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The Navigator of the Seas is an absolutely spectacular ship. Once you have been on a Royal Caribbean Voyager Class ship you may not want to cruise on anything else. The ship is full of imagination. This is the largest cruise ship afloat (which the crew reminds you of several times a day) and it uses that space to its every advantage. The most incredible concept on the ship was the Promenade on Deck 5. This is really the ship's Main Street. The street has a cafe with food and pastries which is open 24/7, a coffee bar (espresso-type drinks are extra), a frozen yogurt station (also 24/7), and a Ben & Jerry's stand (also for an additional charge). That's just the beginning. There are shops, a wine bar and a pub. All on the main street. On two nights during the cruise, the promenade is used for Disney-style parades, including colorful costumes, comics on stilts, music and streamers. On other nights there are "street" performers and singers who sing from the bridges over the promenade. It amazed me more each time I went down there. The other amenities on this ship include the rock-climbing wall, miniature golf, inline skating, a full basketball court, and ice skating in the ice rink which also hosts a wonderful ice show (get your free tickets early so you don't miss this great show) which are apparently typical for the Voyager-class ships. This was part of what I loved about the ship. Although these activities (and even the Promenade) seemed very contrived at times, they really added to the fun of being on this ship. Note that the rock-climbing is pretty strenuous. You may want to pass on this if you are not in decent shape or if it is an especially hot day. Instead you can work out in their fitness area, which has plenty of good workout machines and a great view. The ship is beautifully appointed. I loved taking the stairs so that I could see the different artwork on each landing (and fool myself into thinking I was burning off all of those extra calories). However, the perspective from the elevators is also interesting. It was cute how they had a carpet tile with the day of the week in each elevator. The kids loved trying to be in the elevators at midnight to see them change the date. The staterooms were large and comfortable. The architects outdid themselves in finding places for storage. We had more than enough. They have also replaced those pesky shower curtains with glass enclosures. What an improvement! We were on the eighth deck which we felt was just right for us. It was very quiet and everything was easily accessible. The ship's size has another advantage-it is extremely smooth sailing. There were times when I looked at the ocean to see whether we were still moving. The ship is that stable. The seas were not rough so maybe we just got lucky. But I never had to regain my land legs after this cruise as I have on the other five cruises we have been on, even those of short duration. The food was the best I have had on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It was very good to excellent. The dining rooms are beautiful and the quality of the food was good. We recognized the menus from our RCI cruise last year on the Nordic Empress. The execution of the menu was much better on the Navigator. I was never disappointed in anything I ate (and I sampled a lot). We did not try the steakhouse or the Italian restaurant, which costs an extra $20 per person only because we were having such a good time with our tablemates. However, everyone who tried them thought they were excellent. The Windjammer was good, with more ethnic food than I remembered from other ships. In addition, they have added Jade, which is Asian food. Jade was outstanding. The cuisine ranged from Japanese to Indian to Thai to Chinese stir-frys. All very good. Finally, this ship has a Johnny Rockets. Although primarily a hangout for the teens, plenty of adults were caught eating some of their delicious onion rings and sipping cherry Cokes. It was odd to pay for the drinks but not the food (not that I'm complaining). Johnny Rockets had great food and was also a lot of fun. Just like on land, the wait staff would dance to certain songs, which made it even more entertaining to go up there. The entertainment on the ship was terrific. The production shows were excellent, especially the Broadway review. We had two good comedians, one of whom we saw last year on the Nordic Empress and we laughed just as hard this year even though we knew all of the punch lines. One of the singing acts was the Osmond Brothers (Merrill, Wayne and Jay). They were very entertaining and nice guys. They were on the ship with their families and spoke with many of the other passengers. The setting was also a beautiful art-deco theater (the Metropolitan Theater). By the way, Jeff Arpin, the Cruise Director and host for the shows, was extremely funny and he was everywhere. No one worked harder on that ship than he did. Also, Captain Johnny was engaging and fun. A professional who does not take himself too seriously. The ice skating show is not to be missed. The skating runs the gamut from figure skating to ice dancing and other forms in between. It is amazing that they can do the tricks they did on a relatively small rink. There are also open skating sessions during the week. The lounges had wonderful entertainment. Matt Yee was in the Schooner Lounge piano bar. He would have crowds of 150 people singing songs with him. He was a hoot. The Cosmopolitan Club is a beautiful art-deco lounge on the 14th deck with great jazz nightly. In addition, there was a wonderful singer in the pub and a great disco (The Dungeon) which was busy and had a great atmosphere. Our teenage daughters had a great time (or so they tell us since we almost never saw them). They have a special area of the ship geared for teens which serves as a good meeting place for them even if they do spend most of their time walking around the ship. Our friends who had younger children could not get their kids out of the "camp." They did not want to go ashore with their parents because they were having so much fun on the ship. One negative about the children's area: you have to enter and leave through the video arcade. If you like to buy art, the art auctions have great deals. However, hold onto your wallet tightly. Richard, the auctioneer, is the best I've seen on a cruise ship. One shore excursion tip: If you are going to Cozumel, the BOND adventure ("Catch the Wave") is not to be missed. A BOND is an underwater scooter that allows you travel along the ocean floor while breathing normally as a scuba tank brings air into an enclosed helmet which forms a huge air bubble around your head. You are guided by a scuba diver who will show you interesting sea life and around the coral reef. According to the person who runs the boat, you must book this through the ship. It costs more and it's worth every penny. It was a great adventure. The only things that I did not like about the ship were that they no longer had a water and iced tea station on the pool deck. It was hard to get a glass of water while sitting at the pool. You had to go into the Windjammer which is well inside the ship because it has a large (but beautiful) entryway or go to a bar. (It took me three days to find the drinking fountains on deck.) Another minor annoyance is that certain fitness classes cost an additional $10. I did not feel it was worth it and stuck to the machines. The other bigger problem is that I found that although smokers were in the minority they were very noticeable. The smoking areas on the deck should be more limited. Likewise, we found it unpleasant to sit on our balcony because the people in the next cabin were smoking on their balcony. They should do a better job of having separate corridors for smoking and nonsmoking. This ship is for anyone who wants to be in the middle of all of the action. It has over 3000 passengers and 1200 crewmembers. In short, this is a wonderful ship if you are very active and/or your are part of a group with varying interests. However, while there are places on the ship where you can be alone, this is mainly for people who like to be a part of something big and exciting. I had several friends on the ship and I could go for days without running into them. It is just that big. We are already contemplating a family reunion in December for the Navigator or its sister ship, the Mariner of the Seas, which will go into service later in the year. If I could find a way to go back sooner, I would. Nhwelber@aol.com June 2003

Navigator of the Seas

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by Nhwelber

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
The Navigator of the Seas is an absolutely spectacular ship. Once you have been on a Royal Caribbean Voyager Class ship you may not want to cruise on anything else.

The ship is full of imagination. This is the largest cruise ship afloat (which the crew reminds you of several times a day) and it uses that space to its every advantage. The most incredible concept on the ship was the Promenade on Deck 5. This is really the ship's Main Street. The street has a cafe with food and pastries which is open 24/7, a coffee bar (espresso-type drinks are extra), a frozen yogurt station (also 24/7), and a Ben & Jerry's stand (also for an additional charge). That's just the beginning. There are shops, a wine bar and a pub. All on the main street. On two nights during the cruise, the promenade is used for Disney-style parades, including colorful costumes, comics on stilts, music and streamers. On other nights there are "street" performers and singers who sing from the bridges over the promenade. It amazed me more each time I went down there.

The other amenities on this ship include the rock-climbing wall, miniature golf, inline skating, a full basketball court, and ice skating in the ice rink which also hosts a wonderful ice show (get your free tickets early so you don't miss this great show) which are apparently typical for the Voyager-class ships. This was part of what I loved about the ship. Although these activities (and even the Promenade) seemed very contrived at times, they really added to the fun of being on this ship. Note that the rock-climbing is pretty strenuous. You may want to pass on this if you are not in decent shape or if it is an especially hot day. Instead you can work out in their fitness area, which has plenty of good workout machines and a great view.

The ship is beautifully appointed. I loved taking the stairs so that I could see the different artwork on each landing (and fool myself into thinking I was burning off all of those extra calories). However, the perspective from the elevators is also interesting. It was cute how they had a carpet tile with the day of the week in each elevator. The kids loved trying to be in the elevators at midnight to see them change the date.

The staterooms were large and comfortable. The architects outdid themselves in finding places for storage. We had more than enough. They have also replaced those pesky shower curtains with glass enclosures. What an improvement! We were on the eighth deck which we felt was just right for us. It was very quiet and everything was easily accessible.

The ship's size has another advantage-it is extremely smooth sailing. There were times when I looked at the ocean to see whether we were still moving. The ship is that stable. The seas were not rough so maybe we just got lucky. But I never had to regain my land legs after this cruise as I have on the other five cruises we have been on, even those of short duration.

The food was the best I have had on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It was very good to excellent. The dining rooms are beautiful and the quality of the food was good. We recognized the menus from our RCI cruise last year on the Nordic Empress. The execution of the menu was much better on the Navigator. I was never disappointed in anything I ate (and I sampled a lot). We did not try the steakhouse or the Italian restaurant, which costs an extra $20 per person only because we were having such a good time with our tablemates. However, everyone who tried them thought they were excellent. The Windjammer was good, with more ethnic food than I remembered from other ships. In addition, they have added Jade, which is Asian food. Jade was outstanding. The cuisine ranged from Japanese to Indian to Thai to Chinese stir-frys. All very good. Finally, this ship has a Johnny Rockets. Although primarily a hangout for the teens, plenty of adults were caught eating some of their delicious onion rings and sipping cherry Cokes. It was odd to pay for the drinks but not the food (not that I'm complaining). Johnny Rockets had great food and was also a lot of fun. Just like on land, the wait staff would dance to certain songs, which made it even more entertaining to go up there.

The entertainment on the ship was terrific. The production shows were excellent, especially the Broadway review. We had two good comedians, one of whom we saw last year on the Nordic Empress and we laughed just as hard this year even though we knew all of the punch lines. One of the singing acts was the Osmond Brothers (Merrill, Wayne and Jay). They were very entertaining and nice guys. They were on the ship with their families and spoke with many of the other passengers. The setting was also a beautiful art-deco theater (the Metropolitan Theater). By the way, Jeff Arpin, the Cruise Director and host for the shows, was extremely funny and he was everywhere. No one worked harder on that ship than he did. Also, Captain Johnny was engaging and fun. A professional who does not take himself too seriously.

The ice skating show is not to be missed. The skating runs the gamut from figure skating to ice dancing and other forms in between. It is amazing that they can do the tricks they did on a relatively small rink. There are also open skating sessions during the week.

The lounges had wonderful entertainment. Matt Yee was in the Schooner Lounge piano bar. He would have crowds of 150 people singing songs with him. He was a hoot. The Cosmopolitan Club is a beautiful art-deco lounge on the 14th deck with great jazz nightly. In addition, there was a wonderful singer in the pub and a great disco (The Dungeon) which was busy and had a great atmosphere.

Our teenage daughters had a great time (or so they tell us since we almost never saw them). They have a special area of the ship geared for teens which serves as a good meeting place for them even if they do spend most of their time walking around the ship. Our friends who had younger children could not get their kids out of the "camp." They did not want to go ashore with their parents because they were having so much fun on the ship. One negative about the children's area: you have to enter and leave through the video arcade.

If you like to buy art, the art auctions have great deals. However, hold onto your wallet tightly. Richard, the auctioneer, is the best I've seen on a cruise ship.

One shore excursion tip: If you are going to Cozumel, the BOND adventure ("Catch the Wave") is not to be missed. A BOND is an underwater scooter that allows you travel along the ocean floor while breathing normally as a scuba tank brings air into an enclosed helmet which forms a huge air bubble around your head. You are guided by a scuba diver who will show you interesting sea life and around the coral reef. According to the person who runs the boat, you must book this through the ship. It costs more and it's worth every penny. It was a great adventure.

The only things that I did not like about the ship were that they no longer had a water and iced tea station on the pool deck. It was hard to get a glass of water while sitting at the pool. You had to go into the Windjammer which is well inside the ship because it has a large (but beautiful) entryway or go to a bar. (It took me three days to find the drinking fountains on deck.) Another minor annoyance is that certain fitness classes cost an additional $10. I did not feel it was worth it and stuck to the machines. The other bigger problem is that I found that although smokers were in the minority they were very noticeable. The smoking areas on the deck should be more limited. Likewise, we found it unpleasant to sit on our balcony because the people in the next cabin were smoking on their balcony. They should do a better job of having separate corridors for smoking and nonsmoking.

This ship is for anyone who wants to be in the middle of all of the action. It has over 3000 passengers and 1200 crewmembers. In short, this is a wonderful ship if you are very active and/or your are part of a group with varying interests. However, while there are places on the ship where you can be alone, this is mainly for people who like to be a part of something big and exciting. I had several friends on the ship and I could go for days without running into them. It is just that big.

We are already contemplating a family reunion in December for the Navigator or its sister ship, the Mariner of the Seas, which will go into service later in the year. If I could find a way to go back sooner, I would.

Nhwelber@aol.com
June 2003
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