By Mark Gauert
City & Shore Magazine
Is it possible to get away from a crowd of 4,004 passengers and 1,716 crew aboard a 994-foot cruise ship?
A cruise ship that boasts the longest (at 1,000 feet) electric go-kart race track at sea? A veritable sea-going resort with an open-air laser tag course, themed as an abandoned space station. An Aqua Park with two pools and two multi-story water slides (one of which includes a free-fall followed by a loop overboard that will leave you, assuming your heart didn’t faint back there at the free-fall part, grinning uncontrollably for a good 90 minutes thereafter). No fewer than 33 places to eat, drink and dessert (yes, it’s worth using as a verb here), including, perhaps most pleasantly unexpected for a high-sea-going vessel, a high-plains Texas smokehouse, called Q, where you can pass the sauces and listen to country music each night. Not to mention a smoking (and non-smoking) casino, Broadway-caliber shows (the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, anyone?), a spa with 24 treatment rooms, six infinity hot tubs, a fitness center … and the Beatles (cover band) warming up in a facsimile of The Cavern Club, “inspired by the Liverpool club where the Beatles performed frequently in the 1960’s.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.
But is it possible to get away from all of that on a 168,000-ton, 136-foot wide, 20-deck cruise ship? Some place where it’s possible to just enjoy the cool sea breezes, the flaming sunsets, the stars at night?
I’m not sure how, exactly; but here’s my theory: Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Bliss is so big, and offers so much to do, everybody is likely to be somewhere else when you want a quiet moment or two alone.
So you can sit in a deck chair on the upper deck and watch Miami slip away until it’s an orange smudge on the horizon, like you’re the only person aboard. In the morning, at least for a while, you can listen to soft jazz and classical music with a Bloody Mary and the dawn view all to yourself in the adults-only Spice H2O on Deck 17. You can even sit on your own personal balcony (there are 1,088 among the 2,043 guest staterooms onboard) and watch fish splash and islands pass in the Stream.
If that’s not enough “you time” for you, you can splurge (in the bucket-list sense) on The Haven enclave, located on Decks 17, 18 and 19, where guests are even further “pampered with privacy, personalized service and a deluxe array of complimentary amenities,” along with a private restaurant (why yes, that is a $3,000 bottle of Louis XIII cognac back there behind the greeter stand); private elevator, observation deck, pool, cocktail bar and concierge desk, “where Haven guests can relax, have a drink and make dining, entertainment or spa reservations through the dedicated concierge.”
It’s like being on a yacht aboard a 4,004-passenger cruise ship. The cost? Well, if you have to ask… (Did we mention the Louis XIII?).
Then, when you’ve been quiet enough, you can join the crowd at the Aqua Park, or on the stairway up to the water slides, or line dancing by the pool, or in the theater, or the fitness center, or the spa, or laser tag at the abandoned space station or a promenade on the indoor 180-degree observation deck, which wraps around Deck 15 like a pair of Wayfarers, or … whew.
Either way – as private or as public as you want to be – you’ll find Bliss.
IF YOU GO
NCL’s Bliss inaugural Winter season begins Nov. 17, with seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises each Saturday from PortMiami, featuring calls in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. The last cruise in the season is currently scheduled to depart March 23, 2019. For more information, visit bliss.ncl.com.
Explore Florida & the Caribbean is a special supplement of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.