Navigating with Navigator of the Seas and Royal Caribbean
We chose this cruise primarily based on the fact we would be traveling from Canada and were looking for a nonstop flight to the port. Galveston is only a relatively short drive from Houston Bush International airport so this worked. (Nonstop flight where less chance of weather delay in Dec. was a priority for us). Galveston itself is not a place to spend more than one night in though we had extended the trip for a longer holiday. Stay near the port to make sure restaurants are near by.
The ship itself is very nice, and the service aboard the boat met our expectations of Royal Carribean who we had traveled with before. No issues with service at all. My only disappointments were the dining room meals seemed less gourmet than our previous cruise and more tailored to a north american palate. We were advised that a seafood soup was spicy - but it was not spicy at all. Main courses and even appetizers were stuff you might cook at home, when I travel I am looking for meal options I don't prepare myself. We were initially seated at a table for 4 by ourselves. We did ask to move to a bigger table so we might meet other diners and this was accommodated. I wish the organizers at Royal Carribean made a better effort to place families with other families at meal time. The entertainment was not much to speak of. Silly comics, jazz dancers pretending to do latin dancing etc. I expected better given that inclusive resorts I have stayed at have better entertainment. The teen club was overrun as it was Christmas so difficult to meet the same kids each time but this was minor. It's more of a place to hang out in and not much activities that are actually carried out. The schedule of events for the teens is just a way to get them together.
The ports visited were Falmouth, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Having been to there places before we chose excursions to suit our needs. The Bamboo Beach Club and Dunns River Falls was a hit and miss. The Falls is worth doing if you have never done it before but be sure to bring water shoes as you are in waist deep water at times. Also, it is very crowded. The Bamboo Beach Club was a real disappointment. Hardly a club and hardly a beach. In fact the beach was so narrow to get the sun you had to pull your beach chair into the water as the shade from the trees blocked the sun on the little beach area. And the so called local cultural entertainment was 3 guys in shorts dancing to music plus the recruitment of passengers to model beach clothes they were hoping to sell. And don't expect the tapas lunch to be a meal or be served hot. In fact it comes in dribbles (Jamaica time) and is mostly vegetables. Would not call this a beach club at all. While Grand Cayman has lots to offer it is pricey and Cozumel has plenty of options and will be a treat. The excursion we took in Grand Cayman included a trip to Sting Ray City where you stand in waist deep water while the sting rays swim around you. This can be fun and much of the time the tour operator is conducting a photo op for each person. (You can purchase the digital pics and he emails them to you-ours arrived before we got home). Unfortunately the Barrier Reef snorkling got cancelled due to wind conditions. If snorkling is a must for you I suggest booking it in Cozumel as we missed out because we had it scheduled in Grand Cayman and then it got cancelled. Cozumel Beach Club at Playa Mia was excellent. Really nice beach, alcoholic drinks included, and lunch was served buffet style in a huge open building. (Good for rain coverage when it suddenly showers). Tour operator was well organized and no delay in getting to the beach. I appreciated that this ship's crew did not push their photographers on you at every opportunity. They were there to capture moments but didn't intrude or be pushy. Sailing in Dec. you are not guaranteed sunshine and the first 2 days at sea offered only one day of rays so be prepared to rest and relax but not necessarily come back tanned at this time of year. A good option for a family Christmas getaway but not necessarily a great getaway to see the islands. It's a large ship with lots of activities if you like to take part. Royal Carribean does a nice job with the personal service and if the itinerary was right I would probably look at booking them again.