World Navigator Review

A bit of a mixed bag for an "ultra-lux"... would I return???

Review for the Western Mediterranean Cruise on World Navigator
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SonzTwin
10+ Cruises • Age 110s

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Sail Date: May 2023
At least 3-4 types of fish at breakfast
Many meats at breakfast
What selection for such a small ship
Some of the fruits - dragon fruit some mornings too!
The freshly juiced, including OJ
Some breakfast hot items
That Jamon Iberico featured every morning and lunch

AOV was an unknown quantity to us, but the timing fit our XL anniversary quite nicely, and MAN, does the photo of the ship look sexy or what! Coincidentally, we'd just come off of another "Navigator" cruise earlier in the month (RSSC), which we took as 'a sign' when we decided to book it. No doubt, the comparison will be with that cruise (14-nts in the Caribbean) as well we with our SS cruise the year prior (7-nts Baltic), and not with the mainlines. We flew into Nice the day before and stayed the night, which gave us a chance to tour Nice a bit, as well as scout out the cruise terminal - where exactly would we go after we get off the train? To no avail - we could see the ship from the train station but we still couldn't tell whether it's at the left side of the top of the U-shape port, or to the right? Sure enough we guessed wrong, and ended up taking taking a cab from the left to the right. Best to not be so environmentally-minded and take a taxi would be our advice. It is quite a beautiful ship, with more old-style dark veneer decor in the cabins than a modern approach. Our cabin did not afford us a balcony (fewer do on this smaller ship) - just a power window that gives you some fresh air and a nice view.

We'll start with the food: dinner on that first night was shockingly mediocre (my wife would say 'bad'), but thankfully, the food would drastically improve the rest of the cruise. For one thing, their breakfast is actually superior to SS or RSSC! How is that possible, you ask - well, let me count the ways: fresh squeezed OJ, among other juices (customized as well), honey from the comb, macadamia nuts, Jamon Iberico carving (those are EVERY morning), and on a few days, dragon fruit. For a ship this small (<200 pax), the variety at b-fast and dinner was stunning. On the other hand, the included wines were singularly disappointing: they had the regular Ch. Ste. Michelle (NOT Indian Wells), which Costco used to sell for $8 as an option - IF you're willing to pay the upcharge of $36! Ridiculous. Most of the included wines were unfit to be on an ultra-lux cruise. They do not offer Champagne, but just a Cremant, which was drinkable, but they ran out of THAT a few days before the end of the cruise. This 'miss' constitutes a big part of that question mark on whether I'd come back to AOV, unless I know they've changed their errant ways.

Now a small ship like this has definite advantages - the staff get to know you, and we also made more friends on this cruise than any other. Another thing they have going - the water sports platform. (Windstar also features this, but in our 10-nt cruise with them last year down the west coast in September, we did NOT get to enjoy this perk). Those Zodiac excursions were especially nice, when we got to explore caves and coastlines up close. The itinerary was a bit silly to begin with (Nice-Cannes-Monte Carlo-Villefranche-Sur-Mer), but those little gems along the Mediterranean coast like Portovenere were appreciated, as was the overnight stays in Livorno and Civitavecchia: takes the sting away from excursions being NOT included on AOV, and their upcharge excursions usually carried crazy prices (you can easily go to Florence or Rome on the train for about 15 euros with a bit of walking; with them, it'll cost you around 100 euros). They had an 'immersion' thing which ended up being very enjoyable, with a live band. Not much by way of entertainment, of course - just a couple of talks, a featured celebrity chef, and a foodie hostess Maria, who was always gracious and accommodating, a cook-off (with guest participants) and a staff talent show. As with all cruises, not just the ultra-lux ones, the staff was amazing - I can't say enough about every one of them.

Cabin Review

The suite and the bed were comfortable. The shower stall affords you to enjoy your shower sitting down, with 3 sources of water, but the soaps and conditioner are in 'don't-steal-me' large bottles that are locked down. The L'Occitane toiletries are comparable to RSSC (except the Guerlain also offered on RSSC for PH suites and up), but inferior to the Bulgari on SS.

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