This was our 18th cruise. We have cruised on the Explorer, Adventure, Voyager and now the Navigator. As far as we are concerned, nothing beats the Voyager class ships. Royal Caribbean gives you a week of first class entertainment.
After being on the Norwegian Wind in Hawaii last November, this was like moving up from a bus to a limousine. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian used to be close together in service and entertainment but Norwegian has excused themselves from competition with the implementation of "Freestyle Non-Service Cruising".
We unfortunately missed the "Cruise Critic Party" because bingo was scheduled at the same time. We won Bingo 4 times during the week, split 1 time- 3 ways, 2 times- 4 ways, and during the final jackpot session, on the lucky 7, split 6 ways after 8 numbers called. With all of those splits, we did not win enough to pay for the bingo we played. We did have fun and that is what counts.
We were not aware when we booked this cruise that it was actually a "Crown & Anchor" member cruise. We are at the Platinum level with Royal Caribbean and they went out of their way to make this a week to remember. They provided us several receptions and several nights they had left gifts for us in our cabin.
Embarkation: When you hit the Platinum level with Royal Caribbean, you no longer wait in the cattle herd lines. You are taken to nice reception area with chairs and refreshments provided while you check in.
Cabin: We had an inside cabin 7369. Typical, small inside cabin which suits our needs because we don't spend enough time in the cabin to take advantage of a balcony. By not wasting money on a balcony we don't use, gives us enough money to take more cruises. Our cabin attendant was Byron. Byron was the best cabin attendant we have had on a cruise. Byron was professional, courteous and demonstrated an unusual level of class. I believe Byron has the potential to move-up to something that suits him better. Byron would make a good manager in a service-related industry. He understands and knows how to provide service.
Entertainment: Production shows, ice shows, promenade parades, comedians, jugglers, "Cruise Comics", etc. provided all first class entertainment.
You can dance to about any kind of music you like somewhere on the ship. They have from Latin to ballroom and most types in between somewhere on the ship.
The only entertainment I was not impressed with was the karaoke in the pub off of the promenade. I just don't enjoy hearing people screech. If you were in the promenade cafe late in the evening, or any where else near the promenade, the volume in the pub was so loud, you could hardy hear yourself think. The screeching would cause the hair on your back to stand-up. I just wish that they had a place this could be done in private so the rest of us would not have to listen to it. Let those who enjoy it enjoy it and spare the rest of us.
The exercise facilities are nice. I try to jog at least 3 times during the week and 5 laps on the upper deck will give you a mile. If shade and reading is your thing, I suggest deck 4 promenade. That is a peaceful place to spend time while at sea.
We made our usual donations to the slots in the casino. Those machines have an insatiable appetite. We did not spend much time in the casino because the cigarette smoke could choke a mule in that place. This was the only area we had problems with cigarette smoke and we just could not stand it in there.
Food: We ate the buffet breakfast in the Windjammer each morning with fresh made omelets, bacon that was actually cooked, fresh fruit &just about anything you would want for breakfast.
We had first seating in the dining room at table for 8. We had a group ranging from a newly wed couple to the retired and we had a pleasant time each night in the dining room. The food, service and presentation were outstanding.
We did not try Portofino's of Chop's grill so I cannot comment on those restaurants. The Cafe Promenade has an endless supply of sandwiches, cookies, desserts and pizza. It is probably unimaginable of how much ice cream is distributed by the machines in the promenade. You will see people all week long with ice cream cones in hand. If free soft serve ice cream is not your thing, look 40 degrees left and there is a Ben &Jerry's.
The midnight buffet by poolside and the gala midnight buffet were both outstanding productions.
Eight pounds gained in a week is the proof of the food quality.
For booze, we purchased a drink card at one of the bars for $44 (including tip) that prepaid for 12 drinks. It was kind of nice just giving them the card when you ordered a drink. There are some limitations so be sure this suits your drink needs. It won't cover the special drinks, draft or foreign beer, or name brands. If you like margarita's, pina colada's, whiskey sours, domestic beer, etc. the card is a good choice.
Cruise Director: I believe Royal Caribbean will have a hard time replacing Jeffery Arpin as cruise director, he is a good showman and that is what that job demands. He retired at the end of this cruise. He will be back for some fill-in work later on. Jeff received a well-deserved standing ovation at the farewell show. You could see tears in his eyes as he left the stage.
Ports-of-Call: We were on the eastern route consisting of Nassau, Bahamas, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Labadee. Labadee is a premier beach day area, if you like spending time at beach, you will enjoy Labadee. St. Thomas is for shopping. We just briefly got off the ship in Nassau and San Juan. Both are nice ports to visit.
Summary: There is so much to do on the Voyager class ships; you really do not need to leave the ship. As stated earlier, this is our 4th Voyager Class ship and we have not had time yet to get to Johnny Rockets, play miniature golf, even see the in-line skating area or see the rock climbing wall up close. There are trivia games, dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, bingo, napkin folding, the spa., etc, etc. There is just more to do than you can possibly accomplish in a week. You can do as much or as little as you want to do without ever leaving the ship.
My wife is kind of disappointed now, we are back home and her nightly entertainment is back to me snoring in the recliner.
Royal Caribbean stays at the top of our list.