17 Barcelona to Europe - Western Mediterranean Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews

We met the ship in Barcelona after flying in from the UK with BA - flights booked with our trip. Next time we may book independently but we were late in booking holiday so thought easier this time. Flight was fully booked and seat ... Read More
We met the ship in Barcelona after flying in from the UK with BA - flights booked with our trip. Next time we may book independently but we were late in booking holiday so thought easier this time. Flight was fully booked and seat allocation was poor. Nearly didn't get to sit together. After going left instead of right and ending up in the wrong terminal we eventually found our baggage reclaim and our bags. The Royal Caribbean Representative was easy to spot and escorted us to our coach. It was a short journey (under 45mins) to the ship and embarkation was a breeze. Straight in, checked in and then straight on board. There was also the opportunity to purchase the Soda drink package before boarding which we did - approx £40 for the 8 days. Once on board we had a nose around and then headed for the Windjammer for lunch. It was huge and as cruise novices didn't realise till breakfast the next day there was another part of it! So we only saw a small selection of the buffet but still managed to get some good food and enjoy the view out the window. We had breakfast and lunch most days in the Windjammer and were impressed with the wide selection of choice they had available. I was compelled to have my cheese salad everyday for lunch and was always finding something new on looking around.  Gutted I didn't fine the fresh salmon and cream cheese till our last morning! We did try the Honey Stung Chicken that is so often mentioned on here but sad to say wasn't that impressed with it, sorry. Our room was available at 1pm and we were lucky enough to get our luggage quite quickly, which was good because my partner forgot to pack his trainers in hand luggage and shorts with posh shoes don't really cut it! Room was lovely - bigger than I expected. Clean and tidy. It actually looked like it did in the pictures on the websites. Shower was smallish but ok for us, maybe a squeeze if you like your food! We chose a room with a balcony, it was lovely to have and used it for breakfast on the occasions we had it in our room. I think we've spoiled ourselves as don't think we could ever cruise again without one, unless it was a bargain offer! Our room attendant was lovely and very helpful, extra hangers, towels. We loved the towel animals although our new favourite game is showing the photo's to friends and playing 'Can you guess what it is?' We opted for My Time Dining as didn't like the seating options avail on this cruise - 645pm or 915pm. I would suggest booking with the dining room each night. We usually booked the next night's time when leaving after dinner. We sat on tables for 8, 4, 6, and 2 - you were given the option of what table size you wanted and weren't made to sit with others if you chose not to. We ate at various times during the cruise, usually to fit around what we wanted to do that evening. We will definately choose this option in the future. One night we had a table for 4 and sat with an American couple and thoroughly enjoyed our evening with much wine had. So much so, we opted to sit together again on another night. Didn't know what to expect from the food, there's so many mixed reports on here. Most nights there was a good choice of Starters, Mains and Desserts. One night I even had two starters and the cheese plate! Most of the waiters were friendly and helpful and service was quick but not rushed. The only disappointment was on our last two nights where we were sat in the same section. I was disappointed with the waiter we had for both these nights. After 6 nights of great service he was a real let down, so much so I mentioned to my partner how I felt it nearly spoilt the end of my holiday. We waited ages for everything on these nights, food, bread, drinks. I even had to ask 6 times for my partners diet Coke! We tried Portofino's on our 4th night and enjoyed the meal and the service but I am not sure it rated the extra $20 each cover charge. Maybe we'll try Chops next time. There was no lobster tails at any meals, was expecting it at least once during the 8 night trip. We did try a few of the bars on board, more so for pre dinner drinks. We even entered one of the quizzes one night and won! It was 4 key rings! I tried several of the cocktails throughout the trip, prices ranged from $6-$10 plus service charge. I always had a cocktail in the Theatre while watching the shows. Didn't use the Spa - thought the prices were a little too much for me to 'treat' myself. My Partner used the gym daily and liked the choice of equipment but said some of it could do with a refit. Went into the Casino for a silly play on the slots, won and lost some but not too much. Being a Showaholic we saw every show on board bar the very first one. The Beatles were great, so were the shows put on by the entertainment crew especially the first one. Elton John performer was good, and the Magician was ok. Caught the Ice show and thought it was fantastic, especially considering the size of ice they have to skate on, plus they played Rock me Amadeus by Falco which is a song I loved in my youth! Definitely recommend not missing that. Did drag my partner along to Quest. I loved it, so my thing, we didn't win but we had great fun watching, worth going along just for that! The Promenade parades were fun. Caught both the Sailaway and the last one, but only the start of the 70's night as we were tired that day. Disembarkation was smooth, luggage taken the night before so woke up, ate breakfast packed overnight bag and got off. We had transport to the Airport and this was smooth with no problems. We ended our trip with 2 days in Rome instead of flying home and I was a lovely place, I'll definitely be back there.Only gripes was you had to use the ships shuttle to get off the ship at most ports. Villefranche and Palma being the only exceptions as you could walk off or were tendered off. We also booked a ship trip to Pisa/Florence so didn't need the shuttle then. It was expensive £71 (GBP) each for basically transport to Pisa and Florence. Next time I think I'll plan something else of team up with someone for taxi. It was $6 per person each way so just to get off the ship cost us $24 a time. There was an offer of a package for all days at $38 for all 5 ports but we only needed 3 so was cheaper to buy individually. I thought this was a little expensive as there is no real other way to get to the town so you're stuck with their option. Photos on board were lovely but expensive - $19.95 plus tax - we would have bought many more than we did had they been cheaper.   All in all we both thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and will be doing another one very soon. Already looking at one out of Southampton next year! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas had a one-time trip from Barcelona to Rome beginning in early June 2009. We had a large family group on this cruise, made up of 6 adults, 3 children ages 12, 9, and 5, and a 14-month old ... Read More
Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas had a one-time trip from Barcelona to Rome beginning in early June 2009. We had a large family group on this cruise, made up of 6 adults, 3 children ages 12, 9, and 5, and a 14-month old daughter. We flew to Barcelona via Atlanta, and stayed two nights at the Gallery Hotel in Barcelona. We found this hotel neat and cozy, and preferred its quieter location than many other hotels amid the bustle of Las Ramblas. We booked this hotel on our own, not through a ship program. We boarded the Navigator of the Seas on June 6th in Barcelona. The boarding process was very fast and easy compared to others we've experienced in the past. It was almost too fast - our luggage was taken and whisked away before we could even think! Luckily, we had everything we needed with us and didn't lose any bags. My husband and I shared an 8th deck balcony room (located near the front elevators) with our 14-month old daughter. The room was as expected; just like other cruises we've been on before. A pack-n-play was provided for our daughter to sleep in, which made us even more cramped than usual. But that's cruising! Our itinerary was as follows: Barcelona, Valencia, Palma De Mallorca, Marseilles/Provence, Nice, Livorno/Florence/Pisa, and Civitavecchia/Rome. This was a one-time itinerary, as Navigator will now be continuing on to Greece, Turkey, and Malta for a regular sailing. Our ports and excursions were lovely, but we were disappointed in RCCL's communication about port days and transportation. At most ports, we had to take buses to get to city centers, and tickets were supposed to be purchased ahead of time. They were selling at the port as well, but it made for confusion and lines that we did not expect. We should have had regular communication the afternoon before each new port to explain what would be happening the following morning. Stateroom attendant service was outstanding, and every attendant we saw made a special point to speak to us and laugh with the baby. Our wait staff was also good, but we had an assistant waiter who was on his first cruise, and his service was sometimes slow and forgetful. But our dining experience was fine, and we understand he needs a learning curve to get used to his new job. He really caught on towards the end of our trip, and even anticipated our bread and drink requests. We did have a problem with the pre-paid gratuities, however. Two of our traveling parties never got their vouchers. On the final night of the cruise, they spent a lot of time in lines trying to get vouchers for our wait staff. They ended up only getting copies, and we certainly hope the wait staff receives the money that is due to them. One fellow passenger was irate and embarrassed that she did not have any vouchers to present to her waiters at the final meal. We certainly hope RCCL fixes this problem for future cruisers. My husband and I did not take part in most ship activities or entertainment, since we had our 14-month old with us and needed to get her to bed after dinner. But the other parties traveling with us saw several shows and commented on how much they enjoyed them. They especially talked and laughed about the comedian afterwards. My mother-in-law enjoyed a brief French lesson the day before we sailed to Marseilles/Provence. The children loved the sports deck, especially playing ping-pong and mini golf. And everyone enjoyed the ice cream machines found throughout the ship. Our at-sea days were spent by the pool. Some of us swam a little bit, but the water was pretty chilly. Hopefully it warms up as the ship continues sailing through the summer. The food on the ship was surprisingly disappointing. We've traveled with RCCL before, and we thought the food was outstanding. We expected that again. But this time it was not as enjoyable. The Windjammer food was not up to par. I only enjoyed the custom-made Mongolian Grill, but the wait for my plate was a good 10 minutes or so. The bacon available on the Windjammer buffet every morning was terrible. It had a bad taste and was soggy and fatty. The turkey sausage was decent. The best thing I had at the Windjammer was a chocolate tart on the dessert bar on night 6 or 7 of the cruise. That was fantastic! I had a couple extra, it was so good. The formal dining room food was good most of the time, bad a couple times, and outstanding a couple times. If you're a steak lover, don't bother with any steak on the ship! What they call medium rare comes on your plate 100% gray all the way through. It's not tender and it's fatty. Stick with some of the seafood dishes. I don't eat much seafood, so my favorite entrees at dinner were the potato & leek pie and the roasted half chicken with vegetables. The gnocchi with ham & peas was also very good. I enjoyed many of the appetizers, including an onion tart, spinach dip with tortilla chips, exotic fruit plate, and a few of the chilled fruit soups. Desserts were very good! Disembarkation was quick & easy. We were able to get the white tags, as my mother-in-law is a platinum Crown & Anchor member and we were all traveling together. Communication was once again confusing though, as it told us we had to be off the ship "BY 6:15", when in fact we could be off anytime 6:15 or later. This made us rush to get ready & out too early, and we spent an hour in the hot terminal waiting for our transfer to Rome. But our baggage was ready and easy to find, and there were toilet facilities available in the terminal. Overall, I'd give this cruise experience a 7 out of 10. I think there were several kinks because it was a one-time itinerary and they were more concerned with moving the ship and getting ready for their regular sailings through Greece, Turkey, and Malta. I'm not sure the food will improve for those sailings, but hopefully some of the communication will become clearer and the confusion will be limited for future passengers. Despite the kinks, we had a lovely time and saw some amazing sights! Thanks, Navigator of the Seas. We miss you! Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
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
Overall, the cruise was great.  The food was decent (dining room was much better than general areas), the staff was wonderful, the shows and trivia were entertaining.  However, be careful when deciding where to spend your money for your ... Read More
Overall, the cruise was great.  The food was decent (dining room was much better than general areas), the staff was wonderful, the shows and trivia were entertaining.  However, be careful when deciding where to spend your money for your ports.  If you are able, I would highly recommend researching the local transportation systems and save yourself lots of money.Barcelona has a fantastic Metro.  You can buy a T10 card for less than 10 Euro and get around the city on your own.  When you get to the dock to board your boat, don't expect any help.  There is absolutely no information posted anywhere.  There is a bus stop and people waiting in line.  A bus will eventually show up, charge you 2 EURO per person and drive you to the ship.  I would give yourself an hour and a half to get to the boat.  OR you can find another couple and take a taxi.  Not sure what it costs, but you will get there faster.  With that said, the longer you wait to board the ship, the faster your boarding will go.  If you get there early, you will just wait in a longer line at the port.  Make sense?Cannes France - the train system here is not horribly reliable.  We took a train to Nice, and had very little time to do anything.  And there's not much to do.  I would just stick to Cannes and look around and go back to the ship.  You get to Cannes via a little boat tender that is free from your cruise ship.  Easy day.Florence - I would not recommend spending the $90 per person to take the cruise's excursion (bus) to Florence.  The train station is very easy.  You simply find another couple of people, take a taxi for 20 Euro which drops you right off at the train and will take you right back.  The taxi drivers know where you are going. The train schedule is posted on www.trenitalia.com.  You are going from Livorno Centrale to Santa Maria Novella and back.  The roundtrip ticket costs 13 EURO per person.  DO NOT get the ship's Shuttle Ticket at $12/person.  Complete waste of money.Rome - again, just go on your own.  There is a free port shuttle that takes you from the ship to the port entrance and from there is it is a 10 minute walk to the train station (train schedule on http://www.trenitalia.com/, you are traveling from Civitavecchia to San Peitro or Termini).  Again, the ship gives you no help.  YOu will have to walk off the ship and find somebody to direct you to the shuttle.  At the train station, buy the BIRG ticket, which costs about 9 EURO each.  It includes roundtrip ticket to Rome and includes the buses and local metro in Rome.  Great transportation.  You will need to do some research but the Rome train system is very user friendly and the Roman people are very helpful. The main train station in Rome is Termini.  You can also get off at St. Peter's.  There are two main lines, A and B, from Termini.  A travels between St. Peter's and Termini.  And B travels between Termini and the Colliseum.  Very easy.  Just do your research.When you get back to Barcelona, don't bother with the ship transport to the airport.  Just get a taxi.  I think the cost is the same and you don't have to wait for the bus to get full and sift through your bags when you get to the airport.Good luck. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
This is the second time we have sailed on the Navigator and once again it fulfilled all our expectations. We had made our own transfer arrangement from Barcelona airport to the Port, this is not difficult as there are numerous Taxis ... Read More
This is the second time we have sailed on the Navigator and once again it fulfilled all our expectations. We had made our own transfer arrangement from Barcelona airport to the Port, this is not difficult as there are numerous Taxis available. We had however pre-booked ours through Resorthopper. If we did it again I would just use airport Taxis as you have to confirm your return Taxi with Resorthopper 24hours beforehand - not so easy when you are at sea! Only tip would be to disembark as early as possible on the last day as taxi queues were quite long by 9.30am. Boarding at Barcelona was quick and easy. Luggage was delivered to our cabin quickly. The cabin with balcony was well fitted and spacious compared to some. The doors to the balcony were welcome at nightime when we slept with them open to create a pleasant cooling effect with the sound of the sea murmuring in the background. The days at sea could be as action packed or relaxing as you required. This depended upon how much you became involved in the on board organized activities which were wide ranging. These varied from towel folding to pool games and basketball to learning to ice skate. As we had our 9 year old Grandson with us he provided us with all the action we required, plus some! He made good use of the Children's Adventure Club which thankfully provided us with some free time. The Adventure club was open all day until 10.00pm for no charge, then up to 11.00pm there was a $5.00 charge. Every night he was keen to attend as he had made many new friends and the staff were excellent. This enabled us to see all the evening shows without any problem. The main problem we encountered was persuading him to leave at 11.00pm. For those children like our Grandson who like to participate in adventurous activities such as rock climbing, ice skating, roller blading it is ideal, all are provided on board the ship and are well supervised by trained staff. The entertainment was good and varied. The show provided by the on board entertainment staff was excellent and comparable with many West End productions. That said the 'Ice Show' was spectacular. To see such fast moving acrobatic dances performed on an ice rink on a moving ship is unbelievable. Our Grandson insisted on seeing this show and he thought it was 'dead cool'. The midnight 'Mardi Gras' parade through the Promenade was colorful, noisy and much fun. It should not be missed! The covered promenade area which is unique provides an excellent choice of shops, cafe's, pub and wine bar. It is stunningly decorated and is overlooked by 3 storey's of balconies. The hot chocolate and cookies in the cafe are worth trying. The main restaurant is on three floors and is stunning with its chandeliers, grand piano and colorful gilded decor. The staff willing offered alternative menu suggestions if required. However we found the choice more than adequate, the 'lamb shank' in particular being quite memorable. On the evening of the formal night it was nice to see that most people had made an effort. This included Josh our Grandson who looked smart in his black coat and bow-tie and meticulously 'styled hair' - 15 minutes in the bathroom. The self service Windjammer and Jade Restaurant was well fitted with excellent sea views (if I could only breakfast with a view like that everyday!) Again there was a wide choice of food and drink available. Staff at all levels were helpful but not pushing, even Josh who commented upon how friendly all the staff were. He and our Cabin Stewart had a nightly game. Each night the inevitable 'folded towel animal' was left in the room. Josh would add to this - a rolled paper cigar in the mouth, or paper hat on its head etc. All added to the 'fun' of the cruise. By the end of the cruise we had a menagerie of, an elephant, snoopy dog, bat, rabbit and monkey. When ashore we made our own arrangements as we always do, but there were a wide variety of excursions provided and the excursion staff were helpful even if you did not book with them. Whilst in Palermo,Sicily some advice I was given many years ago once again proved very profitable. That is to walk away from the port area if you can, and find a taxi or other transport and negotiate a tour with them. On this occasion we found a horse drawn carriage just outside the port area that offered us a tour which was longer and 20euros cheaper than those found in the port. Despite the size of the ship - 3300 passengers, disembarking was well organized with little waiting. It's s also easy to find one's way around unlike some which take several days before you become orientated. All in all and excellent ship and cruise. Cant wait until the next time! Read Less
Sail Date June 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
This was our second cruise on the Navigator; we took the cruise to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday. The last cruise on the Navigator was 2 1/2 years ago and she has not aged one day. It is incredible to see how well maintained ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Navigator; we took the cruise to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday. The last cruise on the Navigator was 2 1/2 years ago and she has not aged one day. It is incredible to see how well maintained everything is. The ship was full (and more) and still everything was clean and well kept. The ship sailed from Barcelona, where we stayed for two days before and explored the city with the tourist bus (26 Euros for two days, well worth it as the bus takes you to all the major sites with commentary in quite a few languages). The tourist info at Sants Train station had told us about a shuttle bus from DRASSANES metro station, since we only had one trolley style suitcase between the two of us we decided to try it. You have to walk a couple of minutes as you get out of the metro station, cross the giant round-about at the Colon monument and wait for a blue bus at a bus shelter (just behind the red hut where you can buy tickets for the tourist bus and get tourist info). The shuttle trip costs 2 Euros, together with the metro ticket of 1,30 Euros, we had the cheapest embarkation ever. As we got off the bus porters were there to take our luggage, there were more than 20 check-in stations and no line. We were on the ship just minutes after getting off the bus. Not only the cheapest but also quickest embarkation ever. Interesting for European citizens : although the RCCL web-site said that you needed a passport, my husband wanted to try checking in with his ID card only - no problem. They never asked for a passport. We had a promenade cabin, normal standard, everything clean and in good working order. The cabin attendant was fun, we did not spend a lot of time in the cabin. The cruise was completely booked, half of the guests from Spain, with the guests from South America, this made more than half Spanish speaking. The ship was well prepared for this, most crew seemed so speak at least some Spanish. There was a welcome show in English and one in English and Spanish. The Love and Marriage Game show was separated by language (English in the Ixtapa Lounge, Spanish in the theater) but other than that we did not see anything radically different from a 'regular' or 'American' cruise. Well, yes, there was one big difference: this was the weekend when school holidays/vacation started so there were LOTS AND LOTS of kids on board WITHOUT the usual problems with kids on Caribbean cruises. The Spanish youngsters (including teens) were exceptionally well behaved. We never saw one drunken teen misbehaving. We do not have kids ourselves and I was not looking forward to cruising with hundreds of kids, but no problem at all. I cannot say anything about the ports as we only went ashore to take pictures of other ships in port and quickly returned on board. I cannot say anything about the main dining room either, as we did not go. We went to Portofino on my husband's birthday and it was great: Food and Service just perfect. We also ate at Jonny Rockets one night, enjoyed this a lot. In both places we had the impression that the pay-restaurants are used as the officer's dining room. More staff than paying guests were present. A pity for everybody who did not go as these places are well worth the extra charge. We did not go to Chops Grill as neither of us is fond of big slabs of meat, so no comment on Chops Grill. However, a long comment on Windjammer: Jade seemed kind of faded out. There was a hidden pot of miso soup for breakfast and a bit of Asian food at each service, but nothing like it was when we sailed on the Navigator before. This might have to do with the fact that there were hardly any Asian guests on board. However, since we had quite a few Indian fellow guests we were lucky and found Indian food items at every meal. The rest was kind of lack-luster buffet food /junk food - hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta, salad bar, tacos, pizza, and a carving station. It was not bad, but nothing special either. Service in the Windjammer was BAD - I guess due to the fact that there were many large families. The service staff could not keep up, was stressed and not very friendly. We were unlucky enough to eat there one lunch during rush-hour. There were incessant announcements asking us to vacate our seat as soon as we were finished eating (in Spanish and English) - this does not contribute to a relaxed meal. I guess they did the best they could but the best in this case was not good enough. They ran out of strange staples : no strawberry jam (as I am allergic to strawberries, we never buy it at home and my husband looks forward to eating it whenever he travels), no honey, no more portion size milk from the middle of the cruise (at the beginning they still had jars of milk where you could serve yourself, but then it was down to small packages of creamer, some of it advertising that it was made with vegetable fat, not very appealing). However, they had also added to their selection of condiments - Marmite for the British and sweet mustard from Germany. The pools were great - the pool patrol made sure that no kids went into the pools in the Solarium, but the atmosphere was so festive around the main pools that we went there and did not mind getting splashed from time to time. All pools were open during "rush hours" and were cleaned at night when hardly anyone wanted to swim, so there was never a real shortage of cool water. The best: there was never a shortage of freshly laundered towels either. With the masses of people going through the pools and towels, they did a better than perfect job. The bars were hopping during the cruise, I guess European cruisers party a bit more than we saw on previous cruises in the Caribbean with RCCL. The show were good - the production shows updated, the ice show the same as 2 1/2 years ago but still as good. There was a singing quartet as a head liner act - it would have been more appropriate to a cruise with more Americans as they sang mostly American staples. The comic/juggler in the welcome show (I forget his name) was the stupidest act I have ever seen - I nearly peed my pants from laughing. Such a pity he did only one show, he was perfect for any language. The cruise director was so so, I guess it is hard to get into his regular spiel when he has to wait for a Spanish translation. Still, he and his staff did a great job at keeping everybody occupied. Disembarkation was quicker than we wanted. It started at noon the day before we arrived back in Barcelona - the captain made his noon speech and farewell speech at once. This seemed a bit early because we were still in full vacation mode. The following morning we were told that we needed to meet in the public rooms, because these were the only places where you could hear the disembarkation announcements. Guess not: 6.45 am we had the first announcement in the hallways and from there on nearly non-stop. You knew your vacation was over and you had better get out. The suitcases were offloaded earlier than planned, so our color was called earlier and we felt kind of pushed out. We preferred leaving and waiting in the train station. Getting your suitcase back at the terminal was easy and quick, there were hardly any taxis but a long line of guests trying to leave by taxi. So we took the bus back to the Colon statue and the metro to the train station. I think we were a lot faster than those waiting in line of a taxi. I feel that disembarkation and the trip home is part of my vacation, so I did not enjoy being pushed off like last week's faded lettuce, but I guess that was the price we had to pay for the early embarkation we had on the beginning of our cruise. They cannot allow new cruisers on board if the old ones have not left. Good news on the bill - we previously had had problems with the automatic conversion of currencies at the end of the cruise. This time everything worked perfectly, we got our final bill in USD and not in Euros, just as we had always wanted but not always had. All in all it was a great cruise, a great ship, nice fellow passengers but the majority of the crew seemed a bit short of smiles and patience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
"You'll be disappointed" warned my better half, eyes raised to heaven as I stayed on the internet night after night reading CC and every other internet site with the word "cruise" in the title. It isn't very ... Read More
"You'll be disappointed" warned my better half, eyes raised to heaven as I stayed on the internet night after night reading CC and every other internet site with the word "cruise" in the title. It isn't very often that she is wrong, so let's get the gloating over and done with. I wasn't!!! Our travel agency had arranged early morning flights to BCN from Dublin (I know, CC Rule #1 broken already), which went off without a hitch, and we landed at Barcelona at 10.15am, walking into what can only be described as a wall of heat. The RCL transfer to the ship was speedy and comfortable, and check in at about 12.15pm was a breeze. The check in agent asked if this was our first time cruising, and then complimented me on how well our set sail passes we filled out. I flashed DW my "Whose laughing now?" look, and off we went to get our photographs taken and board the Navigator for real. Now, since last September, I've watched dozens of YouTube videos, looked at hundreds of photographs and read numerous posts, so I thought I was ready. I wasn't. For the next hour, we walked around the ship taking the Lord's name in vain and uttering naughty words. Wow. I won't go in to loads of detail about the facilities etc., they are well documented elsewhere and it's all true. And then some! Getting lounge chairs on deck was never a problem, and the queue for the miniature golf was never excessive. I played my 14 year old son daily. I actually beat him once! The food was superb, and all I can say is people dissatisfied with the main dining room must be eating in amazing restaurants on land. We were placed on a table for four in the Arabesque section of Nutcracker, and our wait team was the perfect combination. Petro, our waiter was a model of efficiency and professionalism, while his assistant Nestor was a bundle of enthusiasm. Many of you will know him as the morning greeter at Windjammer "Good morning, happy happy people". He saw we had soda cards. We asked for Diet Coke once, and our glasses were constantly filled for the whole cruise. Embarkation day was our son's 14th birthday, and we'd ordered a cake online. Head waiter Enrico and his team delivered it bang on time with some side plates of ice cream, sang happy birthday and embarrassed him totally. Result!! Marius our stateroom attendant also deserves a special mention. He seemed to develop an uncanny ability to read our minds, usually providing what we needed before we got around to asking for it. Our two teens were in an inside across the hall from us, and still talk about the towel animals. Tendering to Cannes was easy and the day onshore was relaxing. Livorno was not as picturesque, but a trip to Pisa on the train went without any problems. The shuttle bus at $6 each way each caused a few grumbles, but we got over it. Returning, we were ravenous, and this is one of our few quibbles. We were on late seating, which was 9.15 to suit the sizeable Spanish contingent. No problem there. However, our habit was not to eat lunch on shore, but grab a bite when we returned to the ship in the late afternoon. We were by no means the only ones doing that, and the only food outlet open was the Cafe Promenade. These were the biggest queues we faced, and the options were limited. Our preference would have been for Windjammer to be open at that point. However, I must give Cafe Promenade a big thumbs up for their sandwiches, rolls and cookies. Lovely! My beloved's other quibble is that while pizza was in plentiful supply, there was never any garlic bread to be found. Next day was Rome, when we got together with a gang from Cruise Critic to walk the Eternal City. Now, anyone can get together with a gang from their own ship, but I have a habit of going against the grain. I had met up with Preds (Mike) on the Europe forum where I posted about our walking plans, he realized we were in port on the same day and suggested we join up. However, he had signatures turned off, and presumed we were on his ship, Norwegian Gem. No, but why let a little detail like that get in the way. We met up at the fort in Civitavecchia, and what a delight Mike and his family proved to be. Indeed, they are such friendly and gregarious people that they'd already made friends with half the Gem, and brought some of them with them, so a big shout out to Matt and Kristen, Don and Louise and Jose and his family. We had a great day tramping around the sights of Rome, my walking masterplan worked fine until I got lost, but we found our way to the Pantheon via some back streets, threw our coins into the Trevi Fountain and walked the Via Sacra through the forum. The heat was unrelenting, and in retrospect, perhaps we should have used the metro and bus system more. A truly memorable day, and the smiles and experience we shared will remain burned in our memory long after the heat has passed into oblivion. The midnight pool party and buffet that night was excellent, Kieron Buffery the Cruise Director taking vocals for the first half hour or so, and doing a fine job. Disembarkation was fine after a much needed restful sea day, and the holiday of a lifetime (so far) was rounded off with two days in the Gran Hotel Barcino near the cathedral and much use of the Bus Turistic. By the way, a little tip. If you are staying in Barcelona post cruise and want to see your ship leave, take the Teleferic cable car to the top of Montjuic - the views over the port are excellent. Finally, like many people, I stumbled onto Cruise Critic in our early days of research. It's a fine site, and the information gleaned here has been one of the determining factors in ensuring that the family who decided to try cruising last September is set to join the growing ranks of people who will never consider anything else for a long time. Thank you all. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
This was our first cruise. I'm 24 and my husband is 36 and we couldn't decide where to go on our first big holiday so we decided a cruise was the way to go as we could see a few places. We booked through an internet agent which ... Read More
This was our first cruise. I'm 24 and my husband is 36 and we couldn't decide where to go on our first big holiday so we decided a cruise was the way to go as we could see a few places. We booked through an internet agent which was simple and got a good deal. We went from Barcelona (we stayed there for 2 nights before going on the cruise) and then went to Cannes, Florence, Rome, at sea and then Barcelona again. We wanted a balcony as I was worried about feeling claustrophobic so we paid extra. We hadn't travelled very much at all before so all the documents and information we received from Royal Caribbean seemed daunting eg online check-in, all the stuff you had to remember to take and do (vaccinations/visas etc), shore excursions and dress codes etc, but in reality I worried much too much and checking in was absolutely fine online and all we had to bring with us was our setsail passes and passports as a lot didn't apply to us. The port in Barcelona is best to get to by taxi and only costs about €15 from the city centre. You'll get left right up to the terminal for embarkation. Like I said, embarkation was very simple and before we knew it we were on the ship and it was amazing - no wear and tear, it looked like brand new, so clean and shiny and luxurious and we went straight to the Windjammer for lunch as our room wouldn't be ready for an hour. The Windjammer is great. There were always seats no matter what time of the day as it is huge and the range of food was brilliant - rice, stirfry, chinese, sushi, roast dinners, burgers, chips, sandwiches, desserts, always vegetables and freshly prepared fruit and best of all a constant supply of free iced water, iced tea, fruit punch and lemonade which saved us a lot of money as I drink a LOT of water! This meant that we didn't have to buy juice for my husband and bottled water at all and as we don't drink alcohol (nothing against it, just grew out of it) we didn't buy any drinks on the cruise at all as the Windjammer is open all day with the exception of about an hour in between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner and you can go in simply to lift a few drinks and head out to your room or the pool, etc. It was a godsend as I hate spending money on overpriced drinks. The breakfasts in the Windjammer are unbelievable - the waffles with whipped cream and strawberries are to die for, plus there is prepared fruit, bacon, eggs, muffins, cereal, etc, etc, etc you would need a very long cruise to try everything! The food was really top class. We ate in Coppelia and on our first day there we asked the Maitre'd if we could have a table just for us two and he was able to do that (although if you want to do this you need to go at the allotted time specified on the welcoming information left in your room). We were both really pleased as we prefer our own company and wanted more "romantic" dining rather than meeting people. The service was excellent. Both our waiter and assistant waiter were great. The menu was varied and delicious and I had some of the nicest food I have ever tasted - the fresh fruit with lime syrup starter, pasta with marinara sauce, thai chicken with coconut rice and the baklava dessert on the last night all stick in my memory as being wonderful. Both me and my husband are quite fussy eaters but there was always at least 3 choices on each course that we would have enjoyed. We ordered room service a couple of times (its free)- we just got a jug of iced water and cookies (the coconut cookies are amazing) and it was always there in about 10 minutes. The Royal Promenade also serves free cookies and tea and coffee until 11pm. The ship is really fun to be on. There is something for everyone, young people, older, people who love to party (excellent cocktail list), people who like sports, people (like us) who wanted to relax after being out at the port of call all day and we spent a lot of time at the solarium nipping in and out of the jaccuzzi and lying on the deck chairs reading. There was always something on like bingo or a pool party or ice skating (which I did) or rock climbing or an ice show (which was really good) but it was really nice just to relax and sit or walk around on the boat looking out to sea. The shops on the Royal Promenade are good. Duty free alcohol, perfume, a nice souvenir shop, jewelry, etc but the best thing was that the Promenade looked like a street - it was amazing. The whole feel of the boat is just lovely. Our room was lovely - massive bed, nice decor, lovely balcony, good tv and nice bathroom. Our stateroom attendant was great and our room was really clean and tidy and they left towels shaped into different animals every night which i took photos of because it was such a nice funny touch (we even went to a towel folding demonstration and they gave us a leaflet of how to do it - yes, I know it's not exactly rock & roll for a 24 year old but it was funny..honestly!). The ship also didn't move until our day at sea and then it was very minimal - no sea sickness at all. The sea pass works very well - we chose to pay in cash and had brought our dollars with us. Its very easy to keep track of as you can see exactly what you spend on your tv so you are in complete control and the Guest Relations desk was always open and very helpful. We didn't take a shore excursion in Cannes as you arrive right in Cannes so you can get about yourself but we did book A Taste of Florence and A Taste of Rome as both cities are about 1 1/2 hours away from the port and I didn't trust ourselves to get to the ship and back ourselves. The Florence tour was very well run and it consisted of being "babysat" on the coach to Florence with a guide who gave you a great map and you could ask hr questions about how to get to places you wanted. Then after a 2 hour tour you were left on your own for 3 hours and then met up at a designated meeting point to head back to the ship. It was the same with the Rome excursion although our guide was not as good or diligent about not losing people and as you cant speak in St Peter's we were given headphones to link us up to the guide which didn't work well. Personally I found the excursions overpriced - they cost us £200 altogether but it was worth it for peace of mind as we didn't want to have to organize travel ourselves and risk missing the ship. I would personally now do the Florence and Rome on Your Own tours as then you are taken there and back with a guide on the bus you can get a map off and ask questions to but you have the whole time to yourself to look around. The more expensive tours often include lunch or entry fees into some of the places you see but these ones didn't so you were literally paying for the bus and a very minimal tour. If you are arriving right in the city (like Cannes) do not bother with an excursion as like I said, it was overpriced and you can do everything on your own, but for someone with little travelling experience, the shore excursions are useful. All in all, the cruise was simply perfect - all you could want and something for everyone. We cannot wait to cruise again, possibly next year but more likely the year after next (what with the credit crunch!!). I will always sail with Royal Caribbean now as I trust them and know what to expect now. It far surpassed my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We flew BHX to BCN for 2 nights in Barcelona allowing us to spend a full day in Sitges (about 6 Euros return on the train)before starting the cruise. EMBARKATION: This was fast & easy due to the fact we beat the rush & with the On ... Read More
We flew BHX to BCN for 2 nights in Barcelona allowing us to spend a full day in Sitges (about 6 Euros return on the train)before starting the cruise. EMBARKATION: This was fast & easy due to the fact we beat the rush & with the On Line Check In forms completed were onboard in minutes. PUBLIC ROOMS: Three of our party of six cruised N.O.T.S. in it's inaugural year & three were new to Voyager Class ships. I was impressed by the overall condition of the ship after hundreds of thousands of pax had made their mark on it & I was pleased to see it could still cut the mustard in the Wow Factor Department. CABINS: Two cruises, Two different Cabins. First was Promenade View over the Two Poets Pub, good for watching the Grand Parades. Second was Oceanview, both were of a good standard of cleanliness & showed little sign of aging. Well done RCI. PORTS OF CALL: MARSEILLES was rained off for all except the brave & ships tours & was a longish journey into town from the dock. CAGLIARI (Sardinia) We spent a couple of hours walking around. Found the local market. Had a drink. Walked back. Nothing different to a lot of Med Towns. PALERMO (Sicily)See Above. VILLEFRANCHE Love it. A unique harbourside & a short train ride to Monaco to the east & Nice to the west. IBIZA Overnight till 5.30am. This was my first time there & was very surprised by it's narrow streets in the old town, all buzzing with atmosphere, even though it rained all night. FOOD: We all considered the food in the Main Dining & Windjammer to be of a very good standard for a 4* cruise line but here comes my/our major complaint. For the last fifty years of cruising, Second Sitting Dining has traditionally been 8.30pm, Give or take 15 minutes on all lines. RCI in Europe have moved to 9.15 pm which for most of us of a certain age found to be unacceptable to our digestive system. Finishing a large rich meal, with wine, at 11.00pm night after night, left us all with uncomfortable sleepless nights. This in my view is nothing to do with customer satisfaction, but more to do with breaking the traditional dining values & making the move to 'Freestyle' dining an easier acceptance to us non believers. ENTERTAINMENT: The Shows were 'Standard Cruise' & competently executed. The Ice Show was excellent as ever but was the same show I saw in its inaugural year. C'mon RCI we are not all first timers 5 years is a long time without change!! FORMAL NIGHTS: Well what a difference between the two cruises!! First Cruise 5 nighter, Marseilles, Cagliari, Palermo had 1800+ Brits, A large Spanish contingent, German in third place & then the rest of the World. Plenty of Tux's worn by the old gits like me & suits & ties by the younger generation. Second Cruise 4 nighter Villefranche & overnight in Ibiza, Brits down to 200+ & replaced by the local Spanish Youth (Ibiza probably had an effect) Tux's were clearly below 10% (I counted 14 on the Formal Night Photo Display the next day) & a new dress code was born! Crumpled T Shirt, Crumpled Shorts & Backpack surgically attached over the right shoulder with complete wardrobe inside, a replacement crumpled T Shirt & obligatory bottle of water. Remember this was Formal Night or was I having a nightmare? 'Scruffs' could be the New RCI Dress Code. My final problem is an important issue which is too long to discuss at length on this review. 'No Alcohol Hand Wash anywhere on the ship'. This was picked up by half of our party, as soon as we boarded, as they are NHS employed. I overheard someone ask for handwash as he entered the Windjammer & he was told they no longer have it!! These gripes aside, the overall cruise experience was a good one & would in no way deter us from using RCI in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
My girlfriend and I, both in our early 20's and recent university graduates, took a fantastic Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean's beautiful Navigator of the Seas on May 19, 2008. We sailed out of Barcelona and visited ... Read More
My girlfriend and I, both in our early 20's and recent university graduates, took a fantastic Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean's beautiful Navigator of the Seas on May 19, 2008. We sailed out of Barcelona and visited Cannes, Florence and Rome. We started planning our European trip back in December 2007. My girlfriend had certain desires for the trip, as did I. She wanted to visit a few specific cities and well, simply, I wanted to go on a Mediterranean cruise. Not just any cruise, but a Royal Caribbean cruise. Who can blame me! Ever since Summer 2007 I've been completely hooked on cruising with Royal Caribbean. Within a period of less than 12 months I will have taken four cruises. Three great cruises on Royal Caribbean and one mediocre cruise on Carnival. After lots of hassling with picking dates to fly and dates to sail, we finally found the perfect combination that would allow us to spend lots of time in Europe before and after the cruise. Along with the perfect timing of the sailing date, we also chose this specific cruise for several reasons: the amazing itinerary; the time of year to visit these great classic cities, the price of the cruise; and most important, the fact that we had sailed on Navigator of the Seas in November 2007 and absolutely loved it! In case you want to know why we loved Navigator of the Seas, here is my Cruise Critic review from the November 2007 sailing: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberre...?EntryID=35111 After months of anticipation and extreme planning, including endless hours on Cruise Critic, we finally flew to Madrid on May 13th to begin our 3-week adventure. We stayed in Madrid for 3 nights before taking the Renfe AVE train to Barcelona on the 17th. This was going to be my first time commuting on a 'real' train. I've taken dozens of metros and city trains, but never a 'real' train from one major city to another. The amazing thing was the short amount of time it took to get from Madrid to Barcelona. It's usually a 7 or so hour trip but the AVE train accomplishes it in 2 hours and 30 minutes going at speeds of over 200mph. We chose the early-afternoon train because it travels direct without making any stops. This explains how it can make the trip in such little time. We spent the 17th and 18th in Barcelona before the "big day" on the 19th. DAY 1 - EMBARKATION IN BARCELONA On the 19th in the morning we took a rather inexpensive taxi to the Moll Adossat at the Port of Barcelona. This is where the Navigator of the Seas was patiently waiting for us. As we crossed the bridge that links Barcelona with the cruise terminals we got our first glimpse of this gigantic cruise ship. Of course Navigator of the Seas was the biggest cruise ship in port that day, and without a doubt the most impressive. It was cool realizing that the last time we had seen the ship was back in Fort Lauderdale and now we were seeing her again thousands of miles away in Barcelona. We arrived at the terminal at around 10:50am and made our way through the security checkpoint with our luggage. Whenever my girlfriend and I cruise we only take standard carry-on luggage. Sometimes several pieces of carry-on luggage, but as long as we don't have to check bags we're satisfied. It just makes things easier. Once through security we quickly checked in at the counter and received our Sea Pass cards. In my opinion, definitely the quickest and most efficient check in staff. We then made our way to a line of people that was waiting for the escalators to be turned on that would lead us to the ship's promenade deck for embarkation. The terminal staff started the embarkation process at around 11:20am and my girlfriend and I were literally the third and fourth ones to get on the ship. Once onboard we went up to the 9th deck to find our stateroom. The doors leading to the staterooms were still closed since they were preparing the rooms, but that didn't stop us. We simply opened one of the doors and made our way to our assigned stateroom, which we discovered had just been prepared minutes earlier. We introduced ourselves to our stateroom attendant Bobby and he helped us get settled in. He was extremely courteous and helpful. After unpacking we grabbed a bite to eat at the Cafe Promenade and then the Windjammer. We also made our reservations for Chops and Portofino. Thereafter we visited the Solarium and enjoyed the jacuzzi all to ourselves. When we got bored with the outside jacuzzi we made our way to the huge jacuzzi in the spa and enjoyed that all to ourselves as well. Soon after we returned to the Solarium jacuzzi and stayed there for a while before finally returning to the room to get ready for the all-mighty muster drill. Though muster drills are boring, especially after doing them a few times, they are indeed extremely necessary and we take them very serious. However on this cruise the muster drill took boring to the extremes. Being an international sailing, the muster drill was held in what seemed like four or five different languages. It was the longest, most boring time you could ever imagine. To make things worse, the drill did not start on time since many of the international guests were not aware of the strict requirements to attend. I did see something quite funny while at the drill. Next to our muster station in the aft of the ship they have a door labeled specifically for the use of the crew only. It appears to lead to a staircase or service elevator. We constantly witnessed guests coming out of that door to find their muster station. It seems likely that when the time came for the drill, some guests picked any staircase or elevator they could find without paying much attention to the big signs explaining they were for crew only. After the muster drill we returned to our stateroom to get ready for dinner. We had the late 9:30pm seating but had made a 6:30pm reservation at Chops for the first night. We had never tried the specialty restaurants onboard so we figured we'd give it a shot. And in the end we definitely regretted it. I'm aware that literally thousands of Cruise Critic guests brag about their awesome experiences at Chops, but we were one of the few that didn't enjoy it. I'll start with this. Yes, the food was quite good. Nothing over the top, but good. It was definitely comparable to the dining room food, which in my opinion is really good for the most part. The part that led to the bad experience was the service. Since we were the early birds that night, Chops was pretty empty. There were maybe five or six other couples at most. However, right after we ordered one of the ship's officers and a female guest entered Chops and were seated in a large booth in the back of the room. Thereafter the service got horrible as the Chops staff seemed to ignore the other couples and literally spent the entire time catering to the officer, who was not the Captain by the way. A megaphone would have come in handy that night to get the staffs' attention. Every time we needed something, the waiters were over at the officer's tabling chatting. When we finished our entrees I asked our waiter nicely if she could please clear our table and she refused. She said she was busy and she'd do it later. She of course rushed back to the officer's table. Not the type of service we were expecting. The only real advantage of eating there was the view of the Mediterranean coastline as we sailed to our first port of call, Cannes, France. We wanted to enjoy our cruise on a positive note so we decided not to complain about the Chops issue and just write it off as a lesson learned. In case you're wondering, I had the French onion soup, the mushroom caps, the t-bone steak, and we tried every desert on the menu, while my girlfriend had a French onion soup and the fish entree. When we finished at Chops we hung out around the ship for a little and then made our way to our regular dinner seating to meet the guests at our table. We ended up with the coolest table on the entire cruise. We were four young non-married couples, and all American. We all got along great from the start. Even though we didn't eat a thing, my girlfriend and I still ended up staying all the way through desert chatting it up with our new friends. We also were very impressed with our waiter and assistant waiter. They were really nice and efficient. After dinner we headed back to the room to get a good night's sleep as we would be waking up early for Cannes the next morning. DAY 2 - CANNES Waking up early at home: horrible feeling. Waking up early on a nearly billion dollar cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean: exciting for obvious reasons. Once awake, we quickly headed up two floors to the Windjammer for breakfast. We got there so early that we had to sneak in and wait at a table by the aft windows for a few minute till the official opening time. The guy who always greets guests entering the Windjammer on Navigator of the Seas tried kicking us out for being early, but someone stopped him and told him to let us stay since we weren't bothering. After breakfast we got ready and then made our way up to the pool deck to wait for the distribution of the tender tickets to get to Cannes. As everybody was waiting in the huge line on the pool deck, I faintly heard an announcement over the PA system talking about guests not needing tickets if they went down to the tenders right away. Since the PA wasn't too clear out on the pool deck, I was second-guessing if I had heard the announcement correctly. Since the same thing happened on our November sailing, I figured I must have heard correctly. I told my girlfriend to run for it and we literally ran down the stairs all the way from the pool deck to the first floor and we were indeed able to board the tenders without tickets. It was funny cause when we ran all the other guests in line on the pool deck were looking as us as if we were crazy. Unfortunately they all remained waiting in that long line. Eventually after about 15 minutes of waiting on the tenders for more people to show up, we began seeing people who had been on the pool deck begin to board the tenders. We ended up leaving to Cannes about 10 minutes later. When we first booked the cruise we realized that we were going to be in Cannes during the international film festival, the Festival de Cannes. We also realized that all Festival activities and events were off limits to the public so we figured that the only way to enjoy our time in Cannes was to secure full access passes to the festival. After pulling a few strings, we were able to secure these nearly impossible-to-get passes. As soon as the tender got to the Old Port in Cannes, we were the first ones to get off and we immediately rushed over to the Palais de Festival, the official headquarters of the film festival. There we picked up our passes and enjoyed a truly memorable day. We were able to get into all of the exclusive areas of the Festival! We even attended two VIP parties in the afternoon. The only downside was that we had to be back on the ship by about 5:30pm. This meant that we couldn't experience any of the famous nightlife of the Festival nor the red carpet action that we constantly see on television and in the magazines. We ended up taking a tender back to the ship at around 4:00pm. We usually prefer to go back a little early to avoid the craziness that occurs on the tenders as sailing time approaches. After returning to the ship we rested for a while and then got ready for the formal dinner. I was really happy to finally be eating in the dining room after the previous night's unfortunate experience at Chops. Also, after not eating anything in the main dining room on the first night, I was excited to finally be able to do what I always do on cruises: order everything I want on the menu. I usually average about two appetizers a night, two or three entrees, and about three deserts. After dinner we walked around for a little and then went to sleep. This cruise had a very port-intensive itinerary so we had to go to sleep early every night to be able to function well and enjoy the coming day. DAY 3 - LIVORNO (FLORENCE) Overnight we had sailed from Cannes to Livorno, Italy. Livorno is the port city for Florence and Pisa since both are inland. To really experience the splendor of Florence in the time allotted, we had pre-booked the Royal Caribbean excursion Historical Florence and Accademia Museum. This was the only excursion offered that guaranteed a visit to the Accademia Museum, or Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze as it's also known, home to Michelangelo's statue of David. There was no way we were going to visit Florence and not stand before this incredible statue. After breakfast in the Windjammer that morning we finished getting ready and then headed down to the Ixtapa Lounge to meet up with the group for our tour. As soon as every one was there, we all headed down to the first floor to exit the ship and board our bus to Florence. There were literally dozens of big charter buses lined up in front of the ship. Since there's really not much to do in Livorno, it seemed like most guests had opted to go on one of the many excursions offered by Royal Caribbean. The journey to Florence afforded us the opportunity to catch unforgettable views of the surrounding scenery of Tuscany. From a distance we got to see the town of Pisa, including the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa or as it's known in Italy, Torre pendente di Pisa. We also drove past some of the huge Tuscan mountain ranges that have provided the marble that's been used for some of Italy's most famous statues, including the statue of David we would soon visit. The only negative thing about the bus ride to Florence was that even though we were only a small group of about twenty people, we stopped for three long bathroom breaks in a period of one hour. These stops ultimately delayed our arrival in Florence. This was really upsetting as we had paid to see Florence, not to be parked at local gas stations for extended periods of time. When we finally arrived in Florence, the bus dropped us off a few blocks away from the Accademia Museum. Our group made its way to the museum and once there waited outside for a few minutes as our tour guide picked up our tickets. Being on a tour proved to be so valuable as we got to skip the huge lines outside and get right in. Once in the main hall, there in front of us stood the famous statue of David we had anxiously waited to see. It's actually a bit bigger than I had expected it to be. It's truly amazing how skilled Michelangelo was as he was able to duplicate in marble nearly every feature of the human body. The only disappointment at the Accademia Museum was that they don't let you take pictures of the statue. Ironically, in the Royal Caribbean television commercials they show guests taking pictures of the statue and make a point of promoting that fact. Either way, I still shot a bunch of really good pictures of the front of the statue without getting caught. Just as I was starting to take pictures of the back of the statue, one of the museum's staff members finally caught me. She politely asked me to put the camera away and that was it. After the Accademia Museum the group made its way to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo of Florence. This particular excursion didn't include a tour of the Duomo, but we were still able to visit the square surrounding the Duomo and view the grand Brunelleschi dome and Giotto's Bell tower. While in the square we also stopped in front of the Florence Baptistery or Battistero di San Giovanni where our tour guide pointed out the biblical scenes carved into the bronze doors of the Baptistery. Soon after we walked a few blocks to Palazzo Vecchio, the square where the original statue of David stood outside until 1873. They now have a replica of the statue where the original once stood. From here we walked past the Uffizi Gallert to the banks of the Arno River where we marveled at our first views of the beautiful bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge really exemplifies the beauty and history of Florence. We walked along the street that lines the river to the bridge's entrance and then spent a few minutes taking pictures and browsing the shops lining the narrow street atop the bridge. After our stop at the bridge we returned to the Palazzo Vecchio and had lunch at a small restaurant in the square. The lunch was included in the price of the excursion. It was a typical Italian lunch with unlimited wine and champagne. We weren't offered any choices or menu, yet everything they brought out was delicious. For desert they gave us a tiramisu ice cream in a small cup. I'm a huge fan of tiramisu and have tasted literally dozens of different versions of it yet an ice cream version was a first for me. It was actually really good. Following lunch we made our way to the square in front of the Santa Croce Church. We were given about 45 minutes of free time and then told to meet back for the group to continue on to the tour of the church. We took the opportunity to do our souvenir shopping here. We also visited the world famous Vivolis ice cream shop but the lines were too long so we had to skip it. When we finally reunited with the group, we made our way to the entrance of the church. Inside we visited the tombs of some of history's most famous individuals such as Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and several others. After the church tour we made our way back along the Arno River and reunited with our bus. Once everyone was on the bus, we took a short ride up to Plaza Michelangelo atop a hill overlooking the city. This afforded us the chance to enjoy beautiful views of Florence. We could see everything from atop the hill. It's interesting to see how the majority of buildings in Florence all have the same color roof tiles. After this we made our hour or so trip back to Livorno. We were so lucky this day as the weather was amazing!! We couldn't have asked for a nicer day. After returning to the ship we rested till dinner. As was the case on previous nights, we went to sleep almost immediately after dinner since we had a big day ahead. DAY 4 - CIVITAVECCHIA (ROME) The next morning we awoke in another Italian city: Civitavecchia. This is the port city for the incredible city of Rome or as the Italians call it, Roma. We enjoyed an early breakfast in the windjammer and then made our way to the main theater to meet up with our group for the Rome-On-Your-Own excursion offered through Royal Caribbean. This excursion was basically just a ride to and from Rome. We chose this excursion since the Vatican was closed on the day we were there for Corpus Christi Day. Everything else in Rome can pretty much be accomplished on your own. Once our entire group was accounted for in the theater, we all headed down to the gangway on first deck of the ship and boarded a large air-conditioned and really comfortable bus to begin our hour or so long journey to Rome. As expected, the closer the bus got to Rome, the more traffic we encountered. We ended getting to Rome about 30 minutes later than planned. Our bus dropped us off in the Gianicolo underground bus terminal and our intelligent Italian guide escorted us to St Peters Square to announce our meeting time and location for later that afternoon. As soon as she let us go, we grabbed a taxi in front of the Saint Angelo Castle on Via Della Conciliazione in Vatican City. Our taxi driver was a relatively old guy with the driving skills of a teenage video gamer. He also knew every curse word ever created. This was a taxi ride to remember as we definitely came close to death at least a half dozen times while he drove us to the Colosseum. He was barely done avoiding one crash, when he had to start avoiding another one on the other side. It was definitely a ride I don't ever desire to take again. But thankfully we survived and he proceeded to drop us off in front of the Forum and Palatine Hill entrance next to the massive Colosseum. As per our tour guide's advise, and the tips in some trusted guide books, we proceeded first to the long but manageable line at the Forum and Palatine Hill. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the ticket window. Our plan was to buy the all-inclusive ticket here which granted admission to the Forum, Palatine Hill, and Colosseum, and then as per the advise we'd been given, make our way to the Colosseum with ticket in hand. This would supposedly get us into a quick line at the Colosseum and we would avoid the two hour or so ticket line there. Sadly, our plan didn't work. The two lines to get into the Colosseum were both extremely long. One line is for buying tickets while the other is for tour groups. We'd been told to get into the line for tour groups but then we realized that line was just as long. After asking a few people for guidance, we realized there was no way we'd be able to tour the Colosseum and still do everything else in Rome we wanted to do. By the way, in front of the Colosseum they have American tour guides soliciting tourists for "private" tours of the Colosseum for $10 per person plus the cost of admission. This seemed like an obvious scam as they were promising you'd be inside in less than 15 minutes, yet we witnessed the same groups waiting in the super long lines. We proceeded to take as many exterior photos of the Colosseum as we could and then made our way back to the Forum and Palantine Hill. With the ticket already purchased, we entered through a special gate with no line whatsoever. Since we were already way behind schedule, we decided to rush through the Forum and exit at the other end by the Piazza Venezia and the huge memorial to King Vittorio Emanuele II, which is an incredible and massive structure. From here we rushed through the narrow streets of Rome to the Trevi Fountain. Sadly, it was a cloudy day with occasional drizzles. We soon learned what a light drizzle can easily turn into in a matter of seconds. Once we arrived at the Trevi Fountain we took a few pictures and then it started to drizzle. That drizzle soon turned into a massive downpour. Everybody was scrambling for cover. We ran into a McDonalds and proceeded to put on our ponchos and cover our backpacks in plastic for what would prove to be a daunting walk to the Pantheon in this horrible downpour. When we finally reached the Pantheon, we witnessed literally hundreds of people camped out there to avoid the rain. We entered this amazing and ancient structure and got to witness a unique site. The Pantheon has a giant hole in the center of its dome. When it rains, the water comes right into the hole and pours down into the center of the building. This was a cool scene to see. When it finally stopped raining we visited the Piazza Navona. Big disappointment as the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini was being renovated and was covered by a bunch of wooden panels preventing you from viewing it. A lot of people proclaim this to be a beautiful plaza yet we found it pretty dull and boring, and not as pretty as other places in Rome. We were getting hungry now so we began searching for a good pizzeria. We finally found one about two blocks from Piazza Navona where they had an awesome deal for only 5 euros. It included two slices of pizza, an arancino rice ball, and a soda or juice. Five euros for all that was a steal compared to the usual prices in Rome. Some places charge 5 euros just for one slice or pizza! After lunch we returned to the square in front of the Pantheon to take pictures as the sun had returned in full strength. It's incredible when you realize that a structure as unique and impressive as the Pantheon was built nearly two thousand years ago. Nowadays you need big powerful cranes and equipment to create something even similar. Yet back in the days of Ancient Rome, lacking all of our current technological advances, they were still able to build something so impressive. Even more amazing is the fact that it has survived intact for so long. Since the rain ruined our original visit to the Trevi Fountain, we decided to trek back to the Fountain to retake our pictures, this time without the gray skies. We were fortunate enough that there weren't that many people at the Fountain yet so we were able to take pictures right down by the water. After visiting the Fountain, we began our long but scenic walk to Vatican City. To ensure that we didn't get lost, we would ask for directions almost every two blocks. This way we'd always know if we were still going the right way. The streets in Rome form quite a maze so even one wrong turn could have thrown us way off course. Sadly as we approached Vatican City, the skies began to turn to gray again. The much desired sun was leaving us again. After crossing over the Tiber River we found ourselves in front of Saint Angelo Castle. On the front steps of the castle they were having an exhibition to show off the unique vehicles and watercraft used by Rome's police and rescue departments. It was here that I came upon a police car that every police department should have, a Lamborghini police car. From here we continued our walk on the Via della Conciliazione and finally arrived at one of the most visited sites in the world, St Peter's Square in front of St Peter's Basilica. Unfortunately it was beginning to drizzle while we were in the Square so we decided to just do some souvenir shopping and then proceed to our group's meeting spot a few minutes. When we got there our tour guide was already there taking attendance as people arrived. Amazingly, everyone arrived back on time and we departed without issue. After an exhausting day in Rome, I took the opportunity to catch a good nap on the bus ride back to Civitavecchia. Compared to the ugly weather in Rome when we left the city, Civitavecchia was experiencing a beautiful day of sunshine. The bus pulled up right in front of the ship's gangway and we made our way back onto the beautiful Navigator of the Seas. After dropping off our stuff in the room, we proceeded to the best spot on the ship: the jacuzzi in the Solarium. Nothing beats a relaxing trip to the jacuzzi after such a long and exhausting day. Some friends from our Florence tour also found their way to the jacuzzi so we all spent a few hours reminiscing about our awesome experiences in Italy. I must note that dinner that night was very special to me. They finally served tiramisu, my favorite. Spending a day in Rome, Italian pizza for lunch, and tiramisu for desert made this one of the best days of the trip! After dinner we convinced our entire table to come with us to the usually fun and wacky Love & Marriage Show hosted by the cruise director. Our last time on the Navigator of the Seas we had witnessed one of the most hilarious versions of the show. Unfortunately this time around it was extremely boring. The problem was they didn't recruit the right contestants for it. It was way too predictable compared to the bizarre answers given during our November sailing. After the show it was bedtime as we were exhausted! DAY 5 - DAY AT SEA On this last full day of the cruise, we finally had a morning to sleep in as this would be a relaxing day at sea. We woke up just in time to catch the last few minutes of the breakfast buffet. After breakfast we chilled out for a little and then went to lunch in the dining room. I absolutely love Royal Caribbean's dining room lunch menu. It was the same great menu from our November sailing. The food was great but we did experience some less than pleasant service from our waitress. Whenever anyone, including myself, would order more than one thing on the menu she would make a mean comment about that being too much food for us to handle and then we had to proceed to remind her that we indeed wanted those items on the menu. When I finished all my items to her disbelief she made another comment about how I ate so much. We just brushed it off and didn't let it spoil our thus far incredible vacation. After lunch we did something that is definitely bad for your health. We spent about 5 hours in the jacuzzi in the Solarium. However nothing beats the priceless moment when I finally left the jacuzzi. My gray bathing suit was now completely yellow cause of the chlorine in the jacuzzi. Even worse, it smelled like it had been dunked into a tank of chlorine for days. But I didn't care. Gray, yellow, blue, red, it's still a bathing suit and it still fits just as good. After our jacuzzi adventure we got ready for our last dinner of the cruise. It was so sad that in only a few hours we'd be saying goodbye to the ship in Barcelona. That night we had a wonderful final dinner service and then rewarded our waiters with generous and much deserved tips for their hard work. Our table even took a group picture together with our waiter and assistant waiter. After dinner we walked around the ship for a few minutes to explore areas we hadn't seen before such as the dance club before proceeding back to our stateroom and going to bed. DAY 6 - DEBARKATION IN BARCELONA We woke up fairly early today and had breakfast in the Windjammer. We then returned to our stateroom and went back to sleep. We were going to be staying in Barcelona anyways so we had no hurry to get off the ship. Essentially, the later we got off, the better. When we finally left our room, we were the only ones left in our hallway. All the other rooms were already being cleaned. We located our stateroom attendant Bobby and gave him his also much deserved tip and thanked him for doing a wonderful job. He was definitely one of the nicest stateroom attendants we had ever had. He wasn't even upset that we were still in our room. If only all stateroom attendants could be like him! We were carrying our own luggage off so we proceeded to the promenade deck and made our way off the ship. We ended up getting off at around 10:00am. As we talked through baggage claim there where still hundreds of people waiting for their bags and for buses to pick them up. We made our way to the taxi stand in front of the terminal. It was raining really bad this morning, so it was a bit chaotic at the port yet altogether much more organized than the South Florida cruise ports on debarkation days. As we left in the taxi we had to finally concede that this was the end to an incredible cruise on the beautiful Navigator of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
We have travelled on P&O (11 cruises), Princess (2), Celebrity(2) but this was our first on Royal Caribbean. This was also, by a fair margin, the largest ship we had been on. Overall, I found this trip disappointing - not bad, but a ... Read More
We have travelled on P&O (11 cruises), Princess (2), Celebrity(2) but this was our first on Royal Caribbean. This was also, by a fair margin, the largest ship we had been on. Overall, I found this trip disappointing - not bad, but a long way short of what I expected. I had naively believed that as long as the prices were roughly comparable, the overall quality would be the same, although clearly one line would better better in one area than another, and vice versa. I cannot say that I think this is true of our trip on Navigator of the Seas. The first surprising thing was that when we got on board there was no-one to give any guidance at all on where our cabins might be. One every other trip so far, there has been some sort of welcoming party/group , with people to guide you to your cabin. Here, we were left completely to our own devices. (It did not help that Royal Caribbean seems to have invented an unusually complicated way of numbering their cabins!) Now, I think this might be because of the size of the ship - the amount of time to get everyone on board pretty much the same whether you are taking 1000 or 3000 people on board, so the larger the ship, the more difficult it is to greet people as they get on. As I say, I haven't been on such a big ship of any other line, s can't be sure about that. The second most striking thing was the poor choice of meals in the main restaurant in the evening. All but one item on the menu was the same every evening, and that item was never anything out of the ordinary. As an example, one evening the dish was 'knuckle of lamb in rosemary jus'. Nothing wrong with that, except that it is what you would expect to find in almost any UK pub that wanted to move sightly upmarket with its food but did not actually employ a chef. I had a similar experience one breakfast - the restaurant menu claimed to have a special 'egg dish of the day'. When I asked what it was, the water did not know, so he asked the other waiters, who didn't know, then asked the head waiter, who had to send out to the kitchen to find out. Ten minutes later the answer came back as 'Mexican Egg' which they described as fried and sprinkled with herbs. To me, this sounded more like someone had made up on the spur of the moment (and not in the least Mexican!); subsequently a Google search has revealed there is such a thing as 'Mexican Egg', but its nothing like that. My daughter mainly ate evening meals in the buffet area, and reported that the choice was probably better there. The third disappointing aspect of the trip was that piped music was playing constantly and everywhere, even in places where, for example, a string quartet was trying to play something completely different. Finally, there was very little to do in terms of entertainment beyond the big shows. There were no 'learn to play bridge sessions', or anything like that, for example. Over the atmosphere was, to quote my daughter again, 'like spending a week living in a shopping mall'. Lest all of this appears very negative, let me repeat: the trip was not bad. It was simply well below what other companies charging about the same price have provided on our other trips. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was a very last second cruise. Two nights prior to arriving in Barcelona on the Voyager of the Seas, received word of a great rate for inside cabins on the NOS. DH didn't think twice about us taking this cruise. Could not book ... Read More
This was a very last second cruise. Two nights prior to arriving in Barcelona on the Voyager of the Seas, received word of a great rate for inside cabins on the NOS. DH didn't think twice about us taking this cruise. Could not book through RCCL as less than 48 hours to sailing so called TA in U.S. Had confirmation number in an hour and we were all set. The Navigator was docked behind the Voyager in Barcelona so we walked the 150 yds to the terminal. The VOS transferred our luggage. Another couple, with whom we made friends and were table mates on the VOS, joined us for the 3 hour wait. time went by fast as they were new crew members arriving and sitting near us. We volunteered to apply for jobs on the ship, but I guess they felt we were a little too old. As we booked through our TA's and had no documents but a confirmation number, it took quite awhile to get us assigned cabins. But, this too worked out. We all ended up with Promenade cabins vs no window. For 5 nights this is okay, but you never know what the weather is like. This is the first time we have had an inside/promenade cabin. It was okay and could do again if it was the absolutely only way we could sail. I would send DH to an upper deck in the morning for a weather report as there is no way of knowing what to wear. The Navigator is a beautiful ship as she is much newer than VOS. It shows. The appointments and finishes are first class. The staff was great, friendly and extremely helpful. The dining staff again, seem overworked and under staffed. The Maitre'd was outstanding. As we all had no pre-arranged seating, he arranged a fabulous table next to the Captain's table and a third couple, a lovely mother & daughter to join us. Again, used the Gym which seemed smaller than VOS, but still enjoyed. As the Voyager, the Solarium needs to be enclosed. Could not enjoy the pool areas due to cool and very windy weather. The signage for not saving chaise lounges is useless. People must get up at 4am to put their stuff on a chair. We never could get a chaise in the sun. Many never had a person on them, only their bags. We didn't want to be there all day, just an hour or two, but others were adamant that the people would be right back. This never occured. I must say, the majority were German and far from friendly. I am an American, but have lived all over the world. There was absolutely no give and take when it came to the lounges. The buffet cafes are an improvement over the Windjammer and liked the more european style of foods. Cleaning tables seemed to be problem the first day, but that was soon corrected. We do not use the shore excursions, but took off on our own. First stop, Marseilles, France. I don't think one should have to pay for transportation from the dock to the city area if the dock is inaccessible. However, we had no choice and the buses were comfortable and a necessity. Once in town, walked around then took the tram for 4.5Eu/each up to the Basilica and back. Best deal around. Stayed several hours, attending Sunday Mass and touring the area. Picked up the tram to town, walked around since stores were closed. Chose a small outdoor cafe to have a great French lunch. Delighted myself by remembering enough French to translate menu for DH and order for both of us. Weather was great, did some small shopping on the quay side then picked up the bus to return to ship. Next stop, Cagliari, Sardinia - Wet and cool, but walked around town, stopped for espresso, people watched and tried to stay dry. Shops closed in afternoon and department store not of any interest. Found a small cafe to enjoy cheese, proscuitto and wine before walking back to ship. Palermo, Sicily - another port you can walk to to town. Strolled the old streets before hiring a carriage to drive us around for an hour. Carriages at port were asking 80Eu for two, negotiated 40Eu for two of us. However, at the end, driver wanted another 40Eu. Just stood my ground and he walked away. This cruise arrives in ports during the afternoon siesta and shops, restaurants, etc are not open. Not good timing. Dined early this time due to the much later seating on the Mediterranean run. This afforded us to see the shows. Shows much better on this ship. Cruise Director was great, best ever. Enjoyed the ice show which we did not see on the VOS as tickets only distributed once for all performances. This show was open seating and never full. We went to the Platinum members lounge for coffee and rolls which is a real plus. They called our tag color in 30 minutes. Disembarkation was a breeze. Off the ship by 8:30 and in a taxi headed to the train station to pick up rent car. Overall, would definitely sail the Navigator again and take the Mediterranean cruise. Great value for the money. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS: OUR MEDITERRANEAN ADVENTURE My girlfriend and I, both in our early 20's and recent university graduates, took a fantastic Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean's beautiful Navigator of the Seas on May ... Read More
NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS: OUR MEDITERRANEAN ADVENTURE My girlfriend and I, both in our early 20's and recent university graduates, took a fantastic Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean's beautiful Navigator of the Seas on May 19, 2008. We sailed out of Barcelona and visited Cannes, Florence and Rome. We started planning our European trip back in December 2007. My girlfriend had certain desires for the trip, as did I. She wanted to visit a few specific cities and well, simply, I wanted to go on a Mediterranean cruise. Not just any cruise, but a Royal Caribbean cruise. Who can blame me! Ever since Summer 2007 I've been completely hooked on cruising with Royal Caribbean. Within a period of less than 12 months I will have taken four cruises. Three great cruises on Royal Caribbean and one mediocre cruise on Carnival. After lots of hassling with picking dates to fly and dates to sail, we finally found the perfect combination that would allow us to spend lots of time in Europe before and after the cruise. Along with the perfect timing of the sailing date, we also chose this specific cruise for several reasons: the amazing itinerary; the time of year to visit these great classic cities, the price of the cruise; and most important, the fact that we had sailed on Navigator of the Seas in November 2007 and absolutely loved it! In case you want to know why we loved Navigator of the Seas, here is my Cruise Critic review from the November 2007 sailing: http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=35111 After months of anticipation and extreme planning, including endless hours on Cruise Critic, we finally flew to Madrid on May 13th to begin our 3-week adventure. We stayed in Madrid for 3 nights before taking the Renfe AVE train to Barcelona on the 17th. This was going to be my first time commuting on a 'real' train. I've taken dozens of metros and city trains, but never a 'real' train from one major city to another. The amazing thing was the short amount of time it took to get from Madrid to Barcelona. It's usually a 7 or so hour trip but the AVE train accomplishes it in 2 hours and 30 minutes going at speeds of over 200mph. We chose the early-afternoon train because it travels direct without making any stops. This explains how it can make the trip in such little time. We spent the 17th and 18th in Barcelona before the "big day" on the 19th. DAY 1 - EMBARKATION IN BARCELONA On the 19th in the morning we took a rather inexpensive taxi to the Moll Adossat at the Port of Barcelona. This is where the Navigator of the Seas was patiently waiting for us. As we crossed the bridge that links Barcelona with the cruise terminals we got our first glimpse of this gigantic cruise ship. Of course Navigator of the Seas was the biggest cruise ship in port that day, and without a doubt the most impressive. It was cool realizing that the last time we had seen the ship was back in Fort Lauderdale and now we were seeing her again thousands of miles away in Barcelona. We arrived at the terminal at around 10:50am and made our way through the security checkpoint with our luggage. Whenever my girlfriend and I cruise we only take standard carry-on luggage. Sometimes several pieces of carry-on luggage, but as long as we don't have to check bags we're satisfied. It just makes things easier. Once through security we quickly checked in at the counter and received our Sea Pass cards. In my opinion, definitely the quickest and most efficient check in staff. We then made our way to a line of people that was waiting for the escalators to be turned on that would lead us to the ship's promenade deck for embarkation. The terminal staff started the embarkation process at around 11:20am and my girlfriend and I were literally the third and fourth ones to get on the ship. Once onboard we went up to the 9th deck to find our stateroom. The doors leading to the staterooms were still closed since they were preparing the rooms, but that didn't stop us. We simply opened one of the doors and made our way to our assigned stateroom, which we discovered had just been prepared minutes earlier. We introduced ourselves to our stateroom attendant Bobby and he helped us get settled in. He was extremely courteous and helpful. After unpacking we grabbed a bite to eat at the Cafe Promenade and then the Windjammer. We also made our reservations for Chops and Portofino. Thereafter we visited the Solarium and enjoyed the jacuzzi all to ourselves. When we got bored with the outside jacuzzi we made our way to the huge jacuzzi in the spa and enjoyed that all to ourselves as well. Soon after we returned to the Solarium jacuzzi and stayed there for a while before finally returning to the room to get ready for the all-mighty muster drill. Though muster drills are boring, especially after doing them a few times, they are indeed extremely necessary and we take them very serious. However on this cruise the muster drill took boring to the extremes. Being an international sailing, the muster drill was held in what seemed like four or five different languages. It was the longest, most boring time you could ever imagine. To make things worse, the drill did not start on time since many of the international guests were not aware of the strict requirements to attend. I did see something quite funny while at the drill. Next to our muster station in the aft of the ship they have a door labeled specifically for the use of the crew only. It appears to lead to a staircase or service elevator. We constantly witnessed guests coming out of that door to find their muster station. It seems likely that when the time came for the drill, some guests picked any staircase or elevator they could find without paying much attention to the big signs explaining they were for crew only. After the muster drill we returned to our stateroom to get ready for dinner. We had the late 9:30pm seating but had made a 6:30pm reservation at Chops for the first night. We had never tried the specialty restaurants onboard so we figured we'd give it a shot. And in the end we definitely regretted it. I'm aware that literally thousands of Cruise Critic guests brag about their awesome experiences at Chops, but we were one of the few that didn't enjoy it. I'll start with this. Yes, the food was quite good. Nothing over the top, but good. It was definitely comparable to the dining room food, which in my opinion is really good for the most part. The part that led to the bad experience was the service. Since we were the early birds that night, Chops was pretty empty. There were maybe five or six other couples at most. However, right after we ordered one of the ship's officers and a female guest entered Chops and were seated in a large booth in the back of the room. Thereafter the service got horrible as the Chops staff seemed to ignore the other couples and literally spent the entire time catering to the officer, who was not the Captain by the way. A megaphone would have come in handy that night to get the staffs' attention. Every time we needed something, the waiters were over at the officer's tabling chatting. When we finished our entrEes I asked our waiter nicely if she could please clear our table and she refused. She said she was busy and she'd do it later. She of course rushed back to the officer's table. Not the type of service we were expecting. The only real advantage of eating there was the view of the Mediterranean coastline as we sailed to our first port of call, Cannes, France. We wanted to enjoy our cruise on a positive note so we decided not to complain about the Chops issue and just write it off as a lesson learned. In case you're wondering, I had the French onion soup, the mushroom caps, the t-bone steak, and we tried every desert on the menu, while my girlfriend had a French onion soup and the fish entrEe. When we finished at Chops we hung out around the ship for a little and then made our way to our regular dinner seating to meet the guests at our table. We ended up with the coolest table on the entire cruise. We were four young non-married couples, and all American. We all got along great from the start. Even though we didn't eat a thing, my girlfriend and I still ended up staying all the way through desert chatting it up with our new friends. We also were very impressed with our waiter and assistant waiter. They were really nice and efficient. After dinner we headed back to the room to get a good night's sleep as we would be waking up early for Cannes the next morning. DAY 2 - CANNES Waking up early at home: horrible feeling. Waking up early on a nearly billion dollar cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean: exciting for obvious reasons. Once awake, we quickly headed up two floors to the Windjammer for breakfast. We got there so early that we had to sneak in and wait at a table by the aft windows for a few minute till the official opening time. The guy who always greets guests entering the Windjammer on Navigator of the Seas tried kicking us out for being early, but someone stopped him and told him to let us stay since we weren't bothering. After breakfast we got ready and then made our way up to the pool deck to wait for the distribution of the tender tickets to get to Cannes. As everybody was waiting in the huge line on the pool deck, I faintly heard an announcement over the PA system talking about guests not needing tickets if they went down to the tenders right away. Since the PA wasn't too clear out on the pool deck, I was second-guessing if I had heard the announcement correctly. Since the same thing happened on our November sailing, I figured I must have heard correctly. I told my girlfriend to run for it and we literally ran down the stairs all the way from the pool deck to the first floor and we were indeed able to board the tenders without tickets. It was funny cause when we ran all the other guests in line on the pool deck were looking as us as if we were crazy. Unfortunately they all remained waiting in that long line. Eventually after about 15 minutes of waiting on the tenders for more people to show up, we began seeing people who had been on the pool deck begin to board the tenders. We ended up leaving to Cannes about 10 minutes later. When we first booked the cruise we realized that we were going to be in Cannes during the international film festival, the Festival de Cannes. We also realized that all Festival activities and events were off limits to the public so we figured that the only way to enjoy our time in Cannes was to secure full access passes to the festival. After pulling a few strings, we were able to secure these nearly impossible-to-get passes. As soon as the tender got to the Old Port in Cannes, we were the first ones to get off and we immediately rushed over to the Palais de Festival, the official headquarters of the film festival. There we picked up our passes and enjoyed a truly memorable day. We were able to get into all of the exclusive areas of the Festival! We even attended two VIP parties in the afternoon. The only downside was that we had to be back on the ship by about 5:30pm. This meant that we couldn't experience any of the famous nightlife of the Festival nor the red carpet action that we constantly see on television and in the magazines. We ended up taking a tender back to the ship at around 4:00pm. We usually prefer to go back a little early to avoid the craziness that occurs on the tenders as sailing time approaches. After returning to the ship we rested for a while and then got ready for the formal dinner. I was really happy to finally be eating in the dining room after the previous night's unfortunate experience at Chops. Also, after not eating anything in the main dining room on the first night, I was excited to finally be able to do what I always do on cruises: order everything I want on the menu. I usually average about two appetizers a night, two or three entrEes, and about three deserts. After dinner we walked around for a little and then went to sleep. This cruise had a very port-intensive itinerary so we had to go to sleep early every night to be able to function well and enjoy the coming day. DAY 3 - LIVORNO (FLORENCE) Overnight we had sailed from Cannes to Livorno, Italy. Livorno is the port city for Florence and Pisa since both are inland. To really experience the splendor of Florence in the time allotted, we had pre-booked the Royal Caribbean excursion Historical Florence and Accademia Museum. This was the only excursion offered that guaranteed a visit to the Accademia Museum, or Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze as it's also known, home to Michelangelo's statue of David. There was no way we were going to visit Florence and not stand before this incredible statue. After breakfast in the Windjammer that morning we finished getting ready and then headed down to the Ixtapa Lounge to meet up with the group for our tour. As soon as every one was there, we all headed down to the first floor to exit the ship and board our bus to Florence. There were literally dozens of big charter buses lined up in front of the ship. Since there's really not much to do in Livorno, it seemed like most guests had opted to go on one of the many excursions offered by Royal Caribbean. The journey to Florence afforded us the opportunity to catch unforgettable views of the surrounding scenery of Tuscany. From a distance we got to see the town of Pisa, including the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa or as it's known in Italy, Torre pendente di Pisa. We also drove past some of the huge Tuscan mountain ranges that have provided the marble that's been used for some of Italy's most famous statues, including the statue of David we would soon visit. The only negative thing about the bus ride to Florene was that even though we were only a small group of about twenty people, we stopped for three long bathroom breaks in a period of one hour. These stops ultimately delayed our arrival in Florence. This was really upsetting as we had paid to see Florence, not to be parked at local gas stations for extended periods of time. When we finally arrived in Florence, the bus dropped us off a few blocks away from the Accademia Museum. Our group made its way to the museum and once there waited outside for a few minutes as our tour guide picked up our tickets. Being on a tour proved to be so valuable as we got to skip the huge lines outside and get right in. Once in the main hall, there in front of us stood the famous statue of David we had anxiously waited to see. It's actually a bit bigger than I had expected it to be. It's truly amazing how skilled Michelangelo was as he was able to duplicate in marble nearly every feature of the human body. The only disappointment at the Accademia Museum was that they don't let you take pictures of the statue. Ironically, in the Royal Caribbean television commercials they show guests taking pictures of the statue and make a point of promoting that fact. Either way, I still shot a bunch of really good pictures of the front of the statue without getting caught. Just as I was starting to take pictures of the back of the statue, one of the museum's staff members finally caught me. She politely asked me to put the camera away and that was it. After the Accademia Museum the group made its way to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo of Florence. This particular excursion didn't include a tour of the Duomo, but we were still able to visit the square surrounding the Duomo and view the grand Brunelleschi dome and Giotto's Bell tower. While in the square we also stopped in front of the Florence Baptistry or Battistero di San Giovanni where our tour guide pointed out the biblical scenes carved into the bronze doors of the Baptistry. Soon after we walked a few blocks to Palazzo Vecchio, the square where the original statue of David stood outside until 1873. They now have a replica of the statue where the original once stood. From here we walked past the Uffizi Gallert to the banks of the Arno River where we marveled at our first views of the beautiful bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge really exemplifies the beauty and history of Florence. We walked along the street that lines the river to the bridge's entrance and then spent a few minutes taking pictures and browsing the shops lining the narrow street atop the bridge. After our stop at the bridge we returned to the Palazzo Vecchio and had lunch at a small restaurant in the square. The lunch was included in the price of the excursion. It was a typical Italian lunch with unlimited wine and champagne. We weren't offered any choices or menu, yet everything they brought out was delicious. For desert they gave us a tiramisu ice cream in a small cup. I'm a huge fan of tiramisu and have tasted literally dozens of different versions of it yet an ice cream version was a first for me. It was actually really good. Following lunch we made our way to the square in front of the Santa Croce Church. We were given about 45 minutes of free time and then told to meet back for the group to continue on to the tour of the church. We took the opportunity to do our souvenir shopping here. We also visited the world famous Vivolis ice cream shop but the lines were too long so we had to skip it. When we finally reunited with the group, we made our way to the entrance of the church. Inside we visited the tombs of some of history's most famous individuals such as Galileo, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and several others. After the church tour we made our way back along the Arno River and reunited with our bus. Once everyone was on the bus, we took a short ride up to Plaza Michelangelo atop a hill overlooking the city. This afforded us the chance to enjoy beautiful views of Florence. We could see everything from atop the hill. It's interesting to see how the majority of buildings in Florence all have the same color roof tiles. After this we made our hour or so trip back to Livorno. We were so lucky this day as the weather was amazing!! We couldn't have asked for a nicer day. After returning to the ship we rested till dinner. As was the case on previous nights, we went to sleep almost immediately after dinner since we had a big day ahead. DAY 4 - CIVITAVECCHIA (ROME) The next morning we awoke in another Italian city: Civitavecchia. This is the port city for the incredible city of Rome or as the Italians call it, Roma. We enjoyed an early breakfast in the windjammer and then made our way to the main theater to meet up with our group for the Rome-On-Your-Own excursion offered through Royal Caribbean. This excursion was basically just a ride to and from Rome. We chose this excursion since the Vatican was closed on the day we were there for Corpus Christi Day. Everything else in Rome can pretty much be accomplished on your own. Once our entire group was accounted for in the theater, we all headed down to the gangway on first deck of the ship and boarded a large air-conditioned and really comfortable bus to begin our hour or so long journey to Rome. As expected, the closer the bus got to Rome, the more traffic we encountered. We ended getting to Rome about 30 minutes later than planned. Our bus dropped us off in the Gianicolo underground bus terminal and our intelligent Italian guide escorted us to St Peters Square to announce our meeting time and location for later that afternoon. As soon as she let us go, we grabbed a taxi in front of the Saint Angelo Castle on Via Della Conciliazione in Vatican City. Our taxi driver was a relatively old guy with the driving skills of a teenage video gamer. He also knew every curse word ever created. This was a taxi ride to remember as we definitely came close to death at least a half dozen times while he drove us to the Colosseum. He was barely done avoiding one crash, when he had to start avoiding another one on the other side. It was definitely a ride I don't ever desire to take again. But thankfully we survived and he proceeded to drop us off in front of the Forum and Palatine Hill entrance next to the massive Colosseum. As per our tour guide's advise, and the tips in some trusted guide books, we proceeded first to the long but manageable line at the Forum and Palatine Hill. It took us about 30 minutes to reach the ticket window. Our plan was to buy the all-inclusive ticket here which granted admission to the Forum, Palatine Hill, and Colosseum, and then as per the advise we'd been given, make our way to the Colosseum with ticket in hand. This would supposedly get us into a quick line at the Colosseum and we would avoid the two hour or so ticket line there. Sadly, our plan didn't work. The two lines to get into the Colosseum were both extremely long. One line is for buying tickets while the other is for tour groups. We'd been told to get into the line for tour groups but then we realized that line was just as long. After asking a few people for guidance, we realized there was no way we'd be able to tour the Colosseum and still do everything else in Rome we wanted to do. By the way, in front of the Colosseum they have American tour guides soliciting tourists for "private" tours of the Colosseum for $10 per person plus the cost of admission. This seemed like an obvious scam as they were promising you'd be inside in less than 15 minutes, yet we witnessed the same groups waiting in the super long lines. We proceeded to take as many exterior photos of the Colosseum as we could and then made our way back to the Forum and Palantine Hill. With the ticket already purchased, we entered through a special gate with no line whatsoever. Since we were already way behind schedule, we decided to rush through the Forum and exit at the other end by the Piazza Venezia and the huge memorial to King Vittorio Emanuele II, which is an incredible and massive structure. From here we rushed through the narrow streets of Rome to the Trevi Fountain. Sadly, it was a cloudy day with occasional drizzles. We soon learned what a light drizzle can easily turn into in a matter of seconds. Once we arrived at the Trevi Fountain we took a few pictures and then it started to drizzle. That drizzle soon turned into a massive downpour. Everybody was scrambling for cover. We ran into a McDonalds and proceeded to put on our ponchos and cover our backpacks in plastic for what would prove to be a daunting walk to the Pantheon in this horrible downpour. When we finally reached the Pantheon, we witnessed literally hundreds of people camped out there to avoid the rain. We entered this amazing and ancient structure and got to witness a unique site. The Pantheon has a giant hole in the center of its dome. When it rains, the water comes right into the hole and pours down into the center of the building. This was a cool scene to see. When it finally stopped raining we visited the Piazza Navona. Big disappointment as the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi by Bernini was being renovated and was covered by a bunch of wooden panels preventing you from viewing it. A lot of people proclaim this to be a beautiful plaza yet we found it pretty dull and boring, and not as pretty as other places in Rome. We were getting hungry now so we began searching for a good pizzeria. We finally found one about two blocks from Piazza Navona where they had an awesome deal for only 5 euros. It included two slices of pizza, an arancino rice ball, and a soda or juice. Five euros for all that was a steal compared to the usual prices in Rome. Some places charge 5 euros just for one slice or pizza! After lunch we returned to the square in front of the Pantheon to take pictures as the sun had returned in full strength. It's incredible when you realize that a structure as unique and impressive as the Pantheon was built nearly two thousand years ago. Nowadays you need big powerful cranes and equipment to create something even similar. Yet back in the days of Ancient Rome, lacking all of our current technological advances, they were still able to build something so impressive. Even more amazing is the fact that it has survived intact for so long. Since the rain ruined our original visit to the Trevi Fountain, we decided to trek back to the Fountain to retake our pictures, this time without the gray skies. We were fortunate enough that there weren't that many people at the Fountain yet so we were able to take pictures right down by the water. After visiting the Fountain, we began our long but scenic walk to Vatican City. To ensure that we didn't get lost, we would ask for directions almost every two blocks. This way we'd always know if we were still going the right way. The streets in Rome form quite a maze so even one wrong turn could have thrown us way off course. Sadly as we approached Vatican City, the skies began to turn to gray again. The much desired sun was leaving us again. After crossing over the Tiber River we found ourselves in front of Saint Angelo Castle. On the front steps of the castle they were having an exhibition to show off the unique vehicles and watercraft used by Rome's police and rescue departments. It was here that I came upon a police car that every police department should have, a Lamborghini police car. From here we continued our walk on the Via della Conciliazione and finally arrived at one of the most visited sites in the world, St Peter's Square in front of St Peter's Basilica. Unfortunately it was beginning to drizzle while we were in the Square so we decided to just do some souvenir shopping and then proceed to our group's meeting spot a few minutes. When we got there our tour guide was already there taking attendance as people arrived. Amazingly, everyone arrived back on time and we departed without issue. After an exhausting day in Rome, I took the opportunity to catch a good nap on the bus ride back to Civitavecchia. Compared to the ugly weather in Rome when we left the city, Civitavecchia was experiencing a beautiful day of sunshine. The bus pulled up right in front of the ship's gangway and we made our way back onto the beautiful Navigator of the Seas. After dropping off our stuff in the room, we proceeded to the best spot on the ship: the jacuzzi in the Solarium. Nothing beats a relaxing trip to the jacuzzi after such a long and exhausting day. Some friends from our Florence tour also found their way to the jacuzzi so we all spent a few hours reminiscing about our awesome experiences in Italy. I must note that dinner that night was very special to me. They finally served tiramisu, my favorite. Spending a day in Rome, Italian pizza for lunch, and tiramisu for desert made this one of the best days of the trip! After dinner we convinced our entire table to come with us to the usually fun and wacky Love & Marriage Show hosted by the cruise director. Our last time on the Navigator of the Seas we had witnessed one of the most hilarious versions of the show. Unfortunately this time around it was extremely boring. The problem was they didn't recruit the right contestants for it. It was way too predictable compared to the bizarre answers given during our November sailing. After the show it was bedtime as we were exhausted! DAY 5 - DAY AT SEA On this last full day of the cruise, we finally had a morning to sleep in as this would be a relaxing day at sea. We woke up just in time to catch the last few minutes of the breakfast buffet. After breakfast we chilled out for a little and then went to lunch in the dining room. I absolutely love Royal Caribbean's dining room lunch menu. It was the same great menu from our November sailing. The food was great but we did experience some less than pleasant service from our waitress. Whenever anyone, including myself, would order more than one thing on the menu she would make a mean comment about that being too much food for us to handle and then we had to proceed to remind her that we indeed wanted those items on the menu. When I finished all my items to her disbelief she made another comment about how I ate so much. We just brushed it off and didn't let it spoil our thus far incredible vacation. After lunch we did something that is definitely bad for your health. We spent about 5 hours in the jacuzzi in the Solarium. However nothing beats the priceless moment when I finally left the jacuzzi. My gray bathing suit was now completely yellow cause of the chlorine in the jacuzzi. Even worse, it smelled like it had been dunked into a tank of chlorine for days. But I didn't care. Gray, yellow, blue, red, it's still a bathing suit and it still fits just as good. After our jacuzzi adventure we got ready for our last dinner of the cruise. It was so sad that in only a few hours we'd be saying goodbye to the ship in Barcelona. That night we had a wonderful final dinner service and then rewarded our waiters with generous and much deserved tips for their hard work. Our table even took a group picture together with our waiter and assistant waiter. After dinner we walked around the ship for a few minutes to explore areas we hadn't seen before such as the dance club before proceeding back to our stateroom and going to bed. DAY 6 - DEBARKATION IN BARCELONA We woke up fairly early today and had breakfast in the Windjammer. We then returned to our stateroom and went back to sleep. We were going to be staying in Barcelona anyways so we had no hurry to get off the ship. Essentially, the later we got off, the better. When we finally left our room, we were the only ones left in our hallway. All the other rooms were already being cleaned. We located our stateroom attendant Bobby and gave him his also much deserved tip and thanked him for doing a wonderful job. He was definitely one of the nicest stateroom attendants we had ever had. He wasn't even upset that we were still in our room. If only all stateroom attendants could be like him! We were carrying our own luggage off so we proceeded to the promenade deck and made our way off the ship. We ended up getting off at around 10:00am. As we talked through baggage claim there where still hundreds of people waiting for their bags and for buses to pick them up. We made our way to the taxi stand in front of the terminal. It was raining really bad this morning, so it was a bit chaotic at the port yet altogether much more organized than the South Florida cruise ports on debarkation days. As we left in the taxi we had to finally concede that this was the end to an incredible cruise on the beautiful Navigator of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Day 1 Got an early flight to Barcelona .We took Barcelona-airport-tranfers to port Moll D'Adossat. Excellent and efficient service, I would highly recommend them. As expected the check in process at the terminal was slow but ... Read More
Day 1 Got an early flight to Barcelona .We took Barcelona-airport-tranfers to port Moll D'Adossat. Excellent and efficient service, I would highly recommend them. As expected the check in process at the terminal was slow but tolerable. Once checked in we headed to the Windjammer for lunch. Such a welcoming crews. Especially one in Windjammer :) Day 2 Our first port of call was Marseilles,France. We were asked to book the shuttle ticket the day before. But on the day itself people still have the option to buy. Provencal rain doesn't really help the day. Took petit train up to Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde .Honestly there's nothing much to do here if you have such a limited time. That night we had a formal dinner. Time to glam up. The sea was quite rough that night. Day 3 Cagliari, Sardinia - Took the bus from Piazza Matteotti to Poetto beach. Beach is gorgeous. Its a little chilly to swim. We had very little time on this stop and had to rush back to the ship. At night the guys spent most of their time in the casino playing craps. They loved it. Day 4 Palermo,Sicily - Took the city sightseeing hop-on-hop-off bus. Bought the ticket straight away when you disembarked from the ship .Went around town and walk half way back to get on the other bus line. Very tiring day but we covered most of the town. It's a nice town and people are very relaxed compared with other Italian cities. Day 5 Day at sea - Gym, spa treatment, Jacuzzi and ice-skating. Weather wasn't really nice to sun bathe unfortunately. Day 6 Barcelona, Spain- Check out process was smooth but getting taxi to La Ramblas was a pain. Queued for 1 hour and finally reach our Modernista apartment on Santa Anna. Very well located and highly recommended. Onboard activities - Definitely ice skating / rock climbing / crazy golf Ship - Enormous and nicely decorated. Much younger crowds compared to one last year Itinerary - If you want to cover most stops , a bit tiring as the time given is a bit short. Also the is nothing special about most town except Barcelona . Shows - Great shows especially the acrobats and ice skating. String Fever is our favorites. Cruise director Kieran, such good singer and entertainer Food - Fresh food everyday. Definitely try the garlic baked escargot on the main dining. A bit hard to find table at times at Windjammer . Cabin - We booked interior rooms on deck 10. Comfortable and reasonable size. Had a great trip, bring on the next cruise .... La Caribbean of course ... Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This was our 4th cruise with Royal Caribbean. First on the Voyager Class. We travelled out on Thursday night and stopped in Rivolli Ramblas, a hotel situated on the famous Ramblas in the city centre. Our experience of Barcelona wasn't ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise with Royal Caribbean. First on the Voyager Class. We travelled out on Thursday night and stopped in Rivolli Ramblas, a hotel situated on the famous Ramblas in the city centre. Our experience of Barcelona wasn't great, the 'women of the night' pestering us on Las Ramblas was seriously annoying and disturbing.However, the hotel was spacious and clean. Or room was excellent with a jacuzzi bath and two TV's. Breakfast was included and consisted of a buffet in the hotel restaurant. We took a cab to Port Barcelona at about 10.30. The check-in was painless and very speedy. After, we waited in the main foyer for 15 minutes before being allowed to enter the ship. We were enjoying our first drink at 11.15. After sailing two Freedom Class vessels the Navigator failed to deliver that WOW factor but, was well equipped and had many amenities. I must also say that the Navigator doesn't look six years old at all. I'd say about two at the most. Dining! Food in the windjammer was excellent as usual. On embarkation day there was a slight British theme with food such as 'sheperds pie, and 'beef 'ot pot'. My only complaint about the windjammer was the drink station. Sometimes, drinks are there a long time and when they are taken all the ice seems to have melted leaving an extremely watery lemonade. Maybe, Royal Caribbean could allow the customer to apply their own ice to their drink. The main dining room was at a high standard. All meals were hot, delicious and flavored. Service was good but, our headwaiter Ray was exceptional. He very talkative and offered plenty of assistance. For the first time we decided to try Portofino's, I would highly recommend it to everyone! Everything was perfect, the food, the service and the decor. We booked when we first boarded and I would advise others to do the same. Entertainment! Our cruise director was Kieron Buffery. He was very comical and did his job well. I didn't think his system of the 'love and marriage' game show was as good as others but it was enjoyable. There was no quest but RCI productions (including ice shows) were fantastic. We saw Jimmy and Anna for the 3rd time but were still amazed, 'String Fever' were good but, 'Charlie Frye & Company' was out of this world. The magic and comedy were brilliant and this was the best variety act we've ever seen. Room! We had inside room 6647. It was just as we expected. We didn't often see the attendant but, when we did he was extremely friendly and did a superb job with our room. Facilities! The facilities were great. I especially enjoyed the inline skating track and wish it was incorporated into the freedom class. The golf course was showing some wear but this just added fun to the challenge. Only looked in the gym but, it seemed well looked after and had plenty of equipment. Ports! Marseilles- Rained ALL day. We took the petit train to Notre Dam Cathedral. Not much to do there. It was a Sunday so all shops were closed. Cagliari- We took a tour of historic Cagliari. To be fair it's extremely limited. Being British and surrounded by History I found very little in Cagliari. However, the sun was shining so we made the most. Palermo- Not the nicest place in the world. It seemed to be more industrial, rather than touristy. There were some good shops and plenty of nice cafes. We were conned on a horse ride. BEWARE everyone!!! If someone on one of these says 50 euros they mean per person. It cost two of us 100 euros for a twenty minute ride. Also, the horse was that filthy it started my hayfever which I suffered with all the journey. You live and learn. All in all this was a great cruise! The ports weren't great but the cruise was brilliant. My farther and I really enjoyed it and can't wait for the next one. My main concern however, is there were 1700 Brits onboard and 600 spaniards. Still when the cruise director came out and spoke he had a small woman next to him translating word for word. This was very annoying and slowed the whole entertainment process down. But, we didn't let this affect the overall experience for us and still had fun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
I am going to describe all of our holiday as there may be parts apart from the actual cruises that may be of interest, so feel free to skip paragraphs that you are not interested in! All comments are my opinions, so there! Getting to ... Read More
I am going to describe all of our holiday as there may be parts apart from the actual cruises that may be of interest, so feel free to skip paragraphs that you are not interested in! All comments are my opinions, so there! Getting to Barcelona We decided to try the 'eco friendly' way of getting to BCN and went by train. Northampton to Euston was no problem and it only took us about 15 minutes to walk to St.Pancras to catch the Eurostar to Paris. Although there is the inevitable waiting around, the trip so far was OK. We got to Paris Gare du Nord and headed off on the metro for Gare d'Austerlitz. This is where we had a few problems. Between my wife (Jane) and I we were pulling 3 bags on wheels and 2 holdalls (which were carried on top of the bags). We got down the escalators OK, but were confronted with a flight of stairs and no lift in sight. We got down to platform level after transferring one bag at a time down the stairs. We managed to get on the metro just before they closed the doors(!), which was no mean feat and got off at the 8th stop for Gare d'Austerlitz. The line here has just come over the River Seine on a bridge, so we were 2 floors above ground level and, yes you've guessed, no lift! So we humped the bags down 4 flights of stairs. By the time we got to the bottom I was knackered and had a good sweat on! It was a 2 minute walk into the station and we only waited about 10 minutes before we could board the overnight Trenhotel to BCN. We got on and the first shock was the size of the cabin. We had opted for Gran Classe(1st class) and for this we got a double room with toilet and shower. There is not a lot of room (swinging of cats would be tricky!) and our big bag had to go in the shower (so no shower in the morning) as I could not get it on the overhead storage shelf with the other two. We went for dinner (included) and sat with a couple from the US who were originally from the Ukraine. We were not alone in thinking the cabins small. As they said, if this is Gran Classe, what are the other cabins like?! Dinner was very good and we went off to get some sleep. However, the train had other ideas! I don't know if the its because the track is old or what, but we were thrown about from side to side most of the night (worse than the worse night I've had on a cruise ship in rough seas) and ended up regularly waking up. Got up for breakfast (croissant, toast, petit pain de chocolate, egg and mushroom concoction) and arrived at Franca station on time at 8.25am. Taxi to hotel was about 10 minutes and cost €13. Hotel Continental Palacete As long as you go with the attitude that this is not a 5* hotel you will be fine. The staff are extremely helpful, the place is clean (both plus points in my book!). There are only 19 rooms and 2 suites, but our room was quite spacious and well lit. The bedrooms are done out in pink and look a bit like a 'tarts boudoir', but are perfectly adequate. Each room has an ensuite bathroom, safe, TV, microwave and fridge, but no tea/coffee facilities. However, there is the 24 hr buffet. Whilst you could live off it, you probably won't as it is very samey every day. There is a hot sausage and bacon dish and a sort of ring omelette for breakfast, together with fruit, cereals and toast etc. You have access to unlimited bottled water, canned drinks (pepsi, fanta, beer), tea, coffee, milk, red and white wine. The lounge looks like it belongs at Versailles(!) and is made up of plastic tables and chairs, but these are all tastefully covered. All in all I think it was excellent value and only 5 minutes walk from Placa de Catalunya. There is a taxi rank opposite the hotel and the only real bad thing (if you have mobility issues) is that you have to climb about 10 steps to get to the lift to get up to the first floor of the building. The whole 'hotel' is on the first floor. After we came off our cruise, we had to kill 10 hours in Barcelona and they let us dump our bags at the hotel and use all the facilities free of charge. 4 days in Barcelona As our room wasn't ready at the hotel, we went off for a walk down the Ramblas to the old port and walked around the aquarium area and back to the hotel. This took us about 4 hours, so when we got back to the hotel our room was ready and we unpacked. 2nd day we did the HOHO bus. This was €20 for one day (2days €26). We had noticed the previous day that the queues in Placa de Catalunya get big very quickly, so you want to get there for about 9am. We did the red route first, then changed to blue route in Placa de Catalunya. When we did this, one side of the Placa was closed off so both buses were on the same side of the square. Normally the red bus is on the east side and the blue bus on the west, so you have to walk across the square to change. We did also do the green route, but to be honest there was not a lot to see on it. We stopped off and walked along the beach promenade (all redeveloped for the 92 Olympics) where there loads of different restaurants. We also visited Parc Guell, which is quite spectacular, even with the fountains all switched off for maintenance, but be warned...it is a very steep walk. Next day we went to Monserrat monastery. We did this via public transport and arrived back in Barcelona about 4.30pm. The views from the top of the mountains are spectacular, as is the cathedral at the monastery. On our 4th day we did a segway tour around Barcelona. We were the only 2 on the tour, so Buster (our guide) said we could go where we want. He took us all over the city and way down towards the Forum at the NE end of the beach. We had a good 4 hrs on this tour. On returning to the hotel, we went and did a bit of washing at a local laundromat which was very clean and well maintained. Cruise 1 (15th - 19thMay) Got a taxi to the Moll Adossat to join the Navigator. We arrived about 11.30 am. There was about 20 other people checking in, so in about 5 minutes we were walking onto the ship. Others we met on the ship who arrived at the 'correct' time of 2pm waited for an hour or more. Moral: get there early!! We went up to our Junior Suite on deck 9 and were very pleased with the amount of extra room (this was our first time in a JS to get double points, so that by the end of holiday we would be Diamond). Bags arrived just before muster drill. OK, so nobody really likes doing muster drill, but it could save your life. So why don't the crew have a go at those who insist on not wearing their life jacket. I'd let them all drown! I bet they would be first on the lifeboats in a real emergency! We walked round the ship to get our bearings and headed of for dinner. Now on this cruise there were around 120 US, 500 UK ...and 1200 Spanish. As has been said on other boards, meal times have been moved to suit the Spaniards, so we opted for the main (6.45) sitting. All 4 days we were on a table for 10 by the captains table and we were the only 2 on it. Now many of you would say this probably got boring and maybe it did, but it is amazing how critical you can be of other people when no one else is around! We commented on people not sticking to the dress code (why bother having it?) and the amount of people who came to dinner late. I don't mean like 15 minutes or so, but nearly every night a Spanish group of about 20 came in at 8.30 and were served!..bearing in mind that they do not open for second sitting until everyone from main has gone. I think this is just plain rude to other guests, but especially to the wait staff. I don't know why they are not just refused entry. We even mentioned this to the maitre d'. The CD was Kieron Buffery from Dover and we met up with him a few times. I think his humor was slightly lost on the Spaniards, but hey ho thats their loss! As we were going to be on for 3 cruises we decided to watch all the production shows in the first cruise, then if there was anything really impressive, we could watch it again on a subsequent cruise. I'm never very impressed by the 'singers and dancers' shows and although they were quite good, I can't get over singers who think shouting is better than singing well. The 'trapeze' act, (Jimmy and Anna?) were very good (they must get to the gym more!), as was the Charlie Frye (juggler). If you see this act, watch his wife...she is the best bit (and I don't mean in looks!). Ice show was stunning as usual...how do they manage in that small space. Villefranche Went to Monaco for the day. Plan was to go by train, but joy of joys, the French train drivers went on strike! This did not stop the station selling one couple a ticket before telling there were no trains! So, we managed to muscle our way onto the bus (no 100) to Monaco. Took about 25 minute to get there. It started raining, so weather wasn't the best, but we walked up to the palace (and watched guys putting up sheets of steel so no one could overlook next weeks Grand Prix), walked down past the Cathedral, Oceanographic museum and gardens (where guys were put up chain link fencing so no one could camp out on the grass during the Grand Prix) and tried to walk round Monaco, without tripping over armco barriers stands erected for the Grand Prix. Got up to Casino Sq, where a large TV dominated the area for the GP fans and decided to go back to the ship.Went to get the bus back (along with about 50 others!) and watched the first (full) bus go sailing by! Plan B...walked up the road to the next stop. Got the second bus and sailed past all the people at all the bus stops. All in all, the trip which had taken us 25 minutes in the morning took 3 hrs in the afternoon. I think they extended last tender time by an hour to get everyone back on! BTW, Monaco has the cleanest public toilets I have ever seen. You could eat your lunch off the floor. Oh, and they have a Grand Prix!! (in case you hadn't noticed.) Ibiza Arrived 5.30 pm, left 5am. This stop was really for those who wanted to go clubbing. It was also our introduction to RCI's latest money spinner...the $6 each way shuttle bus. If you want to go to town this is really the only way (save a taxi) to do it as the ship docks way out on a new breakwater. We wandered round town for an hour and came back! Personally, with hindsight, I wish we had just walked up round the lighthouse and down the road towards town and come back. In my opinion, this was a total waste of a port. Barcelona On returning to BCN, we got the port shuttle bus (€2 single,€3 return) to Colom monument, walked up Ave Parallel and caught the funicular and cable car to the top of Montjuics. Walked back down by a circuitous route to catch the shuttle back (now about 2pm). There were lots of people waiting for the bus, many Spaniards for the next cruise toting bags. It was a mad scramble for the bus and luckily I heard the driver saying 'those with tickets'. As we had our return tickets, we managed to shoulder our way on. The bus then crawled in the traffic jam all the way to the port...must have taken 40+ minutes. Cruise 2 (19th - 24th May) 800UK, 500US, 800 Spanish Cannes ..was packed for the film festival.We spotted the castle tower from the harbor and decided to climb it! The road up is very steep, the there is 150 odd steps inside the tower, but you get wonderful views from the top. We tried walking along the beachfront avenues, but got peeed off with 'wannabee' celebrities getting in the way as if they owned the place. It was almost impossible to find a cafe to get a coffee or anything (and I bet they hiked the prices too!), so we headed back to the ship. Livorno (Pisa) Another $6 each way shuttle bus dropped us in Livorno. We decided to walk to the station, which took about 25 minutes. Got the train (€1.70 each way..same to Florence), then walked from Pisa station to the Field of Miracles. To be honest, Pisa is pretty shabby, but then you suddenly come upon this..amazing place! Walked all around until our pre booked tower climb. Got half way up and were just about to pass out (!), when they gave us a rest stop! The tour ahead of us then comes down, then we carry on up. You can get right on to the top of the tower, but after about 5 minutes (maybe less) a guard tells you to go back down, so make sure you get your pictures as soon as you get up there. Walked straight back down. Its 301 steps (well, thats what I counted!). We walked back to the station a different way and got the bus from Livorno station back to the shuttle bus. Civitavecchia (Rome...at least that was the plan!) The previous night I went to bed a bit heady and by morning had a stinking cold. As I didn't feel too good, we decided to stay on the ship and save the $24 shuttle fares. At about noon, we found out (with another couple) at Guest Relations, that there is a free shuttle bus and you can walk out of the port if you want. We had 'words' with Guest Relations saying why have you lead us to believe you have got to pay? They were non committal (surprise, surprise). So, we walked out of the port (about 20 mins), found a laundromat about 100 yds from the gate and did the laundry! (Yes, we do know how to live!!). Got the free bus back..and that was Civitavecchia! Barcelona...again! After our fun on the bus 5 days ago, we decided to stay on the ship and go and sunbathe. Opened the curtains in the morning and, yes you've guessed, it was peeing down! Still, at least we weren't in the line for taxis!! Cruise 3 (24th -29th May) This was the half term week for UK schools and I think a lot of people were trying a short cruise as an experiment. There were over 1500 Brits on board. Marseilles Entered dock on the Sunday and were warned that all the shops are closed on a Sunday. Again it was raining, so relatively few people got off the ship. Some extra activities were put on and the Monaco GP was shown in most of the bars on the ship (Oh, did I forget to mention Monaco has a Grand Prix?). About 20 minutes before we slipped our moorings, the sun came out, so I got some nice photos of the coastline and the Chateau d'Ife. Cagliari Another short port. Only there for 4 hours. We did our only RCI excursion at this port. We did the Cagliari Panoramic which took us round various sights and ended up at a restaurant where we had a few 'local' snacks and wine. I ate too much and just had to force down that evenings dinner! Palermo Plan was to take the HOHO bus, but someone told us they do not have many buses and there are often long queues. With a Costa ship and MSC ship in, we thought this would mean 8000 odd people trying to get on 3 or 4 buses, so we went for a walk. The weather had gone from one extreme to the other as it was about 32C in the shade...and there wasn't a lot of that! We walked down toward the fishing harbor and came back. Palermo is another place that real needs to spend some money on sprucing the place up. Got back on the ship and it was like walking into a fridge! Barcelona.. again,again! Changed our tags so we were one of the last off. The ship has the most efficient disembarkation I've seen and everyone is off by 9.30am. Had to wait in line for about an hour to get a taxi back to the Palacete to dump our bags. We walked down to the Aquarium and went inside it, then just walked around and went back to the hotel to kill time until our train left at 9pm. The meal on the Trenhotel was nothing like as good as when we came down (main course..veal chop[that could have been cooked a bit more] and 3 slices of courgette!). Slept a bit better, but not brilliantly. Arrived at Paris on time and this time got a taxi to Gard du Nord to catch the Eurostar to London. Eventually arrived home in Northampton at 4pm. In Conclusion It might sound like we didn't have a good time, but we did! How can you not have a good time on a cruise ship? We met loads of really nice people (and a few who weren't!), got to know the CD and most of the staff who were great, won all but one of the trivias we went in for (so came home loaded with tags, pens and bags of various sorts), had a free go at the jackpot bingo and won $66!, got a few free drinks from one of the bar staff we befriended and all in all had a great time. However, we don't think we would do 3 short cruises back to back again. You miss out on different shows, the dining rooms menus start to repeat and there is only so much you can do on each return to Barcelona, so you are wasting a day on each cruise. If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them. Now, where shall we go on our next voyage?? Simon Read Less
Sail Date May 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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