It is truly hard to describe (but I’ll try!) how excited I was after almost two years on land to return to the sea. My anxiety, at this point in my trip, was just about at max level as we were finally at the stage where one last COVID test would determine if we would be back in the newly refurbished Norwegian Epic Haven or have to endure 10 days of quarantine thinking of what could have been.
We took COVID tests the day before our flights to Spain (just to be sure) after self-isolation for over a week. Upon landing in Spain, we took yet another COVID test. Why? The only way you were guaranteed a full refund from NCL would be if you had tested negative within three days of boarding.
While we had a simply fantastic stay at the Hilton Del Mar Barcelona there was, after all, the risk that someone we came in contact with could have infected us.
My wife and I always arrive early at the dock — no matter what cruise we have booked. We want to be one of the first ones onboard if possible. This time we got there so early that they had yet to begin the pre-boarding COVID testing.
After about a half-hour wait, they had everyone in place to begin. I went first while Lisa watched our luggage. The big plus of being there before the crowds was virtually no lines — and quick results.
Well, it was for me. But for Lisa, it took what seemed like forever as her negative number did not display on the screen. Ruh-roh. Luckily, it was just a technical issue and upon asking what her results were they ran over with the news we needed.
After so much planning and careful efforts, we were going to be allowed onboard the newly refurbished Norwegian Epic (well the refurbished Haven anyway).
Gone from the Barcelona Haven boarding area is the tiny box you were herded into and now, after a ride up the escalators, they have an open-air holding area where your room keys and instructions are handed out before either the concierge or assistant concierge takes you onto the ship and up to the Haven.
The remodel is visually stunning. The changes, especially in the Haven restaurant, were much needed. I have inserted a rather long video tour of the Epic Haven before and after the changes. They are truly stunning.
The old Haven restaurant chairs were simply bad. Almost everyone had to use a pillow to sit comfortably. These new chairs are perfect. But what about the new food menu? Take a look at lunch:
You should keep in mind the above is the LUNCH menu! Oh my. Having a specialty restaurant for every lunchtime is a mega perk of the Haven.
In the past, I have asked for extra lobster in my lobster bisque but this time it was simply not necessary – it came loaded and the flavor was perfect. What about lunch?
How about shrimp scampi with added scallops? Yes, please. Was it as good as it looks? You better believe it!
After such a long wait with so much stress, it was glorious to be back on the sea and in the Haven again. And this was just the first day. 🙂
Up next: a full review of the refurbished Haven Spa Suites. – René
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Glad you are back cruising again. I really enjoy your cruise posts. We went on a couple in Nov. and at Christmas both on Escape and Breakaway. On the Joy this fall in New England. However, we like going more often so we do not stay in the Haven. We do love NCL and Celebrity.
We know the feeling of waiting on those tests. There were 6 of us and half came back right away, we wait, we wait, and yes there was something wrong their system.
Rene! Cruising looks good on you
@Greg – Thanks! 🙂