The Bliss Alaskan Cruise by Norwegian Cruise Line – The Full Review: Following the Whales

Dedicated to my sweet family

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SET THE SCENE

I’ve been on my fair share of cruises – Hawaii, Caribbean, and another Alaskan cruise by Holland Cruise lines – and thus, I think I can safely say that I have had enough comparison to write a pretty good review on a cruise ship. The Bliss is the newest and biggest ship to sail the Alaskan waters and I will say it definitely lives up to its ship name. But before I go into the ship, let me give you a snapshot of beautiful Alaska.

Cerulean blue waters with hints of green flow around the gorgeous state of Alaska. The skies alternate between clear blue and a light gray and there is a chill in the air that is a profound welcomed relief from the humid heat of Texas (where I’m from). The air is devoid of heavy pollution and car traffic fumes and every city has its quiet charm. Salmon in every shape and color climb the salmon ladders while bald eagles dominate the skies.

The cold air is contrasted by a hot cup of chowder in chilled hands. One of the little things in life is having your insides immediately warmed by sip of a hot latte. Or being in the middle of a forest surrounded by trees connected together by fairy lights while roasting marshmallows over a large fire.

The most brilliant sharp icy blue glaciers and its pieces float enchantingly and menacingly in the waters. Whales swim by, peaking their heads and showing off their tails as cruisers lean over, awed, with binoculars. Waterfalls bloom out of the sides of mountains with the force of the water creating a thunderous sound.

This state is so breathtaking in every way.

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THE BASICS

Time of Travel: July
Type of Travel: Family

THE SHIP

Size: While Bliss is definitely not the biggest cruise ship in the world, it definitely appears like the biggest ship on the Alaskan waters when all the ships are parked next to each other at the ports. It’s impressive to see from afar and to walk up to when returning from the city.

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We saw so many whales from our cruise ship windows! Not the best photo but I got too excited and eventually put away my camera to just enjoy the magnificent sights

Exterior Décor: The front of the ship is beautifully decorated and my brother and I joked that the artwork definitely invited all the whales to swim up near our ship. I was honestly so surprised by how many whales I saw on the cruise – definitely more than the last time I was in Alaska. The front of the ship is illustrated with the wildlife of the ocean – whales, turtles, and rays. It’s the perfect artwork for a cruise ship.

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Interior Décor: The inside of the ship is also tastefully ornamented. In the center of the ship is a gorgeous glass-appearing staircase that wraps around and glitters in the light. The hot tubs are purposefully placed at the tail end of the ship and on the sides so there is a clear view of the ocean. Every room is carefully constructed to its theme.

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Service: The staff on the ship is 5/5 stars. They are so incredibly friendly and accommodating and always willing to strike up a good conversation with you but they also know when to leave you alone as well. They always have a smile for you and their response to everything is quick. They all come from different countries around the world and it is fascinating to hear their stories and everywhere they have traveled!

THINGS TO DO ON THE SHIP

  • Observation Lounge: Located at the front of the ship, this area was one of my favorite areas on the ship. Decked out in large windows showcasing the beauty of Alaska, the lounge is full of comfy arm chairs and the best part? The bar in the middle as well as two buffets of tea time food fully stocked with finger sandwiches, salads, and desserts. On the days at sea, it’s the perfect area to chill with family and friends, play cards, and observe the Alaskan magnificence without being in the cold.

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  • The Pool and Aqua Park: On one of the top decks of the ship is the pool and the incredible water slides on the ship. There is one water slide where you slide down in rafts and there is one thrilling slide that literally hangs over the ocean! There is a fun area where the kids congregate and hot tubs that dot the sides of the ship as well as the rear end. I highly recommend chilling in the hot tubs at the rear so you can see the full view of the ocean behind you as the ship sails.
  • Race Track: Yes, this ship has a whole level dedicated to a race track where you can race your family and friends either in a single cart or a double seater cart.
    • TIP: Book your reservations before you get onto the ship! My family and I did not realize that seats were limited so we did not get to try out this part of the cruise.
    • It does cost a small fee per drive
  • Mini Golf
  • Laser Tag: a small fee
  • Bliss Casino
  • Video Arcade
  • Bowling Alley: a small two lane bowling alley. It gets busy really fast! A small fee
  • Entourage Teen Club: a haven away from the parents – this place has video games, music, movies!
  • Fitness Center: this fitness center is legit. There is a running track outside and every machine and weight you could possibly need for a week long cruise.
  • Guppies: A great area for parents and their kids. Many interactive activities
  • Hair Salon
  • Plenty of Spas
    • Mandara Spa and Salon
    • Spa Salt Room – natural salt caves – halotherapy
    • Spa Snow Room – an ice cold arctic environment
    • Spa Thermal Suite

SHOWS

My favorite thing about cruises is the kind of night time entertainment the ship provides meaning the evening shows. I would say my review for this ship’s shows is probably a 4/5 stars in comparison to the other ships I’ve been on. The best shows I’ve seen on a ship still goes to Allure of the Seas, but this ship definitely provides a great entertainment and truly hats off to the hard working actresses and actors!

  • Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical – $30 per person. This musical is set in a speakeasy and set in the Prohibition Era. My family and I chose not to see this one just because there was a fee and plenty of other free shows to see
  • Jersey Boys – such a great show about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons
  • Havana – set at The Palace of Lights, this show brings you the beat and culture of Cuba (takes me back to my time in the Cuban capital!)
  • The great bands on the ship that play across different bars and lounges
  • Plenty of comedy shows – make sure you book when you get on the ship!

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SHIP ROOM

My family of four booked two separate rooms without ocean views. I always encourage people that if you go on a cruise, try to book rooms with ocean views but obviously if it’s not affordable or available, then it is definitely not the end of the world. I only encourage ocean views for two reasons. One, I think it really helps with orientation to time and feeling as though you are not holed up on the ship. A window or a balcony brings light, views, and a breath of fresh air.

But like I said before, if you can’t get a room with ocean views, then it is completely okay too! My family got non-ocean view rooms and we were completely satisfied. The rooms were on the smaller side (but to be expected with cruise ships), but they were clean. The beds were super comfortable and could be put together or turned into two beds. The TV has a huge list of movies to buy but also a great select of TV channels that plays a cycle of movies depending on genre (action, romance, drama).

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Nothing better than opening the door to your room and finding complimentary champagne!

BARS AND LOUNGES

There are so many bars and lounges on the ship and they are all excellent. So many options to choose from that I didn’t even get a chance to make it to all of them

  • Atrium Bar: This is the center of the ship and where a lot of the main ship’s entertainment occurs. There is a stage area and a movie screen where there are nightly movies and hilarious game shows.
  • Horizon Lounge
  • Humidor Cigar Lounge
  • Maltings Whiskey Bar
  • Mixx Bar
  • Skyline Bar
  • Social Comedy and Night Club
  • Spice H2O – the pool bar
  • Sugarcane Mojito Bar
  • The A-List Bar
  • The Cavern Club
  • The District Brew House
  • Vide Beach Club

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THE FOOD

  • The Local: The 24hr pub experience! The two pros of this place is that it is open 24 hrs, the food is free, and there is a great view of the Atrium Bar stage meaning you can eat and watch entertainment one floor below
  • The Dining Rooms: There are three dining rooms on the ship that you can eat lunch and dinner at. Unlike the other cruises I’ve been on where you had to make reservations ahead of time and to eat at an assigned time, this cruise gives you the liberty to go whenever you would like. Because there are several dining rooms, there is always plenty of space at any time and thus you can dine on your own schedule.
    • Every day, there is a menu posted outside the dining rooms. You don’t have to look at each of the dining rooms’ menus because they are all the same. The menu does change for lunch and dinner every day
    • My mom was a bit disappointed that there was no true formal night with a lobster dish as we have found on other cruise ships

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  • The Garden Café Buffet: I have to say that usually I am not a fan of the cruise buffets. The food usually is sub-par, but I have to say I was mildly impressed with the menu at this buffet. My family and I actually ended up eating here more than the dining rooms because of the expansive options and the ever changing menu.
    • There are hamburger/hot dog stations, Indian food station, a hot food station that changes every day according to the theme, Italian station, cold cuts station, Asian food station, salad station, and a huge dessert station
    • For drinks, there is a bar and non-alcoholic beverages such as tea, coffee, and different flavored waters
  • Room Service: This is complimentary and 24hrs a day but there is a service fee!
  • Restaurants (not complementary)
    • Ocean Blue – Seafood
    • Los Lobos – Mexican
    • Food Republic – Fusion
    • Cagney’s Steakhouse
    • Coco’s – Chocolate, Crepes
    • Dolce Gelato
    • Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea
    • La Cucina – Italian
    • Le Bistro – French
    • Q – Texas BBQ
    • Teppanyaki
    • The Bake Shop
    • Starbucks
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Tea Time Snacks

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Room service juice with my champagne to make mimosas

PROS AND CONS

Pros

  • The last Alaskan cruise I went on seemed catered to adults, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this cruise really catered to family and the young kids.
  • Flexible dining room schedule
  • Plenty of activities on the ship
  • Friendly staff
  • Entertaining game shows that allows most of the ship guests to interact with each other
  • The buffet food is better than the other cruise ships I’ve sailed with
  • They have a package that every room gets on the ship – meaning that your price of the cruise comes with every ship getting a certain amount off at each excursion per port or a drinking ticket in which all the alcoholic beverages were free
  • They were also very big on hygiene and sanitizers

Cons

  • No main lobster dish
  • Not a true formal night on the ship (this is a pro or con depending on what your opinion of this is)
  • Most of the activities on the ship came with a small fee
  • The room service food was definitely not as good in quality as the rest of the food on the ship

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ITINERARY

Detailed itineraries on how to do each port coming soon!

  • Seattle, Washington
  • Ketchikan, Alaska
  • Juneau, Alaska
  • Skagway, Alaska
  • Victoria, BC

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Basically, I highly recommend this cruise as your first way of exploring Alaska!

Happy Traveling!

— Monica

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