We originally booked this cruise in February in a Mini Spa Suite. We became extremely frustrated with Norwegian Cruise Line after they changed many options after our final payment date. Those changes were:
· Increase in Daily Service Charge.
· Increase in Beverage prices and Beverage package.
· Decrease in beverage menu offerings.
· Mandatory gratuity in specialty restaurants.
· Charging 7.95 for each room service order.
· Food can no longer be taken from any restaurants (later this was reverted thanks to customer complaints)
Thanks to Greg's hard work he received a bonus from work and so we decided to upgrade to the Haven Penthouse Suite. The Haven is "a ship within a ship." The Haven Suites are larger, offer more amenities, have access to a private lounge, have access to a private restaurant, have access to a private pool and sundeck, and receive priority treatment. With our Haven booking we received NCL's beverage package, dining package, gratuities, 300 OBC (on board credit), and 100 OBC from our travel agent Donna (BC Travel Company). We also ended up getting a $75 OBC for a price decrease on the room.
Another perk to booking in the Haven area is the pre-concierge. I contacted the pre-concierge department to customize our room. You can select from a pillow menu, tea menu, coffee menu, and ask for the mini fridge to be emptied.
Before we cruised we made dinner reservations, show reservations, and booked a shore excursion for Tortola.
As part of the Haven Suites category we receive a private check in area, private lounge area, and priority access onto the ship from the pier. Check in at Terminal B was very quick and efficient. We were in the initial lounge for only 5 minutes when we were escorted upstairs. Unfortunately, this is when everyone began getting frustrated (Greg and I were the least frustrated of the group as we figure we're on vacation). We were brought to a 2nd lounge where there were already suite guests as well as a wedding party. We started to notice that guests in the regular terminal were being allowed on board, then the wedding party got called on board, and finally someone explained that we should have been on board first. Off we went to the ship and the staff greeted us with a warm welcome and some dancing. We then had a private elevator ride up to the Haven Lounge. In the lounge we were offered a beverage, sliders, and french fries while the Concierge explained a little about the benefits. We were told that most of the rooms were ready however ours wasn't so we explored the ship for a while.
For lunch we chose to eat in the Haven restaurant. This is where we met Roluca! Roluca is the Maitre d of the Haven restaurant. Roluca is warm, friendly, funny and truly went out of her way to make sure my allergies (Dairy, Gluten, and Soy) weren't a problem when dining in the restaurant and even in some of other areas. I enjoyed a salad with oil and vinegar to start and the steak topped with rosemary. The steak was on the thin side and unfortunately it was a bit over cooked but very flavor. Greg enjoyed the salad to start and the swordfish.
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Greg and I ventured around the ship again in the late afternoon. I read reviews prior to our cruise and here's my thoughts on some of the statements:
- Smoking in the casino - The casino did smell like stale smoke although it wasn't as bad as people made it to be.
- Cruise never feels full - Our cruise was packed with people! Every where you turned (except the Haven) there were crowds!
- Cruise photographers - Utterly annoying that the photographers block walkways, staircases, and bars. There are at least 3 photograph stations on each floor in the main areas and they are in the most inconvenient locations.
- Drink wait times and inconsistency - We never waited long for a drink. Most of the bartenders were fast and friendly. Almost all of the drinks we tried we enjoyed.
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After walking around for a bit we stopped in O'Sheehan's to check out the games. We decided to play 2 rounds of darts and a round of pool. This became our daily afternoon tradition. O'Sheehans's is a great place to goof around, meet some fun people, and enjoy a drink and some french fries.
Coming up: Day 2 At Sea