My wife and I sailed on the October 7 sailing of the Navigator of the Seas. This was our 8th cruise, and second on RCCL. We flew into Rome 3 days early and spent some time seeing the sights and highlights of Rome. So much to see and talk about there, however this is Cruise Critic not Trip Advisor. If you stay in Rome before sailing you should know that catching the train at Termini is somewhat a challenge. There is very little signage to direct passengers and the gypsy's are very clever at acting like train personnel providing directions for a cost! The tickets do not list the stand to catch the train to Civitavecchia. My advise is to seek out a person wearing a shirt or jacket with the railroad emblem on the left chest.
We arrived by train in Civitavecchia with plenty of time to make the walk from the train to the port with luggage in tow. Be prepared its a bit of a trek. Just follow the crowd.At some point, we were directed by RCCL personnel to a bus for the short ride to the check-in area. The check-in process took less then 30 minutes and we were onboard the ship. We were required to turn our passports over to RCCL for immigration purposes...not a big deal, they were returned to us early on Thursday.
The ship is beautiful! Yes, I'll agree with other critics that she is worn in some areas, but she is still a beautiful ship. We had a balcony cabin, forward, starboard, deck 7. Our cabin was very nice with adequate space and storage. Natalie did a fantastic job of keeping our room clean with fresh towels and soap. As requested, she supplied us with fresh ice daily. There wasn't the usual towel animals and mints...we had towel animals 3 out of the 7 nights...not really a big deal.
Somona the cruise director and her team were fabulous and had tons of activities planned to fit every taste! The Navigator orchestra was probably the best I've every heard on a cruise ship. The featured singers were awesome as well as the dancers! The Ice show was incredible...I was totally amazed! I enjoyed every show, but understand why some might consider some of them boring...you can only watch a juggler for so long...yawn! The violinist, Gary Lovini was amazing...even bought a DVD! We enjoyed singing familiar tunes at Schooners and only donated $40 to the casino. Unlike other cruises that I have been on, I liked not having a photo shoot every five steps...the ship was not covered in photo backdrops hanging everywhere! I found the customer service desk to be very helpful.
The food...was very good however, it wasn't any better then food I've had on other cruise lines. Also, on a 7 day cruise on another cruise line I can expect to have Lobster and Prime rib without having to pay extra for the Lobster, RCCL now offer Lobster for extra charge...Really? Deserts were much better on my other cruises as well. I'm not saying that I was disappointed but with the service of RCCL generally being a notch above other cruise lines, I expected the food to be a notch above as well. Our waiter Shon was superb throughout the trip. We got to know our table-mates very well and would spend time talking even after most diners had left. Shon never rushed us out to set up for the late dinner. Of course, we left him with ample time to prepare for the next seating. We ate at Johnny Rockets twice...what can I say...Good! We are not fans of buffet, but we did eat in the Windjammer twice for lunch and twice for breakfast and there was always a huge selection of food, however, I don't like walking around with my food looking for a table! Room service was great and arrived on time both times we used it.
We went on our own in Sicily, walked around for a bit and returned to the ship...it was ok...I'm sure we missed something by not doing an excursion. Ephesus was the highlight of the trip for us! We did the Biblical 8.5 hour tour...AWESOME...it was a very interesting place. We enjoyed the carpet demonstration too, and we didn't feel under any pressure to buy either. If you want a rug, just have PLENTY of money with you! Shops at the port had plenty of unique things to buy. In Athens we took the Hop on Hop off bus outside of the terminal. We got to see the city from the open top, visited the Acropolis and Mars Hill, shopped and ate Gyro's in Plaka. Watch the time closely as the last bus back to the port leaves the Acropolis around 1630! In Crete, we were invited to join our new friends on a private tour they had previously set up. We had an awesome day, saw the Agia Triada Monastery, olive oil processing plant, ancient ruins, and had by for the best Gyro's and Greek salad ever...and I can't forget the Raki...Yamis! Thanks K and MB for the invitation, Great memories!
Before our cruise we chatted with fellow cruise critics on the forum. A meet and mingle was set up, which we attended on our first sea day. It was great to meet other travelers from around the world and receive little gifts and door prizes! One of the couples was actually seated at our dinner table and we all became fast friends and plan to keep in touch!
We had a 0940 departure from Rome so we set up any early debarkation with Guest Relations early in the week. We were able the leave the ship at 0600, taking all of our luggage with us. You must provide RCCL with a travel itinerary with proof of a flight departure before 1100 prior to the last day, otherwise you must wait for general debarkation.
Overall, this was a fantastic trip and RCCL did a great job, we'll defiantly travel with them again!