928 Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Navigator of the Seas 12/04/04 Eastern Caribbean itinerary Background on my cruising experience. Twenty-four cruises of which sixteen have been on Carnival. This was my third cruise on RCI but my first seven-day RCI cruise and my first ... Read More
Navigator of the Seas 12/04/04 Eastern Caribbean itinerary Background on my cruising experience. Twenty-four cruises of which sixteen have been on Carnival. This was my third cruise on RCI but my first seven-day RCI cruise and my first Voyager class. You will find that throughout my review that I will make many comparisons to Carnival, as that is the line that I have cruised most. Pre Cruise - Arrived in Miami on Thursday 12/02 to enjoy some rest and relaxation before the cruise. For me there is no better place to cruise out of than Miami. The city has the feel that gets the juices flowing for a Caribbean cruise and to recharge your batteries plus the views of sailing out of Government Cut is outstanding. We stayed at the Biscayne Bay Marriott which IMO has some of the best views of the port. Always ask for a bay view room. The hotel was booked full as the Virginia Tech football team and fans were staying at this location for the big game against the Hurricanes. Needless to say there was a lot of partying going on in the lounges. The hotel is just a short ride over to Bayside Marketplace by taxi or one could use the Metro Mover, which has a station just across the street from the hotel. Another relaxing thing to do is take one of the boat rides offered at Bayside of the Miami area. The ride lasts about one and a half-hours and the cost was $16.00 per person. Embarkation - I have to say that I have had much better embarkations but most of this was not the fault of RCI as immigration has new procedures in place as a trial in Miami. All passengers must now be cleared through immigration as they disembark the ship, which can hold up the next cruise as it did ours. The Navigator did not clear on the 4th until approx. 12:30. My problem with RCI was one lady that was identified according to her name badge as a team leader but really did not have her act together at all. I almost put her on the edge of being rude also. Since we were booked in a suite we were able to use the special check-in room. I believe it is called the Chairman's Club or something like that but it was very very crowded and the late ship clearance did not help matters at all. RCI needs to make some adjustments on that issue if the late ship clearance matter does not correct itself. Fellow passengers - I would say that we had a great group of passengers on this sailing. It was a good mix going from young to old. I would guess that we had around 150-200 kids on board and they were all very well behaved. It seems that RCI does a great job in keeping them entertained, as I did not see them running around the ship at all. I also noticed that most people on here adhered to the dress code each day. A nice change. Ship - What can I say about this ship but "WOW." The pictures that I had seen prior to the cruise did not do this ship justice. She is something else. Unlike anything that I have ever cruised on before. What I liked about this ship was the subdued interior. It is soothing but stimulating in a good way. It does not scream back at you like most of the Carnival ships that I have been cruised. The Royal Promenade was awesome. The heartbeat of the ship. There was always something going on and I had read on this board that RCI does not go late into the night with their entertainment. That was not the case on this cruise. I have been on Carnival ships where the sidewalks were rolled up by eleven or so. I know a lot has to do with the passenger make up for each particular week but the different lounge venues were going strong and late into the night. The ship was clean in all areas. For a ship that is two years old she looked as though she has just arrived from the shipyard. I always saw cleaning going on throughout the ship both inside and out. It is obvious to me that RCI does work hard to keep their ships in great shape. I also think that Captain Bang and his crew take great pride in the Navigator and it shows. Again this is not the case with Carnival or at least what I have experienced on my cruises with them. They need to work harder on keeping their ships in better condition. Cabin - We were booked into cabin #1694, which is a Junior Suite located on deck ten aft. The balcony alone is reason to book this location on the ship. I would estimate the balcony measured somewhere around 15 x 15 and was completely covered to keep out bad weather. If you are a sun worshiper then this is not the cabin for you. There is some metal framework that one sees when looking out but it did not take away from the view at all. There was three chaise lounge chairs along with two straight chairs and a dining table on the balcony. When looking down, one looks directly upon the cabin balconies on decks eight and nine. They have no privacy at all. I could not see myself booking one of those at all. I would compare this cabin between a category eleven and twelve suite on Carnival. The room itself was about the same size as a category twelve on Carnival but the bathroom was about the size of a category eleven. There is more than enough room to move around comfortably. The room has a nice sofa that makes into a full size bed and also a chair and ottoman. Also more than enough storage room in the cabin. The TV was a little disappointing that they do not get the major networks like Carnival. They do get ESPN International, CNN and several other stations. They also showed Sunday afternoon, Sunday night and Monday night football in the cabins. Food - I have cruised enough that I no longer enjoy the regiment of having to be at dinner at a certain time so I did not eat in the formal dining room once. I cannot tell you how the food was in this area. We chose to eat at the Windjammer each night with the exception of one night at Johnny Rocket's. I found the breakfast to be along the line of other cruise lines. Your staple of eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. I have yet to find a cruise line that does a good breakfast buffet. It was good but nothing to rave about. Lunch in the Windjammer was good and the choices were very good. This is one area that I felt that Carnival had improved upon with the addition of their Spirit class of ships and RCI matches them in every way. Dinner was also very good in the Windjammer. This is one area where I noticed a huge difference between Carnival and RCI. On Carnival, if one chooses to dine in their casual "Seaview Bistro," one may feel that they are being punished for not eating in the main dining room, as the selections are not good at all. On RCI, you had the choice of Jade for Asian food or the Windjammer, which gave many selections to choose from. Many of the items offered here were the same items being offered in the main dining room. I must also give kudos to RCI for making the dress code in the Windjammer stricter than other lines. No bathing attire, bare feet and one must wear a shirt. Nothing like trying to eat lunch with someone walking in from the pool dripping wet without shoes and shirt. Kind of takes away one's appetite to see a hairy shirtless man leaning over the buffets to get his food. RCI's pizza needs some work. Carnival wins here hand down. It was edible but did not make you want to go back for more. Johnny Rocket's was great and yes I did notice a difference in the quality of the burgers in JR's compared to the Windjammer. Much more juicy and fresh. The onion rings were great. There is a $3.95 cover charge, which includes your food, and drinks are extra. I found that the cover charge had not hurt JR's business. We ate there three times for lunch and once for dinner. Great apple pie too. Also for the ones that get hungry at the odd times of the day or night, the ship has food available almost around the clock on the Promenade deck at the Cafe Promenade. They have small sandwiches, pizza and desserts such as cookies and pie. There is a Ben and Jerry's next door along with Seattle's Best coffee. Room Service - Used room service twice for breakfast. Both times I made the order out and placed on the door the night before. You can also order room service for breakfast and snacks on your TV. One can get hot breakfast items such as omelets, eggs, bacon and sausage delivered to your cabin. Again not something that Carnival offers. You let room service know what thirty-minute time frame you would like your ordered delivered. They will call prior to delivery to make sure that you are ready. Worked like a charm both times. I did not use them any other time but you can also have hamburgers, cheeseburgers and pizza delivered. Dinner can be ordered between seven and nine in the evening. The dinner menu is shown on your TV and has pretty much the same items as what is being served in the main dining room from what I was told. No lobster though. Entertainment - I found the entertainment to be on par with what I have experienced on Carnival. Both of the major production shows "Now and Forever" and "All Access" were very good. RCI uses four singers in their shows and it gives a little more variety overall to the show IMHO. I do like the theatre on this ship. No bad sight lines and poles that got in the way. Felt more open too. The comedian Darrell Joyce that I saw was really good and did a great late night show also. One of the headliners during the week was the "Knudsen" brothers. Again an awesome act. My favorite spot on the ship was the Two Poets Pub. One person in that bar was awesome. Her name is Opal who is from the Ocho Rios area of Jamaica. She was great. Funny and really knows how to take care of her customers. She looks just like the comedian Wanda Sykes. The piano person in the Schooner bar did a great job at impersonating a bad lounge singer. Man was he bad. Not sure how anyone could sit in there and listen to him for any great length of time. The ship holds two parades on the Promenade deck. The first is a Bon Voyage theme and the second one was a Mardi Gras theme. I only saw the first one and it was great. They also had two of the production singers do a small concert on the Promenade deck one evening to summertime songs and again very well done. To me there was always something going on at some place and time. Not sure how anyone could be bored on this ship. I did not go to the skating shows as I refuse to stand in line to wait for tickets to be given out. Karaoke was held in the Ixtapa lounge and was well attended. The Viking Crown's Cosmopolitan club is a great place to enjoy a pre dinner drink. Ali the bartender makes some great drinks. This is also a jazz lounge in the evening. Cruise Director - Our cruise director was James Andrews. He was not the best that I have seen but one of the most enthusiastic. I saw him out and about the ship more than I have seen any other CD. I found that he is not one of those CDs who likes to pat himself on the back and only come out to do the shows in the evening. He does get involved in what is going on with his crew. Bar Service - In one word -- Outstanding!!! The quality of drinks was better than I have ever had on any other ship. They are not stingy with the alcohol at all. Service was great in all bar areas inside the ship and out. Crew - Ok, this is where I noticed the major difference between Carnival and RCI. The service that we received on this ship regardless of the location was nothing short of excellent. Our room steward introduced herself on the first day and kept the room spotless the entire time. Any request was met with a smile and taken care of. The cabin was always made up after returning from breakfast. Every crew member that we encountered smiled and spoke and they seemed genuine in their response. The crew in JR's and the Windjammer were very attentive. The crew at the Guest Relations desk could give training to some other cruise lines about how to treat their guests. I just cannot praise the crew enough on this ship. I think that it starts with the Captain and works it way down. Disembarkation - Not bad but a definite change with the Immigration rules. The evening prior to your departure you will receive information regarding the disembarkation process. I like that RCI lets you know what time to expect your color luggage tags to be called. We were off of the ship at around 8:00 and were the fourth color to be called. Once off of the ship is where the hang up occurs. In Miami, Immigration is testing a new procedure where everyone must now stop at one of the six desks set up to clear. You will form two lines once off of the ship. They did not separate U.S citizens from non-U.S citizens either. This can hold up the process as non U.S citizens have to be fingerprinted and photographed in addition to showing the proper identification. It took about twenty minutes to stand and clear Immigration once off of the ship. I spoke to someone with RCI and they are trying to get more agents to help clear the ship faster. Six agents for 3400-3500 people can take some time. This is why the embarkation for the next group of cruisers is being held up. Again, not the fault of any cruise line. Their hands are tied on this issue. I guess if it makes us a safer country then the wait is not that bad. In closing my review, I have to say that this cruise ranks at the top of my list as the overall experience was nothing short of outstanding. This was the first time that I did not feel like I was being nickel and dimed to death by constant announcements for inch of gold, Bingo and art auctions. Sure they were available for the ones who wanted to participate but they were not being shoved in my face. No Bingo and lottery tickets being sold before the shows at night. RCI actually makes it feel like a night out. I also liked the fact that the ship was not littered with photo stations causing major traffic jams. This is what I have grown to dislike about Carnival. In your face and constant hands out for money on board. I rebooked the same ship again while on board for the same week next December due to the fact that I liked this one so much. I will still go back to Carnival every once in a while but my main focus will now be with RCI. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
DAY 1 -- SAILED FROM MIAMI 12/11/2004 - 12/18/2004. We are a couple in our early 40's and we traveled with another couple in the same age bracket from Minnesota. We arrived in Miami on Thursday, Dec 9, 2004 in the afternoon. We ... Read More
DAY 1 -- SAILED FROM MIAMI 12/11/2004 - 12/18/2004. We are a couple in our early 40's and we traveled with another couple in the same age bracket from Minnesota. We arrived in Miami on Thursday, Dec 9, 2004 in the afternoon. We stayed at a friends house on Thursday and then we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott-Miami Beach Oceanfront on Friday night. Very Nice Hotel. Checked out the area and South Beach -- was not all that impressed. SAT., DEC 11, 2004 -- We arrived at the pier at approximately 12:30 p.m. No wait at all (I had read other very recent reviews from other members that said they arrived and had to wait 1 hour to get in). However we were on the ship by 1:00 p.m. -- very very smooth. What a wonderful ship. WOW!!!! This ship is the very largest that we have ever been on. Two years ago we went on the RCI Radiance of the Seas (what a charming boat she is also -- actually liked it better) leaving from San Juan to the Eastern Caribbean. This is lots larger & very much wider. Absolutely Splendid! We had lunch at the Windjammer (very good). The rest of the day we got ourselves acquainted with the ship. We had dinner in the dinning room in which the food was always VERY GOOD. Went to the show TJ McCormack, comedy and Kristian Kristoff, juggler. Good Show. Slept Very Good. DAY 2, SUNDAY DEC 12, 2004, Day AT SEA -- Had breakfast in our room. We watched some competitions, played Bingo (my husband won $190, and tried our luck in the casino. Had dinner in the dining room and as always VERY GOOD. Did not go to show heard it was good though. We did check out the "Karaoke Idol Search." That was fun. Slept Even Better. DAY 3, MONDAY DEC. 13, 2004 LABADEE, HISPANOLA -- Had breakfast in the Windjammer. It was GREAT. Tendered in and I was scared of the 3000+ people to be tendered. There was a line both ways but went fast and organized. They had very large tender ferries. Kind of impressed. We were also worried that the were going to be 3000+ people let off on some waterfront property and that is was going to be very crowded. We did not sign up for the exploration to go to a private beach. But when we got there we got a great spot next to the water kind of shady opposite the ship. Then we moved back to the ship side of the island and went swimming. Both were wonderful and not that crowded. BBQ was GOOD. I had a massage -- OOH SO wonderful -- THESE SHIPS ALWAYS HAVE THE GREATEST MASSAGES. Had dinner in the dining room and as always VERY GOOD. Did not go to show. Just hung out (there are so many places to just hang out). Slept Great Again. DAY 4, TUESDAY DEC 14, 2004 OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA -- Had breakfast in the dining room -- GREAT. What a Super Beautiful Island. I was very impressed with Jamaica. I would go back and stay at least in Ocho Rios. I would like to visit Negril and Montego Bay. Get out and enjoy the island. We grabbed a cab from Mr. Cool. He was a super guy and we felt comfortable with him. He took us around and then we went to the "Bob Marley" place. It is about 50 miles away. Our friends like his music. We did not know much about it, but his music just fits the island so well that we were now MARLEYED. Then we went back to the pier area and shopped a bit and went to the ship. We had dinner in the dining room again and as always it was VERY GOOD. Did not go to the show. We did go to the "Love & Marriage Show" and as always it was funny. We checked out the "Mardi Gras Parade" in the Promenade. We went to the buffet by the pool. It looked great but we were not hungry. Slept Great As Always. DAY 5, WEDNESDAY DEC 15, 2004 GRAND CAYMAN -- Can't remember where we had breakfast but it was always great. We had a shore excursion scheduled for today "Cockatoo Catamaran." It was canceled because it was very windy this day. WOW, this area was totally wrecked from the storms in Sept. They also dumped WAY WAY too many people from cruise ships in a pretty small area of higher buck shopping. I believe there were 5-6 ships in this port. We got a taxi and went to "Hell." What a tourist trap...skip it. Actually, I probably would skip the entire port and stay on the ship! Then we went back to the ship. Had dinner in the dining room as always. OOH VERY GOOD. Did not go to the show. We were going to go to "Win a Cruise Bingo" but we got there too late. Tried our luck at the casino. Went to bed and slept one more wonderful night. DAY 6, THURSDAY DEC 16, 2004 COZUMEL, MEXICO -- Last Stop.....(about now you start feeling like your vacation has gone way too fast.. Our friends love to shop in Mexico for Bling Bling. We shopped most of the day. Not nearly enough time to see the area and shop. Had to be back at the ship. Would love to visit longer one day. Looked very nice. We had a authentic taco at a stand on one of the side streets, I can't remember where but it was GREAT. Then we had dinner at "Shrimp Bucket." We had gone to one in Mazatlan and it was good but this one was not that good. Did not go to dinner in the dining room but went later in the evening to the Windjammer. It was GREAT. I don't think I mentioned before but the Cafe Promenade has the GREATEST little sandwiches and cookies that I ever saw, and did I mention coffee? WOW IT'S THE GREATEST. We were late but saw most of the show "Paul Boland." He was GREAT. Tried our luck in the casino, hung out and went to bed and slept one more wonderful night. I am now loving to go to bed and sleep so wonderfully. DAY 7, FRIDAY DEC 17, 2004, DAY AT SEA -- Oh How Very Sad....All Good Things Must Come To An End. We had breakfast in our room and as always it was GREAT. We went to Bingo in the a.m. and p.m. The jackpot was like $5200 and was won in the p.m. on Friday. My husband won about $250. There were wonderful pot sizes on this ship. Packed some in the afternoon. Went to dinner in the dining room -- as always it was VERY GOOD. Went to the show, Glenn Hirsh, comedy and Kristian Kristoff, juggler. Very, very good show. We went to the Final Karaoke Idol. This was also very, very good. Tried our luck at the casino, my husband also won $125 and went back to our room to pack some more. Went to bed about 1:00 a.m. Even though it was short the sleep was what I had grown to expect. DAY 8, MIAMI -- We had scheduled a shore excursion to go to "Everglades Safari Tour" therefore we had grey luggage tags that means 2nd off after suites. We had to meet by 7:30 a.m. We had breakfast in the Windjammer -- it was GREAT. Getting off was just as smooth as getting on. At the end of the excursion we were dropped off at the airport. We flew out at 4:00 p.m. This was a wonderful ship. I can't believe they are introducing one in 2006 that is 90 feet longer. WOW. The staff was generally very good. Room was very nice size. Our shower, however, leaked through the gasket for most of the week. They did change it about mid week but then the drain started slowing way down. By Sat a.m. we had to take an RV shower or fear that the water would now probably reach the carpet. I would recommend this ship to anyone, but expect that there are times that you feel the 3000+ people. At its size there are bound to be times you might feel like there are a lot of people -- like pictures on formal nights! I did enjoy the smaller number of people on the Radiance of the Seas and the Eastern Caribbean much better. For some reason there are almost NO public trash cans. I found this annoying. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
Bottom line - We loved our trip! We came down the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. Worked out fine - not deluxe of course, but clean and well located. Bayside marketplace is good for a little shopping, etc. Cafe con ... Read More
Bottom line - We loved our trip! We came down the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. Worked out fine - not deluxe of course, but clean and well located. Bayside marketplace is good for a little shopping, etc. Cafe con Leche makes great sandwiches, etc. Embarkation was fine - went quickly and our cabin was ready at noon when we came on board. Our cabin steward Shurma was the BEST! She was on her way home before coming back to get on to the Freedom of the Seas. So if you sail that ship and end up with Shurma - you're in for a treat! We had an inside cabin - 8337. Great location. Near aft elevators and stairwell - easy access to the Promenade and Deck 11 - where we spent most of our time. Our asst waiter Daniel and waiter Suresh were a wonderful team. They read us well and were quick to meet all of our needs without being over the top. We were sad to leave them. Other ship highlights - BOLEROS!!!!!! That was our nightly hangout and general meeting place. Great latin band for salsa and meringue. The bar staff, Adrian, Stephen and Leonardo were so much fun and the drinks were tasty! Definitely stop by there on a regular basis! The cruise director was Ken Rush - great guy. Friendly and funny, but not too much. You felt like he was a genuine guy and a great host. His staff is great too - Abe, Paul and Scalley made all of the trivia and scavenger hunt activities a lot of fun. Definitely attend - you'll meet some great people and have a lot of fun. As far as ports go - First stop, Labadee. This is the private beach in Haiti. Very green and lush. Nice beaches, though very rocky. When I read about the need for water shoes from other reviews, I thought that the reviewer may be a bit wimpy - boy was I wrong! I ended up wearing my flip flops in the water - definitely need them! I would say this is an OK stop - not great, but not bad either Ocho Rios - This was our second time to Jamaica, but first for my mom and niece so we wanted to go to the falls. We ended up using Island Charters for a Catamaran trip to the falls. Great choice. It was a nice alternative to driving there. After boarding the catamaran, we picked up a group from Sandals and went back to the bay area near the ship to make a snorkeling. Now i was pretty skeptical because I wondered what kind of snorkeling there would be a stone's throw from where our ship was docked - but I was pleasantly surprised! We saw some great coral and a variety of fish and the water was nice and calm. We spent about 30 minutes there and then went to the falls. Beautiful arrival at the foot of the falls and even though it was raining - everyone had a great time. Some in our group did the actual climb and the rest walked up the side and got in the falls along the way for some swimming and great pictures. The ride back was sunny and filled w/ beer, rum punch and water. I highly recommend this trip! Grand Cayman - We used Nativeway for the second time to go to Stingray City. We love them - great service - our ship tendered a bit late, but they still got us out there. We ran out of film on our underwater camera - and they had one for us. My mom and niece and husband hadn't been to Stingray City before. My husband had a great time - my mom was nervous, but enjoyed it (for a short time!) and my niece would not let go - though she did get in the water, so I was proud of her! We never usually buy the pictures or DVD's of the excursions, however, the VIP photo service photographer took GREAT shots of our experience. I recommend that you take a look at the photos they take before you make your decision. We spent about 55 bucks on about 8 pictures. Nassau - This was the replacement for Cozumel and is not one of our favorites. However, we tried to have an open mind. We were only in port from 11 to 6, so we got on the public bus to Cable Beach ($1) and took a ride out to the Wyndam. They are very liberal about cruise ship passengers using their pool and beach facilities as long as you are purchasing food and beverages. The beach was surprisingly better than I had anticipated and the vendors and staff were very friendly. The pool was freezing though! But it had a nice water slide. We purchased some necklaces from the ladies on the beach and my niece got her hair braided - $2 per braid. There were parasailing operators there as well - very nice guys - $50 for 10 minutes. We didn't go, but if I went back - I'd use them. We went back into port via cab - 5 bucks per person - much shorter ride back. Did a bit of shopping - they've really cleaned up the downtown area - a lot nicer then when we were there before. We loved the Navigator and were surprised that we didn't feel more crowded. Never had an issue around the pool finding seating - great service - nice food - loved the experience! Read Less
I guess I will start from the beginning. Embarkation: This process was quite painless. It probably took us an hour at the most all together. It moved quickly. We were on the ship by 2:00 or so and had plenty of time to explore and have ... Read More
I guess I will start from the beginning. Embarkation: This process was quite painless. It probably took us an hour at the most all together. It moved quickly. We were on the ship by 2:00 or so and had plenty of time to explore and have something to eat. San Juan, Puerto Rico: San Juan was probably one of the most beautiful ports to pull into. You have an awesome view of San Cristobal Fort. We didn't do a whole lot here. We walked around old San Juan for a little bit and we toured San Cristobal Fort. It started to rain so we went back to the ship. St. Thomas: We took the Turtle Cove Excursion. It was wonderful. The people who run the Doubloon were great. We were able to see a few Green Sea Turtles as well as some fish. The weather was great that day. St. Maarten: St. Maarten will always be my favorite port. We have been on vacation there for a whole week before. I can't say enough good things about it. The weather was great, the island is beautiful, and the people are friendly. We just did some shopping and had lunch at the Barefoot Terrace. Nassau, Bahamas: This was a let down for me. Maybe it was because it was cold, I'm not sure. The people were not that friendly and overall it just didn't impress me very much. Frankly, I could do without this port. The ship: What can you say except -- BEAUTIFUL!!! We had the main sitting in the Nutcracker dining room. This was the most beautiful dining room I've seen. The food was wonderful both in the main dining room and in the Windjammer. I have no complaints. Our head waiter, waiter and assistant waiter were great. They made our dinners quite enjoyable. There was so much to do on this ship. I climbed the rock wall and we played miniature golf. I didn't even get to enjoy all the ship had to offer. I would not cruise in January again only because of the weather. The seas were rough and the days at sea were overcast and very windy. We usually cruise in April or May and the weather is always perfect. Royal Caribbean's staff never lets me down. Everyone was friendly and always greeted us. They would always ask us how we were enjoying our vacation. I would recommend this ship to anyone and everyone. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Nights in Miami Prior -- We stayed 2 nights at The Hyatt Regency. A little worn out for a Hyatt. We got a 50% discount so it wasn't bad for the price we paid, however I would have been very disappointed if I paid the $225 rack rate. ... Read More
Nights in Miami Prior -- We stayed 2 nights at The Hyatt Regency. A little worn out for a Hyatt. We got a 50% discount so it wasn't bad for the price we paid, however I would have been very disappointed if I paid the $225 rack rate. Embarkation and Disembarkation -- We had an easy time. Was the fastest I have ever experienced. We were on the Mariner the previous year and found this ship to be almost identical. Our suite was perfect for the three of us with lots of closet space. Food -- Dining room fare was a little bit below average as it had been on the Mariner as well. Chops and Portofino were both excellent!!! Entertainment -- Comedian and Piano Player were Yuck ... Other shows better and all other lounges were great! Ports -- We had great weather all days. Did Dunns River Falls for the first time and had a blast. Visited "Sea Grape" beach in Grand Cayman and loved it, but also visited "Paradise" beach in Cozumel and thought this place was great. Highly recommend! Kid's Clubs -- My son is eleven and we couldn't get him out of the Kid's Club -- he raves that it is better than Disney's. Final Note -- We had the best time -- traveled with friends and family which added to the cruise. RCI is a great line for EVERYONE to have a great time. The ship is so much FUN and there is always action to be found. We sailed previously on other lines, but found that at 10 p.m. it was "dead" on board. We switched to RCI last year and we will continue to cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
OVERVIEW: My partner and I have recently returned from an Atlantis Events gay charter cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's "Navigator of the Seas". This was our second cruise with Atlantis, our first one being in March of 2003 on ... Read More
OVERVIEW: My partner and I have recently returned from an Atlantis Events gay charter cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's "Navigator of the Seas". This was our second cruise with Atlantis, our first one being in March of 2003 on Norwegian Cruise Lines "Norwegian Sky" - now renamed the "Pride of Aloha" and working out of Hawaii. In comparison there were many similar things and many different things. Keeping in mind that this was a charter cruise by Atlantis Events our experience aboard the Navigator of the Seas would be different than your usual sailing. EMBARKATION: Our arrival at the pier and the time it took to get on the ship was extremely quick and efficient. It only took about 20 minutes from the time we arrived at the pier to embarking the ship. THE SHIP ITSELF: Royal Caribbean's "Navigator of the Seas" Absolutely Incredible! We knew that this was one of the largest cruise ships in the world and we had read much about it and seen other peoples photos of it prior to sailing, but once you are at the pier yourself and look up and see how massive it really is and then get aboard to explore it for yourself, you are totally amazed. It is said by Royal Caribbean that if you stood this ship on its end that it would be as tall as the Empire State Building. There are so many areas of this ship that it literally takes you several days to see it all. There are so many venues to go to and it is absolutely breathtaking to see what Royal Caribbean has done in designing and building these ships. There is so much attention to details. The 8.5 million dollars of artwork alone throughout this ship is incredible. I took so many rolls of film of the ship itself as I thought it was so magnificent. You would think that with roughly 3200 passengers and 1100 crew that there would be too many people at times, but we never felt this way whatsoever. We never even encountered any problems finding deck chairs around any of the pools/hot tubs. There are so many places on this ship to see, from the main Promenade in the middle of the ship which stretches as long as two football fields, to the Casino, the Dungeon bar, the Spa facility, the pools and the various hot tubs, the gym, the saunas and steam rooms, to the outdoor mini-putt, the rock climbing wall, running track, volleyball courts, and the many beautiful lounges, bars and dining rooms throughout this amazing ship - it is all yours to get out there and discover. ITINERARY / PORTS OF CALL: As this was a charter cruise, it was a customized itinerary departing from Miami. Our first full day was spent at Sea. The second day we arrived early afternoon in San-Juan Puerto Rico. St. Maarten was the port of call for the next day, and then another day spent at sea, followed by Royal Caribbean's private destination - Labadee, and then one final day at sea before returning to Miami. San Juan: Our stop in San Juan was a short one, a late departure from Miami, and rough seas on our trip south, made our arrival in San Juan around 3:00 p.m. - a little later than was originally expected. We had an opportunity to walk around old San Juan and explore the beautiful cobblestone streets and all the old architecture, and visited an old cemetery right on the edge of the ocean. We made our way back to the ship for out dinner around 6:00 p.m. The ship then set sail for St. Maarten at around 10:00 p.m. St. Maarten: Our morning arrival into the port in St. Maarten sailed us right beside Cunard Cruise Lines "Queen Mary 2" - the largest cruise liner in the world. It was anchored out in the port harbor as it is simply so large that it can't actually dock in some ports of call. St. Maarten is one of the best "Duty Free" shopping islands in the Caribbean. After departing the ship we made our way via Water Taxi to Phillipsburg where we spent most of our morning doing jewelry shopping. After spending our hard earned cash we hurried back to the ship to get ready for our afternoon shore excursion - The Rhino Rider adventure. We traveled by bus to a small inlet where we were briefed on the afternoons activity. We then boarded our small inflatable type boats with 25 HP motors and set off through the harbor and out to the Ocean. Unfortunately our boat was a lemon, and we weren't able to keep up to everyone in our group. They replaced our boat and off we were again. The second boat we had was somewhat better, but we still weren't able to gain the same kind of speed as the rest of our group. We traveled along the coast line of St. Maarten to a place called "Shipwreck cove" where we had an opportunity to do some snorkeling, which was very enjoyable. Later we traveled over to another side of the island and stationed ourselves in the ocean right at the edge of the runway for the St. Maarten airport, where planes actually landed right above our heads - quite an incredible sight. We then made our way back to the Rhino Rider base. This excursion was not as much fun as we had expected as the boat we had didn't operate properly, and the ride on the ocean was really quite rough. Labadee: This is Royal Caribbean's private destination, a peninsula on the tip of Hispaniola, Haiti. This was by far one of the nicest stops of our cruise. We were the only Royal Caribbean ship in Labadee that day, and the private destination was totally ours for the entire day. You have to tender in from the ship at this port of call, but the tender boats are huge and carry several hundred passengers at a time. We didn't sign up for anything in Labadee, other than renting floating beach mats for the day. This place was really beautiful - the beaches were pristine, and there were lots of beach chairs, places to explore, and all of the food and drinks were brought off the ship and a huge BBQ lunch was prepared. There was a Haitian Market that was pretty high pressure sales, but you could really bargain with the vendors, and we came home with some really nice crafts, which we paid very reasonable prices for. If you weren't into the high pressure sales, there was a smaller area where set prices were available for similar kinds of items. OUR STATEROOM: We had booked a Deluxe Outside Stateroom with a Balcony on level 6 of the ship. Our stateroom was very nice and was large enough for the two of us. The room's amenities were good and we had enough room for all of our belongings. This stateroom was a very nice upgrade for us, as we had previously had an interior stateroom on our first cruise with NCL. Being able to go out onto your balcony to have breakfast or to watch as the ship pulled into our various ports of call was very nice. It was also very nice to sleep with the balcony door open listening to the ocean at night. DRINKS: Well the drinks on the ship were certainly not short of alcohol. One of the bar tenders actually joked with me a couple times "do you want it, unleaded, leaded or super leaded" The bar service and the quality of the drinks was really quite excellent, and if anything, sometimes they were a little on the strong side (not complaining) Of course we had a number of the "drinks of the day" and kept the souvenir glasses. We did purchase the soft drink package while on-board which gave us unlimited soft drinks. The cost for this was $48.30 US each.... I'm not sure if we really got our monies worth out of them - maybe we should have only got one pass and shared it. We did not "smuggle" any booze on board this time, but heard of others who did. Some people who purchased alcohol at duty free stores on some of the islands didn't have their purchases temporarily confiscated upon boarding, while others did. Those who had alcohol confiscated had them returned to them on their final day before disembarking the ship. DINING: As this was a charter cruise Atlantis Events made some changes to the manner in which the ship would normally operate. They changed the normal dining arrangements, whereby there was open seating at all meals throughout the cruise. When booking the cruise we had been previously assigned a dining time which we were able to ignore and were able to dine wherever and whenever we wanted during the times that the dining rooms were open - This was similar to NCL's Freestyle dining concept. Our opinion of the food itself and the table service on the Navigator of the Seas was less than that which we experienced on our NCL cruise. The overall food quality on this cruise was good and the desserts themselves were very good. The quality and quantity of the food on NCL seemed to be somewhat better, and the service at the tables was definitely better on NCL. We were unable to eat at either Portofinos, or Chops as they both booked up so quickly. They would start to accept reservations in person starting at 10:00 a.m. each day, and on many days the line up to make reservations started very early in the morning. We did hear from various people that the food and the table service in these areas were excellent, and well worth the additional $25.00 per person. One individual I spoke with said that his dining experience at Chops was probably one of the best meals he had ever had in his life. We did manage to eat at Johnny Rockets, and coming from Canada, we had never eaten at a Johnny Rockets before. It was really good, and we enjoyed the old fashioned "diner" experience. The nominal $3.95 surcharge for this restaurant was not a big deal. We could probably have eaten more than one hamburger though. I made up for it by having both a milkshake and a delicious desert. There were no formal dinner nights. The only stipulation which was made was that no tank tops or shorts were to be worn in the main dining rooms, or at any of the specialty restaurants. The open seating arrangements were a really nice way to meet new and different people each night. ENTERTAINMENT: Being a gay charter cruise, Atlantis Events brings on much of it's own entertainment, comedians, hypnotist, drag queens, entertainers, disc jockeys, sound systems, lighting, laser shows etc. Names such as Shann Carr, Jim David, Andre Kelley, Bruce McDonald, Edie, Miss Richfield, Matt Yee, Pam Ann, Rudy Galindo and Pamela Stanley were among many of the entertainers on this particular cruise. RCI did have some of its own entertainers on this sailing, but the majority of the entertainment was provided by Atlantis Events. In their usual tradition, Atlantis usually brings on board a "Star" entertainer, and on this particular cruise they had two main attractions - Mario Cantone (comedian) and Deborah Cox in concert. Both of these stars put on two shows in order for all guests to have an opportunity to see them as the venues were simply not large enough to seat all guests at one time. There were many different Theme Parties on this cruise - Dog-tag, Classic Disco, and Beach Ball afternoon T-dances, Mardi-Gras Party, Island Magic Party, and of course The White Party. Many of the late night parties lasted till the sun came up the following morning. The laser light shows at the parties which were held at night on the outdoor deck area were truly a sight to see. SPA SERVICES: Our word of advice for utilizing the spa services on a gay charter cruise - book early. The spa services on gay cruises are usually very popular and as such they don't start to accept bookings until after the pre-departure boat drill takes place at your original departure point. There was a HUGE lineup for people wanting to book Spa Services. We booked a couple's massage treatment which was quite nice. SHIP'S PHOTOGRAPHY: Royal Caribbean's ship photography department seemed to thoroughly enjoy capturing "The Largest Gay Cruise in History" in photographs for everyone. Not only did they take your usual welcome aboard pictures, the ports of call pictures, and the formal pose pictures, but they really got into photographing everyone in their various costumes during the various theme parties. They were really creative and took lots of time with everyone wanting pictures. We purchased 3 pictures, and a couple of the ship itself. We purchased a "Cruise in Review" DVD of our cruise. It could have had a little more substance and more footage from our own cruise, but it wasn't too bad. At one of the ship's shops we also purchased a DVD copy of Royal Caribbean three hour documentary "The In-depth Story of How They Build The World's Largest Cruise Ships". This is a fascinating and informative documentary - well worth purchasing. DISEMBARKING: During the cruise, they ask you to complete the survey on your interactive television in your stateroom. They ask what time your flight leaves, and they use this information to issue you specific colored luggage tags. As our flight departed Miami after 3:00 that day, we were issued Lavender colored tags (one of the last ones to be called to depart the ship) On the day of departure they really want you out of your staterooms by 7:00 a.m. and they want you to wait in any of the Public Lounge areas until they call for departure by the luggage color tags. We had to wait until almost 10:30 a.m. before we were called to depart the ship. Once out of the ship itself, it took a fairly long time, to go through Customs as there were only a handful of immigration agents. If you go on a Royal Caribbean cruise and want to get of the ship early - make sure you advise them in the survey that your flight leaves before 11:30 a.m. and then you should get White luggage tags and you'll be able to depart early. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
First Things First. Thank you to the Captain for holding the ship. We were the second to last people on the ship. Cabin Stewards: We had two of them. Both very nice and efficient. I wrote a note telling them what I wanted done every day ... Read More
First Things First. Thank you to the Captain for holding the ship. We were the second to last people on the ship. Cabin Stewards: We had two of them. Both very nice and efficient. I wrote a note telling them what I wanted done every day (ex: extra towels, 2 cans of diet pop in the fridge everyday, extra pillows) and there was no problem, always done and one or the other would stop us in the hall when they saw us and ask if everything was to our liking. Waiters: Our head waiter was terrible. We did not tip him his .75 a day even. He caused not only the table waiters in our area to be edgy but one of them quit in the middle of the cruise! Our table waiter Harish is one of the best waiters around. My son is a 22 year old starvation machine and Harish always ordered extra pasta for him so he would get plenty to eat! Andrus our assistant waiter was funny and kept things moving until the end of our dinner then he was at our table telling us the funniest stories or tidbits of information. They both rank the highest on my list! With them I have to say our bar waiter Wayne was the greatest! Room: I love Junior Suites! Room was huge! Closets are walk-in (too bad we had no clothes). Balcony was twice the size of a regular balcony room. Thankfully, we had a suite so we had real shampoo and body wash and lotion from the spa. I somehow had packed my toiletries in my suitcase and not my carry on. Will always make sure that doesn't happen again. Guest Relations: Michelle the Chief Purser was the nicest lady I have ever met. We had a lot of trouble with some of the guest relations people, as I stated earlier we were late on the ship and our luggage did not make it on until 3 and a half days later. The first night we filed a claim and I spent an hour looking at pictures of luggage and describing the luggage for 5 people to one of the guest relations people. She told us it was in the computer and to enjoy the cruise, she also gave us a coupon for free tux rental and free evening attire for formal night. RC needs a lot of work on their formal attire. I walked out of the bathroom and my son said I looked like a street hooker. I told him thank you, it's not everyday someone my age gets to dress like that! Anyway, back to the subject... we were told to check in on Monday night to see if our luggage had been found and waiting for us in Jamaica, if we hadn't heard from them. My husband goes down to guest relations and asks and they look at him and told him. You never filed a claim so we're not even looking for it. He called me I called the other room with my mom and aunt and we all troop down to guest relations to retell them about our luggage. After we redescribe our luggage to them they looked at us and said don't worry about your luggage who needs luggage just enjoy the cruise. Yeah right. Thankfully, as mentioned above Michelle the Chief Purser straightened all of it out and our luggage was waiting for us in Jamaica. Ship: Big. The Royal Promenade was great! Sometimes you have to weave around to get to an area but overall very easy to navigate. Be prepared for a lot of walking. Whew! I am a big fan of the formal seating for dinner so I hope that never changes. The service at the Windjammer, Jade etc was very good. I thought the lines were a little long. They had several stations closed down during lunch time for some reason. So in consequence the buffets were really crowded. Scope it out before you get in line! Entertainment was pretty good. The singers and dancers were wonderful but the comedy was boring. I hate to admit it but I actually fell asleep during one of the comics routine. The strolling musicians were nice at the Promenade. The entertainer in the schooner bar was a little obnoxious but by the time you had a couple drinks you never noticed. Shore Excursions: Haiti was the best port just relax and soak up the sun. I am a Grand Cayman fan sad to see it hurt so badly. Love the Cockatoo catamaran. Jamaica I think gets a bad rap. Its touristy and has some poverty but where doesn't? I like Margaritaville! Cozumel I loved swimming with the dolphins and laying at the beach afterwards. All in all it was a very good cruise as far as the cruise itself went. I just love to cruise! I was very disappointed in how I was treated in regards to my luggage and I still haven't heard anything from RC. Not only did we have insurance (which we haven't heard back from) but I sent a letter to RC regarding the lack of customer service I received and haven't heard back yet. We shall see. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Navigator of the Seas Review (Western Caribbean 1/22 - 1/29/05) with comparison to Caribbean Princess (6/04). PERSPECTIVE. My wife and I are in our early thirties and traveled with a group of 5 other relatives ranging in age from 30s to ... Read More
Navigator of the Seas Review (Western Caribbean 1/22 - 1/29/05) with comparison to Caribbean Princess (6/04). PERSPECTIVE. My wife and I are in our early thirties and traveled with a group of 5 other relatives ranging in age from 30s to 70s. We are infrequent cruisers (by necessity, not choice) but somehow managed to squeeze two cruises within 7 months. When planning these trips, we relied heavily on various cruise reviews and specifically sought comparisons of ships and cruise lines. We would like to return the favor and hope to make this a review of the Navigator of the Seas (NOS) with comparison to the Caribbean Princess (CP). DOWNTOWN MIAMI HYATT HOTEL. This was a decent hotel but not up to the standards of Hyatt Hotels in other locations (food in the bar was bad and the room was somewhat worn with prominent carpet stains). The staff was accommodating and we would stay there again for the $60.00 rate we obtained via Priceline (apparently others have obtained rooms through Priceline with even lower bids). The location of the hotel is convenient with easy access to and from the highway. Self parking appears not to be available and the valet cost is $20.00/night plus tips. The hotel is about a mile from the cruise terminals and is also near the Bayside Shopping/Restaurant complex that can be easily accessed via the free "people mover" elevated train. There were a lot of police in the vicinity, presumably for a reason, and it seemed like a place where traveling in a group at night might be prudent. HERTZ, AIRPORT AND DOWNTOWN LOCATIONS. We rented a minivan at the airport and returned it to the downtown location. Given our need for multiple trips from the airport to hotel and hotel to port, this was cost effective for us (three trips from airport to hotel and two trips from hotel to cruise terminal). The only difficulty was the downtown location that was small and understaffed for the large number of customers on Saturday morning. EMBARKATION. (NOS = A-, CP = A-). We arrived at approximately 12:00 noon and were on board within 30 minutes. Perhaps slightly better organization with Princess in Fort Lauderdale, but overall no significant difference. CABIN. (Configuration: NOS = B+, CP = B; Cleanliness: NOS = B-, CP = A-, Balcony: NOS = B, CP = A). Everyone in our party had a balcony cabin on deck 6. The room was generally clean and kept in good condition by the room steward. Some wear and tear was evident such as frayed bed covering and a cigarette hole in our bedspread (not replaced for the duration of our stay). Compared to our balcony room on CP (Baja deck), the NOS cabin had much more seating space with a couch and a small coffee table. This came at the expense of less closet space on the NOS, but overall, this was a "sacrifice" we would gladly make. Seating in the CP cabin was limited to a single small chair. We did not spend much time in the cabin on either cruise, but it was sometimes nice to be able to sit next to one another on the NOS and do something such as review our digital photos. Thus overall, we liked the NOS configuration better. The balcony was another story since we found the tiny table on the NOS balcony to be inadequate for eating outside (contrast this to the larger and normal height table on the CP that made dining on the balcony a valued daily ritual). We also enjoyed what seemed to be more privacy on the CP balcony. Finally, we realize that the CP was a much newer ship and will thus have inherently less wear. Although we adjusted our expectations accordingly, we were disappointed by the cigarette burn in our bedspread not so much for the burn itself but because it is more emblematic of a cheap hotel than a supposedly fine cruise ship. DECKS & POOLS. (NOS = B-, CP = A-). Deck surface area and deck chairs seemed to be approximately equivalent with a slightly higher density of people on the CP. Although the NOS lacked the nice viewing platform on top of the bridge that we enjoyed on the CP, it had the advantage of a location that allowed viewing into the actual bridge itself. One other nice feature of the NOS was a far forward observation deck/helipad where it was possible to stand within approximately 12 inches of the forward-most point of the bow. I personally really liked this aspect of the ship and would have liked to have it available on the CP. With regard to the pools, the CP has the clear advantage due to: (1) freshwater, (2) 24-hour availability, (3) 2 adult pools (vs. one on NOS), (4) greater number of pools overall (4 on CP and 3 on NOS), and (5) the aft pool (no aft pool at all on NOS). The aft pool was one of our favorite locations on the CP. It was usually serene and afforded great views from an interesting location. In contrast, we believe that the aft portion of the NOS was squandered on a rarely used "teen" area and the sports deck. The rock wall was interesting but the miniature golf course was uninspired (although not as lame as the one on the CP) and the in-line skating track was smallish. In our opinion, greater utility for a greater number of passengers would be achieved by converting the sports and teen area into an aft adult pool. Though we are sure others will disagree. SHIP INTERIOR. (NOS = A--, CP = A-). We probably prefer the understated design elements of the CP but acknowledge that the open feeling on the NOS Royal Promenade was quite nice. We found the interior design on the CP to be more harmonious and less pop-culture oriented. While the NOS had its share of actual art work, our hallway also included U2 tour posters and a sculpture of musical instruments that was coming apart despite being located in a plexiglass case. ENTERTAINMENT. (NOS = B+, CP = B-). The NOS provided many entertainment options and things were more lively than on the CP. Several members of our group attended every evening show and thought they were quite good overall. Production quality of the stage and ice shows were well done for a cruise ship production and were clearly superior to the same activities on the CP. There was never a lack of entertainment activity and the ship was active into the night (more active than CP). The cruise director on the NOS was very energetic and did a good job. One unique activity on the CP that was not available on the NOS was the Movies Under the Stars (we really liked MUTS but admit that it is a hit or miss option since only two movies are shown and it would be possible to have only bad offerings). DINING ROOM. (NOS = A-, CP = A-). Overall, food quality on both the NOS and the CP was very good especially when expectations were tempered by the reality of feeding 3000 passengers. Definitely not 5-star cuisine, but in most cases good to very good quality. Presentation was somewhat better on the CP as was the variety of selections. Although this is comparing apples to oranges, service with traditional seating on the NOS (all seating is traditional) was much better than with anytime dining on the CP. BUFFETS. (NOS = C, CP = B+). We were very disappointed by the buffet on NOS. The hours were limited and the food was much less interesting than on the CP. The buffet food on the CP was superior in all aspects including, variety, presentation and quality. Although one can obtain cookies and small sandwiches on the indoor Royal Promenade of the NOS at all hours, this still did not come close to compensating for the lack of variety and limited hours of the main buffet (closed at 9 p.m.!!). JOHNNY ROCKETS. (NOS only = A-). We enjoyed the burgers and shakes and felt the $3.50 cover was only mildly annoying. The free burgers and hot dogs on the CP were smaller and more basic but were just fine. PRIVATE BEACH (RCI Labadee = B-, Princess Cays = B+). Both Labadee (Haiti) and Princess Cays (Eleuthera, Bahamas) offered a nice beach day at clean and well maintained private facilities . Labadee is larger and has more interesting topography (surrounded by forested mountains). In addition, Labadee occupies an entire small peninsula that includes a number of separated beaches facing different directions, with small regions of vegetation and rock in between. This lends itself to more opportunities for "exploration." In contrast, Princess Cays is essentially a couple of long beaches all facing the same direction on a flat island. Princess Cays has far superior snorkeling/sea life and much clearer water but Labadee offers the possibility of motorized water sports if you are willing to pay approx. $120.00 for playing follow-the-leader on a waverunner. We enjoyed Labadee until we found out that they require the use of a snorkel vest and then charge $6.00 apiece for the day's rental. The cost itself is not a problem but we object to being forced to rent something which we did not need nor want. This was especially annoying since swimmers were not required to have a vest despite going further out into the water. Picnic lunches were about the same at both locations with a small advantage to Princess. OCHO RIOS. We booked an independent tour with Ionie McBeam and were somewhat underwhelmed. We ended up visiting Coyaba Gardens, Fern Gulley and a shopping area. Overall, we felt that there was an undercurrent of hostility toward all tourists and that our presence was tolerated only to the extent that we emulated walking cash dispensers. The locals were by no means warm or welcoming and seemed always to be searching for an angle to obtain more money with a ready attitude of disdain for those visitors who failed to sufficiently comply. Coyaba was interesting and contained some beautiful flora. If you go, we would recommend getting there early to beat the crowds. The drive through fern gulley was interesting but there was nowhere to stop and walk around without being accosted by people selling something. It is hardly a peaceful botanical experience. Overall, this was by far our least favorite location in the Caribbean and would avoid another visit in the future (at least to Ocho Rios). GRAND CAYMAN. This seemed to be a great island with friendly locals working hard to re-build from the damage wrought by Hurricane Ivan. The vegetation on the island was obviously severely damage by the hurricane and some structures remain in a state of continuing repair. Nonetheless, we found our visit to be enjoyable and would consider a land-based vacation there in the future. We snorkeled at Eden Rock and were quite impressed. Even though the sea conditions were calm overall, we found the swimming to be moderately strenuous and were very happy that we rented swim fins and snorkel vests from the Eden Rock Dive Shop. The reef was some distance away and was not exactly teeming with fish but did have a good variety of sea life including barracuda. I also believe I caught a glimpse of an approx. 6-8 foot shark of some kind (probably a nurse shark that we had heard about from some scuba divers we spoke to on the shore). Following Eden Rock, we took a taxi to Sea Grape Beach (a subsection of 7-mile beach) and enjoyed the beautiful sand and water. Sea Grape is a public section of beach that has clean bathrooms, outdoor body/foot showers for removing sand and a small beach bar/restaurant. In addition there are numerous vendors on the beach who rent water equipment including wave runners. If you are pale like me, be advised that there is essentially no shade except for the umbrellas over the tables at the restaurant/bar. We liked this area but have to admit that we also do not have experience with other Cayman beaches to make a good comparison. COZUMEL. This was probably our favorite port of call on this trip and we wish that we could have spent 2 days here and skipped Ocho Rios altogether. We spent most of our day at Chankanaab State Park and were very pleased (well worth the $12.00 admission fee). The park was very well kept and offered diversions of man varieties including a sandy "beach" with ample shade from palm trees and thatched-roof umbrellas, good snorkeling directly offshore, a dolphin program, gardens and replica ruins. The beach itself is actually sand held in place by a retaining wall with natural rocks between the wall and the ocean. There are numerous access point to the ocean and the whole arrangement is aesthetically pleasing. Because of the rocky shoreline, there are many fish close to shore. The only complaint we have about Chankanaab are the unusual beach loungers that are hard plastic shells sitting directly on the sand with no elevation. Some members of our party did a discover scuba experience at El Clavado Dive Shop #3 with Miguel ($55.00 per person). Although the reef could have been healthier we did see a large tarpon, many smaller fish and some interesting underwater caves essentially filled with small fish. We also saw a large barracuda casually floating just below the swim platform surrounded by swimmers unaware of the toothy giant (some exaggeration for dramatic effect) just yards away. After Chankanaab, we traveled by taxi to the Los Cinco Soles shopping complex that includes Poncho's Backyard Restaurant. We had a late lunch at Poncho's and found the food to be very good (we will definitely return next time we are in Cozumel). The shopping at Los Cinco Soles was pleasant for the distinct lack of pushy sales people. They seem to have a good selection of liquor, jewelry, linen, "handcrafted" items and other trinkets. Again, we do not have much experience with other shopping opportunities in Cozumel and can thus offer no comparison, but it did seem like a nice place especially when compared to the surrounding shops. Cozumel was a great port and we hope to return some day for a longer stay. DISEMBARKATION. (NOS = B+, CP = B+). Disembarkation went fairly well with the exception of a relatively long line for customs/immigration. We liked the baggage carousels at the RCI terminal better than the large warehouse of the Princess terminal in Fort Lauderdale. Despite this difference, we do not believe the disembarkation experiences were much different for the two ships. MIAMI AIRPORT. In short, a crowded and disorganized disaster. Despite arriving at the airport 2 hours before our domestic flight on Continental, we encountered a check-in line that was much much longer than 2 hours. We spoke to an airline representative to see if there were provisions in place for people who would miss their flight because of the line, and he essentially said tough luck and to wait until it was our turn at the counter. In an act of desperation we tried checking in through one of the e-ticket kiosks located in their frequent flyer/first class area and it worked. We will avoid this airport in the future if possible and would gladly drive down from the Fort Lauderdale airport if feasible. NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS vs. CARIBBEAN PRINCESS. We do not think it would be possible to go wrong with either ship. The CP seemed like a calmer and slightly more refined experience. In contrast, the NOS had more activities and the employees were obviously forced into attempting to make things more lively. For instance, they have two parades on the Royal Promenade deck of the NOS complete with loud bass-heavy music, live singers and Mardi Gras-like costumes. I personally cringed at what I perceived to be the contrived and over-the-top nature of the whole event, but others in our group loved it. To each his own I suppose. Likewise the waiters in the dining room did a singing number on three nights. I liken the entire production to the type of forced and awkward signing routine done in some U.S. chain restaurants to "celebrate" birthdays. Again, some in our party liked it while others would have preferred a more dignified dining experience without the fanfare. Another noticeable difference between the two ships was the demeanor of the crew. We believe that the CP was understaffed (perhaps over-passengered) and as a result the crew was under too much pressure. This was manifest as a general weariness and a more neutral bordering on indifferent attitude. In contrast, the crew of the NOS seemed generally relaxed and were thus more friendly and interactive. The dining room food was comparable on both ships but the buffet on the CP was far far superior. The limited buffet on the NOS and the lack of a full size table on our balcony really limited one of our favorite activities from our cruise on the CP -- sitting out on the balcony and enjoying some fresh fruit and a small snack from the buffet. If we were to cruise again with a group, we would probably go with RCI due primarily to the greater variety of activities that would hopefully cater to all tastes and keep everyone entertained. If it were just my wife and myself, we would probably choose Princess again simply due to our preference for a more low-key atmosphere. Actually, a third and more likely option would be to try another line to see what else is out there. Happy sailings. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Background Information Wife and I are both attorneys and fairly well traveled for work and leisure. However we are both first time cruisers, so we read a great deal on internet to ensure we understood options before traveling. We chose ... Read More
Background Information Wife and I are both attorneys and fairly well traveled for work and leisure. However we are both first time cruisers, so we read a great deal on internet to ensure we understood options before traveling. We chose the Royal Caribbean Voyager class "Navigator of the Seas" because of the newness and descriptions of the ship, the size of the ship, variety of options, and convenience of the port of embarkation. Took this Western Caribbean cruise in February 2005 to celebrate my fortieth birthday with my parents, wife and 1 and 2 year old kids. Note, at end of the subject areas discussed below, I will rate the category on a five star scale, low-to-high, to summarize our review. I will also try to include some information on prices. Travel To Port of Embarkation We flew to Miami the afternoon of the day before our cruise. Recommend this if there is any possibility of inclement weather. Scheduled Super Shuttle to take all 6 of us (four adults and two kids) to Port next morning - van arrived promptly and total was $55 which I thought a good deal as we might have needed three taxis (lots of luggage and kid paraphernalia) instead. Check in process at the Port of Miami left things to be desired. The port authority facility was nice enough, and RC had welcome ice water and lemonade once you made it inside, but outside at noon there was a HUGE line and very little direction about why or when one might expect to be checked in - no apparent RC staff and not well informed, contract security who weren't eager to be informative or helpful. If you have babies or elderly or handicapped persons in your party, ask them if you can skip the line. We did, and, although we received lots of conflicting instructions, were eventually moved forward a bit. Travel to port, four stars; port of embarkation facility, five stars; outside facility, only two. Hotel Info (if any) Bid on Priceline for three star hotel in Miami and received Holiday Inn in Coral Gables for about $50.00 - nothing fancy but two queen beds 15 minutes from Port difficult to beat. Free breakfast for kids included too. My parents left their car (they live on west coast of Florida) at hotel for whole week - a surface lot but no problem as long as arranged and paid in advance with hotel desk the morning of departure - cheaper than parking at Port (only $6.99 at this hotel per day) and no line to drop of car - have heard line for garage at Port can be congested so this is something to consider too. Three stars, but certainly convenient and cheap. Stateroom We booked adjoining (connecting door) "D1" balcony staterooms on Deck 8 (rooms 8218 and 8220). These cabins had sliding glass doors to the balconies. Balconies were adequately sized for two adults but crowded for all four of us plus kids - we could fit and we had breakfast every day with room service out there but we wish we could open partition between the two balconies to make more room. The balcony partition between staterooms had a locking key mechanism, but our steward said captain precluded opening after some of the partitions blew off the ship in the wind once upon a time. Room itself was very nice - neat wood wall units include desk and plenty of cubby holes, drawers and shelves to stash stuff. Also had couches steward could turn into second queen sized bed if needed and large glass coffee tables in sitting area. Sufficient room in front of bed(s) even when couch is converted also for passing along length of the room (rooms are something like 180 sf each). Bathrooms had neat showers with no curtain (nice curving clear doors) and hand-held or fixed European style shower heads. Again mirrored cabinet and more storage in bathrooms. Rooms also included an adequate closet (not a walk in though) with shelves and bars for sufficient storage and hangers - walk in closets would have been nicer but you only get those with "suites" on this ship. Underneath space below main bed had plenty of space to stow lots of luggage along with the life vests in the room, so no reason not to completely unpack for the week. We asked steward to clean out minibars and they acted as small refrigerators during our trip, great for keeping kids cartons of milk, etc. Must say carpet looked a little worn after 3 plus years of engagement of this particular ship, but not a real detractment from overall high quality of stateroom. We gave our steward a $50.00 bill the first day and promised more at the end, but it may have been unnecessary as he seemed very eager to please and satisfy every request we made. One special thing I asked him to do on the first day is to borrow four terry robes from the suites for our use and he did this too, so maybe that initial tip helped him bend the rules for that request. Four and one-half stars for the staterooms. Ship Info A beautiful ship - lots of well thought and creative use of hardwoods, marble, glass, granite and steel - not glitzy use of mirrors and neon (except as expected in casino and in some entertainment areas). Overall a very classy and appealing ship. Glass elevators are very efficient and, covering 15 decks, stunning. Dining room is beautiful - almost too fancy but the easy informality of staff makes it not stuffy. Theaters are amazing - often easy to forget you are actually on a ship they are so large and technologically sophisticated. Deck 4 has an exterior wide walkway where you can actually circumnavigate the entire ship. Reminded our group the most of classic look of an oceanliner with the lifeboats above and wide decking for a stroll. Took me three days to figure out how to get to the true fore most section of the bow on this deck, however. The trick is either up the steps at the front of deck 4 or out unmarked doors from the sides of the Ixtapa lounge on deck 5. Very worth seeing however esp at night b/c it's the only place they don't light so can view stars from the helipad there (no kidding) and stand at the very front of the vessel for photos. Deck 5 inside has guest services and the Royal Promenade - a several hundred foot long "street" inside the ship with a four story atrium they say 1000 feet long and flanked by a "centrum" on either end of the vessel showing nearly 12 stories uninterrupted vertical space! A perfume duty free shop, a liquor duty free, a (mostly women's clothes) boutique, a logo clothes and paraphernalia and general store make up the shops. Add to that the promenade cafe, a euro style coffee and cake cafe that also hands out pizza and small sandwiches various times. There is also a cappuccino bar and Ben and Jerry's there, these both for a fee. Also, along the promenade are a wine bar in cooperation with Mondavi and other vintners, and a "two poets" singing bar. Elsewhere on the ship are the Bolero bar, with latin music often live, a champagne bar, a Johnny Rockets hamburger diner with waiters and waitresses that entertain as well as serve (small cover charge of I think around $6.00), a neat Schooner bar with nautical theme, wood, and grand piano, a cigar bar (odd there was no flat screen or other tvs in the cigar bar but very nicely done with lots of wood and leather). Also, at the top of the ship is a stunning Jazz bar (Crown lounge) and a Golf themed sports bar adjacent to a quiet game and cards room. The ship also has an internet room, a library, a chapel at the very top of the ship, and a large business center for conferences. There is a movie theater and an ice rink (stand in line for tickets, get there early not too bad a wait - only one in party has to go tickets are free). There is a jogging track on deck 12 - 5 laps to the mile, a separate roller blade track, full court basket ball court (doubles as a volley ball court), and of course a rock wall. There are at least a half dozen hot tubs and I think 4 sea water pools. One complaint is especially in the evening many of the pools and hot tubs were either drained or chained off for cleaning - RC could perform these necessary tasks after midnight or so to accommodate those guests who enjoy after dinner swimming/hot tub would be a nice improvement, but we didn't see that during our cruise. The ship also has a beautiful spa, but a bit expensive for the services! There is a neat "peek a boo" bridge, where during certain hours you can look down through glass to the captains chair on the bridge and see some more detailed navigational maps. Check ship details on the internet if you are interested in reading more, lots of data out there on these "Voyager-class" ships by name. One disappointment was there were no ship tours, which we heard were discontinued in favor of a for purchase only video in the ship shops due to a slip and fall lawsuit from tour of the kitchen at one time. Five stars for the ship itself. Dining A lot of conflicting information on the internet is listed about dining on cruise ships and on RC and/or this ship in particular. Our family found the food in the main dining room similar to the food of a widely attended business gathering or wedding at an upscale (Hilton, Hyatt, maybe Westin-type) hotel. The menus were new every day and you could request and receive basically anything on the menu you wanted. Best of all, no prices! Appetizers, entrees, and desserts were all normally good, although a few things were outstanding (lobster bisque, for example) and a few things were not so good (no specific memory, though). Also the staff was willing to puree vegetables or deliver extra cartons of milk for the kids. We didn't have lunch in the main dining room, except once, and were surprised the lunches were almost as elaborate as the dinners (and open seating so a bit more casual) if you have the stamina for such large meals twice in one day. We brought our own wine, storing one bottle in each suitcase, and had no problem getting it on the ship (alcohol is prohibited, but an exception of two bottles of wine per stateroom for special wines not on the RC winelist on the website is the official policy). Also, our waiter seemed to have discretion to waive and did waive the $12.50 corkage fee every night - we gave him a $50.00 bill the first night and promised more at the end of the cruise so this tip may have influenced his decision as well as helped along the good service we experienced overall. The Windjammer buffet cafe, however, we had a much more negative impression of - if you want very basic hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, this is fine. But the Jade Asian buffet and other food was mediocre at best, and often times inedible at all - lots of room for improvement here is our view. Windjammer is fine for breakfast, but we skipped it most of the time anyhow because the two or three times we visited we found it overcrowded and not so good, esp. compared with the good main dining room food and the free room service. The latter we used 5/7 days for breakfast - nice not to have to leave the room! Also used room service to order cheese and cracker plates in the afternoon, for no extra charge (though use of individually wrapped Saltines with high end fruit and cheeses was a bit odd). My parents went to Johnny Rockets and liked it - noted the burgers were a lot better than Windjammer's. Also, we ate in Chops and in Portofino, the two upgrade cover charge ($25 per person), restaurants on this ship, managed respectively by a husband and wife team who met on this ship. My father had the porterhouse at Chops and that looked only ok, but I had the aged filet and have to say even though I don't like this cut of meat as much as others, it was the best steak I've ever had. We also enjoyed the Italian food at Portofinos - so many courses you will be stuffed before you leave. Everyone liked everything there very much, except my mother commented the tuna was oversalted. The desserts at both restaurants were striking in their presentation to say the least. Reservations are recommended and pleasantly available and we thought this a well worth splurge. Hotel guest relations (purser desk) arranged in cabin babysitter for our kids, $12/hr for two, who were both falling asleep by the time we left for our reservations at 8pm. Overall, the food on this ship is not "gourmet," or "five star," but it is much better than the most critical reviews we read suggest, and very enjoyable especially in the beautiful main dining room. Overall, four stars for food in the main dining room; four and one-half stars if counting only the upscale cover charge restaurants; but only two stars if counting only Windjammer buffet. Activities We don't have as much to comment on here. My wife played bingo once and said she enjoyed that. We skipped the art auction, although it did include free champagne. We wish there were more lectures on various topics, such as astronomy, geography of the cruise route, or even politics or culture, but not much of that was offered as far as we could tell. We participated in a sock hop 50s dance which was fun (and televised on the closed circuit ship tv station, over and over...). We did not make it to the rock wall, golf simulator, roller blade track, or ice skating. Would have liked to try all of these, but never found the time, esp. with the kids in tow. Everyone used and really liked the ship's gym - new and neat equipment, and never overcrowded. Also, I did jog three nights at sunset on the track and even with the need to dodge errant lounge chairs entirely surrounding the track, as well as the occasional slow abreast walkers or group of tipsy passengers, still found the runs refreshing (pure air, stunning views (deck 12)) and you can easily get in 3 or 4 miles without boredom or dismay at obstacles setting in. Five stars if only reviewing the athletic options, but three stars for cultural/educational activities, so four stars for activities overall. Children's Clubs We toured them, but our kids were 1 and 2 and did not meet the 3 year-old-and-potty-trained eligibility requirement. Since these services are included in the price of the cruise, varied for age groups, and supervised by trained staff, I would think they are a very strong selling point for families cruising with children of the right age. The facilities are beautiful and staffed to provide a more educationally and recreationally enhanced than for the regular passengers on the cruise. Five stars for children's clubs, but we couldn't use them! Service The service on this cruise was very good except for three criticisms I had. First the good - the dining room staff, head waiter, waiter, assistant waiter, and the cabin staff, mainly you see your steward - were just great. Above and beyond the call in all respects, charming, knowledgeable and helpful, eager to please, and you definitely don't get the impression they are only in it for the expectation of a tip. Now the bad, or at least the not so good: (1) The purser's desk was understaffed (several unmanned spots), and often surprisingly rude, such as when I asked to break two $20 dollar bills for 40 one dollar bills to help with haggling and tipping for on shore the next day. The reply I received is "Sir if I give you 40 ones, then there won't be enough for everyone else." On a cruise where literally thousands of dollars are being taken in per stateroom per week, at the main purser's desk this answer was simply absurd. Generally, the purser staff should be trained to make a guest problem "theirs" to solve, but that clearly was not the case. Long lines, and generally unhelpful staff there was the problem. We also stopped there to ask various informational questions and received little helpful information or assistance finding answers. Finally we defaulted to asking our stateroom steward our questions and for help, and questions were answered and problems solved without delay. (2) In ports, there should be at least some RC staffing either on the dock or where the tenders land, depending on the type of access to the port, with no objective to do anything but answer guest questions, hand out maps, and make sure everyone is all set for their shore day. On a ship where crew/passenger ratio is approaching 1:2, it should be no problem to stand a half dozen or so staff outside the ship to ensure any last minute questions or orientation information is disseminated without the need for a guest to return inside the ship. In Labadee, for example, there was no staff to explain you could hire help getting situated for a nominal tip, or forgo that and pull your chairs and stuff yourself. I guess it might be sort of obvious, but the non-RC helpers on the beach there were very eager to put you in a place of their choosing before you had your bearings, understood the various options and types of beach areas available, etc. A small amount of staffing would have helped a lot here. Also, in ports where tender vessels are used, RC staff should ride with the tenders to ensure guests with any special needs are taken care of rather than relying on the (we found surly) local contract crew of the tender vessels themselves. We had a stroller, and found we would have had a real problem boarding and disembarking these tender vessels, but for the kindness of fellow passengers, and passengers should not have to fill a staff function out of pity for other guests. The tender crew were simply uninterested in helping in any way! (3) As mentioned above in the Port of Embarkation section, the RC staff outside the Miami Port Authority facility was non-existent, and given there was a line that snaked for several hundred feet, initial concerns could have been allayed with a minimal staffing effort here too. These exceptions aside, four stars for service - RC has it down very well for staffing the cabin and the dining room! Entertainment We found the entertainment very good. We went to three shows and found them all excellent, at least considering what they were. First there was a broadway review. The theater itself was stunning and the quality of the cast and singing and accompanying music was akin to a traveling company for a major broadway show. Slightly smaller scale, but still enjoyable and easy to forget (actually hard to remember) you are actually in the middle of the sea! Same true for the Ice Skating show - incredible to think where you are and a very enjoyable presentation on technical and artistic grounds. Both these shows are also very "kid friendly" at least if one is inclined to go for the earlier seating before tiredness sets in. Finally, we also went to the headline entertainment show -- mid-week on our cruise they flew in "The Platters" who were exactly as we'd seen on TV - no advance reservation of ticket required to our shock as the show was excellent and completely free (or included in the price of the cruise, should I say...)! 4 stars for entertainment. We skipped the comedy show, a bit of which we caught on the closed circuit ship stateroom TV - raunchy and not funny at all. Four and one-half stars for entertainment. Shore Excursions We paid and took two shore excursions through RC. "Land-and-Sea" tour in the Caymans and Beach Horseback Riding in Ocho Rios. First the Caymans tour -- $58/person, children three or younger free, we thought was a decent deal. Might have been able to find something on our own slightly cheaper, but the glass bottom "submarine" in the "Sea" portion of the tour was truly exceptional - a beautiful vessel that although never truly going under water, is completely enclosed from the light above the water, beautifully appointed with polished wood, and not over crowded with plenty of viewing space to offer an incredible look at the coral reefs below. Sad part of the tour was the "Land" side as most of Grand Cayman is devastated by the hurricane last summer, really devastated, for miles and miles, including the entire length of the famed Seven Mile beach. Hell at the end of that stretch really is as billed - a painful tourist trap of a couple of trailers stitched together in a supposed attraction. Turtle farm was neat, but also damaged by the storms and not as ecological or pretty as one might expect until you learn is the principal reason for the sea turtle farm is to raise them for food. A great 4 hour tour and worth the money we thought. Jamaica "Beach Horseback Riding" was also, we thought at $89 per person, a good value. You get a land ride and then a plunge into the sea at the end, bareback if you dare or on a little nylon mini-saddle they swap on at the end. The land ride starts at a polo club and the horses are really nice, not flea bitten looking at all. Strange selection process of matching riders to horses, however, strangely reminiscent of picking junior high school sports teams, as the staff asks nothing of your riding experience, instead directing each guest to a horse one by one, appearing to judge the appropriateness of the match based on physical appearance alone. The land ride crosses a long coastal area, that was formerly a sugar plantation now cleared into a pretty dairy farm. The final mile before reaching the beach rides through a beautiful "tunnel" of pink flowered trees, and lazy cows on verdant green fields to the sides, with a turquoise sea light at the end. When you reach the beach, there is a half hour delay while the staff swaps the saddles. Then everyone gets to experience "horsy jet skiing" - or at least that's the best way to describe riding a horse that is either bounding up and down in slightly too deep sea, or even swimming full throttle trying to get to a point where a footing can be regained. Might have been able to book this independently, but doubt it would have been much cheaper once taxis to and from polo grounds had been factored in. Four stars. Disembarkation Achingly slow. Staff blamed federal officials, but not really fair in a fee for service port facility where staffing level by US Customs and Border Protection probably ultimately depends on the fee RC is willing to pay. Three stars. Summary Six people, four adults, two kids, for a full week, flights, cruise, meals, drinks, taxes, tips, and all port activities included, for under $9,000 (counting every dollar spent, for any purpose including light shopping). We thought this was a good deal. May try other ships or cruise lines or non-Caribbean itineraries, but not because we didn't find this one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of our lives. Four stars! Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
This review will not be extremely detailed simply because most other reviews tend to cover all of that. Instead I'm just here to express my opinion of our latest vacation with Royal Caribbean on Navigator of the Seas. This was my ... Read More
This review will not be extremely detailed simply because most other reviews tend to cover all of that. Instead I'm just here to express my opinion of our latest vacation with Royal Caribbean on Navigator of the Seas. This was my 12th cruise with Royal Caribbean -- and once again they keep me coming back! (Granted, I've never cruised with any other cruise line so I have no base for comparison.) This ship was absolutely GORGEOUS. Her beauty is unmatched, and as I'm certain other members have said in previous reviews, she towers over all other cruise ships in port. Just breathtaking! Our ports of call were Labadee, Haiti; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; and Cozumel. Our vacation was like a family reunion of sorts: myself and husband, along with extended family members from all over the U.S., including three toddlers and two infants. To me the Navigator of the Seas was not a surprise because my husband and I had taken a Southern Caribbean cruise on the Adventure of the Seas (also a Voyager Class ship) back in June of 2003 for our honeymoon. To the rest of the family, however, this type of ship -- with its incredible city street-like Promenade -- was unfamiliar and brand new. To make a long story short, no one denied the ship was incredible, but at the end of the cruise most of my family agreed they liked the traditional interior layout of Royal Caribbean ships (such as those of the Radiance Class that have a central atrium and no Promenade). I will first mention the negatives of the ship. Please note that none of these following negative factors would deter us (nor should deter others) from sailing on the Navigator (or any Voyager Class ship) again. These are simply to bring awareness and to present our own personal opinions. This vacation was top-notch and we miss the Navigator already! (Just returned today.) Negatives: 1. Getting on and off the ship in Miami. I'm still not certain why, and it may very well not be RCI's fault, but this time around it was quite time-consuming to board and disembark from the ship on the first and last day. We waited over an hour (which was longer than most of the other times I'd experienced) to board the ship, and it could have possibly been longer but our Diamond status helped to get us on a bit quicker at the end of embarkation. Getting off the ship took over an hour, too. After we finally got off, we stood for another 20 minutes in the line to go through Customs. An RCI representative informed us that Customs was an hour late in arriving, which is what caused the delay. Nonetheless it was frustrating. However, there were absolutely no problems getting our luggage on or off the ship, and all disembarkation and embarkation at the ports went smoothly. 2. Lack of upgrade opportunity. Before we even left Miami on the first day, my family and I went to Guest Relations to try and place our names on some sort of waiting list for a room upgrade. On last year's Radiance of the Seas we were swiftly placed on a waiting list (despite the ship being packed to capacity) and we were upgraded from an Interior room to one with a balcony! We didn't necessarily expect an upgrade, but appreciated the staff marking our names down and keeping us in mind. A woman whose name I cannot recall was extremely unhelpful (almost to the point of snubbing us) at Guest Relations, explaining to us the ship was full and there was no such waiting list. I suppose it just confused me why other RCI ships would allow this and they did not. I usually do not do this, but even interjected that we are Diamond members (but that did nothing to help our situation). Needless to say we were not given an upgrade. Once again, however, this did not hurt the enjoyment of our vacation. 3. The Windjammer was often overcrowded. Yes, the Windjammer is usually crowded and understandably it's a buffet, but it seemed noticeably overcrowded this time around -- often with absolutely nowhere to sit. (This was not always the case, however.) One complaint my family had was that they did not like that you could not eat in the open air in the Windjammer (like you could on Radiance of the Seas.) Now for the GOOD!... Positives: 1. The food. Like most reviews tend to note, the food is average to very good (depending on the meal, etc.) However, my mom (ever the food critic) noticed the food was better on this ship. She also said she had heard somewhere that the Navigator of the Seas was being used as a "test ship" to try out different types of food than the other ships -- an attempt by RCI to "up" the standards of it's so-so cuisine. We all agreed that the food was almost always above average and we particularly enjoyed the unique flavor of Jade (located in the Windjammer). We often commented that we seemed to enjoy the food a bit better on this ship than on others in the past. In my opinion, taking one night out from the Windjammer or Dining Room to eat at either Portofino's or Chops Grille is WELL worth the $25 pp charge. The food is OUTSTANDING. We skipped "Caribbean Night" in the Coppelia Dining Room and ate at Portofino's. The food, service and view were absolutely wonderful! My sister and husband ate at Chops one evening as well and insisted it was even better than Portofino's -- absolutely incredible. 2. The ship. As mentioned earlier this ship is an absolute marvel - inside and out. As always with RC ships, she was in outstanding shape -- always kept clean and looking brand new. Our exterior room on deck 3 was just fine (although we could never seem to get the shipboard announcements heard in our room -- but that was minor). The Navigator has $8.5 million worth of artwork on board and it shows! There is gorgeous art wherever you look -- on the stairwells, in the staterooms, in the dining rooms... even in the elevators. I'm not sure what else I can say except that you will be blown away. 3. The service. With the exception of the one lady at the Guest Relations desk, we had nothing but exceptional service -- as we have very much come to expect of RCI. They ALWAYS have fantastic service! A great example of this would be mid-way through the cruise when an assistant waiter accidentally knocked over my glass of red wine - straight onto my white skirt (gasp!). Aside from being extremely apologetic and rushing to get me a new chair, club soda and a new bottle of wine, the head waiter came quickly to apologize and asked that he give me a voucher to have my clothes dry cleaned. The following evenings he continued to come over and ask me if the stain came out. Unfortunately it did not and I filed a property damage report at the Guest Relations desk. They ended up giving me $35 for it and credited it to our SeaPass account. (The skirt was worth $69, which I had written down, but I only paid $20 for it at an outlet store so I didn't complain that I only received half of the valued amount ... plus it was an accident, of course). Regardless, the situation was handled very nicely. I cannot comment too much on the shows because I only went to a few, but they're always fun to attend after dinner. The singer at the Two Poets Pub was fantastic -- worth seeing! I also had a Swedish full body massage at the spa which was fantastic, though I always question whether it's really worth $120 (not incl. gratuity). They did try and sell me one of their products but I politely told them I'd think about it (which meant I wasn't interested). I strongly suggest having a spa treatment done while docked at a port, as they usually offer some sort of discount. And be sure to book your spa treatment within the first day 'cause time slots fill up very quickly. As another side note, this ship does NOT have children's pools, although the two main adult pools (not including the Solarium pool) have shallow areas where supervised children can frolic in the water. My sister used Adventure Ocean a few times with my 3-year-old niece and she loved it. This is all I can think of for now, but anyone is more than welcome to e-mail me if they have any other questions (karenlhope@hotmail.com). To sum up this vacation (and my final thought of this review) ... this is once again a vacation of a lifetime. RCI always keeps us coming back! We have booked our next cruise for the same time next year in balcony rooms on RC's Serenade of the Seas (Southern Caribbean). We can't wait! Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
This was my second cruise and also second in the Voyager class of RC. My first cruise was on Adventure to the Southern Caribbean in 2003. On that cruise I went with my wife and her whole family including our then two year old daughter, 8 ... Read More
This was my second cruise and also second in the Voyager class of RC. My first cruise was on Adventure to the Southern Caribbean in 2003. On that cruise I went with my wife and her whole family including our then two year old daughter, 8 of us in all. Even with the restraints of sailing with a child who was too young for Adventure Ocean we had the time of our lives and couldn't wait to go on a cruise with our friends sans kids (we now have a four and a 1 year old). My friends and I did a lot of research on the boat and the islands that we were going to and and as they had also sailed before on Voyager we all knew what to expect and what we did or did not want to do. We all set out with the expectation that we could do all or nothing. That's the greatest thing about a cruise, all of them I assume. Travel and Embarkation. Just a week before the cruise and after having read some horror stories from some other reviews, I purchased some insurance through the website where we booked the cruise. This was definitely a safety net but turned out totally unnecessary. I was most concerned about a snowstorm at home and the airlines losing our baggage. Our flight was early, we were met promptly at the baggage claim by RC, and our transfer went very smoothly as well. Once at the pier I could not say enough good things about RC. We had a bit of a wait at the metal detectors but I think we all expect that these days. Once through there we went to check in. The line for the floor that we were on was a bit long and a RC rep moved us to a shorter one and then when we got to the front of that line they made sure that all of the lines and people were moving as quickly as possible. From sidewalk to ship took about 25 minutes. Cabin. We had a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom on our first cruise and due to availability had a Superior Balcony Stateroom this time. If the room was a little bit bigger or different it was hard to tell. Otherwise it was exactly as we expected and remembered. Having the balcony is outstanding. I would not go any other way if at all possible. Our Stateroom attendant was good but did not go out of his way. We asked for some extra hangers on the first night and never got them and called and asked for our pool towels back after he took them and were angrily told that they did not have any for us. Room Service is a great benefit that I imagine most cruisers do not take full advantage of. We ordered at least coffee and OJ by one the various ordering methods every morning and it was fantastic to have coffee ready right when you wake up and enjoy it on the balcony with the waves going by or while you are pulling into port(I am an early riser).In addition to the usual towel exchange policy, If you want your sheets exchanged, pull them off in the morning before they make up your room otherwise they just remake the bed with the same sheets. Food. I am not sure what they did but the food seemed 10 times better than my experience on the Adventure. Whether it was the staff or the company or just me I am not sure but the main dining room at dinner in particular was much better. The appetizer selection and quality seemed especially better. On my first cruise I found myself ordering two entrees on a few occasions because I was still hungry , but this time I never felt the need to have to do that. We did not ever find the need to go to the pay restaurants for dinner as the experience in the main dining room was plenty fulfilling. We did eat at Johnny Rockets a few times and had coupons from our Crown and Anchor book which offset the $4 charge. It was worth it and a good value and the food was what we expected. Activities. As I said before you can do everything or nothing. The Activities staff did a good job of letting you know what was going on without annoying you. We spent the first sea day sunning in the Solarium which is a great escape from the hustle and bustle and children in the main pool area. If on the other hand you want the excitement it is not for you. Of course there is always something going on for everyone rain or shine. We tried out bingo once and were one of the many people to leave disappointed. One lady won two of the five cards! Islands. We decided from the beginning to not fill our time off the boat with excursions We had all done that on our respective first cruises and wanted to go off on our own. Obviously the Company would much rather you either stay in town or go on an excursion, that way they know that you will make it back to the ship. Well, we made it back fine and had a great time making our own excursions. On San Juan we just put on our walking shoes and shopped in Old San Juan and then to El Morro. The fort was much better than anything that I had read. It is just a self guided walking tour but very fun and educational and many good pictures. Buy a kite in town before you go. In St. Thomas we took a cab to Coki Beach after a little shopping. Coki was fabulous for snorkeling but not the best for cleanliness and surroundings. You are hounded from the second you arrive by various vendors and they don't go away. But that is to be expected in many of these ports. In St. Maarten we rented a car with the intention of going to the French capital of Marigot and also visiting a beach. Well on the way we stopped at Orient beach. After Coki the day before this beach was outstanding. Very few vendors and the ones that there were were very polite. The surroundings were clean and sanitary good restaurants to choose from. We also rented some wave boards and waverunners while we were there which was a blast. We spent so much time other that we did not get to Marigot. Renting a car was not a problem at all and cost the four of us about as much as cab fare and we were free to go where we pleased. The cars are available right at the pier so you have no need to take a taxi or the water taxi into town. In Nassau we were supposed to have our one excursion of the trip. We were going to do a beach day at a local resort and have access to all of the amenities. However, the weather was not good and RC refunded it for us. We decided instead to take a taxi to Paradise Island and tour Atlantis. Atlantis is very nice and I am sure very expensive as well. Debarkation. This process did not go as well as the embarkation. However credit once again to RC. The reason for the delay was Customs and Immigration not RC. They made us as comfortable as possible and also came out midmorning with coffee and treats to make our wait better. Do not go to one of the theatres to wait for announcements. They tell you to wait in there because they want to clean up for the next cruise. Instead pick a spot in one of the interior bars or on the Promenade, you will be much happier. Overall. Everything that I expected it would be and more. I can't wait until both of my girls are old enough for the Adventure Ocean program and we can all go together. I did not go into the Promenade much but you can certainly learn more in other reviews. I will definitely return again to RC as soon as we can save the money. I am looking forward to trying other islands and other ships in the years to come. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
I would like to start by saying that this was our first cruise, and after this cruise I can't wait to go on another one. This ship was absolutely amazing. There was so much to do and the entire staff on the ship was wonderful. Our ... Read More
I would like to start by saying that this was our first cruise, and after this cruise I can't wait to go on another one. This ship was absolutely amazing. There was so much to do and the entire staff on the ship was wonderful. Our stateroom attendant was exceptional. The room was taken care of at least twice a day. I had read reviews that the food wasn't that great on our ship but we had nothing but great food. The dining room staff really made the dining experience pleasurable. They really made you feel pampered and special. We took our two boys, ages 14 and 12 on the cruise and they are ready to go back. The Adventure Ocean staff was excellent and the teen lounge they said was great. There was a special area just for teens, no adults so they could hang out with new friends and we knew they were safe. They were able to enjoy themselves and meet new people while we could do the same and not have to worry about them. The ports of call were beautiful. Our favorite would have to be the Cayman Islands. Jamaica, Cozumel and Labadee were beautiful as well. We had booked our own excursions on-line and saved money over what the cruise line offered. In Jamaica we booked with Peat Taylor for a tour of Dunn's River Falls followed by a tour of Ocho Rios and then tubing on the White River. Peat and his son Oneil were amazing and I would highly recommend them. In Grand Cayman we booked a tour with Captain Bryan for Stingray City. Great tour as well. Cozumel we did the Sea Lion Swim and that was incredible. We just took a taxi to Chankanaab Park, only $10 from the pier. All in all this was the most amazing vacation. The only problem we had was the last day of the cruise, immigration came in and held up disembarkation. We were supposed to be off the boat around 10:30 and never got off until 12:30 so we missed our flight and ended up getting home around 6 hours later than scheduled. This was not Royal Caribbean's fault and it delayed them as well. The only other thing I might consider doing differently is scheduling my own flight. It was the kids' first flying experience and Royal Caribbean had booked the air and we were all separated on the flight down. I wasn't too happy with that but luckily some people switched seats and we weren't too far apart. I highly recommend Royal Caribbean cruise lines and especially the Navigator of the Seas. You won't be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
This is my second cruise. It was me, my fiancE and two other couples; Berna & Max, and Liz & Jeff. This was Berna & Max's 4th cruise and Liz & Jeff's 1st cruise. John and I went down to Florida early. We arrived ... Read More
This is my second cruise. It was me, my fiancE and two other couples; Berna & Max, and Liz & Jeff. This was Berna & Max's 4th cruise and Liz & Jeff's 1st cruise. John and I went down to Florida early. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday the 2nd, rented a convertible Mustang and visited with some friends. On Thursday, we drove down to Miami to meet up with Berna & Max. We stayed at the Holiday Inn in South Beach. We just wanted something on the beach that was cheap. It actually wasn't all that bad...it had the basic amenities. That night we went to Mangoes and the Clevelander in South Beach. Loads of fun...loads of drinks! Nothing like starting the vacation off early. Berna and Max went to the Everglades on Friday and unfortunately lost their new digital camera somewhere. They went out and bought a new one. Ouch, that hurts! At least it wasn't at the end of the cruise where they would have lost all of their memories. Saturday, March 5, 2005 Departure partly cloudy 90, sunrise 6:40am, sunset 6:25pm Drink of the day - Pina Colada, Martini of the day - Butterscotchtini We took a taxi from the hotel around 10:45 and arrived at the Port of Miami within 20-30 minutes. The baggage handlers took our luggage on trolleys to the ship, but not before we gave them a tip of course...we wanted to make sure our luggage got to our rooms! We were told to go to Gate G to board the Navigator of the Seas. At Gate G, we were told to go to Gate F because that gate was only for the boarding of the Junior League of Women...whoever they were. So, off we went. We waited in line, showed our papers, etc. and were sent upstairs to wait in a longer line. The wait was about 2 hrs., due to supposedly, an immigration/customs backup. It was frustrating, but we didn't mind...we were on vacation!! They supplied water and lemonade. We read our books, walked around, talked to people, and people watched. As boarding time got nearer, we saw the Junior League of Women board the ship. Apparently, they were just on for the afternoon to take part in a meeting and luncheon. As we waited, platters of sandwiches and cookies were put out for us (probably the Junior League of Women's leftovers). They were swiped up within seconds!! Anyone who was not in the very near vicinity of that table arrived to find only crumbs left. Since this was my second cruise on the voyager class of ships, I knew what to expect. We decided to skip the "Welcome Aboard" picture. We just wanted to get to the nearest bar! We stopped at Boleros on Deck 4. Here we met Adrienne and Maurice, the bartenders for the week. We also met Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-ya), the waitress. They were all very cool and fun. They immediately got us into vacation mode, serving up rum runners, beer, and mojitos! Adrienne made a little heart out of the straw paper and put it on my straw. John got a seahorse. They gave us a bunch of bar games to work on...little puzzles using straws and stirrers. We met up with our 3rd couple here, Liz and Jeff, the first-timers. They were amazed at how large the ship was. We also met some fellow cruisers while imbibing, Gerry, a travel agent, and Mario, who was on his 99th cruise!! Berna and Max left to go to Schooners because they found out that a bartender they met on their last cruise, Roger from Jamaica, was working there. They were so psyched. They said he was awesome! Liz and I decided to check out the spa. We ended up taking a tour and signing ourselves up for the couples massage. I told John about it and he didn't want to do it because a man would be doing the massage. John and I went back up to change the appointment and ended up being chosen as volunteers to receive a free treatment. They needed people as volunteers to demonstrate treatments being done as cruisers came through for the spa tour. I received the cellulite treatment and John got a facial. The cellulite treatment was relaxing. They put cream all over your legs and stomach and then hooked electrodes up to you. I don't believe that it really works, but hey, it was free! John and I ended up signing up for individual full body massages with facials for the next day. He was ok with that because a woman was going to be doing the massaging. The required muster took place around 5ish. It was a little late due to our delayed embarkation. It didn't take long and was pretty well organized. We were in a Promenade Stateroom on Deck 8, Room 8305, near The Library. Our stateroom had a large bowed window that overlooked The Promenade. We had three pieces of luggage but only two had been delivered. We found our stateroom attendant, Patrick, who was from Jamaica, and he said he would take care of it. He came back minutes later with our last piece of luggage. Ya mon! We had chosen the main seating for dinner, at 6:00pm. Unfortunately, we missed it the first night because we were volunteering at the spa. We ate at the Windjammer, which had everything you would ever want to eat. Tonight's specialty was Thai food. 8:00pm - Welcome Aboard show - The Metropolis Theatre. Decks 3, 4. Comedy show with Eric Lyden, guest starring Duo Donnert. Sunday, March 6, 2005 AT SEA - mixed sunshine & cloud, 80, sunrise 6:32am, sunset 6:09pm Drink of the day - Bay Breeze, Martini of the day - Cosmopolitan We had breakfast in the Windjammer, Deck 11. Everyday, for lunch and dinner, the Windjammer has a huge buffet. You should be able to find something you like to eat here. We spent the day at the pool with the Calypso Band, the Rhythm Explosion. 12:30pm - "Mr. Sexy Legs contest". John missed it this year because we were having our massages. There are many activities going on throughout the day: juggling classes, movies in the screening room, wine tasting, auctions, ice skating, trivia, and bingo. 6:00pm Captain's Gala Dinner. We had a group picture taken of the 6 of us. We were sat at a table for eight. We had a table on the Swan Lake floor, way in the back on the right, near the window, #556. We got to meet our tablemates, since we missed dinner the night before. Kathy and Chuck were from Ohio and were very nice. We warned them that when we were all together we might get a little crazy. I had the Sea Bass and it was very good. The shot of the night was a French Kiss. Berna and I split a bottle of Pinot Grigio. Waiter: Omar from Honduras Head Waiter: Gianni from Italy Asst. Waiter: Wilson from Philippines Bartender: Eartha from Jamaica 9:00pm - Headliner Showtime starring "A Man of 1000 Voices" Paul Boland and featuring Marlise at the Metropolis Theatre. We didn't make this show, but I heard it was great! 11:00pm Karaoke Idol- Ixtapa Lounge - This was setup like American Idol. 4 judges (John was chosen to be one) They were only taking 12 contestants. So, I signed up for the fun of it. I didn't know that the winners would be competing for the championships on Friday. I sang "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin. I was shaking my hips, dancing and having a good time. I only do it for fun; I don't think I can really sing. Anyway, I guess Kyle, the MC, took off his coat and was boogying down behind me!! The crowd was really into it. 12:15am Late Night Adult Comedy with Eric Lyden Monday, March 7, 2005 LABADEE, HISPANIOLA - partly cloudy 83, sunrise 6:00am, sunset 5:52pm Drink of the day - Fuzzy Naval, Martini of the day - Melontini We arrived at 8:00am and the tendering process began at 8:30am. We got out as soon as we could. Once we got to the island, we walked straight ahead to the other side of the island. There were hired people to set up chairs for you. Make sure you have money on you to tip them! We only had a $10 bill. We set up on this beach and then realized that it was way too wavy to float on our mats and very rocky. We then started to drag our chairs to the 2nd beach on the side where the ship was docked. They don't want you to make lines in the sand, so the helpers grabbed our chairs and carried them over for us. This beach was much calmer and sandy. It was a small beach, nice and quaint. It did get a little crowded, but that didn't bother us. John and I did the wave runner tour at noon. It was great. Four stops are made along the tour and an explanation of the island and culture is given. On one of the stops, 4 men in canoes rowed up to us to and tried to sell us stuff. Max had done the tour at 10:00am and bought a conch shell for $10. The Haitians only make about $200 a year! It is a very poor country. Labadee Village has about 2000 residents, mainly because Royal Caribbean created many jobs for them there. After the tour, we lazed out on the beach. We had rented beach mats, but really didn't use them. We also snorkeled with our own equipment...though you will need to rent a flotation vest for $6. The water was pretty cold and it was kind of cloudy out. Make sure to have a Labadoozee or Coco Loco drink! When we returned from Labadee, we went to the Bingo game which was at 4:00pm. I didn't win and I also lost $5 in the slots. I'm not a big gambler as you can see. Since we had been on a cruise before and were members of the Crown & Anchor club, we received a book of discount coupons which was pretty cool. There were coupons for the casino, 2 for 1 drinks, Ben & Jerry's, 10% off on spa treatments, pictures, 10 free internet minutes and lots more! It was Italian night in the dining room. Berna and I used the buy 1 bottle of wine; get the 2nd at 10% off coupon from our books. I had the caprese salad, scallop risotto, chicken marsala, and tiramisu for dessert. It was all very good. Chuck got the lamb shank, but didn't like it, so he opted for the chicken marsala. That is the beauty of dinner, you can try everything and have as many dinners as you'd like! We had received an invitation to go to the Crown & Anchor party this night, but we decided to pass. They have an open bar and you meet the Captain. Maybe on our next cruise we will go. 10:15pm - Battle of the Sexes - Which is stronger, men or women? - Ixtapa Lounge men had to sit on one side and the women on the other. This was fun, but couldn't really get involved because of the large number of people. The Headliner show was titled the Beatlemaniacs. They were very good. They sang a montage of Beatles songs and changed their outfits and hair throughout to go with the era of tunes. We ended the night at the Dungeon which was having a Traffic Light Party. All single people received a green ribbon and married or hitched people received a red ribbon. We just watched...it was pretty funny. Hopefully, there were some matches made! My Sea Pass wouldn't open my door when I got back to the room. I went down to the front desk to get a new one. Make sure you don't have your Sea Pass near any magnets, or this will happen! Tuesday, March 8, 2005 OCHOS RIOS, JAMAICA - partly cloudy 85, sunrise 6:28am, sunset 6:08pm Drink of the day - Caribbean Cocktail, Martini of the day - Appletini I woke up and did a 2.5 mile walk on the ship's track and then hit the Windjammer for breakfast. Berna and I were doing the Swim with the Dolphins and Dunn's River excursion. It was very organized. Once you got off the ship, there were signs directing you where to go. We got on the shuttle, which ran all day between the venues. We went to Dunn's River Falls first. Berna had done this already, so she was just going to watch and wait. The guides seemed very unorganized; no one knew who to go with. We were guided down a hill to a shack where you can rent water shoes. One couple didn't have cash and credit cards weren't accepted, so the guide sent them to the ATM back at the entrance (which I found out later, didn't work!). We were just about to start the climb and there were a couple of guys with backpacks. The guide told them they should put them in a locker. We had to wait for them while they locked up their belongings, which was frustrating. It was very neat to see this waterfall, but I have to say I was very disappointed with the climb. There was too much stopping and waiting and it was very crowded. Just about every excursion included a trip here, so I figured it might be. The people in my group were all over the place. I didn't know that you could climb up the falls without a guide. I would have done that. I just wanted to climb it! I ended up getting off half way up. It was taking way too long. I'm glad I did what I did though. When you exit, go back the way you came out if you want to skip the pushy vendor area. We caught the shuttle to Dolphin Cove. We had about 40 minutes to kill before it started, so I got my hair braided. It cost $25 to have half my head done; 10 braids. Berna got 5 little braids done in Labadee and it cost her $20, so I think I got a deal. Swimming with the dolphins was very cool. I wish we had a longer time in the water with them. We had our pictures taken with the dolphin kissing us. That was pretty cool. After the dolphin tour we took the shuttle to Margaritaville where we were meeting everyone else. Liz and Jeff had been there for a long time. It was crazy packed! They were having a "Miss Margaritaville" contest on stage when we go there. Jeff called the "shot" guy over so I could have one. They have you tip your head back and pour it right in your mouth! We ordered lunch because we were starving! We had cheeseburgers and they were really good, though the service was terribly slow. Margaritaville has a big tube slide that empties into a pool! The pool has a bar with stools in the pool too. On the way back to the ship we stopped in the liquor store and bought some Overproof Rum, 63% alcohol! Ouch! They were having a special; 3 bottles for $20. Alcohol is SO cheap here! We did dinner at Johnny Rockets because we had a coupon for it. I got a BLT because I wasn't all that hungry. If you go, get a burger. The onion rings were awesome!! We then did drinks at the Schooner bar (piano man, Richie Swan rocks!) and then back to Boleros (Latin Dance music with Rumba Express). 10:30pm - The Love & Marriage game. This show was hysterical! It is based on the Newlywed show. They had a couple who just got married, 10 hrs. under their belt, and another couple that were together for 25 years. Then they had auditions for the middle couple. They got a doozy of a couple, that is for sure! They really made the show humorous though. We went to the Ice Dancing show. We had missed it the other night. 11:45pm - Dancing under the stars, poolside. Big buffet, glowing drinks, lots of dancing and partying. Wednesday, March 9, 2005 GRAND CAYMAN, BVI - partly cloudy 82, sunrise 6;38am, sunset 6:33pm Drink of the day - Mai Tai, Martini of the day - Hazelnut We arrived at 8:00am and tendering started at 8:30am. We were one of the first groups off because we were doing the Stingray adventure. We took a van to the stingray boat. The driver told us all about the devastation that hurricane Ivan caused which hit in October of 2004. The devastation was awful. All of the vegetation was destroyed by the sea water and roofs were ripped off of houses and hotels. A lot of rebuilding had been done, but it isn't as pretty as an island as it once was. When we got to the dock, the driver pointed out a cement dock that had been thrown hundreds of yards from the water, along with some boats. The power of a hurricane is unbelievable. It was a 30 minute boat ride out to the stingray area. There could see tons of them swimming around. We had our own snorkel gear, so we were the first ones in the water. You could actually stand up in the water…it was only waist high. It was so neat to see these creatures. My first reaction was to scream. You had to get used to them. They have no teeth and won't hurt you…just don't grab their tail. We were given squid to feed the stingrays. They would just "suck" it out of your hand like a big vacuum cleaner! They kept taking the food out of my hand and then knocking me over! Our guide grabbed one that didn't have a stinger and let us pet it and hold it for pictures. This was one of my favorite excursions, though again, I wish we could have spent more time with them. After the stingrays, we decided to go shopping. We went to Tortugas to buy some rum cakes to bring home. John wanted to use his traveler's checks…but he had forgotten his ID. So, we borrowed money from Liz and Jeff. John headed back to the ship to get his ID and said he would meet us in an hour at the Harley shop. There were a lot of shops to poke in and out of, but after a while they all looked the same. I did buy a framed picture of a stingray and a t-shirt. John never made it back to the island. Apparently, the seas got really rough and they weren't letting anyone come back over! He had my sea pass so I was freaking out wondering how I was going to get on the ship. I had no form of ID whatsoever on me! I went to talk to the Royal Caribbean person and he said it wouldn't be a problem, just explain everything to security. They asked me a few questions, and I was all set, thankfully! The waters were really rough now though. The tender boat was all over the place! It took almost 45 minutes to get to the ship. They had us waiting out in the middle of the harbor while they tried to position the ship to block the wind. What an adventure it was getting off the tender. The gangway was all over the place. We all made it on safely, but I think there might have been some sick people. When Berna & Max did this cruise last year, the ship did not stop at Grand Cayman because of rough seas. Luckily, we did this time, but their stingray tour got cancelled. They are destined to not see Grand Cayman! That night, the ship was rocking a lot! I have never experienced this before. 6:00pm Chef's Dinner - This was the 2nd formal dinner. Lobster night! Yum! We went to the Wild & Haines juggling show that night. It was pretty good. I was exhausted so I went to bed. John ended up staying out and didn't get home until 3:30am!! 11:30pm-12:15am - Gala Buffett open for viewing and picture taking. Don't miss at least seeing this! 12:30am-1:30am - Gala Buffett open for eating! Thursday, March 10, 2005 COZUMEL, MEXICO - partly cloudy 80, sunrise 6:58am, sunset 6:54pm This port is one hour behind, but don't turn your watch back or you will miss the ship out of port! Drink of the day - Sex on the Beach, Martini of the day - Dirty Martini We arrived at 10:00am. All of us were going on the Fury Catamaran, snorkel-beach-party-boat at 2:00pm. We decided to take a taxi into town and shop for a while. There was a long line for the taxis, but it went quickly. I bought some silver; a ring and a bracelet. Liz bought some diamond earrings. On the way back to the boat we grabbed a bite and some drinks at Senor Frogs. Pretty neat place…not as crazy as Carlos & Charlie's though, at least in the day. One of the waiters offered me 4 shots for my Livestrong Lance Armstrong cancer bracelet. I guess they can't get them there. So, I gave it to him. I had more at home. We went back to the ship to prepare for our excursion. The catamaran was right at the dock. We took it out only a little ways out, you could still see the ship. I didn't see too much here. Some fish, a little stingray. There were some scuba divers under us checking things out, so that was kind of cool. We were here maybe 30-45 minutes. Then we get on the catamaran and the party began. Superior beer and margaritas for everyone! They bring you to their private beach for an hour, where you can use floaty mats, play volleyball, take part in the open bar or you can buy lunch. It was pretty cool! We got a big volleyball game going where we nicknamed everyone. There was Corona, Blue, Gator, Kill Phil, and Philly. We drank A LOT here!! We didn't want leave. They brought us back to the dock and we ran over to Senor Frogs for one more drink…like we needed it!! John ended up leaving our snorkel equipment there by accident…someone got lucky! Oh well! John and I had been put on the waiting list at Portifinos the day before for tonight's dinner. We stopped in to see if we could get in. They said if we wanted to eat right at that moment we could. So, we ate. I was pretty drunk and it probably wasn't the best idea to eat here. The appetizers, bread with artichoke, mushroom and sauce dips, and salad were all great. I though my meal of lobster, shrimp and salmon was too salty. John got a chicken dish that he said was excellent. I've only heard good things about this place. I went to bed after dinner, I was wiped out! I ended up waking up at midnight and went out to find everyone. They were in the Dungeon. I somehow managed to stay up for another hour and hang out. John didn't get home until 5am!! He is a nut! Friday, March 11, 2005 AT SEA - partly cloudy 83, sunrise 6:51am, sunset 6:33pm Drink of the day - Bahama Mama, Martini of the day - Lemontini Got up at 8am and got a chair at the pool. They don't let you save chairs, so don't try. They took all these towels off of chairs that were there for a while with no people in them. Played Winner-take-all-Bingo at 10:30 because this was the last day for the big money! If it wasn't won in the morning, they would have the last one in the afternoon. In the afternoon, they had a big pool volleyball game set up for cruisers to compete in against "Team Navigator". Jeff entered and his team beat Team Navigator! Team Navigator hadn't lost in over a month. We had an appointment at 1pm to book our next cruise. We booked our cruise on the Freedom for 9/10/06. We bought $84 worth of our pictures from the week. 6:00pm Feast of Nations Dinner. Don't miss the last dinner. You are able to see your tablemates and waiters for the last time. Also, tips are given out on this night. We gave Eartha, our bartender, a tip even though you aren't required. We also made the rounds and gave Roger, the Schooner bartender, a Red Sox hat and gave Maurice a big tip for the week. Your entire set of luggage had to be put out by midnight, so we went back to the room to finish packing and fill out my customs form. Make sure to fill out the Guest Satisfaction Survey. Saturday, March 12, 2005 HOME We were all very sad that we had to leave the ship. We were up at 7:00 to get ready. Since all of our bags had to be out the night before, we were left with our carry-ons. Make sure you prepare wisely the night before so you aren't left with a ridiculous amount of stuff to put in your carry-on. We had to go to the Metropolis theatre to wait to get off the ship. Disembarking was a breeze. We got right off the ship around 8am, got our luggage and were on the bus that would transfer us to Ft. Lauderdale airport. Make sure to have a porter take your luggage. They will get you to the appropriate place you need to be to get where you are going…and don't forget to tip them! We got to the airport around 10:00am. Our flight wasn't until 3:30pm. We couldn't check our luggage until 4 hours before the flight. So, we just sat down and waited. We met some people that were on the Princess Cruise line and Carnival. Once we could check our luggage, we went and grabbed lunch at Chili's. Miscellaneous: *We met lots of people on this trip: Pittsburgh, Ken from NH, Dane-the Blue Cross/Blue Shield person who was on a free trip w/ her company, Doris & Shirley from Alaska, Ashley w/ the 69 braids, the Walpole boys, Gerry and Mario. *I was very impressed with all the people who worked on the ship. All of them were very friendly and helpful. * Make sure you have a little card in a slot on the back of your door that says "do not disturb" and "make up room". You put this in the key slot to let the stateroom attendant know what to do with your room. Again, we had problems with people stealing ours!! * I liked Grand Cayman and Cozumel the best out of all the islands. * One of the TV stations highlights the day’s events, information about the islands, and replays of the ship shows. You can also see your Sea Pass balance. Another station shows you the position of the ship and its course. * There are many things going on during the week from seminars to movies to basketballs. Get out there! * No need to bring your own beach towels. They are supplied and you can exchange them every day for new ones. * Love the towel animals! * We learned that the workers are on the ship for six months at a time and then get two months vacation. * Many of them are from Jamaica on this ship because it allows them to visit family while in port. * Pre-paid gratuities now allow you to charge the tips to your Sea Pass which is convenient. * You are advised to not drink the water in Mexico. Watch for holes in the ice. It means that they were made with filtered water. * Royal Caribbean discourages you from renting scooters or mopeds in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. There was one woman who got in an accident in Cozumel. * I liked the fact that this cruise went Saturday to Saturday, allowing Sunday for some recovery. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
This was the second cruise we have taken. Overall it was a great time, and I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone. We booked a Junior Suite, which was a good value compared to similar suites I've seen on other cruises. The ... Read More
This was the second cruise we have taken. Overall it was a great time, and I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone. We booked a Junior Suite, which was a good value compared to similar suites I've seen on other cruises. The extra room was worth every penny we spent on it. I can honestly say that I have spent nights in hotel rooms that were smaller. And, now that I've had a room with a balcony, I will never settle for less. I read quite a bit about this cruise before we left. Most reviews gave the food mediocre marks. I was hoping that people were just being picky and that the food would be better than our previous cruise experience. However, I have to say that I agree completely with the middling marks on food. You definitely won't go hungry on this ship, as food seems to be served around the clock in various locations. But, if you're looking for fine cuisine, believe me, you're not going to find it in the main dining seating. Our meals ranged from somewhat above average (of all things, I thought one of the chicken dishes was quite good) to barely edible (think of everything bad you can say about a steak, and that would describe the NY strip steak). For the most part the food was not great, not bad, just ok. Our waiter was very good, and probably could be qualified to work in a better place. The assistant waiter was kind of a disaster. But everyone on the wait staff tries so hard, it's difficult to give them poor marks. Let's just say that the assistant waiter was a disaster in a very endearing way ... an adorable disaster. If there is one thing I wish they would stop doing is the entertainment routine during dinner. On some nights, they will have a song or dance routine where all of the wait staff try to "entertain" the dinner guests. Clearly, none of the wait staff enjoyed the forced singing and dancing. I, for one, found it forced and uncomfortable to watch and was just glad when it ended. The Western Caribbean itinerary, overall was good. The first stop at Labadee is basically just a day at the beach. There are not too many activities, but we were just glad to get off the boat after a day at sea. The beach is ok, but the water is only marginally swimmable. There are a lot of rocks, coral, and seaweed that prevent you from venturing very far into the water. With nearly everyone on the boat trying to access the beach, it gets a bit crowded. At mid-day, we took advantage of the lunch and checked out the market. It was very clear that one part of the market was probably owned by the cruise line, while the other part was made available to local merchants. If you see it, the difference will be unmistakable. In the local merchant building, there are more vendors than customers. And, considering how much they swarm around the customers to sell their merchandise, it's easy to see why most customers could be seen making a hasty escape from the building. My advice would be to skip the shopping experience. Spend a few hours on the beach, get lunch, then go back to the ship to get a good seat near the pool. There's really not a whole lot going on in Labadee. After reading all of the negative comments on Ocho Rios, Jamaica, I have to say that I found the island a pleasant surprise. Maybe my expectations were so low that I could not have been disappointed, but I had fun on this island and I would consider going back. My suspicion is that a small fraction of locals give the area a bad reputation. The reality we observed was that the people were helpful, honest, and friendly. Sure, the cab drivers could come across as a little aggressive, but they're just trying to make money from their only visible source of revenue: tourists. It's really the cruise lines that are taking advantage of passengers at this port of call. The prices of some of the shore tours was exorbitant. Most tours involve a trip to Dunn's River Falls in some way, and charge more than $50 per person. The falls are a five-minute cab ride from the dock. (It's actually walking distance from the dock where the Carnival ship was moored, and I'm betting they didn't mention that to their passengers.) We paid $20 (for two of us) for a cab to the falls, plus some other places. When I saw the falls, all I could see was a couple hundred people wading in the water, waiting for their turn to climb up. We skipped the hike, and I would recommend others do the same. Go find Margaritaville, and bring your beachwear. It's in a nice little complex with shops and bars. Margaritaville is right on the beach, so you can swim while you're there. It was a lot of fun. I found the online descriptions of Grand Cayman to be sadly inaccurate and understated. Make no mistake about it: This island was ravaged by hurricane Ivan. The evidence is everywhere you look, from trees stripped of all leaves, to building roofs still being rebuilt. The local economy is too strong to keep them down for long. But, they are probably at least a year away from being fully operational again. And, it's probably going to take many years for the foliage to recover. We first went to Stingray City. For the price, I'm not sure I recommend this experience. The cruise industry has really taken over travel to this spot by allowing access mostly via shore tours, and it's the local merchants that have really lost out. Swimming with these animals was fun, but I found the area to be a bit crowded and the experience to be a bit overrated. I'm not sure what a better activity would be on Grand Cayman, but the beach is probably a good option. Cozumel has to be one of my favorite Caribbean islands. I recommend skipping the whole downtown experience. It's like most other Caribbean islands you've seen, but with a more Mexican flavor. If you really want to see something nice, go snorkeling or diving. There are some great parks for this and you don't have to look very far. We also rented a jeep for a ride around the island. The views are unbelievable, and the beach side bars provide you with a view of paradise with a drink in your hand. I thought entertainment aboard the Navigator left a little to be desired. If you've ever cruised before, I can't imagine you'll be very impressed by the main shows. I realize they need to appeal to a wide audience, but I really wish everything wasn't so PG-rated. I mean, how many times do you need to see a "marriage game show" to realize they're really not all that funny? That being said, there is much more to do on-board than go to the main shows. There is "Ice Dancin'" if that is your thing, and a variety of bands playing at the numerous nightclubs on-board. My favorite was the jazz band at the Cosmopolitan Club. If you like jazz, or just music in general, it's a must-see. I really was never at a loss for things to do, but I think the main auditorium shows could have been better. Throughout the day, there are a lot of activities on the ship. I highly recommend the wine tastings. We attended two of them on our cruise. The first is for beginners. At only about $10 per person, it was an outstanding event. We sampled six wines that were of decent, but not great, quality (probably around $8-10 per bottle in a store). The best part of it was that I could ask all the dumb questions I wanted about various types of wine. The host was very attentive, knowledgeable, and seemed genuinely pleased that we took such an interest in her area of expertise. The second seating was for more refined wine aficionados. We sampled four wines of much greater quality (normally $18 per glass on-board, so probably about $30-$40 per bottle in a store), and the cost was about $18 per person. Again, we learned a lot. I emerged a little smarter about wine, and a quite a bit happier for the wine I drank. Here is what we found to be the worst part of the experience: disembarking. Whatever you do, do the best you can not to be in the last group to disembark. After we had to leave our stateroom at 8:00am, we waited ... and waited ... and waited ... until we finally made it through customs and the port terminal at nearly 2:00pm. I realize that it's not all Royal Caribbean's fault, but there has to be a better way of arranging for people to get off the boat. When we got to our luggage, we found our 4 bags spread out about as far as they could possibly be scattered in the terminal. But, we tried to look past this miserable experience and not let it color our opinions of an otherwise great week. Overall, I give this cruise a thumbs-up. The crew were professional and polite, the ship was gorgeous, clean and efficient, and we never really wanted for anything. You can be as busy as you want, or relax as much as you want. It's up to you. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Pre-Cruise: Flew in the day before and stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay, soon to be torn down for condos. Got it for $66 on Priceline. No complaints. Took a cab the next morning to Bayside. Found nowhere to buy water or booze. ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: Flew in the day before and stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay, soon to be torn down for condos. Got it for $66 on Priceline. No complaints. Took a cab the next morning to Bayside. Found nowhere to buy water or booze. Embarkation: Very quick, got to the port at noon, no lines at all. Fastest ever -- our 13th cruise. Cabin: Had an inside on deck 10 near the elevator -- handicapped so larger than most. I had cabin envy though seeing the suites nearby. Had trouble getting enough towels every day, my DH had to go find them even after telling the steward first thing we wanted plenty of towels. I recommend getting a few towels from the spa and using these to go ashore. The Ship: Having been on Caribbean Princess, Diamond Princess, Grand Princess, CCL Spirit and Pride I have to say this was the prettiest ship. The design is outstanding for the size, adequate seating for dinner, at the pool (there are many side decks and upper decks and aft deck chairs), and for shows. We only had 300 kids so they were few and far between. They made an effort to have a behavior code about rudeness, cursing, etc., I was impressed. The ship was very clean as well. There are lots of stores and activities. I thought the shopping dude and his wife were good and not pushy. Ken Rush was OK as a CD. Entertainment: Pretty good in general and much better than on other cruises. The exception is the pool band which always sounded like it was warming up. Food: The one area that could use improvement. For example, the lunch in the dining room was the same each day. The buffet hours need to be extended beyond 9 p.m. The variety and quality could use improvement. On the plus side, except for the first day the buffet was never a mad house. The dining room is very nice and open, the service was good. The menu was surprisingly dull. Our tablemates were from a medical conference my husband was attending. The Casino: No luck for me, quit early. The pools: They are kept very cold, I got in on the last day. The fitness center: Very good, always able to get a treadmill. Excursion dude: Not very informative about alternatives to excursions. On other ships, I have been able to get info on transportation and beaches. The Ports: Had a great time mostly at the beach. In San Juan, we went to the Bacardi Rum factory which was a good choice because it rained and the people who went downtown had to come back. In St. Thomas we went to Sapphire Beach, just beautiful. We shopped in the afternoon and went up the gondola late afternoon for pictures. In St. Maarten we went to Orient Beach, our second time there. We had a great beach day. In Nassau, we went to the Wyndham, but if you haven't been to Atlantis go there instead. We got off the boat as soon as it docked each time. We came back in STT and SXM and showered, ate lunch and went back out to shop. Last Day: Went to the everglades, we had a flight back to LA at 4:00. We were at the airport at 12:00 anyway. It was a fun day. All in all, a great cruise. It is one of the only ships I can see cruising on for a second time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
This is a long review, but tried to be informative. Embarkation and onboard: This went pretty smoothly. I had researched this trip, excursions, etc. quite extensively for months before selecting anything. As it was a holiday weekend, and ... Read More
This is a long review, but tried to be informative. Embarkation and onboard: This went pretty smoothly. I had researched this trip, excursions, etc. quite extensively for months before selecting anything. As it was a holiday weekend, and peak season for both cruise and air, we paid premium prices, and thus didn't want to leave too much to chance. We did decide a "redeye" flight would probably work, as we didn't want to also deal with hotels, shuttles, rental cars, etc. We arrived in Miami at 7am...unfortunately, our luggage did not. We still had plenty of time though, and were reunited with our suitcases by 8:30am. Had a light breakfast at airport cafe, then easily hailed a taxi van to carry the four of us (me, DH, 18 yo DS, 13 yo DD) and our mountain of luggage to the Port of Miami (flat rate of $21 plus tip for driver). Porters were waiting at curbside to collect our bags and take them to the ship. Our tipping philosophy is simple—if someone provides a service for a task we would rather not have to perform, especially with a pleasant attitude, we are quite happy to tip appropriately, and did so. We waited for about an hour in the terminal, the boarding process was painless, and we were having a buffet lunch in the Windjammer by 11:30. This was the ship's first trip after drydock, so no passengers leaving and cabins were ready upon boarding. The buffet wasn't crowded at that time, but does get quite congested by noon, and is VERY crowded every morning between 9 & 11:00. We are early risers and beat the rush most days. The dining room breakfast and lunch are less harried. Room service is another good option if you aren't a morning person, and actually want to sit and eat your meal while it is still warm. The food in the Windjammer/Jade is all right—not great, not terrible, with a decent selection. Husband and I have far different tastes than our teens, but we all found something to eat. We were in a balcony stateroom on deck eight, port side. No adjoining balcony to our right, so pretty good view and some extra deck room. Stateroom was decent-sized, although the first thing we did was move the little coffee table onto the deck to give us some walking room since we were four to the cabin. Was pleasantly surprised by the amount of space for clothes—lots of shelves and drawers. Was glad the shower had a door, rather than curtain. The junior suite wasn't available when we booked, but would definitely recommend upgrading if possible. Our stateroom attendant was Raul, and we had him clear out the contents of the mini-fridge the first evening. Our large suitcases fit under the bed quite nicely. Our suitcases didn't arrive outside our door until 15 min before dinner, but Raul told us the dress code is very relaxed on the first night. We wore dockers/Capris and nice shirts, as did most of the other diners on the first evening. Meals: Our dinners were very enjoyable. We are accustomed to fine dining, and were not disappointed by what we were served most evenings. The presentation was understated, but still pleasing and elegant. Some dishes were outstanding, others weren't so great, but easy to send back and request something more appealing. The recommendations given by wait staff were very good, and were usually right on target. One negative—while I realize lettuce is not to be properly served very cold, it was limp and slightly wilted most nights. Ironically, the wine list featured primarily mainstream wines from our native California. We had looked forward to experimenting a bit, but oh well. Our wait staff was superb! By the 2nd evening, our waiter (Gilberto from Costa Rica) and assistant waiter (Ruben from Chile) knew what beverages the kids liked, and had the drinks placed as we were laying our napkins across our laps. We couldn't have asked for better service! Although I had read several reviews stating the head waiter usually isn't a presence until the cruise nears its end, our head waiter (Claude from Belgium) introduced himself on the first evening, and came by our table nightly to chat and inquire how our meal suited. On the 2nd evening, he learned my DD enjoyed pasta dishes. He told us he had some "chef" training and liked to prepare Italian food. On the Venetian-themed night, he prepared a special spaghetti and meatball platter (not on the menu) for my youngest. This type of personal attention from most of the staff was present, and appreciated, throughout our cruise. We did take a more experienced cruiser's suggestion regarding tipping the recommended amount at the beginning of the voyage, with extra on the last night, appropriate to the services provided. Perhaps this was responsible for the wonderful treatment we received...whatever the reason, we felt absolutely pampered! While my husband and I are awake and ready to go by 6-7am, our teenagers are typical of others their age, and enjoy a later awakening. On most days, DH and I had a light breakfast and coffee at the Cafe Promenade on Deck 5—very quiet early in the AM. Some mornings, we ordered breakfast delivered by room service for the kids (order must be placed outside door by 3am). We didn't make reservations at either of the two specialty dining establishments, but heard from others on our sailing that they were worth the extra fee. We have a Johnny Rocket's in the city we reside, so did not visit that eatery while on board. Although we also enjoy a Ben & Jerry's within walking distance of our home, my DD did purchase a couple of scoops during the trip. Took another online suggestion, and ordered room service sandwiches the night before excursions that were scheduled to run into lunchtime. The only complaint I have regarding the food service on this trip was the woman who answered the phone/took room service orders. She was blatantly rude and argumentative on three separate calls. I don't think this was just our perception, as the smilingly apologetic response we received when we asked the room service waiter about the availability of a certain item the first day was "I am so sorry, I don't know...but don't worry or be afraid to call and ask--it's her job." We did note her behavior on the guest satisfaction survey turned in at the end of the voyage, in addition to all our positive experiences with the rest of the staff. Activities: What a variety of things to do on this ship! We enjoyed the well-outfitted gym (not very crowded from 6-8am) on several mornings. We played mini-golf a few times, although the wind makes for some interesting shots, it was fun. We all inline skate at home, but didn't try the track onboard. The guys played in a dodgeball tournament, winning "shipshape" dollars to exchange for merchandise. The youngest enjoyed the arcade--the games are pricey though. We wanted to climb the rock wall, but signups took place on the hour, and we were always busy doing something else at signup time. We enjoyed warm and mostly sunny weather all but the last day. The pools were smaller than our backyard one, but not too cold like I had read on some boards. They are saltwater and VERY crowded on at-sea days. Was easy to find a lounge chair if you didn't need to be close to the pools. While I enjoy the occasional pedicure or massage when not on vacation, just didn't feel the need to spend the money for spa treatments at sea, especially with so many other things to do. Ship is a cash-free system with everything charged to Seapass account (easy to check transactions on TV in room). Cashed traveler's checks at purser's desk or casino before shore trips (many local merchants accept credit cards as well). Shows: Having never been on a cruise, didn't have a comparison here, but did enjoy the production shows. The comedian one night, Nick Lewin, was very entertaining. The ice show is also a must see. The rink is small, but the performers still do the jumps and acrobatics they do in a larger venue. Ken Rush was the cruise director and did a great job. We didn't stay up for the welcome aboard parade on the first evening, but DS did and said it was worth watching. The theaters are comfortable and the timing worked out well for us most nights (we had main seating for dinner). PORTS Labadee: This was such a great stop. It is RC's private "island" (a peninsula) on Haiti. We were on the second tender and on the beach in short order. The beaches are lovely, but we tend to avoid crowds and went to the last ("hideaway") beach—just follow the signs. This is a very poor country, and while the lounge chairs/hammocks are free, the local staff rushes to position them and carry for you, hoping for a tip. The chairs are heavy and were carried quite a distance to the spot we desired, so didn't mind tipping for the service. The water was very clear at this beach, and snorkeling was okay—nothing spectacular. Saw some fish and a small octopus. RC requires that all snorkelers (even if you bring your own gear, as we did) wear an inflatable vest (it doesn't have to be inflated) for a $6 rental fee. Additional benefit of being away from the masses—this wasn't enforced where we were. The BBQ provided was okay, and we also had to try a "Labadoozie" beverage. There is a local market there with pretty aggressive salespeople. Bring lots of small bills if planning to shop--getting change can be a problem. On the way back to ship, passed the first beach and Aqua-park—looked very crowded, but everyone seemed to be having a good time. Ocho Rios: We didn't book anything through the ship. We had wanted to experience Dunn's River Falls without having to go with a group. Easily found a taxi (use ones with red plates), with "no problem Horace" as our driver. Don't remember how much the fare was, but was reasonable and we paid for round-trip transportation. A pick-up time and place were arranged and we paid the entrance fee to enter the recreation area. We were very disappointed as we were herded into groups and told everyone must climb with a guide. I like climbing, but just really hate not having my hands free when I do so. We attempted several times to separate from the group, but were actually told at one point, "you all look the same to me, so stay together, otherwise I won't know who to get tip from." There really wasn't an opportunity to just enjoy the beauty of the falls with two groups of 40-50 climbing simultaneously, and being pushed/pulled to "hurry." The final straw was when the guide repeatedly splashed water into my daughter's face (she wears contacts) because she wasn't moving fast enough for his liking. We exited the water at that point, with the guide trailing our steps, shouting "you tip me now." Wish I could say this was isolated behavior, but this attitude from the locals continued at almost every place we stopped. On a good note--the shops at the falls exit weren't as high-pressure as I had read. We went to several other shopping areas on the island and most had their merchandise priced higher than it is on the boardwalk shops of coastal CA (example--$20 or more for a modestly made baseball cap). When we haggled, we got comments like "why you so cheap, you can afford it." Must state, we were dressed simply in shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops--no jewelry, nor name-brand accessories--so I was in no danger of being mistaken for Ms. Hilton! My daughter was looking for a spaghetti-strap sundress for Caribbean night at dinner. One shopkeeper pulled out a dress with sleeves and muttered, "why you need thin straps, this is better" along with personal insults directed at my child (which she thankfully did not hear). We might not be experienced cruisers, but we are not lacking in well-rounded travel experience with other cultures, so this was quite a shock as we had done nothing to warrant this behavior and verbal response. We are polite, friendly people who enjoy new experiences. We smile sincerely, frequently, and easily, and said "No, thank you" politely when offered something we weren't interested in. Those of Jamaican heritage I have met in the US have been warm and lovely people, so I was really amazed by the comments/attitude we had directed towards us so frequently during this stop. If we return, hopefully we will have a different experience. I have had both good and bad experiences in other places I love to frequently visit, so maybe we just had a run of bad luck/bad day here. Enjoyed the jerk and Red Stripe. Margaritaville was nice. Georgetown, Grand Cayman: Based on web reviews and my own email correspondence with them, I booked Stingray City and 2 other snorkel stops with Captain Marvin's. Sadly, DD woke up with high fever, so she and I stayed on the ship. My husband and son did go, and had a great time. There were only a dozen people onboard, and Captain Marvin was present on the boat—sharing lots of entertaining stories and info. They reported that the crew were very helpful, and they saw a 6-foot nurse shark, and green eel (coaxed out by crew member). The stingrays were apparently MUCH larger than those in the pet/feeding pools at Sea World, plentiful, and seemed to enjoy the attention. We were charged for only the two who participated. The guys did a little shopping before returning to the ship, and brought us back souvenirs. The prices on rum cakes were comparable to those onboard the Navigator (a dollar less on the island). All in all, an enjoyable day and one we (DD and I) were sorry to have missed. A side note—this was the more FORMAL night for dining. Daughter wasn't feeling up to dinner, but I adore lobster and was curious whether it would be served this night as it wasn't on the first formal evening. Called room service and asked what was available for dinner. The person who answered (not the rude woman) said, 'lobster, prime rib…there is a menu outside the dining rooms for a full selection.' We thought "great, we can still have lobster, and not have to leave our sick child in cabin." When I called to place order (by this time, too late to dress for dinner), the rude woman told us that the lobster was NEVER available by room service and NO ONE would have told us it was (in essence calling me a liar). Also, even though it was repeated back to me correctly, we had the wrong order delivered twice that evening. We finally had our ordered meal (with no lobster!) at 8:30pm. By that point, we just wanted to wrap up a bad night and start fresh the next AM. Cozumel: Loved this stop! Living where we do, are familiar with both language and culture. Don't mind working out prices with eager shopkeepers a bit, and this port was much cleaner than most of the border towns south of San Diego and Texas that I have visited. I had booked a three-stop snorkel/snuba tour with Mayan Paradise. They were waiting for us at the designated spot and had our names on a list. This is an important thing to keep in mind—the local tour operators want you on their boats, and so will tell you "yes, yes, this is boat you are looking for" (this happened to others on the same tour, and was attempted with us, but luckily we knew it wasn't our tour, and the others in our group quickly realized the same). The waters here are absolutely breath-taking, and the abundance and variety of marine life were fabulous! If you don't scuba, but want great experience, highly recommend the snuba option. Went down about 20 feet and saw large eel, pretty coral, and LOTS of fish. The guide took a family picture with his underwater digital and it was waiting for us via email when we arrived home (small fee). Crew were friendly and eager to please. Went to Chankanaab, Paraiso, Dzul Ha. Can also snorkel these locations from shore without paying for boat trip, if not interested in the Snuba portion. Good shopping, and remember to haggle—it's expected. Photos: Every evening at dinner (except the last night) there was offered portrait op, and also every time leaving the ship, in addition to the welcome aboard photo. Decent quality-$19.95 for 8X10. Copyright release is available from the photo contract company for online downloading, so easy to get reprints too. Debarkation: This was least favorite part of the trip. Had bags outside by midnight (remember to keep out something to wear for trip home). We had 1pm flight, so I think we had third color tags. Waited in theater for color to be called and were off the ship by 8am. Customs line was LONG and slow, but going through no problem. Collecting our baggage was another story. Took over an hour to get all our luggage. Most bags are black, red, or navy. We put our surname initial in white fabric paint on front of bag, and tied big yellow ribbons on handles. Unfortunately, lots of yellow (and red) ribbons on most of the black bags. American has a luggage/flight check-in at the port, so didn’t have to haul our bags to the airport with us. Overall, great vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Embarkation- We arrived at about 11:30 a.m. got into the ship at about 2:30 p.m. Royal Caribbean's part was very efficient and quick but with the new laws immigrations part takes forever there people still exiting the ship at 1:00 ... Read More
Embarkation- We arrived at about 11:30 a.m. got into the ship at about 2:30 p.m. Royal Caribbean's part was very efficient and quick but with the new laws immigrations part takes forever there people still exiting the ship at 1:00 p.m. nothing RCCL could do about it. Cabin- Spotless we had a balcony cabin on deck 7 it was just beautiful. Plenty of room for storage it had a safe,a small fridge but very adequate for our needs. You could get ESPN,cnn,tnt,cartoon network for the kids very good selection of channels and movies. Bathroom was roomy for a ship loved the sliding door vs shower curtain it gives you more room to move around. Ship- Huge!!! amazing the promenade is truly a sight to behold it hardly seems like you inside a ship. The ship is in immaculate condition very clean the use of marble,wood,and glass gives it a very classy and elegant feeling. Public rooms are spacious with plenty of options for everyone. Entertainment- First class the dancers,comedians and orchestra are all very talented group best i have ever had the pleasure to watch. Food- Average it needs improvement with the amount of people to feed in one sitting i understand the dive that quality has taken in cruise lines in general not just RCCL. Don't ge me wrong the food was never bad just not what it used to be. I had the pleasure of eating in the alternative dining restaurants Portofinos and Chops grill and was just blown away by the quality of the food and service truly worth the 20.00 surcharge. Pools- Were spacious plenty of chairs available at all times. The adult pool area is very nicely decorated in a variety of colors. Overall experience- I see my self returning to this ship. We had a memorable experience the crew is first class plenty of activities for kids and adults dancing,rock climbing,basketball,mini golf,shops,ice skating you name it this ship has it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
(The condensed version) Embarkation. A bit slower than in weeks past, according to the reviews that I read prior to leaving. It was about 2 hours from the time we checked in, until we were onboard, but this was not RCI's fault. It ... Read More
(The condensed version) Embarkation. A bit slower than in weeks past, according to the reviews that I read prior to leaving. It was about 2 hours from the time we checked in, until we were onboard, but this was not RCI's fault. It was due to Homeland Security. However, RCI got you through the check in process quickly. The ship, what needs to be said. It's beautiful, and well maintained. Having done extensive research on the ship, I was very familiar with all aspects of it, right down to the placement of the beds in our Junior Suite. Most of our luggage made it to the deck by 6:30 pm, except for one duffel bag, which had arrived about 7:30 pm. We were 2 women with lots of stuff, and found there to be more than enough room in the cabin for storage. The big bath, with a tub is really nice, and the walk-in closet is great for hiding the luggage, and storing clothing on the shelves. After visiting our cabin, we walked the pool deck, and just did some exploring around the ship, until the muster drill. After the drill, we pulled away from the dock to begin our long awaited vacation. Food We both found the food on the Navigator to be really very, very good, and the presentation to be excellent. I am a chef, but prefer mainstream meals, and while some of the selections were not what I had thought, they were really good. We dined in Portofino's on the 4th night, and we both had the Beef Tenderloin, and found it to be a generous portion, as well as very tasty. Dessert in Portofino's was excellent. Food in the Windjammer, for breakfast was good over all, but I did not care for the flavor of the bacon, so I chose the ham, which was excellent. Lunch in the Windjammer provided many choices, and Jade, while we did not eat there, always had interesting selections. There were many things to choose from in the Windjammer for lunch, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, pizza, and so much more. We did have breakfast in the dining room, and loved the service, and the food. We also had lunch a few times in the dining room as well. We also ate at Johnny Rocket's, but were not really that impressed with the food. The burger that we had in the dining room was actually better, and the french fries from the Windjammer were way better that Johnny Rockets. We did not eat at the Cafe Promenade, but I am sure the food there was consistent with the rest of the ship. Overall, we really liked the food. Was it true gourmet, no. But very good, considering the number of meals they are preparing per day. Also, don't miss the Gala Buffet, it is a sight to behold. There was also another midnight buffet, which we did not eat at, since we were still full from dinner. This one is on the pool deck, while the Gala, is in the Nutcracker Dining room. Staff Our dining room staff, and really, all the staff were top notch. We had late seating dinner, which worked out great for us. Except that we were never hungry for the late buffet's. Our cabin steward was Bobby, and he was very sweet, and on top of his game. He kept the fridge stocked, ice full, and towels were always replaced daily. We never had to ask for a thing, and his towel animals were the best! We tipped him before, during, and after the cruise. We had prepaid tips, but ended up tipping everyone who waited on us more on the last night. Ports San Juan, we were really not that interested in this port, but it did make for some nice photos. We did some walking around downtown, and headed back to the ship. We did not arrive in port until 2pm, so we did not want to venture too far, with a 10:00pm departure. St. Thomas, always a pleasure to be here. I find the downtown area to be very quaint, and colorful. Nice shops, and wonderful photo opportunities. We took the tram to the top of Paradise Point, which is $16.00, but well worth it, once you look down on the entire area of Charlotte Amalie, and the bay where the ships are docked. There are shops and a restaurant at the top, along with a lady who does exotic bird shows a couple of times per day, however, we missed them. St. Maarten, my favorite port. Don't miss Maho Beach if you go there. You will have to take a cab there, and that might take you some time to secure, but it's worth the effort, since you will be able to watch as the commercial planes are flying in right over your head. Truly an exciting event. The pier here is probably the best in the Caribbean as far as I am concerned. Clean, and beautiful. Nassau, well, Nassau is Nassau. There is a lot to do here, if you feel like spending the money, and the time. We didn't, so we just went to the Straw Market, then to Senior` Frogs for a cocktail, and some photo op's. All in all, a wonderful experience, and I have booked the Navigator again. My only regret is that my next visit to this beautiful ship is almost a year away, as I have booked for the same week next year. I think anyone would enjoy the Navigator. If not, I'm not sure what they would consider a great cruise and ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
My family and I went to the Western Caribbean on June 11th. We have cruised several times with Royal Caribbean. This was our first time on the Navigator. It was a beautiful and very clean ship. The service was great. I was very impressed ... Read More
My family and I went to the Western Caribbean on June 11th. We have cruised several times with Royal Caribbean. This was our first time on the Navigator. It was a beautiful and very clean ship. The service was great. I was very impressed with the quality of food in the Windjammer. It was much better than the Explorer and Voyager. There was an Asian buffet, Jade. Jade had excellent Asian and Indian entrees'. This is the first cruise we actually skipped a dinner in the main dining room! The greeter in the Windjammer was a lot of fun!! You'd have to see him for yourself to appreciate him. My family and I still tell each other "GOOD MORNING," the way he did!! We miss him a lot. We've been to the ports several times. This cruise was taken to enjoy the beautiful beaches. I'd honestly rather not go to Ocho Rios. A local asked me if I wanted to purchase drugs. That was near the ship too. We ate at Margaritaville and used the beach there. Too many peddlers harassed us. Labadee, Georgetown, and Cozumel are beautiful. The water is crystal clear. I wish I could live in Georgetown. Friendly people! There were numerous "quince" girls on our ship. Over 50 in all. Many were misbehaving. Running down the halls late at night. That was the only problem with the cruise. The week went by so quickly! I wish I could go again today. Many activities onboard. Don't miss The Quest!!! Enjoy!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Navigator of the Seas Review 6/25/2005 - 7/02/2005 Pre-Cruise -- The planning of this cruise actually started 2-years earlier while Mary and I were sailing on NCL's Dawn celebrating my 50th birthday. While on the Dawn, we agreed ... Read More
Navigator of the Seas Review 6/25/2005 - 7/02/2005 Pre-Cruise -- The planning of this cruise actually started 2-years earlier while Mary and I were sailing on NCL's Dawn celebrating my 50th birthday. While on the Dawn, we agreed that we would celebrate Mary's 50th with a cruise as well. From that point on, we were able to get 10 other friends to join us. Most of the others were also celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. Our group consisted of 12 people. Two flew down 2-days ahead, 6 flew in 1-day ahead and 4 people arrived the same day as the cruise. Our group of 6 flew Southwest from Islip (NY) to Fort Lauderdale, arriving on the 24th. The flight was terrific and we landed about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. We had arranged for a service to pick us up at FLL and drive us to the Holiday Inn-Port of Miami. After retrieving our luggage we waited about 20 minutes for the shuttle to arrive. We checked into the Holiday Inn-Port of Miami and asked for rooms facing the harbor. We were quickly accommodated with 3 rooms on the 10th Floor with a great view. The concierge arranged for next-day transfer to the Port ($5 pp) and we spent the afternoon and early evening at the Bayside Market area directly across the street. Check-In / Embarkation -- Before going to sleep, I took a photo of the port facility from our hotel widow. The next morning we awoke to a view of Navigator sitting majestically in Port. Our van arrived at 10:30 AM and we were at the terminal within 15 minutes. After depositing all the luggage with a porter, and showing our ID to security, we were allowed to immediately proceed to the 2nd floor to await scanning through the metal detectors and carry-on x-ray. About 30 minutes passed before all the wedding parties were allowed through followed by Gold-Diamond-Platinum Members. All other cruisers started through shortly thereafter. Check-In was a breeze as there was absolutely no wait at that point. Following check-in we moved to a boarding line and then had to wait about 30 minutes. RCL reps were handing out flyers indicating that the boarding delay was a result of some Immigration difficulties from the exiting cruise. It was good to see this type of communication between RCL and their passengers. Once we were cleared to go the line moved quickly. All in all, we were probably on board by 12-Noon. Announcements were being made stating that the cabins would not be available until 1:00 PM. Mary and I decided to head to the cabin anyway, to drop off the carry-on stuff, and found that it was ready. We then met up with the folks in our party and went to Windjammer for lunch. Norwegian Cruise Line's newest ship, Pride of America, was in port and docked directly in front of us. P of A left Germany a couple of weeks earlier and was making its way down the east coast and will eventually end up at its home port in Hawaii. Cabin -- We had a starboard E-1 balcony cabin, mid-ship on Deck 8 (8290), and it was great. Our luggage stored nicely under the bed and there was plenty of closet and drawer space. The balcony (2 chairs and a small cocktail table) was a good size for 2 people and the cabin's small sofa was a fine place to rest after walking the ship each day. Our cabin attendant, Diana, was terrific. We actually saw very little of her, but she always kept the cabin in order with fresh towels, emptying waste containers and straightening things up. Each evening at turndown Diana was sure to leave a different towel animal, several of which wore Mary's sunglasses. Good thing we didn't leave other things out. No telling what they would have worn. We made sure that we gave her an additional gratuity above and beyond the suggested amount. We also left a note thanking her for all her hard work. We detected a foul odor (urine) coming from the carpet at the foot of the bed. I went down to the main desk and a rep was quick to arrange for carpet shampooing the next morning. They followed up with 2 phone calls and a visit to the cabin to make sure everything was fine. That's great customer service. We had brought a couple of 6-packs of water on board and stored them in the small fridge. The safe worked fine with the exception of 1 small problem. Midway through the week it would not lock. We called maintenance and a technician arrived quickly. Turns out the batteries were low. They were replaced and the problem was solved. One note....you must be present for the technician to work on the safe. They will not do it while you are out of the cabin. After a day or 2 we realized there was a speaker control knob at the base of the dresser mirror that allowed ship messages to be heard in the cabin. Better yet was the fact that there was constant music coming out of the speaker. We left it on high all week long. Dining Rooms / Food -- We requested the early seating (6 PM) with a table for 12. We were assigned to 2 tables of 6 in The Nutcracker, with each table being in front of a large round window. What a view! I spoke with the Maitre' D shortly after boarding to see if we could all be switched to 1 table without losing the view. He could not accommodate any move of that size within the dining room. Now, here's where they bent over backwards for us. Starting the 2nd night, they took a long folding table and placed it across both of the round tables, covered it with linens, and created one large table for all 12. It was so big that 2-3 more people could have joined us comfortably. Since each smaller table had a different waiter, the 2 waiters alternated nights to serve us from that point forward. We had Slama from Tunisia and Miller from Ocho Rios. We could not have been in better hands. They were both great at their jobs and enjoyed interacting with each of us. They also received gratuities above and beyond. The 3-tier dining room is truly spectacular to look at. Each level has its own name and slightly different tables and chairs to add to the separate identities. We started each day off with coffee on the cabin balcony. We also had breakfast brought in 2-3 times. It is so relaxing to have breakfast out on the balcony as we were arriving in the different ports. The room service breakfast menu seemed extensive compared to NCL (which was our only other cruise line experience). Windjammer had an easy-going buffet style breakfast while The Nutcracker served a more traditional formal breakfast. Breakfast seating in The Nutcracker was "open" so we were able to enjoy the company of different passengers each time we went there. Chops was well worth the $20 cover. We had a table for 10 and, as each course was served, 10 waiters would present the items ordered. One-on-one service can't be beat. We paid Johnny Rockets a visit for lunch on our last sea day. As advertised, the onion rings and shakes were delicious. The food throughout the ship was terrific. We're not picky eaters and were totally satisfied with all the menu items. I particularly enjoyed all the cold soups offered at dinner. We made sure that we didn't over do it as far as ordering multiple entrees. The only time I ordered a 2nd entrEe was on lobster night....I ordered a steak with the lobster....ala surf & turf. Royal Promenade -- We saw loads of pictures of The Royal Promenade prior to the cruise and, to make an understatement, "you have to see it to believe it." It contains duty free shops, a pub, wine bar, champagne bar and a cafe. When our sons went through our photos they thought they were looking at a mall that we stopped at before we boarded NOS. It's the heartbeat of the ship and we never grew tired of casually strolling up and down its path. The ship has 2 late night parades through the Royal Promenade. For you wine lovers, make sure you stop in Vintages (wine bar). You can order a "flight" of wines from various regions around the world. The samplings come with a platter of fruit and a small booklet that you could make notes about each wine tasted. Cafe Promenade was open 24 hours and constantly stocked with coffee, tasty small sandwiches, pizza, cookies and amazing deserts. Everything at Cafe Promenade is available at no charge. Entertainment -- The shows throughout the ship were terrific. The Metropolis Theater held Broadway type performances while the various house bands could be found in many of the lounges and bars. All the entertainers were top notch. The ice show should not be missed. Ken Rush was our Cruise Director and he just kept everyone happy. It seems like a tough job that he handled so effortlessly. This was his last cruise prior to his 2-month vacation. We also made a couple of appearances at the art auctions. No buys this time. Meet and Mingle -- There was a good showing of CC'ers that attended. Captain Bang also attended and it was nice to meet him. He was quite friendly and cordial and took the time to pose with many of us for photos. This was his last cruise before vacation. Question: Where does a cruise ship Captain go on vacation? Answer: On a 12-day Mediterranean cruise. Ports -- Labadee, Hispaniola We had not been to Labadee before and did not know what to expect aside from what was written by other cruisers. We were pleasantly surprised! The landscape, as we entered the cove/harbor, was terrific. The water was a beautiful blue-green color. There are plenty of lounge chairs all over the area and we chose to stay at the first beach area to the left of the tender dock. People really seemed to be enjoying the day at the beach. There is a Straw Market on the facility that is located back beyond the dock to the right side (near the lunch table area). The vendors were very aggressive, but there was no need to go through it unless you wanted something or were just "window" shopping. I picked up a straw hat for sun protection. You can really get a great shot of the ship from the beach. Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- We've been to Jamaica a few times but haven't seen Ocho Rios since the 70's. It really seems built up to accommodate the tourist industry. As expected it was warm and humid, but that would not be a deterrent to the day's excursion. We were going horseback riding that would include riding through the sea. We were really looking forward to the excursion since we don't normally ride horses. Not withstanding was the fact that riding horses in the water would come under the heading of a "once-in-a-lifetime-experience." After the excursion we returned to the ship to shower and change. We grabbed a quick bite at the Cafe Promenade and headed off ship to Margaritaville to do the t-shirt thing. Georgetown, Grand Cayman -- Today we would be visiting the stingrays again. We booked a charter directly with Captain Bryan through a Grand Cayman internet site. The total cost was $39 pp (including transportation from and to the dock), which saved us about $15 pp versus the RCL excursion. Captain Bryan's excursion included 3 stops while the ship's excursion had 2 snorkeling stops. Captain Bryan skippered the catamaran himself and there was a videographer (Jody) on board as well. Each stop was a great experience unto itself and we had a terrific time. We were returned to the tender dock about 30 minutes before the last tender. After a shower and change it was Cafe Promenade for a snack. We purchased the DVD ($55) that recorded scenes from all 3 snorkeling locations. We actually received it a week after the cruise and its 30 minutes long. Jody did a great job of editing and incorporating Caribbean music throughout the entire DVD. Cozumel, Mexico -- This was our last Port before heading back to Miami. We've been to Cozumel before and thoroughly love it. Today's excursion was clear kayaking and snorkeling. The tour representative met us at the dock and directed everyone to taxi cabs that would bring us to the beach resort where everything took place. The cab fares were included in the cost of the excursion. At the resort, our tour guide was a fellow named Bob who hailed from Texas. Bob's been in Cozumel about 5 years and enjoys what he is doing. The kayaks were more like canoes and made of clear fiberglass. After everyone was loaded into their 2-person craft, Bob took us out into the water to check out the sea life. We spent about 45 minutes in the kayaks and then we donned our snorkeling gear. It seemed like the snorkeling time was much longer and worth it more than the kayaking. We were in 25-30 feet of water most of the time and got to see some great underwater sights. After a quick shower and change we were provided with a refreshing fruit platter and coupons for 2 drinks each at the bar. Bob was a very likable guy and started giving out extra drink coupons to a few of us. When we were ready, Bob made sure that our cab took us back to the port. Back on board to a shower, change, snack.....then a cab ride into town for some shopping and a stop at Carlos and Charlie's. Disembarkation -- This went as smoothly as the embarkation. I forget our color code, but I believe it was the 3rd or 4th one scheduled. Regardless, it was called earlier than advertised. We moved quickly through Immigration. The wait for baggage took a bit....understandable with the 1000's of pieces of luggage that gets handled. Customs was as quick as saying "Good Morning...how are you today?" It probably took about 30 minutes from the calling of the color code to arriving at the curb to wait for the car rental shuttle. General -- The weather was spectacular throughout the entire cruise. Based on the time of year we expected it to be hot and humid all the time. We got that type of weather a couple of days but, all-in-all, the temps and sunshine could not have been better. To say the least, the ship is huge. I'm not sure if it was the ship itself, or the calm waters, but there were times that we didn't even realize we were sailing. One of our friends brought a medicine cabinet load of seasickness medication and, the ship was so steady in the water, she never used any of it. We found that the hot tub inside the Fitness Center on Deck 11 got minimal use, so that's where we preferred to go. The Solarium was for passengers 16 years and older. The Staff seemed to do a good job of enforcing that requirement. The best Mojito was served in the Boleros Lounge. Say hello to Dante and Armando if they haven't rotated to another lounge yet. Mary developed a thing for Chocolate Martinis. The ship's photographers were out and about with their cameras and displayed each day's batch of photos in the studio racks. We bought more photos on this cruise than in prior sailings and weren't taken back by the prices. Many of the shots were group photos so we often had them print several copies for all of us. Going on a cruise with a bunch of friends was a blast and we have plenty of photos and memories to share with each other. The best news is that we were still speaking with each other once the trip ended. It seems that when you are with a group there is a tendency to try and do everything together, all the time. While group time is important (sharing dinner together...going to shows) it can wear on you if you stay "tied to each other's hip" for 7 days. We recognized that this was happening from time-to-time and we all had the good sense to part ways when necessary. A couple of months before the cruise (during the winter) we had a pre-cruise dessert and cocktail party to get everyone excited about it. Now that its over, we're planning a reunion BBQ where we'll all bring CD copies of our digital photos for everyone to share. The only negative item to report is that the cruise ended after 7 days, and Mary forbade me to book another one for at least a year or so. We'll see about that !!!! Any other negatives were probably too small to remember. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
My husband and I just returned from the Western Caribbean destination on the Navigator of the Seas from Miami. This was our 6th cruise and our first on RCCL. I like to write my review with a pos/neg attitude for it to my more concise. ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from the Western Caribbean destination on the Navigator of the Seas from Miami. This was our 6th cruise and our first on RCCL. I like to write my review with a pos/neg attitude for it to my more concise. The positives: 1. What a gorgeous ship! It is truly magnificent. Not only was it beautiful but the staff kept it so clean. The dining room is something to behold with its 3 stories. 2. The most friendly staff that I have ever encountered. Everywhere you went, the staff would stop and say "Hello." The best was the greeter for breakfast at the Windjammer who always had an enthusiastic "Good Morning." You couldn't help but smile after seeing this guy. 3. Service was outstanding everywhere from the cabin steward (Kenneth) to our waiter (Edgardo) and his assistant (Arlene) at dinner. 4. The shows put on by the Navigator dancers were fantastic and not to be missed. The comedians were ok. Unfortunately we missed the ice show which everyone said was fantastic. 5. Bingo -- If you love bingo then this is your place to be. The prize money given out each day was unbelievable and the jackpot on Friday was $7900. You get a pack of 5 sets of cards (6) for only $35 so you get to play 5 different games. 6. Ports of call -- great ports except don't try to climb Dunn's River Falls unless you are pretty athletic. Found the locals in Labadee to be very aggressive in selling their wares but RCCL keeps them contained in the little market so they don't bother you on the beach. Our favorite place to go in Cozumel is Pancho's Backyard for lunch. Watch out for the killer margaritas! 7. Chops and Portofinos -- well worth the $20 extra you have to pay but make your reservations early such as when you board because they fill up quickly. 8. Balcony cabin was a nice size with plenty of closet space 9. Disembarking was the easiest that we have ever encountered. Make sure that you have filled out your customs form and have your passport or birth certificate ready and that will make it much easier for you. We used the RCCL bus transportation to and from the airport even though we arranged our own air travel and it was great! THE NEGATIVES: 1. Food in dining room and Windjammer is just ok. 2. Embarkation -- The port terminal is very organized but very long lines and considerable waiting time. I guess that just goes with the territory when you are trying to get 3500 passengers on board to sail at 5 p.m. 3. Shore excursion people aren't real helpful in planning your excursions. You must cancel at least 24 hours in order to get a refund and if someone in your party gets ill then they must go see the doctor and "bring a note" in order to get the refund. If the cruise director gave a shore excursion talk the first day then we missed it or didn't see it on the schedule. 4. Casino -- Only 1 blackjack and slots tournament and it was on the first day at sea. Not many blackjack tables and they were always very crowded. The dealers at the craps table were friendly though. 5. Beds are uncomfortable and the cabins are hot so bring a little travel fan if you like it to be cooler when you sleep. 6. Shopping on board was average, found the same stuff on other ships. OVERALL: This was an outstanding ship and cruise. A great one for families and there were many family reunions on board. Not many children running wild throughout the ship which was great. Apparently they have a great children's program on board. I hope you find this review to be helpful. I don't like to post my email address but if you have questions then post them on the message boards and I will try to answer them as best as I can. Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Embarkation - Port of Miami The weather was overcast and rainy. At 11:45 a.m. we turned in our car at the Alamo office at the Miami International Airport. The cool thing about Alamo is they let us choose our car from any model in the ... Read More
Embarkation - Port of Miami The weather was overcast and rainy. At 11:45 a.m. we turned in our car at the Alamo office at the Miami International Airport. The cool thing about Alamo is they let us choose our car from any model in the category. We had a "full size" car, so we chose a white Chrysler PT Cruiser. We boarded the complimentary shuttle and they took us to the pier. We arrived at the pier at 12:1 p.m.. Gave a tip to the porter. We were in the security line by 12:05. We quickly passed through there and were in line for our Seapass cards by 12:15. We received our cards and were on the ship by 12:45 p.m. Onboard -- Night 1 Once onboard we went to out room, 6616 on the port side "hump." The first thing we did was reserve the "City Tour & Bacardi Factory Tour" for our stop in San Juan. More on the tour later. We went to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. I think I had a burger, fries and a couple pieces of fish. I also chose to purchase the unlimited Coke package for the week. One thing I noticed was that Diet Coke tastes different at every single bar! The Cafe Promenade was by far the worst. It was much too sweet, but unfortunately it was the most accessible so I usually ended up there for my refills. After lunch we took a guided tour of the Ship Shape Spa. The facilities were very nice! At the end of the tour we reserved a spot for the Couples' Massage class on Thursday at 1:15 p.m.. After the spa tour we went to the dining room and found our table, which was conveniently printed on our Seapass cards. We had table 280 in the Nutcracker dining room (Deck 3). We viewed the other levels, Copellia & Swan Lake. We agreed that the Nutcracker level was the prettiest. At 3:30 p.m. on the Promenade (deck 5) there was a raffle to win some shopping, excursions and artwork. We did not win anything. The muster drill started promptly at 4:30 p.m. Since our room was on deck 6 we only had to go down 2 floors and our station was right by the main exit. The whole process was very orderly, however the humidity from the rain made it quite uncomfortable. The drill was over by 4:45 p.m. I was impressed by how 3,500 passengers can be arranged and accounted for within 15 minutes. We took the life preservers back to the room and headed up to the sky deck for departure. We departed at 5:20 p.m.. By the time we returned to our room at 6:00 p.m. we had received all 4 of our bags. We unpacked and hung our clothes. There were plenty of hangers in the closet for our needs. The closet shelves held our shoes, t-shirts and shorts and we put our socks & underwear in the tiny drawers. We stowed our bags beneath the bed in spite of "bed bug" incidents on other ships. Our "Welcome Aboard Show" was at 8:00 p.m. with our dinner delayed until 9:00 p.m. this night only. The show featured 2 roller skaters who performed various tricks. Comedian Craig Carmean also performed a rated PG show. He was VERY funny. At dinner we met our tablemates. We only had a total of 6 people at a table for 8. We were never joined with a 4th couple the entire week. The first couple we met was Doug & Susan, who came from Dublin, Ireland. Doug was in a t-shirt and board shorts that evening because his luggage had been lost by British Airways for 6 days already. They promised to get it to him in San Juan, our first stop. The other couple we dined with this week was Anthony and Rosana. He is from Brooklyn and she's from Staten Island, NY. For dinner I had herb-crusted Atlantic Cod with mashed potatoes and Apple Pie ala mode. After dinner we attended the Bon Voyage parade on the Promenade deck. We ordered breakfast delivered to our room for the next morning. Sunday -- Day at Sea Breakfast was brought to our room at about 9:00 a.m. I had a ham & cheese omelet, croissant, bacon & OJ. We went up to the pool at 10:00 a.m. while many people were down in line for tickets to the Ice Show. We were able to get chairs in a good location on deck 12, overlooking the main pools. As a mater of fact, finding chairs was never a problem at any point throughout the entire cruise. I did witness many children in the hot tubs, some young enough to be wearing inflatable arm floats. Sometimes there were as many as 6 to 8 kids in the hot tubs. We returned to our room at noon, to find the invitation for the Cruise Critic meet & mingle, which had started at 11:30! We sprinted up to the Cosmopolitan Club. We were too late for the raffles but we got to meet several other members. For some reason everybody had imagined me as an older man in a cowboy hat! After the M&M we went to have lunch in the Nutcracker dining room with CC members Abear, Debbiescruising, Heather & Nick. I had the babyback ribs & a caramel sundae. From 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. we attended the art auction in the Ixtapa lounge. For sitting in the front row we were each given a bottle of free cheap champagne. My wife gave her bottle to a person next to us, and the auctioneer awarded us with a $500 piece of art just for her generosity! After a nap we got all dressed up for the first of 2 formal nights. Evidently all the women on the ship got some sort of memo that it was the night to wear black! Most everybody looked really nice but it's amazing what some people's idea of "formal" is. We attended the Captain's Gala on the Promenade deck and got more free champagne. At dinner I had the filet of beef with mashed potatoes & strawberry cheesecake. After dinner we attended the production show "Now & Forever" in the Metropolitan theater. At 12:15 a.m. comedian Craig Carmean returned with an "Adults Only" routine. It actually wasn't too offensive. He made fun of the "Ship Tips" commercials you see on the stateroom TV all day. He made up several of his own as well. My favorite was his one about the hair braids (dreadlocks) people get on shore. He said "The didn't even look good on Bo Derek, and they won't look good on you either!" His routine was mostly funny songs he had written about things he had been through. He also played "Stairway to Heaven" with the lyrics from "Gilligan's Island." Monday -- San Juan, Puerto Rico Got up and had breakfast in the Windjammer. There was a very funny greeter guy up there that reminded many of us of American Idol contestant William Hung. This guy was very loud and energetic as he welcomed us to the cafeteria. After breakfast I went to the climbing wall on the Sports Deck. There was no line, maybe because people did not want to climb in 22 knot winds! I accomplished the green route with no problems and then did the blue route which was much more of a challenge. Afterward we went to play mini golf on the Navigator Dunes course. Wind was also problematic for this event but it was still fun so that's all that mattered. It was my first time to play on a course with different kinds of turf, simulating fairway, rough and green. We went to the Schooner Bar for the contest called "Where in the World." Evidently I do not know as much about world geography as I thought. We went back to the Windjammer for lunch just we were pulling into the harbor at San Juan. We passed the El Morro fort on our port side so I ran out for some photos. We cleared Customs at 2:05 and were off the ship by 2:15. Excursion: City & Bacardi Factory Tour Henry our bus driver drove us from the port in a school bus while he narrated our way through town, repeating himself several times. I forget how many times he said Old San Juan has 7 Catholic Churches within 7 blocks. Anyway we got to the Bacardi place at 2:45 p.m.. We were given tickets for 2 free drinks featuring Bacardi rum. Our bus driver told us to be back at the bus at 4:30 so we would leave in time to make it to the fort before it closed at 5 p.m.. Sounded easy enough. Our tour began as a tram took us to another building featuring a sculpture with the Bacardi bat logo, a fountain and some murals of Christopher Columbus. We were given hand-held radios that let us punch in a number that corresponded with any item we would like to hear about. We were guided into a theater where we saw a film on the history of Bacardi and Puerto Rico. After that we saw other rooms with advertisements, different rum flavors, awards and a replica of what the factory might look like. I was disappointed that we were not given a tour of the actual Bacardi factory. I have toured the Budweiser brewery in Houston, TX and this one was a rip-off on comparison. Everyone made it back to the bus by 4:30 except some idiot stragglers who decided they would do whatever they wanted. Several of us were fuming mad by the time they boarded. Henry did nothing really to go find them and hurry them up. We left the factory 15 minutes late and drove back into town. On the way we passed the church where "The Flying Nun" was supposedly filmed but I have never seen the movie. We drive past the fort that was to be our final stop. Our driver took us downtown and gave us the option of getting off or staying on the bus back to the ship. We got off the bus downtown at about 5:15. There was not much to see except shops and the lighting was too bad for photography so we walked back after stopping for a drink. I would rate this excursion a 2 out of 10 because the factory "tour" is not a real factory tour, and because we were denied the stop we were most looking forward to. At dinner Monday night I had scallops for the appetizer. I had to ask our waiter Christian from the Philippines for a 2nd helping because they were so good, and he happily met my request. I had Tiger Shrimp for the entrEe and warm chocolate cake for dessert. Doug's luggage was delivered as promised by British Airways. Monday evening's show was the original "Drifters!" They were excellent and it was a real treat to see such legendary musicians perform for us. They still have all the talent they had when they lade their original recordings years ago. They performed many well known hits such as "Under the Boardwalk" and "Up on the Roof." Tuesday -- St. Thomas, USVI Woke up at 7:00 just as the local pilot boarded to guide our ship into port. Breakfast was delivered at 7:15. We had ordered ham & cheese omelets once again but this time they came with no ham! This would be the only incident of incorrect service we would encounter all week on the ship. We departed the ship at 8:15 a.m. and headed for the Paradise Point skyride, just a 10 minute walk from the pier. On the way we caught up with CC members Abear and Debbiescruising so we rode up the hill with them. We had only a short time to spend at the top because we had to meet our tablemates at the Cafe Promenade at 10:00 a.m. to share a ride to Magen's Bay. The view from the top at Paradise point really was beautiful, despite the cloudiness. On the way down it began to shower but had stopped by the time we reached she ship. We shared a taxi van to Magen's Bay with our tablemates for $7 a person. The ride took about 30 minutes to get around and over to the other side of the island. A funny moment occurred when the road was blocked by some tree cutters. A pickup truck was in the road so we went around him, then the truck driver came beside us and started yelling at our driver! They were talking so fast the only thing I could really understand was "I don't give a hell about you mon!" We called it Caribbean Road Rage. We made it to the beach before all of Godfrey's people arrived and crowded the place. We were able to secure a picnic table and good spot of sand near the end of the beach. It really was a beautiful place. I could only imagine how great it looks when the sun is out! The beach also has places to rent snorkel gear, bathrooms, showers and a bar/restaurant. We left the bay about 1:30 pm via an open truck/taxi like Godfrey uses. We were dropped off downtown near the Post Office. We shopped for an hour and bought 2 bottles of Cruzan rum. We put them in our backpack and they were not confiscated when we returned to the ship. We got back at 2:30, in time to lunch at the Windjammer. I tried the pizza, and it was okay. I give it about a 4 out of 10. Went back to deck 12 to lay out for about an hour then back to our stateroom for a nap. I woke up at 6:00 p.m. just in time to take pictures of the departure and the first real sunset we had seen after 3 days. At dinner I had the Lobster bisque for appetizer, and the entrEe was Seafood Pasta with scallops, shrimp and mussels. Banana cream pie was for dessert. The evening's event was the "Love & Marriage" game show. The three couples had some absolutely hilarious answers. One older gentleman was asked his wife's bra size and he just held out a cupped hand and said, "I don't know, how big is this?" The crowd just roared laughing! The same couple also admitted the strangest place they ever "made whoopee" was on the kitchen sink in their first apartment! After the game show we went to the Mardi Gras parade on the Promenade deck, then up to poolside for another dance party. This was also the night of the first late buffet but since we ate so late we did not eat anything. The coolest thing was a little bartending competition, where several bartenders showed how they mix drinks by juggling bottles and flipping shakers. It was very entertaining. Wednesday -- St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles  Excursion: America's Cup 12 Metre Regatta We were met dockside for our excursion and lead to a dock from where we would be tendered to out boats. My wife Liz was chosen as an honorary team captain and she chose my as her first teammate. The excursion leader actually divided up the rest of the teams. We found our that we would be racing only 2 boats that day, 1987 America's Cup winner, Stars & Stripes and a Canadian boat called True North which also ran in the 1987 race. A coin was flipped to decide who would be on which boat. 18 people were on each team. Our team was assigned to Stars & Stripes. I was given the role of "Primary Grinder" along with 3 other men and 4 women. Grinding proved to be quite grueling work and made my shoulders sore for the next day or so. The race was very close and we changed leads several times but our boat ended up losing by just a couple feet. It's amazing how precise maneuvers have to be while racing a sailboat. Onboard we were offered water, sodas & El Presidente beer, When the race was over out boat stayed out about another 30 minutes because the owner needed to film some promotional video. After we were tendered back to the excursion office we were given complimentary rum or fruit punch. I bought a Stars & Stripes hat and we each got a t-shirt. I highly recommend this excursion if you ever happen to be in St Maarten. About a 10-minute walk from the marina we made it to downtown. Philipsburg was definitely the most beautiful city we visited all week. There were the usually jewelry, clothing & liquor shops but the town seemed cleaner and better kept than San Juan and Charlotte Amalie. We were downtown and walked back to the ship in time for lunch at the Windjammer once again. We laid out on deck 12 for a couple hours and finally got some color for the first time all week. Tonight our show was before dinner, at 7:15 p.m.. It was another production show, called "All Access." Their entertainment staff onboard was really quite talented. My wife is a dance teacher and even she was impressed. Tonight at dinner was "Lobster Night" so naturally that is what I chose for my meal. Christian even brought another plate of tails without us having to ask for seconds. It was a good thing too, because by the time the waiter arrived with the melted butter, we had already nearly finished our first tails. The men at the table each had a 2nd tail. The lobster was also served with garlic-sautEed shrimp. We also found out that our tablemate Anthony proposed to Rosana at sunset that evening up by the bridge. At 10:45 p.m. after dinner was "The Quest" in Studio B (the Ice Rink). The place was filled to standing-room only. I know it's supposedly taboo to talk about the Quest, but I'll just say our Cruise Director, Ken Rush ended up dropping his pants. After the Quest we went to the Nutcracker dining room to view the Gala Buffet. There were many beautiful pieces of ice sculpture, dessert and breads. The edible foods were mostly desserts, cheeses & cocktail shrimp. Thursday -- At Sea Had breakfast in the Windjammer at 9:45 a.m., followed by "Win a Cruise Bingo" at 10:30 in the Metropolitan theater. We went ahead and had an early lunch at noon in the Nutcracker dining room. I had the fish & chips and cherry pie ala mode. At 1:15 p.m. we went to the couple's massage class in the spa. We were taught several massage strokes and practiced them on our partners. Included in the $49 per couple price was a bottle of massage oil to take home. We again went to lay out on deck this afternoon with our books from 3 to 5:00 p.m. We attended the 'Ice Dancin" show at 7:45 p.m. in Studio B. It turns out this was the final performance from this group of ice dancers. They had been on the ship for 6 months. They did a great job and she show was wonderfully entertaining. The only thing negative was they could never seen to get their turns synchronized. At dinner I opted out of the Chef's rack of lamb and chose the black angus steak, cooked medium. The steak, while tasty was cooked well-done. Other tablemates had the same complaint about over-cooked steaks at other points this week. I had the crab cake appetizer and Baked Alaska for dessert. Our evening show was 2 performances. The first was Dave & Dania, professional quick-change artists. They could somehow change an outfit in a matter of 5 seconds while behind a curtain. The 2nd performer was ventriloquist Brad Cummings, and he was okay. He and his dummy, a little lizard named Rex, kept commenting on the lack of enthusiasm from the audience. Friday -- Nassau, Bahamas This morning we had our first breakfast in the Nutcracker dining room. I had some delicious blueberry pancakes, bacon and OJ. At 10:00 a.m. we went to the Metropolis theater for a backstage tour. We were shown the costume & dressing areas for the performers. We also saw the stage and how they move props around. Finally we viewed the sound booth. Not a bad way to spend a ½ hour if you have nothing else to do. After passing the NCL Dawn on her way to sea, at 1:00 p.m. we docked at Nassau along side the Disney Wonder, Carnival Fantasy and a little old cruise ship called the Regal Empress. This marked the first time all week we had to share a port with other ships! We disembarked around 1:30 p.m. and headed to Senor Frog's where we had quesadillas. After lunch we walked around town for about an hour as it sprinkled off and on. The weather was cloudy and windy thanks to Tropical Storm Arlene over in the Gulf. We got back to the ship around 4:30 p.m. and began packing since we had just spent 4 days in Nassau last summer. Once again this evening, the show for our late dinner seating was before dinner. We were shown the farewell video and the performers came and did a musical number for us. Dinner was the "Feast of Nations." I had 2 shrimp cocktails, battered Mahi Mahi, and split the Brownie Madness & Key Lime Pie with my wife. After dinner I tipped our servers for their excellent work all week. We exchanged e-mail addresses with our friends at the table and said our goodbyes. We went back to the stateroom to finish packing and had our bags outside our door by 11:00 p.m. Saturday -- Disembarkation  We received white baggage tags to be among the first group off the ship. We had flight arrangements from Ft. Lauderdale on a 10:45 a.m. departure. We went down to breakfast in the Nutcracker for the last time. Just after we placed our order, at 6:45 a.m. our color was called to disembark. Since we weren't in that big a hurry, we stayed and ate breakfast. By the time we were done they had also called the Orange color to leave. We were off the ship at 7:25 a.m. and had our bags on the transfer bus to FLL by 7:40 a.m. The bus left for the airport at 8:10 and we arrived at FLL by 8:45 - 2 hours before our flight that many said was "too early." It can easily be done if everything goes smoothly. The ship The Navigator of the Seas is a beautiful ship. Everywhere we went for the first couple days we just said "wow." She had only been out of dry-dock for a week before we boarded. Captain Bang said Navigator got a 99 score on a health inspection the day of our sailing. Everything looked new and polished. I even smelled wood varnish a few times. I was impressed by how much beautiful art was placed on the ship just to please the passenger's eye. The public areas were all thoughtfully designed, and never felt crowded. The ride of the ship was silky smooth and we rarely felt any motion except between Nassau and Miami the final night due to the storm. The Staff Each staff member was always more than willing to accommodate any need or question we had. One day I even asked our stateroom attendant Bernadette to please clean the balcony windows and it was done by the time we returned. I think a great attendant is one you never see but who is always available. I had 5 shirts ironed and she had them returned to me by dinner the same day with no extra fee for same-day service. Our waiter, Christian was outstanding. Anecdotes I looked for the things that some CC members typically notice or complain about. I did see kids in the hot tubs. I never swam in the hot tubs for that reason. I encountered no children misbehaving without their parents, even thought there were 661 on board. Even the CD complimented the parents on the good behavior this week. I did notice several dress code "violations" including shorts and jeans in the dining room. It amused me how some women wear outfits that are much too small and tight for their figure. All in all it was the best vacation of my life. I would do it again in a second. I would like to thank everyone here who provided the wealth of information that helped make this cruise a success. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
This was our first cruise on any line, and will likely not be our last. The ship is unbelievably awesome. As others have said, there is almost too much to do. The room, service and food was incredible. Coming home was a real ... Read More
This was our first cruise on any line, and will likely not be our last. The ship is unbelievably awesome. As others have said, there is almost too much to do. The room, service and food was incredible. Coming home was a real disappointment. We had a balcony suite, and being able to just lounge on the balcony felt so good, especially late in the evening, under the stars. Very peaceful, and a nice end to a busy day. Our dining room staff were wonderful as was our cabin attendant. I'll admit the dining room felt a bit large, especially the first night, since we were at a table for 10, and there were only 4 of us. We did have 3 other table mates for most of the rest of the cruise, and they were fun too. Try Chops Grille. Incredible beef and even better service than the main dining room. We were not thrilled with Windjammer, usually crowded at lunch, and since it is on deck 11 on the stern of the ship, it would tend to rock and roll a bit too much. The entertainment on board was first rate. The cruise director always kept us entertained and the shows were great. Our 17-year-old daughter always found something to do, and with her 18-year-old friend, they had a ball. We took advantage of the pre-sailing boarding documents and sea-pass, and that smoothed the embarkation. Some of the shore excursions could have been arranged better, and perhaps better explanation of what to expect. For instance, the Atlantis submarine cruise was fun, but you are packed in like sardines (excuse the pun) and my wife and I felt uncomfortable. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
This was our first cruise and it was an incredible experience. We travelled with a little kid (4 yrs) but he loved the boat. We had a cabin with a balcony and it was very nice. Mayhap the bathroom could have been a bit bigger? The ship ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was an incredible experience. We travelled with a little kid (4 yrs) but he loved the boat. We had a cabin with a balcony and it was very nice. Mayhap the bathroom could have been a bit bigger? The ship was nice and clean and well maintained. The food was just excellent. Plenty to choose from and lots of taste. We ate dinner not only in the big dining room but also tried the Windjammer buffet on two occasions. The shows were good and we went to see the ice-show and a concert in the theatre. There were plenty of activities on board and we didn't have time to try them all. A special mention to the staff and the guy taking care of our cabin: The level of service was superb. A downer when we left the ship: Some other guests decided that their farewell with this magnificent ship was to ruin the toilets. Very sad behaviour... Me and my wife have travelled a lot and are picky, but this cruise was an experience for a lifetime. We loved every second of it and it was actually sad to leave the ship. But we have started saving again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
We flew from England the night before the cruise and stayed at the Intercontinental Miami. The rooms at the Intercontinental are very spacious and we can highly recommend this hotel, however, the pool at the back was a bit small. We were ... Read More
We flew from England the night before the cruise and stayed at the Intercontinental Miami. The rooms at the Intercontinental are very spacious and we can highly recommend this hotel, however, the pool at the back was a bit small. We were picked up from the hotel at 12:30 and arrived at the port 5 minutes later. Our baggage was taken straight from the coach and we queued outside the terminal for about 30 mins. Once inside we queued before security for about another 30 minutes. It took us about 2 hours to board the ship, even though we had priority boarding through staying in a Grand Suite. The Ship -- We thought the ship was absolutely beautiful and I was happy to spend a few hours exploring on the first day. Of course, I stopped at the bars along the way for a glass of wine or two! Our Stateroom -- We were very impressed with the Grand Suite and were delighted with the amount of storage it had. The bathroom was lovely as we also benefited from a bath and two sinks. Our stateroom attendant, Marvin, was great he seemed to appear from nowhere every time we left the suite to greet us. He also left the children a variety of towel animals each night. Food -- We found the food in all areas of the ship excellent. We did visit Chops and had a great meal. Our waiters in the dining room were very chatty and each night made recommendations from the menu. They automatically asked us if we would like more lobster on the formal night. Entertainment -- We saw the ice show which was amazing and two of the shows in the theatre which we also thoroughly enjoyed. Concierge Lounge -- We absolutely loved the concierge lounge for pre-dinner drinks. Some mornings I popped in their for an early breakfast of bagels and fruit. Francois, the concierge, was very helpful and extremely funny. Kids Club -- My DD (aged 6) and DS (aged 11) both loved the kids clubs and they didn't want to leave. The ate with us on formal nights but for the rest of the time they would have an early dinner at the windjammer and then go off at 7 o'clock. Ports of Call -- Our favourite was Labadee we had a lovely day sitting in the sun. My DH and DS went out on a waverunner and thoroughly enjoyed this. Jamaica was our least favourite we found the locals to be too pushy and were quite glad when we got back on the ship - we did Duns River Falls and the Dolphin Encounter. We enjoyed our day at Grand Cayman and thoroughly enjoyed Stingray City. Cozumel was not what I expected, it seems to be very run down after the hurricane. However, we did have an enjoyable time at Playa Mia Beach Club. Overall -- This was our first cruise and we didn't know what to expect. My husband was so impressed that by the third day he had booked for next year for Southern Caribbean. The most outstanding feature of the cruise was their staff - everyone you met was extremely friendly and nothing was too much trouble. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
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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