Norwegian Cruise Line has always done things a little bit differently than other cruise lines. They were the first cruise line to develop a private island in the Bahamas, the first cruise line to create a full-time kids program, and the first contemporary cruise line to implement the Freestyle Dining concept (meaning you can just show up to eat at any dining venue at any time, instead of the set early or late seating in one dining room). Over time, other cruise lines saw the success of these ideas and implemented them too.
Now, in another “first” for mega-ships, they have created a separate exclusive area on several of their ships called The Haven.
Just saying the word “haven” evokes a sense of getting away from it all. But if you’ve been on ship with 3000 other people (or more!), you know that getting away from crowds isn’t entirely possible. However, The Haven changes that notion and provides a luxurious refuge aboard a mega-ship for a privileged few.
It’s been described as a “ship within a ship” and “a private world of luxury at sea”. If you book a suite or villa in The Haven, you’ll be entitled to extra special amenities not available to the other cruisers. Upon boarding, you will receive a private escort to your suite. After that, you will have access to a dedicated concierge and a 24-hour butler to assist with any other requests, from preferred seating at entertainment venues to priority reservations in the specialty restaurants onboard. You’re even entitled to priority boarding of tenders to go ashore.
Just for guests of The Haven, there is a private courtyard and sun deck with its own pool, fitness area, and hot tub. With a limited number of guests having access to the courtyard, it is certainly easier to find a lounge chair without having to get up at the crack of dawn to reserve one at the main pool!
There are also restaurants reserved just for guests of The Haven, or you can choose to dine in-suite with white tablecloth service.
Some people might feel like this is going back to the “class system” of the old cruise ships. However, I feel that if you’re looking for luxury (and are willing to pay a premium for it), then it’s great to have this option on a large ship. The mega-ships offer so much more in terms of variety of entertainment and dining options than a smaller-scale luxury ship. Also, if you’re a luxury traveler with children, your kids will be able to enjoy all of the special programs onboard that appeal to a wide range of ages…whereas if you’re traveling on a luxury line, you’re much less likely to encounter any children’s programming or even rooms that accommodate families.
The Haven is available on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, and Norwegian Pearl. If you’re curious about the accommodations, here are some examples of suites available. Please note that accommodations vary by ship.
A 3-Bedroom Garden Villa is about 3355 square feet and accommodates up to 8 people – this is definitely one of the biggest and most luxurious suites at sea…enough to call it a “villa”! With three separate bedrooms with their own bathroom, there is also an entire private deck area with your own hot tub, luxury sun loungers, and even a hammock!
The Deluxe Owner’s Suite with Large Balcony has floor-to-ceiling windows all around, plus a separate bedroom, living room, dining area, and large private balcony. The bathroom even has its own whirlpool tub.
The 2-Bedroom Family Villa with Balcony accommodates up to 6 people with a living room, dining area, separate bedroom, and 2 bathrooms.
Designed for just two people is the Courtyard Penthouse with Balcony, it’s a perfect way for a couple to enjoy all of the benefits of The Haven. Like an aft-facing balcony? On the Epic, you can also opt for a Penthouse with Balcony, featuring all the benefits of The Haven, yet grants you that sought-after view.
Unique to the Epic is the Spa Suite with Balcony. These also accommodate a maximum of two people, but include complimentary access to the thermal suites in the Mandara Spa.
So if you’re looking for luxury treatment, but still want all of the amenities and offerings of a large mega-ship, then The Haven could be your perfect solution!