We had a group of about 56 people which was a good combination of Parents in their 40's and Boys and Girls sailing as their Senior Graduation Cruise from High School. Our rooms varied from Inside Cabins, to Suites. This review is about the Garden Villa and in general, booking a group on NCL.
We arrived around 11 am at the port and were taken to the Suite Check In. The room had refreshments, but is fairly small and only fits a few groups at once. We checked in and there were 8 of us for the Villa. Once we checked in we were sent to a waiting area and spend about 45 minutes there. When the let us on, it was a bit chaotic, unlike my previous cruise on NCL in a suite. Perviously someone came and got us as a family and brought us to the room. Here we all just got on and found the room and did not see the butler or concierge.
The room itself is fantastic. 3 bedrooms and a huge living area with a bar, piano and couch as well as a TV. You overlook the Lido deck and the view More
is very nice. But, the best part is the outdoor, private courtyard. It has a table under cover for about 8, a hot tub and then some lounging chairs in the main floor and then up the stairs there is a hammock and loungers.
Two of the bedrooms are about the same size as a large balcony room and three boys slept in one, as it had a chair for sleeping. Another, younger boy, slept in a roll away in the living area, which they brought at our request. The main sleeping room is incredible with a very large bath room and great window views. You do not have a private balcony in this room, but access to the courtyard is right there.
We had a sailaway with the entire group in the room and it was never crowded and a great way to get everyone together before dinner. We did this on several occasions with no issues getting people to the room. We had requested and were granted 4 extra keys that we gave to the parents so they could share / enjoy the room with us.
The main (shared) courtyard is very nice as well and we would have breakfast there each morning. They also have coffee and pastries as well as snacks and sodas there most of the day. If you are traveling on your own or with a small group, the Haven is well worth doing.
The ship itself, which we had sailed before, is very nice and in great condition. I would rank the food as very good, especially in the specialty restaurants.
We had set dining times each night except one, where everyone did their own thing and one night we did the italian restaurant as a group. We were in the same restaurant each night, but they put us in different location each night, with different serves and for the most part fairly broken up. Some nights we would have a bunch of 4 tops, etc... This was not very convenient and caused some confusion and hurt feelings each night. This, i think, is the big problem doing a group on NCL. I have done others on Princess, RCL and Carnival and you got tables together and the same each night.
Highlight of the cruise was the white hot party on deck. It was a blast.
Bottom line is the Garden Villa is a unique, incredible experience. But, I would never do a group of this size on NCL again. If you have a smaller group of 20 or so, and can do the Garden Villa and have the others come and enjoy, it is well worth it. Less