We cruised on the Navigator of the Seas out of Galveston with my extended family, 17 people total, ranging in age from 2 to 71. The itinerary was a 7 night cruise to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. This was my third cruise and the ... Read More
We cruised on the Navigator of the Seas out of Galveston with my extended family, 17 people total, ranging in age from 2 to 71. The itinerary was a 7 night cruise to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. This was my third cruise and the first time with Royal Caribbean. We are from San Antonio and Austin which makes leaving from Galveston convenient. The traffic at the port was a mess and took a long time. The embarkation process was okay, but the lines were long and slow. We arrived around noon and were onboard by 1:30pm. We were able to go to our staterooms, but when we got there, the cabin was so small, I thought they had made a mistake. We had four cabins in a row on the 3rd floor, each with adults and children. My parents had a balcony room on the 7th floor (which was much larger and very nice). We were 2 adults (in our 40’s) and 2 children (ages 12 and 13) in our room but there was only a king sized bed. We looked around bewildered and could not figure out where the supposed bunk beds would be. Furthermore, I could not find an attendant or a single person to ask. Other people were wandering around the hallway asking the same thing. I ended up going up to guest services and was told the beds come down from the ceiling and our stateroom attendant would lower them after dinner. Basically, the bunk beds hang over the king sized bed. I had looked online before the trip and had even called Royal Caribbean about the sleeping arrangements in a family room, and could not find any information. There are no pictures of this room configuration on the website or anywhere else. I took some pictures once the beds were down and will post them online so others will know what to expect. In addition, the cabin itself was really dirty. It seemed the only thing done between the prior guests’ departure and our arrival was to make the beds. There was hair in the bathroom and on the window sill above the bed, sand all over the floor and couch, some kind of smeary stains (blood?) on the walls, dried vomit on the curtains above the bed, and a disgusting toilet brush that lingered in the bathroom during our entire stay. Our stateroom attendant came by and introduced himself (Leon) and assured us the beds would be lowered after dinner time and he would vacuum the floor. I did not mention the other things because I would basically be asking him to clean the room properly, but I didn’t want to get off on the wrong note. It was getting late so we went to the Wind Jammer for lunch. The food was good with lots of variety. After lunch, we explored the ship. We watched the departure from the top deck and enjoyed a drink. We returned to the cabin late in the afternoon thinking we might unpack, but none of the luggage had arrived to our room. Leon assured us the luggage would be there soon. But by dinner time, our luggage had still not arrived, even though all my family in the other cabins had theirs. I had to go to dinner wearing shorts with holes in them. Bummer. Next time, I’ll pack my dinner clothes in my carry on.
We had a 5:30 pm dining time. Our group of 17 was split amongst two tables next to one another. We ended up eating in the main dining room every night of the cruise. I really didn’t care for the food, but everyone liked the experience of eating in the dining room. Some of the items were better than others (salmon was good, steaks were not good). The kids became increasingly adventurous with what they ordered each night (escargot, lamb, duck, etc.), which was fun to watch. Everyone enjoyed the interesting desserts and being able to order as many items as they liked from the menu. The portions were very small (ex., 5 chips served with the spinach and artichoke dip made us laugh), but that was fine since none of us are really big eaters anyway. Our waiter was not friendly and was actually abrupt and sometimes downright rude. He was always behind the other tables in his service cycle. Not that we wanted to rush, but he was consistently slow and seemed very stressed out. The wine steward was also rude and not knowledgeable about the wine list and his service was very slow also. But the young lady who brought the bread basket around each night and refilled tea and water glasses was so sweet. She smiled the whole time and was so warm and pleasant. She needs a promotion!!!
After dinner, our luggage arrived and we were able to unpack. The cabin had very little storage for 4 people. It would have been fine for 2, but with 4 people, there definitely was not adequate space to unpack our things. I had to get pretty creative to make it work. At the end of the first day, I was kind of annoyed and disappointed. It had not been the best beginning for a cruise. But luckily, the rest of the trip went so much better and despite a rough start, the cruise itself was wonderful.
The second day was a sea day and we had to pass through a tropical storm. It was pretty rough waters and the boat was rocking, not enough to make people ill, but enough to through off your balance. They closed the upper decks until we were through the storm by the late afternoon. My husband decided to buy a beverage package on the second day (beer, wine and soda), which was probably a cost saver in the long run. The prices of the drinks are really high! Being able to bring two bottles of wine onboard (plus the ones my sister carried on for me, since she doesn't drink wine) was perfect for me. Surprisingly, no one even used the soda cup. In the end, I think we got our money's worth, but it would be nice if there was an allowable amount of beer you could bring too. While I'm on the subject, the policy on bringing water onboard seems a bit fuzzy. Most of our group had no trouble and just put a luggage tag on our water case and it arrived at the room with the luggage. But we saw another person carrying water during boarding who had it confiscated. So stupid. They should just make an allowance for bringing on a case of water to keep in your stateroom. Jeez...
The third day we docked in Cozumel. We arrived later than scheduled due to the weather the day before, but that was nice because we got to sleep in a little later. We had booked the Fury Catamaran Snorkel and Beach Break through Royal Caribbean. This was so much fun. The catamaran’s crew were very capable and kept the beers and margaritas flowing. The snorkeling location was not that great. There weren’t that many fish and the waters were pretty rough that day. But at least it was memorable. The private beach had lots of inflatables to play on and the kids had a blast. You could order a hamburger or hotdog that was made fresh in front of the guests. They are enormous and delicious and could easily be split between two people. We stayed at the beach for about an hour and a half then boarded the catamaran for the trip back to the boat. The crew played music and got the passengers dancing on the deck. It was really entertaining to watch everyone. We were back in time to do some shopping in the port before getting back onboard the ship.
The fourth day, we tendered in Grand Cayman. It was a late arrival (10 am) and they prioritized those guests with excursions booked through Royal Caribbean to get off the ship first. Everyone else needed a numbered ticket to disembark and the process was slow. We didn’t get off the ship until almost noon. We did not have an excursion booked because we had heard how beautiful the beaches are and decided to take cabs on our own. It was easy to get a cab and we were taken to Public Beach. Our cab driver said she would take us back and we arranged a time. There was a bar/restaurant where we ordered buckets of beer and headed out to the beach. This beach was very narrow and pretty crowded. We rented a couple of chairs and umbrellas. The kids snorkeled and played in the water. We ordered food from the bar, which was very good. But it was very hot that day and we only stayed at the beach for a couple of hours. Our driver returned to pick us up and we asked to be dropped off near the port to shop. Grand Cayman is clean and safe to walk around, but we had to remind the kids to be careful crossing the street since they drive on the other side of the road. We bought a few souvenirs and returned to the tenders for the ride back to the ship. It was enjoyable, but we probably would have had more fun if we had booked an excursion.
The fifth day, we docked in Falmouth, Jamaica. I had booked an excursion through a private company (Liberty Tours) for a trip to Blue Hole. This was such an amazing day and I cannot say enough good things about the experience. I had been given directions by the tour company on where to meet our guides and we found the meeting place easily. We divided into two groups and were taken to the comfortable, air conditioned vans. The driver of our van was Rose Marie. She was so friendly and outgoing and kept us entertained the whole way. She would answer any and all questions happily and knowledgeably. There was never a lull in the conversation and the facts she told us about life in Jamaica were fascinating. The drive to Blue Hole is over an hour, but was part of the fun. Seeing the homes and people of Jamaica going about their day was really cool. It is such a unique culture. The drive up to the falls was off the main road and along a bumpy, windy, narrow dirt road. Once we arrived, we were led up to the falls by our guides; two young Jamaican guys who were very friendly (Irving and Morgan). Our group was led up the falls and shown where to jump off into the pool below. You could jump from different heights depending on how adventurous you wanted to be. Some were easy (about 6 feet or so) and some were really high (30 plus feet). Everyone in my group jumped from various heights, and even the oldest generation braved the most treacherous of the falls. The guides held onto each person securely as they walked to the edges of the falls. These young men were so strong and capable, we felt very safe. However, this is not an easy excursion. It is best to be up for a little adventure!!! There was a rope swing at the end which was fun too. Once everyone in the group had jumped, the guides would run off the falls and do the most amazing flips and dives. Very impressive!!! It is suggested to wear water shoes, and while they are certainly no fashion statement, I was glad I had them. The rocks could get pretty sharp in some places. After the falls, we were driven in the vans back down the mountainside to “Scotchies” for lunch. Our drivers had called ahead, so the food was ready when we arrived. We sat outdoors and enjoyed the wonderful jerk chicken, rice and “peas” (beans), and sodas they brought us. The portions were large and by that time everyone had worked up an appetite. The food was fresh, hot and delicious. There was a bar for those of us who wanted a Red Stripe or Rum Runner. After lunch we headed back to the port with over an hour to spare. This was everyone’s favorite excursion and was truly a unique experience.
The sixth and seventh days were at sea and we enjoyed everything the ship had to offer. We watched the ice show (wonderful), climbed the rock wall, played on the Flow Rider, worked out at the gym, lounged by the pool, and caught the nightly shows in the theatre. Disembarkation went smoothly and we were on the road by 10:30 am.
Overall, this cruise was one of our family’s favorite vacations. The kids said they had more fun on this trip than on our Disney World vacations. My parents even booked themselves another cruise for next year. Comparing the two cruise lines I have taken out of Galveston, there are some things I like more about Royal Caribbean and some things I prefer about Carnival. I guess the deciding factor in the future will be promotional prices and destinations. But we really had a great time on this cruise and look forward to more in the future. Read Less