General background To clarify, this cruise review is based on 9 days spent onboard the Navigator of the Seas due to the fact that my friend and I did two back-to-back cruises (4 nights on the first; 5 nights on the second).
Boarding I arrived at the pier around 10:20 a.m. A security staff member kept insisting that my luggage was too big and that I had to check it despite the fact that I explicitly informed him I was a RCCL Platinum member and frequently sailed out of Miami (in other words, I was very familiar with the size of the x-ray machine in this port). I requested to speak to a supervisor and eventually, the supervisor allowed me to go through. Once I cleared security, I was surprised that even though it was only 10:15 a.m., the check-in desks were already open. By 10:30 a.m., I was on the ship! Overall, I have to say that check-in/boarding procedures were well-organized.
Waiting time Onboard, I was informed that cabins would not be ready until 1:00 p.m. and that the Windjammer would not open until 12:00 p.m. (those of who who are frequent RCCL cruisers know this is pretty standard). Once 1:00 p.m. arrived, I attempted to open my cabin, but the card did not work. Consequently, I had to go back to guest relations. I was given a new room card which still did not work. It took another trip to guest relations to fix the problem and this was not a good way to start my cruise especially given the negative attitude of guest relations staff for something that was entirely outside the control of a passenger. My friend/cabin mate arrived much later than me, but he still had the same problem.
Ship's appearance and public areas While the Navigator is not as young as other ships in the RCCL fleet, it is nevertheless a beautiful ship and cleaning crews do an excellent job keeping it spotless. Public areas are nicely appointed. In particular, the Royal Promenade is stunning.
Accommodations My friend and I purchased a D1 balcony cabin for both cruises. We were very disappointed with the poor, cheap-looking decorations and furniture of the cabin in general. On the positive side, the A/C worked wonderfully and since we were sailing on a Voyager-class ship, the bathroom shower had the plastic rolling doors and not the disgusting curtains found on RCCL ships below this class, thereby making the showering experience far more enjoyable.
Stateroom attendants On both of our cruises, we had nice, polite stateroom attendants. However, they were rather lazy (for instance, they would fail to deliver ice at night).
Meals We ate breakfast at the Windjammer almost every day. While the quality of the food was not excellent, it was reasonably acceptable and we appreciated the large variety of dishes. A note to new cruisers: Windjammer is quite large so if you want to see all the food that is available, you have to go all the way to the back (we noticed many people would just stay in the front section of Windjammer not knowing that there was another section directly behind it).
On our first sailing, we had Marvin as our server in the main dining room (which on the Navigator has 3 levels, each with its own name). He was, by far, the worst server we have ever encountered. Not a single person in our table liked him. He possessed no customer service skills and not once did he make us feel welcome. For the second sailing, we were far more fortunate and had Bruno, who was significantly friendlier. Regarding the quality of main dining room meals, we felt that it was very disappointing... so much so that we opted to eat in the specialty restaurants for 4 out of our 9 nights. Speaking of the specialty restaurants, we found Portofinos and Johnny Rockets to be worth the extra fare; however, to say that Chops was horrible would be an understatement.
Ports of Call Cozumel: A fantastic location with lots of activities for guests of all ages. Belize: Completely lacks infrastructure and safety is questionable. Avoid!!!!
Cruise Director/Staff Our CD was Simeon Baker. I only have one word to describe him: FANTASTIC! He is extremely energetic, witty, and has a great sense of humor; there is no way not to like him! The activities manager (sorry guys, I forgot her name) was great also.
Guest Relations Officers In over 30 cruises, I had never experienced such profound levels of surliness. Most of the Navigator's guest relations officers were unkind, rude, and dishonest. In particular, the male officers exhibited an alarmingly aggressive behavior. One of them even made a very sweet lady from my table cry and that was the moment I lost my patience and demanded to speak to his supervisor, for there was no reason to call her a "liar" after they apparently managed to lose track of her onboard credits. The situation was fixed upon requesting to speak to the manager who had a slightly better attitude. But, in all fairness, despite having an overwhelming majority of unprofessional guest relations officers, there were still a few truly remarkable ones, and I wrote to RCCL praising their hard work and dedication.
Summary My friend and I are not willing to sail on Royal Caribbean again. We have booked our future cruises exclusively on Celebrity and Holland America. There simply is no excuse for RCCL to have such low levels of customer service. To us, the Navigator of the Seas represents a myriad of underachievers (with few exceptions of course) and it is sad to see how RCCL continues to decline.
Excellent port with lots of activities for guests of all ages.
Horrible. Cruise lines should not visit this port at all.