NORWEGIAN BLISS, The Biggest Ship In The West

Shawn J. Dake

NORWEGIAN BLISS departing Los Angeles harbor on May 25, 2018.

The NORWEGIAN BLISS has been setting records for size everywhere it visits on a journey to an inaugural season of cruising in Alaska. The newest ship of Norwegian Cruise Line, measures a whopping 168,024 gross tons, is 1,082 feet in length and easily carries 4,004 passengers based on double-occupancy.  The ship left Southampton, England on April 21st on her maiden voyage, a trans-Atlantic crossing to New York.  After arriving in the U.S. on May 3rd and hosting inaugural events in New York, the NORWEGIAN BLISS continued on an introductory tour that took the ship to Miami, Los Angeles and finally to Seattle where it was christened by radio personality Elvis Duran on May 30th.

The NORWEGIAN BLISS has a relatively squat funnel to help reduce its massive air draft.

Along the way it became the largest ship ever to pass through the Panama Canal thanks to the recently expanded locks that allow cruise ships of this length and width to transit, provided their air-draft permits them to pass under the Bridge Of The Americas.  It not only set the record for a passenger ship passing through the Canal but also became the biggest ship to call at the two West Coast ports.  It visited the Port Of Los Angeles on May 25th and departed just after dark at 8:00pm on a two-night cruise hosting travel agents and members of the media, returning for a second call on the 27th.  Following her Seattle christening, regular service began on June 2nd when it became the largest cruise ship ever to sail in Alaskan waters and the first of what may be an expanding number of  other mega-ships to do so in coming years.

The two-deck height Observation Lounge provides panoramic 180 degree views over the front of the ship.
The Manhattan Dining Room looking Forward.

Beyond the WOW features that gain so much publicity, the NORWEGIAN BLISS is a fairly traditional-style cruise ship with an attractive interior design.  It is just that everything aboard is bigger and more plentiful.   The ship features a huge variety of up to 20 unique restaurants that Norwegian Cruise Line is known for.  Six of those dining areas are available to all passengers free of charge, plus two additional spots reserved for guests of The Haven, which is a modern-day enclave; today’s equivalent of First Class accommodations situated forward at the top of the ship.

Q Texas Smokehouse is a new venue for dining and live entertainment.

Among the new specialty dining restaurant additions is “Q,” a Texas-style BBQ smokehouse with a live music stage.  There is even a full-grown outpost of Starbucks coffee aboard.  While on the subject of music, there are several venues that will catch the eye and ear of music fans.

The Cavern Club features Beatles tribute bands.

A seagoing version of The Cavern Club, where The Beatles played during their early days in Liverpool, occupies a prime spot on Deck 8.  This deck is surrounded by The Waterfront,  a wide promenade with several bars and restaurants opening out onto it.  Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville At Sea is another musical spot that covers all the bases as a restaurant, retail shop, and multiple bar areas serving signature tropical drinks, all in recognition of the iconic singer/songwriter who turned one hit record from 1977 into a lifestyle and a profitable empire.

The Pool Deck with a variety of Water Slides in the Aqua Park.

The features that attract the most attention to this ship may not be for everyone but they are nonetheless impressive.  High on Decks 18 and 19, the world’s largest racing car track at sea spans those two decks high above the stern. Electric powered vehicles race at high speeds through hairpin turns, making the appropriate engine-revving noises as the cars accelerate.  Nearby, massive waterslides loop  out over the sides of the ship or challengers can race along with inner tubes at the large Aqua Park.  The futuristic Laser tag maze, forward at the top of the ship, is also an impressive feat of engineering.  Weighing only 28 tons, the complex is constructed of foam to keep the weight down, while giving the appearance of solid, real stone.

Of the 20 decks aboard the NORWEGIAN BLISS, 15 are given over to passenger use.  There are more than three decks of public rooms and restaurants connected by dual atriums; one rising over the Guest Services areas and the Atrium Bar and another spanning three decks in an area known as 678 Ocean Place named for those decks.

Chandelier and staircases connect the decks at 678 Ocean Place aboard the NORWEGIAN BLISS.

The latter features an enormous, icicle-like chandelier constantly changing colors.  It acts as the centerpiece for the entertainment district aboard ship.  Indoor and outdoor recreation areas continue at the top of the ship ranging from Deck 16 where the main swimming pools are located, on up to Deck 20.  Stateroom and suite accommodations are arranged among 34 categories of cabins.  At the top end are suites in The Haven By Norwegian which also features its own restaurant, pool and two-deck height Horizon Lounge.  Next in line are a series of Mini-Suites and Balcony Staterooms making up the vast majority of accommodations.  The bottom deck contains five types of Oceanview Staterooms while Inside cabins are scattered throughout the ship.  These include the small, 100 square foot “Studio” rooms specifically designed for single travelers.

NORWEGIAN BLISS, the largest passenger ship to ever call at the Port Of Los Angeles.
The new NORWEGIAN BLISS dwarfs the massive battleship U.S.S. IOWA in the Port Of Los Angeles on May 25, 2018.  Photo by Shawn J. Dake.

Viewed from the exterior, the NORWEGIAN BLISS presents an imposing sight.   The tall white structure is broken up by hundreds of balconies and windows.  The hull-art on this vessel is by Wyland showcasing a blue mural of whales and other sea creatures prominently displayed on the bow and continuing the seascape along both sides at the waterline.

A view from astern after dark of the maiden departure of the NORWEGIAN BLISS from the Port Of Los Angeles, May 25, 2018.

After spending the summer of 2018 in Alaska, the ship will return to Los Angeles for a short series of Mexican Riviera cruises in October.  It will then take up station in the Caribbean for the winter season before returning to the West Coast to repeat the Mexico and Alaska itineraries in 2019.

The end.  A stern detail.

Built:  2018
Gross Tonnage: 168,028 tons
Length:  1,082 feet
Beam x 136 feet
Draft:  27 feet
Decks: 20
Passengers:  4,004 passengers based on double occupancy.
Crew: 1,716
Engines: Five MAN B&W Diesel Electric Engines with total output of 102,900 horsepower.
Cruising Speed: 23.2 knots.
Builder:  Meyer Werft Shipyard, Papenburg, Germany.  Yard number: S.707.

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake

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