Back on board Norwegian Encore, the latest in NCL’s series of Breakaway Plus class ships. Inaugurated in 2019, the ship spent its summer of 2022 in Alaska, departing from Seattle and will join Miami for its winter season in the Caribbean. By combining 2 cruises in a row, one for 7 nights to Alaska and one for repositioning via the Panama Canal, I spent almost a month (28 days) on board.
Another particularity of this double cruise: I was entitled to a good reduction in the price obtained following a cruise on the Norwegian Spirit, from Dubai to Cape Town, in March 2020, which had ended at the very beginning of pandemic… the company then made a fairly generous gesture of goodwill for passengers who had not really experienced what had been planned!
This reduction was a coupon of 75% on the price of the cruise, whatever the latter. So tempting to choose the longest possible cruise and an expensive cabin, isn’t it? That’s what I did, booking a suite in the Haven on a 21-night cruise from Seattle to Miami via the Panama Canal, and combining it with a week in Alaska just before .
Cabin prices in the Haven have skyrocketed. For this cruise, the “2-bedroom family villa deluxe” cabin (H5) was over $750 per night per person. While it is undeniable that the Haven adds some value to Norwegian Cruise Line’s offering, the company seems to forget that they are by no means a luxury company! And the Haven, once past the pleasant surprise of the sumptuous decor, demonstrates it daily: the quality of service does not come close to luxury companies. So the price is, from my point of view, become prohibitive. Because for that price, and even for a lower price, you can book cruises of much better quality (itinerary, quality of food, service, etc.). You more easily realize it if you have tried one of these companies (Viking, Seabourn, Silversea…).
The Haven has many charms, but NCL keeps raising the price without changing the overall quality. From an interesting offer at the beginning, we end up with something far too expensive for what it really is… and the latest ship (the Norwegian Prima) has only industrialized the concept of the Haven (representing almost a third of the ship now), thus degrading the concept a little further, moving away from the promised haven of peace.
The cabin : 2-bedroom Family Villa Deluxe (H5)
The Haven, a private area accessible only to suite passengers, is located at the front of the ship, on the upper decks.
The cabin is a suite with 2 bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. The second bedroom is small, rather an auxiliary bedroom, which would be more suitable for children (it can be configured with 2 bunk beds for example). The adjoining bathroom is equivalent to the one found in the cabins with balconies on the rest of the ship, functional, with a shower, a basin and a toilet.
The main bedroom is larger, more luxurious. The much larger adjoining bathroom with an incredible view of the sea. There are 2 sinks, a bathtub, a separate shower, and also a separate toilet. From the shower, the view is also possible on the sea. The cupboards in this room are not lacking. In the center, opposite the bed, a television. On the side, a space with a seat, a console, mirrors, a hair dryer…
The main bedroom is larger, more luxurious. The much larger adjoining bathroom with an incredible view of the sea. There are 2 sinks, a bathtub, a separate shower, and also a separate toilet. From the shower, the view is also possible on the sea. The closets in this room are not lacking. In the center, opposite the bed, a television. On the side, a space with a seat, a console, mirrors, a hair dryer…
Finally, the balcony is equipped with comfortable armchairs and 2 sun loungers. There is a difference between the 2-bedroom Family Villa cabins and their Deluxe version: in the latter the balcony is wider and passes in front of the outside of the bathroom, whereas in the standard version the balcony is limited to the width of the living room.
It’s a very pleasant cabin, big enough to have a good time there without stepping on each other. The service takes place twice a day. On paper, it is possible to be 6: 2 in the master bedroom, 2 in the second bedroom, and 2 in the living room, in the sofa which then turns into a bed. Only the first 2 passengers pay the standard price of the cruise, the following a small portion of the price. A good way to lower the average price per passenger if you are traveling with 2 or 4 other people… if you are very good friends!
A butler is there to answer all your requests. Again, even if the service is very correct, nothing to do with what you find on board luxury companies. A concierge is also present to manage Haven activities and to get it organized. Every late afternoon, petit fours are offered, different every day.
It is possible to haver diner in the cabin, and compose your menu from what is served at the Haven Restaurant, or from any other menu on board. We suspect that some passengers among our neighbors have hardly ever left their cabin and have had everything served in their suite…
We only had dinner in the cabin one evening, to try and take advantage of the departure view from a port at sunset.
The enclave : The Haven
The Haven has the majority of the suites onboard, but not all of them. Some are outside this enclave, for example at the aft of the ship, while the Haven occupies the entire front of the upper decks. There is a dedicated reception service, with the concierge, which replaces for the passengers of the suites the ship main reception. There is a bar, a mini swimming pool surrounded by deckchairs on 2 levels and with a roof which can be partially opened (but apparently rarely used) , a sun deck, a huge lounge and a restaurant.
All these spaces are private, only for passengers in a suite. We can invite friends who are not in a suite to visit, as long as it is reasonable. On the other hand, NCL refuses that these friends eat at the Haven Restaurant. There are apparently exceptions, as we have seen. Some passengers had more favor from NCL than others !
The small swimming pool can become the favorite place for families with their children, which quickly makes the place unlivable. Luckily, it didn’t happen often on this cruise, and the space is very peaceful, ideal for resting for a while.
The bar is well stocked and the menu offers the possibility of composing your own cocktails, explaining all the possible combinations. The bartender will then mix the beverage before your eyes. Cheers !
The lounge is large, on 2 floors. Good quality free coffees at will thanks to a machine with multiple options. And depending on the time of day, a mini-buffet to fill a little peckish. It changes every day with the same types of dishes or tapas. Everything was really good there.
The view from the lounge is undoubtedly the best on the ship, due to its position at the front, at the top of the upper decks. Some entertainment and cocktails party take place here depending on the news of the cruise or to thank customers loyal to the company.
Following pages: the restaurant dedicated to the suites, the ship, the attractions, the spa, the restaurants, the drink package, the itinerary…