Navigator of the Seas Entertainment
There are options galore: Broadway-style productions, like Now & Forever featuring the 14 Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers performing music from such shows as Dreamgirls, The Producers, Mamma Mia and Fosse, as well as variety shows are presented in the 1,350-seat, Art Deco-style Metropolis Theater. This show lounge is elegant with such Art Deco touches as stylized, elongated female figures on the curtain, typical wall sconces and skyscrapers in a sunburst pattern on the ceiling.
One of the most unique features at sea -- and found on all the Voyager class ships -- is the ice rink in Studio B; typically there's at least one performance if not more on every cruise. It received a standing ovation during our sailing.
There is piano music in the signature, nautical themed Schooner Bar, and Latin jazz with a side of "mojitos" and other popular Latin drinks beckon in Boleros. The Ixtapa Lounge has karaoke and themed night parties. Smokers will enjoy the Connoisseur Club, a cigar lounge housed within the Ixtapa Lounge. You can sample a pint or two at Two Poets Pub within sight of portraits of such luminaries as Dickens and Thackeray. Or sip bubbly at the Champagne Bar. There is smooth live jazz at the Cosmopolitan Club in the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14. Sports fans can head for 19th hole, the sports bar. Not tired yet? Well, a popular late nightspot is The Dungeon, the two-story disco with a decor evocative of Medieval Europe.
Navigator of the Seas Public Rooms
An $8.5 million art collection graces the ship -- with a mind boggling 2,213 art pieces in the public spaces. The Royal Promenade, in essence a seabound mall, is the heart of the ship. It's four decks tall, longer than a football field and anchored at each end by atriums. Anchored by shops, bars and casual eateries, on special nights, the Royal Promenade comes alive with street entertainment such as jugglers, magicians and mimes and at 12:30 a.m. -- at least once on every voyage -- it sets the scene for a fun Mardi Gras parade with music from various parts of the world. Monumental sculptures adorn each atrium, including our favorite work of art onboard, Aquaria, by American sculptor Larry Kirkland.
This spectacular sculpture that spans the 11 levels of the Centrum atrium, has 6,000 shimmering, hand-gilded spheres inspired by the bubbles produced by scuba divers. An assortment of lounges range from intimate enclaves like the Champagne Bar to Vintages (a wine bar in association with Robert Mondavi and Beringer Blass Wine Estates with wine appreciation programs for both novices and aficionados), and the Two Poets Pub.
Other public spaces include an ocean-view, intimate wedding chapel for 60 guests on Deck 15, the Vegas-style Casino Royale (with a New Orleans theme here) featuring nearly 300 slots, eight blackjack tables, three Caribbean Stud Poker tables, three roulette wheels and a craps table. There's also a library, a cyber lounge with 19 computer stations: royalcaribbeanonline -charge is 50 cents per minute (and a flat surcharge of $4.95 per transmission to send a video postcard). Like on all Royal Caribbean ships, there is no self-service launderette, so pack accordingly.
Navigator of the Seas Spa & Fitness
One of our favorite areas on board was the Solarium, a pleasant, adults-only enclave themed to Tuscany. It features a pool, fountain, two Jacuzzis, bar and lots of chaise lounges facing the sea, along with greenery, bronze horses, and murals inspired in the Tuscan countryside of Italy. The ship's main pool area features two adjacent pools, four whirlpools and stadium lounge seating. One interesting note: One of the pools and a whirlpool have hydraulic lifts for the disabled.
The fitness center on Deck 11 sports a mirrored, oceanview aerobics area with spinning bikes and free weights (some classes, like spinning and yoga, charge a $10 fee); oceanview gym with 20 Lifefitness treadmills, 14 Lifefitness elliptical cross trainers, six recumbent bicycles, four stationary bicycles, Lifefitness weight machines and steppers, and additional free weights; and a round thalassotherapy pool. A stereo system and television monitors provide entertainment while you work out. The facility features men's and women's locker rooms with a steam room and a sauna.
The ShipShape Spa, one deck above, is a serene oasis with an oceanview beauty salon, 14 massage rooms, one dry floatation room, and a relaxation area with sea views. The spa and beauty salon, operated by the ubiquitous Steiner Leisure, Ltd., offered an excellent range of treatments (massages, facials, Ionithermie Algae Detox). There's even a Rasul room, a private steam and shower room, which couples can book to spend an hour slathering each other in exfoliating lotion, mud masks and moisturizers, while steaming their pores open. Service in the spa was outstanding -- and the quality of the treatments themselves was very high.
A couple of caveats: The prices for treatments have risen to breathtaking levels, with a basic 50-minute massage now costing $120 or more. (The industry average is $99.) A manicure is $45; a pedicure is $65. The spa did offer "discounts" on port-of-call days (and as the cruise wound down), but that just brought the prices down to industry-normal levels. In addition, treatment employees will engage, way too aggressively, in the much-loathed "Steiner Product Pitch" at the end of your appointment. The products are also over-priced. Just say no.
Other fitness and recreational facilities include a jogging track (five times around equals one mile); an outdoor sports deck complete with mini-golf and golf simulator; a full-length sports court for basketball, paddle ball or volleyball; a curvy in-line skating track; and of course, the awesome Rock-Climbing wall -- 200 feet above the sea. Are you game? If not, it's fun just to watch! The ship also offers a handful of ice-skating opportunities on sea days at Studio B.