By Norman Sklarewitz
As the newest liner in NCL’s young fleet, the Norwegian Bliss went into service this month offering the traveling public, an eye-popping line-up of services and amenities. For the more action-inclined passengers, there is the industry’s longest sea-going Go Kart track, a Laser Tag course and a heart-stopping water slide that takes the brave hurtling down twists and turns through tubes hanging out over the open water.
For those looking for a less frenetic experience is the Haven, figuratively a “ship within a ship” offering up-market travelers unparallel luxury and privacy. In-between, the Norwegian Bliss presents all passengers with a lavish casino, some 20 restaurants, 13 lounges and bars, a night club and theatrical productions.
Calling all Cruisers
At the same time, the ship caters to a tiny segment of the travelling public but with the same attention. It’s those passengers who are handicapped. At one time, cruising for those with some level of physical impairment was a challenge. Not on the Norwegian Bliss.
For starters, it offers 43 special cabins for the handicapped in all categories, from a wheel chair accessible Haven Courtyard Penthouse of 620 square feet with a balcony to an Inside stateroom of 201 square feet.
“That is the most such cabins aboard any ship,” Jovo Sekulovic, Hotel Director, told Travel-Intel. Not only does the Norwegian Bliss meet all requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but Sekulovic points out that his ship goes even further with a variety of special features.
For starters, all staterooms designated for the handicapped are larger than those in the same category. But there is no premium charge for any handicapped accommodation. There are other special touches. The sill familiar at all doorways aboard a ship are removed on the Norwegian Bliss’s accessible staterooms to make wheelchair access easy. But while not required by the ADA, the sills are also removed in staterooms with balconies to permit occupants in wheelchairs to roll out and enjoy that feature. To open the door to leave a handicapped stateroom there’s a metal panel in the wall. Only a slight touch is needed to open the door. “NCL always looks to not only meet ADA requirements, but to innovate,” Sekulovic says. At the swimming pools and hot tubs, for example, special lifts are available so that the handicapped can enjoy those facilities the same as any other passenger. Another accommodation for the handicapped: for every performance, the last three rows of the ship’s showroom are reserved for the handicapped.
On Sekulovic’s staff are two Special Access officers specifically tasked to look after the needs of those requiring assistance. Among regular crew members are also members of Special Care Staff. In the event of any shipboard emergency, they will look after passengers requiring personal assistance.
With a capacity of 4,004, processing passengers embarking for the Norwegian Bliss is admittedly a major challenge. But here again, those with physical problems are given special attention. Instead of standing in a long line for check-in, those in wheel chairs, walkers or otherwise needing assistance are afforded a special lane that permits quick check-in. At the Port of Los Angeles at least, they are then directed to an elevator that precludes walking up the long gangway ramps.
Given this level of attention to this small, but important market segment, Sekulovic likes to point out that the handicapped category of statements is the first to be booked out and are, in fact, already booked solid for the Norwegian Bliss’ schedule of Alaska cruises for the season ahead.
Passengers: 4004- 4903
Total decks: 20
Decks with cabins: 11
Average Space Ratio: 41.1
The following ships share the same class as this ship. This means the basic design and layout of the ship is the same. For the most part the cabins will be identical among these ships, but may be decorated differently.
2015 – Norwegian Escape
2017 – Norwegian Joy
2019 – Norwegian Encore
(888) NCL-CRUISE (625-2784)
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