Embarkation - You'll see me saying time and time again, Haven is the way to go! The dedicated Haven security line and lounge to fill out forms was awesome! The parking garage being across the street from the terminal (accessible by sky bridge) was quite nice as well. One problem was when we took the elevator to the floor that said embarkation, the door was secured so we had to get backs downstairs to floor level. Not very good signage.
Once we were registered and received our key cards, we were escorted onboard the ship to the Haven area on Deck 17, and waited in the Haven observation lounge while our concierge briefed us on some items of interest. We had lunch in the dining room which was totally awesome (more about dining later) then went to our room, which was a forward penthouse suite on deck 10.
So, having a priority baggage tag means nothing if you’re not on the Haven levels (17 & 18). Even though we were in Haven suites, our luggage on the 10th deck didn’t arrive till anywhere between 4pm and 7pm. We’re seeing inside cabins and others have their bags long before ours. Not quite what you purchase the Haven class for.
Dining – Well there are many choices and only 7 days to do them. We took advantage of 4 specialty restaurants for dinner.
Le Bistro – Was very nice. You can’t go wrong with any of the dishes. On the menu is a wide variety of very nicely prepared dishes. The foie gras appetizer was delightful. The sole was an awesome entrée. The service is wonderful and the food superb. Highly recommend this one, make your reservation long before embarkation day.
Food Republic – A unique restaurant, you order via tablets on the table. The variety was quite amazing, from sushi items (rolls) to Hamachi taquitos (quite unique), crudo and a wide variety of other items. Best when going with others, order to share. We went once as a couple for dinner and I went solo for lunch. Both times were superb. Unlike most of the other specialty dining places you can usually get in without a reservation or make one same day.
Teppanyaki – This is a must do! Do the steak and shrimp combo. The show is wonderful, with a table of 8 you get to meet new friends. The food is the star of the evening. I normally don’t eat fried rice, I ate this (would have had more but knew the main course was yet to come) and marveled at all the flavors in it. The steak and shrimp were superb. If you want to eat here, make reservations as soon as possible.
Ocean Blue – So this is the one that is labeled as “next to impossible to get into”, but turned out to be a massive “meh”. The food was pretty good, I’ve had much better seafood stew. The meal was probably 3rd best of our specialty restaurants.
Haven Restaurant – This is just another reason to book a Haven suite. Breakfast, lunch & dinner are served in the exclusive Haven restaurant. The hours for lunch were a bit late (noon vice the usual 11 for most places) but the food was great. One thing, the menu never changes, but with the several choices you’ll find something good. Breakfast is quite nice with a small buffet to sample from as well as the menu. Add to that the view and it’s a wonderful option to have.
Maltings Bar- An awesome whiskey bar, a great selection. The bartenders were a joy to talk with and learn about various whiskies.
Sugar Cane Mojito Bar – Want to try some great rums? This is the place! Once again, great staff and an excellent time.
Local – A great pub, the food was good, not exceptional but basically pub food. The fact they stay open late is a plus. A nice vibrant atmosphere.
Entertainment - Footloose was a great musical. Elements (the Cirque like production) was great as well. A very nice theater with comfortable seating, especially in the reserved Haven rows.
Spa – HORRIBLE!! Seriously, how do you not have the thermal suites and other good things your other ships have in their spa? Add to that the abysmal service (you wait in a restroom that has some lockers, a shower and not much else) and hope they don’t forget about you like they did me. Then, to top it off they wanted to cut my appointment time down so they could keep on schedule. That didn’t happen. Oh, and to add to that, they keep your cruise card and then had trouble locating mine after my massage. This definitely was the weakest link of the cruise. My wife and I had massages on separate days and both felt as this was the worst part of the cruise.
Disembarkation – The smoothest I’ve ever seen. The new Immigration system (getting picture taken and green light to proceed) is a very efficient process. We got to our car and were gone with some very fond memories.
Cabin – 10708 - This we found to be the best of both worlds. Haven access and being on deck 10 forward was a plus since decks 6 – 8 were where shops, bars and several restaurants were. The cabin was totally awesome! Separate living and bedrooms. The living room has the balcony and the bedroom the very large window (larger than any ocean view window I’ve ever seen before) plus a bathroom that words can’t describe. The shower with various nozzles was unique, you also have the standard head above as well as a hand held. Plus the bath tub was very nice as well. There was more storage than we could of ever used!
TV’s in both the living and bedrooms are a plus, though good luck getting any American sports on. Seriously, on a Saturday with several top football games on, we get some low rate soccer from overseas? There were several helpful channels that we found useful, we could even make reservations for dinner or shore excursions via the tv. Other plusses in the room was the cordless phone that could be carried by one of us all over the ship. Call from room or any ships phone to reach the other person.
The cabin steward was great, as was the butler. The steward we saw quite a bit, the butler maybe once a day but he always brought goodies and when I would eat breakfast from one of the dining rooms, I could order in for my wife and he’d deliver it. The café (Nespresso) and tea packets were always kept stocked. The refrigerator was a perfect size for putting water bottles in as well as holding the creamer we had requested. You could (but we never did) even order dinner brought in and the butler would set it up as if you were eating in a restaurant, only in the privacy of your room.
Very nice work by the Park service Rangers on their narratives.