We just returned from 7 day trip to Bermuda with NCL Escape and I've come to the conclusion that cruises are not what they used to be anymore. Stay at the Haven was fantastic - great service, hospitality and amenity. However, the rest ... Read More
We just returned from 7 day trip to Bermuda with NCL Escape and I've come to the conclusion that cruises are not what they used to be anymore. Stay at the Haven was fantastic - great service, hospitality and amenity. However, the rest of the ship and what it offered was just average, nothing unique or spectacular.
The Haven review
- Staying in The Haven was worth every penny, just to be able to avoid the layers and layers of people at the main pool deck on sea days. We appreciated the constantly high level of attentive, friendly and professional service from the entire staff on the Haven (room steward, concierge, Haven restaurant staff, and other service staff).
- Embarkation/Disembarkation was very smooth, having an ability to use Haven only priority lane as well as the Haven only elevators. But don't expect any welcome cocktail anymore (at least not at New York terminal).
- We spent a lot of time on the Haven pool area. Because of the time of the year, there were many families with small children, but they were all relatively well behaved. There is also an adult only part of the Haven on sundeck, including hottub, if you want to get away from kids. That said, Haven pool area was never crowded or loud and we were always able to find a lounger or place to sit and relax.
- We ate a lot at THE Haven restaurant. Food was very good with varieties of stuff on menu so we never got tired of eating there. I say the quality was equal or better than the high end specialty restaurants. The service was a bit slow but that's expected on cruise ship restaurant - you slow down your pace and get to enjoy your meal and family time for a change!
Cabin (H5 on port side)
Rooms are significantly small, compared to those on older ships, which is the downside of these newer ships. It's much smaller than family suite on Dawn, for example. It is enough for 2 adults and 1 kid but if you wanted to dine in your room, a table is not big enough (it's cocktail table). A deck is small, enough only for 2 chars and a small table. But since we were so close to the Haven lounge/pool/sundeck, it was fine. If you carry a lot of clothes, there may not be enough closet space though.
One tip of advice - if you are going to Bermuda, a port side will face the island but there is a beach party some nights, which is pretty loud and goes to wee hours so if noise is an issue, you may want to consider the location. However, you get to see a beautiful sunset from your balcony.
Rest of the Ship
- Main pool area is small and compact (and crowded as expected)
- Kids pool area is right next to the main pool, which is good and bad - adults can go get drinks and other things easily, but it feels really cramped.
- H2O area is nice and it is open to all ages after 6pm. We enjoyed the outdoor movie night and dance party thereafter.
- I thought indoor entertainment amenities were lacking. There are 2 lanes of duck pin bowling and arcade games - that's pretty much it. I wish they offer more music and other fun activities indoors during a daytime. I personally think RCI offers better fun amenities.
- We ate at Cagneys, Teppanyaki and Cucina and I thought food qualities were much better than other NCL ships. I was pleasantly surprised by the teppanyaki filet.
- Main entertainment was pretty good. We enjoyed magician and Choir of Man. However, the rest of the entertainment/activities throughout a day were very disappointing. Many were clearly designed to sell you stuff, which really turned us off.
- Jogging track is a joke and seemed like it was completely afterthought. RCI, for example, has jogging track secluded from the main deck. This one cuts through the bars and busy access area to the pool areas so it's only open till 9am and after 6pm, which is fine as I usually run early in the morning, but the worst part was it was only 0.2KM in length! After about 5 laps, I lost track. For a ship this size, I expected much bigger and better jogging track. Also, it is right beside the smoking area so you get to enjoy second hand smoking as you run.
- We love Bermuda and this is our 4th trip there. We independently booked the access to Elbow Beach Resort. Since it was a private beach, it was not crowded and beach was great. However, wave was pretty rough (not sure if it was particular for that day or is usually like that) so was not ideal for families with small children. Also, food/drinks were so overpriced (2 regular beer on tap and 1 OJ = $35), we ended up not eating there.
- Glass bottom tour was nice - our captain was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot about Bermuda, its marine life, architecture and history. It was packed but we all were able to see the glass bottom.
- Snorkel beach is very tiny and is not nearly as nice as other beautiful beaches Bermuda offers but it's convenient. I hear it gets pretty packed on the last day so recommend going there the first day.
This was the second cruise on our 4 year old and she enjoyed it. It was nice that there were many families with kids in the Haven level. She did not want to go to Splash Academy until the last day - and when she finally did, she really enjoyed it. Hopefully she will go more the next time! Kids pool area looked fun but again, it was very crowded so she spent most of her time in the Haven pool area with us. I wish there were more kids friendly amenities indoor.
Although experience at the Haven was very nice, I am not sure if it was worth the money we paid. We've been to all-inclusive beach resort with personal butler/chef/nanny included for the similar price. Although we will definitely go cruising again (what can I say, we love cruise), I think it is time to try different brand. NCL has become a bit too formulaic, and does not offer that special feeling you get on the cruise trip anymore. Read Less