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We decided on Norwegian for our European Adventure a little over a year before our trip and were never disappointed. The website was easy to navigate prior to the trip and Norwegian sent reminders for all the important dates we needed to remember in terms of booking and payments. But the best yet was to receive an email a few weeks before our trip with an offer to upgrade to The Haven. Throughout the year that we were planning I had read MANY reviews and had looked at the cost of upgrading many times. I had come to the realization that it just would not be worth the extra price.... until that morning the email came with the upgrade offer. Certainly still not a free upgrade but probably some of the best money spent throughout our entire trip! I had read one review that said... if you can do it, do it and don't look back. So I did... and that is the best advice I can give anyone reading this review too. The Haven is a separate area of the ship that allows you to forget you are on a ridiculously large cruise ship. It consists of rooms/suites, a restaurant, bar, grill/bar, pool/2 hot tubs, exercise room, spa, 2 lounge areas, and sun deck... only accessible by other guests staying in this area. All the areas were very clean, never overly crowded, and enjoyable. Since we had booked our trip initially not in The Haven, we already had reservations at some of the other regular restaurants. So we were able to compare. The Haven Restaurant.... open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... far exceeded our expectations and was far superior to the main dining restaurants elsewhere on the ship. (That said we did enjoy the Japanese and Cirque Dinner Show very much!). Although the menu does not change at The Haven restaurant, the food was delicious.... surf and turf, sea bass, fillet, shrimp cocktail, squash soup (with duck), and wonderful desserts were among our favorite. Once we realized how superior the food was we ate there the last 3 nights of our cruise. Breakfast too was great... a small buffet area if you needed things quickly or a full sit-down menu were both available. Even for our picky daughter, they were extremely accomodating and would bring grilled cheese at any time. The Room... was amazing! We had a 2 bedroom/ 2 bath suite on the 17th floor. The master bathroom has a large shower with a floor to ceiling window. There is also a large tub in case you need that for younger kids (tough to find sometimes on cruise ships). The second bedroom had a twin bed and another pull-down bed available. Or the sofa in the living room area can be made up as a bed too. We chose this option as we have 2 teenage girls and this allowed them some time to spread out and have their own space. There is a LOT of storage space... closets, drawers, and lots of cubbies for whatever needs a place. There is a small table for 4 (we had breakfast delivered before our excursions which was great!) and a counter area with coffee maker, mini-fridge (stocked but some extra room for things you may want to keep there), and glasses/ice bucket (always kept filled by the staff). Balcony as well was a nice size for 2 chairs and a small table. Bedding was comfortable and we heard no outside noise from the master bedroom. There was some noise of chairs moving around above us but this was never at a time that impacted our stay significantly. The amount of room, compared to a regular balcony or mini-suite room, is more significant then we even thought it would be. Another huge advantage is getting on and off the ship.... both when you initially board, getting on and off for in port, and the final disembarking. Arriving you will be escorted to a separate line just for Haven guests. Then taken to a room where there is drinks and snacks while you wait to be privately escorted on-board. You are given a private tour of the Haven area and invited to have a sit-down lunch in the restaurant. If you prefer to go to the buffet you always can. You are not kept from any of the other benefits of the ship... but you do realize how nice it is to be in a smaller area quickly. The excursions we had planned were not through NCL so getting off the ship in the morning was very important. We did not have to wait at all to get off... no lines, no special times... Just go to the Haven concierge desk and they take you down a special elevator and help you get off quickly. Could not be easier. Similar with departing on the last day. Have a nice breakfast and get off at the time of your choosing. We did have a butler assigned to us but in deciding on the upgraded room I also decided that I did not want my teenage girls to take any of this for granted... so I will say that we did not utilize the butler to the fullest extent. They do bring the room service (any time) and every afternoon we returned to the room for 2 plates of snacks on our table (routine, nothing extra you need to ask for). We had banana bread, small sandwiches, chocolate covered strawberries, and gummy bears to name just a few treats. Our room steward was fantastic... the room was cleaned extremely well and beds were made up at times that did not disturb our days at all. The Haven concierge was also very helpful with any questions we had. The pool is small but adequate for a cruise ship... because remember it is only for guests staying in the Haven. The regular ship pools were crowded with (too many) kids every time we were there. There are 2 hot tubs as well near the Haven Pool area. The last night my husband and I enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub and were honestly the only people in the entire Haven Pool area the whole time we were there. During the day the area did get crowded and especially the day at sea or ports that were not as visited it was sometimes tough to get chairs together at the pool area. All chairs are cushioned and had terrycloth covers (cleaned and changed every day) and towels are provided on all (and replaced) by staff in between guests. On some days staff brought around fruit kabobs. The grill/bar area is just next to the pool and a nice place to escape the sun and order lunch or drinks (only complaint would be that the food does take a long time... at the grill and restaurant... but it helps you remember you are on vacation and should slow down anyway). In terms of the other parts of the ship... we would say everything that we experienced was average. Nothing to complain about but also nothing at all to rave about. Food was just "ok". Cirque show highly recommended but the other shows had great people but just weren't great shows... compared to what we are used to from other cruise lines (especially Disney). We had initially booked with the ultimate dining and beverage plans... also very much recommended. Although I like the benefit of picking different restaurants, I prefer cruise travel to be more all-inclusive and do not like paying extra for meals. Water bottles are not included in the beverage plans or room service (there is a water bottle package where you can pre-purchase water bottles... we thought it was pretty expensive). We would recommend bringing some water bottles on-board with your, or getting in the ports even... cheaper then getting on the ship. Even the Haven can't get you water bottles! Tap water on the ship was also fine for refilling bottles. As noted before we did not book our excursions with NCL.... in Italy used a company called Miles&Miles, which we highly recommend. All tours were great - staff was extremely easy to work with ahead of time. We were able to have private family tours for less money then the big bus tours. Perfect for teenagers... and also allowed us to get into areas with the drivers in all locations that buses just couldn't get to. All in all we had a wonderful cruise... and the Haven was worth every penny we spent. We will have a very tough time selecting Norwegian again, if not able to stay in the Haven! Accomodations, food, service.... no complaints.... (and no complaints from two teenage girls is really saying a lot!).

Amazing European Adventure.... Spoiled in The Haven

Norwegian Epic Cruise Review by fnj0826@verizon.net

10 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We decided on Norwegian for our European Adventure a little over a year before our trip and were never disappointed. The website was easy to navigate prior to the trip and Norwegian sent reminders for all the important dates we needed to remember in terms of booking and payments.

But the best yet was to receive an email a few weeks before our trip with an offer to upgrade to The Haven. Throughout the year that we were planning I had read MANY reviews and had looked at the cost of upgrading many times. I had come to the realization that it just would not be worth the extra price.... until that morning the email came with the upgrade offer. Certainly still not a free upgrade but probably some of the best money spent throughout our entire trip! I had read one review that said... if you can do it, do it and don't look back. So I did... and that is the best advice I can give anyone reading this review too.

The Haven is a separate area of the ship that allows you to forget you are on a ridiculously large cruise ship. It consists of rooms/suites, a restaurant, bar, grill/bar, pool/2 hot tubs, exercise room, spa, 2 lounge areas, and sun deck... only accessible by other guests staying in this area. All the areas were very clean, never overly crowded, and enjoyable. Since we had booked our trip initially not in The Haven, we already had reservations at some of the other regular restaurants. So we were able to compare. The Haven Restaurant.... open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... far exceeded our expectations and was far superior to the main dining restaurants elsewhere on the ship. (That said we did enjoy the Japanese and Cirque Dinner Show very much!). Although the menu does not change at The Haven restaurant, the food was delicious.... surf and turf, sea bass, fillet, shrimp cocktail, squash soup (with duck), and wonderful desserts were among our favorite. Once we realized how superior the food was we ate there the last 3 nights of our cruise. Breakfast too was great... a small buffet area if you needed things quickly or a full sit-down menu were both available. Even for our picky daughter, they were extremely accomodating and would bring grilled cheese at any time.

The Room... was amazing! We had a 2 bedroom/ 2 bath suite on the 17th floor. The master bathroom has a large shower with a floor to ceiling window. There is also a large tub in case you need that for younger kids (tough to find sometimes on cruise ships). The second bedroom had a twin bed and another pull-down bed available. Or the sofa in the living room area can be made up as a bed too. We chose this option as we have 2 teenage girls and this allowed them some time to spread out and have their own space. There is a LOT of storage space... closets, drawers, and lots of cubbies for whatever needs a place. There is a small table for 4 (we had breakfast delivered before our excursions which was great!) and a counter area with coffee maker, mini-fridge (stocked but some extra room for things you may want to keep there), and glasses/ice bucket (always kept filled by the staff). Balcony as well was a nice size for 2 chairs and a small table. Bedding was comfortable and we heard no outside noise from the master bedroom. There was some noise of chairs moving around above us but this was never at a time that impacted our stay significantly. The amount of room, compared to a regular balcony or mini-suite room, is more significant then we even thought it would be.

Another huge advantage is getting on and off the ship.... both when you initially board, getting on and off for in port, and the final disembarking. Arriving you will be escorted to a separate line just for Haven guests. Then taken to a room where there is drinks and snacks while you wait to be privately escorted on-board. You are given a private tour of the Haven area and invited to have a sit-down lunch in the restaurant. If you prefer to go to the buffet you always can. You are not kept from any of the other benefits of the ship... but you do realize how nice it is to be in a smaller area quickly. The excursions we had planned were not through NCL so getting off the ship in the morning was very important. We did not have to wait at all to get off... no lines, no special times... Just go to the Haven concierge desk and they take you down a special elevator and help you get off quickly. Could not be easier. Similar with departing on the last day. Have a nice breakfast and get off at the time of your choosing.

We did have a butler assigned to us but in deciding on the upgraded room I also decided that I did not want my teenage girls to take any of this for granted... so I will say that we did not utilize the butler to the fullest extent. They do bring the room service (any time) and every afternoon we returned to the room for 2 plates of snacks on our table (routine, nothing extra you need to ask for). We had banana bread, small sandwiches, chocolate covered strawberries, and gummy bears to name just a few treats. Our room steward was fantastic... the room was cleaned extremely well and beds were made up at times that did not disturb our days at all. The Haven concierge was also very helpful with any questions we had.

The pool is small but adequate for a cruise ship... because remember it is only for guests staying in the Haven. The regular ship pools were crowded with (too many) kids every time we were there. There are 2 hot tubs as well near the Haven Pool area. The last night my husband and I enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub and were honestly the only people in the entire Haven Pool area the whole time we were there. During the day the area did get crowded and especially the day at sea or ports that were not as visited it was sometimes tough to get chairs together at the pool area. All chairs are cushioned and had terrycloth covers (cleaned and changed every day) and towels are provided on all (and replaced) by staff in between guests. On some days staff brought around fruit kabobs. The grill/bar area is just next to the pool and a nice place to escape the sun and order lunch or drinks (only complaint would be that the food does take a long time... at the grill and restaurant... but it helps you remember you are on vacation and should slow down anyway).

In terms of the other parts of the ship... we would say everything that we experienced was average. Nothing to complain about but also nothing at all to rave about. Food was just "ok". Cirque show highly recommended but the other shows had great people but just weren't great shows... compared to what we are used to from other cruise lines (especially Disney). We had initially booked with the ultimate dining and beverage plans... also very much recommended. Although I like the benefit of picking different restaurants, I prefer cruise travel to be more all-inclusive and do not like paying extra for meals. Water bottles are not included in the beverage plans or room service (there is a water bottle package where you can pre-purchase water bottles... we thought it was pretty expensive). We would recommend bringing some water bottles on-board with your, or getting in the ports even... cheaper then getting on the ship. Even the Haven can't get you water bottles! Tap water on the ship was also fine for refilling bottles.

As noted before we did not book our excursions with NCL.... in Italy used a company called Miles&Miles, which we highly recommend. All tours were great - staff was extremely easy to work with ahead of time. We were able to have private family tours for less money then the big bus tours. Perfect for teenagers... and also allowed us to get into areas with the drivers in all locations that buses just couldn't get to.

All in all we had a wonderful cruise... and the Haven was worth every penny we spent. We will have a very tough time selecting Norwegian again, if not able to stay in the Haven! Accomodations, food, service.... no complaints.... (and no complaints from two teenage girls is really saying a lot!).
fnj0826@verizon.net’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
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Ages 13 to 15
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Cabin Review

Courtyard Villa with Balcony
Cabin H4 17024
HUGE for a cruise ship. Great for families. Perfect for teens who need to spread out a bit and big advantage to have 2 bathrooms. Nice location. Master bedroom and bath perfect. No complaints.
Deck 17 Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Gaudi Walking Tour
    Also highly recommend... short taxi ride from Sagrada Familia. Entrance fee into the most interesting part of the park.
    View All 52 Gaudi Walking Tour Reviews
  • La Sagrada Familia
    We toured La Sagrada Familia on our own after the cruise. A must-see! We booked on-line (just entry, no head sets or tower tour) and enjoyed just seeing it on our own. Easy to get a taxi to and from this area.
    View All 117 La Sagrada Familia Reviews
  • Montjuic/Olympic Stadium
    We visited Montjuic the morning we boarded the cruise (stayed the night prior in Barcelona in an apartment booked through airbnb). Beautiful views of the port and cruise ship! Wonderful way to start the vacation. Take the funnicular from the metro stop and then as you exit the funnicular at the top walk right up the ramp to take the cable car further up to the castle. We did not go into the castle but walking around the area and to the lookout point is free. Can also visit Olympic Stadium from there which we would like to do next time.
    View All 10 Montjuic/Olympic Stadium Reviews
  • Self-Guided Walking Tour
    Barcelona is an easy city to walk around... you can walk A LOT! We stayed in the Gothic area after the cruise. Took a taxi from the main square (at the top of La Rambla) - easy to get taxis from there - to the beach and Barceloneta area. Walked back... along the port, past Columbus statue, up La Rambla and back.... long walk but not difficult and lots to see.
    View All 12 Self-Guided Walking Tour Reviews
  • Private Tour
    Booked another private family tour with Miles&Miles - our favorite yet! It is the only way to see as much as possible while in port. We toured Rome (so much more then I could ever list here but certainly hit all the highlights!) - enjoyed a local cappuccino and gelato (both favorites of our whole trip!) - really got to see some favorite local places - visited Crypt of Cappuccini Monks (definite visit if possible!). Vatican in the afternoon. Also a must-do if you have not been before but we look forward to spending more time just in Rome exploring the next time we visit... so if you can visit Rome without feeling like you "should" visit the Vatican, I would recommend. There is just too much to see in a day! Miles&Miles arranged a lovely tour of the Vatican for us but it was rushed and crowded and 2 hours we would have rather spent just exploring. We requested it though so in no way is this a fault of the tour they arranged.
    View All 146 Private Tour Reviews