I haven't seen any Haven reviews, so here is a shot at it. We booked the cruise in December specifically for the Haven which we stayed in on the Jade last year. I booked with NCL who I have used before. We booked a Two Bed Room Family Suite (S-4) in the Haven, and we were not disappointed. We planned our trip for the week after July 4th. We rented a vehicle from hertz both directions which was the same as parking, and there was a Hertz facility right next to the hotel. We spent the Saturday night in the Hilton Mod-town which was very convenient and had a Birthday Dinner for my wife at Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. It’s easy to see why it won the James beard award for Best Restaurant this year, and I never thought I would ever use the terms kid-friendly and unpretentious with a top New York restaurant. Even though our 7-year old was the only child in the restaurant, they brought out a pail of crayons and encouraged him to draw on the white paper covering the white table cloth. For dessert, they took him back to meet the pastry chef and make his own dessert – chocolate ice cream with chocolate shavings and cherries. The service was excellent, and the wines excellent and reasonable. You do have to make your reservations one month in advance.
On Sunday morning, my wife wanted to go see the Today show, and we walked 4-5 blocks to 30 Rock and saw the crew. After that, we loaded up the taxi and left the Hilton. The Hilton was good ( I am a Diamond, so I stay at the properties frequently). It was very convenient for everything we did in New York. Pier 88 was a short distance which caused a problem. In order to get a taxi big enough for 4 plus luggage, the bell man went and found a taxi for us. It was only after we started that he told us that the bell man told him we were going to the airport not 10 blocks. I told him I would make it up to him, but when we got the Pier he dropped us far from the drop off – farther than the luggage guys were allowed to go. Needless to say, I decided to save some money on what I was going to tip him.
We checked our bags including a case each of water and diet coke. We went through Security, and then went to pay the $15 corkage fee for the wines we brought on board. We then proceeded to the Haven check-in. A Number of Haven guests arrived at the same time, so we had a short wait. After checking in, we were escorted quickly on board and took the elevator to the Haven. Both were excellent. We met the concierge (Ruth) and her assistant (Evan). We made a couple of show and dinner reservations including that night in the Manhattan room. This was Ruth’s last week on the Breakaway as she is headed to the Getaway. In fact most of the restaurant staff (80%) will be transitioning to the Getaway. We checked out our suite and met our attendant (Noel) and Butler (Marlon) both of whom were outstanding and took care of us. We had lunch in the Haven restaurant and enjoyed it. That is a major plus for the Haven which I will get in later. The Haven is very nice, and we looked around the ship. We signed our 7-year old son up for the Kids Center – the only time he was in it all week as he had too much fun in the Haven. Our bags were there when we got back but the waters and diet cokes were missing. We went top side to watch the departure from New York, and the view of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty were fantastic. We came back to our cabin to find the waters and diet cokes with the soda case damaged and some of the cans leaking.
We attended the boat drill, and then unpacked our bags. I had made reservations in the Manhattan Room because I had read that Sunday was Steak and Lobster night. Yes there was steak but no lobster. The food was ok, and there was live entertainment. For all the talk about men having to wear long pants to dinner in the Manhattan room, I saw a number of men in shorts. My mother-in-law spilled red wine on herself and went back to the cabin to change where we had our first vacation hero. Noel saw here and took her outfit to be cleaned. We received it the next day good as new and it was complimentary. We went that night to the Burn the Floor Show. Our 7-year old son was bored and my wife took him away 45 minutes in. The show was fine, but it reminded me of a typical cruise show.
The seas were smooth with waves 1-5 ft. In fact our entire trip was very smooth with an occasional sway if you were up front or in the back.
I called Marlon at 7:15 for coffee, fruit, cereal, fresh-squeezed orange juice and croissants which were delivered while I went to the gym. At 7:30 every piece of exercise equipment was already taken save 1. After the workout, we had breakfast outside in the Haven restaurant. Before the cruise, we didn’t expect to use the Haven’s restaurant or Lounge much, but we ended up spending a lot of time there. I talked with Evan about reservations for dinner and everything was booked. I can’t stress how important it is to book early on the Breakaway and it really limits Free Style dining when you have to plan far in advance. On the Pearl and Jade, there was never an issue going to a specialty restaurant, but unless you like 9:30 or 10:00 meals, book in advance. We spent the day by the Haven pool relaxing and letting our son have fun swimming. While at the pool, the staff was always coming around with fresh fruit, cold towels, and smoothies. Monday night was the Captain’s Party for the Haven guests, and right before it started, I asked Evan to check and he was able to secure a reservation in Le Bistro for us. The party was good, and they had open bar and appetizers including slices of Beef Wellington. Our son got his picture with the Captain, and we went to Le Bistro where we met Vacation Hero number 2. My wife recognized the Maitre’D , Ruxy, from the Jade, and she remembered us. My son had lost a teddy bear during their chocolate party, and she had found it for him. We had a great dinner (lobster tail was big and delicious) and the dessert was chocolate fondue for two. Le Bistro halved a pineapple and filled it with strawberries, bananas, cream puffs, grapes and pineapple and provided a bowl of melted chocolate to dip them in. What a great dessert!
We had our daily delivery from Marlon and I went downstairs to the gym. This time at 7:30, more equipment was available, and after the workout I decided to walk around before going back to the cabin. Walking along deck 15, I noticed every chair was already taken – most with towels and no one nearby. I stopped by the garden Buffet to get coffee, and then went by the casino. I was surprised the casino was open at 8:30 only to find out we had missed the time change the night before. For some reason, we didn’t have the notice on our pillow, so we didn’t move our clock ahead. We went to the Haven for Breakfast and then spent time buy the Haven Pool. Our son found other boys to play with, so we never went out to the main pool deck which I had heard was always packed. We had lunch by the pool – cheeseburger and onion rings and enjoyed the sunshine. We had Cirque tickets for 5:30, and one of the benefits of the Haven is the concierge takes you down at 5:00, and you have first crack at the tickets. We had bought the premium seats ($39.95 each), but I am not sure you need to if you are in the Haven My wife have both enjoyed Cirque a few times, but my son had never seen it. The show was really good given the space limitations. Dinner is fine, but unless you have an allergy, you are limited to a coconut shrimp and steak dinner. After dinner, my son wanted to go back to the pool, and we utilized the Haven Bar for a nitecap.
We arrived in Bermuda and we had breakfast before heading to the beach. We got in a taxi and started talking with the driver, Rosalynn (spelling?). She told us that she offered tours (not a Blue Star driver) and took credit cards. In fact, in advance she charges $175 for four hours. (You can reach her via www.kreativeresponse.com) I had already booked a Blue Star for a Thursday morning tour, so we declined her offer. Since it was already 11:00 as we approached Horseshoe Bay, she suggested we might want to try Warwick Long Bay which is a little bit farther up the road. She told it had concessions and share and umbrella rentals but no changing or bathroom facilities (it does have two porta-potties). We decided to go there, and the meter was $32. The beach wasn’t crowded and the sand pink as advertised. The only issue is the drop-off is quick, and there are no lifeguards. We kept our son close, and there were quite a few people snorkeling. There was a trailer selling hot dogs; sodas; and chicken sandwiches, nuggets, and wings). Lunch for 4 was ~$32, and they called a taxi for us when we were ready to leave mid-afternoon. We headed back to the ship, and had a dip in the pool. We had dinner that night in the Haven Restaurant. I had heard that the fillet there was excellent (several people said it was better than Ruth Chris’s and Morton’s), and they were correct. Roxy had been covering the lunch service for the Haven Maître D, Mr. Singh. I told him it was too bad we couldn’t get dessert from downstairs, and before I knew it he had called Roxy and arranged for the chocolate fondue dessert to be sent up from Le Bistro. Queue vacation heroes number 2 and 3. After dinner, my son wanted to spend time in the pool, and we had coffee and drinks by the pool.
We had our morning delivery from Marlon, and got ready. We had booked Mr. Colin Jennings in advance. Before I left, I had emailed a number of Blue Star Taxi’s before I left, and his response was the friendliest (firstname.lastname@example.org). We connected outside the ship, and we started our tour in the Dockyards and headed towards St. George. This part of the trip was for my Mother-in-Law, and we had a four tour. My mother-in-law uses hearing aids, and Mr. Jennings low voice was perfect for her to hear. We saw the whole island (actually 181 islands), and we ended up in St. George in time for lunch at Wahoos. We were originally aiming for the beach house, but Mr. Jennings said it might be difficult to get a taxi afterwards (confirmed by others who ate there). Lunch was good but expensive ($140 including automatic tip). Afterwards we walked around St. George and caught the 3:30 ferry back to the Dockyards (along with half of both cruise ships in port). We had a quick dip in the pool before getting ready for dinner at La Cucina. We arrived at the restaurant, and the Maitre D told us she had a wonderful table outside. We were excited to try the Waterfront, and we went outside. It was hot, and we decided to move inside, where my son decided he really wanted to be outside so we went back out. Our waiter, Akim, served breakfast in the Haven, so we were happy to have him take care of us. We made it through the appetizers, but it was so hot we had to move inside. The rest of the meal was disappointing unlike our visits to other La Cucinas in the fleet. The Caesar Salads were good but disappointing – two croutons, two anchovies, and a small amount of cheese. My Osso Buco was tough, and my wife and mother-in-law shared a pizza which my wife said we sometimes get better Dominos pizza than the one they had. I should have said something but didn’t. We went upstairs and talked with the Concierge (no offer to refund the upcharge) and Mr. Singh. He told us they had Prime Rib up in the Haven (We didn’t know the Haven had specials in addition to the menu), and my wife said she was disappointed she missed that. We told him we would be having dinner from then on in the Haven, and he winked at me and whispered he would have Prime Rib for my Wife on Saturday. We had dessert and coffee by the pool as my son enjoyed more time in there.
We decided to relax on the ship. My wife and I went around the Dockyards to check out the shops, and my son went swimming in the Haven Pool. We had lunch in the Haven Restaurant (The French Dip sandwich and onion rings were really good), and then let my son play with his friends in the afternoon.
We had tickets to see the magician/comedian David Merry. He was so-so. Not really funny, and for a 6:00 show with lots of young kids, did too much off-color comedy and little magic. All in all a very disappointing show.
We saw Roxy in the Haven, and I asked her to cancel our planned dinner in Le Bistro for us. She took care of that, and we had dinner in the Haven with another couple who we had met. Donna took care of us, and we had a really good dinner. Another Vacation Hero
Our last day on the ship, and we relaxed and enjoyed the Haven. I tried the casino, but the tables were cold ( I am not a fan of the automatic shuffle machines with blackjack.) We had dinner in the haven, and Mr. Singh had Prime Rib ready for my wife. We asked if the dessert fondue was available, and he called Le Bistro and sent someone to get it for us. Mr. Singh knows how to take care of people. He and Roxy will be going to the Getaway soon, so look out for them. We went back to the cabin and packed up.
Marlon brought us coffee and he is a true vacation hero. He always took care of us and knew what we wanted in advance. He always had treats (M&Ms and cookies available for our son). We had breakfast by the pool – limited menu, and we departed the ship. We caught a taxi to the Hertz on 60th street, and got our car very quickly.
The Haven on The Breakawy is fantastic. The service was excellent, and the restaurant and the bar are a welcome addition. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the staff, and the staff took care of us on this trip.