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Main | Flying With Faber: Healthy, Delicious Cuisine Prepared with Waterfall, Alaska Fish »
Monday
Jul092018

Cruising On The Norwegian Bliss

By Stuart J. Faber

Just this past month, the newly constructed 168,000-ton Norwegian Bliss became the largest vessel ever to pass through the recently expanded Panama Canal. It launched from the German shipyards where it was constructed, and set sail for Seattle. En route, the captain decided to pull into San Pedro, California to pick me up along with 2,000 of my intimate friends for its inaugural passenger voyage. For a few days, we cruised along the California-Mexican coast. So let’s call this article “Cruising with Faber.” 

Photo by Andrea SugranesThis magnificent vessel is a monster of a ship. It’s 994 feet long – I’ve landed my airplane on runways this size. Across the 126-foot wide superstructure, 20 decks are stacked with 2,000 staterooms and just about everything else you could imagine at a mega-resort. The staff of 1,700 computes to almost one staff person for every two of the 4,000 guests this ship can accommodate. 

Whatever your cruise plans are for the western hemisphere, the Bliss should be your choice. There are seven-day trips to Alaska from Seattle, seven-day Eastern Caribbean trips from Miami, seven-day trips from Los Angeles to the Mexican Rivera, five-day trips to Vancouver, plus trips from the Panama Canal, Los Angeles or Miami and seven-day Bahamas and Florida trips from New York. 

Sleeping Accommodations Like no Other 

Mini-Suite. Photo by Andrea SugranesThe collection of 2,043 staterooms provides endless options. Accommodations range from suites and villas, courtyard penthouses, spa suites, connection suites, mini-suites with balconies, studios and inside rooms. On decks 17 through 19 are the ultra-private Haven Collection. This collection includes a level of privacy, personal service and an array of complimentary amenities that are beyond any definition of luxury. The Haven includes a private restaurant and cocktail bar and a dedicated concierge desk.  

Special benefits also include priority embarkation and disembarkation, priority boarding of tenders to shore excursions, in-suite cappuccino machines, special linens, pillows and bathrobes. 

In the center of The Haven is a two-story courtyard with a retractable roof, private pool and private spa and sauna. 

The 1,458-square-foot Deluxe Owner’s Suite is the ship’s most lavish. These suites have a living and dining area, wet bar, guest bedroom, floor to ceiling windows and spacious balconies. 

There are 24 Haven 2-bedroom family suites, each between 530- and 620-square- feet. Floor to ceiling windows and a huge master bedroom with private baths are a few of the amenities. 

There is a collection of suites outside the Haven with Haven access. A group of 14 penthouses with aft views sleep up to four. Five forward facing suites sleep three to four guests. 

Staterooms and suites outside The Haven range in size from 100- to 400-plus- square feet. A group of 74 mini-suites amidships with easy access to everything, some connecting, are great for families. Spa balcony and spa mini-suites feature a spa decor and complimentary access to the Spa Thermal Suite. There are 1,088 balcony staterooms that have great views from a private balcony. These staterooms have plush decor in soothing cool tones with a sofa, vanity area and coffee maker. There are a variety of bed combinations, some doubles or kings to queen-size beds.  

The 308 mini-suites have two lower beds that convert to a king-size bed with bedding to accommodate two additional guests. Perfect for families are the connecting balcony staterooms. The 111 ocean view staterooms, adorned with large windows, sleep up to five guests. The ship’s 374 inside staterooms feature two lower beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed. The 82 studios are specially designed and priced for the solo traveler. Several connecting studios are also available.  

Things to Do 

Casino. Photo by Ximena TellezThere are more activities and recreation venues on this vessel than in the most comprehensive resort on land. How about a racetrack with electric cars? Or, laser tag with state-of-the-art laser guns in a space station themed park? Guests can explore the Aqua Park which features two waterslides including a double-loop slide that extends over the side of the ship.  There are two spacious pools, six infinity hot tubs and a Kid’s Aqua Park. 

Older kids can hang out at the Entourage – a chic adult lounge without adults. Kids of all ages can visit the video arcade. Toddlers have a dedicated space with a Guppies playroom, plus other attractions.  Much older kids, such as those my age, can also visit the casino, which has slot machines and table games. 

The fitness center on this ship is one of the best I’ve experienced – even compared with those in some large resorts. The gym has an impressive selection of cardio and weight machines, plus a generous collection of free weights. The fitness center also offers TRX, Fight Club, Ryde Cycle and an aerobics room. 

The Mandara Spa offers the ultimate pampering experience with 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon and barbershop and a thermal suite. The suite has 17 heated lounges. Or, try the therapy pool, steam room, whirlpool, dry sauna, sanarium or salt room. You can heat up in one of these facilities, then proceed to the cold snow room. 

Dining 

The Bliss is filled with every imaginable choice of cuisine. The Garden Cafe, a complimentary dining room, is the signature restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Floor-to-ceiling windows yield expansive views while you savor the food. You can graze from station to station and select made-to-order omelets and waffles for breakfast. For lunch or dinner, there are pastas, pizza, and a carving station with roast pork, prime rib and other meats and poultry selections. One lunch featured a seafood extravaganza – platters and platters of fresh crab legs, lobster tails, oysters and clams. 

Savor is another complimentary dining room with traditional cuisine. Across from Savor is Taste with a menu that changes daily. The Manhattan Room is an additional complimentary restaurant. Reminiscent of a private New York dining club, lovers can dine in a romantic setting, listing to music and dance between courses. 

The Local, also complimentary, serves American classics in a relaxed pub atmosphere. Open 24 hours, they prepare comfort food with cold beer on tap. 

On top of the ship, The Haven Restaurant is a private fine dining spot exclusive to guests of The Haven. 

Q cooks up BBQ selections. This attractive restaurant offers smoked brisket, ribs, chicken, sausages and sides such as pinto beans and corn on the cob. After dinner, the restaurant transforms into a Western club with a dance floor, live band and cocktail service. 

Cagney’s Steakhouse serves the finest cuts of Angus Beef. The dining room is a classic steakhouse design with wood tones and comfortable leather booths. 

Food Republic is a modern, upscale food emporium with selections from Asia to Europe and the Mediterranean. 

La Cucina is fashioned after the Tuscan countryside and serves outstanding Italian cuisine. 

For elegant French cuisine, a dinner at Le Bistro is like dining at an elegant cafe in Paris. Selections include escargot drizzled in garlic butter and coq au van. 

Los Lobos is an upscale restaurant that serves authentic Mexican cuisine. Classic dishes include enchiladas de mole, al pastor tacos and guacamole prepared tableside. 

Ocean Blue offers the freshest fish and seafood selections from just-caught ingredients. You can also obtain seafood takeaway items at Ocean Blue on the Waterfront. 

Dine within a traditional Japanese rock garden with bamboo plants and bonsai trees while enjoying cuisine prepared by knife-wielding Teppanyaki chefs at Teppanyaki Restaurant. 

A number of snack restaurants are scattered throughout the ship. Coco’s is for chocolate and ice cream lovers. Starbucks is for coffee lovers. The Bake Shop serves pralines, cupcakes and other treats. Dolce Gelato speaks for itself. 

Bars and Lounges 

If you enjoy bar hopping, the Bliss is the place to be. Wine bars, special cocktails and handcrafted margaritas abound. The Atrium serves spirits while showing a movie. The Humidor Cigar Lounge has an excellent selection of stogies. The District Brew House has a keg room and two-dozen beers on tap, plus gastro-pub eats. The Cellars Mondavi Family Wine Bar focuses on wine tasting and education. 

Still not tired or satiated? Stop by H2O, have a cocktail and dance under the stars. Sip a mojito at the island-themed Sugarcane Mojito Bar or relax at the Vibe Beach Club with stunning ocean views, an oversized hot tub and cushy chaise lounges. 

Maltings Whiskey Bar is for whiskey aficionados. The Cavern Club is inspired by the Liverpool Club, where the Beatles performed and the swanky social comedy and nightclub features stand-up comics. 

Entertainment 

The ship has a giant theater. We attended a fabulous musical production, !Havana!, which is a nostalgic celebration of Cuba in the 1950s when that country was one of the leaders in Latin jazz music and culture. This production is an extravaganza of show-stopping songs, seductive rhythms and sultry dances.  

Jersey Boys goes behind the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and follows four blue-collar kids working their way from the gritty streets of Newark to the heights of stardom. You will enjoy such hits as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry, ” “Oh, What a Night,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Can’t Take my Eyes Off You.” 

Another unique performance is the “Happy Hour Prohibition Musical,” a production that will take you back to the 1919 Prohibition era. The scene is set in a New Orleans Speakeasy, Mahogany Hall. You will enjoy tales of bootleggers and choreography accompanied by some of the era’s most famous tunes, such as “Let’s Misbehave” and “Makin’ Whoopee.” Prohibition era specialty cocktails are served during the performance. 

What we loved about this majestic, 4,000-passenger world-class ship is that it offers so much more than a 4,000-person city. And yet, you can seek out your cozy corner and feel virtually secluded. Since there are so many attractions aboard this vessel, seldom will you be faced with any huge crowds. 

On the Norwegian Bliss you can board the ship, unpack your bags, stuff them away and never worry about anything for the duration of your cruise. 

For more information on this ship, call 866/234-7350 or visit www.ncl.com

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