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Getting to the ship

For anyone planning a cruise out of Copenhagen, it is incredibly easy to get to the port from anywhere you’re likely to stay via public transit. (And, as you’ll see if you check my Day 1 post, it’s equally easy to get from the airport to just about anywhere you’re likely to stay.) We took a bus that left from a block away from our hotel to the Norreport station (one of the two large stations in downtown – the other is Osterport). From there, we transferred to a bus 25 to go to Oceankaj, the port where our ship was docked. We’d bought a 2-day transit pass when we landed at the airport. All of our transportation in Copenhagen cost less than a pre-arranged transfer through NCL would have. I’d only recommend the transfer if you have trouble walking more than a few blocks with your luggage.  The bus 25 to Oceankaj does get a bit crowded with luggage as you head to the port, so try to be considerate when you get on by putting your luggage under a seat or by stacking multiple bags together. Try to not block aisles with your luggage. But, the bus is direct, easy, and fun. One thing I’ll note is that you shouldn’t necessarily trust the posted signs for when the next bus will arrive. Based on the sign, we were anticipating a 20+ minute wait for the 25 bus but one came within 5 minutes. We were really glad we hadn’t wandered off to tourist instead of waiting!

At Oceankaj, you are dropped off about a 2-3 block walk from the closest check-in building.  Large ships like the Getaway use both check-in buildings. The closest building was for even-numbered floors. Of course, we were an odd-numbered floor.  But, they were still able to take our luggage at that stop while we continued to the next building (another 1-2 block walk away, which gives you some idea also how big the ship is since it spans both of these) to do check-in.

The Haven

We’ve taken quite a few cruises on NCL. This was our first time on the Getaway (although we’ve been on its twin, the Breakaway), but more importantly, this was our first time in the Haven.

The Haven is essentially first class for a cruise ship. On NCL, it includes a range of suites, from the “lowly” spa suites to the multi-room, multi-floor Captain’s Suite. Being in the Haven gets you a number of perks on the ship, which I’ll get into more later.

NCL does an upgrade auction a month or so before your cruise. You’ll get an email that allows you to enter bids for upgrades to a number of different room categories that are better than yours. Each category has a minimum bid, but the minimum bid is well below what you would pay if you tried to reserve that room in advance. I’m sure you can appreciate how this is smart for them to do. It lets them overbook cheaper rates and still get as much as they can manage for larger rooms and suites that might go unfilled otherwise. It also makes guests happy because they feel like they got a deal on a great room.

We’ve participated in the auction pretty much since they started offering it, but this was the first cruise where we actually got an upgrade out of it. (We generally don’t bid more than the minimum.) We managed to get an upgrade from what was originally a room without a balcony (I can’t remember exactly what type, probably just normal exterior) to a Haven Spa Suite.  We paid $500pp for the upgrade.  (Was it worth it?  Yes, definitely, would do it again for that price in a heartbeat. But I probably wouldn’t pay the full rate for it.)

We got our first taste of what being in The Haven meant after we checked in. We were shown to a private waiting area that had coffee, juice, water, and pastries. (We were arriving well after boarding had started, so we did not have to wait. But we had the option to snack a bit.) Then, when we indicated we were ready to go, a host greeted us by name, introduced us to a valet, and that valet walked us onto the ship. It was raining outside (drizzly, nbd for Seattle-ites), so the valet popped open a large umbrella and held it over my head while I walked. It was quite possibly the most uncomfortable bit of ostentatious luxury I’ve ever experienced. Do I walk fast? Do I walk slow? Do I chat with the guy or just get this over with as quickly as possible?

And, it was a long walk to the boarding gangway. Basically, we had to walk all the way back to the other building, but once we got on board (and our valet handed us off to our next escort), we were whisked into a private elevator reserved for Haven guests and informed that since our private dining room wasn’t available yet, we were invited to go to the Margaritaville bar and enjoy whatever we liked from the menu.  (Margaritaville is typically an a la carte extra charge restaurant, but it was comp’d for Haven guests on that first day.) We sampled everything we had interest in eating.

We gradually figured out that part of the reason we were able to get the upgrade this time is that the weather for this cruise was cold and rainy, and thus some of the benefit of the Haven (private outdoor lounges, posh private outdoor bars, private outdoor pool) was not that useful. But, here’s the benefits I absolutely loved:

  • Private dining room:  We never had to wait to eat. The Haven’s dining room has the same menu for every meal, but the food was a notch above the regular dining rooms. They had a pork belly appetizer at dinner that was delicious, and the steak and eggs for breakfast was a great way to start the day.
  • Private lounge: Now that cruise ships are selling all-you-can-drink packages, the bars onboard are insanely busy pretty much all the time. The Haven has its own lounge and bar, though, and by the second day, the bartenders knew what I’d want to drink and were making it almost as soon as I arrived.
  • Access to the spa:  You can typically buy this as an upgrade package for a few hundred, but the Haven Spa Suites include unlimited access to the spa, even on sea days. So, you can go sit in the indoor hot tubs, visit the saunas, enjoy the therapy pools, etc. whenever you want. My favorite feature of the NCL spas are the big heated stone loungers. I could lay on those all day!
  • Priority disembarkation: Now, I mentioned that I think a lot of people blew off the Haven for this cruise because of the weather, but this itinerary is also port-heavy. Typically, if you want to spend as much time as possible in the port city, you spend an hour each morning just trying to get off the ship. If you’re meeting up with a non-ship tour or trying to catch public transit, you have to allow extra time or queue up early to be sure you’ll get off when you expect. Not so for The Haven! You just let your butler know the night before what tour you’re doing or what time you want to get off and then show up in the lounge when he says to arrive. Enjoy a drink in the lounge, and when your tour or time is ready, you’re zipped into one of the crew elevators and are off the ship in 5-10 minutes at most. This was, without a doubt, the best benefit of The Haven for this cruise…and one that you can’t get any other way.

The other benefit that I have only barely mentioned is that you have a butler in addition to your normal room steward. We barely used our butler. We read later that you can have the butler get you food from any restaurant on the ship or bring cocktails to the room, buy you souvenirs or necessities at the gift shops and deliver them…pretty much anything you can imagine needing. But, we mainly just visited him for disembarkation. He did put snacks in our room each day, too, but we often didn’t eat them. In retrospect, we should have just asked him to skip those. We always love the chocolate covered strawberries, but most other things get wasted on us.

Our room was large for a cruise ship. Honestly, it was bigger than our master bed+bath at home. (We live in Seattle, after all.) We had an espresso machine in the room as well as a jacuzzi tub that was big enough for the two of us to sit in (uncomfortably but do-able). We had a large balcony. And the bed…oh the bed was the most comfortable bed I’ve been in on a cruise ship. Possibly ever. The comforter was perfect. The mattress was perfect. For a trip on which sleep was at a premium thanks to jet lag, that bed made it as easy as it could have been under the circumstances.

An Escape Room!

There are better guides with detail on what the Getaway is like onboard, but one feature they had on this cruise that we really enjoyed was an escape room. It was circus themed, and I won’t give anything away. The puzzles were interesting, and it was well-designed to allow large groups with mixed languages to work together (or separately). We ended up winning our group. (The escape room was a race between teams.)  We had a great time doing it and highly recommend it either as an intro to the escape room activity or for seasoned escape room fans.

Disembarkation

Just like getting on board, there were Haven benefits for when you left the ship. There were no lines. You just went to enjoy your last meal in the dining room and then let the host know when you were ready to go. (As a Haven guest, your luggage is first off, but that’s a benefit we get from Latitudes tier anyways.) Once you’re off the ship, you’re back to being an average cruiser, so customs and luggage pick-up were standard.

Assuming you’re headed back into Copenhagen for more touring, it’s just as easy in this direction. You walk most of the way to the bus stop, and there’s a green tourist information building on your right. In that building, they can sell you Copenhagen touring passes or bus tickets. The touring passes include admission to various attractions. After doing some quick math (and helping a few other tourists do the same…the TI offered to hire me), we opted for the 12h cruise pass, which included transit for 12 hours from activation and single-entrance admission to any three attractions from a list. (The list included two attractions we wanted to visit and just visiting those two was enough to make the card worthwhile.) There were also options for longer passes and unlimited access.

The 25 bus takes you back through downtown to the main stops (Osterport & Norreport), and you can transfer there to anywhere you’d want to go, including the train to the airport.

 

 

Photos of the NCL Getaway

(Click either edge of the photo to scroll to more photos.)