Bliss on the Racetrack?
I must admit that I really had a hard time wrapping my head around a racetrack on a ship purpose-built for Alaska. I mentioned this in a previous post, but it’s worth beating the dead horse even more. Have we become so inept at entertaining ourselves that we need something for stimulation 24/7? Have we gotten so far away from the simpler things, nature comes to mind, that relaxation or enjoyment of our surroundings presents a huge challenge? Having been to Alaska many times, I don’t understand how this racetrack adds to that experience. Outstanding scenery, fresh air and natural surroundings inspire and hold the attention of many of us. Having been to the Caribbean a number of times, I can maybe understand why the race cars and the equally debatable laser tag might hold interest for some. Without looking at numbers, I imagine that more people have visited the Caribbean ports multiple times whereas few people sail Alaska frequently. Maybe those frequent sailors need more diversions.
Allegedly, the idea of the go-karts developed from the input of Frank Del Rio’s grandchildren. I wonder what they will be suggesting for Norwegian Encore. Not to be a hypocrite, I did enjoy The Plank on the Breakaway Class ships. Enjoy probably isn’t the best word because I was terrified doing the ropes course and only completed it the first time with the encouragement and support of one of the great staff members there. The ropes course challenged me to explore beyond my comfort zone. It also confirmed the fact that I have not quite succumbed to an old age mindset. Pretty soon, the old age body will tell my mind to shut up.
Of course, I did have to try out the track in order to be a fair judge of the experience. Well, my experience certainly wasn’t typical as I was the only person on the track, so I can say nothing about how much fun it would be racing with a group of people. I admit that when I did it, I did have great views of the Miami landscape. I did take note of some of my solo experience and watched a group later:
- Although the ship was less than a month old, the safety walls sure had lots of scrapes on them.
- The steering wheel on the cars was awkward at best and certainly isn’t equipped with power steering.
- Bad knees and maybe a lack of flexibility did make entry into the go-kart a bit difficult, but certainly not impossible.
- Going up the first hill – well, the only uphill – will be slow.
- The attendants pay close attention to riders and are in control and can slow down or completely stop offensive drivers and the rest of the people on the track.
- Although the karts might be able to attain a speed of 30, there is no speedometer to verify that.
- The fee for riding is $9.95 for about 8 laps.
- Helmets are put on over a balaclava that is washed after each use.
- The karts have electric engines with simulated sounds piped in for the driver.
- Alaska has outstanding scenery and is larger than life. (OK, you knew I had to say something about Alaska.)
- Riders definitely enjoyed themselves.
Norwegian definitely wants to attract the younger demographic and it is possible that adding features that attract the younger demographic might be the way to do it. : ) However, wouldn’t it be nice to have a ship that doesn’t have all the latest and greatest thrills and chills? That track takes up lots of space and it would sure be nice to have more exterior viewing areas – especially for Alaska.
I wore a GoPro camera during my laps. I used the chest harness and it worked out fine. (I found a chest harness just for this event. Worried about the cost of the official GoPro accessories, I started a search and was so happy to find a SmilePowo Accessory Kit bag of mounts for less than the cost of some of the individual mounts and harnesses.) If you are considering using your GoPro or some other camera, be aware that it won’t mount on the helmet. I think that Norwegian should consider having a helmet mount for riders. Also be aware that you may not have anything held in your hands as both hands must be on the steering wheel at all times. Be prepared in advance if you are wearing a harness as you won’t have lots of time to organize everything.
Here is the video I shot. Do note that the price for the experience has increased to $9.95.
Have you tried the Bliss Go-Karts? What do you think?
The race track is unique and will attract the younger cruisers. However agree with you it seems a waste of a prime area which could be utilised particularly with those views!
I would so love to try Bliss or any of the refurbed NCL ships. Some of the older ones have a little too wild interior decor for my liking. But the water slides and the karts on this one really call out to me. Still a child at heart, me 😉
It’s going to be interesting to see the feedback on this new features – it is a first at sea. It’s definieky aimed at the teen cruiser market who enjoy this type of activity on land. I don’t have teens yet and I hope my girls will be as interested in amazing destinations as I am. But for those odd moments that they do get ‘bored’, this might help enetertain them. However, who knows what cruise ships will be adding by then?!
This is definitely a novelty factor and will draw people to book to be able to have a go on the race track. I personally wouldn’t book just for the race track but I have seen videos of the rest of the ship and it looks clean and modern so that would appeal to me more.
I agree with all the comments above and your view too, I think the racetrack is purely for novelty factor. It seems a bit of a wasted space for an experience most cruisers may only try once during a cruise? I’m with you and think the Alaska scenery is more interesting so it certainly wouldn’t sway me to book the ship for this alone although it is a bonus addition!