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About Vyhanek

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    Cool Cruiser

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  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL Haven
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    All warm ports

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  1. Hibbachi restaurants are all too common on land these days for NCL to be charging those prices. NCL's Hibbachi is no better than any other I've been too.
  2. I've had Non Haven guests eat with me in the Haven restaurant. I was charged I think $25 per person. This was 3ish years ago. They most definitely used to allow non haven guests, when accompanied by Haven guests, to accompany you to the dining room. I wouldn't recommend you bring your guests on the first or the last night of the cruise to the Haven dining room, its a mad house. In fact, as a general rule my advice is to not eat in the Haven dining room the first or last night. Let all the Haven guests eat there that first crazy night, then on the second night when those people are wanting to dine around the ship, then you go to the Haven Dining Room. You'll get much more personal service, Same holds true for the last night of the cruise. All the Haven guests that ate in the dining room that first night, then they decide to dine around the ship the rest of the week and then they realize the best food on the ship and certainly the best service, is in the Haven dining room. They realize this fact and then they are back in the haven for the last night and it's again too crowded. Ask the Haven Concierge once you're on the ship.....(but not that first crazy day), wait until late in the day 2, then go ask the Haven Concierge if you can pay for Non Haven guests to join you in the Haven Dining Room. I'm pretty sure it will work out unless things have changed.
  3. I booked my Bermuda cruise 6 days ahead. This is not necessary.
  4. I think you wait and see how it goes with your kids. When my kids were that age, they loved the Kids Club. Loved it so much, they made friends and couldn't wait until the evening rolled around to go back. Doing dinner in the Specialty Dining pretty much means you're cutting them out of the evening in the kids club. I'd just see how the first two days go with them because 9 year olds are the perfect age to enjoy everything about Kids Club. I took my kids to the buffet for dinner, then took them to kids club and then husband and I had a nice dinner alone at Specialty Dining. My kids also didn't mind getting a plate of food from the buffet, bringing it back to our cabin and sitting on our balcony and eating dinner before they left for kids club. As far as the shows, when you get onboard, there will be kiosks/touch screens all over that you can book your shows or go to Headliners for help with shows. I can tell you the best shows aren't the main production performances anymore. Not since this new Austrailian group took over for the Jean Ann Ryan Company. Its definitely a big step down. The best shows are the ones you don't book before the cruise, these are the hypnotists, the magicians, comedy and piano bar singers. I was just off the Gem and there was a hilarious piano bar singer that packed the room. I'd skip any show to laugh along to Justin Golan! Its an age 18 and over show.
  5. We took a boat tour around the island. It was a beautiful way to see the island and such a different perspective! They even took us to a ship wreck. We found the tour at a kiosk in the port and booked the tour for the following day. If you haven't been to the lighthouse, that's a fun short excursion as well. THere's a Segway tour. There's beautiful crystal caves that have formed, there's beautiful golf courses, there's an old rail trail people walk/ruin/bike on, there's the Swizzle Inn if you are the type that gets off and finds the nearest bar, that place does nothing for me, I don't recommend it, the drinks aren't even good. But you're right. Bermuda, like all the other Caribbean Islands is mainly focused around the beaches and snorkeling. If that's not your thing, you'll have a hard time probably in Bermuda just like you would on any other warm weather island.
  6. I don't think your 17 year old will be bored on any NCL ship but I know that is a very common misconception. People don't believe that the ship actually stops at different islands where you get off, do excursions and enjoy the day. But if this really is a fear, you can book a cruise that is port intensive. As in, minimal days at sea. Lots of Caribbean cruises will work for you. Look for a cruise that has only 1 or 2 sea days. The Escape would be a great first cruise. But I just got off the Gem to Bermuda. It was really a lot of fun. They really did a great job with entertainment, the food was really delicious and after many cruises on the larger NCL ships, I've come to appreciate the ships where there are less crowds. Where you can find a lounge chair and where the theater holds basically as many people who want to watch the show. It was refreshing coming back to a smaller ship where there was more space and more public areas that are outside and with ocean views.
  7. We were in a lovely suite on the Sun several years ago that was right over the theater. During the day it was really quiet. In the evening, during the shows it was really loud. The speakers were mounted on the floor below and it got so loud our room vibrated. For us, we had young children who were exhausted from busy days cruising and we were trying to put them to bed. Between the hours of 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, up to 11pm it was unbearably loud. You wouldn't want to be in the room and definitely won't want to try to sleep at all during that time. But if you are out dining, watching the shows and out of the room between 8-11pm you won't be bothered at all.
  8. Another thumbs up for Food Republic. I'm very happy it's going to be on the dining plans. This is a big change. Even if it isn't on the dining plan, it is so very worth the meal price. I recommend you go early in the week because chances are you will want to go back! It's very casual. It's also one of those places where you read the menu and things might no sound appealing but if you venture out a bit and give things a try, you will find it delicious. Teppenaki on NCL is nothing special. In fact, every mid sized city has a hibachi place exactly like teppanyaki. La Cucina italian food is just ok, on par with the Olive Garden, and I love the Olive Garden and will happily admit that. I would skip both these restaurants to eat in Food Republic.
  9. I think you should re-think 4 nights in those particular Specialty Dining. Its not the best food on the ship. IMHO, the best food is in Food Republic. It's casual and creative and a la carte, not a part of the Specialty Dining packages. I loved it so much I went twice. The other dinner I wouldn't miss on the Escape is the Cirque Show with the dinner included. The show is really good and the food is pretty good too. It's a whole experience, so, so much better than the standard Specialty Dining options. Teppanyaki on NCL is your basic......very, very basic teppanyaki that you can get in any medium sized city. There is absolutely nothing special about NCL's teppanyaki. La Cucina is very basic Italian. I'd say on par with the Olive Garden. I love the Olive Garden, I'm not bashing La Cucina but given the other choice of the Cirque dinner show there is no comparison.
  10. The Haven restaurant was never intended for all meals and the menus have never changed in the Haven restaurant. Just as the menu in Cagney's or Le Bistro never change daily either! The idea is not that you will eat in the Haven every meal, the venue isn't large enough to have every Haven passenger eat every meal there. Its a dining option, it's clear it's a dining option otherwise why do you think you get several Specialty Dining perks included in your Haven package? This design keeps the Haven restaurant small and intimate and the waiters can give individual attention. If all Haven guests were eating there very night it would be a very busy place, less intimate, less personal service. Keeping the menu the same, keeps the Haven restaurant small and personal. Your expectation is unreasonable here. Same with the expectation that you'd go into the Haven restaurant and order a meal from a different Specialty restaurant. I don't know why that idea has floated around this board. It's never been regularly practiced. I've been a Haven cruiser at least 10 times, waiters in the Haven DO NOT RUN ALL OVER THE SHIP to bring you a meal from another restaurant. If you want a meal from Le Bistro, use your free perk as part of your Haven package and go to Le Bistro. Or use your Butler. Again, your expectation here is unreasonable, and lacks basic courtesy and common sense. Even if other passengers have done this, it's still not appropriate. That equates to something similar as bringing a meal in from McDonald's while the rest of your family is eating at the Outback Steakhouse. I've been on all the cruise lines you've mentioned. The NCL product with the Haven is still better than anything labeled...."A ship within a ship" The NCL Haven product is a ship within a ship with the additional included perk of dining at the other Specialty Restaurants on board included in your fare. There are plenty of legitimate things to complain about in the Breakaway Haven such as......The extreme lack of sundeck space and loungers on the Haven sundeck for the Haven passengers. The sundeck needs to be 3-4 times the size. Or that the Haven lounge/bar area needs to be 3/4 times larger. I think there's about 5 or 6 bar chairs maybe at the bar. It's completely inadequate for the number of Haven guests. I also think there should be a bar on the Haven sundeck. Expecting passengers to go down 2 floors to the one Haven bar is a lot. The servers are overwhelmed running those 2 flights and that makes bar service very slow. There are legitimate concerns about the Breakaway Haven.
  11. I wouldn't eve begin to entertain the thought of all 4 of you for 14 days. Its not the Mother in Law, its the teenager that would have a really difficult time under those circumstances and that would affect everyone. Those rooms are too small for 4 people even when two are children IMO. No way a teenager and a MIL. You might consider you and husband in the balcony and MIL and teenager across the hall in an inside.
  12. I hear Sweet Caroline on every NCL ship. No matter leaving from Boston or Miami. It's pretty much played nightly on every ship and shouldn't be a factor. At all.
  13. I've been on both the Escape and Gem and I much prefer the Gem. A bigger ship doesn't mean better. On the Away ships, NCL learned how much more profit they can make by squeezing a lot more people on the ships. You notice this everywhere. Especially on the ships decks but even in the theater, lounges, etc. There's just always a lot more people everywhere on the Away ships. The decor is the same. The Gem doesn't look older or feel older. Its well decorated, just noticeably more room for everyone. When a piano player is in the Atrium, you probably could even get a seat on the Gem, on the Away ships you're standing 3 or 4 people deep to listen to the entertainment. I love the Spinikar Lounge on the Gem, its tastefully decorated and during the day makes a great place for the view or to take a book and read, and at night there's always something going on and the thing is, you can always go in and get a seat. On the Escape, I never felt like there was anything like that. No where to take your book and go sit. There is no extra space like that on the Escape. Any extra space is made into a cabin, more people, more revenue, less public space. The food is the same. The restaurants are the same with the exception of Food Republic on the Escape which is A la carte. I love that restaurant but it isn't a part of any dining program, lots of people never get there for that reason. But as far as Cagney's, Le Bistro, La Cucina, sushi bar, Teppenaki, main dining room, it's all the same. As far as comparing cabin size, you could find that out pretty easily. The Gem doesn't have the water slides or the ropes course but once you've done that a time or two, most people don't need to do that again. I did like the outdoor dining from the Specialty restaurants on the Escape but it was so hard to get an outdoor table reservation unless you're booked in the Haven anyways. The bigger ships, the Away ships, mean bigger and more people, a lot more people comparitively. You'll notice the difference if you get a chance to get back to a smaller ship.
  14. The menu is fixed, does not change. But still it is the best dining on the ship and definitely the best service. Cagney's for steaks, great but it won't be any better than the steak you'll get in the Haven restaurant with better Haven service. The other great food is at Food Republic. Its tapas. Creative, small plates in a very casual setting. Food Republic is not a part of the dining plans, it's a la carte. I also liked the dinner theater, I liked the show and the food wasn't bad no matter what the reviews say! If you book this the first night of the cruise there is a discount. The other restaurants were all fine but a big step below the haven dining. My recommendation with Haven dining is to let all the other Haaven guests dine there the first evening of the cruise. Its really, really busy that night, then the next night all those Haven guests get the idea to go somewhere else for dinner, the second night of the cruise the Haven dining room isn't crowded at all. This is a great night to go! I like the Escape Haven, it's not as nice as the Epic Haven. Its pretty crowded as far as Haven'tsgo. They really have maxed out the amount of Haven guests they can squeeze in. The bar is really small and located inside the lobby with the concierge desk. Other NCL ships have separate dedicated Haven bars. But it is still nice. The sundeck is too small for the amount of Haven passengers on this ship. Unlike other NCL Haven's it is so small that there aren't nearly enough sun loungers and the chair hogs come out. Also the Haven smoking area is on this small sun deck, it's already small enough and now they have a half partition blocked off for the smokers, it doesn't even keep the smoke out of the sundeck very well......but still nice. My other advice, if booking Specialty Dining, wait until you get on the ship and let the Haven concierge book that. Don't book it ahead online. The Haven Conceirge will be able to get you the exact time you want to eat, also when they make the reservation you will get the best choice of seating in the restaurant. If you want a booth, you can request. Not so trying to book online.
  15. Not in a million years. The problem is, you will have to be south of Cape Canaveral in December to have an outside sea day. It will be the end of the second day that it will be nice enough. Two days cold on the way down, two days cold days on the way back. Fly to Miami and enjoy your cruise.
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