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Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014 Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston. 1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. Purpose of this cruise was to just RELAX. We booked a junior suite on the ninth deck. Details below. We also used “My Time Dining,” and it worked despite a hiccup (below). The entire top level of the three level dining room was for this type of dining. We had the same wait staff for the entire week. Ordering “gifts” on the RCL website for the cruise were hit-and-miss. First, orders cannot be made totally on-line. You look at the website and either phone an 800 number, or print off an order form and fax it to RCL. Our order for a bottle of champagne to be served in the dining room on a specific day worked perfectly. Our order for a two-foot tall Christmas tree from the flower section of the website went no-where. In my first phone call, the clerk could not bring up the item on her computer screen. She finally gave up and told me to try later. In my second call a few days later, a different clerk was able to bring up the tree on his screen, but then he put me on hold. On his return, he told me the tree was “sold out.” Our cruise agent was equally unsuccessful to make an order. Our assumption is that the little tree was not available in Galveston, and RCL just did not want to admit that it could not supply it. 2. Embarking: We left our Galveston hotel at 10:30. Despite detour traffic throughout downtown due to a walk/race in progress, dropping my wife and bags at the terminal, parking the car, taking a shuttle, getting through security, and checking in, we were on board around 12:15 and in our cabin by 1pm. Suitcases appeared at our door before 2pm. 3. The Navigator of the Seas: The junior suite is the way to go. Plenty of space, and plenty of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Suitcases fit well under the bed. A tub shower in the bathroom. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN (International only), ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. While you get a daily planner, there is no newspaper. You have to get your news from the TV. It takes a while to get a handle on what is where on the ship. Maps and interactive “help” panels are at each elevator lobby. There is a large children/teens area and programs for them. 4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room’s food was good but not imaginative. The Christmas turkey dinner was fine, but certainly nothing special. We only used the dining room for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don’t try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. Wine steward duties were handled by our assistant waiter. This meant having to tell him what we wanted by the item number on the wine menu. Arranging My Time Dining on-line was a pain. For the longest time, the dining page on the RCL website did not work. The website posted an apology; even our cruise agent was only told that there were “computer problems.” Only on December 10 was our agent able to get My Time Dining time for us – 6:30 – as our requested time of 7PM was not available (!). We were advised to try to change the time after boarding. We did, and the staff person handling the times very quickly and efficiently adjusted our reservations to the closer time of 7:15. That this could not be handled on-line remains a puzzle. We had made reservations on-line for the Izumi specialty restaurant. A very pleasant meal with good tempura and sushi. There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub, and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty. 5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, and all the rest casual. Formal attire for men appears to be defined by age: seniors are in tuxes or suits; next generation is in jackets and maybe a tie; youngest generation is in pants, shirt, and tennies. Maybe it’s time for RCL to drop the “formal” category. 6. Fellow Passengers: As this was a Christmas cruise, the ship was full (over 3,500 passengers). There were many large multi-generation family groups, both from the US and Latin America. There were a few announcements reminding parents they were responsible for their children’s behavior, indicating there were some issues. 7. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. RCL’s tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through RCL, you have support when there is a problem, eg, the ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed. As the captain announced, “Be on time. If you are not, you will be able to take that rare photo of the departing ship.” As we have been to these ports before, we only poked around the pier areas and otherwise enjoyed the quiet ship. We were six ships in Cozumel, and we were another six ships anchored at George Town. George Town was especially crowded with cruise passengers. We were the only ship in Falmouth. 8. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes including the surf rider, the rock climbing wall and the ice skating rink. We did not see any of the shows. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. Sing-alongs with Phil Anderson in the Schooner Bar are always popular with C&W fans. The former separate library and card room are now merged into one, resulting in many card and domino games being played and very few books on the shelves. Want to read on this ship? Bring your own material. 9. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account, and the tips are taken care of electronically with the staff. If you use My Time Dining, you will be billed the full tip amount when you book your cruise. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings you room service. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent. 10. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship’s TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account. 11. Disembarking: On Saturday you will receive luggage tags with numbers. You also receive a sheet of paper telling when that number will be called for disembarking and where you have to be waiting in order to hear the announcement when your number can leave the ship. Your bags have to be out by 11PM, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin by around 8:30 and in your designated waiting area. Again, you will only hear the announcements in the waiting areas. This cruise turned out to have the fastest disembarkation we have ever gone through in Galveston. We left our departure waiting lounge at 8:40 (20 minutes early) and were out of the customs and immigration hall with our bags at 9:20. We drove out of the parking lot at 9:35. Texas Taxes: After going through immigration and customs, we did stop at the Texas TABC table to declare our one bottle of booze. We paid $3.75 ($3 administrative fee and 75 cents tax), received a tax sticker for the bottle and were on our way. 12. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com. Fred Groth San Antonio, TX  

2014 Christmas Cruise

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by Harbor1492

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
Navigator of the Seas, December 21 – 28, 2014
Route: Seven day cruise: Galveston-Cozumel-George Town-Falmouth-Galveston.
1. General Comments: A pleasant Christmas cruise. We are regular cruisers and were last on this ship in August. Purpose of this cruise was to just RELAX.
We booked a junior suite on the ninth deck. Details below. We also used “My Time Dining,” and it worked despite a hiccup (below). The entire top level of the three level dining room was for this type of dining. We had the same wait staff for the entire week.
Ordering “gifts” on the RCL website for the cruise were hit-and-miss. First, orders cannot be made totally on-line. You look at the website and either phone an 800 number, or print off an order form and fax it to RCL. Our order for a bottle of champagne to be served in the dining room on a specific day worked perfectly. Our order for a two-foot tall Christmas tree from the flower section of the website went no-where. In my first phone call, the clerk could not bring up the item on her computer screen. She finally gave up and told me to try later. In my second call a few days later, a different clerk was able to bring up the tree on his screen, but then he put me on hold. On his return, he told me the tree was “sold out.” Our cruise agent was equally unsuccessful to make an order. Our assumption is that the little tree was not available in Galveston, and RCL just did not want to admit that it could not supply it.
2. Embarking: We left our Galveston hotel at 10:30. Despite detour traffic throughout downtown due to a walk/race in progress, dropping my wife and bags at the terminal, parking the car, taking a shuttle, getting through security, and checking in, we were on board around 12:15 and in our cabin by 1pm. Suitcases appeared at our door before 2pm.
3. The Navigator of the Seas: The junior suite is the way to go. Plenty of space, and plenty of storage space, including a walk-in closet. Suitcases fit well under the bed. A tub shower in the bathroom. The cabin has a small safe and a small refrigerator (never used it). There is a TV that receives movies, CNN (International only), ESPN, shipboard activities, and other channels. You get a daily planner in your cabin the night prior. You need to read it carefully as there are very few announcements on the PA system. While you get a daily planner, there is no newspaper. You have to get your news from the TV. It takes a while to get a handle on what is where on the ship. Maps and interactive “help” panels are at each elevator lobby. There is a large children/teens area and programs for them.
4. Meals: Food in the Windjammer buffet - which almost everyone uses for breakfast and lunch - is good. There are plenty of choices at both meals, and you can eat as much or as little as you want. It is a bit hurried, though, and not a place for a slow meal. The dining room’s food was good but not imaginative. The Christmas turkey dinner was fine, but certainly nothing special. We only used the dining room for dinner, although it is available with open seating at breakfast and lunch. Food portions are of respectable size, and if you don’t try to eat all the courses everyday, you should not do bad weight-wise. Wine steward duties were handled by our assistant waiter. This meant having to tell him what we wanted by the item number on the wine menu.
Arranging My Time Dining on-line was a pain. For the longest time, the dining page on the RCL website did not work. The website posted an apology; even our cruise agent was only told that there were “computer problems.” Only on December 10 was our agent able to get My Time Dining time for us – 6:30 – as our requested time of 7PM was not available (!). We were advised to try to change the time after boarding. We did, and the staff person handling the times very quickly and efficiently adjusted our reservations to the closer time of 7:15. That this could not be handled on-line remains a puzzle.
We had made reservations on-line for the Izumi specialty restaurant. A very pleasant meal with good tempura and sushi.
There are other food outlets around the ship as well as a goodly number of bars including a pub, and a wine shop. You cannot go hungry or thirsty.
5. Dressing for meals: For this seven day trip it was two formal, and all the rest casual. Formal attire for men appears to be defined by age: seniors are in tuxes or suits; next generation is in jackets and maybe a tie; youngest generation is in pants, shirt, and tennies. Maybe it’s time for RCL to drop the “formal” category.
6. Fellow Passengers: As this was a Christmas cruise, the ship was full (over 3,500 passengers). There were many large multi-generation family groups, both from the US and Latin America. There were a few announcements reminding parents they were responsible for their children’s behavior, indicating there were some issues.
7. Shore Excursions: A word of advice: make your shore excursion reservations on-line! Otherwise you will either have to use the not-so-user-friendly on board TV system to make your reservations or stand in line at the excursion counter. The on-line billing goes direct on your credit card and not on your shipboard account. If you know the ports of call and want to travel by yourself, then, of course, you don’t need the ship’s tour office. RCL’s tour prices are not cheap; you are paying for the convenience of having the ship organize the tour rather than you doing it after you get ashore. Also, if you obtain your tour through RCL, you have support when there is a problem, eg, the ship will wait for you if the tour is delayed. As the captain announced, “Be on time. If you are not, you will be able to take that rare photo of the departing ship.”
As we have been to these ports before, we only poked around the pier areas and otherwise enjoyed the quiet ship. We were six ships in Cozumel, and we were another six ships anchored at George Town. George Town was especially crowded with cruise passengers. We were the only ship in Falmouth.
8. Shipboard entertainment: The ship has a daily schedule full of activities for all tastes including the surf rider, the rock climbing wall and the ice skating rink. We did not see any of the shows. The casino was of good size and the payoffs did not seem to be much worse than Las Vegas. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to have your picture taken by the ship’s photographers--pricey, but a good souvenir. There are various venues for night owls. Sing-alongs with Phil Anderson in the Schooner Bar are always popular with C&W fans. The former separate library and card room are now merged into one, resulting in many card and domino games being played and very few books on the shelves. Want to read on this ship? Bring your own material.
9. Tipping: Not a problem if you sign up for the recommended amounts (for cabin steward, waiter, asst waiter, and head waiter). The amounts are charged to your shipboard account, and the tips are taken care of electronically with the staff. If you use My Time Dining, you will be billed the full tip amount when you book your cruise. You only need to tip separately (cash) the person who brings you room service. Your bar bill automatically adds 15 percent.
10. Settling of Accounts: During your cruise, anything you purchase on board is punched into a computer; you sign one copy of the ticket and you receive a copy. You can track your account on the ship’s TV channel. On Sunday morning you receive a paper final statement of your account.
11. Disembarking: On Saturday you will receive luggage tags with numbers. You also receive a sheet of paper telling when that number will be called for disembarking and where you have to be waiting in order to hear the announcement when your number can leave the ship. Your bags have to be out by 11PM, breakfast is early, and you have to be out of your cabin by around 8:30 and in your designated waiting area. Again, you will only hear the announcements in the waiting areas. This cruise turned out to have the fastest disembarkation we have ever gone through in Galveston. We left our departure waiting lounge at 8:40 (20 minutes early) and were out of the customs and immigration hall with our bags at 9:20. We drove out of the parking lot at 9:35.
Texas Taxes: After going through immigration and customs, we did stop at the Texas TABC table to declare our one bottle of booze. We paid $3.75 ($3 administrative fee and 75 cents tax), received a tax sticker for the bottle and were on our way.
12. If anyone has questions, send me an e-mail at LTC519@satx.rr.com.
Fred Groth
San Antonio, TX
 
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