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MikeyB

My recent TA Haven Epic Cruises

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Hi, I don't normally do this.  However, I believe it is necessary to provide my thoughts on my Epic transatlantic cruise from Barcelona to San Juan.  I had a Haven 2 bedroom unit on deck 16.

In no real particular order, here are my random thoughts.  It is by no means a complete list.  Just my thoughts.

1-The cruise did not start well.  There was a noro virus problem on the prior cruise so everyone was late in boarding.  Close to 2 hours on line.  I would not have mind, but I asked if Haven meant skipping the lines.  I asked three different people and was told to wait with the masses.  I found out this was not true when I entered the terminal.  From the Haven waiting room, a rep took us to the elevator on deck 6.  We were told to wait.  The problem was that the elevator waited for passengers on deck 7.  I had to go up to deck 7 to tell the rep to come down to deck 6.  Not a good start.

2-We were dropped off on deck 16.  No one met us.  We had lunch in the Haven restaurant.

3-The Haven concierge, Roel Gonzales, was my fourth favorite concierge.  I have now been in the Haven on four cruises.

4-I did not mine getting a Haven tour but I traveled with another couple who were there for the first time.  They could have used it.  New to me was that Haven allowed access to Posh.  I wish someone told me that before the third day.

5-There were a number of cabins on 16 and 17 being renovated.  It looked like a construction sight for the first week.  Another day, they replaced the carpet on the spiral staircase between 16 and 17.  Why they chose a sea day to do this is beyond me.

6-There was always lines boarding the Epic at most ports and and different times.

7-We were also delayed disembarking the ship in San Juan.  No info was provided by the concierge.

8- My cabin steward was great (Elisa) as well as my butler (William). The best after four Haven cruises.

9- The Haven restaurant had some great servers.  But most were poor.  Really poor.  Problems taking orders, taking plates off the table or knowing the order to take the food.

10-On a related subject, the Haven toilet paper was the thinnest that I have ever seen.

11-Treadmills in Haven gym all had problems.  With one machine, I had to indicate every 64 seconds that I was still using the machine.

12-The tonic water served with drinks was consistently flat.  There was a nice selection of beers.  The only remarkable bartender was by Cagney's restaurant.  Did not get his name.

13-In Le Bistro a beverage manager ask for my thoughts during dinner.  I took that opportunity to tell him how disappointed I was with the wine selection.  Why does the wine prices top out at $9 or $10 when your liquor package allows selections up to $15?  He couldn't answer that question but he did send a $3 bottle of wine to my cabin. 

14-We ate once in the Manhattan room and thought the food and service was good.

15-I thought less of the food quality in the other specialty restaurants.  La Cucina food was a major disappointment.  Previously, I always enjoyed it.

16-Burn the Floor was fantastic.  Saw it three times.  Priscilla was also good.  There was lots of music performed most nights.  Almost all very good.  I thought they cheap out on the entertainment in the Epic theater.

17-Something that really bothered me was my experience with the Haven lounge bar and the Epic general manager Nelson.

Here is the short version-

On various nights after leaving the theater, we would go up to the Haven bar for a nightcap.  Arriving a night at 10:45 we were told it was closing but we could order a drink.  Another night it was closed at 10:35.  No one in sight.  I went to guest services and asked when it closes.  The rep called the concierge (who had no idea).  The concierge contacted the bartender.  I wasn't surprised when I was told it closes at 10:30 pm.  I wrote to Nelson.  Eventually he told me it should be between 11 and 11:30pm.  He said he would contact bar services.  This was the next to the last night.

If this had been my first Haven experience, it would likely have been my last.  I told my friends so many good things about the Haven that did not turn out to be true.  I would like to blame the Encore (coming into service) for many of the problems encountered.

Anyway, that is my story and I'm sticking to it.  I will be back on the Epic in January in a mini-suite.  I will be interested to see how different my experiences will be next time.

 

 

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Sorry to hear about so many negative experiences in the Haven on Epic.  I am posting for the one point that you made that the service issues may have been because of Encore.  That may be true.

In 2010, I experienced the most amazing service in the Epic Haven complex ever.  Every staff remembered your name and never even wrote down your meal requests.  I was so impressed how top notch the staff was.

In 2013, I sailed Epic Haven again and while the trip was excellent, the level of service dropped from 5 star to about 2 star.  Epic Haven no longer had dedicated Haven staff and the waiters would rotate through the Haven and specialty restaurants.  Waiters would write down orders and mix up the orders or deliver them to someone else.  It did not impact our trip but I was in shock at the difference in service.  I was told that all the experienced staff left for Breakaway (the new NCL ship at the time).  So its very possible thats what happened to Epic (again).  It seems when a mega new ship debuts, they need their most experienced staff to create a certain order.  Unfortunately the older ships take the hit.  I remember that the Haven restaurant was so understaffed that the crew talent show was almost cancelled.  Several Haven staff were going to participate but were told to work instead.

Edited by david_sobe

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Sorry to hear that things weren't up to your expectations. We are in the Epic Haven at the end of February.

 

Do you know how long Roel will be on the ship? We've never had him as a concierge. While we don't use the concierge a lot, it's nice to have a good one. We've had both good and bad (the funny thing is one concierge was good one year and bad when we had him the next year), and it can make the cruise more pleasant if you have a friendly concierge.

 

Our first two cruises were on the Epic and we weren't "good" at cruising yet. I'm looking forward to this cruise to take advantage of all the things we missed on the first two. 

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We will be on the Epic in February, also in the Haven.  This will be our third trip in Haven with NCL, first on Epic.  One thing I have learned from the many cruises is if there is something that is bothering you, speak up right away.  As long as you are nice it usually is resolved very quickly.

 

I know we will have an amazing time.  There will be food we love and food we wouldn't try again, there will be drinks we love and drinks we give back because we don't like them, there will be crew we absolutely love and some that we don't mesh well with, because that is life. 

 

Looking forward to our trip!!!!!

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16 minutes ago, Georgia_Peaches said:

Thank you for the review.  One question, what is Posh?  Is this a venue unique to Epic?  Guess that's 2 questions...

 

Posh is a bit like Vibe, but is for all Haven adult guests. It is unique to the Epic. It is an area with a bar and cushy loungers. 

 

There are sometimes limited (around 20?) passes available for sale. 

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25 minutes ago, brookie848 said:

 

Posh is a bit like Vibe, but is for all Haven adult guests. It is unique to the Epic. It is an area with a bar and cushy loungers. 

 

There are sometimes limited (around 20?) passes available for sale. 

Are kids allowed... even if they’re kept under control?!

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2 minutes ago, Rob32 said:

Are kids allowed... even if they’re kept under control?!

No kids are allowed (unless something has changed recently, which I haven't seen). When we sailed from Miami, they were allowed in Posh for the sail away party, but I don't know if they still have those or not (I sailed in 2014 and 2015). In fact, we saw children being asked to leave. 

 

Kids are allowed in the Courtyard and sun deck. 

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We're in the Haven on Epic this Sunday out of San Juan.  It will be interesting to compare our experience to our first time in Epic's Haven 4 years ago.  The layout, Posh, and the sheer enormity of Epic's Haven make it the best one in the fleet IMO.  Just hope they don't even consider closing the bar early!  

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3 hours ago, wdsted said:

We're in the Haven on Epic this Sunday out of San Juan.  It will be interesting to compare our experience to our first time in Epic's Haven 4 years ago.  The layout, Posh, and the sheer enormity of Epic's Haven make it the best one in the fleet IMO.  Just hope they don't even consider closing the bar early!  


I will be anxious to hear your thoughts on how the ship compares to your last trip upon your return. We are on the Epic in February and in the Haven. It it has been five years since we last travelled in the EPIC Haven and previous  to that spent two other holidays in the Epic Haven and our family enjoyed ourselves immensely on each trip

 

Hoping that you have a great vacation 

 

 

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Sorry you had a bad experience. I been on the Epic many times in the studio cabin. I just love the Epic. I know that many People don’t like the layout. The food at the main restaurant is very good. If you don’t have a free coupon don’t go to the specialty restaurant . The food at the Buffet is also very good. My next 5 cruises are on the Epic, 2020 and 2021. Very good price with 2 cruise next coupon on each cruise.

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Thank you for posting your impressions. We missed a window of opportunity to snag a Haven cabin on this cruise when they dropped drastically a few weeks before sailing and I’m glad we didn’t spend the money. I’ve already shared my rantings about this cruise in another topic. I had heard comments on the ship that a lot of new crew boarded in Barcelona. Just another mismanagement by NCL. And totally agree the wine situation was very frustrating, especially when they started running out. 
 

FYI, one of the things that we enjoyed on this cruise was our mini-suite, although I still think the bathroom layout is stupid. Our cabin was spacious, lots of storage and was so quiet. We were frequently in the bar by Cagney’s. Probably ran into you. 

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Just to answer a few questions-

Brookie848- Sorry, don't know anything about Roel.  I tried avoiding him.  Most of the time I saw his assistant at the desk and not him.

Wdstea- I beg to differ about the Epic Haven.  It was the first ship built with a Haven but it's small and oddly laid out.  You must constantly have your key card at the ready.  I appreciate the gym, but other ship's like the Breakaway have pool chairs on two levels and is covered.  The Epic is not and has a lot of engine noise.

I should also have added that the Haven pool server was excellent.  I would be up in the gym at 6:15am seeing him setting up the pool.  At 5pm he removed all the cushions and towels.  In between, he was always walking around serving drinks.

I hope someone will report on when the Haven bar closes.  I found it funny that the pool bar is open for drink orders at 7am.

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Thanks for sharing your experience. Im booked on this cruise for next year, im wondering what the weather was like, were you able to spend much time outside?

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12 hours ago, MikeyB said:

other ship's like the Breakaway have pool chairs on two levels and is covered.  

MikeyB. We just got off the Breakaway Haven last week and your experiences are not unique to the Epic.  

 

We have sailed NCL Haven many times in the past and this last trip on the Breakaway was the worst in terms of service in the Haven along with other items throughout the cruise. One thing to note is that there are no longer pool chairs on the pool level of the Haven. They are all tables with lounge chairs only on the top level. Therefore you really can’t hang out on the pool level unless you want to sit at a table. They had almost zero service by the pool or on the upper level.  There were many other service issues that I’ll put into a review this weekend. 

 

The Epic is my husbands favorite ship and we’ve had Roel twice as a butler but never as a concierge. We have sailed MSC twice in their Yacht Club in the past couple of years and decided to try Haven again.  For now we think we will stay with MSC.  TheYacht Club space, service and price is noticeably better than NCL.  We still had a fun cruise, but nothing outstanding. 

 

This is coming from a very loyal Platinum NCL cruiser.  We would cruise them again but it would have to be a good price which is hard to find anymore and I really don’t think they care too much about retaining their customer base as they are getting enough new folks through upgrade methods. 

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6 hours ago, ptuder said:

MikeyB. We just got off the Breakaway Haven last week and your experiences are not unique to the Epic.  

 

We have sailed NCL Haven many times in the past and this last trip on the Breakaway was the worst in terms of service in the Haven along with other items throughout the cruise. One thing to note is that there are no longer pool chairs on the pool level of the Haven. They are all tables with lounge chairs only on the top level. Therefore you really can’t hang out on the pool level unless you want to sit at a table. They had almost zero service by the pool or on the upper level.  There were many other service issues that I’ll put into a review this weekend. 

 

The Epic is my husbands favorite ship and we’ve had Roel twice as a butler but never as a concierge. We have sailed MSC twice in their Yacht Club in the past couple of years and decided to try Haven again.  For now we think we will stay with MSC.  TheYacht Club space, service and price is noticeably better than NCL.  We still had a fun cruise, but nothing outstanding. 

 

This is coming from a very loyal Platinum NCL cruiser.  We would cruise them again but it would have to be a good price which is hard to find anymore and I really don’t think they care too much about retaining their customer base as they are getting enough new folks through upgrade methods. 

Why would they remove all the chairs from the Haven pool area?  I am trying to picture that in my mind and it would make no sense.

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Sorry that your experience was disappointing, we all work hard and so look forward to the little time away we have. 

 

We sailed in a 2 bedroom EPIC Haven last year from 12/5-12/15/18.  Elisa was our steward and  I agree, she is excellent.   Richard was the butler and he too was excellent.   It was not our first Haven cruise, but first on EPIC and our experience was quite good, despite a new staff onboard. 

 

A new ship coming on line impacting service is something I hadn't considered.   Another impact may be the time of year as much of the staff was new to EPIC for our sailing as well.   We were told there is a normal, but high percentage, staff turnover for the first few sailings following a TA  and also staff may have contracts/ leaves enabling them to be home for the holidays.   My DM requires a wheelchair for boarding and the escort had just boarded that day and had to be directed by another crew member to the dedicated Haven elevator etc.    He apologized, which wasn't necessary, and said he was concerned about EPIC's layout being different than the other ships, even though he had studied a map.   

 

I agree that the Haven wait staff rotation to other restaurants detracts from the Haven restaurant experience and probably negatively impacted additional gratuities the staff might receive.   

 

One would assume, NCL has an awareness of the negative impact from new ships combined with the expected TA turnovers and should develop corrective action and enhance their training programs to offset it.   Isn't that what all successful business do? 

 

Happy Holidays and wonderful cruising to all

 

 

 

 

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I did notice that the Breakaway also didn't have the same level of pool service a couple of years ago.

Wetcoast- We had relatively calm days crossing the Atlantic.  However, the first 5 or 6 days, very few passengers were by the pool.  Also, when we were able to use the pool area, it was only for a few hours.  The sun had to be above the ship.  Due to the layout, it was still cold until the last 5 days or so,

Not surprised Roel was a butler, he really wasn't very helpful unless he got to use the elevator.

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And no one said the chairs were removed every night.  It was the cushions and towels.  All cleaned for the next day.

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3 hours ago, david_sobe said:

Why would they remove all the chairs from the Haven pool area?  I am trying to picture that in my mind and it would make no sense.

I didn’t take a picture but the only place to lounge on the actual pool level would be in the chairs inside the shallow area of the pool. Otherwise it is tables to seat 2 or 4 people. They would serve breakfast or lunch out there but most people went into the restaurant. We used it a couple of afternoons to play cards with our friends but we had to go in to get drinks even though staff would come out to check the table that had water, cookies, etc.  

 

They had dinner “under the stars” one night out there but they had the roof closed. Nice thought but it didn’t feel special, the restaurant would have been nicer.

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4 hours ago, ptuder said:

I didn’t take a picture but the only place to lounge on the actual pool level would be in the chairs inside the shallow area of the pool. Otherwise it is tables to seat 2 or 4 people. They would serve breakfast or lunch out there but most people went into the restaurant. We used it a couple of afternoons to play cards with our friends but we had to go in to get drinks even though staff would come out to check the table that had water, cookies, etc.  

 

They had dinner “under the stars” one night out there but they had the roof closed. Nice thought but it didn’t feel special, the restaurant would have been nicer.

That's really strange.  A theory could be the Haven restaurant could not handle the crowds and they needed the extra space.  The Breakaway class ships have a very poor Haven design, almost an afterthought.  The Away-Plus class corrected these errors with an outside Haven restaurant eating area, hot tubs on the Haven sundeck, and a bigger Haven restaurant.

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We’re on the Epic now in a Haven 2 bedroom.  Happy to report no construction and great service.  The Maitre de (sp?), servers, butler, concierge, steward are all very friendly and helpful.  No complaints from us.

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Thank you for posting this...

We did our first and only Haven trip on the Epic.

We usually have inside cabins or balconies, depending on the itinerary and we felt as though we'd wasted our money on the Haven experience.

Embarkation wasn't great as we were escorted up, neither sea cards worked and were told we had to go and sort it out ourselves at guest services...took an hour no sort, so had no tour etc.

The Haven bar was so cold and didn't serve any rose wines, on our sailing. The bar staff were very uninterested too.

Loved the meals in Haven but unfortunately there was a noisy group eating there most nights.

We didn't feel "special" at all

We did have a spa suite and we totally loved the spa. 

After our experience we I doubt we'll do Haven again. £4200 for the week compared to £1800 for a balcony.

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6 hours ago, wdsted said:

We’re on the Epic now in a Haven 2 bedroom.  Happy to report no construction and great service.  The Maitre de (sp?), servers, butler, concierge, steward are all very friendly and helpful.  No complaints from us.

@wdsted How was your embarkation?  We will be on Epic in the Haven in February, were you able to skip any long lines to get into the Haven check in and waiting area?

 

5 hours ago, rachiem said:

Thank you for posting this...

We did our first and only Haven trip on the Epic.

We usually have inside cabins or balconies, depending on the itinerary and we felt as though we'd wasted our money on the Haven experience.

Embarkation wasn't great as we were escorted up, neither sea cards worked and were told we had to go and sort it out ourselves at guest services...took an hour no sort, so had no tour etc.

The Haven bar was so cold and didn't serve any rose wines, on our sailing. The bar staff were very uninterested too.

Loved the meals in Haven but unfortunately there was a noisy group eating there most nights.

We didn't feel "special" at all

We did have a spa suite and we totally loved the spa. 

After our experience we I doubt we'll do Haven again. £4200 for the week compared to £1800 for a balcony.

@rachiem When was your cruise on Epic?

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12 minutes ago, dporter said:

@wdsted How was your embarkation?  We will be on Epic in the Haven in February, were you able to skip any long lines to get into the Haven check in and waiting area?

 

For our previous cruises out of San Juan, there is one security line -- nothing special for Haven/suites. Once we were in the terminal, the check-in for the Haven was waaaay at the far end, so depending on the line situation in the terminal, it may not be obvious. The waiting area was very small and right beyond where we checked in. 

 

Hopefully someone can update us on how things will be for this season.

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