Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by poppysgirl
I'm a Diamond Plus member with Royal Caribbean, having sailed more than 30 times with them. I've also sailed with Celebrity (1), Princess (4) and Norwegian (6). This was the first time with a ship as big as Navigator; it sailed on New Year's Eve. We usually do a New Year's Eve cruise and I was sailing with my husband, a Diamond member. Flew to Fort Lauderdale early that morning; was at airport by 10.30am, took a taxi to the port and was onboard by 11.15am. Excellent boarding procedures. Headed to Chops and Portofino's speciality (extra fee) restaurants as we had already decided ahead of the cruise to avoid the main dining room this time and to enjoy 'grown-up' dining. Glad we did as the main dining rooms tiered across three floor levels looked like mass-service nightmares. Booked Chops for 3 nights, including New Year's Eve, and Portofino's for 2 nights of the 5 night sailing. Then headed to Schooner bar - the only bar that seemed to be open by noon. First impressions of the ship - it's huge and beautifully maintained. Our stateroom, a balcony at the back of the ship, was small but nice. Small corner balcony had 2 chairs, a lounger and a small table. Very comfortable Queen bed with pillow top mattress and duvet. Small sofa. Small dresser with two sets of drawers. Small closet. Small, but well-designed bathroom with glass shower that worked very well. As it turned out, there were hits and misses through this cruise and my general impression at the end was that Navigator was too big for my taste; I certainly would not go on any ship bigger than Voyager class and would prefer to stay with ships like Enchantment of the Seas, which we love. Though Navigator never felt crowded, except for New Year's Eve on the Royal Promenade (which we avoided) and during the Mardi Gras parade, also on the Royal Promenade (which was not worth the squeeze), it's so big that it becomes impersonal. Also, all its main features, attractions and public rooms tend to look into the ship, not out to sea. This is truly a floating resort rather than a ship. What we liked: Cafe Promenade on the Royal Promenade; a French-style bistro/cafe serving snacks 24 hours. Excellent sandwiches and pastries and a good place to relax and people watch. Same for the Two Poets British-style pub also on the Royal Promenade; a good place to get decent beer and people-watch. Portofino's was also excellent; food and service immaculate. Pastas, which can be served as appetizers or entrees were wonderful. Fish also excellent. Friendly, efficient service. And an apricot/ricotta dessert was delicious. These were our favorite dinners and well worth $20 per person extra. What we were less pleased with: Chops was a little disappointing. It's $25 per person extra, but we love Chops on Enchantment, where food and service make it well worth the money. Not quite so here. The dining room has a spartan feel - not the elegant, club-style ambience of Enchantment. Service was friendly and ok, but nowhere near the professional steakhouse standard of Enchantment's Chops. My filet on night 1 was excellent, but the side orders were not delivered as requested and bland. My lamb on night 3 was good, but was delivered with a mess of gooey sauces/vegetables. They did correct this and removed the lamb to a clean plate. Desserts were not worth it. We ended up canceling our planned 5th night reservation here. We opted instead to eat in Jade Asian buffet (no extra cost), where the waiter had no idea how to get us a bottle of wine already paid for through RCL's wine-and-dine package, but eventually worked it out. Then she told us she had never opened a bottle of wine! Food here was ok to marginal. Sushi = ok; soup = tasteless; spring rolls = quite good; entree dishes = gooey and yuck. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets on the final sea day. This is about $3.50 extra per person. Burgers, fries and onion rings were good. Service friendly. But very cramped inside and a long wait (about 30 minutes) to get in and nowhere for people to wait other than outside on the deck, where it was very cold and windy. Other dislikes - Nothing to do during the day, even on sea days and despite it being unseasonably cold and windy on the Cozumel port day. Lots of excursions were cancelled and yet Navigator only added a showing of The Illusionist movie to the schedule. And almost nothing to do in the evenings, either. No adult comedian. On the last evening the ship was dead by 9pm. We are not by any stretch party people, but we always find nice things to do or watch on mid-size or smaller ships that keep us entertained til midnight. Not so on Navigator - by 10pm each evening we'd return to our stateroom. And that impersonal thing struck me more and more as the days dragged somewhat. No barman, waiter or officer was ever spotted twice or got to know us. There was no recognition of my Diamond plus status; we don't want red-carpet, but it's nice to be appreciated a little as a very regular customer...and the smaller ships do this recognition so much better. In-room TV service (which we wouldn't normally turn to, but with so few entertainment options...) was also poor. A few old movies and the service was very unreliable. And the ship struggled to keep even temperatures; it was either stuffy warm or freezing cold. I did use the hair salon twice, for a cut/color and style and service was good if not exceptional. In Belize, we took the LONG tender to shore and went cave tubing with cave-tubing.com. This was excellent; half the price of similar excursion if booked through Royal Caribbean and our service looked much better; the cave-tubing.com people were wonderful, and our group was much smaller so we had a personal-feeling excursion that was a lot of fun with no herded-crowd mentality. Finally, on offloading day at Fort Lauderdale, tons of people chose the 'express' exit, which was meant for people with carry-on luggage but was not regulated in any way. And these people were loaded down with lots of huge cases; so they bunged up the aisles and stairways and slowed everything down, which really took unfair advantage over people who properly checked their large cases. Again, and this was a first in my experience, Diamond members were left stranded at the back of the crowds behind the 'express' people. I would summarize this cruise as my first-ever ho-hum cruise and take from it a lesson that our preference is for smaller ships that feel exactly that - like a ship. Maybe this will be a turning point for us to also start exploring small ships with other lines.
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