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LincolnLog

A (not so) brief review of our Bliss Mexican Riviera cruise Oct 5-13

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Well I started writing this as a quick, brief, summary of our week on the Bliss. But as I was writing I kept going, “oh I can’t leave this out”, and “oh I almost forgot about this!” and it turned out to be longer than I expected. Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures because I hadn’t planned on doing this. But hopefully it can still be helpful to those of you on the upcoming Mexican Riviera cruises out of Los Angeles. Let me know if you have any questions!

About us
I'm 46 and my wife is 42. Our son is 12 and daughter turned 10 halfway through the cruise. This was our 7th cruise, all in the last 7 years. It's hard to put them into perspective because after almost every one of them we all say, "This was the best one!" It was our second time on Norwegian after sailing the Escape last October. 

Pre-cruise
We stayed the night before at the San Pedro Crowne Plaza. The hotel is in a convenient location, only about 5 minutes from the port. But it's a little outdated and in need of a remodel. They do include breakfast and provide a shuttle to the port so that made it worthwhile. A funny thing happened in the middle of the night. My son woke up at about 4am and after going to the bathroom looked out the window just in time to see the Bliss coming into port. He woke us up and we all gathered around to watch.

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Edited by LincolnLog

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Embarkation 
This was probably our easiest embarkation yet. We had planned on getting to the port early but we slept a little later than we had planned after our 4am excitement and by the time we ate breakfast it was already past 10:30. We gathered our stuff and took the hotel shuttle and got to the port at around 11:00. We breezed through security and got checked in quickly, and despite getting group number 22 we were on the ship by 11:25! We went straight to one of the video screens near the elevators to book the comedy show, go carts, and laser tag. We were able to get some reservations but not everything we wanted so we had to go down to the Social on deck 6 and wait in line for a few minutes, but we still got the ones we wanted. We had already pre-booked our dining and other shows. 

Stateroom
We had a mid-ship balcony on deck 10. The bed was by the window and I loved sleeping with the balcony door open every night and hearing the sounds of the ocean down below. The room does get small with four people in it but we managed just fine. The tv seemed to have a few more channels than it did on the Escape. There were three channels that showed recent movies for free. My only complaint would be that there’s still no ESPN, couldn’t they add that to appeal to us American sports fans?  They have several channels that showed soccer nonstop but not a single MLB playoff game. You couldn’t even find out a score. Anyway back to the room...I just wanted to add that we had a mini suite on the Escape and we didn’t miss it on this one at all. I wouldn’t spend the extra money for it unless you really care about a bigger shower and bathroom sink. Other than that there’s no difference. 

Entertainment
Let me preface this by telling you a little about myself. I love sports. I love movies. I love beer. I’ve never been to a broadway show unless you count cruise ship versions, and I would describe the ones I’ve seen as “eh okay but not my style”. So all that being said let me tell you, I LOVED Jersey Boys! I was blown away by it. Those guys had such chemistry, charisma, and talent! I left with an appreciation for the music of the Four Seasons  that I never thought I would have. But then I got home and I played their hits on YouTube and I had an interesting reaction. I said, “I don’t want to hear these guys singing it. I want to hear the versions I heard on the ship!” Anyway they got a standing ovation at the end and it was well deserved. Later in the week I was wishing that I had gotten back to see it again. 

On the other hand, my reaction to seeing Havana was more in line with previous cruise ship shows. “Eh, okay but not my style.” Just a lot of singing and dancing without much story. 

We had wanted to see Prohibition but I got annoyed when the price kept going up. I wish they would let you book this show in advance. I saw the price originally start at $19.95 and just keep going up. By the time we got on the ship it was $35.95! We had to pass.

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Dining rooms

We have always preferred to eat dinner in the main dining rooms but on this one we mixed it up a lot. We had dinner in the Manhattan Room twice and had one breakfast and two lunches in Taste/Savor. We loved the atmosphere in the Manhattan Room and would have been fine eating there every night if there weren’t so many other options. The service was always good and the food was too, with plenty to choose from. 

 

Specialty dining

My wife and I had the 3 meal specialty dining plan. We used it at Teppanyaki, La Cucina, and Cagney’s and all three were fantastic. We took the kids with us to Cagney’s since it was my wife’s birthday and we were only charged for their entrees. We also ate at Food Republic on one of the last nights. I loved it, my wife thought it was just okay. It might be because I love spicy food and she doesn’t, and most of what we ordered turned out to be a little spicy. 

 

Buffet

Some nights our kids ate dinner with us and on some we took them to an early dinner then dropped them off at the Splash Academy and then went to dinner ourselves. They aren’t big eaters but they loved the buffet so we ended up taking them there a lot. Of all our cruises the Bliss buffet was the best we’ve had by far. I had a made to order omelette for breakfast there almost every day, and every day my daughter wanted to go there for lunch for the made to order pasta station. We even ended up going there almost every night after picking the kids up from the club because they have late night snacks until 11:30pm. Oh and one more thing, we never once had trouble finding a table, not even at the busiest times. 

 

Go carts and Laser tag

Well our first try on the go carts was not a good experience. I wasn’t sure what to expect because my kids only cleared the minimum height by a few inches. And obviously their driving experience consists of nothing more than playing Mario Kart. How were they supposed to be able to operate an actual motorized vehicle? Well my son had no problem with it but my daughter struggled badly. She hit the first wall coming out of the pits and it only got worse from there. She made it to the first turn and hit the next wall and couldn’t turn the wheel hard enough to get back on the track. At that point the attendant pulled her off the track for her own safety. She was devastated, I was still on the track with my son, and my wife was watching from the observation area. But they took my daughter out the back exit and left her there alone! She didn’t know where to go. She stood there crying until my wife found her. 

 

On the other hand, they both loved the laser tag and kept asking to do it again throughout the week. I had heard that the kids clubs take them to it for free at one point during the week, but it turns out that’s only the 13 and up group. So we were able to get another reservation later in the week at night time. They said they liked that one better because it was all lit up. 

 

Splash Academy

Our kids LOVED the Splash Academy. They wanted to spend almost every possible moment there. It probably helped that this was the first time they could be in the same section together. For those that don’t know, they are very strict on age restrictions in the clubs. They will not let your kid go into the older group if his birthday is next month, or even next week. My daughter was only allowed into the 10-12 year old group because she turned 10 during the cruise. So it was nice that they got to be in the same group this time. They were never bored, there was always some kind of activity that they wanted to do there. 

 

Ports

Our itinerary was Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo but Mazatlan got canceled due to hurricane Sergio. That ended up giving us a 4th sea day when we already had 3 scheduled. But we had skipped Ensenada on the first day because we had already been there, so we ended up with a whopping 5 full days on the ship! We spent the day at the beach in Cabo. In Puerto Vallarta we booked the ship excursion to Las Caletas. This was one of the best excursions we’ve done. It was a great day on a beautiful private island with food and drinks included. The beaches are small but perfect for swimming. The surf is pretty gentle and the sand is very soft and fine, almost like in the Caribbean. They had beach chairs and hammocks in the water, plus some swimming docks out in the water with hammocks on them. There are things for the kids like zip lines and water slides and other activities like cooking classes. It was a great day. The only bad thing about this is that it’s an hour long ferry ride there and back. 

 

 

 

Edited by LincolnLog

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Cruise staff 

The cruise directors on most of our cruises have mostly been a non-factor for us. But on our last two they’ve been great. On the Escape we had Andre and Dave and they were both very entertaining. On this one we had Silas and Jacky. At first we didn’t really know what to make of them because they were a little over the top. But as the week went on we loved watching them on the morning show and started making it a priority to see them when they had things scheduled around the ship. 

 

Disembarkation 
Just like with embarkation, this was the quickest and easiest disembarkation we’ve ever had. Over the years we’ve learned to pack light and just plan on having laundry done midweek. So with only two large and one small suitcase we chose self disembarkation and didn’t bother putting anything out on the last night. We got up and went to breakfast, then came back to our room to grab our bags and walked off the ship at about 8:30.

 

Well this has turned out to be longer than I had anticipated but let me just wrap it up by touching on the few negatives. There were very few, maybe I’m even being too critical but it can’t all be good right? 

 

* The go cart attendant - My wife was furious about this and wanted to complain to somebody but we never did. A few days later I took my daughter back there and we rode in one of the tandem cars and she had fun. It was pretty much forgotten about after that. 

* Room steward - I still can’t figure this one out. She didn’t exactly do anything bad, but she was so different from every other one we’ve had. It just seemed like she didn’t like her job. You know how when you walk down the hallway, every room steward gives you a cheerful greeting whether it’s the one that does your room or not? Not this one. She didn’t even greet us outside our own room! Also she didn’t introduce herself to us, or leave anything with her name on it. We had to find out her name from the steward down the hall. She seemed irritated that we asked her to put the top bunk away and turn the bottom one back into a couch. On other ships they’ve always done that without us asking. Also on the last day, she knocked loudly on our door at 7am. I opened it and she was already walking away. She looked back and said “Just checking” and kept walking. What the hell?

* Margaritaville - We really liked eating here on the Escape with the a la carte pricing. But now that they charge a flat rate of $14.99 per person, we skipped it. And so did everybody else it seems. The place was always empty and it’s sad, because it’s a great spot and I like the food. It just seems like they can’t figure out what to do with it. 

* Elevators - If you’ve read anything ever written about the elevators on the Bliss, you already know how bad they are. I’m just going to agree with everyone else and say that they’re terrible. We usually took the stairs unless we were going from bottom to top. 

* The big screen on the pool deck - Okay now I’m just looking for things to complain about right? But I thought this was such a wasted opportunity. The did such a great job of opening up the pool deck by removing the center section that the other ships have. It makes it less crowded and easier to get around. They also added a huge, almost movie theater sized screen at one end. But 90% of the time the only thing showing on it was Norwegian Cruise Line commercials! And with no volume playing either, what’s the point? Why not show movies out there at night time like other ships do? They did show Monday Night Football on it once so that was cool. 

I think that about sums it up. Overall it was a great trip and all four of us loved it. However we didn’t buy Cruise Next certificates this time and I’m afraid we might regret it eventually. But we decided that we should take a break from all the cruises and try an all inclusive next time or something like that. We also want to go back to Maui and that’s always the price of a cruise (or two!). But we will definitely be booking another cruise at some point.

 

 

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Thank you for your review! We're heading out on the Bliss Nov. 3. No kids, and the only ports that are the same for us are Ensenada and Mazatlan (which you didn't get to go to). But I enjoyed reading your reviews of the restaurants and shows and such.

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Boarding November 3rd as well. Thanks for the review.

You mentioned that Prohibition is now $35.95?? The website under our reservation still shows $29.99 so why do I have a feeling we will also end up paying $35.95 as opposed to the $29.99 on the website. Bummer.  I think we are gonna pass on the show as well. Not a fan of getting pulled up on stage anyways.

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The Prohibition pricing is what jumped out to me as well.

Thanks for your review!

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I enjoyed your review.  Thanks. We will be boarding in a few weeks. This will be our first cruise that has offered the drink package perk for most. I am wondering if it was hard to get drinks (waiting). Any advice? Did you run into anyone that had too many drinks. (obnoxious) We look forward to our cruise on the Bliss.

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8 hours ago, Georgie562 said:

Boarding November 3rd as well. Thanks for the review.

You mentioned that Prohibition is now $35.95?? The website under our reservation still shows $29.99 so why do I have a feeling we will also end up paying $35.95 as opposed to the $29.99 on the website. Bummer.  I think we are gonna pass on the show as well. Not a fan of getting pulled up on stage anyways.

We are also boarding on Nov 3.  Flying in from Australia, looking forward to the Bliss.  Only cruised once before with NCL quite a few years ago.

 

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8 hours ago, 2+2 said:

I enjoyed your review.  Thanks. We will be boarding in a few weeks. This will be our first cruise that has offered the drink package perk for most. I am wondering if it was hard to get drinks (waiting). Any advice? Did you run into anyone that had too many drinks. (obnoxious) We look forward to our cruise on the Bliss.

I never saw anybody getting sloppy drunk or obnoxious. The only bar that was very busy was the Atrium bar and that’s because there was something going on in there so often. Everywhere else there was usually no wait at all. Maybe because there are so many bars on the ship, people are spread out all over. But at the Atrium and the Local in particular, people like to sit at the bar and watch what’s going on. So sometimes it was hard to get to the bar at those places. 

Edited by LincolnLog

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13 hours ago, Georgie562 said:

Boarding November 3rd as well. Thanks for the review.

You mentioned that Prohibition is now $35.95?? The website under our reservation still shows $29.99 so why do I have a feeling we will also end up paying $35.95 as opposed to the $29.99 on the website. 

 

$29.99 plus 20% service charge = $35.99

Edited by Two Wheels Only

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This was so great...thank you!!  We board the Bliss on 10/27 and are getting so excited!  My kids are about the same age as yours (oldest is 12 and my youngest is almost 10), so it was great to hear a review with kids.  It has me wondering about the go karts for my youngest, though.  I can see him struggling with it and ending up in the same position as your daughter.  He's pretty tall, though, so I wonder if that would help at all?

How was the weather on the sea days?  Warm?

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Fantastic review! We board her next month. Thanks so much for the terrific detail! 

That really sucks about your daughter's experience on the go-carts though. Glad she enjoyed the tandem ride later but that's a very sad story about the way she was treated the first time. 

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3 hours ago, Legallorelei said:

OMG @LincolnLog that was an AMAZING review! Thank you! Any chance you guys hung on to the dailies and want to post them here?!? :classic_biggrin:

Thanks! I will check with my wife to see if we saved them. I’m pretty sure she has them somewhere. 

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2 hours ago, claireruth said:

This was so great...thank you!!  We board the Bliss on 10/27 and are getting so excited!  My kids are about the same age as yours (oldest is 12 and my youngest is almost 10), so it was great to hear a review with kids.  It has me wondering about the go karts for my youngest, though.  I can see him struggling with it and ending up in the same position as your daughter.  He's pretty tall, though, so I wonder if that would help at all?

How was the weather on the sea days?  Warm?

My daughter is pretty tall so it wasn’t so much about reaching the pedals as much as having the strength to turn the wheel hard enough. Tell your son to use his muscles and turn that sucker hard!

We had a couple of bad weather days that I think were  related to the hurricane being close by. I would think you guys will be fine. It was a little cooler on the first couple of days and the last couple, when we were closer to LA but it was really nice when we were further south. 

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2 hours ago, claireruth said:

This was so great...thank you!!  We board the Bliss on 10/27 and are getting so excited!  My kids are about the same age as yours (oldest is 12 and my youngest is almost 10), so it was great to hear a review with kids.  It has me wondering about the go karts for my youngest, though.  I can see him struggling with it and ending up in the same position as your daughter.  He's pretty tall, though, so I wonder if that would help at all?

How was the weather on the sea days?  Warm?

I am old,  I learned to drive on a car with manual steering - that's what the go carts felt like, I wouldn't recommend the carts for kids, unless they have experience. Several people on our sailing were rear ended and were sore the next day.  I had 4 guys that were racing when I was on the circuit & my engine was turned off (by coarse worker) to allow them to pass me. I drive an electric car - they are FUN. The track was the only thing on the Bliss that didn't exceed my expectations

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This will be our first trip to Mexico on the west side.  . I always am worried about rough seas. How would you compare the overall ride of the Bliss to other ships you have been on. 

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12 hours ago, LincolnLog said:

I never saw anybody getting sloppy drunk or obnoxious. The only bar that was very busy was the Atrium bar and that’s because there was something going on in there so often. Everywhere else there was usually no wait at all. Maybe because there are so many bars on the ship, people are spread out all over. But at the Atrium and the Local in particular, people like to sit at the bar and watch what’s going on. So sometimes it was hard to get to the bar at those places. 

What was your impression on the A List bar?

Edited by need2cruisesoon

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1 hour ago, 2+2 said:

This will be our first trip to Mexico on the west side.  . I always am worried about rough seas. How would you compare the overall ride of the Bliss to other ships you have been on. 

You definitely feel the movement more than you do on the Caribbean side. But not to the point where it bothered me. I wear the patch and after the first day I decided I didn’t even need it and didn’t wear it the rest of the week. 

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1 hour ago, need2cruisesoon said:

What was your impression on the A List bar?

It’s funny, that bar looks so damn cool that it was one of the spots that I thought I would spend some time at. But it turns out I never even got a drink there. I think it’s because it’s tucked away at the back of the ship between the two restaurants, so it’s just a spot I never really hung out at. 

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I had kept meaning to post a few more pictures. This will give you an idea of what the pool deck looks like when it’s really crowded. But it wasn’t like this that often 

8D57FACE-0447-4914-9004-83F4513361F7.jpeg

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This is the beach at Las Caletas in Puerto Vallarta. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip. 

E2A68BD2-F28D-4ACF-86E4-0707688EA718.jpeg

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