This cruise was excellent. The cabins were ready early, the luggage delivered long before dinner, the staff was attentive & professional. Have sailed the Navigator before, but this ship is so much nicer (& cleaner) than it was before.
This was my first time to sail from Galveston, & if the passengers on this cruise are the norm, I'll sail from here again in a heartbeat. The people were so polite & patient, waiting their turn w/o the pushing to be first or to get to the front. Usually I only go to the Windjammer if there is no other choice. With this crowd, it was actually enjoyable even at the busiest times.
We flew into Houston Hobby then drove a rental car to Galveston (45 min in rush hour the day before July 4th traffic) & spent two nights at the Marriott Courtyard. Loved the fireworks over the beach & the girls (18 & almost 20) loved spending the afternoon riding the rides on Pleasure Pier -$16.00 for all day, all rides, $10 for access to the pier & no rides. Dress code (shirts & shoes) strictly enforced. Ate at Bubba Gumps which had the bonus of free wifi on the beach & pier for the entire day & night.
We drove to the port the next morning & used the municipal parking for the port $65 for the duration of the cruise w/ free shuttle to & from your car. The wait for the shuttle was long at departure, but might have been quicker had we arrived earlier than noon (traveling with 2 girls has its challenges). Thankfully the shuttle process was quicker when we returned on the 12th since clearing Customs took forever. We had a noon flight out of Houston, which should have been adequate as we disembarked at 9 am & our luggage was waiting there for us in the correct zone. I was checking our bags in by 11:30 while my friend returned the car. We had TSA Pre so flew through security & got to our gate just as they were asking if there were any more As. Of conspires, this had to happen the first time I ever had A16, but we made our plane, made our connection in Vegas as did our luggage which was tagged "Late check-in" & got home in time for the girls to get to their swim team banquet.
Our cabin, 1358, was a roomy junior suite starboard side aft. The girls shared the pullout sofa bed that they found uncomfortable until our stateroom attendant added extra mattress pads on it for them #SkinnyGirlProblems
I was happy to see the changes the Navigator had undergone since I was last on it 3 years ago. Portofino was now a more family-oriented Giovanni's Table & the Japanese restaurant Izumi was where the underutilized Cloud Nine & Seven Hearts rooms were. Navigator now has a dedicated Diamond Club complete with a concierge named Hong who was delightful. It is in the same area as when it was called the 19th Hole, but now requires a key to enter. I'm Diamond Plus, but the friend I was traveling with is Diamond so we went there instead of the Concierge. A little disappointed that the Dungeon night club has been replaced with inside canins on the lower level & Sabor on the upper level. I don't use inside cabins & live in AZ so have no desire to pay extra for a Mexican food specialty restaurant, but I did like to have the occasional dance off with my traveling companions in the Dungeon.
The kids went to what was supposed to be a meet-up for the 18-21+ crowd in the Cosmopolitan Club (aka Viking Crown) but left because it was mostly 40 something men trolling for young women. Of course, they thought the men were in their 30s so I went up to the next one to see if they were off by a decade ... which they were but the men were 10 years older not 10 years younger than they thought.
When the girls cruised before, the under 18 curfew was 11:30. It's now 1 a.m. which made them mad, but not me since I liked them having an earlier curfew so I could sleep.
Very spacious with a walk-in closet, decent sized bathroom complete with bathtub & granite countertop. Had more storage than we could use ... & we are four females!
Galveston port was very efficient in getting us onboard quickly. Parking is only $65 for the week & includes a free shuttle to & from your car. The shuttle line can be long depending on the timing of your embarkation/debarkation.
The line for debarkation & clearing Customs is excruciatingly long, especially if your flight leave from Houston 3 hours after your designated time & you have a rental car to return. We barely made our flight.
Be forwarned, the state of Taxes (misspelled on purpose) charges you a tax on EACH bottle of alcohol you bring through the port EVEN IF YOU'RE LEAVING THE STATE. The lousy pint I brought back ended up costing more than it would've at home in AZ because the MINIMUM tax ($3.50) negated the savings I thought I had. They even charge for each one of those little airline-sized bottles that don't even hold a full shot. #Scam
We went to Mr. Sancho's all-inclusive Beach Resort. It was very safe, the food excellent & the drinks kept coming. For $55, we were able to kayak & snorkel at no extra charge, eat whatever we wanted as much as we wanted off the menu, & drink whatever we wanted. We also had our own table with chairs and an umbrella, along with a chaise lounge for each of us on the beach. There were two pools with swim-up bars, Free WiFi, as well as a place to pick up some souvenirs.
For an extra fee, we could get massages, ride a banana boat, JetSki, paddle board or play in the aqua park. Two of us got massages - they were very relaxing. The cab ride was $20 (17+tip) each way for four of us. Highly recommend it!
Six ziplines with an outfit that out safety first. Lots of stairs (what comes down must first go up) so make sure you can handle all that climbing.View All 70 Ziplining Reviews
Very safe. We hiked to the caves carrying our tubes, then went in groups of 8, tied together with our guide keeping us on course & out of trouble.View All 375 Cave-Tubing Reviews
Pirate Bay at Las Palmas. Very shallow for much of the roped off area, but it must get deep closer to the rope because one of the men on the excursion drowned. There was no guard, no AED, no water rescue equipment of any kind - not even a Boogie board & the man's FAMILY, not the staff had to bring him in from the water to the beach. They did at least call the paramedics, but they also didn't have the proper equipment for the doctor who also showed up to save his life. A very sad day indeed.
Also some passengers reported seeing a pipe running from the restrooms into the bay. I am the only one from our cabin who snorkeled there & the only one who got gastrointestinal issues after visiting Roatan.
I've noticed the Las Palmas Beach Express is no longer being offered on the Royal Caribbean website. It's been less than a week since this tragedy, so if it re-appears, I strongly suggest it be avoided. Next time I'll brave the crowds at Tabayan even if it costs 4x what this one cost ($26). My life and my healt are worth 1000x that.View All 460 Beach Reviews