Trip Date 05/25/2018
Posted On 08/01/2018 17:28:49
Destinations | Cruises | Review of Norwegian Bliss | Norwegian Bliss Activities & Events | Bliss Freestyle Daily | Norwegian Bliss Entertainment | NCL
This Norwegian Bliss eastbound sailing from Miami to Los Angeles was our 29th cruise together. Although there are positives and negatives about every cruise ship, cruise line and cruise itinerary, our goal is to always make the best of every opportunity that we have to travel.
Of the four cruise lines on which we have traveled together (Celebrity, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean), we have sailed the most number of days with Norwegian. This 15 day Panama Canal transit was our first sailing on an almost brand new ship and our second canal transit. One of the things that we really like about sailing with Norwegian is the more casual atmosphere including "Dress Up or Not" attire on select evenings versus formal or evening chic.
Norwegian Bliss EmbarkationWe arrived at the Port of Miami via rental car shuttle at about 10:55 AM. Dropping off our luggage with a porter took longer than normal due to random and unnecessary reviews of check-in documents of some passengers. Once we reached the passenger terminal entrance line, we quickly proceeded through security with our carry-on baggage.
After completing the required medical questionnaire, we were immediately called up to the Latitudes check-in counter. Our agent confirmed our passport expiration dates, took our headshot photos, issued our key cards and we were off. This was the fastest check-in ever - and for the first time in our Norwegian cruising history (12 previous NCL cruises), we weren't asked to verify the credit card that we had provided during our online check-in.
We waited in the embarkation lounge for only about 15 minutes. Once the boarding process started, passengers needing special assistance were quickly followed by loyal guests with Ambassador and Platinum Plus status. We immediately walked up to deck 16 (yes, we took the stairs everywhere for all 15 days for exercise ... and an excuse to eat more)!
We sat on poolside lounge chairs enjoying the beautiful weather and almost brand new ship. We would have left to see our cabin earlier, however the music performed by Duo Rika kept calling our names! We actually stayed on deck until an hour before the 3:30 PM muster drill.
Since we were some of the first passengers aboard, we were a little concerned that our luggage had yet to be delivered as dinner time was approaching. After checking with the staff, we were assured that delays were common when sailing out of Miami due to the shoreside luggage process. Although we have not experienced delays on previous Miami sailings, our luggage was indeed in our cabin when we returned from dinner and the evening show.
Mandatory Life Boat DrillOur muster station was in the combined venue of Los Lobos, A-List Bar and Cagney's Steakhouse. Although not the poorest organized emergency drill that we have attended, improvements were needed. Due to the large number of people crammed into the area, the layout of the three rooms and the positioning of the staff, it was very hard to hear (much less see) the demonstration. It's a good thing that we are frequent cruisers and already comfortable with the emergency procedures.
Norwegian Bliss CrewOur stateroom attendant Meyrine Libra Weliana from Indonesia took great care of us every day from the first to the last day of the cruise. She was a joy to visit with, always called us by name and did a great job of ensuring that our cabin continued to look brand spanking new.
Since she had been on the Bliss since it was turned over from Meyer Werft, she made recommendations for things to do and places to see that she thought we might like. I always enjoy my evening return to my cabin to see the towel art, and Meyrine did not disappoint with her unique animals. Meyrine was a true Vacation Hero!
Silas Cook (Cruise Director) and his team were excellent. They were always full of energy and gave their all to the activities and events throughout the cruise - at least all that we attended.
We had at least one occasion to visit the Shore Excursions Desk, Cruise Next Office and Guest Services, each located on Deck 6. In general, the staff members were cordial and helpful. It did take a follow-up visit to complete the resolution of a promised $25.00 in onboard credit, however we did not leave the cruise unhappy.
Located on Deck 7, the Box Office staff was friendly and overall had the knowledge needed to answer most questions. Although we did receive some incorrect information, I chalked it up to our sailing being only the second Bliss cruise with paying customers.
Activities and EventsThere was an excellent variety of activities and events every day of our cruise often making it difficult to choose what to do knowing that we would be missing another enticing option. In addition to the Freestyle Daily delivered to our stateroom each evening, Bliss Today hosted by Silas and Mandy (Assistant Cruise Director) promoted a small selection of the day's happenings on stateroom TVs.
- Freestyle Daily Day 1: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 2: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 3: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 4: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 5: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 6: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 7: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 8: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 9: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 10: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 11: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 12: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 13: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 14: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
- Freestyle Daily Day 15: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4
Activities offered daily during our cruise included complimentary activities such as ping pong, water slides and mini-golf (beginning near the end of our cruise) plus Laser Tag and the Race Track both offered for a fee. With so much to do and so little time, we had limited opportunity to join any of the classes (fitness, dance, arts & crafts and language), competitions (poolside, trivia, scavenger hunts and more), art events, seminars or presentations (cooking, spa, cruise ship life and travel to name a few) - and those were just the events with no fees associated! Surprisingly, weekly self-led sabbath services were offered, however there was no meeting room offered for Christian services during our sailing.
Card and Board GamesEach day between 8:00 AM and 2:30 PM, Los Lobos was open for passengers to play card and board games. Although it was advertised in the Freestyle Daily, I skimmed past it since it was listed at 8:00 AM. Near the end of our cruise, I joined a Bunco game hosted in the venue and realized how many people (mostly women) had organized game groups in Los Lobos.
Lecture SeriesDave Roberts, Ph.D. aka Dr. Dave led a popular series of lectures in the Bliss Theater. The first lecture was so popular, in fact, that there was standing room only which required a repeat performance and live feeds of some of his future lectures.
In addition to lecures about Costa Rica, the Maya, stars and sea life that we missed out on later in the cruise, we did attend and enjoy the three interesting lectures about the building of the canal on the days leading up to our transit through Panama:
- The Panama Canal: The First 400 Years
- The Panama Canal: The French Effort
- The Panama Canal: The American Effort
Escape - The Big TopThe "big top" event was not advertised on the NCL website prior to our sailing as I'd seen on a previous NCL cruise, so I didn't know to reserve spaces until I saw an announcement in the Freestyle Daily. Hopefully the lack of information was only due to the fact that the ship was new. The escape room type event was offered four times during our cruise, and did require either signing up at the box office or arriving early to wait in line with hopes of no shows.
We had a blast putting our brains together to use the Escape - The Big Top clues to solve the puzzles. I was elected group leader and I'm proud to say that our team of six was able to solve all of the clues before time ran out ... and just barely before any of our competitors. We all now have a t-shirt in our collection with the slogan "Feel free to call me champ".
Game ShowsIn our quest to experience as much of the new Norwegian Bliss as we possibly could, I realized that we did not make it to any of the game shows. Although we typically enjoy seeing (or maybe even participating) in a few game shows while cruising, we were never in the right place at the right. Standard shows like Newlywed, Not so Newlywed and Battle of the Sexes were played, as were some new games like Wheel of Ill Will and Drop Zone.
Late Night PartiesSilas, Mandy and the rest of the cruise director staff worked hard to make the late night parties fun for all - and they danced their hearts out almost every night! With so many other activities, our goal was variety, but we did make it to several parties - a first for us. Whether DJ or live, the music was good, the atmosphere was always fun, the venues worked well, we had a great time and were happy that we attended - even if not for the entire evening:
- 70's Disco Groove Dance Party in Spice H2O
- Awesome 80's Party in Spice H2O
- Nashville Night and Lights featuring Camille Ray on Pool Deck
- 50's & 60's Rock-n-Roll with Siglo in Q Texas Smokehouse
- Siglo Under the Stars on Pool Deck
Cruise Critic / Facebook Group Activities and EventsWith over 340 pages of chatter on Cruise Critic, this was the most active roll call in which I have participated. Although Scott and I didn't book our cruise until mid-April, I began eavesdropping on the roll call in March. Tina, the thread starter, worked hard on both Cruise Critic and Facebook to ensure that everyone felt welcome. There was a variety of activities organized between the two groups, however, due to our late reservation, some were already closed.
Meet and GreetThe Bliss officers and many staff members, along with our Cruise Critic coordinator Tina, hosted a fabulous Meet and Greet in The Manhattan Room. Compared to others in which we have participated, this was the most well attended and planned. Tina delivered reminder postcards to requesting members and presented thank-you gifts to the ship's officers in attendance.
The two large surprise cakes served courtesy of the staff were a yummy treat as well!
Left, Center, RightAlthough we only had the opportunity to play Left, Center, Right once due to conflicting plans, with 25 players it was a fun game. The $75.00 pot was bigger than in the previous two games that I had played, and even though neither of us won, the nominal $6.00 investment for both of us made for a fun hour.
Cabin CrawlWe really enjoyed the Bliss Open House on our second sea day. With all participants being provided a list of 7 staterooms available to view in a one hour period, it was organized differently than others that I've joined, however it worked well. We made it to all cabins and had an opportunity to see:
- Aft-facing balcony on deck 10
- Mid-ship balcony on deck 12
- Studio & studio lounge on deck 12
- The Haven aft-facing penthouse with balcony on deck 12
- Mid-ship mini-suite with balcony on deck 15
- The Haven spa suite with balcony on deck 15
- The Haven 2-bedroom family villa with balcony on deck 18
BuncoI always enjoy playing Bunco, yet this was my first cruise to join in on a game - in fact, it was the first cruise on which I've ever seen it played. As usual, it was lots of fun (I even won a prize for last bunco), and I just may consider being a Bunco organizer on one of my upcoming cruises.
Showtime and Musical EntertainmentOne of our favorite things about cruising is the variety of entertainment included in the price of a cruise. Cruising on the Bliss was no exception - in fact, the variety of shows and music was among the largest that we have ever experienced.
The downside to the big variety was that many venues were quite small. Some also required advance reservations or arriving 30+ minutes before the start in order to get any seating at all. While my preference is not to have to make reservations for cruise ship entertainment, I can understand the need to do so when on a large ship. Although the box office was the only means of reservations at the start of the cruise, other options including the digital touchscreens on most decks and in cabin iTVs began accepting reservations as the cruise got underway.
Had a complete list of entertainment been available at the start of the cruise, it might have been easier to make a plan for our "must sees". (For example, if we had known which shows would be offered twice, it would have been easier to decide which night we preferred to attend based on other competing shows.) I realize that this would not appeal to some, and I'm not even sure that I want to do that much pre-planning, but since reservations were required for some shows anyway, it might be helpful.
ShowtimeThe headline entertainment that we attended in the Bliss Theater was, in almost every case, excellent. We appreciated the consistent timing of most main theater shows (7:30 PM and 9:30 PM), as it made planning for dining and other evening entertainment easier. When cruising, we often plan our evening around the main theater shows. During this sailing, however, we attempted to see a bigger variety of shows so we passed on some main theater performances including the comedy hypnotist and comedy magic. Those shows that we did attend included:
- First Night Show (Emceed by Cruise Director Silas, the well done show featured a song and dance sneak peak of the upcoming shows plus entertaining information about kids programs, adult activities and musical entertainment available onboard.)
- Uptown (We really enjoyed the first performance by the energetic trio of young male vocalists featuring
Motown and soul, however were disappointed in the encore several days later. We had been told by Silas that the
second show would have completely new material. Although there was a minor variation, it was basically a repeat
- Havana (This reservations required production show offered on two evenings showcasing Cuban song and dance ended up being one of my least favorite shows aboard.)
- Jenene Caramielo (In our opinion, both shows featuring this female vocalist singing music from genres including broadway, pop, jazz, country and opera were outstanding.)
- Jersey Boys (Although we had previously seen the broadway musical, we still enjoyed the performance telling the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.)
- LA Cast of Beatlemania (The performance on our final evening began with a selection of Beatle's hits from the three eras performed earlier during the cruise. The traditional Norwegian finale of "You Are Norwegian" featuring the Bliss officers, staff and crew rounded out the evening.)
I came to realize that, at least on NCL mega ships, gone are the days of multiple production shows during a 15 day cruise. With shows being offered on two nights (presumably so more passengers have the opportunity to enjoy them) and longer, flashier shows like Havana and Jersey Boys, my favorite production shows have gone by the wayside. Oh well!
Happy Hour Prohibition: The Musical, was also shown throughout our cruise. While we did not attend the fee based performance, we heard mixed reviews from those who did - more negative than positive. It did seem that most comments were from passengers who disliked the taste of the five prohibition era cocktails served during the show.
BeatlemaniaWe are both big fans of the music of the Beatles so we were excited to be able to attend performances featuring their music in The Cavern Club. Three different shows were offered four times each (2 performances on each of 2 evenings), yet most shows still had an overpacked venue. There was no indication prior to the first evening of performances that a repeat would be offered, therefore we stood against the speakers with absolutely no view of the stage for the entire show. This was another example of how an overview of entertainment for the entire cruise would have helped with planning. Fortunately, we made it to all three performances (The Early Years, Sargent Pepper's and Abbey Road), and although the band was not our favorite Beatles cover band, we still enjoyed the music.
Levity Entertainment GroupAlthough we made reservations to attend three shows featuring the stand-up comedians in the Social Comedy and Nightclub, we ended up only attending two. Each show had a host (Tim Homayoon or Allison Weber) that started with about 15 minutes of comedy. The hosts were followed by the evening's main performer with another 30 minutes of stand-up comedy. We saw Jim McDonald at our first show and Mark Klein for late night comedy recommended for those 18+ years old.
While the shows were enjoyable, the venue was not the best for visibility - unless you wanted to get there early enough to have your pick of any seat in the house. We weren't willing to give up an extra 45 minutes for a short comedy routine - especially when others said that shows with the same comedians were duplicates. (Again, if we had a list of shows and performers at the time that we made our reservations, we could have ensured that we reserved seats for different comedians.)
Daytime Poolside MusicIn addition to music provided by the Bliss DJ, we listened to both Duo Rika and Phil and Keysha when they performed on the poolside stage throughout the cruise. We love having live poolside music and, in our opinion, there is never enough of it!
Evening Live MusicWith fewer production shows and most main theater performances offered four times (two nights with two performances each), there were repeat performances on nearly half of our cruise evenings. In many cases, we filled the time that we were accustomed to watching production shows with live music! We spent lots of time listening to music provided by Duo Rika (a Latin Duo), Phil and Keysha (another duo) and our all time favorite cruise ship band Siglo (rock). Along with Tatiana Alekseeva (on piano and vocals), the four musical acts rotated among venues including Sugarcane, The Cavern, Q, the Atrium and on some occasions the Observation Lounge and Pool Deck.
Both duos had some theme nights, some "by request" nights and some with a mix. We really enjoyed Phil and Keysha early in the cruise, however we did start to tire of their emphasis on repetitive hits of Elvis and Tina Turner. In addition to their rotating performances, Siglo was also featured in several special events including Siglo Under the Stars (a late night dance party on deck) and Rockaoke with Siglo. Their talent truly shined during Rockaoke when passengers joined the band on stage for a live karaoke style performance. The band took requests from the audience and immediately played them from memory. The guitarist amazed the audience (and even fellow band members) with a tremendous lengthy impromptu guitar solo.
We spent some time listening to the music and humor of the Piano Man Jim Badger in The District Brewhouse. We enjoyed his singing, and although his personality allowed him to get away with being funny and a little rude between songs, our preference would have been to have a little more music and a little less talk.
Although we don't listen to country music regularly, the Camille Ray Country Band who often performed in Q came highly recommended. We had an opportunity to enjoy the group both in Q as well as during Nashville Night and Lights on the pool deck.
While we never stopped by to see the size of the crowd, late night dancing with music by the DJ was also offered on most nights in the Social.
Crank Up the SilenceNCL's silent disco was offered on five nights spread throughout the itinerary. Upon entering the Social Comedy and Nightclub for Crank Up the Silence, passengers were given adjustable wireless headphones. With four stations each featuring music from a different era (70's, 80's, 90's and today), it was fun to look around the room and watch people dancing at the same time but to a different beat! Although the event required reservations, during the night that we attended, there was far more space and available headphones than passengers, so anyone who came by was welcome to participate.
Broadcasts on the Big ScreenAlthough we only saw small parts of two of the movies offered, there were numerous movies broadcast either in the late afternoon or late at night (and sometimes both). During the first 10 days of the cruise, all movies were shown either on the Atrium screen or in the Bliss Theater. Following the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan which was offered on the deck 16 big screen, Movies under the Stars were also offered on a couple of nights late in the cruise.
Latitudes Rewards Platinum Plus Benefits & DiscountsWe do enjoy taking advantage of some benefits offered to us in recognition of being regular cruisers with Norwegian. Our Platinum Plus status offered the following:
- 1 bottle of sparkling wine (I've never heard a positive comment about this horrible tasting champagne! We have found that the only way that we can actually drink it is when we mix it with the Vitality flavored waters offered in the Garden Cafe. Comments from many others indicate that they either throw it away or leave it for the next passenger.)
- 2 bottles of water per member (nice to have for shore excursions)
- Chocolate covered strawberries (always a welcome treat)
- Dinner for 2 at Cagney's or Le Bistro with a bottle of wine (dining at Cagney's is one of our favorite
Dining at Cagney's Steakhouse
- Dinner for 2 at Moderno or La Cucina (As Moderno was not offered on the Bliss, we had a choice of
some other specialty restaurants including Q Texas Smokehouse where we enjoyed a bbq dinner and dessert.)
Dinner & Dessert at Q Texas Smokehouse
- 60 free internet minutes per member (We find that, combined with my T-Mobile data service that we can use in most ports, we survive just fine on the complimentary minutes.)
- 1 complimentary bag of laundry (Although this is usually a great benefit for us, since we did not combine this cruise with any other travel, we did not have a need for laundry service.)
- Exclusive cocktail party (Since we didn't purchase drink packages, we enjoyed having a couple of cocktails on one
evening. My only complaint is that we already had dinner reservations for the evening of the party. We attempted to
change our reservations, however were not pleased with the available times. Luckily we learned that there
were 2 cocktail parties, so we joined the one which we were not invited to.)
Mudslides at Exclusive Event - Yum!
- Dinner with officers (This is usually a fun evening with other guests as well as an officer of the ship. We were seated in The Manhattan Room with 8 other guests and the Shore Excursion Manager at our end of the table. The Gift Shop Manager was seated at the other end of a very long table, however we did not hear one word that he said with the poor table set-up.)
- Behind-the scenes ship tour (Our 15 day cruise had only 5 port days, so there were plenty of sea days on which the tour could be scheduled. Unfortunately, the tour was offered during the one and only morning that we passed through the Panama Canal - the main reason that most passengers selected the itinerary. While the canal does have two sets of locks, and we only had to miss part of the transit through the Agua Clara locks, I was very disappointed with the timing of this benefit offered to loyal guests.)
- Concierge service (With the ease of making reservations before sailing, on our iTV or on the digital touchscreens throughout the ship, we have never taken advantage of this service. Maybe they could have helped us change a dinner reservation or find a time to play laser tag? We'll have to try this service on a future cruise!)
- Priority restaurant and entertainment seating (This is another benefit that we have never taken advantage of. I'll have to learn more about this for future NCL cruises, however if the entertainment seating is in the same area as the seating reserved for Haven guests, I would rather arrive early at the theater in order to have a better view of the stage.)
- Priority tender tickets (We do appreciate this benefit, however we fortunately did not have any tender ports on this cruise.)
- Priority disembarkation (We typically prefer to enjoy a leisurely morning on our final day, so most often we don't utilize this benefit. As we had booked an NCL transfer following this cruise, the benefit did not apply.)
- Onboard discounts (We each saved $8.85 on a shore excursion, however did not take advantage of the discounts on photos, spa services or logo merchandise.)
- Free artwork at art auctions (On prior sailings I have not seen a difference in the free artwork offered to Latitudes members versus that given to every other art auction attendee.)
- Onboard Latitudes Rewards representative (Other than to learn the time for the cocktail party and make reservations for the behind-the-scenes tour which had to be made on day one, I haven't found that the representatives provide any different service to latitudes members than to cruisers on their first NCL sailing.)
Ports of CallI mistakenly thought that, since we booked this cruise at the last minute (26 days before sailing), the ports of call would not change (except in the event of an extreme emergency such as a natural disaster). Needless to say, I thought wrong! The following excerpt of a message from Vivian Ewart, Senior Vice President, Passenger Services was forwarded to us from our travel agent:
Due to a berthing conflict, we have made a change to the ship's itinerary. Norwegian Bliss will call on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on May 21, 2018 and Mazatlan, Mexico on May 22, 2018."
There were two interesting things about the message:
- It made no mention of the elimination of one of our planned ports of call, Puerto Chiapas, Mexico.
- It's a little hard to believe that a berthing conflict for a minimum of 2 ports was discovered only 17 days before embarkation.
- Sunday, May 13, 2018: Cartagena, Columbia (7:00 AM - 2:00 PM)
- Monday, May 14, 2018: Daylight Panama Canal Transit
- Wednesday, May 16, 2018: Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica (7:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
- Friday, May 18, 2018: Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (8:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
- Saturday, May 19, 2018: Puerto Chiapas, Mexico (8:00 AM - 1:00 PM)
- Monday, May 21, 2018: Manzanillo, Mexico (10:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
- Tuesday, May 22, 2018: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (8:00 AM - 5:00 PM)
- Saturday, May 19, 2018: At Sea
- Monday, May 21, 2018: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (8:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
- Tuesday, May 22, 2018: Mazatlan, Mexico (8:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
With the Bliss being such a large ship, I have to wonder if the ship's size had anything to do with the port changes. We primarily docked in container ports at the ports which we did visit.
Shore ExcursionsWhile there are advantages of purchasing excursions through the Shore Excursions Desk, we find that Norwegian's price markup is among the highest in the cruise industry (at least compared to other lines on which we've sailed).
Cartagena, ColumbiaWe were happy with our decision to take a 3 hour city tour offered by a local guide as we were leaving the port area in Cartagena. At a cost of $20.00 per person, we enjoyed a small private tour with 6 others. Other than one additional stop that we made to enjoy the views from El Convento de La Popa, our itinerary was identical to that of the 3 1/2 hour Colonial Cartagena tour offered by NCL at $59.00 per person.
Puntarenas, Costa RicaAlthough the size of our group (33) was larger than we prefer, $80.10 per person (after discounts) was a great value for the best zip line adventure that we have ever joined. We had the opportunity to cross 25 cables (22 by zip lining, 2 by rappelling and 1 by crossing a hanging bridge) on our excursion with Adventure Park Costa Rica which lasted nearly 4 hours (excluding transportation time). Participants on The Original Zipline Adventure, a 4 1/2 hour excursion offered by NCL at $109.00 per person (including a complimentary bottle of water), only had the opportunity to cross 8 cables during their one hour in the forest.
Puerto Quetzal, GuatemalaWe actually joined the Norwegian Cruise Line Antigua on Your Own shore excursion - with our loyalty discount, the cost was $50.15 and it gave us peace of mind that we wouldn't miss our 5:30 PM all aboard time. (Antigua was a 90 minute ride in each direction, and we had read that, depending on traffic and transfers between local buses, it could take as long as 2 1/2 hours using public transportation.)
Puerto Vallarta, MexicoWe spent just over $31.00 including round trip transportation via Uber to the Romantic Zone in Puerto Vallarta and lunch / drinks for 3 people. The three tours offered by NCL that were most comparable to the day we spent on our own ranged from $25.00 (included beverages and tequila tasting) to $79.00 (for lunch, a tour and entertainment at a hacienda followed by a visit to the Malecon and vicinity) per person.
Mazatlan, MexicoNCL offered a Stone Island Beach Getaway priced at $79.00 per person including a 25 minute catamaran cruise, a tractor ride to the beach, 3 hours to enjoy Stone Island (including a horse back ride or a horse driven carriage ride) and lunch. Although we missed out on the catamaran and tractor ride, we experienced traveling to the island via a $2.00 round trip launcha (the same way that the Mazatlan locals get there). I feel confident that, had we wanted lunch or a ride on a horse or in a carriage, the cost would have been far less than the $154.00 that we saved! Plus, we had plenty of time to also explore Old Mazatlan on our own which would have been impossible had we joined the full day excursion.
CruiseNextI really enjoyed being on an "almost inaugural" sailing, and we seriously considered booking the true inaugural sailing aboard the Norwegian Encore. The 2019 transatlantic sailing begins in Southampton, England on November 2, 2019 and sails to Miami, FL with one port of call in the Azores. After all, with the two Cruise Next deposits that we purchased on our Norwegian Sun sailing earlier this year, we would not have been required to make an additional deposit! By the end of the cruise, we talked ourselves out of making a reservation. Although being on a brand new ship would be a plus, we were really not happy with the cost based on the itinerary with only one port visit.
DisembarkationAt $20.00 per person, we booked an airport transfer through NCL shortly after we reserved our cabin. Although we might have been able to save a few dollars had we traveled through Uber or Lyft, we knew that we would be competing with many other passengers with the same idea.
Our scheduled disembarkation time was 9:15 AM, however due to immigration delays at the port, we did not exit the ship until just after 9:50 AM. We found our luggage and although the lines to speak with an immigration officer were quite long, they moved fairly quickly. Following our short customs interview, we exited the building and were in search of the line for our bus transfer before 10:30 AM. Although we arrived at LAX in just under an hour from our 11:03 AM departure time, loading of the buses was quite disorganized.
The Rest of the Bliss StoryFor part one of our review of the Norwegian Bliss, take a look at Norwegian Bliss: Review of Public Areas, Our Stateroom & Dining.
Favorite Cruise ShipsHere are two questions for you:
- Based on activities, events and entertainment, what cruise ship is your favorite and why does it rank as your number one?
- Based only on loyalty club benefits, what cruise line is at the top of your list, and why?
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