On our recent Caribbean cruise, we visited several islands aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Getaway cruise ship (you can read more about our experience on the ship here). While on this trip, we elected to stay in the Haven level accommodations, which are the most luxurious accommodations offered on the ship. Keep reading for a review of our experience with Norwegian Cruise Line’s Haven accommodations.
An overview of the Haven
NCL advertises the Haven as their “most luxurious, well-appointed and spacious accommodations.” The Haven rooms are significantly larger than traditional ship staterooms and more closely resemble a standard hotel room or suite. But the Haven accommodations come with a number of other perks that truly make this an upgrade worth splurging on (more on this later).
This was actually our second time staying in Haven accommodations on an NCL ship. On our last cruise on the NCL Breakaway, we were offered the opportunity to ‘bid’ on a room upgrade a few weeks prior to our departure. We originally booked a standard balcony room and were lucky enough to ‘win’ the upgraded Haven Spa Suite room (there are several types of Haven rooms available).
On this cruise, we elected to stay in a Forward-facing penthouse suite. I can say that both of these rooms offered significantly larger and nicer accommodations than a standard state room. The Spa Suite we stayed in on our previous cruise has a private spa tub in which you could sit and enjoy the views. But it was our Forward-facing penthouse suite that was really spectacular.
Our suite was really lovely. There were separate bedroom and living areas which I really appreciated and one of these spaces alone was larger than a standard stateroom. Because Brian tends to get up much earlier than I do, he was able to utilize the living room to get work done or sit on the balcony without disturbing me. And the bathroom. Wow. The bathrooms in most state rooms are so tiny they are claustrophobic. But in this room, we actually had a huge tub, a large shower (by cruise ship standards), two sinks, a vanity area, and a separate toilet room.
This large bathroom was really wonderful because there was more than enough space for Brian and I to get ready at the same time. And it was lovely to have a place to sit to do my hair and makeup. The bed was very comfortable and had a window that looked out the front of the ship. The living space had a couch, armchair, television, coffee table, side tables, small dining table and chairs, a desk with chair, and a minifridge. There was so much storage in this room. In addition to storage available in the living room area, there was a significant amount of storage in the bedroom. There were two walls of closets plus another half-wall of draws. Normally, Brian and I don’t have enough space to unpack all of our belongings in our state room, but this room had so much storage that much went unused.
There were a few trade-offs to our room. First, it was located at the front of the ship, so it was a decent walk to and from the stairs/elevators. This also made it very difficult for us to hear the ship announcements. The other trade-off for our specific room category was that it was not located in the Haven Courtyard, so it was a bit of a trek to many of the amenities I describe below.
There are several amenities that come with staying in the Haven. I think that without these, the additional cost of the Haven room might not be as easy to justify.
The Haven Restaurant
In my opinion, the most valuable perk of staying in a Haven stateroom is that you get access to the Haven Restaurant. In general the food is good, but it is probably only a small step up from the other free sit-down dining offered on the ship. The reason the access to the Haven Restaurant is so valuable is because it is open for breakfast. The only breakfast options for non-Haven guests are (1) the buffet or (2) a very limited continental breakfast that you can get delivered to your stateroom.
I despise the crowds that flood into the Garden Cafe buffet every morning and this is even more true on port days when everyone is trying to eat at the same time to get off of the ship so that they don’t miss their excursions. I found the stress and chaos of this somewhat overwhelming. Essentially, we would have to go to the Garden Cafe with enough time to eat two meals. One member of our party would find a table and wait while the other got their food. Once they returned to the table, the second person could get their food. And because the buffet is so large and crowded, the first person was practically finished with their meal by the time the second person returned to the table with their food and drink.
The lunch/dinner menu is somewhat limited, but I feel that the food is pretty good in general. And the staff are happy to adapt menu items to fit your preferences.
The Haven Courtyard
The Haven Courtyard is an outdoor area which can only be accessed by individuals staying in the Haven. It includes a small pool, two hot tubs, a sauna, and a pool deck with tables, lounge chairs, and other seating across two levels. This area never seems to be crowded and is much more calm than the main pool area. There are also snacks, water, and juices available throughout the day. On the Getaway this area was open to the elements but on the Breakaway this was enclosed (possibly for use on Alaskan cruises).
The indoor portion of the Courtyard also includes some pretty great perks. There is a Haven-exclusive bar which Brian said made great drinks without skimping on the alcohol. There is also a lounge area where you can hang out or wait to be escorted to an event or off of the ship. Which leads us to another significant perk of the Haven: The concierge.
The Haven concierge
Also located in the Haven Courtyard is the concierge desk. We utilized the concierge staff regularly during both of our stays in the Haven. The Haven concierge staff is amazing. If you have any type of question or issue, they can generally resolve it for you without having to wait in a 20 or 30 minute line at the main Guest Services desk with the rest of the passengers on the ship. Among other things, they can help you reserve or change excursions, show times, and dinner reservations.
Another perk that is offered by the concierge desk is priority disembarkation and boarding as well as priority seating at most shows. You get to skip the long boarding/disembarkment lines when at port which saves a ton of time. And for all of the major shows, they either reserve a section of seats or allow you into the theater to select your seats before the doors open to other guests. This perk saves a lot of time and helps to eliminate the stress of finding a seat at a popular show.
The Haven butler
All haven rooms also have access to a 24-hour butler. This is a service we rarely use, but it came in especially helpful on our recent cruise. After returning to the ship on our last port day, we realized that Brian’s hat was missing. We eventually surmised that he had left it in the metal detector when returning through the ship earlier that day. Brian contacted our butler who located the hat and met him at Guest Services in less than 10 minutes to return it to him. We were very impressed.
The butler also secured an iron for our room (I packed a lot of linen) and checked in with us regularly to see if we needed anything.
After staying in a Haven room, I don’t know that we will ever be able to go back to a regular room. The increased comfort and convenience make it a no-brainer for us. It truly is like a cruise within a cruise and allows you to avoid most of the crowds and stress associated with cruising. I highly recommend these accommodations to anyone that might be considering them.
If you are looking for more cruise-related content, be sure to check out my post on the Pros and Cons of cruising or my Norwegian Cruise Line review.
Have you ever stayed in the Haven or other luxury cruise accommodations? What was your experience like? Please share in the comments.
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