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  1. Our experience with JW Blue is consistent with others on here. In 2016, both cruises we took the "upcharge" was $4.95, which we felt was totally worth it. Then the 2 we took in 2017 the upcharge bumped up to $24.95 and we thought that was way too much. Finally, the 2 we took last year it was $34.95, we laughed and walked away. We were close with the Haven bartender for the 2016 and 2017 cruises and he told us the $4.95 was a mistake (and might have just been limited to the Breakaway out of NYC) and that the $24.95 was the "corporate standard." To us, I think anything under $10 would have been worth it, anything higher seems like gouging to me.
  2. Michelle, many thanks for clarifying this thread! You are exactly correct that a charge back is an inappropriate venue to ligitgate "value." As outside counsel for several credit providers, you said it better than many of the briefs we have written for court submission.
  3. I have to agree with the other posters that think it's more hit or miss. We've only been on 6 NCL cruises, but all in DOS. 4 on the Breakaway and 2 on the Escape. When it comes to butler service, we had 2 fantastic butlers and 4 sub par. I think it has more to do with rotation than suite level.
  4. This just confirms for me that we made the right choice to move on from NCL. I guess the dining room access would be okay given I've never seen it busy on any of our cruises and we've never waited to be seated, but the Haven bar is too small as it is. When we first started cruising in the Haven the bar was a huge plus for us. We'd stop and grab a drink and catch up with the bartenders and then grab a drink to bring back to the room for the evening. It was quiet, relaxing and everything we like in a cocktail bar. The last few cruises, however, that was not the case . . . packed bar 2 deep from about 5 right through to closing, stressed out bartenders, less personalized service, etc. I can only imagine what the Haven + bar scene would be like.
  5. Totally agree with everything dexddd said. Been on the Escspe and Breakaway 6 times, all in the Haven and all in DOS. The Escape, for us, was more enjoyable than the Breakaway. Not only did they fix the big DOS issue with the Breakaway class cabins, I found the restaurant options better and more varied and the Haven was better laid out (although I did miss the bar being right outside the restaurant). I am confident you’ll have a great cruise as we have enjoyed all of our NCL cruises. That said, I would caution you to manage expectations on the Butler front. I think some people come back and have “bad” Haven experiences in part because they expect, well, a true butler. Don’t my get me wrong they are helpful but they are not truly butlers ... more like in room situational Concierges. When we first started cruising with NCL in the Haven, the Butlers were truly exceptional. Ramona, our first butler, was amazing and would take care of things before we even knew it was an issue or was something we didn’t even know we wanted. For example, she noticed we were always back to the cabin early (around 9pm). Asked us if we were having fun and why we were back so early. We told her we like to relax at night with a drink and watch a movie. Next night, we return at 9 to find a huge bowl of popcorn and candies waiting on the table with some movie recommendations from her. Did we need that? No. Was it nice that she thought about us and how she could make our vacation a little more special? Absolutely. We had similar exceptional experiences with Peter. Ramona I know for sure is gone from NCL and i’m not sure where Peter is now. The last 4 cruises we noticed a significant decline in the level of service and, well, it’s just not the same. Now it’s more of a homogenized product ... “let me tell you what we do” rather than “what can I do to make this a memorable vacation.” Again, I totally understand NCL here ... as they roll out more and more Havens, they need more people as butlers and they need to ensure consistency of product. For us, though, this has resulted in just mediocre service (in fact, I don’t even remember our other butlers’ names). So much so that we are off to Seabourn for our next cruise. We’ll see how we handle a 450 passenger vessel! It might be luxury ... but that is still awful small!
  6. So were are also a “Haven or nothing” NCL crew. Been on only 6 cruises but all in the Haven on the breakaway and escape. Although we loved each of our cruises, we’ve decided to move on from NCL and try another line. Over time, we have witnessed a sharp decline in the Haven product and the service levels and we simply do not find it worth the money any more. This may not be the PC thing to say, but the bidding program has certainly changed the dynamic in a significant way. Jamie, I am definitely in the same camp as you in that I really don’t care what anyone paid for their Haven experience, but it’s the demands that come with the “once in a lifetime bidding win” environment that has been hard to adapt to and the cumulative effect of so many bidding winners is simply crushing the staff. When we first started cruising with NCL, the Haven service was exceptional ... butlers there when you needed them, Conceirge available to help where they could, friendly bar and restaurant wait staff, almost all your specific requests met. Then the bidding sustem started and we noticed and amazing uptick in passenger demands ... everything from having every single meal and multiple snacks a day delivered to a room to literally a woman asking the Conceirge what else she could “get for free because she’s Haven” (seriously, she wanted a printed list). Again, i’m not saying they don’t have the right to do it ... it is their vacation and their money ... but when it cuts into my perceived value of a cruise, I have to reconsider where I spend my money. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was last cruise when we were going to have our anniversary dinner on our deck (we were in a DOS on the Escape) overlooking the Dockyard in Bermuda .. simply beautiful view. Our poor Butler was running around crazy all week and kept telling us all the demands the other rooms were making. He knew we were accommodating so he asked if we could move back our dinner 1 hour because he had too many other cabins to accommodate that night. Of course, that message never got to the kitchen and our dinner arrived all at once (not course by course plated) and was cold. That was it for us. So, to answer your question, for us what the Haven is “worth” became an external comparison more than anything. I realized for the same price as my Haven DOS suite I could get an owner’s suite on a luxury line (seabourn) for a cruise TWICE as long with literally everything included ...free limo to and from airport to port, all meals, all specialities, all drinks (premium included), free WiFi, etc. When you can sail on a true luxury line with more included for the same price as NCL Haven ... the Haven is overpriced by a wide margin.
  7. Thank you all for sharing your experience! It’s funny, all of our short list cruises were mentioned above! I guess birds of a feather! It it looks like we’re leaning to Antarctica or Alaska, but it looks like we can’t go wrong with any choice.
  8. I believe the OP is asking about the Breakaway/Breakawy + class. Totally different than the Jade. There is no bulkhead door and being all the way forward means no one can see you at all. In fact, that was one of the best parts about the Breakaway and Eacspe DOS, we felt like we were on our own ship ... with 180 degree views. It is certainly windy when standing up and moving around, but when you are below the glass windscreen you don’t feel at all. I believe someone mentioned OP was going to Bermuda. We did this 4 times and all 4 we were dockyard side ... nothing like breakfast on the the balcony overlooking the dockyard or drinks at sunset (we bring some battery powered flickering candles to help the mood).
  9. Haven’t been in an Owner’s Suite, but have sailed 6 times in a DOS on the Breakawy and Escape so roughly the same position of the ship. It is certainly windy when you are standing or if you have anything exposed above the glass windshield, but if you are sitting down or on the lounger it is completely fine. I wouldn’t necessarily try to have a meal out there at the table, but for just sunning and relaxing and taking in the sights, it’s great!
  10. Hello! So we are relatively new to cruising, having only cruised 6 times and all on those on NCL vessels. We have decided to make the change to Seabourn and are very much looking forward to our 14-day Caribbean cruise next spring on the Odyssey. In the interim, we've started looking at other cruises in later 2020 and, honestly I think I find almost all of the itineraries interesting! It's been hard to narrow it down. Thought I would just reach out and ask all of you Seabourn veterans and leverage your vast experience. If you had only one Seabourn cruise you could take again, what one would you select? Why that one? Many thank in advance for your input.
  11. Exactly our situation. 6 cruises on NCL all in the Haven in DoS. Our next cruise will be on Seabourn in an Owner’s suite for just $1000 more pp. I enjoyed the Haven product and it was our gateway to cruising, but the prices are simply crazy and with so few DoS, waiting and bidding just isn’t an option for us. Like others, we would sail again if the pricing is right, but in all honesty, the Haven does not compare to Oceania/Seabourn/Regent so i’m not sure how they get away with pricing the Haven as if it is.
  12. I have to agree with other poster, for us Food Republic and Pinchos were fantastic. We also had thermal spa passes, which were great.
  13. My concern is that we will never have any transparency into true price equilibrium as a result of the bidding system. My observation is that NCL has, effectively, removed the price ceiling by installing this bidding system. They set the prices as high as they want (5-10% per annum inflation) and whoever they get to pay full price is just gravy for them. They know that as the cruise approaches they can fill the suites via the bidding game. People feel they got a "deal" because they get some discount from the inflated "rack" rate, but they probably end up at or around NCL's internal targets. What would be really interesting to see is what the average rack rate is for each category in the Haven the day before the cruise sails. I think that would give us a truer approximation of actual value. In short, the bidding system has obscured the transparency of traditional supply and demand curves.
  14. It seems like we have recently come around to your thinking as well. We stayed with NCL and the Haven because we liked the idea of all the entertainment and bar/dinner options on a large ship, but with the option to retreat to something more quiet and slow paced when needed and we really did love the layout of the DOS . . . it was perfect for us when coupled with a spa pass. Our first butler was amazing (but she left NCL) and the ones we have had since have just been ok. The room stewards/stewardess have always been great. But over the last few cruises I've noticed overworked Concierges, less friendly bartenders, nickel and dining re: included alcohols (I mean, really, I just spent $12K on a suite and you want to charge me $2.95 for a Hendricks? Or $15.95 for a Johnny Blue?). Again, we have really enjoyed our cruises on NCL (even last Sept's that was rerouted from Bermuda to FL), but when I can get a true luxury experience on a 14-night cruise on Seabourn for just $1K/pp more I justify Haven prices any longer.
  15. Same here. After 6 cruises, all the in the Haven on the Breakaway and Escape, we are moving on to another cruise line. We loved our times in the DOS, but the value is not there anymore for us and with the bidding system now, the Haven always sails at capacity and the service quality has steadily ticked down each cruise. I totally understand why they installed the system, but bidding has really tarnished the Haven experience . . . at least we think it has.
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