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We had never tried a cruise before, and decided to try NCL Haven as an alternative to other luxury vacations; we have recently visited other five star resorts (most notably, a Four Seasons in Hawaii and a Constance resort at Maldives) and now we decided to give a chance for a cruise. We had a pretty good discount for NCL and ended up paying about half of what we have used to pay for vacations of similar length, e.g. in the aforementioned resorts. Despite the low price, the value for money was quite poor, and if I ever try a cruise again, I will definitely go for an actual luxury cruise with a luxury cruise line. We quickly realized that we are on a ship with almost 7,000 people (and 5,000 guests). The common areas were quite crowded and noisy, and we ended up spending most of our time in the exclusive Haven lounge. The lounge was, in general, quite relaxing and nice. The pool was somewhat small, but ok, given that, after all, we cannot expect a resort-like experience from a cruise. The service staff was also very nice and helpful, but compared to other luxury resorts, the Haven seemed quite seriously understaffed. The experience just is not at the level you would expect, even though all the people treat you very well. In particular, the staff seemed quite specialized. The Haven lounge had staff e.g. from the bar and the restaurant, and if I made a request for a wrong service person, it did not really work out. Either they directed me to seek another waitress (who might not have been available at all, if I went to look for her), or they just dismissed the request with something like "I don't know". I am usually not that demanding, so I did not really mind this, but this makes me drop the review from 5 stars to 4 stars (within luxury vacations). We decided to book a photography session during the cruise; we asked for the price and we were told that it is $299 for 30 minutes session. This seemed quite inexpensive, but I asked the photographer several times about the price and what's included, and she told me that we will have the digital files along with the property rights with this package. They never showed us the actual price list, even though I repeatedly asked about the prices, as this indeed seemed too low to be true. After finishing the session, they showed the actual price list: 12 photos with $799 and 18 photos with $999. The complete set of digital files was $1,999. I felt cheated, but did not want to make a scene out of it. Moreover, they did not give us the property rights to the pictures, but only a non-commercial right for reproduction for my own use. The files were also not high resolution originals, but compressed JPGs, which allow for printing the pictures, but not for additional editing. This whole experience makes me to drop my review from 4 stars to 3 stars (within luxury vacations). Once we got home and uploaded the pictures into our 5K iMac, looking at the pictures with high-quality screen, revealed that the quality of the photo editing was terrible. The pictures had really serious shadows and other color issues, which made the pictures look like really unnatural. We ended up buying the 18 photo package, but at least 3-4 out of these are essentially unusable. Since the files are not the original high-resolutions ones, we cannot edit them further by ourselves either. We tried to contact NCL afterwards in order to get them to fix the quality of the photoediting using the originals. After over 3 weeks, we still haven't received any response to our message. I find this unresponsiveness disappointing for a luxury resort/cruise, and this makes me drop the review to a final 2 stars. We still very much enjoyed our vacation, but if we will ever take another cruise, I think we will try an actual luxury cruise liner (even with doubled price) instead of NCL Haven (or other similar offers). For someone considering a luxury cruise for the first time, I would recommend rather going to a luxury (non-cruise) resort, or try a luxury cruise liner, of which I don't have any experience.

Review of NCL Haven

Norwegian Escape Cruise Review by LuxuryVacationer

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2018
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: The Haven Aft-facing Penthouse with Balcony
We had never tried a cruise before, and decided to try NCL Haven as an alternative to other luxury vacations; we have recently visited other five star resorts (most notably, a Four Seasons in Hawaii and a Constance resort at Maldives) and now we decided to give a chance for a cruise. We had a pretty good discount for NCL and ended up paying about half of what we have used to pay for vacations of similar length, e.g. in the aforementioned resorts. Despite the low price, the value for money was quite poor, and if I ever try a cruise again, I will definitely go for an actual luxury cruise with a luxury cruise line.

We quickly realized that we are on a ship with almost 7,000 people (and 5,000 guests). The common areas were quite crowded and noisy, and we ended up spending most of our time in the exclusive Haven lounge. The lounge was, in general, quite relaxing and nice. The pool was somewhat small, but ok, given that, after all, we cannot expect a resort-like experience from a cruise.

The service staff was also very nice and helpful, but compared to other luxury resorts, the Haven seemed quite seriously understaffed. The experience just is not at the level you would expect, even though all the people treat you very well. In particular, the staff seemed quite specialized. The Haven lounge had staff e.g. from the bar and the restaurant, and if I made a request for a wrong service person, it did not really work out. Either they directed me to seek another waitress (who might not have been available at all, if I went to look for her), or they just dismissed the request with something like "I don't know". I am usually not that demanding, so I did not really mind this, but this makes me drop the review from 5 stars to 4 stars (within luxury vacations).

We decided to book a photography session during the cruise; we asked for the price and we were told that it is $299 for 30 minutes session. This seemed quite inexpensive, but I asked the photographer several times about the price and what's included, and she told me that we will have the digital files along with the property rights with this package. They never showed us the actual price list, even though I repeatedly asked about the prices, as this indeed seemed too low to be true.

After finishing the session, they showed the actual price list: 12 photos with $799 and 18 photos with $999. The complete set of digital files was $1,999. I felt cheated, but did not want to make a scene out of it. Moreover, they did not give us the property rights to the pictures, but only a non-commercial right for reproduction for my own use. The files were also not high resolution originals, but compressed JPGs, which allow for printing the pictures, but not for additional editing. This whole experience makes me to drop my review from 4 stars to 3 stars (within luxury vacations).

Once we got home and uploaded the pictures into our 5K iMac, looking at the pictures with high-quality screen, revealed that the quality of the photo editing was terrible. The pictures had really serious shadows and other color issues, which made the pictures look like really unnatural. We ended up buying the 18 photo package, but at least 3-4 out of these are essentially unusable. Since the files are not the original high-resolutions ones, we cannot edit them further by ourselves either.

We tried to contact NCL afterwards in order to get them to fix the quality of the photoediting using the originals. After over 3 weeks, we still haven't received any response to our message. I find this unresponsiveness disappointing for a luxury resort/cruise, and this makes me drop the review to a final 2 stars.

We still very much enjoyed our vacation, but if we will ever take another cruise, I think we will try an actual luxury cruise liner (even with doubled price) instead of NCL Haven (or other similar offers). For someone considering a luxury cruise for the first time, I would recommend rather going to a luxury (non-cruise) resort, or try a luxury cruise liner, of which I don't have any experience.
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Cabin Review

The Haven Aft-facing Penthouse with Balcony
Cabin H6
Cabin was excellent and met our expectations.
Deck 15 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

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