I just got back from the Navigator of the Seas last week. It was a 5 day cruise out of Miami to Cozumel and Belize. There were three ladies (including to myself) who stayed in an aft Jr suite and 2 male friends who stayed in a balcony room. We are all unmarried, in our early thirties and have no kids. I was the organizer for the trip and used this site for advice. Just before we left I read a lot of very negative things about this boat which worried me. Overall one of my girlfriend's and I really loved it and thought everything was great and that the ship was beautiful and clean! My other girlfriend and one of the boy's thought the service was lacking and the ship could have been better. The other boy thought it was really great but would have liked a larger newer boat (Oasis of the Seas) so that the possibility of more partying people in our age group would be higher.
I will run down some lessons learned and or things that may be helpful and then go into more detail about the port days.
· We stayed the night before the cruise at the Clevelander in south beach. this is a 21 and over hotel with admission to their rooftop deck for all guests. Tiny rooms (think Manhattan) but it is beachfront and has great south beach nightlife. wonderful time but NOT for people with kids (under 21 policy) or those who are light sleepers (you can hear the club and poolside bar which is open LATE). Great for people who want to do the South Beach thing you see in movies and music videos. Great for those who want to be right on the beach and be walking distance to all the shopping and Art Deco. Great for deep sleeper. · Embarkation was super easy and quick. I wanted to get there early but my friends didn't believe me when I said we could board before 2pm. One of my friends had two partial bottles of water in her carry on and they were not taken or even inspected. This method to smuggle liquor would have worked. The Suite line wasn't any faster than the regular lines the boys used. Our rooms were ready. · The boat was fully booked because of those from the canceled NCL Dawn 11/29 sailing. These people got sickening deals like 219pp balcony. · Luggage arrived by 5pmish. We used rum runners with no problem in both checked luggage and pockets of cargo pants I met a Canadian couple who took on four bottles of wine in their checked luggage with no problem. · We slapped luggage tags on two 12 packs of soda and they arrived at our rooms around 11pm after we called guest services asking about it. Clearly this is okay to do since they looked for and delivered it. · Windjammer on embarkation day was very crowded and it was hard for my friend to get a coke with her coke card. She continued to have a hard time with quick service using the coke package. She was the only one in the group with the package and occasionally got cokes for us (one here or there) with no issue from the staff. I saw couple who openly shared one coke packge. · VERY few kids onboard. Lots of Floridians and tons and tons of couples which made some of us miss our SOs at home. · Dramamine Low Drowy formula (only one to use medicine the entire time) made me super drowsy so I would take it right before bed instead of in the middle of the day. I don't know if this made a difference or not. One of the boys used the patch and stopped because of the extreme dry mouth and drowsiness. One of the girls got sick on day three on a particularly choppy day. · You can use the aerobics area in the gym for your own thing (stretching, yoga, core work) even when classes are going on. · As reported by one of the boys, the steam room in the men's area in the fitness center had some gentlemen who took advantage of the translucent steam for public "amorous" activities. (I am just saying what he saw in there, no judgment) · I took a bottle of mango wine from Belize onto the ship with no issue at all by splitting it between two emptied bottles of water. I did this because of the learnings on embarkation day about bottled water and also because the mango wine was clearly homemade and the bottle was leaking. · The ATM charges a 6.5% fee. · The boys spent most of the time in the casino and they, along with several other we met, won money during the cruise at lost it all the last night. Table minimums go as low as 4 bucks during the day. Only one non smoking day in the casino on formal night, I think. · Tender tickets were used as a crowd control measure and weren't actually collected when we went onshore in Belize which is a good thing because we never got them. · The mini golf was fun but the range is not well kept and a drainage problem left pools of water and some mildew smells. · My Time dining is a compromise. You get pretty quick service if you don't join other people (dinner in 1 hours without any rushing) but because you get a different wait staff each night the service is not as good as regular dining. We did not do reservations and never had to wait for a table because we were open to sitting with others. We met three great ladies who became subsequent dinner companions this way. Though some of my friends thought the service was spotty, (at times horrible in their opinion) they still rather that then a fixed dinner time. · Main Dining room for breakfast and lunch was slower but nice and a great way to eat a normal portion of food as opposed to the Wind jammy jammy (as we so affectionately called it) · Portofino's on day 3 was okay. Even though the place was almost empty, the pacing of the dinner was SO slow (perhaps for couple in love) that we couldn't wait to just leave. The eggplant rollatini-like appetizer and fillet with risotto was AMAZING! · When drinking outside of the room we stuck with drinks of the day for cost savings. Mojitos in Bolereos were also under 6 bucks. · The night club was surprisingly fun. In our early 30's we were probably smack in the middle of the age range. The drink of the day there changes in the night two or three times depending on the bartender which is great because you can get different things for the same low price. · Evidently they punch a hole in the seapass cards of kids between 18 and 21. I punched a hole in my card to use with a lanyard. It took the night club bouncers 5 min to verify my age before letting me in. i laughed that they though I looked anywhere near 21! · Guest Services is open 24hrs a day so we avoided the seemingly ever present lines by visiting them very late at night. · The lounge chairs on deck 12 at the back of the boat are quiet and not crowded like the pool side of deck 12 is. Great for reading while sunning. · I had three glasses of free champagne at the captain's night thing in the promenade on formal night and could have had more but three is enough for me. · The aft balcony is AMAZING and so worth the walk. We asked for and received a third lounger for the balcony from the stateroom attendant. This size room was good for three ladies. · Disembarkation was delayed. We were scheduled to disembark at 8:30 and didn't get out to the taxi stands till 10am. I guess it was a customs thing. There were only 4 border agents to process all those people. Getting a taxi was super easy.
Junior suite looked exactly like all the pic online. The Aft balcony is enourmous and completly work the extra walk, which is not a big deal at all, and the "superstructure". If i were to do it again, i would have tried to get an aft JS on a higher deck (we were deck 7) to lessen the detraction of the superstructure.
Day three Cozumel. We three ladies went to Nachi Cocum and it was as pretty and nice as everyone says. I have nothing bad to say but I don't know that I ate and drank 49 dollars worth of consumables (the cost of the all inclusive package) the beach was so pretty and clean and there were very few children so I suppose that is what we paid for as well. Here are some points. · there is a 15 dollar flat taxi rate per car up to 4 people to get there from the international pier. · It was a windy day and for the five minutes out of the whole day when the wind died down i got several bug bites, so........... · food was great although they ran out of flan which was a little disappointing. · no mint for mojitos and they only use Bacardi rum. · very very clean facilities. · it was a little hard to get my server at the end of the day but it did seem to hit the 100 person mark and was not crowded but certainly not the empty beach that others seemed to experience. · The Boys went on their own and rented scooter outside of the tourist village for, I think, 20 bucks pp for the day. They just rode around and got lunch on the other side of the island. It would have been a great had my friend not totally wiped out on the way back to return the bike. He got lots of road rash and a very deep wound on his eyebrow that bled profusely. Thankfully the scooter shop owner only charged then 35 bucks in damages (they did not need a credit card or deposit to rent) so that was lucky. He did however rack up a $500 bill in the ship's medical facility for bandages and stitches. Part of that cost was a $50 charge for using the facility outside of "doctor's hours" at 3pm in the afternoon.
Day four Belize The five of us were scheduled to do an independent tour to Lamanai. We chose this because i didn't want to be "with the massess" on and RCCL tour. Everyone on the boards seemed to be super nervous about missing the boat because of the ruin’s distance from the pier. I was also nervous but I couldn’t find anyone who actually missed the boat on an independent tour. Lot of people who came close but if you make the boat then who cares. My friend was in too much pain to come and my other friend stayed in solidarity so it was the three girls again! Meanwhile, the boys just went to the Wild frog or some such bar in the tourist area and drank there for a while. They went into Belize City for little walk around and then came back to the boat. During their short time outside of the tourist walls they were offered all sorts of things in the way of drugs and sexual acts. My black male friend was mistaken for the Belizean lover-for-hire of my white male friend. They thought all of the above was very amusing.
Getting off the boat in a tender port:
We were scheduled to dock at 7am ship time. We were supposed to meet the tour group at 720am Belize time with an assumption that the ship time would be 1hr earlier (docking at 6am) but not till the day before did we learn the ship reset clocks so ship and Belize time were the same. Meeting at 720 was not plausible but we knew we had to get off as soon as we could. though the night before we could not get guest relations to verify the night before, the next morning they were more than happy to let us on the first tender without paper confirmation of our excursion even though the first two are reserved for RCCL people only. We could have left as early as 745am but didn’t get on the tender until 845am. by the time it filled up and left, we didn't arrive to the Belize port until 930. We didn't leave early because one person in our group was very late getting ready. I was FUMMING mad over this. Our tour guides were supposed to be waiting with signs but we were so late that they weren't there. we asked some other guides and they pointed us in the right direction. we paid the money and were in the van by 10am ish. LATE!!! I hate being late and hate inconveniencing other people so I was really pissed about this. Its hard to stay mad, though, when you are on the tender because the view of the ship in the morning fog is just breathtaking.
Belize City: Many people say it is horrible and i wouldn't go so far but i can understand that for many Americans unaccustomed to developing countries it may be intimidating. My family is from the Jamaica and, if i didn't know better, i would have thought i was in Mo'Bay or Ocho Rios. as we left the cruise port to get in our van for the tour and drive out of the city, we got a great little view of the city. this is not a tourist city like Nassau. There is some little shopping but otherwise it is a regular place where people live. It is probably best for those uncomfortable to stay in the cruise shopping village or not venture far from there because there are many police on the outside of the village but you get much better shopping prices outside because there is no bargaining in the cruise shopping area. only standard prices.
Belize countryside: We saw the flat land between the marsh and rain forest of the ruins and the city on the coast. It looked very much like Jamaican country to me. There are a few stands on the side of the road selling homemade wine or fresh coconut. We stopped at a stand and tasted two types of mango wine and cashew wine before settling on the mango wine. These stands and any other business outside the cruise area will accept US dollars but cannot return change in US dollars. This took about 1 hour. Arrived around 11am
The New River: our day was sunny so sunscreen was important for the sunburn prone and those avoiding premature aging due to sun exposure! The day was hot for us so the breeze felt great but i can see if it were overcast that the breeze would have been chilly. We saw people fishing and would slow down to take pictures. About 45 mins, arrived just before noon.
Ruin: This place is awesome. Huge and very jungle-ly. Lots o' walking so wear good shoes. The jungle canopy traps humidity so you will sweat while standing in the shade. The very large ruin that you can climb is deceptively difficult. Do not underestimate it and allow ample time to descend as the steep incline makes this mentally tough. The easiest to come down on your butt. we only had time for about 1 hour here including eating which was a shame because the lunch was homemade by the owner’s wife and DELICIOUS. I was not happy to be rushed but this was not their fault. back on the river at 1pm. return trip got us in belize city 2hrs later. We returned early enough to get a little drive around the city which was really neat in my opinion. We then got back to the cruise port by 3:20 and walked around a little before getting a tender at 3:50. Overall impression of private company. Let’s be clear that the tour operators know what they are doing. They run this tour all the time and, save some very unlikely occurrence, they will provide an amazingly informative and enjoyable tour and they will return you to the cruise ship as early as you need to feel comfortable. We early did not need to return to the cruise ship by 3pm when last tender was at 415 but they got us back there at this time because my friends very sternly told them to do so. I was off buying mango wine while they did this because I would have not agreed that we needed the 1 and 15 mins buffer. They were probably happy to have more of their day to themselves with the same money earned. FYI, they were totally understanding about my other friends not coming and didn’t make us pay the full cost even though weren’t able to notify them ahead of time.