One is never too old to learn new life lessons. Our trip to the Caribbean on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas in December 2014 was another brutal reminder of that. Loved the boat, liked the crew, food was just OK, logistics were poor, entertainment was a mixed bag…mostly focused on a younger demographic.
Most readers are probably more interested in the ship, the service, the food, the fellow travelers and the logistics than in the ports visited. Plenty of information can be found online about Cozumel, Honduras and Belize. All are third world countries and all have warts. Travel too far from the luxurious beaches and you will find that out for yourself. Actually, one should do just that.
We sailed on the Navigator of the Seas in December 2013, just one trip before it went to dry dock for a much-needed facelift. The results of that undertaking were quite pleasing. The staterooms received a facelift, with new draperies, carpet, sofa, etc. Very tasteful and nicely done. The ship in general was spruced up. It looks good and has been well maintained. Also on the positive side, the crew from last year, which was largely comprised of Eastern Europeans who seemed to have a bad attitude, an inability to smile or to hear a customer request. They have been supplanted by a much improved cast of mixed nationalities. The result is excellent. We never encountered a surly, sullen or morose crewmember on our entire trip! The captain has also been replaced. That too was a positive move. The new master was quite professional, personable, visible and seemed to have things well in hand.
Not withstanding the foregoing enhanced crew, we found the service in the dining room to be extremely slow. When we questioned the servers they made it clear to us that Royal Caribbean’s quest for profits has led to a staff reduction, which has resulted in this substandard service. Efficiency and customer satisfaction have been thrown under the bus in favor of profits. Sad.
The food was only good, and not at all special. That includes the specialty restaurants like Giovanni’s. We can boast only about two good meals for the week. The selection at the buffet venue had a extensive selection of East Indian and Asian choices, but little good ole American food. The mixed nationality chefs’ attempts at dishes like tacos or biscuits and gravy were a dismal failure. Such food should not be attempted by non-Americans. So… Royal Caribbean gets high marks for catering to the requests of all minorities…except middle aged Americans. Once again…sad.
Boarding at Galveston is still a nightmare. It always seems like it is the first time they have ever attempted it, and that it is everyone’s first day on the job. It is simply stunning that such an elementary process cannot be managed better. They need to hire a few former Disney World managers to teach them how to handle crowds and organize a process. The security agents and border patrol staff there always seem dim witted, slow, humorless and clueless about customer service. They are actually entertaining to watch however, as one has no alternative but to submit one’s self to the punishment and folly inflicted by them. And they wonder why people have so little respect for authority these days. Oh well…..
The “Expedited Departure” from the ship was nothing short of a rodeo. The crew tried valiantly to keep it organized but to no avail. The 20% who seem to feel privileged by their status, wealth, nationality or race navigate through the process as they wish while the great unwashed masses are left to stand in line politely and wait for their bowl of porridge so to speak. One is reminded of the famous line by Tiny Tim, “please sir, may I have more.” Royal Caribbean needs to hand out numbered or coded passes for this Expedited Departure at the Service Counter, in managed numbers, rather than let folks just show up and add to the mayhem.
In short, the focus on “improving profits” not “cutting costs” will probably be Royal Caribbean’s undoing with the mature cruisers. When the guests hear from the crew that they have cut back on staff to improve profits, when the head waiter at Giovanni’s is heard to encourage his staff to sell more wine for profits…nothing about guest service…and when the food quality slips…well…you figure it out for yourself.
The most important thing we learned from this experience is that after four attempts over four successive years, taking a cruise out of Galveston during the Holiday Season is a very bad idea! It seems clear that Royal Caribbean has shifted age group and demographic focus on their Galveston based cruises. Younger folks, big drinkers and partiers who spend on excursions and bar beverages have supplanted their interest in older, more experienced and conservative cruisers. No problem with that strategy given that their competition out of Galveston is Carnival and Disney. However, and unfortunately for them, those of us who fit in that “older, more conservative cruiser” demographic will be looking to another cruise line for future bookings. I have had enough!
Cabin was nicely redecorated, clean and well maintained. Size was more than adequate. Bed is great!
A rather shabby place overall.
If one does not swim, dive or drink to excess there is little to do besides eat at questionable restaurants, take overpriced excursions or buy trinkets. Royal Caribbean needs to find a new port city to exploit.
Interesting. Nicely kept port area.View All 93 City Tour Reviews