I have been on 8 Carnival cruises, but this was my 1st Royal Caribbean cruise. I am a pretty loyal Carnival cruiser as I have always enjoyed Carnival, but I was interested to find out if RC really is better. The answer is....yes. I still love Carnival and will be happy to cruise with them again, but RC is definitely more polished. The passengers are older and more genteel. Carnival is the "fun ship" and fun it is! It's loud and gawdy and I love it. The Navigator is more subdued. The crowd is certainly not rowdy. They are a well behaved bunch. At first I was a little worried as I thought I was in for snooze city, but that was not the case...at all.
First I'll address my dislikes, of which there are only two. Only one deck (12) and the small deck 13 are open decks. Deck 11, with the pools, is actually closed with windows. This bugged me to no end. The adult-only Solarium area is also closed in with windows. Yes, you can open every other one, but most were left closed. It was HOT and HUMID in the Solarium. I don't know how the passengers could stand it. There was absolutely no breeze at all. It's pretty, but super hot. Most of the Solarium is shaded, which is nice because it provides the older passengers with the option of sitting poolside, but not becoming fried by the sun. However I do not understand why the outside pool deck is closed. All of the decks on Carnival are open and this is really nice. You can walk around several of the decks on Carnival ships, but not on the Navigator.
My second dislike was the production shows. Please note that I am not a complainer. I never ever complain about cruises. I am so happy to be on board that I think everything is great! However....I must call a spade a spade. While the orchestra is fantastic, the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers are terrible. I mean T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E. I can see a better production at my local high school. There are 2 pairs of singers and they have absolutely no chemistry with each other. They look so stiff together. One of the male singers showed up in the first production with long, greasy looking hair and he was unshaven. He looked so smarmy it was no wonder the girls looked uncomfortable next to him.
And the male dancers...where did they find these kids? And kids they are! These prepubescent boys couldn't lift the girls, and one actually dropped his partner. They were out of sync and can't jump. Please note that I realize this isn't Broadway nor So You Think You Can Dance....my bar of expectation isn't all that high. I expect cheesy performances and cheesy costumes and I'm okay with that. But this....this was painful. There really was no excuse for this. There are really good dancers all over the U.S. who would love to dance on cruise ships....where did they find these kids???? They only had 2 productions over the 7 day cruise. They need to spend the other 5 days in the fitness center working on upper body strength. Their second production wasn't any better. It was a train wreck. Carnival has the Navigator beat hands down in regard to production.
While the RC singers and dancers were terrible, the Ice Show was AMAZING! RC has brought on professional skaters, as in an Olympian and several national title holders, and they perform a fantastic show. The choreography is great. The costumes are great. They are smiling and look like they are having a great time. They are in sync (take note, dancers...). This was a top of the line production. Be sure to watch the Compass for the ticket distribution and get to the show early. You don't want to miss this one!
Like I mentioned previously, the orchestra is great, as are the other bands, such as Bubba Feathers and others. The live music by the pool was great!
The comedians were hilarious. There was also a ventriloquist and a juggler. Superb entertainment. Royal Caribbean surpasses Carnival in this type of entertainment, and Carnival can't compete with the ice show.
The FlowRider was great! My husband spent HOURS on the FlowRider. Watching was fun as the crowd claps and cheers when passengers do well and encourages everyone. It was a great time.
Now for FOOD! We went to the Main Dining Room every night except one and it was great. The food is much, much better than the food on Carnival. I only had one entree that I didn't like and that was the pork chop. It's pretty tough. Think shoe leather. However our server was superb and I think he anticipated the shoe leather as he also brought a salmon dish which was excellent. The service was impeccable. The food delicious. And the desserts were of course the highlight of the meal. The food in the Windjammer was meh. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about. The burgers are better than they look. Other than that, I don't have much to say about it. We skipped breakfast as we tried to save our appetites for lunch and dinner. We went to Johnny Rockets one day. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. It was okay. Guy's Burgers on Carnival has Johnny Rocket's beat by miles. Guy's Burgers are delicious. Johnny Rocket's is a cute place, but the fries are like frozen Or Ida fries from the freezer section. I ordered bacon cheese fries and it's just frozen fries with cheapy cheese from a can spooned on with some bacon bits. Not quite what I had in mind, but of course I ate them anyway. My opinion: save your money. It's not all that.
We went to Chops Grille the night we didn't go to the MDR. Chops Grille was A+. We have been to the Steakhouse on Carnival twice and thought it was meh. Chops Grille is heads above Carnival's steakhouse. If you like Carnival's Steakhouse, you'll LOVE Chops. If you hate Carnival's Steakhouse, you'll LOVE Chops. The service was outstanding and the meal was perfection.
The service on the ship is friendly and accommodating. They sell the drink packages like they do on Carnival, but I didn't see any drunk passengers. That's certainly a change from Carnival. One night we enjoyed the hot tub and it was so quiet on the pool deck it was surprising. I am used to the laughter and rowdiness of the Carnival deck. I think the Carnival passengers enjoy their beverage packages more than the RC passengers. (We don't purchase the drink packages as we don't drink much alcohol.) The other thing I noticed is that Carnival really pushes the drinks. A waiter stops by your lounge chair every 10 minutes on Carnival. The Navigator didn't push the drinks as much. I'm not saying this was good or bad, just an observation.
Disembarking was fine. There was a delay due to a computer issue in the terminal, but this didn't have anything to do with RC. I'm sure this was stressful to people who had a plane to catch, but it didn't bother us. In regard to embarkation, it was a breeze. We were at the terminal by 10:30 and was on the ship by 11:00. Parked at EZ Cruise and as always they were super efficient and friendly.
This was a fantastic cruise. One of my favorites!
We were in a promenade stateroom, right in the middle of the promenade. I picked level 7 as it's high enough to avoid a lot of the noise from deck 5, yet low enough to see well. This was a great stateroom. It was super quiet, yet in the midst of the action. The room was plenty big for 2 people. The bathroom is small, but no smaller than other cruise ship bathrooms. I would definitely pick this room again.
We always park at EZ Cruise. If you look online you can find coupons, then book online. They are super efficient and friendly. We arrived at the terminal at 10:30 and were on board by 11:00. Smooth as silk.
We love Cozumel and normally book a beach buggy/snorkel tour, but this time decided to return to the Playa Mia resort. It was okay. The sailboat ride to the snorkeling sites was fun. The snorkeling was just okay. We've had better snorkeling in Cozumel, but this was okay. The beach resort is very nice. It's relaxing. You can chill in a lounge chair, slide down the water slides, get a massage....If you want to relax, this is a good excursion. We like more adventure so we won't book this one again, but I can see how others really enjoy it.View All 84 Deluxe Sail, Snorkel and Beach Party Reviews
Originally we scheduled a Cave Tubing tour, but it was cancelled. My husband balked at the idea of going to the zoo, but it had good reviews so I booked it anyway. It was great!!! The bus ride to the zoo is interesting as you get to see the sites of Belize. The zoo is fantastic. The animals look well taken care of. The habitats are really nice. We got up close and personal with a jaguar. It was a fantastic zoo trip. Then return trip is by boat on the river and this was FUN. If you don't mind the wind in your hair and a bit of a bumpy ride, then you will enjoy this. We saw interesting birds, an iguana the size of a dragon, and a MANATEE! Not just a fin or a nose, but the whole darn thing! He/she swam right up to the boat!!! That was the coolest experience ever.View All 33 The Belize Zoo Reviews
We choose the Twin Barrier Reef snorkeling excursion and this is the best excursion I have ever been one. First, the snorkeling is AMAZING. The reef is literally right off the beach, so you don't have to boat to it and then have a limited time to snorkel. Nope, you follow the guide for the first round and then you are free to snorkel as long as you like. The coral and the fish were amazing. And then you can snorkel to "the wall", which is a sheer drop off and the water becomes nothing but blue because it's so deep. In addition to snorkeling, for an extra charge you can do ANYTHING! Jet ski, parasailing (my husband did this), banana boat, paddle board, we were pulled behind a boat on a giant float and hung on for dear life...it was a blast!...you name it, it's offered. And of course, you can talk them down in price. My husband parasailed and I rode along for a total of $50. We paid $25 total to be pulled behind the boat on that giant float, when initially the guy wanted $25 each. So yes, you can negotiate. Note that you will be bombarded, and I mean BOMBARDED, by local vendors selling bracelets, conch shells, braiding, massages,....The Tabyana resort has security at the beach front and they don't allow the vendors to come up on the property however that doesn't stop them from accosting you every time you step onto the beach. However, if you are in the market to buy, you can negotiate. This is a very nice resort. It's super clean. The food was very good. The staff was super friendly. I will definitely visit here again.View All 345 Snorkeling Reviews