Most cruise ships these days cater to families. Each one is trying to outdo the others and the Norwegian Bliss is no exception. This newest of Norwegian’s fleet of cruise ships has some features that are meant to wow families including go-karting, laser tag, and two sets of water slides. But when you are on a Norwegian Bliss Alaskan cruise, you may not be too excited about spending a long time outside on the pool deck.
On the Norwegian Bliss Alaskan cruise from Seattle, you have two full days and two half-days at sea. That is a lot of time to kill if the weather is rainy or windy (or just cold!) After all, it is the Pacific Northwest. It seems like there should be endless things to do while on board. And there are, but sometimes you have to look for them and keeping kids entertained may take some work.
Since I have a teen who is an only child that doesn’t like to join into the fun of a teen club, we spent a lot of effort during our recent Alaskan cruise seeking out all the ways to entertain ourselves. While this usually ended up with some variation of reading in the Observation Lounge, we still found other things to hold our interest for a bit.
Things to do with Kids on the Norwegian Bliss
Go-karting will cost you $9.95 per person and reservations book up quickly but racing around a track in the middle of an ocean is an experience you won’t often repeat. Just keep in mind that the race track is behind the smoke stack so you will get splattered with black soot during your drive if it is windy, so don’t wear anything nice. The racetrack is on decks 19 and 20 in the back of the boat.
The Norwegian Bliss laser tag set up is larger and more detailed then you would expect to find on a cruise ship, but you will pay $9.95 per person to play. Reservations book fast and they will cancel for wind or inclement weather. You can find it on Deck 20 at the front of the boat.
The Kids’ and Teen Club both offer programming while at sea on Deck 5. The teen club is a drop in space where, once registered, teens can come and go at their leisure. It has video games and an air hockey table. There are also times where they offer set programs. But parents aren’t allowed!
If your family likes skeeball, VR, or other video games, there is a small video arcade near the kid’s clubs on Deck 5. You can either swipe your ship Freestyle card to play (games vary from $1.10 each +) or purchase an arcade package. Arcade packages must be purchased for everyone in the cabin and for the entire duration of the cruise. Players win tickets that can be exchanged for the typical arcade prizes. Just beware that it gets loud in there!
The Library and Card Room is off the Atrium on Deck 6 and offers a quiet space to play ship-supplied Monopoly, chess, checkers, and Backgammon. There are also books that can be borrowed during the hours that the room is staffed.
Aqua Park Water Slides
There are two waterslides in the Aqua Park, which also includes a tipping dump bucket and water cannons on a splash pad. Ocean Loops has a clear section and it dips out over the side of the ship. You need to be at least 99 pounds to ride so it isn’t an option for small kids and tweens.
The Aqua Racer is a closed tube slide with single- or double-tubes. This is a dark tube slide with lights in the tube, but still maybe not great if your kids are scared of the dark.
If you are courageous enough to brave the elements when you get out of the water, there are two pools and four hot tubs on the main pool deck and you won’t have any trouble getting a deck chair on the Alaskan cruise! Now when the Norwegian Bliss moves to the Caribbean in the winter, I’m sure that will be another story.
The televisions in the staterooms include free movie channels playing action, drama, comedy, and family movies around the clock. However, if you need to get out of the room and move around, they do occasionally play family movies in the Atrium on Deck 6. Check the Freestyle Daily newsletter left in your stateroom each night for details.
In the Public restaurant on Deck 7, you will find a small two-lane bowling alley. It is not for the serious bowler and it does cost $6 per game. However, it can entertain the kids while you enjoy a beer or drink at the Public, which is an Irish pub-style restaurant that is open 24×7.
I almost hesitate to call the Norwegian Bliss’ offering mini golf but you will find five small putting greens at the very back of the boat, above and behind the race track. You have to really look for them as it isn’t marked and is easily overlooked. That is suitable though since it feels as if the design of this space was a bit of an oversight. Giving the kids a scavenger hunt to find it may be half the fun. And hey, at least it is free!
Lectures in the Observation Lounge
The Observation Lounge on Deck 15 was our favorite space on the boat. It can get crowded at times, especially in the front by the bar, but if you look along the sides you should be able to find a couch, chair, or, if you are lucky, a lounger. They have a bar as well as coffee, tea, and water. There are also snacks put out throughout the day including a light breakfast and lunch, afternoon tea, and after-dinner desserts.
It is a nice space to watch the scenery so stake a claim on a space early if you want to sit there while sailing close to the glaciers. However, there are times on your days at sea when they also play recorded lectures about Alaska geography and wildlife.
The entertainers in the Atrium do their best to engage the audience with comedy, music, and game shows. It is the silly entertainment that you expect to find in an all-inclusive environment, like the “Family Insanity Game Show.” But if you don’t mind letting loose and having fun with it, it could be a good time. Maybe there is a reason there is a bar right there. Check the schedule for activities that seem family-friendly as a few were a little PG-13.
Outside walks / Jogging Track
During our cruise, our teen was missing daily soccer practices so she wanted to keep up her physical routine so she wasn’t a hot mess when starting school. However, there is a big sign outside of the fitness center that you must be 16 years old to enter. So scratch that. To get exercise she mostly ran up and down the stairs. However, there is a small jogging track around the pool. Just keep in mind that it closes to joggers at 9am and it is narrow. It can be refreshing though after spending so much time inside to take walks. Deck 7 is perfect for looping around the boat along the outside of the restaurants.
When all else fails, you can always bribe them with a sweet treat and there are plenty of options on the Norwegian Bliss. You can fork over some cash (or really just your ship card but it is still a la carte) for ridiculously-good looking milkshakes and sundaes at Coco’s, scoop up gelato, macarons, or cupcakes at Dolce Gelato, or grab one of the goodies at Starbucks. Just don’t forget you can get free ice cream and soft serve in the Garden Cafe and often there are free treats in the Observation Lounge as well.
There are enough hidden expenses on the Norwegian Bliss without racking up a bill on sweets.
When all else fails, consult the Freestyle Daily. I found the daily highlights a bit more adult-oriented than family friendly though. There were options like Latin line dance class, fruit and vegetable carving demo, towel animal folding demonstration (I think our room steward could attend that one), Cha Cha dance class, and the Crew Talent Show. Those weren’t a big hit with my teen. She also wasn’t particularly interested in the evening entertainment in the Bliss Theater.
Bring lots of books and offline games, or you could always cough up the money to pay for the WiFi package.
- Find out what to wear on an Alaskan cruise.
- Learn where to spend your Freestyle dining dollars
- Hear more about our experience on the Norwegian Bliss:
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