We chose this cruise for our 10-year wedding anniversary and opted for the Haven. I really enjoyed the embarkation process where we were taken to a separated, less chaotic area. Though, I don't know that I would book the Haven again. ... Read More
We chose this cruise for our 10-year wedding anniversary and opted for the Haven. I really enjoyed the embarkation process where we were taken to a separated, less chaotic area. Though, I don't know that I would book the Haven again. I know that I wouldn't book the Epic or this itinerary again. We live in Europe, so have been to all the ports except Majorca.
The ship was awful. I didn't like that the elevators only stop on certain levels and you HAVE to walk through the casino, which stank of smoke, to go to the Atrium if you are in the back of the ship. The layout was very confusing and you can tell it was made by a French company. Even some of the main levels, you had to walk in a certain direction or else you would reach a dead-end. Normally, the cruise ships are very predictable in how they are laid out (I've been on 8+ now), but it took me days to get my bearings on this ship. This was exacerbated by the people on board. I've never seen so many strollers. When you have 4,000+ passengers, it gets old. The atrium was the main thoroughfare for pretty much everything. Even the quizzes took place in the atrium (which were few and far between). If you sat in the back, you could not see the screen with question, so really, it's a poor area to host a quiz (or any game). The cabins were also odd as a curtain separated the bathroom from our bedroom. We liked the aft-facing balcony but the room itself was lackluster.
The ports were meh. If you have only one chance to come to Europe, this may be the itinerary for you. But, otherwise, it's disappointing. We've cruised out of "Rome" before so knew that it takes about 2 hours each way to get to the city. But, almost all the ports were like this. Naples was an exception, but that's only if you want to go to Naples (not Capri, Sorrento, Vesuvius, Pompeii, etc.).
The main entertainment was good. I'm not a fan of dancing shows but we had nothing else to do and so went. It was impressive. The howl at the moon was awesome!!! Karaoke was disappointing as all the slots were complete (even by kids in an 18+ club) an hour in. We both loved Priscilla Queen of the Desert! The Cirque show was not as great as some of the others we have seen on other ships and not even better than some of the regular, free entertainment. Plus, the food was not worth it.
I think because this was also a one-stop European vacation for most passengers. Although the passengers were polite, most were concerned about ports rather than joining in. This is one of the highlights of most of our cruises- as we tend to make friends and keep in touch with the people we meet. We met nobody on this cruise. There were such little activities going on (boring!) and then few people actually joined. I've cruised the smaller ships and tend to favour them now, but they have to cap the wine tastings because they are well attended (despite the added cost). We sat at the tasting time and just needed 2 more people to show up. Nope! Nobody showed up and the tasting did not make. All activities were poorly attended.
We really didn't take advantage of the Haven much. Our butler came and brought us food (though we didn't eat much of it because of our dietary requirements). The concierge was very nice and went above and beyond in a personal instance. He even got us in to a full excursion. We laid out in the Haven pool area one day only and I went to the gym there once. The restaurant (ate at twice for dinner) was actually worth going to more than the specialty restaurants as the food was superior. In particular, the cuts of meat and the attention to the food quality was worth going. Though, the menu didn't change. I do enjoy going to see the main dining menu to see what's new each night on other cruises. Oddly enough, my favourite part of the entire cruise was the Haven bartender. After our first night, he knew us by name and would ask us if we wanted our usual. He made the best dirty martinis and was so funny! He came to know our patterns for ordering drinks pre-dinner, during dinner, and after. Fab! A couple additional perks of the Haven that I learned on board (above the seating in the theatre)- you have priority over some of the elevators so you wait less and it comes directly to you AND you have easy disembarkation for each port/final stop.
We always take advantage of the Thermal Suite Pass on board. I think this is why we didn't use the Haven much. As it's an outlet for the 18+ year olds and so peaceful. I love the heated chairs and often that's my nap area. The hot tubs and saunas were so relaxing. On the Baltic cruise I took, this area was packed and crowded by the end of the cruise. But, on this itinerary, it was nearly empty every day. I believe, again, that this is due to the types of passengers on the ship. When you only get one sea day and excursions that demand hours of your time, there's hardly anyone on board.
While the staff were very friendly (my husband saw his favourite coffee lady who we will see again on our next cruise), I hated how the passengers tended to talk down to them and treat them as if they should be at their feet. These people work long and hard and I wish people respected them more. Even if you have an issue, most of the time, it's not their fault. For instance, I didn't like that we got a $50 voucher for the spa due to our anniversary. But, we couldn't use it with any other promotion (such as our 25% off due to our thermal pass or the % off we get at gold status). NCL- Don't use our anniversary as a marketing ploy. We told the staff this, but knew it was not them that came up with the idea.
Next, I know NCL is all for going green, but don't get rid of the towel animals. Change my towels less or let me opt into the towel animals rather than getting new towels daily. This has always been a favourite of mine- I have tons of pictures of all the animals from all of our cruises. But, I had to request them (which took days in a 7 day cruise). Don't cheap out on what we love NCL.
Lastly, while most of the crew carried the experience, the cruise director was disappointing. I forgot her name already- Amanda from the UK or something? I saw her once- while we were disembarking. All other NCL staff have always been so involved. My last cruise was December 2019 so it's not like things have changed over the years. Read Less