Last July when deciding where to go for our pre-Christmas vacation my wife and I looked at several options we finally decided to try a Western Caribbean cruise and after looking at several ships and intenerates we decided since we have not been to New Orleans and after not getting the response we wanted from Carnival we decided to book our cruise on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas. Since our departure was in mid-December and we were not sure of what the weather would be and we wanted to see some of New Orleans before leaving on our cruise we decided to fly in the night before our cruise. After leaving our home at 11:00 AM on Friday, December 14, 2012 we arrived in New Orleans around 6:30 PM and were in our hotel room at the Drury Inn by 7:30 PM. We found the Drury on the forums on the Cruise Critic. The hotel was excellent and after waling over to the French Quarter to have dinner at the Bourbon House and stopping at a local CVC to get some last minute items that we needed for our trip we had a nice night. On Saturday morning we had a wonderful breakfast we went out and walked around the French Quarter where we visited Jackson Square and stopped at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets then it was back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and to check out. At 12:15 PM we were in a cab and heading to the Julia Street cruise ship terminal. By 12:30 PM and after waiting in line we were at the entrance to the terminal and since we had all ready tagged our bags we dropped them off with the porter and made our was in side the terminal where we waited on four lines was to show our ticket and id to enter the second line which was for security these lines went pretty fast the third line was to enter to line for check in to combat the Norovirus everyone had to use hand sanitize before proceeding to the line for check in as part of the check in process both my wife and my self had to fill out a heal form stating we were not exposed to the flu or any flue like virus after that was done we received our SeaPass cards and it was off to the gangway where the cards were activated and welcome photo were taken. We then headed to deck 10 where our cabin was ready and we found our shore excursion tickets, tickets to Sundays Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle. After dropping off our carry on bags we went up to the Windjammer on deck 11 for lunch around 2:00 PM. Before heading to the buffet I bought the unlimited soda package. However it should be noted that the soda selection are limited on the Navigator has the ship has not been outfitted with the new Coke machines that Royal Caribbean is rolling out through out its fleet. After checking out the menu for Chops the ships steakhouse it was off to the buffet which featured two identical lines beginning with Jade the ships Asian buffet then the Windjammer line which featured a salad bar, pizza, sandwiches then an area with various hot foods and desert bar. We found that some of the hot food was not has hot as it should have been. I had two Hot Dogs that were nicely grilled but that the ship used sandwich rolls instead of buns for the food. After lunch we headed back to our cabin where we found our bags had been delivered so we began the process of unpacking. The closet in the cabin had plenty of hangers and there was ample space all of our clothes the only problem was storing our luggage since the storage space in the cabin was limited so one our carry on bags were stored in one of our larger pieces of luggage. At 4:00 PM we headed to our muster station for the life boat drill. Unlike our previous two cruises attendance was taking at the drill I could not determine if this was done in response to the Costa Concordia disaster. At the conclusion of the drill the ships Captain Frank Martinsen gave a briefing on the ships course and departure time we then processed up to deck to get some photos and to watch the ship depart. Since we had to wait for the Carnival Elation to depart and to get down river. We finally pulled away and were underway at 5:05 PM about thirty five minutes after departure the ship used it reversers to pull away from the dock it then made a 180 degree turn in the Mississippi River to head south to the Gulf of Mexico after watching New Orleans disappear in the distance we went down to the Royal Promenade on deck 5 to have a drink and watch the Circus Parade which featured the ships entertainment staff and Jimmy Rhodes our cruise director. After reviewing the menu for dinner and being tired we had dinner at the buffet and went to bed early since we were both tired. Before going to bed I did check out the ships on board TV which was quite limited and was really geared to times when the ship is cursing the medterian since it had 4 different channels for moves in foreign languages and no CNN International in English.
Sunday was the first of three Sea days we both got up and were well rested after getting dressed we then headed to the Windjammer deck where we had a nice breakfast but what we also found was that the Omelets were premade and most of the hot food was not hot at all which was a pattern that continued for the rest of our trip. After breakfast we wanted to work our on the treadmills in the fitness center but all of the treadmills were in use so we walked on the walking/jogging track on deck 12. At 9:30 AM I left my wife to wait on line to get tickets to one of the 4 Ice shows in Studio B the ships Ice Rink. After working out we changed and did some shopping along the Royal Promenade for souvenirs which we bought. At 11:30 AM we headed to the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle which was in the Dungeons the ships disco which was rather small and cramped for the size of the crowed and there were not enough food or gifts for every one who attended. Since we arrived late our gifts were derived a day later to our room. After the meet and mingle and having made our way to the bow of the ship on deck 5 we went and has a delicious lunch in the Nutcracker Dinning Room after lunch and checking out that evenings dinner menu we returned to our room while I checked the lone NFL game available on the TV then we had a delicious snack at the Cafe on the Royal Promenade. We then got dressed for the first of two formal nights on the cruise where we went to the Captains Reception and got our photos taken with the Captain along with several of the other photo stations before going to dinner and that evenings show Ballroom Fever which my wife enjoyed but I found to be rather slow. Before going to bed since the ship was heading into the Eastern Time Zone our clocks had be set forward one hour.
Monday was also spent at sea since I wanted Eggs Benedict and it was not available in the Windjammer we had a much better breakfast in the main dinning room. After breakfast we checked out our photos from forma night and bought a water camera. After setting up the new camera we went to the sports deck where we played some minnture golf. After playing golf I had lunch at Johnny Rockets which was well worth the $4.95 cover charge since I had a meal that if I bought it on shore would have cost me around $10-12.00 including tip was a great deal. Since I had Johnny Rockets my wife had her lunch at Jade and had a massage at the ships spa. While she was at the Spa I went and checked out the observation window into the bridge where there was not very much activity going on since we were just cursing along at sea and I went to the Viking Crown to have a drink in the lounge. After picking my wife up at the Spa we had a snack on the Royal Promenade and went to the evening's show which was El Gaucho which was a little bit of music, comedy and some work with the rope. We then had dinner and later that evening we went to the 70's disco party on the Royal Promenade which we found since the shows were sill open to be rather small and cramped for a party which may have been better to have had on the upper deck by the pool. It was then to bead as the next day was the first of three port days.
Tuesday was the first of three days in port after breakfast went up on deck to watch our arrival at the Royal Caribbean built dock at the historic town of Falmouth, Jamaica this time the ship was backed into the port. Once we were cleared to debark we got off and proceeded to join our shore excursion which was an excellent trip to the Duns River Falls our guide Charm and our driver Peter were terrific as they brought us to the Falls where we were introduced to Tamara Douse who is the only female guide at the falls who brought us up the falls safely and it was a memorable experience on the way back to the ship we stopped at Columbus Park for a chance to have some Jamaican Barbeque. The excursion returned us to the ship by 2:00 PM which gave us time to clean up and get off the ship to check out the shops returning to the ship at 4:30 PM. At 6:00 PM we went up on deck to watch the ship sail off. Although we had tickets for the 9:00 PM Ice Show that would have meant having diner at 7:00 PM and we were not yet hungry so we went to Studio B where we were permitted to attend the 7:00 PM show since it was not "sold out". While it was strange to be watching a skating show while sailing the Caribbean the show was outstanding was the best show we attended on the entire cruise. Then we had dinner and went to bed since it was going to be an early arrival at our next port of call.
Wednesday morning had us getting up early since it was an early arrival in our next port which was on Grand Cayman since the island doe not have a port our ship had to anchor off shore and every one was brought over in small ferries. It was here we were joined by sister ship Jewel of the Seas and Holland America's Westerdam. unlike the Holland America's ship which carries it's own tenders we had to use local ferries that tendered everyone to shore in groups of 200. Even tough our shore excursion was not until 10:00 AM we came ashore early so that we could do some shipping in the port. The shore excursion was Turtle, Stingray Land and Sea Adventure. Our guide LeRoy was good the trip started with a visit to a place called Hell that was only worth visiting due to it's unique name we then vested the Tortuga Rum Cake factory which was basically a store where you can try Rum or Rum Cake and was very crowded. The next stop was the Turtle farm which was very interesting. The last stop was at our excursion boat which took us out to Sting Ray City which is a sandbar where you can get in the water and encounter the Sting Rays after about an hour we returned to meet our guide who got us back to the port to get in line to be transferred back to the ship after getting cleaned up we went up to the Windjammer to get some lunch as we watched the Caymans Sail off into the horizon. For our sail to Cozumel we were joined by the Jewel and Westerdam. That evening we attended the concert by a band called Revolution which was a" Beatles Tribute" band that was very good since we did not want to get dressed as it was smart causal night and did not like the selections in the dining room we decided to have dinner in the Windjammer and at 11:00 PM we went to the pool deck to attend the deck party and to have snacks.
Thursday we woke up got dressed had breakfast and as the ship was arriving in Cozumel, Mexico where in addition to the Jewel and Westerdan we were joined by Carnival's Triumph. We repotted to the Metropolis Theater where every one who was going on an excursion was given a sticker so they would no who was being transferred to the mainland we were then escorted off the ship first and transferred to a dedicated ferry which brought us the Play Del Carmen where we met our tour guide Andres who brought us to our motor coach for our 90 minute drive to Coba which was one of the many Mayan cities located through the Yucatan Peninsula it was very interesting as we were given a tour of the ruins than we got back on the coach and brought back to Playa del Carmen where we were brought to a restaurant that was in a former cave for lunch and a Mayan Cultural Show and were than brought back to the ferry for transfer back to the Navigator. The trip would have been better if the lunch and show were replaced with a stop where we could have had lunch have done some shopping. The dedicated ferry got us back to the ship a little after 5:30 PM which gave us time to get ready for the last formal night where we attended a show called All Access and then had dinner in the main dining room where we asked by our head waiter and table waiter to make sure you give the food service good rating on the survey.
Friday we were at sea and we had planned on going to the pool however the ship had encountered a frontal system with high winds and rough seas and as a result the pools and the upper decks were closed. This also resulted in the Walk for Whishes to be cancelled. After breakfast we did one last round of shopping on the Royal Promenade we went a played some bingo. After lunch in the Windjammer we completed our packing and prepared our bags to be picked up, we gave our room steward his tip and returned our surveys. We then went to the farewell show featuring the comedy of Bud Andersen which was terrific and the final farewell number featured the entertainment staff and some of the ships crew along with a taped farewell message from the Captain we then had one final dinner returned to our room to put our bags out had one last drink in the Cosmopolitan Club and then it was off to bed as it would be an early day.
Saturday was another early wake up as we were scheduled to arrive in New Orleans at 6:00 AM. We had one last breakfast in the Windjammer then returned to our room to make sure we had packed every thing grabbed our carry on's and since we decided to take a New Orleans City tour with an airport transfer we reported to the Metropolis Theatre where were given a stick identifying us as taking the city tour and were escorted off the Navigator one last time. When we arrived in the baggage area only one of our bags was in the designated area. I then approached a porter who said that some times the tags come off the bags and directed me to the area where the bags without tags would be left I went there still no bags I then approached anther representative with the port agent who was basically of very little help sting they would only assist once all the bag's were off loaded while waiting I noticed a large number of bags under zones whose passengers would have all ready debarked from the ship so I started looking and found our other bag without tag placed in a different zone location instead of in the area for bags without tags. We then proceeded through customs and out to where our motor coach was our guide Chris was ok but the tour gave us a chance to see the rest of the city by 12:00 Noon we were dropped at the New Orleans Airport for our flight home. Overall we thought the cruise was good but was not as good as Carnival which offers better food service than Royal Caribbean would we sail again on Royal Caribbean we would but only if Royal Caribbean was the only option.