By Diane Tierney
The new 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss ship is designed to give you maximum thrills and chills with several industry-first features that are mind-boggling.
The thrills come in two exhilarating forms: the first is Ocean Loops, a waterslide that takes you whooshing through a clear enclosed tube that has a free-fall drop and two loops that…wait for it… hang over the side of the ship. Even if you don’t have the nerve to try it, just watching those who do is entertaining.
The other thrill is a go-kart style race track on the top deck. The track is lined with glass walls so while your navigate hairpin turns and speed along fast straightaways, you can still see the ocean on either side of the ship. The track is about 1,000-feet long (304 metres), and the electric cars go up to 30 mph (48 kmh).
Other impressive features include an open-air Laser Tag area designed to look like an abandoned space station, including a few captured aliens. There are also two pools, six infinity-style hot tubs with views over the side of the ship, and a waterpark for kids. The waterpark has a tandem waterslide with inner tubes to sit on for the ride.
As for providing chills to go along with the thrills, the Bliss is specifically designed for cruising to Alaska with an outdoor, wraparound promenade called the Waterfront. It has spectacular viewpoints to admire glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Wide-open spaces, al fresco dining and outdoor bars ensure you don’t miss any scenic wonders or spectacular wildlife — ranging from bears to bald eagles — from the comfort of a cozy chair. If it’s too chilly outside, you can relax in the 20,000-square-foot Observation Lounge that has 180-degree views for watching the world go by, reading a book, making new friends, or having a nap.
When you’re in need of sustenance, you’ll be spoiled for choice and wish you had a month on board. There are about 16 dining venues that include Norwegian’s famous freestyle dining anytime. The three complimentary dining rooms are called the Manhattan, Taste and Savour and if you prefer to serve yourself, the Garden Cafe has buffet-style options.
More intimate specialty restaurants offer a range of cuisine choices such as the Q Texas Smokehouse (barbecue), Cagney’s Steakhouse, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville at Sea, La Cuchina (Tuscan), Le Bistro (French), Ocean Blue (seafood), Churrascaria Moderno (Brazilian), Los Lobos (Mexican), Food Republic (Asian) and Teppanyaki (Japanese).
To quench your thirst, the District Brew House has more than 50 beer choices. Wine aficionados will enjoy the Cellars, a Michael Mondavi wine bar offering 35 grape varieties including wine selections from vineyards in Tuscany, Washington and Napa Valley. And cocktails are designed by Seattle-based celebrity mixologist and chef Kathy Casey, as well as Miami-based Gabe Orta.
Entertainment is just as juicy as the food. Enjoy a full-scale production of the Broadway hit musical Jersey Boys, a spicy show called Havana produced by a Tony award-winning director, and a Beatles cover band at the Cavern. There are many other lounges for music, as well as a comedy club. A three-deck central hub called Ocean Place is where most of the restaurants, shops and entertainment are located for easy convenience.
To burn off some calories, the spa and fitness centre is enormous and includes 24 treatment rooms, as well as saunas, steam rooms, experience showers, and a hydro-pool. The Snow Room will help you cool off, and the Salt Room claims to improve your breathing.
Stylish staterooms range from solo traveller studios of 100 square feet, up to the exclusive Haven area with villa-style suites up to 1,458 square feet. Haven guests also enjoy a private pool, lounges, bar, courtyard, butlers, concierge privileges and more.
It’s difficult to think of what else the Bliss could possibly offer on any of its 20 decks — it even has a full-size Starbucks.
The Bliss will be home-based in Seattle for summer voyages to Alaska, and will spend winters in the Caribbean and Mexican Riviera. For details visit ncl.com.