the price that should be "within" the package by the glass, that were not available. One example was a Gruner Veltliner from Pfaffl that was very nice and given the bottle price of only $33, would have been a no-brainer within the package.

-- Wine Service was limited --

The knowledge level of most wait staff for wine, including the bartender in The Cellars, was quite low. On several occasions we asked about ordering a Zinfandel (a red wine) and were asked if we meant a White Zinfandel. More disappointing was that the time to take a wine order and bring it to the table was very long. For example, at La Cucina (a specialty Italian restaurant) we were seated at 7:20pm and after we didn't get a wine list asked for it (2x) before they brought it and took our order for a bottle of wine. We didn't actually have the wine in our glasses until 8pm -- after which we had already been served our appetizers. Happily, we did meet a very nice Wine Steward, Prince, in the main dining room who made the experience there quite nice by providing recommendations and even allowing us to sample a wine or 2 that were already open to see if we might like it. Unfortunately, this was the last night of the cruise.

Overall, the wine program left a lot to be desired relative to other cruise lines. It seems that NCL takes drinking very seriously for everything except wines. The District had 24 beers on tap as well as many, many more by the bottle. All of those were in the package. Wine, on the other hand, appeared to be an after thought. I can only figure this reflects the preferences of the guests, but if so I means I won't be eager to return to NCL.

Entertainment:

A true highlight of the Bliss was the sheer amount and quality of musical entertainment. From the main stage show of Jersey Boys (that was as high of quality as what we paid to see in Chicago) to the incredible Beatles impersonators in The Cavern, it was top notch. There were also a number of acts that were performing around the ship so that one always had about 3 options to choose from. The only real complaint about the music was that the pool band, which played from about 1pm to 4pm every day, was so incredibly loud that it drove us away from the pool. The music was well done, but when your stomach shakes from bass while reading, it is a bit much.

Pool Scene:

-- A rowdy, hard-drinking crowd, that got a bit over the top by the end of the day. There are only 2 pools on the Bliss and both are on the main deck. One for the kids and one for adults. The entire deck was VERY crowded and typically all chairs were taken by 7:30am. The crowd on the adult pool hovered between 45 and 60 years old and were a rowdy, fun loving bunch. This was entertaining, but at times it became a bit much and we had to divert our kids attention away from them. Quite frankly, it felt more like a Carnival ship. Maybe that was atypical for NCL, but we were surprised. The Bliss would have been infinitely better if there had been a pool in the Spice H2O "beach club" in the back of the ship. We visited one day and saw people taking multiple shots at the bar and more than 1 person had to be escorted back to their room by security. It would have been great had that facility had room for all the "adult-only" pool guests.

Kids Programming:

-- A real highlight --

The kids program Splash Academy was a very nice option and our kids couldn't get enough of it. They felt the organized programming was a real nice feature -- even compared it to a Disney cruise -- a very high compliment!

Other Options:

--Nickel and Dimed --

There were lots of fun options to do on the ship, such as laser tag and go karts. Both were a neat feature and priced at 9.95 were a reasonable value. However, there were so many upcharges for specialty restaurants, games, bowling, that one began to feel that the entire focus of the staff was on the upsell. When you've already paid for an all incusive vacation (with the drink package) this does get old.

Overall, we had a fine time on the Bliss and felt there were a number of real assets to its design. The number of clubs/bars/lounges was impressive and the entertaining was tremendous. But the ship did feel crowded, particularly at the pool deck and buffet, and it was clear that NCL does not take its wine program seriously enough.
WinesAtSea’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Stateroom
Cabin BD 9722
Perfectly adequate cabin. It had a drop down bunk bed so could sleep up to 4. This was a tight squeeze and in my opinion there were several missed opportunities for extra storage. An easy fix would be adding a number of hooks and hangers on the walls. The other would be for the "stool" to open up so it could serve as a dirty clothes hamper.
Deck 14 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Blue Lagoon Island Beach
    The lagoon is quite beautiful and a great place to swim. However, more than half of our 4 hour was spent waiting in line or in transit. The entire thing was so not even close to worth it. It felt like we were cattle being herded from the time we got off the boat and this continued through the "lunch" line at the island. I would NEVER go on this excursion again and reported this to the NCL staff. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!
    View All 252 Blue Lagoon Island Beach Reviews
  • St. John Snorkel/Sail
    Absolutely tremendous private sailboat (up to 6 guests) with an hour of guided snorkeling at St. John (sea turtles, sting rays, eels, fish, etc). A nice lunch was served on the boat and a leisurely sail back to port. Highly recommend Captain Max when in St. Thomas!
    View All 180 St. John Snorkel/Sail Reviews