Choosing Your Haven Cabin
Haven cabins are available in a number of different categories and are available on all Breakaway Class ships and larger. Some Haven cabins are configured for two guests, while others can accommodate families.
The most luxurious and largest of these are the Garden Villas, the Deluxe Owners Suites, and two bedroom suites. These will be categories H1 and H2. All Haven cabins will be on the front uppermost decks of the ship with the exception of the H6 category. These are in the rear corners of the ship and can be on any of the top few decks.
While they are far from the Haven complex itself, they will have the largest balconies of any cabins with the exception of the Villa and the Deluxe Owners Suite. Such large balconies are very desirable if on a wonderfully scenic cruise, such as Alaska or some European cruises. Haven suites are available on some of the Jewel Class ships, but not all Haven benefits are available on them. For the full Haven experience, I would always recommend the larger ships.
Haven Spa Suite
One of the special Haven categories is the spa suite. These are special suites which come with “free” access to the Thermal Suite of the ship. This could mean a significant savings because in a “Breakaway Class” ship, a thermal pass can run $250 or more per person. I find the thermal suite one of the things I really enjoy when cruising on those larger ships. You will find a sauna, steam room complete with Eucalyptus, salt room, snow room, and many other special health and beauty enhancing rooms. There are also a number of lounge chairs (most heated) looking out into the water through floor to ceiling windows. You will often find passengers on them reading a book or simply relaxing and enjoying the day, morning or evening.
Pampering begins Even Before Your Cruise
When signing up for your Haven cabin you can expect to get an email even before your cruise asking you what you want waiting for you when you enter your cabin. Every Haven guest will be asked what type of pillows they desire – Overfilled Firm – firm but not too hard, Ultra Foam – deluxe memory, or Hypo-Allergenic, what type coffee you prefer for your Nespresso coffee machine(light, dark French Roast or decaffeinated), what teas you prefer (Jasmine, Chamomile Citron or English Breakfast), if you want extra towels, washcloths or bath towels and a favorite question – “what else can we do, just say the word and we’ll bring you what you need.”
When you arrive at the pier
Forget about long, winding lines. You will be whisked straight to the special Haven check-in area right after you go through security. There you will find comfortable chairs and/or couches where you can have light snacks, coffee and drinks while you wait to have your photo taken for your key card. The wait will not be long because there are a very limited number of Haven guests on each cruise. Your concierge will greet you in person and will discuss any shows, dining choices and excursions you may wish that you have not already signed up for.
Then, you will be personally escorted directly up to the Haven complex where you will be given more snacks, a mimosa or other drink and told where your own special Haven restaurant is, how to get personally escorted off the ship for shore excursions, where your special seating area for entertainment will be and other key information concerning your voyage. Then, you will be able to have your first delicious meal onboard. You can choose from the Haven restaurant or any other choice that is currently open.
Throughout your cruise
One of the most fantastic benefits of the Haven is your own butler. Your butler will restock your cabin with coffees, creamers, sugars and other needs daily. One of the things my wife and I always tell the butler on our first day is to keep us completely stocked with dark French Roast coffee every day. When we wake up in the morning, there is nothing like our own fresh brewed cappuccino or latte to enjoy on our deck. The butler will also bring a different variety of fruits, sandwiches, and other items to the cabin for an afternoon pick up. You can also control what types of goodies the butler brings – just ask. Our kids often request cookies in the afternoon and popcorn in the evening.
Your butler will also be the one to contact for room service. As a Haven guest, room service is always available at no charge. You should remember, however, that the butler is not included in the automatic gratuity amounts you are charged by NCL, so you should tip accordingly, depending on the service you receive.
Free Haven Perks
When going online at NCL.com you will find they normally point out you can choose from up to six free amenities. In the Haven, you don’t have to choose. They are all available to you. This alone, can save you a lot of money.
One of those perks is the specialty restaurant package, which will include three or more free meals in any specialty restaurant on the ship. This, in itself, is quite valuable because those meals are ala carte and would normally cost from $30-50 per person per meal. You could choose from any number of such restaurants including Cagney’s Steakhouse, Le Bistro (French), La Cucina (Italian), Moderno (Brazilian), Teppanyaki (Japanese Hibachi-style) and others.
Of course, if they weren’t free, why would you go since you have The Haven restaurant? Variety, maybe. This perk does carry a special gratuity charge but we are always more than happy to pay it. In fact, the service is usually so exceptional, we often slip our waiter an extra cash tip. These people work very hard and many deserve extra special consideration. (Special tip: the seven layer chocolate cake at Cagney’s is to die for!)
Another special package that you get at no additional charge is the premium beverage package. It includes any alcoholic beverage valued at up to $15 per drink. There is no limit to the number of drinks you can order, although you can’t order more than two at a time. Quite a deal, I would say! This is another of the perks when there is an additional gratuity charge. I believe it is currently around $17 or so per day, but I do consider it well worth the price. If you did not have this perk, the premium drink package is around a hundred dollars a day plus gratuities, so this perk is an absolute must if you plan on having a few drinks during your cruise.
Another free perk is a $50 per cabin credit per shore excursion. This could be significant, but I do have to caution that cruisers should always check prices on private excursions that are often priced below those offered by the cruise line. The advantage to taking the ones offered by NCL is that the ship will not leave you behind if there is a delay getting you back to the ship. With private operators, there is no such guarantee, although I doubt those large enough to advertise would want to risk you being left behind. Suffice that you are forewarned to be aware about such excursions. My wife and I have taken a number of them without incident, but she always investigates the operator online and checks reviews and references far in advance.
The fourth perk is a hundred minutes of free internet. This is hardly a perk because the internet on the ship is very slow and those minutes will go by like a wildfire through a dry forest. As you progress up the latitudes ladder, you will get another 250 free minutes. I have found that on a typical seven day cruise, the 100 minutes plus the 250 minutes tends to get me through. My wife, however, purchases the unlimited internet package so she never has to worry about time used. It costs under $150 for the seven day cruise. She is often sharing our travels on social media and needs to spend more time than the normal person online.
Friends & Family Cruise Free
With two children, another of the perks we especially enjoy is “friends and family cruise free.” With this, our two children are allowed to come along with us for only the cost of taxes and port fees. This can mean a significant savings and is something we are extremely attentive to watch for. Of course, it is not always available during spring and summer breaks, but if one is very attentive, they can often find it on some ships during such times.
The final perk, which is not always offered, is free airfare for Haven guests to and from your departure port. We took advantage of this perk on a recent cruise from San Juan through the Southern Caribbean. It was exactly as billed. Completely free. We traveled from Dallas Ft. Worth to San Juan with a plane change in Miami.
We already have status with American Airlines, so we got to choose our own seats and had no problems whatsoever that had anything to do with Norwegian (American Airlines had a few delays of their own due to weather, but it all ended well). It truly was completely free, so that saved us over $2,000, making the extra cost for The Haven much more negligible. Yes, I would do it again! It’s really like getting The Haven for nearly half price. We loved this so much we accepted it again for a future cruise coming up in December.
Although the cost of the Haven is considerably more when one just looks at the “sticker price,” when one considers all the benefits it may not be as expensive as it initially seems. There are so many things as detailed above that are included booking the Haven might turn out to be only minimally more costly.
Balancing The Perks With The Price Tag
Booking a Haven cabin itself can run from $2000-$10,000 per person depending on the season, length of cruise, popularity of cruise, time you book in advance, and size and type of ship. But, consider the premium drink package (saves you upwards of a thousand dollars if you were to buy outright), the dining package (at least a couple hundred for the three meals for your spouse and yourself), the shore excursions credit (up to $350 for a seven day cruise if you book through the ship), the free internet minutes, and the free airfare.
For us we like being able to stay in The Haven area and enjoy the private pool, bar and restaurant. The intimate setting allows us to meet new people, keep an eye on the kids and escape the more crowded areas of the ship.
If you are on a really tight budget and are very disciplined, yes you can cruise for as little as $200-$300 per person for an inside cabin. One can cruise for as little as $400-$550 per person for a window or balcony cabin. A mini suite will usually run $300-$500 more than this per person. Overall, I still consider any cabin on a cruise to be the best type of vacation one can take. Where else can you go where your hotel has 20 or so restaurants, in-house live entertainment nightly, a number of shopping areas, an art gallery and auction, and your “hotel” moves to another city or country every day?
If you have the money, I would still advise to consider a Haven cabin because of the savings I have detailed here. You might just find that the Haven is a real bargain!