Based on reviews from other websites of the 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on Navigator of the Seas departing from New Orleans during the latter part of 2012, my expectations for our Jan. 12, 2013 departure were somewhat reserved. Discussion with a co-worker who has sailed RCI and competing cruise lines did not help my expectations. There were many stories of cold food in both the regular dining room and buffet areas. Also prevalent were comments that the entertainment shows in the main theater paled in comparison to other cruise lines, with the "Ice Dancing" show being the lone exception.
This was my fifth cruise, but the first with RCI and I found the decor inside the Navigator of the Seas to be as good as I have ever experienced on a cruise. I found the ship easy to navigate after exploring it the first day. The staff was also as friendly and accommodating as any I have experienced, from the room steward to the waiters to the ship's officers. A technical problem was experienced on my first wifi internet connection, but a quick visit to the customer service desk provided a quick and quite satisfactory resolution.
Here are my views regarding the food onboard. I found the food to meet, and in many cases exceed, the quality of my previous cruises. I was never served cold food and a couple of the meals in the main dining area was nothing short of excellent. I would gladly accept the quality of the food I experienced this cruise on any future cruises I might take. All eight members of our party were very pleased with the food served. I found the Windjammer buffet area to have equal or better quality food as any of my previous cruises. The staff in the Windjammer provided the best service I have experienced in a buffet environment on my cruises. Mr. "Sanitize" who greets everyone entering the buffet and gets them to "sanitize your hands" is a treat itself. This man enjoys his job, and it shows.
In my opinion the reviews I read about the "Ice Dancing" show were pretty much on target. I would consider it a "Don't Miss" just like many other previous reviews. You do have to get complimentary tickets, but the distribution process was quick and painless. I agree with many other reviews that most of the costumes for the Navigator of the Seas singers and dancers leave something to be desired, as compared to other shows I've attended on cruises. However, the singer's and dancer's talents were very comparable to the others I have experienced. The two stand up comedy shows were excellent and I overhead many favorable comments from other guests while leaving the main theater after both of these shows. "The Unexpected Boys", a musical show based on the music of Frankie Vallie was very entertaining with excellent harmony and vocals. Since I really enjoy music, I thoroughly enjoyed this show.
That brings me to the musical acts stationed around the ship. Initially I was a little disappointed, not based on talent, but on styles of music. I really enjoy music and it is a big part of my cruise experience. My favorite music is 70's rock and there was not a cover band playing this type of music. There was a solo guitar performer, Scott Perham, in The Two Poets Pub on the promenade who played a lot of songs I like, even some Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZTop, but the venue was small and hard to get a seat. He had his own style and influence, but a lot of guests seem to enjoy it, as he had a loyal following. The Caribbean Force band played in the pool area, very talented, just not my style of music. The Tumbao Trio, a latin band, performed in Boleros on Deck 4, and seemed to have a good crowd gathered most of the time, but once again, not my style. There were at least two piano players on board, Rizaldy and Patrice Doucet. Both were very talented and a pleasure to listen to. The Cosmopolitan Club is located on Deck 14, offering great views and is one of the wifi hotspots. The Cosmopolitan Club is home to the Sunlight Band. The Sunlight band members are from the Ukraine. As far as music is concerned this band was my favorite on this cruise. They covered several styles of music and even though none of it was my favorite 70's Rock genre, I spent a lot of time listening to them, and really enjoyed it. Maria, the vocalist, naturally sings with a Ukranian accent, but it seemed to grow on everyone, as it certainly did on me. With each passing night the crowd in the Cosmopolitan Club grew larger. The band consists of Igor on keyboard, Anastasia on bass guitar, Yevhen on drums and Maria. All three of the musicians are quite talented. Anastasia is technically the best bass guitarist I have seen on any of my cruises. Maria is quite energetic and interacts very well with the guests while performing. It is obvious that she really enjoys singing. Guests had a great time dancing to Sunlight's music, and there was a dedicated crowd there every night. For me, the Sunlight band is the "Don't Miss" of musical acts currently on the Navigator of the Seas. Not to take anything away from the other musical acts, but, based on my taste, I would have been disappointed with the music experience on this cruise if not for the Sunlight Band.