Cruising has long shed its reputation as being a holiday for the silver-haired. But while more and more families are embracing the ease of a multi-destination holiday at sea, picking the right ship for your little sailors is key. Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines is known for its laid-back reputation to life on the ocean waves, making cruising holidays cool by doing away with formalities and stuffiness like dress codes.
Even the ship hulls themselves are adorned with bright artwork (Bliss has a mural by marine artist and conservationist Wyland) while the entertainment line-up includes top chart acts and Broadway shows. Bliss is the latest of its mega-ships, with space for 4,000 passengers on its 20 decks, and offers cruises in Alaska, Florida and the Bahamas, the Caribbean, the US Pacific coast, the Panama Canal and Mexico. We were aboard for the liner for its inaugural voyage earlier this year – and here’s what we discovered…
The accommodation is far more spacious than expected, with lots of clever storage to ensure you can fit all your luggage in and still have room to move about. The average stateroom will sleep four and there are some available to sleep up to six. For larger families you can book two connecting staterooms. There’s no scrimping on style either, so you don’t feel cheated of that classic cruise luxury.
For the cheapest option, pick an Family Inside cabin while the more expensive Mini-Suites are much larger, have a balcony and are close to the action. For a real treat, cabins in The Haven at the top of the ship come with a 24-hour butler, private sundeck and access to exclusive facilities.
The ship’s mini-suites are roomy for families at sea
You’ll never be bored on board this liner! Norwegian Bliss has pools inside and out, a splash park, six infinity pools and a double loop water slide takes you over the side of the ship.
The cabins have plenty of luxurious details
The adrenaline-inducing water slide that goes out to sea
The ship also has the largest race track at sea so for an extra charge of $10 you can burn rubber while the waves glide by. It’s pretty spectacular. There’s also laser tag (for another small charge), mini golf, video games arcade, gym and the beautiful Mandara spa with a thermal room, snow room and salt room. If you simply want to take in the beauty of your surroundings, there is an Observation Lounge on the 15th deck with 180 degree views where you might spot bald eagles flying past or dolphins swimming.
There is an Aqua Park area especially designed for children
Speed demons at sea
Jump in the jacuzzi and sail away to relaxation
THE KIDS’ CLUB
We all know that children need a lot of entertainment on holiday and there is plenty for them to do at the kids’ clubs (giving you a little time to enjoy the adult facilities – or grab a nap!). Norwegian Bliss has three programmes for different age groups.
Parents can enjoy sensory and play activities with their babies and toddlers at Guppies
Guppies is a play area designed for the younger passengers, aged six months to three years old. It offers activities like sensory play and music and movement, although parents must stay with their child.
Get competitive in the video games arcade
Splash Academy is supervised activities where the three to 12-year-olds can enjoy creative play, sports, arts and more. Attendees are split into three groups by age, to tailor the fun to their interests and abilities.
Splash Academy, where all the fun happens
For 13 to 17-year-olds, there is Entourage Teen Club with movies, music and parties. There’s also a free port play programme if you want to enjoy an excursion with paid-for babysitting during meal times and a late night service for date nights.
The ship has three main dining rooms and a buffet restaurant and a 24-hour pub serving all sorts of different foods. And then there are 13 speciality spots, like Q for Texas barbecue and Ocean Blue for seafood. The really relaxed dress code is so much for practical when it comes to holiday with children. Having to dress up in a ballgown to get your hungry toddler fed just isn’t practical.
Sailors with a sweet tooth will be in heaven
The ship is all inclusive for food in the main dining rooms and buffet (you can upgrade your package to include drinks) and children under three always eat for free, while there is a complimentary kids’ menu for four to 12 year olds in the speciality restaurants. Even room service is included in the all inclusive package, if you want a chilled meal in your cabin.
Ocean Blue specialises in seafood – and kids eat for free!
The ship has a number of bars and theatres, with children welcome in the vast majority. You can see the award-winning musical The Jersey Boys, which tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons or watch a top-notch Beatles cover band play the famous groups greatest hits in The Cavern Club. There are theme nights, cabaret and comedy, while the musical Havana makes its debut run on the ship, a story set in 1950s Cuba.
Steaks are served up at Cagney’s
Find out more about Norwegian Bliss and forthcoming itineraries at the Norwegian Cruise Line website