Over a four month period we sailed 6 times on the Navigator of the Seas and two times on the Magic. Which is the better ship to cruise on? After sailing 6 times on the Navigator of the Seas (two were back-2-back) and 2 times on the Magic ... Read More
Over a four month period we sailed 6 times on the Navigator of the Seas and two times on the Magic. Which is the better ship to cruise on? After sailing 6 times on the Navigator of the Seas (two were back-2-back) and 2 times on the Magic (back-2-back) we decided we got the best value and most enjoyable cruise by sailing on the Royal Caribbean ship. Below are the different areas we considered for making this decision.
Area reviewed – Winner
Ship Layout – Best Value: Royal Caribbean
The Navigator of The Seas is much easier to navigate the ship and find places for fun or to relax. There was always a lot of turns and deck changes to make to get anywhere on the Magic, and no easy way to find directions to a desired location. The Navigator had touch screen interactive maps at the entrance to every block of elevators that would show you how to reach your destination. On the inside of each elevator there was a map above the door that displayed key areas to exit at. There were small trash cans in every block of elevators aboard the Navigator and Hand Sanitizers available at multiple locations. The Magic only had Sanitizers available at the entrance to the Dining area. The first number of your Dining Room table assigned on the Navigator represented the floor level of your table. There were tables starting from 1 to 6 on the Magic being assigned to desk 3 or 4 on the Magic. This was not very easy to understand for a new person on the ship. When the weather was bad we couldn’t find a nice quiet area to relax in and not feel closed in on the Magic. The Navigator has the Viking Lounge on deck 14 which is excellent to take a quiet break in. It overlooks the entire pool area and is perfect to prevent getting claustrophobic.
Ship Amenities – Best Value: Royal Caribbean
We really preferred the adult area on the Navigator that had a Pool and two Jacuzzi’s. It was partially enclosed so the hot tubs could still be used during inclement weather. The Magic did not have an adult only pool and none of the Jacuzzi’s were useable when the weather was bad. Besides pools, the Navigator has a Flowrider, Rock Climbing wall, a Basketball court, Mini Golf, Indoor Ice rink, and Gym (which is twice the size of the Magic) and an outdoor theater. The Magic has 2 water slides, a Basketball court, Mini Golf, a rope sky course, and Gym, and an outdoor theater. Carnival supports the outdoor theater a bit better by providing free popcorn to their viewing guests (the annoying thing about this was they didn’t start making it until the movie started, so long lines while the movie was playing).
Child Care – Best Value: Royal Caribbean
Child care appeared to be very well on both ships. However, we felt the Child Care and play areas were more secure on the Navigator because it was located on a remote deck area that people wouldn’t be walking in. We found some of the areas for children directly off main walk ways on the Magic.
Dining, Main dining room – Best Value: Royal Caribbean
In my opinion, the quality of food in the Main Dining room has gone down for both cruise lines these past few years. We did not like our experience in the dining room for Brunch or Dinner on the Magic. The tables were very cramped with too many people sitting on the round tables and the rectangle ones were too narrow to hold extra plates. The noise level was very uncomfortable while eating, with music piped in overriding and making conversation difficult at the table. We grew tired of singing and dancing shows with loud speaker interruptions that were annoying and disrupted a quiet dining experience. Several hot food items were cold and wait staff often forgot items or delivered the wrong order. After a couple of nights we quit going to the dining room for any meals.
Dining, Buffet area – Best Value: Royal Caribbean
I would rate the food quality in the buffet area for both ships as being between good to very good. The open floor plan of the food areas on the Navigator made getting food much easier. The Magic had booth areas that made navigating the floor a bit more difficult but it did create more privacy for your dining experience. The Navigator won hands down in the service in the Buffet area. Both ships would have wait staff walking around cleaning up while you were eating but only on the Navigator did we have people asking us if we needed anything else (and bringing it to the table). We counted, and only one time in two weeks on the Magic did a wait staff ask us and provide a refill on our drink.
Dining, Pool side – Best Value: Carnival
Last year the Navigator would have won this category when they had the Gourmet Hotdog stand by the pool. However this dining option was removed when the ship went in for refurbish January 2014? The Magic has a Hotdog/Hamburger stand and a Pizza bar in the pool area.
Dining, Room Service - Best Value: Tie
Both ships provided excellent service and food delivered to the room. The only advantage the Magic has is that the Navigator started charging a service fee for orders after 1am.
Cabin accommodations – Best Value: Royal Caribbean
Both ships offer a wide variety of rooms to meet any budget need. We did not like the curtains used around the shower stalls on the Magic as a lot of water always ended up on the bathroom floor. All of the showers on the Navigator have glass sliding doors that keep water where it belongs, in the shower area. We felt the Navigator had the advantage in the bigger rooms when we saw they offered larger screen televisions. We did a cabin crawl on the Magic and found the same small screen LCD TV in every room, regardless of room size. In one of the large aft balconies it was very hard to see the TV, which was located 3 times the distance from the bed as in our room. Room service was outstanding on both ships.
Laundry - Best Value: Carnival
The Magic, like many of the Carnival ships, actually has a laundry room with Washer, Dryer and Ironing equipment that guests can use. We didn’t consider the value of this to be high as you normally don’t need to do laundry unless you were doing a Back-2-Back cruise. Both cruise lines offer a laundry service where you pay a set price to clean everything in a bag. For both cruise lines we got very good cleaning services with an over-filled bag that we used duct tape to close. If picked up in the morning Carnival had it returned that same evening while Royal Caribbean would take 2-3 days. Royal Caribbean’s bag starts at $25 with discounts offered for past guests and free at Diamond plus. Carnival’s bag starts at $15 and provides it free when you reach Platinum. Carnival was definitely ahead in this category as they allowed just about anything in the ‘clean a bag’ category while Royal Caribbean had limitations for what they would clean.
Casino - Best Value: Tie
We don’t use the Casino often, so this was not a high scoring consideration for us. I like the old time 25 cent two line slots the best, which I couldn’t find on the Magic. On both ships, you really don’t have to touch money any more. When you cash out on the Magic the money is put on your sail & sign card while on the Navigator your winnings are printed out on a receipt. The casino on the Navigator is located in a secluded deck away from normal walking traffic, so you won’t see kids there. The Magic has the casino broken up amongst a major waking area, so gets lots of foot traffic. We didn’t like this setup as we had to walk through the casino smoking area when going to the other side of the ship.
Entertainment - Best Value: Carnival
Like Dining, entertainment also has diminished over the years on both cruise lines. We gave the Magic the nod in this category because they had a Comedy Club in addition to some of the entertainment being offered. We enjoyed the Comedy shows but thought only half an hour show wasn’t worth the effort to wait in line. So we spent more time in line that actually sitting down and enjoying the show. If we wanted to watch the next show we had to give up our seats and get in the back of another long line, hardly worth it for a 30 minute show. The comedian would just barely get started when they would get notified to quit. This would have been far more enjoyable if we could have sat through at least two shows without having to get out of our seats and get in another line.
Back-2-Back – Best Value: Royal Caribbean
Our experience doing a Back-to-Back cruise on the Magic was horrible. Two days before the end of the first cruise we could not find any directions on the disembarking process. Guest Services simply stated the directions would be put in our cabin the night before. The day before the end of the cruise directions finally showed up in our cabin. The printed directions were very unclear on what we should do to get off the ship. We took the directions to Guest Services and had to see 3 different people to find out we needed to show up there in the morning to get our new sail & sign card before getting off the ship. On Royal Caribbean you get an invitation to a Back-to-Back briefing a couple of days before the end of the cruise. They usually serve champagne and brief you about the entire disembarking procedures. There will be representatives there from the Dining and Specialty Restaurants to let you pick out a table or make any reservations for the following week.
So as ships go, we felt the Navigator of the Seas offered the best cruise experience for the seasoned cruiser to even those on their first cruise. Another aspect to consider is how past guests are treated and rewarded for returning to cruise again. Check out the links below and you can see that Royal Caribbean offers far better benefits to continue sailing with them again.
http://www.carnival.com/loyalty/benefits.aspx Read Less