This was my 2nd time on Navigator this year. The first time was in August, a family vacation. This time was a group cruise with about 20 ladies. Both times we truly enjoyed ourselves and loved the ship, but this 2nd time, I was able to ... Read More
This was my 2nd time on Navigator this year. The first time was in August, a family vacation. This time was a group cruise with about 20 ladies. Both times we truly enjoyed ourselves and loved the ship, but this 2nd time, I was able to experience more of the activities on board, such as the various bars, one of the specialty restaurants, and the spa services. We also booked excursions through the ship this time, and those were well organized and so much fun.
Let's start with embarkation: I don't know if it was because the bike rally that weekend slowed traffic down, but once we actually made it to the port, check-in could not have been easier. Back in August, we showed up at approx. 11:00am, and we had to wait in line and then wait some more before they let us on to the ship after 12:00pm. This time though, we got to the port at 10:50am and were on the ship by 11:00am! It couldn't have been easier!
Same as last time, the only areas available for lunch on embarkation day are the Windjammer (buffet) and the cafe on the Promenade deck 5. I despised the buffet last time, so I never set foot in it this time. We instead grabbed a few croissant sandwiches at the cafe and then went to the Two Poets pub for a drink, then I took my friend for a tour of the ship before we made our way to the helipad to wave good-bye to the cameras at sail away. Then our rooms were ready by 1:30pm, so we made our way to our Junior Suite on deck 9.
This was my first time in a Junior Suite, (9308, starboard side, mid aft) and I was thrilled with the size of the room and the balcony. It's much wider than the balcony we had last time. There was a little extra seating area with coffee making station, and the balcony was longer with a lounger as well as the 2 chairs and small table. There was a walk-in closet! The restroom was a bit larger and had a combo bathtub/shower. The room had so much storage space we actually kept losing things, because we'd forget where we stored them. The only complaints I had about the room were that the beds are extremely hard and uncomfortable, and our room got very hot at night for some reason. We turned the AC down to the coldest setting and it would be freezing during the day, but every night it was so hot. When we had a balcony room last cruise, I complained to our steward about the bed being too hard, and he brought me a foam (egg carton style) pad, and that helped a lot once he put it under the sheet. This time in the suite, the beds came with a slightly padded mattress cover, and that helped a little bit, but it was still very hard. They need to invest in better beds. We sailed NCL Epic last fall, and the inside cabin had the most comfortable beds I've ever experienced! RC needs to find out which beds NCL purchased and replace theirs. Our room steward, Howard, was friendly and took really good care of us.
6 of the 7 nights we ate at the main dining room. The first night we were at a large table with some of our group, but the 2nd night we switched to My Time dining, even though they originally told us we should have booked it ahead of time. They were able to switch us, and we preferred the smaller table, which meant faster service. There are 2 formal nights on this cruise, and lobster night was on the friday 2nd formal night. The food in the main dining room was good, but we've noticed that all the major cruise lines seem to be cutting corners on the food the past few years. It was good, but nothing to write home about. Our wait staff was very friendly though and made us feel welcome & special. The last night, we were able to walk-in at Sabor, the specialty Mexican restaurant, without a reservation, and it was amazing! They charge $25 per person, but the food was so incredible, I would have eaten there more than once if we hadn't waited so long.
My friend and I both had drink packages, and it was nice to never have to worry about what we ordered, and what our bill would be at the end, but with 3 port days, it's difficult to get your money's worth. I got the ultimate package, and it helped to be able to get coffees at Starbucks & after dinner. On Sea Days, we definitely got our money's worth at the bars. The martini bar was amazing! I fell in love with Lemon Drops, Dirty Martinis & something that tasted like a girl scout thin mint cookie! The best place to go for drinks without a long line was usually Two Poets. We also enjoyed the Cosmopolitan Lounge on 14.
We only attended a couple of the shows, because they didn't really appeal to us. The comedian the first night was just OK. The Ice Skating show was a lot of fun. Don't miss it!
Most of the time, I hung out at Solaris, the adult pool area, which is quiet and relaxing. Get there early for a lounge chair, as they go quickly.
I visited the spa on 1 of the sea days and experienced the 5 steps to Heaven (75 minutes of full body massage and facial) for $139 and got baby doll (permed & tinted lashes) for $125. The spa personnel were professional and I enjoyed it. My friend went crazy & really treated herself to botox, facial, bamboo massage, baby doll lashes & a keratin blow out. She was thrilled with all of her services.
We booked 2 excursions through the ship: Dolphin Encounter at Chankannab in Cozumel & Deluxe Stingray City Snorkeling in Grand Cayman.
We loved both excursions, and they were worth every penny.
For the Cozumel Dolphin Encounter, we met at the pier and were taken by vans to Chankannab park, a 10 minute drive. It took a while to herd everyone inside & explain everything and then get our life jackets & divide us into small groups, but once we got in the water with the dolphin, it was incredible! I would do it again in a heartbeat! After the dolphin experience, we had 2 hours to enjoy the beach or pool/bar/restaurant, walking trails, sea lion show, etc on site. I wish we had a couple more hours there, it wasn't quite long enough to enjoy everything the park has to offer, but this was my 3rd time to Chankannab, since we usually just jump in a cab & go there for beach & snorkeling. It's a great place to spend a day. They returned us to the ship in 3 shifts: 1pm, 2pm & 3pm. We opted for 3pm, and the guide just made sure we all got into vans & she paid them. Easy & lots of fun!
Our Stingray City excursion wasn't supposed to meet at the pier until 2:30pm in Cayman, so we jumped on the 1st tender & had plenty of time to shop in Georgetown & have some drinks at a couple of the bars. Once we all gathered at the pier, we were put onto a couple of buses and taken to the marina. Our boat was beautiful. It was a dinner cruise style boat, with curved windows covering our dining tables where we sat for the 20 minute ride to stingray city sandbar. We chose this excursion, because the boat had stairs that drop down into the water, making it easy to get on and off the boat as much as you want. We were provided snorkel gear, and our guides helped everyone touch, kiss, catch and feed the adorable stingrays. It was incredible. This was my 3rd time to Stingray City sandbar & this was the best tour we've been on so far. We've had a great time with Moby Dick & Captain Marvin, so I would highly suggest them as well, especially if you want to do more actual snorkeling at the reef and/or coral gardens. This excursion was for the sandbar only. It was great to know the ship would not leave without us if we were late, because our buses did actually arrive at the pier late, but there was a tender waiting for us and no risk of being left behind, since we were on a ship excursion. The tenders are a pain, but they are well organized and run non-stop. If you've booked an excursion through the ship, you show your ticket and walk directly to deck 1 to get on the 1st tender. You don't have to mess with meeting points like the tender tickets do.
Falmouth is not a great port in my opinion. In August we were not interested in any of the ship's excursions, so we thought we would walk off and catch a cab to a beach or something. That did not work out, since everything is very expensive there. It would have cost $120 round trip for a family of 4 to visit a beach, so we decided to just hang out at Margaritaville and swim. That was so much fun that I told everyone in our group about it, and that's what we ended up doing this time too. But my friend & I did take the $22 pp trolley ride through historic Falmouth, just to see what town looked like. We couldn't wait to get back to the port. Town was dirty and nothing to look at. The port shopping area is new, clean and safe. So I would suggest staying there if you decide not to book an excursion.
We chose to walk off the ship with out luggage when we arrived back in Galveston. We got in line at 7:30am, and it was a bit awkward with the line blocking the elevators and everyone trying to get off and into the line, but we were off the ship by 8am. There was more of a line to get through customs and immigration this time, as opposed to August, but it was well organized and moved quickly. My friend's husband picked us up out front & I was in my car at her house in Galveston by 8:40am!
Be prepared to pay tax on alcohol and cigarettes if you declare them at customs. There's a table set up for TABC as you get ready to exit. Texas figured out an easy way to make some money off of you if you declare your goods. If you don't though, there's a chance they could decide to check your bags.
Overall, this was a great cruise, and we love RC and the Navigator. Since I'm from the Houston area, and this is a very easy, affordable trip for us, I would take this cruise again & again, but I would try to do the other itinerary that includes Belize, Cozumel & Roatan instead of Cozumel, Cayman & Falmouth.
If you've cruise RC before, then you are a member of the Crown & Anchor society. Don't forget to mention it when you book your 2nd and other future cruises, because they automatically put coupons/discounts on your Sea Pass card, such as 2 for 1 beer or wine once, 2 for 1 milkshake at Johnny Rockets once, 10% discount on a spa service, etc.