NCL Getaway — The Haven — June 2016

Our family of five recently went on the Getaway for the second time the week of 6/12-6/19. We have one son 13 who was in entourage, one 11 who was in splash academy in the 10 to 12 and one son 7 who was in the 6 to 9 group.

 

Originally, we had planned on two connecting balconies toward the aft on deck 13, but 25 days out from sailing, we were able to upsell to an aft penthouse suite that connected to a regular balcony for the kids. Being a part of the Haven truly made this cruise for us.

 

About a week out, I called to cash in our rewards points for the Norwegian credit card to on board credit. That was easy enough. In addition, the person who answers the phone is also part of the pre-concierge for the Haven. So they welcomed us to the Haven and wanted to make sure we would have everything in our room that we needed. We asked that the fridge be emptied (because we were bringing water on board), asked for orange juice and creamer to be in the fridge, asked for hypoallergenic pillows and made sure they knew that I am lactose intolerant. We also double checked and were reassured that our children would have full Haven privileges. All went very smoothly and they were very nice.

 

We drove down from North Carolina for the cruise, but we weren’t driving the whole way the first day so we stayed overnight in Titusville at the Hampton Inn just off I-95. I mention this because it is not far from Port Canaveral. Although the room was clean, this was just not the place for us. The air conditioning unit in the room was a window-type unit and was so loud that it kept us all up all night. We were close to the elevator and also heard others in the hallway late into the night. If all of that wasn’t bad enough, I had to do gymnastics to get into the shower. It was a spa-type tub, but was at least three feet high, making it very hard to climb into it to take a shower. It had free breakfast and that seemed average for this type of hotel.

 

We were up and out very early so that we would make it to port of Miami by 11:30. We arrive at the port just a bit after 11 and then had to park and get our luggage checked and walked into the priority check in location just a bit after 11:30. Great timing on our part. One note on the parking garage at the port. There is a limited amount of oversized parking so if you have an SUV with a luggage holder on the top of your vehicle, you may need to take it off in order to park (my poor husband had to do this).

 

Back to check-in – once through security, it was super easy. The priority check-in was right there and there was only one other family in the area. We filled out our health form and received our key cards. One note here, I had read on these boards that I could limit my son’s spending while on board by placing a limit on his account. This was not the case. It had to either be a card that was open or closed. We had a talk with our eldest two sons to ensure they understood and we were done. They then sent us across the hall to a priority check-in lounge that had seats and snacks and drinks. We loved having a place to hang out until we were escorted onto the ship. We had a short wait and then we were escorted past the lines and right onto the ship. We went in a side entrance and were escorted right up the Haven lounge. We were in the lounge by 11:45. Virginia, the concierge gave a speech about everything available to us as waiters gave out drinks and snacks of sliders with onion rings. The restaurant opened at 12. They said our rooms were ready so we went down to check out our room and leave the bags that we had brought on board.

 

Just as we saw from pictures on here, the room was incredible. The balcony was ginormous, the bathroom amazing and just having all of the space was great. With having the connecting balcony room, it meant we had three bathrooms for the five of us, which we definitely needed. We enjoyed the room, took pictures and then headed back up to Haven to have lunch.

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We ate lunch outside by the pool so our little one could get in the pool. Like every meal we had at the Haven, it was delicious!

Photos from our aft-balcony Haven suite:

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We signed the kids up for splash academy and for entourage and then went back to the room for sailaway. I couldn’t wait to see it from our balcony. We all split up for sailaway, but it was fabulous from our balcony. Our luggage was delivered to the room by 4:30 p.m.

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We also were delivered beautiful flowers and some neat little snacks. We got snacks like this every day. There was also a chilled bottle of bubbly in the room for us.

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After sailaway, we all changed and made sure we had sneakers on. We ate at the buffet for dinner and then did the ropes course and the climbing wall.

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We took showers and then the kids went to splash academy and the teen went to entourage. My husband and I went to howl at the moon. I have to digress here and say we loved Howl at the Moon on our last cruise on the Getaway, but this time it was a huge disappointment. The stars of the show last time were personable and talented and did a great job getting the crowd involved. This time, all they cared about was their tips and they were not nearly as talented as the last time.

We made it an early night, got the kids from splash academy and headed to bed. Attached is the Day 1 daily. We had to put the clocks back one hour before going to bed this night. We didn’t have turn down service or a towel animal this first night. Overall, Day 1 was amazing. We were blown away by the service you get in the Haven and were already savoring our little slice of heaven.

 

Day 2

 

Day 2 we were at sea and didn’t do much of anything. We had breakfast in the Haven, which was amazing. Tahitian Cinnamon Vanilla Challah French Toast (I had it almost every morning!) and we hung around the Haven courtyard most of the day.

The second floor of the Haven courtyard is right next to the Vibe Beach Club. It is very quiet and secluded. There are waiters walking around with a water bottle to spritz you with and take drink orders. It was a bit windy up there so we didn’t spend too much time up there.

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We didn’t see much of the older kids. They were having fun with kids they met in entourage and splash academy.

 

We all got back together for dinner. Our first dinner reservation was with Moderno’s. Two of our kids got the dinner package free with their room and we paid for it for our room and for the third child. I checked on these amenities several times including after we did our upsell and it was confirmed to me each time that we had these amenities. I also printed out the confirmation I got for the purchase of the SDP. Unfortunately, when we got to Moderno’s, the SDPs that we paid for were not showing up. Much aggravation ensued including going to guest services and coming back and my husband ended up having to speak with management. Overall, it was a big dark mark on our trip. I felt like the customer service for this part was not good at all and I was disappointed. It was eventually all figured out and we had a delicious meal, but all relaxation was out the window because of this aggravation.

 

We did get turndown service this night and this cute little towel animal with a note saying to turn clocks back again another hour.

 

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Day 3 Roatan

 

I did extensive research as to what we should do in Roatan and decided that we’d go to Little French Key. You don’t have to, but we did email through the website in advance and reserve places. We decided to do the cheapest reservation, which was $55 for four of us and half price for our 7-year old. I was very worried that I wouldn’t be able to find the drivers, but it turned out to be very easy.

 

These photos were from our balcony as we were pulling in.

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When you get off the ship, you can take a tram down the long pier or just walk. We opted for the tram and then walked through the many shops until we saw walkway to the parking lot – there are tour information booths on either side of this outdoor hallway. Many people tried to get us to buy a tour, but we just kept telling them we were going to Little French Key and were looking for Larry or Dave. They are all very friendly and kept pointing us in the right direction. You have to walk through the parking lot and out then out the front gates and to the right. We then saw many guides in Frenchy’s 77 and Little French Key polos. Many of our fellow cruisers were there, but they had some sort of system and everyone was put in a line for transportation. We only waited maybe five minutes and then a car pulled up and they told us to get in and the five us were on our way to Little French Key.

 

The drive is about 25 minutes and we learned some history from our driver Arnie. He pointed out sights along the way and before we knew it, we were pulling up to where we would purchase our tickets and take the boat across. There was a bit of a line to pay, but it went very quickly. We pulled in to Roatan around 10 and were on Little French Key by 11:30. It was as gorgeous as I had seen from photos … possibly even prettier than I remembered.

 

This was where you walk up to pay:

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You can see Little French Key in the very near distance:

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The guide takes you around the island when you first get off the boat. We went through the zoo area and saw the birds, monkeys, the lion and a lemur.

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Then we walked through and saw the area that you can jump off of – this was a huge hit with our family.

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The water was so clear:

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There are many different areas where you can set your stuff down and use as home base.

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We chose not to get the package that included food because I read on here that each plate of food could feed a couple of people and boy they were right. This was what you get for $22.

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I also got a strawberry daiquiri, which was $8:

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Four of us picked from that one plate and then my oldest son also got a chicken and beef plate, which was $16 – items were a couple of dollars less if you went up to the food place and ordered it yourself rather than be served by a waiter or waitress.

 

We had a great day swimming and playing around. I walked around a bit to explore and found these other areas that had hardly any people. This is where the pizza place was that I had read about as well.

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Menu for pizza place:

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We never got to hold a monkey and take a picture, but that was because we were being impatient as there were two large groups in front of us. We said goodbye to Little French Key and headed back to the ship. It was very easy. We ate dinner in Haven restaurant and the waiters/waitresses already knew our names and made sure we had everything we needed to be comfortable. Our littlest kid was all tuckered out after playing and swimming all day so my husband took him to bed and I went to see Burn the Floor. The dancers were amazing, but it is a very strange show. There are some Latin numbers and then songs like Stairway to Heaven are weaved in to the mix. Also, it seems like the show is going to end three different times. Overall, dancers are entertaining, but not a great show. We had a towel animal this night, but somehow I forgot to take a picture. Horrors!

 

Day 4 Belize City

 

We decided after much research to not go ashore in Belize. I think if we were to do it, we would have gone cave tubing, but just felt that our youngest was too young for it. So, we stayed on the ship, enjoyed an empty Haven courtyard, a leisurely breakfast in the Haven restaurant and rode the slides as many times as we wanted with no lines. The kids swam, rode the ropes and had fro yo to their hearts content.

 

This is the kids area now that Spongebob is gone:

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My drink of choice this trip:

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We had a lot of peace and quiet and an overall great day.

 

We finished up a great day at Cagney’s. As always, it was amazing. Great food, great service – really enjoyable.

 

The towel animal joined all of the “stuffies” on my son’s bed:

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Day 5 Costa Maya

 

I was so worried about the weather once we got to Mexico, but it proved to be a beautiful day.

 

Our balcony was so amazing so each morning (I woke up ridiculously early each day, which I can only hope was because of the time changes)

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Pictures of port:

 

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One more photo of the port:

 

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We had decided to go to Blue Key. We walked through the shops area until we saw the palapa to the right where they were selling open air tram tickets. It was $3 pp. The tram quickly filled up and took us for a little tour. We got off at the first tram stop – which seemed quite a bit further away from Blue Key than I thought it would be – we had seen the signs for Blue Key before the stop. Right away someone was trying to get us to go with them at the stop, but we told them firmly we were going to Blue Key and they even directed us there. We opted for crossing the street and walking back to Blue Key along the beach. No boardwalk, but a nice sidewalk. Lots of different shops along the way. It was probably a quarter of a mile to a ½ mile back to Blue Key. We finally made it and were very happy with the location. We thought we would have to pay $5 and get a wrist band, but we never had to do that. We just got to enjoy the beach for free. Yay!

 

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It was really gorgeous at Blue Kay as I had seen in previous reviews and everyone had a great time. We did rent one kayak for $10 and I ordered chips and guacamole and a strawberry daiquiri. It was very cheap – I think $12 total.

My chips and guacamole:

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A couple of vendors did come buy and try to sell some things, but they were not intrusive. I did buy some plaintain chips and they were delicious. One bag for $1.

 

It was a fantastic day and when we were ready to go back to the ship, there was a taxi waiting in the parking lot. We confirmed it was $2 pp to get back and hopped in. We were back in less than 10 minutes.

 

Back at port, I had to take a photo of this store:

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This was from pier:

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Our beautiful ship:

 

 

We ate dinner at the Haven this night and I took a photo of my warm peach crumble dessert. It was so amazing:

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We were exhausted after an amazing day.

Our towel animal tonight:

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Day 6 Cozumel

The cruise went by so fast. After researching  for almost a year, I truly cannot believe how fast it went! I knew Cozumel was our last port and couldn’t believe it was almost over!

Once again, I was up early and took photos from our amazing balcony.

 

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The pier at Cozumel looks longer in photos than it was in person and we had no trouble walking to the end and finding where our excursion for the day would be leaving from just off the pier.

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In Cozumel, we decided to do the NCL excursion “Everyone loves Rays.” We had practiced snorkeling at home in a pool so the kids would feel comfortable and we bought a Watershot underwater housing for the Iphone so we could take pictures when we were snorkeling with the Rays.

 

It was definitely cloudy here so I was a bit worried about the weather, but it turned out fine in the end.

 

We first got to feed the Rays and touch and kiss them. Then we took our water shoes off (definitely bring your own for this excursion) and they even washed ours out for us and then we got our snorkel equipment and got to go in with the Rays. One of the employees periodically went down to the bottom and brought up Rays for us to see while we snorkeled. It started to rain while we snorkeled, but it was actually quite refreshing.

 

 

 

After we were done snorkeling, we looked at photos they took while we were feeding the Rays and the kids got to do a hermit crab race. They also had iguanas in cages that the kids liked.

 

 

 

From our balcony, we saw other ships and said goodbye to Cozumel.

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Funny enough, our towel animal tonight was a Ray!

 

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Day 7 At Sea

 

We once again decided to enjoy the Haven for breakfast and laze around the courtyard. It was busy, but still full of serenity for us. We were very happy to have gotten Haven for this trip. It really made it just the relaxation we needed.

 

Overall, Virginia was lovely, the restaurant staff included Kesher at the front were awesome and all of the people that worked in the Haven, really made our trip.

 

Our butler brought us some additional luggage tags as I had mentioned to Virginia that we needed a few more and that really put a damper on the rest of my day! Our older children enjoyed entourage and splash academy for much of the day, but the younger one spent it with us in the courtyard. He’s part fish and just wanted to swim.

 

That night we had dinner in Teppanyaki. It is a bit loud in there as the different chefs are putting on their shows, but we definitely enjoyed it. One comment here, the photographer in here was far more aggressive than in the other specialty restaurants. He went around taking photos and then would print them out and bring it framed to the table to try and get people to buy it. That just left a bad taste in my mouth. I saw him coming when it came our table’s turn and I just told him no thank you to a picture and that was that. The food was great as always here and we overall had a great time.

All the kids went into splash academy or entourage after dinner so we tried Howl at the Moon again, but again, it just wasn’t my thing this time, which left me disappointed. We enjoyed Jim Morris who played piano around the ship and listened to him a few times at Sugar Cane Bar. I think I neglected to mention the awesome mojitos from there. I had Raspberry Guava and the Pineapple Coconut and they were both fantastic. I

We had our bags packed and out by 11 and went to bed very sad that it was our last night!!

 

Disembarkation

 

As a Haven guest, this was the easiest we ever had it. We had breakfast in the buffet and then went back to the room to get our stuff and then went to the Haven. They escorted us down a back elevator (same as they did in each port) and we ended up right at the area where you put your card in to leave. Lots of friendly staff were waiting as you get off to sing and wave and say goodbye. Very festive. We went down to baggage and our baggage was in a priority area. We scooped up someone to help us, he put all of our bags on a trolley and went with us through customs. He even brought our luggage all the way to outside the parking garage.

 

Other than the one snafu I mentioned, overall service was really, really good this cruise. We did buy a cruise next certificate, and we were not sure where we would use it, but turns out we are going on the NCL Escape June 2017. This was an awesome cruise and we truly enjoyed the Getaway again! It will be hard to book a cruise not as Haven after experiencing this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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