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Waverunner1

Is the Haven really worth it?

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So I have placed upgrade bids on several Haven categories on my upcoming 14 day cruise. For the amount of my bids I could book another balcony room cruise. so my question is...is it really worth it? I sailed the dawn last year which does not have the haven but was awarded an aft facing penthouse in the upgrade process. Loved the aft facing large balcony the most. Butler and Concierge were helpful to have but I could have easily done without. Priority boarding and disembarking was also nice but again not really a game changer. Breakfast and lunch at Moderno was nice, quiet, and less crowded, but I also had meals at other venues. My wife and I love meeting people so I don't see us staying locked in our Haven cabins or the Haven area too often. So again, is it worth the extra money and why? What makes it worth it in your opinion over booking another cruise?

 

I'm currently in an aft facing balcony room which I just (Saturday) switched to at no charge from a port side balcony when prices dropped and am now considering cancelling my upgrade offers unless somebody can convince me not to!! Thanks for the input.

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I also placed bids on a Haven suite for my December cruise, but for opposite reasons. I am a solo traveler, and an introvert. The idea of a ship inside of a ship sounds heavenly to me. I am not going on a cruise for the ports...I have a very intense middle management job that I want to escape from for a week. No internet, phone...the pampering sounds like a real vacation for me. I have a mini suite and plan to stay on the ship at port calls as it sounds like everyone is off the ship...which sounds like I will be exploring the boat on those days!  
 

this is my first cruise and while I know I will enjoy my mini suite room, Haven sounds great. What sold me is that my manager mentioned how much she loved feeling disconnected from the world while on a cruise, and just being able to relax without thinking. Haven sounds like taking this idea to the next level. 
 

 

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20 minutes ago, Waverunner1 said:

So I have placed upgrade bids on several Haven categories on my upcoming 14 day cruise. For the amount of my bids I could book another balcony room cruise. so my question is...is it really worth it? I sailed the dawn last year which does not have the haven but was awarded an aft facing penthouse in the upgrade process. Loved the aft facing large balcony the most. Butler and Concierge were helpful to have but I could have easily done without. Priority boarding and disembarking was also nice but again not really a game changer. Breakfast and lunch at Moderno was nice, quiet, and less crowded, but I also had meals at other venues. My wife and I love meeting people so I don't see us staying locked in our Haven cabins or the Haven area too often. So again, is it worth the extra money and why? What makes it worth it in your opinion over booking another cruise?

 

I'm currently in an aft facing balcony room which I just (Saturday) switched to at no charge from a port side balcony when prices dropped and am now considering cancelling my upgrade offers unless somebody can convince me not to!! Thanks for the input.

You have listed enough reasons not to upgrade. Aft facing balconies are great, you like to socialize, embarkation/disembarkation aren't important. Why spend the extra $$$$$ when you're happy with what you have?

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The answer is different for everyone.  IMHO many things about the Haven are puffery to try and make people "feel" special.  Just look at the endless threads about butlers, snacks, gummy bears, etc.  The cookies are mass produced and the same cookies at the buffet.  You can grab a few of them at the buffet and bring them to your cabin and tell yourself your mystery butler brought them.  But many people get very excited about someone bringing snacks to the cabin.  I personally don't care for fishy snacks and sandwiches and try to stop them from coming.  I realize I may be in the minority.  If you like gummy bears you can always bring your own bag but there are many threads about butlers not bringing gummy bears and complaints.  We never use the butler but the few times we have, sometimes our butler was not available and they sent someone else. I always get flamed for saying this but some of the food in the Haven restaurant is the same as the buffet and MDR, its just served on a fancier plate.  The burgers and French toast is mass produced on the ship and its the same in every restaurant.  I have boarded in Miami in the Haven and have seen regular passengers board faster. Sometimes the boarding process in the Haven lounge gets bogged down with all the kids and their passports.  So you sit and wait for these large families and I sit and watch people whizzing by boarding from the counters.

Now back to the question why I try and book Haven cabins.

Love the personal service at times.  Its not always the case but most times is true

I could care less about priority embarkation but priority disembarkation is worth so much IMHO.  You are tired and cranky after the cruise and its nice to be taken to the front of the line

Haven breakfasts are a joy.  They use real eggs for scrambled eggs and the service and atmosphere is top notch.

We are not pool people so the Haven pool is worthless to us. But the sundeck is great and we do use that.

The concierge can get you really good seats if you wish.  We got second row for Blue Man Group on Epic

We have always had better room stewards in the Haven

If you sail with more than 2, the Haven 2 bedroom suites are really good.  

And lastly who does not like to "feel" special even though its mostly puffery.

Clearly you can have a great time in any cabin on a cruise.  The cost of the Haven is so high these days, it sucks the value out of them compared to how it used to be.  You clearly could take 2 cruises compared to just one with the prices these days.

Oh, did I mention I have a Haven suite booked on the Encore in February?  Well with the prices, I don't cruise that much anymore.  Its a special occasion so many of the costs are being rationalized by me.

 

Edited by david_sobe

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Which ship?  Also, at current list prices, generally not.  For a bid, maybe.  

 

On say BA one reason would be to get away from the crowds but your post seems to not indicate a need for many perks of the Haven so in your case probably only if via a low bid.

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29 minutes ago, beerman2 said:

You have listed enough reasons not to upgrade. Aft facing balconies are great, you like to socialize, embarkation/disembarkation aren't important. Why spend the extra $$$$$ when you're happy with what you have?

And another reason...sound advice from BEERMAN2!!! 

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26 minutes ago, dexddd said:

Which ship?  Also, at current list prices, generally not.  For a bid, maybe.  

 

On say BA one reason would be to get away from the crowds but your post seems to not indicate a need for many perks of the Haven so in your case probably only if via a low bid.

Gem

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28 minutes ago, david_sobe said:

The answer is different for everyone.  IMHO many things about the Haven are puffery to try and make people "feel" special.  Just look at the endless threads about butlers, snacks, gummy bears, etc.  The cookies are mass produced and the same cookies at the buffet.  You can grab a few of them at the buffet and bring them to your cabin and tell yourself your mystery butler brought them.  But many people get very excited about someone bringing snacks to the cabin.  I personally don't care for fishy snacks and sandwiches and try to stop them from coming.  I realize I may be in the minority.  If you like gummy bears you can always bring your own bag but there are many threads about butlers not bringing gummy bears and complaints.  We never use the butler but the few times we have, sometimes our butler was not available and they sent someone else. I always get flamed for saying this but some of the food in the Haven restaurant is the same as the buffet and MDR, its just served on a fancier plate.  The burgers and French toast is mass produced on the ship and its the same in every restaurant.  I have boarded in Miami in the Haven and have seen regular passengers board faster. Sometimes the boarding process in the Haven lounge gets bogged down with all the kids and their passports.  So you sit and wait for these large families and I sit and watch people whizzing by boarding from the counters.

Now back to the question why I try and book Haven cabins.

Love the personal service at times.  Its not always the case but most times is true

I could care less about priority embarkation but priority disembarkation is worth so much IMHO.  You are tired and cranky after the cruise and its nice to be taken to the front of the line

Haven breakfasts are a joy.  They use real eggs for scrambled eggs and the service and atmosphere is top notch.

We are not pool people so the Haven pool is worthless to us. But the sundeck is great and we do use that.

The concierge can get you really good seats if you wish.  We got second row for Blue Man Group on Epic

We have always had better room stewards in the Haven

If you sail with more than 2, the Haven 2 bedroom suites are really good.  

And lastly who does not like to "feel" special even though its mostly puffery.

Clearly you can have a great time in any cabin on a cruise.  The cost of the Haven is so high these days, it sucks the value out of them compared to how it used to be.  You clearly could take 2 cruises compared to just one with the prices these days.

Oh, did I mention I have a Haven suite booked on the Encore in February?  Well with the prices, I don't cruise that much anymore.  Its a special occasion so many of the costs are being rationalized by me.

 

Cost wise...your cons (and mine) seem to outweigh the pros. Although I have not yet cancelled my bids, I just lowered them to the minimums and will probably ultimately cancel them. Priority disembarkation was great but in my opinion not worth the upgrade cost. The mystery butler made me laugh...told the wife last week she had to go to the room before me and make a stop at the buffet for cookies so I'd think we had a butler! And, again as you said and as I have been thinking...it's all puffery to make you feel special, which it does, but at a huge cost. Think I'll book another cruise instead as I haven't seen any real reason here to make the Haven a must. Thanks for your thoughts. 

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You're on the Gem - a smaller ship - and even less reason for the Haven.  You already said you don't need all of the perks that come along with the Haven, and you enjoy the other areas of the ship - so save your money. 

 

Let it go to someone who LOVES the Haven, and would have an incredible experience if they won it in a bid :)

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18 minutes ago, DinaS said:

You're on the Gem - a smaller ship - and even less reason for the Haven.  You already said you don't need all of the perks that come along with the Haven, and you enjoy the other areas of the ship - so save your money. 

 

Let it go to someone who LOVES the Haven, and would have an incredible experience if they won it in a bid 🙂

This is good advice. From what OP said, I don't think it would be worth the extra cost. It is for me--but I don't cruise all that often. I don't enjoy the main pool area --the noise, crowds, chair hogs, etc. But that's just me. The butler is no biggie to me at all, but now that NCL has gone mega specialty restaurants, the Concierge is, I find, a nice benefit and perk for reservations that I REALLY don't want to have to deal with on vacation. I like the sun deck and private pool area (not because it is "private" but because it is quiet). The priority boarding, debarkation, and tenders are great, having a dedicated restaurant is also a win in my book. But as was mentioned--every person is different, with different needs and priorities. If I wanted to cruise every year or multiple times per year, I would skip the Haven. I'm one of those that prefers to cruise less often, but in the Haven if possible. 

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The Haven on Gem and the Haven on the Away class ships are two different worlds.  If you are happy where you are on the Gem then stick with it.  

 

Epic and above are a different story with the pool, private sundeck, restaurant, bar,  concierge desk and even observation lounges on some of them.  In Alaska, for example, on the Bliss or Joy the Haven guests have their own observation lounge that is approximately the same size as the general observation lounge shared by the rest of the ship.  The lounge is wonderful and seldom crowded.  The Haven usually provides a sense of peace and serenity, the crew takes very good care, and the concierge can sometimes make magic happen with reservations, sold out excursions and last minute changes.   Honestly, if there is a Haven on a ship then I plan to be in it instead of wishing I was.

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1 hour ago, Waverunner1 said:

Gem

There really is no “ship inside a ship” on the Gem. There is a very tiny courtyard area. No lounge. No restaurant. 

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21 minutes ago, BirdTravels said:

There really is no “ship inside a ship” on the Gem. There is a very tiny courtyard area. No lounge. No restaurant. 

I concur.  The GEM has a tiny Haven area, and no Haven bar/restaurant.  I had an aft suite on the GEM last year.  Got all the perks (concierge and butler) except for being allowed in the Haven area.

 

On the bigger ships (Epic, Away and Away +), I think the Haven is great.  They all have much nicer, much larger Haven areas.  

 

I’m sailing in my 4th Haven next week.  The idea of not worrying about restaurant seating, show reservations (and getting the best seats in the house), customer service issues, much less frantic outdoor hangouts (with much nicer accomodations), etc is worth it to me.

 

That said, I’ve seen some of the fares people quote in some of the threads here for Haven.  Mercy!  No way I’d book the Haven for that.  While I’ve never been able to book the Haven as cheaply as @david_sobe, I rarely spend more than $4K for a Haven Suite on ANY NCL ship.  And, even at that, I get a Spa Suite which allows free access to the Thermal Spa, which is wonderful.

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We are relatively simple folks.  For us, the food is fine and we rarely go near the pool anyway, preferring quiet shady spots.  We are up before the crowds jam up the buffet for breakfast and we get real eggs from the omelet guy.  We have no use for a butler and getting making our own reservations is just as easy as telling someone to make them for us.

 

I am sure that it is nice, but we prefer use the extra $ to take one or more additional cruises.

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1 hour ago, graphicguy said:

I rarely spend more than $4K for a Haven Suite on ANY NCL ship.

 

For a cabin of 2, 4k for a 7 day in the Haven (Breakaway/B+) is definitely doable, I just found 15 sailings between 4k and 4.5k for 2 in the Haven (mostly spa suites I think). We are a family of 4 so we're usually looking at H6/7/8's, so for us my threshold is under 6k (under 850/day). Some people have less flexibility with their travel schedule or can only travel during the summer. The above cruises I mention start at 6k for 2 in summer 2020. It's like any other cabin - you can get good prices if you sail offseason and/or at the last minute, or you pay more for the peak travel season and by booking in advance.

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For me these factors come into play, the Ship, the time of year, the itinerary.

In August 2018 on a Baltic cruise on the Breakaway it was worth every penny to escape the madness, quiet bar, quiet dining.

On a Spring or fall trans Atlantic would not waste the money, even if ship is sold out it still isn't packed as most cabins are just two people and plenty of solos, no kids running amok.

I don't utilize a butler so that is not a factor.

 

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3 hours ago, Greenpea2 said:

This is good advice. From what OP said, I don't think it would be worth the extra cost. It is for me--but I don't cruise all that often. I don't enjoy the main pool area --the noise, crowds, chair hogs, etc. But that's just me. The butler is no biggie to me at all, but now that NCL has gone mega specialty restaurants, the Concierge is, I find, a nice benefit and perk for reservations that I REALLY don't want to have to deal with on vacation. I like the sun deck and private pool area (not because it is "private" but because it is quiet). The priority boarding, debarkation, and tenders are great, having a dedicated restaurant is also a win in my book. But as was mentioned--every person is different, with different needs and priorities. If I wanted to cruise every year or multiple times per year, I would skip the Haven. I'm one of those that prefers to cruise less often, but in the Haven if possible. 

I couldn't agree more Green!  

 

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So for an extra ?thousand dollars I get gummy bears, cookies, the same meals in a less crowded restaurant, possible spa access, real scrambled eggs, a much roomier and nicer cabin, private sundeck, butler, concierge, priority em/disembark, better seating at shows,etc...am I missing anything? I experienced much of this on the Dawn last year in the Aft Penthouse and did enjoy it but is it worth it or better to go on two cruises instead??? Something to think about and as most of you have said...we each have our own reasons for liking and disliking it. 

 

When I'm on vacation, I don't count my pennies but I want them to go to the most worthwhile thing that will bring us joy and great memories and is the haven it? I've got some thinking to do! 

 

Thanks everybody who have replied so far...

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11 minutes ago, njkate said:

For me these factors come into play, the Ship, the time of year, the itinerary.

In August 2018 on a Baltic cruise on the Breakaway it was worth every penny to escape the madness, quiet bar, quiet dining.

On a Spring or fall trans Atlantic would not waste the money, even if ship is sold out it still isn't packed as most cabins are just two people and plenty of solos, no kids running amok.

I don't utilize a butler so that is not a factor.

 

I feel the same way, two week cruises in mid fall are not packed, no children, and we love to meet new people so it seems pointless, BUT...we have not experienced the Haven so we are really curious.

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I only read the title of the question / thread. The answer: YES. 

 

Of course, try to get a good deal, watch the prices and make adjustments as necessary - but yes, absolutely. 

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4 hours ago, Waverunner1 said:

Gem

No, definitely not worth it on Gem. Suite without Haven access, yes. Paying to upgrade to Haven for access to a small courtyard when you can be at the great outdoors? No

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It wouldn’t be worth it to me. It stresses me out to think about a butler and concierge. I’m very happy with a balcony stateroom. 

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We were on Deck 17 on the Joy after just having come out of the Haven, and met a 'Karen' outside the elevators doing her best RBF. She had clearly been waiting a long time for the elevators (? a minute of two), as people were apparently getting on on Deck 16 (Garden Cafe), and going up one level before going back down. So all the elevators that appeared were full.

 

After she directed her RBF at us, I had an idea and walked over to the crew priority scanner on the elevator lobby wall, and said to my Financial Advisor, "It's OK, I'll just do the Haven thing." and swiped my Haven card on the scanner. Of course it does absolutely nothing at all except flashes and beeps, and ten seconds later a half empty elevator coincidentally appeared with enough room for 'Karen' to get on.

 

I just smiled, and said, "Go ahead. We'll get the next one".

 

The look on her face was '...priceless, PRICELESS!' -Viggo. John Wick, 2014.

 

The Haven is what you make of it. It is different things to different people. The additional services and facilities are there if you choose to use them, but that is entirely up to you. We liked it because the demographic was fairly close to our own, everyone was very polite and extremely considerate, and the crew were clearly invested in their jobs. It was definitely a far, far, better experience than previous cruises that we have done.

 

 

 

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