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Friday,  May 24, 2024 4:17 AM 

A taste of Bliss with Norwegian Cruise Line

A taste of Bliss with Norwegian Cruise Line
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

For several hundred cruise passengers, it was a weekend of bliss in New York – Norwegian Bliss, that is!

Norwegian Cruise Line brought its newest ship to the Big Apple for a special inaugural weekend ahead of its first season at sea, sailing to Alaska and the Caribbean with select voyages to the Mexican Riviera beginning in June.

PAX was on hand to get a close-up look at the Bliss and all of its innovative features geared toward cruisers of all ages.

IMG_6169.JPGAnd they're off! Drivers hit the race track on NCL BLiss

Entertainment at sea

Among the many entertainment options available, perhaps most notable is the Bliss’ inclusion of a two level electric-car race track. At 1,000 feet, the competitive track is the longest at sea, and while the cars travel at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, the track features four speed settings for novice, intermediate and advanced drivers. It’s easy to forget you’re on the top deck of a cruise ship while speeding around the track’s many turns!

The Bliss also features an open-air laser tag course, open both day and night for guests looking to test their stealth skills in a science-fiction setting.

For both the race track and laser tag, be sure to reserve a spot early in the day as both attractions fill up quickly!

For guests looking to make a splash, the ship’s Aqua Park features two multi-story waterslides, including the high-speed Ocean Loops free fall slide and the tandem Aqua Racer slide, which allows guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet.

Looking to unwind with a show afterwards? For its inaugural season, the Bliss is offering two productions – a full Broadway performance of the hit musical Jersey Boys (during the inaugural weekend, original Jersey Boy Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons was on hand for a meet and greet) and a new production titled Havana!, following the drama centred around a Cuban night club.

IMG_6140.JPGServing up the jalapeno mojito Sugarcane Mojito Bar

Wining and dining

On the restaurant front, the Bliss features several NCL favourites including Cagney’s Steakhouse and Teppanyaki, plus new dining concepts such as Coco’s, a new à la carte dessert venue; Texas Smokehouse, a barbecue restaurant serving up southern fare; and Los Lobos, bringing a taste of Mexico to sea which PAX got to try first-hand. Mexican cuisine is served to perfection here with fresh ingredients, from fish tacos and carne asada to top-shelf guacamole which your table will not be able to get enough of!

For guests looking to unwind with a beverage, there’s something for every palette, from The Cellars Wine Bar to the Sugarcane Mojito Bar. While it’s hard to pick a favourite, the latter features a jalapeno mojito which is not to be missed.

DSC_1413.JPGInside The Haven

Accommodations for all

With a wide traveller demographic in mind, the Bliss features a range of cabin styles for all guests.

Cozy interior studio cabins are perfect for solo travellers (a video screen featuring footage from a deck camera makes up for the lack of a window), while families and groups can opt for larger accommodations such as a cabin featuring a large picture window for great ocean views.

Of course, there’s also NCL’s The Haven, which NCL President & CEO Andy Stuart told PAX is “bigger than we’ve ever built before.” This exclusive area - complete with features such as an observation lounge, bar, dining area and pool - features a number of different suite categories, all extremely luxurious and spacious.

During a tour of The Haven, the standouts were the 2-Bedroom Family Villa with Balcony and the Deluxe Owners Suite with Balcony, both sleeping up to six guests very comfortably.

DSC_1371.JPGDerek Lloyd, national director of sales - Canada, Norwegian Cruise Line

Agent tips

In an exclusive interview with Derek Lloyd, NCL’s new national director of sales for Canada, PAX learned that the many innovative features of the Bliss were incorporated to draw as many different guests as possible, in some cases, into destinations which traditionally only welcomed specific age demographics.

“The response to the Bliss, which is our sixteenth ship, you really see the evolution over the years,” he said. “With the Bliss, you can see that she’s custom-designed for the destinations she’s going to; you’ve got features like the observation lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows where you can see the glaciers going by.

“The target demographic depends on the destination. For instance with Alaska, where this ship really steps up is how we can attract families to the destination, which is traditionally seen as a destination for seniors, with features such as our go-kart track. The features really help broaden the demographic of people we can bring on board.”

And for agents, Lloyd offered a very simple tip.

“The biggest thing is to reach out to your BDM. They’re here to help and there’s nothing better to them than a travel partner who calls and says ‘I want you to help me sell more of your product.’ That’s the best phone call they can get! Our travel partners are why we exist; all of our new ships coming out, like the Bliss, is all because of your support.”

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