And now, back to the spring break cruise from LA up to Vancouver.
We had chosen to board early in LA, figuring we’d eat lunch onboard and then have the afternoon to relax in the warm sun. At least, this was the best shot we had at warm sun on this trip. Sure enough, the marine layer cleared and after we ate, we found some deck chairs and tried to relax. Unfortunately, that was about the time that a Latin band called Estrella something or other started playing, and they were loud. I know people go on these trips to party and have fun, but I feel like the old man who just wants some peace and quiet. The pool deck was not the place for that.
I’ll be splitting this up into three different posts, and I’ll sprinkle them in over the next month or so.
- Norwegian’s The Haven Makes Cruising Tolerable
- Breaking Down What Norwegian’s The Haven is Like
- Getting Underway On Our Cruise and Visiting Canada
We couldn’t go to our rooms yet, because they hadn’t finished making them up due to the Coast Guard inspection. So, we waited once again until we were eventually cleared.
Most of The Haven cabins had been booked by the time we decided to take this trip, so the best pick of the litter that remained was a forward-facing 1-bedroom suite. We walked into the room, and I was very pleasantly surprised.
The main room had a large sitting area with a small fridge (on the right in the photo) and a dining table that had fruit and goodies waiting to welcome us. On the far side (left in the photo) was a large balcony that faced to the starboard side. The couch folded out into a surprisingly comfortable bed for the kids.
Forward from there was the bedroom (behind me in the photo above). The king bed was remarkably comfy, though I thought it was a little odd that we faced to the starboard side instead of toward the bow which is straight ahead in the photo below.
In the front of the room was a large porthole that looked straight ahead on to the bow and toward the ocean beyond.
Attached to the bedroom was a large bathroom with a tub that we didn’t use. There were two sinks, and there was plenty of room to move around even for our family of four.
Nearly every wall had a storage cabinet or drawer, leaving us with more than enough room for all of our stuff. We were able to unpack and get the place clutter-free. If you’ve even been in a standard cruise stateroom, you know how claustrophobic it can get. This was nothing like that experience at all. I was impressed.
Being in The Haven, we also had a butler who was looking after about a dozen rooms, including ours. Nissen was from Mauritius and had been doing this for a long time. Though he had several rooms to handle, he never seemed in a hurry and was always available. He was friendly, thoughtful, not overly formal, and curious about our plans. He was very good at his job.
Though the room was nice, we were not in The Haven area of the ship itself. On the Bliss, there is a three-floor area at the bow of the ship that surrounds a lounge area. This requires keycard access to enter, and it is what really makes this so special. As much as I liked our room, I can imagine liking this even more if we didn’t have to do the long walk and stair-climb to get to the lounge every time.
To get into the lounge, you have to use your keycard to get into doors at the front of deck 17, six decks above our room. Walking in, you first pass the concierge desk where you can get pretty much any help you need. This is like the command center for Haven guests who want to take advantage of things outside The Haven itself.
Those Broadway shows I mentioned have Haven seating, so you just talk to the concierge and they will book you in. They can also help with shore excursions, dinner reservations, any of that. Though it sounds useful, I never used them even once. We only had one port to visit, and it was in Victoria. We handled that experience ourselves. We had already made a dinner reservation for the first night at the steakhouse onboard before we arrived, and I didn’t bother with a show.
What we did most in this area was use it as a staging location. In each port, we were able to go to the lounge. Once the gangway was ready for people to disembark, Haven guests were ushered into crew elevators and taken down to the right deck where we had a separate exit from everyone else. It was the same for when we left the ship at the end of the trip, and this is also how they would escort people down to the shows or clubs or anything like that where there was a Haven benefit.
Past the concierge desk was a seating area that led to the bar. The bartenders were friendly and willing to make anything. Nearly everyone on the cruise with Norwegian gets the drink package included. That package includes all drinks that are up to $15 a piece. For me, that meant either Johnnie Walker Black or Glenmorangie 10. If you want something more expensive, you can get it by paying the amount above $15. (Some people had the premium unlimited drink package, but I didn’t care about that.)
Moving further forward was an outdoor courtyard area that has a pool and a hot tub surrounded by lounge chairs and couches. This area has a clear roof that is actually retractable, but on a cold weather trip like this, it would remain shut. Instead, we had the only pool on the ship that was in a climate-controlled environment. My daughter spent hours in the pool every day, making friends with other kids in The Haven. One of us would generally sit in a lounge chair and read with a drink in our hand.
At the very front was a private two-story lounge. The upper floor had a small seating area and a library. The bottom floor had a variety of comfy chairs and couches along with a never-empty snack bar area. It had a spectacular view.
The only other area of note in The Haven was one floor up on deck 18 where they had The Haven Restaurant. This was a nice dining room setup which did not require reservations. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served, and we could go whenever we felt like eating each day within the opening hours for each meal.
The food was generally good with the exception of the soups which were terrible for some reason. The menus for each meal did not vary day-by-day, but there were plenty of options. I think my favorites were the eggs benedict for breakfast (though the shrimp toast was really good too) and the surf ‘n turf for dinner.
And that is where we spent almost all of our time. You might wonder… why take a big ship if you just spend all your time in this area? That’s why I say I think I’d like small-ship cruising much better. I don’t need all the amenities and attractions. But some people love it, so if you’re doing a multi-generational trip or just have diverse interests, this is the best way to get the best of all worlds.