Navigator of the Seas Cruise Review by harkmut
We arrived at Port Everglades super early as traffic flowed faster than anticipated on the FL TP and I595. We live in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area and we have always used either Park & Fly Or Park & Go for our car park for every vacation to and from the airport, and now Port Everglades. We've always been global independent travelers and never had the desire to be on a cruise ship prior to this year, and now we have 3 cruises under our belt and two more booked later on this year in November and December with Celebrity.I simply DON'T understand how Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas has received such a high approval rating on Cruise Critic when our experience was simply deplorable at best. Since we were among the first 20 persons in line, we breezed through check in , security and picture taking and were aboard in record time. We did observe that there were several lines for say a particular deck or cabin type, but not enough agents for each line, so there really is no fair way and can become quite chaotic when the building is much heavily occupied. Not a first come first serve system. If you are Pinnacle member, perhaps they might have a personal escort for you??Once aboard, we wanted to check on our dining room table assignment to see if the "special Needs" desk had indeed performed what they had promised prior to the cruise, as we had asked our booking agent to verify this, twice. My travel companion is certified deaf and has asperger syndrome and is incapable of interacting with others. We had requested a table for two for these sole reasons, but when we discovered that they had placed us at a 12 persons table, we realized that we were off to a bad start for our very first cruise with Royal Caribbean . It did turn out that they also failed to provide any of the required equipment for the hearing impaired, as promised. What is the point of having a special needs desk??We had asked several servers who were busy chatting in the dining room where the Maitre d'Hotel could be found, but none of them could answer that one simple question. We then proceeded to Guest Services for the inquiry and were told to return to the dining room to resolve this issue at a certain hour, which we did and the maitre d'hotel ( a lady) who was neither rude nor courteous, perhaps just indifferent. Her excuse was that we had booked the cruise 'late' but we received an email confirmation from special needs desk that all will be taken care of..Unlikely. While conversing to the maitre d', I felt like i was speaking to someone at the United States Postal Services and we all know how impersonal they mostly are, to put it kindly.Having that issue taken care of, we thought a bite to eat would be in order, so we went up to the buffet, eagerly wishing that it would be similar to the Celebrity Solstice which we boarded in January and March this year. To our utter disappointment, the food was borderline inedible, making food from Denny's a culinary marvel, simply a disgraceful atrocity. My travel companion had previously purchased a beverage package and he ordered a coke from a server around the Plaza Cafe. We later found out that the waiter , whom my companion gave the sea pass card to , had placed a charge of a Corona Beer in MY Folio. This is pure negligence. Furthermore, NONE of the fountain coke tasted right throughout the entire vessel, due to poor management and sheer laziness in All.The dining room servers were probably the most cheerful (table 24) persons we had encountered on the entire ship, the service was fine on the first evening, but again , the food was borderline inedible. I really don't want to dedicate too much time in describing how awful the food really was. For example, the menu may have attractive description, like haricot vert, but in reality, they'd stuff some huge, dried/aged chewy old green beans in front of you... The menu was also extremely limited. The head waiter came by to ask how everything was, to which we just answered 'ok' . It's not worth my time to complain and I am not a whiny complaining person by nature. Besides, what else would he do? Bring more of that disgusting food from the kitchen and perhaps call it something else??THe following nights, we decided to go to the buffet and Portofino for dinner since the buffet food is exactly the same as the dining room food at dinner, and we wouldn't have to waste all that time waiting for nasty food in the impressive 3 floor dining room. Portofino is another completely different experience, in a negative way. First and foremost, the decor, food and service does not warrant a surcharge of any kind. The waiter handed the menu to us and proceeded in 'lecturing' me regarding Italian customs and traditions and he would say, " in italy, the customary dish for appetizer is antipasti which consists of ......and followed by explaining to us what risotto is.....", and by that time, i had had enough of the nonsense and politely told him that " NEITHER of us is fond of risotto- twice" to which he responded: "no matter" and proceeded to finish his speech on risotto and whatever else, to which i blocked out completely.Quite obviously, he was following management's instructions, and this infuriated me a bit to be treated as an imbecile. I am a very well traveled individual and have been educated and resided in different continents, but nobody would know that; however , when hinted to seize, the waiter should have followed. The food was mediocre at best, but clearly one step up from the nasty inedible food they serve in the buffet and dining room. Our appetizer had 'hair' somewhere on the plate, we ordered the steak rare and it came medium well. We skipped dessert and went to observe the cuban refugees rescue, which was much more interesting than being trapped in Portofino. The waiter had the audacity to offer an almost empty bottle of sparkling water for me to take back to the room. We just smiled and left; didn't want to waste my breath.On the first evening, we ordered room service, hoping that it might be slightly better than the buffet and dining room. After ordering via the interactive menu from the awful fuzzy old tv, room service telephoned to confirm the order. The lady on the phone asked me twice IF i "really" wanted two pizza, and this led me to believe that the pizza may be larger in size than I had assumed. I asked her quite politely how 'large' the pizza was..." is it a 'personal' pizza? Is it more like a 4 inch, 5 inch pie? or is it much larger like a 12 inch pie.....".....she just kept saying that "it's a PIE and it has 4 slices". We went around like this several times and each time she repeated the same answer like a parrot, then I knew better to give in and note mess with the people who handle your food. This is genuinely a NEW kind of "stupid". I'm sorry, but there is no better word for it. It's like our Cruise Director Mike said that someone had asked him if that particular set of elevator would take them to the FRONT of the ship...go figure.Now comes the straw that broke the camel's back, and this is truly annoying to me, personally. Not sure about the rest of you...Royal Caribbean would deliver gratuity envelopes to your cabin on the last day at sea, and you would have to distribute to your room attendant, waiter, assistant waiter and the head waiter. We had PRE-paid our gratuity ; thus, the cruise line should automatically distribute that for us...but no, they "cannot do that". I spoke to a representative by the name of Laura at Guest Relations who was argumentative and most unhelpful. Although not blatantly rude, but the tone was certainly marred with disdain and disrespect. THere wasn't any point in going around in circles with some poorly qualified for a "guest relations representative" . This sets the overall tone of almost the ENTIRE crew on this ship, to be despicably cavalier. There are , OF COURSE, exceptions and one of them is YADIRA HUERTAS -title Guest Departure Officer, but is also a senior Guest Relations Manager. She was the ONLY person on board whom we encountered that possess unfailing courteousness and respectable professionalism with a smile. She made every effort in rectifying the awful experience we had on board, but truly, HOW can she change the general atmosphere on board, or command the cruise line to better train their staff, etc, etc. She is a true asset to Royal Caribbean and we feel that she deserves MUCH better somewhere else.I don't need to be pampered, or made to feel special. I DO; however, want better edible food, not to have to look at glum faces of the staff and be ignored and most of all, i do not want to be lectured by a waiter on things i had already learnt and experienced from childhood.We have been on the Celebrity Solstice twice this year and it is millennium apart when it comes to service, food and beverage , condition and decor of the ship. Celebrity and Royal Caribbean are owned by the same parent company and just HOW can they be so different?? Everybody who work in this industry has similar schedules and benefits, no matter what cruise line you work for, then how can they be so different?I'm so glad that we wisely chose a short cruise to investigate this Cruise Line. I can safely say that I will never return to Royal Caribbean unless they overhaul their operation. Needless to say, I immediately canceled my booking in November this year as well as the planned cruise in December and rebooked with Celebrity--concierge aft. I KNOW we'd be much happier. We are beginner cruisers, and we will learn from veteran cruisers from here as well as from other sources. We do know better to stay away from the Walmart Cruise Line and others alike.Any constructive advice is greatly appreciated!!
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