After a 5-year cruising hiatus, we decided to book a 7-day Western Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean. We were both pleased and disappointed with the changes to cruising that have occurred in the interim. Security was noticeably more thorough than on our last cruise, but embarkation at Galveston went smoothly though (at around 11am), and we were able to access our cabin by 1pm. The first disappointment was the lack of a champagne welcome for previous cruising Crown & Anchor members (listed as a former cruiser benefit on the web site); we got a 2 for 1 beer/wine purchase instead. Diamond and above members got actual perks. Being a member is not much of a benefit until after a dozen or so cruises.
The Navigator of the Seas is a mid-size ship by today’s standards; 3100+ passengers. The ship was stable even through some hurricane force winds encountered in the Gulf of Mexico. During that overnight event, the ship leaned considerably but didn’t rock much as the wind was perpendicular and sustained at 70+ MPH for a few hours. We experienced rain at least part of every day except the first day at sea. That limited enjoyment of the exterior sections of the ship.
Navigating around the ship was somewhat challenging due to only two elevator areas and no fore to aft pass through on decks 2 and 3 (and on Deck 4 the only way through was to traverse the ultra-smoky casino). The outdoor promenade deck did not continue fully around the ship. There was a jogging track, but it was located in the congested Deck 12 pool area. Crew did a better than average job of curtailing long term reserving of deck chairs, so we could always find a lounger.
We decided to try an ocean-view cabin this trip in lieu of our usual balcony cabin. The cabin was small (160sq.ft.) , but had plenty of storage. The first disappointment was the safe; much smaller than those encountered in past years. There was no room for my camera, just small personal items like wallets. The window was big enough, but above the head of the bed limiting the view out. The TV was small but serviceable. The bed was extra-firm and not particularly comfortable; the pillows were the thinnest imaginable. The shower was very small, and the toiletries were limited to shampoo in a dispenser and hotel bar soap. Our cabin attendant Howard was extremely helpful and made our cabin experience as good as could be. Cabin pictures are uploaded.