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PaulInPGH

A Haven Getaway on the Getaway - January 6, 2019: A Review

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We revisited Margaritaville for lunch, because while my wife hates Jimmy Buffet, the food can’t be denied. This time I had the fish sandwich, which while not quite as good as the Volcano Burger, is still a worthwhile option. My wife had the fish tacos, which were also quite good. She did, however, bite in to a roasted jalapeno which she said was the spiciest thing she’d ever eaten (and she eats a lot of spicy foods).

 

We spent the afternoon lounging and reading in the Haven courtyard. When it was too sunny up on deck 17, we enjoyed lying on the long bench loungers along the sides of the courtyard.

 

We eventually made it back to our cabin to find Joseph’s afternoon treat (chocolate-covered strawberries). I also took a turn in the in-room hot tub, which was very relaxing (I need a lot of relaxing after a hard day of relaxing).

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We ended up taking a nap (again, we’re old). We woke up shortly before our 8:30 dinner reservation at Le Bistro, but I was feeling slightly “nap sick.” There must be something about having a reservation at Le Bistro that makes us not feel 100%, as my wife also felt crappy before our Le Bistro reservation on our last cruise.

 

I powered through though, and we enjoyed a delicious meal, including my favorite French onion soup anywhere (and I tried three versions in Paris back in November, but none came close). My wife also ordered the filet with peppercorn sauce, which, in my opinion, was the best steak we had that week. My coq au vin was good, but forget the stupid chicken and go straight for the steak. Trust me. The chocolate fondue for dessert was also good, but it was served room temperature, which I thought was weird. If that fondue came piping hot it would have been unstoppable.

 

Because I was still feeling kind of meh, we decided to just relax in our cabin for the duration of the evening. We were getting off the ship the next day, after all, and we needed to gear ourselves up for that.

 

Up next, Day 5 – Finally, something other than the spa and Haven courtyard.

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11 minutes ago, PaulInPGH said:

We ended up taking a nap (again, we’re old). We woke up shortly before our 8:30 dinner reservation at Le Bistro, but I was feeling slightly “nap sick.” There must be something about having a reservation at Le Bistro that makes us not feel 100%, as my wife also felt crappy before our Le Bistro reservation on our last cruise.

 

I powered through though, and we enjoyed a delicious meal, including my favorite French onion soup anywhere (and I tried three versions in Paris back in November, but none came close). My wife also ordered the filet with peppercorn sauce, which, in my opinion, was the best steak we had that week. My coq au vin was good, but forget the stupid chicken and go straight for the steak. Trust me. The chocolate fondue for dessert was also good, but it was served room temperature, which I thought was weird. If that fondue came piping hot it would have been unstoppable.

 

Because I was still feeling kind of meh, we decided to just relax in our cabin for the duration of the evening. We were getting off the ship the next day, after all, and we needed to gear ourselves up for that.

 

Up next, Day 5 – Finally, something other than the spa and Haven courtyard.

That's a sin to serve the fondue room temperature! On my very first NCL cruise (on the Dawn many moons ago when it was a new ship) I had that for dessert and I truly felt like I was in heaven! I intend to order it on my cruise next year (along with the profiteroles cuz God forbid I shouldn't have enough to eat). If it is not any least very warm, I am thinking I may have to ask if they can "fix" it. Hate to be a PITA but we're talking important stuff here!

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3 minutes ago, Greenpea2 said:

That's a sin to serve the fondue room temperature! On my very first NCL cruise (on the Dawn many moons ago when it was a new ship) I had that for dessert and I truly felt like I was in heaven! I intend to order it on my cruise next year (along with the profiteroles cuz God forbid I shouldn't have enough to eat). If it is not any least very warm, I am thinking I may have to ask if they can "fix" it. Hate to be a PITA but we're talking important stuff here!

We met a couple at Le Bistro on our Escape cruise and they raved about it. They said the came back for a second dinner there just to have it again. I'm guessing it was hot for them, lol.

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1 hour ago, northernrose said:

Great report .  Love the details about Haven.

 

 

Thank you. I did try to include as much about the Haven as I could recall in order to help anyone who may be considering whether to go for it or not.

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Day 5: Wherein I eat some amazing Mexican food.

 

We’re not the kind of people who need to spend every waking minute at the beach, so even though we had a beach day booked in Costa Maya, we allowed ourselves to sleep in a bit before heading out. We had Joseph bring us a light breakfast, and we were soon making our way through the port from hell.

 

Our goal was to find a taxi, but it took us A LONG time to figure out how to get outside the port. It looked like some construction was going on, and some exits were closed off, and there was a distinct lack of signage. In a word: it sucked.

 

When, after much trial and error, we finally made it out, we got in a long line of people waiting for taxis. We told the person “organizing” the taxi line where we needed to go, and he put us in a taxi with four other people, none of whom were going to the same place. The taxi driver tried to drop us off at the same place as the rest of the passengers, despite us telling the person back at the port exactly where we needed to go. My wife took out our booking confirmation for the beach club we’d booked, and after some back and forth, the driver eventually drove us literally two minutes further up the road to the correct spot.

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We booked a VIP (all-inclusive) day at Nacional Beach Club. We’d never been, but it got great reviews online. We had a wonderful day at Nacional, despite the effort it took to get there. The price was a bit high ($110 per person), but the service by the owner, Evan, was great, and the food and drinks were top quality.

 

I will say, though, that the beach in Costa Maya leaves a bit to be desired. The bottom is not sandy, but mucky and weedy. It reminded me a bit of slogging through the Everglades, which, for some stupid reason, is something I did as a child. We still managed to swim around and have a good time though, but when visiting Costa Maya it’s probably best to manage your expectations with regard to the beach. I think when we visit next, we’ll forego the beach all together and just go for the food.

 

Speaking of which: the food at Nacional is absolutely amazing. My favorite was the mixed seafood aguachile, which is essentially the best ceviche you’ve ever had, multiplied by a factor of about a hundred. We also ordered some unbelievable grilled octopus, shrimp, and spiny lobster. It was a seafood feast for the ages.

 

Between feasting, we enjoyed a very small pool, which had built-in tables on which you could place your margarita, or, in one dude’s case, your lunch. Our VIP experience also came with a free twenty-minute massage, which was really nice. On the whole, we had a really lovely day in Costa Maya. I would absolutely go back to Nacional, especially for the high-quality food and drinks.

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We had a much easier time returning to the ship, and we were soon showered and changed. Joseph had left us more canapes, but we only sampled a couple, since we were still full of delicious seafood.

 

We enjoyed a couple drinks in the Haven lounge, where we decided to stay inside, since we’d had enough sun for one day. When the sun finally set, we made our way back to our cool balcony to enjoy some quiet evening reading.

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The rest of the ship must have heard our conversation earlier in the week about how dead the bars seemed, because when we went to the Mojito Bar to hear the Eric Clapton tribute the place was absolutely packed. With no seating available, we made our way to the Waterfront and enjoyed a couple drinks al fresco.

 

We toyed with going to the main dining room for dinner that evening, but we simply couldn’t give up the quiet convenience of the Haven restaurant. I did, however, ask our waiter if we could have the French onion soup that was on offer downstairs, and he obliged. Was it as good as the soup at Le Bistro? No, but it was still tasty. We both did the surf and turf, and we both left happy.

 

Having exerted ourselves that day, and with plans to again brave the world outside the Haven the following morning, we made it another early night.

 

Up next, Day 6 – Third time is not a charm at Nachi Cocom.

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11 hours ago, goofy4mickey said:

I am enjoying your review. Thank you.

Much appreciated. More coming soon!

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Day 6: Wherein we wage a fierce debate whether to get off the ship.

 

For some reason, we wanted to get a very early start to our day in Cozumel, so we set an alarm for 7:15 (that’s A.M., blah). We very seriously considered just staying on the ship, as it had been so nice and relaxing throughout the week. My wife put it best when she said we really struggled to go from our all-inclusive ship to our all-inclusive resort.

 

We somehow made it out of bed, and following another in-room mini breakfast, we were some of the first off the ship. Escort off the ship when in port is a lesser-known, but very nice, Haven perk. We navigated the confusing Cozumel port area (escalators, stairs, corridors that supposedly lead to elevators but actually lead nowhere, etc.), and we eventually found a taxi to take us to Nachi Cocom.

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This would be our third time at Nachi, and, sadly, will likely be our last. We first visited back in 2014 and had an absolutely unbelievable time. I’d put that first day at Nachi up toward the top of the list of best vacation experiences.

 

Things have gone downhill, however. They used to let only 100 people in per day, but that number has since gone up. I’m not sure what it is now, but it feels much more crowded. What’s more, the service there used to be impeccable—with each couple or group receiving personalized service from one attentive waiter. Our first visit, our waiter checked with us regularly, bringing us many drinks and much food. This time, one person came by to ask us to place our food order. I think, since they built their new beach bar, the expectation is for people to order their drinks there rather than have them brought by a waiter.

 

Now, believe me, I realize how this sounds. I’m certainly not complaining that we have to get our own drinks—I’m not a monster. I just feel like it’s such a remarkably different experience than what it once was, it’s worth noting for folks who may be used to the old version and have that expectation for future visits.

 

Another, more substantial change, is we were told we could no longer order whatever we want from the food menu, but were limited to one appetizer and one entree per person. This was VERY different from our previous visits, when we spent the day sampling all sorts of items with no restriction. Again, not a big deal, but something to know before you go.

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We spent a few hours at Nachi. We enjoyed some drinks in the hot tub (the pool was freezing cold). We swam in the ocean just a little bit, as it was rather seaweedy that day and that tends to irritate my skin.

 

We ate lunch, which was just okay. Again, the food on previous trips was fantastic, but everything we ordered this time was cold. My wife still enjoyed the ceviche, however.

 

Around noon we eventually decided that we’d have more fun back onboard a quiet ship, so we packed up and grabbed a taxi back. We made a couple stops in the port area to buy some hot sauce and chocolate, and we then made our way back onboard.

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Speaking of chocolate, Joseph left us some seriously delicious chocolates for our afternoon treat. We then spent some more time reading and lounging in the Haven courtyard. We sampled a hotdog, which was surprisingly good, and generally just enjoyed the final hours of a cruise that was rapidly coming to a close.

 

Because we hadn’t had enough steak yet this trip, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision and made a reservation for Moderno for later that evening. This was no problem, with the help of the Haven concierge, and it seems like if you book the Haven, you have no need to worry about making advance reservations, as they handled every reservation for us with zero problems.

 

That night we went to the only show we’d booked for this cruise, Million Dollar Quartet. The show was very good. The musicians were fantastic, even if their acting needed a little help. Except for the guy who played Jerry Lee Lewis, who was insane and hilarious. It was probably the best show we’ve seen at sea, and I’d highly recommend it.

 

Moderno turned out to be a disappointment. This restaurant, more than any other, really seems to vary from ship to ship. We had it on our first Getaway cruise and thought it was average. We visited again on our Escape cruise in September and thought it was great. This cruise, the food was pretty bad. The chicken and sausage were both fantastic, as was the salad bar, but the steak (you know, the main event at a steak restaurant) was almost inedible. On the whole, definitely not worth the $70.

 

We toyed with getting a post-dinner drink, but we instead just headed back to our cabin because…old.

 

Up next, Day 7 – The final day. Booooooooooo!!!!!!

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