The fourth ship in Royal Caribbean's Voyager Class underwent a huge refurbishment in January 2014. The "revitalization" of Navigator of the Seas added cabins, specialty restaurants and the challenging FlowRider surf simulator to a vessel that was launched in 2002.
Navigator is large but easy to, well, navigate. The refurbishment repurposed old venues and spaces to make way for these new eateries, activities and cabins. So, nothing new was crammed into the redesign, and the ship still maintains its open and roomy feel throughout. The new carpeting and other soft furnishings simply give Navigator a fresh and clean look without changing its overall feel.
Navigator is the first Royal Caribbean ship to offer the "Virtual Balcony." Dozens of the ship's existing standard interior cabins now have floor-to-ceiling HD screens that allow passengers to get a view of the ocean without splurging for a true balcony. The high-tech system also brings in the sounds of the ocean waves to create a soothing at-sea ambience -- and provide some white noise to block out less desirable ship sounds.
Like food? Of course you do. The ship's enhancement included the additions of a fantastic Italian eatery, Giovanni's Table; a sushi and Asian fusion spot, Izumi Japanese Cuisine; and a modern Mexican restaurant, Sabor. The menu at Chops Grille also was overhauled and includes the addition of two premium (additional fee) steak selections.
The hub of the activity has always been the Royal Promenade, an open area on Deck 5 that serves as the ship's "Main Street." This is a distinctly Royal Caribbean touch and is featured on all of the ships in this class -- Voyager, Explorer, Adventure and Mariner -- and all of the newer classes. You'll find yourself gravitating to this buzzing mall-like area to stroll into the shops, bars and cafe, which serves coffee, ice cream, pastries and pizza. The Promenade also is where the captain hosts the welcome-aboard reception, and a full range of other activities, such as music, parades and parties, take place here.
There is so much to do on Navigator, you will never be bored. Try the FlowRider surf-simulator (you can boogie board or surf), climb the rock wall, strap on skates and hit the ice for an open-skate session in the ship's rink, soak in one of the six hot tubs, dance the night away at Cosmopolitan, attend an art auction, play bingo, head to the main theater for a production show or lounge poolside to view a flick on Navigator's new giant movie screen. We especially loved the production ice show in Studio B, Circus Parade on the Royal Promenade and nightly live music in Boleros.
The ship has a friendly vibe. Many passengers hail from Texas and emanate their unique brand of warm hospitality, meaning you'll be greeted with plenty of smiles and eager-to-chat tablemates for dinner. Country music predominates on the sound systems, and many of the onboard musical entertainers also specialize in country offerings. The bars and dance club were bustling, but not too crowded, on most nights during our sailing. The ship was built for fun, and it delivers.