1. Smooth embarkation process. Got everything done and on to the ship in about 20 minutes. The secret to embarkation -- don't arrive early! The Navigator was scheduled to sail at 5:30 PM, and we arrived at the port at about 1:30 PM. However, our disembarkation process at the end of the cruise was troubling (see the list of cons below)
2. The first production show, Ballroom Fever was the best production show we have seen on any of our cruises: excellent choreography, singing, and dancing. The second production show, Now and Forever, was pretty good too. The "Your Three Tenors" show was great. The singers "Patty" and "Shy" put on a great cabaret type show. We also heard the ice dancing show was good, but did not attend that.
3. The Cosmopolitan Club bar is very nice. It sits on Deck 14 with sweeping views forward and to both sides -- and we enjoyed having drinks up there as the sun was setting most days over the Caribbean. We did not encounter anything quite like the view from this bar on our other cruises.
4. The ship is incredibly stable. We had pretty good weather, but, even so, there was very little motion. You could hardly tell you were on a ship 99% of the time.
5. The fitness center was great. Big, and seemingly never crowded. My wife always got an elliptical machine right away.
1. The food was on the Navigator was mediocre at best. The food just seems to get incrementally inferior with each cruise we take (Disney was the best, and Princess second best). Examples: You can't get a decent steak on the Navigator without paying for it. The eggs (scrambled and omelets) in the morning are pretty tasteless, and the hollandaise sauce on the eggs benedict tasted like it was made with some powder. The lunch and dinner buffets have lot of Asian food, but if you get tired of that the buffets are quite repetitive and uninteresting. We also ate once at the Chops Grille specialty restaurant, and the waiter was very attentive and the experience was fun -- but probably not really worth the money given that we have definitely had better steak on other occasions.
2. We were in cabin 2294, an Oceanview on Deck 2, and it was small but nice. The cabin had some minor flaws. The bed was up against the porthole, so you couldn't really look out. The closet door, when opened, was in the direct path of the bathroom door, so we had some pretty noisy collisions there. And, for some strange reason, our bathroom faucet would often put out really hot water, but when you adjusted it to try to get cooler water, the water would not cool off. That is aggravating when you are trying to brush you teeth!
3. The alcohol policy on the Navigator was the most restricted we have encountered. You could not bring any alcohol on aboard, not even one bottle of wine purchased in a local port. This is not in keeping with the policies of the other cruise lines, and we thought the Royal Caribbean policy was a rather heavy handed way to squeeze out a little more money.
4. The service was hit-and-miss. Our room steward, Leo, was fine, but the service in the restaurants was very slow at times. The staff also did not always greet you in a friendly manner, something we got used to on our previous cruises.
5. The dÃ©cor of the Navigator is nice, but we often saw trash (bottles, paper), lying around the common areas (promenade on Deck 4), and sometimes we would pass through twice within a couple of hours and the same trash would still be there.
6. We like to have some educational content on the cruises we go on, something about the culture and geography of the region and ports of call. There was nothing really like that. Vito, on the cruise staff, gave some presentations about local fish and turtles, and kudos to Vito (we enjoyed his presentations), but we generally would like a little more than than a discussion of the local sea life. Both Disney and Princess had more.
7. Grand Cayman (GC) was one of four scheduled ports of call. GC has no cruise ship piers, so going ashore on requires the use of tenders -- and for some reason the Navigator did not coordinate this well. We anchored in GC for a six hour port call, but after three hours our tender number had not been called so we gave up any thoughts we had of going ashore. But the anchoring area was swamped with cruise ships (five of them at the same time), so maybe it was for the best that we did not go ashore.
8. Finally, our disembarkation process was peculiar -- and not in a good way. Guests were assigned various numbers up through the high 30's, and we were told to report to the theatre at a time associated with the assigned number to await the OK to disembark. The purpose is to stagger passenger offloading and to ensure that you don't get caught in long lines waiting to pick up your bags and clear customs. Our number was 29, and our reporting time to the theatre was 9:30 AM. Well, we showed up at 9:30, but they were running slow, and we sat there until about 10 AM as they called 24, 25, 26, and 27 for departure. Suddenly, they decided they were going to disembark all the remaining numbers at the same time!! So that meant that we, and well over a hundred other passengers, were now getting off the boat at the same time. So, after waiting to supposedly avoid standing in long lines, we end up standing in long lines to 1) get off the boat, 2) get our luggage, and then 3) clear customs. At least we had booked our cruise parking with Park'N'Go and their bus was right outside for us when we finally go through customs. But there were scores of other folks all waiting outside for other forms of transportation (cabs? busses? I don't know).
Overall, we had a good time on the cruise, as we always do. We met some fun, nice people, and had some good times. But we just can't say that Royal Caribbean really had it quite together.