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Bliss vs Encore


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Posted (edited)

OK I am here planning another cruise since my Joy from Jamaica was cancelled. I want a beach vacation so at this time no Alaska cruise for me. I need some help so please educate me on the ships and ports. I am looking at the Encore out of Miami on December 12 or the Bliss out of LA Dec 12. I have not been on either ship and the ports are new to me. 

Details of each cruise

Bliss out of LA ports are Puerto Vallarta, Mazatan, Cabo San Lucas Mexican ports 

 

Encore out of MI ports are Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas, St. Thomas US Virgin Islands,

Tortola British Virgin Islands, Puerto Plata Dominican Republic. 

 

Also do you think the Bliss has a better chance of sailing since it will be staffed for the Alaska cruises and NCL has also threatened to pull

out of Florida? 

 

Thank You

Tracie

Edited by Summerstravel
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I'm booked on Bliss on the 12th, so it better sail! With me on it! I haven't done Encore, but love Bliss. I've done the Mexico itinerary a bunch of times - decent ports, decent beaches, lots of excursion options or easy to just do your own thing, too. Living on the West Coast, these are my go-to sailings...

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I think both ships will sail

Celebrity has been cleared to sail out of FLL in june by the CDC

Hopefully the Gov wont throw a wrench in it😬

 

Ive been on the Encore and will probably do the Bliss next year

While ive been to the MR ports a bunch of time, besides land vaca's and will go back to them

I personally like the itinerary of the Encore and the VI's better

Also GSC is a great private island 

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I've done the Eastern, Western and Southern Carribean, as well as the trip south out of LA. Our standard port day is half day exploring, half day at the beach. If I want a beach vacation, I would do the Carribean. Overall the beaches are nicer, can't say I've been to them all on any of the stops you might go to, but have a better chance of getting a good one in the Carribean in my opinion. The sand is nicer. May end up with some coral here and there, but overall the color is lighter and sand is softer.

 

Can't help with the ships, haven't been on either of them.

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I've been on Encore but the Bliss is a sister ship.  The Encore has a bigger race track, no Spice H20.  Encore also has a larger and better laser tag. Currently Onda is on Encore which eventually will come to Bliss. Other than this, the ships are very similar so you have to go with which itinerary or price to go with.  I have never done west coast/Mexico before so that appeals to me.  I do love the Encore eastern Caribbean stops too.  GSC and Tortola would be highlights for me.  Since the ships are so similar, you must decide where you want to do or which is cheaper.

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Trivial thing for many people but for me not having any version of Spice H2O (None on Encore) is a deal breaker. Laser Tag and Go Karts are not of any interest to me. Another reason I would pick Bliss is I could spend a week looking at it's beautiful chandelier:

blisschandelier.jpg

 

 

And not this hideous thing on Encore: 😉

 

screen-shot-2019-11-17-at-2-30-07-pm_ori

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Been on both ships, twice on the Bliss.  This is a hard one because you are looking for a beach vacation.  I like the Bliss better than the Encore, not sure why but I just do (though Onda on the Encore is fabulous).  I like the itinerary on the Encore if you are looking for a beach vacation. I don't find the Mexican beaches and ports nearly as good as the ones in the Caribbean.  But Bliss does have Spice H2O so you can also spend some nice sun time up there. That being said, I usually stay on the ship and spend my time in the empty Thermal Spa on port days, since I have been multiple times. I would check out the forums with information on the port stops and see which is more appealing to you.  I don't think you can go wrong with either ship but I would probably go by price in my case.  

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22 hours ago, ceilidh1 said:

I'm booked on Bliss on the 12th, so it better sail! With me on it! I haven't done Encore, but love Bliss. I've done the Mexico itinerary a bunch of times - decent ports, decent beaches, lots of excursion options or easy to just do your own thing, too. Living on the West Coast, these are my go-to sailings...

Thanks for your information any beach hotels near the port you could recommend? I want to stay a couple days pre-cruise. Also have you done the ride a camel on the beach excursion? 

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21 hours ago, jonbgd said:

I think both ships will sail

Celebrity has been cleared to sail out of FLL in june by the CDC

Hopefully the Gov wont throw a wrench in it😬

 

Ive been on the Encore and will probably do the Bliss next year

While ive been to the MR ports a bunch of time, besides land vaca's and will go back to them

I personally like the itinerary of the Encore and the VI's better

Also GSC is a great private island 

Thanks for your information. Can you just relax on the beach on GSC? I do admit it looks like a great place. 

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21 hours ago, vswan said:

I've done the Eastern, Western and Southern Carribean, as well as the trip south out of LA. Our standard port day is half day exploring, half day at the beach. If I want a beach vacation, I would do the Carribean. Overall the beaches are nicer, can't say I've been to them all on any of the stops you might go to, but have a better chance of getting a good one in the Carribean in my opinion. The sand is nicer. May end up with some coral here and there, but overall the color is lighter and sand is softer.

 

Can't help with the ships, haven't been on either of them.

Thank you for the information. Can you please share your favorite beaches? Thank You

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3 minutes ago, Summerstravel said:

Thanks for your information any beach hotels near the port you could recommend? I want to stay a couple days pre-cruise. Also have you done the ride a camel on the beach excursion? 

We usually stay in Long Beach - we love the Hilton. If you want to be really close to the port, there is the Doubletree and the Hilton in San Pedro, which are both great for one night pre-cruise, but I personally wouldn't stay there more than a night as I much prefer Long Beach to San Pedro!

 

I haven't done the camel ride but one excursion we take every time is Las Calletas in Puerto Vallarta. It's a great beach with lots of activities and water sports!

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19 hours ago, debenson0723 said:

Been on both ships, twice on the Bliss.  This is a hard one because you are looking for a beach vacation.  I like the Bliss better than the Encore, not sure why but I just do (though Onda on the Encore is fabulous).  I like the itinerary on the Encore if you are looking for a beach vacation. I don't find the Mexican beaches and ports nearly as good as the ones in the Caribbean.  But Bliss does have Spice H2O so you can also spend some nice sun time up there. That being said, I usually stay on the ship and spend my time in the empty Thermal Spa on port days, since I have been multiple times. I would check out the forums with information on the port stops and see which is more appealing to you.  I don't think you can go wrong with either ship but I would probably go by price in my case.  

Thank you for the information. Encore is more expensive so I would just book a solo for that cruise but my credits would allow me a balcony on the Bliss. My flight is much longer for the Bliss but I have credit with Delta that should cover most of my flight. I like H20 and love the thermal spa. 

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19 hours ago, Red-Sol said:

Trivial thing for many people but for me not having any version of Spice H2O (None on Encore) is a deal breaker. Laser Tag and Go Karts are not of any interest to me. Another reason I would pick Bliss is I could spend a week looking at it's beautiful chandelier:

blisschandelier.jpg

 

 

And not this hideous thing on Encore: 😉

 

screen-shot-2019-11-17-at-2-30-07-pm_ori

Thank you for the information. The Bliss is also cheaper and allows me to book a balcony with my credits.  

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7 minutes ago, Summerstravel said:

Thank you for the information. Can you please share your favorite beaches? Thank You

We have been on close to 30 cruises with the majority being in the caribbean. I generally do my homework on the port boards and read where others have gone and what they liked. The other thing we do is ask the taxi drivers for the best beaches in the area. How far, type of sand, etc. We generally do not do the ship sponsored shore excursions - generally grab a taxi and sometimes a bus. I'm not as good as some of the others when remembering names of places. LOL

 

I like the Southern Caribbean beaches the best. Aruba, Barbados, etc. We've been to a couple in St. Thomas and enjoyed Megan's Bay - one year we took the ferry to St. John's excursion and the beach there was great. Generally the private islands have some very nice beaches and make for a good beach day. Never made it to the beach in the Dominican - that was years ago and didn't port near the beaches.

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1 hour ago, Summerstravel said:

Thanks for your information. Can you just relax on the beach on GSC? I do admit it looks like a great place. 

Sure you can. we got a couple loungers near the water

1 hour ago, ceilidh1 said:

I haven't done the camel ride but one excursion we take every time is Las Calletas in Puerto Vallarta. It's a great beach with lots of activities and water sports!

Yes, Las Caletas is beautiful, the old John Houston property

My 2nd favorite beach in Mexico

Zihaut is my favorite🙂

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Summerstravel said:

Thanks for your information. Can you just relax on the beach on GSC? I do admit it looks like a great place. 

We prefer the Eastern (or Southern Caribbean) to the Pacific coast.  However, we have enjoyed our visits to Cabo and Puerto Vallarta (Mazatlan seemed very dirty when we were there).

 

You might want to check out these CC pages for the Encore cruise:

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/82-st-thomasst-john/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/202-tortola/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/280-dominican-republic/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/308-private-islands/ ...(for Great Stirrup Cay)

At GSC you can get a lounger near the beach, possibly with tree shade (or could rent a clamshell).

There are multiple bars (yes, drink package works on GSC, but you will pay port taxes on drinks) plenty of food, activities, and music.  It IS a TENDER port!!!

https://www.ncl.com/freestyle-cruise/great-stirrup-cay  (Scroll down the page for map and other info!)

 

BTW, we enjoy St Thomas (but, love to go over to St John's from there sometimes instead).

I hope these links are helpful for you! 

 

IF you intend to do both Atlantic (caribbean) cruises and Pacific coast cruises in the future, I would recommend starting with the West Coast, and then go on the Bahamas (and or Southern Caribbean) cruises, where the water and beaches are simply different from those on the Pacific coast.

Edited by bgTexasguy
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I have no crystal ball however like everyone else, I do have an opinion.  I would book the Encore.  Something tells me NCL wants to make sure this ship is staffed properly and sailing as soon as possible.  It is their newest ship and they lost the first year of booking because of Covid.

 

Regardless, either ship would be awesome.  I am so sorry about the cancellation.  It seems right now, NCL is having some staffing issues.  They took the staff off of the Joy to put on the Bliss because of Alaska.  By the end of the year, with some help from the CDC, I think all the sailings you suggested will sail. Just my two cents. 

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1 hour ago, Sthrngary said:

It seems right now, NCL is having some staffing issues.  

I think this issue is larger than we suspect.  A year and half is a long time to wait to get your job back.  A lot of the seasoned service professionals undoubtedly moved on and the technical side like engineers and such either found other jobs or retired while waiting for cruising to start back up.  Wouldn't surprise me if we see additional cancellations due to this issue.  I've got nothing to back that up, just an unsubstantiated observation.  

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15 minutes ago, WarfRatWA said:

I think this issue is larger than we suspect.  A year and half is a long time to wait to get your job back.  A lot of the seasoned service professionals undoubtedly moved on and the technical side like engineers and such either found other jobs or retired while waiting for cruising to start back up.  Wouldn't surprise me if we see additional cancellations due to this issue.  I've got nothing to back that up, just an unsubstantiated observation.  

I tend to agree with you and how you phased it.  Even with the recent bookings and demand, this is a really big issue.  I want to stay on topic but I think what I am about to say will make sense.  

 

My next NCL cruise is the end of November on the NCL Joy.  A long time away since we booked it last year after two cancellations. No sour grapes here on cancelations, just the way it is.  Knowing that the YES, that November Cruise could be cancelled also, we booked a cruise on Crystal for the Bahamas for late July.  

 

I just could not handle the disappointment of waiting until November and getting cancelled again.  That is a true story.  My hopes are that NCL will bring the Joy back earlier then Oct 2021 but back to your thoughts above, it is all about personnel and training.  We all want a GREAT experience even if it costs a bit more.

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I've sailed the Bliss on the Mexican Riviera itinerary.  I did a cruise line excursion in Puerto Vallarta, a self-guided walking tour in Mazatlan, and a self-booked excursion in Cabo San Lucas that didn't go quite as we'd hoped.  All 3 were still very nice, though Cabo felt a little rushed so that time could be made up.

 

I would sail the Bliss again in a HEARTBEAT, though much of what I liked is duplicated on the Encore - so much in the way of public spaces with the Observation Lounge, Waterfront, The Atrium.  The food choices were plentiful.

 

I will agree on the Spice H2O sentiments - one reason I've decided I'd avoid the Encore.

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On 5/30/2021 at 2:39 PM, bgTexasguy said:

We prefer the Eastern (or Southern Caribbean) to the Pacific coast.  However, we have enjoyed our visits to Cabo and Puerto Vallarta (Mazatlan seemed very dirty when we were there).

 

You might want to check out these CC pages for the Encore cruise:

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/82-st-thomasst-john/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/202-tortola/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/280-dominican-republic/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/308-private-islands/ ...(for Great Stirrup Cay)

At GSC you can get a lounger near the beach, possibly with tree shade (or could rent a clamshell).

There are multiple bars (yes, drink package works on GSC, but you will pay port taxes on drinks) plenty of food, activities, and music.  It IS a TENDER port!!!

https://www.ncl.com/freestyle-cruise/great-stirrup-cay  (Scroll down the page for map and other info!)

 

BTW, we enjoy St Thomas (but, love to go over to St John's from there sometimes instead).

I hope these links are helpful for you! 

 

IF you intend to do both Atlantic (caribbean) cruises and Pacific coast cruises in the future, I would recommend starting with the West Coast, and then go on the Bahamas (and or Southern Caribbean) cruises, where the water and beaches are simply different from those on the Pacific coast.

Yes I plan on doing both cruise at some point just having a hard time deciding which one to go on first. Thank you for the great information. 

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2 hours ago, Sthrngary said:

I tend to agree with you and how you phased it.  Even with the recent bookings and demand, this is a really big issue.  I want to stay on topic but I think what I am about to say will make sense.  

 

My next NCL cruise is the end of November on the NCL Joy.  A long time away since we booked it last year after two cancellations. No sour grapes here on cancelations, just the way it is.  Knowing that the YES, that November Cruise could be cancelled also, we booked a cruise on Crystal for the Bahamas for late July.  

 

I just could not handle the disappointment of waiting until November and getting cancelled again.  That is a true story.  My hopes are that NCL will bring the Joy back earlier then Oct 2021 but back to your thoughts above, it is all about personnel and training.  We all want a GREAT experience even if it costs a bit more.

 

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Thank you to everyone I am enjoying all your replies! I am so worried NCL will not be able to staff these ships and we are going to have more cancelled cruises.  I hope I am wrong! 

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