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A Haven Out at Sea

A new ship-within-a-ship concept allows guests the privacy and exclusivity of a luxury yacht with access to the exciting scope of entertainment offered by larger cruise liners.
Norwegien Viva

I am floating in the turquoise waters of The Bahamas with the sole purpose of swimming with pigs. Having never ventured to swim with dolphins, this is as surprising to me as to anyone, but here I am clutching a piece of green apple with which to lure a pig to join me in the warm water.

The pigs stand on the beach eyeing me lazily. One, brown bristles covering her back and which I later learn is called Donna, takes the bait and moves slowly into the water, bored by the over-rehearsed drill. When Donna is halfway in, she lifts her stumpy legs and glides through the water with the grace of a synchronized swimmer.

While the piece of apple is the bait, it is also the decoy. Apart from swim, pigs also nip, especially when there’s food around. When Donna is a metre away I hurl the apple as far away as possible and remain stock still while the pig brushes past, gobbles it up then paddles a few loops (proving that pigs do indeed swim), before heading back to shore. Not exactly the Blue Lagoon of close animal encounters, but very definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Norwegien Viva

This is just one of the many adventures guests on Norwegian’s new prima class cruise liner, Norwegian Viva, can look forward to. Celebrating its maiden voyage in August last year, Norwegian Viva has people talking. It’s a ship full of firsts, pushing confidently into the new luxury space of ocean cruise liners. On Norwegian Viva it’s possible to forget that you’re on a big cruise liner (she sleeps 3 950 passengers) and, instead, enjoy the privacy and exclusivity usually reserved for small luxury yachts.

This is owing to the exclusive-use enclave called The Haven, where private elevators, reserved solely for Haven guests, take you to a private part of the ship where you’ll find some of the largest suites ever seen on a cruise liner. Here you can lie on the beautiful deck or laze in one of the pools or jacuzzis and enjoy some of the best views from the liner. There’s also an exclusive-use luxury bar and a fine-dining restaurant serving unique signature dishes and offerings from an impressive wine collection. The idea behind The Haven is that discerning guests who do not want the larger cruise liner experience can find the tranquillity and privacy of an exclusive space but with access to the offerings of the larger ship.

Norwegien Viva

According to Kevin Bubolz, vice president and managing director of Norwegian Cruise Liners for Continental Europe, Middle East and Africa, the idea for Norwegian Viva came in response to the desire from guests travelling prima class for a true luxury experience on a contemporary ship. He says, ‘For some, the smaller luxury cruises might feel a bit poky or boring for the broader family. On the Norwegian Viva, the kids can go and race the speedway or fly down one of the world’s longest-drop dry slides while the grandparents lounge by the exclusive-use pools inside The Haven.’

But it’s the suites in The Haven that stand out. Here you can relax on your large balcony, some with private hot tubs, and sip a sundowner and enjoy endless views of the ocean. Designed with elegance and spaciousness in mind, you’ll find king-size beds, luxury baths and a lounge where you can enjoy the selection of handcrafted desserts delivered by your butler each day for afternoon tea.

Norwegien Viva

There are larger suites on offer too, like The Haven’s two-bedroomed Family Villa, an ideal luxury retreat for the whole family, or one of The Haven Owner’s Suites with separate living and dining areas.

Apart from the 24-hour butler and concierge service, priority is given to all Haven guests for embarkation, debarkation, boarding of tenders, onboard entertainment and dining times.

Norwegian Viva

Venturing out
Outside The Haven, the rest of the ship lives up to its prima class reputation. As Bubolz says, ‘Inside The Haven, it sometimes feels like you’re the only people on board apart from the crew. But the big ship offers guests more choices and more space.’ However, priority has been given to the way Norwegian Viva has been
designed outside the sanctity of The Haven in that it never feels overcrowded.

‘There are no annoying or lengthy queues. The interiors are designed to feel intimate and cosier than a large cruise liner,’ says Bubolz. ‘There are lots of smaller spaces that, when you’re sitting in a bar or in a restaurant, you forget that you’re even on a ship.’ Working with design names like Studio Dado in Miami and Piero Lissoni, one of Italy’s preeminent designers, the Norwegian Viva has succeeded in offering guests the ideal combination of relaxing and experiential.

Norwegian Viva

One good reason to venture outside The Haven is the exciting selection of speciality dining restaurants. Hasuki has to be experienced for more than just its excellent cuisine. This is experiential dining at its best, where your personal chef prepares Japanese dishes on a large steel grill right in front of you while belting out your favourite tunes.

At Bienvenido a Los Lobos, a premium Mexican restaurant celebrating unique flavour combinations, you can try the popular Carne Asada and Tres Leches Cake with Coconut Cream. At the aptly named French restaurant, Le Bistro, elegant interiors, crisp white linens and attentive servers ensure a superb and intimate dining experience.

A Haven Out at Sea 1

Unparalleled Experiences
Like any good cruise liner, part of the experience on board has to do with the variety of shows, activities and curated experiences on offer. On Norwegian Viva, these cater to personal tastes and are full of firsts for the cruise industry. For those looking for an adrenaline fix, there is The Rush, a 10-storey-high slide, the fastest one on the open ocean, or The Drop, the first free-fall dry slide in the world. The Viva Speedway is also a firm favourite – here you can zoom around a three-level motor race track.

The Galaxy Pavilion, a virtual reality gaming centre, has the first flying theatre simulator at sea, or you can tee off with an exclusive TopGolf Swing Suite partnership.

Norwegian Viva

If you can’t do without your daily run, cycle or visit to the gym, the Pulse Fitness Centre with it’s 270-degree views of the ocean, is one gym you won’t want to leave. Here you can gaze at the horizon while on the treadmill or taking a class or nighttime entertainment, the Viva Theatre & Club is the first venue in the world that transforms from three-storey theatre to spectacular nightclub.

A highlight, however, is Norwegian Viva’s exceptional Mandara Spa and Salon. The serenity you can enjoy from the state-of-the-art pools, a two-storey waterfall, or one of the multiple detoxifying saunas is unrivalled in terms of a spa experience.

Norwegian Viva

Of course it’s not only the offerings on board a cruise liner but the desire by passengers to travel the world with the convenience of only having to unpack your suitcase once. Current itineraries for Norwegian Viva include the Mediterranean, the Greek Isles, the Transatlantic and the Caribbean.

The idea of enjoying the ride in privacy and waking up each morning to another exotic port must be the biggest pull of travelling on NCL’s Viva and, of course, the once-in-a-lifetime onshore experiences. Who knows, you might even find yourself unexpectedly swimming with pigs in The Bahamas on a Thursday afternoon.

by Susan Newham-Blake


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