Where to begin! First, we are experienced cruisers, and have sailed with several different cruise lines. Eleven months earlier we took the same Caribbean cruise, on Royal Caribbean, but that trip was on the Mariner of the Seas. The first thing we learned on this trip (on the Navigator) is that Royal Caribbean’s quality standards vary greatly from ship to ship. There was little comparison between the two cruises. Apparently Captain Flemming Neilsen of the Mariner ran a tight ship. Captain Claus Andersen of the Navigator does not.
The Navigator of the Seas came up short in every category except food, where we have to give an edge to the Navigator. The crew of the Navigator seems to have a large concentration of Eastern Europeans. We found many to be disinterested and distracted at best, surly and distracted at worst. Our cabin attendant’s level of cleaning was far below standard. We had to go around behind him every day. The windows and railing were never washed. Stains on tables remained for days, until we cleaned them. In practically every respect we were extremely disappointed in the service level.
As I said earlier, the food was better. The selection and quality in the Windjammer was a marked improvement over the Mariner. Otherwise, the Navigator fell on its face in every respect. We never saw the captain. On the Mariner he was visible every day, and often. It is true that you get what you measure, and if you are not watching your staff will spend their time watching the young girls and not working. That is what we observed. The entertainment was a mixed bag. The ice show, which was exceptional on the Mariner, was amateurish and monotonous on the Navigator. True enough, it was their first show but it lacked refinement. The guest group The Drifters was spectacular, but the Russian gymnasts (or whatever they were supposed to be) put on a brief display of physical prowess, done to painful choreography and sophomoric graphics.
We also noticed that the demographic that Royal Caribbean is catering to on this cruise route has shifted. It now appears that the 50 plus gang has been tossed under the bus in favor of the 20-40 year old gang. Most “entertainment” and onboard antics catered to that segment. It seemed more like a Carnival cruise line trip, catering to the drinking and partying set. Johnny Rockets Diner, which we used to love, appeared to be a hangout for off duty Eastern European gangsters, with some sort of rap, Euro, techno and hip hop music replacing classic rock and roll.
In spite of what we would call a disappointing experience my instincts tell me to lay most of it at the feet of Captain Claus Andersen, who obviously has little interest in managing the crew under his command. We are sticking with Royal Caribbean for now, betting that Captain Flemming Neilsen of the Mariner of the Seas is more representative of the line than Captain Andersen. Our next cruise is booked on the Rhapsody of the Seas, in May 2014. Will see how that goes. I am expecting to have a great experience!