This was our 4th cruise, but the first on Royal Caribbean. We went with some family who wanted to go on a spring break cruise with the kids. This was their first cruise. The itinerary was Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel. I won't go much into the ports because I really think that is individual by choice, and we had been to everyone but Falmouth before (we had been to Montego Bay), and we stayed on the boat in the Caymans because it was crowded and we just wanted to lay by the pool. Our favorite cruise days are sea days and port days we don't get off, but that is just us.
One other note- We understand that as part of the dry dock, a number of cabins were added increasing the capacity by about 150-200 people. The cruise we were on had 3,825 passengers, a record for Navigator. For the most part it didn't feel crowded walking around, but it was hard to get seats for some shows and the dining room felt crowded (they had to push chairs against walls to make enough tables to feed everyone). Getting a seat at the Windjammer for lunch on a sea day was tough. And the elevators were slow during peak transition hours.
Embarkation - Was a disaster. I blame this more on the Port of Galveston then on Royal Caribbean, but at the end its Royal Caribbean's responsibility to work with the port. I understand the port is spending $10 mil to renovate the terminal that Navigator uses, but it was just a mess. The ship was 2 hours late getting in due to fog, and Royal Caribbean called and texted everyone to show up at 1-3 p.m. instead of 11-1. When we arrived at 1:30 p.m. the traffic was a nightmare. It took us 40 minutes to get into the port complex itself to be dropped off. Then when we got our bags to a porter, their was single set of glass doors entering the terminal with about 1,000 people trying to cram through. The port officials limited the number of people going in to avoid a fire hazard, but there was NO organization in creating a line to get in. It was simply a horde trying to crash the doors that took almost an hour. Once we got in, it was a breeze and we were on the ship in 20 minutes.
Ship - Is nicely redone and looks fresh. The nicest ship we have been on, its open and easy to get around. It didn't feel as crowded as it was, except as noted above. The pool deck is nicely laid out and the TV over the pool had the NCAA tournament on almost the entire time Thurs-Sun so we sat in the pool and watched the games.
Cabin - Was the nicest we have had. We had an aft, port balcony on Deck 9. It was mostly quiet, was spacious and had plenty of storage. The bed was okay but not great. Our Cabin Steward (Iketut) was awesome, he honored all our requests without question. He introduced himself on night 1 and made sure we were always happy. He was not intrusive at all. He got the biggest tip of any Steward we ever had on any cruise on any line.
Food - The main dining room was very inconsistent. Nothing was inedible, but very little stood out. The choices were more limited then any other cruise we had been on. Some dishes were quite good, but others were bland and lacked flavor. We did my time dining because we were traveling with family and kids, but I understand this was true of all the dining service. The Windjammer was actually better than the main dining room at times. They had an Indian section on the buffet each day that was very good. We ate more lunches and meals in general at the buffet then we have on any other cruise. We also ate at the steakhouse twice - it was excellent and our server Amanda was great, but I felt like I had to pay $30/pp to get the quality of food that I should have gotten in the main dining room and have gotten on other cruises.
Service - Was all over the place. Our dining servers was generally great as was our stateroom steward and the bar folks at the pub. But getting a drink at the pool, even when it wasn't crowded, took effort. One afternoon as we were leaving port, there was a single bartender and one attendant at the main pool bar. It took 20 minutes to get a drink. That's not acceptable. Period.
Entertainment - The main shows were at 6:30 and 8 which is the first time we ever seen that (usually 8 and 10). Since we tended to eat around 7:30-8 this didn't work for us at all. There was one late show on night 1 that we went to that good (the comedian was very good), and we sucked it up and went to one of the 6:30 ice shows which was well done. Other than that, the timing was awful for us.
Disembarkation - This was hard to rate. Through no fault of RCL, the Port of Galveston was closed on Sunday when we were scheduled to arrive back because of a shipwreck and oil spill at the entrance to the main channel to Houston. The Captain warned us on Saturday night we would be slightly late on Sunday morning due to fog. When we got to the 12 nm anchorage where we load a port pilot, we were ordered to stop. About 8:00 am the Captain came on and explained the Coast Guard had closed the port and suspended all ship traffic from the Gulf. Carnival Magic was stopped next to us and affected as well. He made hourly updates and about 10 am the Cruise Director told us they had plenty of extra food and to treat it as an extra free sea day. They opened most of the ship, and reopened the buffet for lunch from 12-3, as well as making food available at the cafe on Deck 5. They continued to sell alcohol and to try and make it seem like a regular cruise day. About 2:30, the Captain told us that the Coast Guard was going to try and get us moving into port about 4 p.m., but it would take about 2 hours because they were going to have to escort us into port very slowly. We started moving about 4:30 and we tied up about 6:30. They started offloading us about 7 p.m. and we were off about 7:30 and through customs by 8. The process seemed pretty orderly (we heard from some Carnival passengers their disembarkation was terrible and they didn't get through customs until almost midnight). I thought the staff and RCL did a pretty good job of handling the situation since it was completely out of their control.
All in all it was a good cruise, but not great. I would probably try something else next time or go back to Carnival, with whom we have had always had a great time.