Beyond Beautiful – Norwegian Bliss

The last several decades have brought the traveling public an almost overwhelming number of new and spectacular cruise ships. With over 100 cruises taken and more than 75 cruise line sponsored inaugural events attended since starting in the travel industry back in 1993, my husband and I have seen plenty amazing ships but our impression of Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest vessel, the Norwegian Bliss,  far surpasses most of the typical descriptive adjectives used.

NCL Atrium

Eye-catching star of the vessel – the Atrium

Luxury is not often a word used to describe an NCL ship but the Norwegian Bliss offers a delectable taste of elegance.  Just take a look at this absolutely breath-taking atrium focal point with changing colors and hues of a 3-deck high stunning glass and light design.

Another notable area of the ship which displays lovely décor is the well-planned 180-degree Observation Lounge located on Deck 15.  Expansive floor to ceiling windows in the lounge provide passengers with the perfect spot to enjoy the scenery.  What a perfect spot to take in the beauty of Alaska!  Passengers will appreciate the tasteful design of the lounge, complete with cozy groupings of soft and cushiony furniture (like you would have in your own home) in striking but subtle colors of grey, black, silver and touches of blue.  From the artwork to the delicate glass vases carefully placed on open shelves which divide the sitting areas, it is obvious that great care was used to design and place every little detail.  This welcoming area of the ship is a 20,000 square foot oasis – a first for Norwegian Cruise Line.

ncl observation lounge

Observation Lounge

A generous amount of the ship’s design are her views from within the ship looking out and among the most spectacular are the two 2-deck high sets of windows in the bow as part of The Haven’s exclusive Horizon Lounge.  And speaking of The Haven, it is heavenly.  This is where true, non-stop luxury lives and breathes for cruise guests occupying one of 80 Haven suites.  The most luxurious accommodations on-board the Norwegian Bliss are The Haven Deluxe Owner’s Suites, complete with electric fireplaces and cushy wilderness cabin furnishing.  Guests will experience all the amenities one might look for at a high-end resort including an elegantly appointed living room and dining area with wet bar, dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows for viewing the seascape, and spacious balconies.  Beautiful fabrics, textures and colors adorn the 2-bedroom/2-bath suites.

 

The all-new contemporary décor of the ship compliments the artwork carefully placed throughout and is unusual, eye-catching and sometimes whimsical without being tacky.  It seems everywhere you look there is something new and fun to look at.

 

There is so much to tell about the Norwegian Bliss and what she has to offer.  In addition to our love of the overall beauty of her design, we are in awe of her seemingly endless array of dining options (27 to be exact); her entertainment options; her lounge experiences; her pampering spa services; her fun to be had (can you image an actual race track and laser tag onboard a cruise ship?)  And water slides and aqua fun galore!

 

The 4,004 passenger ship is a large one – 168,028 GRT – yet her public areas do not feel crowded.  This is a ship you could easily call ‘home’ for a least a week if not longer for any of her planned itineraries which include Alaska, Pacific Coastal, the Mexican Riviera, the Panama Canal and the Caribbean.  She is revolutionary.  She is unique.

The Norwegian Bliss is definitely Beyond Beautiful.

Bliss Theater on Norwegian Bliss

 

6 Must See Cities in Europe

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For those of us fortunate to have had the opportunity to explore some of the world’s most fascinating cities, we don’t always appreciate how wonderful and eye-opening those escapes have been until we stop and think….. we’ve been there!     And yes, many of you reading this blog may have also traveled to these great cities but have ventured on to many more.  For those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to experience these destinations, we hope this introductory taste will be enough to inspire you to book your next adventure in 2018.

Paris, France

“What an immense impression Paris made upon me.  It was the most extraordinary place in the world!”  – Charles Dickens

Paris can be many things to many people.  It is romantic.  It is beautiful.  It is rich in history.  It is elegance.  It is extraordinary cuisine.  It is nightlife.  It is lovely streets, lanes and impressive bridges.  It is worth spending time exploring all this amazing European city has to offer.   Of course, you cannot miss the iconic Eiffel Tower and Louvre Museum but explore more to appreciate her intrigue – Jardin du Luxembourg, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Elysées, the Hôtel des Invalides…just to name a very few.  And, whatever you do, don’t miss a river view of Paris on a boat ride on the Seine.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

With over 50 museums, including the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam attracts several million tourists worldwide annually.  The visual impact of seeing Amsterdam for the first time is remarkable with more than 6,800 houses and buildings protected as monuments.  Amsterdam also boasts the largest historical inner city in Europe.  Don’t forget to take in the seemingly endless canals and bridges this magical city offers – try a canal cruise during the day or night, or both.  This may be a city which will require several return trips.

 London, England

“When a man tires of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  – Samuel Johnson

What comes to mind first when you think of London?  There are so many iconic destinations to put on your ‘must see’ list!  Buckingham Palace with its crowd inspiring colorful guard and also where the queen resides in regal splendor; the Tower of London (well worth an entire day) where you will be entertained and educated by the Beef Eaters, hear tales of the ravens and the demise of many political prisoners;  Big Ben – you simply cannot miss looking at this towering jewel of London; Westminster Abbey, where Britain’s monarchs are crowned, some are married and many buried; the London eye which is an enormous ferris wheel measuring 394 feet in diameter sitting on the banks of the Thames.  Our advise for those travelers for their first trip to Europe – check out London first.  You will not need to worry about learning new words in a foreign language to get along on your adventure there.

Venice, Italy

“She is the Shakespeare of cities – unchallenged, incomparable, and beyond envy.” – John Addington Symonds

Celebrated art and architecture are just two reasons to whisk yourself away to the winding canals of Venice.  The 2-mile long Grand Canal, which is shaped like a large question mark, marks the heart and soul of this place like no other in the world.  Places of interest not to miss include Piazza San Marco and all this crowd gathering spot has to offer such as the Doge’s Palace, the sidewalk cafe’s and restaurants, and the famous pigeons hungry for hand-outs; the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto Bridge, Palazzo Ducale, Bascillica Di San Marco, the San Giorgio Maggiore Church and the Guggenheim Museum.  Consider going to Venice in the off-season (November through April), which means smaller crowds and cooler temperatures.  Not everyone falls in love with Venice, but if you do you will keep going back.

 Barcelona, Spain

An extremely popular destination for Europeans and Americans alike, Barcelona is a sophisticated and trendy city which overflows with fashion, music, food and dance.  Often referred to as a walking piece of art travelers will be richly rewarded with  impressive architecture such as Gaudi’s Catedral de la Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell which appears to have stepped out of a fairy tale and emulates an English garden city.  300 days of sunshine a year makes this remarkable place an ideal getaway during most any season.  Barcelona is another city which can be quite crowded, especially on days when large cruise ships are in port, so aim to visit this popular destination in the spring or fall.

 Prague, Czech Republic

“Prague doesn’t let go.  This old crone has claws.  One has to yield or else.” – Franz Kafka

Although known as the ‘city of a hundred spires’, Prague actually has nearly one thousand spired buildings and include gothic cathedrals and baroque palaces.  This historic and colorful destination takes time to explore and to get a feel for the pulse of the city.  One of the first must see highlight for your list will be the Charles Bridge, Prague’s signature stone bridge complete with buskers, food, entertainment, and a perfectly framed view of Prague Castle.  Prague Castle is a rambling castle complex that can be enjoyed by simply walking the grounds or taking a tour of the inside walls.  Petrin Hill, a lovely hill in the shadow of the castle complex offers sweeping views of the city.  Either wander up on your own or take the funicular to see the 299-step faux Eiffel Tower, the mirror maze and Stefanik Observatory.  And don’t miss the focal point of the Stare′ Mesto district, the Astronomical Clock which has chimed since 1410.