Paris and Normandy - Wrap up
This posts wraps up our river cruise on AmaWaterways Paris and Normandy trip. See all of the Paris...
It's easy for those of us that don't cruise all the time to forget why mass market cruise lines like Norwegian sell so well. Where else can you see a Broadway quality show (Jersey Boys) and listen to a Beatles tribute band (Britain's Finest) on the same evening? Where else could you play laser tag and ride carts on the next evening? The entertainment options truly abound. In addition to the above, there's a full casino (with separate enclosed smoking area), lots of shops, a full spa, a full exercise room, original performances every night, a comedy club, night clubs, a silent disco, game shows, DJ's and lots of live music. Literally there's so much to do on this ship you need a full week to take it all in.
And we almost forgot to mention the swimming pools, hot tubs, Spice H2O water area, and plenty of lounge chairs. And two incredible water tube slides that extend over the edge of the ship. Plus plenty of kid friendly areas. The Norwegian Bliss is a an entertainment center in it's own right.
Where else do you have your choice of 30 food and beverage venues within a 10 min walk? Where else can you get appetizers from the BBQ place and enjoy a seafood buffet (sushi, lobster, three kinds of crab, three kind of smoked salmon and plenty more) as a main course?
There's lots of restaurant choices including venues that feature Japanese Teppanyaki, Steak, Italian, Mexican, Fish and burgers (Margaritaville), Chocolate desert and bake shop / gelato place, Starbucks and our favorite - a bar featuring 50 beers on tap and in bottles. In fact, unlike many ships we've been on, quality beer is available throughout the ship (I had a Goose IPA with the BBQ for example).
In addition to great beer choices, there's a wine tasting bar and a separate whisky tasting bar. There's even a mojito bar. The Norwegian Bliss is a food and bar town center.
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The Norwegian Bliss has floor to ceiling windows all over the place. But one of the best is the Observation Lounge up on deck 15. This wraps around the entire front section of the ship (from elevators forward) and provides a stunning place to survey the surroundings. Perfect for Alaska cruises. According to Norwegian, in traditional ships this area would be reserved for higher end suites. Instead of adding more capacity, NCL decided to enhance the public space. Its super comfortable, provides lots of nook and crannies for privacy, offers food and beverage service and of course has great views.
Want to reserve a show? simply use a touch screen located throughout the ship. Want to play some mini bowling? Simply swipe your room key and you're off and playing. The decor is fresh, contemporary and clean. The room is extremely functional with lots of storage and very comfortable bedding. The shower is all glass (none of those shower curtains sticking the wrong way) and uses quality Grohe faucets.
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Some of our favorite options are the lowest and highest categories. There's a full range of inside cabins designed expressly for singles. Each cabin has a "virtual window" - basically a video screen on the wall that shows the view from the bridge. that way you can always tell the weather, the scenery and get a sense if it's dark out. But our favorite part is that there's a separate studio lounge designed only for these single cabins. It's a separate place for snacks, drinks and just hanging out.
On the high end side is the Haven. This is an exclusive area at the top of the ship with their own pool, restaurant, sun deck and private lounge. Not to mention beautiful rooms, a private observation area, and butler / concierge service. This is a true ship within a ship. This is perfect for a multi-generational group - perhaps the family with young kids would enjoy a regular balcony suite while the grandparents enjoy the exclusivity of the Haven.
The Norwegian Bliss accommodates about 4,000 passengers, making a very large cruise ship. We have many guests that reject out of hand traveling on such a large vessel, citing long lines, crowds, long walks back /forth to the room, and feeling lost on the ship as reasons. Many of our river cruse clients like seeing passengers they met at dinner later that night or through the week. On a large cruise ship like this, it's possible but not likely.
So we understand why some guests really don't want to travel on such a large ship. So why go? LOTS of reasons:
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OK, so we only experienced NCL's Bliss for two nights on a cruise to nowhere. And I'm sure Norwegian tried to put their best foot forward for all the travel agents on board. Yet this was also one of the first sailings and the crew overall did a great job. We were impressed. Sailing with 4,000 other people is a big change from the 136 passengers on a river cruise to which we've grown accustomed. Yet we never felt overwhelmed by people; we were able to get so much in because of the sheer convenience of having so much entertainment and food venues so close. It was a great experience and a great value.