EMBARKATION: We flew non-stop from Washington,D.C. to New Orleans on Dec.21 and stayed with our children and grandchildren at the Marriott Springhill Suites in the warehouse district. We particularly like Springhill Suites because they include a free breakfast. The Hotel is close enough to the pier so that our kids just walked with their luggage to the pier. We took a taxi, left our luggage with the porters and were on board the ship within fifteen to twenty minutes..best embarkation ever!! We loved sailing on the Mississippi River..much more interesting than going right into the ocean.
SHIP INTERIOR: The Navigator of the Seas is still a beautiful vessel! We sailed a few years ago on her sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, so we knew our way around at once. Our staterooms were on deck three, oceanview..we had four cabins side by side...our daughter and her husband had connecting cabins with their three children which is a perfect arrangement, because, among other things, it allows them to have two bathrooms. The cabins are beautifully designed, with plenty of storage behind mirrors, shelves in the closets and great lighting! Our cabin attendant was fine, and did the towel animals almost every evening which is always entertaining. They were especially cute in our grandchildren's cabin. We really did not ask for anything special except for a bucket of ice each day, however, our grandkids' cabin did require a bit more effort.
DINING ROOM: We were at table #291 and table #294. There were twenty of us altogether in our party, all cousins, who had decided to take this cruise. My travel agent was able to link the two tables, so we had two oval tables together on deck three in the Nutcracker Dining Room. Our server, Ivor, and his assistants, Robert and Ruben were FABULOUS!!! This was the best service we have ever had on any cruise and the dining room experience can make or break a cruise! The food is adequate..not gourmet, but tasty! The soups are superb, especially the cold fruit soups, and the desserts were always good. They had lobster tails two nights, which were fine, and they had prime rib, which was also very good. They also offer a menu for those who are trying to be calorie conscious, which is quite satisfactory. We did not use any of the specialty restaurants although one of my grandchildren went to Johnny Rockets, which was just okay!
ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment on this ship was my greatest disappointment. I have the feeling that Royal Caribbean is using their entertainment budget to enhance the programs on their newer and larger ships, and are neglecting their older ships. The performers are talented, but the productions were not worthy of their talent. The costumes were cheap, there were no sets and until the third program, I did not even know they had an orchestra. The ice show was the only show that was really professionally done and it was excellent!!! The Schooner Bar also had a pianist with an amazing repertoire and he packed the place every night!!
MISCELLANEOUS: The only port we had not been to was Jamaica, which was okay, but the guides never forgot to remind us that they wanted to be tipped. We went to Paradise Beach in Cozumel, which is the best beach of all and the most reasonable for what you get, and in the Caymans we went to the Royal Palms Beach Club, where our daughter had reserved a cabana and four beach chairs in advance for $100. It was expensive but lovely. The hotels on the Caymans do not give day passes at Christmas, so there were not too many options since we had already done the Stingray thing. Our disembarkation was easy. We had an eleven o'clock flight back to D.C. so we arranged for an early disembarkation..the process is not quite as organized as the embarkation, but we purchased transfers for a quick bus ride via Royal Caribbean, and went quickly through customs.
This was really our best cruise ever and can't wait to sail again!!