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By Vincent N. & Mary Finelli This was our 12th RCI cruise and our 4th on a Voyager (Eagle) Class ship, having sailed on all Navigator's sister ships: the Voyager, the Explorer and the Adventure of the Seas. The Navigator is the "spitting image" of the other three; in fact, berthed in the Port of Miami next to the Explorer, she could only be differentiated by her name. Even though, the Navigator is 1,000 tons bigger, thus making it the largest cruise ship afloat, the increase in size is only due to larger balconies, a difference not easily discerned. We eagerly anticipate each new cruise experience and this voyage on the Navigator was one to remember, not only for the wonders of a new ship, but also to visit once again with old friends and make new acquaintances. Captain Leif Otto Bang commands a bright, eager to please staff with Hotel Manager Raimund Gschieder orchestrating the superb service. Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin sets the pace for a lively and enjoyable time aboard, and Chief Purser Jorge Lynch makes sure all sails smoothly (more about these integral men later). The Navigator of the Seas is quickly located in port, just look for the BIGGEST. This time we saw the twin biggest! (Docked one after the other were the Navigator and the Explorer.) The aqua blue glass superstructure and the almost all glass exterior with the Crown & Anchor atop are the identifying characteristics. Be prepared to literally look down upon other ships in ports of call, since, this ship is tall: We did dwarf the Nordic Empress and enjoyed an aerial view of her in Cozumel. She is one of the older and the smallest of RCI's fleet, but quite charming with her gigantic Chess Board Game on deck and vestiges of former glory. Captain Bang speaks fondly of her. It was an advantage to have sailed on the Navigator's sister ships and be familiar with her deck plan; comparisons and differences quickly become obvious. The Navigator's decor is elegant. There is nothing glitzy about her (no glaring neon or overly decorated areas). She is outfitted beautifully with fine woods, cleverly carved and in interesting combinations. We enjoyed her stunning grandiosity and stylish simplicity with attention to detail, a perfect combination of "beauty & practicality." EMBARKATION As Diamond Members of RCI Crown & Anchor Society, we know well the hospitality RCI so warmly extends to repeat cruisers. Boarding was simple, since a special lounge is set up for members with seating, refreshments and a priority check-in. We arrived at the port 12:30pm and, with a minimum of security checks, were on board by 1:00pm. We went immediately to the dining room to check on our table assignment and saw a familiar face, Asst. Maitre D' Apolo Coelho who arranged for a table for two, then we were off to the buffet - - a very nice spread! THE SHIP This 650 million dollar wonder took 18 months to build; she is 1,020 feet in length; tonnage of 139,000 tons; cruising speed of 22 knots; she can accommodate 3,835 guests (this voyage had 3,400) in her 1,557 rooms on board. Her crew numbers 1,256 and all of this on a ship with a draft of only 28 feet! These are staggering statistics, but all soon to be surpassed by the already under construction Queen Mary II by Cunard Line (150,000 tons), and the race to bigger and better cruise ships keeps on going. A hint to cruisers: Whenever on board a large ship, it is best to pick up a deck plan early. FOOD & SERVICE The food on board the Navigator is similar to that on all RCI ships. This line has reached a high level of homogeneity or equality of fare among the ships. Cruisers can be sure that the offerings and quality, designed for American palate, are tempting. Meats are exceptional and served as ordered, say "medium rare" and that's what comes! Portions are regular, not too large or too small; however, we still could do with less, so many times we share to avoid wasting food. The General Manager explained the new and more stringent innovations of the Outbreak Prevention Program (OPP) and about some of the additional sanitary precautions being taken to avoid transmitting any infection brought on board. For instance breadbaskets are no longer placed on tables; instead, the bread is served with tongs by a waiter. Dining room staff and other crew no longer shake hands with passengers; they politely apologize that stringent rules are for safety of all. Ice buckets are no longer placed automatically in staterooms; however, if you ask for one, it will come "hot" from the sterilizer with fresh ice. Ill passengers are isolated immediately to avoid any possibility of transmission. Common areas, door handles, elevator buttons, rest rooms etc. are constantly being sanitized. At dinner with Captain Bang, we joked about the necessity for "Elevator Etiquette," like standing aside to allow passengers off; moreover, in these days of Norfolk virus, we also need "Sanitary Etiquette," like covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Passengers need to wash their hands often as a protection for both themselves and others! Whatever new procedures RCI has implemented, they seem to be working. We found the food to be presented neatly and appealingly - - - - salads were crisp, soups were hot, and entrees cooked perfectly. However, the best meal on board was at Captain Bang's table. Mary, seated on the Captain's left, had ample opportunity to ask questions and he proved to be both intelligent and jovial. The Captain had spent most of the 18 months it took to build the Navigator at the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards in Turko, Finland. He knows his ship intimately. The conversation with the Captain and the other guests at the table made this a very enjoyable dining experience. We were also pleased to have at the table Ms. Debbie Nylund, an RCI Environmental Officer, whom we had previously met on the Radiance. Vincent enjoyed once again chatting with her about environmental activities aboard ships and other interesting topics. Mary asked the Captain: Since the Navigator, after all, is the largest cruise ship afloat, and carries over (what some captains still refer to as) 5,000 SOULS, how does he sleep at night under all that pressure? He answered simply, "I sleep like a baby. It is 'trust' which allows me to do so. I know my bridge mates personally and for many years. I have the utmost confidence that whether I am on the bridge or in bed every regulation and procedure is followed strictly." We slept well that night, too! We had a terrific meal of Sun Ripened Pineapple Delight, House salad of escarole and oakleaf lettuce, and vine ripened yellow tomatoes (with Florida orange dressing), Lobster Tail Royale (with garlic butter, paella rice and broccoli florets), which Vincent pronounced "Excellent!" Mary opted for the Rosemary Roasted Chicken (au jus, with pearl onions and polenta fingers) all exceptional. Desserts are great on RCI, and this meal was no exception: An Almond Meringue with Tutti Frutti or the soufflE from the main menu. Delicious! Service at the Captain's table was top notch by Asst. Maitre D' Apolo. Every evening we had prompt service at our table for two, #423, in the Coppelia Dining Room. Head Waiter Christopher kept a close eye on everything and our Waiter Koray Baysal was affable and quick. His Asst. Waiter Antonio Gordon has a good teacher and is learning the ropes. Service all over the ship was excellent. We used Room Service for breakfast every morning and it was friendly, accurate and quick. CABIN We had booked stateroom #7600, but we received our third upgrade in thirty-three cruises to #1268, a Category B Suite, thanks to the friendly Chief Purser Jorge. It was lovely, and contributed to making this cruise unforgettable. When entering on the left there is a full bath with double sink, tub/shower (granite, marble and tile abound) Look for a mosaic of the "Wind God." Next there is a desk/vanity, a queen size bed with nightstands in a drapery enclosed alcove and a large screen interactive TV. When entering on the right there are four mirrored armoires, a full Bar Island with refrigerator, dining area, large coffee table, hide-a-bed sofa, lamp table and two upholstered barrel chairs. The far wall is windows to the oversized balcony and the sea. The draperies and linen in this room are quite nice: heavy woven brocades in blues and gold. There were three framed silk screens of cymbidium orchids and narcissus on the walls. Our first steward seemed a bit distracted; we later found out he was ill. His replacement Marvin was terrific. The opportunity for a simplified method of tipping the service staff is great. We had the recommended amounts charged to our account and, on the final evening, envelopes and vouchers were delivered to our room. Yet, we always feel free to tip on a daily basis anyone who is helpful and we added cash to the prepared vouchers; after all, excellent service deserves a reward! ENTERTAINMENT The heart and soul of a ship, as Captain Bang explains, are the people on board. The daily COMPASS is the best guide to activities, and the Navigator has more fun opportunities than any other ship. Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin has a huge assignment and he executes it with aplomb. He is funny, friendly, and fast on his feet since he travels between so many venues - - - keeping all the balls up in the air. This ship is a "destination in itself." Sports, dancing, music and spectacular shows nightly. The Navigator, like her sister ships, boasts of her ice shows, and she should: "Ice Dancin," with Violetta & Peter Dack and the International Ice Cast lived up to the publicity: EXCELLENT! The regular shows with comedians Rodney Johnson and James Stephens III and the production shows by the RCI Orchestra, singers and dancers are quite good. Perhaps the most memorable single act was the "Duo Iouvilov," a combination of dancing and acrobatics. We didn't think those positions were possible! If passengers prefer to rest in their stateroom, many of these attractions are shown on their cabin's TV. PORTS OF CALL As frequent Caribbean cruisers, we have seen all of these ports many times over, but every cruise is different and the dynamics are always changing. The weather can change plans, but when on vacation it's best to go with the flow. CONCLUSION The more we cruise, the more intrigued we are by the artwork on each ship. Suddenly, we are more interested in what differentiates one ship from another and what gives each ship her "personality." We admire unique pieces of art and frequently recognize recurring themes from ship to ship, especially on those within the same class, e.g. the Voyager class. On recent cruises, we made a point of visiting each ship from top to bottom (or vice versa), to see and enjoy her art collection; it is like Art Appreciation 101 or maybe 102. But it gives us pleasure and we are improving at recognizing common characteristics and styles of certain artists whose artwork is frequently present on various ships of the same cruise line. Sometime the names are not easily remembered, but once identified, we can recalled them as authors of other pieces on other ships. We were told that the art collection on the Navigator costs $ 8.5 million. Surely, she can be compared to a nice art museum. We enjoy cruising, especially on new ships. The smell of new, the desire of seeing, feeling and comparing the new ambiance with that of other ships are the reasons for booking cruises early on the ships' inaugural season (or voyage). We are ready to book cruises on both the Serenade and on the Mariner for this coming fall; however, we have already booked three cruises on RCI ships, two in May on the Grandeur (back-to-back, transatlantic and Baltic Capitals), and a family reunion in October on the Explorer (Western Caribbean). It'll be nice to revisit both ships; it will be our third and fourth cruise on the Grandeur and our second on the Explorer. It looks like this will be for us another year of intensive cruising. Happy Cruising! finellivn@mindspring.comApril 28, 2003

Navigator of the Seas

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by finellivn

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
By Vincent N. & Mary Finelli
This was our 12th RCI cruise and our 4th on a Voyager (Eagle) Class ship, having sailed on all Navigator's sister ships: the Voyager, the Explorer and the Adventure of the Seas. The Navigator is the "spitting image" of the other three; in fact, berthed in the Port of Miami next to the Explorer, she could only be differentiated by her name. Even though, the Navigator is 1,000 tons bigger, thus making it the largest cruise ship afloat, the increase in size is only due to larger balconies, a difference not easily discerned. We eagerly anticipate each new cruise experience and this voyage on the Navigator was one to remember, not only for the wonders of a new ship, but also to visit once again with old friends and make new acquaintances. Captain Leif Otto Bang commands a bright, eager to please staff with Hotel Manager Raimund Gschieder orchestrating the superb service. Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin sets the pace for a lively and enjoyable time aboard, and Chief Purser Jorge Lynch makes sure all sails smoothly (more about these integral men later).
The Navigator of the Seas is quickly located in port, just look for the BIGGEST. This time we saw the twin biggest! (Docked one after the other were the Navigator and the Explorer.) The aqua blue glass superstructure and the almost all glass exterior with the Crown & Anchor atop are the identifying characteristics. Be prepared to literally look down upon other ships in ports of call, since, this ship is tall: We did dwarf the Nordic Empress and enjoyed an aerial view of her in Cozumel. She is one of the older and the smallest of RCI's fleet, but quite charming with her gigantic Chess Board Game on deck and vestiges of former glory. Captain Bang speaks fondly of her.
It was an advantage to have sailed on the Navigator's sister ships and be familiar with her deck plan; comparisons and differences quickly become obvious. The Navigator's decor is elegant. There is nothing glitzy about her (no glaring neon or overly decorated areas). She is outfitted beautifully with fine woods, cleverly carved and in interesting combinations. We enjoyed her stunning grandiosity and stylish simplicity with attention to detail, a perfect combination of "beauty & practicality."
EMBARKATION
As Diamond Members of RCI Crown & Anchor Society, we know well the hospitality RCI so warmly extends to repeat cruisers. Boarding was simple, since a special lounge is set up for members with seating, refreshments and a priority check-in. We arrived at the port 12:30pm and, with a minimum of security checks, were on board by 1:00pm. We went immediately to the dining room to check on our table assignment and saw a familiar face, Asst. Maitre D' Apolo Coelho who arranged for a table for two, then we were off to the buffet - - a very nice spread!
THE SHIP
This 650 million dollar wonder took 18 months to build; she is 1,020 feet in length; tonnage of 139,000 tons; cruising speed of 22 knots; she can accommodate 3,835 guests (this voyage had 3,400) in her 1,557 rooms on board. Her crew numbers 1,256 and all of this on a ship with a draft of only 28 feet! These are staggering statistics, but all soon to be surpassed by the already under construction Queen Mary II by Cunard Line (150,000 tons), and the race to bigger and better cruise ships keeps on going. A hint to cruisers: Whenever on board a large ship, it is best to pick up a deck plan early.
FOOD & SERVICE
The food on board the Navigator is similar to that on all RCI ships. This line has reached a high level of homogeneity or equality of fare among the ships. Cruisers can be sure that the offerings and quality, designed for American palate, are tempting. Meats are exceptional and served as ordered, say "medium rare" and that's what comes! Portions are regular, not too large or too small; however, we still could do with less, so many times we share to avoid wasting food.
The General Manager explained the new and more stringent innovations of the Outbreak Prevention Program (OPP) and about some of the additional sanitary precautions being taken to avoid transmitting any infection brought on board. For instance breadbaskets are no longer placed on tables; instead, the bread is served with tongs by a waiter. Dining room staff and other crew no longer shake hands with passengers; they politely apologize that stringent rules are for safety of all. Ice buckets are no longer placed automatically in staterooms; however, if you ask for one, it will come "hot" from the sterilizer with fresh ice. Ill passengers are isolated immediately to avoid any possibility of transmission. Common areas, door handles, elevator buttons, rest rooms etc. are constantly being sanitized. At dinner with Captain Bang, we joked about the necessity for "Elevator Etiquette," like standing aside to allow passengers off; moreover, in these days of Norfolk virus, we also need "Sanitary Etiquette," like covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing. Passengers need to wash their hands often as a protection for both themselves and others! Whatever new procedures RCI has implemented, they seem to be working.
We found the food to be presented neatly and appealingly - - - - salads were crisp, soups were hot, and entrees cooked perfectly. However, the best meal on board was at Captain Bang's table. Mary, seated on the Captain's left, had ample opportunity to ask questions and he proved to be both intelligent and jovial. The Captain had spent most of the 18 months it took to build the Navigator at the Kvaerner Masa Shipyards in Turko, Finland. He knows his ship intimately. The conversation with the Captain and the other guests at the table made this a very enjoyable dining experience. We were also pleased to have at the table Ms. Debbie Nylund, an RCI Environmental Officer, whom we had previously met on the Radiance. Vincent enjoyed once again chatting with her about environmental activities aboard ships and other interesting topics.
Mary asked the Captain: Since the Navigator, after all, is the largest cruise ship afloat, and carries over (what some captains still refer to as) 5,000 SOULS, how does he sleep at night under all that pressure? He answered simply, "I sleep like a baby. It is 'trust' which allows me to do so. I know my bridge mates personally and for many years. I have the utmost confidence that whether I am on the bridge or in bed every regulation and procedure is followed strictly." We slept well that night, too! We had a terrific meal of Sun Ripened Pineapple Delight, House salad of escarole and oakleaf lettuce, and vine ripened yellow tomatoes (with Florida orange dressing), Lobster Tail Royale (with garlic butter, paella rice and broccoli florets), which Vincent pronounced "Excellent!" Mary opted for the Rosemary Roasted Chicken (au jus, with pearl onions and polenta fingers) all exceptional. Desserts are great on RCI, and this meal was no exception: An Almond Meringue with Tutti Frutti or the soufflE from the main menu. Delicious! Service at the Captain's table was top notch by Asst. Maitre D' Apolo.
Every evening we had prompt service at our table for two, #423, in the Coppelia Dining Room. Head Waiter Christopher kept a close eye on everything and our Waiter Koray Baysal was affable and quick. His Asst. Waiter Antonio Gordon has a good teacher and is learning the ropes.
Service all over the ship was excellent. We used Room Service for breakfast every morning and it was friendly, accurate and quick.
CABIN
We had booked stateroom #7600, but we received our third upgrade in thirty-three cruises to #1268, a Category B Suite, thanks to the friendly Chief Purser Jorge. It was lovely, and contributed to making this cruise unforgettable.
When entering on the left there is a full bath with double sink, tub/shower (granite, marble and tile abound) Look for a mosaic of the "Wind God." Next there is a desk/vanity, a queen size bed with nightstands in a drapery enclosed alcove and a large screen interactive TV.
When entering on the right there are four mirrored armoires, a full Bar Island with refrigerator, dining area, large coffee table, hide-a-bed sofa, lamp table and two upholstered barrel chairs. The far wall is windows to the oversized balcony and the sea. The draperies and linen in this room are quite nice: heavy woven brocades in blues and gold. There were three framed silk screens of cymbidium orchids and narcissus on the walls.
Our first steward seemed a bit distracted; we later found out he was ill. His replacement Marvin was terrific. The opportunity for a simplified method of tipping the service staff is great. We had the recommended amounts charged to our account and, on the final evening, envelopes and vouchers were delivered to our room. Yet, we always feel free to tip on a daily basis anyone who is helpful and we added cash to the prepared vouchers; after all, excellent service deserves a reward!
ENTERTAINMENT
The heart and soul of a ship, as Captain Bang explains, are the people on board. The daily COMPASS is the best guide to activities, and the Navigator has more fun opportunities than any other ship. Cruise Director Jeffrey Arpin has a huge assignment and he executes it with aplomb. He is funny, friendly, and fast on his feet since he travels between so many venues - - - keeping all the balls up in the air. This ship is a "destination in itself." Sports, dancing, music and spectacular shows nightly. The Navigator, like her sister ships, boasts of her ice shows, and she should: "Ice Dancin," with Violetta & Peter Dack and the International Ice Cast lived up to the publicity: EXCELLENT! The regular shows with comedians Rodney Johnson and James Stephens III and the production shows by the RCI Orchestra, singers and dancers are quite good. Perhaps the most memorable single act was the "Duo Iouvilov," a combination of dancing and acrobatics. We didn't think those positions were possible! If passengers prefer to rest in their stateroom, many of these attractions are shown on their cabin's TV.
PORTS OF CALL
As frequent Caribbean cruisers, we have seen all of these ports many times over, but every cruise is different and the dynamics are always changing. The weather can change plans, but when on vacation it's best to go with the flow.

CONCLUSION
The more we cruise, the more intrigued we are by the artwork on each ship. Suddenly, we are more interested in what differentiates one ship from another and what gives each ship her "personality." We admire unique pieces of art and frequently recognize recurring themes from ship to ship, especially on those within the same class, e.g. the Voyager class. On recent cruises, we made a point of visiting each ship from top to bottom (or vice versa), to see and enjoy her art collection; it is like Art Appreciation 101 or maybe 102. But it gives us pleasure and we are improving at recognizing common characteristics and styles of certain artists whose artwork is frequently present on various ships of the same cruise line. Sometime the names are not easily remembered, but once identified, we can recalled them as authors of other pieces on other ships. We were told that the art collection on the Navigator costs $ 8.5 million. Surely, she can be compared to a nice art museum.
We enjoy cruising, especially on new ships. The smell of new, the desire of seeing, feeling and comparing the new ambiance with that of other ships are the reasons for booking cruises early on the ships' inaugural season (or voyage). We are ready to book cruises on both the Serenade and on the Mariner for this coming fall; however, we have already booked three cruises on RCI ships, two in May on the Grandeur (back-to-back, transatlantic and Baltic Capitals), and a family reunion in October on the Explorer (Western Caribbean). It'll be nice to revisit both ships; it will be our third and fourth cruise on the Grandeur and our second on the Explorer. It looks like this will be for us another year of intensive cruising. Happy Cruising!
finellivn@mindspring.comApril 28, 2003
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