Norwegian Bliss: what a sweet ride!

It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it. Bruce Piper takes a trip onboard the brand new Norwegian Bliss.

My mission — which I gladly accepted — was to check out the brand new Norwegian Bliss, which has just commenced her inaugural season cruising weekly voyages to Alaska, homeporting out of Seattle. And while the scenery is spectacular, so is the array of onboard dining, entertainment and activity options aboard this stunning 4,000 passenger newbuild.

But first things first. As I perused the huge array of eateries on board — there are no-less than 20 outlets offering a staggering variety of options — one in particular caught my eye. Could this be what I’ve always dreamed of? Yes — Coco’s is an a-la-carte dining venue which only serves dessert! Located on deck six, Coco’s has something to satisfy any sweet tooth, from simple pralines through to decadent milkshakes with all the trimmings, crepes and even a personal chocolate fountain. Challenge accepted!

Bliss is Norwegian Cruise Line’s 16th vessel and reflects the company’s ongoing commitment to providing great holidays. Our inaugural voyage — a two-night “cruise to nowhere” out of Los Angeles — carried a mixture of travel trade, media and consumers, and although everyone was keen to explore the ship, its clever design meant it didn’t seem crowded. Flagship family attractions include an on-board go-kart track, a laser-tag arena and video arcade, as well as two thrilling waterslides and an aqua park on the pool deck. There’s also an array of age-appropriate kids clubs offering a host of exciting activities for tots to teens.

But there’s plenty for adults too. Those seeking the ultimate in serenity can book staterooms in the exclusive ‘Haven’ where there are penthouses, villas, a private restaurant and a concierge. The onboard spa is the biggest I’ve ever seen, with 24 treatment rooms, a full-service hair salon and barber shop along with a huge “thermal suite’ which has a steam room, sauna, salt room, therapy pool and even a “snow room”. Passengers can buy passes to the thermal suite, with a limited number of guests given access on each sailing. The onboard fitness centre features the latest in treadmills, ellipticals, rowing and weight machines, and offers regular yoga, aerobics and spin classes to work off all that delicious cruise cuisine. There’s also Spice H20, an adults-only daytime escape featuring hot tubs and a soothing waterfall feature, which transforms into a nightclub in the evening.

Broadway-style shows are becoming a staple of onboard entertainment, and Norwegian Bliss is no exception, with our cruise featuring the blockbuster Jersey Boys. Also making its world debut on Bliss is HAVANA!, a musical which celebrates Cuban culture, created by Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Warren Carlyle. Another performance, ‘Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical‘ takes guests back to the early 20th century for a “rowdy good time” complete with a selection of Prohibition-era specialty cocktails. There’s plenty of live music, with bands playing on the pool deck as well as in several other venues across the ship including ‘The Cavern’, a replica of a venue in Liverpool, England featuring Beatles hits. For those wanting a flutter there’s an on-board casino, and to spend your winnings a huge array of retail outlets offering perfume, watches, clothing, handbags, artworks and more.

But for me, one of the best features of Bliss is the observation lounge, a huge, comfortable area offering sweeping vistas of the surrounds — perfect for relaxing while you watch the world go by. Bliss has been cleverly designed with a huge amount of glass providing views from scores of vantage points across the ship, giving it an open, airy feel. The design extends to several of the eateries which offer al fresco dining options, with the onboard cuisine including French, Italian, Indian, BBQ, steak, Mexican and more.