Navigator of the Seas Review

Lots of Pre-Christmas Fun

Review for the Mexican Riviera Cruise on Navigator of the Seas
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Raybit
10+ Cruises • Age 60s

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Sail Date: Dec 2023

We selected this cruise to take my MIL for an outing and as she has mobility issues, we needed a nearby port (LA is ~5 hours) that we could drive to. We compared pricing, cabin locations, and timing across Princess, Carnival and RC and the Navigator won out. Also, it has been about ten years since we have cruised on RC and we have a 15-day transatlantic coming up in April so this was a good chance to become reacquainted with RC.

Embarkation was straightforward and we went from arrival at port to first drinks at the Solarium in 45 minutes. Ship was already decorated for Holidays and the public areas all looked great. Welcome aboard staff were friendly and Muster preps rapidly accomplished.

Cabin was a bit dated, balcony doors very sticky, and squeaky closets (addressed very promptly by Cabin Steward) but very clean. Shower was small but solid doors vs the curtain was nice. Plenty of storage but as an older ship she does not have much in the way of UDB charging. There is a charging port on the side of the phone but ours did not work.

Cabin Review

Cabin was a bit dated, balcony doors very sticky, and squeaky closets (addressed very promptly by Cabin Steward) but very clean. Shower was small but solid doors vs the curtain was nice. Plenty of storage but as an older ship she does not have much in the way of UDB charging. There is a charging port on the side of the phone but ours did not work.

Cabin Steward, Sheldon, was very attentive and friendly. He assisted us in preparing room for MIL to include safely setting up an extension cord. If we asked, he delivered. Also provided towel animals we have not seen before, to include an alligator and a dachshund.

Port Reviews

Ensenada

Having visited Ensenada, the blow hole, and surrounding area nearly a decade ago we have generally viewed Ensenada as a throw away port and remained on board...our mistake!

One can simply walk into downtown Ensenda, take a city shuttle bus for $3 bucks, or take one of many tours.

This time we booked a standard size group tour, Califia Vallery Wine Country, using Shore Excursions that featured a tour of the town enroute to two wine tastings. We walked off Navigator of the Seas and arrived at the tour starting point (just outside the port security gate) about 30 minutes early. There was a Shore Excursion rep with a sign there to direct us to our tour. For whatever reason, the three in our party (one in a wheelchair) were the only folks for our tour so we got off to an early start after meeting our guide and driver. We were grateful that the tour went forward with only three guests! Bottled water was provided.

Isabel was our guide. She was very friendly, professional, and informative. We soon felt like extended family as the driver, Alejandro, navigated through the town. We received a thorough introduction to the city and the surrounding areas. We learned a lot of interesting things about the town and were sold on spending time downtime on our next visit.

Upon arriving at L.A. Cetto our "private tour" continued. The vineyard host, Isaac, walked us through the winemaking process and the history of the flagship company for wine in Mexico. Again, “friendly” and “knowledgeable” were the hallmarks of our guide as we strolled around the vineyard. After the tour we had a private “back room” tasting that included cheese, bread, olives, olive oil and nuts. The wines were quite nice (we are from Monterey and frequent Paso Robles, so we like our wine) and offered great value as well. We even bought some wine to enjoy by the firepit at home when we reminisce about this trip. The experience was leisurely and extremely pleasant all around.

Next up we were off to Dona Lupe.

I was a little worried that this would be a more typical Mexican roadside experience and indeed ship’s tour buses stopped in while we were here. Yet our guide provided a much better experience for us, letting us explore yet bringing samples to us (vice standing in line with tour bus folks) proving insight as to how the locals mix and enjoy the various jams, jellies, chips and wines. The experience included a cultural display of dancing with fire by local artists – my wife was invited to participate as well. Isabel made the experience stand out for us and again, it was pleasant and leisurely.

As we headed back to the ship, again accompanied by vibrant conversation with Isabel and Alejandro, we were offered a couple of different stops we could make on the way. Given that we had a mobility challenged family member feeling tired, we declined but this adventure could potentially have a part 3 or 4. Return to the ship was otherwise uneventful and we were back to the ship with time for a walk into the city but choose to save that experience for our next visit.

We would highly recommend this tour to anyone with an interest in the history of the region and its winemaking. Probably not a good tour for small children or those seeking thrills though!

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