We are a family of 5 and cruised with my husbands parents, his sisters family as well as my girlfriend. We flew from Buffalo to Orlando a few days before via Southwest and drove to Fort Lauder dale the day of the cruise. We dropped our rental car at a Budget location next to the port as they provided free shuttle service. We will not do this again as we had to wait an hour for that free shuttle. Next time we will drop at the airport and just pay for a taxi. We arrived at Port Everglades at 1pm which is much later than we usually do and there was a long line outside as we had expected due to other reviews on Terminal 29. Fortunately the line moved quickly and we were on board by 2pm.
We booked a Royal Family Suite which we have never had as its too expensive but we shared it with my sister n law and it was about the same price as us getting 2 inside rooms for our family of 5. Great deal!. The balcony is the best part and for the first time I finally ordered room service on my balcony because I could order eggs Benedict. We enjoyed the concierge each night but did not get to take full advantage of it as we were travelling with kids. We took them a few times but mostly left them in the room with my eldest. Another perk that worked for us is the private seating in Portofinos for breakfast and lunch. With a group of 14 we did not have to worry about finding seats together plus all the cutlery and drinks were there for you as well as an omelet station. We also took advantage of special seating at the pool and the shows. Our room steward was pleasant but our room was never cleaned until after 2pm which we did not like.
We have cruised with Carnival and Disney and we have done every class in the RCI fleet. We love RCI but we did not love the demographics of this ship for a family cruise. I think passengers looking to get away from the bigger family centred cruises are choosing the voyager class. There were a lot of seniors which is fine with me as most of my cruises are like that but a lot of these seniors were not happy to be in the presence of my children. I thought my children were well behaved and supervised but I received many glares everywhere we went from fellow passengers. We also met some very nice seniors as well and they had nice things to say to my kids however I was not feeling the love on this cruise and in the future I will save our family cruises for the bigger ships and save this class for our adults only cruise. The elevators were very busy on this cruise and became annoying very quickly.
The Navigator is another beautiful RCI ship. We all enjoyed the rock climbing wall, basketball court, minigolf and the inline roller blading track The shows were all pretty good and we especially loved the 2 musical comedians. My in laws "Joe and Gail" were on the Love and Marriage show which was a hit and they enjoyed the positive reaction they received throughout the rest of the cruise. Quest was really funny as usual and the ice show was spectacular. We thought that there could have been more family events like a family karaoke but most events were very late and for adults only. On Freedom and Allure they have pool volleyball which I really enjoy but they did not have on this ship. On Allure I took part in water aerobics every morning which I was also hoping to do but I think I only saw it one day and it was at a strange time. A lot of activities were at strange times that did not work for us. I am not trying to complain but I hope that RCI appreciates my suggestions.
I found the food to be great and nothing different from the usual RCI fare. We went on a Carnival cruise after we got off this one and we really enjoyed their food as well as it provided a change.
One of the favourite things about a cruise for my kids is Adventure Ocean. Not this time. I put my 12 year old in the 9-11 year old club because we were travelling with her 11 year old cousin. Due to low numbers they joined the clubs so all of their activities were done with the 6-8 years old which included my 7 year old son. The girls did not like it and did not go the rest of the week. On Day 5 we went and signed both girls up for the teen club. They liked this much better but again due to low numbers they joined them with the 15-17 year olds which they didn't like either. On our Carnival cruise the age groups were all done properly and my kids loved Camp Carnival. My kids will tell you that they loved Carnival but I did not as I despised the layout of their ships and the crowding. I will discuss more in my Carnival Valor review.
We had a very active cruise critic group on this sailing and I enjoyed meeting a few of them and joining them for quest. I would have loved to have partied more with them but hard to do with the business of our kids and our big group.
Weather was perfect on this cruise and except for the first few days the seas were calm. All of our ports were great and we all agreed ST. Kitts was our favourite but San Juan will remain one of my all time favourite ports. Labadee was also a great day and I will always look for this port on an itinerary. We collected eyeglasses to bring to Haiti. We gave them to guest services who is supposed to donate them. We talked to RCI's Haitian workers and they told us it is better to give donations to them personally as RCI's donations go to the government and the people that live on Labadee will not get them. They told us the best things we can bring them are educational materials as education is the most important thing they can get to improve life on their island
Debarkation was easy and we found a taxi quickly which took us back to budget to rent a car to take us to the next leg of our cruise in Miami.
This was another great cruise with awesome ports but as I said we will stick to the bigger ships for cruises with our kids. We also missed flowrider very much but the deal we got on the Royal Family Suite was too good to pass up!