My girlfriend and I cruised on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas in July 2007 and absolutely loved the Royal Caribbean experience. It was the first time on Royal Caribbean for both of us, along with her first time cruising. I had ... Read More
My girlfriend and I cruised on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas in July 2007 and absolutely loved the Royal Caribbean experience. It was the first time on Royal Caribbean for both of us, along with her first time cruising. I had cruised on Carnival Ecstasy many years before. After Majesty in July I cruised on Carnival's new ship the Carnival Valor and hated it. In early November I found a great deal on a 5 night Royal Caribbean cruise on the Navigator of the Seas. The deal was so good, I booked it within 5 minutes of discovering it online. It was an absolute no brainer. Plus we'd be visiting two ports we'd never been to: Ocho Rios (Jamaica) and George Town (Grand Cayman). Moreover, I really wanted to try out one of Royal Caribbean's mega ships and Navigator was exactly what I was looking for. Ideally I would have preferred Freedom of the Seas but for now, Freedom is way too expensive being its so new.
When we sailed on Majesty of the Seas, we sailed out of the Port of Miami. It was an amazing experience. No lines. You're on the ship in no time. This time sailing out of Fort Lauderdale was quite a mission. Really long lines and very little organization. It becomes a wild zoo at the cruise terminal. They seriously need to redesign the Port Everglades terminals. We arrived really early and still had to wait almost an hour in line to get on the ship. Overall, it was much better than the Carnival terminal in Miami. When sailing on Carnival from the Port of Miami, you have to wait in a super long line OUTSIDE of the terminal in the SCORCHING Florida heat. Being from Florida I can tell you, it's not fun. Carnival treats its passengers worst than animals when it comes to the embarkation process.
Anyway, we finally made our way onto the beautiful and massive Navigator of the Seas. We were so excited!!! When you board the Navigator, you are directed to the centrum closest to your room so it's much easier. Definitely a well organized system of embarkation. We took a quick elevator ride up to our room on the 8th floor and soon discovered our beautiful and spacious room with a view of the Royal Promenade.
The rooms on the Navigator are very nicely decorated and are overall very spacious. Nice big closets and enough room to lounge around on two couches by the window for our Promenade stateroom. The view of the Royal Promenade is incredible. I've had oceanview staterooms before and the view of the Promenade was even better.
After checking out the room we headed to the huge Windjammer cafe on the 11th floor. Not the best food selection. While on the Majesty I also noticed that Royal Caribbean's Windjammer cafes are very basic. Anyway, we found some food we could enjoy for lunch and then hit another problem. We couldn't find a place to sit. It seems like everyone embarking was there at the same time. Finding a table was a huge mission. We finally decided to just eat on a bar top. With capacity for 3,114 you'd expect there to be more tables. The biggest problem is they have too many tables for big groups and obviously people looking for a table for two grab a table for six. This was a problem throughout the cruise.
After the Windjammer we explored this amazing ship. We even took time to play basketball and miniature golf in the rear of the ship. Playing mini golf on a cruise ship was a really cool experience. After the always awful but definitely important muster drill we made our way to the helipad in the front of the ship to take pictures as the ship sailed out of the port. There were several other huge cruise ships leaving at the same time so it was a cool experience as one left after the other.
We had the second seating for dinner in the main dining room. We shared a table with two other Florida couples. Really cool group of people. Only problem was the dining room service on the first night. It completely sucked. We even had to share menus with the other couples at the table since the waiters forgot to bring us menus. Getting anything that night was a mission. Plus the food the first time wasn't all that great. At the end of the dinner we all complained to the head waiter. He promised to fix the problem.
The following day was our first day at sea. We enjoyed the pools and hot tubs as well as tried out some of the fun activities on board. We were searching for board games which are usually found in the library onboard. No one, not even the attendants at the main desk knew where we could find some. Finally my girlfriend found a huge board/game room on the top deck. It's funny how most of the ship's staff didn't even know this huge and popular room existed. We had lunch in the ship's main dining room. The food was AMAZING!!!! The service was also really good. We met a cool group of people at the table and the experience was really good. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the pools and the spa.
Our second night at the dining room was such a change. We had a new head waiter and it seems like that was the whole problem from the start. The service that night was amazing compared to the first night. Our waiters Rene and Julius did an awesome job and we put the first night's experience behind us. We went to sleep early this night so we can awake early the following morning in Jamaica.
Monday morning we woke up early and had breakfast in the Windjammer. We then headed to the helipad in front to have a perfect view as the ship pulled into the port in Ocho Rios. Took some awesome pictures from the helipad. We got off the ship around 9:15 and made our way to the end of the pier to meet our tour operator. We had followed all the recommendations on CruiseCritic.com and booked with the very well known and trusted Phil Lafayette. It was definitely worth it. He took us to the Dunn's River Falls, river tubing, and then drove us around and gave us a tour of Ocho Rios. He's a very animated individual who sings and tells awesome stories along the way. We had 14 people on our tour. All were really nice and had also learned about Phil through CruiseCritic.com. Everyone was also really pleased with the tour and the high level of service provided by Phil. After Ocho Rios we just lounged in the hot tubs for a few hours before making our way to dinner. By the way, for those visiting Dunn's River Falls, it's definitely an awesome experience. Also they sell you a dvd at the end of the tour for $40. If you're good at bargaining you can get it down to $20. For $20 it's worth it. Also, we had read a lot of CruiseCritic.com about the harassing vendors at the exit of the River Falls. It's not that bad. Just be polite and they'll be nice. Just tell them you're in a hurry to get on your bus and you can get out really fast. You've got to remember that Jamaica is a very poor country and the people make a living off the tourism so they obviously have to try everything they can to get you to buy something. They're really nice people though.
Monday night was the famous Sex & Marriage game show. Definitely the funniest show ever!!! They had a couple married for 58 years who gave the strangest and funniest answers ever. When asked what is the ugliest part of his wife, he blurted out "her fat bum". When they asked his wife if she'd rather him be deserted on an island with a nun or a stripper, she answered "a nun would read him his last rites, but a stripper would let him go out with a smile." This was just the icing on the cake compared to the more ludicrous comments made during the show.
The next morning we made it to George Town. We had to tender to shore at this port. The tender experience was actually really good. They organized it very well. For Grand Cayman we booked a tour with Captain Marvins Watersports. They took us to Stingray City and to snorkel at the barrier reef and the coral gardens. The crew on the boat was really helpful and we had an awesome time. Kissing the stingrays was an amazing we won't soon forget. They are so cool. Also, it's amazing, but they're actually very used to the humans touching and holding them even though they live in the wild.
The next day was our final day at sea. We ice skated and roller bladed today. It was tons of fun. We also did some last minute shopping on board and enjoyed the pools. We again lunched at the dining room. Only complaint was they had the same menu from Sunday. It was still good food though.
Getting off the ship when we returned was the worst experience of the whole cruise. We did the express system where you carry your own bags. Seems like EVERYONE decided to do the same. It took 45 minutes to get into an elevator to get down to the first floor where the gangway was located. Then once off the ship you have to wait in a huge OUTDOOR line in the Florida heat to get into the US Customs building. Once you go through through Customs you have to walk to another terminal outside to get picked up. It was a mission compared to the easiness of the Port of Miami when sailing on Royal Caribbean. We had so much fun on the cruise though that we let this morning's experience slide.
One thing definitely worth mentioning are the shows on this ship. The ice skating show is AMAZING!!!!!!! You'd have to pay an insane amount to see such a show at an arena at home. Also the theatrical shows and parades down the Royal Promenade are amazing. It's hard to believe you're actually in the middle of the ocean.
Overall I would recommend Navigator of the Seas to people of all ages. We're a young couple (early 20's) and we loved it, but we also met a lot of older couples who loved it as well. It has something for everybody.
The best advice I can give you: AVOID CARNIVAL !!!!!! Royal Caribbean is so much better !!! Read Less