Cruising with kids
Cathy wagstaff finds family cruising bliss aboard Norwegian’s innovative new cruise ship.
Find family cruising bliss aboard Norwegian’s innovative new cruise ship.
In its short 51-year history, Norwegian Cruise Line has been an innovator in cruise travel, providing guests with the unique opportunity to design their own ideal cruise holiday with no set dining times, a variety of entertainment and no formal dress codes. The cruise line’s forward thinking has not gone unnoticed by industry experts, who have named it ‘Europe’s Leading Cruise Line’ for 10 consecutive years, among other awards and accolades.
Norwegian has taken the unprecedented level of freedom and flexibility offered to its guests to even greater heights with its newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, and I was lucky enough to be invited on board to experience all that it has to offer.
With 2,043 staterooms – accommodating 4,004 guests – the 20-deck ship is a sight to behold. Custom-built for cruising in Alaska, Norwegian Bliss combines the best signature features of the Norwegian fleet with jawdropping never-before-seen innovations.
The wow-factor kicks in before we even set foot on deck as my eye is drawn to the striking artwork depicting a mother humpback whale and her calf adorning the ship’s hull, created to pay tribute to the natural beauty of Alaska and the importance of conservation, part of the cruise line’s philosophy.
The surprises continue once we board, each more exciting and delightful than the last. It’s like a floating theme park and kids big and small are spoilt for choice with a number of extraordinary, first-at-sea experiences.
Most head straight for Deck 20, to test their agility at the open-air laser tag experience, or to race side-by-side on the two-storey water slide dubbed the Aqua Racer, a hair-raising experience that extends out over the edge of the ship. I pass, but am more than happy to strap in and rev up to race around the twolevel competitive go kart track – the largest race track at sea – taking hairpin turns at up to 45 kilometres per hour in electric cars.
Cruising for everyone
One of the best things about a Norwegian cruise is that nobody has to compromise when it comes to recreation and relaxation. For kids aged three to 12, the age-appropriate and supervised activities at Splash Academy provide hours of fun, while teens can enjoy time with new friends at the Entourage hangout. Early Years Coordinators even host activities for tiny cruisers up to three years
old and their parents in the Guppies playroom. When it’s time to enjoy a little adult time, head to Mandara Spa, the casino or simply laze beside the pool with a good book.
Hidden away at the top of the ship on Decks 17, 18 and 19 – and accessible only by private keycard – are the ultra-luxurious suites of The Haven. Guests staying in this exclusive enclave will enjoy the privacy, personalised service and deluxe amenities of the most lavish boutique hotel. A dedicated concierge is on hand to make all arrangements on board and ashore. All that’s left to do is stretch out by the private pool in The Haven Courtyard while a personal butler serves the cocktails. This truly is cruising bliss.
A cruise on Norwegian Bliss takes guests on a culinary journey with an expanded dining scene and enhanced menus. Stop off at Los Lobos for Mexican cuisine with an elegant twist, The Manhattan Room for a taste of New York complete with music and dancing, and finish off at Coco’s, a firm favourite with the kids, where the chocolate will be flowing – literally. Your crew can spend the rest of the evening singing along to the classic hits of the ‘60s and ‘70s with Jersey Boys, stepping back in time with the interactive musical, Happy Hour Prohibition, or grooving along to The Beatles’ most memorable hits in The Cavern Club.
Whether you’re planning to explore the majestic icy north of Alaska, cruise the Pacific Coast from Vancouver to LA or chase the sun in the Caribbean with your crew, Norwegian provides all the ingredients for family cruising bliss.
02 01 Norwegian Bliss is home to the largest race track at sea 02 Norwegian Bliss at sea 03 The pool and two-storey water slide. All images © Norwegian Cruise Line