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About DebQ5

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  1. Really enjoying your review! Thanks for taking the time to do it. Enjoy!
  2. I highly recommend Choir of Man, even with the extra charge. I would not count on loving the food! 🙂 Have a great trip!
  3. Oh I'm jealous! It seems like it was a year ago already that we sailed. I completely agree with your thoughts regarding getting a thermal pass for this departure port. I might have even gotten one if we didn't have the Haven area to hang out in. My daughter really loved the Spa, but as you noted she reported that it was pretty noisy at times. Apparently there are also thermal lounge hogs in there as well. Drove her absolutely crazy that people would "claim" these loungers and then go off and enjoy other parts of the spa. Apparently there are signs that say you can't do this, and you can only use one for xx amount of time but it was not enforced. She started going early, around 9:00 am or at dinner time, around 5:00 or 6:00. She said it was less crowded during these times. Have a great time!
  4. Thank you! Happy Holidays and Happy Cruising!
  5. Thanks... I always think I'll take more pictures, and I do sometimes when we go to ports, but it just didn't happen this time. :). I guess that means I was truly relaxing! Next time...
  6. Oh you're welcome! I hope you have a great cruise. We really did like the Escape and if you know what to look out for you'll be fine. Happy Holidays!
  7. Disembarkation The Concierge held a brief disembarkation meeting in the Haven lounge on Day 7. It was nice to not have to go to the meeting usually held in the theater or miss it and wing it as we usually did. It was during this meeting that I learned that we had been credited about $47 per person to our onboard account because of reduced port fees. This was a nice surprise. Patrick then went on to explain that this is refundable OBC, and that depending on the amount of refundable OBC, you can get paid out in cash. We also had non-refundable OBC that we used to purchase my daughter’s dining package, upgrade the wifi, etc. so we had used that up after buying a few inexpensive rings at one of the ships, and miracle of all miracles, I was able to get cash back! We went down to the guest services desk, and after a short wait and no issues, got cash in hand. This was also great news because I wanted some extra cash for tips for the awesome staff. I had put aside cash for the major players but wanted to add to that and also to recognize a few others, so this was handy. We had the same choices as everyone regarding disembarkation; self-drag your luggage or put it out the night before. We (the kids), chose self-drag. This worked because we got to use the Haven elevators and didn’t have to do the wind through the ship thing. If we had to do that I would probably go for the “put it out the night before” option, as it is ugly winding through the ship dragging luggage and there’s always a near fist fight as lines merge together, people get off of elevators, etc. not a relaxing way to end a nice trip! Patrick let us know that the Haven Restaurant was open for breakfast and that we needed to be out of our state rooms by 9:30. We wanted to get home to watch the football game, so got to the Haven restaurant by 7:30 ish. I was pretty shocked that it wasn’t completely full. The hostess was shocked to see my son! It was a nice breakfast and a great way to end the trip. We went back to our room, flagged down Rolando and Amit to say goodbye and give them their little gift bags (some Boston based items and of course cash). We loitered in the Haven lounge for a few minutes and then got whisked down the elevator. We moved towards customs and found out that there’s a Haven line here too. That was surprising. The lines weren’t long in general, and it probably didn’t save us a lot of time, but it was nice. We left the building, took quick right, and got in line for the elevator up to where we parked the car. We were back home in front of the TV by 12:30, in time for the 1:00 pm game! Wrap-up For those playing the “Is the Haven worth it” game, I would have to say for us, it was. This is very subjective of course, and all the arguments about how you could take two cruises for the price of one are all true. However, if you can’t take that much vacation, and have the cash, the Haven alleviates many of the issues people have with cruising… crowds, non-engaged staff, subpar food, etc. We have cruised many times non-Haven and always have a good time, but I do a lot of research and know what to expect. This cruise cost quite a bit of money, but was everything we hoped it would be, particularly for this itinerary. I feel we got very good use of the Haven amenities, as we weren’t interested in the ports. Unless I win the lottery, I don’t see myself spending the money for the Haven if I’m going to be in a port every day, for most of the day. I think I would be upset with myself for not getting full use of the perks. That being said, the priority embarkation, disembarkation, show seats, and unbelievable staff could potentially make it worth it. If they would change the Haven menu at least once during the cruise, then I would say that would potentially tip the scales, even on a port intensive cruise. And those bartenders… sigh… I miss him…. Next cruise booked is a 13-day Mediterranean out of Barcelona. I booked a balcony room. We’ll see what ultimately happens. Thanks for reading and please let me know if I can answer any specific questions. Happy Holidays and everyone please be nice to each other!
  8. Day 6 & 7 Sea Days Sea days are my favorite, with the exception of Alaska which blew me away. I was looking forward to relaxing during our last two sea days on this cruise and we did just that! The concierge was able to get us into the Escape the Big Top activity despite it’s being sold out online… Yes, bonus Haven points awarded! We do a lot of these escape rooms at home, and I couldn’t imagine how this one would be done, but I knew it would be different. Of note, we usually have our own group of people and we know each other, so it was interesting having multiple different people working as a group trying to decipher the clues. We really had a good time, the “escape” was puzzle based. There were a lot of kids there and I would say that the puzzles would be much too difficult for them to figure out on their own, but they certainly had fun helping out. Paper based puzzles interacted with small items around the room. We got close but were not the winners. Still a worthwhile hour to spend and Kudos to NCL for incorporating this different type of activity into their line-up. My daughter and I made good use of the Haven courtyard and she battled the masses in the Spa periodically. Friday the ship was really rocking, the captain made several announcements about powering through a front. This doesn’t affect me, but my son was a bit down and out. Or was this his late-night activities? Regardless, he enjoyed his time in his 2nd bedroom and we enjoyed not looking at him until he rallied in the early evening. They closed the hot tubs in the courtyard during this day I assume due to sloshing water, but it was still nice to lay around with some daylight coming through the dome, sipping cocktails and reading. Amit, our butler, was sooo awesome, when he heard Connor was a bit sick, he went out of his way to bring meclizine, Gingerale, and crackers. I tried to get him to understand that he was probably just hung-over and didn’t deserve his pity, but everyone loves my son (or wants to save him or something) and Amit was no different. Amit and I chatted quite a bit during these last two days and I found out he has one more “tour” and then he leaves in February to get married! Congratulations again Amit and best wishes for your future! Amit’s departure is a loss to NCL, and a gain for his future wife. I was really looking forward to Friday night as we had Choir of Man booked. As noted before, we love musicals, and had heard great things about this. We had also heard the dinner is not great. We’ve participated in these dinner shows before and figured this might be the case, so we scarfed some butler snacks prior to going to the Haven lounge to be escorted to the show. There were quite a few of us, and we were brought down and placed in seats right in front of the stage. This is held in the supper club, which is like a semi-circle with (3?) tiers of seating. We were in the first row. Beware… this row can be a bit interactive. Normally I don’t like this, but it was ok for this show, and we didn’t get dragged on stage, phew! Depending on where you were seated, if you were further back there may have been a pole obstructing your view, and we did not have this, which was great. The dinner has changed from bangers and mash (or so I read) to beef wellington. Meh. I am not a foodie but this just really wasn’t good. Maybe they should just have a pasta dish or something. What they really should do is not serve food, but then I imagine they couldn’t justify charging the $20 or so it costs. It’s totally worth the $20, but then everyone would be griping that NCL is charging for entertainment so it’s a lose-lose I guess. The stage is set up very similar to the show “Once” if anyone has seen that, with a bar as the setting. Prior to the show starting you could go up there and get a beer, which my son did. I drank my and my daughter’s Newcastle, which they provide as part of the cost. The show was predictably excellent. The guys were very talented, and we enjoyed the song selection and the way they interacted. I would definitely go see them if they tour at home. I’m sure we hit our usual haunts after the show, and I know one of the nights we watched the dance competition with the staff, which was very funny. The atrium was packed for this. Side note: When we wanted to participate or watch an event in the atrium I would go down with my book early (I was reading anyway, why not there), order a drink from the ever present staff, and hold a few seats for us. There were usually only two, and sometimes three of us, so this was not an issue. I was amazed at how many people would arrive 2 minutes before the event and be upset that they couldn’t find a seat. Really? Do you do this when you go to the movies or a concert that doesn’t have assigned seating? There are 4,000 people on this ship. Yes, they could hold these things in the theater, but it wouldn’t be as fun. In the atrium the people up in O’Sheehan’s can also watch. Just my atrium rant… Saturday was more of the same. Very relaxing. My daughter and I had seen people having food delivered to the Haven courtyard and thought we would do that today. I wasn’t sure how to go about this and assumed we’d have to call Amit (which I really avoided doing). I asked one of the servers and she produced a “Haven Courtyard Snacks” menu of some sort. A hidden treasure!! If we ordered off of that, she or one of the other servers would bring it. If we wanted something different we could call Amit. The menu was short, but definitely had some good options. I got the tuna burger (not sure why) and it was pretty good. We got onion rings, we had seen a lot of the kids eating throughout the week, and they were yum! My daughter got a burger I believe. All-in-all a good option without having to bother the butler. I will total up the Haven points at the end of this review but I think we all know how this is going… Saturday night, our last night ☹, we had reservations at Teppenyaki. We love this restaurant, but were going to skip it this time in favor of La Cucina. Someone posted the new La Cucina menu and I ran it by my daughter who vetoed it. She really just wanted traditional Italian food and it wasn’t speaking to her. We haven’t eaten here yet, on any of our cruises, as I’m not a huge Italian food person.. maybe next time. Teppenyaki was as good as usual. It’s typically hard to get a drink here so we ordered right away. This is thirsty food, so we about halfway through we were looking for another. It took a bit to wave the right person down (there are specific people for specific tasks apparently) and the guy came over, reached behind me, and grabbed beers for me and my son and a bottle of wine for my daughter. It was in a champagne bucket on ice. Score! Good thinking Teppenyaki staff! The food was great. There’s something about their fried rice that can’t be reproduced in our opinion. Our chef was very fun, they all love to sing! It was a fun way to end the cruise. We went around and said our goodbyes to Ravi and crew at The District, found JR and Chelsea and said goodbye to them as well, and then went to pack. This is always so sad but we did miss our dog and cat and it was time to go home. This is the first time I’ve felt that way, and it’s not because we didn’t have a good trip, but I think more because we stayed on the ship so much and had a more relaxing kind of trip.
  9. Thank you! Yes, it's fun to write the review and relive things. I really should take some notes here and there... the memory isn't what it used to be. We really like the 2 bedroom. I've been pricing some future cruises though and they are SOOOO expensive. Seems like a lot more than what I paid for this trip. I'll have to keep trying or get rid of one of the kids 🙂
  10. We just got a refund of $47 per person on our recent trip. Didn't know what it was but wasn't going to complain and then the Concierge explained it during the disembark speech.
  11. Day 5 – Happy Thanksgiving! We were docked in Nassau when we woke up in the morning. As beautiful as it looked, we had no desire to leave the ship today. My daughter and I went to breakfast at the Haven restaurant, per usual, and then tried our hand at morning Trivia. We did do better as the days went on, but certainly didn’t win. I went up to the outside Haven sun deck, which she went to the spa. It was deck deserted at 10:00 am, and quite relaxing. The only sad part was that the bubbles in the hot tub weren’t working. It was hot, and the jets worked, but no bubbles. I didn’t ask anyone, I just ended up chilling and then going “downstairs” to the indoor Haven area. There weren’t as many people there as usual, likely as it was a port day. I’m sure we ate lunch somewhere, it may have been O’Sheehan’s as I do remember my daughter getting the chicken fajitas and me getting a hotdog with relishes and onions. And Wings of course! It was yum. I had changed our dining reservations around a bit for this day. We ended up at Moderno’s at 5:30 pm so that we could see the 7:30 pm Brat Pack show. This may have been a mistake, as none of us were wowed by Moderno’s. I had requested to be seated outside so that we could experience sail away while eating but was told that the outside wasn’t open for safety reasons. Usually I let this stuff go, but I did ask, “oh, what’s the issue?” and was told “I don’t know it’s a safety issue”. Hmmm… I’m wondering if they just didn’t want to staff the outside area? Anyway, it could also be that we just weren’t that hungry at 5:30 pm. It’s hard to resist those Butler snacks. My son was definitely feeling the effects of his walkabout the night before so that likely didn’t help. My daughter was put off, for some reason, by having the meat sliced off the skewers. I just thought it was ok in general, nothing great. The servers were awesome though and couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive. We had avoided this specialty restaurant on our other cruises because of the so-so reviews. I’m glad we tried it, but we probably wont go back. I was not wowed by the salad bar, as I had read in so many other reviews, but we all really liked the pineapple! 😊 When we were done with dinner we went back to the Haven lounge area to have a drink and wait to be escorted down to the Brat Pack show. Same escorting process, lots more people this time. We sat directly in front of a platform thing that had been installed in the front rows of seating. Clearly this was going to be an interactive show! And it was. It was really good. Side note: We have a broadway subscription series in Boston so we see A LOT of musicals. The cast was very talented and I’m the exact right age for the music. The kids new the music as well and had some, if not all, of the referenced movies. Now I’m no prude, believe me, but I did think that a few of the scenes were not necessary. I asked the kids later what they thought, and they agreed that they could do without the guy dancing on the platform in his underwear about 1 ft from their faces lol! They billed the show for adults, so no fault of NCL’s if kids were there, but for the show itself, it just didn’t seem like it added anything… JMHO. I’m sure the rest of the evening was spent listening to either Chelsea or JR playing in either Tobacco Road or the District. Apparently we are creatures of habit. There are plenty of other venues, but I admit to not seeing a lot of them. I always have the intention of doing a pub crawl of sorts, but it never materializes. Some day. This was a great Thanksgiving for us. Low key, good weather, and no family drama!
  12. Thank you! You'll have a great time. I really like the 2 bedroom suite. Let me know if you have any specific questions.
  13. Day 4 continued…. After we got back on ship I believe we did some of the atrium activities and got ready to get some dinner. This may have been the day that my daughter and I asked the Haven bartender to make us something special. I feel like they really rise to the occasion when asked. We told him our preference was vodka, and he pulled out his “special” infused vodka and paired it with grapefruit Perrier. There may have been Prosecco involved. Topped off with some fresh berries it really hit the spot! This was our go-to Haven drink for the rest of the trip. It was sad that we couldn’t get it anywhere else on the ship. We decided to try the Manhattan room for dinner. I don’t remember what time we got there, but there was only a few people ahead of us in line. We were directed to hold off for a minute, and then instructed to go to the hostess stand. She scanned my card and then someone brought us right to a table. We’ve eaten in the Manhattan room on the Breakaway, and it looked similar, but it seemed much more chaotic. We were hoping to catch the band, and were told that they would be playing again, but they never did. Side note: That seems like a fail to me. There are what seems to be hundreds of musicians on the ship and they can’t find a band to play during the dinner hours? Regardless, the waitress came right over, and I asked if we could order drinks right away. I still haven’t gotten in the habit of grabbing something before entering the restaurants (and hadn’t needed to up to this point) but I do remember that the business of the restaurants can make for a long drink wait. Now I don’t know if our Haven cards had anything to do with this, but a server (different from the waitress) came right over. About this time was the first time that the maître d’ came over to check on us and to thank us for dining in her restaurant. Now maybe she did this to everyone, but it didn’t seem so. Our waitress was nice and somewhat funny although there was a bit of a language barrier. We got our drinks pretty quickly, and someone actually came by during the meal to see if we wanted another. Our food was good, can’t really remember what it was, but I believe my daughter got pasta. I know I got pot stickers for an appetizer as I have a picture, but apparently didn’t take any other pictures. The maître d’ came by again during dessert to again ask how we were. People have reported long waits to receive food and drink in the main dining rooms, but we did not have this experience. After dinner I believe we saw some live music. We had discovered Chelsea Reynolds, a singer/guitarist who played at the Tobacco Road bar as well as at District. She was fantastic and had a great song selection. It was really hard to find a seat at the Tobacco Road venue, as it’s very small. There were groups of people who were not open to sharing their areas, which is NOT in the spirit of music and drinks. Shame on them. I know that we ended the night with some Karaoke at 5 O’clock somewhere. There were very few people there, and even my Daughter got up and sang a song. My son sang, and then JR (piano guy) came in and blew us all away 😊. Off to bed for my daughter and me. My son, apparently, went on a walkabout making friends for a good part of the wee hours. Well, everyone has their own cruise, I guess!
  14. Oh yes, definitely. I feel like you can rent them ahead of time, and if you do you can get a priority tender ticket. You'd need to search the forums for the specifics. I didn't look as I knew we didn't need one.
  15. It was a different sort of cruise for us. Normally I'm researching all about the ports and what we want to do. This was much more about the ship. My only worry was not getting into Great Stirrup Cay, as apparently there are times they can't tender. We were lucky and got in. Plan B would have been an all-inclusive beach day pass somewhere in Nassau. Have a great cruise! Let me know if you have any specific questions.
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