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Had never sailed on Royal Caribbean before so a last minute booking on a 14 night Western Mediterranean was a good opportunity to try it out. Not having to fly (as we live in the UK) and an interesting selection of ports was also a plus point. Navigator of the Seas now counts as one of RCI's mid-sized ships (even though it was the largest in the world when launched) but it was the largest we'd ever been on. I think however that was was probably the main issue we had. There were 3800+ passengers on board and that meant that the ship was bursting at the seams, with both outdoor & indoor seating hard to find. (Speaking to people who'd been on the ship before, I think the situation has got worse since the extra cabins were added at the last dry-dock renovation) Embarkation at Southampton was ok. It took us about an hour from drop off to getting on board which in my experience is pretty good for the port. RCI give you a time to check in (depending on cabin grade) and so we had a late afternoon check-in which probably meant we got on quicker than those people turning up at noon. We had a standard outside cabin on one of the lower decks (Deck 3) which was "compact" (160 sq ft), but it had everything we needed (we were 4 sharing) and enough storage for all our belongings & luggage. All UK departures have a kettle in the cabin, which is a nice touch for the British passengers (who were by far the majority - 80-90% on this trip), although only 2 tea bags are provided and no fresh milk (although it's easy enough to get those items in the Windjammer) The ship has all the standard features of a modern ship of it's size such as a multi level atrium, panoramic lifts, multiple eating options (although mostly at an extra charge), outdoor cinema screen, pools & jacuzzis (3 of the former and 6(!) of the latter). It also still has a outdoor wrap-around Promenade Deck which is something we always look for on a ship (but it something that is often missing form the newer ones). But apart from the smokers (who were allowed to light up on the entire Port side) this was underused. Probably because the company had not seen fit to put more than 10 chairs per side out. As well as being a very pleasant place to sit, putting more out may have relieved the pressure on the space on the upper outside desks... But there a few things we hadn't seen before: A central wide & high internal promenade on Deck 5. This I think is meant to emulate a pedestrianised street with shops & cafes on either side. But to my mind it doesn't really work. Because it is an internal space with no daylight the lighting is crucial, and here the designers have really failed. For the majority of the day harsh blue lighting is used which makes it a very unpleasant place to linger. Hence we didn't feel the urge to visit the pub or wine bar which were located on either side. In the evening the lighting was sometimes changed to a vibrant red which worked slightly better, but the whole ambience was still not relaxing, especially so as the number of people on board meant finding a seat at any of the venues was tricky most of the time. Out on deck there were some of the signature Royal Caribbean attractions (Flow Rider, Rock Wall, Crazy Golf) which the youngsters certainly seemed to enjoy. And then in the bowels of the ship is an actual ice rink. Here a superb ice show was performed on a couple of the sea days which was a definite highlight. We ate all our dinners in the Main Dinig Room (Sapphire) which is a stunning 3 storey space at the rear of the ship. The menus here were good but often the exotic descriptions were sometimes let down by what was actually delivered. But the service was good and we didn't feel the need to try any of the Speciality restaurants as an alternative. (Although we did go to the Johnny Rockets hamburger bar for lunch one day, and for a $7 cover charge we thought that was good value) The Windjammer buffet was at least large enough to cope with all the passengers most of the time, but unfortunately we found the variety & quality of food on offer to be poor. And going by the fact that the most popular items seemed to be the pizza & chips I suspect the other passengers thought the same. We had 6 sea days on this trip and unless you wanted to frazzle on a sun lounger all day there was a lack of interesting things to do during the day (Trivia quizzes & Bingo sessions were held daily, but there were hardly any talks or films available, and those that did happen were mostly just pushing shore excursions or spa related activities). The ubiquity of background music in all bars & lounges also meant finding a quiet space just to read was also difficult. But we did enjoy the night time shows in the main theatre. There was a good selection of solo performers (singers, comedians & speciality acts) plus 3 shows featuring the company singers & dancers. Special mention shoudl also be made of the Navigator Orchestra who were very professional. The Cruise Director - Rob McNally - was also very good and was also very visible (unlike the Captain and other ships officers who were rarely seen out & about) We did our own thing in each of the ports and didn't take any of the organised excursions. (But you will need to do your own research if you do this as there is no information available on board about what you can do independently, and the port information they do hand out doesn't even show where the ship docks or the shuttle bus drops you off; although it does list the local jewellery shops which I assume get a commission form the company). We travelled by train to Rome & Pisa, and just explored Genoa, Malaga & Lisbon directly from the ship. (We were meant to call at Nice on this trip, but this was cancelled because of the terrorist attack that happened on the previous day. A disappointment but quite understandable, and the company refunded Port taxes for that day) So all-in-all a mixed bag. We enjoyed the cruise (we always do!) and all the ports were interesting, and certainly our teenage sons made loads of new friends (we hardly saw them except at dinner). But compared to Celebrity or Cunard we felt that this ship was rather more akin to a holiday camp at sea than we'd have liked.

First time on Royal Caribbean, but may not pick them again.

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by TonyLon

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Had never sailed on Royal Caribbean before so a last minute booking on a 14 night Western Mediterranean was a good opportunity to try it out. Not having to fly (as we live in the UK) and an interesting selection of ports was also a plus point.

Navigator of the Seas now counts as one of RCI's mid-sized ships (even though it was the largest in the world when launched) but it was the largest we'd ever been on.

I think however that was was probably the main issue we had. There were 3800+ passengers on board and that meant that the ship was bursting at the seams, with both outdoor & indoor seating hard to find. (Speaking to people who'd been on the ship before, I think the situation has got worse since the extra cabins were added at the last dry-dock renovation)

Embarkation at Southampton was ok. It took us about an hour from drop off to getting on board which in my experience is pretty good for the port. RCI give you a time to check in (depending on cabin grade) and so we had a late afternoon check-in which probably meant we got on quicker than those people turning up at noon.

We had a standard outside cabin on one of the lower decks (Deck 3) which was "compact" (160 sq ft), but it had everything we needed (we were 4 sharing) and enough storage for all our belongings & luggage.

All UK departures have a kettle in the cabin, which is a nice touch for the British passengers (who were by far the majority - 80-90% on this trip), although only 2 tea bags are provided and no fresh milk (although it's easy enough to get those items in the Windjammer)

The ship has all the standard features of a modern ship of it's size such as a multi level atrium, panoramic lifts, multiple eating options (although mostly at an extra charge), outdoor cinema screen, pools & jacuzzis (3 of the former and 6(!) of the latter).

It also still has a outdoor wrap-around Promenade Deck which is something we always look for on a ship (but it something that is often missing form the newer ones). But apart from the smokers (who were allowed to light up on the entire Port side) this was underused. Probably because the company had not seen fit to put more than 10 chairs per side out. As well as being a very pleasant place to sit, putting more out may have relieved the pressure on the space on the upper outside desks...

But there a few things we hadn't seen before: A central wide & high internal promenade on Deck 5. This I think is meant to emulate a pedestrianised street with shops & cafes on either side. But to my mind it doesn't really work. Because it is an internal space with no daylight the lighting is crucial, and here the designers have really failed. For the majority of the day harsh blue lighting is used which makes it a very unpleasant place to linger. Hence we didn't feel the urge to visit the pub or wine bar which were located on either side. In the evening the lighting was sometimes changed to a vibrant red which worked slightly better, but the whole ambience was still not relaxing, especially so as the number of people on board meant finding a seat at any of the venues was tricky most of the time.

Out on deck there were some of the signature Royal Caribbean attractions (Flow Rider, Rock Wall, Crazy Golf) which the youngsters certainly seemed to enjoy.

And then in the bowels of the ship is an actual ice rink. Here a superb ice show was performed on a couple of the sea days which was a definite highlight.

We ate all our dinners in the Main Dinig Room (Sapphire) which is a stunning 3 storey space at the rear of the ship. The menus here were good but often the exotic descriptions were sometimes let down by what was actually delivered. But the service was good and we didn't feel the need to try any of the Speciality restaurants as an alternative. (Although we did go to the Johnny Rockets hamburger bar for lunch one day, and for a $7 cover charge we thought that was good value)

The Windjammer buffet was at least large enough to cope with all the passengers most of the time, but unfortunately we found the variety & quality of food on offer to be poor. And going by the fact that the most popular items seemed to be the pizza & chips I suspect the other passengers thought the same.

We had 6 sea days on this trip and unless you wanted to frazzle on a sun lounger all day there was a lack of interesting things to do during the day (Trivia quizzes & Bingo sessions were held daily, but there were hardly any talks or films available, and those that did happen were mostly just pushing shore excursions or spa related activities).

The ubiquity of background music in all bars & lounges also meant finding a quiet space just to read was also difficult.

But we did enjoy the night time shows in the main theatre. There was a good selection of solo performers (singers, comedians & speciality acts) plus 3 shows featuring the company singers & dancers. Special mention shoudl also be made of the Navigator Orchestra who were very professional. The Cruise Director - Rob McNally - was also very good and was also very visible (unlike the Captain and other ships officers who were rarely seen out & about)

We did our own thing in each of the ports and didn't take any of the organised excursions. (But you will need to do your own research if you do this as there is no information available on board about what you can do independently, and the port information they do hand out doesn't even show where the ship docks or the shuttle bus drops you off; although it does list the local jewellery shops which I assume get a commission form the company).

We travelled by train to Rome & Pisa, and just explored Genoa, Malaga & Lisbon directly from the ship.

(We were meant to call at Nice on this trip, but this was cancelled because of the terrorist attack that happened on the previous day. A disappointment but quite understandable, and the company refunded Port taxes for that day)

So all-in-all a mixed bag. We enjoyed the cruise (we always do!) and all the ports were interesting, and certainly our teenage sons made loads of new friends (we hardly saw them except at dinner). But compared to Celebrity or Cunard we felt that this ship was rather more akin to a holiday camp at sea than we'd have liked.
TonyLon’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 3566
Standard Oceanview cabin with a large round window.
We were travelling as a family of 4 and unusually we had the main bed made up a double (next to the window) with the bunks on either side above it.
Bathroom small but at least shower has a door rather than a flimsy curtain.
Storage good for a cabin of only 160 sq ft.
  Navigator of the Seas Deck Plans