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Bliss "review" - May 19-26 Alaska


rmurray847
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I've been back from my trip for over a week, and am just now caught up enough to start sharing some thoughts.  I'd love to put together a really coordinated review, but I think that's unrealistic for me at this time.  But I'd still like this to be a helpful "review"...so please ask any questions you have about our recent experience.

 

My wife (56) and I (55), on our ninth cruise, but first to Alaska.  We have done Europe, Transatlantic, Caribbean, Pacific Coast and Mexican previously.  We've sailed roughly evenly on Royal and Norwegian. We tend to go with itinerary first, then timing, then price, then cruise line.  On this occasion, we sailed from Seattle on a Sunday, so we arrived in town a day ahead.  I won't bore you with those details, except to say that we arrived in Seattle from Albuquerque at 9:15 am, Seattle City Pass in hand, and a rental car waiting for us.  We hit the Aquarium, lunch at a lovely downtown spot called The London Plane, a visit to the Science Center and the Zoo, plus time at Reuben's Brews and dinner at Sawyer.  We stayed at a B&B we had enjoyed our last time in the city, one with a great view of the OTHER cruise ship ports, where we saw the Oosterdam and the Golden Princess waiting to sail away when the Bliss did.  On Sunday morning, I had the following crazy idea, which actually worked out perfectly.

 

I had never been to the top of the Space Needle.  I was included on our city pass and opened at 9.  I suggested we arrive there at 8:30, which we did, and we were on the first elevator up, and in fact, for nearly 20 minutes, there were less that 20 of us up there.  An hour later, when we came down, it was much busier.  From there, we drove to the port and dropped off our luggage (around 10:30).  The traffic in front of the port area is INSANE.  Unforgivably so, in my opinion.  It's chaos, with no traffic flow logic that I could see.  BUT, with patience, we pulled over and a porter rushed right up, took our bags in about 2 minutes right from our trunk, and we were off again.  We returned the rental car a few blocks away, then walked to breakfast and did some browsing at the Public Market.  We passed a pleasant 90 minutes or so.  Then we just walked the relatively short stroll to port and arrived a little after 12:30 to join the line at security.

 

EMBARKING/DISEMBARKING:

We joined the line that stretched outside onto the sidewalk.  It moved fairly fast...we had our ID checked first, THEN through security scanners, then actual check-in with NCL.  Because we were relatively late, we had not wait, but just went right onto the ship.  The process moved well enough...but the building is dreary.  Low ceilings, old flooring, it just all dampened any excitement we were feeling.  I'm amazed that there's a major cruise ship port right at this spot.  It's cool to be able to see the ship from all around downtown Seattle, but it does make for some chaos.  But we were quickly on the ship, boarding on Deck 7, essentially right into the casino.  

 

At the end of the cruise, we elected for the first time in awhile NOT to do the self-assist debarkation.  I hate to admit it, but we seriously overpacked, and I just didn't want to lug all the bags off the ship.  Thank goodness.  We were in the 8:30 group and they called us at about 8:25 (we were allowed to stay in our cabins until 9:15, which was nice).  We grabbed our carryons and joined the LONGEST line I've ever experienced in my life.  There was literally just ONE person scanning each key card, and they called us at least 30 minutes before they needed to.  We joined the line at 8:30.  We left the ship at 9:15.  Absolutely no reason for this mess to have occurred.  Staff more people, and don't be so anxious to call out groups.  VERY sorry ending to a great cruise.  Once off the ship, we found our luggage and were through customs in 5 minutes...so that was great.  We had an 11:55 flight, so we weren't worried about missing the flight.  I just saw no reason to be in such a LOOOONG line.  We found a driver from the huge pool of drivers waiting to drive folks to the airport, so I didn't even bother with Uber.  Uber's estimate of cost was $37.  We found a guy willing to take us for $40, so off we went.  25 minutes later, we were at the airport, with LOTS of time to spare.

 

I will pause here and keep adding as time allows.  But PLEASE ask questions...that will give me the motivation to carry on!!

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CABIN

We had been upgraded to a mid-ship mini-suite, our first time in anything "higher" than a balcony.  As many others have said, the main cabin is no larger than a standard balcony cabin.  The extra space is all in the bathroom...and we loved it.  Dual sinks really made a huge difference!  The bigger shower was super nice too.  For some reason, I thought it was a tub with a shower, but it's just a shower that takes up the footprint of a small tub.  It was very nice.  We really enjoyed this small upgrade...wonderful when getting ready in the morning to each have a sink to call our very own.  The storage in the room was a bit more than usual too, and it was much appreciated.  (We also enjoyed having a tiny coffee maker in the room!)

 

The bed was comfortable as always.  I ALWAYS sleep like a rock on cruises...the stress of work just drifts away.  The balcony was tiny, as expected, but in my opinion, no Alaska cruise would be complete without one.  We spent so much time on deck enjoying the scenery, but even in our cabin, we saw so much natural beauty.  It's just essential, IMO.

 

Silly items:  the trash container in the bathroom is in a little drawer below the sink.  So if you had trash, you had to pull the drawer out.  Just kind of a pain.  (I know, first world problems!!).   We brought, as usual, our own shampoo and conditioner, because we just don't like the shampoo/conditioner combo that comes standard.  The closet was a little tricky to get to...you sort of have to climb over the furniture a little.  But it was big enough to accommodate our stuff.

 

Our steward we only saw one time, in the hallway.  I've read that NCL is trying to make their stewards invisible.  Well, they darn near succeeded.  He did a great job supplying ice and we had a new towel animal EVERY evening.  So I have no complaints about the service we got, but it was strange never seeing the guy.  Not sure I like the "invisibility" concept.

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DINING (Free)

We enjoy dining in the MDRs.  So most evenings, we spent in the Manhattan Room, including the first night.  I had made reservations in advance online, so we were always seated immediately.  But once, we showed up at a different time, and they still got us in right away.  It never seemed completely packed.  And we were there at 5:30 and at 7:30 (depending on the day).  Always saw a handful of tables open.  We've sailed on the Breakaway before, so I missed the live orchestra...but the room is still lovely for an MDR.  We often were seated near to the back, so we could see the waters (and of course, we were far enough north that it was light out).  The food was never terrible, and was often good.  Not every meal was a home run...but we never left unhappy.  Most days, we found three appetizers to share between us because they had many tasty choices.  Desserts were nice as well.  The service was generally good as well.  With the dine-anytime approach, you don't get the same staff from day to day, so we never developed any connections with the staff, but the service was always friendly.  Also, bar service was pretty fast...which is often a problem in the MDR.  For wine by the glass, they had many of the bottles handy nearby and we were filled within minutes of asking.  (Yes, we had the drink package.)

 

We had lunch/breakfast at Taste and Savor (each meal once at each place), and all was good there too.  They are exactly the same except for the colors.  One leans more blue-green and the other more burgundy.  Again service was just fine.  We particularly enjoy breakfast in these spots, where you can make a total pig of yourself!!

 

We never had  dinner at the buffet, but we did have some breakfasts and lunches.  Usually for port days, or to grab something quick before heading into Glacier Bay.  Usually, these places are insanely busy and finding a seat is tough...but we actually didn't have too much trouble.  The food was the usual predictable fare...but it was hot and plentiful.  Service throughout the room was non-existent, though.  The folks are there to clean tables.  That's fine, but once a guy asked me if I needed anything and I asked for salt, as our shaker was empty.  "Right away, sir" he said, and I never saw him again!  The late night snack place was pretty popular, and it has a limited menu.  Burgers, hot dogs, some other entre, a few desserts and a few salad-type items.  Great when you're hungry...but really scaled down.

 

One of our favorite spots was The Local.  We had breakfast here twice, lunch twice (I think) and after our late day in Juneau, even dinner.  (That was nuts...a long line to get in....other than that we never really had a wait).  We had a late night visit there too.  The breakfast menu is pretty skimpy, as is the late night menu.  You can find something, but the choices aren't overwhelming.  The full lunch/dinner menu, though, is pretty darn good.  We LOVED "The Rachel" sandwich and also the turkey pot pie.  The greek salad with watermelon was  pleasant surprise too.  My only issue with the Local (apart from occasionally slow service) was the noise from the Atrium below.  More on the Atrium later...but as a sneak preview...I HATE the Atrium.  What a design flaw!!

 

The final "Free" spot is the small buffet on the Observation deck.  (We never went to Margaritaville for the breakfast buffet).  Be prepared, it truly is a "small" buffet.  After one time grabbing breakfast there, we didn't go back.  Other than sliced lunch meat, there's no real protein to be had.  Our cabin was on Deck 14, so it WAS nice to be able to run up there for tea & coffee...but otherwise, we really didn't take advantage.  Yes, if we were less pig-like in our consumption when cruising, it would have been fine.  But, well, we were on a cruise...moderation was not an adjective one would have used to describe our approach to food (or mine to drink).  On shore, we're both temperate and reasonable eaters.

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I can't wait to hear more about the Bliss!  We will be sailing in August. I have a question, I have searched and can't seem to find the answer.  Do you know if there are any "self-service" laundry rooms onboard?  I have read about the mid-week "Fill the bag" special, but I thought I read somewhere that there are laundry rooms for passengers to use.  ??  Can you confirm this?  We will be on deck 15, mini-suite near the Observation Lounge.  I don't see any laundry rooms on our deck.

 

Thanks so much!  

 

 

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4 hours ago, rmurray847 said:

  We found a driver from the huge pool of drivers waiting to drive folks to the airport, so I didn't even bother with Uber.  Uber's estimate of cost was $37.  We found a guy willing to take us for $40, so off we went.  25 minutes later, we were at the airport, with LOTS of time to spare.

We are planning to use Uber next week, but this sounds interesting.

So these huge pool of drivers were not taxis or Uber/Lyft?  Who are they and how did you know they were waiting to drive folks to the airport?

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4 hours ago, Scotts73 said:

I can't wait to hear more about the Bliss!  We will be sailing in August. I have a question, I have searched and can't seem to find the answer.  Do you know if there are any "self-service" laundry rooms onboard?  I have read about the mid-week "Fill the bag" special, but I thought I read somewhere that there are laundry rooms for passengers to use.  ??  Can you confirm this?  We will be on deck 15, mini-suite near the Observation Lounge.  I don't see any laundry rooms on our deck.

 

Thanks so much!  

 

 

No laundry room of any kind.  You have to send it out.  Yes, about mid-way through they gave us a bag to use that was "one price for all you could cram in", but we didn't use it. As I implied earlier, we had overpacked anyway!!!  So no need for laundry.

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1 hour ago, jvsnana said:

We are planning to use Uber next week, but this sounds interesting.

So these huge pool of drivers were not taxis or Uber/Lyft?  Who are they and how did you know they were waiting to drive folks to the airport?

they are sort of like gypsy cabs in NYC.  As soon as we stepped out of the terminal, there was a group of nearly 20 guys in suits all looking to sell you a ride.  

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"SPECIALTY" DINING (Paid)

We didn't do very much of this on this cruise.  But we did experience (and enjoy) both Q and Food Republic.

 

We did Q at 8:15pm after a long day in Skagway.  Excellent dinner.  I had sausage and my wife had brisket...with lots of side items included and added-on.  There was a band playing, but it wasn't dance music yet, but background music, and we really enjoyed that.  Our waitress, from St. Lucia, was great.  (And she brought straws for our mudslides without being asked!  First and only on the ship.)  The food was plentiful and tasty and made for great comfort food.  The place was not terribly busy...not sure if that was usual, or due to the long day in port, or even the late-ish hour.

 

On our first sea day, we had lunch at Food Republic.  This is a small plates restaurant, and I think I ordered one small plate too many.  Our final bill was $50, which was too much for lunch.  We were stuffed, because of over-ordering, and probably could have gotten out with about $42, which is STILL too much.  If we did it again, we'd go here for a plate or two as more of a snack.  It is a very nice place.  Decorated with modern flair and bright colors, it's also off the beaten path.  Deck 7, but not part of the larger Ocean 678 place or the Waterfront area.  Service was friendly (although you order via tablets placed at each table, which is a mixed blessing).  We very much enjoyed it...but it is pricey for what you get.  Be disciplined about how much food you order.

 

Only other fee-added place we tried was getting a few bon-bons at Coco's.  We had originally planned to indulge one time with one of their crazy $15 milkshakes...but it never happened.  The place was always empty and the service there was the worst (by far) of any we saw on the ship.  As my wife said, "They never looked happy to see a customer."  I think NCL has missed an opportunity here.

 

Speaking of missed opportunities, I must say that Margaritaville was a dud on this trip.  Never saw anyone having lunch or dinner here, even though it was open.  This was the same as we experienced on the Breakaway during our Transatlantic last year.  I assume the place is  hopping when the ship is in the Caribbean...but it is really sad during colder weather.  Why NCL touts the Bliss as "designed especially for Alaska" and then puts in a space like this is a bit perplexing.  

 

We did not try the other for-fee places, but I have to say that Ocean Blue, Le Bistro and La Cuchina never looked remotely busy.  We didn't even see Cagney's or Los Lobos.  Based on the reservation boards around the ship, Teppanyaki was still a winner, though.

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BARS AND DRINK PACKAGE

The "included" drink package is more than worthwhile for me.  Yes, it isn't totally "free" because you have to pay the gratuity, but 2-3 drinks per day gets you over that threshold.  I had NO problems with that.  Even my wife, who drinks less than me by a bit, had no problem getting her value as well.

 

I've heard folks say that bar service is often slow.  This was not the case for us when actually approaching the bar.  The bars on deck were not very busy (again, it's cold weather Alaska!) and we were served very quickly.  Mixx Bar (between Taste & Savor) is a bit of a hot spot, but they were fast.  The Atrium Bar is the busiest of all (again, more on the dread Atrium later), but even there the wait was minimal.  No issues.  We never developed any "favorite" bars...just whatever was closest.  Cavern Club when watching the Beatles.  The Social Bar when watching comedy.  All fast and fairly friendly.

 

Special mention of The District Brewhouse, though.  We spent a lot of time here, because I love beer, and they actually have a fairly credible list of craft beers.  Although I have to make the following complaint:  the menus were not up to date.  I ordered, for example, the Dogfish Head 90 off the draft menu (what a treat that would be).  Well, I was informed that the menu was the "east cost" menu and they when they moved West they had taken on some new beer.  I was assured the menu would be updated soon.  It never was. Still plenty of good beers, but I had to always to up to the bar and look in their glass fridge or scan the tap.  And many of the most exciting beers on the menu were gone (I'd say 20% or more of the "craft" beers...they always have Budweiser).  But it was a great space for some quiet (with views of the sea), board games and that "brewery smell."  We stopped by here, at least briefly, every day.  (In the evening, they had some guy playing piano and doing "humor" that drew out all the drunks, and we left during those times.  It was loud and obnoxious and everything the District WASN'T the rest of the time.)

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14 hours ago, sunshine3838 said:

Wonderful review. Wondering if you have any menu from the main dining room? Thanks!!

Thanks.  I did not take ANY menu photos, I'm afraid.  That just isn't something I think about in the moment.  Sorry.

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ENTERTAINMENT

There is a lot available, and my wife and I are pretty avid consumers.  We're very much dinner & a show types...but that's a little more sporadic on a trip like this when one day you're in Juneau until 10:30 pm and another you're in Victoria from 7:30 to midnight (and 7:30 ended up being changed to 8:30...more on THIS later, too).  So we didn't make it to every comedy show, and the theater schedule was a little spotty too.

 

In the main theater (which is a terrible, too small, uninspired space compared to the lovely theaters on NCL's smaller ships), we very much enjoyed the dance-heavy HAVANA.  The original songs were only so-so, and there isn't really a plot...it's all about dance and setting a sultry, slightly risque mood.  We also really enjoyed JERSEY BOYS.  The cast was quite good, and this show (which we've seen in other venues) zips along briskly.  No intermission...so be sure to visit the restroom ahead of time!  It's about 100 minutes long.  We also saw a couple of Beatles shows.  The first night on the ship, the on-board Beatles impersonators presented a concert of early era Beatles songs, and then at 6:30 pm on the last day (before we arrived in Victoria), there was another show, which covered all Beatles eras.  Other than that, the main theater didn't have any shows.  They did show movies on occasion, which we did not attend.

 

The comedy club (The Social) was a nice venue and even though we got onboard too late to make advance reservations via the clumsy, slow screens available near the elevators, we never had any problem getting in on standby and getting good seats.  Both comedians were funny.  Each had a clean & adult show.  The "host" (Jason, I think was his name) was not terribly funny...but the two main guys were.  We saw the clean show from one guy and the adult show from the other.  Normally, we would have seen all, but scheduling just didn't work.

 

The Cavern Club, while hosting other events like karaoke, was mostly home for smaller shows from the Beatles group.  For those, the place really does get crowded.  For the "early years" show, we arrived about 45 minutes beforehand, and were among the first 10 or so to get in.  Later on the cruise, we only made it about 30 minutes early for the "Abbey Road years" show, and it was already pretty crowded.  We got seats, but barely.  So my advice...arrive about 40-45 minutes early.  By 10 minutes before the show, it was standing room only, and people were coming in the doors and then turning around and leaving.  It's a VERY fun show if you like the music (we do!) and lots of singing along.  The guys sounded pretty darn good, and while the resemblance to the actual Fab Four was quite superficial...it didn't really matter. The music, played well, carried the night.  It's absolutely worth going.  The shows in the main theater are fun...but you really get to sing along and join in quite enthusiastically in the Cavern Club.

 

The Atrium, as on the Breakway, is miserable.  This is where all the game shows and such are held...seemingly all day long endlessly.  The space is simply TOO SMALL.  For any of the popular shows like the Newlywed Game, it is insane.  75% of the crowd has to stand.  It's loud.  For dance lessons, the stage is too small.  For trivia, the place is overkill.  We were actively turned off from attending things here, and did very few activities there that in other venues, we would have enjoyed.  Other ships we've been on, both smaller and larger, have better venues that the central area right next to guest services.  Just horrible design and they need to STOP.  I actually would think twice about sailing another Away-class ship in colder weather because of how not-fun this space is.  Sounds petty, yes?  Well, maybe it is...but unless you've experienced this particular chaos, don't judge.  I've not heard too much in the way of admiration for the Atrium space.

 

Observation Lounge.  Not really entertainment space (although some piano-man type entertainment does happen occasionally) but the space for "lectures" on Alaska.  One day, there were a series of "audio lectures" scheduled on topics like "Alaska Wildlife", "Alaska Marine Life", etc.  We circled all those on our schedule and showed up for the first.  We discovered that these are simply pre-taped lectures piped in over the speakers.  Okay...except the volume was so low, you could only hear sporadically.  So it was pretty useless, and we skipped the others.  And yes, some people really do camp out there for much of the day.  It wasn't as horrible as I feared...but it IS gross when folks put their bare feet up on the sofas, despite signs everywhere asking us NOT to.  These are upholstered couches, not outdoor loungers.  The staff put out little pads to go on the ends of the sofas, but I saw, in most cases, the users had kicked those to the floor.  People eat on these.  It was all just vaguely unsanitary.  The armchairs and such were what WE used when we spent time there!  You can still get good views.  I just didn't see the appeal of camping there for hour after hour after hour.

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57 minutes ago, adam3313 said:

That stinks they didn't have the Dogfish Head 90 minute on draft for you.  I was on the Joy last week, and was able to enjoy that on draft.  Makes you wonder...

The had Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin to help make up for it...but it ain't Dogfish Head.  

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RACE TRACK and LASER TAG

As mentioned, because we got on the ship a little later, we had no luck securing reservations for  the Race Track, except at times that conflicted with our show schedule.  We found one fairly bad time for Laser Tag (45 minutes before a dinner reservation).

 

We ended up NOT doing the Laser Tag.  We were told that with the prep time, waiting for enough people to show up, etc. etc. that we should allow a full hour at least.  It was a VERY windy evening, and just not terribly pleasant out...so we bailed.  They were nice enough to give us our money back.

 

We did the Race Track on the last day...it was no problem just walking up and being assigned a time one hour in the future.  This activity was fun, although they shut us down early because one driver decided to take her foot off the gas in the middle of the track, and two other cars couldn't brake fast enough to avoid hitting her...so they made everyone stop 2 laps early.  Bummer.  It's fun, but honestly, at the new rate of $15 per person...it's not really worth it.  Once it starts, its like any race track...there's no sensation of "hey, I'm doing this on a ship!"  You're too busy driving.  Glad I did it...probably wouldn't again unless I was on a cruise with the whole family and we did it as a big group.

 

(A word about miniature golf.  It's hidden behind the racetrack on deck 19 and is only 5 short holes.  Fun as always, but it gets packed fast, since there are so few holes.  It sure does feel like an afterthought.  They ran out of clubs and balls the day we did it, so as soon as you finished, you had to run back to the front and hand off your clubs to the next person waiting.)

 

(Also, there are no sports courts.  No basketball, volleyball, soccer, etc.   Obviously the race track has taken this spot.  Although I don't use those myself...I can imagine a lot of folks being bummed.)

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31 minutes ago, rmurray847 said:

The had Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin to help make up for it...but it ain't Dogfish Head.  

Haha, they had that listed on tap, but we didn't have it all week!  Was disappointed, as its one of my favorite, but there were more than enough from the Pacific NorthWest to try during the week haha

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PORTS

I don't intend to spend much time talking about the ports and the activities we did.  We did all "privately booked" excursions, so can't comment on what the ship provides.  But I feel we I should point out a few things.

 

Both Juneau and Skagway have piers that are right in the middle of town (well, on the edge of the middle of town...obviously we couldn't dock on a street!).  And both have a pier that is a long way from the middle.  It seems that the default for the bigger ships (as in the Bliss and the Joy) is the pier that's a long way away.  So, for example, in Juneau, it's about a 20 minute walk from the pier to town.  Other ships, 30 second walk.  Skagway, 10 minute walk.  Other ships, 30 seconds.  It's not the end of the world, but when scheduling excursions and such, it's worth nothing.  We just made it on time to our ride for our Juneau excursion.

 

And for some reason, with both Juneau and Victoria, the line of folks waiting to disembark was VERY long.  We lined up a the very back of Deck 6 and the exit was all the way in front.  Victoria, in particular, was terrible.  

 

The town of Juneau started shutting down at 9, even though our all-aboard was 10:30pm.  The other ships were already leaving, so I guess we weren't worth staying open for.  So, if you want to do some shopping, don't put it off for the end.  

 

The stop in Ketchikan was more reasonable (as for as location), but I wish we had more time.  And speaking of time, I think the website still implies arrival in Ketchikan around 6:30 or so.  That is NOT accurate...we arrive at 7:30 and all-aboard is 12:45.  We had to cancel our original excursion because we didn't get into port in time.  NCL never updated any of their documents...not until the Daily Planner comes out the night before would you know that your time was cut short by an hour.  So be alerted.  Same with Victoria...all our documents said arrive at 7:30, all-aboard at 11:30.  Day before, that became 8:30.  I know that legally, the ship needs to stop in Canada, but good grief, what a waste.  I believe they COULD have arrived sooner and actually given us some time in the city...but the port is clearly just there to check a box.  If you want to go downtown, shuttle buses are provided (and ample), but it's $12 USD per person (it was $15 CDN, but when we paid with a credit card, the rate dropped to $12 with the exchange rate.  But they were happy to take $15 US from folks who had cash!!  Pay with a credit card!).  And not surprisingly, plenty of people stayed on the ship.  Many were probably packing!!

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GLACIER BAY

One of the true highpoints of the cruise.  One of those days where the beauty of nature is there to overwhelm you if you're willing to get caught up in it.

 

It starts early...be ready and don't sleep in!  Around 6 or so, the National Park Service brings out a boat and several rangers get on board.  They had a 7am pre-glacier lecture in the Observation Lounge, and they had a small, ad hoc gift shop set up.  Mostly books, but other nice stuff as well.  But as soon as that wraps up at 7:30, get outside, if that's your inclination.  Needless to say, the lounge was really packed that day...but we had bundled up and planned to spend our time on deck.  At 8am, they opened the very front of the ship up (this is the crew's rec area at other times), so we went there in the very first group.  Only about 12 people were lined up to go there when it opened...later in the morning, others caught on and the prow was packed.  This is SO worth doing...great views of both sides.  We found a spot on the railing and hung out there for the next 3 hours or so.  We were lucky with the weather; it was chilly but not bad, and the skies were only partly cloudy.  Beautiful morning.  Saw sea otters, mountain goats and more.  And when we arrived at Margerie Glacier...oh boy!  The ship just stopped off the glacier for nearly an hour and we looked at it.  Amazing.  Could have stayed longer.  We saw the glacier calve twice!!  It was all awe-inspiring.  Eventually, we had to leave and let the next ship have her turn.  We went to our cabin and spent time on the balcony, brewing coffee and visiting briefly the Johns Hopkins Glacier and the Lamplugh glacier, which calved also and was the most beautiful blue we had seen yet on the trip.  

 

During this whole adventure, the park rangers made announcements over the PA.  Sometimes the acoustics weren't ideal, but mostly it was a great touch.  The crew brought around hot chocolate all morning long.  It was handled very, very well all day.  By 12:30 or so, we were nearly out of the park area, and there was a 1pm ranger talk in the theater.  Go to this...he showed slides with aerial views of what we had seen...terrific way to end our morning with the glaciers.  Just one of the great days of travel we've ever had.  Memorable in every way.  

 

We saw many amazing things during our cruise.  Helicopter to a glacier in Skagway.  Chilkoot Trail and river float.  Whale watching in Juneau.  Yes, even a sea plane in Ketchikan.  All gorgeous...and all at an extra cost.  But NCL has provided, at no additional cost, a truly fantastic way to experience Glacier Bay.  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!!

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MISC / FINAL THOUGHTS:

I realize, going through this, that there are a lot of "negative" comments about our experience and the Bliss.  Like many, I tend to focus on faults to a disproportionate degree.  Overall, though, I highly recommend this cruise, this ship and this experience.  Yes, there were issues, and some were even quite annoying...but we still had a fabulous time.  Please don't mis-understand.

 

A few random things:

1)     There were many parts of the ship we did not experience this time.  Spa, gym, most specialty dining, the pool, and except for a brief visit, Spice H2O.  We didn't see the kids areas.  We (sadly) didn't get to bowl, as it was always busy.  (In case you don't know, this bowling is of the miniature variety.  A ball the size of a softball.  $5 per game.)  This was a port & sights heavy cruise...we spent all morning before arrival in Juneau out on deck, watching whales, porpoises and scenery.  We just didn't have the time to try out everything.

 

2)     Elevators.  When you're at a bank of elevators, make sure that pressing one button lights them all up.  Some elevators on some banks go higher than others and if you don't press all the buttons, you'll see some of the zip right past you.  And just be ready for the usual obliviousness from many passengers.  The are waiting for their elevator.  One arrives.  They immediately try to get on, no allowing anyone to get off first.  Always amusing.  

 

3)     Wi-fi. We splurged on the unlimited, deluxe package, and it worked fairly well.  We kept it on my wife's phone most of the time, and she pretty much never got cut off.  One morning, she was off for an hour or two, but otherwise, it worked all the time.  We were even able to watch the first 10 minutes of the GAME OF THRONES finale before it started buffering every 10 seconds.  So, while hardly what you get on land, it wasn't as bad as many experiences we've had.  It seems to get slightly better year after year.  (I still remember dial-up speeds 8 years ago.)

 

4)     Shops onboard.  We hardly spent any time here...totally typical experience.  They did have a small shop that was selling exclusively Alaska based items, which was nice if you forgot to get gifts for folks back home.  (It seems like this shop is a Margaritaville shop during parts of the year.)  

 

5)     Casino.  I spent a total of 1 hour here on the last day.  Note that the casino closes at 3:30 pm on the last day, as Victoria looms, and will not reopen for the duration of the cruise.  My one hour was plenty, the slots were all tight.

 

6)     Overall ship.  Everything was kept clean and everything looked pretty new.  The public restrooms were kept clean, although I have to say the automatic soap dispensers were all VERY finicky.  Be patient...the soap will eventually come.  The public areas looked good, and just overall it looked fresh.  Very inviting overall.

 

And that's about it for me, unless you have questions.  I will be very happy to help if I can.  Thanks for reading!!!

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Very helpful review.  We are on the Bliss this coming Sunday.  Alaska is new for us, so you had some good insight for me.  thank you for taking the time!

 

My only stress is what to pack.  I will start to work on that tonite.  Are sea days very casual - like a hoodie and jeans are Ok even in the restuarants for lunch?  We plan on nicer outfits for dinner, even tho I know there really isn't a dress code.

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8 minutes ago, ZsaZsa2019 said:

Very helpful review.  We are on the Bliss this coming Sunday.  Alaska is new for us, so you had some good insight for me.  thank you for taking the time!

 

My only stress is what to pack.  I will start to work on that tonite.  Are sea days very casual - like a hoodie and jeans are Ok even in the restuarants for lunch?  We plan on nicer outfits for dinner, even tho I know there really isn't a dress code.

Thank you for your kind remarks and for your question.  Yes, packing was a challenge for us too.  This was the most casual cruise we've been on.  Hoodies and jeans...that was me!!  Even the dining room at dinner was more casual than usual.  They never had a "dress up or not" night like I've seen on other NCL cruises.  We dressed up (a little) for the evening because we LIKE to, but one evening, I wore a sportcoat and slacks and felt overdressed.

 

Layers are the rule, I think.  We had unusually nice weather (70 degrees in Juneau).  We NEVER had a drop of rain.  The coldest we were was when we flew to a Glacier and stood on a block of ice, and even that was above freezing.  

 

Have FUN!!!!!

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