Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by Difromsalisbury
- Sail Date: November 2017
- Destination: Transatlantic
Boarding at Southampton was extremely quick and easy and we were very pleased with our cabin, 9500, which is an enormous family stateroom directly under the bridge so it has a fantastic view. The ship is very nice, just a shortened version of Independence, and the Royal Caribbean ships are the easiest to find your way around with the Royal Promenade in the middle and stairs/lifts at each end. It is however looking a bit ragged around the edges and dated now. There are a lot of gapping carpets in the corridors, chipped paint on the bunk beds in our cabin and the bathroom was quite marked around the shower, in the cupboards etc. It looks in need of a refresh. Everything else was clean and well maintained considering it’s age.
We decided to try a 3 speciality dining experience for a change, starting with the Galley Brunch with bottomless sparkling wine; very well presented with an interesting tour of the galley. We made our next trip lunch in Chops which was very disappointing, there is no real ambience in there, not helped by the disappearance of all the fresh flowers in the last couple of years on the line. The restaurant is fairly featureless and the “gigantic “ prawn cocktail arrived with 5 average sized prawns sitting on a pile of ice. Mushroom soup was excellent as were the steaks however the only choice of vegetables was asparagus. After asking for green beans they took more than 10 minutes after the steak was served to arrive. Dessert choice was small but gigantic portions and then staff just seemed to disappear. When we informed the customer service desk that we wanted a refund for the remaining meal the manager of Chops contacted us to apologise and asked us to go back for an evening meal, which we did on the second New York night and were very impressed. The manager was extremely pleasant and helpful and a credit to the company.It was completely different, very good service and all the food up to standard. We then went to Giovannis Italian restaurant for lunch which was faultless, great service and an extensive tasty menu almost the same during the day as at night. These speciality restaurants need to be kept special to justify charging upwards of $25 per head, the meal and service should be even better than the dining room and smart casual dress code observed, also not great to see Pinnacle passengers wandering around with bowls of food from the Windjammer in there!
Entertainment and activities were plentiful as always, the daily progressive trivia was disappointing compared to the others we have done in the past, squashed into the Cosmopolitan bar and more like an ordinary trivia. Joff and indeed Jamie on Independence have raised it to cult status with 60 plus teams on all our other crossings.
Dining room was excellent in the evenings, slow and disorganised at breakfast and lunch often the same on previous trips.
Overall the cruise was very enjoyable but very marred when it came to the immigration process in Boston and disembarkation. We had lots of letters to the stateroom detailing how we were to queue at Boston, including pictures of all the muster stations on cabin cards and allotted times. This letter told us to queue at 6.30am, first in line, two evenings before. The next night another lettter moved it to 6am then the night before it was announced as 6.30 again...I had also booked an early shore excursion having experienced people stuck onboard till 3pm the year before in St Thomas. We went to queue at the correct time of 6.15 to find we joined it at the Star Lounge, the entire length of the ship, when it should only have been people from our muster station there. No one in authority was there to police the line or offer any advice until the Cruise Director told people to go to breakfast more than an hour after we had been standing there. We stood for two hours. There was a system in place and no one bothered to implement it. Total chaos and most of our subsequent walking tour left early as we simply didn’t want to walk or stand any longer. The same thing happens every year and it is not simply immigration’s fault, Royal Caribbean need to organise things from the start and stick to a plan. I ate breakfast in the queue, many people had none.
Our early disembarkation (at Port Canaveral for Orlando) was even more of a fiasco. Having paid upfront to get off a day early (yes, really) I spent the next few weeks attempting to confirm that we could stay on the ship most of our last day then pick up our hire car at 3pm when I had booked it. The main desk could only say we would probably get a letter, then a meeting was arranged, bizarrely involving a lot of senior crew and sparkling wine which descended into chaos when we were informed everyone would have to carry off their own luggage. This didn’t bother us but some people had 6+ bags for several months! We were then told that we could stay on board until 3. This changed again the next day when we got back to our cabin at 5pm to a letter saying we must be off by 9am the following morning. To cut an extremely long story short, after arguing with crew about them paying any extra charge for our car hire as we would be so early, let alone missing the whole day onboard, we were escorted off last. If I had been told from the outset that problems can occur with customs and immigration due to early disembarkation I would have planned to get off first thing and booked a car accordingly. I had no information whatsoever from the company and also met many passengers who were getting off early and had not informed or paid RCI in advance.
Boston was lovely but spoilt by the disorganisation, New York was fantastic and mooring at Hells Kitchen meant just a 20 minute walk to Times Square enabling a trip to see Chicago the first night.
I would make the trip again but not necessarily on Royal Caribbean due to their attitude to giving the relevant information needed for going ashore. We have only learnt through bad experience how to organise ourselves and it spoils the overall cruise.
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