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LIVE: We "Escape" from the cold, into H(e)aven

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Great review. I’ll be diving in Cozumel next month and look forward to hearing about your experience.


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Today, I discovered that scuba diving isn't for everyone.  Namely me.  I'm not used to breathing from my mouth.  Got water in my mouth and freaked out.  They rescued my dumb self pretty quickly and I was done.  My 11 year old loved it.  I'm fine other than embarrassment...:)

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After scuba diving DD11 and I came back to the ship to change and went back to Cozumel and had lunch at Hooters.  There weren't a ton of options to choose from and Senor Frogs still makes me nauseous after a drunken experience 10 years ago.  DD11 wanted to get her hair braided, to which there was no shortage of options.  We also picked up some T-shirts (5 for $19.99).

 

My wife took advantage of the $169 spa special.  In the Haven courtyard that morning there was a kind of pushy Spa rep trying to get me to book it for my wife.  She said "she needs a spa day, why don't you ask her what time she wants to book?."  I replied "I'm going to need a doctor if I wake her up to ask her."

 

She also used some of her casino winnings (hit a slot machine for $500 the night before) to go to the salon and get her hair done.  She got a cut, highlight and I think a lowlight if that's a thing.  She paid $227.  Later she asked how much for the braids I told her $20.  She said "Wow, that's expensive."  I raised my eyebrow and said "Really?"...:)

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After scuba diving DD11 and I came back to the ship to change and went back to Cozumel and had lunch at Hooters.  There weren't a ton of options to choose from and Senor Frogs still makes me nauseous after a drunken experience 10 years ago.  DD11 wanted to get her hair braided, to which there was no shortage of options.  We also picked up some T-shirts (5 for $19.99).

 

My wife took advantage of the $169 spa special.  In the Haven courtyard that morning there was a kind of pushy Spa rep trying to get me to book it for my wife.  She said "she needs a spa day, why don't you ask her what time she wants to book?."  I replied "I'm going to need a doctor if I wake her up to ask her."

 

She also used some of her casino winnings (hit a slot machine for $500 the night before) to go to the salon and get her hair done.  She got a cut, highlight and I think a lowlight if that's a thing.  She paid $227.  Later she asked how much for the braids I told her $20.  She said "Wow, that's expensive."  I raised my eyebrow and said "Really?"...:)

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Had to briefly stop and submit what I was writing because a quick storm popped up.  I'm writing this from the Haven sundeck and turned around to see this black cloud, then it started pouring.  I ran back to the Haven pool area and saw the retractable roof was open.  Two staff members ran past (first time they didnt say hello this week) and began the task of closing the retractable roof.  The process of closing the roof takes about 3 minutes.  Which was just enough time for the storm to pass.

 

Good morning from an overcast Roatan, Hondoras.  (Where the ship time was set back one hour last night)

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Good morning!

 

Just wanted to say I am following along and hope you have an awesome vacation!!!

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Roatan is absolutely beautiful!  We went to Gumbalimba Park today and we got to hang out with the monkeys and the birds.  It was a great experience and I would highly recommend that excursion.

 

I should note that the priority disembark perk is awesome.  David leads us to the service elevator in the morning when we head down and we are right off the ship.  It might take five minutes from the time we leave the room and are on the island.  He is also waiting for us after 2:30 to get back on.  It has been amazing.

 

After the excursion we decided to grab lunch at the buffet, then DD11 and I ventured into the shops right at the pier.  Roatan is nice in the sense that the shops are right there when you get off as opposed to the long walk down the pier at Cozumel.

 

Tonight the kids are at Splash Academy for the Pirate Party, so my wife and I are finally getting to have a dinner alone.

 

I should mention that the mixed drinks are far from stiff.  I finally got a decent tasting Mai Tai at the Haven Bar.  Even so, two Mai Tais and I'm usually ready to make bad decisions.  That has not been the case on the ship.

 

On another note.  They did show the National Championship game last night.  It was on everywhere, pool, casino, all of the bars.  Same was true for all the NFL games.

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Sorry I feel off the face of the planet.  We have been super busy.  It was a port intensive cruise and we had something book at all of them.  We are doing a post cruise stay in Miami when we get off tomorrow so I will be able to do an extensive wrap up in a land of somewhat normal internet.  

 

I'll pick up with yesterday in Costa Maya.  It is a massive walk from the ship to civilization.  We had the dolphin swim planned so we made the long journey from the boat to the excursion meeting point.  After everyone checked in we walked to the dolphin place which was a two minute walk.  We were given a locker for free and put our stuff in it.  It was a pretty good sized locker, we fit a backpack and a giant purse in there with no issues.  Then we were fitted for life vests and we were on our way.  We were told no electronic devices for "the dolphins safety."  The dolphins safety?  Come on man, we all know why we can't bring our phones.

 

I thought the dolphin swim experience here kind of sucked.  The trainer lost track of who did what so we constantly had to tell her who hadn't done kisses, and belly swims etc...  Also, the "dolphin swim" was a bit of a misnomer.  We basically stood on a wall and were only off of it for the boogie board push and Belly swim.  The experience lasted roughly 30 minutes.  We've done dolphin swims several times and this was the worst one.

 

Since we were not first timers, we knew the "great after swim screwing" was next.  We were led to the photo area and selected our pictures.  They did have a package price for $240 for all four of us.  We got every picture, the photographer had taken exactly 100 photos of our family.  They instantly downloaded them to my phone and I'm supposed to get an email link to them tomorrow.  The price was high, but we got everything so it wasn't that bad I guess. 

 

We showered off and went to grab lunch.  There are three restaurants within a small radius of each other and we ended up at "A Taste of Mexico."  It had a giant swimming pool which separated us from another restaurant.  Cost for lunch for four was $140 including tip.  The food was OK.  As we were finishing our lunch the other restaurant had a live wrestling match.  My youngest is a massive wrestling fan so we went over there to watch.  It was a wrestling themed restaurant and we were disappointed we didnt notice it earlier.  The waiters were all wearing the masks.  As the match began I had to take advantage of a drink called "Rey Mysterio."  It was fun.  Then we began the long journey to the ship.  My youngest wanted sunglasses so we stopped at a shop along the way and saw a pair she liked and they wanted $25.  So I put them back and started walking away and they chased after me and asked me to make an offer.  I said $15 and they agreed so we did the deal.

 

I will mention that when we boarded the ship all of our key cards were in these mini Haven wallets.  These have been super helpful.  I put my key card, credit card up front and some cash in the back to travel much lighter than bringing my huge George Constanza wallet with me into port.

 

 

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I do want to mention while I'm thinking of it.  The Haven Restaurant has been hit or miss service wise.  Our first meal was awesome as was the first breakfast where we had the same server.  I didn't get his name figuring I'd see him a bunch during the week.  Unfortunately, we haven't seen him since.  Our second dinner, the service was not great.  He forgot my salad and never gave us bread nor the charger plates.  It was just off, again, not a huge deal, just not nearly to the expectations our first two meals set for us.  It's been slightly better than OK since.

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Ok everyone, let's circle back to the third stop on the trip, Harvest Caye.

 

Remember, we had a poolside villa rented which was then cancelled by NCL because they overbooked.  I was refunded and given $100 OBC for the trouble.

 

Because of this we got off the island a little later than anticipated because we weren't in a huge hurry to get our money's worth with the Villa.  We had breakfast at the buffet because the Haven Restaurant, which is typically open til 10:30, closed at 10am. 

 

Interestingly enough as we walked across the deck on 16 to get back to our room on the 17th floor the sun was shining.  I got back to the room and noticed that someone was washing the windows, or so I thought.  Turns out it had started raining.  I mean, it was sunny literally seconds before.  The shower was brief and moved on and the Sun was back out.

 

After breakfast we got changed and made our way to the pool area.  This was another long walk from the ship to civilization.  We also had parasailing booked.  DD11 and I were booked for 2pm, but DD8 decided she would be adventurous at the last minute, so I booked her and my wife for the 1pm trip.  We arrived around noon and let the kids run in the pool while we were figuring out where to sit.  We were wandering around trying to find some chairs when I felt the first raindrop.  Then I felt the second rain drop, then the third, fourth and fifth.  Then I felt the sixth through five thousandth raindrop at the same time, because it was POURING.....and it poured and it poured.  Just when you thought, it couldn't possibly rain any harder, it would rain twice as hard.  Not to mention the wind.  We were able to find an umbrella to share with some others.  I looked out at the scene unfolding in front of me, and the only thing missing was Jim Cantore standing in front of it with a microphone.  It was that bad.

 

We didn't know where the kids were at this point, so I attempted to run out to find them, but within seconds of leaving the cover of the umbrella, my glasses became worthless, so I found a different umbrella to hide under to try and wipe my glasses and get a different vantage point.  Eventually the "Great Harvest Caye Monsoon of 2020" was over.  DD8 had made her way back over to my wife and was crying because she was so scared.  Once the rain was subsiding we finally tracked down DD11, who informed us that she was going to come back to us but found an iguana and followed it around.

 

It was about ten minutes until the first parasailing booking so I went to the marina to see if it was still happening, and it was not.  He said to check back about the status of the second booking, but he was far from hopeful.  So I went back to where we were and passed on the bad news.  The sun started to come back at that point and we decided to resume our original task of trying to find seats.  Let me tell you, this task became significantly easier after the "Great Monsoon."  We had a wide variety of seats to choose from. 

 

I will mention at this point we were pretty happy the villa was cancelled.  It would have helped during the storm but our plan was to chill in the villa while the kids were in the pool.  These villas were set back quite a ways from the pool and we probably wouldn't have spent too much time in them because we would've been too far from the kids.

 

We got a couple of drinks which were on the expensive side.  A pina colada and a Havana Banana ran about $25, but whatever, we had a nice sunny spot. 

 

It was just about time to head back to the marina to check the status of 2pm parasailing trip, and it was on.  It was sold out however, so we had to decide who would go.  They told me I could let the kids go and I would go as an "observer" for $25.  I was sad I couldn't experience it with them but, the stuff we do for our kids, plus I had hope DD8 would chicken out.  My wife would miss out on the parasailing, and to say she was disappointed she would miss it would be a massive.....well, it would be a massive lie.

 

So we check in and as the staff was getting my observer wrist band ready they started talking to each other in a different language.  They decided that all three of us can go at the same time.  We watched the safety video and we were out on the boat.  Because of how we were arranged on the boat, my daughters and I would go last.  The first group went up and I was beginning to rethink my decision, holy crap were they high up.  The boat was bumping and loud, the next group went, then the next group, then it was going to be our turn.......

 

 

 

 

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We got strapped in and it was time to go...

 

 

It was amazing.  Once you get above the sound of the boat, it is really peaceful.  We dipped our feet at the end and were back on the boat.  This was an easy experience, especially after the "scuba diving" debacle in Cozumel.

 

We stayed in Harvest Caye until about 4:30.  The pool was perfect.  Not too hot and not too cold.  It was refreshing from the outside air temps that were warm.

 

I can only imagine the people who ran back to the ship during the "Great Monsoon" felt the same way people who left the Super Bowl when the Falcons were leading 28-3 felt.  It ended up being a perfect day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I do want to make another note here while I'm thinking of it and go out of order a bit.

 

We played bingo on the last day.  It was fun and my daughter got to go on stage and pick the winner of the free cruise.  But, in game 2 and game 3 there were two bingo winners that had to split the pot.  With as many people as there were playing, statistically speaking, it's likely that there would be multiple winners.  However, the bingo crew will check and make sure the last number is on the card and then ask for the number from the free space to verify the bingo through the machine.

 

In both games 2 and 3 the winners both had the exact same card number, meaning there were at least two of the exact same card floating around the room, which substantially increases the chances for a split pot, and in fact, almost guarantees it.  What this also does is substantially reduce the chance of someone winning the jackpot.  I'd estimate there were about 400 people in there on the generous side.  If everyone played the $69 package (my wife and I split that) that would put 3600 cards in play.  To have any duplicates at those numbers is crazy considering there are billions of combinations.

 

Point being, if you want to drop $69 for an hour of entertainment and maybe win a couple of hundred bucks, go for it.  Just know, the odds are significantly against you.  OK, I will put the math nerd part of my brain away now...=)

 

 

 

 

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My first Haven experience was on the Escape and has been my favorite ship ever since. Once you have the "Haven experience", it's very hard not to go Haven.  I think of the times I spent standing in line for various reason and I say I can't go back. 

 

Have enjoyed your commentary.  Looking forward to your next post.

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Back to the real world...sad.

 

Had a really busy week catching up on everything I missed so I'll get back to it over the next few days or so.  

 

Anyways, lets talk about the "Haven Experience."

 

I'm not going to lie, I had a small bit of anxiety about the Haven.  I've seen some of the posts on here about what they ask the butler for, and how some people hate that kids are even allowed in the Haven.  My kids are generally well behaved, but they can go from best friends to battling like Jets and the Sharks in less than 12 seconds.  We are the epitome of middle class.  I was concerned that we would roll in like the Beverly Hillbillies, like the Charity Ball scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber, like when the caddies get to use the pool in Caddyshack (I think that's enough pop culture references to cover everyone).  I was afraid the phrase "well I never" would be directed to us in an exasperated way several times.  That was not our experience.

 

For the most part, everyone was similar to us, and we met some really cool people.  

 

Someone had asked elsewhere, "what is there for kids to do in the Haven?"  The answer is not much.  They were bored by the Haven pool, but our concierge, butler and maitre'd at the Haven Restaurant all treated them like gold and made them feel special.  The main advantage of the Haven with kids is management of the kids.  We had the two bedroom villa.  The two bathrooms were a massive help.  Not being on top of each other and crammed in the same room was a massive help (our last cruise was in a family mini-suite, they should remove the word suite, because it felt like a family mini).  The ability to get on and off the ship quickly with the help of the concierge was a massive help.  The free on demand movies was a massive help (they watched Angry Birds 2 about a million times).  Being close to the water slides was very convenient.  Having the phone from the Haven room with me at all times was a massive help if anyone needed to get in touch with me.  There were just so many little things in the Haven that allowed us to relax.

 

Our concierge was David Newball, who was terrific.  Our butler was Orlando, we loved him.  We've heard several people post that "they never saw the butler."  We saw Orlando all of the time.  I was half expecting him to be waiting with a towel after we finished our Dolphin Swim.  He was terrific.  We also loved Leanora in the Haven Restaurant.  Whenever she saw my 8-year-old, she was ready for a dance off.  

 

We had room 17720, which, if there was no wall separating the hallway from the Haven Lounge area, we would have been able to walk to the bar in four steps.  We were initially concerned it might be noisy, but we did not hear a peep all week.  It was nice to have a bar within steps, as well as the elevator.  When we were dining in the Haven Restaurant at night (which was on the 18th floor), we were able to hear deck chairs being moved around so you may be able to hear that if your room is on 18.  We felt that being on 17 was way more convenient anyways.

 

For the big question..."Would you ever go back?"  The answer is no...we are now Haven lifers.  

 

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Thanks for the review of room 17720.

 

We have that room on our next cruise, and I had not been able to find much information about it. For some reason, I was concerned that there was a staff service door at the end of the hallway, which would be noisy.

 

So glad to know you liked that room and thought it was a convenient location and quiet!

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