On February 17, 2017, my husband and I sailed on Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas for a 9 day Southern Caribbean cruise. This would be our 18th cruise and our third with RCCL. As always, we fly in a day early, and this time stayed with friends who were sailing with us. We arrived at the terminal in Miami at about 10:30 and from the time we entered the building we never stopped moving; 30 minutes later we were on board. The Navigator is a beautiful old ship that was refurbished in 2013. She shows a little wear here and there, but while she is flashy, it's done with class. I love the decor.
From the time we arrived on board, and for the next two of days, the upsell to the specialty restaurants was relentless; reminding me of a bunch of island vendors, as the crew was everywhere during this promotion. It seemed that the upselling on the Navigator, ANY of their promotions, was over the top.
Our cabins were ready by 1:30. We were on one of the hump balconies on the 6th deck and this is our favorite position on the ship. The cabin was lovely and tasteful. There was a wood table and adjustable chairs on the balcony. I really like the layout of the bathroom, although the shower stall is quite small. Furnished is bar soap at the sink and body wash and bar soap in the shower. The cleanliness of our cabin left a bit to be desired as the glass and mirrors were smudged, it was dirty under the bed and our room had not been vacuumed from the previous tenants. We were delighted that the "coffee tables" have been eliminated giving us much more room to move around.
Our room steward introduced himself and told us the very specific hours he would be available. On other cruise lines we have had our steward give us his cell number if we needed anything. We saw our room steward about 3-4 times during our cruise. He did get the floor vacuumed. My husband has a CPAP and prior to this cruise asked, in an email, to have water and an extension cord. He was assured it would be in our room upon our arrival. This did not happen. During the course of our cruise, I had to mop our bathroom floor once and, as I carry disinfectant, had to wipe down our toilet when it obviously needed it. The bed was pretty hard and I asked for an extra pad. This still didn't help much, so I asked for 5 pillows and sleeping with them as padding worked great for me. A good thing to keep in mind if you are like me and like it soft.
We are accustomed to ships where the crew is generally friendly, so the crew on this ship was quite a surprise to me. My husband and I are very friendly and are used to being greeted and enjoy interacting often with the crew. This crew did not engage. There were few greetings, and often a crew member would walk in front of me or cut me off. I found them to be surly; often rude and begrudging in the course of their jobs. There were very few smiles. I just makes me wonder what is going on with command that these people feel this way? While my husband and I believe that a trip is what you make it, and we did have a nice cruise, this attitude put a damper on it for me.
The bars, while efficient in service, were not well-stocked. Only a couple of bars had the Clamato I love for my favorite drink and it was gone by the 3rd day, but reappeared in one bar on the 5th day. My husband would pick up bottles of water for our cabin and bars didn't always have it. If you love wine, then go to Vintages on the Promenade, they have a huge variety rather than just the few varieties found at the other ship's bars.
The ship's entertainment, including the lounges, was quite good. The ice show was beautiful. Not to be missed is The Quest. An R-rated scavenger hunt late one night. Arrive thirty minutes early to secure a seat and even earlier, sitting close to the floor, if you want to take part in the action. A lot of raucous, fabulous fun!
The casino appears to be as tight as all other ship's casinos. There is smoking, but it was well ventilated and there is a smoking side of the casino. Occasionally one of the bartenders will come around and take your drink order. These guys seemed pretty nice. A long story short....an older lady tripped over a chair that was tilted at a machine and when I tried to get her help, two attendants working on a machine turned their backs to me and the guy I was able to flag down came over, made a quick inquiry and then walked away. I hope she ended up okay, but I was appalled by the callousness of the crew.
Food reviews coming from this ship prior to our cruise made me think that might be our main issue, but surprisingly the food in the main dining room was quite good. Our service was fast and our food arrived piping hot, which wasn't the case in the buffet. While I don't typically eat breakfast, my husband said that it was the same food every day and it seemed to be low-quality; for instance, like the pre-formed water-packed ham. I went down one day and left after most of what was on my plate was inedible. Avoid the hash browns, corned beef and biscuits and gravy. We ate lunch on sea days in the main dining room. It was good and we really liked the chop salad bar. It was never crowded, even though they didn't really like our request for our "table for two" rather than sharing a table with others. They did manage to "find" us one in the largely empty dining room every time. Typical of the crew attitude on this ship.
Our main dining room waiter was efficient, but seemed to have a chip on his shoulder, arguing with me one night about a mixup with an order. Our darling assistant waiter never was without a smile lighting up her face. She could not speak English well and we had a very difficult time with drink orders—I don't know what ever happened to wine stewards—anyway, we had to point to the beverage catalogue number on the menu and still, we had much confusion. I think there was obviously little-to-NO training done with this poor girl. After the third night I'd had enough of her reaching in front of all of us to serve others across our table for four, and I demonstrated the correct way to serve (old waitress here) and she worked hard to do it that way every time!
The second day on board Cruise Critic had a Meet & Greet. Activities Director, Marvin, and his helper were there to welcome us. They drew prizes for wine, plastic bottles and a couple of backpacks. Marvin then talked about the influence of CC and then strongly warned against "rumors". The rest of his talk was the usual ship upsell. The ship's lack of interest in our group was a HUGE disappointment for many of us. On other cruise lines we have had a variety of beverages and pastries, a showing of ship's command officers welcoming us individually then introducing themselves, describing their duties and answering questions. Finally furnishing us with cards with their cell phone numbers on them. Yes, ship's officers, those in command and usually the captain. I say this to RCCL, with ALL of the very negative reviews lately on this ship why would you not make more of an effort to remedy that situation by taking the time to talk directly with the people, answer questions, address concerns, and listen to feedback of those who will be writing your reviews???
A shoutout to those from our Cruise Critic board who organized all the events from the M&G, to the slot pull, to cabin crawl....what a great time and fun group of Cruise Critic folks!
As this is turning into a huge review—sorry, it's how I roll—a couple of things about ports.
Labadee: We went to Columbus Beach, (the one at the end of the tram stops). Recent publicity on CC has worked quite well and it was not the quiet, laid back and uncrowded beach we'd hoped it would be. If you want to get near the water, get there early. RCCL does feed you lunch, but maybe you want to take some snacks or maybe you want to go hungry, as that's the only way you will truly enjoy it.
Bonaire: We did an island tour with Sunrise Tours. Check them out, they were wonderful!
Curacao: We went to Lion's Dive Beach, get there early to get some shade. It's lovely, but it's busy.
Aruba: We just walked around. It's quite upscale there by the port. Very pretty.
On disembarkation, we chose self assist and were able to walk off the ship once it cleared customs. We breezed through customs and were outside within about 20 minutes from disembarkation. Line up early to get off early.
I would not sail the Navigator of the Seas again. Prior to this cruise we had booked the Liberty of the Seas for January 2018. I am sure it will be a much better cruise. As for the Navigator, she is a grand old lady who does not deserve to have the crew that has been placed aboard her.