We are frequent cruisers on several lines, and had been wanting to try the Haven on the Epic. We are so glad we did. The Haven was a veritable sanctuary and well, well worth the price.
Embarkation: If you book a Haven Suite on the Epic out of Miami and your cruise docs say Terminal C, do NOT go there. Ignore your cruise doc and go to Terminal B. That is where your keys and priority Haven embarkation will be. Sadly, we obeyed our docs and went to Terminal C, a huge mistake. After we finally made it through the long lines, the check-in desk didn't have our keys (because our keys were waiting in Terminal B), so we had to wait while they made us new "first time cruiser" keys. By this time, general boarding had already begun, and they tried to hand us Group 21 cards or something similar. We explained that Haven/Suites are given priority boarding (apparently, a personal escort onboard, and you are "whisked" straight to the Haven restaurant for lunch). The Terminal C employees did More
not know what the Haven was. A supervisor at the door told us, "The Haven guests have already boarded. It's too late. There's nothing I can do." (One look at our astonished faces and dropped jaws probably led him to decide that this was probably not the right response, so he let us through).
Lesson learned. Do not go to Terminal C if you have booked a Haven suite. We lost out on the promised experience of priority embarkation. Oh, well.
We loved using the private elevator. Your Haven key unlocks the elevator in the Epic Lounge on Deck 16, so you can directly access Deck 15 one floor below (pool/buffet area), and Deck 18 above (Posh private sundeck). We hardly ever saw anyone using this elevator, and it was super convenient for us.
The cabin: We booked a two-bedroom villa, having enjoyed one previously on the Jewel. Beautiful appointments, tons of drawer space. The telephones have a clock on them, so you won't need to bring one. You are provided with robes and slippers as well. We always bring our own DVDs, and liked having two DVD players, one in the living room and one in the master. The two main lightswitches have about 12 different settings (Daytime/Reading/Candle/Overnight, etc). It took half the cruise to figure out which setting we liked the best. Your butler will help you figure out the Lavazza coffeemaker. We accidentally put it in Italian mode and couldn't understand a thing. The picture of the full cup only gives you one inch of coffee, so we ended up choosing the button with arrows both up and down, and pressing it again when the cup was full.
Remember that the Haven Concierge is pleased to print your boarding passes for you at the end of the voyage. Don't waste your onboard Internet minute package on this task.
Service throughout the ship was fantastic, the food at the buffet was excellent, as were both main dining rooms, and specialty restaurant La Cucina. We made a reservation for the Manhattan dining room while there was live music and dancing. Another nice touch is that movies are shown on a huge screen right in the Atrium where coffee and pastries are also available.
We loved the Nondenominational Church Services. They missed providing one on Sunday, so they finally compensated by having two services later in the week. Each was held in the Fat Cats Jazz Club, and it provided a great opportunity to get to know fellow cruisers of faith.
Overall, a truly fantastic cruise experience. We're already planning to book our next Epic cruise, in the Haven. Less