This cruise was chosen to experience our first cruise from Southampton and first Royal Caribbean cruise. Also the itinerary included a couple of places we had not visited before - Cartagena and Lisbon; there was a last minute change of itinerary due to a problem at Genoa.
Also we both had special birthdays this year and a special anniversary while we were away, and decided to celebrate with this cruise.
Southampton have embarkation all under control - no issues at all.
We were so disappointed in the ship - Navigator of the Seas looks very poor in places - external paintwork, furniture in the cabin, the theatre - and is desperately in need of a full refurb.
I must admit we are used to smaller ships and this cruise just confirmed why we prefer them. Queues are in evidence everywhere - lifts, dining rooms, seating in public areas....The worst experience was at Lisbon - we arrived at 12 noon for a 7.5 hour stay and only one gangway was open to get 3000+ passengers and some crew off. We made 2 attempts to get off the ship but like many others gave up after waiting around in queues, and spent the rest of the stay there watching the building work going on at the terminal. The reason was apparently because it's a tidal port and only one gangway was accessible. Apologies followed some heated complaints but this was really poor planning - I don't imagine it is too difficult to work out tide times?
We spent two days at sea after leaving Southampton and then two days at the end of the holiday - on both occasions we chugged along at a slow-ish rate. Clearly the return journey could have been completed much sooner, or a further stop could have been included but I guess passengers don't spend as much money when we have the chance to get off the ship, instead of being captive audiences.
We don't have any complaints about the food - Sapphire restaurant and the Windjammer self serve café both being excellent; inevitably there are a number of other restaurants which have an extra charge if you want to eat there and R C certainly use every opportunity to encourage passengers to use these. Service was generally very good with individual crew members being lovely; but we were left with the impression that the atmosphere was not nearly as cheerful and fun as other cruises we have been on. We were shocked to discover that crew members work for 7+ months without even one day off. Previous cruises I am sure gave staff a day off once a month or so. Perhaps this explains a distinct and noticeable lack of fun and camaraderie amongst crew members, which has been common to our previous cruises, and which we believe makes all the difference to the passengers experience.
This takes me on to entertainment - or should I say lack of entertainment and activities. Very poor, basic entertainment, and hardly any personality or charisma between the entertainment team - with one or two exceptions. The guest acts were generally the worse of any we have experienced. There were more families in evidence than on previous cruises and the ship is certainly geared to family holidays.
We also found that R C take absolutely every opportunity to get passengers to spend money; be prepared to watch the same tv programmes all day, every day, unless you pay for a movie. We did not take any excursions - prices were ridiculous. Written information about each port was poor compared to that we have seen in previous cruises - no maps of the ports unless it was to direct passengers to shops R C recommended. If a shuttle bus was provided, there was a cost. Alcoholic drinks have an 18% gratuity added. We made sure we were taken out of the automatic gratuity scheme and gave to particular crew members who we wanted to show our appreciation to. Future cruise bookings seem to be the number 1 agenda, along with selling the various services on the ship.
One positive thing we noted was the number of disabled people who seemed able to get around easily using mobility scooters. We also found that certain crew members were very supportive to people who were travelling alone or very elderly - well done there R C.
We had been really looking forward to this cruise for many reasons, but we have already decided that R C is not for us. It was recommended to us by many people but sadly our experience has put us off. We paid a lot of money for our holiday on Navigator of the Seas but feel so let down. Future cruises will be in smaller ships, with happier crews and more enjoyable for us!