I love reading trip reports before a trip so I thought this might be helpful to some of you. This trip was my husband and I and our 8 year old son, Austin. We have taken two Carnival and one Celebrity cruises prior to this trip on the wonderful Navigator!
We started our vacation on Saturday, March 6, 2004 with a 4:15 AM alarm. We were at the airport at 5:40 (the recommended two hours early). There was the longest line for Sun Country Airlines that I have ever seen. As time crept along, everyone on our flight that was still in line was called to the front of the line so we wouldn't miss our flight. We were assigned seats in the back of the plane. We spoke to other travelers that were at the front of the plane. They arrived after 6:00 and used curbside check in; they didn't have to stand in the long lines.
Our flight arrived on time in Miami. There were plenty of representatives from Hobbit Travel (our tour company) waiting to direct us to our transportation bus. After waiting for all the travelers to arrive we were underway to the port. The Royal Caribbean check in was smooth, but we waited in line for at least 30 minutes. You checked in by cabin level. We were checked in and on the ship by 2:15. Austin was so excited to get on the ship; he kept asking tons of questions. We were in cabin 9658; ninth floor, aft and port side. The room was of standard size for cruise ships and the balcony was big enough for two chairs and a small table. The balcony felt private, as you couldn't see through to the adjoining balconies (but the doors could be opened if you wanted). The views while sitting on a chair on the balcony were wonderful and unobstructed. We had a snack at the Windjammer after exploring the ship a bit. I really liked the tortilla roll up sandwiches; they hit the spot after a long day of traveling.
Our luggage arrived in the room around 5:00 PM. There was plenty of space for the three of us to unpack all of our things. We thought there were plenty of little "cabinets and shelves" to store all of our things. There are two medicine cabinet type shelves on each side of the large mirror over the desk unit; I didn't notice there were shelves on both sides until after we were unpacked. I found them very convenient for makeup/hair supplies, etc. We did bring extra hangars; while there is quite a number in the closet, there is never enough! Since we were going to be using the pull out couch for Austin's bed, we asked the cabin steward to remove the glass coffee table. The couch/bed was HUGE; a queen size bed he found very comfortable. The two beds put together for Kevin and I were very comfortable.
We went to an Adventure Club orientation in Studio B. It was neat, as they gave the kids a preview of the ice show. We went up to check out the rooms used for the kids program. They are nicely divided by ages and the staff was warm, inviting and accommodating. They efficiently handled Austin's food allergy issues without hesitation. The variety of programs offered looked interesting. The only downside at first glance was the location of the dreaded arcade right next to the kids club.
The arcade was filled with kids all hours of the day! Austin chose not to attend any of the activities at the Adventure Ocean, as he enjoyed being with us. There were only 120 kids on board during our week. The next two weeks, were told that number jumped to 1200! They do have some nice activities for teens and special lounge/dance areas that don't allow adults. There was a family on the plane that had a 15 year old and she really enjoyed the activities for her age level. They were always supervised, so her parents felt comfortable, but she didn't get in until late at night (hot tub parties, etc.). She made so many friends she was crying on the plane that she missed them.
Second dinner seating was at 9:00 the first night. We met our tablemates. They were a great family from Ottawa, Canada. They had two girls, ages 9 & 10. The kids got along great all week. The cod and chicken entrees were our favorite. Our waiter was fabulous. His name was Peamkait (we called him pumpkin or Jackie Chan). Our asst. waiter was Calvert. There was a welcome parade at 11:00 PM on the 5th floor Promenade; it is worth going to.
Day 2 We were in port at Free Port, Grand Bahama, but we didn't get off the ship. The weather was sunny and warm. We got off to a slow start around 8:30. We had breakfast at the Windjammer. They have the standard fare of eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles, fruit, etc. There is a huge variety, but it is the same every day. I really enjoyed time at the Solarium Pool area (this is the adults only area). There are nice chairs, a pool and two covered hot tubs. The general pool area has two covered hot tubs, one open hot tub and two pools. One area of one pool is very shallow for very small children. Austin wished that the pools had a shallow end that he could stand and play in.
The depth was around 4'11" of the main pools. I never had trouble finding a lounge chair, even on days at sea. I worked out at noon in the beautiful exercise facility. There is a nice hot tub in that area also. There are plenty of treadmills and steppers, etc. We had a late lunch at Johnny Rockets. We enjoyed the fun music and atmosphere. The staff dances to Stayin' Alive; Austin really enjoyed that. They bring you onion rings and fries right away. The burgers were very good and I enjoyed the chili cheese fries. We did not try the malts. We did hear that they were going to be charging for Johnny Rockets starting the next week. I talked to the manager and he said it would be $3.95 per person, per visit (malts/drinks extra). He said it was for crowd control, but a bartender told us it was because people were ordering tons of stuff and not eating them. He said that a group of kids came in and ordered a huge amount of burgers and they found them in the garbage can. Not sure the truth of that, but that is what the bartender said.
After lunch, we spent some time on the sports deck playing mini golf, inline skating and climbing the vertical wall. Tickets for the ice show were given away starting at 4:30. I went down to get in line around 4:20 and they were already handing them out. The line went quickly, but I was glad I went early as it got longer and longer as time progressed. We took a late afternoon nap and dressed for the Captain's Dinner. We went for pictures at 7:30 and it wasn't nearly as busy as it was closer to 8:30. We enjoyed the tenderloin and salmon at dinner. The cheesecake and pecan dessert were also favorites. We very much enjoyed the "Now & Forever" dance/singing show. The singers are fantastic! The show goes through a variety of songs from Broadway Shows. Be warned, they do the Full Monty! (we were trying to explain why they did this to Austin).
Day 3 We slept late, got up after 10:00. It was a day at sea with hot, sunny weather. The Windjammer was packed at 10:30. Even with it busy, it is nothing like the congestion we experienced on our last Carnival cruise. I don't know why this ship feels less crowded with more people, but it does! Spent the day at the pool, ice skating and golf. We had a late lunch at the Windjammer. We watched the Adventure Ocean "circus show" on the Promenade. It was cute. We ate fruit tart and lemon pound cake (very yummy) at the Cafe Promenade. Up to the room for showers and a nap. It was Italian night and this dinner was by far my favorite! I just loved the amazing risotto with scallops appetizer (had two). The desserts were forgettable. The show that night was pretty good. It was Bobby Arvon, the man that wrote the theme to "Happy Days". He did some great impressions.
Day 4 We slept in again, choosing not to get off in Jamaica. We heard that Dunns River Falls was a good excursion though. The weather was great; hot and sunny. The ship was empty and we enjoyed the pool. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets again; there was no wait today! We attended the ice show before dinner; it was very, very good. It is amazing what they do on such small ice. We sat at the end where you come in and that appeared to be the main way the skaters face. We got there five minutes before it started and got a seat in the second row. We enjoyed the Krooze Komics entertainment prior to the show starting. Dinner was Caribbean theme; we enjoyed the tilapia and jerk chicken. The Mardi Gras parade that night was wonderful and very high energy. There was a pool party at midnight. There was a buffet and music. We didn't eat anything; too full.
Day 5 Unfortunately, our Grand Cayman stop was cancelled due to high winds for the boat tenders. Everyone was pretty disappointed with this. Since we hadn't gotten off the ship at the point, it was even more disappointing. Apparently, other cruise lines were able to be tendered in on the southern part of the island, but the two RCCL ships were not able to on the northern part of the island. At dinner I loved the chocolate dessert, rich and sinful! We also enjoyed the shrimp pasta and lobster. We went to the show; All Access, singing and dancing. It was OK, but not the greatest. Tonight was the night of the Grand Buffet, it was the best one I have ever seen. I even took pictures of food, which I have never done. We did go back to get chocolate covered strawberries, but nothing else.
Day 6 Today was our Cozumel stop and we got off the ship! The weather was beautiful again. We took a cab; we were going to Chakanaab Park originally but the cabbie said there were eight ships in port and it would be crazy. Then, we were planning on going to Paradise Beach (which is an American run, free beach with all sorts of activities), but the cabbie recommended a beach called Nachi-Cocom (it is farther than Paradise and Mr. Sanchos Beach). The cab ride was $15.00. It was a nice, clean area with a great beach area, pool, restrooms and a restaurant. They do ask for $3/person to use the chairs and facilities. We ended up walking along the beach for some time and went back to Nachi-Cocom for drinks and lunch (we didn't end up paying the fee).
It was a very pleasant afternoon! That night, the headliner entertainment was an acoustic group called Toxic Audio. They made all the sounds with their mouths; no instruments. They were very talented and their humorous bits were quite entertaining. My husband got pulled from the audience to participate onstage. It was their last cruise ship show, as they are opening a show off-Broadway. If you get a chance to see them in New York, I bet you wouldn't be disappointed!
Day 7 This was our last day. We were at sea and it was cold, cloudy and VERY windy. We bummed around the ship, tried to play golf in the wind gusts (which was rather entertaining) and ate our final meal at Johnny Rockets. We did try breakfast in the dining room. The eggs benedict was a nice change from the Windjammer buffet.
·The 5th floor promenade is wonderful! We enjoyed stopping at Cafe Promenade for pizza, sandwiches, treats and water whenever we felt a bit hungry
·They change the day of the week on the elevators; Austin thought that was pretty cool.
·We brought a lanyard for Austin to wear his sea pass on. The purser's desk punched an extra hole in it so he could use it to open our door while keeping it attached to the lanyard. Several people stopped to ask us where we got it and wished they had one.
·We did get the soda/juice package for Austin. It cost $34.16 with gratuity. We never had a problem getting him a soda, at any of the bars or in the dining room.
·We really enjoyed the Bolero bar on the 4th deck, aft. The bartenders were awesome there! We especially liked the entertainment of Adrianne, from the Philippines. He entertained Austin like crazy with tricks and puzzles with toothpicks.
·Speaking of entertaining; the waiters and bartenders all loved sharing their tricks with the kids at our table. My son came home with a bunch of jokes and tricks to share; it was really fun!
·The service on the entire ship is really incredible. The best of any of our cruises. When walking around the ship or down the hallway of your stateroom, the crew would always stop what they were doing and say hello, etc. The cabin steward that took care of the rooms next to us was so friendly and personable, I felt like we should give him a tip too!
·I felt that I brought clothes that were too dressy. There are the two formal nights, but the other nights are really much more casual. I didn't feel as comfortable in dresses the other nights. I would recommend bringing along less clothes that are fancy. They have the beach night, so there were whole families in tropical shirts. There is also the 70's (Back in Time) night and you were encouraged to dress up like that too. I don't know how you would know about these nights ahead of time though. Of course, it is freezing in the dining room (my only complaint), so make sure to have long sleeves or a sweater. You do need pants to ice skate.
The food was wonderful all week. We ate in the dining room every night. The $25 cost of Portofino and Chops just didn't seem worth it, especially when we had such wonderful service and great food in the dining room. The head waiter was very attentive to our table. In three other cruises, we have only seen the head waiter when he comes around looking for a tip on the last day. This time, he was visible all the time and stopped at our table at least once a night. He regularly cut up Austin's steak and cut off the corn kernels from his cob of corn (VERY SPOILED!) Our tablemates requested calamari; they did everything they could to get some for them but were unable. Instead, they made a special dish of mussels for them and offered to bring more every night if they wished. Austin got a bowl of sliced strawberries every night for dessert. Our table loved veggies, so every night we had a large plate of steamed veggies brought to our table. There were a ton of special requests at our table and all requests were met without fail. Peamkait always said, "whatever you want" or "of course, whatever makes you happy". We were absolutely so pampered!