Norwegian Cruise Line’s Bliss Will Draw West Coast Clients

Norwegian Cruise Line's Bliss Will Draw West Coast Clients
Norwegian Bliss, due in April 2018
The brand’s upcoming Norwegian Bliss ship, designed especially for Alaska sailings, is expected to appeal to West Coast-based clients

“It’s the first time we’ve had such a presence on the West Coast,” said Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), during Virtuoso Travel Week, held at Bellagio Las Vegas.

The line’s upcoming Norwegian Bliss — what Stuart referred to as “our most incredible ship to date” — will launch operations on the West Coast in June 2018. It will bring new features to the American market, as well as employ highlights from two previous Breakaway Plus ships: Norwegian Escape and the Chinese market’s Norwegian Joy.

The 4,000-passenger Bliss will debut June 2, sailing a series of weeklong cruises to Alaska and departing Saturdays out of Seattle. Noting that it is the first time that a brand-new ship will launch Alaska cruises, Stuart pointed out that Bliss has been designed especially for Alaska, underlined by its hull art, titled “Cruising with the Whales.”

In addition to scenic glacier cruising, the vessel will make calls in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway in Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia, through September 2018. Starting Oct. 5, 2018, Bliss will initiate a month of weeklong Mexican Riviera cruises (roundtrip from Los Angeles), with visits to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. On Nov. 3, Bliss will set off on a 14-day Panama Canal cruise from Los Angeles to Miami, where the ship will spend its winter season offering Eastern Caribbean sailings.

According to Stuart, NCL’s Alaska cruises are quite popular, particularly because it is a bucket- list item for many travelers, and the line is also seeing more families booking the destination.

“As Alaska is very limited in berthing capabilities, the only way to increase capacity there is to bring a larger ship — and we think this is the right ship, offering compelling experiences for those new to cruising, plus those features that our loyal guests know and love,” he said.    Image result for norwegian bliss race track

Bliss will integrate the most popular features from previous ships, particularly on the top deck. There will be an expanded version of the electric car race track the debuted on Joy in China; it will be the longest race track at sea, at nearly 1,000 feet long, with four speed settings for the novice, intermediate and advanced drivers navigating its twists and turns. Another dramatic feature will be the open-air laser tag course, which will be designed as an abandoned space station in which guests can compete against one another while armed with state-of-the art laser guns.

In addition, Bliss’ top deck will have an Aqua Park with two multistory waterslides. The high-speed Ocean Loops will have one loop that extends out over the side of the ship and a second see-through loop down to the deck below. The tandem Aqua Racer slide will send guests racing side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet, with a translucent section that provides views of the sea.

Younger cruisers will have their own Kids’ Aqua Park, with splash pads, water cannons, tipping buckets and slides. And there will be segmented facilities for passengers ages 3 to 12, as well as for teenagers, who can enjoy their own space — dubbed Entourage — on deck 5. There will even be a Guppies playroom with sensory play activities for babies six months old to 3 years old.

Image result for norwegian bliss Kids’ Aqua Park,

New dining will include Q, an a la carte Texas smokehouse restaurant where guests can choose from a selection of brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage and more that will be freshly smoked over hickory, oak and pecan woods. The eatery will also feature live contemporary pop country music. The new A-List Bar — named for Stuart — will serve cocktails, wine and premium spirits.

Signature beverages from Seattle and its surrounding region will be easy to find onboard Bliss: The ship will have the line’s first full-service Starbucks, and The District Brew House will serve 24 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers, along with bites from the adjacent Food Republic. Craft beer will come from Red Hook Brewery and Elysian Brewery in Seattle, as well as from Wynwood Brewery and M.I.A. Beer Company in Miami (a bow to later Caribbean itineraries). The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar, will have a wine list that includes 35 grape varietals that encompass top selections from Washington-area vineyards; Tuscany, Italy; and Michael Mondavi’s own Napa Valley Estate.

The Local, a new complimentary, 24-hour dining concept, will offer guests pub fare in a relaxed atmosphere. Also new is Coco’s, where the scent of a chocolate fountain will summon passengers to its handmade pralines, truffles, crepes and other chocolatey pleasures paired with fine coffees and teas.

The indoor-outdoor Los Lobos, which made its debut in 2016 onboard Norwegian Dawn, will offer dishes from fresh guacamole prepared tableside to al pastor tacos and enchiladas de mole, along with margaritas featuring NCL’s own tequila blend.

Image result for norwegian bliss Los Lobos

Bliss will also feature both smoking and non-smoking casinos to cater to all guest preferences, and the lineup of entertainment will include Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys.” The ship will have two observation lounges, including the exclusive Horizon Lounge (for guests of The Haven), which will have vantage points for whale watching in Alaska.

Stuart expects that the array of innovative features onboard Bliss will introduce the NCL brand to West Coast clients. A ship especially designed for Alaska was a big step, but Stuart notes that Alaska sailings are heavily North American-sourced.

“At the moment, we feel the North American market is very strong,” he said. “Consumer confidence is up, and our guests are planning their vacations further out than they have in past years. Alaska sailings are typically stronger sourced from the West Coast, where as a brand we have tended to be stronger in East coast sourcing. We felt that bringing Bliss to the West Coast would give us an opportunity to bring a strong, exciting product to an audience who may not be as familiar with our brand. New ships are a great opportunity to get those who are new to cruising or new to your brand interested in sailing with you — someone who is wowed by the idea of a race track on a cruise ship will be drawn in to learn more about the brand, and ultimately the destination will drive their purchasing decision.”

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Agents enthused about Norwegian Bliss

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The Haven is one of agents’ favorite features on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Pictured, a rendering of The Haven’s restaurant on Norwegian Bliss.

LAS VEGAS — Agents praised Norwegian Cruise Line’s history of innovation after seeing the new features planned for the Norwegian Bliss, unveiled at Virtuoso Travel Week here.

Among the Bliss’ attractions are a go-cart course longer than the one that first debuted aboard the Norwegian Joy, an enclosed water slide that projects riders out over the side of the ship and an outdoor laser-tag course.

It will feature some new restaurants — like upscale barbecue eatery Q and a sweets emporium dedicated to chocolate called Coco — as well as some old favorites like Cagney’s.

Andy Stuart, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said the mix of new and old is all about balance.

“We’re trying to bring a lot of new innovations, things our guests have never seen, and combine them with the things our guests absolutely love,” he said.

The agents in attendance for Norwegian’s announcement took notice of that, and said the cruise line has always been a leader in innovation.

“The Bliss just kind of ups the entertainment part. Norwegian Cruise Line has always been really excellent, and really the best, on their entertainment — that shines for them,” said Nancy K. Yale, president of Cruise and World Travel in Fairfield, Conn.

She said the go-carts in particular are a feature that will attract all ages, and called them an “interesting concept.”

John Maguire, CEO and president of Morristown, N.J.-based CruiseDirect.com, also pointed to the innovative features on the Bliss as a highlight.

“They’re always first in innovation,” Maguire said of Norwegian. “They’re always out there doing things other people aren’t doing.”

Lea Nielsen, CruiseDirect.com’s vice president of sales, said she was excited about the dining venues, especially the new additions.

According to Stuart, The Haven on the Bliss will be the largest ever built, something Virtuoso agents will find attractive. The Haven features the line’s largest and most well-appointed accommodations and exclusive venues for guests staying there.

Yale called The Haven “the thing I like most” about Norwegian Cruise Line ships.

“The Haven is an upscale, ship-within-a-ship, and the service and everything up there is as good as any of the luxury cruise lines. It is great for family vacations and multigenerational groups.”

In addition to showing agents renderings of the Bliss and its features, Norwegian also enabled them to experience it live using virtual reality. They could don headsets and virtually ride a go-cart or slide down the water slide, among other experiences.

Norwegian Bliss going big with go-cart track, other features

Norwegian Bliss Go-Cart track

The thrill of electric go-cart racing at sea is coming to North America next year on the Norwegian Bliss, which will take the concept that debuted on the Norwegian Joy in Shanghai to another level.

The widely anticipated adoption of the amusement-park staple on a ship sailing in the U.S. should give the Bliss something to brag about when it sails from the Port of Seattle on its first Alaska voyage next June.

Andy Stuart, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said the Bliss’ track will be 40% larger than its predecessor.

“We think it’s going to be even a little better than what we’ve delivered so far on Joy,” Stuart said.

At nearly 1,000 feet, the track will be the longest at sea and will occupy the space that is claimed by a ropes course and the Plank on the Norwegian Escape, the most recent delivery to the North American market.


The cars can be geared to advanced, intermediate or beginning-level drivers. Stuart said that because the cars are electric, they are also noiseless, but that a pair of speakers with racing sounds inside the headrest provides audio for the driver.

An outdoor laser tag course will be themed as an abandoned space station.

An outdoor laser tag course will be themed as an abandoned space station.

The new ship will also have an outdoor laser tag course, first offered on the Joy as well, that will be themed as an abandoned space station, and a free-fall slide with a translucent loop that extends 11 feet over the side of the ship.

Norwegian executives revealed many of the public areas of the Bliss at a news conference at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, where Virtuoso is holding its annual Travel Week conference.

Virtuoso members heard firsthand not only about the track, but about the dining and beverage options that will be installed on the Bliss, several of them for the first time on any Norwegian ship.

The Bliss will get Norwegian’s first try at a Texas smokehouse-style venue, to be called Q, which will serve brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage and more, freshly smoked over hickory, oak and pecan woods.

Q will be Norwegian Cruise Line's first try at a Texas smokehouse-style venue.

Texas smokehouse-style venue

Q won’t be decked out with stereotypical country-and-western decor, but rather will sport an edgier, urban design along the lines of the District Brewhouse on the Escape. Q will offer sides such as fresh-cheddar and breadcrumb-crusted mac and cheese and baked sweet potatoes smothered in pecan honey butter and cinnamon.

The restaurant will take the large space occupied by the Supper Club on the Norwegian Escape. Pricing will be a la carte.

Another new flavor on the Bliss will be chocolate, the theme of a Deck 6 a la carte sweets emporium that will feature an entry with an enclosed oversized chocolate fountain gushing with liquid chocolate.

A water thrill ride loops over the side of the ship.
A water thrill ride loops over the side of the ship.

Called Coco’s, it will sell handmade pralines, truffles, crepes and other desserts paired with select teas and coffees.

Also in the coffee category, the Norwegian Bliss will also have the brand’s first full-service Starbucks as it sails weekly from Seattle during the summer.

The upscale Mexican concept that was installed in drydock on the Norwegian Dawn last summer as Los Lobos Cantina will be featured on the Bliss, the first Breakaway-class ship to have one. It will be located on Deck 8 next to Cagney’s, and feature indoor/outdoor seating.

In a tip to the changing of the guard in Norwegian’s corporate suites, the 24-hour casual pub named for former Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan, who departed in 2015, will be called the Local on the Bliss, instead of O’Sheehan’s.

At the same time, the circular Prime Meridian bar that sits on Deck 8 between two complimentary dining rooms will be restyled as the A-List Bar in tribute to Stuart, who has worked for the company since 1988.

Click the Image below for the Latest Norwegian Bliss Video

The Aqua Park will feature a splash area and water slides.
The Aqua Park will feature a splash area and water slides.