I traveled with my husband and two kids (12 and 15) on the March 23, 2013 sailing. After reading most of the reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised overall. We booked two junior suites - 9238 and 9234. With these two rooms, we had nearly 600 square feet and 150 square feet on the balconies. Originally, we had booked one balcony room, but a couple of weeks before the cruise the junior suites were reduced significantly (if you see a better room available at a better rate after you book, you can call and get it switched - I looked at rates and available rooms every week after I booked). We would have had a difficult week with just one bathroom, so it was well worth the additional cost.
Embarkation - Because we had junior suites, we had our own security line and check-in line. We arrived at 10:45 and did not have a line anywhere. We were on the boat within minutes. This is one of the perks of a junior suite - many of the other suite perks are More
not for junior suites.
Rooms: The junior suites are just large. One would have been fine for my family of four, but the junior suites left when I changed were only for two people because they did not have bunks. When I booked, I was told they were next door but did not connect. I questioned this because they said they connected on Royal Caribbean's site, but the map did not show that they did. I called customer service, and they checked with several sources and finally told me they were not connected. When we entered the first room, they did indeed have a connecting door. I felt much better being able to open the door because I was worried about having my kids in a completely separate room. Unfortunately, the dividers do not open on the balconies between rooms, though.
The rooms were really clean - I still used sanitizer wipes on hard surfaces, and I did not have any worries about cleanliness all week. The junior suites have flat screen televisions (lower categories still have the big old television sets). Not that you are on a cruise to watch tv, but the flat screen television seemed to give the room a more up-to-date feel.
Our rooms each had a queen bed, full-size couch, chair, ottoman, and a vanity. Plus, we had a large walk-in closet in each room. This was nice because it also doubled as another changing room when the bathroom was being used. My only complaint with the connecting rooms is that there is no lock on the door between rooms. Once they are unlocked by the room attendant, there is no way to lock them again unless you ask the room attendant.
Balconies: We had plenty of room on each one - two chairs, a table, and a lounger. I was concerned because I had read many reviews that said the smoke smell was terrible on the balconies, and I can't stand the smell of smoke. I thought we would not be able to use it - I only got a smell of smoke once or twice and it did not linger. We were out on our balconies a lot. It might have helped that we were in the front of the ship on the 9th floor.
Bathrooms: They were a little larger than a standard room. They have a full-size bathtub and shower combo. Everything in the bathroom was clean and updated.
Food: Many of the reviews I read stated that the food was okay and nothing special. I would agree with this - we didn't eat anything that we will dream about after the cruise. We were satisfied and pleased but nothing was extraordinary (with that said, we were never hungry). We ate all dinners in the dining room, lunches in Windjammer and breakfasts were split between buffet and dining room. The Windjammer could get a little hectic during busy times, and it was difficult to find a table at times. We just started going at non-peak times.
Dinner - The starters were some of the best things we had all week. Most nights we ordered a couple of them each - good corn poblano chowder, scallops, olive/eggplant tartare, appetizer salads. The main courses were okay - we didn't have anything that we hated or even disliked. My son ordered two fillets (14.95 each) from Chops. Both times, they were cooked medium rare instead of medium well. They both had to be sent back, and we were not charged for them. This didn't make me want to pay and surcharge and pay $30 each to eat at Chops when they couldn't cook the steaks correctly that were ordered in the main dining room. Also, it seems like there are not as many choices each night, but there are always certain items available each night (pasta, steak, chicken) if there isn't something on the nightly menu you like.
Our waiter, Zaheer, did a great job. Our daughter is picky, so he remembered exactly what she wanted each night even though it is not on the dinner menu. She ordered a special salad each night, and after day one did not have to ask for certain items.
Lunch - Again, it was okay in the buffet. The choices changed a little from day to day, but there were mostly the same items.
Johnny Rockets - we ate there one day for lunch, and it was surprisingly good. There is a $4.95 charge for each person and includes sandwich and sides (they are unlimited - we were asked if we wanted a second burger). You do have to pay for the shakes and drinks if you don't have the unlimited soda. We sat in a booth outside and could watch the water.
Breakfast - it was better in the dining room because we didn't have to be around the crowds. Many of the same items are available in the main dining room. There is a menu to order off of, and they have a small buffet set up with fruit, cereals, and some hot items.
Ports - We almost did not make it into Grand Cayman because of the rough seas. We were one of a few ships who finally made it in - several left and had a day at sea. There was no problem getting a tender, but after we got on one we wondered if we really should have. The waves were very large and the boat was whipped around. Many of the excursions were cancelled because of the weather = we made the most of it, though. We did the Dunn's Falls and Bob Sled in Jamaica and had a great time. We did the Jungle Buggy and snorkel in Cozumel - also would recommend.
Entertainment - this was the only area of real complaint. The shows were not good - I have been to better high school performances (actually all high school shows I have seen have been better). There were two comedians, and they were the best. We left early during the musical shows. I read many reviews that said the shows were not good, and they were all correct. The ice show was okay - many of the performers fell or dropped their partners during our performance. There was a "Broadway" type show one night - they put a lot of numbers together form different shows. If you weren't familiar with all of the shows, you had no idea what was going on. I would rather see one complete show so that I understood the songs. If you like good shows, do not expect much on the Navigator.
Other items: The ship is really enormous and is in good shape. It was hard to get an elevator at peak times, but we learned to either walk or go down to go back up. We always got a lounger, and found that it was quiet and empty on the back deck. You can always find somewhere quiet it that is what you are looking for some days.
We really enjoyed the sanitizer man in the buffet area. He has a different song and dance everyday - just ask to see it.
We had the early seating - 5:30 PM for dinner. On port days, it was too early because we needed to shower and change for dinner quickly. Also, we had a table right by the Captain's table, and no one ever used that table during our service. It would be nice if the Captain ate at the early seating for one formal night instead of eating late all nights.
I love diet coke, so I bought the soda package for my entire family. It only includes Sprite, Coke, and Diet Coke. I like fountain sodas, and most of the bars used two liters. There are two machines in the Windjammer. You just show the juice people your card, and they give you cups with ice to get your own soda. I had to search out places to get fountain drinks - when the buffet was closed it wasn't easy. Less
Navigator of the Seas Cruises to the Western Caribbean