Just as a quick bit of background about who I am so you understand my perspective.
I'm a 27 year old adrenaline junky, foodie who loves sports and performance arts. Despite being what I would describe as a foodie, I'm also not a food snob (I am a coffee snob however) and enjoy comfort foods as well as fine dining.
With this being my first cruise I have no basis for comparison to years past that some say were better. If that's true, cruising must have been head in the clouds heaven. I found my experience to be the most enjoyable trip I've ever taken. Were there a couple things I didn't love? Sure, but that's life and what happens when people have their personal opinions on things. Would I take off a star for anything? Nope, the trip was excellent, the ship was beautiful, and the service was outstanding.
-Value: I could not get over what all comes for the price. We booked an inside promenade stateroom for just a hair over $200/night essentially with it coming out to about $1500 for my wife and I. For comparison sake, after getting married on May 23rd, we drove to Dallas and stayed the night at a value priced Best Western in Dallas for $100 on the way to Galveston. That did include breakfast but the breakfast wasn't nearly as good as what would be served in the Windjammer (many complain but I find it hard to name a hotel that serves better breakfast and provides turn down service at least twice a day for under this price, much less in the Caribbean). Having a waterfront hotel with all you can eat food and a formal dining room for $200/night for 2 people would have impressed me enough but they also provide entertainment options.
-Entertainment: Was every show awesome? No, I wouldn't dare go that far. You're not getting Broadway productions here with super expensive set designs and special effects. You're also not paying $100/person to get in to the show. After considering the hotel + restaurant aspect, I'd say you're getting in the show for free. I really enjoyed Ballroom Fever and Finis Henderson (initially I wasn't sure about him but he got progressively better throughout the show). Those were good shows, but I thought Ice Dancin' in Studio B was incredible! I've never seen an ice show before so I'm no expert and the best production show I ever saw was Book of Mormon in Chicago but again, for what I would consider the cost of $0, I couldn't believe I was getting to see it.
-Ship: Having sent my parents on their first cruise on Vision of the Seas a few months prior, I knew Navigator would have a few more amenities being a larger ship. I didn't know if it would stack up well with the Freedom and Oasis class ships. I've never sailed them so I still don't know, but I never wished I was on them while on Navigator. The promenade design works really well for keeping things open and easy to well, navigate. We found ourselves discovering new details on the ship even on the last day of the sailing and we did a fair amount of exploring it throughout the trip. While the pool deck is a lot of fun and the Solarium padded chairs along the windows make for a great nap on a sea day if you can snag one, I gravitated toward the peaceful areas on the ship. If you're looking for a great place to read, head to the front of the ship along the walking track, past the Solarium, and then up the stairs to the very front of the ship above the bridge and spa. You'll find a basically empty deck with chairs where you can hear yourself think. I didn't take advantage of this area a lot but if I was a reader I'd have been up there. My favorite area on the ship was the helicopter pad on deck 5. To get there, walk along deck 4 outside and go up the stairs. It makes for excellent stargazing or is peaceful in the daytime. On top of all of this, the sports area was a space I didn't really utilize and found myself forgetting about which is crazy to me. Being able to play mini golf, basketball, or take on the Flowrider or rock wall for free is really kind of awesome. I wish I had done it more.
-Food: Overall, I thought the food was pretty good. I had breakfast every day in Windjammer and was always able to get a window seat after a little bit of work. Usually I would stake out a table and go sit at it while my wife fixed herself a plate. It's a bit chaotic but I always enjoyed it. I would compare the food quality to a Golden Corral. If that's beneath you, avoid it I guess. For the price of the vacation I thought that was a good deal. We used the Main Dining Room (MDR) for dinner all but one night and I thought just about everything was good to excellent. The shrimp cocktail left something to be desired and the seafood salad did as well but the entrees I had were good and the desserts were satisfying as well. On lobster night my waiter asked me how it was and I said, "very good but I just need you to bring me 6 more just like it." He said he would get me another piece and off he went. I thought he was kidding but a few minutes later he brought me another 2 lobster tails! The servers try their best to meet any need. If you're polite they'll go the extra mile. I'm guessing they would even if you weren't. On the last day I gave both my waiter and assistant waiter an extra $20 bill on top of their normal built in gratuity. I wish I could have given them more to be honest. They were outstanding. The Promenade Cafe was a nice option for small sandwiches or desserts 24 hours a day. I can't speak for the specialty restaurants because to be honest, I just never saw the need with how good the complimentary dining options were. My only complaint would be to have at least half the Windjammer open later than 9. It's the easiest place to grab an iced tea near the pool deck without going back down to the Promenade Cafe on deck 5.
-Coffee: I'm a coffee snob. The coffee onboard sucked. I added in some half and half and a packet of sugar and drank it gladly. Good coffee is best enjoyed black in my opinion so these add ins were made for exactly this. It was no worse than a standard diner cup of coffee at Denny's, IHOP, etc. I enjoyed having it offered in the MDR with dessert every night and again, just use the add ins. I also would add in a packet of dark chocolate hot chocolate in the Promenade Cafe and take it to the show each night.
-Service: I loved it quite simply. I only wish there were some bus tubs around the various venues or trash cans. Instead you would see people pile up a plate in the Windjammer and take it to wherever on some lower deck and just leave it in the bushes, on the floor, on tables in lounges, on the pool deck. It's a never ending battle for the crew to keep up with and I felt lazy having to leave my cup or plate in places like this. I would have at least liked the option of placing it in a tub for them to collect but I'm guessing it may have something to do with sanitation.
Debarkation was brutal to be perfectly honest. We signed up for the self-assist (take your own luggage off with you) for the earliest time of 7:30am. We weren't to our car until almost 9:30am. With so many doing self-assist, it jammed up the hallways and felt like I dumb idea on my part pretty quickly. I doubt I really saved any time but I did likely add some frustration. Next time I'll just check it at the end of the trip. I liked carrying my own bags on to start the trip because we didn't get on until almost 2pm and our room was ready for us already.
Overall, the trip was excellent, the ship was beautiful, the service was top notch, and I'd do it again tomorrow if I had the vacation and savings!
The first time I walked in to the room it felt microscopic (I'm 6'1" and 250lbs) but by the end of the trip it felt like home. Plenty of room under the bed to stow our suitcases and I found there to be plenty of room to unpack our bags and store everything in the closet or shelves and drawers. The 2 love seats basically became a place to throw our bags but would have been a nice place to sit if you had a family and needed some room. The shower is small compared to on land but plenty big enough for someone my size. They have a shampoo dispenser and provide little bars of soap but my wife chose to bring her own. I used what they provided and it was fine. With both sets of curtains drawn you can still get the darkness of a standard interior but it's nice to let a little light in at times.
We didn't take a sponsored tour or excursion but booked a scooter independently for $41 after tax. We paid cash up front and the operator just had us leave our sea pass with him as collateral. I felt uneasy about this and maybe should have just used a credit card but it turned out fine. I had never ridden one of these but it was easy. Just twist the grip to accelerate and use the hand brakes to stop. They can get moving pretty fast and we enjoyed being able to do a full loop of the island, stopping as we pleased to check out shops or restaurants. The eastern coast is much less developed and you can get better deals but it's also more peaceful in my opinion.
About halfway around the island we found out that our gas gauge didn't work as we coasted to a stop. A tourism official passed and we waved him down. We paid him $4 for enough gas to get back so it was no problemo but it could have been had he not been there when he was. I can see the risks of renting a scooter but I'd recommend it anyway. Don't book within the cruise terminal area. The same company will offer you a rental for less money just feet outside of the gates. Don't be afraid to haggle a little bit either, just don't be insulting and be willing to pass on the opportunity.View All 12 Scooter Adventure Reviews
Easy enough to get to and parking was decent. We used EZ Cruise parking and saved a few bucks to walk instead of taking the shuttle. I didn't mind the walk but if you have mobility issues, pay full price and take the shuttle as it is a decent walk. There was a pretty good line once we got through security but they handled it efficiently.
With the uncertainty of tendering we chose not to book ahead of time. Once we got off the tender we found someone offering an excursion for $50/person (met someone in our group who negotiated it to $45/person) so we signed up. The drive through the countryside was pretty fun and the tubing was awesome. Very peaceful, refreshing, and informative. I loved seeing the deep jungle areas and was impressed by our guide pulling 9 connected tubes through the river. There is a bit of a hike to get to the entry point so if you have mobility issues, maybe not the best option.
Once we got done we found a guy at the tube park selling coconuts for $3 or $5 with rum. He cuts them open with a machete and serves them to you and was very generous with refilling the rum :)View All 375 Cave-Tubing Reviews