8 Barcelona Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews

My wife and I took the RCCL Navigator on the 14-day Transatlantic back from the Mediterranean to New Orleans. A couple of weeks earlier, we had cruised the Norwegian Spirit on a Grand Mediterranean circuit (reviewed separately on Cruise ... Read More
My wife and I took the RCCL Navigator on the 14-day Transatlantic back from the Mediterranean to New Orleans. A couple of weeks earlier, we had cruised the Norwegian Spirit on a Grand Mediterranean circuit (reviewed separately on Cruise Critic). So my evaluation of the Navigator below contains several comparisons to our Norwegian Spirit trip (generally, we thought our experience on the Spirit was superior to our experience on the Navigator). The embarkation experience on to the Navigator was fine. We have learned to arrive for our cruise vacations later rather than earlier, and so after we got to the Barcelona cruise terminal at 2 PM it only took us half an hour to get on board the ship. Our interior cabin, 8183, was fine (as discussed below). Food is an important part of a cruise vacation, particularly when you have a lot of sea days as we did on the Navigator Transatlantic. Unfortunately, our food and beverage experience on the Navigator started out poorly and did not improve much. A rather long discussion of the food follows. We had a traditional dinner seating arrangement, and we and most of our six tablemates had problems with our food on the first night. The woman to our left ordered the sea bass, and did not like the way it was cooked. Myself, the fellow across from me, and the woman to his left all ordered the prime rib. Their two orders were not delivered up cooked as they had requested, and so they switched orders, but were still not happy -- the man said the meat had "no flavor" (and I concurred with this). Several persons at the table ordered the sweet and sour shrimp soup, and then joked that there was no discernible shrimp in their bowls. My wife had the spaghetti, and said that was OK. But I am thinking, is spaghetti the best they can do for dinner?? At breakfast the next morning, I did not see much on the Navigator that looked appetizing. I like hot food for breakfast if I can get it. The scrambled eggs did not look good, little clumps of egg, so I skipped those. I like biscuits and sausage gravy, so I tried that. The biscuits were doughy, not flaky. The gravy was thin, and the the meat consisted of a few sausage links that had been hastily (and sloppily) sliced into the gravy. Good sausage gravy (like I had on the Norwegian Spirit cruise just a couple of weeks previous) is thick and well seasoned and the sausage is well crumbled and mixed into the gravy. I also like Oatmeal, but the Navigator's oatmeal was thin and watery, again, unlike the Norwegian Spirit Oatmeal which was nice and thick. Our dining experience the rest of our Navigator trip was hit and miss, with a few more misses than hits. I tried the top sirlion (the steak option available every night), but it was dry and chewey, again, unlike the Spirit, where the steak option they made available every evening was tender and flavorful. Another example was a lobster bisque on the Navigator that was thin and tasteless. And those dishes that were "hits" were not really outstanding, just decent. Example: The escargot. I love escargot, but the Navigator's escargot -- served only one night -- was not superior (unlike what we had on the Spirit) -- it was just, say, a cut above ordinary. We like curry and other Indian food, and the buffet at the Navigator had some of that every day. Again, though, it was not as good as on the Spirit. Also, the Navigator put out some Indian bread (i.e., crispy Papadum) on only one day of the cruise, unlike the Spirit, which put out both Naan and Papadum EVERY day on the buffet. Interestingly, the Navigator's buffet had good potatoes: The fries were usually hot; the breakfast hash browns (think McDonalds style) were usually hot and crispy; and the mashed potatoes were creamy and made from scratch. I had the mashed potatoes at almost every lunch. But do you see a pattern here (good spaghetti and good potatoes??). The desserts on the Navigator were also hit and miss -- usually there were one or two a night that were pretty good, but figuring out which ones were going to be good in advance was difficult. And some of the desserts were inexplicably bad -- like the tiramasu on Italian Night by the Navigator's Italian head chef. The tiramasu tasted like it was made with gelatin. Uch, no one at the table could eat it. My wife said I should also say something about the layout of the Windjammer (the Navigator's buffet). The Windjammer almost always had a crowded feel, like you had to weave back and forth to avoid bumping into someone when stalking your food or looking for a table. In comparison, we never had this "crowded" feeling when dining in the Spirit's buffet. Also, while the Navigator's buffet seating area was almost entirely inside, the Spirit buffet seating was a 50/50 split of inside and covered outside (with views off the stern), and that was nice, because we like to eat outside. Of course, the Navigator does have two specialty restaurants, the Portofino (Italian at $20 cover per person) and Choppes Grill (Steak at $30 cover per person). These prices were higher than the corresponding Italian and Steak specialty restaurants on the Spirit ($10 and $25, respectively). We did not try the Choppes Grill, but did eat at the Portofino in conjunction with a Mystery Dinner theatre presentation (discussed below). The Portofino food was nice: good starters, and some tasty and tender beef. The Navigator also what I call a "half" specialty restaurant -- a diner called Johnny Rockets. I say "half" because the diner serves basic food -- hamburgers, hot dogs, onion rings, and fries, all for a relatively small charge ($5 per person, beverages extra). The hamburgers and hot dogs at Rockets were fresh, hot, and tasty -- and we paid the extra money and ate lunch at Rockets often. Unfortunately, that also tells you a lot about what we thought of the "free" lunch food in the buffet. Anyways, enough discussion of the food!! Unfortunately, there were some other less than satisfactory aspects of our Transatlantic on the Navigator. For example, we found the Navigator's alcohol policies to be irritating, both with regard to alcohol brought on the ship and alcohol sold on the ship. First, Navigator appears to have a strict policy against bringing any alcohol onto the ship and into your cabin, either at embarkation or at any port stop. I say "appears," because we heard from some fellow passengers that they were able to sneek alcohol on board, while other passengers said they tried but were caught and their liquor confiscated until the end of the voyage. We asked our headwaiter about bringing wine from off the ship and into your cabin, and she said that you could bring a couple of wine bottles into your cabin, but that the Navigator would charge you a $25 corkage fee at the time you brought it on to the ship regardless of whether you drank it in your cabin or in the restaurant. This Navigator policy about bringing alcohol from off the ship compares unfavorably with the Norwegian policy. For example, we bought four bottles of wine in the duty free shop in Barcelona before we boarded the Norwegian Spirit, and Norwegian let us bring the bottles on board and into our cabin free of charge, and charged us a $15 corkage fee only if we brought our wine into the dining room. Second, we also found that Navigator's wine prices were higher than Norwegian's, including: 1) when purchased as part of a wine package, 2) when purchased by the individual bottle, and 3) when purchased by the glass. We also found that individual mixed drinks (e.g, rum and coke) were slightly higher on the Navigator than on the Norwegian ship. We like to have a couple of mixed drinks before dinner, and the Norwegian Spirit had a nice 2 for 1 special during happy hour in Henry's Pub, but the Navigator had no nice drink specials like this. Our mixed drinks on the Navigator also seemed to be watered down a bit. The end result was that we bought less alcohol, but at a higher total price, aboard the Navigator than aboard the Spirit. And, at least in my mind, this affects how much you enjoy your cruise. The Navigator did offer a periodic "fill the bag" laundry special, like on the Spirit. My wife really likes these specials. For $25, they will do all the laundry in the bag for you. Interestingly, the Navigator had limits on what type of clothing you could put in the bag, only permitting underclothes, socks, T-shirts, and swimwear. The Spirit had no such limits. Again, the kudos got the Spirit over the Navigator. And at the end of our cruise disembarkation in New Orleans was irritating -- extremely slow, with a lot of standing in line. We were supposed to get off the ship at 7:30 AM, but stood in line on the ship for awhile, then got off at about 9 AM, stood in line some more, and finally cleared customs at about 10:05 AM. The customer service reps went around saying they were short of customs agents, and that they were trying to hunt down more customs agents, but I think this should have been better coordinated in advance by Royal Caribbean with the US Customs Service. In any event, we have only had two bad disembarkation experiences on our six cruises -- but both were on our Royal Caribbean cruises. Not good, not good for Royal Caribbean. OK, yes, I can say some good things about our cruise and the Navigator. Our inside cabin was nice: pleasantly decorated, well-maintained, and fairly roomy as these cabins go. The shower had good hot water and good water pressure. The hair drier worked very well. The soundproofing was very good -- we heard almost no noises from adjoining cabins or the hallway. The crew of the Navigator was generally pleasant and helpful, including our room steward and our dining wait staff. I know the staff works hard, and we appreciated it -- and we tipped all of our waiters at above the recommended amount. The port calls, although limited, were all nice, particularly on the European side (Tenerife, Malaga, and Cartegena). All three towns are excellent walking towns, and the ship docks fairly close to the town in each of them. We did the hop-on hop-off bus in Tenerife, and I would recommend it. It was always pretty easy to find a comfortable chair to sit in somewhere -- The Navigator has a lot of chairs, and I think more of the comfy type chairs than the Norwegian Spirit did. I like to play Poker, and poker on the Navigator was a rip-off, but not quite the rip-off that it was on the Norwegian Spirit (i.e., the Navigator limited the 10% house rake to a maximum of $15 a hand, unlike the $25 max per hand on the Spirit). The Navigator did have some enrichment classes, more than the Spirit did, but I found the woman who gave the enrichment presentations on the Navigator to be repetitive and dull. As for the evening entertainment, we have been on enough cruise ships now to get kind of blase about the performances -- there is usually very little that you can remember a few days afterwards. On the plus side, we found the Ice Dancing show on the Navigator to be very well choreographed and very entertaining. The acting for the Mystery Dinner theatre was amateurish, but the overall production was fun -- and its fun was enhanced by the fact that unlimited wine was included in the base price ($49 per person if purchased in advance). On the down side, we occasionally like to see a movie. Other cruise lines show movies in a large theatre, or sometimes at night under the stars. Not the Navigator. Instead, they have a tiny "screening room," which filled up quickly the two times we went. Also, the movie selection in your cabin was very limited, unless you wanted to do "pay per view" at $12 (or more) a pop. In sum, it is hard to give the Navigator a glowing recommendation. In fairness, I have to note that our cruise fare was very cheap -- less than $50 per person per day. It seems obvious, then, that Royal Caribbean is trying to make up for that cheap fare by reducing costs (e.g., for food) and upcharging for certain extras (e.g., alcohol). If you are looking for inexpensive travel, and are willing to sacrifice on the quality of food and perhaps also on your alcohol consumption, you might find this sort of transatlantic cruise acceptable. In the future, though, we will look to cruise with another line (like Norwegian), even if we have to pay more cruise fare in dollars per day. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
We began our holiday with 24hrs in Barcelona, which is a favourite city of mine.....Stayed at the Hotel Jazz which has a great location, few minutes walk from Catalunya Square with all its transport links...The fountains of Montjuic with ... Read More
We began our holiday with 24hrs in Barcelona, which is a favourite city of mine.....Stayed at the Hotel Jazz which has a great location, few minutes walk from Catalunya Square with all its transport links...The fountains of Montjuic with their light and music show (from 9.00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) were fantantastic and the next morning we used the funicular and cable car to get back to Montjuic for panoramic views of the city, and to check that the Navigator was waiting for us. We taxied from hotel to port at 2.30, and only had a short wait before checking in and boarding....We had booked quite late and all the outside cabins had been taken, so had chosen one which overlooked the Royal Parade....It was OK, but I did miss natural light, and forgot a few times to pull the curtains when getting changed, so potentially scared other passengers. I am not keen on dining particually early or late, so opted for My Time Dining, which was being trialled on the Navigatior.  Clearly the staff were struggling a bit with the technology (handy backup of pencil with very large rubber attached to it by a rubber band) but having said that we would like to eat at 8.00 with others, it was a great success, and as the main show was at 9.45, we were always able to catch that too...The food was OK, I had been on the Azamara earlier in the year, where the food had been exceptional, and I guess it is a little unfair to compare the two, although the total cost for the Azamara was only slightly more then the Navigator. Good to have a choice of Bars...although what has happened to the pre dinner nibbles?...do RCI not realise that nuts and crisps encourage their customers to drink more??? Managed to miss the better shows (Beatles and pseudo Elton John) and managed to sit through a dreadful Magic act (I think he thought he was a comedian...) and a Broadway show with songs I had not heard before. Good crowd around the Poker table (although it would have been so much better had it been non-smoking all the time rather then just sea days) and good to have a proper dealer unlike the video machine on Azamara. Spa OK - thought treatments had increased in price considerably, didn't seem very busy, so perhaps a correlation there. Biggest whinge - disembarcation - We had planned to get port shuttle, then catch train into Rome...however the queue for the shuttle was enormous, and only seemingly served by 2 busses...Waited for 30 minutes without moving, then found a bus going to central Rome so paid 50 Euros each for the trip.....there was meant to be a RCI rep at the stop to help passengers with onward transportation...didn't see anyone.  As Civatecchia is home port for RCI they really do need to use more influence to ensure smoother transportation. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We decided to splash out on an Owner's Suite for this crossing and paid a significant premium for the privilege. Perhaps I should say up front that we had a really good time aboard Navigator, despite the somewhat critical comments ... Read More
We decided to splash out on an Owner's Suite for this crossing and paid a significant premium for the privilege. Perhaps I should say up front that we had a really good time aboard Navigator, despite the somewhat critical comments that will follow! For us, the lesson was that if one wants a cruising experience commensurate with an investment of some $6000, then Navigator (and RCI) is not the appropriate choice. For a fraction of what we paid, we could have had just as good a time in comfortable balcony accommodations. Check in was effortless, and very efficient. We were very impressed that RCI was able to process almost 3000 passengers without long delays. Arriving on board, there was no assistance offered in finding our suite; neither were any welcome drinks offered. The ship is beautiful, and well maintained. Despite its size, it is easy to "navigate" one's way around without getting lost. Our suite, the Fiji Suite, was nicely appointed, and really spacious. There is enough closet and packing space for a household! The bathroom was stocked with premium toiletries, and a bowl of fresh fruit was awaiting us on the dining table. A bottle of complimentary mineral water was placed on the bar counter. Neither the fruit nor the water were replaced during the duration of the 12 day cruise, and on one afternoon, we received a cheese plate that was available from the room service menu. We received an access card for the small concierge lounge on Deck 9, and an invitation to the daily complimentary cocktails and snacks in the Ixtapa Lounge on Deck 5. This was the sum total of the privileges we received for booking an Owner's Suite. Our greatest disappointment was the level of indifference with which we were treated. We most certainly did not wish to be fawned upon, but some personal interaction with senior crew members would have been welcome. The "concierge service" throughout the cruise was lacking. One one occasion, we entertained guests in our suite, and asked the concierge to arrange some snacks (from the complimentary room service menu). We were informed that this would cost $350, despite the fact that we ordered wine and drinks from the ship's bar! Eventually we called room service ourselves, and our order was delivered at no charge! The concierge, Xavier, seemed disinterested and not inclined to make any effort - maybe fatigue from a season of cruising in the Mediterranean. Food...The food was of a reasonable standard (but not remarkable), in both the Windjammer Cafe and the dining room. We never had difficulty finding a table in the Windjammer during breakfast and lunch. The lunchtime menu and made-to-order salads in the dining room were excellent - perhaps the best meals we had on board. Dinner menus were somewhat repetitive in the dining room, but the food was palatable. Our waiter and assistant waiter (Glennifer and Serdar) were excellent,and were willing to go to great lengths to please. The Head Waiter, Ashton, was also wonderful. Standards have slipped, though - but quite understandable given the massive global food price increases over recent times. Getting tea and coffee outside Windjammer opening hours was a challenge and an irritation - getting early morning coffee meant a trek to Deck 5 (if we did not make our own in the suite). The star of our cruise was the bar waiter in the Ixtapa Lounge, Mark Lyttleton, who is a shining example of outstanding service. Activities and entertainment...We saw all three production shows, which were good. The highlight, though, was the special performance of "Ice Dancin'", the ice show, for Platinum and Diamond Crown & Anchor members. Wow! It was great. We enjoyed the gym facilities. Other activities were quite low-key, and influenced by the awful weather conditions across the Atlantic. (For "operational reasons" RCI decided to change our route from what was originally advertised when we booked, and the more northerly route resulted in a cold and windy crossing). We found the Cruise Director and his Assistant to be rather indifferent, and the daily video clips advertising activities on board to be reminiscent of a Butlins Holiday Camp (UK members will know what I mean). The activities staff didn't show much initiative or innovation in tailoring activities in the light of the bad weather. On a positive note, The ship's master, Captain Bang, was visible around the ship throughout the crossing (including in the gym), and communicated regularly. It would have been good if his officers had followed his example. During the cruise, it transpired that our rather bumpy ride was exacerbated by the fact that one of the two stabilizer sets on the ship was out of action. The motion caused one of the large closet doors in our suite to come off its hinges, and we were kept awake on several nights with drawers banging. In conclusion: we had a very enjoyable 12 days, but mainly due to the company of great people, and the hard work of a few outstanding crew members. It was most certainly not value for money, and although I steadfastly refrain from making comparisons with other cruise lines, RCI's premium category services are very poor indeed, by any standards. It lacks finesse and attention to detail, despite pricing that compares with premium cruise lines. Maybe a mid-priced balcony cabin in future, but never again a suite! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
We flew from Ireland into Barcelona the night before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacette a hotel frequented by many cruisers. I would recommend this hotel. We had a family of 4 (2 children) and there are not many ... Read More
We flew from Ireland into Barcelona the night before the cruise and stayed at the Hotel Continental Palacette a hotel frequented by many cruisers. I would recommend this hotel. We had a family of 4 (2 children) and there are not many hotels which can accommodate 4 in a room. Now it was a tight fit, but it was fine. An added bonus was meeting a fellow cruiser the night before and then bumping into them over the next 11 days. Our only RCI experience had been the previous Nov. on Brilliance of the Seas in the med. So i was really looking forward to experiencing the bigger ship the Navigator. We arrived that the port at 11.30am, checked in quickly and had about a 20 minute wait till we could board at 12pm. Our room a GS was the same as on Brilliance however it was larger. We had a camp bed for our second son and on the Brilliance he slept in the bar area...a tight fit. In the Navigator cabin 1278 there was enough room for him to sleep next to the sofa bed. It really was a nice space for a family of 4. As we walked to our cabin our cabin attendant from Brilliance last year, Josephine called out to us. We were delighted to see her as she was brilliant. Unfortunately we missed having her by only a few cabins and instead our attendant this time was not particularly friendly, only called us by our names on the last day, left someone else's excursion tickets in our room, left the compass in spanish instead of english, and a few other things of this nature which while aren't bad, i expect more when i am paying a lot of money for a suite. We noticed on the whole that the service was no where near as good on the Navigator. The welcomes weren't as friendly, and we were unlucky again in having a waiter who really had no personality and the assistant had to be called over by us whenever we wanted bread or water.........something that i have been assured by many people you just shouldn't have to do. so after 3 nights in the dining room we tried the windjammer for Formal night (we don't dress up). we found the service if not the food so much better in the windjammer that we didn't return to the dining room for the rest of the cruise. the staff there were so attentive i was really surprised. I do have a few complaints about the windjammer at breakfast and lunch, just in terms of the space and how difficult it was to find a seat at times something i never experienced on the Brilliance. As for room service, it seems the menu is different on Navigator? I recall on Brilliance being able to get anything that was being served in the dining room. On Navigator it was cheese plate, fruit plate and hot dog and hamburger. Now i could be wrong and maybe you could still ask for meals but it didn't say it on the menu. a huge disappointment. On the whole the food was really only just average for me. I didn't see many shows on the Navigator however i did see both ice shows. I thoroughly enjoyed them though i was surprised how many times a few of the skaters fell. however, it was enjoyable and i would recommend them to anyone. My boys loved Adventure Ocean. Despite being mid term break there were not that many kids on board so the age groups 6 - 8 and 9 - 11 were combined. this was great as i have a 6 & 9 yr old and they enjoyed being together. they made great friends however the program didn't seem to be any different than last year which i thought could get really boring if you are lucky enough to cruise more than once a year. i was really looking forward to the Promenade and thats one of the reasons i chose the Navigator this time. I was so disappointed. the shopping was pathetic and i couldn't find anything to buy. I thought that the shops on Brilliance which shouldn't be the case at all. The other thing was i realized that i missed the light and glass of the Brilliance. Navigator felt too enclosed for us. Now this isn't to say i wouldn't go on her again, i would. I just thought i would like it better. We chose this itinerary as it had 4 sea days as opposed to our cruise last year which was really port intensive. the problem was this time that some of the port we only had about 5 hours, so it was quite rushed. Palma de Mallorca was nice, an easy stroll around town. Unfortunately Sardinia had a tornado, which came completely out of the blue, so we were unable to disembark and instead had an extra sea day. Athens was hot and busy. There was a lots of ships in port that day and all seemed to be at the Acropolis. Istanbul the first day was a disaster as it rained very heavily. I was ill and unable to take the tour but my dh arrived back on the ship soaking wet and freezing. We had till 2pm on the Monday and we headed for the Grand Bazaar. An absolute highlight of the cruise. We loved it and had a really fun morning and i would highly recommend a cruise with Istanbul as a port. Lastly was Malta and a lovely 26 degrees sun and sightseeing. As a final comment the last day was really rocky and it was a shame as a lot of the ship, including staff were sick. thankfully we were fine although our cabin was midship so maybe that helped. The final night was very quiet and both the windjammer and dining room was pretty empty. On the whole we still really enjoyed the cruise but maybe that was more about the holiday itself than the service and food etc that i expected would make the holiday great. Not as good as the Brilliance. While i wouldn't rule out another of the bigger ships, i am not sure i would race back to the Navigator in a hurry. Wasn't bad.....just not outstanding. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
My wife and I sailed on Navigator of the Seas for a 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise 10 October 2008. She is disabled, with limited mobility. She uses a scooter or manual wheelchair outside our home, and can walk about 15-20 yards on ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on Navigator of the Seas for a 10 day Eastern Mediterranean cruise 10 October 2008. She is disabled, with limited mobility. She uses a scooter or manual wheelchair outside our home, and can walk about 15-20 yards on crutches when required. This was her fourth cruise. Two years ago, we were on the Splendour of the Seas for a similar cruise - 7 days Eastern Med. The weather was absolutely horrid on that one, so we decided to do a virtual repeat, This time the weather cooperated! I'll first review from the point of view of the disabled cruiser, and follow with general comments. We booked cabin 7600 - an "accessible" cabin. It's not possible to book these cabins online, so our travel agent books for us. Apparently there is a procedure for agents to follow to allow booking of these cabins, but I have no idea of what it might be. Once the booking number is assigned, all Internet activity (ordering Gifts and Gear, online check in, etc.) is fine. The infrastructure and facilities of NOS are wonderful: The cabin is 1-1/2 size and allows for wheelchair or scooter to turn around easily inside. The bathroom is roll-in, no lip at the floor, and there is an extra set of drains in the floor to prevent water running all over the cabin. The roll-in shower has easily accessible low controls. However, the shower bench supplied had no rubber tips at the feet, which enabled it to slide around. My wife's solution was to place a towel on the floor under the bench, which kept it dry enough to be safe. The toilet seat height and bars are fine. The door to the balcony has a small shallow ramp covering the door track, which automatically raised and lowered itself (by simple gravity, not any kind of fancy thing) allowing roll-in balcony access. Of course, the balcony is a bit small for any maneuvering of a chair, but is adequate for use. The closet is equipped with an ingenious mechanism so the cross rod for hanging clothing can be used either at standard height, or with a simple pull on a handle, by a wheelchair user sitting down. The in-room safe is at a good height. Of course, the higher shelves (closet and above the TV set) are out of reach for a wheelchair user, but there was adequate space at a low level. There are two problems in the cabin. There is no full-length mirror, so a chair user can not see how they look when dressing. The controls for the air conditioning are too high for a seated person. The public areas we frequented are well suited to the disabled. All doors were either automatic electric eye (for everyone's convenience) or, in the case of doors to the restrooms and the "wheelchair" stalls, buttons are provided which are at the correct location and level for the wheelchair user. The Windjammer is problematical in that most of the tables are impossible to reach in a wheelchair. Some lines "reserve" a few tables at the entrance to each section (a sign on the table "This table reserved for the disabled") which we mentioned to the Windjammer manager. The casino slot area is OK, but the tables are too close to the wall (or low railing) for a chair to maneuver, although if one could get to the table in a chair, the height is OK. My wife played the first night on her scooter, but caused so much congestion that on succeeding casino visits, she parked the scooter near the door and walked to the table (we are avid casino players). The Nutcracker Dining room (3rd deck) is unsuitable for chair users. All the chair users in our seating parked their chairs at the entrance, and walked to their table. I believe that the upper levels have better accessibility. The Metropole Theater has good facilities. A row of movable chairs is set in back of the last row, and the staff will gladly remove one so the scooter or wheelchair fits right in, and their friends sit with them. The location of these seats is OK - sound and view are fine. The shows we saw were well done and we enjoyed them. As many of the public areas are carpeted, making using a manual chair more difficult, this trip my wife (as I mentioned above, she is a regular scooter user) rented a scooter. As directed on the RCI website, she contacted the Special Services department, which emailed addresses of two companies which provide this service. Our travel agent contacted both of them, and returned to us with a set of prices from each. Since my wife is a large lady, we chose on the basis of what the offered weight capacity was, rather than simply on price. We chose "Special Needs at Sea" which quoted $425 for the ten days for a scooter of suitable capacity. As promised, the scooter was in our cabin before we arrived (at a little after 2 PM) and we simply left it in the cabin when we disembarked. The charger worked perfectly, fully recharging overnight. In general (but see below for a BAD exception) the staff is great. They - especially the staff in the Windjammer - were an immense help. Getting on ad off ship at ports of call was handled well (those little gangplanks are DANGEROUS for wheelchairs). Our waiter in the main dining room took charge of my wife's crutches as soon as we reached the table. The headwaiter staff managed all the wheelchairs and provided us with a roll-in parking spot at the entrance to the dining room each night. We're nor club hoppers or pub frequenters, and spent most nights in the casino. In the places where we usually spent time - theater, Boleros, casino - the bar waiters got to know us and our preferences quickly. But not all is rosy. Our practice has always been to not book any excursions until the Excursion Desk can see and talk to my wife face to face. They said that the first two ports, Messina and Thessaloniki had nothing suitable. For Istanbul, they booked us on "Easy Istanbul" which was presented as being suitable for wheelchair users, and for Malta, a tour that was listed as a coach only tour. Since we had booked tours on previous cruises (not with RCI) which were advertised like "Easy Istanbul", we expected a wheelchair van with lift. At the departure area, we saw a regular tour bus, with six steps up to the seats. Another two couples who also had booked, turned away immediately - one was a woman in a chair who could not walk at all, and another a gentleman who used a walker but with great difficulty. My wife has limited ability and can sometimes manage a short flight of steps. We asked the tour guide if there would be much walking, and were told there would not be. At the first stop, she stayed on the bus. The second stop was to be a long one, so we got off, and got her chair from underneath. The guide started walking - over a rough cobblestoned area, and walked and walked. Well, we just stopped, sat down in a cafe, and had a cup of coffee while the group went to wherever they went. The next stop was the Blue Mosque - high point of the tour. At the entrance to the Mosque there is a good size flight of steps. My wife went to ask the guide if she could use the chair once she was at the top, and while asking, the bus driver pulled away with her chair still underneath! Istanbul traffic being what it is, we were not able to get the chair back at that moment, so again, we sat and waited for the tour to go through the Mosque. Upon our return to the ship, we immediately contacted the Excursions Desk as soon as it opened. Our point was that the tour had been misrepresented to us. We spoke with the manager of the department who was quite apologetic, but insisted that she always emphasizes to her staff to correctly determine what is in each tour and sell it accordingly. To us, it seemed not enough "emphasis." She agreed that the tour we booked for Malta (but not yet taken) was not suitable and immediately refunded our money for it. We demanded a refund for the "Easy Istanbul." That she had to put through her authority chain. It took almost 72 hours (and prodding on our part) to get the refund for that one. But nothing could make up for the frustration and humiliation my wife went through on that disastrous tour. Now, for our critique of the cruise disability aside. First and foremost, it is abundantly clear that Royal Caribbean is cutting corners wherever it can. Dining in the Main Dining Room (we always opt for second seating) has degenerated to a less than good experience. Until we complained several times, the food was often brought out cold when it needed to be hot. A three course (used to be four) took over an hour and a half a number of times (why?????). The main courses offered have sunk in both number and variety, to say nothing of quality. Of eight items offered, generally two were pasta, two were fish, two were beef (and I will put a bet on the fact that "black Angus sirloin" here was nothing but a buzz-word) one was a variable, and one was some kind of vegetarian something or other. A shrimp main dish my wife ordered consisted of TWO shrimp! A "shrimp ravioli" main course didn't have a single solid piece of shrimp in it - truth in advertising would require it to be labeled "shrimp flavor ravioli". A main dish called "turkey" was in fact a few slices of deli-style turkey roll. Admittedly, we all mourn the loss of lobster tails for one dinner, but the depth that the food has sunk to is simply unacceptable. In the course of the ten days, we had dinner in the Windjammer twice. Once the "special offering of the day" was Mongolian Grill. FINALLY a decent dinner! The other time, it was chicken Marsala. Somewhat overblown, and of course PASTA. Sigh. Our table mates had occasion to eat at Portofino one evening, and said it was good. But why should we have to pay $40 for the two of us to get a decent dinner? I would be happy if RCI increased the price of the cruise by that 40 dollars and gave us a decent dinner every night! And... the coffee is atrocious. As my wife and I are rather heavy smokers, we were concerned about the smoking policy on this cruise. RCI no longer permits smoking in the cabins, but the balcony where smoking is permitted, served us well. The few public areas where smoking is permitted are, except for the starboard side of the pool deck, small and usually inconveniently located. In Boleros, the area has room for no more than 20 seats. The Schooner Bar's "designated area" is only a couple of tables, and is off in a corner where it isn't possible to see what is going on. The casino now has a "No smoking on formal nights" policy. While we understand the policy of giving non-smokers their time in the casino, we would have liked it better if one of the two nights in question was moved to a non-formal night, so that we could enjoy gaming on a formal night. Corner-cutting was obvious in many other places. Boleros, a very busy place, had only two bar people and they worked the entire evening without a break. One of them told my wife that they no longer actually mix drinks, but use prepared mixes for bloody marys and that kind of drink. Many of the staff, while very friendly and eager, simply looked overworked all the time. Since we are night owls, not getting to sleep until after 2 AM, it is our habit to order a small amount of room-service breakfast to keep us until we can have a "brunch" at Windjammer. One day we ordered it for 9-9:30 AM. At 9:45 I looked outside the room and saw that the order slip - placed before the required 3 AM - was still hanging on the door handle. Sigh. We ordered two items from Gifts and Gear and were badly disappointed. The "Non alcoholic grape juice cheese and crackers" contained two small jars of strange flavored jam, a package of Melba Toast and a wedge of..... PARMESAN cheese! The "chocolate covered strawberries" was nothing more than some packets of standards like chocolate coated raisins, coated peanuts, and so forth. Two years ago, these items were delivered as advertised and as expected. There are areas on the ship that need some work. The railings on the balconies need a sanding/varnish very badly. Other areas look a little threadbare. An occasional foul odor here and there lead to a conclusion that the sanitary system is not 100 percent right. In sum, not a very pleasant cruise experience. The most disappointing thing is that just two years ago, we did a very similar cruise with Royal Caribbean and loved it. What has happened in such a short time? It saddens me to think that Royal Caribbean is playing to the "McDonalds is my kind of place" level. If that is a conscious business decision, I hope that the increased patronage they will get, combined with the lowered cost from their point of view, is enough to offset what they will lose. My wife and I will now look elsewhere when choosing a cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
I'm still swaying and my head is till swimming from a most distressing last couple of days on board a Navigator of the Seas without fully operational stabilizers. The Med was rough between Valletta and Barcelona on the final leg of ... Read More
I'm still swaying and my head is till swimming from a most distressing last couple of days on board a Navigator of the Seas without fully operational stabilizers. The Med was rough between Valletta and Barcelona on the final leg of our cruise and, sadly, took its toll on a number of guests. I can't recall a more unpleasant and prolonged experience and am still suffering nearly 48 hours later. Trying to pack suitcases in those conditions was an absolute nightmare. But what about the cruise overall? These are first impressions and my views may moderate over time of course - we only got back last night. Well, Navigator is a lovely ship of course and impressions were generally positive. However, whilst I wouldn't have had a word to say against Brilliance of the Seas last year, this year's cruise had a number of negatives: The weather - clearly nothing RCI could have done about this but there were three particularly bad days. There was actually a tornado in Cagliari, which flipped over a bus quay-side before our eyes and meant that we were unable to disembark there at all, reducing our stops from five to four. Similarly, the first day in Turkey was horrendous. An absolute torrent of rain came down and excursions should most definitely have been cancelled there too but I guess RCI stood to lose too much money so they went ahead and were a total farce. Firstly, we learned a day before arrival that a marathon was taking place in the city so traffic was very restricted. As a consequence, with no prior warning our excursion tour bus stopped some distance from the focal point of the tour and we were all then traipsed around on foot in the torrential rain by our arrogant and disinterested guide Selma for about five hours. My four year-old daughter and elderly mother in law really suffered in these dreadful conditions. To compound matters, Selma wasn't interested in ensuring everyone could keep pace, just in getting her job done and picking up her pay check no doubt. We had booked another excursion ashore in Istanbul that evening but with the rain not abating we attempted to cancel. However, RCI would not allow us to do so. Their inflexibility in such extreme circumstances would certainly make me think twice about sailing with them again. My wife and I even attempted to brave the deluge to avoid wasting a considerable sum of money all together but could only get a hundred yards or so from the ship, despite umbrellas, before we were completely drenched again and had to turn back. We should most certainly have been offered refunds by RCI and will be complaining formally. The last day at sea we endured very rough seas and here the lack of functioning stabilizers really came home to roost. It was a most unpleasant experience and surely RCI should compensate travellers for such a critical malfunction. As usual, the food was terrific and the service - at least from the room attendant and all waiting staff - was excellent. On the down side, Navigator was too smoky - nine of the bars and lounges permitted smoking, which meant that you could smell smoke when strolling along the Royal Promenade - not what you expect on board ship, and surely not sensible from a health and safety perspective. I'm sure there weren't that many smokers on board but it only takes one in a bar.... Smoking was also allowed starboard side on deck so, as there wasn't as much open space on Navigator as there was on Brilliance, it was always apparent. Anyway, it's not an insurmountable problem but if you're a non-smoker, stay out of those bars and remain portside! On the plus side, the ship looked good - maybe cabin carpets in need of replacement or a deep clean but otherwise everywhere looked first class, as usual. The Adventure Ocean "kids club" was again excellent and my daughter loved it. Even the lack of a designated kids' pool and water slide was no problem. The pool facilities were just fine. I was a little surprised about the whole Royal Promenade experience. It just seemed an unnecessary gimmick to me, one which the Oasis of the Seas will be taking to even greater extremes it seems with its Central Park tree lined area. The Promenade looked good, certainly, but I didn't notice any greater shopping choice than on Brilliance. The coffee bar was nice and well used, but seemed to be the only place cruisers could help themselves to a coffee (except on the final morning when the coffee machine wasn't working). As I recall, Brilliance has a few such refreshment stations in strategic deck locations. Despite being a bigger ship overall, the impression I got was that the facilities on Navigator of the Seas catered for no more than on the smaller Brilliance of the Seas, with the consequence that at peak times on Navigator it was very difficult to get a seat in the Windjammer/Jade buffet dining areas. Further pluses on our Eastern Med cruise - the Mallorca stop was nice, Athens a great experience and Malta a pleasant surprise. In conclusion, RCI clearly cannot be held responsible for bad weather but in my opinion they could certainly do more to compensate customers for the limitations this imposed on services offered and for the lack of stabilizing functionality on board. Just off for another lie down.... Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Our first trip to Europe was very exciting! We had planned for months and really anticipated a wonderful adventure.We have sailed 3 times with Celebrity.This was our first experience with Royal Caribbean. Embarkation in Barcelona was a ... Read More
Our first trip to Europe was very exciting! We had planned for months and really anticipated a wonderful adventure.We have sailed 3 times with Celebrity.This was our first experience with Royal Caribbean. Embarkation in Barcelona was a breeze! We transferred from the airport and checked in very quickly. Lunch in the Windjammer Restaurant was disappointing but our cabin was ready at 1 pm and we were delighted to be able to take a nap before the life boat drill. The Swan Lake Dining room was lovely and our waiter Wilson was very efficient. Most meals were quite good but very limited in variety.We avoided the Windjammer and had breakfast and lunch in the dining room as often as possible. We had lunch one day at Johnny Rocket's- great burgers and shakes and lots of fun, too. The Portofino restaurant was very special. We went for dinner at sunset and enjoyed sailing along the Turkish coast as well as a delicious dinner. The food and staff were both fantastic. Excursions were not as well organized as those we've done with Celebrity.The excursions were not as long as advertised. The booklet described 5 hour trips that were closer to 4 hours. The guides were excellent but rushed.The guide in Malta was so pressed for time she only allowed 10 minutes to use restrooms! There were dozens of tour buses and only 2 bathrooms! We spent 20 minutes in Mdina and everyone on the trip felt frustrated by the lack of time. The ship was only in port from 11:00am till 5p. Since the next day was a sea day, why did we need to rush? No one had any explanation. Many guests had booked two half day tours in Istanbul. The day before, we were notified that the tour had been changed to 10 hours on Sunday.The Grand Bazaar was to be a highlight but it is closed on Sunday. More very long lines at the excursion desk to make changes and find half days tours. For us, ten hours was just too long a day. The excursion staff was very patient and helpful but so many passengers had to make changes. It seemed as if Royal Caribbean should have advocated for their guests with the tour operator. Entertainment was a very mixed bag. The Beatle Maniacs were great fun, Jackie Scott was delightful, the Motown Show was terrific, the ice shows were just amazing! The Elton John show was just a disaster! We really missed the early evening music performances that Celebrity did so well. Disembarkation was fine and well organized on the ship. The parking lot was a whole different world. We sat on a full bus from 7a till 7:45a waiting for "permission" to leave for the airport!It seemed as if no one was really in charge and each time a problem developed, 6 people got together and nothing got done. As a result of this delay, the check in lines at the airport were huge! We stood in line for 2 hours and had to run to get through security to make our 10:30a flight from Barcelona to Paris. We sadly missed several amenities that Celebrity had always offered.There were no Christian religious services available on the ship.No guest lectures,no bathrobes in the rooms, no welcome glass of champagne, and a badly stocked library. I think we're "one and done" with Royal Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This was the fifth cruise for us - forty something experienced travelers. We have always found cruising to be the best way to see a lot and yet not have to think all that much! After all - it IS vacation! We've sailed previously on ... Read More
This was the fifth cruise for us - forty something experienced travelers. We have always found cruising to be the best way to see a lot and yet not have to think all that much! After all - it IS vacation! We've sailed previously on Carnival (Bahamas, Eastern & Western Caribbean) and Norwegian (Alaska). Both of us have been to Europe before, as well, but this was the first time for Italy, Spain and France. We booked RCI because we have been hearing the "buzz' for years about their superior service and cuisine. Quite frankly, neither of us were very impressed....but actually comparatively disappointed, which I will describe in detail in a bit. On a positive note, we simply fell in love with Barcelona. Since having previous nail biting experiences with delayed flights which almost made us miss our ship, we decided to go one day early and stay two days after the cruise. The airport was easy to navigate and we took the Aerobus for only four Euro each. We got off a couple of blocks from our hotel and managed our luggage quite easily. Thanks to the many good comments on the boards, we elected to stay at the Apsis Atrium Palace Hotel. The room was beautiful and modern. The hotel was within walking distance from La Rambla, but without the noise. The staff was wonderful! For the price, it was an excellent four star experience. If you find some time in Barcelona, don't miss La Rambla (but not on Sundays - a lot is closed!), La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi/Picasso works, and the waterfront. Thanks to the clean up it got for the Olympics, the city is in great shape. We also spent a beautiful day in Monserrat - unbelievable views, a stunning basilica, clean facilities, very cool cable cars and funiculars (trains that go pretty much straight up the mountainside), etc. We are NYC shopaholics, so we found many trendy boutiques and local craftsmen, as well as the usual pricey designer shops and street vendors. You can use the subway (Metro), bus system, and trains with the same multi-ride ticket. Taxis don't cruise, but your hotel will be happy to call one for you. We had our fill of paella, tapas, and sangria - trying out different spots each meal. We're also quiet infatuated with cafe con leche. We always felt safe and the locals treated us magnificently. I'm pretty decent at Spanish, but the language of the city is Catalan. No one seemed to mind or make too much fun of us when our sentences ended up a conglomeration of all the languages we had encountered. It was also great fun to be their on the night Spain won the Euro 2008 Cup in soccer. Such pride and celebration!! I would go back to Barcelona in a heartbeat and it is now my second favorite city of all I have visited. We took a cab to the pier at around noon. We found the luggage tagging rather disorganized and chaotic. Each other cruise line had sent us our colored luggage tags in advance, but RCI made you bring the info with you and you have to wait in line for a porter to tag you up. There weren't really lines, but a big clump of people trying to get to the same one man with the tags. We discovered very quickly that there seems to be no respect for lines in Europe. It's a survival of the fittest (or rudest) mentality, so it seemed. We refused to toss away our manners and just made a pact to relax and take our time throughout the week, as I don't go on vacation to push and shove. Just a personal pet peeve. I was also quite disgusted at the lack of any sort of interest in deodorant in a great number of our fellow cruisers. We're Americans, so the body odor thing took some getting used to. Apparently, it is quite okay to cover a stench with Armani and call it a day. The ship was clean and our stateroom was very nice. The bed was large, with plenty of nice pillows and linens. Our attendant was excellent, and she always slipped in and out by learning our schedule. We didn't get a single towel animal, though! We felt like little kids in our disappointment, but it's something we just found to be a cute cruising tradition. Might have had something to do with the yellowish brown stains that afflicted most of the towels that were circulating. The entire staff was efficient enough, but there seemed to be a general lack of friendliness. On past cruises, all of the staff we encountered bothered to learn our names and always greeted us with a smile. I honestly don't even think there was anyone who actually welcomed us aboard the Navigator! We are real foodies, so we just like to eat and experiment. In all honesty, we felt we had much better experiences on both Carnival and Norwegian. The Windjammer/Jade buffets had more limited hours that we expected. There were often no seats, as a lot of the passengers just stayed at the tables to talk or look out the windows long after eating, despite the continued requests over the public address that they not do that. There is not a lot of enclosed deck space on this ship, as the cabins are higher up and the public spaces on the lower decks. If you don't want to sit at the pool area, there aren't many good places to just sit and relax on deck without hogging up dining space. We ate four dinners in the main dining room, which for us was Swan Lake. The dining room is comprised of three levels and we were on the top. Without belaboring the point, our previous cruises have had much more interesting dining room entertainment. In the Swan Lake, you missed the singing/dancing of the wait staff, as it most always took place on the lowest level. We didn't want to stand along the railing and block other diners. The menus seemed to lack creativity in both taste and presentation. If there is an RCI representative reading this --- the drink stations simply have to go. The waiters pour out trays full of iced tea, lemonade and fruit punch and they all sit there while the ice melts in them. Plus, if the buffet was closed, there were no beverages to be had unless you ordered at the bar or got room service. We have been spoiled by the 24/7 beverages, ice cream (at NO CHARGE), pizza stations, and magnificently presented midnight buffets on Carnival and Norwegian. Your only choices after 9:30 p.m. were some small sandwiches, limited desserts, and very bland pizza in the cafe on the promenade. Seriously, the other cruise lines have you beaten - hands down! The shows were average, at best. We are both in the entertainment business, but not so highbrow as to expect Broadway or a high ticket tour. There was just downright off-key singing, laughable juggling, stale jokes, and ice skaters who spent the majority of time on their bums. Once again, RCI just didn't measure up. We pretty much tried all of the ship's activities. They're overrated, but at least give you something to do. There aren't enough hours for the guests to get a chance to climb the rock wall, the ice skating rink is miniscule, who can mini-golf on a ship???, and the stores have the same tired merchandise that you would expect. There was hardly anyone in the casino - my guess is that the odds are pretty crappy (pun intended!). There was a nightclub called The Dungeon, which was completely empty every time we passed. We did hear the sing-a-long pianist was brilliantly hysterical, but we never made it there in time. We visited Cannes, Florence/Pisa, and Rome. Being first time visitors there, we opted for ship's shore excursions (except in Cannes, which is quite walkable) this first time to avoid the worry about transportation and being late back to the ship. There was quite a bit of grumbling when they announced that everyone needed tickets for the free tender boats in France, and that preferential times would be given to those holding RCI excursions. A lot of people who made private arrangements found their time quite limited. One couple at our dinner table obediently waited their turn only to be told that there were no more tickets available to go ashore! The excursions were overpriced for what we got ($100 per person for what amounted to transportation and guided narration). On the Florence excursion the charter bus had a broken air conditioning system and a very high maintenance family which managed to annoy the other fifty passengers from the start. Be aware, the Livorno port does not allow pedestrian traffic, so RCI makes you purchase a shuttle ticket just to leave the port. Seems to me they could provide that service free of charge. Rome was absolutely wonderful. If you've ever studied in school with Cliff's Notes, then you know what it's like to cram all the sights into a short ten hour shore time. Our tour guide thought it was a great idea to establish the Vatican entrance as our meeting point after our free time, which made it quite a hike there and back if you wanted to see the Trevi Fountain or the Pantheon. We made it, but we pretty much jogged the whole way and crammed in a speed lunch. At least we got a good overview of the sights we'd like to see when we return on our own. It is a magical city. Cruising is still the best value for the dollar. Either it is losing its luster with cost cutting measures or RCI isn't all it's stacked up to be. My advice to the cruise lines: charge us a little more and provide the little things for free; stop pushing the shore shopping that gives you a kickback; smile a little; and finally, don't kick us off the ship at the crack of dawn. We know you need time to clean, so make embarkation a little later. We won't probably give RCI another chance. I know there are true believers out there and you are entitled to keep your loyalties. I will spend my money where I have the most fun, feel I am treated well, and get the best food! Happy Sailings! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Navigator of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.3
Dining 4.5 3.9
Entertainment 5.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.1
Family 5.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 2.0 3.4
Service 4.5 4.3
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates 4.5 4.2

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