We just returned from the 6/10/06 sailing of Navigator of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. We had been to all of the ports of call from our six previous cruises so we really went on the cruise to sail on Navigator!
Day 1 (Miami) - Our flight arrived in Fort Lauderdale at around 9:30 AM. We took a limo from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Intl. to the Port of Miami. The ride was about 35 minutes on a Saturday morning with little traffic. We got to the pier just before 11 AM and were the first ones in the terminal so we had our picture taken and sat in the lounge area until 11:30 when they opened up security. We checked in with our Set Sail Pass and were on the ship by 11:45. We usually try not to sail out of Miami because the Port of Miami always seems so crowded and rushed but this was one of the best embarkation experiences we have ever had.
Day 2 (At Sea) - Sunday was actually kinda overcast. We had planned on laying out on the pool deck most of the day but since it was cloudy we stayed in the cabin, ate at the Windjammer and explored the ship, comparing it to her sisters Mariner and Voyager of the Seas. The rest of the day was spent resting up for the rest of the cruise, we had to leave the house at 3:00 AM on Saturday.
Day 3 (Labadee) - Labadee is actually one of our favorite ports. We spent the entire day at the beach. We got off at about 9:30 to avoid the early tender crowd and it worked out pretty well. The day was beautiful, as it always has been for us in Labadee. We usually do not eat at the BBQ because it is usually not too great, but they have improved it since last time and we actually had a pretty good lunch.
Day 4 (Ocho Rios) - Ocho Rios was great. We took a brief tour of Ocho Rios and then we were dropped off at Dunns River Falls. We have never climbed the falls before and it was very worth it. We had a great time and will definitely do it if we ever go back to Ocho Rios. If you don't bring your own water shoes, you can rent them at the falls for $5.
Day 5 (Grand Cayman) - Grand Cayman is also one of our favorites. We did the Trolly Rodger, which did not appeal to us but a few people in the group wanted to give it a try. It was short and not too exciting, which was to be expected. After the trolly tour, we went to Seven Mile Beach for a couple hours. Freedom of the Seas was tendering beside us in Grand Cayman. Our next cruise is on Liberty of the Seas and I have to say I really think the Navigator has a better looking exterior than Freedom. I can't stand the yellow looking mini hump on Freedom of the Seas. But besides that, from the exterior, they are nearly identical.
Day 6 (Cozumel) - It was another mostly cloudy day in Cozumel. We decided to stay on the ship until 3:00 PM because the ship was completely deserted, it was great. At about 3:00 we got on a tender and took a cab downtown for $6 and did some shopping.
Day 7 (At Sea) - Friday was a beautiful day at sea, not a cloud in the sky. We stayed around the pool most of the day and listened to the band on the pool deck. This day at sea really was a great end to a great cruise.
The Ship - As I said before, we really took this cruise because of the ship, not the itinerary. We wanted to give Navigator of the Seas a try before Freedom and Liberty because we have heard so many great things about Navigator. I was not disappointed.
Overall, the Navigator is in great shape for being almost 4 years old and never having a refurb. The only places she shows wear is on the outdoor track and some of the carpet inside the corridors and stairways, which is to be expected. Keep in mind these ships have over 3500 guests plus crew on and off the ship every week of the year. While we were on our cruise, they replaced all of the deck chairs on the top deck and pool deck areas from the teal ones to dark blue ones just like them. It really improved the look of the deck area.
They really do a good job maintaining the ship. They are always painting, washing, and picking up behind the scenes, especially late at night and early in the morning. They replaced some carpet while we were on, but were never in the way while replacing carpet or deck chairs.
The Cabin - We had a Deluxe Oceanview stateroom with a balcony, number 6250. It was a great cabin and plenty spacious for three adults. I was weary about having a balcony on deck six and the cabin being right on top of Cafe Promenade but we had no noise trouble at all and I actually preferred having the deck 6 balcony than a higher one. The interior of the cabin was in good shape, of course in need of the new bedding, but it was fine for a weeks stay.
The Crew - Cruise director Graham Seymour was our favorite cruise director yet. We were a little disappointed with the amount of crew that was sent over to Freedom of the Seas. Many of the Guest Relations staff and bar waiters were sent to Freedom and you could tell they were new to Navigator and possibly new to the job. They were all nice and helpful, though.
Overall - We had a fantastic cruise on the Navigator of the Seas and would cruise on her again in a heartbeat. We are really going to miss her when she leaves for Europe and then begins sailing short Western Caribbean itineraries. She really is still one of the best ships out there in my opinion after seven cruises.