This was the second year in a row we'd done this cruise. The main attraction to me is the at-sea days and the Haven experience. It was a laid back crossing and very enjoyable.
5 out of 5
Easy-peasey. We arrived at the port at ten and went right to the Haven Lounge to check in. That took all of two minutes. At eleven we were escorted aboard to the Haven Lounge and 11:15 we were having lunch in the Haven Dining Room.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
We never ate in the main dining rooms or buffet, so I can't comment. We did eat in Cagney's, Le Bistro, Teppanyaki, and Moderno's. We ate twice at Le Bistro and Teppanyaki. Most of our meals were in the Haven Dining Room. The food in the Haven was terrific, though on an 18-day sailing it can get a bit repetitive. We did this TA the year before, and it was pretty much the same menu. Regardless, the food was great. The prime rib is the best I've ever had anywhere. Both Le Bistro and Cagney's were very good with the edge going to Le Bistro. Moderno's was fine but not particularly memorable. I always enjoy Teppanyaki. The food is excellent and plentiful. All in all, I was quite happy with the food and the service. The bar staff in both Haven bars were first-rate.
5 out of 5
Used the Haven pool and gym every day. The pool is small but it wasn't crowded, as opposed to the main pool. The Haven gym is also small but had what I needed. Internet service on the ship was atrocious. I had 250 minutes are part of my perks and traded it in ($125 credit) for the $29.99 a day unlimited premium service. We used this last year, and it was quite good. My wife needed it again to keep in touch with some clients. However the service was slower than dial up.
4 out of 5
Burn the Floor is excellent. I saw "Priscilla" last year. The entertainment was good. I always enjoy the dueling pianos at Headliners.
We didn't have any children with us
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
The service I received from the restaurant staff, steward, butler, and concierge was excellent. I didn't make any dining reservations until I got on board, and the concierge and staff got me everything I asked for.
2 out of 5
I have a love/hate relationship with Epic. I love the Haven but don't really care for the rest of the ship. It's just weird. For instance, the walking/jogging track is on Deck 7, starboard side. You can only go back and forth. There's nothing that goes completely around the ship. And it's as if the ship's designers didn't want you to think you're on a ship when you're in the common areas. Where's the ocean? There's no windows anywhere. The lack of mid-ship elevators is problematic at certain times, such as boarding, disembarkation, and after shows. I realize these were removed to accommodate the studio cabins, but it's still annoying. The Haven makes up for a lot of the ship's faults.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
H4 Two-bedroom Haven penthouse. It's a great cabin, very spacious, with great amenities. The cabin consist of a living room/dining area with cabinets, ridiculously complicated coffee machine, mini-fridge and various glassware. When you first enter the cabin the 2nd bedroom is either to your immediate left or right. Straight ahead is the living room and balcony, and off to the side is the master bedroom and master bath. The master bath is enormous, with dual vanity sinks, soaker tub, and large shower with body jets. The shower has a floor to ceiling window. It's awesome. There's plenty of storage space in the bedroom. There are LED TVs in the living room, master bedroom and 2nd bedroom. The 2nd bedroom is quite small and is really designed for children. You might be able to squeeze to adults in there but it would be a tight fit. Having the second bathroom is a definite plus. The ceiling above the master bedroom made odd squeaks, groans, and moans in rough seas but fortunately, we didn't encounter much rough weather. By and large the crossing was bathtub smooth. The 2BR is my favorite category cabin in the Norwegian fleet, and I highly recommend it.
Beautiful island and enjoyed the visit. We did a private excursion around the Island that included a pineapple plantation and the Blue and Green Lakes. Experienced the four seasons in our four hours: bright sunshine, warm, driving rain, fog, cold wind, and back to bright, warm sunshine.
Beautiful island with breathtaking vistas. We used Lido Tours for a private excursion. We'd used them last year, and they were terrific. I requested the same guide, Nuno Pedro, who is excellent. This year I wanted to visit the great surfing spots on the extreme western part of the island, and Nuno put together a tour that covered what I wanted to see.
We docked a little ways from the main terminal this time, so we had to board shuttle buses to get to the exit. From there it was a short walk to the train station, where we had a rental car booked with Avis. We went on our own to Arcos de la Frontera to tour that beautiful old town. Then we did a guided tour of the Lustau Bodega in Jerez. That was excellent. Getting back onboard was a bit of a chore, as we had to wait in a long line with passengers from other ships to get through security at the main terminal. Then when had to wait on a bus to take us back to the ship. This needs work.
Malaga is great. We didn't do an excursion here, and there is plenty enough to on your own right in town. There are a lot of bar and restaurants right by the port, and it's not that far to walk to visit the Alcazabal Fortress.
We didn't spend any time in the port area, as we took a ship's excursion to Jumilla, about 90 minutes to the northwest to visit two vineyards. It was a good excursion, and we sampled some excellent wines.
We did another ship's excursion in Palma, which consisted of a tour of the fortress and then a tour of the Macia Batle winery. The fortress wasn't opened, so we just wandered around the outside. The winery tour was excellent, and their wine was quite good. It was a good tour.
I've been to Barcelona many, many times, both as an airline pilot and on NCL cruises. This time we just walked into town to have lunch at Casa Lolea which, hands down, has the best Sangria and tapas in the city. I highly recommend it. Make a reservation on their website.
1 out of 5
We were doing a back to back and didn't need to get off the ship, except that we had lunch plans. However, everyone getting off had to go through passport control, and there were only two people checking passports. This caused a massive jam up. Even with priority debarkation and an escort off the ship, it took us an hour just to get through passport control. The non-Haven passengers were really screwed. We ended up just walking to downtown once we finally did get out of the terminal, because the line for the taxis easily had a thousand people in it.
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