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This will be a two part review, actually three part. The first part is my review from April 2009 which was the trans-Atlantic on the NOS in April 2009 which goes into detail about the ship. You can read this by clicking http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=55529. This review will be an "update" on the ship and the ports of call. I will do the B2B Med separately. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale rather than Miami as it was cheaper and "bags fly free." Transport from FLL to our hotel, the Miami Marriott Biscayne, was $15 each with SAS (http://ridesas.com). I got the hotel on Priceline for $65 a night. That evening we rode the free monorail (or whatever it is called) to Bayside for a pre-cruise dinner with a group at Bubba Gumps. The monorail station is just a couple of blocks from the hotel. The next day, we took a cab to the port--$11 with tip. Embarkation was as fast as you could walk. Our cabin was an E1, Deck 7, port, forward near the elevators and stairs which is our preference. Our cabin steward was Lily who is probably the best we have ever had. I gave her my "punch list," namely remove things from the mini-bar, deliver two Compass' each night, keep my soft-sided six-pack cooler full of ice, and try to get me an egg crate. She was not successful with the egg crate but did put a blanket under the sheet to try and soften the bed a little because I find beds on Royal Caribbean are harder than I prefer. After lunch, I went to the library to try and get a book since I left mine at home. The library was as sorry as before and picked clean before I got there. However, one of the return book boxes does not have a lock and I got another couple of books later in the cruise by "dumpster diving." Good news on the muster drill. Because of our cabin location, our muster station was the Ixtapa Lounge, and we didn't have to take our life jackets and we could sit. The ship is in pretty good shape considering its age. Hall carpets are pretty worn. Elevators have not improved--still slow, indicator lights not working on a few so you depended on listening to the dings (one ding up, two dings down). Only problem was sometimes, you heard a ding but by the time you figured out which elevator it was, it had left. We, also, learned that the elevators on the starboard side midship were a little quicker than on the port side because only the port side midship elevators go to Deck 14. This requires more stops taking longer to make a "round trip." One elevator was out of order the entire cruise. Upholstery was worn in the public rooms. I wish I could say the food has improved. Steaks were still tough with the exception of the filet. Menus were the same as the trans-Atlantics the previous couple of years. It appeared to me that they have cut back on selections in the Windjammer but there was still plenty of food. They opened a separate dining room for Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Suites for breakfast which was very nice. You were seated as you came in and your order taken—did not have to wait for the table to fill. I think the ratio of servers to guests was higher, because it seemed to go faster than in the MDR. They have changed the breakfast menu with a "special" every day. No eggs benedict but they would get them for you if you asked. Specialty coffee was available gratis in the Diamond breakfast room. On the last day of the first half of our B2B, we were curtly told that the Diamond dining room was only available for suite passengers and escorted to the regular dining room even though there were only four people in it with several servers standing around picking their fingernails. We ate one meal in Chops and it was outstanding—so much food, so little time and "stomach" room (lol). Note: Ask for a table away from the greeting desk. Noise from the WJ filters through the thin wall. We requested a large table at late seating. We asked for late seating because the past couple of times they have moved the early seating up from 6:00 p.m. to 5:30 which is too early particularly if they move the clocks up at noon rather than at night which has also happened on the past couple of cruises. We were assigned an eight top by the window. They did move the seatings up, so our late seating was at 8:00 rather than 8:30. On our last few cruises, there have always been a couple of seats that were never occupied but assigned.. Again, we had Mr. and Mrs. Nobody at our table. Looking around, it was not unusual to see a table set for several but only one or two couples there. More and more people are opting for the WJ rather than the dining room. Our window seat did offer us a couple of nice sunset views. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very personable and capable. We wish we could have had them on the B2B, too. They had little tent signs in the WJ asking you to please release your table when you finished eating. On the previous TA they had the same thing only it said if you wanted to play cards, etc., to go to the Swan dining room. This time the sign did not say that so several tables were tied up with people playing cards or games. People are getting wise to the high entry fees and low pay outs in Bingo. They canceled the game one day when not enough people bought in to make the profit margin the ship wanted. The next day they only played one game, cover all, and guaranteed $100 prize money. They did not have hand-held electronic thingees so it was a more level playing field. I think it was $32. On the day they only had one game, they only charged $22. We are big trivia players. They had a progressive trivia game in the Ixtapa Lounge. Plenty of room for the teams of six. The host used power point which eliminated dealing with foreign accents, repeating of questions, and Power Point allowed visual questions which added to the variety and type of trivia questions which could be asked. The regular trivia games were held two or three times a day in the Schooner Bar which doesn't come close to accommodating all those that want to participate. You needed to get there at least half an hour early to get a seat, or, in some cases, standing room. Most of the evening games were musical. Prizes were not good. We gave most of ours away if we won How many luggage tags, pens, magnets do you need? They roped off the first three rows of the balcony in the main showroom for the suites. If they weren't filled when the show was about to begin (and they weren't most of the time), they lowered the ropes for everyone. People "in the know" would line up behind the ropes when they could see the seats weren't nearly filled. If you do this, go for the third row rather than the first two because the bar in front of the balcony can partially obstruct your view of the stage. We never had any problem getting balcony seats the few times we went and only once ran into a chair saver. The televisions were not flat screen and the programming was the pits. While they had movies for free (pay per view was available) you couldn't find out what they were or when they would be shown. It was catch as catch can. Same movies were shown over and over again. If you came into it in the middle, you could maybe catch the first part later. Ozzie and Harriet were back. The news programming was the same thing, repeats several days old in some instances, with only a little ticker running across the bottom with anything current. Forget about sports although I did catch the last two minutes of the final playoff game between the Thunder and the Lakers that was shown in a re-run at 8:00 a.m. Oh how I miss the daily news recap they took away. About the time change—an evil necessity on trnas-Atlantics. This time they moved the clocks up at 3:00 a.m. rather than noon which had been the case on our two previous eastbound TA's. The bar servers weren't real happy with losing an hours worth of tips when it was moved up at noon. I figure the ship losing an hour of "prime time" selling things to the passengers factored in to the decision, too. The losers were the crew that lost an hour's sleep every night. This cruise had a little different itinerary than our previous trans-Atlantics. Our first port was Tenerife, Canary Islands, which we have been to several times. We took public transportation to a delightful little town called La Laguna about half an hour away. It was Sunday so not much open but we enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle and on terra firma after a week at sea. Next port was Barcelona. We have been there several times so we opted for a ship's tour to Montserrat. I do not like ship's tours but couldn't find any takers for a private tour. This tour reminded me why I don't like ship's tours. A drive through Barcelona pointing out some sights (but not La Familia) and a pretty drive up to Montserrat which a good tour guide. Once there, however, time was very limited. The guide led us to the church and pointed out features along the way. The "highlight" at the church is a black Madonna. However, to get close to it was a long line (estimated time half an hour) so there wasn't time to do that. They said in the description you could opt to ride a funicular to the very top, but, again, not enough time. They, also, had a museum but—you guess it—not enough time to really give it its due. We should have taken the advice of several people on cruise critic and done it on our own. Much cheaper and we would have had time to do everything. I just get nervous when we get more than 30 miles out of town on my own for fear I won't get back to the ship on time. In Villefranche, I arranged a private tour for eight of us with Revelation Tours. It included a stop at the market in Nice, then on to St. Paul de Vence where we had time for lunch and to stroll the quaint streets and really nice shops—not your tacky souvenir stands. From there to Monte Carlo and Monaco and finally Eze. Our driver was excellent, spoke English fluently, and gave us a wonderful tour. The best part is the price was about half of what the ship wanted and we saw a lot more than any of the ship's tours offered. We paid 125 euros (approx. $156) a couple. The ship wanted prices of $159 per person and up depending on the tour and none went to all five places that we did. The last port was Livorno which was a jumping off place for tours to Florence and Pisa. Having been to both places and ready for a rest after the long day before, we did not plan anything other than to walk around the village, stretch our legs, and maybe find an internet cafe. Worked out well because the weather was not good—chilly and rainy. So, we got our shuttle tickets refunded and enjoyed having a sea day in port. Finally, into Rome or, more accurately, Civitavecchia, the port. There had been a great deal of anxiety among the passengers toward the end of the cruise because of the volcano fall out from Iceland. People had no idea whether their flights were going or not, delayed or not. The television reports were more "doom and gloom" than anything positive. The on-board internet connection was their usual slower than molasses in January if you didn't get thrown off just about the time you got to where you wanted to go. On the good side, most were staying in Rome or environs for a few days giving them a chance to work things out rather than arriving at the airport and finding their flight not going and hotel rooms not available. A friend of ours who had a flexible schedule inquired about continuing on the ship only to find that the price for an inside was half again what he paid for his balcony coming over. We were very glad that we had 12 days more on the ship which, hopefully, would give the volcano time to straighten things out. Note: the ship wanted $91 per person to get to the airport, he went with a group that arranged transport for $23. The group was formed while on the cruise so it wasn't a situation of having to book it out way ahead of time. While others were scrambling around, we took our dirty clothes to a laundramat in town and did wash, located an internet cafe, and hit an ATM. The weather was off and on drizzle. Other notes: On Sea days they had lectures on digital photography and genealogy. Unfortunately, the venues assigned were too small to accommodate all those that wanted to attend. Also, the timing was bad—late afternoon—which made it difficult for those that had early seating on formal nights. They, also, had a lady doing silhouettes for FREE. Really free, no little discrete sign saying "gratuities would be appreciated." Again, venue not really good and a lot of takers so not everyone could be accommodated that would like to have been. We ended up having to put our name on a list to be taken care of the following day. It was a nice souvenir to take home with us. I will continue the B2B portion in a separate review. Any questions, our e-mail address is whitlock@alumni.utexas.net.

NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS TRANSATLANTIC

Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by Tucker in Texas

Trip Details
This will be a two part review, actually three part. The first part is my review from April 2009 which was the trans-Atlantic on the NOS in April 2009 which goes into detail about the ship. You can read this by clicking http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=55529. This review will be an "update" on the ship and the ports of call. I will do the B2B Med separately.
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale rather than Miami as it was cheaper and "bags fly free." Transport from FLL to our hotel, the Miami Marriott Biscayne, was $15 each with SAS (http://ridesas.com). I got the hotel on Priceline for $65 a night. That evening we rode the free monorail (or whatever it is called) to Bayside for a pre-cruise dinner with a group at Bubba Gumps. The monorail station is just a couple of blocks from the hotel.
The next day, we took a cab to the port--$11 with tip. Embarkation was as fast as you could walk.
Our cabin was an E1, Deck 7, port, forward near the elevators and stairs which is our preference. Our cabin steward was Lily who is probably the best we have ever had. I gave her my "punch list," namely remove things from the mini-bar, deliver two Compass' each night, keep my soft-sided six-pack cooler full of ice, and try to get me an egg crate. She was not successful with the egg crate but did put a blanket under the sheet to try and soften the bed a little because I find beds on Royal Caribbean are harder than I prefer.
After lunch, I went to the library to try and get a book since I left mine at home. The library was as sorry as before and picked clean before I got there. However, one of the return book boxes does not have a lock and I got another couple of books later in the cruise by "dumpster diving."
Good news on the muster drill. Because of our cabin location, our muster station was the Ixtapa Lounge, and we didn't have to take our life jackets and we could sit.
The ship is in pretty good shape considering its age. Hall carpets are pretty worn. Elevators have not improved--still slow, indicator lights not working on a few so you depended on listening to the dings (one ding up, two dings down). Only problem was sometimes, you heard a ding but by the time you figured out which elevator it was, it had left. We, also, learned that the elevators on the starboard side midship were a little quicker than on the port side because only the port side midship elevators go to Deck 14. This requires more stops taking longer to make a "round trip." One elevator was out of order the entire cruise. Upholstery was worn in the public rooms.
I wish I could say the food has improved. Steaks were still tough with the exception of the filet. Menus were the same as the trans-Atlantics the previous couple of years. It appeared to me that they have cut back on selections in the Windjammer but there was still plenty of food. They opened a separate dining room for Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Suites for breakfast which was very nice. You were seated as you came in and your order taken—did not have to wait for the table to fill. I think the ratio of servers to guests was higher, because it seemed to go faster than in the MDR. They have changed the breakfast menu with a "special" every day. No eggs benedict but they would get them for you if you asked. Specialty coffee was available gratis in the Diamond breakfast room. On the last day of the first half of our B2B, we were curtly told that the Diamond dining room was only available for suite passengers and escorted to the regular dining room even though there were only four people in it with several servers standing around picking their fingernails. We ate one meal in Chops and it was outstanding—so much food, so little time and "stomach" room (lol). Note: Ask for a table away from the greeting desk. Noise from the WJ filters through the thin wall.
We requested a large table at late seating. We asked for late seating because the past couple of times they have moved the early seating up from 6:00 p.m. to 5:30 which is too early particularly if they move the clocks up at noon rather than at night which has also happened on the past couple of cruises. We were assigned an eight top by the window. They did move the seatings up, so our late seating was at 8:00 rather than 8:30. On our last few cruises, there have always been a couple of seats that were never occupied but assigned.. Again, we had Mr. and Mrs. Nobody at our table. Looking around, it was not unusual to see a table set for several but only one or two couples there. More and more people are opting for the WJ rather than the dining room. Our window seat did offer us a couple of nice sunset views.
Our waiter and assistant waiter were very personable and capable. We wish we could have had them on the B2B, too.
They had little tent signs in the WJ asking you to please release your table when you finished eating. On the previous TA they had the same thing only it said if you wanted to play cards, etc., to go to the Swan dining room. This time the sign did not say that so several tables were tied up with people playing cards or games.
People are getting wise to the high entry fees and low pay outs in Bingo. They canceled the game one day when not enough people bought in to make the profit margin the ship wanted. The next day they only played one game, cover all, and guaranteed $100 prize money. They did not have hand-held electronic thingees so it was a more level playing field. I think it was $32. On the day they only had one game, they only charged $22.
We are big trivia players. They had a progressive trivia game in the Ixtapa Lounge. Plenty of room for the teams of six. The host used power point which eliminated dealing with foreign accents, repeating of questions, and Power Point allowed visual questions which added to the variety and type of trivia questions which could be asked. The regular trivia games were held two or three times a day in the Schooner Bar which doesn't come close to accommodating all those that want to participate. You needed to get there at least half an hour early to get a seat, or, in some cases, standing room. Most of the evening games were musical. Prizes were not good. We gave most of ours away if we won How many luggage tags, pens, magnets do you need?
They roped off the first three rows of the balcony in the main showroom for the suites. If they weren't filled when the show was about to begin (and they weren't most of the time), they lowered the ropes for everyone. People "in the know" would line up behind the ropes when they could see the seats weren't nearly filled. If you do this, go for the third row rather than the first two because the bar in front of the balcony can partially obstruct your view of the stage. We never had any problem getting balcony seats the few times we went and only once ran into a chair saver.
The televisions were not flat screen and the programming was the pits. While they had movies for free (pay per view was available) you couldn't find out what they were or when they would be shown. It was catch as catch can. Same movies were shown over and over again. If you came into it in the middle, you could maybe catch the first part later. Ozzie and Harriet were back. The news programming was the same thing, repeats several days old in some instances, with only a little ticker running across the bottom with anything current. Forget about sports although I did catch the last two minutes of the final playoff game between the Thunder and the Lakers that was shown in a re-run at 8:00 a.m. Oh how I miss the daily news recap they took away.
About the time change—an evil necessity on trnas-Atlantics. This time they moved the clocks up at 3:00 a.m. rather than noon which had been the case on our two previous eastbound TA's. The bar servers weren't real happy with losing an hours worth of tips when it was moved up at noon. I figure the ship losing an hour of "prime time" selling things to the passengers factored in to the decision, too. The losers were the crew that lost an hour's sleep every night.
This cruise had a little different itinerary than our previous trans-Atlantics.
Our first port was Tenerife, Canary Islands, which we have been to several times. We took public transportation to a delightful little town called La Laguna about half an hour away. It was Sunday so not much open but we enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle and on terra firma after a week at sea.
Next port was Barcelona. We have been there several times so we opted for a ship's tour to Montserrat. I do not like ship's tours but couldn't find any takers for a private tour. This tour reminded me why I don't like ship's tours. A drive through Barcelona pointing out some sights (but not La Familia) and a pretty drive up to Montserrat which a good tour guide. Once there, however, time was very limited. The guide led us to the church and pointed out features along the way. The "highlight" at the church is a black Madonna. However, to get close to it was a long line (estimated time half an hour) so there wasn't time to do that. They said in the description you could opt to ride a funicular to the very top, but, again, not enough time. They, also, had a museum but—you guess it—not enough time to really give it its due. We should have taken the advice of several people on cruise critic and done it on our own. Much cheaper and we would have had time to do everything. I just get nervous when we get more than 30 miles out of town on my own for fear I won't get back to the ship on time.
In Villefranche, I arranged a private tour for eight of us with Revelation Tours. It included a stop at the market in Nice, then on to St. Paul de Vence where we had time for lunch and to stroll the quaint streets and really nice shops—not your tacky souvenir stands. From there to Monte Carlo and Monaco and finally Eze. Our driver was excellent, spoke English fluently, and gave us a wonderful tour. The best part is the price was about half of what the ship wanted and we saw a lot more than any of the ship's tours offered. We paid 125 euros (approx. $156) a couple. The ship wanted prices of $159 per person and up depending on the tour and none went to all five places that we did.
The last port was Livorno which was a jumping off place for tours to Florence and Pisa. Having been to both places and ready for a rest after the long day before, we did not plan anything other than to walk around the village, stretch our legs, and maybe find an internet cafe. Worked out well because the weather was not good—chilly and rainy. So, we got our shuttle tickets refunded and enjoyed having a sea day in port.
Finally, into Rome or, more accurately, Civitavecchia, the port.
There had been a great deal of anxiety among the passengers toward the end of the cruise because of the volcano fall out from Iceland. People had no idea whether their flights were going or not, delayed or not. The television reports were more "doom and gloom" than anything positive. The on-board internet connection was their usual slower than molasses in January if you didn't get thrown off just about the time you got to where you wanted to go. On the good side, most were staying in Rome or environs for a few days giving them a chance to work things out rather than arriving at the airport and finding their flight not going and hotel rooms not available.
A friend of ours who had a flexible schedule inquired about continuing on the ship only to find that the price for an inside was half again what he paid for his balcony coming over. We were very glad that we had 12 days more on the ship which, hopefully, would give the volcano time to straighten things out. Note: the ship wanted $91 per person to get to the airport, he went with a group that arranged transport for $23. The group was formed while on the cruise so it wasn't a situation of having to book it out way ahead of time.
While others were scrambling around, we took our dirty clothes to a laundramat in town and did wash, located an internet cafe, and hit an ATM. The weather was off and on drizzle.
Other notes: On Sea days they had lectures on digital photography and genealogy. Unfortunately, the venues assigned were too small to accommodate all those that wanted to attend. Also, the timing was bad—late afternoon—which made it difficult for those that had early seating on formal nights.
They, also, had a lady doing silhouettes for FREE. Really free, no little discrete sign saying "gratuities would be appreciated." Again, venue not really good and a lot of takers so not everyone could be accommodated that would like to have been. We ended up having to put our name on a list to be taken care of the following day. It was a nice souvenir to take home with us.
I will continue the B2B portion in a separate review. Any questions, our e-mail address is whitlock@alumni.utexas.net.
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