I want to be clear that I am writing this from the perspective of a guest in the Haven. In fact, I had a Deluxe Owners Suite. So, I am fully aware that the negatives in this review may not be seen as negatives for other guests. I simply ... Read More
I want to be clear that I am writing this from the perspective of a guest in the Haven. In fact, I had a Deluxe Owners Suite. So, I am fully aware that the negatives in this review may not be seen as negatives for other guests. I simply want to be completely honest about my experience. This was my eighth stay in an NCL Owners suite and my third on the Epic. However, this was our first transatlantic and it was 15 nights!
Embarkation was easy. We got to the port several hours after boarding started and there was a very small line at security. They had a Haven check in desk which was very quiet. The agent was quick and efficient. Our butler introduced himself to us within a minute or so of check in and before we knew it we were heading onto the ship. When we got to the Haven, we decided not to go on a tour of the Haven which was led by on the assistant concierges. In the past, we’ve felt it was more important to NCL to take this opportunity to soft sell their photographers and spa services than to acclimate guests to the Haven. So, being familiar with the Epic’s Haven, we decided to go right to our room which was ready. It was probably about 1:30PM at this point. And of course, the room looked perfect! We carried on our own luggage. Yes, you read that right! We had three carryon suitcases and figured that would be enough considering we would send out two bags of laundry over the 15 days.
Restaurants – The Haven Restaurant was very good. The staff was superb. In fact, it was the best staff I have ever encountered in an NCL restaurant and that is really saying something because I think the restaurant staff quality on NCL is excellent. The menu in the Haven Restaurant is the same every night, although there was an additional item each night that was not on the menu (we were told this was because of the length of the cruise). Despite the small number of menu selections, the food was very good. I must single out a couple of servers from the stellar group. Ineul and Ketut were professional, pleasant, knowledgeable (and I could go on and on) people. This restaurant is complimentary for Haven guests. A Haven guest can bring a non-Haven guest at a cost of $35. No reservations are needed and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We also visited Cagney’s, Le Bistro, La Cucina. My favorite meal over the two weeks was the Dover sole at Le Bistro. I was blown away by this dish.
Ports and Sea Days – We had eight sea days on this cruise including the first six days. We also had to put our clocks ahead by one hour six different times. The weather was very nice and the seas were very calm. I was a bit worried about boredom when I booked this, but I brought several books and downloaded a bunch of podcasts. Additionally, there were plenty of activities all over the ship. I’m happy to say that I was never bored. The ports ( 7 of them) were very good too. All in all it was a very good itinerary.
Room Steward – Ronald was terrific. NCL generally does a very good job in selecting and placing its employees. Again, Ronald was terrific!
Complaints – The only complaint I have is with the Haven Concierge. He had two assistants, so he had some help to do this demanding job. Despite being in only one of eight Owner’s suites on this ship, he never took the time to introduce himself to us. As I said earlier, I have stayed in Owner’s Suites many times and the concierge always took the time to come by and say hello and offer his/her services. Believe me, we are not high maintenance people and we are far from demanding (rather we are very respectful to all of the staff). I mention this “snub” only to illustrate that if the Concierge doesn’t introduce himself to guests in the Owner’s Suites I can only imagine how other Haven guests get his attention. I was fortunate to have made Specialty Restaurant reservations before setting sail. However, when I asked to change a dining time one night, I walked down and talked to the Concierge. I felt like I was bothering him. He told me he’d get back to me and never did. I had to ask a second time and he told me he was unable to accommodate me. NCL should make sure those of us paying a premium be aware of the difficulty of securing a table in a specialty restaurant. My experience with the NCL Haven Concierge has always been quite good. The best we had was several years ago on the Jade. That concierge got a $500 tip from us for going above and beyond. And yes, that was the largest tip we have ever given to someone on a cruise, but we are always prepared to reward the employees for top notch service. My second interaction with the Haven Concierge on the Epic was also met with no follow up on his part. AT that point, we decided not to use his services at all. However, there was an additional contact - the concierge desk called my room one night to inform me that the time I requested to go to the Spiegel Tent was open and if I still wanted to make the reservation. But I had never asked for a reservation – they had dialed the wrong room!! The last day of the cruise, because we had a very early flight, we had to leave the ship at 5:30AM, the earliest possible time. A letter was delivered to the room from the Concierge related to the disembarkation process (which is made painless and easy for Haven guests). The letter indicated that if you were leaving between 530 and 600 to let the concierge know (the official disembarkation started at 6AM), so I walked down to the Concierge to say we needed to leave at 530. He looked at me quizzically, as though he had no idea why I was letting him know this (again, his letter instructed me to inform him), and said that he would be available at 530. I must reiterate, he was one of the few employees that I encountered that never asked what my name was, never addressed me by name, and always looked frazzled. We decided to leave the ship at 530 on our own instead of with his assistance. And I am a bit embarrassed to say, that this was the first time ever that I did not tip the Concierge at all. And we are not cheap! We tipped the butler, the steward, wait staff people in several restaurants, and others. Disembarkation (on our own and carrying off our 3 bags) was quick and easy. We were among the first few people to leave the ship so there was no problem at all. If we were leaving later we would have had to use the Haven Concierge in order to circumvent the lines.
All said, I give the cruise 5 stars. The frustrating experience with the Concierge hopefully was just an anomaly. The Haven experience is worth the money for us. Next time I cruise I will make sure that I have Specialty Restaurant reservations in place by making them as soon as possible prior to the cruise. Despite much of this review being about the Concierge, I want to emphasize that every other staff person I met was exceptional (although some of the casino cocktail people looked pretty unhappy!). NCL’s strength truly is its employees. Many of the employees work long crazy hours for pay that most Americans wouldn’t get out of bed for and they maintain wonderful attitudes and display kindness in tough situations. I saw a guest loudly arguing with an employee at a Specialty Restaurant one night. The guest was an obnoxious jerk. I’m not sure if his argument had any validity or not, but the way he went about communicating it was awful. The NCL employee handled it well, never losing composure.
My next journey with NCL will be an Alaska cruise in September! I can’t wait! Read Less