16 Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews for Repositioning Cruises to Transatlantic from Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

This was my 5th Transatlantic. Transatlantic cruises are my husband & my favorite cruise. This was our 25 Royal Caribbean cruise but our first on Navigator of the Seas. We have been loyalist to RCCL..25 cruises on RCCL, 1 on ... Read More
This was my 5th Transatlantic. Transatlantic cruises are my husband & my favorite cruise. This was our 25 Royal Caribbean cruise but our first on Navigator of the Seas. We have been loyalist to RCCL..25 cruises on RCCL, 1 on Celebrity. We flew down the evening before and stayed at a Quality Inn with cruise port shuttle. Hotel was fair but shuttle was full and had no openings till 2pm, so we had to get cab ($20). We would not stay at this hotel again. Check in at pier went smoothly though lines were longer for Crown & Anchor upper tiers than for general boarding. We got right on Navigator and made our way to pool deck. Ship was lovely and clean. Not many crew greeting you when you boarded. Windjammer buffet opened (only 1side) at 11:30. It was crowded and food was okay. Not a great selection. Crew in Windjammer was welcoming and helpful. The girl greeting you was wonderful and continued to be every day. She greeted everyone with a giant smile, warm hello and "washy,washy". Sometimes she had fairy wings, a princess crown, she just loved her job and the passengers. Got in room at 1pm. Inside cabin on deck 7. Was what we expected. Plenty of storage, very clean. There was a hole on the cushion of the love seat. Our cabin steward Mike was friendly, efficient and very helpful. We asked for ice and it was there every morning & evening. He made great towel animals...just wish they were more often. The location was good and room was quiet (7355) The menu was mediocre. It was first time we went to specialty restaurant based on not liking any item on menu. While the dining menu left much to be desired, our servers were great. Emily & Susan were fun, warm, and made sure we enjoyed our meal. They also went out of their way to say hi if they saw us in main dining room or Windjammer for breakfast or lunch. We NEVER saw our head waiter. Not once even to introduce himself. Shame on him! Specialty restaurants Gianni's and Chops were very good...food delicious and service great. Cruise director was depressing...he seemed to hate being at sea and wanted everyone to feel the same. He never seemed to interact with passengers or staff unless it was staged. NO Lectures except on retirement or if ship was trying to sell something. No special things for all the time at sea. And often cruise compass had wrong times. Was very disappointed in lack of activities or lack of planning (ie Show 8:30, game 8:45, karaoke 9pm). His morning show was depressing and it was only him behind a desk. No birthday, anniversary shout outs, no What's in the box. Activities staff ran the gamut... Billie andJP were friendly, always said hi and were lots of fun. Another girl was mean and nasty. Production shows were good, entertainers (for most part were excellent), ice show was spectacular. Never saw officers. Captain did not attend top tier event (which was a first for us) Excursions offered were great but the organizing of them was horrible. The first port the excursion departures were so disorganized that it created a dangerous situation with people just herded in, hallways, stairs and elevators blocked. Worst experience I ever had on cruise. Also awful was customs on the ship. Cruise director had a schedule, promised it would only take 10 minutes...he was a little off it took 2 days and people were in line for long periods of time. Cruise director spent a lot of time apologizing and thanking everyone for their patience, When we asked why there was such chaos, we were told "we weren't expecting so many of you" or "there are a lot of you". They should have known that, they had a passenger list and a list of who bought excursions. Every port had very long lines getting off and getting back on ship. Very poor planning and very disorganized. Any cruise is better than no cruise BUT Royal Caribbean feel far short of their WOW on this transatlantic The excursions we went on were very good, especially Fatima. It was the disorganization that was so horrible We had the Windsor Castle and airport drop off for disembarking. The meeting place was too small and when we got off to get luggage, many found their luggage not out. After more than 1/2 hour they found missing luggage still on ship and brought it out (5 carts full). Just another example of the disorganization. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Overall the cruise was great. The ship is dated but is a beautiful ship. Embarkation on first day was great. No issues at all. Food on ship was good. The buffet closed at 9pm which really wasn't good. If you have a late show, by ... Read More
Overall the cruise was great. The ship is dated but is a beautiful ship. Embarkation on first day was great. No issues at all. Food on ship was good. The buffet closed at 9pm which really wasn't good. If you have a late show, by the time you get out of the show, the buffet is closed which doesn't make any sense to me. They also didn't open up the whole Windjammer most of the time which was crazy. The only place to get a snack was on the promenade deck and it was limited as to what you could get. Couldn't make your own toast, so the toast they made was as hard as a rock cause it was probably sitting there. They should have had someone at the toaster making toast as people asked for it. Our dining room experience was good. The only thing I didn't like was that we had a table of 14 (oblong table) which I think is too big. We could never converse with the others at the other end of the table as it was too big. We have always had a table of 8 or 10 (round table) which was great. We have done 6 TAs and always enjoyed meeting the officers and the Captain always had a hour long q and a time at the coffee place. On this cruise, we never seen an officer (only at the Captain night). Not the most friendly officers. Excursions at the Ports - Getting off the ship was a nightmare and even worse getting back on from the ports. I have never seen such a dis organized group of people in my life. It took forever to get off the ship and the line ups to get back on the ship were worse. They really have to work on this. I think that it turned a lot of people off..It did us. Television was really bad in the rooms. They repeated the same shows day in and day out. I know this may sound trivial but on other ships they had great shows on the tv and never repeats. Our dining staff and housekeeping staff were great. I did notice that they have cut back on staff and staff were working a lot. All in all it was a great TA but there could be improvements. We are not loyal to any one shipping line but Royal Caribbean will not be top on our list. They have a lot to work on. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We booked this trip mainly on the blowout price. $500 for a 13 night cruise in a decent cabin cant be beat. This was our first time with RCCL but we are seasoned cruisers having sailed with 5 other companies. This was out first and likely ... Read More
We booked this trip mainly on the blowout price. $500 for a 13 night cruise in a decent cabin cant be beat. This was our first time with RCCL but we are seasoned cruisers having sailed with 5 other companies. This was out first and likely our last with RCCL. I got an incredible deal but If I had paid more I would have been disappointed. The good: Embarkation was very well organized The rooms were great, the beds, the size, the way they are organized. It all seemed very well thought out and as good as any line or room we have had. Many (but not all) of the staff were also very good. The main dining staff were professional and attentive. Most of the staff in the windjammer were also good. The spa staff were excellent. The ballroom themed show was excellent and the ice dancing show spectacular. These two shows were REALLY REALLY good. The orchestra was great and the cafe singers and guitar players were superb. The live violin and piano music in the dining room really added to the experience. The flowrider was fun and very easy to get time on. The gym was clean, well equipped, and always had space. The drinks were well made. The parade/carnival was fun. Medicore: The food, at best, was mediocre. Very bland and inoffensive, like a Cracker Barrel at sea. Far behind ANY other cruise line we have sailed. Our group lost weight on this 13 day cruise! The exceptions being the Indian and Asian foods offered which were edible to good. The juggler and Magician were decent enough. (I didnt catch the hypnotist so cant judge him) Cabin steward was good but lacked personality. The disco on the promenade could have been more interactive. Bad: The entertainment not mentioned above was awful. Like off-strip Vegas 25 years ago. Cruise director felt like a used car salesman and had no rapport or interaction with guests. Constant up-selling of Izumi and Sabor. I got approached 6 times for Izumi and 3 times for Sabor and was given the hard sell each time. It felt like a time share sales presentation and they often interrupted conversations and meals to sell to you. I was going to try them before the sales pitch but decided against it out of spite after the hard sell. By day 5 I just started to be rude and send them away once I saw them coming. Really disorganized ports, 1.5 hours to get on ship in Azores, problems at other ports. Cruise director admitting "he knows nothing about these ports"; well do some research! 24 hour cafe promenade is a joke. It is tiny and has only 2 options for food; Pizza or a Sandwich. Terrible pizza and sandwiches that are 4 inches of bread with 1 thinly sliced piece of meat and a limp piece of lettuce (literally). If you wanted a sandwich that didn't taste purely of bread you had to get 5 sandwiches, take them apart to make 1 decent sandwich. So much bread waste as everyone was doing this. Many other cruise lines do made to order sandwiches, why cant RCCL? It would save them money and waste. Better year ditch the cafe promenade and leave a section of Windjammer open past 9:30 pm! Windjammer (buffet area) closed and locked at many times people wanted to use it (after lunch, after 9:30). Heck at least let people sit in there, you don't have to serve food (although it would be nice to leave a small section open until at least midnight). There were not enough places to play cards and the windjammer and all its oceanview tables was locked up tight. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I must commend the people who designed and built the boat... Bravo it is a beautiful boat. We were recently on a Transatlantic repositioning cruise. The operation of the cruise and the organizational weakness of the management was obvious ... Read More
I must commend the people who designed and built the boat... Bravo it is a beautiful boat. We were recently on a Transatlantic repositioning cruise. The operation of the cruise and the organizational weakness of the management was obvious through the cruise. The cruise director was enormously disorganized, regularly provided incorrect information and conducted the disembarkation for shore excursions in a terrible manner. Absolutely everyone was pissed. The line at the guest services desk was extremely long 24-7 with people lodging complaints and rarely more than one or two staff, always scowling. . If you want to see a short or no line go to the location where you sign up for your next cruise. Well staffed, happy people, but no line. They upsell you on 13 days of WI-FI, but when you get to sea, they tell you that because of the size of the ocean, there is no or weak WI-FI... what a scam... Again if you want to get a stronger signal, go sit in the location where you sign up for the next cruise. Their signal is great. Lovely boat, moderately good food, poorly prepared staff. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I have 25 sailings with Royal Caribbean, four are on the Navigator all of our sailings on her have been wonderful. Unfortunately our Transatlantic cruise was not up to their normal high standards. The odd things that happened on this ... Read More
I have 25 sailings with Royal Caribbean, four are on the Navigator all of our sailings on her have been wonderful. Unfortunately our Transatlantic cruise was not up to their normal high standards. The odd things that happened on this cruise are not normal at all. I do have a few disappointments as well as high points to share. The guests on board were seasoned travelers, we notice every little thing. The average age was 65+. EMBARKATION - The line for the Priority boarding for Diamond and above was extremely long. The person inside the door at the terminal directed us to the shortest line for general boarding. It was a quick easy process. LIFE BOAT DRILL - The life boat drill was held later than usual. This created a problem in the dining room. Some muster stations are in the dining room. The life boat drill was not totally completed in time for the passengers with the 5:30 dining to enter the dining room. We were trying to leave as they were trying to enter. The poor waiters were trying to move everyone along. DIAMOND LOUNGE - The Star Lounge which they used for the Diamond Evening events had many broken chairs. Even by moving the large number of Diamond members to a huge facility, finding seats was challenging at times. On the positive side, there were two areas where you could get hot and cold snacks. They kept them well stocked. The waiters were always available to get you a beverage. Most of them remembered exactly what you drank. The regular Diamond lounge is always open. They still served their continental breakfast with Salmon, and had warm cookies in the afternoon. It is also a nice quiet place to go and sit. GUEST SERVICES - I never found any long lines or wait times at Guest Services, I went there on several occasions and quickly had my questions answered to my satisfaction. All the agents were pleasant. As usual there were long lines on day one and on the last day. MEDICAL FACILITY - I needed a medical issue taken care of and went to the medical facility. The particular insurance I purchased pays the facility up front. The guest should never receive a bill. This is one of the reasons I choose this company. It is not the insurance sold through the cruise line. I went to the medical office and showed them my insurance card. They didn’t look at the card and said it would be on my onboard account. My bill was less than $100 so it was not a budget breaker. I cannot imagine the immediate out of pocket cost of a major illness or accident on board. MISCOMMUNICATION - There were typo errors and incorrect information in the Daily Cruise Compass. That publication comes from the home office in Miami, therefore, the crew on board has no control over what they receive. They had to deal with what they got, just as we did. In my 25 cruises with Royal Caribbean I have never run across this issue. When the cruise director read the compass at his morning TV show you could see that he was taken aback by when he read daily events from the Cruise Compass. He was able to make verbal corrections on the spot. He tried to play it off, many people saw this action as uncaring. It is too bad passengers viewed it that way. It was not his intent, he was trying to make the best out of an uncomfortable situation. DAILY ACTIVITIES - There were many different types of activities to keep us busy through the entire trip. The activities were varied and offered something for everyone. DINING ROOM - I did not see shrimp cocktail on the menu any evening. I found out later, from another passenger, they do have it available if YOU ASK for it. The meals were ok, but not spectacular. The wait staff did an excellent job. IMMIGRATION - In order to speed up the disembarkation process in Southampton, immigration agents came on board during an at sea day to check our passports. Immigration did not send enough agents to smoothly and quickly do this process. The passengers did not help this situation either. We were all given times to show up for this process. Many thought why not go early. Well that action delayed everyone. Again not Royal Caribbean's fault. The immigration officials office determines how many agents they need to send out. There should have been more agents and passengers should have stuck to their assigned time to get in line. The cruise line did the best they could in this inconvenient situation. SPA - I have never treated myself to a massage on a cruise. I was pleasantly surprised, they have many rooms. Everything was professional and clean. The atmosphere was calm and I felt so much better after my treatment. I will do this on every cruise from now on. GYM - I thought with being at sea for so many days the gym would be packed. No it was not. I usually went about 10 AM and I was able to use any of the machines I wanted. ENTERTAINMENT - Many reviews slammed the entertainment. I did not find it much different than the regular twice yearly 7 night cruises we take. It is geared to please various tastes and they can't please everyone every day. SHORE EXCURSIONS - There were two tours offered to Normandy, people who booked one tour were told 2 days in advance it was cancelled due to weather. I find that odd since the other tour went on as scheduled. The weather was beautiful that day. This is a 10 hour tour and I do believe they should have some sort of provision for food. PONTA DELGADA WAIT- Unfortunately the port of Ponta Delgada did not have enough security agents. Due to short staffing and a small security area the wait to get back on board was 45 min to an hour. Royal Caribbean cannot be faulted for this. It is the Azores Port Authority who staffs the security. The blame lies on them for this. WINE TASTING TOURS - We took 3 tours which included wine tasting at the end of the regular tour. I do not recommend doing this. It is not what we think of as a wine tasting. All three places gave you a bit less than 2 oz of ONE wine. That was it. One place offered many cheeses, one offered some canapés and a sweet item, one offered only crackers. They are not worth the additional cost. Take the tour that is the same but does not include the wine tasting that is good by itself. ANOTHER SLOW EMBARKATION - At one port we had to wait for the gangway to be moved to a different level on the ship. This is due to the normal ebb and flow of the tides. It was an inconvenience but not Royal Caribbean's fault. They do not have control over the tides. They moved the gangway as swiftly and safely as they could. Yes, this caused lines, but there was no other option. We were at the mercy of the seas. HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE TOUR CANCELLED - At one port there was a tour geared to those with mobility issues. It was the only tour that was handicap accessible. They cancelled that tour due to only 4 people signing up. That is a shame and slap in the face to the disabled. PHOTOS - They are doing the purchasing of your photos differently. They now, after your order them on the computer kiosk, deliver them to your room. This did not work out so well. Many people did not get their photos and had to have the charges removed from their account. If you wanted to purchase a photo on the last night, there was no way they could get the photo to you before we docked. They were only open from 9-11PM the last day. You could pay and down load the photo to your electronic device. That would have incurred additional fees for WiFi, then the cost to have it printed when you got home. We wanted a PRIVATE BLACK AND WHITE photo taken in celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. We tried to contact that photographer the entire 13 days on the ship. We went to the photo studio area and made the request every couple of days. They wrote down our name and said the photographer would contact us. That never happened. HELPFUL TIPS - There are 3 formal nights. You will move your clock ahead 1 hour at NOON 4 days in a row. From the Azores to Lisbon you move 1 hour ahead at midnight. From LeHarve to Southampton you move the clock back 1 hour at midnight. Changing the clock at noon was very strange. It is well worth taking the cruise line transfer from Southampton to Heathrow. It has two routes, one stops at Stonehenge and the other at Windsor Castle. LEAVING THE SHIP AT AN ALTERNATE PORT - I was curious if this could be done. I received many different answers. I know the answer now. Several couples left the ship in LeHarve and traveled on their own to other European destinations. You have to make special arrangements through the Cruise Line to do this. CRUISE DIRECTOR Jeff has been with Royal Caribbean for 25 years. Many passengers had issue with him. He has a very demanding job; he needs to be all things to all people, both passengers and staff. Imagine having lines of upset passengers and trying to solve all of their problems. Many issues were caused by outside sources not Royal Caribbean itself. With all of the glitches with this cruise this had to be one of the hardest ones he worked. Give him a break, put yourself in his shoes. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first transatlantic cruise and it was wonderful. There were some minor issues which is why I can't give it a 5. I would give a 4.5 if I could however. There was plenty to do on the ship as they really did try to ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic cruise and it was wonderful. There were some minor issues which is why I can't give it a 5. I would give a 4.5 if I could however. There was plenty to do on the ship as they really did try to offer a variety especially with being at sea for 6 days. I brought along some "things to do" anyhow. I especially enjoyed some of the crew offering basic language classes in Spanish, Portuguese and French. We had "cheat sheets" to carry with us just in case. I checked the Compass every evening to see what was going on the next day. Very good evening shows in the theater. The ice dancing show was awesome. We opted for tours in Ponta Delgada & Lisbon, Portugal as well as Paris, France. Very enjoyable and the tour guides were very informative. The 1st day of touring was rather disorganized and many complained about getting off the ship and getting on it. We were at least 45 minutes late in getting off the ship for our tour. It took us about 30 minutes to get back on but for others it was an hr or more. Amends and improvements were made as we received a 15% credit off our excursion cost plus changes were made going forward to make it easier to get off the ship. However there was still a bit of an issue with getting off at the time indicated which could have been due in part to the tides and where to put the ramps. Not their fault. We were pleased with the food offered but then we were looking for some different options. Our dining room servers, Reynante and Boohpendra, were really good as was our bar server Howard. We sometimes asked what their recommendations were for the main entree and weren't disappointed. We don't usually see the head waiter on our cruises but that wasn't the case this time. Unfortunately I don't recall his name but he came over and talked with us a few times. He asked how everything was going, did we have any concerns with the dining or in other areas of the ship. He was very good. We had MyTime dining for the first time and am going with it again on our next cruise. We weren't happy with our room attendant's service but he could have been new to the position or had too many cabins. Our cabin was set up with 2 towels and 1 small bar of soap for 2 people. I asked for a couple more towels but we didn't get that day or the next morning so we had to ask again. The 3rd time I said I would at least like 1 more towel. We didn't get more soap so I had to spend $19 for a bottle of shower gel. I also had to ask at least 3 times for more toilet paper as we were down to less than 1/2 a roll at one point. We had a bath mat one morning but it was taken away and we didn't see another for at least a week so we used a hand towel. After a week onboard, we received a tube of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion. One day our room didn't receive service so I went to the desk. We were in the cabin when the attendant came the 1st time but we left within 30 minutes. He could have come back but he didn't. We didn't have the card to place in the door to make up the room because he took the card on the 1st day. We did eventually get one back. However, in spite of the issues mentioned, the good outweighed the bad so we have booked another cruise on the same ship for next year. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our first transatlantic cruise and I wasn't sure if we would get bored. But there was plenty to do including bridge lessons and bridge games. There were times that were disorganized such as going out on excursions and in ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic cruise and I wasn't sure if we would get bored. But there was plenty to do including bridge lessons and bridge games. There were times that were disorganized such as going out on excursions and in the Azores it took over an hour to return to the ship because of the security process. But it is a beautiful ship and we enjoyed ourselves. The food was very good and the staff was friendly and tried to make our cruise pleasant. The entertainment was also very good and a few of the shows were excellent. Disembarkation was in Southampton England. Because we were immigration checked our passports on the ship it went smoothly. However the process for doing this was quite long and used up a sea day while waiting to be checked. The excursions we chose were informative and quite nice. We especially enjoyed Paris. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Friends invited us to join them on this Transatlantic cruise, I am usually a loyal Celebrity Cruise Line cruiser - this was the 3rd trip that I have sailed on RCCL. The Navigator is a beautiful ship, well maintained and the open concourse ... Read More
Friends invited us to join them on this Transatlantic cruise, I am usually a loyal Celebrity Cruise Line cruiser - this was the 3rd trip that I have sailed on RCCL. The Navigator is a beautiful ship, well maintained and the open concourse is beautiful - a much smaller version to the open concourse on the Allure of the Seas. The smaller size is somewhat of an advantage as it takes relatively little time to travel from the front of the ship to the back of the ship and the new electronic navigation devices near the elevators made it so easy to find any venue on the ship. We had a room at the front of the ship with windows just below the ships bridge - sort of like riding shotgun in a car! Room was slightly larger than the ocean view rooms that are located on the sides of the ship. Friendly, efficient room attendant (Marcelino), he kept the room in an immaculate condition, twice daily ice delivery. Great food in the Sapphire Dining room (My Time Dining), excellent service! The Windjammer Buffet had an excellent salad bar and outstanding curries, the service level was great always someone from the wait staff offering coffee, tea, juice, water. Tables cleared in an efficient manner, only very few times when one had to search for a table. I found that there was excellent service from all staff members with two major exceptions - the Front Desk Reception area, staff unorganized, extremely slow and not as user friendly. Also noted that there did not seem to be many senior officers around and the Cruise Director was possibly the worst Cruise Director I have ever seen. The Diamond Lounge (held nightly in Star Lounge) was great - bar staff (Tatiana) made a point of remembering your drink preferences. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This cruise was for my wife and I on our 25th wedding anniversary. Neither of us had ever traveled to Europe. This repositioning Trans-Atlantic Cruise seemed perfect, and for the most part it was. This was our second time on Royal ... Read More
This cruise was for my wife and I on our 25th wedding anniversary. Neither of us had ever traveled to Europe. This repositioning Trans-Atlantic Cruise seemed perfect, and for the most part it was. This was our second time on Royal Carribean, but first time on one of the mid sized ships. While we are "Elite" on Princess, we are just starting out on Royal. That being said, the embarkation procedure was fine, not a long wait, not a short wait, but overall it was fine. We were very pleased with the ship, The "Mall" on board is awesome, as is the skating rink on board. We went to the ice skating show "Ice Dancin' " and it was a great show in its own right, but amazing that it was on a cruise ship. The Ship itself was very calm, probably the smoothest cruise I've ever been on (but to be fair, the Atlantic was very calm during the duration of our cruise). The dining was very good to Amazing. At our table we had 3 couples, all celebrating anniversaries. We enjoyed all of the couples, so whatever software R.C. uses to matches up couples is VERY GOOD. We ate at the Steak House 3 times and each time it was amazing. The 18% Gratuity on beverages is outrageously high, especially with the fact that if you buy a bottle of wine there is a 18% gratuity on that too. There are beverage packages, but they are expensive to the point you would need to stay loaded continuously to justify it. I am a realist and realize that we're on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, so things aren't going to be cheap... but 18% is a bit high in my opinion. The shows were great, and the cruise director Jeffrey was amazing. The Ports were nice and wished we could have had more time, particularly in Lisbon and Le Harve (France). We took several tours from the cruise line and all we nice. We stayed several days in London after the cruise was done, so we didn't use the Cruise tour to Stonehenge and Heathrow. Overall we had a wonderful time, and recommend the ship, the line and this cruise highly. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The process of getting on board the ship was fairly painless. I flew into Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted by the RCCL rep, who directed me to a waiting shuttle bus. I packed for a 15-day cruise, so I had two nearly 50 lb suitcases, plus a ... Read More
The process of getting on board the ship was fairly painless. I flew into Ft. Lauderdale and was greeted by the RCCL rep, who directed me to a waiting shuttle bus. I packed for a 15-day cruise, so I had two nearly 50 lb suitcases, plus a carry-on. That's a lot of luggage for a lone woman to handle! There were carts available at the airport to rent, but it would have been nice to have a porter to help. I was there about 2 hours before boarding time, but was allowed to board early. There was a long line at check-in, even though I had filled out all the forms online which stated it would make check-in quicker and easier. The first 8 days of cruisng was a REAL vacation! I had a balcony room (which I recommend for anyone who is on a ship that long) and enjoyed watching the ocean whenever I had a chance. The cruise line had a jam packed itinerary for all passengers. I didn't need all the activity, but according to the daily updates, more people than they'd counted on were taking part in the activities. I especially enjoyed the daily lectures and evening entertainment. The food at the Windjammer was just okay. On a scale of one to ten, I'd have to give it a five. The same with the main dining room. Just okay food. I ate at two specialty restaurants, Chops and Portofino, and the food there was excellent. My cabin steward, Ray, was outstanding. He was so kind to me and though I didn't require much attention, he was always nearby with a smile and willing attitude. The waiters in the main dining room were excellent, as well. I really enjoyed getting to know them. I was seated with 5 of the most interesting and lively women, who I enjoyed tremendously. Thanks to all of them for making dinner time the highlight of my day! There was a fantastic ice dancing show that required getting special tickets. That didn't go so well, in my opinion. We were told tickets would be handed out at 10:00 one morning. (This was the second round of ticket giveaways.) I went down at about ten minutes before hand, and the line already spread over the length of the ship. I probably stood in line for 45 minutes. I believe that could have been handled differently. Why not just have the room attendants leave tickets under the door? On the first day of excursions in Tenerife, it was a nightmare--a complete and utter failure of the activity director (or whoever handled it) to have an organized departure for those taking tours. We stood in line and then were seated, waiting, for over an hour--time that was supposed to have been spent on our tour. After complaining loudly--on the phone and in writing--I was refunded a portion of my fee, and then the following days the tours went smoothly. Hundreds of people were digusted on that day and I'm sure made their voices heard. We had some problems with people saving seats in the Metropolis Theater--when there were signs everywhere, and announcements everywhere, that saving seats was prohibited. Some people just don't like to follow rules. It makes it very frustrating when you go early enough to get a good seat, only to find that someone is saving 8 seats for friends who don't get there until 5 minutes before show time. I believe that could have been handled by having ushers seat everyone. First come, first serve. Instead, people were rude and unkind--on both ends. I didn't visit the movie theater on board one time, primarily because the movies weren't any good. Also, they ran the same movies over and over on TV. It would have been nice to have a better selection. CBS was the TV station providing some shows, and they ran the same shows the entire trip. Why couldn't they have recorded a couple of weeks worth of shows, instead of repeating the same things? My cabin was excellent. The staff was excellent. There was plenty of entertainment for whoever wanted it. So aside from a few glitches, the cruise was fun and left me with mostly good memories. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
While I have a lot of criticism in this review, let me say that we had a great time, and if you really drill down there is no doubt that the value was fantastic on this cruise. There is nowhere, other than staying in your backyard, where ... Read More
While I have a lot of criticism in this review, let me say that we had a great time, and if you really drill down there is no doubt that the value was fantastic on this cruise. There is nowhere, other than staying in your backyard, where you can spend 15 nights for less than the cost of sailing transatlantic. All that said, there were some annoyances, and I'll throw a few of these out. Embarkation: Pretty good considering we showed up way too early and were at the port at 11:00am. We were in the Windjammer by noon, and that in my mind was not bad at all. Arrived in Lauderdale, stayed at the Sleep Inn, and always a great stay. Common Rooms. The Navigator suffers from not having enough bars that are practical. We usually like to have a pre-dinner drink, and the choice was limited to the Schooner, the Constellation, or Boleros. The Schooner was somtetimes not available due to trivia, Boleros has a Latin flavour which is an acquired taste that I haven't yet acquired. We usually settled on the Constellation, which is good, but 11 floors from the dining room. One other irritant was the number of people who used the Windjammer as their private rec room, as on a daily basis the whole front section was taken up by card players and mah jongers. No consideration at all for the fact this is a dining room, not a games room. Sorry to point fingers, but most of the culprits were Cruise Critic badge wearers, of which there were more than 275 on the ship. Not good! Activities: Lots of trivia which was a lot of fun. In particular there were 2 couples from Minnesota that knew more about TV than the head of CBS. Nice people who I hope I run into on future cruises, if you're reading this. Casino was great, staff very friendly, a little disappointed there weren't more craps players, but that's the luck of the draw. Keep up the good work RCL casino staff. Dining: Best wait staff on any cruise ship I've ever been on. The Head Waiter actually did more than sidle around on the last night, and often was seen cleaning off tables. Waiters Gilberto and Li deserve recognition for there efforts and pleasant personalities. Food was really nothing to write home about, with poor beef and small lobster portions, but given the great cost of this trip, I understand that something has to be cut back in order to make a profit for the ship. Rooms: We had a small balcony on the port side of the ship. Lacked a little storage space but it was roomy enough. The TV's in the rooms have been around since "I Love Lucy" and really need to be replaced as a priority. This was particularly important given our 15 nights at sea, 9 of which we were at sea. Excursions: Took the Pisa/Florence tour. Most of this time was on the bus, and a long walk from the bus drop-off. Now I've seen the Tower I doubt I'll ever go back, but glad we went. Toulon (Aix au Provence) was great and I would recommend. Despite all my negativity, I loved the trip. It was great to have so many sea days and it's our intention to do this again in the fall of 2013, starting in Europe and coming west to North America Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Cruise Critic Roll Call Members: We had over 200 members on the active Roll Call and many volunteers organized daily activities for the big group. This made it one of the most enjoyable crossings we've ever experienced. We made ... Read More
Cruise Critic Roll Call Members: We had over 200 members on the active Roll Call and many volunteers organized daily activities for the big group. This made it one of the most enjoyable crossings we've ever experienced. We made lots of friends, who we hope to cruise with again. Embarkation: We arrived at 11:30 AM and stood in a relatively fast moving line (both outside and inside) for about 45 minutes. The staff was pleasant and helpful. Cabins were ready at 1 PM. Cruise Critics assembled for a Sail Away Party after the Muster Drill. Great fun. Ship: The ship was in good condition for its age and we eventually learned the large layout. We got to like the way the ship is laid out with an indoor promenade. Placement of dining room, show room, lounges and cafe was typical of large ships and better than Carnival. The ship is 15 decks high and rode the open seas very well. We had smooth sailing and very good weather for the crossing. Cabin: Our balcony cabin (#6322) was on the starboard "hump" and therefore slightly larger than others in that category. The location near the rear elevators was perfect. We were one deck above our dining level and near the elevators for a ride to deck 11 for the Windjammer Cafe. The cabin size is typical of ships this size. We used the balcony only a few times. The beds were comfortable. Linens and carpet were clean. On the negative side: The bathroom seemed smaller than other ships we've been on. We had a very slow drain in our sink. The TV was old and the programming was slim. No ice was provided in the cabin. We had plastic SOLO cups for glasses in the bathroom. Our stateroom attendant's name was not provided in our cabin and did not present himself on the first day. Stateroom Attendant: He kept the room clean but visited it only twice per day. He did not make himself know to us for a few days. I ran into him once during the entire cruise. He did provide 4 towels instead of the normal two. But we've had much better service on other cruises. Recommended tip for him. Dining: We found the Windjammer Cafe relatively clean but always crowded. The staff seemed shy but friendly. The breakfast buffet quickly became boring. Pastries were stale. Toasted bagels were like a rock. Had to wait in line for a cup of coffee. The omelet ordering process was tedious. Some food was cold. The eggs were a purveyor's ready mix product with food coloring added and quite watery - not fresh scrambled eggs. Bacon and sausage were OK. Waffles and French Toast were pretty poor products. The Main Dining Rooms (3 decks high) were nicely decorated and clean. Early dining was moved to 5:30 PM. The variety of meals offered were somewhat disappointing. They offered daily standards of Sirloin Steak or Salmon. The Salmon was quite good. The steak was deplorable. 3 at our table had to send it back and order something else. It needs to be removed from the menu. When Lobster & Filet was offered, the lobster was miniscule. We all laughed that a single shrimp would have made a better Surf 'n Turf. Overall the food was barely acceptable and has gone down another notch since last year's TA on the Jewel OTS. Wine was very expensive. A $16 bottle of 10 Year Vine XY Zin sold for $49 onboard including tip. It took 30 minutes to get a cocktail ordered and delivered to the table. They need a dedicated cocktail waitress and a sommelier for the dining rooms. Lunch in the main dining room offered a made-to-order salad. That was excellent. The pasta offerings were not good. Other items for lunch were acceptable. Cafe Promenade offered stale donuts. Johnny Rockets should be closed or made no charge. Alternate Dining: We dined at Portofino's and found it below the level we experienced on Celebrity ships. At $25pp we went there only once. My meal was average. Dining Room Staff: Our waiter and assistant were good, not great. Respectful and friendly. The head waiter interrupted our conversations often. He lost my bottle of wine, mis-marking it for another table who enjoyed it, I'm sure. Our tablemates had to convince him that a full bottle was put aside two days ago after it was opened and only sampled. He finally "bought me" another bottle. Extra tip for the waiter and assistant but much less for the head waiter. Entertainment: The CD was Mike Hunnerup from Australia and he quickly grew on us. He was fun and approachable. The staff, including Richard, the Activities Director, were friendly and helpful. Just one person had an "attitude" we didn't appreciate. The stage entertainment ran the gamut. Some poor, most mediocre and a few memorable. Individual singers tend to be poor. The variety was good however. RCL held a nice Meet & Mingle for us on Day 3. At my suggestion they had a few Bridge Tour door prizes for lucky members. Quest is a big hit and was held on the ice rink. Great adult fun. Ship's Staff: Captain Patrik Dahlgren is probably the best we've encountered on all the ships we've cruised on. He stopped at all the dining room tables for conversation and photos during the cruise. Very engaging. He's an asset to RCL. Enrichment: Did not enjoy Joe Condrill's lectures or Hohn & Donna Mollan's presentations very much. I've see much better on other cruises. We missed Jack Cochrane's (Cruise Critic member) lecture about water on day 7 because of a conflict. Don't believe it was taped either. We were disappointed we missed him. Facilities: The Internet Cafe is too expensive and too slow to use often. Library was average for cruise ships. Fitness facility was very good but no TVs on the equipment. Smoke in some of the lounges and part of the casino is still problematic. Champagne Bar was expensive. The Wine Bar on the promenade was way overpriced. Way too much selling on the floors all day. You ran into tables set up to sell goods and services everywhere. It is quite annoying. Seems that after early dining, your opportunity for after dinner dancing lasts just 30 minutes. No venue existed that played dance music from 7:30-9:00 PM for us. Ports of Call: We were happy to visit Tenerife for the first time. Ship's excursions were too expensive for the full day (5 hr.) tour ($99pp). A Cruise Critic member organized a longer tour on a private basis for just $21pp. We enjoyed it. Mallorca and Ajaccio were somewhat interesting. We prefer the Azores. The printed port information provided by the ship is almost useless. We bring our own maps. Debarkation: Needed luggage tags for an earlier time and had to wait in line at Guest Relations to move up 1 hour earlier. We walked off and found our (damaged) luggage in little time. There was no time to report a claim. The taxis would only take passengers for Rome and not local destinations like Civitavecchia. We took the FREE port bus to the port entrance and then walked to the rail station. Took about an hour. Overall: We notice RCL quality going downhill each year. Both for food quality and service. Cruise rates are stable but onboard charges keep going up. Ours was $950 this trip. Ouch! We may not use RCL again next year. Regards, Florida Rich... Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We flew down from Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale on the morning of the cruise.Embarkation was efficient and friendly.The buffet spread for the boarding passengers was very good.Our room steward, Soma, was great. He did everything we asked of ... Read More
We flew down from Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale on the morning of the cruise.Embarkation was efficient and friendly.The buffet spread for the boarding passengers was very good.Our room steward, Soma, was great. He did everything we asked of him, and we probably were more demanding, at least at first, than average in terms of robes, amenities, ice. His towel animals were nice to come home to.Our balcony cabin was perfect for us. Plenty of room to put things for two people. The bed was very comfortable. The room was quiet and our neighbors were very nice. In fact, in general staff and passengers were great. There were few gripers.The library was well managed, and we were able to get interesting books to read. We had Kindle backups, if that hadn't been the case, but we mainly used the library.Because of time changes, we had six 23 hour days. That uncomfortably compressed our food consumption and we skipped lunch several times, or went very light on lunch because we were at the 5:30 seating for dinner. However, changing time at noon was the best approach. The people working on the ship work very hard and need what little sleep they can get.The ship was very clean and well maintained.At the social function, wine and mixed drinks flowed more than I'd experienced on other cruises.The cruise critic mix and mingle was a huge event. It was wonderful. We spent a lot of time with another couple for Herndon, and I departed tipsy on champagne.Although the quality of the shows varied some, every evening show was worth attending. Because the ship was almost full, it was a good idea to go early. We attended the 8:30 shows. The band was very good, as were the guest performers. The ship's dancers seemed shaky at the first show on May 2, but were quite good at every other performance.Entertainment was good around the ship, especially the Latin Express.The ice show was fabulous.The fitness center ran smoothly and was well equipped.Because of wave motion and maintenance, the pools were often not available, but the hot tubs mostly were.The quality of the food in the dinning rooms was very good, and the buffet was good. Definitely above average.Our waiter, Daniel, and assistance waiter, Dasran, were the best.We were a rowdy group of 8. Captain Patrick came by one evening and said with a smile, "So, this is the noisy table!" As to the captain in a social sense, despite his youth, he was as good as it gets on a cruise. The fictional Love Boat Captain pales in comparison. The 8 of us at our table, Bonnie, David, Peter, Helen, Diana, Diane, Lynn and I got along. Four of us were UUs, so we "got" each other on several levels. David, Bonnie, Lynn and I were in Cruise Critic, so we "got" each other. Helen is from Alexandria, next to Fairfax County, where we live. Like Lynn and I, Peter also spent a lot of time with David and Bonnie. The ship activities were mostly well run and interesting or fun. The staff on board was very good overall.Our excursions on Tenerife, Mayorca, and Corsica were good and our free time in those places were good too. They are all beautiful islands with fabulous scenery, history, culture, and towns.Only 60 of the 3000 plus passengers were kids, but the ship tried hard to make it a good cruise for them. I think they mostly were happy with how it went.This was our first Transatlantic cruise, and I just can't say enough good things about it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We have just got back from a 13 night transatlantic on the Navigator of the Seas (Fort Lauderdale to Rome). There were 3 of us, myself, my wife, and our 3 year old daughter, and we got a good deal on a Grand Suite (1278). This was our 10th ... Read More
We have just got back from a 13 night transatlantic on the Navigator of the Seas (Fort Lauderdale to Rome). There were 3 of us, myself, my wife, and our 3 year old daughter, and we got a good deal on a Grand Suite (1278). This was our 10th cruise, and our daughter's 4th, previously we have cruised on QE2 (x2), QM2, QV (x2), IoTS, Voyager, Mercury, and the Seabourn Spirit. We are Brits (only around 60 of us onboard).The ship called at Tenerife, Mallorca, Corsica, and finally Rome. Check In Check in was quick and efficient, as suite guests, we did not have to queue and were on board within 10 minutes. Non suite guests seemed to be checked in quickly also. We received our gold coloured sea pass card (only GS and above get this) which carries a number of privileges (discussed later). Also in FLL that day was the Equinox, which was also doing a transatlantic, although a more northerly route to us. We checked in at 12:45, but our bags did not arrive until around 5pm. The lifeboat drill was held outside, and seemed to take aged. Many people were complaining that they needed to sit down. 3 days prior to check in, we received an e-mail from Karen (the Concierge), introducing herself and outlining the perks of travelling in a suite. The Suite The suite exceeded our expectations, looking much better than in the photos on the RCI website. It was very clean and spacious; with a flat screen TV, Bose hi-fi, DVD player, video player. Also, there was a coffee maker and a kettle (on the Navigator, only suite guests get a kettle). The bathroom was spacious, with a double sink and a bath with shower over - plenty big enough for us. I preferred the suite to the Queens Grill suites on the QV as it was more open plan, we could utilise the space more effectively with our daughter. The balcony was very nice (as the suite was double the width of a standard balcony cabin), and had a sun bed and also a rattan table with 2 chairs - very nice for having breakfast on the balcony when coming into Corsica. The double sofa turned into a bed where our daughter slept. There was also a full dividing curtain separating the bedroom area from the rest of the suite. We also had a complimentary bottle of Evian (only one though), and a leather bound folder which highlighted the suite perks, and contained the full menu for the day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, extended cocktail and wine menu that was afforded to suite guests. The dinner menu was updated daily. Our suite steward was excellent (we have been lucky never to have had a bad room steward) - the room was made up whilst we were at breakfast, and turned down when we were at dinner. Ice, coffee, tea etc. topped up twice a day (or as requested) Suite Perks: Basically, the main suite perks were: 1) Reserved seating on the pool deck, ice shows, main theatre, therefore we never had to worry about having anywhere to sit, or having to get to the shows early to guarantee a good seat 2) Use of the Concierge Lounge (deck 9) where there was a coffee machine, continental breakfast, afternoon sandwiches and cakes. Also, Karen was there at certain times during the day (and always contactable by phone) to give any help and advice and answer any queries - suite guests therefore never needed to queue up at guest relations as Karen could take care of everything. In addition, she had the keys to the DVD and CD library. 3) Free bar and nibbles in the Ixtapa lounge from 4:30pm to 8:00pm - the lounge was open only to Suite guests and (I think) C&A members that were Diamond and up. Unfortunately, children were not allowed in here, so we only used this facility twice 4) Behind the scenes tours - we went on a tour of the bridge (you could also tour the engine control room and the galley, but space was limited and we did not sign up early enough), and also were invited to a reception where we went to the staterooms of the Captain, Chief Engineer, and Hotel Director - lots of free drinks and a very nice food presentations being made available 5) Invitations to 2 suite only receptions with senior staff, again with lots of free drinks and a very nice food presentations being made available 6) Quality toiletries (well, the same Gilchrest and Soames that you get with Cunard), and chocolates on the pillow (nice ones) 7) Someone knocked on the door one day with a very nice cheese plate - not sure if they only deliver this if you are in as we only got this once, but it was excellent. 8) Breakfast and lunch in Portofino's - you could avoid the crowds in the Windjammer and eat here, where tables were laid out properly (table cloths, nice cutlery etc.), and waiting staff, however you needed to go to the Windjammer to get your own food (there was fruit, cereal and pastries in Portofino's for breakfast though). 9) Extended in suite dining menu - also room service was always on time and as ordered. Everything that should have been hot was hot. On a 13 night cruise (especially with the first week at sea), these perks were really appreciated, and well used. Especially as the suite was not that more expensive than a D1 balcony cabin (£800 if I recall). Condition of the Ship The ship was in very good shape. Some signs of tiredness (some scuffs here and there), and some areas did have an unpleasant odour - the amusement arcade, and the walkway to the Aquanaut's play area for example. The ship was very stable (although we did have good weather for the crossing). This was the first cruise that I have not needed sea sickness tablets (my 10th cruise). The ship was nearly full but felt nowhere as crowded as the IoTS last November - you could always get a seat for a quiz for example, where you had no chance on the IoTS unless you arrived very early. There were also an impressive number of events where free 'champagne' was made available. There was no vibration from the engines (something that we have experienced on QM2 and QV), and the suite was very well insulated from external noise. The air conditioning around the ship did not seem to be cold enough and we did find ourselves quite hot in the theatre. Service The Captain (Patrick) was excellent, very visible and approachable. Also very humorous. We saw him on a number of occasions having breakfast / lunch in Portofino's and he made a point of speaking to everyone. The Cruise Director (Mike) was ok, but we never saw his sidekick. Our best cruise director was John (and Steve as the sidekick) on IoTS last November - Mike just did not seem to do much. The cruise was made up of c80% Americans / Canadians, so this may be what they like (only around 60 Brits). Dining Room - excellent staff - James (waiter) and Alner (assistant) were fun, knowledgeable and interacted really well with us and our little girl. Aston, the Head Waiter was also excellent, visiting us at least twice each meal - our daughter took a real shine to him. Bar staff - all very pleasant Entertainment staff - very good, especially Timmy and Rio ('from Rio') who were a lot of fun running the quizzes Children's facilities The Navigator catered very well for children. There were about 15 people in my daughter's age group (3-5) and there were lots of free activities every day. It was a real shame that our girl only went to a couple of sessions (she flatly refused any more). The problem is that we (as parents) were not allowed into the play area to settle her, it was a case of dropping her off and that was that. With Cunard, you can go in and make sure they are settled before leaving. As with Cunard we were given a pager in case we were needed back at the play area. There are also a number of occasions where children can have lunch with the staff (with a charge), or dinner (no charge) - but there are financial penalties if you are late, loose / damage a pager, or want your little one to stay after 10pm. Overall, I would say that Cunard's children's facilities (QV) are more modern and more personal, but still, those on the Navigator were very good and there was an excellent variety in the programme (which was delivered each day to the room). Shows The Ice Show was, as always, excellent Some of the entertainers were tailored to the American market - one comedian and a Celine Dion tribute act was not our cup of tea. Once again, Jonathan Kane was on board (Elton John tribute) and we were not going to go (this was the 4th time he has been on a cruise of ours), but we did see him in the end, and I have to say he was excellent - the Americans loved him and at least 100 of them got up on the stage to dance to Crocodile Rock, the audience participation really made his performance a memorable event (and he had slightly changed his act since we saw him last). The singers and dancers were good, but very loud, and the band were ok, however not as good as on the IoTS band last November who had the most amazing drummer. Food Food was excellent - lots of choice, always hot and very tasty. My wife was very happy that they served English breakfast tea throughout the ship. Another positive with RCI is that tea, coffee, water, iced tea, lemonade and fruit punch is always free in the Windjammer (and in most other places throughout the ship). Also, waiters throughout the ship are more than happy to get you the free drinks - I get the feeling on Cunard that if you want a free drink, you have to get it yourself...no such feeling with RCI. Disembarkation Very smooth - we had a tour of Rome then to the airport, so were off the ship by 7:30 (so up at 5am). This all went really well. Summing up I would have to say that this was the best cruise we have been on. I would highly recommend a transatlantic crossing on the Navigator and the Suite accommodation and perks were outstanding (especially with a 3 year old and the extra space required). Crew and staff were excellent, although cruise director was only so so. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We are two sixty-somethings who have been cruising since 2005. We have cruised on Carnival, Princess and are C&A Diamond Members on RCCL. This was our 4th transatlantic but first on RCCL (three on Princess) and our 24th cruise overall. ... Read More
We are two sixty-somethings who have been cruising since 2005. We have cruised on Carnival, Princess and are C&A Diamond Members on RCCL. This was our 4th transatlantic but first on RCCL (three on Princess) and our 24th cruise overall. We typically do 2 transatlantics a year to take advantage of R/T airfare. I will briefly mention prices throughout the review as many folks are interested in that information.We flew to FLL from Syracuse on Delta with no problems. We stayed at the Comfort Inn and Suites Cruiseport on S Federal Highway. We got a great rate through Skoosh ($80 per night) which included breakfast and free airport shuttle. The hotel offers a shuttle to the cruise port for $5 but we opted for a taxi ($10) as we wanted to get an early start. We arrived at the ship at 10:30 and were on board by 11:00. Embarkation was a breeze. Most folks head to the windjammer but our routine is a bit different. We head to the Pub on the Royal Promenade. I scoop the seats and order a couple of tall Murphys Red drafts will my DW goes to the Promenade Cafe and scoops the munchies. They offer sandwiches, pizza, sweets, cookies and fruit. It's never crowded and we avoid the pandemonium that seems a fixture of the Windjammer on embarkation day. Then we settle in and watch the people coming on board as they ooh and aah their way down the promenade. Rooms were available at 1 pm and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We were in a D3 #6360 on the starboard side. Our champagne was waiting but NOT iced down. This was soon remedied by a passing waiter. Our stateroom attendant, Jeanette, stopped by to introduce herself and we gave her our little list of immediate needs (feather pillows, robes, extra hangers, twin beds, extra towels, empty out the fridge etc.) and we gave her a nice tip for her prompt attention to our needs. Muster was at 4:00 and it was the shortest we have ever had. I still like the Princess way where muster is held in the lounges sitting down in air conditioned luxury. Sailaway found us toasting our new adventure on our balcony as we left Ft Lauderdale in our wake.We had a table for two in the Nutcracker Dining Room late traditional at 8 pm. Our waiter was Darius and his assistant was Jean. They were good but not outstanding. Our Headwaiter was conspicuous by his absence. He stopped by a few times but was less than engaging. We opted for the Diamond wine package and were pleased with the selections. I'm not sure what folks are expecting but at a cost of $25 per bottle with the package, we thought it was as good or better than typical restaurant selections and prices. We took a couple bottles to our stateroom to enjoy at sailaways. A word about the food on this cruise...GREAT!!! Once again, I'm not sure what folks expect from a mass-market cruiseline but we were quite pleased with the quality, selection and presentation. We had most of our meals in the dining room but took advantage of the extended hours in the Windjammer on days when we couldn't get to the dining room. We thought that the food was quite good there as well. We did dine at Portofino one night and it was delightful as usual. The shrimp risotto is just the best!To adjust for the time change, clocks were turned ahead at noon. this seemed to work very well.The library on deck seven was the most disorganized we have ever encountered. Nothing alphabetized and no method to the madness. We had brought several books with us and took advantage of the books left by our fellow cruisers for exchange.The Diamond Event was held in the Dungeon each evening from 4:30-8:00 pm. It's a bit dark and claustrophobic in there but after the second glass of wine, we found we could enjoy ourselves quite well thank you.We can't comment on the shows as we never attended a single one! We did attempt to see a movie in the Screening Room once but it was a fiasco. By the time the first-showing guests had squeezed their way past those pushing their way in to get the best seats, the movie had started and the only seats left were much too close to the screen. Points for Princess in this regard as their theater has more seats and allots few minutes between screenings to allow for an orderly transition.Ports visited included Tenerife, Mallorca and Ajaccio. We did no excursions as this was the first time we had visited these ports and we prefer to walk around the town and get the feel of the place before we excurse. We are visiting these same ports later so we'll consider excursions then. Tenerife was OK; Mallorca a bit more interesting; but our favorite by far was Ajaccio. We found a great little restaurant where we had a giant bucket of mussels, crusty bread, frites and house wine for the princely sum of 34 euros. Some might call that expensive; we thought it was cheap at twice the price.We arrived at Civitavecchia quite early and were off the ship by 7:45. We joined others for a shared shuttle into Rome (a big thanks to Chipper and Smiley for arranging this) and were checked into our hotel by noon. We stayed at the Hotel Katty, Via Palestro 35 which we had found through Venere.com. It's a couple blocks from the Metro stop so quite convenient. The price for a double room with bath, fridge and flat-screen TV was 89 euros per night which included breakfast (choice of coffees and massive cream-filled croissants) at a nearby cafe/bar. The hotel was spotlessly clean and we had the best room on the house (top floor corner with a nice view. The typically tiny (maybe ten square feet) elevator was an adventure. There are Internet cafes nearby for checking in for flights. The hotel doesn't offer much in the way of services but it was perfect for us.Our favorite restaurant in Rome is worth a paragraph itself. We happened upon it a few years ago and now it's the only place we eat. It's called Ristorante Pizzeria Carlo Menta, Via della Lungaretta, 101 in Trastevere and it's a 15 minute walk from either the Vatican, Piazza Navonna, the Pantheon or the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument. They offer a tourist menu (I know some folks sneer at these but this one is a winner) with 4 courses (10 euros at lunch; 13 euros at dinner) that is to die for. It starts with fresh tomato and olive oil bruschetta (2 giant hunks), pasta (4 choices; I personally recommend the penne Carlo Menta), a meat course (4 choices; I personally recommend the cotelette de veal Milanese style) and dessert (3 choices; creme caramel, house cake of the day [one day a chocolate cream tart; another an apple tart] and fruit salad [bowl of fruit sections]). We always order a liter of the house red wine (8 euros). There are, of course many other delectable items to choose from and the pizza is some of the best we've ever had. They offer a pizza marinara for 2 euros, pizza margherita for 3 euros and various specialty pizzas for 4-6 euros and they are larger than any other place we've eaten. If you want really good food at reasonable prices, this place is certainly worth a detour.We had opted for a transfer from the hotel to the airport arranged by a fellow cruiser but with time running out and no transportation in sight, we had the hotel car for a taxi and we arrived at the airport just in time to check in. The taxi was 45 euros and our driver was courteous and actually a safe driver!We flew Swiss with one transfer in Zurich and I must say we were very pleased with their aircraft, service, food and amenities. They fed us well and often, drinks (wine or mixed drinks) and movies were free and the service was attentive and friendly. We will certainly fly with them again.In closing, let me say that we had a delightful cruise with RCCL and the entire pre-cruise, cruise, and post-cruise experience went very well. We are now looking forward to our fall transatlantic on the Mariner and subsequent B2B to the Western Caribbean. Bon Voyage to all! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Background Mid-60's, 30th cruise overall, 8th on Royal Caribbean which includes four trans-Atlantics, one Panama Canal, and three one-week cruises. Pre-cruise Flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day early and stayed at the Red Carpet ... Read More
Background Mid-60's, 30th cruise overall, 8th on Royal Caribbean which includes four trans-Atlantics, one Panama Canal, and three one-week cruises. Pre-cruise Flew into Ft. Lauderdale a day early and stayed at the Red Carpet Inn.  Reviews were mixed and leaned towards negative but we found it fine for our purposes.  Free airport shuttle and port shuttle, clean, free internet, and had a reasonably priced restaurant attached to it which was good as there is nothing else around it other than a sports grill attached to the hotel next door—I think it was a Best Western.  Although in the flight path of the airport, we were not disturbed by the planes at all. I think they limit take offs and landings at night.  Largest pool I have ever seen for an establishment of that size. Embarkation We had heard that because the hotel's port shuttle was first come, first served it was advisable to line up early which we did at 10:30 a.m. for a 11:00 shuttle.   However, since we were leaving on a Thursday, there was no line, just one other couple and a lady waiting.   First they took the lady to the airport rental car location to pick up a car and then took us to the port.  The driver remarked how easy it was leaving on an off day.  It was around 11:30 when we got to the port and handed our luggage over.  We were directed to a large waiting area and told that the computers were down, and we would have to wait until they were up again to process our boarding. When the "hostess" made a remark about how clean the ship would be with the wait, I got suspicious that maybe they were cleaning because of the virus.  Especially since they were still cleaning cabins when we got on.  However, our cruising friend got there before the computers went down and he got right on. There was seating for everyone in the waiting area and employees who would ordinarily man the check-in counters circulated offering  water or juice. There was no separate area for Platinum, Diamond, etc. Every 15 minutes or so they would tell us that they computers were still down and thank us for our patience.  Around 12:45 they started boarding.  It was done in an orderly fashion with people being released by rows from the seating areas to the check-in area in the order they arrived at the terminal..  Check-in went efficiently and we were thanked for our patience by every employee we encountered.  We got on the ship and dropped off our things in the cabin before heading for lunch. After lunch we returned to the cabin to find our Diamond Value books and concierge lounge pass key but no ice in the bucket yet.  We had a balcony cabin on Deck 6 very near the front.   A few minutes later the room steward dropped by to introduce himself and I requested four things:  1) two Compasses a day; 2) ice put in my six-pack thermo bag which would be on the shower floor because it "sweats;" 3) empty the mini fridge and  4) see if he could hustle us up an egg crate mattress which he did do. By 3:00 p.m. luggage had been delivered and unpacking complete.  That is a record.  All contents of the suitcases were intact if you get my drift. The muster drill for our section was held in the Ixtapa lounge rather than outside.  Much preferred this to standing in the hot sun, cheek to jowl with other passengers.  It went quickly.  I liked that the closet had a "cubby" for life jackets storage in the cabin.  Let the cruise begin! We are "discarded" Diamonds on our first cruise as Diamond members.  The overflow lounge was full to be sure but very organized with no problem getting drinks (either at the bar or ordered while seated) and very nice appetizers. We requested late dining because the eastbound TA cruise  we took last year had early dining at 5:30 rather than the 6:00 we expected.  Couple this with moving the clocks up an hour at noon several days at sea (making our dinner at 4:30 "stomach time") and port calls that lasted until 5-6:00 p.m. we switched from our usual main dining time.to late.  However, on embarkation, we found our late dining would be 8:30 which is a little late for us and early dining would be 6:00.   So I asked the concierge (hey, I'm Diamond now if only for a few minutes) if he could assist us in changing to MTD and, basically, he blew me off.  If he had politely told me that he wished he could help but this could only be handled by me in person or some other words to that effect, I would have understood.  Instead, he told me to go down to the desk at the dining room and see if I could get it changed.  I did and after waiting 20 minutes for the lady who could handle it, I was told to come back at 9:30 the next morning as the lady was "unavailable."  So, we went off to the dining room the first night  to discover we had been assigned a table with great people.  A family and friends group from Canada who warmly welcomed us into their circle.  We decided we didn't want a change after all.  Things do have a way of working out. Our cabin was a D2 which we got on a guarantee.  The only difference I could see between that and an E2 (which we have had before) is the sofa was longer so I guess the cabin was longer, too. It was still just as "skinny."   There was a shampoo dispenser in the shower but no soap dispenser.  If you have a  "soap on a rope" stashed away, now would be a good time to use it.  The little bars provided slip through the wires on the soap holder and good luck picking it up without getting out of the shower. The shower had solid, curved doors rather than a curtain that "loves" you.   The cabin steward emptied the mini-bar but put all the items to the side of the fridge inside its "cubby.".  As the cruise progressed, the fridge "moved" over and one of the soda cans got punctured by the door hinge.  So we took everything out and put it on shelving on the side which was not being used, telling the room steward why.  He offered to take the things away but we told him no need to.  We did not get charged for the soda.  Another thing I liked about our balcony was it was glass below the railing vs. steel that we had on the Voyager.  Three previous trans-Atlantics have been on the Voyager so this review will make inevitable comparisons between the two ships.  The layout is the same other than different names for the venues except the Sports Bar was replaced by a wine bar. To me, the crew was much friendlier.    Not that they weren't on the Voyager but I felt more so on the Navigator. There seemed to be better organization throughout the cruise particularly in the area of port calls and accuracy in the Compass.  They had separate gangways for the ship's tours so that alleviated the crowding to get off.  We only disembarked one time with the "masses" to catch a private tour and walked off the ship with little or no delay.  Other times, we waited until later as we didn't have any tours lined up other than the HOHO.  There were fewer announcements.  I can only remember one or two for Bingo or the Art Auction.  The ship offered shuttle service into town centers but it wasn't heavily hawked with words like "you are miles from town and you need to buy our service because cabs are not readily available or more expensive (pick one).  In fact, you weren't that far from town and, if you shared a cab, it was cheaper than four individual shuttle tickets.   If you got off and decided to hoof it after seeing how close you were, you could get your unused shuttle ticket(s) refunded.  We are big time trivia players.  The prizes were much better than on the Voyager which seemed to only have key chains, pens, and water wallets. We got backpacks, shoulder bags, photo albums, hats, t-shirts, halfway useful stuff.  It  probably helped that they are doing away with their Vitality Program so they had items you traded for tickets to get rid of.  However, I heard on the Voyager TA at the same time, it was water wallets, pens, and key chains for trivia.  The hosts were more congenial and their English easy to understand.  On the Voyager there seemed to always be a confrontation at every game over one or two questions and some passengers getting quite ugly to the entertainment staff.   Did not happen once on this cruise.  There was one question that clearly had the wrong answer to it on the paper and the host  discarded it as even she knew Beethoven did not die in 1927 (lol).   There were three or four games a day, although, the 8:00 p.m. one usually involved a music theme trivia as in "name that tune/artist/movie" which was not our strong point. They had a trivia marathon which kept a running score for the 10:00 a.m. sea-day trivia sessions with the final held on the last day.   Unfortunately, the last day trivia was evicted from our usual meeting place at 10:00 a.m. by the art auction so the final was at 10:15 p.m.  The art auction had been a "problem" on most of our morning sessions trying to set up and this severely limited seating.  All the teams seemed to make it to the late hour for the final session.  All the trivia games were held in the Schooner Bar other than the marathon which was in Ixtapa.  However, the Schooner is too small a venue for trivia and seats went fast so people were pulling stools out of the casino and from the bar.  I did not think the production shows were as good as on the Voyager. The dancing was good but the sets minimal and the songs were for the most part ones we were not familiar with.  Husband and I had a running argument over whether the music was live or recorded.  It was probably a little of both.  The main singers may have been live and the orchestra was on the stage in the background during one of the shows.  However, on another show they were in the pit at the beginning which was lowered when the show started but not covered and I didn't see any tops of heads showing (we were in the balcony) nor were they bought back up when acknowledged after the show was over.  The third show I never saw the orchestra either before or after.  The Cruise Director was missing in action unless on stage.  At the M&M for our cruise critic group the staff had a few raffle prizes one of which was a small stuffed seal which I won.  The Activities Director hosting the M&M told me to bring the seal  to Bingo because there were some bonus things that went with it.  He was late getting there and when he got there, he had to chase down the sheet of paper which took awhile.  Turned out it was worthless stuff for me like 10 percent off at a gift store or something off spa treatment, or extra jackpot card for Bingo.  Anyway, while waiting, the card sales were going on, I did some calculating.  It was $32 for six cards for each of four games.  They had an electronic thingee for $67 that had 30 "cards" on it.  You just sat and held it and it did all the work keeping up with the numbers.  Other things was a strip of somethings (scratch offs???)  that if you bought you got a t-shirt, and you could buy my seal for $12 that came with the sheet of discounts.  If you bought  two "packets," you got an extra jackpot card of three games.  A lot of ways to separate you from your money.  When the game started, I counted about 80 people there.  Say they paid an average of $50 a person (and I think that is conservative) that would be $4,000.  The first game was straight bingo, around 10 numbers called, three winners split $76.  Next game was four corners, again about a dozen numbers called, think that one was worth $92.  The next game was "postage stamp" winner(s) got $102.  The last game was coverall and if all your numbers were covered in 44 pulls, you got the jackpot of around $1,500.  If not, then the game continued and the winner got $128 or thereabouts and some money was put towards the last session "jackpot must go" coverall.  Now you do the math.  $4,000 minimum taken in, and $400 paid out plus maybe $500 held back for the final day jackpot unless someone covered up all the numbers earlier with the allotted pulls.  That's $3,000 in their pocket each of the six sessions they had.   Out of curiosity, I went down to a couple of more games and the number of players participating were down (they can do math, too) so the payoffs were even less and split many times. The last coverall game where the jackpot would be given away had maybe 100 people there and the jackpot was $3,600.  They called 60 numbers before someone got it.  $67 electronic handhelds won most of the prizes—doh.   I figure the cruise line made about $18,000 on that little venture. The M&M was well attended with the Activities Director emceeing it with some helpers. They had punch and appetizers.  Raffle prizes were given out and everyone received a bag with a water wallet in it.  The helper facilitated the gift exchange by handing out drawing tickets to those that participated when they turned in their gifts and then delivering the gifts after their number was called.  Food I would like to say it has improved.  Not.  I've learned on the TA's that once the menu gets to Steak Diane, it is going to go downhill from there in my opinion.  They did have lobster twice—once on the Fisherman's Platter and again as "surf and turf." Unfortunately that night they had a special showing of the ice show for Platinum, Diamond, etc. people at 8:00.  Since our dinner hour was 8:30, we went to the Windjammer to eat prior to the show.  However, before the show started, they told us that it would be o.k. for late seating to go late to dinner.  Wish we had known that beforehand.  Both lobster dinners were on a formal night.  If you like salmon, fish, pasta, chicken then you are in business.  No one at our table availed themselves of the $15 steak so I can't comment on that.  It really saves me from myself because I don't agonize over which appetizer, entrEe or dessert to order and end up ordering multiples.  I've never left the dining room hungry, there is always something even if I make a meal on appetizers, soup and dessert. We ate lunches in the Windjammer and could always find a place to sit either by ourselves or asking someone at a large table if we could join them.   I noticed some people would come in and get their silverware and place it on a table to save it while getting their food.  I usually just had soup and dessert but husband filled his plate and there seemed to be a good selection.  The plates have shrunk from the large oval ones to regular dinner plate size.  No trays.  Service was pretty good with clearing tables and getting drinks if you asked. We ate all our breakfasts in the MDR.  On the Voyager, the MDR had an "express" breakfast buffet that had fruit, bread, eggs, bacon, etc. your basics every day.   You could, also, order omelets, pancakes, etc. from the menu.  On this ship, they had a buffet some days or maybe just a fruit bar or a pancake making bar or nothing at all a few times.  So I can't address how the seating was at breakfast in the Windjammer. Casino They only had about seven penny slots and one was down the entire cruise.  Two of them paid off enough to keep you entertained for a half-hour or so with a dollar at a penny a pull.  The others just sucked up your money faster than a tornado through a trailer park so you had no trouble at getting a seat at those.  Usual table games but I did notice the minimum at BJ was $5 rather than the $6 on the Voyager.  On formal nights, it was non-smoking in the evenings. I didn't happen to go through there so I can't comment on whether the attendance was up or down.  I do know that non-smokers were very pleased, though.  Cost Cutting/Amenities No chocolates, towel animals some nights but not every night.  On the good side, the Compass was not loaded up with all the inserts as in the past.  The Art Auction one was always there but I suspect Park Galleries supplies those and they had the half "strip"of  promotions but that was it.   Gift is slated to go in September.  We got the ever popular baseball hats this time. No daily "newspaper" was a real bummer because on a TA you are in a vacuum as far as news goes.  CNN on the television was reruns of what we had already seen four days before and Fox News didn't provide much either. We got bits and pieces about the Swine Flu.  ESPN equally worthless—taped reruns of long ago played games—usually soccer.  I did go to the concierge lounge twice to see what it was like.  I didn't stay more than a few minutes each time.  Neither time was it crowded (11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.)  Not being a coffee drinker and wanting more than a danish and juice for breakfast, this is one amenity I won't miss come September 1. Because of the length of a TA cruise, you are bound to have a lot of older, retired, multi cruised RCL people.  This was no exception so an overflow lounge was utilized in the evenings.  I know people have said it is not about the drinks but, trust me, it is about the drinks.  I made a mental note of people around me and for every glass of wine/champagne I saw poured, I saw five or six mixed drinks.  I saw people downing several mixed drinks in an hour.   I will be interested to see how that ratio works on our return TA in November when the mixed drinks are 25% off and wine/champagne is free  The service was outstanding in the lounge and the appetizers plentiful and good.  There was a lot of socializing when people would come into the lounge and spot friends and join them or made arrangements to meet there at a certain time.  If seating was "tight" (like right before the first dinner seating when you have second dinner seating people coming in before 1st seating people have left), people were not shy about asking to join you if you had seats at your table and always welcomed.  It really is a good perk to get together with fellow cruisers and I am glad that Royal Caribbean is keeping it in some fashion. They had a section by the pool roped off for suites but I never saw more than three or four sitting there.  Since the weather, for the most part, was windy and cool, there was no problem getting seats elsewhere.  No chair hogs this cruise!  In the show room they roped off the first two rows of the balcony for the suite guests.  However, I heard some people just stepped over the ropes and sat down.  Maybe they were suite people. We were laughing because the first row of the balcony is not that desirable because the railing obstructs the view.  I did not see either the pool or the theater area being "monitored" to make sure it was only being used by suite guests.  We never had any problems getting a seat in the theater even coming at the last minute.   I have no ill will towards the suite guests getting these perks any more than against those that ride first class in an airplane while I am crammed in the back.  They paid a lot more than I did for the cruise so they deserve more than I get.  The Value Booklet has been gutted for all practical purposes.  Wine is a BOGO, JR has a BOGO for a milkshake only, coffee, same, percentage off things of like 10 percent—just about everything required you to buy something to get something.  They did still have the $5 match play at the casino and the slot pull coupon.  Has anybody ever won anything with that other than a key chain or t-shirt? Admittedly, the service is not as good as in the "old days" but that is due to cutting back on the staff not the staff not doing their job.  They can only do so much in the time allotted to them.  Our room steward was as good as we have ever had.   Our dining waiters were, also, satisfactory. Our waiter was new so there were some "whiffs" but still better service than I have had on many cruises.   I noticed we saw the head waiter much more frequently now as he/she is pitching in to take up the slack when necessary.  In the "old days" about the only time we ever saw him was when he was "trolling for tips."  A quick "how is everything" while looking past you  plotting the move to the next table.  Hence, I was never quick with a tip for them if I didn't ask for anything from them.  Now, I feel they earn the tip because they are so visible and helpful. This is a review so I am not going to editorialize on my opinions of the new policy of not allowing OBC/discounts being combined or the Diamond loyalty program cuts other than to say the playing field as been leveled in our choosing future cruises.  Library It was as pitiful as it is on the Voyager.  Bring your own reading material.  On the last day, I was taking up a paper back I had finished planning to put it on the shelf.  As I entered, there was a lady doing "dumpster diving" in the box that you return books in.  She had placed some of her books in there.  I know because she pointed out one she said she had finished by the same author of ones I was putting in there.  There were many paper backs which the library doesn't have.  I was wondering how one would distinguish what hardback was a donation and what was the library's when husband pointed out the library had "dots" on the spine to facilitate shelving them.  So, if you get desperate for reading material, do some dumpster diving.  It seems to me that Royal could dedicate some shelves for a "book exchange" since a lot of their shelves are empty.  Sick Bay Unfortunately, I had to visit the medical facilities.  My ears stopped up—probably a combination of air pressure flying in and build up of wax.  While it didn't seem that crowded when I went to the waiting room (maybe a half dozen people there and some were waiting with companions), it was still over an hour after I signed in to be looked at.  Once  the doctor saw me, he was very professional but English was definitely a second language and I had trouble understanding him.   Boy, am I glad I had insurance. $70 to walk through the door, $82 each ear to treat it, $35 for "medication" which was some ear drops and peroxide. I think I'll come out about even paying for insurance vs. charges.  I heard a broken wrist was over $3K.  Buy that insurance!! When checking in, the nurse went over the $70 charge to be seen and said that there would be an additional charge for services and medication.  So it is not like she didn't warn me.    I noticed a vending machine for OTC medications outside the door.  Didn't check out the prices, though.  Smoking As a smoker, I found the smoking rules very acceptable.  As I mentioned before, no smoking on formal nights in the casino.  I was surprised that smoking was allowed in the Two Poets Pub because on the Voyager, I heard, they don't have it in the Pub there anymore.  I never smoked in the cabin to begin with as a courtesy to those that would occupy the cabin after me so this was not a problem for me.  I did smoke on our balcony when the balconies on either side were not being occupied.  Early in the cruise, when my neighbor was out on the balcony at the railing, I did ask him if my smoking on the balcony bothered him and he told me it did not.   In the Schooner Bar, they have taken the smoking away from the "main" area but there is smoking allowed by the casino entrance.  Smoking allowed on one side of the Bolero Lounge separated by the stairs in the atrium.  Smoking was allowed on the Starboard side of the pool deck.  There were no ashtrays on the tables but a lot of "standing" ashtrays scattered around.  I was glad I had my Altoids tin to use.  Overall, I think their smoking policy is very fair for smokers.  While I am sure the many non-smokers would like to see the entire ship non-smoking or smokers relegated to the top deck by the smoke stack, that is not going to happen.  I think Carnival's Paradise showed this not to be an economical option.    I think Royal Caribbean has a good balance accommodating both smokers and non-smokers. If smoking on balconies bothers you, then you can cruise Celebrity which does not allow it.  Disembarkation On past cruises, there was always a paragraph in the Compass about how you should buy their transportation to the airport because cabs could be a two hour wait.  I assumed they meant they weren't plentiful.  When we disembarked last year in Barcelona, we carried our own luggage off as we arranged for our own transportation to the airport with pick up at  8:30.    I saw plenty of cabs there but, keep in mind, this was 7:30 or so in the morning.  This time, we were spending the night in Barcelona so we were not in any hurry to get off the ship as our hotel room would not be ready.  I, also, noted this time we were not asked to vacate the cabin by 8:30 as we have been in the past.  Aside note:  Our cabin steward knocked on the door at 7:30 and started to come in the cabin.  So, put out the do not disturb sign the night before.  When they "kicked us off the ship" around 9:30 a.m., we got in line for the cabs.  Good news is that there were plenty of cabs.  As fast as they could load them, they were leaving with another one waiting.  The bad news, it was over an hour by the time we got in line until we got to the front of the line. I think this is where the up to two hour wait sentence came in.   I'm sure we got in the line when it was at its longest. because there were many spending extra nights in Barcelona.  I did not hear anyone boo-hooing they were going to miss their flights because of the lengthy wait.  I don't think our cab driver was happy we weren't going to the airport because to make up for it instead of going around Las Ramblas to our hotel, he went down Las Ramblas which was very slow going and the meter was ticking.  Miscellaneous Notes No hand sanitizers.  The reasoning I heard was that they aren't that effective for Norovirus to start with and that people were depending on them rather than washing their hands which is the most effective way to protect against it.  As far as I know, no one got the virus or the swine flu.  However, lots of coughing, colds, etc.  I think it is due more to being in a confined environment than lack of "sanitizing."  I do a heavy dose of building up immunity before leaving home and while flying/cruising with Airborne, Cold FX, and a few of those awful tasting zinc tablets.  So far, it has worked for me.  I could set the clock of being sick 48 hours after any long-distance flight or commencing a cruise before I started being pro-active.  The clocks were moved up at noon every day (7 of them) except for the last advancement which was done at night.  Did not have any major problems with getting elevators except during those times you would expect it—dinner, leaving the show.  We think the ones that don't go to decks 13 and 14 were quicker to arrive, though.  When reboarding after spending a day in port, if you keep on walking past the first bank of elevators you come to, you will come to a second bank and there was never a wait there for one.  No iced tea except in the Windjammer between lunch and 9:30 when it closes.  I make my own stash by putting a tea bag in a water bottle and fill it with water for those off times. Husband liberated a coffee cup from the Windjammer because he said the paper cups in the Promenade were flimsy and too hot to hold even with the thingees there to put around them. No yellow mustard—French's type.  The only mustard husband will eat.  On the Voyager you could get it in packets in the Promenade Cafe but not on this ship.  They only had Dijon type. Ports I won't go into them much as the TA's are one time stops. Tenerife One of our fellow CC members lined up a private tour which took us to the volcanos.  Very good tour and half Royal Caribbean's price.  The only downside is you must walk off the pier to get to the transportation as no cabs or tour buses other than RCL's are allowed on the pier.  It is about a ¾ mile walk.  I think what surprised me the most was I wasn't aware of how "stark" part of the island is around the volcanos.  In fact, our driver told us that movies are filmed there (and we saw one was being filmed) because it resembles moonscape and "old" West.  Reminded me of Monument Valley.  A lot of beautiful vegetation in the lower levels. Lisbon We did the HOHO bus there. Having never been to these ports, we decided to get an overview so when/if we return, we will have a better idea of what we would like to concentrate on.   I purchased all our HOHO tickets from Expedia before leaving so I would not have to worry about having Euros or finding a kiosk or whatever to purchase them once in the port.  As it turned out, you can buy them from the bus driver but they want Euros.  They may take dollars but I'm sure the exchange rate would not be good (lol).  We bought shuttle tickets from the ship but it turned out the HOHO bus stopped right in front of the terminal so we got a refund on the ship's shuttle tickets.  Those that took the shuttle were let out with a five minute walk into town. Cadiz In Cadiz, we couldn't dock where they had planned; we were put in a cargo terminal instead.   We were delayed getting off so the port call was extended an hour.  When we got off, numerous crew members (including the Captain, I heard) were deployed to direct people around the containers to the end of the pier. Again did the HOHO route.  We had to walk about ½ a mile to get into town.  The reason why we were shifted to the cargo port was because the Ruby Princess beat us to our docking place.  Once it town, we went to the tourist information office to find out where to pick up the bus.  In front of Burger King  right across the street.  Unfortunately, the stop before this stop was right in front of the Ruby Princess.  So, when the bus got to us, it was mostly full—maybe only a dozen seats left.  The first bus came and some people shall we say, were not very orderly.  Being told that it would be half an hour (it seemed longer) until the next bus came (Cadiz does not usually have that many cruise passengers in town at the same time so they were overwhelmed) we got a little more "organized."  A line was formed and people politely told where the end of it was.  After awhile a HOHO employee came over to direct people to the end of the line and keep things organized.. Malaga HOHO.  About a ½ mile walk to the bus stop along a promenade by the beach.   This is where I came to the realization that ear buds are not designed for my ears.  No matter how I pushed, shoved, twisted, they would not stay in my ear.  In Lisbon, the driver spoke over a PA system (good English, easy to understand).  In Cadiz and Malaga they had the ear buds which you could hook up and choose a language.  Mental note to self, next TA when I plan to do the HOHO, bring some el cheapo ear phones with me.  Continental Airline's won't work because they have two prongs instead of one.  You need a one pronged ear phone. Additional Notes In Tenerife, our first European stop, we tried to get Euro's.  For some reason, our cards would not work in the two ATMs we tried.. We had some Euros with us so this was not the end of the world.  If push came to shove, we had a friend who could get euros off his card for us.  In Lisbon, we again attempted to get some Euros from an ATM with no luck.  It appeared the ATM wanted  a six digit pin and we have a four digit one.  However, at a second machine, we noticed that in addition to buttons running down the side of the machine which we had pressed to "confirm our transaction"  after using them to set the transaction up, there were some buttons on the base of the machine where we could "confirm our transaction."  That worked.  For some reason we cannot fathom, we were invited to dine with the Captain.  We were in an el-cheapo balcony guarantee cabin, just made Diamond, our ship board tabs on previous cruises have been practically nothing due to OBC (on the last TA cruise got $100 back), don't wear designer clothes or expensive jewelry, don't gamble, didn't suck up to any officers, but we do clean up nice.   Dart board?  We were extended the invitation on a Monday evening at dinner and told an invitation would be forthcoming.  Tuesday evening the Head Waiter discreetly told my husband he needed to speak with us after dinner.  We figured they were going to tell us that a mistake had been made and give us a bottle of wine for our disappointment (lol).  Nope, just wanted confirmation we were coming and to give us the official invitation.  Needless to say, it was the highlight of this cruise.  The Captain and his wife were there and an officer.  The other couples invited to round out the 12-man table were just Plain Jane people like us—or appeared to be.  I was worried husband didn't have a tux with him but we were told a suit would be fine.  Only one other male guest had a tux on and he was "apologizing" saying it was all he had bought. We had a special menu, signed by the captain and wine was flowing.  They took a group picture of us from the balcony and presented it to us after dinner.   I am passing this on not to "brag" but to give everyone hope they, too, might get an invite. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to e-mail me at whitlock@alumni.utexas.net.  It was a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
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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