We were on the Bliss March 30 (15 day) sailing from Miami to LA, through the Panama Canal.
Our group of six consisted of one couple (Platinum on NCL, with numerous cruises under their belts), another couple with a few cruises, and another couple with a couple of cruises (first time on NCL...that would be us).
The food in the specialty restaurants was, for the most part, excellent. We all had our favorites, but my favorite (since I'm writing this report, my opinions count the most :)...was the French restaurant, Le Bistro. I had, without a doubt, the best filet I've ever had. And the Creme Brule for dessert was outstanding, as well. Other favorites of the group were the Carne Asada in Los Lobos, steaks in Cagney's and the overall experience in Tepanyaki. Honorable mention goes to the Tres Leches cake in Los Lobos and the Lobster Ravioli in Savor.
Margaritas in Sugarcane were the best we had...and we tried them in just about every bar and restaurant. Can't remember the bartender's name, but he was a Margarita magician.
Service was for the most part, outstanding. Never had to wait very long for a drink. Since we all had the UBP, there was a lot of drink ordering going on. A special shout out to Carlo, superstar waiter in the District Brewhouse, as well as daytime at the pool. Carlo almost became the seventh member of our group, as he regularly engaged in banter with all of us, knew us by name, related stories of his soon-to-be-born daughter, and even made special drinks for the women in the group. If you're going on the Bliss in the near future, do not miss the opportunity to engage with Carlo. Speaking of service, our room steward Carlos was tremendous. If you book a midship balcony (we were in 10850) and you have Carlos for your steward, you're lucky, indeed. Always pleasant, calling us by name, making great towel animals and responding to all requests in a timely manner.
Production shows were for the most part excellent. We have seen "Jersey Boys" several times, and this show was one of the best. We may have seen better "Frankie Valli" characters, but the four guys' harmony and moves blended perfectly. Very, very good show. We also enjoyed "Uptown", three young guys who have only been together for two years. But their singing and dance moves of Motown hits were spot on. The "Fab Fourever" Beatles tribute band was also very good...we saw them twice. We are big Beatles fans and have seen many tribute bands and while not the best we have seen, these guys were still very good. The comedy magician was also excellent. Still trying to figure out how he made the bent card appear on the top of the deck right before our eyes. I guess it was magic. "Havana" was just okay...if you're a woman you may enjoy seeing all the topless young guys, even though my wife wasn't all that impressed.
The hypnotist seemed totally staged. Most of the participants on the stage were completely unbelievable (not in a good way)...as if they were all prompted to play along beforehand. Call me a skeptic when it comes to hypnosis...
All of our excursions were scheduled with independent tour operators, not through NCL. The highlight was the Segway tour of Cartagena. None of our group had ever ridden a segway before and we were all a bit wary/skeptical as to whether we would topple over, crash into each other (or innocent bystanders, cars, stray dogs, etc.) and just generally survive. But proud to say that after a three minute lesson we quickly adapted and became comfortable in no time. In fact, many people on walking tours would stop, point and take pictures as we whizzed by them like the segway-riding pros we were. We also did a six hour tour in Costa Rica, including a crocodile riverboat tour, followed by a lunch at a mountaintop restaurant. In Mazatlan, we did a city tour of old and new Mazatlan, with a stop at a restaurant which featured some of the best shrimp we ever had. We were disappointed when NCL substituted Acapulco for Puerto Vallarta and we basically jumped ship there for a couple minutes to take a few pictures and then returned. Cabo was basically walking around town on our own, with a stop in a bar to (finally) get some decent WIFI reception.
We spent a lot of time in the Observation Lounge. Very large and beautiful space...although they could raise the temperature a degree or two. It was always very chilly/cold...sometimes expecting to see slabs of meat hanging. Well, maybe not THAT cold...but close. Pool chairs were always readily available, even with the inevitable chair-hogging going on.
As good as the Specialty restaurants were (with the possible exception of Q...of the ones we tried, my personal least favorite), our dinners in Savor were pretty much just okay. Not bad, not great. Service was hit and miss. The Local was also just okay...some of us liked it better than others...but a special shoutout to the waiter from Mauritius (can't recall his name) who was tremendous. And the buffet was pretty much horrendous. The food was repetitive, not very good and consistently cold. I understand that buffets food is always an adventure, but this was consistently not good. And people coughing into their hands, sneezing into their hands, licking food off their hands and then grabbing tongs...well, you get the picture. No wonder people get sick on cruise ships.
Speaking of getting sick, an announcement was made that said people may have become sick from eating food onshore, and that if you were experiencing symptoms you could dial 00 for free medical care. Really?? Eating onshore made people sick after what I just described in the Buffet? In any case, my wife and I both dialed 00 several times, with no answer. But immediately afterward, hand sanitizer dispensers magically appeared in all the elevators and all public restroom doors were propped open to avoid people touching door handles. Doesn't sound like a case of people getting food poisoning onshore...but I guess that's just the skeptic in me. And what cruise line will offer free medical care to someone who may have gotten sick from eating onshore? Okay, enough about that...
The lounge bands were pretty bad. Siglo did a rendition of Eric Clapton's "Change the World" (one of my all-time favorite songs) that was physically painful to listen to. The new guy in the Brewhouse wasn't much better (we're sorry we missed his predecessor, Jim Badger, who consistently got rave reviews).
All-in-all, I would give this cruise an 8 out of 10. The good outweighed the bad and it was nice to experience the Panama Canal.