Drove to Pier 88 from southern New Jersey via the Lincoln Tunnel. The directions posted on the NY Ports website were spot on to get us to the pier in about 10 minutes after entering Manhattan. Parking is a little steep ($40 per day) but it's New York and the convenience was very nice. Once parked we took our luggage in the large elevator to the first (ground) floor to be taken by a porter, then back in the elevator to the second floor for check in. The elevator has an operator inside who was very friendly and guided us through the process.
The check in area was pretty hectic and crowded upon arrival at around 10:30 am, but the NCL staff on hand was very competent in guiding guests to the proper check in line. Once checked in at the station for suite guests we were guided to the priority waiting room for our key cards. Around 11:30 am we were taken as a group, led by one of NCL's best concierges (Carlos) to the ship. We were the first ones on the ship and escorted to Cagney's More
for lunch. After a very relaxing lunch and a cocktail, we checked out the Haven and by then our rooms were ready (approx 12:45 pm).
Our room, H3 category room 10004 the "Purple Diamond Suite" was the most amazing room we've ever had. The front balcony had two cushioned wicker lounge chairs and a small table with plenty room to move the loungers around to get the best sun angle. This balcony was off the bedroom, there is also a large picture widow which allowed us to lay in bed in the morning and watch the seas off the front of the ship. Beware; close the heavy hatch door at night. We had a big thunderstorm the second night at sea and the rain water came under the regular balcony door and got the carpet wet. Also chilly strong winds will blow through the cracks of the regular door at night leaving and returning from New York if the hatch door isn't closed. It's very easy to operate - don't be intimidated.
Back to the room, we spent quite a bit of time in the room, it was magnificent to say the very least. The side balcony, off the living room had two sets of table and chairs and was shielded from the wind on sea days. We ate a few meals there that our butler brought us. The white table cloth he put on the table at meal times made it seem more formal. Our butler, Zahid was the best we've ever had. With the room you also get a portable phone that works anywhere on the ship to call Zahid to bring you anything you desire no matter where you are! Beside a phone on the desk there's one by the toilet in the master bathroom and powder room so you're never out of touch!
We were lucky with very calm seas for the very most part of the cruise. In Port Canaveral we did the airboat tour and loved every minute of it and the accompanying talk from a wildlife rescue group. We also sampled fried alligator which was very good (tasted like chicken).
For the stop at NCL's private island, we stayed on the ship and enjoyed the sun and breeze on our front balcony and the tranquility of the Haven - more about that later.
The Nassau stop had 4 ships in port, most seemed to go on tours. We waited until the masses exited the ship (wife got a massage at the spa - wonderful according to her!) and walked around town, which cost me big - there's two Effy jewelry stores on the main drag - nuff said.... We also took a 40 minute horse drawn carriage ride ($30) which gave us a nice overview of the town and some of the points of interest.
Two relaxing sea days and bam, we're home, ugh....
The Haven, unfortunately was less that heavenly. NCL needs to work on this. Prior to cruising I read many, many cruise reviews and perused the NCL message boards over and over again. On quite a few occasions I read of children spoiling the "tranquil" nature of the Haven. I thought since we were traveling over Memorial Day week schools hadn't let out for the summer yet and we wouldn't have a negative experience. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The pool is between 3'7" and 3'11" deep and heated to I'd say 90 degrees. Very nice for a quick dip and there's also a seperate hot tub. The surroundings are nice as well with hot and cold drinks and snacks always available. The courtyard valet will also serve anything you desire from food from any restaurant, sushi, drinks etc... Well, two families with children decided this was their day care center, sometimes leaving younger children under the command of a young, teenage daughter. Try reading a book in close quarters with kids in the pool screaming Marco....Polo....then splashing each other. Even when their parents were in the Haven, they were oblivious to their kids obnoxious behavior, even giving high fives at times. You get the drift... A number of adults left for the their rooms or wherever to get away. Their looks and comments to the parents again went over their heads. As I said, NCL needs to address this, people pay a lot of money for this category of room. To be run out by annoying children is just wrong. Possibly an adult swim time and time out for kids every hour?? Think about it NCL.
Overall, I don't mean for one negative, which I attribute to poor parenting to ruin our cruise experience. We were pampered by our butler, concierge, room steward and courtyard valet the entire time. Nothing we asked for was met with anything but OK or I'll be right there. Even to the point of opening more or closing more the roof over the Haven on warmer or cooler days.
Oh yea, I can't comment about the buffet or main dining rooms. We ate in specialty restaurants each night and had great food and service, especially in Cagney's, which we ate three nights along with breakfast each day. Less