Over the past 30 years, we've taken about 15 cruises, mostly on Royal Caribbean. However, we haven't sailed on RCI in about 5 years. The Navigator is the largest ship we've sailed on to date, and so we had very high ... Read More
Over the past 30 years, we've taken about 15 cruises, mostly on Royal Caribbean. However, we haven't sailed on RCI in about 5 years. The Navigator is the largest ship we've sailed on to date, and so we had very high expectations. Our itinerary was Roatan, Belize and Cozumel out of Galveston, and we brought along my son and his family of 5. We did not set out to find disappointments or limitations, but they did arise. However, none of them kept us from having a great time with our family, and we're glad we went. I just want to outline some of them here, so that others can be prepared.
Note: all rooms are non-smoking, AND all balconies are non-smoking as well. Nice! Elevators were usually available, except at peak times. Speaking of muster, you no longer have to arrive with your life vest. Yay! It's still a really long, slow and hot process. Boo! There are numerous hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the ship, and there was never a shortage of staff disinfecting railings and doorknobs. You saw them everywhere. We were required to use hand sanitizer before entering the dining rooms. The attention to keeping germs from spreading was comforting.
We opted for two Grand Suites, side-by-side, which were really great. Lots of room, lots of storage, nice big balconies (we had them open the partition between our balcony and my son's), huge bathroom, flat screen TV, refrigerator, I could go on and on. Lights in the closets would have been nice, but no big deal. However, the king mattress was by far the most HORRIBLE mattress we've ever slept on ANYWHERE in our travels. Having dropped a serious chunk of change to travel suite style, we could not believe how awful the mattress was. Very thin, very hard, very lumpy. It actually hurt my hips to sleep on my side. We didn't get one decent night's sleep the entire week. The mattress in the sleeper sofa was actually better. In looking back, I suppose we could have asked for another mattress, and will do so next time this ever comes up. And don't be fooled that because you're in a suite and paying higher tips, you'll get better cabin steward service. That wasn't the case for us. It wasn't bad service, just not what we expected, based on what's written on the website. However, by staying in a suite, you do get LOTS of perks that we enjoyed again and again, in particular the concierge lounge and priority debarkation, but even that still takes a few hours. We waited in a special lounge until we were called to get in line, but the concierge didn't give us any directions. He just said "time to go" and then disappeared, so a lot of people were confused about where the line actually was. Just keep in mind that debarkation is inherently long and slow, no matter what, so patience is key. Also, priority embarkation doesn't seem like a perk because it also takes a long time, but at the end of the day, it still takes less time than it does for other folks. Recommendation: arrive really early, ahead of the crowds.
The food in the dining room was good, although the selections weren't as plentiful as they used to be. There is no midnight buffet any longer. There are no more "theme nights" in the dining room, so no more decorations or dancing with the wait staff, fun stuff like that. But our wait staff was exceptionally good, which made dinner enjoyable each night. The food in the Windjammer was the same over and over, as usual, and not particularly hot. But even with 7 of us, we never really had a problem finding a table that fit all of us comfortably. There are several ice cream stations on board, which the grandkids took advantage of....many times! Never did try room service, but as suite guests, you get a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. By having access to the concierge lounge, we could get coffee/tea/snacks 24/7, continental breakfast in the morning, cookies and desserts in the afternoon, and hors d'oerves and open bar in the evenings before dinner. We received two special invitations to cocktails and meet-and-greets with the captain and crew, but both times they fell right in the middle of our early dining time. Didn't understand that at all, and we were pretty disappointed at such obvious bad planning.
There is a beautiful promenade deck, but very few shops, and all of the merchandise, especially jewelry, is high end, so not very affordable. Very few souvenirs for the children. Booze prices were not much better than we get at Spec's here in Austin. The "$10 merchandise night" offerings were nothing more than really cheap, poorly made items, and the experience was pure chaos. My advice? Don't go to that!
Evening shows were mediocre at best, and many of them were held out in the open on the promenade deck, not the theater. ??? We had all looked so forward to good shows each night. Seems RCI is saving those for the megaships. Lots of bingo each day, but it's now really expensive, and the payouts aren't that great. Pools were usually crowded, as was miniature golf, no big surprise here. Don't know about the rock wall or the Flowrider. Plenty of places by the pool to catch some rays, or hang out in relative peace in the Solarium. Not very many poolside games, though, just mostly music, but they often used live bands, which was nice. There's a reserved area of seating and a bar for suite guests. That was great. Photo gallery is now high tech, and you'll pay the price. Like as much as $40 per 8x10, if you purchase less than 10 photos. Process of viewing, ordering and picking up is pretty slick, though. My advice: go for the photos settings with the white and/or black backgrounds. Those are usually a lot better than the cheesy backgrounds. Casino is very smokey, even on the non-smoking side, so be prepared for that. You win often enough to play for a while, but don't expect to come home with your money!
There are plentiful shore excursion offerings, unless you're traveling with small children. Most of the excursions have a height limit. As a result, we had to opt for the beach breaks and shopping, but we still had lots of fun.
Because we traveled with family, and our grandkids had never cruised before, this was a special trip for us and we had a good time. Cruising is a great way to travel, and we'll keep on doing it for as long as we can! Read Less