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Background  This was the fourth cruise (Voyager, Enchantment, Solstice & Navigator) for the adults and third cruise (no Voyager) for the kids Wife and I are 48 with two girls 15 & 11 living in Dallas. We take turns on which family member gets to plan our vacation. I am always involved as the banker. This year my youngest had the honor of planning. She had a budget. After last year’s cruise to Alaska, she immediately settled on a Caribbean cruise. Her main request was to swim with dolphins. We booked the cruise in February and worked on excursions and travel plans through May before pretty much finalizing everything. Part of this whole process is to keep the other family completely in the dark about when and where are going. Travel to The Woodlands Saturday, 8/9 finally arrived. While still a secret, the approaching vacation was hard to get around because summer was running out. Woke wife and eldest up and gave them one hour to pack. We told them we were doing “fancy dinners” at a steak house and Italian restaurant during our vacation and they needed two very nice (formal) outfits. Wife who remembered last year’s cruise on Celebrity immediately thinks she has it figured out by assuming we are going on a cruise. We were out the door in 65 minutes and on our way to Houston. Drive was simple and painless. Only problem was some sort of issue with the shake machine at the Dairy Queen in Fairfield. Had our first experience with Buc-ees Truck Stops in Madisonville. Not sure I am making a point of stopping at every location in the country, but it was clean. Hit The Woodlands, checked into our rooms at The Woodlands Resort & Spa, and by the pool with a drink in our hands by 3:00pm Travel to Galveston At breakfast, we tell my wife and daughter we are going to Schlitterbahn in Galveston. Told them it will be a long day because it is hot and humid and we were going to be there all day before we drove multiple hours to hit our final destination (never specified) The look on my wife’s face was priceless. She was so certain we were going on the cruise and quite frankly not at all thinking a trip to a water park was what she wanted to be doing. I am just glad she did not say anything we both would have regretted. A short drive later, we are pulling up to the terminal and my wife looks up enough from her sulking position in the front seat of the car where she was using her phone to figure out if you could get a vodka soda in the waterpark (or find a good lawyer) and notices both the NOS and Carnival Breeze right in front of us and with a relieved and happy tone says “we are not going to Schlitterbahn” Embarkation Was relatively painless. Parked across the street, walked with our luggage to the terminal. Handed checked bags to porter and got in line. We had no special status with Royal Caribbean and therefore stood in line with the common folk. Maybe 10 minutes in line outside (pretty warm) and 30 minutes inside waiting to go through security. No wait for boarding docs or getting on NOS. No trouble getting a table in Windjammer and not even done with Windjammer when they announce our rooms are ready by 1:00pm. Cabins – We booked two. 7612 had a balcony and 7611 was across the hall with a promenade view. We were right next to the aft elevators and stairs and the 7th floor game room/library. Never heard any noise and felt we had an easy walk up or down during busy times. I never caught her name, but our stateroom attendant kept everything tidy. We had towel animals 3-4 nights and never any issues that she did not quickly handle. I was given a key at Guest Services for the kids’ room so we could check on them. We had our keys hole punched at Guest Services and used lanyards to carry them around. Dining: Ate Windjammer for breakfast & lunch every day and dinner on Day 1. The food was fine. Nothing spectacular a fair selection, but tended to stick to the same thing during my visits so I could say a bit repetitive. Had plenty of staff refilling drinks or cleaning plates. We never once had a problem finding a table for four. Youngest ordered Room Service Breakfast 5 days and had it for dinner one evening. Very pleased. We could use the in-room TV menu to order. Very handy. MDR for Dinner on M-T-W-F-S We did My Time Dining. I made the reservations via phone about two weeks out. We essentially ate at 6pm every evening. Never had to wait and always had the same table. Ivo and Avinesh were the pair taking care of us. These two had it down. We had water and bread in abundance and they basically brought us what we ordered. They handle special requests just fine. We had the drink package (more later) and we were well taken care of in that regard. We often had multiple drinks/wine with our meal and everything progressed smoothly. The basic set-up was for a three-course meal app/salad, entrée, dessert. I love to eat and always left full. On the lobster night (Friday), they made Surf & Turf for us by combining the prime rib with the lobster tail. My youngest ordered the $14.95 filet from menu supplement twice and my wife got a full lobster (~$25) one night. We really enjoyed the MDR. Great people watching. We hit both formal nights (I dusted off my $99 internet tuxedo from last year). We may have been in the minority in dressing up but it is what we wanted to do. Did not bother me in the least to see people coming in with blue jeans and a shirt. They also had a good selection of music playing on the piano most nights. They played so many Disney classics I was able to quip we did not need a Disney cruise after all because RCi was just fine. Enjoyed Sabor on Thu pm. Go Hungry. The Guac is really good. We had two appetizers, chicken stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon and a queso fundido dish. We were done by then, but we did have entrees. I had the empanadas which were quite good and my wife had a fish described as red snapper. That may or may not have been red snapper, but it was very tasty. They then proceed to bring out a dessert sampler with two of everything. I could not even try a bite of each much less finish. We went Thursday and had no trouble walking in and getting a table w/o reservation. Café Promenade/Starbucks/Ben & Jerry’s – They serve Seattle’s Best in big urns or whatever you call them as self-serve. They had a couple small sandwich selections throughout the day and had some of the pizza they serve in Windjammer – typically cheese and pepperoni. They also had an assortment of muffins/breakfast breads and cookies. They tended to run low or even out of some types of food right around departure time on port days. This was typically around 4pm. Before Windjammer opened and right as 3000+ people returned to the ship and many of those were towing hungry kids with them. You can also order “Starbuck’s” at the counter. Prices are essentially the same as on land, but the staff was best tasked with the simple creations (lattes and the like) rather than some of the more creative options people may be used to ordering at home. We let the kids do Ben & Jerry’s whenever they wanted. They had a maybe 10-12 different flavors with various pricing for 1,2,3, etc. scoops. I did notice they were often out of the extra charge cupcakes and only noticed that they had chocolate with white icing. Nothing to me, but certainly not a real cupcake shop. Ports Roatan (Day 4) – we did Maya Key through RCI. I did this because earlier this year there was a bunch of bad press about Roatan and I decided I wanted to bring my whole family back (my wife is lucky she did not get too grouchy with me back in Galveston). All you do is walk off the ship and over to a tender type boat the ferries you over to the island. Maybe 10 minutes. The admission included a buffet lunch, water and tea. They had a small animal rescue center on the island with a bunch of monkeys, birds and the like. There was also a Swim with the Sharks add-on. It was $35/person. I missed this little nugget when I booked and only brought $100 with me. My wife and youngest went and thoroughly enjoyed themselves while my eldest and I enjoyed the beach. Snorkeling was pretty decent. They have a jetty out into the water. The area right where you enter is pretty beat up and rather dead looking, but if follow the marked path out to the seaward side of the reef you are treated to a very nice drop-off and a fair amount of sea-life. We shared the island with Carnival Dream. They had a much longer commute. With just the two ships in port, it was never crowded on the island for any of the activities. Plenty of chairs and privacy if you wanted. The gift shop was a bit on the pricey side and we were short of funds. We went back to the ship and I reloaded my wallet and we did some easy shopping in the port complex. Just shirts and stuff. Belize City (Day 5) – We were set to due zip line cave-tubing through VIV tours. My older daughter woke us up around 3:00 am with some nausea. I believe she was either seasick or had a slight disagreement with something she ate (not Noro). It passed in < 24 hrs. We did not know this at the time, but later heard some stories of quarantines and the like so we were lucky to have this pass so quickly. I was up early to get tender tickets. I think they posted they would begin distribution at 8:00 or 8:30 am that morning. I strolled by before 7 and the line was already forming. I skipped breakfast and waited about one hour to get Tender 4 tickets. We were off the boat and in Belize around 10am. I did escort my youngest and wife to port and put them on the van with VIV. They had an absolutely great time and could not say enough nice things about the staff and experience. I returned solo via tender to NOS and basically sat around and tended to an ill 15 yr old girl. That was a vacation in and of itself. I did break away at lunch to eat in the Windjammer and was struck by how empty the ship was. Almost like having it to yourself. After we reunited, we fed the girls (our invalid was up to some crackers, bread, plain pasta). Wife and I hit Sabor as described earlier. Cozumel (Day 6) We booked Royal Swim directly with Dolphinaris. There was some sort of on-line special my daughter found that got the four of us for a very reasonable price. It was a short ($8) cab ride from the port. We were in a group of 8 and had roughly 60 minutes of time in the water. We got to pet the dolphin, kiss the dolphin, shake hands/fins and got a ride of the whole thing. I am well aware of the issues about animals in captivity and will let that discussion take place somewhere else. We went and had a very good time. Pictures cost a fortune. Some haggling can take place, but you will still pay a bunch. Afterwards we enjoyed a buffet lunch which included chicken tenders (big hit for girls), hamburgers and fajitas. Bar drinks and beer were complimentary. After lunch we used the paddle boards they had. A lot of fun and some hard work. There is no beach at this place. You walk to the ocean and it is just rocks. They have a sheltered snorkel area, paddle boards and kayaks. We had fun, but do not think you will get some more time on the beach. Pick Chankanaab if you want that. Some easy shopping in the port complex and back on board by 4:00pm. Random note: In port with Allure of the Seas. We did Solstice last year and now Navigator. Neither are what you would call small, but seeing the Allure and Navigator next to each other was something else. You can see the family lines, but they hardly compare. Entertainment Already forgetting things, but… Saw the comedian Monday. Definitely adult and funny. We hit the Ice Show on Tuesday. Really quite enjoyable. In addition to the show, we went ice skating twice during open skate sessions. Flowrider – fun to watch and my youngest did it during open period and had a blast. There was maybe a 20 minute wait as the line cycled through. Love & Marriage on Wednesday or Thursday – a classic First time to see Quest on Friday which was an absolute riot and should not be missed. It is for adults. We enjoyed the Latin Band in Boleros every night after dinner. We went to Schooners late and had fun with the piano guy. We stumbled upon the young adult night club out by the Solarium pool Thursday night and had a great time watching a bunch of 20 something’s party it up, but left before anyone fell into the pool. They played movies on the big screen most nights. It was on all the time, but mostly ignored. We gambled a bit. We are not big gamblers, but were up each night for the first four nights. They took it all back on night five and that pretty much ended things for us. We are not smokers and generally did not mind, but a couple of times we were smoked off a table. Minor gripe. Likely saved us money. TV had some basic channels CNN, ESPN, TNT, Cartoon and a fair selection of pay-per-view movies (~$12each). Drinking We hit every bar on the ship. Boleros and Schooners were by far our favorites. Vintages was understandably low-key and the R Bar never really did anything for us. Bella in Schooners was great. Really chatted us up and loved to explore what to make us with our drink package. We used our Ultimate Drink Package for Water, fresh juice and coffee during the day and a variety of drinks and wine in the evening. We never felt like we had to wait an undo amount of time to get a drink. I sat out by the pool on the first two sea days and was always able to flag down a server from my chair. I mentioned we had drinks with dinner and had wine to suit our courses/desires. I do wish they had outdoor bar option available. We could take drinks and sit outside, but I wish they kept the Mast Bar open past 9:30pm. Pictures Fairly easy to use the computer kiosks to order prints. Not exactly a bargain, but easy to do. Internet Very slow. I think the server works better running something other than Safari (Apple). I did use the PC’s in the library and it seemed to work faster than using my Mac or iPad. I did not even try to send a picture from the NOS because I figured it would take too long. Random Ship Comments Stroll deck four on the outside and take the forward outside stairs to the path leading to the helipad. Great place visit almost any time of day or night. Deck four is also sprinkled with chairs and some foot rests. Pool deck did get crowded and it was often hard to find a chair in the Solarium on sea days. Plenty of chairs on deck 12 surrounding the pool and the jogging track were open, but you may have to wait a bit on Deck 11 for chairs. Kids’ Club – somewhat ambivalent about the experience. Our 15 yr. old simply used the two rooms for teens as a meeting point for her to find her little group of new-made friends and move along. They let our 11 year old move up to the 12-14 group and this was a bit of a mistake. There is far less structure and activity with the older groups. I think she would have had a better experience in the 9-11 group doing the more organized activities rather than walking around with a bunch of other awkward tweens trying to act like the “big” kids. Older daughter been Skyping her new friends since we got back. Younger daughter really has no memorable experiences from the club We gave the kids simple instructions. Meet at room for lunch at noon, be ready for dinner at 6:00pm. Go in no rooms and let no one in our rooms. We are fairly strict at home (9:00 pm bedtimes for both), but gave a range of curfews from 11-1am. We did add they needed to check-in with us at various times after dinner, but we strangely enough felt more comfortable with them running around a ship packed with >3000 strangers than I would be letting them ride their bikes to our neighborhood park. Disembarkation This is complete chaos and I refuse to let RCI get a pass of this one. Absolutely no rhyme or reason to the twisting turning line you had to get in in order to exit. The girl they had organizing things would have had trouble drawing a line on a piece of paper if you spotted her two dots and a ruler. Plenty of standing, shuffling and warding off line jumpers (1/2 of them did not even realize they were cutting the line was bad). I remember reading about the porter situation, but maybe I killed those brain cells earlier in the cruise because it took me one hour in line before I jumped in the porter line. Things were much faster after that, but we did not exit the terminal until almost 1:00pm. I was told something happened in the morning to slow things down. I get the limited number of staffed Customs counters, but I cannot imagine RCI really wants so many people each and every week to have that as their last memory of the cruise. At the very least they could invest in some line dividers/organizers and maybe put some water out. Summary They often close the Olympics with the president of IOC thanking the host city for putting on the best games ever. This was a truly great vacation. We loved Alaska last year and I definitely suggest that as a bucket list item, but Alaska is 2-3 times the cost of a Caribbean cruise. This was by far a more relaxing cruise. Two very different itineraries and thus experiences. We took Solstice last year and while that is a beautiful ship, I hardly think there is some huge gap between the two sibling lines. I have a hard time imaging why so many have been put-off by NOS. Maybe they somehow thought they were traveling on Seabourne or so jaded with departure they forgot how much fun they had the previous 7 days. We had a couple of funny moments trying to get someone to understand what we wanted in the Windjammer, but always found the staff eager to please. If you want Broadway or Vegas entertainment go there. The dancers and shows are on the level of what one would expect on a cruise ship, local bar or comedy club. Very enjoyable, but not exactly selling out any arenas. Expect a lot of kids and people and read up about the ship and the ports (dare I say visit other travel sites as well). Absolutely loved seeing the kids try new things and eat new things at dinner. I end my overly wordy review with a comment from my just completed the RCI survey. Question: Would you recommend this cruise to one of your friends? Answer: 10 (absolutely)  

NOS August 10-17

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by jfslcruise

Trip Details
Background  This was the fourth cruise (Voyager, Enchantment, Solstice & Navigator) for the adults and third cruise (no Voyager) for the kids
Wife and I are 48 with two girls 15 & 11 living in Dallas.
We take turns on which family member gets to plan our vacation. I am always involved as the banker. This year my youngest had the honor of planning. She had a budget. After last year’s cruise to Alaska, she immediately settled on a Caribbean cruise. Her main request was to swim with dolphins. We booked the cruise in February and worked on excursions and travel plans through May before pretty much finalizing everything.
Part of this whole process is to keep the other family completely in the dark about when and where are going.
Travel to The Woodlands
Saturday, 8/9 finally arrived. While still a secret, the approaching vacation was hard to get around because summer was running out.
Woke wife and eldest up and gave them one hour to pack. We told them we were doing “fancy dinners” at a steak house and Italian restaurant during our vacation and they needed two very nice (formal) outfits. Wife who remembered last year’s cruise on Celebrity immediately thinks she has it figured out by assuming we are going on a cruise.
We were out the door in 65 minutes and on our way to Houston. Drive was simple and painless. Only problem was some sort of issue with the shake machine at the Dairy Queen in Fairfield.
Had our first experience with Buc-ees Truck Stops in Madisonville. Not sure I am making a point of stopping at every location in the country, but it was clean.
Hit The Woodlands, checked into our rooms at The Woodlands Resort & Spa, and by the pool with a drink in our hands by 3:00pm
Travel to Galveston
At breakfast, we tell my wife and daughter we are going to Schlitterbahn in Galveston. Told them it will be a long day because it is hot and humid and we were going to be there all day before we drove multiple hours to hit our final destination (never specified)
The look on my wife’s face was priceless. She was so certain we were going on the cruise and quite frankly not at all thinking a trip to a water park was what she wanted to be doing. I am just glad she did not say anything we both would have regretted.
A short drive later, we are pulling up to the terminal and my wife looks up enough from her sulking position in the front seat of the car where she was using her phone to figure out if you could get a vodka soda in the waterpark (or find a good lawyer) and notices both the NOS and Carnival Breeze right in front of us and with a relieved and happy tone says “we are not going to Schlitterbahn”
Embarkation
Was relatively painless. Parked across the street, walked with our luggage to the terminal. Handed checked bags to porter and got in line.
We had no special status with Royal Caribbean and therefore stood in line with the common folk.
Maybe 10 minutes in line outside (pretty warm) and 30 minutes inside waiting to go through security.
No wait for boarding docs or getting on NOS.
No trouble getting a table in Windjammer and not even done with Windjammer when they announce our rooms are ready by 1:00pm.
Cabins – We booked two. 7612 had a balcony and 7611 was across the hall with a promenade view. We were right next to the aft elevators and stairs and the 7th floor game room/library. Never heard any noise and felt we had an easy walk up or down during busy times.
I never caught her name, but our stateroom attendant kept everything tidy. We had towel animals 3-4 nights and never any issues that she did not quickly handle.
I was given a key at Guest Services for the kids’ room so we could check on them. We had our keys hole punched at Guest Services and used lanyards to carry them around.
Dining:
Ate Windjammer for breakfast & lunch every day and dinner on Day 1.
The food was fine. Nothing spectacular a fair selection, but tended to stick to the same thing during my visits so I could say a bit repetitive. Had plenty of staff refilling drinks or cleaning plates. We never once had a problem finding a table for four.
Youngest ordered Room Service Breakfast 5 days and had it for dinner one evening. Very pleased. We could use the in-room TV menu to order. Very handy.
MDR for Dinner on M-T-W-F-S
We did My Time Dining. I made the reservations via phone about two weeks out. We essentially ate at 6pm every evening. Never had to wait and always had the same table.
Ivo and Avinesh were the pair taking care of us. These two had it down. We had water and bread in abundance and they basically brought us what we ordered. They handle special requests just fine.
We had the drink package (more later) and we were well taken care of in that regard. We often had multiple drinks/wine with our meal and everything progressed smoothly.
The basic set-up was for a three-course meal app/salad, entrée, dessert. I love to eat and always left full. On the lobster night (Friday), they made Surf & Turf for us by combining the prime rib with the lobster tail.
My youngest ordered the $14.95 filet from menu supplement twice and my wife got a full lobster (~$25) one night.
We really enjoyed the MDR. Great people watching. We hit both formal nights (I dusted off my $99 internet tuxedo from last year). We may have been in the minority in dressing up but it is what we wanted to do. Did not bother me in the least to see people coming in with blue jeans and a shirt.
They also had a good selection of music playing on the piano most nights. They played so many Disney classics I was able to quip we did not need a Disney cruise after all because RCi was just fine.
Enjoyed Sabor on Thu pm.
Go Hungry. The Guac is really good. We had two appetizers, chicken stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon and a queso fundido dish. We were done by then, but we did have entrees.
I had the empanadas which were quite good and my wife had a fish described as red snapper. That may or may not have been red snapper, but it was very tasty.
They then proceed to bring out a dessert sampler with two of everything. I could not even try a bite of each much less finish.
We went Thursday and had no trouble walking in and getting a table w/o reservation.
Café Promenade/Starbucks/Ben & Jerry’s – They serve Seattle’s Best in big urns or whatever you call them as self-serve. They had a couple small sandwich selections throughout the day and had some of the pizza they serve in Windjammer – typically cheese and pepperoni. They also had an assortment of muffins/breakfast breads and cookies. They tended to run low or even out of some types of food right around departure time on port days. This was typically around 4pm. Before Windjammer opened and right as 3000+ people returned to the ship and many of those were towing hungry kids with them.
You can also order “Starbuck’s” at the counter. Prices are essentially the same as on land, but the staff was best tasked with the simple creations (lattes and the like) rather than some of the more creative options people may be used to ordering at home.
We let the kids do Ben & Jerry’s whenever they wanted. They had a maybe 10-12 different flavors with various pricing for 1,2,3, etc. scoops.
I did notice they were often out of the extra charge cupcakes and only noticed that they had chocolate with white icing. Nothing to me, but certainly not a real cupcake shop.
Ports
Roatan (Day 4) – we did Maya Key through RCI. I did this because earlier this year there was a bunch of bad press about Roatan and I decided I wanted to bring my whole family back (my wife is lucky she did not get too grouchy with me back in Galveston).
All you do is walk off the ship and over to a tender type boat the ferries you over to the island. Maybe 10 minutes. The admission included a buffet lunch, water and tea.
They had a small animal rescue center on the island with a bunch of monkeys, birds and the like.
There was also a Swim with the Sharks add-on. It was $35/person. I missed this little nugget when I booked and only brought $100 with me. My wife and youngest went and thoroughly enjoyed themselves while my eldest and I enjoyed the beach.
Snorkeling was pretty decent. They have a jetty out into the water. The area right where you enter is pretty beat up and rather dead looking, but if follow the marked path out to the seaward side of the reef you are treated to a very nice drop-off and a fair amount of sea-life.
We shared the island with Carnival Dream. They had a much longer commute. With just the two ships in port, it was never crowded on the island for any of the activities. Plenty of chairs and privacy if you wanted.
The gift shop was a bit on the pricey side and we were short of funds. We went back to the ship and I reloaded my wallet and we did some easy shopping in the port complex. Just shirts and stuff.
Belize City (Day 5) – We were set to due zip line cave-tubing through VIV tours. My older daughter woke us up around 3:00 am with some nausea. I believe she was either seasick or had a slight disagreement with something she ate (not Noro). It passed in < 24 hrs. We did not know this at the time, but later heard some stories of quarantines and the like so we were lucky to have this pass so quickly.
I was up early to get tender tickets. I think they posted they would begin distribution at 8:00 or 8:30 am that morning. I strolled by before 7 and the line was already forming. I skipped breakfast and waited about one hour to get Tender 4 tickets. We were off the boat and in Belize around 10am. I did escort my youngest and wife to port and put them on the van with VIV. They had an absolutely great time and could not say enough nice things about the staff and experience.
I returned solo via tender to NOS and basically sat around and tended to an ill 15 yr old girl. That was a vacation in and of itself. I did break away at lunch to eat in the Windjammer and was struck by how empty the ship was. Almost like having it to yourself.
After we reunited, we fed the girls (our invalid was up to some crackers, bread, plain pasta). Wife and I hit Sabor as described earlier.
Cozumel (Day 6)
We booked Royal Swim directly with Dolphinaris. There was some sort of on-line special my daughter found that got the four of us for a very reasonable price. It was a short ($8) cab ride from the port.
We were in a group of 8 and had roughly 60 minutes of time in the water. We got to pet the dolphin, kiss the dolphin, shake hands/fins and got a ride of the whole thing. I am well aware of the issues about animals in captivity and will let that discussion take place somewhere else. We went and had a very good time.
Pictures cost a fortune. Some haggling can take place, but you will still pay a bunch.
Afterwards we enjoyed a buffet lunch which included chicken tenders (big hit for girls), hamburgers and fajitas. Bar drinks and beer were complimentary.
After lunch we used the paddle boards they had. A lot of fun and some hard work. There is no beach at this place. You walk to the ocean and it is just rocks. They have a sheltered snorkel area, paddle boards and kayaks. We had fun, but do not think you will get some more time on the beach. Pick Chankanaab if you want that.
Some easy shopping in the port complex and back on board by 4:00pm.
Random note: In port with Allure of the Seas. We did Solstice last year and now Navigator. Neither are what you would call small, but seeing the Allure and Navigator next to each other was something else. You can see the family lines, but they hardly compare.
Entertainment
Already forgetting things, but…
Saw the comedian Monday. Definitely adult and funny.
We hit the Ice Show on Tuesday. Really quite enjoyable. In addition to the show, we went ice skating twice during open skate sessions.
Flowrider – fun to watch and my youngest did it during open period and had a blast. There was maybe a 20 minute wait as the line cycled through.
Love & Marriage on Wednesday or Thursday – a classic
First time to see Quest on Friday which was an absolute riot and should not be missed. It is for adults.
We enjoyed the Latin Band in Boleros every night after dinner.
We went to Schooners late and had fun with the piano guy.
We stumbled upon the young adult night club out by the Solarium pool Thursday night and had a great time watching a bunch of 20 something’s party it up, but left before anyone fell into the pool.
They played movies on the big screen most nights. It was on all the time, but mostly ignored.
We gambled a bit. We are not big gamblers, but were up each night for the first four nights. They took it all back on night five and that pretty much ended things for us. We are not smokers and generally did not mind, but a couple of times we were smoked off a table. Minor gripe. Likely saved us money.
TV had some basic channels CNN, ESPN, TNT, Cartoon and a fair selection of pay-per-view movies (~$12each).
Drinking
We hit every bar on the ship. Boleros and Schooners were by far our favorites. Vintages was understandably low-key and the R Bar never really did anything for us. Bella in Schooners was great. Really chatted us up and loved to explore what to make us with our drink package.
We used our Ultimate Drink Package for Water, fresh juice and coffee during the day and a variety of drinks and wine in the evening. We never felt like we had to wait an undo amount of time to get a drink. I sat out by the pool on the first two sea days and was always able to flag down a server from my chair. I mentioned we had drinks with dinner and had wine to suit our courses/desires.
I do wish they had outdoor bar option available. We could take drinks and sit outside, but I wish they kept the Mast Bar open past 9:30pm.
Pictures
Fairly easy to use the computer kiosks to order prints. Not exactly a bargain, but easy to do.
Internet
Very slow. I think the server works better running something other than Safari (Apple). I did use the PC’s in the library and it seemed to work faster than using my Mac or iPad. I did not even try to send a picture from the NOS because I figured it would take too long.
Random Ship Comments
Stroll deck four on the outside and take the forward outside stairs to the path leading to the helipad. Great place visit almost any time of day or night.
Deck four is also sprinkled with chairs and some foot rests.
Pool deck did get crowded and it was often hard to find a chair in the Solarium on sea days. Plenty of chairs on deck 12 surrounding the pool and the jogging track were open, but you may have to wait a bit on Deck 11 for chairs.
Kids’ Club – somewhat ambivalent about the experience. Our 15 yr. old simply used the two rooms for teens as a meeting point for her to find her little group of new-made friends and move along. They let our 11 year old move up to the 12-14 group and this was a bit of a mistake. There is far less structure and activity with the older groups. I think she would have had a better experience in the 9-11 group doing the more organized activities rather than walking around with a bunch of other awkward tweens trying to act like the “big” kids.
Older daughter been Skyping her new friends since we got back. Younger daughter really has no memorable experiences from the club
We gave the kids simple instructions. Meet at room for lunch at noon, be ready for dinner at 6:00pm. Go in no rooms and let no one in our rooms. We are fairly strict at home (9:00 pm bedtimes for both), but gave a range of curfews from 11-1am. We did add they needed to check-in with us at various times after dinner, but we strangely enough felt more comfortable with them running around a ship packed with >3000 strangers than I would be letting them ride their bikes to our neighborhood park.
Disembarkation
This is complete chaos and I refuse to let RCI get a pass of this one. Absolutely no rhyme or reason to the twisting turning line you had to get in in order to exit. The girl they had organizing things would have had trouble drawing a line on a piece of paper if you spotted her two dots and a ruler. Plenty of standing, shuffling and warding off line jumpers (1/2 of them did not even realize they were cutting the line was bad). I remember reading about the porter situation, but maybe I killed those brain cells earlier in the cruise because it took me one hour in line before I jumped in the porter line. Things were much faster after that, but we did not exit the terminal until almost 1:00pm. I was told something happened in the morning to slow things down. I get the limited number of staffed Customs counters, but I cannot imagine RCI really wants so many people each and every week to have that as their last memory of the cruise. At the very least they could invest in some line dividers/organizers and maybe put some water out.
Summary
They often close the Olympics with the president of IOC thanking the host city for putting on the best games ever.
This was a truly great vacation. We loved Alaska last year and I definitely suggest that as a bucket list item, but Alaska is 2-3 times the cost of a Caribbean cruise. This was by far a more relaxing cruise. Two very different itineraries and thus experiences. We took Solstice last year and while that is a beautiful ship, I hardly think there is some huge gap between the two sibling lines.
I have a hard time imaging why so many have been put-off by NOS. Maybe they somehow thought they were traveling on Seabourne or so jaded with departure they forgot how much fun they had the previous 7 days.
We had a couple of funny moments trying to get someone to understand what we wanted in the Windjammer, but always found the staff eager to please.
If you want Broadway or Vegas entertainment go there. The dancers and shows are on the level of what one would expect on a cruise ship, local bar or comedy club. Very enjoyable, but not exactly selling out any arenas.
Expect a lot of kids and people and read up about the ship and the ports (dare I say visit other travel sites as well).
Absolutely loved seeing the kids try new things and eat new things at dinner.
I end my overly wordy review with a comment from my just completed the RCI survey.
Question: Would you recommend this cruise to one of your friends?
Answer: 10 (absolutely)
 
jfslcruise’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 7612
Fine. Next to Aft Elevators, Stairs and Card Room/Library. Easy walk down to 5 and not too bad up to 11Never heard any noise
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