After cruise #4 we're still loyal to the Royal! The Port of New Orleans is wonderful. We've sailed out of Miami, Tampa, and New Jersey and this was the fastest and easiest. Clean, nice looking, efficient, & friendly port staff. Also, porters weren't NEARLY as pushy about taking our luggage as they have been in other ports. We arrived at 10 and were on the ship by 10:45. It's a large port - we left out of Julia Street, #2. Do your homework before you drive there. When we arrived at 10, cruisers were still disembarking from the previous cruise, so we asked a port employee when we could expect them to start to allow us on. She told us to go shopping across the street at the RiverWalk! Luckily we knew not to do that, and soon enough they called for us. Very nice to have a separate desk for suite and C&A guests. Cookies and water for all while we waited. Security and x-ray scanning while getting on board was a breeze - they didn't say a word about our 2 bottles of wine. Even though this is allowed now we figured they'd be a lot more stringent about counting them and making sure you're following the policy, but it was easy!
Navigator is beautiful. Yes, she's due for some upgrades, but that doesn't mean she's not a beautiful ship. They see 3000 people every week, so she's bound to have some wear. Loved the decor - beautiful opera & dance art work!
- We had the 5 bottle wine package and free drinks in the concierge lounge from 5-8:30. Because of that we only spent a total of about $250 on alcohol over 7 nights. As in the past, most cocktails were priced between $6.75 and $9. The liquor package would have been a waste for us, based on those factors.
- Solarium rules WERE enforced - it was a LOT more peaceful than last time we cruised
- Windjammer had a crayfish bar going out of NOLA!
- Ricardo Mock is a WONDERFUL concierge. Great cappuccino/coffee machine in the lounge. We've changed to an 8:30 dinner time from now on so we can spend a few hours in the lounge drinking!
- Spa is great, as always. Loved the Couples Massage and the Rasul (1-hour steam room, salt scrub, seaweed wrap, etc.) for couples to do together, unsupervised). BOOK YOUR APPOINTMENT RIGHT AWAY. At-sea days fill up instantly.
- Beautiful fitness center - just as nice as the Y at home. Free weights, machines, elliptical, treadmill, space to stretch, etc.
- Chops and Portofinos ARE worth the extra money. The food is delicious, the staff are thoughtful, and it's very romantic and peaceful.
- The Mystery Dinner is fun! Kind of cliche, but cute, good food, and fun camaraderie with the rest of your team.
- We changed an excursion at the last minute - the staff at guest services was more than happy to refund us for the first excursion and book us on a new one.