96 Galveston Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews

My wife and I booked this cruise in April and then started reading reviews about the Navigator on here. It seemed like every other review was very negative, so it was with a great deal of trepidation that we boarded the ship on 8/17 for 7 ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise in April and then started reading reviews about the Navigator on here. It seemed like every other review was very negative, so it was with a great deal of trepidation that we boarded the ship on 8/17 for 7 nights to the Western Caribbean. Some of the biggest complaints we had read were regarding the boarding process and the building that Royal Caribbean uses in Galveston. Compared to terminals that have been built in other places that are expressly built for cruise ships, this place is sub-standard. But I didn't see any massive lines that formed and none that stretched outside, which is fortunate because I have never felt humidity like I did in Galveston. My biggest complaint about the boarding process was that after people had completed their embarkation process, they were directed to an area with chairs. But after all the chairs were filled, many people just stood in front of the single door used to allow passengers to leave the building and board the ship. As the boarding process began and each group (Suites, Diamond Plus, Diamond, etc.) was called, you had to squeeze past a lot of people just to get to the door. It's not very well designed. We found the ship itself to be very-well maintained. I did find one men's room on Deck 11 to be slightly flooded on Day 1, but other than that, we were very pleased with the cleanliness aboard. We had a Junior Suite on Deck 10 and our cabin attendant, David, was very personable and efficient. We were happy to see the flat screen televisions in the cabins and the new video information boards on each deck proved to be invaluable in getting around the ship. This was my 30th cruise overall and 17th on a Royal Caribbean ship. I had noticed on recent cruises that the quality level of the food being served seemed to have fallen a bit. But, we had no complaints about the food served on the Navigator. Most of our dinners were in the Main Dining Room and we had My Time seating. The level of service in the MDR was very good, even though we had different servers each night. We did breakfast and lunch most days in the Windjammer and the food there was fine. I go in there knowing that they have to feed over 3500 people a day and it has to be a bit like an assembly line. but I thought everything was fresh and tasted good. It was very rare that you didn't get some kind of greeting when you passed a crew member in a hallway. I don't drink much so I didn't have much interaction with bar service so I can't honestly rate that. The cruise staff was OK. We've had better on other ships. We loved the new Diamond Club lounge that has been added to the Navigator. The staff there made you feel special whenever you entered and the room itself is very nice. One other complaint is the tendering process in Grand Cayman. It's ridiculous but I guess the government there has no intention of building permanent docks and the cruise lines want to continue going there so basically, "it is what it is". Lousy. But that little glitch aside, the cruise itself was good. We took advantage of a good on-board rate to book 2 weeks on the Adventure of the Seas next August. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
I got a bit concerned when I read some reviews of NAVIGATOR here before my cruise because there were a number of negative reviews. My trip was nothing but great! Everything was very organized and efficient on sail day. I got to the ... Read More
I got a bit concerned when I read some reviews of NAVIGATOR here before my cruise because there were a number of negative reviews. My trip was nothing but great! Everything was very organized and efficient on sail day. I got to the terminal building at 10:10 AM and they let us into the terminal building at 10:30 AM. They started boarding the ship at 11:00 AM. By 11:30 AM I was in the Windjammer (buffet) having lunch. We were able to go to our staterooms at 1:00 PM. Throughout the entire cruise, all of the crew members I had contact with were very polite and helpful. I found the food on Navigator to be very good. I especially liked the Windjammer buffet. I am an early riser, so I was there each morning for breakfast shortly after they opened. I never had to wait in line at the Windjammer. My Server in the main dining room was great. I enjoyed everything I ate on Navigator. I would have liked to see some different choices on the menus. This is not saying the food was not well prepared - just a matter of personal taste. The entertainment on the cruise was pretty amazing. Lots to see and do. Upon returning to Galveston, disembarking went very well. I chose to walk off in the morning with my luggage. I was given a time of 7:00 AM to be at a certain place on the ship with my luggage. I was off the ship and in my car heading towards Houston before 8:00 AM. I had a wonderful time and would not hesitate to sail on the Navigator of the Seas again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
First and foremost I am a Royal Caribbean fan. I have sailed on Freedom, Explorer, And Oasis. I have also sailed on Princess. The trip out of Galveston in August should by no means be reflective of my overall RCI experiences. With that ... Read More
First and foremost I am a Royal Caribbean fan. I have sailed on Freedom, Explorer, And Oasis. I have also sailed on Princess. The trip out of Galveston in August should by no means be reflective of my overall RCI experiences. With that said, I will never ever ever ever ever sail out of Galveston again until the port terminal is upgraded. Even with a preferred status (Platinum member) our embarkation was slow, disorganized, and more importantly - it set a negative tone for my three first-time sailing companions. I set the bar high in describing my previous sailing experiences but in retrospect, these experiences were always out of Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Florida has the terminals and the experience. Texas does not. The morning started with a 23.00 cab fare that should have been 13.00. The problem? One police officer directing traffic into the loading area. We sat and sat in the cab while one bus or car at a time was allowed through. Next came the disaster of baggage handling. Lines and confusion reigned. No direction, no calming influence of a competent staffer, no joy. Instead we were met with the ridiculousness of a Port employee trying to argue with a RCI agent who was unsuccessfully trying to get the port employee to use his head for something other than a hat-rack. All passengers were in a line with their bags dutifully near them. It seemed weird and so I asked the first available porter if he could take our bags. He gladly did so explaining that the system was entirely screwed up that day. Why we're we in line in the first place? Because everyone else was. I decided not to stay in the lemming line. After turning over our bags we proceeded to the cue to enter the terminal. Alas, another Port employee cueing us up incorrectly. The way the line was set, others realized they could cut in and did so, or inadvertently cut because of the way the line was configured. Thank goodness the security and registration lines were flowing. Once aboard the trip was typical RCI meaning fabulous and fun - with the exception of the Grand Cayman tendering debacle. Long lines but at least they moved. Overall, the trip was fun although I have noted some lapses in the manner in which the crew handled requests that couldn't be accommodated. There was too much "no" and not enough "unfortunately we must ..." Perhaps this is cultural in that I have noted fewer Filipino and Island staffers (who are noted for their hospitality and warmth) and more Eastern European staffers. Finally, RCI might want to revisit its' dining policies. I saw way too many unchallenged in the wear of hats, shorts, and booty shorts in the main dining area. I though we were supposed to be smart casual ... Even with these issues, I will gladly sail with RCI just not of Galveston. Especially since the Gulf was dirty, full of Oil Platforms, and crowded. By the way .... If you buy alcohol expect the saving to dwindle. Texas has their hands in your pocket as well. Leaving the terminal we were forced to pay a tax and given a tax stamp "to affix to your bottle if ever you take it out of the house" WHAT? I live in Washington State when and why would I take my bottle to any party in Texas? It was just a money grab plain and simple. I'd gladly pay the customs duty but the Texas two step wasn't a dance ... It was me getting out of there. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Roatan-Belize-Cozumel-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship this past New Year. Purpose of this cruise was to just RELAX. We booked a ... Read More
Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Roatan-Belize-Cozumel-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship this past New Year. Purpose of this cruise was to just RELAX. We booked a junior suite on the ninth deck. Details below. We also used “My Time Dining,” and it worked fine. The entire top level of the three level dining room was for this type of dining. We had the same wait staff for the entire week. 2. Embarking: We left our Galveston hotel at 11:00am. With dropping my wife and bags at the terminal, parking the car, taking a shuttle, getting through security, and checking in, we were on board by noon and in our cabin by 1pm. Suitcases, unfortunately, only appeared at 5pm. Texas Liquor Laws: When we boarded we saw signs at some of the bars detailing TABC regulations on the limited types of liquor that can be sold while in a Texas port. For full sales, you have to wait till the ship is 12 miles out. This meant 6:30 - two hours after departure. The Captain announced at muster drill that our departure was delayed from 4:30 to 7:30. We actually started moving at 7pm, so full sales were reset for 9pm. Due to these TABC rules, the only wine that could be served in the dining room at dinner was some white Zinfandel and a merlot. The poor wait staff was getting tired explaining the issue. 3. The Navigator of the Seas: The junior suite is the way to go. Plenty of space, and plenty of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Suitcases fit well under the bed. A tub shower in the bathroom. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN (International only), ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. While you get a daily planner, there is no newspaper. You have to get your news from the TV. It takes a while to get a handle on what is where on the ship. Maps and interactive “help” panels are at each elevator lobby. There is a large children/teens area and programs for them. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room’s food was very good, well-prepared, and well-served. We only used it for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don’t try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. We had a knowledgeable wine steward. We had made reservations on-line for the Izumi specialty restaurant. Very good tempura and sushi. We also had dinner at Giovanni’s. Quality of food and service was very good. However, the food was too much and too rich. You will leave stuffed. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub, and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. 5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, and all the rest casual. Compared to other cruises, there was a definite decline in the number of men in tuxedos. The ladies, however, still dressed up. 6. Medical Emergency: On the second day out, the Captain announced that due to medical emergencies, we were stopping in Cozumel to offload two patients. Luckily there was an empty berth so this could be done via ambulances; we learned later that his alternative was to stop at Cancun and transfer the patients to a small boat. That he did not want. We all watched this story unfold; we were in and out of Cozumel in one hour. This side trip did not affect our arrival the following day in Roatan. 7. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. RCL’s tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through RCL, you have support when there is a problem, eg, the ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed. As the captain announced, “we do not leave anyone behind. However, there are people who do not want to return to the ship on time.” As we have been to these ports before, we only took a city tour of Belize – a quick and easy way to see the place. As for Roatan and Cozumel, we just wandered around the shops in the pier areas. In Cozumel we were “only” three cruise ships – about 12,000 passengers – in town that day. We were docked next to the Allure. Always an impressive sight. 8. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes including the surf rider, the rock climbing wall and the ice skating rink. We did not see any of the shows. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. Sing-alongs with Phil Anderson in the Schooner Bar are always popular with C&W fans. 9. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account, and the tips are taken care of electronically with the staff. If you use My Time Dining, you will be billed the full tip amount when you book your cruise. If you use regular seating dining, you will be asked at some point by the Front Desk how you want to handle tips. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service breakfast. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 10. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship’s TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 11. Disembarking: On Saturday you will receive luggage tags with numbers. You also receive a sheet of paper telling when that number will be called for disembarking and where you have to be waiting in order to hear the announcement when your number can leave the ship. Your bags have to be out by 11PM, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin by around 8:30 and in your designated waiting area. Again, you will only hear the announcements in the waiting areas. This actually turned out to be one of our better experiences in Galveston. We left the lounge waiting area at 9:35 and were out of the terminal by 11:05. We took a shuttle to the parking lot, and we drove away at 11:20. Texas Taxes: After going through immigration and customs, we did stop at the Texas TABC table to declare our one bottle of cognac. We paid $3.75 ($3 administrative fee and 75 cents tax), received a sticker for the bottle and were on our way. 12. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Over the past several months, I have read many of the reviews of the ship. The categories are people love it or hate it with only a few in the middle. While I am not an experienced "recreational" cruiser, I have lived onboard a ... Read More
Over the past several months, I have read many of the reviews of the ship. The categories are people love it or hate it with only a few in the middle. While I am not an experienced "recreational" cruiser, I have lived onboard a ship and transited both the Panama and Suez (4x) Canals. Arrival - The port seems a bit cluttered and once dropped off, the staff didn't seem overly excited to help with taking our bags until we walked in the baggage area and asked someone what to do with our bag. Then they were nice enough to point over to a pile based on the color of our tags. This isn't really a RC issue, but a problem with the port. We found the end of the line right outside the baggage drop off and while it wasn't slow, it wasn't fast either, but it did manage to move. July in Galveston is hot and the building isn't designed for 3K people to stand inside for the screening process, be prepared to wait outside. Special shout-out to the people that want to carry-on all their luggage. Thanks for clogging up the lines and slowing down the screening process so you don't have to wait for your luggage. Once we got to an agent, the process was ok and I checked in fine even with a minor that didn't belong to me. I expected a little hassle, but almost no questions were asked to her if she was willing to travel with us and if her parents gave permission. Having her passport and a notarized letter allowing travel was all that was needed. We actually got more questions on our return to the port than leaving. Stateroom - We had 2 PR staterooms and 2 Interior staterooms. My goal wasn't to spend time in the stateroom outside of sleeping and getting ready for my day. They were nice, but smaller than the HAL staterooms and drawer space is almost zero. We did pack several wire hangers and hung almost everything up. The bathroom was small and I wasn't excited that the switch was behind the hinges of the door, just turn the light on before you try to enter. Again, I understand space is a premium, so I expected small. Dining - MDR: We had regular dinner reservations nightly at 20:00. Our waiter was very nice and polite and took time explaining the entries to 2 adults and 6 teen girls (yes, we took 6 teens). He did mention that they were understaffed, but I never felt rushed at any meal onboard. We ate in the MDR 6 of the 7 nights. Special requests were accommodated, but I will say it took some time to keep my water glass filled. The kids all had the Royal refreshment package so their glasses were filled and my wife had plenty of wine, I just grabbed water glasses from the kids on the table. Breakfast: Most days we ate at the Windjammer and while nothing exceptional, it was filling. They did have a decent array of food and it too seemed that the wait staff was lacking in the numbers needed. For me, I was able to get what I needed from anyone walking by. Lunch: two of the sea days we ate at the MDR and had the Tutti Salad. It was very tasty and changes mush have been made as I noticed each bowl was mixed with a new pair of tongs to prevent any cross contamination of foods. The last day, I was so full, I only ate dinner. Sabor: Food was great and a lot of it. In all honesty, We would have been fine with the Guac and desert tray. Everything else was too much. Drinks - I don't think I ever heard the word "No" on the cruise. Not sure if I talked to the right people or just didn't have any outrageous requests. While I had the Royal Refreshment, I easily walked from bar to bar getting bottles of water. There were lines at the pool bars, but while they were packed at the pool, I could walk to the Skybar one deck up or around the corner to the Solarium with minimal effort. I was able to stock my mini-fridge with minimal effort on the 1st day. One thing that did bother me was not always was the water cold. I have to take away points on that, but even cold water gets warm about 20 minutes under my lounge chair. They did limit 1 drink at a time, but to me it wasn't an issue. My wife was happy with the selections of drinks offered and while she might not have drank a lot, I got great use out of the coffee bar and bottled water and occasional virgin frozen drinks to make it worth while. I know my kids loaded up on the Mocha's at the café too. Entertainment - It was standard shipboard entertainment and while it wasn't great, it wasn't bad. People have different tastes and if you have time to kill, go and see a show or two. The live music in the different venues was pretty good and I did enjoy the poolside band. My favorite was the trivia contest and met a few new folks to team up with. General knowledge, History, Texas, Logo and music were all fun and yes, the prizes are crappy. I didn't go for the prizes, but managed to win 3 rounds and held my own for a few other. Staff - The staff was helpful of all the requests and tried to accommodate everything I wanted. Guest services straightened out my room charges easily so I could determine who bought what. Staff members I walked past were friendly and usually said hello first, but would always respond if I asked a question. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
My best friend and I shared a balcony cabin aboard Navigator of the Seas sailing from Galveston, TX to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica on 5/25/14. We were on deck 6, Balcony cabin 6236. Our bags arrived about 2 hours after we sailed. ... Read More
My best friend and I shared a balcony cabin aboard Navigator of the Seas sailing from Galveston, TX to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica on 5/25/14. We were on deck 6, Balcony cabin 6236. Our bags arrived about 2 hours after we sailed. This was my first cruise, her fourth, and I have to tell you, either cruising isn’t for me, or it was just not that great. A few disclaimers: I am not a fan of crowds. I don’t like being treated like cattle. It takes a lot to impress me. Please keep those things in mind while reading this review. I will try to be objective. The Galveston Port: We hired a car to take us from the Hampton Inn in Houston to the port. It was Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend so there was some traffic, but not really that bad. From pickup to drop off was about 50 minutes. A porter met us at the car, took our bags and directed us inside to the terminal. We showed our passports and Set Sail Passes, went through screening, lined up for our SeaPasses and then onto the boat. Total time: approx. 30 minutes. Not bad. There were quite a few people, but the terminal seemed well organized and the flow of traffic moved quickly. On the Boat prior to sailing: We wandered around, took some pictures, sampled some of the Specialty restaurants’ offerings that were being displayed on the Promenade, took a tour of the spa, then settled down at the Sky Bar overlooking the pool to wait for our cabin to be ready. I am a smoker, so for my fellow smokers here are a few words of advice: THERE IS NO SMOKING ON THE BALCONIES. If you are caught it is a $250 fine. A second infraction will get you disembarked. There are approximately five smoking areas on the ship. The three I took most advantage of were: the Sky Bar, the Casino Bar and deck 11 (the pool deck) in the far corner under a covered area. Fortunately for me all of these areas were fairly close to my cabin. Our cabin was ready approximately one hour after boarding. We got in and to my surprise, my Bestie had the cabin decorated for my birthday! So sweet of her! We got unpacked, changed and headed out to eat. For lunch we went to the Windjammer. Wonderful selection, no long lines and we had no trouble getting a table. For our first night’s dinner, we ate at Sabor, the new Mexican Restaurant on deck 4. The food was divine, the service impeccable and the ambience wonderful. It’s a fairly small, intimate venue with Margaritas and Guacamole made tableside to your specifications. We enjoyed that immensely. Day 2 was spent poolside with beers in hand. The pool band started up around 4 pm and we enjoyed that for a while, then headed inside to get ready for our first Formal Night. There were photographers at all entrances to the Sapphire Dining Room and they took several shots of us together and separately in our formal attire. They also came to the table for group shots. We had the 830 seating, which I must say, is kind of late. The problem with this is that each course takes approximately 20-30 minutes from ordering to plates being cleared. Dinner was a long, drawn-out affair that I found quite tedious. I didn’t eat in the MDR again. I won’t bore you with a further day-by-day detailing, but let me hit some highlights for you: The café Promenade became our home away from home after hours. They serve sandwiches and pastries 24/7 and have a huge selection of teas. There was a very small selection of music available. One country band – Bubba Feathers – and a DJ. For dancing or live music, that was all you got. It was a bit disappointing as, while I do like country music, I would’ve liked to hear something different once in a while. And as for the DJ – he catered to the much younger (teeny bopper) crowd. That was just too raucous and crowded for me. I found 3 general groups of people on board – 20-somethings, 70-somethins, and couples. I was none of the above. It seemed that the people in my age group were parents there with their children. While I was with my best friend and my sister and her husband, there really weren’t many people with whom we identified with. That being said, let me tell you: not everyone is friendly on a cruise. In fact, most people seem to be trying to have a private vacation while amongst thousands of people. They were rude, snippy and selfish. They hogged the deck chairs for hours. They cut in front of the line. They pushed while in crowds. Not a lot of smiling. Not a lot of friendly chit chat. The pool was ridiculously crowded every day all day. Even the Solarium pool was packed, fortunately there weren’t kids allowed in there, that was very nice. We did take advantage of the Solarium pool and hot tubs several times, but mostly after hours so as to avoid the masses. It was wonderful to be floating in the pool after dark watching the stars. Very peaceful. There were a lot of things going on on the ship that I didn’t take advantage of: Quest, Love and Marriage, Trivia, lectures, etc. I did join in the Country Dance Party on the pool deck one night. We played a game of “Musical Men” and I had a blast. I won a keychain and danced the night away. My sister and brother-in-law attended the Quest game and they loved it! I mostly took advantage of room-service (get the steak sandwich and Caesar salad – excellent!) and the Café Promenade. The Windjammer was yummy, too. On the 4th night of the cruise, for my birthday, we ate at Giovanni’s table. Again, excellent service, scrumptious food, and dreamy ambience. I enjoyed every minute of it. And both restaurants were worth the extra fee. PORTS: Cozumel: we didn’t do an excursion (my friend wasn’t feeling well). We did go into town to do some shopping. This is probably not a good idea for two women to do alone. We were HOUNDED from the minute we got out of the taxi. It was so annoying. And not only did they practically drag us into their shops, they tried to totally rip us off! I was interested in a silver ring. They asked for $85. I just laughed and walked out. They literally chased me down the street going down on price. I finally paid $10 for the ring. Lots of jewel shops, lots of junk shops. We ate at Fat Tuesdays. The food was awful, the beer warm and it was hot as heck in there. They do have free wi-fi, though! After a little more shopping, we headed back to the ship. The heat and humidity are killers. Grand Cayman: A few of us booked an independent excursion to snorkel and swim with the stingrays. We chose Moby Dick Tours. They were so nice. They knew we had to tender at this port and that it takes a long time, so they pushed our tour time back from 11 a.m. to noon, just for us! We met at the pier, took a bus ride about 20 minutes to their dock, got on the boat, which was very nice, and headed out to the crystal clear blue waters of Grand Cayman. It was so beautiful. First we anchored near a reef that was literally teeming with colorful fish and snorkeled for about 30 minutes. Then we headed over to Stingray City. There were a lot of other boats there, but there were plenty of stingrays to go around. Our captain brought chopped squid for us to feed them and pretty soon they were all flocking to our group. They are AMAZING! Honestly, this was the highlight of my entire trip. I got to hold one and swim with it. Just incredible. After we got back to the pier, we did a little shopping, had a few beers and tendered back over to the ship. A few tendering tips: if you don’t have an excursion booked through RC, you MUST wait in line for a tender ticket. They will say to line up at a certain time – I was there one hour before and it was already crowded. The first two tenders went to RC excursion people, my tender ticket was for tender #4. From the start of tendering to my reaching the pier it was one hour 20 minutes. And I was on the fourth tender!!! Take this into account if you have excursions booked at a tender port. Jamaica: We didn’t book any excursions in Jamaica. Everything was very far away with round trip travel time of about 2 hours. We opted to just do a little shopping in the fake shopping center that RCI built at the port. Again, jewel shops, junk shops and in the middle of the square a little local crafts market. My girlfriend bought a very cute dress from a local who told us her mother made it. After we got back on the ship we noticed the tag inside that said “Made in China”. Our bad. She paid $25. I’m sure we could have gotten it cheaper back home. The prices for shopping in these countries are no lower than here in the states. You still only get what you pay for and a lot of the stuff can be found here for lower prices at a Wal-Mart or a similar store. The one thing I did find cheaper was medications in Cozumel. I bought my son some inhalers for his asthma at only $10/each. Here they are $45 As far as service on the ship: with the exception of the two specialty restaurants – Sabor and Giovanni’s Table – I was less than impressed. Don’t get me wrong, everyone was nice. They just didn’t seem to go above and beyond. I guess that’s acceptable, after all, they do work their tails off. There was one incredibly arrogant, rude bartender named Fernando in the Casino Bar. You could tell he thought he was God’s gift to this planet. I found him to be so offensive I actually complained to the bar manager. Our cabin steward was very nice and helpful, but again, nothing extraordinary. We only got towel animals twice – this may be the norm, I don’t know. One thing to note: my SeaPass card de-magnetized 7 times! I had to get it replaced every time. Sometimes it would work for my cabin door, but not for purchases. Other times it was fine for purchases, but wouldn’t open my door. It was very frustrating. And I wasn’t the only person this happened to. The Guest Services desk was crowded with people having the same problem. All in all I have to say: I’m not sorry I did it, but I probably won’t do it again. It just didn’t seem to be the amazing experience others have made it out to be. No fault of Royal Caribbean, just not my bag, you know?   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Navigator of the seas 4/27 Caribbean cruise We had booked this several months ago and paid for a upgrade to Junior suite to Grand suite a week before sailing Suite we had GS 1598 ( 1st time sailing with suite perks on RCCL) approx 400 sq ... Read More
Navigator of the seas 4/27 Caribbean cruise We had booked this several months ago and paid for a upgrade to Junior suite to Grand suite a week before sailing Suite we had GS 1598 ( 1st time sailing with suite perks on RCCL) approx 400 sq ft with 100sq ft balcony, nice bathroom with double sinks, only possible issue , is combo shower/tub and tub was approx 2 ft high so some people may have a issue getting in and out of it. Suite perks Concierge lounge – open bar for several hours each day with hot and cold snacks and deluxe coffee maker , this is not a big deal for us since we are diamond and can get same thing is diamond lounge Breakfast and lunch in chops restaurant Not sure if this is on all ships but we had a very nice dinner with wine with ships officers and captain, there was at least 1 officer at each table Priority seating area for all shows and at the pool, did not have to get tickets and could show up at last minute This was my 57th cruise and 12th RCCL and 1st time seating at the Captains table which was a blast, started off with some champagne the dinner that had limited choices but was great also some excellent wine, and we were all given the menu along with a 8 by 10 inch photo of our table- nice touch We only had 2 dinners at MDR which were fine, on dinner and Chops which was very good 35 per person , Giovanni’s also very good with excellent service 20 per person and Izumi Japanese which was excellent and is A la carte- spent approx 45 for dinner for 2. We also bought the 55 dollar a day drink package which a little over the top considering we had the concierge lounge and diamond lounge , service for drinks was excellent and the 55 a day included drinks up to 11 dollars and wine up to 12 dollars, so this included some nice wines and 12 year old scotches. Entertainment – I was disappointed a little since I had seen some many great musicians and shows on RCCL in past, but still was good, ice show was amazing, and Boleros had several groups playing at different times and they were all good, did not care for piano man Phil Anderson, he was a little to country for me . My last RCCL cruise had a performer named Derek Lewis in the Pub and he was totally great, I was in the elevator with my Derek Lewis t-shirt and a lady said she had seen if also and he was great then said that the current person Scott O’Toole sucked and we agreed with her review. Production shows were good except for comedian Rick Corso who was very, very funny We were going to have breakfast on our balcony on last full day then check out the Flow rider but it was too cold and windy to do either Ports were Jamaica , Grand Cayman and Cozumel, we had done all these many times and just walked around a bit. RCCL did not give out comment cards they were e- mailed My biggest problem is now I want to book the Grand suite for my future cruises rather than the junior suite. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We're veteran cruisers (Diamond loyalty status), and Royal Caribbean has been our cruise line of choice for several years. We have come to expect a certain level of performance and service, and for the most part, this cruise ... Read More
We're veteran cruisers (Diamond loyalty status), and Royal Caribbean has been our cruise line of choice for several years. We have come to expect a certain level of performance and service, and for the most part, this cruise delivered. Nothing precluded our looking elsewhere for our next voyage ... in fact, we booked another Navigator sailing onboard. We're thrilled that Royal has seen fit to sail year-round out of Galveston, about an hour from our home. I'll break down the review into segments, and it's likely to be somewhat detailed (i.e. long), so please bear with me. EMBARKATION ... we generally arrive at the port around 3:00 to avoid the crowd coming and going. There were absolutely no lines, and we were aboard in about ten minutes ... doesn't get any better than that. THE SHIP ... it's amazing what $85 million and a month in drydock can accomplish. The new Navigator is absolutely exquisite, from the aesthetic to the technological. Of course, it can't rival the Oasis and Quantum classes feature-for-feature, but it works for us ... the Voyager class is our favorite. Among other additions, there's a Flowrider, several new specialty restaurants, and a state-of-the-art system which allows passengers to plan and review pretty much everything from their stateroom TV's. But the kicker for us was the "virtual balcony." We had an inside "accessible" stateroom, and the real time floor-to-ceiling projection of what one would see from a balcony was amazing. We didn't book the cabin for this feature, but we'll certainly try to get one on every future cruise. The Promenade remains our favorite attribute. PASSENGERS ... Definitely not your "typical" mix. Since the vast majority of us drive to the port, there's a definite Texas (and Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, etc.) demographic. Royal Caribbean certainly recognized this, and took it into account ... unfortunately, to a fault for us. There's generally a balanced recorded music repertoire playing throughout the ship. We heard nothing but country, which we found at best annoying. What made it more so was the fact that such was the theme when it came to live music (discussed below) and activities. There's no reason why several genres can't be alternated to accommodate the tastes of all passengers. We were surprised to see a good number of children aboard ... apparently the vestiges of Spring Break in certain locations. By and large, however, they were well-behaved and courteous. THE CREW ... as usual, everyone we encountered was first-rate. We have no complaints whatsoever. The Cruise Director, Mitch, was personable and energetic (unlike others we've encountered over the years) ... not quite to the level of our all-time favorite, Joff Eaton, but a definite upgrade from his predecessors on other Galveston sailings. Our stateroom attendant, Ahmed, took excellent care of us. FOOD/DINING ... Royal Caribbean revised and upgraded its menu a while back, and it's a vast improvement. As long as you understand that you're not being served five-star cuisine (despite Royal's hype), but rather good quality banquet fare, you'll enjoy your dining experiences. Waitstaff in the Main Dining Room was attentive and accommodating ... among the best we've encountered. I'm not going to get into what tasted great and which dishes to avoid, since this aspect of cruising is perhaps the most personal ... and controversial. Suffice it to say that you won't leave the dining room hungry. We didn't avail ourselves of any specialty restaurants for precisely that reason. All this being said, the Windjammer (buffet) is a significant step down ... much closer to cafeteria quality. Hot offerings are now presented in open pots ... not a bad idea, with fewer portions and more frequent changes to keep the food at serving temperature. But something has to be done about the pre-cooked hamburgers ... the top layers are bone-dry, while those at the bottom are swimming in grease (ugh!!). We liked the french fries, though ... apparently dusted with flour before being immersed to keep them crisp. ENTERTAINMENT ... overall, this was the most disappointing component of the cruise. The highlight for us came on the final night ... Maria Margleva, a dancer/acrobat/contortionist. The other "main attractions" consisted of three comedians ... Azeem, whose act was 95% racial humor, best left to the likes of Chris Rock; Sean O'Shea (who we've seen before), pretty animated, especially his Elvis caricature ... we liked him; Rodney Johnson, probably the best of the three (once again, on the final night) ... good mix of topics, great delivery. Between the laughs was someone billed as Almost Elton John ... essentially performed a medley of pre-1990 hits in a cheezy outfit designed to resemble what was worn in the day. He would have done just as well simply singing, without the theatrics and feeble attempt at a British accent. We're not fans of cruise ship production numbers to begin with, but the two on this cruise were about as bad as we've seen. One was yet another "tribute to Broadway" ... just what we needed; the other had something to do with a ballroom, although we couldn't figure out the connection. None of the four singers was particularly outstanding, and the dancers did the best they could with what they were given. The scenery, costumes and techno/lighting were excellent ... but big bucks notwithstanding, the performances were about at the high school level. The ice show, however, was incredible ... it's absolutely amazing what these kids can do on such a small surface. Do not miss it. Three bands were aboard ... Latin Vibe and Caribbean Force were wonderful. But once again, catering to country, Royal Caribbean opted not to go with a "top 40" group, but rather a rockabilly, hee-haw troupe fronted by one Bubba Feathers (I kid you not). They played all over the ship. Unlike previous cruises, we didn't see many folks dancing at the on-deck sail-aways or in the open bar venues. Phil Anderson has been a fixture for years in the Schooner Bar ... if you love country, that's the place to hang out. Music aside, he's a personable, very likable guy. The Two Poets Pub featured Scott O'Toole, sort of a folksy type singer/guitarist. We passed the place frequently on the Promenade, but didn't see more than a half-dozen people in there at any time. PORTS OF CALL ... since we've been to them so many times, we don't plan any activities, and spend very little time ashore. Cozumel and Grand Cayman are just about every cruise line's itinerary. Falmouth, Jamaica is exclusively Royal Caribbean's ... built in cooperation with the Jamaican government. It's new, clean and safe ... perfect for wandering around. If I may digress for a moment, there's this perception about the bargains to be had in Caribbean ports, particularly when it comes to high-end jewelry, Every ship has a port and shopping guide ... ours was Jana. She was all over the place, on several TV channels, and in every port, encouraging passengers to get out there and spend. There's good reason, since she is not an employee of Royal Caribbean, but an independent contractor, free to make her own arrangements with the merchants. Such is the case throughout the industry. Her compensation is based on sales. There's even a school for these folks ... www.portshopping.com. Take a peek; it's pretty interesting. One of our traveling companions is a second-generation diamond importer with forty years' experience. He took sort of a "busman's holiday" and examined a bunch of jewelry in several locations. He concluded that prices are at best high retail, and even a negotiated 15% price reduction wouldn't likely compensate for the sales tax you'd save. There's a reason why stores such as Diamonds International are located exclusively in cruise ship ports. As my buddy so aptly states, "Gold is gold, diamonds are diamonds, and retail is retail." If you must go to DI in Falmouth, take the escalator upstairs ... there's free wi-fi ("Aires ..." is the network, "diamondsinternational" is the password), an open bar (just tip the bartender) with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments, and a nice little lounge including a couple of PC's. Someone's paying for it ... not us! On the positive side, you likely won't find the selection anywhere else. As long as you understand that you're paying top dollar, and are fine with it .... OK ... back to the cruise. DISEMBARKATION ... no problem at all. We departed a bit ahead of schedule, located our luggage pretty quickly, and were on our way home in about an hour. As I noted above, Royal Caribbean remains our favorite cruise line ... we have two more trips booked at the moment. Between the convenience of Galveston, a sparkling new ship, and an outstanding crew, we look forward to returning. There are a few things that need some work, but we've yet to find the perfect voyage in all the years we've been cruising. We venture to say that there are those who absolutely loved every bit of the entertainment, savored everything in the Windjammer Cafe, but hated the food in the dining room. Oh well ... that's cruising for you.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
The reason for the cruise was the 80th birthday of my partner's father. We were total 9 family - Dad, me, my partner, her brother and his wife, their 3 kids (19-25) and a boyfriend. Dad had a wonderful time spending 7 days with family ... Read More
The reason for the cruise was the 80th birthday of my partner's father. We were total 9 family - Dad, me, my partner, her brother and his wife, their 3 kids (19-25) and a boyfriend. Dad had a wonderful time spending 7 days with family which was the sole purpose of the trip. Now, about the ship. The staff were excellent in every respect. Stateroom attendant Jean was great, head waiter Egland was fabulous. Casino bartenders and wait staff were also excellent. However Outdoor bar staff seemed to be moving in slo mo. Food in main dining was generally very good. Speciality restaurants Chopps Grille and Giovanni's table were outstanding. Quality of the ship overall was great. Very clean, loved the balcony stateroom and the bathroom layout made it seem larger than other ships we have been on. Down sides - the buffet seemed to serve the same food day after day after day. They need to bring some variety to it. Disembarkation was a mess. We were late getting in due to fog, which the cruise line can't help. But like the airlines there was very little information about what was going on. When we finally got off, the customs processing in Galveston was more than hour. It's sad that the last thing we all remember about this trip is the horrendous time getting off the ship and on the road to home.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Royal Caribbean did a nice job of refurbishing the Navigator of the Seas with new restaurants, new carpeting and drapes in the cabins, and some improvements to the sports venues. What they have done which is not going to be good for future ... Read More
Royal Caribbean did a nice job of refurbishing the Navigator of the Seas with new restaurants, new carpeting and drapes in the cabins, and some improvements to the sports venues. What they have done which is not going to be good for future cruisers is to continue to add new cabins without increasing the space in the dining rooms, the theaters and the other common areas. In fact, there is less and less space in common areas so with the anticipated 400+ additional passengers in the future it is going to be very crowded on this ship. One of the reasons we have sailed Royal Caribbean for more than 14 cruises is the open spaces and the lack of congestion onboard and that is about to change. The new food menus are really good changes and, as always, the food is always good in all the venues. One negative we noticed was the lack of flowers on any of the tables, including the Captain's table in the main dining room. We don't know if the change is to save money or just a glitch in contracts but the lack of flowers was noticed by many frequent cruisers and is one of many "little things" that Royal Caribbean has been deleting from our cruises over the past two years. Things like taking away our slippers, then the nighttime chocolates and on this last cruise they even took away the coffee table in our Jr. Suite. So, when breakfast arrived each morning, we were force to eat from trays sitting on the bed. This is not what we were expecting on this cruise. The Captain, senior staff and crew members were very friendly, helpful and professional. Everyone we met tried very hard to satisfy everyone's needs and wishes. There were a few glitches along the way such as the new system of purchasing photos but, again, everyone tried their best to handle difficult situations. And, the disembarkation was a little disjointed but it was partially caused by a fog delay in docking on return. But, overall, the crew handled problems very well and we were very pleased with all of them. And, finally, the Port of Galveston is one of the worst layouts of any port we have sailed from in the U.S., other than New Orleans which holds the record as the worst for both parking and traffic flow. Add to that the high probability of fog in the Houston ship channel and you have the makings for frequent delays in both the arrival and departure sailing schedule. There is not much Royal Caribbean can do about the port or the weather but I wanted to voice my opinion of a cruise port that was developed on too little land and with too little regard for the poor travelers who need to get in and out of the port.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This is my 12 cruise. We started in 1969 on an Eastern Steamship (Star of the seas) and have cruised on 5 different cruise lines.. I rate this cruise a 3 out of 5. On embarkation we were delayed until 7:30 pm to board ship. This was not ... Read More
This is my 12 cruise. We started in 1969 on an Eastern Steamship (Star of the seas) and have cruised on 5 different cruise lines.. I rate this cruise a 3 out of 5. On embarkation we were delayed until 7:30 pm to board ship. This was not RCCL's fault because the port was closed due to fog (Galveston). But we still had to buy a 7 day drink package even though most of the bars were closed and we were limited to only certain brands of liquor that could be bought while in port. I drink Jack Daniels and that was not one of the brands. The Ship did not depart till 8AM the next day. Also very little food could be found because most of the restaurants were closed.. The cabin and staff were very nice. But I found that some of the bartenders were not that good. (they could not make a Rob Roy or didn't know how. ) Our cabin, and not only ours but many others had only hot water for 1-1/2 days so we could not shower. My son's cabin had only cold water for those days. Also the Toilets would only work sometimes because of a vacum line problem. The food in the dinning room was OK even though I ate the same thing almost every night. I did not like the choices. The waiters were great. I prefer anytime dinning on NCL instead of mytime dinning on RCCL.. The windjammer buffets were OK. I rate the food 7 out of 10. The refurbished ship was nice. I saw a few things that could have been done that weren't like a piece of countertop at the poolside bar was missing. We were 400 in our group and had a good time. ESPECIALLY our Mardi Gras party with the Nic-L beer band on last day at sea. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We found the Navigator of the Seas to be a fun experience overall. With few exceptions, the crew and staff was very helpful and friendly. The best of any cruise ship we have been on. We also found the service desk staff to be very ... Read More
We found the Navigator of the Seas to be a fun experience overall. With few exceptions, the crew and staff was very helpful and friendly. The best of any cruise ship we have been on. We also found the service desk staff to be very friendly and helpful which was a novelty compared to other cruise lines. One negative was the phone service for maintenance and the operator. Poor and nonexistent at times. (no one answered the phone). We found the design in the ship to be somewhat different then others we have been on and we really like some features like the Royal Promenade which has a refreshing layout. This was the first cruise since refurb so there was some new features like digital signage added to help navigate the ship. There was also problems. Our Toilet did not work one evening and intermittently during the cruise. A Stinky cabin is no fun! Cabin was large and clean although the cabin steward service could be improved. We would like to see more variety of food on Windjammer deck. (Lido on some ships). Examples: Carnival has a deli, a pizzeria, a hamburger/hot dog station and a Asian cuisine station. Windjammer food was good but limited. The drinks like lemonade was bland. Soup was to salty for our taste. I would prefer less $pecialty restaurants and more variety in the existing food places. I don't like having to pay extra to get what I expect from a cruise. If this trend continues then I'll stop cruising. There were restrooms that were out of order and some were not very well maintained. The Promenade cafe service was almost nonexistent at times. One person serving the guest while others staff stood around talking. The biggest issue was Debarkation. Debarkation was horrible! No organization! Cannot understand why Cruiselines put so little resources into debarkation. After all, this is the last thing a guest remembers and certainly left a bad memory in my mind. We are valued guest up until it is time to leave and then we are cattle. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was our second cruise but our first on RCCL. I was really impressed with the way RCCL made sure my daughter's needs were met. We had a lovely accessible balcony state room, the largest I have seen, with the deaf kit installed ... Read More
This was our second cruise but our first on RCCL. I was really impressed with the way RCCL made sure my daughter's needs were met. We had a lovely accessible balcony state room, the largest I have seen, with the deaf kit installed after we arrived. I was late in requesting sign language interpreters and was ok that I would be my daughter's interpreters however I was surprised by a knock at the door by 2 very professional gentlemen that were her interpreters for the week. They reviewed the schedule with her every evening and promptly attended all shows and activities the following day. My daughter had the best time ever and I was able to relax and enjoy myself! Food quality was great and service was even better. My daughter has trouble chewing and therefore eats mostly soft foods. Dining staff made sure she had something she enjoyed and plenty of it! I am grateful for the way staff treated her. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
My husband and I were going on Navigator of the Seas, Royal Caribbean out of Galveston, Tx. on Feb. 23rd for a Western Caribbean 7 day cruise. That morning we were notified by email that because of fog in the Galveston area our embarkation ... Read More
My husband and I were going on Navigator of the Seas, Royal Caribbean out of Galveston, Tx. on Feb. 23rd for a Western Caribbean 7 day cruise. That morning we were notified by email that because of fog in the Galveston area our embarkation would be delayed until 4:00. No problem since we were driving and that gave us more time. We arrived around 3:15 to park our car and head to the terminal. Oh my God!!! Picture over 3,000 people getting off and over 3,000 getting on at the same time. Total chaos is a mild way of putting it. We stood in line in the sun over 4 hours with no water, no snacks, and only one porta pottie for all those people. Now I understand you cannot do anything about the weather but you can do something to help your customers. I did not see one Royal Caribbean person trying to make sense of this whole mess. No one to make sure we had water or access to bathrooms. Some people did not get the notice since they were on the plane so had been standing from 11:00 until they got on the ship at 7:00!!! We got on the ship at 6:30. Carnival was parked in front of us and their people were put into where the luggage is indoors and given water and snacks and their wait time was around 2 hours. I do not know why Royal Caribbean did nothing. An ambulance had come for the elderly because some of the elderly had fainted. Did we see a Royal Caribbean attendant, no. I asked a port authority where were the Royal Caribbean people and they said "we have no clue". We have never had such an experience like this before getting on board. This was totally unacceptable. All we got back in return was 20.00 for missing lunch! Okay I've vented about embarkation so now I will tell you about the ship. The ship was beautiful and we enjoyed the cruise after the first day. Our room attendant Rodney was wonderful. The food was good but the desserts were the pits. Most of the desserts were like pudding or mouse based. Only twice did we have a nice piece of pie or a real piece of cake. I must say the Windjammer food was better than expected. But the desserts were the same there also. The shows on board were good. Especially a treat was the Texas Tenors came aboard and they were fantastic. The best show we have ever seen on any of our 25 cruises we have taken. If you have a chance go see them. We did not take their excursions. Because we have learned in the past if you book through the ship and the weather is iffy and you really do not want to go you have too. So we always book independently. The Cave tubing with www.cavetubing.bz was amazing. Our guides were Jorge and Walter and they took very good care of us. The owner is Vitalino Reyes. Just to say I hope Royal Caribbean has a plan in place for the next time Galveston gets fog. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Well, I'll start out by saying I've now been on 4 cruises, 3 with Royal and this time around it is very apparent that Royal is starting to cut corners to save money. A few things I noticed changed from my last cruise on Royal in ... Read More
Well, I'll start out by saying I've now been on 4 cruises, 3 with Royal and this time around it is very apparent that Royal is starting to cut corners to save money. A few things I noticed changed from my last cruise on Royal in 2009: 1. drink of the day keepsake glasses are now plastic instead of glass 2. trivia/participation winners mostly receive keychains (I started turning them down after 3) instead of medals & RC fun prizes 3. My Time dining is a hassle - we had to arrange to have dinner at 5:45 every night just to get our party in the dining room. Luckily, because we were so large of a group (18), we ended up at the same tables with the same waiters every night so it was like we had early dinner but had to work a lot to get it. When we booked My Time was our only dining option given. Some new things that I was impressed with: 1. the drink package - if you like to drink during the day (poolside for instance) and at dinner (wine) and late night, then the package is good. Things to consider are your port days and whether you can keep up a pace of 8+ drinks per day. I liked being able to just show my card and not have to sign receipts for every drink but learned that the included tip for the bartender(s) wasn't that generous. We frequented the R-Bar (amazing Mixologist) and tipped the 3-person staff extra at the end of the week because of the outstanding service we received. 2. Flo-rider - this new addition to the ship was fun to watch. My friends joined in while I photographed and they had a blast. It usually had a line which was to be expected but at least there was the entertainment of other riders to help pass the time. We sailed on 2/23 and there was a fog delay. Caused a nightmare at the port. We arrived earlier than we were told to, but quickly dropped off our luggage and found a line to wait patiently in. The problem was that when they started boarding, the terminal employees would let the hoard of people gathered near the door who had arrived after us through the doors, therefore extending our wait time. Very disorganized. We kept good spirits and it wasn't too hot but we were probably in the last 100 or so onboard. Missed dinner in the dining room and had to go to muster almost immediately after boarding. I'm not sure if this is the fault of RC or if the Galveston terminal employs separately but either way it was a disaster and I will avoid sailing in the winter since fog frequently causes delays. I noticed more this time the average age of RC cruisers has increased dramatically. I'm 30 and don't mind being one of the younger people but nightlife was pretty much non-existent. The room was nice, not large by any means but plenty of storage space - we had 3 girls with lots of luggage in an interior room and had plenty of space to put everything. Our room steward was nice and friendly. Did a good job cleaning around all our stuff. We tried to pick up but with 3 of us in the room it was just difficult. If you end up using the ceiling Pullmans, ask for an egg crate the 1st day because they go fast and the top beds aren't as comfortable as the bottom. Overall it was a great trip, but having cruised with RC in the past I just didn't see the level of service I was used to getting. In May I am going on Carnival again and hope to get a good comparison of the two lines. Disembarking was fine - we chose to carry our own luggage off and even though that seemed a bit messy we were directed of the ship pretty efficiently and through customs in under an hour (total process). Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
There was fog again in Galveston going out but that can be expected this time of year but on the turnaround and on the return, we were lucky and had no problems. The ship has been nicely re-done however there were some areas of the ship ... Read More
There was fog again in Galveston going out but that can be expected this time of year but on the turnaround and on the return, we were lucky and had no problems. The ship has been nicely re-done however there were some areas of the ship that did not appear to have been touched. The Schooner Bar, for instance, had chairs with torn upholstery and woodwork around the tables that needed some TLC. The Promenade looked all new and shiny, the Dining Room had all new chairs, signage. New Specialty Restaurants, Sabor (Excellent), Giovanni's Table (Average), Izumi (Good). Chops changed their format to a less formal presentation (no table cloths and pared down menu + upcharge for "premium products"), food still good quality and service good. Some of the clubs were re-done with new furniture, carpet and everything felt new. New carpet throughout and the ship felt like new. New Diamond Club was nice but always crowded, Flowrider was cool, the Cosmopolitan Club was nice but really just a smaller version of the Viking Crown. Crew has an excellent attitude except for a few "humbugs", but that is expected. The Ice Show was excellent, Phil Anderson, top notch, and The Bubba Feathers Band were most entertaining as well. All in all a very enjoyable 2 weeks.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We chose this cruise primarily based on the fact we would be traveling from Canada and were looking for a nonstop flight to the port. Galveston is only a relatively short drive from Houston Bush International airport so this worked. ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily based on the fact we would be traveling from Canada and were looking for a nonstop flight to the port. Galveston is only a relatively short drive from Houston Bush International airport so this worked. (Nonstop flight where less chance of weather delay in Dec. was a priority for us). Galveston itself is not a place to spend more than one night in though we had extended the trip for a longer holiday. Stay near the port to make sure restaurants are near by. The ship itself is very nice, and the service aboard the boat met our expectations of Royal Carribean who we had traveled with before. No issues with service at all. My only disappointments were the dining room meals seemed less gourmet than our previous cruise and more tailored to a north american palate. We were advised that a seafood soup was spicy - but it was not spicy at all. Main courses and even appetizers were stuff you might cook at home, when I travel I am looking for meal options I don't prepare myself. We were initially seated at a table for 4 by ourselves. We did ask to move to a bigger table so we might meet other diners and this was accommodated. I wish the organizers at Royal Carribean made a better effort to place families with other families at meal time. The entertainment was not much to speak of. Silly comics, jazz dancers pretending to do latin dancing etc. I expected better given that inclusive resorts I have stayed at have better entertainment. The teen club was overrun as it was Christmas so difficult to meet the same kids each time but this was minor. It's more of a place to hang out in and not much activities that are actually carried out. The schedule of events for the teens is just a way to get them together. The ports visited were Falmouth, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Having been to there places before we chose excursions to suit our needs. The Bamboo Beach Club and Dunns River Falls was a hit and miss. The Falls is worth doing if you have never done it before but be sure to bring water shoes as you are in waist deep water at times. Also, it is very crowded. The Bamboo Beach Club was a real disappointment. Hardly a club and hardly a beach. In fact the beach was so narrow to get the sun you had to pull your beach chair into the water as the shade from the trees blocked the sun on the little beach area. And the so called local cultural entertainment was 3 guys in shorts dancing to music plus the recruitment of passengers to model beach clothes they were hoping to sell. And don't expect the tapas lunch to be a meal or be served hot. In fact it comes in dribbles (Jamaica time) and is mostly vegetables. Would not call this a beach club at all. While Grand Cayman has lots to offer it is pricey and Cozumel has plenty of options and will be a treat. The excursion we took in Grand Cayman included a trip to Sting Ray City where you stand in waist deep water while the sting rays swim around you. This can be fun and much of the time the tour operator is conducting a photo op for each person. (You can purchase the digital pics and he emails them to you-ours arrived before we got home). Unfortunately the Barrier Reef snorkling got cancelled due to wind conditions. If snorkling is a must for you I suggest booking it in Cozumel as we missed out because we had it scheduled in Grand Cayman and then it got cancelled. Cozumel Beach Club at Playa Mia was excellent. Really nice beach, alcoholic drinks included, and lunch was served buffet style in a huge open building. (Good for rain coverage when it suddenly showers). Tour operator was well organized and no delay in getting to the beach. I appreciated that this ship's crew did not push their photographers on you at every opportunity. They were there to capture moments but didn't intrude or be pushy. Sailing in Dec. you are not guaranteed sunshine and the first 2 days at sea offered only one day of rays so be prepared to rest and relax but not necessarily come back tanned at this time of year. A good option for a family Christmas getaway but not necessarily a great getaway to see the islands. It's a large ship with lots of activities if you like to take part. Royal Carribean does a nice job with the personal service and if the itinerary was right I would probably look at booking them again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This was my 5th Cruise, and 4th with Royal Previous Cruises: VoyagerOTS - Western Caribbean from Miami Constellation - Southern Caribbean from San Juan BrillianceOTS - Westbound TA from Barcelona SplendourOTS - South America Round the ... Read More
This was my 5th Cruise, and 4th with Royal Previous Cruises: VoyagerOTS - Western Caribbean from Miami Constellation - Southern Caribbean from San Juan BrillianceOTS - Westbound TA from Barcelona SplendourOTS - South America Round the Horn from Valparaiso I have recently moved for work to Houston, and since moving here I had been eyeballing a return to cruising after work had kept me from cruising for a number of years (since 2008). Being a loyal Royal Customer, and having Navigator based in Galveston looked great despite the fact that I had visited the islands on the itinerary before, yet the point of the vacation was more about cruising for me than destinations. In a spur of the moment, I booked this cruise the Friday before we were supposed to depart on Sunday the 22nd, so the haste in planning made the trip seem sort of unreal at times, plus added a certain amount of stress as I did not take any real time from work off, it was a slow week due to Xmas, but nonetheless, I had to be "connected" the whole week. BOARDING Having booked 2 days prior, of course we did not get booklets or luggage tags, and I could not complete online registration (which I had done in most of my previous cruises and found to be extremely easy). I also had never even been South of the "loop" here in Houston, so I had to do a little research on Galveston. In all previous cruises I had flown into the port of departure, so I had never experienced driving to the port, parking, etc. nonetheless,parking was easy enough, though I should have pre-booked a $45.00 lot I had seen on the internet which is just across the street from Terminal 2, instead I chose to wait till I got to the port to see where I wanted to park and ended up paying a little more to be on a lot a little bit further away. However, they do offer a shuttle, the staff was courteous, and my car was safe the whole week. After a short shuttle drive from the lot, we found ourselves in the long lines and sort of controlled confusion of Terminal 2. There was a huge line spiraling to the outside of the building, and there was very little staff going around pointing people in the right direction. Most everyone was a little more prepared than us and at least had their tags, in which case porters were getting the bags from the passengers quickly, leaving them to stand in the long line with their carry-on items. I went to look around for someone to get me tags, since I knew I had to make sure our bags made it on board. I had no printed cruise documents as all I had gotten was a confirmation, so I just had that information in my BlackBerry, thankfully getting tags was a breeze, the port staff have printed manifests with them, so they were able to check my booking and get me generic tags. With that done, i deposited our luggage with the porters and went to stand in line. Once we got closer to the main door of the boarding hall, staff was on hand directing Crown & Anchor Society upper-tier members to a quicker line. Thankfully I am Platinum, so we were able to skip the winding general check-in line. Once inside the building and in the C&A line, we went through security (where another manifest check had to happen since we had no docs.) and on to the check-in line. Again, after security, the general line twisted and turned inside the building, and despite the fact that there were easily around 40 check-in positions, the line seemed to be endless (more on this later). Thankfully for us, there was only one other party ahead of us for check-in, so within a couple minutes we were being checked in. As I had not filled out the Credit Card Charge information, we were sent to the Port Steward (or something like that), we had to battle the crowds checking in in order to get to the other side of the building, I guess in an effort to fit more people within the great hall, the port authorities have left very little room between the counters and the queue. Once with the Port Steward, I completed the necessary forms, signed over my AMEX, and were soon quickly given our SeaPass cards (felt completely unreal to me, that at last, I was once again holding onto one of these!). I was pleasantly surprised at the quickness of it all, and even asked again "are you sure we can now go onboard?", the answer was yes and soon we were getting off the gangway on the outer promenade of NavigatorOTS on Deck 4! Overall, I was very happy with the check-in procedure at Galveston. Parking had been easy to find (and there are what seems to be like a dozen lots flagging you down as you come down the highway), the Terminal was a bit chaotic, but thanks to my Platinum Status, we were able to move through it all quickly and were soon on board. Nevertheless, T2 at Galveston does seem very inadequate to handle a ship of Navigator's size (she may not be the biggest anymore, but she's still larger than most ships out there). We were over 30 minutes late upon departure due to guests who hadn't boarded yet and were still standing in line on the gangway (probably with some others still at the check-in counters). This really wasn't a huge inconvenience, but the fact that not everyone was probably even checked-in at least an hour before departure, seems to bring up the fact that the staff might just have a very tall order to fill. Also, the rest of us who were already on board, had to stand at our muster stations until everyone was on the ship. It seems the crew were not even allowing on-coming guests even the chance to leave their stuff and were directing them to their muster stations right as they set foot off the gangway. We saw many people joining our muster station a good 30 minutes after we had been there, with all of their carry on items with them. Thankfully, it seems along with Navigator's improvements during Drydock, there will also be some improvements to the Terminal as mentioned by Capitan Claus during his "Capitan's Corner" on the Last Day at sea (more on Claus later). FIRST IMPRESSIONS From the outside, Navigator is clearly different from his older sister, Voyager (primarily due to the fact of the newer generation, off-hull, glass balconies), but once I stepped off the gangway on the outer promenade off Deck 4 (one of my favorite spaces of the Ship), it was like a blast from the past, and this is were I felt right back on Voyager. Having experienced Voyager before, I was expecting no surprises from Navigator, and this ended up being true to the bone. I had previously been very open to trying out all different ships within the same class, but now that I have finally tried it, I have found that I'd rather prefer sailing on different classes all the time. Simply, the "wonder" of stepping into a new ship just wasn't there for me, it felt like deja-vu. Nevertheless, Navigator has kept up well with the times, and the ship still looked like the modern marvel that it is. I think the Voyager-class was such a game-changer, that these ships will continue to be the backbone of the RCI Fleet for years to come as they are still light years ahead of some of their competitors. Seems like RCI has the curb on grandiose innovation. During my first years cruising, I had the privilege of going on some of the industry's "leading ships". Sailed on Voyager when it was the "Oasis of it's day" in 2001, then the award-winning and standard-setting Millennium and Radiance class ships in 2002 and 2006 respectively. So in 2008 when we chose to sail on SplendourOTS (an older and smaller ship by far) I knew I wasn't in for any surprises, nonetheless, the Ship still offered me a chance to discover new spaces, and to see what "Classic Cruising" was all about. On Spendour it was in a way kind of great to have a limited number of spaces to "wander into" as each night was filled with a different kind of activity. Plus the use of the Centrum itself, proves to be a great experience. A feature that gets overlooked with the amount of inner, open space within the Voyager-class. On Navigator, there were no surprises, and no new spaces to find. It definitely felt like a "throw-back" cruise of sorts. With so many innovations that have taken place in the industry within so little time, even for me, the rules of cruising have definitely changed, and Navigator will be changing with them, but just not during this cruise. (More on Innovations later). In the end, by 2pm (after having left Houston at 12 noon), I was happy, and a bit surprised, to find me at the Pool Bar, on a cool 60 degree afternoon, on board NavigatorOTS with a "Bud Light" in hand, ready to head off into the Gulf of Mexico bound for Jamaica! But.... my holiday spirit had not caught up to my body... *** Note that due to Texas "Blue Laws", Alcohol consumption on board NavigatorOTS while in Galveston, restrict the number and types of liquor/beer that can be served until out at International Waters. I saw a lot of people complaining they couldn't get the liquor they wanted, or the type of "Cruise Drink" they desired due to these restrictions. It was not till around 7:00 pm (after our failed 4:30 departure that was close to 5:15ish) that full blown alcohol started to flow through the bars. RCI might want to prepare better for this and stock the bars better, as we saw people being turned away because they were out of different wines/liquors/beers during the restriction at different bars throughout the ship. CABIN I like getting the most bang out of my buck, so I'm always in the Interior Stateroom (have always felt there's so much to do on the ship, why waste your time on a Balcony!), so off we went to 8357 on Navigator. Cabin is normally appointed, I still love the "Round, Space-Tube" shower, and the beds were perfectly comfortable. The water pressure on the sink could have been better, but so long as the shower pressure stays nice and strong as it is, then I can live with that! I was traveling with a friend, and on my hasty booking I had chosen the "2 separate beds" option, but from experience, it seems that button doesn't really work even if you book weeks in advance! No matter though, I knew it was just a matter of finding our Stateroom Attendant and it would be solved before we came back from Dinner, so no biggie on RCI here. We left the stateroom and I hoped I'd see our stateroom attendant right away, it did not happen, but I left a little note on top of the unified bed asking it to be "divorced". After touring the ship, we went back to the room to get ready for dinner, sadly, our bed was still "happily married', no matter, I knew our SA would take the opportunity to "divorce" the bed during turn-down service. Sure enough, while enroute to the Swan Lake Restaurant on Deck 5, Nelson (our SA) found us and after a friendly greeting, he acknowledged my note and apologized noting that whilst he had seen 2 male names on the manifest, he had wanted to "wait and see". I guess good on RCI for keeping an eye out for the LGBT Market, those little details count, and I was not offended at all. As I had thought, he promised all will be fixed during turn-over service. Cabin was comfortable during the cruise, though the TV System is now showing it's age (and old-timey TV's too!), this will be corrected during drydock. Also, the cabin was a bit noisy, and the ship was quite shaky the whole trip (more on that later!). Nevertheless, it was a suitable accommodation, but for the first time, it left me wondering if the Balcony was really necessary. I think for my next cruise I will definitely try for a Balcony. Additionally, some of Navigator's inside staterooms will be getting a Quantum-Class innovation, LCD Balconies, so that might be workable! Also, as always RCI has a channel showing the ship's stats, position, etc., however, I seem to recall there was also a channel that showed the outside view from the front of the ship in real time, being in an Inside stateroom, I always loved this feature, thus, it was not available on Navigator! That feature was probably the one thing that kept me "connected" to the outside, so may be not having it was the reason why I will now book a Balcony. THE SHIP As I mentioned before, there was really "nothing" that I was waiting to see, I was conscious that this was Voyager's twin, and for the most part this was true, i was unfair earlier saying there really wasn't anything new. Navigator, being a few years younger than Voyager, does have a few updates, mainly Boleros on Deck 4, and Vintages, on the Royal Promenade. Both, really nice additions to the ship. Like I also mentioned, the ship is kept close to spotless! There are a few items here or there, but for a "fresh eye", I'm sure the ship continues to awe (as was the case with my Travel Companion who was on his 1st cruise). Overall, Navigator is a top of the line ship, with every amenity imaginable, and is a magnificent first-time cruise experience to get you hooked for a lifetime. Come the drydock, the Ship will have a whole new life ahead of it winning more and more cruisers for years to come, and I can personally say I might even try it again just to see the change. SHIP COMPLAINTS I really shouldn't complain about anything, this cruise really was perfection as prescribed by booking an RCI Cruise. Ship was beautiful, staff was wonderful, ports were ports, food was satisfying, and you felt you got your money's worth (even me, who not only booked a usually costlier "Holiday Sailing", but bought it 2 days before!), nonetheless, I feel I couldn't be doing the review any justice if I didn't have any opinions, so here goes... I may be wrong, but I feel there's some work that will need to be done on Navigator as far as propulsion/stabilization systems. Voyager was "unmovable" during my 1st cruise, Contellation was sturdy despite it's hasty itinerary, Brilliance faced the Atlantic with aplomb despite it's tranquil-water background, and Splendour showed it's smaller side, and the daunting journey made her vulnerable. However, Navigator in the Gulf of Mexico and even in the cozy Caribbean, felt at times like Splendour being tossed around in Cape Horn! The ship rocked pretty much from the 1st day at sea, until the day we were off the ship. The only calm part of the journey was the 1st evening leaving Galveston. On day 3 (2nd day at sea before Falmouth, JA) we had pretty nasty weather, and would be the only day I would really give Navigator a "pass" on her stability, the other days seemed pretty normal, and yet, Navigator swayed. Hopefully this will be corrected after drydock. Again, maintenance was adequate, but the ship definitely shows its age just a bit. For a more seasoned cruiser, let's just say you can tell "this is not Oasis or Allure, let alone Quantum". For a new cruiser, I think you'll be plenty satisfied, and the fact that Navigator will return to Galveston after its drydock, only goes to show that RCI has a firm bet on the South Central market, and wants to continue awing their audiences. It all started with Voyager in that "long horn" get up years ago, and has now grown to Navigator, and even Captain Claus mentioned the fact that RCI is studying bringing a Freedom-Class ship to Galveston! No matter what, I hope Navigator stays, as with its improvements, it will still be smaller than the pretty similar larger Freedom-Class, but will be closer to Oasis & Quantum in it's veins. FOOD Overall: Pretty Good! RCI continues to deliver a "consistent" product in my view, they are not as "Gourmet" as other lines, but are steadily increasing the venues on their ships that do offer that experience, nonetheless, the "regular food" meets expectations. Let's just say, it's like going out to dinner at a up-market, chain restaurant (i.e. Landry's, Morton's, McCormick & Schmick's) every night you're on vacation. Some day's it's exceptional, some days it's just OK. We ate in the Main Dining Room (Swan Lake, Deck 5) every night, and it really did not disappoint. Most nights were an overall win, and just a couple times they felt a little short. Nevertheless, it was a great experience as always, and the staff is always charming (more on Service later). My pet peeve, as it has been with Voyager-Class vessels, the Windjammer. Food is adequate, don't get me wrong, but the passenger flow, and the somewhat limited selection, continue to make this place a disappointment in my book, nonetheless, it was perfectly adequate for quasi-brunches all week (we're late risers, so we always got the tail-end of Breakfast Service). On Sea Days, it can get to be a mad-house, but thankfully, we were always able to find a table, only had to share once. All in all, what I can say to RCI is, try to look at people flow and selection with these new improvements, it really makes you feel "low budget" when in peek times. SERVICE Great, Exceptional, Warm, Kind, Friendly, etc., etc., etc., etc. There are not enough compliments for the crew, this diverse, multi-cultural gang of people continue to be the deciding factor on choosing a Cruise Vacation. Without them, any improvement or innovation on a ship would be worthless! It's true what other reviews said, these people were certainly ready for their drydock time, it seems to me like it's a vacation to them! But perhaps it was the "Holiday Atmosphere", or truly wonderful training and employee engagement results, but the crew was exceptional. Any one you would meet, from bar staff, to casino staff, to the shops, they were all ready to serve. We bought the Ultimate Drink Package, and made healthy use of pretty much all the bars on board, so I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the staff. All we had to do was roll-up, and they pretty much knew what we were drinking. From the Cosmopolitan Club (Deck 14, Viking Crown), to the Theatre Bar, they were friendly, talkative, interested, and super efficient. Also, they were always friendly enough to allow me to practice the two or three phrases I knew in French, Italian, or Portuguese. Our Dining Room Staff was also great, we were seated at an 8-person table, but only had a couple for seatmates the whole cruise. We had interesting conversations, and lovely meals. I seem to recall that RCI's Menu was mostly focused on the "Chef's Suggestions" which went along with their nightly theme (different inspirations, i.e.: basil, jasmine, spices, etc.), on this Cruise, however, it seemed that other entree's on the menu were the glowing choices as pointed out by our waiter every night. Most of the times, my choices matched those of our waiter, which I had chosen before he came over to explain. All in all, the food was pretty good, as I said, sometimes glorious, sometimes just good enough. But our staff really shined, primarily our waiter Kevin from Mauritius, our Asst. Waiter was Alex from Bosnia, but they both made our nights unforgettable, and cruise-worthy as always. There were a few "special" nights, with this being a Holiday Cruise and all with the typical Waiter-singing, and Napkin-waving antics of Classic Cruising. Nothing to say from Stateroom Attendant other than efficient, friendly, and perfectly sufficient. As far as Cruise Director's Staff, I'll go into detail a little further off, but they seemed adequate enough. ENTERTAINMENT I will admit that I am a little biased as it comes to this, BUT, it might be one of two things, either 1: Despite my bias, it might be true Entertainment was lacking on this Cruise, or 2: Entertainment was sufficient despite the fact that we were on a Holiday Cruise, before another Holiday Cruise, one week before a long-awaited drydock. In any case, this Cruise, I found that despite the fact that our Ultimate Drink Package drove us to seek a more "beverage-oriented" form of nightlife, I still felt as though not enough entertainment options were offered. I remember in past-cruises (before the age of Drink Packages) that I had longed to be at one venue or another "just to be able to enjoy a drink in that wonderful space", now I had the keys to the Kingdom (I could have whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted it) but no further places to try! It seems as though we tried every place on board Navigator, but it just seems as though there "wasn't enough" going on. I remember in my past Voyager Cruise, the main bar/lounge (Cleopatra's Needle in Voyager/Ixtapa on Navigator) was sorely underused. This Cruise the only highlights at Ixtapa were two, hour-long Karaoke nights (nothing compared to before when it was a late-night favorite), and only 1 specialty act (Frank Sinatra Tribute which was pretty good), there were no "Orchestra Nights" or other smaller acts there. Also, at the main Theater (The Metropolitan, Decks 3,4, and 5), there seemed to be a lack of "Acts". There were the standard, two-a-week, production shows, and then there was a very obscure (even for Cruise Standards) succession of a comic, a variety act, and a fiddle show. Needless to say, we only attended the production shows. Nonetheless, we noticed that there was positive feedback from fellow passengers stemming from the obscure performances at the Theater. The Latin Band (which played mostly at Bolero's, and at times the Promenade, which were acts meant for the Poolside but were limited to the Promenade due to weather) was fine, but by the middle of the cruise, I felt they were running out of material. No matter their short comings, they were our favorite, and were our main entertainment on most nights. There was a Caribbean-style, steel-drum band, but I felt they were sorely underused, and this was probably mainly due to the fact that the weather really did not cooperate the whole cruise, so I don't think they really got a chance to fully utilize their main space, which is the Pool Area. Also, there was a country/jazz quasi-band (I think they were mostly Country, but despite the Ship's Texas provenance, there was still a mix of country lovers, and the more "avant-garde" type, so they also confronted an identity crisis) Additionally, we had the benefit of having the traditional classic piano stylings of a talented player who would grace The Cosmopolitan (Deck 14, Viking Crown) in the afternoon, and then delight the Dining Room Audiences for both sittings. He was great and always seemed to have even more material to pull from, from classic Piano sonatas, to soaring Broadway Scores, to Pop Favorites and even Disney Classics. A true delight during each and every night at Dinner. Then there was the NavigatorOTS Orchestra, which as in cruises past, would sometimes play along with the performance at the Theater, but would also often play at the Main Lounge (Cleopatra(V)/Ixtapa(N), this second scenario wasn't the same on Navigator. There were no Orchestra/Big Band Concerts offered at Ixtapa throughout the cruise, we only saw the Band during the aforementioned Sinatra Tribute, and during the last production show. I don't know why this might be, perhaps due to Holiday Scheduling, or may be due to the upcoming drydock, but I felt that such a wonderful entertainment asset on Navigator wasn't used to offer something else to do. Most nights, the sole headliners after the Theatre were the Latin Band at Boleros, other than that, there might be an odd performance by a Guitarist at the limited-seating PUB, a sole-piano player at the also small Schooner, or the Country/Jazz Quasi Band at The Cosmopolitan, but they would only have an hour set, then off to bed at 11:00pm. The only place that went through past midnight was Bolero's, so it sort of became the hub of the ship (right along with the Casino, which unfortunately has no live entertainment, only pre-recorded, uptempo, modern music). The NIghtclub. "The Dungeon" seemed to be rather lively most of the evenings after 1:00 am (when Bolero's closes), but as always, there wasn't enough of a "crowd" to make it really feel like a Real Nightclub, nonetheless, Kudos to Navigator, THIS is probably the only space within the Ship I really got to enjoy for the 1st time, since at the time of my trip on Voyager, I wasn't 21 and couldn't go into "The Vault". The design of this space is impressive, spanning 2 decks, with an architecture that will take you back to a Gothic Cathedral. All i all, I blame these Entertainment shortcomings to the Holiday-Nature of our Cruise, and to the imminent drydock of the Ship, otherwise, despite the limited selection, we still had a fantastic time on board. Having limited spaces, really afforded the cruiser the chance to meet new friends that would come back every night. Last cruise it seemed more like there were "crowds", like "the Casino Crowd", "The Schooner Crowd", etc. This time, it seemed a little more unified due to the lack of variety. Also, the Cruise Director's Staff, and even the Cruise Director himself, seemed to be a little "afraid of the limelight". In past cruises I felt that the Cruise Director's Staff actually became part of the Social Life on the Ship, introducing acts and their intermissions at each public space, being seen dining in the main dining rooms, hosting the Nightclub, etc., this time, I felt they were missing. Also, I must point to the fact that we didn't attend many of the other "social" functions on the ship (Newlywed Game, Karaoke, Etc.), but there also seemed to be fewer of these, so this ads to my theory of the Cruise Director's Staff to be lacking. THE HIGHLIGHT The Ice Show! What a treat! Even for me, that had seen the Ice Show before, now I was WOWed (as RCI says), and this was truly a moment to behold. Audiences holding their breath mid-caribbean-sea, is still awesome! I know they do that now at the Aqua Theater, or will do so on "Northstar" or "Two70", but StudioB on a Voyager or Freedom Vessel, is still awe-inspiring. PORTS Arguably, some seasoned travelers might say that "Once you've been to a Caribbean Island, you've been to all of them!", nonetheless, I feel that every Island offers a different view into the sprawling and diverse culture that the Caribbean as a whole offers. Having said that, I can also say that having been to each of the 3 places we were vsiitng (Jamaica, Cayman, Cozumel), visiting again wasn't going to be the highlight of my cruise. Don't get me wrong, there's always new stuff to learn, and new things to explore, but since by the time we made it to Jamaica on Xmas Day (25th) my Holiday Spirit was barely starting to join me, I didn't much care about where we were stopping. It was more about going through the motions. Needless to say, there's tons to do at these 3 ports, and RCI has a wealth of suitable excursions. They might be slightly higher priced than independent tour companies, but in the end, I wish I would have booked a couple during this Cruise, we were left with seeing hardly anything at any port, in part due to my lethargy, and also due to intimidating business dealings from the locals, and higher prices for last-minute activities. Through it all, we made the most of it, and RCI did a good job building yet another Caribbean-Type Disneyland (as with other Cruise-owned islands, ports, etc.), and Falmouth does not disappoint as a super cute little port, separated from reality by the gates of their sparkling complex of shops and little eateries. Cayman is always striking, and we could have been savvier at getting an $8 dollar cab (as our table-mates did) to Seven Mile Beach, instead we were intimidated by a very aggressive local offering the same trip for $40 a pop! Instead we opted for a stroll of the quaint Georgetown, and a drink at generic-old Margaritaville (a version of which, by the way, also stands gracefully at Falmouth-Disney). Cozumel, which was to be the highlight for my friend, was unfortunately very rainy. Despite this, we made it to a Beach Club, managed a Swim, and a Local "SOL" Beer before the storm hit. Weather was so bad that we were also an hour late leaving Cozumel due to the fact that we had 300 people still coming from across the Channel in Play del Carmen (Their Ferry hadn't been able to sail due to the conditions). All in all, I can say that we did the most with what we had, and had a good time regardless. If you really want to see the ports, do the research and book in advance, you're guaranteed a great time as we heard from many of our more active shipmates. OTHER NOTES/NEW STUFF As mentioned above, since my last cruise in 2008, cruising has definitely changed, we are now used to more ambitious innovations, to ever expanding size, and to seemingly endless wonder. By the same token, the rules have also changed, there are new drink packages, prepaid gratuities, and the changes these represent to "Traditional Cruising". We pre-paid our gratuities for this Cruise, and it was a total time saver, no more "stuffing envelopes" and "getting cash" on the last day of the cruise. However, there does seem to be a "VOID" that is left there, when there is no actual acknowledgement that these Tips have been paid for. What I mean, is that in cruises-past, these "handing of the envelopes" sort of signified the end of that wonderful week or two that you were on that cruise, and you thanked the people who had so graciously tended to your every spoiled need. This time however, though far more convenient to not have to stuff the envelopes, and count the money; there were no envelopes, and on the last evening, I felt almost at a loss for words to sort of say "good bye" to these folks. Also, with these new Drink Packages, you don't have to spend an extra dime on drinking, the gratuity is included, but this, also, like before, leaves you without that moment of acknowledgement of gratitude. In cruises-past, after having sat a certain bar for a number of drinks, you "cashed out" and left a tip accordingly, thus when you returned the next night, or a few nights after, you were treated even better. Now, each drink you order gets charged and the waiter/bar person, gets the same tip. Thus when you come back night after night, it's all sort of the same, and then when you leave, it seems like there was no gratification given. So all in all, may be RCI could introduce "recognition envelopes"? In which you can hand your waiters, bar people, SA's, etc, a sort of "certificate" for what you have already prepaid? Perhaps I might sound narcissistic, but I just feel there should be that moment of guest/attendant sort of bond. ** Footnote: Drink Packages are pretty awesome, but don't get carried away when you see the prices. I had done a little research and had decided may be the "Premium Package" would be enough, but once on board, going from $55 to $65 for the Ultimate Package seemed like a no brainer, but that's 70 bucks at the end of the week! In all, we enjoyed having the UP, and would probably do it again, having unrestricted access to whatever the hell you want is great. Nonetheless, seeing the almost $1000 price on two packages at the end of the week, did hurt a bit. In retrospect, I will budget those $500plus dollars p/p for beverages into my entire cruise vacation budget, for a Wine and Liquor aficionado, it is well worth it. Also, connectivity (meaning Internet), has never been so important. In 2008 at the time of my last cruise, I was used to social networks, and instant messaging, but I was able to "disconnect" from work. This time around though, the significant "weight" of a smartphone or a tablet are ever present, and RCI has a long way to go in order to provide proper, and fairly priced connectivity. This stands to be at least somewhat corrected upon drydock as Navigator will get Wi-Fi Throughout (currently, most cabins do not have Wi-Fi), and they will reduce costs/offer discounts for Tier Members. This cruise however, I paid two blocks of data ($29.95 each 29 minute session), it was barely enough to cover some email answering (work only, which was a must) and a very brief glance at Facebook/Other Social Sites. Once on land, I took advantage of T-Mobile's new, inclusive, international Roaming. Apparently, we are entitled to free Data in participating countries (most of the America's, and larger part of Europe/Asia) albeit at low speeds, but it worked sufficiently well that I was able to stay on top of key emails, instant messaging, and a little Facebook. So I had no need to pay for further internet service on the ship. Calls were also of OK quality, hopefully they will upgrade their "Cellular at Sea" network as well for those that just simply cannot wait. DEBARKING Having seen the nightmare of coming on board (despite us not actually being in the Nightmare itself!), I was getting ready for the worst during debarking. Even the last night, I bid my less "cruise savvy" (as per my own ignorant assessment) stablemates a "speedy, and expeditious" debarking, fully believing myself that that was going to be quite an impossible feat to complete. Nevertheless, RCI Impressed me once again with a speedy, if not almost perfect, departure. The only thing lacking here, is a little bit more order when picking up bags, then proceeding to immigration/customs, and clearer signage. Otherwise, the process was pretty straight forward. Hear your color, get off the ship, pick up your bags (from a pile of luggage under your tag number inside the empty terminal), and do the "round about" (they seem to make you walk around the entire hall in order to guarantee there will be an orderly queue of people, though we only had a very few people ahead of us). All in all, we woke up at 7:30, unhurriedly showered and got ready, heard our color around 9ish (we were expecting 9:15 from the list provied). had a little queue getting off the ship and into the terminal, quickly found our bags, made the "round about", just a few more people to pass through customs, and off we were land side probably by 9:35ish. So about a 30 minute process to debark such a large ship, not bad at all. Off we went to the friendly shuttle, picked up the car rather quickly, and we were probably having IHOP down the highway in Texas City by 10:00 am! Needless to say, after dropping fried off (after IHOP) in the Galleria Area around 11:30, I was home in NW Houston before 12 noon! Impressive. LAST IMPRESSIONS Through it all, RCI keeps reminding me why I keep coming back. They have a solid product, and they deliver it well. I have grown though, and now in my 30's I do look forward to choosing ships/itineraries more carefully. As far as RCI goes, the Allure and Quantum are not far off in my radar for Next Cruises, they promise the innovation and amazement I seem to have come to expect from RCI Cruises. But for future me-cruises, I will definitely look at Celebrity's Solstice-Class, in fact, an 11-Night Eastern Mediterranean on Celebrity Reflection shines bright in my Cruise Compass (no pun intended on RCI's on board publication). As far as repeat-class cruising for me concerned, I think I will try to steer away from it, it was still a wonderful experience, but NOT the experience I have wanted to expect. I look forward to seeing RCI, Celebrity, (just cause I have a soft spot for them), and all other Cruise Lines continue to flourish and continue to offer new attractions and amazement for us captive Cruisers... There's no Vacation, like a Cruise Vacation.... PERIOD. Thanks for Reading!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I booked this cruise in February of 2013 for December of 2013 purely because of the amazing deal. We paid $429/person for a promenade room (8383). When we arrived to embark, the process was the worst I've ever seen. Surely something ... Read More
I booked this cruise in February of 2013 for December of 2013 purely because of the amazing deal. We paid $429/person for a promenade room (8383). When we arrived to embark, the process was the worst I've ever seen. Surely something could be done to fix the situation. It made the start of our vacation very sour. We waited from 10am to 2pm before being let on, we were not informed as to why. Once onboard, our rooms were ready, but our bags weren't there. Cabin steward assured us that they would arrive in time. We waited until 7pm before our bags arrived, which made me nervous as we left promptly at 4pm and I thought our bags were goners! When booking this cruise, I knew ahead of time that the NOTS was being refurbished and our cruise was one of the last before all the changes would take place. However, the crew were very rude compared to our first cruise. Our waiter was awful and told stories of how poor he was so that we would tip him more. I didn't appreciate going to dinner and feeling bad every night. Also, the mini fridge was broken in our room. No big deal, except no one ever tried to fix it, despite calling everyday. They could have attempted to help. Luggage was ruined, but the guest relations desk was rude as well. No help there. For all of our troubles, we found help when we disembarked and called corporate guest relations. They were wonderful and fixed everything for us. I don't even want to talk about disembarkation...it was a total nightmare. I felt like a cow being herded into a hot corral. It was horrible. Took about 2 hours for express. Again, Galveston port needs employees to help make this transition easier. All in all, we had a great time though. We loved the lunch buffets by the pool, as we love laying out all day, but hate having to get dressed to go eat. hehe The drinks were also good. The bartender in the main theater was absolutely fabulous and always had fun with us. We bought most of our drinks there. The music was great by the pool. Wish the band in the Crown Lounge was different however. We had an awesome cover band on the EOTS and loved them. The Crown Lounge is always our favorite spot for the end of the night. We went to more trivia shows this time around and it was fun. We got to know the staff more and interacted with them a lot. I also participated in The Quest and the Battle of the Sexes gameshow, which was awesome. I loved this cruise, just wish a few things could have been done differently. Excited to go on it again in May 2014 to see all the new refurbishments! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Roatan-Belize-Cozumel-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise with some hiccups noted below. We are regular cruisers; purpose of this cruise was to celebrate New Year’s. We booked a junior ... Read More
Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Roatan-Belize-Cozumel-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant cruise with some hiccups noted below. We are regular cruisers; purpose of this cruise was to celebrate New Year’s. We booked a junior suite on the ninth deck. Details below. We also used “My Time Dining,” and it worked fine. The entire top level of the three level dining room was for this type of dining. We had the same wait staff for the entire week. The cruise had three sea days that were very relaxing. Not only was this a New Year’s cruise, it was also the time of college bowl games and NFL playoffs. Most bar tv’s – and many passengers – were tuned to these games. 2. Embarking: We left our Galveston hotel at 11:30am. With dropping my wife and bags at the terminal, parking the car, taking a shuttle, getting through security, and checking in, we were in our cabin just before 1pm. Suitcases appeared around 3pm. At check in, all passengers received a flier that effective January 1, all cruise passengers arriving in Galveston would have to declare to Texas authorities at the terminal their liquor and cigarette purchases – whether on board or in a foreign country - and pay a Texas “import tax.” Examples are $3.75 for a liter of alcohol and $15 for a carton of cigarettes. As we made no such purchases, I have no experience to relate as to how this works, or how it applies to non-residents of Texas. As this was a holiday cruise there were plenty of families and children on board. A large number of travellers from Latin America were also on board as all announcements on the ship PA system were also made in Spanish. 3. The Navigator of the Seas: The junior suite is the way to go. Plenty of space, and plenty of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Suitcases fit well under the bed. A tub shower in the bathroom. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN (not very well), ESPN (very well), shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. While you get a daily planner, there is no newspaper. You have to get your news from the TV. It takes a while to get a handle on what is where on the ship. There is a large children/teens area and programs for them. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room’s food was very good, well-prepared, and well-served. We only used it for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don’t try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. If you want wine with your meal in the dining room, whether a glass or a bottle, you need to know what you want. Your Assistant Waiter is your wine steward. He will have no idea about recommending a wine, and you need to tell him the wine’s number on the list; he will not understand the wine’s name. Once you understand this “system,” it works well. We had made reservations on-line for the Chops specialty restaurant. Very good food and wine, and service. The meal was worth the extra charge. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub, and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. 5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, and all the rest casual. One formal was, of course, New Year’s Eve. Compared to other cruises, there was a definite decline in the number of men in tuxedos. The ladies, however, still dressed up. 6. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. RCL’s tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through RCL, you have support when there is a problem, eg, the ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed. Of the three stops, both Roatan and Belize were new for us. Roatan is “just another Caribbean island.” We enjoyed the tour of the island but, been there, done that. We took the Wallace River cruise and Altun Ha ruins tour in Belize. Fascinating and interesting. However, we ran into a new issue. I booked the tour on-line, and the RCL website has all the details of all the shore excursions. The website gave no details of how the river cruise portion was conducted. The tour information provided on board had the statement, “Boat ride during the tour is uncovered.” For those of us who have problems with sitting in broiling sunshine for 2 ½ hours, this would have been useful to know whether or not to book the tour. It raises the question of how cruise passengers are to be informed about changes/updates to shore excursions. We have been to Cozumel often and just wandered around the shops in the pier area. The third pier is now operational, and we were six cruise ships – about 19,000 passengers – in town that day. We were docked next to the Allure. That was a sight to see. 7. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes including the rock climbing wall and the ice skating rink. On this cruise there were no production numbers in the theater. Reason: computers that controlled the sets broke down and could not be fixed. Thus, the guest entertainers and small musical numbers that did not involve the moving of sets were the evening entertainment. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. 8. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account, and the tips are taken care of electronically with the staff. If you use My Time Dining, you will be billed the full tip amount when you book your cruise. If you use regular seating dining, you will be asked at some point by the Front Desk how you want to handle tips. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings your room service breakfast. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 9. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship’s TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 10. Disembarking: On Saturday you will receive luggage tags with numbers. You also receive a sheet of paper telling when that number will be called for disembarking and where you have to be waiting in order to hear the announcement when your number can leave the ship. Your bags have to be out by 11PM, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin and in your designated waiting area. Again, you will only hear the announcements in the waiting areas. On this cruise, the whole process was a mess. Ship management decided to push all 3,000+ passengers off the ship in two hours, from 8 to 10 am. This was accomplished, and there were probably 2,000 passengers in the terminal looking for bags and waiting in line to clear customs and immigration. In our case, we got off the ship right on time at 9:05 and cleared immigration at 11:10. The RCL ground personnel and the immigration officers worked hard to make the best of this situation. It was no surprise that the mood of passengers in the terminal was not good. The assumption of all – right or wrong – was that the ship management wanted all passengers off the ship as fast as possible so that revitalization work could begin (see below). 11. Revitalization: The captain had a session in the theater where he briefly discussed this program for the Navigator. It starts at the end of this cruise and will be done in the Bahamas. It will cost $80 million and last 26 days with workers working 24/7. Changes will include: New LED flat screens in all cabins, and wifi throughout the ship New satellite system. Screens in all elevator lobbies showing how to get around and providing information on how full the restaurants are. Revamp the pool area, including a large screen. Sports area will have a “better” golf course and a Flo-ride. 98 staterooms will be built in the area where the spa is now. Virtual balconies with audio on screens in inside cabins. New specialty restaurants. 12. Conclusion: While not an outstanding cruise, it was OK. We are booked on the Navigator for this coming Christmas. We are looking forward to seeing what the “revitalized” ship is all about. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This cruise was full of celebrations for our group of 15: two birthdays and Thanksgiving. This was my second time on the Navigator of the Seas, 3rd Voyager-Class, and 4th Royal Caribbean cruise. Coming in, we had high expectations. In most ... Read More
This cruise was full of celebrations for our group of 15: two birthdays and Thanksgiving. This was my second time on the Navigator of the Seas, 3rd Voyager-Class, and 4th Royal Caribbean cruise. Coming in, we had high expectations. In most cases, we had a great journey. But in some aspects, we were disappointed. To start with, the weather produced some rough seas midweek so we missed a port call in Grand Cayman. THE SHIP: Overall, it was in good shape but definitely had some things that will be addressed (I hope) in dry dock (scheduled for early 2014). The cabin faucets had trouble distinguishing from hot or cold water -- it was always just warm. A fellow traveler complained 3 times, but nothing was ever fixed. We had a closet door hinge break, but it was fixed quickly. Some of the carpet and theater seats look worn and ready for replacing. But overall, everything was functional and still kept in good shape. CABIN: We were in Aft 1392 - our favorite on this ship. The covered area of the balcony is big enough for two sitting chairs, a table, and two lounge chairs. It is quiet - not much traffic. There is a little more side-to-side vibration movement at full speed, but there is almost no up-down motion being in the very back. Our room steward was very efficient and kept us very happy. DINING: For the first time on a ship, we opted for a big table with 15 seats. The dining room appears to have two right in the center, near the stairs. It was exciting to be near the action and activities. But I think the size also caused major service issues On the first night, we all were seated close to the 5:30 time. But the actual service was very extended with long pauses between courses. Finally at about 7:45, our desserts started to arrive. We were the last table in the dining room, and we could see the people lining up at the door for the 8:00 seating. One of the head waiters finally came over and said we would have to leave even though our dessert/coffee had been on the table for just minutes. We explained the situation, and he indicated it would be addressed. For the rest of the nights, service was inconsistent and still took a long time. What bothered me is that we never saw an Asst. Head Waiter at our table or appear to help our Waiter out. The Asst. Waiter did a great job of keeping drinks and bread refilled, but she did not help with food distribution at all. For the first time on a RCCL ship, I never saw or met our Assistant Head Waiter! The Head Waiter stopped by a couple of times, and he said he did some things to have the problem addressed. But I don't think it helped much. Was our table too big for their system? Maybe...but our waiter may have just been over her head. The food itself was good. Some dishes were excellent (turkey and sole), but some items were tough and rubbery (steak and lobster). STAFF: Outside the dining staff, the staff was pleasant and friendly. Some did seem "tired", and many of them said this was their final cruise before vacation. It seems the transatlantic voyage and some missed port calls for time off was weighing on them. There just didn't seem to be that energy with the crew that I have seen on previous ships. ENTERTAINMENT: The stage shows were well acted, but they do need to be refreshed. We had taken a Spring Break 2012 cruise, and much of the content was the same. The guest ice show performers and the guest headliners were excellent. We really enjoyed the "Man of 1000 voices" and the Russian ice skaters. CHILDRENS AREA: The kids said Adventure Ocean was pretty crowded at time, but there were 900 kids/youth onboard this ship (out of 3,690 guests!) PORT OF GALVESTON: Having taken a previous Galveston cruise, I learned some tricks: 1) Entry Into Port: Avoid Harborside completely and go through the "Strand" area to enter the port directly around 22nd street. You bypass the massive line of cars coming down Harborside. There is still a 1-car-wide funnel just inside the port before the Terminal 1/Terminal 2 divide that needs to be fixed. 2) Check-In: The agents were pretty efficient for normal cruisers, but the handicap/wheelchair area was backed up. We arrived about 11:30, but the wheelchairs were still be used by disembarking passengers. 3) Disembarkation: This was much improved. We had two wheelchairs with us so we got a little priority but not much. We waited about 30 minutes onboard, then it took about 15 to get to our bags. Once we had our bags, we were outside in 10 minutes. They had 8+ customs lanes open. OVERALL: We love cruising from Galveston as we can drive so I hope that the drydock and crew change that should occur will revive the Navigator for its year+ stay in Texas. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
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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