This was my first longer cruise, going from and to places I'd never been before, on a ship the size of which I had never been on before. My first sight of Navigator of the Seas..."holy cr**!" Big was understating it - it was HUGE!!!
Travelling with mobility issues makes it harder these days, but not with this cruise! From the moment we entered the cruise terminal in New Orleans, the staff of Royal Caribbean couldn't have been more friendly and helpful. Wheelchair provision was great, accessibility was really good and there was no problem getting from the gangplank to my room. I had preorganized a rental scooter that was waiting for me and I had booked a disabled room for the first time.
I was very impressed. Previous experience on cruises left me with cracked skulls and bruises from falling out of standard bathrooms into wardrobe doors, slipping out of the shower into mirrors and, most embarrassing of all, not being able to make it to the loo on time because of having to manoeuver up the step. Not on this cruise!!! The bathroom being on one level, no shower lip to trip over and being able to take my wheelchair in there...I was in paradise!!!
For the first time, I was able to find something to do pretty much each day. Not being a drinker or a gambler, not being a sun worshipper and not being able to participate in more physical endeavours, it is sometimes a challenge...not on this cruise. There were the standard jewellery making classes and scrapbooking classes, but what made this more fun for ME were the extra craft classes provided by the amazing Connie and the always entertaining Crafty Dude (Tony, her helpful hubby). They gave me something to get up each morning for, something new to learn and taught me skills I can take home with me. Way to go, Connie!!!
As someone who always declares "I have no great skill in anything", well, I can't say that anymore. RC laid on the music trivia, a different one each day. I found my niche, to the point I even gained a Trivia Posse and was actually in great demand to join other teams. I have never been one to win anything, yet I managed to complete the set of prizes at trivia!!! Yay me!!! Shout out to TT, Roberto and Alina from the Cruise Director's staff...they made everything even more fun, I wanted to take them home with me!
Were there any disappointments? Well, yes. Dinner at 5.30pm was a bit rough, as I found that if I ate breakfast I didn't want lunch and if I had lunch I was not hungry at dinnertime. I did find, however, that I was at a table with six great tablemates! I even made a great friendship with two of them (we have plans to cruise again together!), something I have never done on any other cruise! The food? Not so great. Plenty of it, but with having food restrictions, it was sometimes just too hard to find something that could be modified for me (thank heavens for the windjammer!). I was very disappointed that there were no themed dinner nights...apparently discontinued. Well, Royal Caribbean, in this cruiser's opinion...BRING THEM BACK!!!!
The night time shows were disappointing. Too many "guest artistes". I like the Broadway style shows and enjoyed the two they put on. The ice show was fun, especially as they kept falling over (ok, the ship was rocking!)...they had great skill and did a fantastic job for being on a moving boat. Cudos to the ice cast.
I didn't book too many tours for port days, only in Livorno as I wanted to see the Leaning Tower (no, I didn't do it, I promise!). They tried their best, were very accommodating, but with the weather having closed in, I got to see the Tower so was happy with that. Being able to take my scooter off the boat in both Porta Delgado and Toulon, I was able to explore on my own which gave me not just a sense of independance but a feeling of satisfaction.
All in all, the best cruise I have ever been on. It has made me want to try longer cruises and I am considering consecutive back to back cruises next year. This was one cruise I will NEVER regret taking...