This is the 20th cruise my wife and I have been on together, and our 8th with RCI. We drove from our home to Miami to board the ship, so I cannot provide any flight, transfer, or hotel information. I will say that for being “The Cruise ... Read More
This is the 20th cruise my wife and I have been on together, and our 8th with RCI. We drove from our home to Miami to board the ship, so I cannot provide any flight, transfer, or hotel information. I will say that for being “The Cruise Capital of the World,” Port Miami is a real pain to get around in. It’s very confusing how the lanes work, with very little signage to help first timers. Hopefully all the construction is geared to remedy that problem. We had to reschedule a cruise from later last year to this sailing due to a family situation that prevented us from taking our previous trip. We did not sail with any family or friends this time.
Navigator is very similar in look and layout as Mariner OTS, as they have both been through recent refurbishments. The ship feels and looks like a smaller version of the Oasis class, minus the neighborhoods. For us this is a plus, as Oasis class is our preferred ships to sail on. Most venues onboard Navigator were clean and updated, and more or less felt new.
We participated in a few of the activities during our cruise. We normally stay quite busy during a cruise, but this sailing we tried something a little different. We didn’t book a single show, event, activity, or shore excursion ahead of time. We instead chose to relax and let the day surprise us. This is NOT a good idea on the new larger and higher capacity ships. We managed to catch several trivia sessions, watched the belly flop competition, and a few of the other random daily events. They are on par with what you’ll find on other ships, and we enjoyed each of them.
The service on Navigator was excellent! Each time I went to a bar to order a round of drinks for us, I never had to wait more than two minutes to get my order in. While waiting, I was constantly asked if I’d been helped yet or if I wanted to place an order. This was such a welcome change from a recent NCL sailing where we found just the opposite. Previous sailings with NCL in particular found passengers arguing with each other as the most obnoxious person got their orders in while patient and polite passengers were ignored. RCI had each bar sufficiently staffed and clean. Of particular note was Boleros where the mojitos were some of the best I’ve ever had, as well as the Lime and Coconut bar near the pool. Friendly and efficient staff and great drinks make for a wonderful onboard experience. Apart from bar service, we also had great experiences in the MDR as well as the other crew. Nearly every interaction with crew members began with a smile and greeting. Our cabin steward always asked how our day was going. Navigator truly stood apart from previous sailings in regard to service and experience.
Our cruise brought us to Nassau and the newly renovated CocoCay. As I mentioned previously, we had no scheduled excursions. As Florida residents who cruise frequently, I could probably draw a map of the port at Nassau with relative accuracy. We simply meandered between the shops (avoiding the straw market due to harassment) and had a few drinks. The only note-worthy new addition is a new bar off the side of Senior Frogs called Lukka Kairi. You’ll find the pier/walkway right next to the entrance for Senor Frogs. It’s actually owned and run by the infamous bar chain but has a totally different feel. The bar sets out over the water and provides a great view of the ships that are docked and the smaller boats coming and going. The bar menu and ambience are much more refined than the “party till you puke” atmosphere from Frogs. We felt we were in an upscale venue. The service was great, and drinks were excellent. It’s a great alternative to the party bar scene that Frogs is known for and does so well.
CocoCay was a wonderful experience. The island is well decorated and easy to navigate, once you get your bearings. While RCI will upcharge you for just about everything (the hot air balloon, water park, and a few exclusive beach side areas are all extra fees), the rest of the guest areas weren’t a disappointment. I must also mention that passengers with a drink package can use it on the RCI private island (are you listening, NCL?). My wife and I never found it difficult to find lounge chairs near the pool or the beach, and other guests didn’t seem to have much difficulty either, a big plus considering there was another ship calling with ours that day. The poolside DJ played some great music in the late morning while we sipped on some delicious frozen drinks. While the atmosphere will turn more towards the party/club scene as the day goes on, you can always find a new spot if that’s not your thing. We ate lunch at the barbecue buffet and were very pleased. The steak tacos were delicious! And as on board, we never had to hunt down a server to get more adult beverages. We were approached so much that it was almost annoying. But, I’d rather have that problem than standing in line to pay $18 for a drink I can get for free a quarter mile away onboard our ship. For those passengers with mobility issues, there are several electric trams (read glorified go carts) that go from the ships to several stopping points around the island. Overall unless you are a water park fanatic or that person who wants “exclusivity” the provided atmosphere at CocoCay will be just fine, provided you are looking for a sit by the pool or ocean kinda day. You can also do snorkeling, but the area was roped off and seemed small. We did note that the variety and type of activities onboard went dry while we were docked, so be prepared to entertain yourself if CocoCay doesn’t interest you. My only criticism is the lack of available merchandise. I expected to find a store with RCI brand and CocoCay logo merchandise… what we got was a three-sided cart. Our bartender did mention that the new CocoCay is currently in phase one of a developing plan, so perhaps there is more to come…
We were in cabin 8584 with a balcony on the port side of the ship. We found that overall the cabin met our needs. Plenty of storage space and the balcony itself was surprisingly large. Some of the furniture did have some stains on it, and we found what we believe was a bloody fingerprint in the bathroom on the wall next to the door. Gross, and rather creepy. Also, the bed was about as comfortable as a concrete slab and there was a surprising lack of USB charging ports. We usually bring a multi USB charging adapter, so it wasn’t a problem, but we’d have a difficult time keeping our electronics running without it.
Dining was also a pleasant surprise onboard Navigator OTS. We visited the MDR twice during our cruise for dinner, and each time the food was tasty and served quickly. The quick service Mexican restaurant, El Loco Fresh, is also a nice place to eat next to the pool. The lines did get rather long during peak times, but the guacamole was worth the wait. The buffet restaurant called The Windjammer (or Foodjammer as I call it), was the real stand out for us. The staff was having fun reminding passengers to wash their hands before entering with dancing and improvised songs. The food was a decent variety and we found it to be very tasty. It’s not Michelin quality, but for those of us who appreciate flavorful food and a variety of it will be satisfied. We never had trouble finding a clean table, and the staff came by with non-alcoholic drinks and condiments frequently. RCI is doing a great job of changing the perception that the buffet restaurant isn’t just a place to go if you didn’t book a restaurant but being a true service environment all its own.
The only entertainment show we went to this cruise was the headliner, a hypnotist. If you’ve never seen one, it’s usually entertaining and worth going to. He didn’t offer anything we hadn’t seen before, but we still enjoyed ourselves. On the last night we went to the silent disco. It seems Celebrity is the only cruise line who can do a silent disco right. Navigator, as well as other lines and ships in the RCI fleet, seem to get this wrong. Celebrity had a ton of available headphones, despite the entire atrium being packed for the event. I swear half the ship was there, and their DJs had three stations to choose from. Navigator as well as prior cruises were turning people away due to their two station headphones were out within five minutes of beginning the party. Silent discos are great fun. I would have thought that since they are so popular, cruise lines would be making these more of a focus.
Embarkation as well as disembarkation were expertly done. We were checked in prior to sailing, so it was a breeze getting onboard. We always carry off our luggage and we found ourselves walking off almost 40 minutes earlier than what we found in the daily planner. These processes were expertly executed.
In conclusion, Navigator of the Seas is an excellent choice for a four or three-night vacation. The ship looked great, the staff was wonderful, the food and drinks were very satisfying, and we were kept entertained for most of the voyage. My wife and I had a truly wonderful vacation. On the way home, our discussion found us in agreement that Royal Caribbean is quickly becoming our preferred cruise line. It’s because of experiences like the one we had on Navigator that makes us feel that way. Read Less