Just off the Norwegian Bliss and was somewhat underwhelmed. A little background – we are experienced cruisers, and this is our sixth Thanksgiving week cruise. We were a group of 18, 12 of us who were on the RCCL Allure last year. We had a fantastic time last year, so this cruise had a lot to live up to. We had a fantastic time this year as well – but would probably not do this particular cruise again. Still, any day cruising is a great day cruising and the company and experience of being together was awesome!
The Good Parts:
Very smooth and easy embarkation – no waiting whatsoever. Even though some of us were to embark at different terminals, we were all still able to board together.
The Garden Café (buffet) had very decent food, and was laid out well enough that there were never long lines at a particular station, and we were always able to find a table – even in the busiest time. Miraculous, really.
Greeting when we got back on board after being on the island(s), staff was there to greet us with cold towels and cold drinks.
The crew talent show was well done, and the staff thing afterwards was very nice.
Beatlemania in the Bliss Theater was awesome! However, when the ‘Beatles’ performed in the Cavern it was way too crowded, and very uncomfortable with the folding chairs. Actually, when ever anything was in the Cavern – Karaoke, other music, it was very uncomfortable.
The very entertaining bartender (and the drinks) in the Mojito Bar. Actually all the cocktail wait staff were pretty good and efficient, and we never had to wait long for a drink anywhere – even the pool deck and Bliss theater.
Great screen in the atrium – crystal clear to see anything it was showing… BUT the chairs in there were limited, and there was a lot of folding chairs going on.
It was nice not having someone in your face the whole first day trying to sell drink packages or spa services.
Digital screens worked well throughout the ship, the television in the stateroom had a decent lineup of movies and shows to watch, the NCL app (extra charge $9.95 for the week) was WELL WORTH IT, and worked very well to text and phone each other onboard.
The ship musicians were great, especially Familiar Strangers and 4 Blue.
The Washy Washy man in the Garden Café!
The Random Observations:
Awkward layout of ship. Parts of it felt very closed in with low ceilings. Almost never had a reason to pass shops on deck 8.
Kind of boring décor – very subdued with lots of brown (almost looked like that old brown wood paneling from my basement when I was a kid) and a lot of the artwork looked like they simply framed a swatch of wallpaper. I can’t think of any artwork that made me go “wow” except maybe the bullet sculptures outside the District Brewhouse.
Casino layout was very choppy and hard to find anyone. It was nice that the smoking section was separate, but hard to see inside the whole room to see if someone was there. Also, you have to be playing in order to smoke in the casino smoking section, so lots of machines were filled with people betting 8 cents. Speaking of casino… the machines were also pretty tight, but that’s to be expected. There wasn’t any music in the casino, so sometimes it was crazy quiet, and sometimes all you heard were loud obnoxious drunk people.
The running track on the pool deck. It got a little obnoxious to have all these runners passing by and making you get out of the way in the middle of the day when it was crowded on deck.
Lackluster comedians, who were all booked up an hour into the cruise. Also, the Social, where they played, was small and seating was folding chairs.
I never actually saw my room steward. My husband saw him a couple times, and he was efficient, but there was none of the happy greetings that I’ve come to expect in hallways on cruises.
The public bathrooms were a nightmare. Everything was automatic – the toilet flusher which was on a weird delay, the soap dispensers and the paper towels. It would almost be comical to be in the restroom, waiting for it to flush so you could leave, then fight with the soap dispenser to pretty please give you a dollop of soap, then wave wildly under the paper towel dispenser for your tiny sheet of one ply sandpaper.
The bathroom situation outside the Bliss Theater – one side has a men’s room, and the other side has two ‘family’ restrooms, that can be used by men or women. So there are only two toilets for a theater full of women, if a man isn’t in there splashing stuff all over.
Havana – a borefest; Jersey Boys was very good, but a little long. There was no actual entertainment for a family to enjoy together – we all watched both shows but the kids/teens didn’t get it or relate. They were looking for WOW, like what we saw on Allure last year with the Aqua Show and Mama Mia.
I would have liked a Piano Bar, instead of a piano bar player that moved around the venues.
Balcony chairs – they are not adjustable and just sit straight up.
Why show movies at night in the atrium when you could show them on deck? You couldn’t hear them in the Atrium and had to read subtitles.
Laser tag and race cars – it was all booked up by the time we got to it the first day. Why not open it for more hours so everyone who wants to participate can? (And don’t get me started on the extra charge, which I think is ridiculous but is also a non-issue since we couldn’t get a reservation.)
No espresso/cappuccino included with the beverage package.
There didn’t seem to be anyone doing regular random cleaning. We would see piles of food/drinks stacked in the corner of the elevators and hours later it would still be there. Or there would be stacks outside cabin doors for hours.
Ridiculously inefficient and indifferent staff in the Manhattan Room. Dinner would take way longer than it had to because staff would deliver two dinners at a time and then go back for two more. And if you wanted something like an iced tea it would hold up the proceedings for a good half hour. Even sit-down breakfast at Savor took way longer than it should have.
The food in the Main Dining Room(s) It was all pretty basic, plain, and not very good. No shrimp cocktail, escargot, lobster… They never came around with sauces/dressings/cheese unless you asked them for it (sour cream for your baked potato; fresh pepper and parmesan for your pasta). YES, I know I could have eaten in the specialty restaurants, but I’m not paying for a cruise to then pay extra for decent food. (We did actually have a 3 restaurant package, part of a booking perk- but since we were a large group intent on eating dinner together every night, and the specialty restaurants weren’t open for lunch, we didn’t use them except one day at Margaritaville.) I will say, though, that the Thanksgiving dinner was nicely done.
No 24 hour place to just grab a quick slice of pizza or sandwich to go. Yes, the Local is open 24 hours, but it is a sit down restaurant that takes time, and does not allow to-go orders. Sometimes you just want to take a plate of cookies to your room late at night…
Again, opinions are like you-know-what, and everyone has one, so take mine with a grain of salt... All in all, we had a GREAT TIME despite the things we didn’t like. We did get off the ship, however, and immediately start researching next Thanksgiving back on Royal.