After a week-long cruise aboard the Norwegian Bliss with three planned sea days (which turned into four), our short answer is, “Yes! So much yes.”
We have cruised with NCL 8 times in the last three years on a variety of their ships. I’d say we are experienced cruisers with NCL and also very familiar with their current cruise offerings. This was our first experience in The Haven and I definitely don’t think it will be our last. But topping this brand new, super luxury experience which we had on the Bliss is going to be extra difficult to beat.
The cabins on the Norwegians ships are very nice in general and if you like the Garden Cafe buffet and crowd experiences, The Haven is probably not at all for you. If you prefer a more luxury experience, like to have a quiet place to relax and appreciate the finer experiences in life, I highly recommend checking out The Haven.
Here are a few reasons why we think The Haven is absolutely worth it if you can afford it:
- It’s your sanctuary. There are lots of private areas to relax and retreat within The Haven including the covered pool, sun deck, bar, and restaurant. This peace and quiet is especially nice on sea days when no one can get off the ship. It’s fun to party with everyone when you want, but it’s also nice to have a place of solitude where you can relax or hang out with the other guests in your trip…but that isn’t necessarily your cabin.
- Upgraded restaurant experience for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No more fighting at the Garden Cafe with the masses during the day for snacks or anything else. You have your own Haven Restaurant for three meals a day. And a dessert and fruit buffet with a coffee bar is also available throughout the day. The food is also of a higher quality in the Haven Restaurant. The lunch options included Brie Burgers, Ceasar Salads, Seared Scallops with Zucchini Noodles and Veal Schnitzel. Dinner options included pasta, a T-bone special, and my favorite – the lamb chops (which I ate for 3 of 7 dinners they were so good!) I’m not sure if every ship is this way but the Haven Restaurant was so good, we would likely not do the upgrade dining experiences next time. Cagney’s and Le Bistro are our favorites, but the food in the Haven Restaurant was absolutely better. And SO much more comfortable, peaceful and with better service.
- 24/7 Butler and Haven Concierge. One of the heavily toted perks is the butler, but we rarely knew what to do with ours and we didn’t see him often either. One day, I did happen to lose my cell phone onboard (something I’d never dealt with) and our butler was exceptionally helpful at retrieving it. But otherwise, we rarely asked for his assistance. We loved the Haven Concierge service, though. Want to go to a show tonight but there is no space? No worries, they have you covered. Want to go to dinner at a specialty restaurant but don’t have a reservation? No problem – they’ll get you one. Tickets to the go-karts? Done. Whatever you need, they can assist. And you don’t wait in a line a mile long like you do for the rest of the ship.
- Access to booked out shows and dining experiences. Yes, I did just mention this but let me state it boldly. I’m a big fan of pre-booking our specialty dining before we sail (up to 90 days in advance), but we had to change our dining reservations onboard which is generally a nightmare. The concierge Adrian asked when we wanted to dine and even though the restaurant was full, they found a place for us.
- Upgraded beds, linens, rooms, and Bulgari bath products. I generally find the beds on NCL cruises to be okay, but the beds in The Haven Suites are amazing. The Italian-made mattresses from Matermoll were huge with a large pillow topper and a dream to sleep on. And we loved sinking into the 100% cotton bed linens and fluffy duvet every night.
- Space. So much space. From the restaurants to the cabins, you have more room to breathe in every inch of The Haven experience. As we walked through the specialty restaurants, Garden Cafe, pool deck and more, we realized how close everything was together. When you’re packing nearly 4,000 people into the common spaces, you have to make allowances in space. But within The Haven, there was a very noticeable use of empty space. And it was heavenly.
- Little treats in your room every day. We love little perks, no matter how simple they are. Many days of our cruise, we received little gifts from the various departments as well as our butler. They ranged from little sandwiches to delectable tarts to chocolate covered strawberries. We absolutely looked forward to those!
- Excellent service that rivals the best hotels in the world. Good service deserves to be talked about and we really enjoyed many of the people we came into contact with on the Bliss. The service staff knew our names and remembered us every day. And because the staff in the restaurants didn’t change daily and the room was smaller, you could really build a rapport with each of them.
- On-ship phone service. One of the biggest issues is keeping up with everyone when you’re onboard. Walkie-talkies don’t work well because you’re in massive steel ship and cell phone service is not always an option. So when we heard that there was phone service for The Haven guests, we were really thrilled. Mackenzie could stay in the cabin in the evenings or for brief periods of time during the day but we could still be available if she needed us. Or if our plans changed, we could update the other guests we were traveling with. We LOVED these!
- The travelers. People traveling in The Haven are almost all very friendly, outgoing and interesting. We always meet a lot of people all over the cruise ship, but some of the most interesting have so far been in The Haven on this trip. We were also surprised that so many families were traveling with school-aged kids.
- Attention to detail. Everything within The Haven is just a tick better than the rest of the ship. Although The Bliss is a new and amazing ship to begin with, the art, furniture, trim work, restaurant and so on was better quality.
- Primary embarkation & disembarkation. Getting on the ship is not usually a terrible process. Getting off is a whole other ballgame, especially for walk-off in the morning of the final day. For The Haven, everything is smooth and easy. There is a priority check-in desk where your cabin keys are waiting for you. You’re then escorted past the masses to the gangway and swept right up to The Haven Lounge until cabins are ready. Since you have a bar and the restaurant is open, you won’t mind waiting at all for your luggage to arrive to your cabin. When you disembark on the final day, the process is also expedited. Gather in The Haven Lounge, and you’re escorted off through the crew elevator and jump to the front of the line for checkout. And with the early walk-off time, there’s also no line at customs. Way better than 30-60 minute waits we’ve experienced getting off other ships!
One rumor we heard about The Haven is that you have priority access to the elevator and can get elevators faster and/or skip everyone else’s requests on the elevator. We tried this on several occasions around the ship but were dismayed to find it didn’t work. While I can see why they might not want to let this work on all of them, it would have been nice to have at least one elevator that could be used with an override pass for Haven guests. Our suite was on the 10th floor and The Haven floors are 17-19. We found ourselves going up and down between 10 and 17 a lot which meant a lot of stairs down or waiting with everyone to head upstairs.
Overall, our Haven experience was fantastic and we really enjoyed the level of service and perks. If you can find a great deal on a cabin in The Haven and can afford the extra expense, definitely go for it to enjoy a luxury experience.263