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The new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss, part of Norwegian’s Breakaway Plus class of ships, brings together the most successful elements from the cruise line’s North America- and Asia-based ships.
This is evident in everything from its multilevel go-kart racetrack — the largest at sea and a concept first launched in Asia on Norwegian Joy — to an onboard production of “Jersey Boys,” the Tony Award-winning musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons.
The Four Seasons’ frontman, Frankie Valli, was onboard Bliss in early May for the ship’s arrival in New York City, as was the vessel’s godfather and talk show celebrity Elvis Duran, who broadcasted his May 4 radio show from the ship.
Duran clearly enjoyed Bliss’ features, including the nearly 1,000-foot go-kart track, which is 40 percent bigger than sister ship Norwegian Joy’s. The two-person electric karts race 10 at a time and have speeds that reach up to 30 miles per hour.
They’re silent, but sounds of a racecar engine play through speakers in the headrest. The passengers on our cruise were conservative in negotiating the hairpin curves, and many drivers rode with children.
The open-air laser tag course, which was designed to resemble a space station, was another inheritance from Joy and a popular option during day and night with both adults and kids.
A Norwegian first on Bliss is the full-size Starbucks (which was fitting, as the ship’s home port is Seattle). It was always crowded on our cruise, and guests brought coffee and goodies back into the ship’s atrium for comfortable seating. The new and dangerously tempting Coco’s is designed for diners who believe that dessert should come before dinner.
Liquid chocolate pours from a fountain at the entrance, and the space serves crepes, pralines, chocolate and huge Mad Milk Shakes that can crumble the resolve of even the most steadfast dieter.
Also very popular was Food Republic’s global-fusion cuisine, although it’s very easy to over-order when using individual iPads to click through the menu items from destinations such as Peru, Japan and China.
Meanwhile, the Texas barbecue smokehouse, Q, draws diners with its live country music and ribs, chicken and sausages smoked over hickory, oak and pecan wood. The buffet also has some extremely creative touches, including a “brittle bar,” which looks like exotic layers of rock but is in fact slabs of caramel, chocolate and vanilla brittle stuffed with cashews, almonds and more. Upon seeing it, I went to my table to get my camera, and by the time I got back it was demolished completely.
Norwegian’s luxury Haven accommodation option has been expanded onboard Bliss, with 50 luxury suites inside this ship-within-a-ship. Thirty more are located outside the complex but still have access to its privileges, which include a private bar and restaurant and the two-deck Haven Courtyard. There is also an observation lounge wrapped in glass that frames the Alaskan scenery the ship is headed toward.
Bliss, with her Wyland Alaska wildlife hull painting, will sail to Alaska weekly from Seattle this summer, calling in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. After the Alaska season, the ship will offer West Coast cruises from seven-day Mexican Riviera itineraries to 14-day cruises from Los Angeles before spending the winter in Miami and the Caribbean.
The DetailsNorwegian Cruise Linewww.ncl.com