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WoW! How is that for a start? I have experienced Norwegian Suites before but never, ever been in the Haven. It looked just amazing – but was it? Was this ship and the build up from all the glossy NCL promotional info on NCL.com the real thing? Let’s find out.
First off, in Barcelona for NCL, you do not have a private suite / Haven check-in room like in many other locations like Miami or New York. You pass all the other check-in lines and proceed to the very end where you have the Haven line. We arrived early so getting to this position was no issue. Had we arrived later, maybe not so much so keep that in mind.
Check-in was fast and simple and then we were escorted to a private Haven waiting room that was small. I mean REALLY small… and hot. Thankfully the Concierge Bruno came and started to escort folks to the ship. Side note – many of the folks took this specific cruise every year and had sailed with Bruno before and there was much hugging. Apparently he was a great Concierge in the past (and he was equally great taking care of us on the voyage).
Bruno escorted our group (we were in the first group). Those who were waiting did not seem pleased but made way and thankfully we were allowed to bypass the all but required photo in front of the ship photo (I hate this part of cruising btw).
The excitement boarding a ship never ever gets old (way better than getting off). Now boarding for the Haven – oh man. We were stoked. The Epic is a HUGE ship. I mean really huge. It is one of NCLs biggest and after so many cruises on smaller ships I was a bit apprehensive. I should not have been.
We were funneled into the blue elevators. Now little did I know just how uber kool these elevators are. You see, anyone who has a Haven key, and used the slot outside the bank of elevators, calls them as priority. Oh, and inside, if you use your key, it goes into Priority Service and blanks out everyone else who has pushed floors (be very careful with this btw)! But wow how amazing.
The doors opened up to the Epic Club Lounge sign and we were greeted with a key card only accessible door.
The bar, while small, opened to a sweeping large area for seating that allowed for very pleasant small group seating. This really became nice days later either waiting for dinner in the Haven restaurant or after dinner.
Let me tell you about the Haven restaurant. Oh my. This place is ridiculous (in a good way). There is simply no need for specialty restaurants when you have this place. The service was ridiculous. The food was ridiculous. Did I mention this place is ridiculous? Oh and a #ProTip is ask for anything – they will try to make it. And if you want something like the simply crazy double size pork chop off the lunch menu for dinner – just mention this to the maitre’d and it will be ready for you! Just know this place alone is worth the Haven price on its own.
In the middle of the Haven area is the main pool and sun deck area that includes two hot tubs (be sure to see my YouTube video of the full Haven tour). We spent almost no time here for one simple reason – it was insanely loud due to air vents above. They were so loud they made being here unpleasant. I hope they can fix this issue as the hot tubs are very nice.
But the above really was less than “no big deal” because there was another ridiculous choice that is POSH. Oh I am so in love with POSH. You have a sun deck only for Haven guests and btw it is adults only and has a private bar. We simply lived here for much of the 13 days and you should too. What a space!
BTW you have a cordless phone in your Haven room. You also have a butler. Want a snack that is not on the bar menu? Call your butler to bring you whatever you want to the POSH deck (can you see how simply amazing the EPIC is yet?)!
POSH makes a mega ship seem like a private cruise. Let me also impress on you how impressive the crew was to always have all the chairs, with cushions and covers, setup each morning by the time we all got there. There are simply not enough adjectives to describe how hard the staff worked to make the EPIC just Haven EPIC.
I already touched on how spectacular is is to have a butler. Our butler, Maria, was beyond the best. We brought our own caviar onboard and she made sure everything else was perfect when we had some friends over for a treat before dinner. This is just one simple example of what the EPIC Haven experience is like.
If you have ever been on a smaller ship in a suite you know the concierge, or his assistant, will be waiting for you 15 minutes before the show and holding a suite / Haven-lite only seating area for you. It is nice, but nothing like being escorted down to the show. This is yet another stunning perk of booking the Haven and it is just nice. (#ProTip – after the show find the blue elevators and walk down 1 floor and then use your key to call for the ride. Then shoot all the way up to the Haven floor)!
When it comes to the smaller venue you do not get an escort but you do have a separate Haven / Suite line but this can be confusing. I suggesting coming early.
Bottom line is I was simply overwhelmed by how amazing the EPIC Haven experience was and how fantastic the crew was from the Concierge to our Butler, room steward and all of the wait staff in the restaurants. Other than the crazy loud pool area everything was well beyond my wildest dreams. I can not wait to sail on the EPIC again and it will be in the Haven each and every time.
But what about my room? That will be covered in the next post on the way soon! – René